Thursday, September 13, 2012

Independent Writing Project

I had to share dd7's writing project for today. It was a journal entry.

I'm dreaming of a bridge - the longest bridge so far in history - stretching from the tip of Maine around the world to China to make a beautiful landscape across the world. Also other smaller bridges like from Japan to Central America and from Rome to Ireland - even though I havent went there yet. I am only a 7 year old child who has already pictured a landscape - a long strip of life - in my memory... - 2012

Monday, July 16, 2012

Book Club at Home

This post could also have been titled:

Sometimes Mom *Does* Know Best...

This week each of the kids is reading a different chapter book. I'm reading the book, too. Then we get together and discuss it. They have enjoyed this process so far, having my full attention, in turn, to talk about the things they find in their books.

Dd6 is reading "Mr. Popper's Penguins". I have a Progeny Press Literature Guide for it. We're using some of the questions and the vocabulary lists from that, but picking and choosing. I also have a Scholastic guide to penguins with activities. She's the arts-and-crafts lover so we're going at a slow pace with the book and throwing in the extras for fun.

Dd9 is reading "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe". Or, I should really say, he *read* the book. He was so hooked, it took him just one morning to finish. I have to say, he was not interested in reading the book when I suggested it. But I asked him to just try it, and that he could choose the next book. Did I mention he loved it? And, I'm pretty sure he has chosen the next book--next in the Narnia series!

Before I gave him the book, I gave him an overview on the life of C.S. Lewis. So much from the book comes from themes from Lewis's life. I know I have found reading Narnia to be much more pleasurable knowing these things. For him, I also have a Progeny Press Literature Guide. Since he was so into the book, we'll save many of the Progeny questions for later.

I also have to mention that when Ds9 and I started looking at some of the Christian allegory ideas in "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" he become visibly excited. His whole face lit up. He started seeing the book in a whole new light. He first read it because it was a great story. He then appreciated it on a deeper level. It was really fun to find these things together.

C.S. Lewis once wrote that a truly good children's book is so good that it also appeals to parents. Thumbs up to that!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

I LOVE Rainbow Resource

I have to put in a plug for my absolutely favorite go-to source for my teaching needs:

When I first started homeschooling, I was overwhelmed by the vast number of companies selling teaching materials. I was looking for a reputable company from which to buy my curriculum materials, math manipulatives, and fun extras. I heard about Rainbow Resource from The Well Trained Mind and decided to give them a try. I have been a fan ever since!

I truly think that the highlight of my June is receiving their 1300 page catalog! For the past 4 or 5 years I've read it almost cover to cover. The product reviews (for almost every single product) are very thorough and their website offers customer reviews in addition to  this.

I have always received fast service, particularly when I place my order earlier in the summer (June/July). On the extremely rare occasion that there was a problem with something I ordered, I have always received friendly service and the problem was corrected.

As a bonus, the Rainbow Resource family is truly a family-oriented company. I have also appreciated their commitment to homeschooling--From their website:

"In the Old Testament, God's people offered up the first fruits of the harvest as a sign of trust in His provision.  We would like to do something in this same spirit.  We are offering up all our profits for the month of June and giving them to homeschool families who have educational needs due to hardships of any kind..."

How cool is that!

By the way, it's not just for homeschoolers! Any "brick and mortar" schoolteacher, any parent, or grandparent would LOVE to get their hands on these products.

Give them a try!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Aaarrrgh! Another Year Gone Already?

We just want to say
A happy birthday to you
We hope you have a wonderful day
In whatever you may do
Know that God loves you so
And wants for you the 'best'
So look to Him each precious day
And know that you are blessed.

by M. S. Lowndes
found here

Happy Birthday to my now DS9!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Penguin Stampede--An Original Game by Dd6

My daughter is on a penguin kick. Today she made up a game to play. These are the instructions she made up herself. I left them in her words as much as I could (only modifying a couple things to make them more clear).


I made up a little game called " Penguin Stampede". 
Here are the instructions:
1. Roll your die. If you roll the highest number you go first.
2. Set up a line for start and finish.
3. Roll 2 dice. If on 1 die you roll a one, you waddle backwards as many tiny "penguin steps" as the number on the other die.
4. Roll 2 dice. If on both dice you roll a 1, then you don't move.
5. Roll 2 dice. If you don't roll a 1, then move forward as many tiny "penguin steps" as the number on the dice together.
6. After you roll and take your "penguin steps", the next person in line rolls the dice and waddles his "penguin steps".
7. Keep on rolling till someone gets to the finish. 

Tip: If someone yells, "penguin stampede", then everyone goes to start and his turn is over. You can only say, "penguin stampede" once in the game.

Did you like my game? If I gave you some ideas of a different game, then when you make it remember to tell me about it or at least how to play it. If you liked it then remember to play it a lot. Also remember to tell me if you liked my game or not.  

