Monday, January 31, 2011

Do-A-Dot Art! Sponge Tip Applicators and Creative Activity Book {Review}

I mentioned previously that I had been contacted by CSN to review of some of their products. It was difficult to decide what to order, but I ultimately decided to take advantage of some free educational materials. I have six different products to review, and I will review one each Monday for the next six weeks.

I had always seen "dot markers" and thought they looked cool, but never bought them. I took this opportunity to get some because I knew Brynne would love them. And, she does! I got the Picture Me a Princess Creative Activity Book to go with the Sponge Tip Applicators. It's just fun to color a picture with dots!

As much as she likes to just have fun playing with them, I really wish I would have gotten them for her when she was younger. They would be so great for learning to write letters and numbers, and when she was first learning to write her name! I plan to have her use them in math assignments, for addition and graphing and grouping numbers.

The quality of the product is excellent. They appear very sturdy, are easily gripped and the lids fit on tightly. These are on the top of our markers and other coloring books in our craft drawer, because they are the first ones to be played with.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Becoming Independent

This was another abnormal week. Brynne woke up on Monday morning with a cold, so we did a lot of school that morning just sitting on the couch.

By noon I realized she was running a fever, so school was over for the day for her. On Tuesday she had a cough, yucky nose, headache and fever all day. There was no school that day at all, for her. Although she woke up Wednesday morning fever free and almost miraculously healed, things ran pretty slow for her on that day. Thursday and Friday we had a lot to catch up on, so we kicked it into high gear and got as much done as we could.

Here's all we did get accomplished this week.

Brynne ~ 1st Grade

She did some awesome things this week, and I hope I can get them all documented here.

In reading we have moved onto grammar and we started this week with nouns. It amazes me how she immediately picked up on it! She can easily classify if it's a person, place or thing. On one of her noun worksheets she was asked to pick one of the nouns she identified, draw a picture of it and write the word under it. She picked "tree" and kept telling me not to watch. When she was done she had drawn and colored a tree with apples and under it wrote "In apple tree." I hope she continues to be self-motivated and do more than she's asked.

History  took somewhat of a backseat this week, although we did work on weaving a rebozo (a shawl or scarf worn on the head) with paper. Weaving is kind of a difficult thing for the little fingers of a 5 year old, but I wanted her to take the time to try some fine motor skill work.

Most of our work came as a result of our For the Birds focus book Edward the Emu.

We made a map of Edward's travels through the zoo and the dates he was in each habitat, plotting his travels on a calendar.

We made playdough snakes and measured them with a ruler.

We talked about time and practiced putting hands on clocks in a wipeable flip book.

We learned all about emus here and even got to see the process of an egg hatching. Brynne colored a coloring page of an emu and drew one of it's eggs on it.

And, she made a paper plate emu. She loves to play with it, bouncing his head along.

With Valentine's Day coming up we are also reading some books and doing activities associated with them:

It's only a week until Valentine's Day, and Lily wants to make theperfectheart-shaped valentine for Mommy. But every time she cuts out a heart, it's either too pointy, too round, or too skinny. As the days go by, Lily tries again and again, and when Valentine's Day finally arrives, she has a heart for each day of the week! Which one will be the perfect valentine surprise for Mommy? Young readers will enjoy this sweet, simple story that introduces the days of the week, as well as the special tradition of creating handmade valentines.

When I opened up the book to read it to her she said, "Let me read it." And, she did. Then we made "perfect hearts" by learning about symmetry. We folded construction paper in half and cut out one-half of a heart at the crease. Then both sides were symmetrical. Then we painted one side of the heart and pressed the sides together to make each side identical. They were perfect!

As part of Brynne's Valentine cards we wanted to include suckers, so we made chocolate heart suckers.

Dawson ~ 8th Grade

Dawson wrapped up his unit on Ancient Rome and Minerals and Rocks. The last week of each unit in our curriculum is always a little uneventful, because it has the students preparing for a "presentation" day, that we don't do since it's just Dawson. We finished The Bronze Bow and he did some writing assignments. But most of the work he did this week was independent work. He almost finished his mosaic. I was so impressed with him in how he did his work with very little prompting and did it well.

