Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Building Xenosmilus

At 9:00 am sharp Catherine was at the table doing a page from Math Mammoth 'Addition and Subtracton 2A' and enjoying it. We have this pile of math workbooks we've accumulated at yard sales, as presents from relatives and from local dollar and drug stores that Catherine has been dipping into over the years. Usually they're Schoolzone but occasionally they're some other publisher but they all have some general similarities. The pages are filled with colour and cartoonish animals and people and often problems are framed as puzzles rather then equations. Having Key to..., Singapore Math and now Math Mammoth to look over it's become clear the difference in quality between those workbooks and a guided, structured curriculum. Math Mammoth has no cute graphics and much of Singapore is pretty much straightforward equations but Catherine enjoys and works at these books like she never did with the others. I think it must be like getting a huge, delicious garden salad after weeks on end of chocolate bars and candy.

After math we started Easy Grammar 34. It's another curriculum that stands in stark contrast to the colourful, splashy Schoolone stuff and yet again Catherine had a ball with it. Prepositions are tackled first and, holy crap, I challenge anyone reading this to come up with an easily understood definition of what a preposition is. I had Google fired up throughout the lesson, looking for different definitions and examples. Catherine seemed to have a good handle on them though and enjoyed the work. I did too. I'm really looking forward to doing this with her as my grammar is beyond ( <---preposition!) rusty.

Harry was a little out of it today with a cold that's been going around so I gave him some Tylenol and he took it easy watching Treehouse TV. I did ask him if he wanted to do some 'schoolwork' but he said no and mumbled something about Thomas. We did read a few books together throughout the day.

After lunch Catherine and I did a lesson plan from Understanding Evolution called Xenosmilus. It is an awesome activity. You narrate a story and get your child to pick out, a few at a time, (paper images of) fossils that they look over, arrange and make informed guesses about. Eventually you end up with the skeleton of a Xenosmilus, a sabre toothed cat. It needs a little adjusting because it's geared to classrooms but we had a great time with it. At the end we glued the fossils together using the skeleton picture on this page as a guide. Here's a picture of our finished skeleton (sans one leg bone. We found it under the table after rest was complete)...

After that fun Catherine went to her computer (I finally got her sound working after I'd wiped the hard drive and done a fresh install of Windows. No luck with the ethernet card yet though) to play Reader Rabbit Personalized Math (ages 6-9). Harry and Maddie (the niece, up for the day) immediately grabbed chairs and all was quiet as they watched her play for half an hour.

We cleaned up, Maddie went home, we ate. Then Catherine played Neopets as I read to and snuggled with Harry a bit. He went to sleep and I came out for some reading with Catherine. I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder's, "The Long Winter," when I was a kid so I picked up her books in the local used books store and we're now reading "Little House in the Big Woods." To keep the flow of the story I'm going to do the bulk of the reading but a couple of pages were reserved for Catherine. I typed up page 2 and page 17 in Wordpad, enlarged the type and printed them out for her to read when we got to those pages (she had a little trouble with the small print). Just one chapter before quiet time. I can't wait to read some more tommorrow!

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