Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A break of sorts

You may have noticed I have only been blogging once or twice a week for the past few weeks. Summer is finally upon us here, and after a very long, very hard first mid-western winter during which the boys and I got every cold and flu that past through (our bodies getting used to the new climate and location?), I realized that all we really want to do is be out of the house, enjoying every minute of summer and all that is offered here during the summer time (lots of fun looking events coming up from concerts in the park, to festivals, and fairs, etc).

So, I am going to be taking some time of off blogging. That said, I have at least 10-15 posts half finished in my drafts folder, so every once in a while when a rainy day strikes and I feel like sitting down in front of my computer again, I will try to finish one off and share it with you. Some of the posts that are pending include: learning about ancient Egypt and our new history curriculum, our continent studies on South America and Australia, additions to our Baha’i calendar time (there will be a bunch of printables in that post), our 2011-2012 curriculum, etc, etc. So, stick around, I will be here every once in awhile – you can connect to this blog via Facebook, Google connect, RSS, or email, so you’ll know when I do post something.

Wishing you all a glorious summer filled with swimming, barbeques, sidewalk chalk, fresh yummy fruit, ice-cream, bike riding, picnics, ice-tea and lemonade, and lazing on lawn chairs with family and friends! That’s what we will be doing! :) Until next time…

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Preschool fun: “G” for goose week

Since we have our own little goose family growing in our backyard, we decided to do G is for goose. Here is a roundup of our G week:

~ G is for goose coloring sheet and writing sheet

~ Goose coloring sheet which we did using glitter (for g, of course!)

~ Damian played with these cute egg shape sorters that we took out from our local library (our library provides these awesome “story bags” that come with a set of books on a given topic, along with corresponding puppets, puzzles, and other related toys. LOVE our library!).

IMG_7301 [800x600]~ Connect the dot number sheet

~ We read through the Canada Geese page on National Geographic Kids and on Animal Planet

~ We met our own backyard baby goslings when they hatched.

IMG_7329 [800x600]~ Goose label/color sheet

~ Do-a-dot Gg sheet – we have to do this for every letter because Damian loves the do-a-dot sheets and markers!

~ We built our foam G, used our g sandpaper letter, made Gg playdoh letters, and made Gg’s on the peg board.

~ We did this cute letter g craft from Homeschool Creations.

~ We used various parts of Jolanthe and Carisa’s Bird Preschool Pack.

~ The boys put together and played with their Playmobil farm complete with a goose family (oh, and a sea serpent, of course, because all farms have them, right?)

IMG_7234 [800x600]And of course the end of the week would not be complete without adding Gg to our Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Tree!

This has been added to: Preschool Corner & 5K too

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Science Unit: our complete Solar System study

We have had an incredibly fun journey into space over the past month (actually a little longer because of the sick days in between!). Here are the highlights of our trip:

~ Boy did we read books! We read a whole collection of books on space, from easy picture books to space encyclopedias. We usually read the more basic books out loud together, so that the material was more accessible to Damian. Then I put the more complex reading in Rylan’s workboxes for him to read on his own. If he had questions, we discussed it together during my one on one time with him. He also reads the more complex books with his Dad during bed time (he stays up a little later than Damian these days). Here are some of the books we read, Amazon limits you to 10 items per carousel, so I couldn’t fit them all in without turning this post into a long series of book lists! :)

~ We also watched several DVDs:

~ We read the Magic School Bus book about the Solar System, watched the related DVD, and then completed all the experiments/activities in the Magic School Bus: The Secrets of Space science kit. You can see a couple of these below (most of them involved flashlights and therefore being in dim light, so I did not take many pictures):

IMG_7293 [800x600]  IMG_7345 [800x600]

{build your own telescope and solar system model}

~ To learn about the phases of the moon, or the lunar phases we built and used this model and read up about it on wikipedia, which also has a very cool animation of the lunar phases. For a tutorial on how to make this model, look at this post.

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~ We put this solar system puzzle together.


~ As with all our unit styled studies, we keep all the books and manipulatives (that can be reused) from our learning in our “feature study” area. You can see in the picture below all the books, posters, lacing cards, roll a rocket game, space songs, puzzles, lunar model, earth orbit model, etc. The boys are encouraged to use this material throughout the duration of the unit (for more on our school room layout see this post).

