Monday, December 31, 2012

Gridlock is a Great Game

Our basic weekly schedule looks like this: 

Mind you, that doesn't include playdates, day trips, library visits, mornings at the park, sick days, picnic lunches, field trips, etc., so it's the rare week when the plan goes EXACTLY as planned, but my point with this is to note the particular way that's currently working (yay!) to allow each kiddo to do some different work during the day, while keeping their number of activities even--that last part probably isn't really necessary, but it seems necessary to me.

Currently, Syd does one subject every day that Willow doesn't--reading--and one subject twice a week that Willow doesn't--grammar. I'd have Will doing grammar if I had a method that I liked, but nothing, not pre-packaged texts nor my own invented curricula, have seemed workable for the long-term, so I'm letting it slide for a while. Latin is good for grammar, anyway, as is the approximately four hours of independent reading that Willow does daily.

That leaves, depending on the day, one to two holes in Willow's schedule. If she's following a specific area of interest, I'll plug that into one of the spots while it lasts--we made and flew paper airplanes FOREVER, it feels like!--or if I find a new study that she might like, I'll test it out in one of those spots for a few weeks before I find a sticking place for it, like I did with the weekly comics lab that Will was doing with Matt, until he decided that he could just as easily do it with both girls on the weekends.

When Will's a bit between passions, however, as she is at the moment, I use those empty spots for more advanced work in one of the studies that she does with Sydney, and with extra math. Will is very good at math, but she hasn't found anything about it yet that she likes enough to really settle into, so I try to venture far and wide with the math that we explore on enrichment days.

One day before Christmas, the girls did a day of entirely Christmas-themed work, and Will (and Syd!), really enjoyed this game of graphing coordinates in order to draw a Christmas tree, which reminded me that, other than Battleship (which is also a game that we use for math enrichment), Will hasn't done much exploration with coordinates, and so I printed out Gridlock for us to play together on our next school day.

It's a hit!

To play Gridlock, you roll two dice--the roll gives you your coordinate pair, and you put your marker at the intersection. The goal is to be the first player to have four markers in a row. Strategy comes in through deciding which of the two coordinate pairs given by the dice roll you'll use. The download comes with a recording sheet, but while I totally get the value of using both concrete manipulatives and representational models in the same math activity, having to write would have made the game suck for Willow, so we skipped it...this time. It's a good habit to get into, though, especially since I'd like Will to get into the habit of notating her chess games, too.

So challenging to win! See how we're blocking each other, and how the number of open coordinates is narrowing?

We've played Gridlock a few more times since then, and it makes me realize that, with all of the homemade games we play, we NEED to make ourselves some much more versatile game pieces. The dominoes kept falling over (duh!), and it may take you a few tries to guess who's who in this LEGO version, below:

I can't decide, though...painted rocks? FIMO? Shrinky dinks?

Page protector and dry erase markers?


Tina said...

That grid lock game looks pretty cool.
For the pieces, could you find some little neglected toys and paint them in color sets? Or use buttons (or hot glue little stacks of buttons- that's big at our house lately)?

We have decided to set some goals each month as far as learning goes, so we will see. I might have a bit of an advantage though because my daughter LOVES horses, so I have plans to have all our learning revolve around horses. I am actually getting ready to write a blog post about our plan for the year. I will come back with a link when it's done.

Thanks for the ideas!

Tina said...

I think this might work for us. The cool thing with being homeschoolers is the flexibility the change what isn't working.

Happy New Year!

julie said...

Buttons, YES!!! I need the pieces to be small-ish, since that Gridlock game is pretty small. By *amazing* coincidence, I happen to have an absurd amount of buttons--they will absolutely be hot glued into little stacks in the imminent future.

Willow LOVES the Horse Diaries! I really like unit studies, too--it's such a nice way to immerse yourself in a topic.


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