I thought that the game was exceptionally well thought-out. It was fun for her (and me, too)! These directions are her original plan with only two changes. I decided that we should limit "penguin stampede" to once per game (otherwise it could go on forever). She added the rule for rolling two ones, to add a twist to the game.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Titanic Teaching Ideas--Activities for "Sail It"

The basic outline I used for my unit is as follows: 
(Part) 1: Build It 

(Part) 2: Sail It  

(Part) 3: Sink It  

(Part) 4: Save It  

(Part) 5: Remember It 

Projects relating to the sailing of Titanic:

*A few vocabulary ideas: -starboard -port -class -bow -stern -passenger -crew -private -sea lane -voyage -telegram -stoker -steward -immigrant -orchestra -promenade -lounge -abroad -attire -spacious -coast -launch -embark -diversity –applause
*Use a world map to color/pin tacks on the countries from which passengers on Titanic came. Were you surprised to find passengers from so many countries? Also mark the cities where people boarded, where Titanic was built and fitted out.

*Morse code and Morse lamp were used on board Titanic to relay messages. Write your own messages in Morse code.

*Many of the third-class passengers aboard Titanic were unable to take many items with them. Many of them were moving to America to start a new life. Imagine that you were moving to a new land. If you could take only one or two special items with you what would you choose? Why? Why would you leave other items behind? Choose one family photograph to take with you. Describe the photograph. If possible, include a copy of it. Why would you take it? What one outfit would you wear? Will you consider the weather or choose your favorite? In contrast, many of the first-class passengers were traveling with much more luggage and for leisure. How would your packing change if you were a first-class passenger with room for 3 or 4 suitcases?

*Cooking project. Make and serve some items from titanic's menus. A good source for ideas is the book Last Dinner on the Titanic by Rick Archbold. Advanced students can calculate calories and nutrition information per serving.

*Be a first-class dinner guest: Girls will dress in their fanciest dresses and may even create a jeweled shawl, period hat or other fine jewelry to accessorize. Boys may dress in their finest clothes and may want to add a homemade bow tie, top hat, or cane. Discuss fine table manners and fancy table settings. Re-create a first-rate dining experience.

*Practice the job of Titanic’s food staff. Set a formal place setting for one of your meals.

*While you’re in the kitchen, practice converting recipes to feed a crowd. Find a recipe for something served on board Titanic. (Easy recipes would be Vienna rolls, corn bread, scones, or vegetable stew.) Convert the recipe to plan for the entire first-class (329 people) or second-class (285 people) or third-class (710 people). Convert the recipe for your entire family or group. Cook and serve it.

*The actual record of food brought on Titanic has been lost. We do have Olympic’s information, however. Olympic carried 40 tons of potatoes. Record the amount of time it takes you to thoroughly wash one potato. How long would it take you to wash all of the potatoes on the ship?

*Create a poem about the Titanic. Perhaps you could write about the most surprising or a most favorite thing you’ve learned so far. Maybe the grandeur or the passengers have caught your attention. Experiment with different types of poetry...conrete, acrostic, ode.
*Second class passengers had chess, dominoes, and other games available. Try these.

*Passengers aboard Titanic heard many different types of music. Some were in Titanic’s music book. Others were played at various occasions such as the Sunday church service. Find recordings of songs including Nearer My God to Thee, Songe D’Automne, The Glow Worm, Merry Widow Waltz, Somewhere a Voice is Calling, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, Maple Leaf Rag, Oh You Beautiful Doll. If you can’t find these, you can use other genres of music played on board including polkas, marches, waltzes, and ragtime.

* Become familiar with the instruments played aboard Titanic: cello, violin, viola, piano.
*Practice more of the jobs done by the staff of Titanic and those who built her. Great life skils include:
-baking and cooking
-cleaning: mirrors, sinks, toilets, tubs and showers, baseboards, dusting, emptying trash, mopping, washing windows, make beds
-clearing the table, drying dishes,  
-upkeep: folding clothes, towels, sheets, mending
-organizing: closets, cupboards
-pack items into a suitcase
-make appointments
-painting a room
*After trying out some of the tasks of workers on board Titanic (Marconi operator, kitchen help, captain, stoker/fireman (without real fire, of course!), purser, kitchen and bedroom stewards, decide which you'd most like to have had. Why?
*Make a picture that you think represents...the excitement of the immigrants boarding titanic to come to the US…the pride of the first class passengers upon entering the luxurious ship…the feelings of the eyewitnesses who saw ice on deck. Students could choose several of these and compile them for an end project, perhaps presenting them in gallery format and hosting a private "opening" where he/she could comment on the reasons he made the particular pieces and answering questions.

*Titanic had its own patterned dishes. Can you re-create the design using clay? Design your own modern set of dishes. (There are kits available for kids to make their own dishes.) It would be a nice keepsake.

