Thursday, September 25, 2008

Archaeology, Van Gogh, and 'guys'

All the kids are doing well this school year so far. We are on day 38, and we have studied all sorts of things and we are really settling into the year. This week, aside from core studies and penmanship, is Van Gogh in Meet the Masters, and Archaeology in Story of the World this week. It has been a LOT of fun.

Books for Van Gogh that we have read:

The Yellow House

Camille and the Sunflowers

Art for Children - Vincent Van Gogh



And me:

Logan gets to skip 'Day 1 Art Time'. We do it during his nap time. It makes for a long school day, but so far, it has been worth it. Oil pastels and paint and my baby just don't mix... and keeping him from them if he knows they are going on is neigh impossible.

Today was History/Geography day (Day 2). We are studying Archaeology.

Archaeology books we have read:

Archaeologists Dig for Clues

It's Discusting, and We ATE It!

I don't think that the sandbox dig is going to work out. I was sad to find kitty poo in it yesterday. I need to get all the stuff out of it carefully and give it to the kids so they can have the lesson... before washing the sand, so they can play in it on the warm days, without the benefit of kittyroca.

I don't think they are minding the sandbox-dig free lesson however. ;)

Alex's looks like something from Egypt... what could it be?

Very seriously brushing off their finds.

And now, I have to do a little update on Logan. He really has gotten left behind lately as the other two go on to greater heights of fun learning experiences.

Lately, Logan has taken to some "guys" as he calls them. They are Power Rangers (remember those?), and they were a gift from a long ago neighbors yardsale. My plan was to toss them in the Goodwill bag, but he found them and has carried them around ever since. He talks to his 'guys'. His 'guys' fight. His 'guys' talk and play. His 'guys' sleep with him. And if they are in sight, a full on breakdown happens until his 'guys' are in his hands, curled up with him in his bed. He asks for his 'guys' when he can not find them and we have to help him find them again. He really likes to carry all three.... but he only has two hands, so occasionally, he will volunteer me to be his 'guy holder'.

Another favorite is airplanes. He has two airplane figurines. I think they are both jet fighters. Those bash together mid flight and come crashing to the ground at least once a day with a huge "shooo, shooo, boom!" He is pretty much the cutest thing ever. He still loves going Bye Bye, he still loves seeing airplanes in the air and yelling and signing... but signing is quickly being paired with talking. "More Please" is a favorite phrase, as is "more juice", and "Please mine". They are, for now, paired with the signs, but I can see the day where he is clear enough that he doesn't need the signs and another one of my babies stops being a baby.

He was 20 mos a couple days ago.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Crazy happy post of SOTW

For Sarah/Sadie and anyone else who wants a great review of the first two lessons of SOTW.

I am LOVING Story of the World. I adore history, and she just did such an amazing job compiling all of these ideas and dates. I love the way they have books to suggest, and art projects and ideas about ways to get the kids to remember. The timeline was way more than I portrayed... just because I didn't have time that night to really go into it. But the first lesson in SOTW is about historians and archaeologists and what they do. But it is ohsomuch more than that. She talks about (of course, I got the audio book, which is read by one of my very favorite readers, Jim Weiss) how historians do there job. "What if" (this is not a direct quote) "you found a letter from your great grandmother, to her sister living far away. And you got to hear about your grandmother as a little girl. That would give you a piece of her 'history'." And other bits like "What day were you born? Do you remember that day? Could it have been the day before? Or the day after? How do you know? This is another way historians find out information. They find information that is kept on record about the people who live in the culture." And then it goes on to archaeology. "Imagine that a man went to a river bank. And saw an old piece of wood sticking out of the bank. He started digging because he was curious, and then realized that he was digging up an old building! He calls someone called an archaeologist to come with little tiny tools (so he or she doesn't hurt anything) to dig out that area, and they find a toy of an ox and cart. That shows us that these people who lived in this area had that type of technology." Etc... REALLY well written.

So last week, we studied what it is to do history. I asked the kids what the first thing they remembered was. Then we wrote it down and found a picture of that time (thank god for digital pictures!) Then after that, I had them remember things by looking at pictures. "I was a ninja for Halloween three years in a row???" or "Oh, I have to write down Baby Cake! She was my very favorite doll until her arm fell off." Then after we got down near everything they remembered, I started bringing out the baby books and we wrote down their first step, the day they were born, their first birthday, the first word they said, etc. Stuff they didn't remember, but that I did. And that was the lesson in history.

