African Adventures

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African Elephant Chalk Drawing

This week we are exploring the animals of Africa as requested by my youngest.  We are reading and viewing a couple of animals a day to learn more about the animals and their behaviours and the geography of Africa.

Today the boys began their day setting up some new and old race tracks and did some video recordings of a car being chased by a boulder. They worked together for a few hours, getting new angles filmed and action scenes were reconstructed as ideas were thought of!

IMG_20150121_083116_963IMG_20150121_090339_228 This was an activity with no end! They are still at it 3 hours later!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_20150121_084656_246After reading about Lions and Cheetahs today. We viewed some pictures of Ndebele house paintings. The people of southern Africa are famous for colorful, geometric designs painted on their houses. Traditionally they used homemade fingerpaints to decorate and believed this type of painting created a connection between the past, present and future.

Using card stock , permanent markers and pastels, the boys each designed their own painted houses! The book Amazing African projects seen here is a great resource!

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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

Lessons from Nature- Strength

Even though the boys were feeling under the weather today we were very productive! Luke fell asleep while eating a snack yesterday at 4ish on the couch and slept until 4:30 this morning- glad he was able to get some much needed rest and it allowed for us to do lots of activities this morning!

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We started the morning off with a Sink or Float science activity.  I gathered lots of materials and filled a plastic storage box with water. Luke had his clipboard with all the items listed and circled S or F as he put each item in the water. I also wrote down his prediction on the chart.  He guessed most correctly and searched the house for more items. He also started coming up with his own questions…. He noted the bowl was floating, then told me ” put the apple in the bowl and see if it sinks, I think it will!”   We had a great dialogue going and kept adding different scenarios- full bottle of water vs. empty bottle, etc.

Then he moved on to some art! I think the simpler the materials the more the imagination! I handed him a large piece of tissue paper, cotton balls, Q-tips and some paint.  He narrated a whole story as he created and added colors…. Art with his own personal purpose! Beautiful art! 🙂

IMG_20131112_080531_839Luke then went on the math website- math is fun and did a few games.

As he went on to play with Legos and have a snack, Liam and I did some daily lessons on Easy Peasy.

He is just finishing up the history on WW1 and coincidentally, today we read about the significance of the poppy flower and Remembrance day, as yesterday was Veterans Day and poppies were being sold here in many places.  We read the poem “Flanders Field” , viewed photos of the field itself, and then he drew his own poppy flower. I love it! He drew the flower first, then with his own artistic touch, drew muscle shaped petals to represent the strength of the poppy flower.IMG_20131112_103312_382He went on to practice some multiplication problems and some spelling work on his own, then we came back together for some Zoology on Easy Peasy.

He’s in the middle of learning about birds.  Last week he studied and drew the different parts of the feather, this week he is observing the beaks.  After viewing videos of each type of beak on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website, he drew each beak and food in his notebook.

IMG_20131112_103451_723I would say, once again, we learn so much from observing nature! Today’s big lesson was STRENGTH! Keep trying, shine through, never give up.  Water: a strong element, birds possess strength to survive/adapt.  The poppies persistent, strong- pushed through amidst the tragedy!

Enjoy your day!

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Landmarks, Art & Architecture Unit-Week 1

For our last Unit of this year, my oldest requested to study Famous Buildings, Landmarks and Architecture. I loved the idea and got busy right away requesting a bunch of Library books!

Book List:

Architecture A Visual History by James Neal

Joan Steiner Look-A-likes:  Discover a Land where things are not as they appear… and Around the World ; An Album of Amazing Postcards

Monumental Versus by J. Patrick Lewis (poetry)

13 Buildings Children Should Know by Anette Roeder

Buildings in Disguise by Joan Marie Arbogast

Pop’s Bridge by Eve Bunting

Using both these books and worksheets found on Education.com in a “Let’s Travel” series we set out to visit the Landmarks!

                                                   First Stop: England!

We viewed and became familiar with Westminster Abbey, Stonehenge, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower of London and Big Ben.

History/Social Studies: Landmarks of England. Where is England? Using the World Atlas to locate England.

Language Arts: Copy work and discussed the following words:

England, London, Europe, Queen, British Monarchy, Gables

Math: My youngest built with blocks that had two landmarks on them : Stonehenge and the London Eye. Liam used the geo-boards to create the London Eye as well as some multiplication problems.