Titanic Teaching Ideas--Activities for "Build It"

The basic timeline I used for my unit is as follows:

 1: Build It 

 2: Sail It  

 3: Sink It  

 4: Save It  

 5: Remember It 

Projects relating to the actual building of Titanic:

*A few vocabulary ideas: -hull -porthole -vessel -fittings -reciprocating engines 
-compartment -crow's nest -bridge -rudder -propellor -vast -interior -exterior -equip –helm 

*A few spelling ideas: (easier and becoming more advanced) ship, away, under, full, leak, sail, carry, cabin, dock, steer, class, night, April, ocean, aboard, across, titanic, bridge, ticket, warning, always, witness, wreck, route, message, reason, because, trouble, century, famous, international, official, necessary, recommend, especially, committee  

*Who were the Titans in Greek mythology? Why might shipbuilders choose such a theme for their ship?

*Was "Titanic" a good name for this ship, the most luxurious and biggest of its time? Why or why not? Suggest a better one-word name for the ship. Why would this name have been better?

*What did RMS stand for in Titanic's name? Why was it called RMS?

*Journal: Would you like to have traveled on this great ship if you'd had the chance? Imagine that you are living in the year 1912. You've just heard a great deal about this new, luxurious, unsinkable ship called "Titanic". Some people are saying that it's the greatest ship while others are cautious. Write a note/letter to someone you know, telling them why they should come with you on Titanic. OR Write a note/letter to someone you know, convincing them not to go on Titanic's maiden voyage. Use only facts that were known in 1912 before the voyage.

*Titanic was 882 1/2 feet long and 92 1/2 feet wide. Find a very large space outdoors. Mark out the dimensions of the whole ship. You might wish to comment in your journals about the enormity of it. If part of your group stays at one end of the "ship" can you see the rest of your group on the other end of it?

*Most of Titanic's lifeboats had a capacity of 65. Build a lifeboat (milk carton or other materials). See if you can get it to hold 65 (pennies, peanuts, paperclips).

*Sea trials game: Titanic had to be tested before its maiden voyage. The crew practiced port (left) and starboard (right) turns, stopping turning full circle, running at different speeds. One player is the captain. He leads the group in doing its drills...Ex. "full speed ahead" "everyone to the starboard side of the room for 10 jumping jacks"...

*Titanic was built on wooden platforms that sloped down into the water. At launch, 22 tons of tallow, soap, and train oil were used to grease the platforms so Titanic could slide down into the water at just the right time. Experiment-use ramps at different degree angles. Use different weights of objects, slide down the ramps. What gives them enough slipperiness to slide? Do any of them slide too quickly?

*PE Drama: Many first class passengers arrived to board Titanic with many suitcases, trunks, and crates. It was very important for Titanic employees to correctly match each piece of luggage with its owner. Some of the luggage was for the sea voyage, other pieces were to be held until the ship’s arrival in New York. Information on the tag included Name, Room Number, Class, and the White Star Line logo.
-Divide a large area, marking off first and second class, as well as several room numbers per class. -Create luggage tags which show to which class and room each piece belongs. –Place these tags on numerous boxes, suitcases, backpacks, and anything else which could be used to replicate luggage. –At your signal, the Titanic employees deliver each piece to its proper place. –This may be timed or played as a relay as well. –Be careful with the luggage! You wouldn’t want a passenger to get his fancy luggage dented!

*Find out the dimensions of a first class room and a third class room. Find a space, perhaps outside or in a very large room. Mark out the dimensions of that part of the Titanic. Try "sharing" the "rooms" with members of your group. Also try comparing the personal space for a first class room with that of a third class room.

*Look at the White Star Line Flag. It's a basic red pennant with a White Star. Use the painting technique of pointillism (small distinct dots) to create the flag. Fly the flag for the duration of your unit study.

*Make various origami boats. Use different sizes and types of paper. Make predictions for which will float best. Analyze and compare your results. Advanced students can use stopwatches and record the time it takes for each boat to sink. Results can be graphed.

*Find the area and perimeter of certain parts of the Titanic/the whole ship. For example, Titanic's first-class dining saloon measured 114 feet long and 92 feet wide. What was the total area of the dining saloon? If all 329 first-class passengers were in the dining saloon, how much room could each passenger have if the space was divided equally between them? Find the area for each person if only 1/3 of the first-class passengers were in the room.

Projects relating to the time period:

*What books were written in 1911/1912? (There are many.) Which are written for people your age? Find, read, discuss. 1911: Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Peter and Wendy by J.M. Barrie 1912: The Tale of Mr. Tod by Beatrix Potter, Sky Island by L. Frank Baum, Chronicles of Avonlea by Lucy Maud Montgomery, The Magic World by Edith Nesbit
Note: I haven't read all of these myself.

