December 27, 2010

Felt Pockets are Fun...

especially for an advent calendar. Last year I was perusing the web looking for ideas for advent calendars when I found this one........2 inch by 2 inch adorable white felt advent pockets with red stitches on all 25 pockets lined up on a red and white checkered ribbon. And that's when I knew I just had to make some. I had some felt left over from a Christmas gone by and some embroidary I copied her pattern (its free here) and did a few of my own (25 to be exact)....took me most of the year to finish them. But they were/are so much fun!!!

I filled them with an assortment of small gifts and a card with the title of a Christmas Carol or a portion of the Christmas story from the Bible. The little cards were perfect. They just fit inside the 2 inch pockets. Once we knew what Carol we were to sing I looked it up in Christmas Carols for a Kid's Heart and read a little story written to go along with the carol. It was great to have the Carols in order of the story of Jesus birth so it would tell the story as we sang them. This book also comes with a CD of the songs. We played the CD at night as the boys went to sleep.

The boys took turns opening one of the pockets each day...Today it was Zak's turn.
In addition to reading about the Carols and singing them, we read as many Christmas stories as we could before Christmas came. We read the following....
For the Children's hour (Christmas and Winter stories..our second favorite)
The Bird's Christmas Carol (Freebie of the Day)
Light at Tern Rock by Julia Sauer
One Wintery Night By Ruth Graham Bell
I read some VERY good advice from the founders of Living books press....about slowing down Christmas. They suggested that during the Christmas holiday you stop formal lessons at least a week before Christmas and simply read stories. We did that and it was wonderful. We took time after breakfast to open the advent pocket, read a little about a Christmas Carol, sang it, and then read one of the other Christmas books I mentioned above. Then for about one hour or so we worked on a lapbook about our favorite Christmas Carol....The Twelve Days of Christmas. It was a very restful and fun filled holiday for both myself and the boys.

December 19, 2010

If I were a preying Mantis....

The Preying Mantis

From whence arrived the praying mantis?
From outer space, or lost Atlantis?
glimpse the grin, green metal mug
at masks the pseudo-saintly bug,
Orthopterous, also carnivorous,
And faintly whisper, Lord deliver us.
by Ogden Nash

Zak found this little guy in the yard, brought it in and kept it in a jar for a while. Of course as the guys were talking about him at dinner Dad wanted to see if it would eat a mosquito. Fine with me....we could use a few less mosquitos around here. So Dad found the butterfly net and went "hunting" It must be a guy thing but they all found this sooooo exciting. They did find a mosquito and "fed" it to the preying Mantis. Poor thing flew around the jar a few times before the Preying Mantis snatched it up in his front legs and chewed it up in a matter of seconds. There were shrieks of joy at this event and more mosquitos were hunted. In the end they only fed it two, it did not seem to like the moth they offered.

If I was a preying Mantis

If I was a preying Mantis, I'd hide under a green leaf
or inside a bright flower waiting for insects to come to the plant.
I'd have quick arms to grab my prey
before it knew what to expect next.
Next I would devour my delicacy in a blink of an eye
I'd mimic a harmless bug BUT when others come too close......
I'd pounce, I'd snap my powerful jaws as I crunch on a big black beetle.
Then I'd fly off to another hiding place...
If I was a preying mantis.

But I am not.

December 8, 2010

Professor Pig's Lectures on "The Magic Numbers"

Ellen has created a wonderful little set of math activities which aim at making math a successful subject but more than that her Professor Pig's Magic Math series is just plain fun....and it's FREE!
Ellen says this about it...

"Professor Pig's Magic Math is all about thinking like a mathematician. People who are good at math don't just memorize facts! They understand numbers and they see number patterns everywhere. Professor Pig begins by teaching his students the "magic numbers": the numbers that add up to 10. Using these five facts as a base, students are taught to see patterns that will allow them to easily add facts like 8+3 and 7+5, without any memorization. Stacks of many numbers are easily added using these number patterns."

At the beginning of the book Professor Pig gives a wonderful lecture about magic numbers and the magic number pairs and how they work. Once it has been explained that all the factors of ten are magic pairs and how that works then Ellen has provided several hands on and mental math activities to further reinforce this concept. Following are some we have tried and liked.

