We should be burned out by now, but because February, the drudgiest most wanting-to-be-done-already-est month in which to homeschool, was filled with Chaos, Disaster, Torment, Grief and the Department of Homeland Security, we are all quite enjoying boring Monday March drudgery. Reading math lessons to the boys, washing dishes after dinner, and reminding little people to put their shoes away, all has that comforting familiar feel, just like climbing into my own bed after a long, hard day.
Albeit, we didn’t do lessons today. The kids were engaged in interesting projects on their own and I chose not to interrupt them, even though I have shiny new plans for this quarter. (In NYS, we have to report at the end of every quarter.)
Bear (10) fetched a cardboard box out of the recycling and turned it into a store, complete with money-holding cup, reversible open/closed sign, price list, and a window for the saleman to sit behind. Terran (7) set to work right behind him building, essentially, the exact same thing. He called it something else but it was identical. Bear was miffed and we talked for a while about establishing a family policy on copying.
I don’t know what Verdi (12) did most of the morning. He was laying in his bed staring at the ceiling. I tend to think that sort of thing is important when you’re 12 and your brain is waking up and the world is all brand new again. I just asked him a second ago what he was doing this morning and Bear jumped in and answered, “He was trying to patent the stick.” Not really, apparently.
Around noon I decided enough daydreaming had been done and I redirected Verdi to cleaning off the back porch, which had become kind of a giant junk drawer over the winter. It was warm enough to work outside for an extended period, so he did. I noticed he didn’t complain and I thought that was awesome. At the same time, I got Terran to help me with dinner prep, cooking chicken in hot sauce, mixing it with cheddar and cream cheese, and filling pizza dough with this mixture. I had to send Bear to the corner store four or five times in quick succession for ingredients I’d forgotten. In between errands he helped Verdi with the back porch.
When they were done with the porch, we got out the Spring Equinox baskets. I had each boy cut out a liner from a black garbage bag, then go in the backyard to collect some dirt. We plant wheatgrass seeds in the baskets so when Eostre the Bunny-Headed Goddess comes, she’ll have some grass in which to put the chocolate eggs. Cutting the bags to fit the baskets was more of a puzzle than the boys anticipated and they spent a good half an hour designing and redesigning their basket linings.
After that it was time for “turns”, meaning the kids move through a schedule of chances to use electronic devices. For 45 minutes, one kid has the iPad, one the laptop, and one the iMac. Then they rotate and for another 45 minutes each has a different device. There’s one last rotation and then that’s all. They get no other time with glowing screens the rest of the day, unless they can convince me they need to Google something. Mostly they all sit around playing Minecraft with each other during “turns.” The two oldest boys check their Facebook accounts too and Bear often writes to friends online. Verdi uses Facebook to read science articles people post on his wall. Today, though, he just played Minecraft on a Hunger Games server and searched for a place to build a new house in Tekkit. Bear built a pirate ship in Minecraft.
After turns we had dinner. Terran set the table. Bear cleaned up the living room. Verdi ran out for cream because I had a bunch of strawberries I wanted to serve. The salt potatoes were pretty good. Everyone tried everything, which happens more and more these days. We had cream in root beer, a bit of a treat, and talked about what to call that. I proposed “Dustbowl,” but I think “root milk” won. Yummy, anyway.
After dinner, the only activities that are allowed are reading, listening to books, singing, and sleeping. After a brief quarrel over who would be allowed to read Life of Fred: Elementary Physics, with both Verdi and Bear claiming the greater right, we decided Bear should since it was his birthday gift and he was halfway through it, whereas Verdi was just starting it. Terran read the last story in his Amelia Bedelia anthology and The Magic School Bus In the Time of the Dinosaurs. That led to him asking, “Will people ever be prehistoric?” which, you can imagine, created some interesting conversation. Verdi ended up reading the latest MAKE magazine and the issues of MIT Technology Review and Science News that came this week.
We did kind of cheat and insert some discussion and YouTube video watching into reading time. Verdi received a package (our mailman comes SO LATE in the day) containing his persistence of vision kit, after two years of pining for it. We watched this video to remind ourselves how POV works. Verdi’s going to try to assemble it this week, we hope. For now it is tucked safely on the shelf next to his Raspberry Pi and Arduino kits.
That, I think, was pretty much our Monday. I need a way to keep track of what the boys are doing when they aren’t doing what is on our lesson plans, and since we’re getting more unschool-y and flexible that is happening more and more. Perhaps blogging again is the way. We’ll see.