Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Today's the day for the shellfish lesson in Science. The girls are terribly distracted all day. They're not bad, but if I turn my back they wander away. Sunshine actually does a reading, a drawing, and two workbook exercises today after a several week break, and only throws one tantrum about it. She wants to read the whole primer from the beginning and hates it when I want to start in the middle, but if we start at the beginning she gets bored by the fifth story.

"Guess what animal we'll be covering today!", I say in an attempt at mystery. That perks them up a bit. We finally get to Science at the end of the day. I open the Usborne World history book to the page of the first multi-celled organisms, then open a can of Play-Doh.

"We've covered microbes, worms, and jellyfish. What do all these animals have in common?" I ask as I roll out a Play-Doh worm and a balloon. The girls grumble a bit, then Brighteyes mutters "soft-bodied".

"That's right! They're all soft-bodied. This is a problem, because if a rock falls on them they get squished." I squish the worm with a plastic toy.

"Ooh! Squish!", say the girls. Many more worms are made out of Play-Doh and squished in the name of Science. "Squish! Squish! Squish!"

"Right! So what are these soft-bodied creatures going to do about that?" I roll a ball of Play-Doh up and cover it with a clamshell. "They evolve shells." I tap the top of the shell with the plastic toy and turn it over to show the soft body underneath is safe.

"Oh! The shells are hard! They protect the soft bodies!", says Brighteyes.

After that there's a lot of Play-Doh played with. Sunshine has to be reminded to tap the clamshell gently, Mommy's had it a long time and we don't want to break it. Then the girls remember my seashell collection that's kept locked up and clamor for it ("Next lesson.") It takes a lot of work on my part to get Brighteyes to focus on the page about seashells in her animal book and narrate back to me what she learned on it. Then we're through with lessons, and the girls get into a fuss involving messing up each other's creations. By lunchtime we're all frazzled.

All in all the second half of the lesson could have gone a whole lot better. I'll have to work on that when using something like Play-Doh in the future. But I don't think they'll ever forget what shells are for.

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