The lesson in Archaeology will be just as much fun. I am taking their sand box and turning it into a dig. OMG... So much fun! They have to figure out what time period (in their lives) that they are looking at by what I put in the sand box. (I am wetting it down today for Thursday so it will be nice and hard to dig.) I have had fun just planning it out. lol! I also got one of these because I thought they would just love that.... :) I will let you guys know the verdict this weekend.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Weekend Learning

Apples, apples, beatiful apples.  Last Friday we made apple cider with my dad. 

Timeline of kids

We are doing the first lesson in Story of the World and it is all about history and what it means to keep records of peoples lives. Both the kids really enjoyed the project, although Cyan didn't really understand at first.

The idea was to get them to realise how history is collected. You ask them to remember as far back as they can, and then you go back farther for them in YOUR memory and you recreate their entire personal history. Because, of course, they don't remember being born, but it is kind of important that that would be on their personal timeline. You know? So you get to share that story with them and others from before they remember, and then slowly, you get up to the dates they remember, and you start adding those in too. For my kids, after we got to things they remembered, they took off, telling me everything that they can about the time I am talking about in our lives.
Basically it was to show the kids how to keep records of things they don't remember. Cyan remembers a lot. I was amazed! She remembers Don having a red motorcycle and him having to sell it. That was before she was 2 1/2. In contrast, Alex doesn't remember much before Cyan was born (he was 5).
It was an interesting and really fun project for all of us. I love that Cyan added things like when she lost her favorite baby doll, or that Alex added his baseball game where he hit the ball really well. Those kinds of things really make a kids life and the fact that they were able to be collected somewhere for them to go over was neat. :)

You can distinctly see the time when we didn't have a camera in Alex's timeline. From ages 3 to 6. lol... there are lots of blank spots. My camera got stolen and we could not afford to get another one until 2005.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Handwriting, story telling, and sewing...

Sewing practice:

I picked up Cyan a copy of "My First Sewing Machine Book" by Winky Cherry at the Sew Expo back in March.  It has a bunch of things that you are supposed to sew with no thread on your needle.  As we went through and she mastered the needle, and using the presser foot we moved up to more real projects, but every time she needs practice I would copy one of those paper lessons onto card stock and have her 'sew' through it.  These lessons for first handwriting are very similar to what we did for her first sewing machine lessons and I thought I would pass them on. 

Donna Young, Penmanship Starters

Just print onto cardstock and have her follow the directions with her needle.  No thread.


BTW, this is a great site for just about every kind of paper you could imagine as well. 

Handwriting paper:

Donna Young, Handwriting Paper

 (which BOTH kids are using right now because Alex is in 'public school chicken scratch' mode)

And blank top writing paper:

Donna Young, blank top writing paper with penmanship lines

Or blank top lined paper:

Donna Young, blank top notebook paper (College Ruled)

for those of us who like our children to 'illistrate' their own work.  My kids use these blank topped sheets pretty exclusively for history so far.  I like the idea that they are drawing what they are learning at the same time as they are writing it and reading it, and listening to it.  lol... it seems like a fail proof way of getting as much as possible into their head.

This is something we just started...

Penmanship Lessons for Alex

Penmanship lessons for Cyan

Hope you all are having a great week!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cyan's first spelling test

This is a great web site for Dolch Word lists.    It is where I have gotten all of her spelling words thus far.  They have games that you can play, and little cards to help her remember, it even has a way you can keep track of how many words she missed on the 'tests'.  It has been a ton of fun for both her and me, and it is REALLY speeding up her reading.  We will do one list a week for the next few weeks.

Food chains and food webs

Making your own food chain

What a cool little web site. I had the kids draw out their own, but this will be fun as well.

You can add it into a biome study by printing out the premade food chain charts and having kids put in the correct plant or critter for that biome.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Poetry and bugs, with a dash of schooling...

Alex and I are working on poetry right now. Not just writing it, but reading it aloud and well. He is getting pretty good at it. I bought two magnetic table boards for the kids to practice their poetry (or in Cyan's case, reading) on. I left them on the table and in the morning, this is what they woke up to in front of their breakfast:

They were each given the task of creating their own poem. Alex wrote a poem on snow (on paper) and Cyan wrote this:

You may be thinking how terribly rude she was being, but she is on a Penelope kick, so this was actually a compliment and she didn't even know if could have been insulting. (Alex did however... I talked with him about that).

We have been on field trip city lately. We went to the zoo on Friday, and the Nisqually Valley Reserve and the Farm I work for on Saturday. There are too many pictures to try to post them all here, but I will post some of the best.

