Puppets- through the primary years

Learning through play is a term used in education and psychology to describe how a child can learn to make sense of the world around them. Through play children can develop social and cognitive skills, mature emotionally, and gain the self-confidence required to engage in new experiences and environments.”

As a former Early Childhood Educator this was the foundation of all activities and lesson plans in the classroom, children naturally learn through play when exposed to materials that stimulate imagination and creativity- which is now implemented in my home as well.

Recently I have noted how the use of puppets has really impacted my sons learning. We visit the library regularly (as most homeschoolers do!) and each time he borrows a puppet to take home. I didn’t think much of it at first….but, now I see that they are very influential and a useful vehicle across the curriculum!

  1. They create critical thinking.
  2. Foster creativity and design
  3. effective tool in writing and vocabulary
  4. Science and Research-STEM
  5. Provide a focus for play
  6. Art becomes active-drawing and constructing
  7. Emotional development and empathy
  8. Responsibility

With every puppet he borrows, he comes up with a name for it. He has so many questions about their habitat, life span, and diet etc. that we end up on the computer researching all about it! -(critical thinking,science, research, vocabulary expansion)

Through his play with them he ends up making lists, building habitats and making signs- he becomes attached and responsible and takes care of each puppet while it’s at our home. -(focus for play, art, writing, constructing, responsibility and creativity)

Simple, sweet and effective! So far he has borrowed such animals as: crow, turtle, penguin, otter, groundhog, an owl and more!

He says ” Puppets are fun because I can pretend to be them and control them!”

 

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Drawing and Writing

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building a crows nest using math

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A good read here:http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09575146.2010.529425?journalCode=ceye20 “Observations of active learning in class Two classroom types were observed: traditional approach and an active learning/play-based approach. In the traditional approach the children were engaged in many actions, including listening; looking; chanting responses; giving answers; counting, adding; measuring; making number stories; identifying words, letters, sounds and rhymes; rehearsing tasks/skills; responding to behavior rules; using the interactive Smartboard; assembling; tidying; waiting; and demonstrating disengagement. In the second classroom type, the play-based/active learning, observers noticed the children giving answers; negotiating roles with others; ordering words or numbers; copying patterns and drawing pictures; listening to stories and songs; using the computer or Smartboard; practice reading; did jigsaw puzzles; building with construction materials; measuring, counting, and adding up; lining up, clearing up, moving around. More signs of disengagement were observed in the traditional learning environment. “

Circle the Stars

This morning we started with an alphabet rhyme from A to Z. I saw it in a movie or a show a few days ago (though I can not remember where exactly) and thought it would be a fun way to start the day.  We sat in a circle and went around alphabetically completing the phrase- goes something like this:

Allie went to Alaska with Apples-Bob went to the Bahamas with Brussel sprouts, all the way to -Zander went to Zimbabwe with Zebras!

Some letters were pretty hard! 🙂

We then listened to an audio book about a  Dragon, a story called Dragon Rider .  Dragons must find refuge as the humans are planning to destroy their valley, on his journey he meets a boy named Ben and they become a team!

Liam then went on to finish the last two chapters in his podcast he’s been listening to. He really enjoyed it and learned a lot of science and history along the way. Luke and I worked on the “ap” family on Reading Eggs, then math in a workbook about Space, which then led to him drawing up his own constellation! -A platypus constellation named “John, the platypus.”

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This morning I set out an entire table with some hands on math activities, so they did some work with the  geo-board, fractions and multiplication activities.


We have used the Waldorf style multiplication circles before and reintroduced them to Luke who was very young the last time they were out. It is a great skip counting way to practice the multiplication facts. Liam went through each one and showed him and refreshed his memory as well. For Luke’s reference I also had the facts written out in flowers and the completed stars laid out on the table.

The boys also read a short multiplication “M” poem out of our LMNOP book and watched some birds out back for a bit, then they made their lunch and listened to an American History Story about the start of the revolutionary war based on how taxes currently work in our society.

And, that wraps up our morning, I’m sure there will be some Minecraft played this afternoon as it has made a big come back in this house!

Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

The Wheels are Turning

After a busy weekend of skiing and birthday parties, I figured we’d start this week with some fun!

I came across the book Mr. Ferris and his wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis. A beautiful picture book on the invention and construction of the Ferris wheel. Many historic notes and a successful underdog story to inspire!

After we read the story together, the boys constructed a ferris wheel of their own!

After that they separated and Luke worked on his next level in Reading Eggs online and Liam worked in his math journal. (They both used to despise these subjects, but recently each of them found a way to enjoy them) so I actually got to walk away and watch the wheels of success finally turning for them! Luke is doing great with this reading program and Liam says he really loves this creative way of doing his math. Yay!

