Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Happy day-before-Thanksgiving!  :)  Here are a few pictures of things we did this month:
The little surprise my kids found on their desks the first school day in November.

I created a cranberry bog of sorts in my bathtub and the kids had a blast pretending to harvest cranberries.  Prior to this activity, they watched some short online videos about the process.

I made a featherless turkey and the kids had fun creating feathers for him out of pattern blocks.
We used the same turkey when I sent my son on a sight word hunt (inspired by this post).  His job was to collect the missing feathers, tell me the words, and add them to the turkey.
This was a picture my daughter drew by looking at a picture in a book.  We then glued goldfish to the paper showing how the Pilgrims learned about planting fish with their seeds (inspired by this post).
We also enjoyed hours of pretend play after reading about the Pilgrims.  Our Mayflower was made using two folding tables and a brown vinyl tablecloth.  The mast was a tall box wrapped in more brown vinyl and fitted with a makeshift PVC pipe frame to which we attached our white vinyl tablecloth sail.  We used a sound machine with "storm" and "ocean" sounds on it to make the journey seem more realistic as well.

Here is "Humility" mixing medicine made from real sage leaves, cornmeal, and lard (vegetable shortening was what we had on hand). 

This was our own little settlement complete with fence, fire, garden patch and house.  :)  Isn't it so fun looking?  If I had had more time, I probably would have tried to figure out how to add thatch to the roof.  Oh well.  The main thing is our little Pilgrims looooved playing in here with their babies, fixing leaks, hunting, etc.

I leave you now with a photo of the mini Thanksgiving feast that our kids and their little friend enjoyed together at their settlement.  Our homemade bread is spread with homemade butter!  Yes, I know there is controversy about popcorn and whether it was truly offered that first Thanksgiving - but we opted to have it.  :)

Side note:  Instead of plates, Pilgrims used trenchers.  I really wanted to find some trenchers but eventually had to settle for buying some mini cutting boards (see picture above) instead.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Pumpkins! Pumpkins! Pumpkins!

Happy November!  I am taking a break from building the Mayflower in our dining area.  :)  Actually, I think I can say it is ready to go for pretend play tomorrow - and it isn't that grand - just something rigged up with some plastic tablecloth and boxes, etc.  I have nothing to show you yet in that department via photos, but I DO have some things to share that we did in October this year.

By the way, I loooove October!  It is a "breathe"r month for me as we leave behind the craziness attached to the beginning of school and family events.  :)  Plus, fall is my favorite season so October gives us a chance to enjoy it before the holidays begin.

Here are some snippets from our month...

I apologize in advance for the poor quality of pictures - I am still having trouble figuring out our new computer.
 A pumpkin surprise on each child's desk to welcome the new month!   We carved these into mini jack-o-lanterns which the children kept on their desks until rot dictated otherwise.

Miss A practiced her square roots by building pumpkin patches with orange inch squares.

Then it was time for a real life application when I had the kids build their own pretend pumpkin patch.  Miss A practiced her problem-solving skills and area equation when planning how big we might want to make the patch if each pumpkin needed roughly one floor square to grow.

The green math problem post-it notes on the floor corresponded to "seeds" containing the answers.  To plant a seed, the kids would place the correct seed (answer) under the post-it note.  I tried to make sure there were age appropriate items for both Miss A and Mr. J during the week so each could enjoy preparing our patch.

At times I would have a math review involved with parts of the patch such as the seed activity and the one shown above where the kids had to remove the "weeds" (incorrect math problems) from the pumpkin sprouts (correct math problems).

Other times, they just had fun engaging in pretend play and using their wonderful imaginations!

At night I would "help" our pumpkin patch along so it changed almost every day that week.

These were some jack-o-lantern faces made with pattern blocks (I believe one has an eye patch).

Note:  we've also done something similar in the past with black paper pattern blocks - I just traced pattern blocks onto black paper and cut them out.  This gave more of the illusion of a true jack-o-lantern face, but it is more time consuming to prepare.  

These pumpkin gems (acrylic?) frequently come in handy when we study pumpkins!  This year we used them to practice more patterns.

Bingo is a game my children really enjoy.  Here we incorporated it using math (youngest would place a "pumpkin" pom pom on the number that was called out while the eldest would find the matching math fact on her corrugated cardboard patch).

We also played bingo using words associated with pumpkins (not shown).  I drew pictures to go along with the words for my youngest so he could play along.

Mr. J practiced making sight word pumpkin patches.  We then placed those patches in a pumpkin story that he read aloud to different people.  :)

We created a pumpkin field collage complete with clothespin people and typed stories/poems to go along with their pictures.  Notice my four year old found particular enjoyment in experimenting with the "shift" key.  :)  I helped him a little bit with his story - especially reminding him to add spaces between words.  I think he did an awesome job!  And I LOVE my daughter's cute poem!  :)

We also integrated a little statistics into our morning routine by seeing what kind of pumpkin we'd come up with each day for our calendar.

And speaking of pumpkins, I hope you are enjoying the beautiful season as you watch your own little "pumpkins" learn and grow this year!  :)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Homeschool Theme: Apples!

