Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Lesson Theme: Fall, Squirrels, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Time for me to play blog catch up!  Here are some fun things we did for the fall season!

We read about why leaves change color and made a simple book as a visual retelling aid.

I traced a leaf pattern onto paper and two plastic sheets (on top of it) as well, stapling all together.  The kids colored the leaf outlines on the plastic with green, while the leaf at the bottom reflected fall brilliance of their choice.  Then...

The kids pulled back the first plastic sheet (and green leaf) revealing a little more of the fall color beneath it and practiced explaining about the process of chlorophyll fading as the leaf detaches from the tree.  

They then pulled the final plastic sheet (and green leaf) away, leaving only the brilliant fall colors behind as they explained how a tree stores extra sugar in the leaves and the sun changes that sugar into pigment (which is hidden by the chlorophyll).  Fascinating stuff!   (FYI - there is a bit more to it than just that, but you get the general idea.)

A great book to consider for learning more about the process is "How Do Leaves Change Color?"  (see link below).

This was a writing activity we worked on together.

What would fall be without some fun mini pumpkins to decorate!

Squirrels took center stage for a while as well this season as you'll see below...

We tasted different nuts and graphed our favorites.  The squirrel markers are made of felt (each of us made one and placed it above our favorite nut).  :)

These are some acrylic candle gem acorns (?) that I found on clearance at Michaels.  These were great for sorting and counting activities!

We used REAL nuts to spell words...

create designs....

and make patterns! 

We also used the nuts to play a "finding game".  The kids were the squirrels, and I hid some nuts under the "ground" (a piece of paper).  To find their hidden nuts, the kids would turn over math fact cards, solve the problems, find those numbers on the ground, and dig through (I cut some slits in the paper to help) to find their nuts!  

This was a fun and easy craft we did together.  The kids used their fingerprints to make a squirrel and an acorn (details added with a pen or marker) on a small strip of paper.  I glued thin magnetic strips to the other side (one behind the acorn and one behind the squirrel), and voila.....

A MAGNETIC BOOKMARK!  :)  They turned out so cute - not to mention handy!
(For those unfamiliar with magnetic bookmarks, when you fold them over your page, the magnet snaps together - squirrel on one side and acorn on the other - holding your place on the page.)

This little guy was actually part of another unit but he fit in with squirrels so well (because he is one) that I added him to this post.  This is just a baby sock ( see, you CAN do something with those socks which are missing their matches) I turned into a squirrel puppet by cutting some holes for the fingers to fit through and adding wiggly eyes and a pom pom tail.  Our little friend was part of our reading area and helped the kids by turning pages, listening in, etc.

Last by not least, we made some of these little guys.  I printed out a squirrel picture online and we added felt to the tail to make it soft.  Pom poms would have been SOOO wonderful for this, but I didn't have enough in the right color, so I had to improvise.  They still came out cute though.  :)

What is that crazy stuff sitting in the bowl?!?

Well...it has to do with Thanksgiving.  :)  

My daughter still remembers when I had her pretend to be a Pilgrim.  She loved it so much that she wanted to do it again this year.  What can I say - it WAS fun (you can see more on that post here)!  So I surprised her yesterday morning with a Pilgrim girl costume and list of chores.  

But what does this have to do with the bowl?!

Well, that was one of our activities for the day - dying some cloth a different color using beets.  The cloth will be a little pinkish reddish washcloth for "Joyful" - a doll we are pretending is the family baby.

What other things did "Humility" (I love giving my kids new names when they pretend to be Pilgrim children) do yesterday?

She helped with dishes, took care of Joyful, cleaned the hearth, helped make "ink" (charred wood, mud, and water mixed together), used a quill and ink to complete some of her schoolwork, helped with laundry, cleaned walls, helped with the animals, helped clean up the kitchen and other rooms, practiced Pilgrim manners at meals, and helped dye cloth!  Whew - busy day, and tomorrow will be another one!  But she loved it!  :)

I leave you with a picture of "Humility" cleaning the hearth in her new Pilgrim attire.  


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Lesson Theme: Apples!

I know, I know - posting about apples in November?!?  Better late than never, right?  

I think we did this theme in September if that gives you any idea of how far behind I am in posting our thematic activities.   ;)  I believe we also stretched this theme over more than one week.  (I've been doing that with more than one theme lately too which is one reason you may not see items posted every week anymore.  I like to wait until we have finished up a theme before writing about it.)

Are you ready to see a few of the things we did?  Of course you are!

So sit back, relax, and pretend it is September - okay?  ;)

Here is a multi-dimensional chart I made to go along with an apple thematic packet I bought.  This is just an enlarged and embellished version of the chart in the activity pack.  :)  To make the apple, I basically just squished up some red tissue paper and glued it to the middle of my chart.

We tasted several different apples (how can anyone not with the astounding variety out there, right?), and I wrote down describing words the kids came up with for each category.

The kids then chose some words from our large chart and completed the smaller charts that came in the packet.  You can see one example of the small chart in the middle of the picture above.

The packet came with many other fun games, activities, a graph, etc. as well.  We spent a good amount of time just on the items in this packet.  Here is a link if you are interested in purchasing it.

Adjectives came in rather handy for another activity where we took turns hiding different apples inside a bag.  We would write three words that described the hidden apple on a small whiteboard.  The other people would then have a chance to read the words and guess which apple was in the bag.  

Miss A also spent some time using her investigative skills to find the different parts of an apple.

AND we practiced our fractions by reading the book "Apple Fractions" and doing some hands-on fraction work with our own apples.  We used this book last year, and I HIGHLY recommend it.  Not only is it informative, but I think it does a great job of illustrating fractions AND inserts a fun element by depicting little elves working hard at the process of dividing apples into the appropriate number of pieces.  

I was delighted with it last year and found myself delighted with it AGAIN this year (and folks, mathematics is not my thing so if a math book can charm me that much two years in a row - well, let's just say I think it is a worthwhile book to have in a homeschooling library).  There's a link below if you are interested in purchasing your own.

This was one of my favorite activities:  an apple collection book!  I printed out several poems, songs, etc. about apples from a site online, and the kids cut them out and pasted them inside pages of their books.

The cover was made from cardboard (maybe a box of cheddar bunnies?) and painted red.  I used a corrugated cardboard piece for the stem, and we completed the "apple" look with a leaf.

Ah, but perhaps the most fun part was the fuzzy green velvet (ribbon) worm we glued in the book to act as a bookmark - complete with wiggly eyes!  When the worm was not "working",  he could peek his little head out of the hole in the cover.  :)

We read stories about apples and looked at apple recipes.  We then chose a recipe from one of the books and made apple pie.  The picture above was a retelling activity of sorts where my little "chef" explained how we made our apple pie.

Speaking of apple recipes, we also made some of these delicious beauties.

And (in keeping with the charm of "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie") if you bake an apple pie and make caramel apples, chances are you'll need something to drink to go with it!

Happy "belated" September everyone!  :)