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Saturday, September 26, 2015

t is for tree (year 2, week 3)

We're on track with our homeschooling, which I think is a big accomplishment.  This week, we will be learning about trees, both coniferous and deciduous.

Day 1
We finished up some "milk week" business that we hadn't finished last week.  The kids tasted three "kinds" of milk and decided which kind they liked best.  All three decided they liked the strawberry the best and put their results in their notebook.

Day 2
We spent all day doing "practical work" lessons.  We cleaned the house, and the kids took turns vacuuming (for the first time!).  They also got to practice their fine motor skills and hand/eye coordination by helping me line dry our clothes.  It was a big day spent under the trees, but no other school work got done.

Day 3
Wednesday is our Bible study/socialization day, so we often don't have school on this day of the week.

Day 4
The night before was a late one for the kids after spending the evening with their grandma and aunties.  Today consisted of long naps (not for the mommy though- why is that?) and play time.  Dragonfly vacuumed for me again, which was nice.

Day 5
Today, I followed my child's lead and explored cinnamon bark (sticks).  We tasted them, talked about them, looked them up on Google, tried to grate them, and finally smashed them with a hammer.

Books: Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf
            A Tree for Emmy
            The Apple Tree
            Trout are Made of Trees

Other Ideas: tree nut sorting
                    tree in seasons printable
                    tree ring notebooking activity
                    parts of a tree cards
                    leaf pounding
                    conifer tree identification cards
                    tree writing tray
                    crayon rubbing
                    nature walks

Saturday, September 19, 2015

m is for milk (year 2, week 2)

The letter order that we're using jumps from "a" to "m" so that kids can begin spelling right way.  Already, Dragonfly realized that she can spell "mama" and "am."

We started our "farm" week with a trip to the fair and rodeo!  The kids got to go on some of the kiddie rides and really enjoyed them.  Check out Skimmer's face as he rides this motorcycle- just like daddy!  Every time the motorcycle on the ride went into a wheelie, Skimmer stood up and rode it out.  This would have been a great time for a "Mary Poppins" moment- for the motorcycle to have magically come off the track and allowed him to ride it all over the countryside.

This would have been another good "Mary Poppins" moment.  Dragonfly talked for days about how excited she was to ride these horses.  She would have loved to have ridden this prancing pony around the fairgrounds, too.

We also got to walk through lots of animal barns.  One barn was almost completely full of "exotic" animals, which was a special treat to my kids.  They watched this camel ride for a long time, mesmerized by the largeness of the animal, the way they looked, and how they walked.

By the time we sat down in the arena for the rodeo, Skimmer was exhausted!  A couple of gentle pats from grandma put him right to sleep.  He slept hard for about a half hour, through a lot of area chaos and grandstand noise, before he woke up rested and ready to watch the events.

Day 1
After our big weekend, we woke up sick today.  We spent a lot of time watching movies and snuggling.  The kids begged me for some "Mommy School," so we did a bit.

Skimmer practiced spooning popcorn kernels into a barn "silo."  The silo was designed to dump the grains as they fell into the cup.  I thought Skimmer would enjoy the realism, but it made him frustrated instead.  I switched his activity to spooning from bowl to bowl, and he was much happier.

Tadpole did some milk pouring practice.  This was his first time trying wet pouring, and it was definitely hit and miss.  When I guided his hand and reminded him to slow down, he did well, but when he was on his own... well... there was a lot of spilled milk.

Skimmer decided he wanted to do a different "activity" so I got him a couple bowls and some pinch tongs and let him work.  He had trouble with the coordination of the tongs but enjoyed dumping and scooping them.

Day 2
And then the kids broke my computer.  So, I made this:

My parents bought us a "kids' table" off of Craigslist.  It was in good shape, but I wanted to add some interest to it.  I had read about Duck tape brand's peel-and-stick chalkboard vinyl and decided to give it a try.  It was very easy to use and the kids really like writing on it.  Since white chalk is the only writing instrument I allow the kids to use, they should get a lot of use from it.

