Thursday, December 30, 2010

"For the Birds" Kickoff ~ Book and Activities for Week of January 3rd

If you are joining us on our "For the Birds" study (and I don't think anyone is, but here's the info anyway), here are all of the specifics for the books and activities we will be doing:

Our main book will be About Birds: A Guide for Children written by Cathryn Sill and illustrated by John Sill.

TEACHER AND BIRDER Cathryn Sill explains to children what birds are, what they do, and how they live. Accompanied by beautifully detailed illustrations from noted wildlife illustrator John Sill.
 We will be doing the following activities throughout the week:

Graphing - I am going to just make a simple graph with the following headings across the top of a poster board: Feathers, Hatch from Eggs, Nest on the Ground, Nest up High, No Nest, Travel in Groups, Travels Alone, Swims, Runs, Use Bills to Gather Food, Sings, Small Size, Large Size. We will then read the book and write the names of the birds under each of the categories where they fall.

Egg Identification - We are additionally using the book Bird Eggs written by Helen Frost. I will cut out some eggs from card stock and color them according to the different eggs in the book. Then I will have Brynne take the drawn eggs and search the book for the type of bird the egg belongs to.

Egg carton counting - I am going to take an empty egg carton and have Brynne count beans into each of the cups by 2's, 5's and 10's.

Egg matching - There are many variations of this that could be done. I printed some Easter egg shapes from here. I first glued them to card stock, cut them out and colored them. Then I took scissors and cut them in half in different ways. I'll mix them up and have her match the cut shapes.

I saw some really great variations to this. Here are pictures of other things you could do depending on your child's age:

On the opposite side of the colored cut eggs, I am going to do math problems on one half and the answers on the other half. Then I'll mix them up and she can match the answers with the problems.

We go to Homeschool Coop on Fridays, and then we typically run errands and go to the library after that, so we limit organized school to Monday through Thursday.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

For the Birds ~ Week of January 3rd {extra book needed}

Although on Thursday I will post more specifics, I wanted to leave a quick note to say that I requested an additional book from the library today to help with our egg identification activity we will do. And I wanted to give you enough notice so you can check one out from your library. Any bird egg book, with illustrations, will work. I will be using Bird Eggs by Helen Frost.

Monday, December 27, 2010

"For the Birds" takes flight in 7 days!


It couldn't be a better time for us to start a Bird study. Over Christmas our very popular nest, in the corner of our back porch, was a hotbed of activity. A finch family claimed it and started fluffing it and preparing it for later use. Several cardinal mates were frequenting our backyard. And then all of a sudden a female flew into our master bedroom window, stunning her for a period of time. I was so worried about her, but she got to feeling better and flew away. I am excited for Brynne and I to get our study underway.

As a reminder, we will be concentrating on one book a week, and doing various types of activities related to the book.

You can go here to see the full list of books we will read between January 3rd and Spring Break. The books we will read in January are:

January 3rd ~ About Birds by Cathryn Sill

January 10th ~ Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems

January 17th ~ Owl Babies by Martin Waddell

January 24th ~ Edward the Emu by Sheena Knowles

All of these books are available through our local public library system.

The activities for About Birds will include:
  • Doing egg identification
  • Egg shapes matching
  • Graphing birds from the book (feathers, flies, etc.)
On Thursday of this week I will post the specifics about the activities and will include a supply list (if any are needed) so you can prepare over the weekend.

If you want to join us in our study, leave me a comment and grab my button on the sidebar (thanks for making that for me, Shannon!)

Monday, December 20, 2010

For the Birds

Inspired by the Christmas Book and Activity a Day challenge hosted by Shannon at Welcome to our Wonderland, (which we loved, loved, loved) and in conjunction with the Bird focus we will have in our The Outdoor Hour challenges for 2011, I will be starting a Bird Book and Activity challenge starting January 3, 2011.

Each week we will read a specific bird book (on Monday, and then again throughout the week for review), some will be fiction and some will be non-fiction. With that book we will do specific activities and/or crafts throughout the week.

