Friday, April 06, 2007
Do you ever get the urge to flush them down the toilet?*
Sunburst has been driving me crazy! There, I said it. It's true. She's been mouthy and rude and inattentive to oh, everything we say. Her nose is almost constantly plugged into a book. And when it's not she's inadvertently doing something to make Moonshine and Kitty Bill screech! Sunburst has hit this pinching, pushing, tripping, tricking, ignoring, goading, annoying stage... and oh! I'm just at a loss with her. It could be that she's eight, do you think?
With the weather so nice and warm a couple of weeks ago, I made an executive decision to drop our language arts block and forge ahead. I was hoping that giving her some "headier" work would give her that challenge she was constantly looking for. I got the feeling that she needed to control something. Own something. Feel bigger, in a sense. And I think it worked, sort of.
We returned to our math story I was telling back in November just before the car accident. Poor Clara! You see, we had abandoned her at an inn during a terrible storm, where she and Beremiz were playing dice games to pass the time. We revisited that lesson, and then moved on to another dice game they had played in our absence, The Matterhorn. (I love how these story people seem to go on without us sometimes.)
The Matterhorn is a great game for teaching number values. The jist of the game is to get up and down the mountain via rolling three dice. The mountain is comprised of two number lines, 1-12 (which is the peak) and then 12-1. You have to roll each value to climb and then decend the mountain, but luckily you can add the dice values. For example, if your first roll gives you the values 1, 2, and 2, you can make the sums 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Then you would roll again. It's supposed to be a contest between players, but we just played singularly with much shouting and cheering.
Then the weather got really warm. When it's so nice outside the kids are out the door before I've finished my morning coffee, so our next few lessons were totally off the cuff. Standing there on the back walk I eyed the sidewalk chalk and remembered how impressed Sunburst was that her friend The Artist has his own watch and is learning to tell time. Voila! A lesson was born.
I drew a huge circle on the back porch. That alone brought the kids running over with curiosity. As they walked around and around the circle I began the story.
It was finally time for Clara and Beremiz to leave the inn. He told Clara to meet him at 8:00 sharp the next morning so they could eat a quick breakfast and set off. But Clara had a problem. She didn't have a watch. Nor did she know how to tell time. Beremiz loaned her one, and we set to work on the "learning" portion.
First we added the numbers.
Next I handed Sunburst a kiddie-sized rake and set her to working the hour hand.
Once she had that down, then Sunburst set to work marking off the individual minutes.
Then, with a bamboo stake, she worked the minute hand.
The rain washed away our clock and Sunburst drew it back, every minute accounted for. At that point it was clear that Clara was ready to meet Beremiz on time, and we were off. Again. And though I didn't plan for it, a lesson emerged that touched on Sunburst's atrocious behavior. Clara and Beremiz met a bereaved mother on the side of the road. Her eight-year-old daughter had taken her own boasting and rudeness too far. She mouthed off to the King's son, and now the whole family was in hot water over it. Unless the girl would come forward and hear her punishment from the King, the family would lose its farm.
Sunburst thought surely there must be something Clara could do to help.
*Larger than life toilet brought to you by Kid's Commons, a children's museum we recently visited. That's me living my dreams as I attempted to flush Sunburst down the toilet. The kids really DO love to climb down inside of it, spurred on by the actual flushing noise it makes, where they enter the bowels of a house and explore all the hidden staircases and so forth. Very cool.