Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cold weather is here

I posted this picture primarily for the benefit of my wonderful friend Deb down in Florida.
Yes, Deb, it's COLD up here!

It finally happened

I only snapped this picture because I really, truly didn't think I'd live to see the day when all three of my kids would voluntarily choose to sit down and draw together (and without me!).
Thank you, God that you keep our sweet kids growing and changing!

Boundless imagination

Oftentimes if we don't kick into our daily schedule early enough in the morning (like within minutes of finishing breakfast) the boys (usually initiated by O Boy) have concocted an entire day's worth of imaginative machines and/or activities to take the place of anything I thought we should accomplish (chores, actual school "work", etc.). O Boy frequently tells me early in the morning, "Mom, this is a #2 (or #7 or #10) Busy Day for me." He gets this from hours of listening to the Pooh stories and the Rabbit's Busy Day chapter in particular. "It was a Busy Day, a Captainish sort of day..." He has many of these days. Months ago he got me to write the numbers 1-10 on an old piece of paper and then he tacked it up to his bulletin board. This is what he refers to as his "Busy Day" list. Therefore, each Busy Day is numbered 1-10. Logical! He must have parents that frequently talk about their calendars and to-do lists...

The other day before I could get the dishes into the dishwasher they had developed this incredibly complex flying machine using our seesaw. The plan was birthed when they decided to fly to up to the ceiling fan. So of course they needed a flying machine to get them there...and parachute packs for when they parachuted down...and oxygen masks and goggles for the high altitude...etc.

Here you can barely see O Boy's parachute pack strapped to his back. He carefully packed it with a piece of cloth as his parachute. He spent most of the creation/building time with this toilet paper tube strapped to his face, speaking through it.
Mr. T, ready for take-off

Boundless Imagination Part II

The other day O Boy's friend BW came over to play. They proceeded to spend most of their time transforming our see-saw into some kind of machine thing. It was the perfect set-up for two creative boys because they interacted (since it was the same see-saw) but didn't conflict too often (because they each had their own side to work on). Here's a visual record of what they created...

Sheepy the soldier

O Boy's longtime favorite stuffed friend, Sheepy, goes most places with him and shares a lot of life with him. So, since dressing up like a soldier is a favorite activity of O Boy's, he decided that Sheepy needed a soldier costume as well. He worked long and hard on this and here is the end result:
He made a helmet with a visor, a belt, a sword (which incidentally kept getting cut in half by the belt and therefore breaking! Big problem!), and there may be a few other pieces of armor hiding under that big visor as well. He's the most well-protected sheep around!

Mr. T as Goliath

Mr. T is a HUGE Donut man fan. Thanks to the Youngs for giving us their complete collection of his videos, Mr. T has many, many of the songs and plots learned pretty well. One of his favorites is the song where the Donut Man plays Goliath. So the other day he decided to dress up (like the Donut Man) as Goliath. He chose pieces of costume that match what the Donut Man uses in his costume (cape, beard etc.). Then he marched around singing the Goliath song. Here he is in his terribly scary outfit: (please note the fantastically mismatched pajamas - another current fad in our house)

Bathtime experiments

Mr. T loves to scoop and dump. It's about all he would do in the bath if left to his own devices. And he knows it drives me crazy. So I'm always thinking of ways to either distract him from his scooping and dumping (we both end up frustrated) or to channel it (a much happier solution). During bathtime the other day I poked some holes at various heights around a yogurt tub and gave it to him to experiment with. He had so much fun figuring out how to make this thing work! Some of the things he realized were that he had to fill it up ALL the way to really get some good jets streaming out and, without very much water pressure in it (low level of water), the lower jets just pretty much stopped flowing and just sort of dribbled out. It's a fun new bath toy.

Little Sweetie growing up

Now that our little baby can hardly be called a baby anymore, I thought I should take this video to remember some of the sweet things she's saying at this adorable toddler stage of her life.
If you are reading this on FB, you'll have to connect to my blog to see this video since FB does not upload my videos automatically.

Homeschool: Boats unit

O Boy has been asking for quite some time "when are we going to study tankers and the Titanic??" This isn't because he doesn't know very much about these subjects. On the contrary, he's pretty obsessed with both topics. But I had a little break that allowed me to start thinking about doing a unit on this and it all kind of came together.

One of the fun things we did was paint and sail some amazing boats that Alec and Hayley Pfundt made for the boys. I had asked for some simple wooden shapes and they made realistic little mini-tankers! Thanks, Alec and Hayley! They were very sea-worthy.