I don't necessarily want to do a Linky or anything, but I would love for you to join me if you would like. I plan to post, on Thursdays, the book we will read the following week and all of the activities we plan to do. By posting all of the information about the book and activities ahead of time, as well as all supplies needed, I hope to make it easier for you to join in on the fun. All of the books we will be using are in our public library system.

Here are the books I plan to use for the first 9 weeks (this will get us through our Spring Break):
  • January 3, 2011 ~ About Birds by Cathryn Sill
  • January 10, 2011 ~ Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems
  • January 17, 2011 ~ Owl Babies by Martin Waddell
  • January 24, 2011 ~ Edward the Emu by Sheena Knowles
  • February 7, 2011 ~ Stellaluna by Jannell Cannon (and any version of The Ugly Duckling)
  • February 14, 2011 ~ Great Backyard Bird Count (see below)
  • February 21, 2011 ~ United Tweets of America by Hudson Talbott
  • February 28, 2011 ~ Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting
  • March 7, 2011 ~ The Perfect Nest by Catherine Friend 
We will also be participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count from February 12th to the 15th. You can go here to watch a Youtube video with all of the information.

I have spent the past couple of days researching projects, activities, crafts and other lessons to go along with the books and I think I have come up with some fun and extremely educational things that Brynne will really enjoy. We will cover everything from the basics about birds to Oklahoma specific birds to homeslessness to adoption. The lessons would be completely appropriate from ages Pre-K to about 2nd grade, I think. I am very, very excited about this unit!

I also know it would be even more fun to have some friends come along for the adventure! If you want to join, go ahead and start getting the books for January!

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Coop Lesson in Bartering

One Friday a month Brynne's Homeschool Coop has a "Fun Day" and a different mom signs up to lead it. This month the mom suggested that we have our kids bring homemade goods, set up tables and barter with each other to exchange them. This was great for us because Brynne has also been learning about Colonial times where bartering was a normal activity.

We made five different things to barter:

Spicy Pretzels ($1) ~Gift for dads

Handmade Crystal Ornaments ($1) ~ Gift for moms

"Game of Graces" ($3) and "Hopscotch kits" ($1)~ Gifts for sisters

"Ball and Cup" ($2) ~ Gift for brothers

Brynne set up her "Taulman Trading Post" with a green table cloth and Christmas angel piece of fabric.

She bartered away! She got some great items for herself and was able to trade for gifts for every member of her family. And she successfully traded away every one of her items.

It was a great lesson and so much fun!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's a Wrap!

And I don't mean presents ... I haven't started that yet! No, I mean this semester! I can't believe we have completed a semester! We officially ended school on Tuesday to prepare for the Christmas season. My public school children do not finish until tomorrow, but since we are preparing for an Old-Fashioned Christmas this year, as part of our studies on Colonial Williamsburg, we have had lots to do.

Here is a recap of our semester:

Dawson, 8th Grade: In Social studies, Dawson has completed in depth studies on Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and is half-way through Ancient Rome. Included in that has been Science studies on deserts, the human body and rocks and minerals. After about 6 weeks of Saxon Pre-Algebra, we switched to Life of Fred. He has completed the Fractions book and is now on Decimals and Percents. Language Arts has had him working on sentence structure, nouns and doing lots and lots of writing. His Spelling has come from his social studies and science units, primarily. We have done a gazillion art projects and science experiments. Dawson has done lots of independent reading, we have read a lot orally and done lots of Bible reading. He has worked steadily on typing and Spanish using online resources. But the highlight of his semester was definitely in realizing a passion for cooking and baking.

My observations: Dawson is a really smart kid who does really well when he applies himself. I am really good in the preparations, but terrible in the follow-through. This next semester I want to be better at grading his work at night and giving him immediate feedback. I also want to make sure we are cooking every week.