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~ I created several sensorial tubs and activities which I spread out over the course of the month. With the tubs, I left them put together for a couple of weeks each, so they could revisit the tubs and play.

IMG_7227 [800x600] {tub contains: rice base, “space” letter cookie cutters, star and moon cookie cutters, a mini earth globe, star bursts, black pompoms, “moon rocks”, sparkly star and moon paper cut outs, rocket ships, and the contents of the Safari space tube}

IMG_7213 [800x600] {tub contains: moon sand base (I could only find green and yellow when I went shopping for moon sand, would not have been my first choice, but worked none the less), mini ax and rock mould, magnifying glass, rocks made from moon dough, cookie cutters, and the contents of the Safari space tub.}

IMG_7183 [800x600] {space playdough play}

~ I used the A is for astronaut pack materials from Spell Outloud for Damian (I laminated them, and used stick on magnets at the back of each item so they could be used on our white boards and the fridge).

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~ Damian did this A is for Astronaut do-a-dot sheet from Making Learning Fun.

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~ Rylan completed various worksheets and coloring pages in his workboxes throughout the course of our study, here are some examples:

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~ We put together a glow in the dark solar system, stuck it to the ceiling with putty, closed the blinds to make the room dark, laid down on the floor, and “star gazed” up at the ceiling (we did real star gazing in Hawaii, but here in a big city it is not so easy, especially when the sun sets after the boy’s bedtime these days!).

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~ In trying to bring more music into all our learning time, we listened to the classical CD, The Planets, by composer Gustav Holst. While listening we discussed the Roman/Greek gods that the planets had been named after, and how the music conveyed the characteristics of these gods.

~ I used parts of the Astronaut preschool pack from Homeschool Creations for Damian. Both boys especially loved singing the “Climb About the Spaceship” song, which we added actions to and sang many times to begin our day’s exploration.

~ I also used a few of the activities from this pack for Damian.

IMG_7209 [800x600] IMG_7206 [800x600]

~ I made this earth lacing card for the boys to use (found the earth picture on Google images). Make sure to laminate or stick your picture onto cardboard (actually I did both), so it is sturdy enough for lacing.

IMG_7180 [800x600]

~ To help the boys understand and visualize how the earth rotates on its axis and orbits around the sun, giving us day and night and the seasons, we made this model, which they could manipulate themselves to get a sense of how it all works.  They wanted to add the moon on to it too, the second picture shows that addition. For a tutorial on how to put this together go to this post (it also explains other activities we did to reinforce this concept using a globe and flashlight).


~ I created this solar system concentration/match up game for the boys to play with. You can download the cards from here, and read about how we used them in this post.

solar system

~ We created a large scale model of the solar system on our reading room floor. We used planet cut outs, yarn to create the rings of orbit, black pompoms to create the asteroid belt, and at the end the boys added labels to each planet.

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~ Of course we had to build rocket ships! We built two different kinds, at different times during the month long study. The boys built both set of rockets entirely by themselves:

IMG_7342 [800x600] {To make: paper towel roll, sheet of paper for tips, construction paper wings, tissue paper streamers. Put together with tape and decorate.}

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{Idea for these from Kid Craft Weekly}

~ The boys drew solar systems using rainbow scratch paper.

~ Rylan created his own constellations on black construction paper, and wrote his own mythical stories behind their names.

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~ Just for fun, the boys wanted to play with this “galactic ooze” that we found at our local teacher resource center. :)

~ Websites we visited together:

We plan to visit a planetarium this summer, otherwise, that’s a wrap (hope I remembered it all!). Happy space exploration!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A homemade balance for learning about weight (non-standardized measurement)

We recently covered non-standardized measurement in math. I do not have balance at home, so I decided to make one from items we already had in our home. It turned out to be so easy, and worked just fine for our purpose of comparing the weight of different objects, as well as using units of weight (for example marbles or clothing pegs) to compare the weight of different items (for example, a pen weighs 2 units and a toy car weights 5 units).

Here’s how we did it:

Stick a ruler onto a table, with the end jutting over the edge of the table.