* Look at artists and art pieces of the time. Examples include: Picasso-Violin/ Still Life/ Bottle Glass Guitar and Pipe/ Still Life with Bowl and Fruit/ Guitar and Violin/ Guitar on a Table/ Musical Instruments. He also had his portrait painted by Juan Gris in 1912. Mondrian-The Grey Tree/ Still Life with Ginger Pot 2/ Trees in Blossom. Goncharova-Green Forest. Kandinsky-Black Spot 1/ Improvisation 28. Max Weber-New York. Georges Braque-The Clarinet/ and some new twists with collage. Delaunay-The Red Tower/ Simultaneous Windows/ Windows Open. Gino Severini-Blue Dancer. Giacomo Balla-Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash. Juan Gris-Guitar and Flowers/ Portrait of Picasso.
-Many of these works show a style of art typical at the time. Look also for any glimpses into life in 1912 as portrayed in them. Works can be compared/contrasted for their elements such as line, shape, and color, as well as mood, theme, etc.
-Note: One helpful website for finding art produced in 1912 is the Guggenheim Museum in New York. In a Titanic twist, the Solomon Guggenheim who founded the museum was the brother of Benjamin Guggenheim who died aboard the Titanic. As always, adults will want to monitor activities of students online.

*PBS has information about the 1912 Presidential election, called "one of the most significant elections in American history". 

*Play recordings of the popular music of the time. Older students can explore the historical and cultural backdrop and purposes for which they were composed. Research the musicians who were hard at work at that time. Students can learn to play these melodies if they have an instrument specialty. 

*King George V was king in England. (He succeeded his father King Edward VII after which the very important Edwardian era was named.) What trends (fashion, art, literature...) were popular.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Titanic Teaching Ideas--Part 2--Ongoing Projects

If you're looking for project ideas to show "mastery" over a certain Titanic topic, perhaps these will get you started. I have listed them here since they encompass the broader theme of Titanic, rather than fitting into of the specific portions of our timeline.

*Organize a game show. Give each student several trivia game "answers". Students make up a question for each answer. Students then mix all the cards and play the trivia review game. 
       For example: 
       answer: White Star Line
       student's question: What was the name of the British shipping company which operated Titanic, Olympic, and Britannic.

*Have students keep a scrapbook or journal. It can be used to record facts and reactions to topics covered. It could also be used to reflect on how the topic relates to the student's life today. Perhaps it could be a mix of facts and thoughts interspersed with pictures that the student has drawn or collected.

*Many songs were written about the sinking of the titanic. Research them and collect examples to be shared. Try to find works from a variety of different periods. Some were written right after the sinking. Others are more modern. Comment on some of the differences you find.

*Passengers on the titanic came from 46 different countries on 6 continents. Study the country of origin of one of the passengers. Consider geography, flag, foods, language, customs, history of country in 1910s, holidays, and landmarks. Perhaps you could find a passenger who came from your area. One source for this information is Titanic Lee Merideth. (Or since I have the book myself you can comment below and ask me!)

*If you're adventurous, you might plan to learn about steering boats firsthand--by going canoeing! Learn how the oar is used as a rudder to steer the canoe. Demonstrate. Let older students try controlling the rudder oar in the back of the boat.

*Let students create a webpage or blog entry to show knowledge about the Titanic as a whole or about a single topic within Titanic. Topics could include the design of the ship, famous people on board (along with whether or not they survived), fun things to do on board, the chain of events (and time of day) from iceberg warning to final sinking of the ship...the possibilities are endless.

*Research what else was going on in the year 1912. Who was president and who was elected president that year? What was invented? Who was in the World Series? What books were written? What pieces of art were created? What famous people were born? Who died? What two states were added to the U.S. in that year? What was the average family income in the U.S. at that time? How much did things cost? Can you find photographs of your local area from 1912?

*Research your family history from 1912. Create/look at your family tree. Which of your relatives were alive in 1912? Can any relatives that are alive today tell you anything about those people? Look at family pictures at that time. Where were your relatives living then? What did they do for a living?

*For the sports fan: 
-Baseball fans may wish to research players of 1912, statistics, gear, stadiums of 1912 and perhaps especially the 1912 World Series. Students could make authentic-looking baseball cards with statistics, or posters to advertise players and/or the series. 
-Auto racing fans may love to look at pictures of the old timers racing then. There was no formal NASCAR yet, but was there any racing? Indy? When did Henry Ford race? 
-General sports fans might like to research the 1912 summer Olympics held in Stockholm Sweden. See also Jim Thorpe? Were there winter Olympics that year? What events were held. Who were some of the big winners? Do any of the records still hold?
-Was Knute Rockne at Notre Dame at this time? What about other future-famous football players. Where were they? Future Baseball players?

