Friday, March 22, 2013

Lesson Theme: Spring!

Are you ready for SPRING?
I don't know about you, but we kicked off the new season this week with some spring-ish activities.  :)

Searching for the first signs of spring?  Why not turn it into a game and have a scavenger hunt with an egg carton! I have seen this in a couple of places so far - here's one that uses pictures for clues and the one which inspired our own above!
I found these adorable bunnies at Hobby Lobby one year and knew they would be perfect for some math practice.  For this activity, I just had Miss A pretend she owned a bunny store and each day of the week, new bunnies were born.  She rolled the dice to figure out how many.  Speaking of bunnies...

Our leprechaun from last week apparently had one more trick up his sleeve - he snatched the tails from some rabbits!  Oh dear!

Never fear - Miss A is here!  Using the clues left behind by the mischief maker, she located all of the tails and returned them to their rightful owners.

This was fun to plan (I just knew I had to do something with cotton and bunny tails!)  and was inspired by the hiding bunny activity in Jolanthe's "Runaway Bunny" printables!

Spring just wouldn't be the same without some eggs hatching, right?

Some of you may remember our "Hatch a Story" activity from last year's spring related activities.  I decided to do something similar this year.  However, this time instead of words, I placed some spring related buttons in each one.  Miss A would open one per day and then write a story about what she found inside.  :)

This could easily be done with any number of other items - stickers, pictures, etc.  I just happened to have some spring buttons on hand that I bought years ago but had not put to good use (until now, of course).  ;)

We also used some plastic eggs to practice math facts and compound words.  (There are SOOOO many great ideas out there for using these plastic balls of creative potential such as this letter matching activity here.)

We dyed eggs with Kool-Aid - ya gotta love Pinterest!

This was SO easy to do!  Click this link to find the recipe.

Here is an easy customizable spring activity (use it for math facts, beginning/middle/ending sound words, parts of speech, letters, etc.) - AND it is FREE!!!  :)  See below for the link.

For Miss A, I used the paper to help her practice her math facts while Mr. J matched his eggs to letters he is learning.  See?  Easy to adapt for different ages and activities.  :)

No eggs?  No problem!  The eggs I used were cut out from scrapbook paper I bought and failed to use up.  However, you could make your own small eggs by coloring/cutting some on paper, or you could use egg stickers OR - I'd love to try this sometime - fingerprint some into the nest for a color and word matching idea (match red fingerprint eggs to the nest labeled with the word red, blue fingerprints into a nest labeled blue, etc.).

Download yours from my TPT store here!

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Lesson Theme: St. Patrick's Day

Anyone else notice some green-natured mischief around their homes this past week?  We sure did!  It started with someone dipping into our hot chocolate (although we apparently scared him off before he could finish his little green mug topped with green marshmallows) and leaving a bit of a mess behind. 

The trouble didn't end there though... 

We also apparently interrupted a bath about to happen in Miss A's sink!  And it looks like one of our green dusting cloths was going to serve as a towel.

A batch of muffins we were in the process of making turned green.

Miss A woke up one morning to find shamrock stickers in her hair and green toys collected and placed strategically around the living room.  Looks like our Leprechaun friend didn't think we had done enough to decorate for the green day.

No mistaking who was responsible for this little prank!  Thankfully, he was considerate enough to use washable markers so it came right off.

Near the end of the week - our orange bearded visitor seemed to have a change of heart and left the kids a sweet note of apology AND a gift:  some leprechaun magic porridge!   However, it didn't take long for us to see he couldn't resist playing at least one more little trick - we had to add one cup of milk to the porridge in order for us to see the magical results, BUT he only left us with a 1/3 cup measure!  Thank goodness we've had some practice with measurement and fractions!  ;)

The result was a delicious green concoction (pistachio pudding) which was greeted with much enthusiasm!  Yup, our household can definitely say that a leprechaun's magic porridge is pretty wonderful.

We recorded each day's mischief in our Leprechaun Detective Journal (download for FREE in my TPT store)!  

Based on what our leprechaun had been up to and what she had noted, Miss A devised a plan for catching him.  He was tricky, but Miss A was even more clever.

She determined he must like hot chocolate, green muffins, green baths, and shamrock stickers.  Armed with this knowledge, she set up a tempting little area for him - including a little house with a bath inside and shamrock stickers on the wall!  

AND IT WORKED!  She caught Dooligan again and he handed over his gold (chocolate coins).  :)

Here are a couple of other activities from our week:

A cute leprechaun measurement FREEbie found here.

And a path of shamrocks leading to a rainbow and pot of gold!  In order to get to the pot, Miss A had to answer all of the number fact questions.  

(This idea and the one for the magic leprechaun pudding/porridge came from a website full of neat ideas -see them here!)

And here is a peek at our breakfast:  leprechaun-sized green pancakes with rainbow whipped cream (I just swirled food coloring in the whipped cream) and a pot of edible gold (a cup wrapped in black paper and filled with yellowish fruit).

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Lesson Theme: Hot Chocolate!

The last few weeks of winter seemed to stretch out further than I wanted to plan.  Cold, cheerless...well, maybe I am being a bit overdramatic.  But cold, definitely cold.  A vision of hot chocolate kept coming to mind - wouldn't a cup of that be nice right now... I couldn't seem to shake the unbidden thought.  So I decided to meet it head on by incorporating the idea into a unit about said steaming mug of chocolatey goodness.   Could something so delicious be educational as well?  Yes, dear readers - it could...

