Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Baby Love

While Old Crow is learning addition facts and Crazy Horse is practicing scissor skills, Memphis Belle is learning to be a mommy.  We have some serious pretend play going on, and someone is a natural mother.  This amazes me...how she feeds, burps, and loves on her baby.  The instinct that little girls have towards nurturing and homemaking can only be God's planning and design.       

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Psalm 139:14

So sweet!


Monday, January 30, 2012

Apple Pie in a Basket

Today jump-started our week reading How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World...the story of a girl who must travel the world and gather ingredients for an apple pie.  After reading a wonderful blog called Delightful Learning , I decided to put together a sensory bin to go along with this book. 

So I gathered together the following:
wheat stalks
a small play chicken
cinnamon sticks
a small cow
salt in a shaker
sugar cane sticks
miniature apples
measuring cups
measuring spoons

I used oatmeal as the filler and added all of the other items.  I also found a fabric world map to use as a floor covering.

Then I let Old Crow have at it!  Crazy Horse isn't feeling too well today; hopefully he will feel up to exploring this "apple pie in a basket" tomorrow.

After he had a while to experiment and play with the basket, we used the world map and located each country mentioned in the story.  He took each "ingredient" and placed it on the country as we walked through the story a second time.

I think this was as much fun for me to create as it was for him to explore.  :) 
Stay tuned for more Apple Pie activities and our go-along unit on seeds.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Welcome to Italy!

Our week began with the reading of The Clown of God...the beautiful story of a clown who offers the Christ Child the only gift he has.  This story allowed us an opportunity to discuss some very important topics...orphans, the elderly, aging, and compassion.  

The Clown of God is set in Italy.  So we got our passports ready, and off to Italy we went!!
Our first stop was the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  And Old Crow attempted to build his own Leaning Tower of Pisa.  

Next, we took a tour of Mt. Vesuvius.  We watched old footage of it erupting in 1944, and Old Crow was captivated for the full 9 minutes of black-and-white recording.  Then we made our own volcano erupt 
(and erupt, and erupt, and erupt) :)

The next day we examined a little of the culture and architecture.  Old Crow learned the Roman Numerals.  I printed some number cards, and it is amazing how he can turn anything into a game.  He matched the Roman Numeral with the number word.  After he matched each one, he lined them up to make a "number train."

Later, we watched the gondolas float down the canals of Venice.  We recreated our own Venice with the buildings, canal, and gondolas. 

Old Crow added the Leaning Tower of Pisa to complete the scene. :) 

To complete our trip and to have a keepsake, we made a salt dough map of Italy.  The boys painted the oceans after I outlined the country.

Then Old Crow used the dough we made to cover the shape of Italy, and he painted it.

The leftover dough quickly became a new activity as the boys molded and shaped it.  I tried to encourage them to make Italian foods...pasta, meatballs, and pizza.  

We soon enjoyed some of that good Italian food.  

This is our completed salt dough map after it had time to harden.  I attached our work to the back by using a sheet protector.  Now we can revisit Italy at anytime just by pulling the pizza box off the shelf.  Old Crow said he wants to make one of these for every country we visit.  I think that can be arranged. ;) 

Grazie for reading!  Ciao!


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Family Fitness

When we decided to homeschool, I knew PE would be included in our days...I pictured us riding bikes, going for walks, playing in the yard, signing up for Tball, and taking swimming lessons.  I thought this would suffice as our physical education.  But I began to read more about the importance of organized and structured lessons that teach skills like balance, coordination, etc.  

We are using Family Time Fitness...a program that offers detailed lessons that 
help parents teach physical education to their children at home.  
So Daddy put on his gym shorts and pulled out the whistle :)
And the boys are loving it!


Some days Crazy Horse isn't too interested and at his age we aren't 
going to push (he'd rather play in the dirt).  

But today they both had their game faces on!!  Look out Georgia; here they come!


Friday, January 20, 2012

A Week in China

As we read The Story About Ping this week, we took a journey throughout China and along the Yangtze River.  Here is our week in China:

We traveled across the ocean and entered China.  We then went searching for the Yangtze River where Ping lives.  The Great Wall of China was our next scheduled stop.  Old Crow was fascinated by the language we heard spoken along the way.  Back in our room, we rested and then created our own Paper Plate Ping as a keepsake.

Today we saw boats along the yellow water of the Yangtze River and learned that boys used to wear barrels on their backs to float.  So we also experimented with buoyancy and played in the water (learn more about our adventure)

After we dried off, we went in search of the elusive panda.  What an awesome creature!!  We saw them in their natural habitats, and they do love to snack on tons of bamboo.  We were able to compare and contrast them with the ducks we had seen.  Back in our room, we decided to make panda cupcakes!  They were cute and yummy!

