Monday, February 20, 2012

Learning about Presidents

To kickstart our 2-day unit for Presidents' Day, we read My Teacher for President.  This book helped to introduce the role and job of our president.  We also discussed the home of the president, and Old Crow colored a picture of the White House.   

On Day 1 our focus was on George Washington.  We watched a short video on Washington and discussed different memorials...the Washington monument, the dollar bill, and the quarter.  While he colored a patriotic  sight word bear, I read aloud a chapter book called Meet George Washington.  Old Crow was fascinated by the sections on the Revolutionary War.    He was cheering and yelling!  He even wanted to dig out our soldier figurines.  I had planned for him to play with these when we studied Lincoln so they would fit the appropriate time period...but it was close enough. ;)

On Day 2, we turned our attention to another great American president...Abraham Lincoln.  We read Abe Lincoln: The Boy Who Loved to Read and watched a short video on Lincoln.  We also looked at the Lincoln Memorial, the penny, and the $5 bill...all memorials for Lincoln.

We made our own Lincoln Log Cabin.  This was extremely easy and Old Crow thought it was the greatest thing!  You can get instructions here.

I hope you all enjoy your Presidents' Day!!


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lessons from Japan (and one for Mom too)

Last week was our unit on Japan...I had the whole week planned with many activities to help Old Crow experience Japan.  It quickly turned into a lesson for mom...a lesson on "we can't do it all."  With scheduling conflicts and unexpected outings, we weren't able to complete everything.  And I'm ok with that!

Here's what we were able to work on:

Our Japan unit centered around our Five in a Row book for this week...A Pair of Red Clogs.  A story of a little girl who tries to trick her mom into buying her a new pair of red clogs.  
Our virtue this week was honesty...a perfect chance to study it along side this wonderful story.

Monday:  We located Japan on our world map and discussed how the country is a group of islands.  We watched a short youtube video on Japan and then used playdough to depict the island and surrounding ocean.  Old Crow also colored a Japanese flag and added it to his lapbook of flags.  As another read aloud, we read Hiromi's Hands...the perfect book to introduce sushi.  It also gave a wonderful opportunity to view Japanese culture. 

Tuesday:  After reading A Pair of Red Clogs again, we looked closely at the illustrations.  We talked about the use of shading and mixing of colors especially in a sunset scene.  Old Crow attempted this with his colored pencils.

We also learned about Children's Day in Japan...a special holiday where they celebrate and honor boys.   Families with boys fly carp kites outside.  After reading I Live in Tokyo which had several pictures of carp kites, we created our own carp kite to fly on our porch.  You can get step-by-step directions here.

Wednesday:  We read A Pair of Red Clogs along with Suki's Kimono.  We discussed the culture and clothes depicted.  We also talked about special Japanese gardens made of sand and rocks.  Old Crow made his own mini-garden.  You can visit Confessions of a Homeschooler to learn more about this activity.

We read Look What Came From Japan and focused on the animals from Japan.  We talked about their habitats and compared them to animals we had already studied in other countries.

So that's our experience with Japan...and after typing all of that out I'd say Old Crow was properly introduced. :) are some of the other activities that would have been a great addition (had we had time).
1.  visit a restaurant and watch someone make sushi (perfect with Hiromi's Hands)
2.  make our own "sushi" using turkey and cheese rolled up     
3.  have a Japanese festival and dress in kimonos and eat on pillows with chopsticks 
4.  make a salt-dough map of Japan
5.  make origami art
6.  read Little Oh, Tea with Milk, Pink Paper Swans, How My Parents Learned to Eat


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Love, Hearts, and Valentines

As Valentine's Day rolled around this year, I began to worry how Old Crow would react to not having a class party and passing out valentines to friends.  But I realized that those were my memories...not his.  While I do look back on those memories with fondness, I must journey forth in this new adventure of learning at home and embrace a new style of learning.  One where family parties replace class parties and valentines are given to brothers and sisters.

Here is how we celebrated Valentine's Day homeschool style:

  • Our virtue for this week is forgiveness.  I thought this would go perfectly with our study of all things love, hearts, and valentines.  We talked about how we should express our love for one another every day and not just on Valentine's Day.  We also talked about the greatest example of love...Jesus, who forgives our sins and asks that we do the same for one another.