This is called "Penny Bowling". The player sets up the pennys like bowling pins and then shoots his nickle at the pennys. Any pennys which leave the printed spot are counted and the number put in the first blank on the left. In this case T.J. shot 6 pennys away. Then he subtracts 6 from 10 and puts in the answer...4. If he isn't sure if this is correct he simply counts the remaining pennys in the set up....OR he recalls the magic number pair for 6 and knows it is four. Then he shoot once again and that number is put in the blank below the 4. It is then subtracted. If T.J. is unsure of his answer he can count the remaining pennys. Then he must remove all the numbers and re-set up the pennys to do more problems.

This is called "Stop and Go Road." The student can only drive over the numbers which he/she is able to shout out the magic number pair of. For example the first number here is get a sum of ten you must add 7 to it so the student shouts 7 and passes to the next number. He/she then continues on down the number line until all the magic pairs have been noted. Once the boys got good at this we did races with different number lines and we lengthened the number lines. You can do the same thing again and again with different motifs. Below I tried a bee on flowers.

As the bee lands on a flower with a number the magic pair must be shouted out. Ellen has provided a butterfly and some flowers also.

These are not your usual flash cards for math. They read right to left, top to bottom.
Ellen says....
"This game has several benefits. It forces the brain to consolidate information into chunks. The brain will look for ways to make remembering easier, and it will (hopefully) discover that the magic number pairs are just one piece of information, not two seperate numbers."

There are four more lesssons in addtion to this one making five in all. It is a wonderful supplement to any math program it is a fun unit in our own living math adventure.
Thanks so much Ellen!!

In the Begining, God created....

We began our investigation of the History of the Old Testament this year with Creation. Our text is the Bible and the reader of that is Dad. I began these notebooking pages a week or so after they had heard the story from Dad as a fun way to illustrate and narrate what God created on each day. We did a couple of pages a week adding copy work to them to record the story and give more practice to handwriting. The above selections of work were done by my oldest son Max.

Day One by T.J. He just had to add people and a house!

Day Two by Max.

Day Three by Zak.

Day Four by Max. "You will notice," says Max as he is drawing, "That the sun in real life really has no rays. So my sun is just a round blob."

Day Five by Zak. You will notice that one of the dolphins has some red on it...yes it is blood. Zak says that a shark from the waters below has taken a bite out of the dolphin and the dolphin is swimming away. Run dolphin run!
Day Six by Max.

Day Seven by Zak. He made two earths because he wanted to. Then God was soooo tired after that, he laid down on his pillow to rest.

Intermittantly we did a few science experiments to look more closely at the things God had created. We began with light on the first day.

Zak here is making fire with his magnifying glass. I was a little reluctant to show them this little trick but in the end their patience wore thin and they grew very weary of waiting for the sun to burn the paper. I got it to burn so they did see it work but it would take more wait than they have just now. PHEW!
It was a cool lesson from Genesis For this lesson we learned that Archidmedes once defended his city by using the power of the sun and mirrors. When the enemy ships appeared in the bay near the city the soldiers stood their ground, each with a mirror shining the light from the sun onto the ships. Eventually the ships were burned up before they could attack the city and the city was saved!!

We then looked at air on the second day. We did another experiment with a candle, vinegar, a bottle and baking soda. We lit a candle...then put baking soda and vinegar in the bottle. Quickly we put the mouth of the bottle near the candle and the CO2 put the flame out!

We also made balloon cars from this fun website!

Genesis for kids has alot of great ideas but for my little guys they were a bit too hard. We put the book aside for a while until it sparks more interest.

A few days after we were finished with the notebooking pages I began to form little activities to serve as a review of the days of creation ensuring that in the end they will know what was created on what day as easily as they know their names. It is part of my attempt this year to implement The Law of Reviews into my teaching plans.
The first review we did was this 7 days of creation worksheet.

I can not remember where I found this worksheet, but the small pictures are cut from flash cards I found here.

Then I found these coloring pages here and colored them making them into story boards. I used them to retell the story by reading the account from Genesis on each page. Following the story was a fun game I read about some where to learn phonics called flashlight phonics. In this case, "flash light creation." To begin, we closed off a portion of the house to make it as dark as possible. Then with the boys out of the dark room I "hid" the days in different spots. Some under the table some high on the wall, some near the ground and some half hidden etc. Then, when the boys come into the dark room with their flash lights I call out one of the days..."day 1" and they look for the picture that describes day one, then day two etc. We did this several times relocating pictures to new places and doing the days in order and out of order etc. We will probably play it again some time in the future for it is a great way for kinestic learners (boys) to connect with facts and ideas.

