# 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.”

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!

# Optical Illusions & STEM

A focus on optical illusions! What’s more fun than tricking your own brain?! Add in some STEM(Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) projects and have fun learning!

We started off with viewing images and discovering the different types of illusions-Herman Grid, Afterimages, Ambiguous, paradox, distorting and fiction! View the video to see most of these types.

For a related art project, we created an optical effect of dark and light colors; the darker colors move towards you while the lighter colors move away.

We also talked about frequencies of light and made our own Magic color spinners and created a rainbow in our kitchen with a glass full of  water and a flashlight, creating a prism effect.

What happens when you flash black and white colors before your eyes?!

How about a Elephant Toothpaste? Let’s watch chemicals reacting towards each other, and why is the bottle hot?

Want to try it?! Watch the video!

Next we made balloon rockets! All you need is rope or yarn, a cut piece of plastic straw and a balloon. Make some predictions and document changes needed along the way. Tie the rope up at each end, first slide your piece of straw on and then blow up your balloon and hold the end closed as you tape it onto your straw, let go and watch it zoom across the room!

Next STEM- Makey Makey! You can buy the kit and use everyday items! So fun! We tried it out at the library!

# The water of life- What is so magical about water?

The rain was just perfect for us today as we were going to study the aspects and energy that water gives to plants!

We started by discussing how the plants and flowers appearance changes depending on the weather. How do they look today? How do they look on a sunny day? Winter? Summer? This is called expansion and contraction! I had the boys get on the floor and act as a plant! They got down, all curled up like a seed and then sprouted up, once full grown they either expanded on contracted their movements depending on weather I said it was sunny and warm, or if it was now a cold winter day! They giggled the whole time!

We then read a library book all about leaves. Then we sang a song from our guide called The Game of the Leaves (photosynthesis). The chorus was their part while I sort of sang the other words! 😉 The chorus was this: Photo-photo-photosynthesis, That’s the name of the game!– We’ve all got it stuck in our heads now!

Let’s head outside and observe the leaves and the changes going on out there!

Comparing leaves

What happens when a leaf has fallen off the tree? How does it look compared to one that was pulled off?

Looking at a seed

Changes in the Fall

Of course, ya gotta splash around!

We gathered some different leaves and headed back inside. Once in, we read more about the process of Photosynthesis and how it all works! Liam was interested to find out the plants make a “sugar” that is essential for the growth of the plant. We talked about the water cycle and the relationship it has with the plants as well.

Since we had some freshly picked leaves, I thought it would be great to grab the microscope and see if we could get an image of the “sugar” while talking about it! We did! Both boys said it looked gross!

Liam then drew a diagram of Photosynthesis in his MLB. Luke continued to look at different leaves and view items in the microscope. He also worked on writing the letter “F” on the white board.

Photosynthesis drawing/labeling

From here we went on to some art, leaf prints and a picture study. Then both boys worked on some math, and that’s a wrap for today!

Today’s book/resources

Leaf Printing

# What have we been up to?

We’ve been back in action for about three weeks now, and I’d have to say it’s going rather smoothly- It seems very relaxed and easy going (so far). Some days I have to make more reminders to focus than others, but I’d say overall we’re all enjoying the topics!

Here’s a briefing on what we’ve done so far:

Language Arts:

Liam

Grammar: Studied/Reviewed Verbs, Writing Complete Sentences, Nouns- proper and common, and Adjectives- daily lessons with a game, such as a scavenger hunt and then reinforced by watching School House Rocks -Grammar.

Spelling: I’ve been giving 16 words a week- day 1 and 2 is copy work of the words, followed by spelling aloud and then choosing three words and writing a complete sentence.

He’s also brushing up on his cursive work- I think he’s doing fine, but he likes his penmanship perfect, so he gets easily frustrated!

Luke

Luke has been working on recognizing his letters and playing games on Starfall  learning both,  visually and hearing the phonics.

Reading: He’s starting to “read” on his own and by that I mean when young children start using random letters to “spell” things and copy “reading” books at bedtime- he’s memorized certain books and will read them to me in his own words, similar and in sequence of the actual story.

He starts story hour at the library this week too- he’s excited to meet some friends 🙂

Math: Again, much review from the end of last year for Liam. Luke is working on counting to 15 and recognizing numbers out of order.

Liam’s reviewed telling time, reading bar graphs, double digit addition, matching fractions, adding decimals and reviewing multiplication facts.  I have to say two weeks ago, he was a bit rusty on his multiplication facts, but he wanted to take a quiz on the site multiplication.com and got 38/38 correct  with facts up to 7×3 in  3 minutes! I have to say I was honestly relieved! He’s getting it! phew!

Luke is also showing progress while we watched a video counting to 20 in a Spanish lesson, he was shouting out- it’s a 5- it’s a 4 it’s an 1 and a 3!  He’s been counting everything he can, really- on a nature walk he counts the rocks or trees, as he eats snacks, or counts for the light to change as we drive around town.

