Tuesday, November 30, 2010

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!

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