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Art: Re-created the look of Stonehenge with rocks from around the yard and constructed Tower Bridge with Clay and Pipe Cleaners.

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Computer: Liam loves (to say the least) the game Minecraft, each day as we finish learning about some Landmarks he is re-creating them in “his world” within the game.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next Stop: Greece!

Using the books -Architecture A Visual History and 13 Buildings Children Should Know and the World Atlas we took a look at The Parthenon!

History/Social Studies: Locate Greece on the Map. Using a worksheet from the same Travel set at Education.com, he matched the Landmarks to the locations on the map of Greece; The Parthenon, Meteora, Santorini, Delphi Theater and Mount Olympus, followed by a series of True and False questions.

Language Arts: Copy work of the following words: Athens, Greece, Greek Antiquity, Columns, The Parthenon, Doric, Iconic and Corinthian.

Art: After discussing the 3 types of Columns : Doric, Iconic and Corinthian- today’s art was photography! We drove around our local towns and looked for these types of columns! Here are the photos he took:

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Luke did watercolor painting on printouts of the columns and Liam also designed his own Parthenon on his game minecraft :Greece 001Greece 002

Science: Optical Illusions! We viewed a video and took a closer look at the design of the columns after reading about little tricks architects use in their designs that are not immediately apparent. The end columns are slightly thicker than the others, because they are better-illuminated than the others, it makes them appear thinner!

Math: Multiplication/Division using the pillars for math word problems. Measuring with a measuring tape to see just how tall the pillars stand.

pops bridgeNow in The United States!

We began with the story Pop’s Bridge about the Golden Gate Bridge. Followed by a closer look at The Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, The Chrysler Building and The Guggenheim Museum using the book 13 Building Children Should Know.

Language Arts: Poetry: Monumental Versus book by J. Patrick Lewis -I read the poem “Empire State Building” we then reflected on it and discussed the form of  First Person Narrative.  

The following were today’s copy work vocab/spelling words: San Francisco, Golden Gate Bridge, Empire State Building, Modernism, Spiral.

Science: We discussed the design of the Guggenheim Museum and Frank Llyod Wright’s design which is a long spiral-shaped ramp in which visitors take an elevator to the top and simply walk down.  As a repeat from Greece we also talked about optical Illusions again as the building gets progressively wider towards the top.

Math: The term “Cross-Section” as well as some Division lapbook problems.

Art: Frank Llyod Wright as well as Joseph Strauss, designer of the Golden Gate Bridge, were both persistent against critics and branched out in a new direction. With this thought, I asked Liam to design his own “cutting edge, Modern, unlike anything seen before” structure!

He designed a Robot shaped building that would be a Museum for Electronics, Video games and Robots.robot desing

Next week Visits: France, Brazil, Thailand, Spain, New Zealand!

Week Three: India, Denmark, Portugal, China and Australia!

The Cricket in Times Square- Elephant Math

The past two weeks we have been reading The Cricket in Times Square by George Seldon.  A cricket who finds himself transported from Connecticut to New York’s Times Square when trapped inside a picnic basket.  We follow him through many adventures and meet his new friends along with him.

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We live in Connecticut and visited Times Square last year as a family, so after a quick reminder of our trip and watching a video on Times Square, we had a discussion of the two places and the FEEL of them. As Liam gets older I really want him to start connecting with the stories just a little bit more and so we talked quite a bit about how the cricket must feel after coming from a quiet grassy country side to the loud busy city.  I also started a new writing/spelling lesson as we go through the book chapter by chapter. He is keeping a Writing Response Journal. The purpose is to record personal experiences, explore reactions and interpretations, record and analyze. To think about the book and connect literature to his own life.

We are up to Chapter 8 and here are a couple of his entries so far:

“The best Character yet is Tucker Mouse. ”

“I think Chester and Tucker are Friends now. Chester is from Ct.”

“This Chapter is SO FUNNY! I liked Sai Fong.”

Elephant Math:

We are just finishing up our Unit on Ancient India and came upon this great Living Math idea in a handbook I have called A trip Around The World.

Tradition in ancient India called for respect of all forms of life. Asian or Indian elephants are dressed in a small house called howdahs. Many wildlife sanctuaries and national parks are created for these wild animals.  With many interesting facts about elephants we answered some mathematical questions about them.

ele math The bull elepjant stands 9-10 feet tall and weighs approx. 8,00 pounds.