Bright and early, we went out and saw many Chinese flags.  We attempted to make our own Chinese flag and we added it to our collection of flags.  

While in town we heard news of a well-known missionary in China, Lottie Moon.  She was known as the "cookie lady" because she made cookies for the natives to help build relations and familiarity in a foreign land.  So we made cookies in her memory.

Today we studied illustrations in The Story About Ping and noticed how the pictures give the impression of water moving.  So we practiced drawing Ping and portraying his movement through the water.

While out touring, Old Crow noticed the people using chopsticks while eating.  So we let him give it a try.

Then we came across several felt ducks and used them to practice math story problems.  Old Crow began giving a dramatic retelling of Ping's story, and he did quite well.

Our last day in China we went in search of some authentic Chinese cuisine.  We filled up on rice and egg rolls!  And of course we had to practice again with the chopsticks.

Our time in China was drawing to a close.  On the way home we read Two of Everything, Tikki Tikki Tembo, Children Just Like Me, and Look What Came From China! Chinese culture is fascinating and I'm sure we'll be talking about this trip for a while.  We made it back home safe and sound...but with some exhausted and sleepy kiddos in tow.  :)


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sensory Play

 I have a little guy who loves science experiments!  When Old Crow sees the "Science Center" tag on his schedule strip, it quickly becomes one of the favorite activities of the day.  Today we discussed buoyancy and predicted what might float and what might sink.  And then came the fun of experimenting.

After dropping several objects in the bin of water, Old Crow began to realize there were similarities in the items that were sinking and those that floated.  This learning is a natural part of growth and development, but it still amazes and thrills me.  It is such an honor and privilege to watch this learning take place in my own children.  From someone who never wanted to homeschool, I now thank God for guiding me on this new path.  In many ways our life has become simpler...yet it is richer.   

Ok, back to the science.... ;)
Once all of the items had been tested, we rolled up our sleeves and began to play.  Our science center turned into a sensory bin!  

I have been doing research lately on sensory play and activities.  One great article can be found here at this blog:  Not Just Cute.   As I read articles describing sensory play, bells started going off as I remembered events from Crazy Horse's toddler years and even recent memories. 

 His love for all things dirt and mud, his climbing into sinks at 18 months old to play in the water, his need to put everything in his mouth as a baby, his little hands always wanting to touch and grab.  He was initiating his own sensory play!!  So I knew that he would absolutely LOVE any sensory bin I created for him.  

He played for 2 hours straight with the water bin!!!  His little hands looked like raisins and he continued to play and explore.  Why didn't I think of this sooner???  Why didn't I realize his need for this type of play and exploration?

We shall have many more sensory bins in the future.  I am actually looking forward to rice being scattered on the floor and water being sloshed around.  It's all in the name of fun (and learning of course). 


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Mike Mulligan and some "Fun Learning"

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel was the second book we "rowed" in the Five in a Row series.  This is a wonderful book, and we learned many valuable lessons from Mike Mulligan and his beloved steam shovel, Mary Anne.

The setting for this book is fictitious Popperville, USA.  So we had a discussion about where to place the story disk on our map.  Old Crow noticed that it showed snow in the winter scene so he chose North Dakota as the location of the story...good reasoning skills ;)

To learn about steam and how it could make power, we boiled some water and let the steam "power" our pinwheel.  This didn't work quite as well as I wanted.  Maybe I should buy a tea kettle for this next time.

Mary Anne had to dig a cellar that was "neat and square."  So we talked about the need for math in construction.  We used Legos and built our own cellar "near and square."

To act out how steam shovels had to dig through the mountains in order for railroads to be built, we did a recreation in our yard.  :)  I made a "mountain" of dirt and the boys used small construction trucks to remove the dirt in the center of the mountain.  Then we were able to lay the railroad tracks.  

For art, we studied the way to draw trees.  We looked through the book and found trees that were small and seemed far away.  We also found trees that appeared close-up and showed lots of branches.  We attempted to make our own close-up and far away trees.

 This book offers a lesson on personification.  So we looked through our playroom and found some examples of personification.

And with Mike Mulligan taking such good care of his Mary Anne, it was a great chance to talk about being a good steward.  We had teachable moments on the value and virtue of stewardship.  

Next up is The Story about Ping and our study of China.  Lots of fun things planned!! Old Crow calls it "fun learning."  I would agree. ;)