Thursday, February 28, 2013

Lesson Theme: Valentine's Day!

(Pretend this is February 14th) Happy Valentine's Day everyone!  ;)
Here are some snippets from our holiday theme...

We've been practicing fact families for subtraction so I made some fact families on heart doilies, cut them apart, and had Miss A figure out which ones went together.

This was a probability freebie from The First Grade Parade.  LOVE her site!  Very creative.  :)

We practiced symmetry by painting hearts on one side, folding them, and opening them up again.  As you can see, there was at least one heart where Miss A was getting a little carried away with painting and forgot about just doing one side.  :)

They turned out so pretty that I decided to string them up for some Valentine's Day decoration!

A while ago, I saw (wish I had pinned it!) an activity that was done using empty chocolate boxes.  Genius!  :)

While I cannot remember what the activity was or where I saw it - the idea stayed with me.  I loved the concept of using the empty boxes so much that I decided I would just have to come up with something on my own this year.  I cut out some brown paper circles, squares and rectangles for pretend chocolates.  On one side of each, I wrote things I wanted my kiddos to practice (math facts, spelling words, letters, etc.)  Using a blank heart with circles that I found here (with a different fun activity), I wrote the match of each chocolate on a circle.

Miss A and Mr. J enjoyed seeing what was on the back of their "chocolates" when turned over.  They would match the word or problem (the answer to the problem) to a circle on the heart paper which they then colored in.

Valentine picks to the rescue!  We used these as pointers!  :)

Of course, what would Valentine's Day be without a special love note or two?  It's the perfect time to practice letter writing skills!  :)

I set up a love letter writing center complete with heart stationary, envelopes (these had some pretend glittery heart stamps I drew in the stamp area), a bunch of different Valentine-ish pens/pencils in a fancy vase, and a mailbox.  I also included a cute printable I found that shows the parts of a letter so Miss A would have something to refer to when writing her letters - and write she did!!!  She LOVED it and encouraged others to use the center too.  :)

When the letters had been written and sealed, we dropped them in the pretend mailbox and Miss A helped me sort and deliver them into the appropriate individual household mailboxes the night before Valentine's Day.

Here's a picture of a couple of the cutest mailboxes we found at Target in the dollar section this year.  Perfect for stuffing with love letters!  :)

I also decided it would be neat to make a little fold-out heart book with Miss A.  I just love reading what she comes up with for activities where some of the writing is left up to her.

I had the book "Guess How Much I Love You" (see link below) in the back of my mind so this kind of goes along with that idea.  The heart book cover starts out with "I Love You" and then folds out with other pages continuing the thought (Miss A's responses in italics) "as long as ___(the world), as high as ___(the sky), as deep as___(the sea), as big as ___(a bear), as far as___(heven), as ___(nice) as ___(a flowr).

Here's how I made the book:  I cut out some hearts, wrote the text on one side of each (and added a border), glued them to a couple sentence strip pieces, folded it up, and tied it with a pink ribbon.

And now for my Valentine's gift to YOU!  :)  I finally bought a license and can now offer freebies I make!  Yippeee!  :)  I am pretty excited about that, and I hope you are too!

I have been working on a Hot Chocolate Mini Activity Pack (should be available in my TPT store soon) and decided to make one of the activity pages into a freebie that people could incorporate into a Christmas, Valentine's Day, or Winter theme.  Hope you LOVE it!  :)  Download it FREE here.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Gluten-Free Creme Brulee Chocolate Gingerbread French Toast

I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine's Day last week!  I thought I would share a delicious part of our special day with you - breakfast!

This was an experiment with two recipes:
Gluten-free Chocolate Gingerbread and Creme Brulee French Toast.

I just substituted the leftover Chocolate Gingerbread for the bread part in the Creme Brulee recipe to make a gluten-free treat that my mother-in-law could enjoy (she cannot have gluten)!!!

This was soooooooooo rich and soooooooooo good!  For those of you looking for an amazing gluten-free recipe to knock the socks off of your gluten loving friends - this may be just THE one!

I hope to post some of our homeschooling activities we did for Valentine's Day this weekend or early next week.  After the fact?  Yes!  It's never too early to bookmark or pin it for next year!  :)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

100th Day of School - Homeschool, That Is! ;)

Woo hoo!  Yesterday was the 100th day of our school year!  I must say I was a bit worried that we had missed it with all that has been going on at our home lately, but as I caught up on attendance/homeschool day records, I realized (JOY!) we hadn't passed that mark yet after all.   I even had a few days to quickly come up with some ideas...double JOY!

So being the Pinterest lover that I am, I headed that way for some inspiration.  Thank you once again Pinterest for helping to save the day (someone seriously needs to come up with a button saying "Pinterest to the rescue!"  Actually, they probably already have...and pinned it.  But I digress...).

Here's how the day went...

Miss A burst through a "100" sign when she got up in the morning (it was taped over the doorway).

A "100th Day" balloons and bear sign graced the table (a freebie that I colored).  I also added a little pizzazz to some breakfast muffins by sticking crazy candles on top.

We decorated more freebies - these ones for wearing: 100th Day of School hats and glasses.

One of our first activities involved a Smarties hunt to go along with the "Congratulations - you are 100 days smarter!" note.  I had the kids use spoons (although at the end they switched to hands) to dig through the mix of cereal in a pan and then place the Smarties on a hundreds number chart.  

Once all the goodies had been recovered, it was time to practice some other words:  time to indulge those watering, patient little mouths.  You must admit, it is kind of amazing that all the Smarties actually made it onto the chart!

