Tuesday, May 31, 2011

HOMESCHOOL - Alphabet Snack

This week we are finishing up an alphabet book we began around the beginning of this school year.  It is a pretty neat book and I hope to post one or two pictures of it later this week.  Thus, to go along with that "theme", I made my daughter an alphabet snack/lunch!  Here are the details:
ABC apple - apple with the appropriate parts carved out.
Letters around plate edges - melted chocolate piped out of a decorating bag.
Muffin cup #1 - graham cracker letters (carved these carefully with a knife - not too hard actually).
Muffin cup#2 - yogurt with remaining chocolate letters on top.
Muffin cup #3 - peanut butter for dipping.
Exclamation mark garnishes - fruit roll-ups.

For more inspiration, check out the muffin tin mom website or Jill Dubian's blog www.meetthedubiens.com.  (I believe I have these links posted under Homeschool - helpful links and sites).

Sunday, May 29, 2011

HOMESCHOOLING - Hatching Words/Stories Jar

You may have seen my post from earlier this week in which my daughter and I built a bird's nest. Although rather lovely, it is also a bit large to be sitting on my desk or the mantel or wherever else my daughter might have chosen for its new home at the moment. Enter brilliant solution: the Hatching Words Jar! Here's a picture of what we used:

We recreated the nest, only much smaller, inside an empty baby food jar.  To add to the understanding of how long it takes a bird to build a nest, I had my daughter use tweezers (pretending it was a bird beak)  to pick up pine needles, sticks, etc., placing them in the jar.  She seemed to get a kick out of the process - not tiring as quickly as I thought she might!  We formed some eggs from white playdough and she colored them with markers, adding them to the cozy nest as well.  HOWEVER, this time we did not end the project there.  Brainstorming words connected to the bird theme (a great review of words we had heard, used, or learned of), we came up with a list which I typed up and then cut out.  As a very gentle introduction into the world of verbs and nouns, I drew two circles on a piece of paper and labeled them "nests" - one being action and the other being things.

We sorted the words together into the appropriate nests, discussing why a certain word might fit better in one spot versus another.  Finally, I helped her glue all the thing/noun words to the jar itself and all the action/verb words to the lid.  So now she has, not only a great reminder of the theme for this week, but also a jar covered in bird-related words which she can use as story starters, science review (explaining to people how a word relates to the bird theme), or spelling help when writing about birds in her story journal!  :)

P.S.  For slightly older students, you might discuss the value of the noun and verb relationship.  You might point out how a lid without a jar or a jar without a lid would not be be as helpful as the two combined together.  So, a noun without a verb or vice versa just doesn't have as much use as when they work together to create a sentence.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Lunch Fit for the Birds!!

This was a lunch I made for my daughter in honor of our bird theme this week and utilizing silicone muffin cups!  :)  Want more inspiration for future lunches?  Take a look at the submissions on the Muffin Tin Mom website (http://www.michellesjournalcorner.blogspot.com).  AND/OR here's a mom that does an awesome job of serving up snacks/lunches with a HUGE dose of creativity:  http://www.meetthedubiens.com/ (click on the Fun Food Friday link and prepare to be amazed!).  I hope to come up with further fun lunches and snacks of our own to go along with themes throughout the year so keep checking in to see what we whip up in our kitchen!  :)  Lunch details below.

Lunch Fit for the Birds:
Bird head - peanut butter and jelly sandwich with fruit roll up eyes (and berry in the middle) and a cheese slice beak.
caterpillars - fruit roll up and details added with a food marker.
Ant - grape
Food to feed our baby bird (and tot) - blackberries, cut up carrots, and grapes
Garnish - cheerios

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

HOMESCHOOL - Bird Theme - Build Your Own Bird's Nest

When I asked my daughter if there was anything she would like to learn about before we wrap up our year of school - she surprised me by saying she wanted to learn about birds.  Naturally, when one thinks of the fascination of children with birds - one eventually ends up thinking of nests and eggs.  Sooooo, after learning about some specific birds that my daughter was interested in and the different ways they each built nests, we decided to build one of our own to jumpstart this week's theme.  :)  We went outside and gathered items that a bird would use to make a nest (twigs, pine needles, grass) and turned this:

into this:

The eggs are made of blue playdough and speckled with brown marker.  The white stuff is toilet paper - in our learning about birds making nests, it was noted that some use trash in their nests - and we wouldn't want our nest to stand out from a real bird's nest because of such an omission, thus trash was added.  I guess in this case we could definitely say that "one man's trash is another man's - uh..er, bird's - treasure".  :)
May you be inspired to go out and build a nest of your own now - complete with trash.  :)

