February 26, 2012


We are not even half way through book two of the Elson Reader Series and I am planning what to do after we are done. I am weird, I know. I never used to be a planner but I am hooked on planning for education. It is so much fun to look at resources that are available out there, especially those that are FREE. In my search for what-to-do-next for our reading lessons I came across a really fun and useful site.

Have fun looking at lit2go. This site has a wonderful selection of classic literature for FREE! Best thing about this site is that it is so user friendly. Let me show you around a bit and gush about how great I think this site is.

The home page is laid out in such a way that it is easy to peruse their "shelves" and see what is available. It is not a huge selection but what they have selected is good quality literature. If you have a book in mind you want to look up simply click on the letter of the alphabet and see what titles there are under it. To see a book simply click on the picture of it.
On the book page you will note several useful bits of info.

• A short description of the story.

Chapter titles links that link to a download page and a short description of that chapter is about.

• The Flesch-Kincaid readability level (in the right hand margin)
Once you click on the chapter title you will be offered the choice of downloading a PDF or an MP3. (not all of the books on this site have both but I noticed most do) The MP3’s are well read and they correspond with the text on the download page. If you chose to download the PDF you will not be disappointed. Here is a sample page from Little Bear at Work and Play.
NOW what I really like about this site is the Flesch-Kincaid grade levels. What is the Flesch-Kincaid grade levels? you ask: click on the words and find out or here is a short answer to way-lay your curiosity:

The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level index is one way to measure and report the readability of English text. The Flesch-Kincaid formula considers the average number of words per sentence (average sentence length, or ASL) and the average number of syllables per word (ASW) within a given passage in order to estimate the complexity of the text. The formula then converts that complexity level into a score that roughly equates with a grade level (K-12) in the United States. The formula is:

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level = (.39 × ASL) + (11.8 × ASW) - 15.59
I am excited about these levels because I am an intuitive sort of person and step-by step things are still a bit of a mystery to me. By using these levels I can be more sure that I am getting materials that will be within the range of what my boys can do and they won’t freak out when I assign something way too hard by mistake. (They like it when I follow the book)

At the top of the page click on the tab entitled “readability.” This will bring you to page with K-12 links on it. Each link/number takes you to books and passages of books that are readable at that level. We will be looking at level 3 once we finish our Elson Readers and here are some titles on our list to choose from:

Rescuing the Lost Balloonist by Captain Quincy Allen
Squinty the Comical Pig by Richard Barnum
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Herriot Beecher Stowe (Told to Children)
Hercules and the Waggoner by Aesop
One to make ready from counting and Math rhymes
The little Hero of Haarlem from Fairy Tales and other traditional stories
The Story of Miss Moppet by Beatrix Potter
Laughing Song a poem by William Blake
Seventh Night: Mr. Scarecrow from Seven O’Clock Stories
pages and pages more
 I could use these resources in a myriad of different ways here are some I am toying with:
• Select several passages/a book and print them out. Bind them into a reader using my pro-click binder (3-ring biders work well too!)  for each of the boys. It would be fun to let the boys select the passages they wanted to read so they have more of a part in the creation of the reader itself.

• Use parts of the passages for copywork. Since they are graded by level you be sure you were selecting simple passages at first and slowly build up to more difficult ones.

• Make a CD of some of the poems or stories to listen to on long car trips or before bed time.

• Read aloud once passage and have the boys narrate what was read.

 How would you use them? I would love to hear your ideas.

February 23, 2012

The Stars and Their Stories

The last day of our week is sort of a catch up day or a fun day. It is the time when we do map drills for Egypt and when we read about a mathematician instead of doing math problems from our book. It is also the day that we have been reading about Galileo and learning more about the stars. First we read about Galileo using these books:
Now we are reading through a public domain book called The Stars and Their Stories. It is full of poems that could be used for copy work, and the stories from Greece about how the stars got their names for narration. I am so excited about the stories for they introduce our study of Greece and Rome next year so beautifully. To be able to have a hands-on element in the lesson I created an interactve pocket that goes with a set of notebook pages that follows along with each chapter. Each page allows space to write a short something about the story and the hands-on activity gives the boys a chance to map out the stars with a push pin and hold it up to the light to see the star patterns of each constellation. The velum pocket holds it all together on one page.

The page.

The punching out.

The looking.

After they have punched out the holes then we trace the line between the stars to reveal the pattern more clearly. Then label it and put it in the pocket.

Download the pages here.

February 20, 2012

Trampoline Games

We obtained a eight-foot circular trampoline from friends for cheep because they were moving. I had not used one much so I looked online for games but found none. The kids were not discouraged – they made their own.

The two games are similar in these ways:

- A safety net is required, ours is two meters above the surface of the trampoline.

- One point is given to the opposition for any person touching the safety net, particularly important for encouraging control for the one on the trampoline.

- Only one on the trampoline at a time.

- The object of the attacker(s) is to hit the trampoline surface with a ball by throwing it over the net.


The defender holds a ball with which they defend the trampoline surface. If it hits the trampoline surface the attacker(s) get a point. The defender can ONLY touch the attacking ball with the ball they are holding. If the defender deflects the ball outside and onto the ground without being caught, the defender gets a point.


