Monday, December 8, 2014

School Days and Thoughts on Work "Minimums."

I have a couple of sickies on my hands today.  Kal-El's temperature was around 102 all weekend and around 100 today.  Me Too came down with it today.  His temp is only around 100 and he seems unphased by being sick.  Kal-El, on the other hand, has been wiped and slept most of yesterday.  

As a result, we took it easy in school today.  We made a few Truth in the Tinsel ornaments, read from the Bible, and spent about an hour in the school room.

Me Too did about nine equations FOR the large bead frame.  He did three of them ON the large bead frame.  He did six of them verbally because he could see instantly that they had single-digit multipliers and no exchanging. 

 For those of you who are wondering, I do have a verbal "minimum" set for the number of equations they should do on a material, three.  The KotU albums encourage letting the child create their own equations.  We have decided to use preprinted equations most of the time.  The boys know that inventing their own equations is always an option and they do that once every couple of weeks or so.  You might be wondering if setting a minimum of three equations makes it so that they always stop after three equations (as setting a requirement will often do) and the answer is "no."  I think the reason is that the boys and have such a loose and complex verbal agreement with so much flexibility and exception clauses.  So, what happens?  Some days the boys say, "I really like this.  I'm going to keep doing them and see how many I can do before I get tired."  Some days they say, "Mom, if I do more than three of these can I count them on a different day when I'm tired?"  They may or may not actually remember to cash those in.  They might say, "I don't like this work.  Can I do 12 of these and not do it for the rest of the week?"  Or, they might say "Mom, this division equation took me twenty minutes.  Do I really have to do three?"  Answer:  "No, you can do two today."  And finally, because we happen to use preprinted equations the boys can see that there is an end point.  They know that when they run out of equations something new and exciting happens so they often will keep doing something more than the "minimum" to get to the new work sooner.  

Also, the minimum differs from material to material, subject to subject.  On some works, like the addition memorization finger boards it was two pages.  For the stamp game Me Too does six equations or two pages in his booklet.  For the bead frame he does 3 equations.  For fractions he does a drawer, or if the drawer is huge he does 10 equations.  There are lots of ways to do this.  Or, you can not do it at all and see if you are happy with how things go.

Kal-El felt so crummy that he had to go lie down partway through an ornament.  During school he didn't want to leave the couch so he just worked in his word problem book for an hour.  Here our "minimum" is five equations (or one week's worth according to the series) but today Kal-El did ten because he was enjoying what he was doing.

Last week Me Too worked with a drawer in the fractions cabinet.  He likes to take out the fraction equivalence charts while he works to speed up his reductions. 

He usually writes the whole equation in his fraction notebook.  On a lazy day such as this one, he writes on the slip with a dry erase marker.  He doesn't erase them until I've checked them to make sure he's reduced all of his fractions.  Here you can see he missed one.

Here he must have been having trouble with a reduction and is trying to find the simplest answer using the fraction circles.  I can see Kal-El in the music room behind him practicing rhythms.

Both boys received presentations on the intersection of two straight lines.  They learned that when two lines are oblique to one another two acute and two obtuse angles are created.

They learned that you can't have one right angle formed without having four right angels formed. And, they learned that when this happens the lines are referred to as perpendicular to one another.

Me Too followed this up with some Albanesi task cards.  He happened to pull one about dotted and mixed lines which isn't actually covered in any of my geometry albums.  I made up an presentation on it and let him get to it.

He had to create dotted and continuous lines both straight and curved or a mix with the sticks and also draw them on paper using different colored pencils depending on whether that portion of the line was straight or curved.

He also followed up with our nomenclature book on "The Study of Lines."

Me Too was the first one to dive into the "multiples" section of the KotU math album.  Exercise one has him laying out 2 or 3 short chains (we sometimes used long) next to one another and labeling them both.  Then, I take all of the tags and mix them up.  I randomly choose tags and read him the number without letting him see the color.  He tells me which chain the tag belongs to and I give it to him to place it.  Finally, I take all the chains again and HE gets to ASK me for a particular tag I am holding in my hand.  He thinks it is VERY FUNNY to ask me for any common multiples first and no matter which one I give him, insist he meant the OTHER color.  Thanks to our focus on skip counting songs for the more difficult numbers this fall, Me Too is very good at this and did almost all the chains in one day.  We could have done this sooner.  It would be a great activity to use when a child knows most of his skip counting or multiplication facts but needs practice.

One day the boys seemed to be jonesing for a new creative activity so I pulled out some packets of origami activities I had been saving for just such an occasion.  The boys followed printed instructions and learned to make lions, giraffes, and elephants.  It was tricky.  I had to make some too in order to help them out.

Kal-El would really rather not use the flat bead frame or checkerboard anymore.  I think if he ditches the concrete material so quickly he might not remember why the algorithm works the way it does long term.  So, I made a deal with him that for every equation he does on on the materials he can do another one on paper.  He prefers the white board.  When he finishes an equation he takes a picture of it with a little point-and-shoot camera so that he has a record of his work. This is especially helpful if I am folding laundry in another room and he wants to show off his hard work. 

I find it humorous that he also does this with the sentence analysis work.  This may look like a mess, but that is because he took a picture of two sentences at once to show me.

  • "The telephone and doorbell ring."
  • "Maria and Leigh speak."

He does these from the ETC sentence analysis cards I bought.  Some of the cards are called "sentence construction."  They give you a photo of the symbols and arrows and two photographs.  You have to write a sentence for each photograph that fits the pattern of symbols and arrows shown.

For one of Kal-El's kid's choice works last week he categorized shells according to how "pretty" they are.  Not the most scientific scheme, but I let it go.  I figure now the next time he tries to do that I can say, "You've already categorized them that way.  How about this time you categorize according to bivalve vs. univalve etc.,"

In other news, voting for the Homeschool Blog Awards begins today over at the Homeschool Post.  My blog is nominated in the category for "Best Homeschool Methods Blog."  You can vote daily on as many devices as you own.  I know everyone is busy, especially so over the holiday season.  So, if you happen to have a moment to pop over and vote for us I would certainly appreciate it!  If you don't, I completely understand! Voting is usually in November. Hopefully you all won't find it too annoying if I put up reminders about it during the voting period (from now until December 29th).  This is my FIFTH year in a row being nominated.  I've never won, but secretly have a theory that I was first runner up last year.
The Homeschool Post


  1. I voted! Hope you win it this year!!

    My son got a paper airplane book for his birthday. He has been folding paper airplanes left and right. I was totally thinking that he could use some origami paper too. Looks like fun stuff. Wish my normal school days were as productive as your sick