Thursday, July 4, 2013

Being Productive

Looking at my day today, I was feeling a bit down that I hadn't gotten more accomplished. I managed one small work meeting and an errand to the bank. OK, I also battened down the hatches at the dock as the lake began to flood- this time, *before* the boats floated away. ;) . . . but that's pretty much it. I didn't even make the kids do all their chores. My miles-long to-do list looks pretty much untouched since yesterday.

But wait, I realized: today was extremely productive on the homeschooling/kids front. I started my day with an extended wrestling/tickling/cuddling match with my oldest, who seldom wants to do that anymore. Then he asked to make us waffles from scratch for breakfast, and I said "yes". I walked him through the recipe. . . which meant a lot of concentrated instruction on fractions. (I even used the math manipulatives!) Julian worked on an alphabet puzzle and asked me to help him with flash cards, which we used to work on number recognition, counting and beginning phonics. This video (shared by a friend) then led to a discussion about genealogy:

(I wonder if she's right?!?)

Both boys had some outside time to run in the rain and gawk at the flooding.

While we were out running errands (including a stop at the post office so Simon could mail his first letter to his new pen pal in Japan) I stopped at the bookstore, where they browsed. Simon chatted with the saleslady, she helped him find what he was looking for, and he made his own purchase. On the way home, I spotted something interesting and turned around to check it out- it turned out to be a whole parking lot full of restored antique working steam engines! Apparently there is an annual 4th of July steam engine parade here. Who knew? We walked around and looked at them all, and smelled the wood fires burning, and listened to the (VERY LOUD) train whistles blow.
(photo credit Nicole Gustin)

Back at home, Simon volunteered to make dinner (frozen pizza and fresh fruit), and spent some time reading his book. Then we had an impromptu detailed exploration (sparked by a small query) of astronomy topics, in which I answered questions, explained, and we looked up answers together on the internet. Some topics covered include:
- What is a light year?
- How do you say 6,000,000,000,000?
- What does the sun sound like? (This was the golden question of the night, which led us to this very cool 10-minute documentary about a project to sonify solar data, which sparked many more interesting questions)
- What is a sunspot?
- Can solar flares and coronal mass ejections harm the Earth?

- What is Earth's "magnetic field", and why does it protect us from solar wind?
(Did you know other planets don't have a magnetic field? I feel like I should have known that, but I don't think I did.)

- If we could be right next to the sun without burning up, what would the sun *really* sound like?
(The answer, of course, is that we wouldn't hear a single thing. Which of course leads to the question,
- "Why?" Which leads to a discussion of sound waves and how they are transmitted.)
We both loved all these explorations and questions, and dug into our ice cream tonight feeling energized and inspired by our learning.

I read Jules his new Scooby Doo book for a bedtime story, and after tucking the boys in I thought about my day and what got done. I've realized I feel pretty darn good about it, actually. :)