Weigh 5 textbooks and determine how many would equal the weight of one elephant?!

eleph math

The skin of an elephant is about 1 1/2 inch thick and weighs about 2,000 pounds.

How many sheets of paper are equal to the thickness of an elephants skin?

What fraction of the elephant’s weight is its skin?

We ended up meeting fellow homeschool friends at the zoo and seeing the elephants there.

Science:

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light game

This week Argon was added to the Elements folder. The boys watched a video on how a light bulb is made. Played a game on reflecting light VS. absorbing light and tried it out in the bedroom with a mirror.  Liam drew light bulb and added it into the pocket, then finished the week with an online quiz!argon light pocket

Another fun/busy week! We plan on heading out to meet a small group today for some outdoor games! Enjoy your day!

 

Hands on and creative learning-no lesson plans needed!

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Ours was wonderful,  filled with family and a few pre- Christmas festivities.  Last week,  Thanksgiving week, I had a busy schedule at work and decided we all needed to just take it easy as far as lessons go and just learn through play, games,crafts and books! Somehow, when it’s not labeled “school” my oldest is on board with all my ideas ;).  A few times he even made up a few of his own activities and told me what he was learning, see mom I’m doing some math right now, etc.

I did spend a fair amount of time on pinterest last week searching for some Montessori ideas for my 2yr old. I found quite a bit and tried a few of the ideas with him. I  love the Montessori method/concept as well as Reggio Emilia! Here are a few tluke 010hings we tried;art 022

Pom poms and chop sticks for fine motor development. He counted and filled up the entire bottle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I found foam snowflakes at the dollar store and used them for patterns and counting.

 

 

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Math Fun!

A tray filled with colored water, sponge and measuring cups kept him busy for a long time! He instinctively used the words: more, less, half, and full.

 

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Using colored popsicle sticks, he made shapes and used lots of imagination as he spotted a rocket and a robot within the formations and ran to get a couple of his books to match up the pictures.

– My goal is to get some small circle velcro tabs to stick on to each end of the sticks, so he can really build and they’ll stay in place for him, love to see what he’ll come up with!

We also did some cooking; here is our butterscotch and chocolate popcorn.

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Using the geo board, we matched the shapes in the book to the board and he named them all, traced the elastic shape with his finger; pre-writing and math all in one! He also used our geometric shapes to fill in the negative space on the page itself.   luke 006luke 005

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we jumped back into a slightly more planned week this week, Liam started with some Christmas list math. I asked him to write a list of his family members, provided some magazines and gave him a budget to stick within as if he were actually shopping. We used play money to “buy” the items and he added and subtracted/adjusted the items as needed and really had fun doing it. He even asked if we could do it again some time.luke 009

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We continued to study the Arctic and read two great books; Welcome to the Ice House by Jane Yolen and Ice Bear and Little Fox by Jonathan London. Both have beautiful illustrations and factual information within the story.

We did go a bit off track on science this week too as we viewed these great underwater science videos/lesson plans included, as I was emailed this fantastic,  site.

Geography, we read Ben’s Dream by Chris Van Allsburg. A mostly illustrated book about a boy visiting great monuments of the world as he falls asleep while studying for a test. I was pleased to see that he recognized and could name most of the structures and we discussed the location of each as well.

Polka-Bats and Octopus Slacks by Calef Brown was a fun poetry book we read this week as well. Liam chose one poem to copy for his copywork writing lesson. He chose Skeleton Flowers and even volunteered to do his own illustration! luke 007

 

 

 

 

 

 

In our History studies, we’re still heading westward! I read a bit of The Oregon Trail by Mel Friedman each day this week. The beginning of the book asks T or F questions to think about before reading the story, at first he just listened and then yelled, Mom!, I know all the bold face words are clues! Let me write them down as you read!……Uh, Sure! I knew they were vocabulary words and not necessarily clues, but who am I to argue?! 😉

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Reindeer Do Wear Striped Underwear by Marcia Thornton Jones and Debbie Dadey was a fun read-aloud book this week as we head towards the Christmas season, he loves this book series! (The Bailey School Kids) All quick, easy reads that are just for fun!

That’s our week in a nutshell! Time to get ready and head to library for more books this morning and then my husbands Birthday celebration this afternoon, followed by decorating the Christmas tree tonight! Have a great weekend!