Day 3
Bible study day for mom and socialization day for the kids.

Day 4
I don't remember what we did this day.  I do remember letting Dragonfly stay up for a little while after her brother's went to bed and letting her make hot chocolate for the first time.  It was a good "practical life" activity and good practice at following a sequence of directions.  She was pretty proud of herself.

Day 5
We did some milk experiments today.  First, we did the famous "milk, food coloring, and soap" one that is all over facebook.  We tried two different types of milk, whole and buttermilk, so see how differently they reacted to the soap.  It was fascinating but I should have done more build up to the experiment, showing them how water and food coloring normally react.

We also made butter!  First we tried it in a jar, which the kids had no patience for.  Then, I put it in a bowl and mixed it with my hand blender.  We made it pink because that's the color Dragonfly picked (and what's the point of making homemade butter if you can't make it a fun color)  The kids loved it.

Resources: milk taste test
                  label a dairy cow
                  shapes for punching
                  animals and their byproducts
                  barn sizing
                  farm word wall/spelling words

Ideas: milk a cow/goat
           turn milk into butter
           turn milk into ice cream
           farm marble maze
           chicken scratch spelling
           farm play mat
           grain silo small world play
           how yogurt and eggs are made videos from Youtube
           washing a horse

Books: "Farm"
            "Life on a Dairy Farm"
            "An Edible Alphabet"
            "Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type"

Saturday, September 12, 2015

a is for apple (year 2, week 1)

It's finally time to begin a new school year!  We started this year with a classic theme- apples.  Here's what we did this week:

Day 1
First, we took the "first day of school" pictures.  This is Skimmer (age 3) in his footie pjs.

Dragonfly (age 4)


To start out of apple week, we explored three types of apples, a green one, a yellow one, and a red one.  I cut them slightly differently so we could see the parts of the apple and the star in the core.  We collected the seeds for words later in the week.  The kids and I tasted all three of the apples by themselves and then I introduced them to caramel sauce.  Dragonfly was begging me to let her start chopping apples and making the apple pie.

We planted one of our apple seeds in some wet toilet paper to watch it grow.  Dragonfly was disappointed that an apple tree didn't sprout up instantly.  I had to explain to her that some things take a long time to happen.

While the other two were playing outside, Tadpole asked me if she could do some work.  I set him up with a small bowl of water, a few foam apples, another bowl, and a spoon.  He really enjoyed transferring the bobbing apples to the other bowl.  It wasn't very long before he figured out that the spoon would also hold water.  On his own, he switched the "game" to water transferring.  Smart kid.

After dinner, I asked them if they wanted to do more Mommy School.  They were excited so I cleared the table and set them up with new activities.  I gave Dragonfly the sandpaper letter "a" and the sand tray and showed her how to trace the letter and write it in the salt.  She really enjoyed the "apple pie" sand, but had no interest in writing the letter or tracing the sandpaper.  I learned to give her a sensory bin with apple pie seasonings (or perhaps play dough) and to wait on the writing part for a while.

The first activity I gave Skimmer was the "good apple, wormy apple" sorting sheet.  He could match that all the little apples were apples but he couldn't differentiate between the types (wormy or not).  Next, I gave him an "apple colors" coloring book for him to do for his "Scribble Notebook."  After he colored the 4 pages, I stapled it together and glued it into his notebook.  I learned that I need to give Skimmer more coloring to improve his fine motor skills.

Day 2
Today was our weekly outing to Women's Bible Study at a church in our area.  There were ten or twelve children there under the age five, so my kids got some good socialization time while I got a parenting break.  We didn't do any other Mommy School today except that Dragonfly stamped a bunch of "letter ahs" on a cut out "a" with pink ink.

Day 3
Today is my husband's birthday so the kids and I made him an apple pie!

Here's Dragonfly using a real knife for the first time.  No injuries!

And here is Tadpole using a chopper.