O Boy had lots of things he spent doing in his free time that were inspired by this theme. Here is a homemade mast that he and dad attached to his pirate ship (the mast broke long ago). It was huge to accommodate all the pirate flags he added to the ship. He got the real pirate flags from a sheet I printed out from Google images and then he cut them up. The other flags are the alphabet flags (again from Google images) that he also cut up. The flags were arranged very carefully in a specific order: the X flag was on top "because X marks the spot". The U flag was at the top because "it should be up" and the B flag was at the "bottom".
One of the activities that Mr. T's OT has recommended he do often is copying models of things. So here's a boat (his is the one in front) that he copied. This is still a bit tricky for him but he's getting faster and more accurate all the time.
I borrowed this idea from the amazing mom at the 1+1+1=1 blog (ordering pictures). I thought the boys might know how to do this, but I wasn't sure. Mr. T didn't actually know how to do it right away but after we did it for a few days he was an old hand at it, both from smallest to largest or the reverse. What's not to love about putting tankers in order?? Unfortunately every so once in a while there would be a severe storm that would mix up the tankers and they'd have to get reordered all over again...
Happy boy: playing with tankers
The story that we used for pretend play and sequencing during this unit was the story line of the Titanic. I made a short storybook using coloring pages I found online. Then, of course, (O Boy's idea!) we had to build the Titanic. This was really an activity specifically for O Boy to do with me. So we worked on it for a few days during times when Mr. T was playing with Barb, his respite worker. It was, of course, extremely accurate (as accurate as you can be with cardboard boxes and tape) to the real Titanic, down to some specific details O Boy insisted we add (like exactly 4 smokestacks). He also helpfully painted an iceberg that sat at the front of the ship. Because what's the Titanic without an iceberg or two??
Here are the boys playing in our Titanic with their friend BW. Good thing everyone has lifejackets on! Looks like they've already begun taking on water because O Boy seems to be abandoning ship!
Here is O Boy painting the paper for the sides of the Titanic.
Mr. T and the Little Sweetie painting the wooden boats (among other things).
Some more painting: Here is a drawing I did of the Titanic hitting an iceberg for Mr. T to paint. He loves blue, so the whole thing pretty much ended up covered in blue paint.
Here is O Boy's Titanic. If you enlarge it you can see that he's written "Titanic" and "BOOM" all over it next to some fireworks that they are shooting off the deck to alert other ships to their peril!
This was one of O Boy's favorite discoveries in this unit. I found the alphabet of ships' flags on Google images. He spent many happy hours during "nap" time drawing out all sorts of different peoples' names. It was their first experience with color by number and a highly motivating opportunity to practice this concept! Below are a few examples...
This says
Mr. T wasn't a fan of this activity because of it's high dependence on fine motor skills. But I finally drew his name out in very large flags, sat with him, and he finished it!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Homeschool boat unit: harbor tour

I almost got sucked into coming up with a million ideas of things to study on the subject of tankers and the Titanic...and overlooked the incredibly obvious fact that we LIVE in a fishing community. !! Thanks to my hubby for reminding me that we should actually get out and see real boats while we studied them...! So we called up an old hand around the harbor, "Grandpa" Brian Kandoll to ask if he would give us a tour. Thanks to Grandpa Brian and several others we spent a fun and fabulous day learning about all sort of new things down on the harbor! Unfortunately my camera battery was dying so I didn't get as many photos as I would have liked. But this is what we were able to record on camera:

We started our tour in the Harbormaster's office and got to meet the harbor dog, Hagar the Horrible and Glo Wollen, the harbormaster.
Glo let the boys watch her remotely turn on the crane several blocks away with a walkie talkie (very impressive to them!) and look out the window at all the boats. O Boy especially liked seeing the HUGE flashlights they carry around on patrol. Their highlights of the visit to the harbormaster's office were:
"I liked looking out of the big window" O Boy
"I liked seeing the man in the motorboat going really fast. And his propeller was going really fast." Mr. T

O Boy in the captain's chair on the Kestrel
Next we headed down onto the docks and met Erin, who took us on an amazing tour of the huge Fish and Game vessel, the Kestrel.
Here are the boys' thoughts about the tour:
My favorite part was when: we looked at the big ship and I saw all the captain's controls. (O Boy)
"I liked a lot of holes and a lot of ladders (and stairs!)." (Mr. T)
We did get to go up and down a LOT of steep stairs and see a lot of portholes. Mr. T wanted to climb up and down any ladder he saw.
Another favorite part was...looking at that big, big scientist's ship! (O Boy)
Another favorite part was...when the man took the two cranes and lifted that boat so high. It was so fun. (Mr. T)
One of the top highlights was when they brought a large skiff alongside the vessel and, using two cranes, actually raised it out of the water to offload some dive tanks. This was so much fun for the boys to watch and was probably their favorite part of the whole day (except maybe the Goldfish crackers Erin gave them from the mess at the end of the tour).
Trying to pull up the anchor
They loved seeing all the buttons and lights down in the engine room. It was incredibly difficult for them not to just touch and touch and touch all these exciting buttons!
Seeing huge engines up close is always amazing
There were many other neat parts to the tour - they got to see real scuba dive gear (they love to "scuba dive" in the bath), and as we as we were getting off the Kestrel a tug chugged by with a barge in tow and Matt, Grandpa Brian's son zoomed up with some fresh shrimp he'd just pulled up from his shrimp pots. A great boat-filled day!
One of my favorite memories is that when we headed back up the ramp to our car O Boy turned to me and asked quietly, "Can we go in and say good-bye to that lady?" He wanted to go back and say good-bye to Glo, the harbormaster! He never ceases to amaze me and I'll forever wonder why he asked - was it the dog, the cool flashlights, or he really did want to go say good-bye to her one more time?? When we got inside our mayor was there! So we finished off the tour with a little meet-and-greet with Mayor Al.

Swimming lessons

Mr. T has started his first round of swimming lessons since he was a tiny guy. He's in a class of 3 other kindergarten aged boys who are also homeschooled. He's been doing a great job and has graduated from using tons of flotation to just a float belt. His teacher Judy is doing a fantastic job with the boys.

She's been teaching him to keep his mouth closed when he puts his face in the water.

On the Zoomers!

Water fight! You've got to watch your back when Mr. T's got a squirty toy in his hand!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Gymnastics class

The boys have been trying something new this fall: gymnastics class! It's been a really fun experience with a great class of 5 little very active boys. They've done a lot of things (obstacle courses, 3-4 step directions) that Mr. T used to do in his PT therapy at "big school" last year so that's been great for him.
I love this shot of O Boy!

3 new terms they learned very well: pike, straddle and tuck! Here's Mr. T doing a pike position.
O Boy trying to walk with his hands across the bar - very tricky!

Gymnastics buddies

Made it across!
The balance beam was the biggest challenge for Mr. T but he just kept working at it every week!
Backwards on the balance beam