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Reading in his fort!

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Doodling in his Math Journal

 

Next, we all came back together to start a new class on Khan Academy called Pixar in a Box. The first session showed us the mathematical uses in animation simulation. They each took turns manipulating the hair on the girl from Brave, using segments and gravity.

The day was wrapped up with Liam playing his ukulele and then listening to a science fiction podcast- a story about a zombie apocalypse. Luke played a math app adding and subtracting with double digits, then continued working on his Minecraft project.

We all agreed, it was a good school day! Phew!

Birds of North America- Art & Nature Science project today!

John James Audubon was an American ornithologist, artist and naturalist known for his studies, drawings and paintings of North American birds.

We have been studying his book, The Birds of America, which has over 400 reproductions in it.

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After viewing many of the birds and listening to a biography of Audubon, we started an art project; transparency bird prints!

We used our own Birds of the Northeast book, chose a bird, using transparency sheets, lay it on top of the chosen bird, color with water-based markers and made prints on to white construction paper!

Supplies- bird book, markers, transparency sheets, damp sponge (not very wet at all or maker will bleed!) construction or printer paper

Here’s the steps and the prints:

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Choose a photo of the bird and trace and color in with markers on the clear sheet-

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Try blending as many colors together as possible, when you’re done- dampen the white sheet of paper and press down the transparency sheet (marker side down)

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Carefully lift off and view your print! We did touch up a few areas with the marker to make the image sharper afterwards, but they came out beautifully!

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Having a good backbone, makes life easier!

This past weekend I headed over to a local book store to browse the “school” area. To my delight it had expanded significantly from my last visit. I found some great keepers!! I’ve been looking for books in each subject we can all do together, meaning books or curriculum that can be used for any age or at least a wide range. I want to be able to have a great backbone and work off of it with both boys, just making their work a bit different so each is challenged in their own way. After this morning I’m pretty sure we have a good backbone in a few subjects now, and yes, it made my life so much easier!To grab the books and enjoy going through them in a chronological order is just what I’ve been looking for all year- yes, since September! Ugh, better late than never 😉

I found: (all for $12.00!) a prek-1 Reading Workbook (Giant Basic Skills) Spell Well! Scholastic grades4-8, -it’s all interactive 50 activities to help with spelling, The Kids’ Nature Book 365 , Animals of the World– 7 in depth chapters broken into specific categories, 2 Harcourt Language Arts Program books, and Kaleidoscope Math– Geometry, Polygons and Prisms, Space Figures in Kaleidoscopes and Infinity Boxes.

We had a blizzard yesterday, so we took it easy and I looked through the books and was eager to get started using them in our curriculum. I found a great Science and Nature book/guide that flows through each month and day, filled with lots of seasonal ideas and activities. The book luckily enough starts off in January, and two things I’ve been wanting to do with the kids was in this weeks activities in the book! Yay!

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Like I said we had a blizzard yesterday, so the first was easy!— Snow cream to drink. We scooped up some snow, added sugar to taste and a bit of vanilla extract and cream! Delicious!IMG_20150128_091003_760

The second project was to make our own icicles. We needed two containers and had to poke a small hole in the bottom, so the water comes out at a slow drip, we then added colored water (our added idea) and gathered some string to “catch” the drips. We headed outside and used our grill to place the bottles on and then tied the string under them and used the snow to hold the string still for us. We left it for about a half hour and then came back to this! Also, lesson learned- one used hot water, one used cold water and it ended up freezing up and not making as big an icicle!

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So pretty!

We then read many books together from the library and then we read from the Hidden Surprises LA Harcourt book called Wild Shots, They’re My Life it was a photo Essay and Science story about a women who takes photographs of animals for a living.  We are also taking about African animals and Mammals this week, so it was a great tie in with that. The focus skill was Story Elements. After each story is a Response Activities section. My youngest Made a chart listing Furry, Feathered and Scaly animals. My oldest created interview questions he would ask if he were reporting on her, and then made up some answers.

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We did some Geography and Art then finished up with Math. They did a workbook page and then we tried out our new Kaleidoscope book. Today was the intro. and it focused on Geometry of Mirrors, and holding the mirror perpendicular to the page. How lines are reflected in a mirror and in creating symmetry. It was very fun!

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Having a good backbone, makes life easier! I’ve been piecing together subjects and activities for so long  and feeling like we’re skipping around all the time, I can’t tell you how excited I am to have these new books and it seems to have agreed with the kids too!

