Sunday, May 27, 2012
While wandering around, we stumbled onto Lego Mindstorm presentation. M is a bit too young for Mindstorms, but since those are robots, he's been asking for one for a long time. Seeing all the assembled and programmed Mindstorms was very motivational for him too 'cause once we got home he was eager to try learning some programming (with MIT's Scratch - free and easy to use). He actually got so into it that he kept asking me to "please, do some more programming with him". Needless to say, I'm very happy about it, especially since I tried Scratch with him a year ago without much enthusiasm on his part.
Back to the BrickMagic... Before we left, M also built a bit with bricks. But he was pretty tired and distracted and was clearly ready to go home. And so we did. The end.
Saturday, May 19, 2012
Yellow squashes are almost ready, just a couple more days until we can start picking them. Some of the early tomatoes are starting to bloom and so are the two potato plants.
Even though the weather's been kind of crazy, the cukes are growing well and I'm hoping we get lots and lots of tiny cukes soon. 'Cause you know, as long as it's something M can harvest himself, he will eat it. But store bought veggies are a whole different story. Seriously, he will munch on chives and sorrel and mint as long as he can "graze". Maybe I'll plant lots of broccoli next year?
Friday, May 18, 2012
Of course, it also means I won't have to go on those whirling, tilting, spinning, swooshing through the air rides unless I want to (fat chance). So it's a good news/bad news kind of thing.
And then we ended up walking by the midway with all the rides... What made matters even more difficult for me was that M stuck to the rule and didn't even ask to go on a ride, not even once. Nor did he ask for any treats or to try to win prizes. So that's what ultimately got me. Turns out, we had to buy tickets for the rides, each ticket costing $1. But even the cheapest rides required 3 tickets and most rides were 4 or 5 tickets.
Luckily, there was a Friday Special deal where you could buy a wristband for $20 and have unlimited rides. And that's exactly what I did. It proved to be a good choice since M ended up going on all but 2 kiddie rides (one was closed for maintenance and the other one was for very-very young kids).
Ok, so he had to be pulled off that ride (actually, he motioned for the ride attendant to stop) because he got "a little bit scared, Mama". But that didn't stop him from going on a swing ride and a few other nausea-inducing rides (like the Barrels of Fun one above) not once, but twice and even three times.
Saturday, May 12, 2012
I haven't posted any updates about our homeschooling for a while. I mean, I post about books we read and field trips we go on, but what about the three Rs? So here is the update:
Big progress here for sure. M can read! Ok, so I said months ago that he could read. But back then it meant he could read short words. Now he can read entire phrases and even sentences. And on a good day, he can even read a short story, such as this one:
- Пустые банки и старые газеты... А еды нет! - грустно сказал Крош.
Под газетами Крош увидел мышку.
- Мышка, где еда? - спросил Крош.
Мышка не ответила. Ей тоже было грустно. Крош подумал и решил:
- Мы посеем семена! Когда они вырастут, будет урожай и будет еда. А где лежат семена?
Крош искал семена везде. В банках, под газетой. Он гремел и шуршал.
If this doesn't make any sense to you, don't worry, it's only a short part from a story in M's Смешарики reading book for beginners. And yes, it's in Russian because that's what I'm teaching M now. We'll start English later this year, probably when Chris gets back home.
While M's reading is still far from smooth, he's definitely showing a lot of improvement with blending sounds and making sense of the material.
Not much to show here. But we are working on it. Thankfully, we have lots of help from our occupational therapist. But M does spend more time drawing letters and numbers and they come out recognizable even though he tends to add extra lines to some of the letters, such as "E".
With so much of our time and efforts spent on reading, we are taking it slow with math. As far as basic arithmetic goes, M can do simple addition and subtraction with numbers 0 to 7 without manipulatives. Anything greater than 7 he needs manipulatives support which is fine by me. Aside from simple arithmetic, we've played with grids and symmetry and functions. This is my 'field research' as I continue working on the Moebius Noodles book (it's going to be awesome).