For a final on our science unit I am going to have him make a study guide from his notes. He told me that he has a hard time studying from his own notes, which tells me that he needs some guidance in how to take notes and then how read them for a test. These are skills he will definitely need to know in college. So, instead of actually taking a final on our science unit, I'm going to have him prepare for a final.

It was necessary for him to do the majority of his work without supervision this week because Brynne was sick and needed my attention. He voluntarily spent some time taking care of Brynne while she was sick, giving her lots of attention. She loved that, and so did I! He is such a caring young man!

Completely unrelated to school, Dawson became Xbox Live friends with the son of one of my fellow homeschooling bloggy moms. They really hit it off, and with the marvels of technology they are even able to talk to each other while they play their game. It's a little virtual homeschool coop of sorts.

I didn't take one picture of Dawson this week doing any of his work. But, we bought several new board games last night (because my two little kiddos are obsessed with the game show Family Game Night on The Hub.) Here is a picture of Dawson and his best friend playing Guess Who?  this morning ... the cute little animal pet version. Silly boys. I love this age.

We are linking up to Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. If you need some inspiration and great ideas, go see what the other homeschools are doing!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

For the Birds ~ Book and Activities for the Week of January 31st

Next week's focus book will be A Mother for Choco written and illustrated by Keiko Kasza.

Choco wishes he had a mother, but who could she be? He sets off to find her, asking all kinds of animals, but he doesn't meet anyone who looks just like him. He doesn't even think of asking Mrs. Bear if she's his mother-but then she starts to do just the things a mommy might do. And when she brings him home, he meets her other children-a piglet, a hippo, and an alligator-and learns that families can come in all shapes and sizes and still fit together. Keiko Kasza's twist on the "Are you my mother?" theme has become one of the most highly recommended stories about adoption for children.

Discussion ~ Brynne and I will discuss what a mother is, what she does, characteristics, etc., and then read the book discussing each encounter she has and why she thinks each character is or is not Choco's mother.

Compare and Contrast ~ We will make a Venn Diagram about the similarities and differences between her and I.

Art ~ She and I will work together on a picture of the two of us doing something that we enjoy.

Cooking ~ We will make Chocolicious Bread Pudding Muffins found here.

Bird Feeders ~ We will discuss adoption and then "adopt" our backyard birds by making some new birdfeeders to hang from trees. I plan to make one out of a gallon milk jug and one out of toilet paper tubes and pipe cleaners.

Edible Nest ~ Next week is also "N" week for us, so we may make these edible nests posted at Brainin Trainin. If we don't get to them next week, we'll save them for the week when we read The Perfect Nest.

Movie ~ We will watch the movie Stuart Little to show an example of a loving adoption of someone completely different than you.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Things have been a little quiet at our school this week because Brynne has been sick. We are hoping to do some things today.

But I had to share a **smile** moment from my older daughter who attends public school. If you were to know her you would know that she is the master procrastinator! She's been working on a research project about Carrie Underwood. While watching her two favorite DVR'd shows yesterday afternoon she paused it and said, "I think I'm going to go ahead and get my report done and turned in now and I'll watch t.v. later." Huh???? What have you done with Kyndal???? And that's exactly what she did. And she turned it in electronically at 7:30 p.m. (when normally she would have stayed up all night doing it and turned it in at 7:56 a.m. this morning when it was due by 8:00 a.m.). Later she said, "Wow, it feels good to be all done with it early so I can just relax." Duh .... (I didn't say that.) And, the paper was five pages instead of three! Awesome!

And I just need to say that one of the gazillion reasons why I love homeschooling has happened this week. With Brynne being sick, we have been able to just read on the couch, put off some things, take it easy and just snuggle back to being healthy. In public school, of course, that would not have been the case.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Testing for Comments

This is just a test post. My last post did not give a place for comments, and I don't know why. Seeing if it was just a fluke.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

For the Birds ~ Books for the Month of February

We have almost completed a full month of our For the Birds study. And, I have to say, I have enjoyed it probably more than Brynne. My older kids laugh at me because of my obsession with birds. They bring me such joy!

Here are the books we will be reading for the month of February (and March before Spring Break) ...