We ended on a good note and went sledding this afternoon at the town park.

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Creating Creative Thinkers

It’s been awhile since I have made an entry on our homeschooling days, mostly because I wanted my focus to be in the moment and not behind the camera and due to the fact that our computer was temperamental for a while!
Anyway, when I started this year of schooling my goal was to get some creativity going! I started to read a lot about Waldorf and was drawn to the creative side of this method. I love having a MLB- main lesson book, where the children draw out images from the main lesson being taught at the time. I directed this for a while to get the habit and thoughts rolling, and this week it finally took off and the boys asked me, yup, they asked me to draw from the story we are reading, which is The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.

I went out and got them each a daily journal to write in or doodle in each afternoon as we close out the “school” day, they have embraced it and I’m mostly implementing this because I want them to be free thinking, creative, and most importantly seeing and observing from their entries and illustrations what they are internalizing and taking away from each lesson personally. Fingers crossed this is our new path and it will continue to grow from here. I also love that they are naturally incorporating writing, spelling, math and fine motor development as well as critical thinking skills!
Here are some documentations they made this week:
IMG_20150108_095717_354In chapter 3 and 4 Milo, the main character visits Dictionopolis and ends up in a word marketplace, where one can buy words or letters that are for sale.

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My oldest loves Tock, the dog and created a drawing of the character from the cover of the book.

IMG_20150113_142511We are also studying Ancient Greece this week and did a Waldorf inspired watercolor painting, First we drew pencil lines for a guide in creating the depth and then worked counter clock wise adding in the rainbow of colors only using primary colors and let/used the water “mingle” and blend and create the secondary and tertiary colors.

Journal entries after watching a Minecraft video set in an Ancient Greece mod on Youtube. They each wrote the three minecraft tools they like the most and why.

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Map of Ancient Greece and an animal drawn using detail by my youngest 😉

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Monday Meandering

With yet another drizzly morning , we decided to do some indoor exercises to start our day instead of our morning walk. I suggested a dance party, they asked to do Yoga instead. So we did about 5 minutes and they declared they’d rather do the dance party 😉

Robotic Moves! Floor Spins!

Robotic Moves! Floor Spins!

We then sat together and read some Fables together for a half an hour, snacked then did some weaving with colored elastics and my knitting looms.

Luke's Design

Luke’s Design

 

Liam's Design

Liam’s Design

Luke took a break and headed to do some self guided play with his TMNT playhouse.

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We then continued our study on mushroom with the Handbook of Nature Study. They each sketched the different types of mushrooms.

Luke's Sketches!

Luke’s Sketches!

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Then Luke decided he wanted to take a nap!… and he wasn’t kidding 2 hours later he’s still out!

Liam and I went to relax on my bed while we read some more of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Next up was some math workbook pages- practicing roman numerals, fractions, graphing and perimeter review.

We then went into some art! Today was the start of our Form Drawing lesson block. We watched this video on Highlight Rendering and then had a mini session trying it out! He was very reluctant but I kept encouraging him and he was very pleased with the final look of it.

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Grow with the Flow

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This week has been a rather rough one with a few unexpected bumps,  and incidentally not much in the way of quality school work had gone on. I sat down early this morning to plan out a new rhythm/ schedule to follow to get us back on track. We still have some issues to get through to get fully back on track but, just implementing this new routine did wonders for us all today! I could see the boys growing “edgy” without a good routine going,  falling into the “I’m bored” routine. I heard both say today-“this is fun like this!” – yeah!

Our new flow looks like this:

8-8:30 Breakfast/Get Dressed

8:45-9 Clean Up rooms and toys

9-10 Outside or Morning Walk (Nature Walk on Wed.)

10-10:30 Read Together/Liam 15 min on own

10:45-11:15 History/Geography

11:15-12:00 Language Arts

12-12:30 Lunch

12:30-1 Math

1-1:30 Science/Nature Study

1:30-2 Art or Music

2-3:00 Board Games/Outside/Snacks/blocks etc

3-5:00 Free Time – Screens/Video Games allowed

Look at how much we got done following this schedule today (and the time frames seemed just about right!)

Chart of the Seasons

Chart of the Seasons diagram was finished!

Visited the Art Gallery at the Library

Visited the Art Gallery at the Library

Read together at the Park

Read together at the Park

Boys read one together

Boys read a book together

Liam worked on a Geography Picture Dictionary

Liam worked on a Geography Picture Dictionary of Landforms

Luke and I talked about the 7 Continents

Luke and I talked about the 7 Continents

We all read Captain Cook together

We all read Captain Cook together

Wikki Stick Math for Luke

Wikki Stick Math for Luke

Liam wrote a math story- 1/3 non-fiction 2/3 fiction "Unicorn at Six Flags"

Liam wrote a math story- 1/3 non-fiction 2/3 fiction
“Unicorn at Six Flags”

Nature Study of leaves and how they drink water!