September was apple month, and I started it off by leaving this little treat and note on each child's desk the first school day in September.   It is a tradition I hope to keep up - welcoming each month with a little something for the kids in the school room.  :)

In addition to those below, I had some other activities I wanted to take pictures of.  However, it quickly became apparent that if I waited too much longer, it might be November before the post was up.  Thus, I decided to just make do with the pictures I have.

Bobbing for apples!  I would call out a sight word and my youngest would find the word and "bob" for that apple.  He did not use his teeth but scooped the apples out with a utensil.  However, if you are feeling ambitious, your kids could use their teeth.  

My eldest also wanted a turn so I adapted the activity to one of her subjects.  I would call out an English word, and she had to "bob" for the apple with the matching Latin translation.

Additional possibilities for this game could be bobbing for apples containing certain letters, matching sounds, numbers, math facts, vocabulary (just call out a definition and the child finds the matching word apple), etc.  BTW - the apples are simply circles cut out of red craft foam.

I honestly can't remember where I found this handy green apple "thing" (ice cube tray?) - maybe Target last year?  I wrote numbers inside with a wet erase marker and my son had to place the correct number of "seeds" inside each apple (we used beans because I did not have apple seeds ready).

I saw this activity on a website years and years ago and thought it was cute.  I made it for my daughter when she was young and now my little man gets to enjoy it as well!  The green pipe cleaners are little worms that he had to match up with the holes on each apple.

We also practiced sorting good and bad apples.  My daughter would look under each "apple" for a spelling word.  Some words I spelled correctly and some incorrectly.  It was her job to sort each into  the appropriate pile based on the spelling of the word.

This was another sorting activity for pronouns (subject, possessive, object of).  My daughter would push the word worms through the correct apple hole.

Apple bingo is a great homeschool activity because children of different skill levels can all participate together.  For our family, I would call out a number and my youngest would find that number on his tree (covering it with a pom pom "apple"), while my eldest and her friend would find the math fact which matched the "answer" I called out and cover it on their trees.

We also used one of the same trees to practice making our sight word for the week!

Even if you don't live near an orchard, you can still pick apples!  I used a green vinyl tablecloth for the top of the tree (they run about $1 or $1.50 in the Walmart party section).  The trunk was made from wrinkled up packing paper and the apples were cheap red paper plates (I think they were about $1 as well - found in the Walmart party section).

This is another excellent activity for more than one age/skill level.   We used it for more math fact practice.  I would call out an "answer" (ex. 6), and my daughter and her friend would pick the apple with the matching math fact (ex. 4+2).  My youngest would find and pick that number (6) from his tree.

Who knew caramel apple cups could be educational?  These were a take-home treat the day we had homeschool friends over to celebrate an "apple" theme with activities, games, a craft, etc.  The kids each received one so they could make their own caramel apple at home while learning about liquids and solids, the different processes of changing one form to another (melting, cooling), etc.

Additional activities which I don't have pictures for:

- An artist study of some of Cezanne's paintings of apples (followed by an activity where the kids were given the opportunity to draw their own picture)

- An adorable 3-D apple (life cycle) book my friend purchased on TPT

- apple tasting (unusual kinds) and graphing

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Leaping Into a New School Year!

The sign above says it all!  Fredrickson Academy is back in session.  :)

Before I show you more of our frog themed first day and week, here is a quick peek at what our morning board looks like this year...

We've changed a few things - removing items we didn't use as much and adding new things like my son's star (sight) words and the Pledge of Allegiance.

Don't you LOVE our handprint alphabet?  If you'd like to make your own, we found most of our ideas on this blog.  :)

And YES!  That is a new homeschooling fiction book in our reading corner.  I quickly whipped one up to go along with our first day of school and our frog theme.  More on that further below in the post.

Here is another exciting addition to our classroom.  We have our very own candy machine now!  :)

Did I ever mention we have our own hospital in our homeschool room- a pencil hospital to be exact.  When pencils get broken, we can drop them off at the hospital to be healed (sharpened) when the electric sharpener is brought out.

My kids each have a paper above their desks listing ways they can earn money towards a turn at the candy machine.  They earn pennies for great assignments, cleaning up, etc.   Once they have 25 pennies, they trade them in for a quarter and a sweet reward!

I can't remember if I posted about this before so I'll post the idea again just in case - it is so cute it deserves a second mention anyway. 

Every homeschool room needs a good jail, right?  ;) Ours is made from a plastic protector sheet, and the bars have been drawn on the front with a permanent marker.

The jail is where we put commonly misspelled words or perhaps repeatedly missed math facts.  To remove a word or fact from jail, one must be able to successfully spell or repeat the math fact (or perform some other form of "bail").  I was inspired to make this because of another blogger's post here

Okay, okay - let's hop to it and get on with the first day theme!  ;)

Here's our breakfast table, complete with "lily pad" plates.  Each child's chair also had a sign proclaiming that spot his/her lily pad seat.

Each child received two bookmarks (these are available as part of a homeschool packet in my TPT store), a frog pencil, and mini frog.

