Saturday, May 23, 2009

Homeschooling - Dinosaur Week

Mark goes to an at-home day-care once a week for 4 hours. He loves it because he gets to play with older boys (and boy do they have A LOT of fun toys!). I love it because everyone in this daycare - the teacher and all the kids - speak Russian. The teacher loves it because Mark behaves very well there. And the other two boys love it because Mark doesn't get in there way too much, plus he openly admires them (and who can resist that!).

At this daycare, kids mostly do a lot of free play. It's not structured at all, which is great. But usually they do some small art or crafts project and go for a walk in the nearby park. The teacher tries to introduce numbers, letters, shapes, etc. through each game and I think it works. Mark has learned a lot of words there.

The rest of the time it's just me and Mark. Again, usually our days are pretty unstructured. We drive Chris to work and stop by to watch the daily Amtrak train on the way back. We go to the Marbles museum, to different parks and playgrounds, feed ducks, pick strawberries, play in the yard, watch cartoons, read, ride a toy train and a carousel at Pullen Park, and cook and do other stuff around the house.

Then one day I decided that it'd be nice to introduce a bit more structure and learning into our daily schedule. So I figured, what's better way to kick off our homeschooling than to have a dinosaur week! Yeah, for now I'm really thinking about homeschooling at least through the elementary school.

So I've made lots and lots of different little games centered around the dinosaur theme. And I got some colorful dino books at the library. Unfortunately, Mark decided to renew his interest in trains that same week. Instead of being into dinosaurs (per my plan), he was and still is into drumming and trains (per his plan).

We still managed to learn a few new things:

1. New color - purple (and no, we didn't watch Barney at all). So now Mark knows all his basic colors - black, white, red, green, yellow, blue, orange, purple and can name all of them.

2. New word - dinosaur (ok, Mark can't say it quite right yet; he says "Divanos")

3. New letter - Д for dinosaur

4. A couple more words - volcano, lava

5. Food sorting into "fruits and veggies" and "meats" (when we fed dinosaurs)

6. Dividing and sharing - when Mark was dividing a hot dog and orange into pieces to feed each one of the 4 toy dinosaurs

Sure, that's not much for 2 weeks of dinosaur stuff (ok, my one week stretched into two). But again, we spent maybe 5-10 minutes a day talking about dinosaurs and playing dino-themed games. And some days we didn't bother with dinos at all.

And check out this really cool dino set I made out of an empty Tide box, some construction paper, tissue paper, an empty yogurt container, plastic plants, a piece of old carpet, a few rocks and a couple of toy dinosaurs. Can't you tell I'm really proud of it?! LOL