Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Week 2 ~ Christmas Book and Activity a Day

Here are next week's books and supplies needed for Shannon's Christmas Book and Activity a Day challenge.

Monday, December 6th ~ The Snow Angel by Angela McAllister (supplies needed: white construction paper, cotton balls)

Tuesday, December 7th ~ The Snowy Path by Lark Carrier (supplies needed: watercolors, salt, construction paper)

Wednesday, December 8th ~ Mortimer's Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson (no extra supplies needed)

Thursday, December 9th ~ What's Coming for Christmas by Kate Banks (supplies needed: construction paper, glue, crayons, markers and glitter)

Friday, December 10th ~ My First Nutcracker by Stephanie True Peters (supplies needed: Nutcracker music, clothespins, paint, pinecone and glitter)

Extra book to read: Arthur's Christmas by Marc Brown

The first week has been fun! I can't wait to see what's in store for the second week!

This is the Stable

Today's book in Shannon's Christmas Book and Activity a Day challenge was This is the Stable written by Cynthia Cotten and illustrated by Delana Bettoli.

A gorgeous, poetic new version of the Nativity story Wondrous things are happening in this humble little stable. The animals are gathering round. Shepherds and wise men and angels are coming from afar. All of them are flocking to see the Christ child, born this night in Bethlehem.Illustrated in the gorgeous tropical hues of the region and told in lyrical verses perfect for reading aloud, this is a retelling of the Nativity that will be treasured for many Christmases to come.

The activity for this book was a Nativity scene made out of free blank printables for coloring found at Catholic Icing and toilet paper tubes.

I have always loved my 30+ Nativity sets I have been collecting for the past 20 years. But I think this one might be the only one I put out this year.  Brynne played with it most of the afternoon.

(Just a reminder ... our public library did not have all of the exact books Shannon suggested. So, I chose ones that were similar that allowed us to still participate in the activities.)

Monday, November 29, 2010

The First Christmas Stocking

First of all, it feels great to be back to school after having a week off!

For the month of December Dawson will be reading passages out of the Books of Luke and Isaiah and studying Handel's Messiah. We are starting his unit on Ancient Rome.

Brynne will continue with her 3 R's, reading about Colonial Williamsburg with the American Girl doll Felicity and will be doing some Christmas studies. We are joining Shannon at Welcome to our Wonderland in her Christmas Book and Activity a Day program.

Today we read The First Christmas Stocking written by Elizabeth Winthrop and illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline.

"Dream your dreams, my child, and knit them into the wool." A long time ago a girl named Claire learned to knit by her mother's side. As the mother knit mittens, scarves and all sorts of clothing for the wealthy people of the town, Claire set about knitting stockings to keep her toes warm. Claire, her mother and father, you see, were poor. They lived in a stone hut, with little wood to burn and meagre food to eat. So Claire knit stockings and--with Christmas approaching--heeded her mother's words to knit her Christmas dreams into the wool. Soon Claire became known as the stocking girl--with many orders for stockings to fill. One such order ensured her a handsome payment. Enough to fill her family's hut with light and food. But as she trudged through the snow to deliver the stockings on Christmas Eve, Claire was stirred to share her knitted dreams with someone truly in need.

What a sweet book and a great way to start our Christmas studies! While I was reading Brynne the book, she was "knitting" a paper stocking by lacing it with black yarn. Then she decorated it with cotton balls and foam Christmas stickers.

She did a great job and really enjoyed it! I know I am looking forward to these books and activities! 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Yummy Food and Fun Fall Crafts!

The highlight of our week last week was definitely related to food! On Tuesday night Dawson {finally} cooked us the Greek meal he had been planning. Oh. My. Gosh. It was delicious! This kid can cook!

He made Greek salad, Feta stuffed chicken and Lemon custard cakes. And we had grapes and cheese for an appetizer.

Dawson ~ 8th Grade

We are finishing up our unit on Ancient Greece and the Human Body Systems for science. He spent a great deal of the week studying for a vocabulary test and for his upcoming tests on Ancient Greece and the body systems. We finished Classic Myths to Read Aloud by William F. Russell. It was an excellent study of the myths. Dawson took a vocabulary test over 61 words used throughout the book and made a 90%. That was a great grade! But I was more impressed when he came down Thursday afternoon with his book The Last Olympian from the Percy Jackson series and pointed out two of his vocabulary words that were in one sentence in the book. Isn't that the purpose of studying all those vocabulary words?

We watched The History Channel's Clash of the Gods: Hercules, a Time Warp Trio show on "crashing" the Olympics and a documentary on the coastlines of modern day Greece. Watching that show intensified my life goal to cruise the Grecian Islands. Beautiful and historic!

Dawson has almost completed Life of Fred: Fractions and will move onto Decimals and Percents soon. He successfully completed a new typing lesson. And although he is still on Unit 1 of his Spanish lessons, I'm just proud that he is still working diligently on it.

