Friday, March 9, 2012

Simple Pyramid Project

We have been studying ancient Egypt.  To end our study, we made a pyramid from sugar cubes.  

The project comes from the book Ancient Egyptians and the Neighbors: an Activity Guide by Marian Broida.  It was a very enjoyable project.  We imagined what it would be like to build such a structure if we were building with heavy bricks instead of sugar cubes.  What a a lot of work!

The only modification we made with the instructions was that instead of brushing the paint on, we actually dipped the sugar cubes in the glue (we used regular white school glue).  It took quite a bit of glue to get the sugar cubes to stick because the sugar tended to absorb the glue.  This might have been different if we had used a glue that was not water based but Elmer's glue is.  

The hubby and the kids may take the project further over the weekend, painting it and decorating it to look more authentic.  I'm just happy that I got the project done because I am not a project person!  

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sometimes . . .

I catch myself saying please, please, please despite not being sure that anyone "up there" is listening or cares.

Like, someone's offering a brand new Ameda Purely Yours breast pump on Freecycle.  I will definitely need this when I go back to work and because I want a bit more freedom than I had with my two boys when they were nurslings.  It's not an inexpensive item.

I know the chances of me getting it are pretty slim.  I probably am not the first to ask for it. But I still crossed my fingers and said "please, please, please."

Then I thought to myself, "Who are you asking?  Who do you think is listening?"

I don't really have an answer for that but I'm hoping.  I kind of need something fortuitous to happen.  Now.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Making Math more Fun

Math is one of the subjects in which I feel a child should have a very solid foundation.  While I was willing to freestyle other subjects like history/social studies and science, I really wanted a methodical, systematic and clear approach to math and I felt the best way to do this was to use a curriculum.  So far, I've tried three different ones: Right Start Math, Singapore Math and Math-U-See.  Math-U-See is the one we are currently using and I'm very pleased with it.  It's not a lot of fun, though.  It really digs in to lay the foundation with lots of practice and review and so for Z1, it can get kind of tedious.  I have a couple of ways that break up the tedium while still providing good math instruction.

  1. Daily Word Problems Math by Evan Moor.  Z1 uses the Grade 2 book.  The book is basically a word problem for every day of the school week.  The questions are not too challenging as to frustrate him but they do make him think and he is enthusiastic about doing them and gets super hyped when he avoids being "tricked" by miscellaneous information.  
  2. Logic Countdown by Bonnie Risby.  This is a great way to introduce logic and Z1 approaches it like a game of sorts.  It covers analogies, sequencing, relationships, syllogisms and more.  
  3. Picture books about math--these types of books serve as a great way to break up what could be a really monotonous math session.  Luckily, our library has many of these type of books available and if we go to one library in particular, they are all handily grouped together. These are the ones we currently have out.  
  •  Pattern Fish by Trudy Harris--both Z1 and Z2 enjoyed this book.  It introduces various types of patterns (AAB, ABB, ABBA, etc)
  • Math Fables and Math for All Seasons by Greg Tang--these books are great because they encourage children to think about numbers in different ways.  I especially like Math for All Seasons for Z1 because it encourages him to group numbers in creative ways to make for easier calculation.  
  • The Case of the Missing Zebra Stripes-- a collection of games, puzzle and riddles all related to the zoo.  This book induces lots of thinking!
Another resource we use is IXL but Z1 tends to find it rather tedious too because his math work is more involved.  Z2 really likes it though because it doesn't take long for him to progress and get prizes.  I've found some other math games here and there but nothing really stellar.  If Z1 is getting really frustrated, I'll let him play those math games and it helps him to reset.   

So these are some ways that I break up math instruction to cut down on frustration and boredom.  I am thinking that since Z1 is learning multiplication, I may start doing a 90 second timed quiz and maybe having some kind of prize for a certain number of tables he gets correct.  I've never done anything like that before so we'll see how it goes.  

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