Then it was time for a weighing activity.  Notice that I posted this even though I was the only thing listed as weighing more than 100 pounds.  I'm not sweating it, but I DID have Daddy add his name to the list when he arrived home.

Snack time was an extra special affair - a make-your-own 100th day snack mix with some little surprise treats included (like M&M's).  I gave Miss A a paper on which to record the groups of ten items each as she counted them out from the ten paper plates to reach the big 1-0-0.  

Yummmm - definitely a hit!  :)

And knowing what the snack was going to be, I chose to do this activity afterwards to use up that sugar.  "How wise of you, Michelle" you might be tempted to think - but hold that thought...  

I suddenly realized that I was going to be roped into doing most, if not all, the exercises as well - why I didn't plan for this when I was coming up with exercises is beyond me.  BUT, I made it through our little workout - thinking more than once how this part or that part of my body would probably be sore later on...

This was another activity we found time for during the day, AND it was another freebie (find it here).  :)  I LOVE Miss A's responses - definitely going in the memory box!   Some of you may already know how to read Childrenish, but for those who have yet to discover the pleasure, here's a key for some of my favorite words/phrases:
"bracking throo a sin" = breaking through a sign
casols = castles
hawis = houses
noospaprs = newspapers
pickchurs = pictures
yun = young

I also like how her "this is what I look like today" and "this is how I think I will look in 100 years" pictures look the same except for the size.  Obviously, she would be more grown up in 100 years.  ;)

After that activity, we spent a very brief amount of time discussing aging and the elderly.  So this was how she made herself look in this picture showing her as a 100 year old woman.  

Another fun phrase completion:  "When I am 100 years old,  I will be too old to put up wreaths."  Cracks me up.  Definitely not what I would have written or thought of, but that is the beauty (and cuteness) of such open-ended possibility questions.

Well off to bed and then on to Valentine's Day activities...

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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Lesson Theme: Winter and Snowmen!

I had planned to post this a while ago, but we had a critical family emergency almost two weeks ago and it is still an ongoing situation.  Some family members flew in and are staying with us - at this point, we just have to wait and pray.  

Needless to say, my attention has been focused elsewhere a majority of the time, but today I have a few moments to spare and thought I would hop on here and post this.  Keep in mind a good chunk of this was written much earlier in the month...

We've spent quite a few days on our winter activities in school.  Hope you are "snow" (cheesy, but I couldn't resist) excited to see what we've been up to...

With winter things on the mind, a visit to the Snow Fairy Shop was in order.  Miss A could pretend to be a snow fairy buying snowflakes to scatter across a winter scene.  Great practice for money and double digit number addition!  

The snowflakes she purchased, she later added to a winter coloring page we found online and printed (she could pretend to be a snow fairy causing it to snow on her picture).

Another great winter activity - building snow forts!  The forts will hopefully grow as we come up with more word snow bricks to add to the appropriate forts.  

I saw this here and thought it was such a cute idea that I decided to make one for Mr. J to play with after reading the story "Katy and the Big Snow".   (The buildings are just empty boxes - cereal, crackers, etc. - with a piece of paper on the front.  Very cheap to make, and your city can grow all week long depending on what you have finished up for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.)

And what is winter without the occasional snowball fight?  For practicing our number facts, Miss A would choose a number sentence paper, figure out the answer, crumple it up and then throw it at the appropriate face (the answers below each head match the number sentence snowballs).  

To make this, I slipped each of the faces into a sheet protector and put a bunch of double stick tape on the front in hopes that the snowballs would stick when they hit the faces.  Sadly, they didn't, so we went to Plan B...

Plan B:  If Miss A hit the appropriate face, she could then pick up the paper and press it onto the face.  Doing this often worked out better for having the snowballs stick to the faces at least for a few minutes.  If we do this activity again next year, I think we should try using tissue paper snowballs instead which I think would stick a lot better to the tape.  Anyways, it was fun just to toss the snowballs at the correct faces.

Snowflake fact matching was another way of practicing our math facts.  Just connect the number sentences to the correct answer to make a snowflake.

We also practiced a bit of symmetry using snowflakes.  I would give Miss A half of a snowflake and some q-tips and she would have to finish it by creating the other half on the other side.

I gave Miss A a few seconds to hunt for words in the "snow" and gather as many as she could.  She then used the words she collected to write a story in her journal.  She did such a good job using them all!

Catching snowflakes on your tongue is overrated - why not catch them with your mitts instead?  I wrote words on some foam snowflakes we had, and we first sorted the snowflakes by NOUNS, VERBS, and ADJECTIVES.   We then gathered them together, and I threw them in the air a couple of times.  The ones which Miss A caught, she used to come up with some sentences and write them into her journal.  

I saw this cute snow globe activity, and just knew I wanted to try to make our own!  After Miss A finished her snow globe scene, we pretended she lived in a snow globe and had to answer the questions about her life inside.  It was cute to see what she came up with...

Using small plastic cups, we tried to see how high we could stack them (no glue) to make a snowman - we then used my son's new measuring tape to practice measuring the height.  I believe the record to beat was 27.5 inches.  :)

We are supposed to be practicing fact families on a daily or almost daily basis.  Because of our winter theme, I decided to sneak a snowman into the process.  I made him with scrap paper and slipped him inside a clear plastic sleeve - that way I can continue to write the facts on the snowman and erase the whole thing after Miss A is done writing her math sentences for the day.  The next day, I can just write a new fact family on the snowman (I try to write the smallest number on the top and go in descending order with the biggest number on the biggest snowball at the bottom).  

Side note:  I can see using this to practice making three letter words as well!

We also came up with a simple dessert to go along with our chilly theme - see more about our Snow Bars here.

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