Monday, May 23, 2011

HOMESCHOOL - Ladybug Theme Part 3 - The Grouchy Ladybug Folder

 This is one of the fun activities (part of our ladybug theme) we worked on after reading "The Grouchy Ladybug" by Eric Carle this past week. We "extended" the story a bit by making our own additional pages! I simply made a page with appropriate text as in the book itself but left parts blank. My daughter decided what animals she would like to draw and what they would show the ladybug which might seem scary to it. Together, we added the text after she finished her drawings. HOWEVER - we left the "time" part blank on purpose. Then I slipped the pages into plastic sleeves and let my daughter fill in the time portions with a dry erase marker (unless you have the kind which is washable, watch your child carefully while they do this!). This way, if she would like to change the times later on - she can. Or if I would like to use these pages for more practice on telling time to the hour or half hour or whatever, I can easily go back, tell her a time to write in the blank and show on the clock, and she can complete it.

Fun variation: Use your child's thumbprints for the ladybug part of the drawing! :) We did not do this, but I think it would be an adorable idea. :)

Close up of one of the pages.  I found a blank clock picture/insert here:  www.lucylearns.com/printable-clock-face.html


Thursday, May 19, 2011

HOMESCHOOL - Ladybug Theme Part 2 - Puppet and Folder Game


Part of our ladybug theme for the week focused on the anatomy of ladybugs. My daughter has recently shown a fondness for making puppets soooooo I came up with a way to incorporate both puppets and simple ladybug anatomy.

Ta -Dah! Meet our ladybug puppet, complete with elytra (outer hard part of ladybug) and inner fragile wings (see puppet opened up below). Now we have, not only another puppet for dramatic play purposes, but a reminder of some basic ladybug parts.
Can't do it? Too much expense - you say? Take heart, young friends! If you have an empty cereal box, some paper, a couple of brads, and a clear plastic lid left from an empty container (like cool whip or oatmeal), you too can create this beauty! Here's how:

1. Trace around your plastic lid - both on the paper and on the cardboard (I think we used an empty cereal box or cake box). Draw a little circle shape at the top of your circle on the CARDBOARD only - this is the head.

2. Cut out cardboard circle and attached head. Cut out circle on red paper (or just do it on white and have your child color the white part red later on).

3. Cut both the plastic lid and the red lid in half (can we say "mini-lesson on simple fractions" here?)

4. Let your child color the cardboard and head piece, black.

5. Let your child color dots on both sides of the red wings (another possible mini-lesson in symmetry).

6. Poke holes in both the red wings and white plastic wings and cardboard (make sure you line them up first and poke through them all at once - or mark them and poke through each individually).

7. Fasten these pieces together with a brad.

8. Cut out six legs and two antenna from black paper (or color some white paper black) and glue to ladybug (legs underneath and antenna to the head).

9. Color eyes on ladybug (or add wiggly eyes or black dots from a hole punch).

10. Cut a cardboard strip (or use a small piece of elastic if you have it) and staple/glue it to the underside of the ladybug for a handle.


Ladybug Math Folder - How to play:

1. Place your "bugs"/aphids on the plant side of folder.

2. Drop the ladybug on top of bugs (velcro side down) and give a light tap (helps to ensure that the bugs are securely fastened to the velcro).

3. Pick up ladybug and look at underside to see how many bugs the ladybug ate for breakfast. Using a dry erase marker or crayon - write that number in the first blank of one of the math sentences on the opposite side of the folder.

4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 to see how many bugs the ladybug had for dinner and write that number in the second blank of the math sentence.

5. Count the total number of aphids/"bugs" eaten by the ladybug that day and record in the third blank (after the "=" sign).

6. Continue this until all the math sentences have been filled in! :)

7. Note: you could easily make this be a review of the days of the week by writing in a day of the week above or next to each math sentence. The child could then respond at the end of the game "On Monday the ladybug ate 5 aphids. On Tuesday it ate 3 aphids. On Wednesday..., etc."

Ladybug Math Folder - How to make one:

1. Draw and color a plant (or have child do so) on one side of the folder. On the other side, staple a clear plastic sleeve (find these in an office store or office section of a store like Walmart).

2. Place your fill-in-the-blank worksheet inside the plastic sleeve (I made ours but perhaps you could find something you like in a workbook).

3. Cut out little "bugs" from green or yellow felt. Cut out a ladybug shape from stiff red or orange felt (find in a craft store) and add details with a permanent black marker.

4. Turn the ladybug over and glue/stick velcro pieces to the underside (use stiff part of velcro - not soft part of velcro).

5. Lift up the plastic sleeve on the side of your folder and staple a small plastic sandwich size bag to the folder underneath for storing the ladybug and "bugs".

