More Sunday Scenes

I think ‘Sunday Scenes’ should be published on Monday. But I don’t have that kind of blog – you know, like all organized and on-time and things. I have the ‘fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants’ kind of blog – because that’s all I can do.

I like this idea of ‘Sunday Scenes’ as a theme because it’s a little like a brief, photographic gratitude journal. I am grateful.

Don’t Ruin Math

Recently, we had some tears and raised voices over division. So sad. In an effort to derail that episode and interject the fun and fascination that I want mathematics to hold for my kids (unlike anything *I* ever experienced) I did a little research, remembering and returning to some things we have enjoyed in the past.

Here are some things we’ve been reading, watching, playing with and doing.

I found some good lists of interesting mathematics-geared documentaries – my kids are very fond of documentaries. We are pulling ideas from here. We’ve watched several and we will choose a few new ones.

Gavin enjoyed many of these titles by Cindy Neuschwander when he was younger – so I returned to them for his brothers.

Sir Cumference and the First Round Table
Sir Cumference and the Off-The-Charts Dessert: A Math Adventure
Sir Cumference and All The King’s Tens
Pastry School in Paris
Sir Cumference and the Isle of Immeter
Mummy Math
Sir Cumference and the Sword in the Cone
Sir Cumference and the Great Knight of Angeland
Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi
Amanda Bean’s Amazing Dream

We also got a bunch of books by Greg Tang. We found all of them at our library.

The Best Of Times Math Classics for Kids
Grapes Of Math Math Classics for Kids
Math Appeal (Mind-Stretching Math Riddles) Math Classics for Kids
Math Fables Math Classics for Kids
Math Fables, Too
Math For All Seasons Math Classics for Kids
Math Potatoes: Mind-stretching Brain Food Math Classics for Kids
Math-terpieces Math Classics for Kids

We watched Schoolhouse Rock Multiplication and Donald in Mathmagic Land – they were great!

A couple of interesting books I found for Gavin & I are The Man Who Counted, Sacred Geometry, and String, Straight Edge and Shadow: The Story of Geometry.

Everyone was intrigued by the simple and beautiful books by Mitsumasa Anno.

We’ve pulled out more of our board games – because if you’re keeping score, counting money, using logic, and plotting strategy your expanding your brain and setting yourself up for math success :) You’re also NOT crying about division :(

Math Made Meaningful Activity Cards are one of my favorite ways to explore and experiment with math concepts. I found our box of them buried under some art supplies that no one uses. They now have a new, more prominent spot.

I need to check myself when I find that we are in the arid land of painful math. There is too much fun to be had to let frustration gobble up happy discovery. So if we can sing, play, and read our way to better understanding, we will.

Go down deep enough into anything and you will find mathematics.  ~Dean Schlicter

Sunday Scenes

These are some scenes from yesterday. A ‘Sunday Scenes’ theme would be a nice way to start the week around here – maybe I’ll make it a regular practice. It would also give me a chance to practice my photography skills.

Making Lists

Maybe it’s because it’s Spring. Maybe it’s something else, but I can’t stop making lists. I am listing what winter clothes and shoes the boys need for next year as I am packing that crap up. (I’m a thrift shopper, so you gotta know what you’re looking for) I am making lists of things they need for spring and summer and summer camp. I am making lists of classes the boys want to take and places we want to go. I started lists for each boy: things they are interested in, skills and material I want to tackle with them, books that might interest them and ideas I have for their near and distant future.

Here’s a completely random list of things.

1. Things We Like To Do On Our Ipad

We use our iPad for lots of ‘educational’ purposes. (I put educational in quotes because I subscribe to the theory that nearly everything is educational in some way :)

I read books to the boys about Louis Armstrong, The Mississippi Flood of 1993, and the State of Texas recently. We pulled up YouTube videos of live performances, news casts, maps and interactive tours about each book. There is nothing we can’t see in action in about 10 seconds :)

DSC09662 DSC09665We also use this, this, this, this, this, & this. Gavin uses the iPad to watch CNN Student News each morning and everyone loves DragonBox.

2. Sports

Hockey Season has started at Greenbrook Hockey Club. We now have 3 roller hockey players on three different practice/game schedules :) Ethan just wrapped up his bowling season, thank goodness.

Gavin and I are batting around ideas for a competitive sport he could play in high school. Curling, bowling, karate & archery have all been discussed. Curling?!?