IMG_7341 [800x600]Tie two paper cups onto either end of a hanger. Make sure the string is the same length, so the cups balance out nicely. Then hook the hanger onto the ruler, and you have a functioning balance.

IMG_7340 [800x600] Easy and the kids had a lot of fun with it too.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

We have goslings! And where did the week go?

I did not mean to fall of the face of the earth for an entire week! But I have to say, the boys and I had gone through a nasty six week period (yes, six weeks straight!!!) of coming down with one illness after another other. Never have we been so sick before (thank you mid-western winter!), but then last week we were all finally feeling good, and we just didn’t want to be inside the house any longer, so we have been out literally every day, all day long, and I just never got round to posting!

It has been a good week, not only have we been feeling great, but I think spring has finally decided to make an appearance in mid-May and everything is wonderfully green and blossoming. Should I point out that our spring temperatures now are still colder than the worst of winter days in Hawaii? Or would I just sound bitter (ahem). Needless to say, we must have acclimatized somewhat, because it’s only in the 60s most days and we are out in t-shirts praising the glorious weather!

One of the wonderful things that we did this week, was watch our goslings hatch! We have been watching mama goose care for her nest for a month, sitting dutifully on them while it snowed and rained, and then on the first hot day (over 80F) we had all spring, they hatched.

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Aren’t those little babies cute swimming between their mama and papa? Neighbors told us that this same mating pair come to our pond every year and usually nest in the same spot (our backyard). It will be fun to see if they come back next spring.

IMG_7329 [800x600]Hope you are all enjoying springtime too!

Monday, May 9, 2011

And here is the rainbow felt alphabet!

Last week I posted about our rainbow felt numbers, and promised to share the alphabet when it was finished. IMG_7296 [800x600]

You will notice the whole alphabet is in repeated rainbow colors, except I made the vowels light blue, just so they would be highlighted.IMG_7297 [800x600]

Hope you all had a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend!

This has been added to: Preschool Corner & 5K too

Friday, May 6, 2011

Musical ABC cards (printable)

In follow-up to my post yesterday about how I am trying to channel Damian’s learning more through music, I wanted share these ABC cards that I made for him last week. ABC instrument cards

He loves singing and dancing, watching concerts and videos on You Tube(like Yanni, Sarah Brightman, Andrea Bochelli, Enya, Celtic Woman, the Riverdance, etc), but he is also very fascinated with instruments and how they make music. Some days (most days) he will line various objects up from pots and pans to toys and drums and use his tapping sticks to play music on them. He will walk around the house using his hands or tapping sticks to hear the sound that various surfaces will make. Really a musical beat is just coming out of him all the time it seems.

So anyway, back to the cards :). I thought what better way to appeal to him, when learning the ABCs and phonics, than to do a set of alphabet cards that are instrument themed. Now let me tell, finding A-Z in instruments was not easy! I made them a mixture of classical instruments and folk instruments from around the world. I had to cheat a couple of times and use musical terms instead of instruments, because I could not find an instrument with the short vowel sound of the letter. And let’s face, X is near to impossible. I decided to go with xylophone, even though it is not the correct first sound.

You are welcome to download the cards, I suggest laminating them before cutting them out, to give them some durability. Here is the link, enjoy!

This has been added to: Preschool Corner & 5k too!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Incorporating music into our school days

I have been working, over the last few months at incorporating more music into our daily school time. Every member of our family loves music, so it has always been a part of the daily rhythm in our home, but lately I have been giving it a lot more thought. Why? As I watch Damian grow, I am seeing in him a very keen interest in music and a natural aptitude for it.

One of the advantages of homeschooling is that I can cater to my children’s specific interests during the course of their learning. With Rylan it has always been through his love of reading and animals, and I have had several years now of figuring out how best to orient his learning around those passions, but music is a new slant for me. It has always been there, but now I need to make it more of a focus, more of a vehicle for Damian’s learning, because it definitely lights a spark in him and makes his concentration keener.

Damian started Music Together classes around 12 months, and we have been going strong ever since. I have no doubt that these classes are giving him a good foundation in music, and have definitely made music a lot of fun. We also sing these songs together at home and in the car during the week, and as a result have accumulated a box full of instruments which he plays with every day.

IMG_0375 (2) [800x600]

You may have noticed that we sing a lot as a part of Damian’s school time, I am always looking for songs related to the theme or topic he is learning about. Also our circle time is filled with song, in fact, we sing most everything from our prayers, to our school song, to the calendar songs, to our virtue quotation memorization. Not only is it a wonderfully cheerful way to start the day, but it aides memorization.

I also incorporate music into our geography studies. It gives a glimpse into the culture and “vibe” of the people we are learning about.

Another thing I have started doing in the last few months is playing classical music during our school time. After we have completed our circle time, and Rylan moves onto his workboxes and I am doing one-on-one time with Damian, I turn on some classical music. It plays quietly in the background while we are all working. I can say, without a doubt, that it has the most wonderfully calming effect on our school time. It aides in quiet concentration, it is uplifting, and it helps to feed Damian’s passion because he is definitely happier when music can be heard. On the weekends Ramtin gives the boys little tidbits of information about classical music – the composers, the type of music, etc; during the week we just listen to it and enjoy it.

I am just starting to research Suzuki piano lessons, as a possibility down the line for him. I have heard a lot of good things about this program, but I am uncertain about him starting so young in more formal lessons. I am going to try to attend a preview lesson with him this summer, so we can both see what it is all about.

IMG_3353 [800x600]To those out there who have musically inclined children, I would love to hear what you have done to nurture this interest in your children?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Some linky appreciation

This is a really mixed bag of stuff, but I have been saving a few links and recommendations that I have wanted to share for a while and have not gotten round to putting it all together!

Firstly, there is this post from Motherhood and More in which she shares her prayer box idea. I love this idea, we have used something similar in the past for learning virtue quotations during our circle time, but I love the cards she has put together. They are great for children’s classes or for family use.

Jolanthe at Homeschool Creations, has been putting together fun preschool packs under a number of different themes that children will love (and she is making more). I plan to use some of them for Damian.

Two items which are making my housekeeping SO much easier. One is this nifty cordless vacuum cleaner that my folks bought for me (thank you, Mom and Dad!). I love this thing – it is light weight, swivels to get under and around things easily, does not break my back like those little handheld dust busters, and best of all no cords! I keep it in my laundry room, which is right off my kitchen, and it is easy to whip out and do a quick vacuum after meals or the end of the day. It works well on carpets too, which is fantastic for when I pull out a sensory tub in the school room!

The second item is my new bread machine which my hubby got for me. I prefer to make our bread, rather than use the store bread, but making it was taking too much time in my already too busy days. But this thing is awesome, it takes me 5 minutes to put the ingredients in, press a few buttons, and a few hours later I have a perfect loaf of healthy, fresh bread.  This model has two kneaders, which I have been told makes all the difference, though I wouldn’t know, since this is my first bread machine.

This post from Deb at Living Montessori Now that provides a great list of free Montessori materials online.

And tell me these art supply pouches are not just the cutest way to organize your kids pencils and crayons?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Blog renovations mostly done

Sorry to any of you who stopped by and found things all mixed up over the past couple of weeks, as I changed things around. You will see on the left column I now have direct links to some favorite posts or series of posts, with an image so you can get an idea of what the post is about.

I finally finished my long time in the works “printables” page, which you can find along the tabs at the top of my blog. It provides direct links to all the free downloadable printables that I have created and posted about, as well as a link to the post so you can see how we used the printable in our school.

You may have noticed my “Inspiration” page has disappeared, it is coming back, just in draft stage at the moment. I hope to have it back up and running in the next few days. And I hope it will indeed be a source of inspiration! :)

I moved things around a bit in the right column, a few things added and a few removed. You will notice that my “I also write for The Homeschool Classroom” has been removed. Between our move, starting and maintaining a new home, learning the ins and outs of our new city, homeschooling, Baha’i community commitments, and the “mystery” project I am working on, I felt like I had way too much on my plate, so I decided it was time to cut some things out, even if I enjoyed them, and writing regularly on The Homeschool Classroom was one of them. I may do the odd guest post, but will no longer be contributing on a regular basis.

And that is pretty much a wrap! I hope you all find the new layout easier to navigate! :)


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