*Field trip ideas:
       There are traveling exhibitions this year in Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, and California. My son enjoyed one of these exhibitions a few years ago.
       There are also more permanent Titanic museums in Branson, Missouri and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Titanic Historical Society has one in Massachusetts. I have not personally visited any of these.
       There is also a Molly Brown House Museum in Colorado. I haven't been there, either.
       A quick internet search will also help you find memorials of Titanic and well-known passengers in your area. They can be found all over the world.

*Choose one of the books you've read (independently or together) during this unit. Choose one of the following book report ideas to report on it. 
-Have someone interview you about the book: Questions will include what you liked and didn't like about the book, who the main characters were, what the plot of the book was...
-Make a play or puppet show to re-tell a main part of the book.
-Make a t-shirt to advertise how great the book was. Include catchy phrases from or about the book, drawings of exciting events or people from the book...
-Videotape a TV commercial explaining what you liked about the book, exciting characters and events...
-Create a song to tell the basic theme and/or message of the book.
-Draw and caption a photo album about the book.

*Choose a character trait: Compassion, Confidence, Cooperation, Courage, Decisiveness, Efficiency, Flexibility, Generosity, Honesty, Humility, Loyalty, Perseverance, Respect, Responsibility. Have students choose someone in Titanic's history that displays that trait and describe how and when the trait was shown. Students can also explain why he/she admires that trait or what he/she could say to that person about the trait. 

*See if the American Red Cross has a course in water safety or swimming available in your area for your particular age group. 

Coming soon...Ideas for Part 1: Build It...

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Titanic Teaching Ideas--Part 1--Resources

There are many resources out there for books and videos related to the topic of Titanic. I've listed a few of my favorites:

Tonight on the Titanic
       by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca
Titanic: A Non-fiction Companion to Tonight on the Titanic
       by Mary Pope Osborne, Sal Murdocca, and Will Osborne
The Titanic: Lost and Found 
       by Judy Donnelly and Keith Kohler
Finding the Titanic
       by Robert D. Ballard
       by Victoria Sherrow
882 1/2 Amazing Answers to your Questions About the Titanic
       by Hugh Brewster and Laurie Coulter
Facts About Titanic
       by Lee W. Merideth
Titanic: An Illustrated History
       by Don Lynch
Inside the Titanic: A Giant Cutaway Book
       by Ken Marschall
Titanic (DK Eyewitness Books)
       by Simon Adams
Exploring the Titanic: How the Greatest Ship Ever Lost-Was Found
       by Robert D. Ballard
Polar the Titanic Bear
       by Daisy Corning Spedden and Laurie McGaw
The Story of the Titanic, as Told by its Survivors
       Edited by Jack Winocour
Titanic Names: A Complete List of the Passenger and Crew 
       by Lee W. Merideth
The Titanic Coloring Book
       by Dover
National Geographic Titanic DVD
       by National Geographic

Coming soon...Ongoing projects for the unit...

Titanic Teaching Ideas

In the coming days I'm going to be sharing all of the teaching ideas I've compiled to go with a unit on the sinking of the Titanic. I have plenty of ideas, as I've actually been working on it for several years. 

The ideas are cross-curricular and cover reading, language arts, math, science, history, art, music, and even PE. They can be used for a variety of different ages. 

Please come back and check them out. If the ideas look good to you, tell a friend!


(Part) 1: Build It 

(Part) 2: Sail It  

(Part) 3: Sink It  

(Part) 4: Save It  

(Part) 5: Remember It 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Sign of the Beaver and Native Facepaint

I had to share the pictures from one of today's highlights.

We recently finished reading "The Sign of the Beaver" by Elizabeth George Speare. It's a Newberry Honor book set in the 1760's.

My dd6 was unsatisfied with the ending. She would have preferred that the Indians come back to live in Maine instead of moving west. She made a plan to change the ending.

She asked if I could put Indian facepaint on her. (We found a pretty design on YouTube.) She would also make signs so that the Indians felt welcomed back. 

She feels much better about the way things turned out now!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Nature Study + Family Fun = A Great Day

I have to admit that the Charlotte-Mason style nature study has always interested me. We haven't done much with it, though. I'm not sure if it's because I didn't really know where to begin or because it seemed like we didn't have the time. Today's day out, though, has reminded me how great it could be.

Family Fun Magazine had a good article in this past month's issue which got us started. (I don't think this month's activities are on their website yet. I'll try to link to the specific ideas when Family Fun updates their site.)

1. We did some digging in the yard to look for worms and we tested Family Fun's idea of how to get worms to come up to the surface. 
2. We used materials that we had around the house to study the underwater critters at our nearby lake. We also tested the pH levels.

3. We had a picnic and made Family Fun's Sweet Seedlings (very cute!) 

In addition, we did a nature walk and journaling, and the kids also took some photographs. They took along our bird-identification book and also tried to identify the birds by their calls. One of the highlights of the day was finding a killdeer nest with four eggs in it. The momma bird treated us to her "broken wing" imitation so that we could see what she does when she feels her nest is threatened. We didn't stay long but snapped a few pictures before leaving momma to her work.

