Saturday, May 23, 2015

Moving Right Along

 Well, we've been busy here at the squirrel's nest. In the last couple of months, we have seen a pick up in interest in learning, and working on projects, and doing things- so I've been going for it. We have found a number of new strategies for getting Andy to think about material, access information, and work on his learning, so we have more experiments to do.

We did make these cool suncatchers for Mother's Day presents for my mom. They were super easy. We use cake and pie pans, regular plastic pony beads, and the cookie cutters. For the flowers, we set the cookie cutter in a cake pan, filled it with a layer of beads, and then put it on the gas grill (medium-high heat) for about ten minutes. We turned the pan halfway through for that second one; the first one you can see the uneven bead melt.

For the bigger rounds, we used a foil pie pan. We liked that the pattern from the bottom of the pan was captured in the suncatcher, giving it a star pattern. We tried a couple ways to make a hole in the catchers without having to drill, but none of them worked.

We also made some in a muffin pan, but I think Andy wants to use those as targets or something for his nerf collection. Right.

Lots to talk about with it, though- heating, melting, color. We experimented with other kinds of beads, and talked about why those didn't work (for example, glow-in-the-dark beads, when melted, are too cloudy).

Andy as a flamingo. 
We also started our animal unit, where we study different animals, and then we are making a lap book for each one. This is actually my sneaky way of teaching him writing. With the lap book, you look up information and complete several small mini-projects. Then you organize those mini-projects into a larger project, like a book or poster. You end up with a nice interactive learning tool- but also a way to break down information, process it in smaller chunks, then organize it effectively into a larger project. It give him a visual and kinesthetic organization tool! Woo-hoo!

With eagles under our belt, and cats up next, we went to the Richmond Zoo to check out possibilities for future projects. I'm thinking of doing this all summer, as he likes the animals, he likes the lap books, and hey, organizing thoughts and information! Yay!

He loves the parakeets, and did his best to pet one of each color. He watched the penguins get fed. He touched a giraffe. What better way to pique interest?

He also took some of his own photos... mostly of the peacocks.

Oh, and this owl, because he knows I like owls. 

I have the feeling peacocks are going to be on our lapbook list. We also found an animal we had never heard of: the Patagonian Cavy. We totally need to do that one. 

So our cat project is under way, and we are learning about cats. We put together some note sheets to help him remember what information he needs to learn about different animals- their classification, their special adaptations, etc. Then, hey, what better way to study cats than to take them to the vet? They needed their check-ups anyway. We made a whole list of questions to ask our veterinarian. She very patiently answered them. He was interested in the shots they were getting, and wanted to know how they purr, what whiskers do, and how much to feed them. 
I think it may all be connected to his current obsession with Garfield, but hey, learning is learning, right? 

The first mini-projects he completed were about what cats eat, and generally about pets and why people keep pets. Next up: classification and what makes a feline a feline.

 Andy also got his garden started at long last. We started some seeds, and that went really well. He has celebrity tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, basil, watermelon, cantaloupe, and crookneck yellow squash started, and he also insisted we plant some cat nip. At home we put in sunflowers and zinnias in the front, as well as some of the tomato plants. We shall see what he learns.

Part of it will likely involve "you need to mix the soil better in your garden bed" and "rabbits think gardens are yummy", but I am also hoping we learn a lot about how to can tomatoes, freeze squash, and eat melons.

Planting watermelon.

We've come a long way from curling into a fetal ball and screaming every time "learn" was mentioned. This coming fall I am hoping he will be ready for classes and more structured lessons, and get that solid base of information under his feet. He's been clipping right along in math, though memorizing times tables is definitely not his "thing".

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