Monday, September 9, 2013

The Mighty Ant

Ants are strong - really strong. Check this thing out:

That large ant that you see there wasn't actually moving. Well, not by itself, anyway. We saw these two much smaller ants dragging the larger (and quite dead) ant across our driveway. Which was an awesome thing to witness after our short lesson on ants and ant behavior this morning!

Today we started our second week of homeschool. I'm happy to report that last week was a success - not only did we survive, but Daniel finished the week on a high note and was ready to get started with week two today. 

Ants. I wanted us to get up close and personal with ants this week for a few different reasons.

1. Maureen Spell has included nature journal pages for ant study in her amazing ebook, available here
2. "Ant" begins with the letter A, which is the second letter of the alphabet that we're studying. I wanted Daniel to learn all the letters in his name first, and then we'll move on with the rest of the alphabet.
3. Ants are everywhere. There are plenty of opportunities in our yard for easy observation, ha ha. 
4. And last, but not least, ants are super hard workers. They are (say it with me, Daniel) diligent. The ant provides the perfect opportunity to help Daniel understand what that word means. 

If you're curious about our plan for the week, you can visit my planning page here.

Today we read Ants are Fun, by Mildred Myrick.

We bought our copy of this book a few weeks ago at a consignment shop and I'm so glad we did. Not only is it an engaging story that held my 3 year old's attention the whole way through, but it's loaded with all kinds of facts. Also, it doesn't hurt that Arnold Lobel drew the pictures. And since we can all agree that he's one the greatest authors/illustrators of all time, we should also agree that this book is worth checking out. 

From this story, Daniel learned that ants start out as eggs, then hatch into larvae, grow into pupae (which he loved saying over and over again...three guesses why), and finally become adults. We also talked about some of the things that ants eat (sugar, honey, and other insects) and that two colonies of ants can end up fighting each other. 

Which is what made those ants on our driveway this morning so exciting! Was there a fight? Did the small ants kill that larger ant somehow, or did they just find him? Were they taking him back to the colony to be eaten? 

I asked Daniel all these questions, but his eyes were glazed over at that point. I'm pretty sure he was in beach mode already. Fair enough. He'd been a good student that morning. Time to play.

The beach! It's always fun to go to the beach, although it felt a little weird to be there without Natalie. 

I let the kids play for a little while. Here's Silas working on his own little nature study.

Look, mom!

After some play time, I gave the boys snacks and sat down with Daniel to do what we came to do (other than play): letter practice. So I grabbed a handful of sand and put it in the lid of a plastic shoe box. At first we reviewed letter D.

Good job! I'm so glad I caught his "Aren't you proud of me?" face.

Then we worked on letter A.

Not bad! I had to help him with this one. I drew the first line, then he finished with the other two. This was definitely a second or third attempt; the first couple tries were a little crazy. 

I love how school for Daniel is turning into a natural part of his day...starting with a very short lesson and story in the morning, then moving on to some sort of activity and snack (outside if possible). And that's it. It's not too much or forced. And he's practicing skills (and lessons are being reinforced) as we go about our day. It just seems like the best - the easiest - way to do things. It's working for us.

We didn't stay too long today since we had to get home, get cleaned up, and get to Natalie's school to pick her up. So after about 45 minutes to an hour, we packed up. Not a bad way to spend the morning!

Have a great Monday and a great start to your week, everyone!

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