Gentoos, Geography, and Geometry

(If you haven’t yet noticed, I heart alliteration. I seriously strive to use alliteration in post titles. I am such a dork.)

This morning we went to our local aquarium. A few things had changed since our last visit; the stingrays from the touch pool were moved to the big tank and replaced with a leopard shark, horn sharks, bat rays, and round stingrays that were hiding in the sand (camouflage is so cool; a few were hidden so well it was hard to see them!). The nurse sharks were gone from the big tank, but new baby sharks (gray reef and blacktip reef) were swimming around. I couldn’t tell the difference between the two species. There was also a megalodon shark jaw exhibit (the largest shark that ever lived). This jaw was HUGE!

And of course we scoped out some of our favorites: the jellyfish, sea horses, and river otters. But we were most excited to catch a keeper talk on the Gentoo Penguins. We learned why penguins have a black back and white belly (so they blend in to the deep water when seen by predators from above, and blend against the sunlight coming through when seen from below). We learned that the main colony of Gentoo Penguins resides in a rocky coastal shoreline of the Falkland Islands off the East Coast of South America. We also learned how to distinguish Gentoo Penguins from other penguin species (it’s easy: Gentoos are the only penguins with a white “cap” or “earmuff” from eye to eye on top of their head). M wanted to know how the Gentoos stay warm in the cold water (water-proof feathers lock out water and blubber for insulation) and C wanted to know what they eat (in the wild, they love krill; at the aquarium they are fed two species of small fish).

After lunch we read from our chapter book and various picture books and then played until it was time for speech class. Then we ran an errand (paying for the group site reservation at a local canyon for an equinox bonfire party). I had to write a check out, so that stimulated a conversation about checks, money, and banking.

After snacktime, M wrote down the bonfire date and the names of her friends that will be attending. When spelling for her, I sounded out the names slowly so M could accurately guess each letter. Meanwhile, C worked on a cow craft (copying a craft that M had made during her speech class). (Whenever M comes out of a speech class with a craft she has made, we usually have to reenact the craft at home for C. We once had a teacher that would always give us extra materials for C, how thoughtful!)

(M, left, likes to color everything realistically; C, right, loves color and is very thoughtful about what colors she uses on a particular piece.)

Then we did a brief gentoo penguin review to solidify what we learned earlier today. We looked on our world map to see where the penguins live. The girls each created an informational sign that included: the South American map, a krill picture, a Gentoo picture, and a photo of it’s distinguishing mark.

By the way, we have a new system for displaying their work. Since they are always excited to show Dada what they have accomplished when he comes home, we post daily work on the fridge, which is next to the back door that Dada enters. They bombard him with everything about their day the moment he steps in. Each night (or morning) I move the work either to our main art display in the playroom, to “mailboxes” designated to grandparents, or to their art keepsake boxes.

Thursday is “Math Day” and I’ve decided to do some geometry for the next few weeks. When we were driving earlier today, M told me that a stop sign is an octagon. I had no idea she knew what an octagon was! How ironic that she mentioned a geometric shape when I was planning to start that today. Today we played around with spheres, cylinders, cones, and cubes, and talked about the differences between 2-D and 3-D shapes. We first looked at household objects with these shapes. Every time I asked what shape an object was, M called it by it’s corresponding 2-D shape (circle for sphere, square for cube, triangle for cone, etc). Well, I was glad we had started studying these 3-D shapes! Then we did some worksheets. We really didn’t have much time for anything else. I have games, art, and other fun activities for exploring geometry to do in the next few weeks.

The baby has been climbing up onto every chair and table lately, so when we were done with the worksheets, we all went outside to play and draw with chalk. Then a quick dinner so we could head out to the forest for a hike with the whole family (especially the dog!) before bedtime.

What a busy, busy day, but we are all having fun and learning so much together!

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  1. timbra

     /  September 14, 2012

    You guys do SO much stuff every day. . .it even makes MY head spin. . .maybe i don’t plan my day very well 🙂 I think all of the follow up (like going home and printing off maps) and prep are so amazing. . .you go mama!

    • ecomamatoto

       /  September 14, 2012

      I’m glad you mentioned this. I thought yesterday was too much, and I almost scrapped the planned math activity all together. Instead I chose to cut it very short. I think it’s hard to maintain a good balance, especially since at this age the girls need lots of unstructured play. That and reading to them are the most important things, I think. I wonder if I will back off of having a planned activity every day or not; right now they enjoy and look forward to it, even if it’s at the end of a busy day. I’m sure we all will get burned out at some point, and that’s okay (and to be expected!).


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