The zoo was great! We had a good time and even got to see a couple of friends we hadn't seen in forever!

This sweet whale came up to say "hi" right next to us, and it started a chain of events that was pretty funny. Cyan dropped her toy (small blue ball) in the whale tank, and Logan started screaming... not because of the toy falling in (which was rescued very quickly by zoo staff who were wonderful about it!), but because he is scared of whales. Well, actually, anything that has glass between it and him. He was fine with the Lemurs, fine with the Meerkats and Walabies... but whales, polar bear, walrus, and even the otters? Climbed up my arm and screamed every time we got close. I hope it is just a phase as they are some of my very favorites, but it was needless to say, strange to have him so attached to me. Usually I am chasing him. But he wouldn't leave my side.

Then on Saturday morning, we went to Nisqually Valley Bird Refuge. This was a wonderful and educational trip. Did you know that birds are the fewest in our area right at the end of the summer? I had no idea. We must be in the middle of the migration path, so as the birds go South in late Fall, they are here, and as they go North in late spring, they are here, but in the Summer? Not a bird except for native ducks were at the refuge. We didn't even see a hawk. Amazing!

But you know what that really means? Visiting a bird refuge with no birds? BUGS!

This fell out of the sky (literally!) and landed on Alex's arm. Scared the crap out of him until he figured out what it was. lol...

And this one crawled right on to Cyan's finger from the bench she was leaning on. She was watching it as it walked up, and it crawled right on to her. She was thrilled that she 'got' a caterpillar to. :)

And here is yet another catterpillar we saw... I think it is an older version of the one Alex had on his arm, but not sure. They look very similar though. Deffinetly related.

This one is my personal favorite... a wooly bear. I love them!

Whatcha looking at buddy?

Ah-hah! Sweet little thing.

See how many things you see at a bird refuge when the birds are not there? My guess is, that all of these would have been food for said birds if they had actually been around, but since they were not, it made for one cool field trip. It openned up a huge conversation about food chains and food webs. We drew food chains these things were connected in a bit too, but that isn't nearly as interesting pics of cool critters we saw.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Biology Lesson - Food Webs

Last week we studied Eat Your Rainbow... a way of eating that concetrates on color and of course, is mostly based on plants (not food dye.. lol!) The kids followed what they were eating for a week (or at least that was the plan) and figured out what colors they ate most... then we talked about how good each of those colors in nature were for our bodies. They were into it.... but didn't really understand it. So this week, I switched to food chains and food webs for an easier way to understand very similar information. Food chains and food webs has been a super fun set of lessons.

First, I had them compare and contrast two different plants that were in the yard (no better time to do this than in harvest season) and Cyan drew and colored them, and Alex wrote lists (after drawing and coloring them) to their differences and similarities.

Then I read the book Who Eats What?. It is an incredible book that explains quite a few things about food chains and food webs in perfect kid friendly language.

Then today, I had them read the book again, and make their own food chains (Cyan) or food web (Alex).

While they were doing that, I got a print out of Bill Nye the Science Guy's food web PDF file. After they were done with that, we watched his episode on the food web. It was a great end to the lesson... really hammering it in. I wish I could explain what I did better... But it was a great lesson. :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Strange Nature, and some cool bugs

We have three branches that are completely red now. But that is all. Perhaps, few and far between, there is another half red leaf on the oak tree... but really, the whole rest of the tree is green aside from those there branches.

Like, really. Isn't that odd?

Every day now, my children find more bugs. Even Logan came in for a 'bug jar' today. Good thing I preserve food. It gives my children nearly an endless supply of 'bug jars'. lol!

This is a cool big spider Cyan found in the garden while picking tomatoes for our omlet this morning. Pretty cool isn't it?

It is wasp season too... wasps eat meat, not honey or nectar. So when I saw some at our lunch yesterday, I just let it pass, and tried to keep Cyan from screaming defence over her turkey-wrap. lol... but then, on her plate, I saw it. One of them was eating her lunch meat right out of her wrap!! It was crazy enough that we actually put another peice down for the next one who came along so I could take photos... they chew around in a circle, and then pick up the piece they have taken and fly off with it. It is completely odd... and totally cool to watch.

These next two pictures are out of focus... but it was so cool that I have to put them up here anyway.

Can you see the little sucker chewing around her turkey in a circle like that?

He flew into the shadows and this was the only chance I got to capture him take off with it... but he has his chewed piece of turkey in his little legs, and he is flying away with it. Isn't that the weirdest thing?