Brynne, 1st Grade: Brynne's studies have been a little less structured. We do study a different letter each week (although she more than knows her letters.) We do a tracer page, a coloring page, a mini-book and usually a word search. She also does her letter bag and ABC Journal. We check out books about that letter each week and read every one we can get our hands on. That takes us to reading which we do tons of! We read every day. Sometimes I read to her, sometimes she reads to me. She can read really well! She loves math, so we do math pages most days. She has completed a unit on 1st grade addition and is now moving onto subtraction. Brynne has a new Penpal, which will be a fun way to keep her writing, although she writes independently everyday just because she wants to. For history we have been reading the American Girl series and have completed units on Kaya and the Nez Pierce Indians and Felicity and Colonial Williamsburg. She completed lapbooks on each of these units. We are also doing nature studies as much as we can. Brynne is in a Coop that has P.E. and music class, public speaking, field trips and Fun days. She has made some new friends.

My observations: She is going to always be a fun student and I am going to have to work hard to keep her challenged. We will likely just continue doing what we are doing the remainder of this year, the 3 R's and an ongoing history unit with lots and lots of reading! We will also be starting a Bird unit when we resume our studies in January that will carry us through the end of the year.

Next Semester: To me it seems that Dawson may be leaning toward going back to public school next year. With that in mind, I need to make sure I have him prepared to go. That will be my emphasis on the remainder of the year. Brynne and I will just continue to have a great time learning together!

Until then, we will just be doing a whole lot of this ...

Making handmade Christmas ornaments.

Until next semester .. have a wonderful holiday season!

We linked up to Weekly Wrap-up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bear Stays Up for Christmas

Bear Stays Up for Christmas written by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jane Chapman was a fun book demonstrating such sweet friendship.

In this enchanting holiday story for young readers, Bear's friends are determined to keep him awake for Christmas. So they wake Bear up and he helps find a Christmas tree, bake cakes, hang up stockings, sing Christmas songs--and discovers that giving is one of the best presents of all.

For her activity Brynne painted glue on a pinecone and shook it in a bag full of ground cinnamon. She colored a bear holding a heart and cut it out to glue its pieces to the cinnamon pinecone "body".

We'll be finishing up some books this week from our Christmas Book and Activity a Day list, but won't be doing any designated activities because of our plans to spend the rest of the week making handmade Christmas decorations for our tree.

A Christmas Star

This will be our last week to participate in the Christmas Book and Activity a Day challenge hosted by Shannon at Welcome to our Wonderland. In fact, tomorrow will be our last official day. We finished school for the Christmas break today and plan to spend the rest of the week making Christmas decorations for our Old Fashioned Christmas. We will then be off for the following two weeks spending some time with family, enjoying some downtime at home and celebrating Eli's 7th birthday.

Yesterday we read A Christmas Star written by Linda Oatman High and illustrated by Ronald Himler.

During the Great Depression, a holiday miracle reminds all of the true meaning of Christmas.
As we were already making Salt Dough ornaments for our tree, Brynne started out by making some stars. She rolled the dough and cut them herself. She will also be painting them.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ {Christmas and Crystals}

What an extremely productive and interesting week! I think this might be the first week that we didn't have one "down" day. We were into our lessons every day and got a lot accomplished. In fact, Dawson even had his best efforts shown on Friday when I wasn't even home!

Brynne ~ 1st Grade

We scaled back some on Brynne's 3 R's studies this week, except that we had a huge emphasis on Reading. My goal with her this week was to concentrate on learning about Colonial Williamsburg and in doing our Christmas Book and Activity a Day challenges. She did learn about the letter "I" this week (did her tracer pages and mini-book), but mostly we just read "I" books. We are gearing up for next week when we will complete our Felicity and Colonial Williamsburg lapbook on Monday and Tuesday and then make homemade Colonial Christmas decorations the rest of the week in anticipation of Christmas.

Some highlights from our week this week were in making the Game of Graces and Ball and Cup, two games children played in the 1770's. She absolutely loved doing this! She loves to play Graces and is really good at it! She's better than me!