January 31st ~ A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kaska

 February 7th ~ Stellaluna by Janell Cannon and any version of The Ugly Duckling

February 14th ~ We will not have a book, but instead will be participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count from the 18th-21st. Before those dates we will re-watch Your Backyard so that our bird identification will be easier.

February 21st ~ United Tweets of America by Hudson Talbott. On January 17th we will have the opportunity to attend Homeschoolers Day at our state capitol. I will make Brynne a State of Oklahoma notebook to learn as much about the state as possible before we go. The week of February 21st we will then continue to study our state bird and other states, as well.

February 28th ~ Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting

March 7th ~ The Perfect Nest by Catherine Friend

Friday, January 21, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Hoo, Hoo and Romans, too.

School got "interrupted" this week. We were off Monday for Martin Luther King, Jr., day. Then we were off again yesterday and today because of the snow. When our public school is out, so are we here at home. Two of my kids go to public school, so we stick with their schedule.

Although we didn't have school yesterday, the kids had a blast playing in the snow! It was a perfect day! We had 2-3" of powdery white stuff, the temperature hovered right at the freezing mark with a slight wind, but the sun was out making it almost hot when playing.

We have the best sledding hills in the neighborhood, so many neighborhood kids took some time sledding in our yard. My kids played outside for hours without stopping.

It's pretty overcast and cold today, so I don't know how much snow time there will be. It might be a day of board games instead. 

So, what did we do when we were doing school?

Brynne ~ 1st Grade

Brynne is still moving right along with her 3 R's. I don't post many specifics about them, because they're not that exciting. But she reads every day, does phonics lessons and is currently doing subtraction workbook pages. We are on the letter "L" and she is still making a mini-book each week, doing word searches and reading books using that letter (3 per week).

We have really been concentrating on writing. She wrote a letter to her grandma on Tuesday and then on Wednesday she did a story page finishing the sentence "I love when my Grandma ... comes." And she drew a picture of our house. Grandma had just been here for a visit last weekend.

We are still doing our bird study. This week the focus was on owls. We started by reading our inspiration book, Owl Babies written by Martin Waddell and illustrated by Patrick Benson.

Brynne did the following activities:

Owl Cookies

An owl lapbook, courtesy of Homeschool Share

A lacing card

We also read about different owls on the All About Birds website, and listened to their various calls.

We are fortunate that we have owls off the bluff behind our house, so we get to hear them "hooting" often.

Unrelated to owls, but still having to do with birds, we hung suet cakes in onion bags to our trees for our winter birds.

And this morning, after our snow, I saw some bird tracks on our back porch. That was kind of fun.

In History we are still reading Meet Josefina. We are going really slow on this unit, I think because of our high concentration on our bird study. But we did add some Spanish words to our notecards and made a list of some crafts we want to do: paper weaved rebozos and castanuelas (that we saw while watching fandango dancing on YouTube).

Dawson ~ 8th Grade

Dawson has had kind of a quiet week. We are winding down our study of Ancient Rome and rocks and minerals, volcanoes and earthquakes. He watched a video on Mt. Vesuvius and the destruction of Pompeii. A lot of our Roman studies have been on the governmental history and reigns of emperors.

Right now he is finishing up his egg shell mosaic, working on it every day. 

We are revewing verb tenses, finishing our reading of The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare, working steadily through Life of Fred: Decimals and Percents, and continuing to do typing lessons on Good Typing and Spanish lessons on LiveMocha.

For his personal reading he read Earthquake Terror by Peg Kehret. I picked it out for him, and he didn't enjoy it. He said it was predictable. He did do a couple of assignments on it this week, like taking an multiple-choice quiz and completing a sandwich report.

And that was pretty much it for us this week.

Until the snow melts, you will probably find my students doing this ...

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

For the Birds ~ Book and Activities for the Week of January 24th (Oooops, I forgot to post this yesterday!)

Next week we will be using the book Edward the Emu, written by Sheena Knowles and illustrated by Rod Clement, as our focus book.

Tired of being an emu, Edward decides to try being like other animals at the zoo, but he soon discovers that being himself is the best after all.

We may not get to start our activities until Tuesday, because our snow days threw me off this week and I didn't get the book ordered until today. It is coming from another library, so it may be a few days before we get it.