6. PLAY!!!! :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

HOMESCHOOL - Ladybug Theme Part 1

My daughter has recently shown a real interest in those charming little spotted (sometimes not) insects known affectionately as "ladybugs". Thus, I decided to have that be our theme this week! The picture above is of her afternoon snack (see bottom of post for snack details).

I hope to post at least a couple more activities/ideas for this theme sometime later in the week so keep checking in or become a follower. :)

Today we:

- Used a ladybug pointer during calendar time (see it in the picture above? Basically just a pencil topper which easily becomes a pointer when necessary).
- Looked at a website online to learn about ladybug parts: http://www.ladybug-life-cycle.com/ladybug-anatomy.html
- Watched a video on YouTube showing the life cycle of ladybugs.
- Used a magnifying glass to examine some dead ladybugs I had found outside our door (unfortunate for them to have died, but how fortunate that they chose to do so on my doorstep).
- Used those same ladybugs and magnifying glass to complete some fun worksheets. Find some good ones here: http://www.earthsbirthday.org/more-bugs/ladybugs/
- Had a fun ladybug snack!

Snack Details:

Ladybugs - Grape tomatoes halved. Half a chocolate chip for head. Black food coloring spots and details.
Leaves - spinach
Sun - american cheese slice
Raincloud and raindrops - mayo with blue food coloring
Flowers (not shown) - grapes and cheerios

If you want to see some REALLY creative ideas for snacks - check out this blog in her Fun Food Friday section and prepare to be inspired! :) http://www.meetthedubiens.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

HOMESCHOOL - Starfall website - bookmark it!!


Bookmark it, favorite it, whatever - just somehow mark it if you homeschool young children. This is an incredible site and FREE! Just go check it out and you will see why I lOVE, luurve, heart it!

If your children can use a mouse, they will be able to navigate this easily on their own. Not only does the site promote great alphabet and reading skills with little interactive online books and games, it has tools to help the children if you are unable to at the moment (such as when you have your hands in raw meat trying to make hamburger patties). Many of the books will help your children sound out words if they click on a word they don't know how to read. Click on the pictures and you may be pleasantly surprised to find that the character will do something animated for you. The variety of books is wonderful - some just fun little stories, some science, seasonal, etc. AND they have musical excerpt areas as well which are cute and well done!

Bottom line - treat yourself and your kids to this website and I think you will be so glad you did!!! :)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

HOMESCHOOL - Painting (with shaving cream) and Spring "Showers"...

So I came across the cutest idea on this blog: http://meetthedubiens.blogspot.com/
Paints made from shaving cream and food coloring! Jill from the blog above, used them with her kids in the bath. However, I decided to change it up a bit and make it part of one of my daughter's workboxes for homeschool.
Since we have been learning about Spring, I decided to let her paint a picture of things we discussed we might see during that season. I purchased a simple white plastic shower curtain (liner?) at Walmart (I think this was only about $3) and set her loose with a brush and containers of lavish, foamy paint. She enjoyed herself (I mean, come on - wouldn't you? I know I felt eager to jump in and help when she asked for it)- painting a sun, sky, flowers, and a tree (and even tried mixing some colors together to make new shades) .
She wanted to put a nest in the tree, but we had no brown paint - so I suggested we build a small one of our own. She happily agreed and proceeded to do so with sticks and leaves. Then for the final touch - she used our spray hose to pretend to be a sudden spring rain shower and washed the paint away (um, if you try this at home - expect your kids to get wet. Oh, and you might get a little wet too. Pre-school rain showers are rather unpredictable...).

Spring picture - sun, sky, flowers, tree, and that little pile of sticks and leaves on the tree is the improvised "nest" my daughter made - complete with eggs (leaves) and a mommy bird on top of the eggs (another leaf on top). Sorry the entire painting is a bit hard to see - it was a gorgeous day for painting outside but maybe not so great for taking pictures on a bright white background with the sun reflecting brilliantly off of it (can you hear my camera screaming "Agh! My eye---my lense! My lense!").

Spring "showers" simulation - washing away our paint. Who says cleaning up can't be fun?

Recipe for Shaving Cream Paints:

1. One can of shaving cream

2. Food coloring

Directions: Just mix the two together (at least that is what I did) and have fun!


Monday, May 2, 2011

HOMESCHOOL - create your own handwriting practice sheets - website links

I love free print your own handwriting sheet sites! Why?
A. I decide what I want my children to practice writing. Then I just type it in and press print!
B. It's free! :)
For those of you out there who are just beginning to homeschool or maybe only thinking about taking that leap - here are some sites that might help you get started in the writing department. These are easy and free to use (at least they are right now):

P.S. If you know of any other great FREE create-your-own handwriting sheet sites, please drop me a note and I will check into it and perhaps add it to the list above. :)