This week to review the days of creation we did this work sheet......

.......and these Flash cards.....

.....and these puppets which we used while we listened to the creation song by Veritas Press. It is in the first part of the Old Testament and Ancient times song CD.

The above Days were made by Zak.
Day 6 was made by Max.
As they were making the puppets I could see that they are really getting it down. So we will move on to Dinosaurs from here and periodically use one of these activities to keep the information sinking into their brains.

December 6, 2010

Why?...Why Not?

Recently Jessica left me a comment after reading this post I made last year about latin. She is part of a team of parents producing a new line of latin teaching products called Visual Latin. You can find a description of their philosophy and products here.

Zak making his Latin puppets.

I was looking it all over (and very impressed) when I stumbled upon this post that encouraged and inspired me yet again to keep on with our own latin study. Dwayne posted this quote by Kristin who was answering the question: "Why do you want to learn latin?

"I suppose one of the greatest and most mind blowing realizations that has occurred to me since embarking on the homeschooling path is that there really isn’t an end to the limitless teaching opportunities available for the truly dedicated parent. My children and I are free to make life our school house. The world is literally our classroom and therefore everything that it holds, has held, and might one day contain are awaiting our eager exploration.

To me this is where Latin fits in. Some may try to argue against the time and energy spent learning a “dead” language when there are so many currently-spoken forms to choose from. For these assertions I could counter with a litany of responses that any Latin lover knows offhand:
-increased reading comprehension
-greater vocabulary
-fosters a keen attention to detail
-builds a foundation for understanding even the most obscure grammar rules
-higher SAT scores
-easier transition when attempting to learn Romance languages
-instills confidence when learning terms and phrases in numerous fields including science, academia, religion, and law
Any one of these examples could stand on its own merit as a reason to continue the tradition of keeping Latin alive. For me, the choice to teach my children Latin derived from a sincere appreciation for humanity’s rich history and a deep-rooted admiration for its infinite possibilities. I view Latin as a way for my children to connect with the past while glimpsing the underlying tapestry that leads us to today.
Latin: rich in history; teeming with grammatical insights; a gateway to the classics; a doorway to the future."

Why Latin?

Why not!

The pictures in this post are from our current study of the family and people titles from Song school Latin. It is a wonderfully easy and fun curriculum. The songs are delightful and easy going so we play them as the kids fall asleep in bed.

A look at Edgar Degas

"Jockeys" by Edgar Degas
We are looking at the Impressionists this year, Edgar Degas is our first artist to study from this period. I have always enjoyed his sketchy work and his rich colors....what was new for me to discover is that he did quite a few paintings of the horse races as well as dancers and cabaras. My boys liked these pictures of the horses and jockeys the best of all his work...not surprising they were not too intersted in dancers. Max did however like many of the paintings of circus performers.

I found this artist bio notebooking page at homeschooling with index cards in her FREE notebooking forms section. It is a great way to begin documenting our discoveries of a new artist. The small works of art are Dover art stickers. Just the right size to fit in the box...that is except for the paintings which are in landscape view. The black and white picture of Degas I found on the internet and printed, cut out, and glued to the sheet.

We learned about Edward Degas via these picture books:
Degas and The Little Dancer by Laurence Anholt
Edgar Degas Paintings that Dance (a smart about art book) by Maryann Cocoa-Leffler 
The Impressionist Art Book by Wenda O'Reilly
the Art Book is accompanied by a go fish card game introducing the impressionist artists. Since there are four prints for each artist you can play game like rummy, or concentration as well. The Art book and the cards are sold together under the name of The Impressionists Art Game. We played the go fish game alot!

There were four pictures in The Impressionists Art Book that we used for picture study. The book told us about how the paintings were painted and more about why Degas painted in certain ways. It was short and easy for a 5 year old and a 7 year old to understand and attend to, without getting boring. But at the same time it gave us good insights into the works of art Degas produced and how he went about producing them.
With some of our pictures from old calendars and art museum pamplets we put the pictures we were doing a picture study into this picture study form.

We also colored a few pictures from The Impressionist Coloring book. This is T.J's rendition of "Jockey's in the Rain."
Some helpful websites for further discovery: