The Giving Tree on Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day 2013

I decided to take out a favorite book of mine and the boys – The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein today and use it as our base for all activities in lieu of Valentine’s Day.  gtreecI have read this story many times myself, so thought it was a good idea for them to hear it from the author himself : found here on youtube: The Original “73 Movie

After we listened to the story I had Liam complete two worksheets found here on  

He labeled the tree parts and then recalled each item the tree gave to the boy and what the boy used it for. Then thought of things the tree gives as gifts, such as food and paper, oxygen and shelter.

I then took an art activity we had used at Halloween time and tweaked it a bit to go along with The Giving Tree.

First the boys painted the “ground” flipping a paper plate over and used greens and brown for the forest floor.

Then using a brown paper sandwich bag, they each stuffed tissue paper into the bottom of the bag for a base of the tree.  Then twist the bag just above the base. Next cut long strips going down the bag for branches. Then they used a bit of glue on their hands and twisted each strip to form the individual branches.

While they worked on this part, I cut out foam shapes for leaves, stopping to help Luke out once in awhile with his branches.  They glued the leaves on, used a piece of red tissue paper for the apple and added a heart to the tree just like in the story!

They came out awesome!! gtreeagtreeb

A little Imagination and Creativity! TMNT and Arctic Animals

Yesterday my oldest was feeling very generous and sweet, and bought with his own money a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle for his little brother.  Luke has been obsessed with the old cartoon version we have on DVD, watching it over and over again! So, this morning we all got together and made a home for the turtle! Using a cardboard box, magazine pictures and some imagination and creativity we did a pretty good job building his home down in the sewers! 🙂

Both boys loved it and played with it all morning. This also led to more block building ideas that just kept expanding by the minute!














After the turtle house was completed, they worked on towers, then cities, creating bridges and stories to go along with them, trap doors etc. After about and hour and half, I had to interrupt for some table work, but it was still all about imagination and creativity…..

In preparing for this weeks lesson on Arctic animals and hibernation I discovered this great book that has endless extensions to incorporate into many subjects areas!   

Over in the Arctic

Where the cold winds blow by Marianne Berkes



A beautifully illustrated book easy for preschoolers to follow, yet can be altered and made challenging enough for early elementary.  The book contains several ideas for extended activities too. This book is going to be my tool in lesson planning over the next several weeks as we dive into this topic, studying each animal and the Arctic Tundra in depth.

For more of her books on animals and ideas click here

For starters today, we read the book out loud and as the book suggests, as I read it, Liam listened and wrote down the verbs that were used to describe how each animal behaves. Tomorrow we are going to make a chart listing the parent names vs. the baby names, then compare/discuss which creatures migrate and which live in the arctic year round.

For an art activity we made a story page of our own, using the style within the book. (another inside book suggestion) The illustrations were created using layers of cut paper.  I have many decorative papers on hand and he chose the Wolf pack (image search/printed out) as pictured on the cover of the book, but turned it into a mountain scene at sunrise instead.















Upon request, while at the library the other day we checked out another Shel Silverstein book; A light in the Attic. After reading several of them, Liam began making up his own and wrote down a few :

“There’s a rabbit stuck to my ceiling,

There’s a rabbit stuck to my floor. There’s a

rabbit stuck to my chimney, or maybe it was just on the floor…”


“Birds, Birds, Birds

I think about them everyday.

I don’t know why, because

they keep flying away!”


We also read Celebrate the 50 States by Loreen Leedy which gives a brief overview of each state; natural wonders, remarkable people and historic events along with questions.  He recalled more than I had thought he would, although he worked on folklore yesterday with his dad for a boyscout project so he knew a little bit about that and other historians that we’ve covered. Apparently he’s been listening to the news too, because when we got to New Hampshire he said “they vote first for the president right?”
Good enough for me, so we were off to the kitchen to start a recipe for dinner in the crock pot an they both helped before getting back to the blocks!

Shel Silverstein Poetry Math

I did much research this weekend on Living Math.  How to apply it, what exactly does it mean and how to begin transitioning over along with a million other questions I had running through my mind! I’ve done lessons here and there that I’d consider Living Math, but not as a my typical method or style.  I found a ton of information and I have many Living Math books on their way. So with new knowledge, ideas and some much needed inspiration-  we kicked it off today with some Poetry Math using two of Shel Silverstein poems! (if interested, just type in a search, found many pdf’s) Under my Living Math tab, I have listed many books and links on this subject.










I read the first poem The Googies are Coming, and with the use of our change jar in front of us, we answered the follow up math questions as well as some of my own questions I had for him. He loved it! I actually heard the words “this is fun” come out of his mouth! Words that don’t usually go hand in hand with this 8yr old and math! For the last question on the sheet I grabbed the calculator and showed him how to actually add up a total using the decimal point key, and reminded him to always add it up twice before making your final answer. Normally, I would not take out the calculator for math, but I did read about introducing the different buttons on it and teaching children how to use them. He can add mentally as a rule so I thought the added calculator to the lesson would be a switch and he’d learn another little something. We proceeded on to the next poem Smart and finished the follow-up math questions on this poem as well.

I also use Life of Fred for math and we did a Chapter in that book as well today. The lesson in today’s chapter was about seeing patterns in things. Such as a game of Which of these things is not like the others. Example: 7  36   8    1/2  in which you can see, could be any of them depending on your thought process!  He chose to say the 1/2 because it was a fraction, to which I said is correct, but it could also be 36, it’s a double digit, could be 7 it’s an odd number…and so on.

I took out a workbook for a Grammar lesson next and said there is a lot here, why don’t you just do the first column. He said “hold on” muttered to himself aloud….there’s 24 here, 12 in each row….cut that in half…that’s 6.…How about I do 6 in each column then? Absolutely! Great math buddy!