3. Clothes-a-palooza

This is the process of culling and switching my children’s clothing. It goes like this…

~ Go through each dresser and pull out what doesn’t fit and won’t work for this season. (the dresser is usually almost empty after this)
~ I only save clothes between Mikey and Gavin. Everything else gets donated/passed on.
~ Go ‘shopping’ in the attic – I have very generous people that give us LOTS of clothes!
~ Each kid spends about 1-2 hours over the course of 2 days trying stuff on.
~ I keep minimal clothing for each kid – everyone knows I already have a laundry problem :)
~ I make a list of the items that still need procured – an extra sweatshirt, Spring jacket, water shoes, ‘mucky’ sneakers, etc. There have been times we’ve needed nothing :)

Clothes-a-palooza got its name from the times I have pulled out ALL the clothes in the attic to start switching all of the boys. I have learned to do one at a time. Sean’s almost done.

4. Games

We play a lot of games. It is an excellent way to develop brain power and teach logic, math and strategy skills. We do not patronize the boys by ‘letting them win’. We help, teach and coach during our games, but letting a kid win is disrespectful. I get beat often. Recently, we’ve played…

Spotzy Dotzy
Cathedral World

DSC09642 DSC09645Play more games!

5. Things I am Looking Forward To

Sitting in a lawn chair in the sun
Getting my feet into the Round Valley Reservoir
Putting my feet in the Atlantic Ocean – and my a$$ on the Jersey sand
My first float
Packing beach coolers full of summer fruit and fresh sandwiches
Walking, walking & more walking – purposeful and aimless
Icing my coffee
A new patio
BBQing all of our food :)

Recent Scenes

I have neglected downloading my camera lately, so I did a big photo dump and some pictures really thrilled me. I even found pictures that I don’t remember taking. Maybe I didn’t.

Literal snapshots of life.

World Down Syndrome Day

March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day. Get it? 3/21? Down syndrome, in case you don’t know, is caused by an extra copy, a third, 21st chromosome. It is our smallest chromosome. Ethan has three of them in every one of his cells – I’ve seen it with my own eyes on a detailed karyotype :)

In honor of celebrating people with Down Syndrome, here are a few of my favorite posts inspired by the kid who literally rocks our world – in every sense of the word.

Ethan’s Story

Mornings with Ethan

Waiting for Ethan

Next Steps for Ethan

Otherwise Known as Ethan Crashes The Car

A Date With Ethan

When Ethan’s Home

Ethan Carries the Torch

Oppositional Ethan

Ethan Surfs

Ethan Surfs – With Professional Photos

DJ Ethan

Ethan Bowls

DSC09414 (1)

I Want My Boyz To Have Skillz

Several months ago, I watched Mike Rowe’s video about the terribly high costs of college and began reading his website. I was very impressed by the statistics he presented about the American Workforce and very compelled by the information about skilled labor and the trades. I am so pleased that Ethan is receiving very strong job training at The Midland School and I began thinking about it for the other boys.

Dennis and I have been talking a lot about our boys’ propensities and what resources and experiences we would want to make available to them as part of their education. These conversations led us straight to Somerset County Vocation and Technical High School. SCVTHS is a free, public school offered to students in our county.

We were thoroughly impressed by the education offered at this expansive, clean and well-run facility. We found the men that ran the programs were highly skilled and had had extensive experience in their trades before coming to the school. Several were college educated, as well as being experts in their trades. We found meticulously run shops full of young men (almost exclusively) engaged in hands-on projects. One of the shops contained 1/2 of a house that was framed by the Carpentry Program, wired by the Electrical Program and plumbed by the Plumbing Department. It was awesome to see how far these teenagers had come and the skills they gained. We heard about self-paced programs, paid apprenticeships and many of the students choosing to go on to secondary schools and college programs.

I was amazed that in addition to their high school diplomas, these young people will have the ability to worked at skilled, and highly paid jobs. The school boasted a plethora of employers ready to pay these young men during their senior years and continuing as they work their way through further schooling. If they never choose to use this training for future vocations, they are competent and prepared to fix their own homes and vehicles and to be a useful benefit to their communities.

The school is open to homeschoolers attending part-time. This option would allow for students to continue meeting their academic requirements in a homeschool program and attend the school program for the job skills component.

As Gavin and Dennis and I work together to create a vision of what his ‘high school’ years could include and accomplish, we were all excited to find a place that can offer an education that would give him some super-powers that very few young people possess these days – the ability to build and fix the things that keep our society running. I have a feeling you’ll hear more about this option in the coming year. :)

“You’ve got a lot of very, very smart people standing by
waiting for somebody else to do the work.
Not a recipe for long-term solvency,
in my opinion.”
~ Mike Rowe

The programs we toured at SCVTHS were very ‘boy-centric’. We did see two young women – one in auto body and one in welding. I think these girls and their parents are very wise to pursue this type of training.  We noted that the Culinary program looked like it was very split between male and female participants and we suspected that the Fine Arts and Cosmetology Departments were heavily populated with young women :)