Monday, April 23, 2012

Spring Science, and other goings-on

The weather is getting warmer again, and with that comes something that moms and little boys have two completely different opinions of- bugs are coming out of hibernation!

My boys love bugs.  Caterpillars and ladybugs especially, but no creature that wriggles, flies, or hops is too small to escape their detection.  They even managed to find some of those teeny tiny blood-red bugs about a week ago when we were picking Kailey up from school and tried to convince me to let them take them home.  Umm, no.  There are very specific bug rules.  Such as "All bugs that come in the house must be in and stay in glass jars with lids" and "Caterpillars will not be put on your food to share your meal" and "If Mama finds a bug where it shouldn't be, it will be put back outside, or killed".  Better add "Bugs will not be brought in the car or put in your pocket" now, too."

But hey.  As much as I don't like creepy crawlies, I don't want the boys to become afraid of them or get grossed out by them like I am.  It's sort of irrational, really.  I used to play with roly polies all the time when I was a kid, catch lightning bugs, let ladybugs crawl on my arms.  What happened?  Why do I have to force myself not to have a negative reaction to them now?  I want to avoid that happening to them, if at all possible.  So far, so good.  Brennan catches crickets, Colin puts four caterpillars of various types in a jar to watch them turn into butterflies (though they usually turn into moths).

There have been a few times I thought bugs were just completely beautiful and awe-inspiring, though.  When we lived in Monterey, I was walking the boys one day, and saw a group of moths fluttering around some flowers, with the sunlight filtering through the trees and lighting up the dust and the moths.  It looked so ethereal!  It was such a beautiful and magical sight!  The second unforgettable bug experience was when we went back to Texas a couple years ago.  I was sitting outside, and my attention was caught by a bunch of winged bugs of some kind coming out of the wood that made a raised bed around a tree.  They just kept coming out and coming out, there had to be hundreds of them, and the realization that bugs actually do hibernate in the winter, and I was seeing them wake up from their hibernation, really struck me and confirmed in me that bugs are beautiful- or at least they can be sometimes!

So, the boys are having fun with bugs.  And I'm encouraging it.  We read a book that had a little section about bugs in it today.  It also had a section about humpback whales, and I'm planning on drawing a life-size humpback whale in the cul-de-sac when it gets a little warmer.  They've been interested in whales for several years now, starting with a book Grammy and Grampy gave them about a humpback named Humphrey who swam up the San Fransisco River.  Great story, based on something that really happened!

I've started reading the Jesus Storybook Bible to the kids.  I like how all the stories point to Jesus, and why Jesus had to come to Earth, and what Jesus had to do.  There are a lot of parallels in Old Testament stories to Jesus that I'd never noticed or paid much attention to before, and I love that it's opening my eyes to all of these.  We read a handful of little science books on various subjects, and a few "fun" books just because.  I love storytime!  It's one of my favorite parts of the day, and really one of my best chances to teach and disciple my children.  It may be kind of untraditional to use bedtime stories as homeschool time, but I think it's a lot more natural, and it works for us.

They've also been doing a lot of computer games lately.  I replaced the screen on my previous laptop, and gave that to them to use as a family computer, and they used the last of their Christmas money to get a subscription to Starfall.  It's been one of the best things I think I've ever done for them!  They're always on PBS Kids, and come out to tell me about this or that they learned, and "Mommy, did you know...", and "2 and 6 make 8!"  It's so amazing seeing them learn!  Starfall has been a huge help in teaching them, because all of the games are designed to teach the basics of what they'd be learning in school, but it's all in a game format.  They're picking up on reading remarkably quickly for me never having "taught" them.  Starfall and PBS Kids both have everything verbalized so you don't have to know how to read, and it's been teaching them how to.  When you hear the word "back" every time you put your cursor on the arrow that says "B-A-C-K", you'll eventually realize that those letters spell the word, and then you'll be able to read "back" any time you see it!  I'm so happy they're learning so much, and in the ways that each of them learns best.

Other schooly things I've done lately: we have a few spots in and near the kitchen that I like putting worksheets and printouts and other fun things on.  We've done a couple maps, and those are hits, and the ASL alphabet was so popular I had to make another one to replace the first copy.  I'm trying to get the kids more involved with cooking and other household tasks.  Sometimes it works well, sometimes it doesn't, but I think we're better off than we were a month ago.  We've been discussing songs in the van, various things that are mentioned in them.  Prohibition, immigration, Ellis Island, Scandinavia, some myths and legends.  It's amazing how many teachable moments there are when you look for them.  We're learning about raising chickens.  The ducks were less than successful, and had to go.  The chickens are coming along, though.  This week we're gonna have to build the coop to get them out of the living room.

Nikolai has put together a few sentences, which is exciting.  Other than that, I haven't seen too much else developmentally for him.  It's probably more me not noticing than milestones not being there-this is the crazy house, after all! 

I think more than anything else this last few weeks, I've noticed how much I'm learning, and I'm trying to pass on at least a portion of what I learn to the kids.  It's been really cool, some of the conversations we've had.

That ends tonight's monologue.  I've gone on long enough :)

-Amanda -_-*