Brynne ~ 1st Grade

Brynne's Letter of the Week was "G". We read our "G" books, she found items for her Letter Bag {Growly her stuffed dog, Goldfish and a Grape), she had a "G" Muffin Tin Monday lunch of Grape jelly sandwich sticks, Goldfish crackers, Grapes and Granola.

We were behind on her ABC Journal, and she completed "D", "E" and "F" and somehow we forgot to do "G". We'll catch up next week.

We read a great book called Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert. Not only was it colorful, but it told about how a tree is grown from a seed, transplanted to a nursery, and then planted permanently after it is grown. We are planning to purchase a Ball and Burlap Christmas tree this year and the book explained how it is done. That was a nice preview to a new Christmas ritual for our family.

On Tuesday we tuned into the Scholastic "First Thanksgiving" live webcast. This week we are going to do some of the Thanksgiving lesson plan ideas from the Scholastic website.

On Wednesday it was Library day. The kids made a handprint and cup turkey.

At Coop on Friday we had a "Fun Day" and did more crafts: a pine cone turkey, cd case picture frame to hold the Santa picture that will be taken at the Christmas party, and a toothpick pumpkin.

We didn't get The Outdoor Hour done, again, but hope to do it this week.

Although I don't post about the specifics of her daily assignments, Brynne is still doing daily phonics lessons, math pages and lots of lots of reading.

Because of a busy week we also didn't get to much of our reading of Meet Felicity or study of Colonial America last week. We will probably resume our study and reading the week after Thanksgiving.

Everyone have a great Thanksgiving and enjoy your families.

 Go to Weekly Wrap-up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers to see what other homeschoolers are doing.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanksgiving Unit: Courtesy of Scholastic

Our homeschool coop notified us of a live Webcast that was taking place on November 16th. We registered just in time and Brynne and I watched it, Live. It took place at the Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts. There were period indians and colonists that were in character and answered questions of the moderator. Very neat. You can watch the Recast here.

While on the website I noticed lesson plans for several age groups.

Brynne and I will be doing the Pre-K to 1st Grade lesson plan next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

There are many printables available, here, as well.

Scholastic is a great resource.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Christmas Books and Activities

Starting the Monday after Thanksgiving, Brynne and I will be joining my friend Shannon at Welcome to our Wonderland in a daily Christmas book and activity curriculum.

Although our library did not have all of the exact books Shannon is using, I chose ones as similar as possible so we can play along. Here's what we will be reading:

Monday, November 29th ~ The First Christmas Stocking by Elizabeth Winthrop (supplies needed: paper stocking, glitter, Christmas foam stickers)

Tuesday, November 30th ~ This is the Stable by Cynthia Cotten (supplies needed: crayons, toilet paper tube, shoebox)

Wednesday, December 1st ~ The Spirit of Christmas by Nancy Tillman (supplies needed: pudding or jello box, construction paper)

Thursday, December 2nd ~ The 12 Days of Christmas: a carol-and-count flap book by Tad Hills (supplies needed: construction paper, Christmas foam stickers)

Friday, December 3rd ~ Jingle Bells by Maryann Kovalski (supplies needed: pipe cleaners, jingle bells)

You can go to Shannon's blog to see what books she is planning to read. I can't wait to see what the activities are!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How I Build A Unit {virtually for free}

As I'm preparing for Dawson's next unit on Ancient Rome, I thought I would provide the steps I take to build the unit for free (or mostly free).

We are using A World of Adventure by Dorian Holt. It is a unit study based loosely on Charlotte Mason's philosophies of using Living Books. (I don't know if that's what Ms. Holt intended, but it is certainly the way it worked out.)

So to start each new unit I go through the entire 30 days and jot down notes about the topics we will cover, the science experiments she has provided and the Fine Arts projects she suggests. Some we use and some we don't.

Then I do this ...

1.    DVR. The very first thing I do (and I actually do this about weekly) is a DirectTV search on the topic. I just put in "Ancient Rome", for example, and set our DVR to record every show or movie on the topic. I usually end up with about 5 or 6 things for us to watch.

2.    Library. Then I hit our library website. We are part of the Tulsa Public Library system, so we can utilize about 20 libraries in our area. I can simply request what I want online and the selections are sent to my local library for pickup.
    •  I do a general search for the topic, "Ancient Rome", and request any books I think will give us some good general facts about the topic.
    • I do a specific search for military related topics on that ancient country because Dawson is very interested in that.
    • I do a specific search for any arts and crafts from that era to try to incorporate some additional Fine Arts.
    • I do a specific search for books or videos on foods for that ancient country, because Dawson likes to cook.
    • I do a specific Media search for that era to pick up any videos we might not have available through DirectTV.
    • I also try to find him a book or two for personal reading, something more along the lines of historical fiction, from that era.
    • For science I look for books that will have experiments or projects having to do with our unit. With Ancient Rome we will be doing a rock study, including volcanoes, so obviously my search would include these topics.
3.    Online Searches. Then I utilize all of the ones who have gone before me. I do Google searches and blog searches looking for any cool ideas others have found or interactive websites to supplement our curriculum.

Other than supplies for the various projects and meals, I typically do not spend one cent on books, videos or other materials! By saving money in these areas, I can then afford to purchase other things, like a rock set for our geology lesson.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Outdoor Hour ~ Lesson #3 {Nature Journal Drawings}

We have fallen a couple of weeks behind in our Nature Study and I have missed it. But I realized yesterday that a nature study can take place at any time. As I sat in my living room, I looked out onto my back porch and saw a bird (that, darnit, I didn't have time to investigate as to its kind) that was pecking at some wood on our porch. I don't know if it was looking for bugs or getting some splinters for a nest. In any event, I was in awe watching it.

Lesson #3 of The Outdoor Hour was this:

Outdoor Hour Challenge #3 Now is the Time to Draw
1. Read pages 16-17 of the Handbook of Nature Study. Highlight or underline those parts that will help you understand better the connection between nature study, language arts, and drawing.

2. This week take your 10-15 minute nature walk.
If you have tired of your own backyard, venture down your street, around your block, or to a near-by park. Remember Anna Comstock’s words, “Nature study is for the comprehension of the individual life of the bird, insect, or plant that is nearest at hand.” (page 5) Don’t worry about taking any equipment with you this time. Continue working on being quiet and observing things with your senses. While on your walk, be alert to new subjects for your further research.

3. Follow up with discussion and the opportunity for a nature journal entry.

"Too much have we emphasized drawing as an art; it may be an art, if the one who draws is an artist; but if he is not an artist, he still has a right to draw if it pleases him to do so."

“From making crude and often meaningless pencil strokes, which is the entertainment of the young child, to the outlining of a leaf or some other simple and interesting natural object, is a normal step full of interest for the child because it is still self-expression.” (both quotes from page 17 of the Handbook of Nature Study).

When driving home on Veteran's Day last week, we saw a rainbow. I took this picture while driving {not recommended}. It didn't come out too clear, but it was definitely there. And Brynne got to see it. In fact, she started crying when it faded away.

When she got home she drew a rainbow in her Nature Journal.

Thanks Barb for hosting The Outdoor Hour. We love the interest you have sparked in us!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Your Backyard

Recently Kimberly at Adventures in Mothering was hosting a giveaway for Your Backyard, a dvd presented by Crowe's Newst MEDIA. And I won!!

I had read about this dvd on other blogs and was really hoping to get my hands on one. Brynne and I are in the very beginning stages of a weekly nature study so this dvd would be a perfect addition.

It is "a young beginner's guide to identifying 18 common feeder birds by sight and sound" and features birds of Eastern and Central United States. "Join siblings Taylor, Samuel and Grace, along with special guest, Professor Solomon, on a delightful fun-filled, creation-based journey of learning to identify common feeder birds by sight and sound. All the while, enjoy vivid, close-up images of some of the Creator God's most beautiful feeder birds, combined with rich bird vocalization recordings."

We live on a one-acre plot of land and our backyard borders a bluff. We have lots of trees and lots of birds. We have a nest on our back porch that has been used and added to so many times it looks like it might fall over. We added a Purple Martin house this year, hoping to attract a family this year. And we have tons of hummingbirds that visit our feeder all day.

Thanks Kimberly and Crowe's Nest MEDIA!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up {America, Greece and First Aid)

We really have just gotten so busy, it seems, during the week that I feel like I am giving Dawson an hour or so of my time and then going over what he is to do on his own only to leave him for the day. Then Brynne and I have lots of activities to attend to, like: library, coop, grocery shopping. And this week we added additional errands, a physical therapy appointment for my older daughter, picking daddy up from the airport and going to my younger son's Veteran's Day program. I enjoyed all of the learning that went on at these various events, but I felt like Dawson was left behind and on his own more than I would like. Part of what I enjoy about homeschooling is the time I get to spend with my kids. So, not spending time with him really bugs me. Wish that was going to get better in the next few weeks, but with the holidays it's not likely.

Here's what we did:

 Brynne~ 1st Grade

Math can be done anywhere at anytime. I walked by Brynne on Monday and she had our Wii games and pamphlets placed in a pyramid on our coffee table. She said, "4+3+2+1=10". Then she took away some and did some subtraction problems. She also did math number sentences from word problems on the white board ("fun" was the word she used).

Our Letter-of-the-Week lessons have fallen by the wayside over the past few weeks. This doesn't concern me too much since Brynne more than knows her letters, but since I like order and consistency it lingers in the back of my mind. I feel like we should catch up on our collage letters and letter spiral, at least. We are still consistently doing her tracers and mini-book and reading LOTS of books focusing on the letter-of-the week. Some of them she reads and some I do.

After reading An Early American Christmas by Tomie dePaola, I have been inspired to focus on Colonial America for Christmas this year. Instead of moving on to the next American Girl doll at the beginning of December, we will stick with Felicity until January 1st. We will be doing lots of colonial activities and are even going to celebrate in a colonial way as a family. I am posting about that at Taulman Times, my primary blog, and will have links to it later.

Speaking of Felicity, we are still reading Meet Felicity and Felicity's World. We enjoyed reading about the games colonial children played, so are going to make Game of Graces and Cup and Ball. We will also be playing lots of hopscotch (or Scotch Hopping) as they called it.

This week we also read, a couple of times, D is for Drums: A Colonial Williamsburg ABC Book by Kay Chorao. Brynne would say the letter and I would read the words. She said, "J" and I said, "is for Justice, Jugglers and Jack-in-the-box." She said, "And Justin Bieber." I just thought that was a funny story.

Of course we had library story time this week and afterward the kids painted with pinecones, pine needles and leaves. As usual, she really enjoyed this! Going to the library is one of her favorite things to do!

We attended Eli's Veteran's Day program at school. It was so great! So to celebrate I prepared her a little Veteran's Day mini-unit. You can read about that here.

Today we had Coop. She. loves. Coop. This week was P.E. and Music. Very fun! She has made some new friends, and so have I. I am so glad we decided to join. It's the highlight of her week every week!

So, what was Dawson doing while we were out and about?

Dawson ~ 8th Grade

Dawson is continuing with his Ancient Greece unit in A World of Adventure. I have personally found the myths we have read to be fascinating, especially when it comes to the English words we have as a result of them. The focus of our reading has been on the stealing of Helen and The Trojan War and the return travels of Ulysses (Odysseus) in Classic Myths to Read Aloud by William F. Russell.

We watched Clash of the Gods: Medusa by The History Channel. Again, it was excellent! This week Dawson read Going to War in Ancient Greece by Adrian Gilbert and Ancient Greece: An Interactive History Adventure by William Caper (a You Choose book with 2 story paths, 66 choices and 23 endings). For his personal reading time he is reading The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan, from the Percy Jackson series.

For Fine Arts Dawson did a super hard paper Parthenon project. It started out pretty good! But somewhere along the way things went awry. I helped him with the precision cutting, so I certainly can't say it was all his doing. We prefer to say that it is a replica of the Parthenon as it looks today. You can go here for the downloads and instructions.

One of the coolest things we did this week was to add all of our Greek events to our living timeline. It is still so cool to see how biblical, Egyptian and Greek events line up together on the timeline. Very cool!

In science Dawson has been concentrating on First Aid, Exercise and Healthy Eating. First he completed a First Aid project where I gave him a scenario where he has come upon an auto accident and he must provide First Aid to five different accident victims based on their symptoms. He did a really good job on this. The second part of his science lessons was on The Olympics. He researched recommended diets for athletes and prepared a 3-day meal plan. Then today he started working on a concept for a new Olympic event. He chose to present The Hole in the Wall, a game show currently on Nickelodeon, as his concept. Really the idea behind this is for him to prepare and present persuasive arguments to the Olympic committee as to why the event should be included.

And, as usual, he worked on his Life of Fred: Fractions assignments, typing and Spanish.

Overall he had a very productive week. I just wish I could have spent more time with him.

We are linking up to Weekly Wrap-Up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Veteran's Day Mini-Unit

It occured to me last night when going to bed that today was Veteran's Day (actually I was fully aware of this because two of my children are involved in programs today.) I felt that a mini-unit would be a great thing to do for Brynne.

This is why it's kind of great that I have no real curriculum for Brynne right now. We just do what we want everyday, so doing this unit didn't disrupt any plans.

This morning my husband returned from a two-week business trip. We went to greet him at the airport. And then this afternoon we had a Veteran's Day program to go to at my 1st grader's school. So I thought making a small notebook of Veteran's Day activities would be great for her to take along on all of our activities today.

I just printed off some things: a couple of coloring sheets, a "veteran" tracer page, a word search and a math page (that decodes into a Veteran's Day message). I also printed off an In Flander's Fields mini-book for her to read with me.

I bound it all together in a manilla folder and some yarn.

She worked on her workbook at the airport and the nail salon (while I was getting a much-needed nail job done!) We watched an excellent Veteran's Day program at Eli's school. Very moving!

When she was eating dinner she looked at a space shuttle toy of Eli's and said, "Look an America Flag. Because we are celebrating Veteran's Day." Bestill a mama-teacher's heart!