History:

This is Liam only but of course Luke will watch or listen in.

We’ve so far studied the Biography of Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison and watched videos about these men. In studying Edison, we also did a writing lesson where I “interviewed” Liam while he was an inventor who just completed an invention.

Here it is:

” I can still remember like it was yesterday. I had been working for weeks perfecting my time machine. I found a bunch of parts around the house.”

Q: How far back did you travel?

A: to 1812

Q: What did you see?

A: The War, on the battlefield, but I was wearing an invisible cloak.

Q: What are you going to do with the machine?

A: Going to go back in time and bring back weapons from then and bring our weapons from today to help them end the war quickly.

We also just started studying the Industrial Revolution this week and learning about Coal Mining. We’ve watched a few videos on the Revolution and coal miners and books from the library.  I borrowed the story Rocket Boys for literature to go along with this topic. We’re both enjoying it so far.

A memoir of a teenager growing up in the 50’s in Coalwood, West Virginia- a town built for extracting bituminous coal.

Science:

This year we’re focusing on Zoology.

So far we’ve looked at Classifications- through videos, books, and games. Extinction and endangered animals. Ecosystems and drawing a diagram of the rainforest. While watching a presentation on the different Biomes, Liam took notes on a chart, noting the Location, Climate, Nutrients, Layers, Flora and Fauna, Threatend? and other differences worth remembering. This week we started to take a look at food webs and chains. Producers, Decomposers and Consumers. He played a fun game making a habitat, with a food chain in order to see how it all works together.

Music: We’ve looked at/ listened to pieces by Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky,and Ravel.

Art: Natural objects, and Henri Matisse – sketching of seashells

Spanish:  listening to and recognizing Common Phrases, counting and matching games- Spanish alphabet song and phonics.

# Egypt, Literature and State Government

A busy, busy week around here! We kicked this week off with two new stories- Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel and Blueberries for Sal.  We continued studying Ancient Egypt, with a field trip to the local children’s museum featuring Egypt! Then, Wednesday brought us a trip to Connecticut’s State Capitol and Connecticut’s Old State House.

Language Arts:

Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel– we watched the story this week and both boys loved it and continued to sing the songs around the house! I chose this as it went along with our current science topic.

Writing: List of the different types of machines

Discussed: Setting, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax and Denouement

Worksheet: Personification

Copywork: Cursive Writing

Luke’s story this week was Blueberries for Sal.

Language Arts: Focus on the Letter B, What sound the Letter B makes and watched a video on the Letter B on Starfall and a video with cookie monster featuring the letter B.

Science: Continuation with Hydrogen and a field trip to the Science Center. Liam received a science kit from his recent birthday, so we took that out and experimented with water and air pressure, trying out different scenarios. Liam also played a survival game in which he had to turn a liquid into a gas in order to clean the drinking water on an excursion!

Music: In focusing on Ancient Egypt, we took a look at Ancient Music as well. Where did music first begin? In Nature! This website features making music with nature- animals, weather and seasonal sounds! They had a blast with this!

Math: Liam continued to work on his multiplication tables. For Living Math we worked off the literature and talked about square polygons and searched around the house to find some. He also drew up a blueprint and we all played Monster Math game. He also tried his hand in an Egyptian Math game placing the time periods in chronological order.  Another interactive game was building a pyramid using angles and navigating a boat down the Nile River.

Monster Math:

The winning monster!

Runner Ups Monster

Luke counted with “blueberries” and used beans in the sensory table with measuring cups and measuring spoons. I used the words- half full, and a whole cup while he filled and emptied the cups. We also read the book One Brown Bunny this week.

Art: Paper Mache Egyptian Tomb,  Ice Cube painting and painting with Blueberries

History and Social Studies/Geography: Ancient Egypt and The State of Connecticut.

At the Science museum the boys got to see artifacts from Egypt and did a scavenger hunt for certain items, dug for artifacts and made a boat to sail on the Nile River. We also went in the planetarium and watched a movie about polar bears and the arctic.

On our trip to the State Capitol building we toured with our homeschool hiker group. We were led through the building and heard about the tree branches of gvt. Saw the legislative office and House of Representatives office. We all took a turn in the “wish chair” in the Legislative office in which our tour guide said is a once in a life time opportunity, many do not get to sit in this chair, especially on a tour, since most days this room in is progress. (Luke said he wished for a turtle, Liam wished for our family to live / be together forever and I wished for our family to always be happy and healthy)

The building was beautiful, with stencils, statues and amazing architecture!