Since we had recently read "Sign of the Beaver" for history, we also tried to leave "signs" to show ourselves the way back (even though we already knew the way).

The kids and I really enjoyed our time!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Workshop at the Library--Poetry

Today I'm thankful for my library. It's not only the place where I get dozens of books for our learning each week. It's also a really fun destination for learning activities that I didn't have to plan!

This Saturday the kids and I participated in a poetry-writing workshop led by a children's book author. It was fun and both kids did really well with their poetry. The author gave many brainstorming ideas for poetry and writing. I included one poem from each child.

The pre-writing activity for this poem was to close our eyes and picture our name. The author asked several questions about what we saw. What color is it? Let it fall. Where did it land? Now try to fill in details about where your name landed. Is there an animal coming to visit your name? What is it? What other objects are around? Then we opened our eyes and drew the things in our mind-picture. They could be used to fill in details of our poems.

Ds8 drew a picture of his name on top of a crater-filled moon. There was a fox visiting his name.

My name is a fox with a bushy tail.
My name is a flower which withstands hail.
My name is the moon, with crater's deep.
My name is a vehicle, like a Ford or a Jeep.

Dd6 made a mental picture of her middle name. She drew a large red square, the beginning of the day. Inside the square was a blue tulip. There was a yellow sun in an orange box and a cloud with an angel. When asked to put the details into a poem, this is what she wrote.

K. is a cat saying purr all day long.
K. is a tulip burning in the sun.
K. is the angel that holds love in its hands.
K. is the sun burning so bright.
K. is love.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Unit Study Week-Detectives and Mysteries--Wrap Up

We've had such a great time learning about detectives this week! I've learned quite a bit, too. (See other posts from this week below).

Since detective week was coming to a close I asked the kids which activities off the list they wanted to make sure they got to try. We did most of them yesterday. 

They wanted to make sure they:

1. Experienced the jigsaw method of glass fragment re-creation. We turned puzzles over and completed them only by shape--not picture. (Idea from Detective Science book below)

2. Solve Morse Code puzzles here at the National Security Administration website.

3. Play Clue board games.

4. Solve codes by reading the indented paper left behind on a notepad.

Things we'll probably try yet:

-writing our own mysteries
-reading more mysteries
-household photo I Spy which helps train the eyes to see details
-analyzing dirt samples

Celebrating Presidents Day--Lincoln in Perler Beads!

Just in time for Presidents' Day, my ultra-talented Dh came up with a project for making a portrait of Abraham Lincoln in perler beads. It turned out really well so he even put a video on YouTube showing how he did it. Find it here!

If your kids like using Perler beads I think it's a pretty do-able project. Let me know how it goes!


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Unit Study Week-Detectives and Mysteries--Day 2

We spent part of today enjoying each other's Valentine's Day company. We also continued our discoveries about detectives.

1. We did the detective graduated book from homeschool share.

2. We continued reading mystery books.

3. We read a non-fiction book about the job of a real police detective.

4. We did a few more activities from the Detective Science book below. We looked at how different witnesses can give different perspectives of the same event. We also took our lip-prints and learned how they've been used to solve real cases (who knew)! We took our fingerprints and studied them to see what shapes they were. The detectives-in-training also tailed me during lunch to see if I was doing anything suspicious. (I, of course, did, since I was being "secretly" tailed.)

5. My sleuths also practiced their cryptanalysis (code-breaking) skills--I used several different types of codes to write clues to the location of their Valentines.

6. Some of today's new vocabulary: surveillance, stakeout, tail, impartial, contact-trace theory, cheiloscopy.

Ds8 said that his favorite part of the day was tailing me. Dd6 said that she liked so many of them it was hard to choose.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Unit Study Week-Detectives and Mysteries--Day 1

Today was a lot of fun. This is the basic order in which we explored the topic today:

1. After our regular devotion today we looked up several Bible passages in which the word "mystery" appear. In our New King James Bible Mark 4:11, 1 Cor. 2:7, 1 Cor. 15:51, Eph. 1:9, and 1 Tim. 3:16 were just a few verses that used this word. I hadn't planned this ahead of time, but there were many interesting things that came up about the mystery of God's will, the mystery of the kingdom of God, etc.

2. We talked about what we already knew about detectives and what the job entailed.

3. We did some searching online at Wikipedia for detectives and Scotland Yard.

4. We spent some time on the CIA and FBI websites looking through their sections for kids. We learned about the history of the organizations and the missions and careers people have. We also learned about the CIA K-9 unit.

5. We used the printouts at the FBI site to make credentials and we talked about detectives sometimes working incognito.

6. We used pages 5-14 of the book Detective Science: 40 Crime-Solving, Case-Breaking, Crook-Catching Activities for Kids. So far it's really fun and age-appropriate for my 6 and 8 year-old.