What did we have for breakfast?  Fly pancakes (chocolate chip pancakes) and cattails (sausage), of course!  ;)

Since we're on the topic of food, I should also mention that for a snack later on each child had blue (pond) jello with a gummy frog on top.  

With breakfast over, the kids literally hopped into the school room via lily pads on a pond made from cheap vinyl blue tablecloths.  

The frog is holding party blowouts (those curled up red things you blow into and they uncurl) which were GREAT for frog tongues!  My kids really loved running (or should I say hopping) around with these. I can't take credit for this idea though- I saw how someone had used them on a frog craft and knew I wanted them to be a part of our big day.

Here is what greeted the kids on the other side of the door - lots of blue balloons!  Hey, a pond has to be fun, right?  

I also made each of my kiddos a giant lily pad (not shown) to sit on during our morning meeting time.  I simply cut these out of a cheap green vinyl tablecloth, and the kids were pretty pleased with the results!  It isn't every day you get your very own giant lily pad to sit on, ya know!

Homeschool Elf strikes again!  The reproducible pattern of Homeschool Elf can be found inside "The First Day of Homeschool" book (see link below).

Part of the morning included our fun treasure hunt tradition of following clues left behind by the little mischief maker himself.  The kids finally found him and their missing school supplies hidden in a kitchen cabinet (the presents are wrapped up school supplies - unwrapping gifts just seems to add to the excitement of the first day of school).

BTW - the frog M&M container was super easy to make.  Just add two pom poms and wiggly eyes.

What's a first day without a good book to go with it, right?  We read "The First Day of Homeschool" (see link below) AND this new book to begin our day...

Note:  These are not all of the pages of the book - just a snippet.

Without getting into too much detail, the story tells of a frog who decides he wants a homeschool (although he doesn't know what one is) and follows your family home one day in hopes of finding a homeschool of his very own. 

What?!?  Our family?

Yep.  Your family.  I inserted blanks throughout the story for parents to insert their family's name and individual children's names as well so that the children become characters in the story.  

My kids loved hearing their names as we read together!  :)  

After following your family home, Mr. Hop-a-lot finds himself among items he assumes must be pieces of a homeschool.  He attempts to build with them, eat them, and even wear them!

Finally your children walk in on him and put an end to his confusion and silly behavior by telling him what a homeschool REALLY is.   I included blanks on that page so you can add your children's own words to the story explaining this concept.

As you can see from the final page above, the story ends on a very happy note with your children inviting him to come live with the family.  The delighted frog agrees, and they all homeschool happily ever after.

The book is simple, fun, and only $1.75!  Just download, print, and bind - we had ours comb-bound at an office supply store for only $1!  It is part of a packet I made which includes the frog bookmarks and sign shown in the breakfast pictures above AND the Venn diagram below.  Ready to download?  Click here.  

P.S.  If you find any errors in the story, please feel free to let me know.  I was trying to finish this in time for our first day so my editing efforts may not have caught everything.

With so many back-to-school books available that involve a classroom setting, I thought it might be interesting to compare school and homeschool settings, so I created this Venn diagram to do just that.

Remember the pond from the first day of school?  Well, I decided to put those lily pads to further use.  The kids were supposed to hop from one lily pad to the other and tell me the math fact answer or letter stuck to the lily pad.

For this activity, the green plates were considered lily pads.  Each time my son could tell me a letter name correctly, I would let him place a frog sticker on top of that letter.   

This was our frog life cycle project.  I found several of the items we used for it by searching in our pantry (those eggs are dry chickpeas).  We painted them, discussed the different stages, and put them in order to show the life cycle of a frog.

My kids love sticky hands!  Because of this well known fact, I knew they probably wouldn't need any convincing to try this game.  ;)

They were supposed to be the frogs, and the sticky hands were their tongues.  They would roll the dice, find the corresponding numbered fly, and try to catch it using their sticky hand/tongue.  

Mr. J was reviewing the alphabet this week so I used these colored frogs for some ABC practice.  We put them in order first.  I would then hide one frog, and he had to guess which one was missing and find it.

Last year we had caterpillars for class pets.  This year I TRIED to get a tadpole, but it didn't work out.  However, I came up with the next best thing (or something fun at least) - paper pets!  :)

The terrariums are plastic sleeves with a paper inside.  Each child decorated the paper in a way they felt would make a great habitat for their frog pet.  My son mentioned a lily pad but ended up drawing lots and lots of presents for his frog.  Too cute.  I'm sure any paper frog would be overjoyed to live there.  

The frogs were actually from a frog notepad.  I cut slits for the mouths and stapled a plastic baggie behind the mouth to catch the flies they were fed.  I then gave each child some sticky notes with either number sentences (older child) or numbers (for younger one) written on them.  Those notes told them how many flies to feed their frogs that day.  

You'll notice the frog in the picture has the word "Jill" on it.  Well, what fun is a pet if you can't name it?  So that is what they did and that is why the frog has the word "Jill" on it.  Being clever moms, I'm sure you had already figured that out.  ;)

BTW - I also purchased some multi-colored frogs on Amazon for sorting and counting practice.  I just didn't take pictures of them.  :)

Thanks for hopping by today to see what we've been up to!  "Hop"e your first day is a great one!