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!

Lines and Polygons

What is a line? What are polygons? How are they related? – Those were some of today’s thoughts and investigations!

A polygon is a figure that is closed with straight lines, regular or irregular shaped.  A line is a straight one-dimensional figure having no thickness and extending infinitely in both directions.

I asked the boys to find a polygon in the room. One answer was the rug we were sitting on, the walls, the windows and the best I thought was- the groove in the marble on the fireplace!

So why is this important and worth spending a morning on? Well, for starters it’s the beginnings of geometry and geometric terminology.  Polygons and lines are used in everyday life- mapping out land, engineers use them, painters use them, gardeners use them! They are applicable in almost everything that we do that requires the planning of materials for a structure or of a space.

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We read two great books about lines and then I handed them each a large piece of yarn for them to create their own images using a line.

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tracing his finger along- bonus for pre -writing skills!

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a bird shape

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it’s a man!

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making loops

Then we did a few activities in our Kaleidoscope math book. Using a mirror and the images of triangles, in the reflected images, regular polygons were seen! Polygons can have 3 sides up to 12 sides.

After viewing several of these – What would happen if our mirror included more than one central angle? A heptagon was now seen!

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We then took a break and read some poetry together and then I worked with Luke while Liam worked in him fraction workbook.

Sticking with lines; we did a tactile activity. I asked him to make lower case letters using the wiki sticks as we read an alphabet book.

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He then went on to make his own cross-bow with them afterwards- came out cool!

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Line and polygon art-

They used wave lines and then filled in the waves using as many lines as they could think of.

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Then Liam ended his morning with a coding lesson, learning about artist sequence. Look- it’s lines and polygons! 😉

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I understand this song- Right Brain learning!

What a morning filled with beautiful bird songs(Bird Biology) and a super math suprise gem(Right Brain Math)!

Learning and memorizing multiplication facts has been an ongoing struggle or perhaps a topic of boredom for my oldest. He would rather do fractions and decimals or measurements and graphs- Ahh, all of these are much more “visual” concepts… Now I’m starting to see why this topic was a broken record!

In researching yet another way to get him to memorize and get these down pat in a flash, I discovered:

MisterNumbers Pattern Play Math

A visual and structural approach to multiplication for Right Brained learners! I watched a couple of his videos and thought, WOW! this is so awseome. I signed up for the 3 free worksheets and had him watch the videos and do the sheets along with the video. He looked over at me half way through the video wide-eyed and said- this guy is a genius!

This is what one of the worksheets looks like, but if you’re at all interested watch the video to see the patterns of 3,6,9 times and the 7’s. It’s a simple tic, tac, toe pattern that incorporates all three tables.

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We’ll be purchasing the workbook, it’s not expensive at all! Pattern Play Math-…… You’re playing our song!

Speaking of Songs; Bird Biology was the other highlight of our day! We headed over to The CornellLab of Orinthology to learn all about Birdsong! This was an interactive lesson with 7 steps.

What is a Songbird?

Songbirds learn too

Their reperetoires include songs and calls

Songbirds have local dialects

Songbirds are vocal gymnasts

They sing at dawn

Some sing two notes at once

Birds sing to defend and impress

Here a bird singing? It’s probably a male

After reading through these facts and hearing the Songbirds, we then played Songbirds in action and trained for Bird Song Hero!

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Double sided voice box

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Listen and match the visual

Then before heading outside we did a little watercolor fun art with singing birds!

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Luke’s -Titled “The Bell Song”

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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Winter Nature Walk

Today was one of those days where sitting and concentrating was NOT going to happen! They had a lot of energy and after trying a few planned lessons and threw my hands up and said- get your snow gear we are going out for a walk!

We headed out just as the snowflakes started falling! It was so pretty and the boys were able to catch as see the geometric shapes in the snowflakes as they landed. They were so excited, it was the perfect kind of snow for a hike.

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We headed out and just went down the street to a place called Barn Island. We walked through the marshes and saw some birds and continued catching snowflakes. It didn’t take long for the boys to find the ice under the snow patches and begin to explore!

They tried to break it, slide on it, dance on it, and observed how the water moved underneath and the ice and how they could eventually use the broken ice pieces as a tool to break the rest of the ice! They had a blast and discovered quite a bit about the ice and observed changes from when we were there in the fall.

They got more out of their day here than at the kitchen table for sure!!

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Catching Flakes!

Catching Flakes!

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"look how it cracks!"

“look how it cracks!”

Ice Dancing!!

Ice Dancing!!

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“Look at this one! It’s overflowing and coming out on top!”

Digging in with "ice picks"

Digging in with “ice picks”

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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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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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The life cycle of the plant- illustrated using lemniscate symbol

symbolGeometry and the Life Cycle of the Plant all came together for one big main lesson block this morning! We are now into day three of our Botany block and today’s focus was following the plant from The Seed, Root and Shoot to The Stem.

I read to the boys about each plant part in depth and read a book from the library as an introduction this morning. We also recalled info. from yesterday and the process of Photosynthesis. IMG_20141001_113419Once we headed to the table to do some more work I handed Liam the page I had printed out of the Geometry book that I had come across that I thought gave the perfect image to represent the life cycle of the plant. The lemniscate! He said “oh sure, I can see that!” Me, really? you are familiar with this? He proceeded to tell me all about it and how it was used to tell time between day and night! I had no idea he knew this! Nice!! So, we talked about how in the diagram on the print out it showed the time differences between the seasons. I explained that we could use this to show the growth in a plant above and below the ground during the seasons! ex.: Winter- empty on land, mostly underground- big circle on the bottom, smaller loop on top!

He did a fantastic job! I love how it came out!                 symbol

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Fall and Winter

Spring and Summer

Spring and Summer

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While Liam worked on drawing the diagrams, Luke and I worked on his letters. He practiced writing the letter B and reciting the rhyme Little Boy Blue with me. He did a couple of workbook pages and then we acted out the phonetic sound of B, by pretending to hold a Bat and shouting b b b b b and we swung to hit the ball.

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He then described to me how to create and draw out the new letter B card for him. I loved his idea of the letter B coming out of the horn, and he wanted the pattern of big B then little b!

We then made salt dough and made impressions using leaves from outside. Since they take a long time to bake, we’ll paint them tomorrow!

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