Find Joy. Seek Truth. Be Kind.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Math Day

I am getting excited about planning a Math Fun Fest Day for our local homeschool group. We were calling it "Math Salon" but that just didn't capture the feeling I have about it.

I am envisioning a place with different stations set up, manned by parents and older students, like at a children's hands on museum. All the stations would have some fun math related activities to do.

Here are some ideas I had:

3D spacial table - w/ things like perplexus and tetraxis
Game table w/ games, there's so many of these we'd have to break them up into themes - Set, Quirkle, Rush Hour, ...
Tiling activities - like fractiles, blokus, pentomino,
Puzzle table -
Oragami table with instruction books and some folded inspiration
History table(s) - with Babylonian, Egyptian, Roman and Arabic examples and puzzles
Chess table with sets set up to play, chess puzzles, etc...
Story table with selections from Living Math reading list - this could be one where a host read to kids, kids read to themselves, or parents read with their kids
Family math table with math games from the book
Music table(s) - pitch and rhythm are both very mathematical, but what exactly to put out?

A friend suggested Bucky balls and Zome Tools.

And here are some a friend emailed to me:

Vi Hart's videos are full of interesting ideas.
I got really excited about stars for a while, and wrote a Logo program to space N ticks evenly around a circle, so that I could print them out as templates for star doodling. Her other stuff is neat too.

Calculating pi by measuring various round objects and doing the division is
pretty fun and really helps kids understand the meaning of pi.

Playdough for fractions? Make a ball, cut it into wedges like an orange,
talk fractions.

Laminated hundreds charts are fun for coloring patterns on.

Older kids could make paper slide rules and learn how they work.

Roll 2 dice and graph the rolls to see if we could generate a bell curve.

Build paper models of platonic solids (printable templates @ Wolfram)

And here is some inspiration for the web:
Constructing the Universal Classroom

What ideas do you have?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Colorado fieldtrips

Yesterday's visit to the Colorado State legislature has totally got me psyched about doing more field trips. Also, we've realized we've only got 3 more months with our exchange student, and we really haven't shown him enough (read "any") of Colorado beyond Fort Collins.

I've got a list of ideas, but I'm sure I'm missing some things. Can you make suggestions in the comment section of this post? And how to prioritize? Since he has to go to school, there's not enough time to get it all in!

Rocky Mountain National Park
Estes Park

Butterfly Pavilion
Hammond's Candy tour
Capitol Building tours
U.S. Mint tour
Downtown Aquarium
Denver Zoo (we did the zoo lights, but a lot of the animals were asleep!)
Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Denver Art Museum (we did the King Tut exhibit, but didn't have time to explore much)
Denver Botanic Gardens
16th Street Mall/Larimer Square/Tabor Center

Celestial Seasonings tour
Pearl Street Mall

Colorado Springs:

Cave of the Winds
Garden of the Gods
Air Force Academy Tour

Too far/wrong season, so we probably won't make it there with our exchange student but we'd still like to take the kids some year soonish:

Dinosaur National Monument
Mesa Verde National Park
Yellowstone National Park

Hmm... now I see part of the problem. We have our student for the school year. The weather, combined with his busy fall tennis season and regular school, just didn't give us as many options as we have in the summer and homeschooling year around.

Monday, February 21, 2011

What we did this Presidents Day

Having an exchange student has opened some doors for us. Today I mean that literally.

Upon meeting our exchange student, our local state senator offered to host us for a day during the regular legislative session. This, being a day off school, and the Colorado State legislature being in session, was the day.

Anyone can go to the public galleries and watch the legislative session. I can not recommend the experience highly enough. We got the special treat of being hosted by a senator. It felt like a huge honor to be allowed onto the Senate floor sitting just behind our senator. He and his aid were generously on hand to explain what was happening. Other guests lined the cavernous room as we listened to 3rd and 2nd readings of today's bills. We also sat in on a committee meeting, joining other citizens while 6 senators discussed SB11-079 and heard public testimony. Although I'm sure I missed a lot of what was happening, especially on the floor, what I saw was fascinating. You can read about the legislative process, and you can even watch it on T.V. But there is absolutely nothing like being there.