Nature Study of leaves and how they drink water! After we read Splash! by Nadia Higgins

We finished up a bit early, but we accomplished some good stuff! 🙂

Colors of the Seasons

Today was more on Thirteen Moons on a Turtle’s Back, continued from yesterday’s Social Studies block. If you missed it, click here! We explored the Native American’s first calendar and natural rhythms yesterday.

This morning I read a poem from one moon in each season to the boys. We discussed the colors and the animals in the illustrations.

13moonsThe boys then each did a seasonal project. My youngest drew a tree on his watercolor print from yesterday. He used frozen iced cubes on wet watercolor paper. He decided the colors looked like Spring to him! He used his arm to begin the basic shape of the tree! Great job!! My oldest made a seasonal lantern, melting crayons between wax paper and (using an iron for the first time) with popsicle sticks and tape/glue. It came out beautiful too.

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Today for math was a writing prompt for my oldest. I’m trying a new routine out to make the lessons a bit more engaging. (See the page in the menu on the home page). Anyway, I read him a story from a book I found at the library called Animal Math by Rourke Publishing. We read a short story about temperatures in both gorilla and penguin habitats and talked of negative numbers. This fit in great with another book we are currently reading- Mr. Popper’s Penguins. Once done with the  short story I asked him to write his own penguin story using negative numbers in it. Here is his story: (He loved this btw!)

There were 15 penguins, they all like to play around. They next day they discovered there was -5 penguins! They didn’t care, they wanted to eat fish and the next day came and again, -5 penguins! So, they were happy cause they got more fish to eat!

My youngest took a break with legos and then later worked at his light table with tangrams, making animal shapes!

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Up next, we all sat as I read my youngest his story of the week; The Little House! He loves the story and first told his older brother about the plot before I read it. They both enjoyed it and it tied in nicely with our lesson block on the moon phases and the seasons.

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We finished the formal part of our day with beginning the first chapter in The Birchbark House! This will be our main book as we go along with our Native American lesson block. We are really enjoying this topic and I’m finding really easy to teach it at different levels for both boys!

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Moon and Stars- Natural Rhythms

This week we took a step back and read some Ancient Indian stories called creation accounts for our Social Studies lesson block. They explain how the world began, and how all beings once lived together. We took a look also at recent Scientific evidence and combined the two worlds together for some great discussions!

The first story was called “How Raven Helped the Ancient People” from Brown Paper School USKids History:Book of the American Indians. The boys both enjoyed the account as it was told, that the Raven is a black bird with feathers that were blackened by the smoke of a firebrand.  He was once an eagle who hated people so he kept guardian of the moon, stars and fresh water and fire; because of love for another he put them back, but was tarnished by the smoke while doing so.

As a craft to go along with the story, my oldest designed a bullroarer in his art book. It is a tribal toy from the Pacific Northwest Coast Tribe that was used to call the rain and sounded like the wind. He chose to draw lightening with a thunderbird on it!

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moon bookToday, we all read The Moon Book together. They both enjoyed this one as well. We really studied the Phases of the Moon and how it follows a rhythmic pattern. The weekly, Monthly and Yearly cycles/Seasons.

This tied in perfectly with how the Ancient People also followed the Sun, Moon and Stars to calculate the seasons.  Native Americans used a Turtle shell as their first calendars following the pattern of the shell as well as a reminder to keep our hearts close to the Earth so we notice the natural rhythms mother nature shares with us.

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Both boys really loved discovering this pattern that exists in the shell! They are both animal loves and in particular my youngest LOVES turtles! So, I went on pinterest this morning and found this great activity/blog for  the boys to do! On this blog there is also a little story on a the turtle to go along with the calendar.

Here is their own Turtle calendar and they are going to follow the moon pattern for the month to see the rhythm!

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Next, we created some paper stars as part of our newly introduced (what I call Waldorf Wonders) lesson block. I did not have any colored waxing paper, but I think the colorful recycled paper came out just as pretty!

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After a morning of all this creativity, we then concentrated on some workbooks- both did a math page and math activity,  as well as microscope work on Cells.

IMG_20140715_104955_006 I think we’ll relax and watch a movie with lunch next!

Measuring Dinosaurs!

Measuring Dinosaurs!

White board- Math Assoc. and Cumm. addition

White board- Math Assoc. and Cumm. addition