Wednesday, June 6, 2012

School-Age Center Rotation

I have the privilege to be home in the summer with my kiddos.  This summer I don't even have other kiddos with us.  So what to do?  :-)  Today we had a lovely day.  Actually after our morning I had 2 out of 3 children take a nap.  And the third one I found out fell asleep in the reading tent.  Ha!

After piano, Tae Kwon Do, groceries/shopping, appointments, library...we really only have about 2 days out of the week that we aren't "doing anything".  I find that I really do need to have some sort of activity planned though on these days to help our days go smoother.  Last night they voted a center rotation.  This is where I set up several 'centers' and they can rotate through them and it usually takes about an hour.

My kids are always wanting to be at the computer.  It's limited here, ESPECIALLY during the school year.  They use the computers in their class, at the lab and watch way more movies/TV than necessary.  Multiple times I've walked into the first grade classroom to see Sponge Bob on the TV.  Hello?! can guess my opinion of that!  This was a refurbished computer that we set up as a "kids computer" and it's in our kitchen.  Hopefully by next school year we'll figure out why our wireless Internet is not working with this particular computer and get it fixed.  I do suggest the computer the children use the most be in an easily supervised spot, especially if you have Internet hook up.  But even if not...I find that time can go by quite quickly and you forget how long they've actually been on the computer if they are out of sight.  The kids' favorite CDs are JumpStart and Magic School Bus.  We were trying a series of CDs I've had for years from Manay.  There were several activities on the math and science CD but they really only enjoyed the Math Scrabble.  We actually purchased this game recently and so it has renewed interest.  I'm sure we'll slip the actual game in soon! 
S'Math, from Lakeshore Learning

Science Tray
  We did this with the preschoolers back in February.  You can read that post (Fizzing Trays) here.  Differences for the school-agers:  They were able to color their own vinegar and use as much or as little of the baking soda/vinegar as they'd like.  Allowing the kids to explore on their own with minimal "interference" from mom is...well, yes, it's a little bit more messy but on the other hand, school-agers have a bit more control and ability to clean up their mess!  I use trays often.  It makes clean up so much easier!

I control the activity a bit with a toddler, as you can see below.  I didn't have him pour his own vinegar or add the colors.  I prepared the tray of colored vinegar for him.  As usually, he ended up spending more time mixing the colors.  :-D

Playdough Measuring
Less is often better I've learned.  :-)  I remember when I use to put the whole playdough tub out (yes, I still do on occasion) but when I want something specific explored with, less IS better.  Our goal this summer is to relearn how to explore a specific topic and also to build stamina.  Because they have not had the opportunity to truly explore, they really do not know how to progress on their own.  They want me to tell them what to do.  They quickly move from one area to the next without truly getting anything from the activity.  It'll take time but we'll get there.  :-)
 After 1st grade, the children really do not use clay or playdough anymore in school.  Isn't that sad?   Today I set out two types of scales.  Slipping in some learning here.  :-)  Weight...sometimes the weight of an object is called its mass.  Today we explored with oz. and lbs.  My unstated goal for the 1st grader was to realize that the weight stays the same even though the shape changes.  (As long as no part of the playdough falls off!) 

Reading Tent 
Seems like every time the children want to do this, it isn't the right time.  It takes time and patience to pull all the chairs out and find all the suitable bedding that will work with the tent.  This was C.'s idea for today.  He wanted a tent with flashlights to read.  And lo and behold we were at the library yesterday and got a bunch of "new" books to read.  Love that C. is now at the 3rd grade level and into chapter books.  :-)  A.'s at the 6th grade level and I'm finding it difficult to find books that are at his level in reading as well as social/emotional development.  However, we don't worry about AR during the summer.  Our summer goal is to read for the fun of it.  :-)  I think AR sometimes hinders this. 

We recently went on a field trip to the Wilderness Trails Zoo in Birch Run, MI and our group each chose a paper fan souvenir.  I could tell they were pretty cheap so I encouraged our kiddos to keep theirs to use for our religious convention...which can be a bit warm at times.  :-)  So, I pulled them out so we could see how they were made and then we created our own for every day play. 
9"x12" construction paper
1.5"x10" cardboard/cardstock
I didn't get pictures of every step but these are the main two steps.   Encourage them to decorate the construction paper...both sides if they wish.  Then accordian fold the paper.  Then our own kids chose colored cardstock instead of cardboard and cut a 1 1/2"x10" strip, using a ruler and pencil to mark and a paper cutter.  They folded it half, lengthwise over the bottom of their fan.  They then decided that it was too long for their fan so trimmed it.  Then they stapled it and wrapped packing tape around the bottom.  Seem pretty durable compared to other fans we've made in the past.  :-)

Oh, and we started into our goal of reading ALL of our picture books!  LOL Wonder if we'll actually get through them all before summer is out.

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