I know my husband and I learned a lot today, but I don't know how much the kids will understand and retain. Certainly our exchange student couldn't catch everything that was said, since even my Colorado-born-and-raised ears were challenged. This was such a positive experience that I want to repeat it as the kids get older. Maybe every year on Presidents Day? :-)

So, for those who want more practical details:

We drove for an hour to get to the Colorado State Capitol Building, listening to "The History of US" on the way. That certainly helped put us in the right state of mind. There was paid parking close by, so we had an easy walk to the building.

Upon entering we went through security, just like at an airport, except we got to keep our shoes on. After we found the public restrooms (did I mention that drive?), we went to the senate floor where a Sergeant at Arms had our names and took us in to our senator. We got there at 10am, and listened until 11:15am. At that point the 6yo was pretty much done, so we left for lunch. The senators usually go until ~12pm, break for lunch and then head to committee at 1:30.

We had enough time to walk to the 16th Street Mall and catch the free bus to take us close to the Wyncoop Brewery, and still make it back in time to get to the committee meetings.

Doing this made us want more. There are 3 different tours offered of the Capitol building. Hopefully we'll get to take a couple before our exchange student leaves. Maybe we could add a tour of the Denver Mint while we're there!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

This post is for you

"Don't Beat the Children"

This is my hard times mantra, and honestly there are some days when that seems to be limit of my accomplishments - I didn't hit anyone today. (Talk about low standards!)

Last week a mom lamented to me "I was reading Amy's blog, and my kids aren't anything like that!" "My kids aren't motivated" "They aren't self starters" "They aren't miles ahead of their schooled peers." Man, I hear you. My kids aren't brilliant, perfectly behaved, or gifted beyond belief (at least not gifted in the things others would notice, is there a gifted category for "can make sound effects that rival Fred Newman"? How about "loud and irritating beyond belief"?)

So this post is for every parent who thinks they aren't good enough. See, bloggers are people too. We don't really want to air our dirty laundry. When we post there is a huge motivation to make everything look shiny. It's like writing your Christmas letter every time you blog. Do you really need to put in the bad days and misbehavior? Nah, we'd rather write about the successes.

So here's some dirty laundry - I am a terrible homeschooling parent. I have a child I don't know how to motivate,. He has behavior issues, or rather, misbehavior issues. He has so many things he likes to do, and is good at, but he breaks down as soon as something gets difficult. He asks for music lessons, but won't practice. He was in tears this morning just because I asked him if he would sit down just once this week and practice 5 minutes of piano. He loved doing the Science Fair last year, and loves science activities, but is balking at doing the Science Fair this year. I think it is safe to say he has performance anxiety.

The carrot and stick just don't work for this child. He would rather do with out any carrot than do something he doesn't want to do, or even something he likes to do if someone else wants him to do it. He will suffer any stick just on principles. (Not that I'm too good w/ a stick, sigh... maybe if I would just beat the children? ;-p) He loves to learn, hates to be taught, hates deadlines, has difficulty with transitions, and on and on. And time after time, I blow it. I get impatient. I lose my temper. The kid is beyond inconvenient. I wonder what on earth am I doing wrong?

And here's the answer, for me, and for you. Maybe I'm not doing anything wrong. Maybe he's having a hard time and I don't know how to help him. Maybe none of us really deserve the amazing little miracles our children are. Maybe there's no way to be perfect and deserving.

Our job is not to be perfect, their job is not to be perfect. Their job is to be kids, and our job is to help them be safe and move towards adulthood as best we can.

And not beat them. Today.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The History of US

Just this month I discovered Joy Hakim's "The History of US" on tape from our library. It's a children's history of the United States, but I'm enjoying it as much as the kids. :-)

I've mentioned before how well audio materials work for my RBers. We've listened to all sorts of great stuff, fiction and non-fiction. Listening in the car works for us. I have 3 RBed kids, 2 of which are very kinetic, and don't hold still for long. We also live outside of town, so have to drive a fair bit. Audio books help keep us occupied (although, for longer trips I still usually have to give them hand work as well, like modeling wax or crocheting).

Let me know of any good finds you know of. I wish I had found this one years ago!