During dinner I printed out this quiz from the tour to see what Liam had learned/retained and he did excellent! All but two of the questions he knew! (even though he thought it was “a bit boring”)

We then headed over to Connecticut’s Old State House. This building was all historical highlights on Connecticut. We started in the Hands-On History center, where the kids could dress up in historical clothes, run a farmer’s market and go inside an old camp site.  The next floor featured History all around us, a few of the boys built a replica of the city following the coordinates on an over-sized floor map. We saw and engine from 1912 and tried on costumes, saw Twain’s Bike and did some interactive videos on the history of Hartford! Upstairs we toured the Senate and House rooms.

# St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning!

This week we chose to read St. Patrick’s Day in the morning and focus on St. Patrick’s Day.  I figured instead of doing two separate books this week, the boys would both share and enjoy this unit together and it’s easy enough for me to tweak the activities to each level. My youngest listened to the story and danced and viewed most of the videos we watched.

The story is set on an Irish countryside on St. Patrick’s day. A little boy struggles with being to small to walk in the parade. He sets out early in the morning to prove he is big enough and has his own parade through town where we meet neighbors and animals. “They say I’m too small- but what do they know”

History/Social Studies:

Who is St. Patrick?

Irish Potato famine.

Irish Folk Song : Bog Down in the Valley ( the boys loved this song)

National Geographic Kids: Irish Symbols, History and Geography

Continued study of Ancient Egypt: Studied Civilization and built a 3-D Pyramid

Language Arts: Copywork of the Irish Blessing

Repetition: Discussed what phrase is repeated throughout the story and how does this personalize the main character?

Writing -Short Story: Tell about a time you felt or were told you were too small to do something. How did you feel? What did you do?

Copywork of a Limerick:  Note the AABA pattern

Health: Green Nature Walk and journal entry

Talking about being a “Cheerful Giver” (based on the story) How does it feel to receive/give?

Science:

Phys/Chem:  Atoms and Molecules. A look at how small Atoms are (ripping up foil into tiny bits as example) began Elements of the Periodic Table, starting with Hydrogen.
Luke enjoyed looking at the table too, and pointed out the bullet train.
States of Matter: Then both boys took a turn as the conductor on a steam train, while learning how steam is made and the different parts of an engine, while solving a mystery! Really fun game!!

List of Five Senses Used in the Story.  (younger) Ask what can you see, hear, touch, taste, and smell?

Math:

Continue on weekly math lessons

Unit Living/ Math:

Jelly Bean Graphing- (boy receives jelly beans at town sweet-shop)Give Range, Medium, Mode and Mean

Luke categorized by color.

Art: Colored the Irish Flag and had own parade around the house.

Field Trip: Birthday Trip to the Zoo this week!

# Wrapping up a whirl-wind week!

With the hurricane this week, we didn’t get a whole lot accomplished, but we ended on a good note! We were only without power for two days which was very lucky when compared to what others were and still are without and struggling with as I sit in my warm living room with all family members safe and sound.

It’s funny how things work in retrospect, I was feeling unmotivated and not really enthused by my lesson plans last week and this week…so this morning I jumped online to search the library catalog and find some inspiration as well as pulling out my original outline for the year.  I found several books I ‘m excited for and they just so happened to co-inside with a few of today’s lessons.

Today we did a Chapter in LOF for math multiplying 10’s, 100’s and 1,000’s.  I also used our money flash cards and asked him to use real coins to match the total cents using other combination of coins other that those featured on the card.  Both were fairy simple lessons and not too challenging for him, so I think I’ll go ahead with the idea that popped into my head while lying awake last night… making some multiplication wheels with paper plates and begin introducing/reviewing some facts. I also found some great lessons on ratio’s in the I hate mathematics! book.  So I ‘m feeling some motivation there….

Next up, we did some science reading some books on Sea Otters.  A great book called Sea Otters by Peter Murray, featured lots of great facts on life, diet and behavior etc.  We also read Otter on His Own by Doe Boyle, a fictional story with factual information that led us into a discussion on the differences between river otters and sea otters and the climates they prefer. Again, perfect lead into next week as I plan to discuss hibernation upon finding the books: Going Home: The Mystery of Animal Migration by Marianne Berkes and Over in the Artic: where the cold winds blow-( same author)

In History as we discover the Westward Expansion, I read the next chapter in the book Westward Ho! The story of the Pioneers by Lucille Recht Penner. Today’s chapter featured Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett. Davy Crockett led us into the discussion of tall tales which funny enough is the next genre of literature I picked to start next week! I chose The enormous egg by Louis Darling.

I’ve been slack in our studies of the middle ages so I found the story The World of Quest by Jason T. Kruse.  I’ll say we’ve also switched gears a bit for Geography as well, seems we’ve not really stuck to the plan of one featured state a week and sort of got off track and did a lot just on New England. To regroup a bit I decided to do a general study on the 50 States and found Our 50 States: a family adventure across America by Lynne Cheney and Celebrate the 50 states by Loreen Leedy.

Here’s hoping to get back on track with some motivational books and topics! 🙂