  • He memorized John 3:16 and made an acrostic with the word "Valentine" using the scripture.


  • In his workbox, he found a box of conversation hearts.  He sorted them by color and then graphed them...telling me the color with the greatest and fewest.  These printables can be found here.

  • In his math journal, Old Crow also glued hearts in order from largest to smallest, and then from smallest to largest.


  • Since it was a day focused on hearts, I thought it appropriate to study our heart and its function.  So we discussed the heart's job and watched a short video describing this.  Then he used a stethoscope to listen to his own heart beating.  We also used an anatomy apron to correctly place the heart and other organs on the body.  He found it fascinating that our heart isn't shaped like a heart at all.  :)

  • On day two of our unit, we talked about nutrition and food choices that would keep our heart healthy.  He had to choose the best food choices, and then he glued them to his "Healthy Heart".  

Sensory Play

  • I put together a Valentine themed sensory bin with heart stickers, small heart shaped springs, cupcake liners, funnels, spoons, measuring cups, red colored pasta, and a valentine card that I had cut into pieces.  He found all the pieces to the valentine card and put the puzzle together. 


  • Old Crow made his own valentine to give away using heart stickers and hearts we cut out of construction paper.


  • He also learned how to make a heart...I can still remember when I learned this skill. :)

Read Alouds

These are wonderful books, and we enjoyed reading these together.

So that's how we celebrated the day of home with those we love the most
(and it was pretty perfect). 


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Learning with Apples

While spending a week reading How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World, I decided to branch off and learn about seeds (and apples of course). 

Here are some of the ways we learned with apples.

After reading How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World, the boys explored a sensory bin filled with items from the story.  Click here to read more about our "apple pie in a basket."

We used playdough and made pretend apples.

 In Old Crow's math journal, he used different colored apples to make addition sentences.

We drew apple trees and apples to depict adding word problems.

 He played 3 Way Math...a game I found online.  I thought this would be a challenge for him, and he did great!!!!

Old Crow learned about what a seed needs in order to grow.
He made a mini-book called "The Story of a Seed" and we added it to his lapbook.

 We cut open an apple, and Old Crow used his magnifying glass to inspect all parts of the apple...especially the seeds.  He then labeled the parts of an apple on his own sheet which we added to his lapbook.

Language Arts
He made a list of new words that could be formed from the letters in "Apples."  
We added this list to our lapbook.

Old Crow tasted an apple, and then we wrote describing words for the apple in his lapbook.

He also read Johnny Appleseed.  I love to hear him read!!

After reading How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World several times, we then charted the girls journey on a world map.

Here is Old Crow's completed lapbook.  Although he doesn't like to eat apples, he sure had fun learning with them. :)

Supplemental books we used for our apple theme:
Johnny Appleseed
One Red Apple
Apples Grow on a Tree
How Do Apples Grow
Down the Road
Apples to Oregon (this one is great!!)


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

"Me on the Map" Unit

At the request of a friend who wanted some ideas for a USA unit, I decided to put our activities into words and share them with you.  While reading the book, Lentil, I incorporated our "Me on the Map" unit because it fit naturally with the setting and patriotic spirit of the story of the book. Please click here for more information on our Lentil activities.  

So our "Me on the Map" unit centered around the book Me on the Map by Joan Sweeney.  

I purchased this ready-made digital printable set from Teachers Pay Teachers for $4.00.  It offered the flip book below and other valuable activities we used.  Click here for the download

Each day we read the book Me on the Map, and then focused on a particular section.  This was our plan:

Day 1:
We focused on the me, my room, my street, and town section.  Old Crow drew a map of his room by using the example from the book as a guide.  We reviewed our street address.  I also took a generic community map and Old Crow used a toy car to "travel around town."  This allowed him to practice basic map skills and cardinal directions.

Then he completed the Me, My Street, and My Town section of the flip book above. 

Day 2:
This day we focused our attention on our state and country.  This is a perfect opportunity to review/introduce topics like the president, the USA flag, monuments, statue of liberty, etc.

We completed the State and Country section of the flip book.

Old Crow also used watercolors and painted the US flag.  We began a lapbook which will hold all flags we make that go along with the countries we study.

