Monthly Archives: April 2013

Learning Happens Everywhere

The checkouts at the grocery store we frequent the most not only have candy, but books, too.  Puzzle books, coloring books, novels and lots of non-fiction for children.  Once B realizes that I will not be saying yes to any requests for candy (I say no every time!  Why does he keep asking?), he picks up a book or books and reads.  Yesterday’s book du jour was about whales.  He shared all the fascinating facts out loud so that I, the cashier and the lady behind me in line also learned with him.

  • Female Narwhal whales do not have horns like the males do.
  • The male Narwhal’s horns can be up to 9 ft long.
  • The dorsal fin of a male Orca can be up to 6 ft tall.
  • Sperm whales have the largest brains of any creature on Earth.  Adult Sperm whale brains can weigh up to 20 lbs.
  • Sperms wales are distinguished from other whales by their somewhat squared heads and by the scars they bear from battling the giant squids they eat.
When he finished the whale book, he was excited to see one on snakes and one on spiders, my two least favorite creatures.  Luckily, I was all checked out and it was time to go.  But those facts stuck with him (I had to ask him to tell me some of the facts for this blog post because I, myself, had forgotten all except that the female Narwals have no horns.)  He constantly teaches me to slow down, stop and see the wonder and learning opportunities within everything we come in contact.

Story of the World, Vol. 2, Chapter 17 – Knights & Samurai

If you click on the pictures, they’ll enlarge and you’ll see more details in the shields and helmet.

We had so much fun with with Chapter 17 – Knights & Samurai – from our History textbook, Story of the World, Vol. 2!  It has actually been the most enjoyable chapter we’ve done so far.  We did crafts, watched movies, completed a word search, read and really absorbed the learning while having fun.  The SOTW activity book has not provided us with many activities to date.  B does color the map page for every chapter (although he is not interested in any of the other coloring pages), but the activities we’ve done have been few and far between.  There are lots of suggested activities, however most use supplies we don’t have on hand and would involve going to the craft store each week for several supplies.  That cost adds up.  Especially on weeks when an activity requires yards of fabric to be purchased.  I can get creative somewhat and we substitute with what we have on hand, where we can, but on the whole we don’t do them.  This chapter, however, provided activities we could do:

  • B did a word search that included Arthur and the names of the 12 Knights of the Round Table.
  • He used the knight’s shield template to make a shield for himself (the one on the left in the picture) and one for our cats, Yin & Yang (the one on the right – our two cats actually drawn in the Yin Yang position!).  Since he was making shields, he decided to make a Captain America one, as well, and a sword.  All three shields are glued onto cardboard and B’s and the Captain America ones have handles on the back.  The handled shields and the sword have been well loved and used during play with his neighborhood friends.  :o)
  • B made an origami samurai helmet out of wrapping paper – the only paper I had that was big enough to give us a 22″x 22″ square.  The directions for the helmet in the SOTW Activity Book were confusing to us but, thankfully, we found this great tutorial on YouTube.  B was not happy that I asked him to give me a “fierce” look for the pictures here of him in his helmet.  He said, “Mom, I am incapable of making an angry face in pictures. You just can’t take me seriously.”
We watched First Knight with Sean Connery and Richard Gere, Disney’s The Sword in the Stone and The Last Samurai with Tom Cruise and Ken Watanabe.  I was worried about the violence in The Last Samurai, and was planning to skip any battle scenes if they were too much, but I didn’t.  The Die Hard movies had more graphic violence in them than The Last Samurai, IMO.  That movie was very well done and did a great job explaining the POV of the samurai – their traditions, service, loyalty and honor – and showed the Japanese reserved way of not always saying what they mean.  Even the emperor didn’t speak his mind!  We also read a good, short, library book, Samurai by Caroline Leavitt.  The photos and illustrations are beautiful and it suplimented the SOTW chapter with more details.  And, of course, B did his lapbook exercise (he calls it his chapter craft) for this chapter.
Here’s to more fun and activity-filled learning in our next chapters!

GeoSafari Laptop

My MIL gave B this GeoSafari Laptop 3 years ago after we announced we were removing B from public school and homeschooling him.  I brought this out a few times and sat him down to play with/learn from it right after he got it and it made him angry.  He didn’t know the answers so that made him frustrated and he didn’t want to spend the time to learn.  I put away on our homeschool bookcase and decided we’d revisit it another time. And although I would gaze upon it a few times during the past 3 years, I never pulled it back out again, until last week.

Although we got off to a rocky start with our History curriculum, Story of the World, Vol. 2, this “school” year, we’ve been doing much better since I discovered a free lapbook to accompany SOTW, Vol. 2 last month.  B is enthusiastic about the lapbook because he sees it as “craft time”; the learning is fun.  Every couple of chapters now, we go back and read through our lap book, as well as the review cards in our SOTW Activity Book.  Since B is now retaining more of the History and Geography facts from the Middle Ages with the addition of the lapbook, I decided to bring out the GeoSafari Laptop.

In addition to geography sheets, there are sheets on inventions, Language Arts, Math, quotations, famous people in History, landmarks, animals, weather, anatomy, wars and more.  B had a great time with sheets on continents, bodies of water, world landmarks and ancient wonders of the world.  Succeeding at something is a wonderful incentive to keep doing something.  And it was good to see that what we had be learning for almost 3 years now, was sticking with him.  I like new ways of learning as well as new ways of “testing” retention.  We will definitely be using the GeoSafari Laptop regularly.

Chore Avoidance that Gave The Hubs and I a Laugh This Morning

B goes through an obscene amount of clothes each week.  He owns more clothes than me or the hubs and he seems to wear way too many of them.  And we can’t figure out how he is going through so many clothes each week because if we don’t leave the house, he doesn’t get dressed!  He is in his PJs until he goes outside to play for a couple of hours in the afternoon.  And we’ve told him that unless he gets those clothes dirty from rolling around on the ground or sweats in them, he can set them on his butler and wear them again the next day.  I have a sneaking suspicion of what happens – he takes a bunch of clothes out of his drawers onto the floor to find the article of clothing he is looking for and then leaves the rest of the clothes on the floor.  When he goes to bed at night, I think he just picks all those clothes up off the floor and puts them in the hamper.

Anywho, he washed his clothes yesterday.  Three loads of clothes used in the last week!  My clothes all fit in one load, BTW.  The hubs and B were doing something from 6 – 9pm last night so he didn’t put his clothes away.  I told him he could wait until the morning, but that he was not to leave his room in the morning without first putting the 2 baskets full of clothes away.  The boy is usually up right before or right after the hubs leaves for work at 6am.  Some days he’ll sleep in until 7am or 7:30am if he was really tired.  These pictures were taken at 8:10am this morning.  He had not left his room and had not put the clothes away.  LOL  He’d rather go hungry and forgo TV just to put off putting those clothes away a little longer.  He’s a nut!  ;o)  I called the hubs and told him and he had a good laugh, too.

The Solution to World Peace, According to My 10 Year Old

“If everyone in the world had a balloon, Mama, there wouldn’t be any wars.  How can you be anything but happy when you have a balloon in your hand?  And even if people did go to war, no would die or get hurt since the only thing they’d have to fight with would be balloons.  Even if there was a big battle, where everyone hit each other with their balloons, it would be alright!  No one would get hurt and everyone would end up laughing.  How can you not end up laughing in a balloon fight?!  That’s the way it always ends in our house.  And we’re regular people just like everybody else in the world.”

I think he needs to take his brilliant idea to the UN.  :oD

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