Right about now you are probably thinking,  are those dice marshmallows?

I used food safe markers to write the numbers on the sides and tops of two miniature marshmallows (I think larger marshmallows might have been better but we didn't have any larger ones on hand).

If you have large marshmallows, consider drawing pictures or writing words on them to use for story dice.  :)

We used the dice for our "Roll the Ultimate Mug of Hot Chocolate" activity.  Once Miss A acquired all the pieces, she helped to glue them down and wrote number sentences for what she rolled.

If you homeschool or have permission to bring in the ingredients for making hot chocolate in your classroom, something extra fun would be to roll a REAL mug of hot chocolate.  I wanted to do this but didn't get it together in time - plus, we had more than enough hot chocolate this week on other days.  :)  One more cup might have been over the top...or brim...;)

We made two kinds of hot chocolate (one from scratch and one from a mix) and taste tested both.  Miss A wrote comparisons and contrasts and documented which one she liked the best.

She also helped me make the hot chocolate from scratch, so using the "First, Next, Last" model, I had her write down directions for how one makes the perfect mug of hot chocolate.

We also played an activity I came up with called "The Hot Choc Spot".  Just like chocolate and milk combine to make a great cup of hot chocolate, different parts of speech combine to make a great sentence, right?  :)  Here's what we did...

Miss A trained to become a Master Hot Chocolate Maker.  The training consisted of sorting hot chocolate related words into mugs for different parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives).

Once she did that successfully, I gave her a certificate documenting her ascension to the rank of Master Hot Chocolate Maker.

She then took a job at "The Hot Choc Spot" where she helped complete orders for parts of speech mixes (an order might be "1 verb, 2 nouns", and she would have to find a verb and two nouns from the hot chocolate words to fill the order).

As her "supervisor" who wanted to make sure she knew what she was doing, I had her write a sentence using the words from one of the orders.  She chose to make it a silly sentence which was fine - just as long as I could see she knew how to apply the words appropriately in a sentence.

Have you ever wanted to be a marshmallow bag checker in a factory?  Well Miss A had the opportunity this week to be one at The Marshmallow Factory.

Again, as her supervisor, I would write a number at the top of her work station (paper) for the day.  She would then have to check the marshmallow bags (I put the "marshmallows" on beforehand) on the paper to see if they equaled that number.

If they did not, she was responsible for adding or subtracting enough marshmallows to/from each bag so that the correct number for the day was achieved.  She also had to document her work by writing corresponding number sentences showing what she had done.

When she completed balancing all three bags successfully for the day, I would "pay" her wage for the day into a small bag to give her at the end of the week on PAY DAY.  Her wage for the day = one pink heart marshmallow.

By the end of the week, she had enough heart marshmallows collected to top off one very yummy mug of hot chocolate for our dessert night (see bottom of post)!

Speaking of marshmallows....

Miss A graphed some of the mini-colored ones and then used the answers to finish up some math sentences.

These little guys also came in handy for spelling and sight word practice!  :)

During the week, we also practiced some of our math facts by matching some "stir stick" (popsicle stick) math sentences to the answers on the mugs.

Each stick had two math sentences - one in black on one side and one written in blue on the other side.  We would do the black math sentences one day and switch to the blue ones on another day.

We also had some fun measuring two different types of stir sticks (peppermint and cinnamon) and making observations about what would happen to each one once placed in some hot chocolate!

We discovered what kind of hot chocolate toppings some people in our family prefer by using this Venn Diagram.  Download it for FREE here.

We used a mug picture I made to create a bar graph showing what kind of hot chocolate people in our home prefer (mix or homemade).  I guess you can tell what our family's preference was - no contest there!

Not only that, but we could again see what people's favorite toppings were on this graph based on how they decked out the top of their hot chocolate (added cotton for whipped cream OR white pom poms for marshmallows OR both).  :)

I LOVE how this picture turned out!  I had seen a cute art idea (link is here), and wanted to do something similar.  This unit seemed to fit right in so Miss A went to work painting, and I glued some mittens (found on clearance) to her painting for a multi dimensional effect.

For the final day of our hot chocolate unit, I surprised Miss A with a hot chocolate bar for dessert night!  I used the bar graph to determine what kind of hot chocolate to make for the family!

So, you see?  Educational AND delicious!

Many of the games and items I used for this theme are available in my TPT store under the Hot Chocolate Mini Activity Pack.

Speaking of hot chocolate...guess who paid us a visit!  We found a little green mug topped with green marshmallows on the counter (and a bit of a mess too).  Now I wonder who that could belong too?  Guess we must have surprised someone in mid slurp because it doesn't look like he finished much of his hot chocolate!

Time to put on our leprechaun-catching thinking caps before the mischief gets out of hand!  To help keep track of the clues our little green-loving troublemaker leaves behind, I created a Leprechaun Detective Journal.   If you have any leprechauns about that need catching, you might want to print this for your kiddos as well!  Download for FREE here.

BTW - Don't forget to snap up your FREE Educents (educational materials) gift certificate before they are no longer available prior to their launch in April!  Click here to go to my post with the link to the site.

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