This would also be a great time to make patriotic t-shirts (stamping stars on the front and painting stripes on the back), making patriotic windsocks, craft stick flag, or star wreath.  There are many other suggestions at Enchanted Learning.
Day 3
We discussed the continent section of the book.  We briefly reviewed the 7 continents and then focused on North America.  

Then we completed the Continent and Planet section of the flip book.  We had now completed the flip book so we put it all together!

Day 4
We reviewed the concepts learned by using nesting cups.  As he placed one cup inside another, Old Crow would tell what each represented...the state, town, etc.

Then I gave Old Crow an assessment of sorts.  Click here to view and print.  You would just need to type your actual information on a separate your address, state, etc.  Then your child would match his information onto the assessment sheet.

This unit could definitely be lengthened to allow more time and focus on each section.
I hope you enjoy Me on the Map as much as we did! :)


Friday, February 3, 2012

Hands-on Math

Old Crow is spending the day at our local Christian school since they open Fridays to homeschoolers...which I think is an awesome program!  He joins the other Kindergarten class and takes PE, art, music, critical thinking, and sign language.  He is having a great time (but it hurt my heart a little to leave him; I love having him home).

Here is what we've been up to in math lately:

To allow Old Crow the opportunity to physically apply his math skills, we have a center or workbox activity each day that supplements and practices certain skills.  He is definitely "math minded" like his daddy so he enjoys and looks forward to these games and activities.  Here is a sampling of our activities:

We use felt shapes and the felt board for a variety of skills...addition word problems, sorting, comparing groups, etc.  It always ends up being told in story form...this boy loves to create stories. :)

We practice money quite frequently as well.  Counting coins to match the amount on the piggy bank, making trades with pennies and dimes, sorting coins, and setting up a toy store and letting him "buy" things with his money...these are a few of the ways we apply money skills.

One versatile and fun manipulative is the Education Cubes.  They are a set of photo cubes I bought from Amazon and then I insert a printed custom sheet into each slot on the cube.  A homeschooling mom created this idea and the inserts can be bought for an inexpensive lifetime fee through the website Education Cubes.  I just print the ones I need, insert them, and I'm ready to go with a game he loves!  I have used them to practice sight words, blending, and other reading skills.  For math we have rolled them and then compared the two numbers to practice greater than and less than.  Number recognition and addition are also fun ways to use them.  

Other fun ways to get our math brain churning are "puzzles."  I found a poster online with pirates counting by 10s.  I laminated it and then cut it into strips.  I added magnets to the back, and now we have a magnetic puzzle that reinforces his skip counting skills.   Ahoy Matey!  ;)  By the way, I bought myself a laminator with my Christmas money.  I had intended to use this for house purchases, but I really needed my own laminator.  And it makes my day to use it!!!  I often create reasons just to laminate something!  Can I laminate anything for you? :)


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Preschool Fun

Today Crazy Horse is feeling 100% better!  But we kept him home again to protect the other children from the "unknown germs."  So I pulled out some preschool activities and let him enjoy!

He worked on an ABC puzzle.  He ended up counting the pieces instead of focusing on the letters, but hey, he was learning. ;)

Then he worked on matching letters using clothespins and a sentence strip.  I wrote the names of some of his favorite things (fire truck, backhoe, irrigation, etc.) and he matched the letter on the clothespin to the correct letter on the sentence strip.

Next, he used the color wheel to practice color matching.  He then told me the name for each color.

Then he traced the letter Aa.  I found lots of great "A" activities on this wonderful blog, Confessions of a Homeschooler.  I laminated this paper and let him use washable markers on it...that way we can reuse it.

He also practiced his scissor skills.

To go along with our Apple Unit this week, he counted apple seeds and matched them with the correct numeral.  He did so well!!!  I can already see improvement and maturity in his skills. :)

Then he had an opportunity to explore the sensory bin I created for the book, How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World.  If you'd like more information on the sensory bin, please click here to see my other post.  Crazy Horse loved pouring the oatmeal and running his hands through it!  He smelled the cinnamon and said, "This smells belicious!!!!"  We love how he says belicious and bisgusting...we almost don't want to correct him. :)

The last activity of the day:  Old Crow and Crazy Horse used pattern blocks to create animals.  They enjoyed making giraffes, snakes, and fish.  He identified and named each shape.

Having both boys home today was wonderful!  They worked great together and enjoyed being with one another.