Fall is such a cool season. :)

Review of Math-U-See

I am completely impressed.

It is spendy but so far, it is worth every penny. We have only done two lessons each kid... but things I was trying to get into Cyan's head for most of last year, she got in those two lessons. It could be that she is just more ready for Place Value and other concepts like that now... she is older. It could also be that I laid down a good enough foundation that she was able to pick it up really fast. But I like the set up of Math-U-See very much. The idea of watching the video, touching the blocks, and doing the problems all at once is very appealing and quite effective. I don't think we will be going back to Singapore Math. It is great for concepts when kids are just starting out... but the lack of instructions for kids OR teachers just makes the higher levels way more complicated. And by higher levels I mean book 3. Like 2nd grade math. I am really enjoying the change.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Seeds, and Bugs, and other Fall stuff

On Saturday we had Nature Day.  The lesson we read had a story about how when the author was a little girl, she used to go out in the early fall and collect seeds by walking in her socks and having the burrs and seeds stick right in... then she would just plant her socks!  lol... I didn't sacrifice two pairs of socks, but we did go out and look for plants that had gone to seed.  We found tons!

Clockwise from top Left:  grass, dandylion, chive, nasturtium, coriander/cilantro, sunflower, calendula, borage (in the center of the old flower head) and fennel (the one in the middle is a stamen of a flower Alex found outside thinking it was a seed until closer examination).  These are just a few that we found in the yard.

Fall is also the time for bugs. 

Lots of bugs and bug like critters.    While we were on our seed hunt, Alex found this crazy caterpillar over by our fir tree. 

Terribly cool isn't he?  Right now, he is in a jar, looking to make a cocoon under a leaf at the bottom.  Hopefully it works out and the kids will have a moth or butterfly in a couple of weeks to release.  Crossing our fingers...

Cyan found a grasshopper today as well, and now the two bug like critters are hanging out next to each other in jars out on the BBQ (yes, outside. I am a mean mommy.) Logan was especially intrigued by the grasshopper and how it kept jumping in the jar. Hopefully, the poor thing survives my children's close examination.

The seasons are changing, and along with that, the leaves. 

This is about a month early for us, and it has been surprisingly cold lately, but sunny, and beautiful as well... so we'll take it. 

Friday, September 5, 2008

All my secrets revealed...

Someone asked me how I keep it all together with a toddler around my feet all day long. I felt the need to answer candidly, for that is really the only way us mamas can feel sane and normal.

None of my secrets are easy at this point. Logan spends a lot of time outside. He also spends a lot of time making controlled messes. Which is intense for me... but whatever. And whenever I get a free moment from explaining everything from Pre-Algebra to how to sound out 'we' for the 900th time (lol!) I read him books.

I have also employed a lot of Montessori tactics with him. Lots of time in his highchair putting beans from one small bowl to another with a spoon. Lots of banging on pots and pans.

Did I mention he is outside a lot?

He has his own clipboard with his own crayons that we get out at the start of the day when the kids are getting their daily work done, but that really doesn't ever (like ever) last more than 15 minutes.

Today he spent quite a bit of time sitting on his bouncy horse, eating M&M's, and watching Baby Einstein. Then, the biggest chore (because every time the tv is on it is like a black hole sucking the life out of my children's brains and sending them to another dimension) is keeping the kids from that side of the living area so we can actually get something done.

It isn't easy. That is for sure. And I don't worry about if my house is clean. And Logan is outside, a lot. I pretty much just never stop moving. I put him in the swing, give him a good push, and then run inside, where I explain, once again, how to get the sum of X in a division problem, then run back outside, usually with binky in hand, to give him another push, and continue to push him with my toes while I listen to a recitation of Cyan trying to read the, omg, most simple books in the world, which of course, she was way past 3 months ago, as she stutters and read as s-l-o-w-l-y as possible while my eyeballs are falling out, just to have Alex come out and say he doesn't understand.

Lots of deep breathing. But thanks for thinking I could have it all together. That makes me feel like I may not be crazy for trying this.

First days of school

Babies love school. All sorts of stuff they don't get to play with comes out...

"Hey, look mama! A blower!"

And the big kids like it because they get to do things like eat M&M's (after graphing all the colors) at 9am...

Write stories about Alien Lifeforms they made up, that just so happen to live on the moon...

And get done at 10:30 in the morning and go play hop-scotch on the back poarch.

Baby gets to join in that fun too.

Homeschool life is good.