Given that we've been stuck in again though, it's been a nice day. The boys got on with their MathsWhizz nice and early, followed by a bit of handwriting practice. Actually Youngest did a maths workbook instead of MathsWhizz, as he's hit a bit of a wall with their online curriculum. There seems to have been a jump from number recognition to addition using numerals. If the numerals were accompanied by pictures to count, I know he could do it no problem, but the numerals alone are a bit abstract for him right now. So I went out and found this book that seems to be about the right level for him - and he loved going through several pages (more than I expected) this morning, so hooray for flexibility and mixing up our methods!
Following that, we decided to do a bit of modelling with air-drying clay. We looked at a google search on animal sculptures, just to get an idea of what we could do. I find it helps the boys to see the different styles: realistic, impressionist, abstract, and just plain weird etc, so they don't put too much pressure on themselves to have to produce something entirely life-like. In this case there was no problem - Eldest and Middle both decided to do an unrealistic shark-with-googly-eyes. Youngest spent a lovely time playing and experimenting with the clay, and eventually made a (very skinny) manta ray. Mummy made a polar bear, and I can tell you, getting the head even close to 'right' was not easy! It helped that we used some of the boys' toy animals to help us observe the shapes etc more closely, but I'm still not satisfied - need to learn a lesson from my kids I guess!
Youngest's manta ray
Middle also had a lovely time making a sort of adventure game in pictorial form with our lodger, known to us as Bo. I have to confess I didn't entirely follow the details of the game - Bo probably had a bit better idea (it helps that when it comes to minds working on a surreal level of imagination, they are pretty well matched!), but I do know that he absolutely loved having her spend time with him, focused just on his game. I just love how he thrives in the glow of one-to-one attention. This is his game (the picture developed as the game - some sort of battle - developed)...
I realised that the garden birds had got through all the bird seed again (they're emptying the feeder every couple of days at the moment!) so I refilled all the feeders, then Eldest and I had an impromptu sort of bird count in the front room. He wrote down all the birds that he thought we were likely to spot (buzzard was maybe a bit optimistic, but otherwise he was pretty spot on), and we spent a lovely half hour or so just watching them all visit. It was impossible to count accurately as the blue tits, coal tits and great tits were so fast and flighty, so we just wrote down the minimum that we agreed we had definitely counted at any point. We enjoyed it, anyway...
Other than that, thanks to the notes I scribble down in my diary throughout the day, I can add that we also did the following today: read Bible stories (all), played Alphablocks and Nat Geo Kids on my ipad (Youngest), played minecraft (all three boys), read the National Geographic comic that arrived today (Middle and Eldest), played on Gridclub (Youngest & Middle), learned about komodo dragons and giant fruit bats on Deadly 60 (Eldest & Middle), drew a badger (Eldest)... and probably other things besides that I wasn't aware of! Finally, just before I went to make tea, I was back on the computer with Youngest. While he was on Gridclub earlier, he had found an advert for Mathseeds (the maths curriculum from the makers of Reading Eggs). He really wanted to have a go, so I registered him for his free trial, and late in the afternoon he sat down to it. He did the assessment, which was straightforward enough, and then did some exercises (games, as far as Youngest is concerned). The first couple were a bit repetitive, but then he got to some addition (using different visual representations of each sum), and picked it up nicely. I was really happy that he had asked for Math seeds! I don't know if we'll continue with it, but we'll certainly give the trial a good go! It's age 3 - 6, so wouldn't be any good for the other boys, but Youngest loved it - he whizzed through an entire level, and I had to ask him to leave the next level for another day so I could make tea (the PC was occupied so he was using my laptop - NOT something I can let him do unsupervised). I call that a success!