The majority of our activities come from the following website:

We will be doing the following:

Emu facts ~ We will learn facts about emus here. At the same time she will color a coloring sheet and write in facts.

Map Skills ~ As we read the story we will draw a map of all the animals Edward visits.

Measurement ~ We will make several playdough snakes and then measure them.

Charting ~ We will make a chart of the different shapes in the book.

Time ~ We will discuss time, as in 'next day', 'that night', 'morning at nine'. We will use her calendar so she can show me which day I am describing. We will also use a time dry-erase flip book that I picked up in the $1 bin at Target to talk about time.

Craft ~ We will make a paper plate emu.

Join us!

Monday, January 17, 2011

CSN Review

Now that the giveaway with CSN is over, it's time to concentrate on reviewing some of their products! I am very excited that they contacted me with this opportunity! With over 200 online stores to choose from, the choice about what to review will be difficult! I have poured over the websites, at all of the many products including toys, educational materials, housewares, rugs and modern duvet covers. Now I need to get back to picking my products. The review(s) will be coming soon!

LAST CHANCE ~ CSN Giveaway Drawing in Two Hours!!! Register Now!

Time is REALLY running out to register to win a $25 Gift card to use at one of the over 200 CSN online stores! Go here to register by NOON today !!!!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up {Pigeons, Eruptions and Decisions}

The internet is cooperating for the moment, so I thought I should get my Weekly Wrap-up done while it is.

We had another great week! By being more organized on the weekends, (getting all grades inputted, lesson plans for both kids complete, all copies made and workboxes filled) we are hitting the ground running and I don't feel behind all week. It's been nice. Now I'm going to implement the "science experiments basket" recommended by Samantha at To Be Busy at Home. Scrambling to locate materials for experiments and projects is my biggest weakness. So this week I'll get all supplies and materials ready and in a basket so it's all ready for the first day of school.

Brynne ~ 1st Grade

What a fun week! Our focus book this week was Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems.  We did the following activities:

A "shapes" bus with the pigeon driving

A storyboard where Brynne is trying to convince me that she should get to continue playing video games instead of doing school work. (Pay not attention to the video game she is wanting to play. She just plays a "clean" level that Dawson has created.) In the book, the pigeon spends a couple of pages trying to convince the reader to let him drive the bus.

Bus snacks made with graham crackers, frosting, mini oreos and Crispix cereal.

We also continued reading out of Meet Josefina from the American Girl series and added some Spanish words to the list of words we are learning in this unit.

In writing Brynne wrote a thank you letter to her Great Aunt telling her what she bought with the Christmas money she gave her. She also took some dictation ("Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."), did a story book page about her favorite game (checkers) and made up a sentence using "K" words, our letter of the week. She is really taking to writing.

Math just consisted of subtraction workbook pages, at which she excels. We will continue with our 1st grade math workbook pages, and I hope to do a full lesson on time and money with the materials I review from CSN.

Dawson ~ 8th Grade

Dawson has been taking tons of notes on the movement from the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire and the many, many governmental conflicts that ensured during those times. There is a lot of information about Ancient Rome!

The real fun happened in science! Dawson made a volcano pie ...

1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream
mixed with 1 cup peanut butter and 1/2 cup chocolate chips
form into a volcano and freeze in a graham cracker crust
when frozen, hollow out the center
fill with hot fudge
sprinkle with Nestle Quik powder and powdered sugar

He also made an exploding volcano (The little kids loved this!) ...

Form potting soil around a small soda bottle
Pour 1 tablespoon baking soda into the bottle
Add 1 cup vinegar mixed with red food coloring
Stand back!

Dawson had a good week in all of his other subjects. He did a great job with his independent work, and watched several videos on the Roman Empire. He read Earthquake Terror by Peg Kehret and worked all week on an egg shell mosaic, that he is still working on.

Dawson has been experiencing turmoil about whether he wants to go back to public school next year (starting high school) or to continue being homeschooled. Although I was not shy with him about the fact that I thought homeschooling was the better option for him, I have let him weigh his options and make his own decision. He was feeling a lot of pressure from his friends about going back to school. Ultimately, at least at this time, he has decided to continue homeschooling. (I'm glad about that!)