It seems we haven't done all that much with school. But add to this all our field trips, all M's physical and occupational therapy work, and all our reading and I think we've been doing ok.
Friday, May 11, 2012
Anyway the Spring Thing was awesome! We stayed there for the whole thing and I had a hard time getting M out of the park. First, there were all sorts of activities for the kids, including parachute games, balloons, water balloons and even a bouncy castle thing-y. I thought M was going to spend all his time at the bouncy thing, but instead he enjoyed the parachute and then - running around the big lawn with a group of boys armed with Nerf guns.
Healing Oceans Together project. This project's goal is to create a card game that would be fun and engaging and would teach kids about marine life and how it can be protected.
They had a couple of tables, one for crocheting and one for creating coral reefs out of various recyclables and odds and ends. I was surprised how absorbed he became in making coral reefs with some egg containers, a paper cup, lots of salt dough and various pasta shells. Then he asked me to draw and cut out a coral out of a foam tray and spent quite a while coloring it.
On the way home, M kept talking about his coral reef and how now he wants it to grow. He asked me what could we do to make the reef grow. I explained that this one was a model, so it wouldn't really grow. But we could add on to it, I said. So maybe that's what we're going to do tomorrow.
As I mentioned, M's favorite toy of the last year and a half, his big Wall-E finally broke. We are both very sad. If I could find someone to fix this toy (re-wire the eyes and glue the neck), that'd be wonderful. But since I don't know anyone like that, I got M a different Wall-E. But I told him that we're going to send this one to China for repairs and it will come back to us even better (since the new one is not the exact same model).
While I'm thinking about how to pretend-mail Wall-E to China, M is busy trying to figure out more important issues. One is "how come there are no toy factories in America". I am not sure how to explain that one. Another issue comes from me telling M that it will take 2 weeks for the updated Wall-E to arrive to us. So now he wants to know "why can't it be delivered sooner, maybe with a rocket instead of an airplane". The simple answer is that I didn't feel like paying extra for expedited delivery, but I'm not about to share this with M (although believe me, after 3 days of non-stop whining and complaining and asking me when will the two weeks be over, I'm regretting not shelling out that money).
Then M is working on the idea of his about all three of us travelling to China. At first, after finding out that virtually all his toys were made in China, M wanted to move to this promised land. I explained that he would have to start learning the third language, Chinese, which is pretty difficult. I also mentioned something about environmental pollution in China. So my 5-year old thought really-really hard and then said "let's move China to here, mom". How would we do that, I asked. Here's his explanation: "we'll build a factory and bring all the toys from China and pollute our environment and then we'll have China here". Hmm, I think we both need a more in-depth lesson about this country.
In the mean time, M's got another idea (he just can't stand the fact that Wall-E is missing all the fun, i.e. watching garbage trucks on Thursdays). This idea comes from a Russian cartoon M loves. The cartoon is called Фиксики (Fix'ems). In it tiny people called Fixiki live inside all the appliances and electronic/electrical equipment. They help us keep all our things working and, using their awesome multifunction tool called помогатор (helper), they fix whatever's broken.
So yesterday M set his broken Wall-E in the middle of the living room, built scaffolding out of building blocks (so Fix'ems would have no problems climbing up to Wall-E's neck) and tasked me with watching out for Fix'ems while I work late. Unfortunately, no Fix'ems showed up. So now M is trying to figure out why they didn't. I really don't want to tell him that they only live in Russia 'cause what if he says we now need to move Russia here?
But for now M is taking care of the other Wall-E toy he has. This one is a little Wall-E, so M says it's Wall-E's son. Since Wall-E is temporarily without a dad, M's taking care of him and even teaching him manners (I recently overheard M lecturing Wall-E on when to say "thank you", "please", "sorry", and "you're welcome").
Thursday, May 10, 2012
We've been reading so much lately! I think even more than usual. Admittedly, M's selections this week are rather eclectic. But there's a story behind every book.