She also participated in the Christmas Book and Activity a Day challenge hosted by Shannon at Welcome to our Wonderland. Here is a list of the books and activities she completed:
The most exciting part of her week, however, was when she received her first letter from her new Penpal! Her friend's mom made a laminated paper doll named "Maggie", and Maggie has a travel log. The girls take Maggie to different places and then write a letter to each other telling about Maggie's adventures. They will mail Maggie back and forth between the two of them with their letters. She is writing her first letter to her Penpal today.

On Friday we had Coop Music and P.E. She loves those classes! Stay tuned to hear what super fun things the kids are doing at Coop next week!

Like I said, next week we will basically shut down our studies and concentrate on creating an Old-Fashioned Christmas for our family, and finish our unit on Colonial Williamsburg. Our week will include making all of our decorations for our tree, making candles, making luminaries and preparing to get our Christmas tree on Friday.

Dawson ~ 8th Grade

Dawson's week was a busy one! He has been taking lots of notes on Ancient Rome, learning about education, clothing, parts of the city, food and recreation. He finished a spelling unit and started another one. His Grammar concentration has been on Editing. And he has steadily been working on his typing and Spanish online lessons.

In science he did several experiments surrounding rocks and minerals. In the first experiment he filled a plastic container with water (to overflowing), put the lid on it and put it in the freezer. The next day the lid was popping off. This demonstrated that solid molecules are larger than water molecules so take up more space. Then he ran water into the middle of the ice block, and blew hot air into the middle of it, to make a hole. He basically showed how erosion causes rock formations to change shape, i.e. caves.

He also made different types of fossils:

He set up two experiments that he will complete next week:

He is making needles (with epsom salt and water)

and he is making Stalactites (with baking soda, water and yarn)

He loves these hands-on experiments!

Dawson completed Life of Fred: Fractions this week and got an 87% on his final. He was really hating math when doing Saxon Pre-Algebra. But Life of Fred seems to be a great relief. And he's learning. He's now moving on to Life of Fred: Decimals and Percents.

We have decided to make next Tuesday our last day of school until the new year. On Tuesday we will conclude our viewing of Handel's Messiah, and it will be a good stopping point. He is going to help Brynne and I with our homemade Christmas decorations Wednesday - Friday.

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

Friday, December 10, 2010

My First Nutcracker

My First Nutracker, story by E.T.A. Hoffmann, adapted by Stephanie True Peters and illustrated by Linda Bronson

I'm going to be honest .. I half-heartedly read this book to Brynne this morning, and she half-heartedly listened. She wasn't too interested and I didn't imagine that she would be. Starting out it just seemed "more" than she would want to listen to and follow.

But .... after she finished the book, she sat ENGROSSED in a dvr'd showing of The Nutcracker performed by the Berlin State Ballet. She was loving it! Then I had checked out a cd of The Nutcracker (performed by the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, strangely enough). We listed to it on the way to Coop. While she was listening to the music she looked at the book we had read that morning and told her own story based on the music.

I was blown away that she was so into it! While watching the ballet she said, "Daddy needs to watch this." Her and daddy would enjoy it.

Her enthusiasm was such a nice surprise! What a great way to end our week with the Christmas Book and Activity a Day.

Week 3 ~ Christmas Book and Activity a Day

For Week 3 of the Christmas Book and Activity a Day challenge given by Welcome to our Wonderland, we will be reading the following books:

Monday, December 13th ~ Bear Stays up for Christmas by Karma Wilson (supplies needed: brown paint, cinnamon)

Tuesday, December 14th ~ Silent Night, Holy Night: a song for the world by Warner Thuswaldner and Patricia Crampton (supplies needed: construction paper, scissors, yarn)

Wednesday, December 15th ~ I've Seen Santa by David Bedford (supplies needed: cotton balls, dice, construction paper)

Thursday, December 16th ~ Magical Christmas by Meg Clibbon and Lucy Clibbon (supplies needed: hot cocoa, candy cane, marshmallows)

Friday, December 17th ~ A Christmas Star by Linda Oatman High (supplies needed: wax paper, glue, glitter)