Product Details

One of the activities they did was to follow the correct procedure for securing a crime scene and collecting evidence without compromising it. The kids staged a "stolen coin" scene and then took photographs of the room to record any "evidence".

7. We discussed some of the mystery books they're currently reading, especially with regard to suspects, clues, and key words used to help solve the mystery.

8. Dh agreed to visit our detective school. He was to bring some things with him, take some things with him, and discuss some things with the "detectives in training". When he left, I asked the detectives to remember any and all details about the visit--what was he wearing, what did he bring, what did he take with him, what did he talk to you about...It was intended to sharpen skills of observation.

I should mention that we're using our Top Secret folders (pictured below) to hold some of the pages we've been notebooking/lapbooking on the topic.

We covered LOTS of vocabulary today, including intelligence, counter-intelligence, credentials, confidential, incognito, cryptanalysis, warrant, alibi, motive, sleuth...

The kids' thoughts so far:
Ds8 said he gave it a thumbs up. Dd6 said she'd give it 10 thumbs up. That's a pretty good start!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Unit Study Week-Detectives and Mysteries

The case files are ready.

The credentials are ready to be filled in.

The kids and I have been looking forward to this week. We're going to take time to follow and interest and see where it takes us. 

The goals:
-To learn about and do something fun 
-To follow an interest that we all share

To prepare, the kids spent the last school day last week covering math, grammar, piano practice, Latin, and Spanish. These are subjects that won't get much coverage with the detective unit.

Subjects that will get a lot of coverage this week are Reading, Writing, Vocabulary, History, Science, Logic, and PE.

I did some looking for resources online and have four major sources:
Homeschool Share
Scholastic (and search detective)
FBI (fun and games section)

I added other activity ideas as the inspiration hit.

I've inter-library loaned a couple of non-fiction books about detectives and science projects related to detective work.

I've also collected our dozens of detective books and inter-library loaned some more. These include Cam Jansen, Jigsaw Jones, Encyclopedia Brown, Concord Cunningham Scripture Sleuth, High Rise Private Eyes.

I'll report back on the activities we use.

Activity #1 For Fun: Watch G-Force, Disney's (PG) movie in which an elite team of special agent guinea pigs has to save the world. The kids really enjoyed the movie despite a few scary parts and typical PG-ish humor. It was a good way to get a "spies in action" feel. We also talked a little about detective-themed words like what a "mole" is (not the mammal).

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saturday's Light Lunch--Yummy Banana Muffins

I always enjoy reading other people's Meal Plan Mondays. I get many good ideas there! I like to have my meals planned out each week, too, since it saves a lot of time and hassle later in the week. I'll try to start posting menus. For today, I thought I'd share our lunch:

Banana muffins (recipe here) warm out of the oven
Apple slices
Carrot sticks with hummus to dip
Nuts (for those in the family not allergic)

A note on the banana muffins: I have to say that I'm getting older. I can tell by the way I cook. For as long as I can remember I have had very strict rules--dessert and health should not be mixed. For instance, please don't try to put raisins in my cookies or chunks of fruit in my cake. Even oatmeal in the cookies or nuts in the brownies were verboten.

Fast-forward to the present: Banana muffins are a pleasure and I even stuck oatmeal in the cookies a couple weeks back. What's this world coming to?

But please, still, don't mess with my cake...

...or my brownies...

...or the Thanksgiving stuffing.

Maybe I'm still not as grown up as I thought.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Promoting Good Will in the Family--An Experiment--Update #1

For this second round of the experiment (see below for the original) I am hearing a lot of, "Ooh, Dad's helping Mom with the dishes. That's suspicious," and "Hmmm, Brother is letting me go first at...That's suspicious."  Wink  Wink

What I love about this is that people are pointing out good things that are being done right away. Why wait until "the big reveal" to share the good you saw? (I know I'll forget a lot by then anyway!)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Promoting Good Will in the Family--An Experiment

Is bickering an inevitable occurrence when people are living and working closely together?

I didn't want to believe it was inevitable, but it seemed to be happening quite a bit between my kids in the first weeks of January.

Enter two items that really got me thinking:

1. I was part of a discussion in which several parents put forth the idea that bickering is largely just a manifestation of feelings of selfishness. 

It seemed quite logical. When I'm focused on myself and my needs and wants it's easy to become discontented. In that case, I'm much less interested in what others need and want.

2. I read in the February issue of Family Fun Magazine about one family that celebrates Valentine's Day by giving gifts within the family. They secretly draw names and purchase small gifts for each other. At a special Valentine's day meal they reveal which name they drew.

Couldn't these ideas be combined?

After talking it over with dh, I announced to the kids that we would be celebrating the first 14 days in February in the loving spirit of Valentine's Day.

