Posted in family life

## lift off!

Our biomes curriculum started off by introducing our planet’s location in the Solar System – it’s kind of important, after all, since the sun plays such a crucial role in shaping climate, determining the seasons, and maintaining life. It’s intended to be just a brief overview, before diving down more deeply into Earth itself, but both Rondel and Limerick have become completely, utterly captivated by outer space.

Limerick in particular has attacked it with his rather academic and obsessive bent, spending hours poring through images of the sun and the planets (always in order, from Mercury outward, including the dwarf planets), asking me to read and reread the books we have in the house, getting out the play dough day after day to model the solar system and using the kitchen scale to make his planets as close to an accurate scale as he can. (Since it’s finicky in its old age and won’t switch from standard to metric units, he’s gotten some practice working with pounds and ounces as well. It is rather irritating when something needs to be 1000 times larger than something else and you have to divide by 16 to get the correct number of pounds.)

(I may be to blame for his obsession with accurate scaling… for our first solar system activity, we made a scaled model of the solar system with play dough, based on NASA’s mass estimations for each planet, and measured out the appropriate distances between the planets so we could set them up down the hallway. Jupiter was so much larger that we ended up making a new double batch of play dough, using it all for Jupiter, and scaling everything else in relation to that.)

From top left, clockwise: all eight planets before placing them relative to the “sun” (the bookshelf); the whiteboard with calculations (and on the bottom a comparison of Jupiter’s mass in kg to various family members in kg); Jupiter looking out toward the other gas giants; Neptune looking in toward the “sun”; Jupiter looking in toward the inner planets.

Over the weekend, both boys decided to make paper models of the solar system as well, not to scale, but showing all the planets and the sun. They even wrote labels for each planet, which is the most handwriting they’ve ever done at one time! (Rondel’s picture is on the left and Limerick’s is on the right – Rondel included Ceres, a dwarf planet in the asteroid belt, and Limerick gave his sun quite a few solar flares.)

They’ve also been asking to read from our (admittedly small but at least quality) space book collection at bedtime and throughout the day. We’ve been cycling throughÂ Our Solar System by Seymour Simon (published in 1992, and lacking a lot of newer information),Â The Magic School Bus: Lost in the Solar SystemÂ (published in 1990, so the same problem), andÂ Astronomica by Fred Watson (published in 2011, absolutely massive, with amazing images and detailed information which I have to skim through to read at a level the boys can understand).

I’m planning on finding some supplementary books from the library about different space missions and picture book biographies of people involved in space exploration, so we can incorporate some history into our space study as well. We’ve already made a timeline with the lives of family members and individuals from books we’ve read, so it would be natural to include important dates in space exploration. Since ASU has a large space exploration exhibit and 3D show open to the public, I’ll probably try to incorporate that as well. And while Limerick has already used math with all the scaling he’s done, I’d like to find a way to show the boys how much math was used in designing spacecraft, planning missions, and charting the orbits of planets – Rondel enjoys math far more when it involves a topic he’s interested in. It might not have been my original plan for the beginning of the school year, but what’s the point in homeschooling, after all, if you can’t be flexible and use your children’s interests to motivate their learning?

Posted in family life, sqt

## {sqt} – school, summer, splash pads, and schedules

I’m joining This Ain’t the Lyceum today for the Seven Quick Takes link up! Head over and read some other interesting, humorous, and uplifting thoughts from the past week ðŸ™‚ The topic this week is supposed to be book-related but I didn’t know until too late – still, I’m looking forward to reading about other people’s recent reads!

1. Almost every school in our area is back in session (some have been for several weeks already), but the highs are still over 100 most days, we’re still in the middle of monsoon season, and it just generally feels like summer. Kids are walking past our house every morning towards the elementary school in their put-together outfits with their backpacks full and my three are hanging out in their underwear eating popsicles and asking to watch a movie…
2. The quite enjoyable side effect of school having started again is that all the fun places to cool off in the heat are mostly empty! The splash pads, for example, are no longer crowded! And we have some epic splash pads near us. This week we’ve been exploring the Cloud at Kiwanis since we’re in the area for swim lessons anyway:

How cool is it to have a splash pad that thunders and pours like a rain storm at the end of each cycle? Rondel would get so excited every time the thunder started, just running around waving his hands, and Limerick would tell me, “the rain is starting, the rain is starting!”

3. The other nice thing about this splash pad is the large non-sandy playground adjacent to it, ideal for my skinny kid who gets cold after five minutes in the water. Being a climber by nature as well, Limerick tends to spend most of his time on the playground, returning to the splash pad periodically to cool down again. He doesn’t always like me to take pictures of him (which is why I often have more of the other two), but he was quite proud of himself for climbing up to the top and hanging in all kinds of crazy positions!

4. I’ve noticed that all my kids will try to copy each other if they notice one of them doing something new or different. They do so, however, in wildly different ways. When Rondel saw Limerick swinging off the metal pole, he wanted to do exactly that same thing, and tried to climb up the swirly metal ladder – but his anxiety and fear of heights kept him from going quite as high, and I had to coach him back down (which is actually something I’m super proud of him for – not too long ago he would have panicked so much I would have had to lift him down). Aubade, on the other hand, picked a nearby ladder so she wouldn’t have to wait for the boys to clear off theirs and headed up, making it to the top repeatedly and trying again even after falling from the top rung.

4. Rondel and Aubade’s primary differences (sweet vs. fierce, cautious vs. fearless) show up in their pretend play at the park too (Rondel here is a baby inside an egg about to hatch. I am not sure what is going on inside Aubade’s mind!)
5. Swim lessons (the reason we’ve been at Kiwanis) are also a lot less crowded once school starts. The boys are in a class together with only three other kids, and they love it! Aubade hangs out with me on the sidelines and we get some silly mommy-daughter time, and the boys learn new skills, play fun games, and get to be in the water. I think they would swim every day if they could, and they’re getting better all the time. I’ve been impressed also with how well the instructor is able to help five bouncy 3-5 year olds focus and practice during the lesson!

6. As Rondel’s scheduled activities increased, and as the summer tended to be less predictable overall, I noticed that he was asking me very frequently when certain things would take place, and how many days away they were, and so on. So we made a visual schedule for him so he can see when things are going to happen each day of the week! We have regular events like church, speech therapy, and swim lessons, as well as more flexible events like grocery shopping, going to the library, and playing at the park. I still need to print out the names of the days of the week (I still can’t believe I forgot to do so in the first place), and then I’ll share the whole thing here. It has been so helpful for him, and he loves checking it to establish his place in the week and figure out when different things are going to happen.
7. Speech therapy, which I so casually mentioned in point 6, could be a whole post of its own! For now I’ll just say that we’ve done three weeks of it, so there isn’t much noticeable improvement, but Rondel loves it and has acquired a passionate interest in board games as a result of it ðŸ˜› In lieu of any actual kid-friendly board games in the house he’s been racing animals across the couches by rolling dice – we should probably make a decent board of our own out of cardboard or buy a commercial game somewhere…

I hope you all had a great week! I’d love to hear anything that stood out or made you smile ðŸ™‚