The defender gains a point by catching the ball without letting it touch the trampoline surface. The attacker(s) gain a point by hitting the trampoline surface.


- We play to ten or twenty, win by two and took turns.

- Change the number of balls to attack. (With more than one ball, a penalty is given to the defender for keeping the ball more than three seconds.)

- Partially deflated balls seems to add an interesting twist.

- We recently took turns as judge.

WARNING: Be alert to not step on a ball while on the trampoline. It could flip you!


February 7, 2012

Ancient Egyptian Kings and Queens Pockets

Whew! We are finally finished with our overview of the rulers of ancient Egypt. We read through The Pharoahs of Ancient Egypt to get a nice narrative picture of the happenings of these ancient rulers. We learned who reigned when and some of the stories that surrounded these god rulers. We read about Pepi and Menes who ruled early on and then about Hatshepsut when she took over the seat of power and called herself pharaoh and a dressed like a man. Then we read about the pharoahs who conquered like Thutmose the third and Rameses the second. Finally we learned about the greek and roman conquerors and queen Cleopatra. When we read about each ruler from our Imagining Egypt book I created a bio book to go along with it. The bio book gives the boys a way to narrate verbally and then I write down what they narrate. They then copy the written into the bio book. (copywork)

The bio books as we have begun to call them, slip into our Pharoahs and Queens pockets in the picture above. These bio books are of the pharaohs. Each bio book has a cover and a page for writing in, and a back cover. I prepared each bio book so while I read about the pharaoh the boys could be coloring and cutting, writing, and putting the books together. You can find the bio books here.

This is the bio book we did for the Narmer Palette (Menes). He was the Phaoraoh they called the Socrpion. He united lower and upper Egypt into a united land and invented the double crown. This bio book is different than the rest for I wanted the boys to understand what the pictures on the palette meant. Take a look inside...

These are the queens of ancient Egypt bio books the boys have done. They can be found here
You may notice the help wanted poster. That was one of the activities we gleaned from the ancient egypt pockets by Evan Moore. As well there is a small mailer envelope in the picture. It contains the soldiers and photos of the battle of kadesh which we re-enacted with paper soldiers, and a very simple hand drawn map. See one of the pictures the boys took of thier battle of Kadesh re-enactment below. 

 These are the Hittite soldiers 'hiddden' behind the city of Kadesh. They send out a spy to act as a wounded man struggling to gain his freedom from them. He lies and says he was beaten by the Hittites and they have fled back to another city miles away. So Rameses sets up camp on the opposite side of Kadesh. His troops amount to himself and a few guards. They await the arrival of the three other squadrons fo soldiers coming from the south, when the Hittites who had been hidden attack and Rameses is fighting 2,500 men all alone. He barely makes it out alive. It is a very cool story. Anyway the boys loved it!

They loved playing this too!

 Other books we read along the way include:
Eyewitness Books Ancient Egypt (great photos of articfacts)
The Usborne Encyclopedia of the Ancient World (This book includes sections for Greece and Rome)
Cleopatra by Diane Stanley

February 6, 2012

Draw Cowboy!

Our recent drawing assignment from I Can Do All Things was to draw the whiskers on a cowboy....

We decided to draw the whole head on a seperate piece of paper, and then add the whiskers. The cowboys the boys drew turned out great!

February 5, 2012

Snap shots for the Grandparents

We love you Grandpa and Grandma!

To The Moon!

Zak's coloring of an Astronaut on the Moon.
We have had a wonderful exploration of the moon. We found out we weigh less there. The boys were so impressed by the fact that a man has actually set foot upon that far away place, not to mention the amazing fact that the footprints that were made back in 1969 are still there!

The top book is simply a blank mini book to write facts we had learned about the moon, it has craters, it is white etc.

The Moon Poem by Robert Louis Stevenson is from The Moon Lapbook. On the back of the poem there is a blank sheet for copywork. I could not find the lapbook again so I could link to it. Sorry. :(

The boys all weigh about 46 pounds here on earth....that is about 6-8 pounds on the moon. Wild.

This little flip book is simple to make. We just cut it out and them put the pages in order. When you flip it the moon travels around it's orbit of the Earth.

  • The cool velum pocket on the left has me thinking. It looks great, and the velum folds so nice and clean. You will see us using this medium more in future pocket features. I love them!
  • The phases of the moon worksheet can be found here.
  • The best advantage to this book format for our lapbook base is that we can add notebooking pages whenever we like. I love the freedom this allows.
  • We attampted to track the moon for a month with the card inside the envelope, but several of the days it wasn't visible excpet in the middle of the night, and on other days it was cloudy, so we could n't see then moon then either. So, we packed it in and went on to investigate mars.

We also read the following short picture books about the exploration of the moon to top off our look at this part of creation.

We made a rickety homemade telescope out of two magnifying glasses and a mailer tube. It worked ok for looking but it wasn't all that strudy to last for more than a day. Plus the boys had already discovered that if you aim your magnifying glass at a blank wall at just the right distance you can see and upside down picture of the window or doorway. Pretty cool!

And last but not least, we completed yet another solar system map adding on the moon orbiting around the earth.