Tadpole is at the "let's make this work" phase of development.  Here's a picture from him today, learning how to plug a cord into a device.

Resources: apple 3-part cards
                 An Apple Grows video
                 apple life cycle worksheet
                 dot, dot, not a lot apple worksheet
                 parts of an apple book
                 apple preschool pack
                 apple colors book
                 wormy apples busy bag
                 apple counting folder game
                 sorting wormy apples from nice ones
                 life cycle wall cards

Ideas: apple stamping
           product taste testing
           pie making
           apple picking
           stacking apples up on top

Books: "Red are the Apples"
           "10 Red Apples"
           "How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World"
           "The Apple Pie Tree"
           "Picking Apples and Pumpkins"
           "Life on an Apple Farm."

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Thematic Wall Decorations- Laundry

One of the more unusual themes this year will be our "l is for laundry" unit.  To help introduce the week, I've made these laundry themed wall decorations.  The pictures show different types of laundry situations around the world from washing clothes in a river to industrial laundry companies.  To download the pictures, click here.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Summer Theme: Scientist

For our last week of "summer school," I decided to focus on the Scientific Method and scientists.  Our next school year is going to involve a lot of science, so I wanted to spend a week exploring the bigger picture of science.  We read the book "What is a Scientist?" and learned that we can be scientists too.  Then, we went through a basic scientific process with a bar of Ivory soap and the microwave.  To our amazement, the bar of soap blew up in the microwave like a marshmallow and became a snow-like consistency as we played with it.  Pretty exciting!

Tadpole practiced using his science tools and transferred cotton balls from one bowl to another.  He isn't quite able to use them consistently, but he was enjoying experimenting with how they work.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Thematic Wall Decorations- Seeds We Eat

This fall, we'll do a study of seeds.  One of our focuses for that week is all the different types of seeds exist and how many we can eat.  These posters will be displayed in our classroom and will serve as an anchor for our discussions.  During the week, we will probably eat many of these types of seeds, as well.

To download, click here.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Thematic Wall Decorations- Apples

Apple life cycle pictures for wall decorations.  I intend to display them during out apple week to reinforce vocabulary and sequence.  They also make a good conversation piece for your homeschool room.  To download them, click here.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Thematic Wall Decorations- Insects

Our current homeschool plan for this year includes a study of insects.  These posters will be used to decorate our classroom and to prompt conversations throughout the week.
You can download them here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Scented Salt Box for Writing Practice

This year, I've added a "salt box" to our homeschool supplies.  A salt box is simply a place for kids to practice their fine motor skills and writing in a very forgiving environment.  If a child messes up their writing work, they only need to shake the box to erase their mistake.

Dragonfly is very sensory-motivated, so I intend to change our salt box frequently to make it more appealing to her.  For the first few weeks of fall, I created an "apple pie" box, since apple pie is one of her favorite things.

Apple Pie Salt Tray Recipe
- 1/4 cup salt
- brown gel food coloring
- a few drops of water
- 2T cinnamon
- 1tsp nutmeg
- a sprinkle of ginger

1) Put the salt in a bowl.  Put some brown food coloring on a spoon and add a few drops of water.  Mix into the salt.

2) Add the spices and stir well.  Dump into your salt tray and cover until class time.

Other "flavors" of salt boxes
- Christmas tree (evergreen essential oil and green food coloring- write with a stick)
- Winter Delight (plain salt and silver glitter)
- Candy Cane (peppermint essential oil and red food coloring- write with a candy cane)
- Fairy Tray (lavender oil, purple food coloring, and glitter)
- Chocolate (cocoa powder and brown food coloring)
- Orange Zest (orange oil and orange food coloring)
- Gingerbread (here)
- Latte (coffee grounds)
- Lemonade (lemon oil and yellow food coloring)
- Sickness Blend (Eucalyptus and green food coloring)
- Pumpkin Pie (pumpkin pie spice and orange food coloring)
- and basically any other theme you can think up!