1. We would exchange names secretly.
2. We would think of non-monetary ways to show our love toward that person.
3. We would have a special Valentine's Day meal and reveal which person we had been secretly doing good for.
4. In order to "throw others off our trail" we could also do kind things for the others in our family, but we could not neglect the person we'd chosen.

The kids' immediate reaction:

1. Excitement
2. "Why do we have to wait until February?"

Yes, why would we wait? Why not build on the excitement of the day (this was about halfway through January) and try the experiment early.

The results:

We exchanged names and spent the next two weeks thinking of nice things to do for the other people in our family. The kids began by giving out extra hugs all around. Eventually they added more concrete things to do for others. I had several offers to load the dishwasher and take out the trash when they weren't assigned. The kids were more likely to invite each other to a 2-player video game instead of playing 1-player more often. I found myself saying "yes" to more of the kids' requests for my time and attention. These are just a few examples.

When the two weeks were over, we tried to guess which person had been our secret    do-gooder. We gave examples to support our theory, telling good things we had seen people doing.

One thing dh liked most about the experiment was that it made a person think not just about the person they had chosen. They also thought about what they could do for the others as well.

Ds8 was excited to tell people outside the household about the project. He hoped they would share it with their families and that "the tradition would go on".

Dd6 summed up her experience by saying that she was happy she drew Mom's name because she loves me and thought of ways to be nice to me.

Wouldn't that warm any heart?

Everyone agreed that they'd love to do the experiment again for the February days leading up to Valentine's Day. They're already thinking of new ways to do good. They're also dreaming of the mousse pie we'll have for our "big reveal" meal.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Celebrating the 100th Day of School

Where did the week go?

I'll just list a few of the 100th day of school activities we've used over the years. We like to look at it as a day to do some things outside of our usual routine.

* Read a book with more than 100 pages.
* Work together as a group to read more than 100 pages.
* Read today for 100 minutes.

* How many 100 point books can you read and test on
* There is a sampling of books you may be able to get from your library: 
     * 100 Monsters in My School by Bonnie Bader
     * 100 Ways to Celebrate 100 Days by Bruce Goldstone
     * The 100th Day of School by Angela Shelf Medearis
     * 100th Day Worries by Margery Cuyler
     * 98, 99, 100, Ready or Not, Here I Come by Teddy Slater
     * Counting Our Way to the 100th Day by Betsy Franco
     * Emily's First 100 Days of School by Rosemary Wells
     * Jake's 100th Day of School by Lester Laminack
     * Many Ways to 100 by Betsy Franco
     * Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the 100th Day of Kindergarten by Joseph Slate
     * The American Story: 100 True Tales from American History by Jennifer Armstrong (Note: Some of you may wish to scan this one on your own before you give it to your kids. There are some tales that may be disturbing to young children.)
     * Young Cam Jansen and the 100th Day of School Mystery by David Adler

* Handwriting: Make a list of 100_____. This could be animals, places, numbers, anything you decide. You could also write 100 words that start with a vowel or 100 words that come before kangaroo in the dictionary.
* Help mom blog about the 100th day by writing about your favorite things you did to celebrate. How about writing about your least favorite 100th day things, too?
* Journal entry: I am 100% _______ (excited, scared, mad...) about __________ (going to the dentist tomorrow, having my friend over this afternoon...)
* Story starters: There once was a dragon with 100 teeth... There once was a girl with 100 brothers...There once was a dog with 100 fleas...There once was a rabbit with 100 carrots...

*Journal: Make a list of 5 things your parents must have told you a hundred times.

* Find at least 100 mistakes in this letter I've written to you.
* Parts of speech practice: Write 10 proper nouns, 20 common nouns, 20 action verbs, 10 helping verbs, 10 pronouns, 20 adjectives, and 10 interjections (100 total).
* Put these 100 words in alphabetical order.

* How high can you count in 100 seconds? Or how many seconds does it take you to count to 100?
* Fill in the missing numbers on a 100 chart.
* Sort and graph these 100 M&Ms (or Skittles, or Fruit Loops).
* Make a 100 cm line and a 100 inch line. Compare.
* How tall is 100 inches. Do people grow to be that tall?
* The 100th day is a great opportunity to practice decimals.
* What number is 1/4 of 100? 1/2 of 100?
* Find people in your acquaintance whose ages exactly equal 100.
* Estimate which weighs more--100 _____ or 100 _____. (This could be pieces of cereal, paperclips, etc.) Weigh and record to check your estimate.
* Put these 1-100 number cards in order.
* Find out how many _____ you could buy with $100.
* Pretend you have been given $100 to help someone else. Make a list of things you could do or buy.
* Complete this list of 100 math facts.

*Make a perler bed project with 100 beads.
*Make a collage with 100 bits of...

*Do ten activities ten times each for a total of 100. (10 jumping jacks + 10 windmills + 10 lunges...)