Friday, May 1, 2009

This Week at School

The Super Awesome School of Super Awesomeness just gets more super awesome each week!

We started the week by baking a cake. Why not? Dudeman was hoping to make a cheesecake, but we didn't have 18 oz. of cream cheese on hand (go figure), so we made a vanilla layer cake instead. The cake recipe called for 3/4 cup of butter. Two sticks of butter are a whole cup, so how do we measure 3/4 cup? Next we measured the sugar and talked about all the different ways we could measure the same amount. Two eggs. Vanilla. Uh-oh, the teaspoon is dirty in the dishwasher. Can we use the half teaspoon to measure 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla? Flour. Baking soda. One and 1/4 cups of milk. It was fun to cook together and a great excuse to discuss basic fractions. (You might notice that there are no pictures of the cake. It didn't last long.)

We read tons of books, especially the day that Dude was miserable with spring allergies (his mother's child.) Running a low fever and zonked out with Benadryl, he curled up with me on the couch and we worked our way through: Penny the Forgotten Coin by Denise Brennan-Nelson, Bad Boys and Mary Had a Little Ham by Margie Palatini, Dear Deer by Gene Barretta, Black Bear Cub by Jacqueline Moody-Luther, How Long or How Wide? by Brian Cleary, a couple more chapters of Toys! Amazing Stories Behind Some Great Inventions by Don Wulffson, Inventor McGregor, by Kathleen T. Pelley, You Wouldn't Want to Be on Apollo 13 by Ian Graham, There's A Frog In My Throat! by Loreen Leedy and Pat Street and Yes We Can, based on President Obama's victory speech. Oh, how I love the luxury of dropping our plans and just reading together when we're not feeling up to an active school day.

The day of reading added lots of titles to our reading challenge list. I had picked up some sticky stars so Dude could rate his reading selections. It was interesting to see what his favorites and least favorites were. A visit to the library added even more selections to the list. By the end of the week, he had gone from 14 to 28 books.

We worked on our ancient Egypt History Pockets projects, and had a great time writing things with hieroglyphs. We located the Nile on the globe and talked about the red land and black land, and why the Nile was so important for the Egyptians. We read some good books about ancient Egypt (way better than the basic dry facts provided by History Pockets.) Mummies, Pyramids and Pharaohs by Gail Gibbons, You Wouldn't Want to Be a Pyramid Builder by Jacqueline Morley and Hieroglyphs by Joyce Milton provided us with plenty of fascinating information about daily life, Egyptian religion, and the power of the Pharaohs. Dude really liked the History Pockets cat activity and ended up doing two: cut out and decorate a sacred cat, then fold it and write a poem about cats inside. This inspired him to compose a great story called The Two Cats of the Pharaoh.

Oh, I almost forgot the other books, the Star Wars Clone Wars comic series. Dude goes through those pretty quick, but I still let him count them on the book challenge list. Reading them always inspires lots of clone and droid battle sketches.

Let's see...Hey, Dude, did we play any games this week? Oh, yeah, someone beat me at Scrabble, even though he had the worst strategy ever. "You see, Dude, the way to win at Scrabble is to make the best word you can at the time. Don't save your letters hoping for a chance to use them a certain way, because..." "Yeah, OK, Mom. But I'm going to save these three in case a G opens up." "No, that's not the best strategy..." I explain, as I lose by 20 points to a kid less than one-fifth my age.

We played a game called Tax Collector, from Family Math. The object of the game is to get more money than the tax collector. For every paycheck you choose, you get to keep the money, but the tax collector gets the factors of your paycheck. For example, if you took a paycheck for $10, you would get $10, and the tax collector would get $2 and $5 (because 2 x 5 = 10.) Dude caught on pretty quickly that some paychecks seem like a good idea at first, but really aren't. For example, $24 seems like a good paycheck. But the tax collector would get $2, $12, $6, $4, $8, and $3. Yikes! Even the Finns don't pay that much tax!

We didn't spend much time outside, due to allergies, but we did go out long enough to catch Buddy (see below.) Dude worked on a new piano song, played with the dogs, did some Gamequarium math games, ran errands with me, including a quick trip to the bank to trade in some quarters for $2 bills.

Just for fun the kids made some stuff out of Sculpey, and we spent an evening painting stuff at the local ceramics place. We had playdates with good friends. (Thank you, Friend's Mom for having a pet rabbit so I don't have to!) Supersim's friend was so adorable--she came to me and said, "Can we turn this into a party?" "Sure, I guess." (What does that mean, exactly? I wondered...) "Yay!" she says! "We're having a party! This is the best party ever!" Then she runs away to play... Apparently just calling it a party made it a party. Kids are wonderful, aren't they?

I almost don't even care what we study--I'm just enjoying this time together.

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