Saturday, March 31, 2012

Homeschool Theme of the Week: Spring!

True to spring style - we have been busy little bees in homeschool!  See some of our fun activities below...

A fun spring snack!
Snack Details:
Muffin Cup Flowers:  strawberries with a blackberry center.  Green apple stems and leaves.
Muffin Cup Cloud:  marshmallow cream for dipping fruit.
Garnishes:  peanut butter soil with organic cheddar bunnies.  Hershey hugs flower buds with green apple leaves and a carrot caterpillar (details on face drawn with food safe markers - see link below).

Welcome to our Learning Garden!  Consider making one yourself and enjoy celebrating all of the things your child has been learning this year (great for review of past or current concepts).  This could easily be adapted to make a larger family or class garden where each child is given a "plot" to share what they have been learning.

I made two seed packet envelopes and would place a "seed" in each with a description of what Miss A should be doing for a particular plant or flower written on the seed.  The packets also contained the petals and items she would need for the flower.  Then it was just a matter of following the directions on the seed (glue the seed to the base of the plant) and building one or two flowers for the day (we only made one or two per day)!  :)

We made our own flower print book as well, picking different household objects to experiment with for making flower prints on each page.  We used items such as a toy tractor (wheels), corrugated cardboard, etc.

It seemed a shame to put away old winter shoes and this was an extra pair given to us, soooooo I decided to repurpose them into something Miss A could use for dramatic play.  AND since we had just finished a St. Patrick's Day unit where we learned that leprechauns are shoemakers for fairies, we decided to to make our own fairy shoes.  See the tutorial here.

After we finished the shoes, my daughter completed a writing activity where she pretended to be a master leprechaun shoemaker telling a younger apprentice leprechaun how to make fairy shoes (using the story sequencing: First, Next, Last).

In our family, we have our egg hunt on the first day of spring.  So this week seemed the perfect time to follow that fun activity up with a pattern block book for spring which also focused on number order, number words, and position words!  :)  I made our own pattern block pieces from different craft papers and then we added some fun details (I think the pom pom bunny tail was one of my favorites).

And what did we use for the eggs in the story?  Why thumbprints, of course (which Miss A then drew designs on)!  :)  If you would like to make your own pre- or post egg hunt book, you can download the book here for only $1.50!

Hatch a story - really easy and fun!  Want to hatch your own stories?  Simply fill each egg with a word (you can also do this labeling certain colors as nouns, others as verbs, adjectives, etc.) and have your children pick one of each color.  They open the eggs and try to come up with (and write down) a story using all of the words. For really tiny children, just have them tell you a story or sentence using the words.  :)

Tell it to Mr. Long Ears.  We have a Mr. Long Ears in our house and fortunately for us, he just happens to love listening to stories!  We also just happen to have a bunch of books about spring right now.  :)

Miss A would read a book and try to re-tell it to Mr. Long Ears.  Do you have a creature in your house that looooves listening to stories?  If so, make sure you put it to good use!  :)

While in a craft store one day, my daughter found a sheet of craft paper covered with many different Easter egg prints.  I purchased the paper, cut some of the eggs out and made up some sorting and graphing activities to go along with the eggs.  :)

And of course, we read many books together...

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Friday, March 23, 2012

A Friendly Friday - Sneaky Shamrocks!

This was a perfect activity for a friendly Friday!  We hid a note and a sheet of shamrock stickers  inside a book we had checked out from the library for our St. Patrick's theme.  We hope it brings a very happy smile to some youngster's face next year when they check out the same book.

And for those wondering about our house leprechaun - YES!  We did catch him - scroll down to read how...

After several mischievous days, Dooligan was finally caught and had to hand over his gold (chocolate covered gold coins).  To his credit, he seemed a cheerful chap as you can see from the picture.

How did we catch him?  Why Miss A decided to make him a wee house out of a cardboard box.  We made a little bed for him inside and found him sleeping there the next morning!  I guess the poor little guy was so worn out from all his sneaky pranks that he didn't hear the pitter patter of little feet outside the box house and couldn't rouse himself in time to escape.

Sadly, Dooligan had a little mishap later on so next year he may look a bit different - or a lot.   Let's just say I'll be on the hunt for a new unbreakable leprechaun (preferably stuffed)...

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mommy and Me Activity - Fairy Shoes!

The beginning of spring heralds the arrival of things amazing, things wonderful!  Raindrops of color, fresh breezes whispering of new life, puddles begging for a good splash, and of course the mystery of little leprechauns and fairies caught in the middle!

As I was wandering through the incredible world of Pinterest searching for some spring inspiration, I came across some shoes that reminded me of what a fairy might wear.  They appeared to be made of flowers and earthy things - I imagine they were only beautiful for a very short amount of time if they were indeed real.  But of course my mind began to spin, and I thought of a pair of Miss A's shoes I was about to put away because they were more of the kind one would wear in the winter.

Why not give them a new life as well?  After all, it is spring and we did just spend a week on leprechauns (shoemakers for the fairies).  So I pulled them out...

Yes, definitely in need of a spring touch!  So, I snipped a bit here and a bit there...

I presented these to my daughter and we set to work.  Paint and glitter quickly lent a magical hand to turn these into something a fairy might consider stepping into.  But we weren't done...

Leaves and small flowers from the dollar store as well as a few paper flower accents we had left over from another project quickly took center stage as we worked together to bring about a very pretty transformation.  (BTW - I manned the hot glue gun while she pointed out where she wanted flowers, and I offered suggestions, etc.).

A few finishing touches - more glitter (think fairy dust) and we had a pair of slippers even Tinkerbell would be proud to wear!

NOTE:  I had to specify that these were special outdoor shoes (because of the glitter) and to keep away from any water which might mess up the paint.  Other than that - the only real limit was how far her little imagination could carry her...

Now the only question that remains is:  what potential fairy shoes do you have hidden away in your closet?  ;)

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Homeschool Theme of the Week: St. Patrick's Day!

Happy early St. Patrick's Day!  Here are a few fun activities from our week so far...

A lucky snack!  The pot in the middle is full of yellow jello - GOLD - surrounded by a rainbow of fruit (think pot of gold at the end of the rainbow).  The muffin cups are filled with "clouds" of greek yogurt and shredded coconut.  No, Miss A did not eat all of this herself - this was a huge snack for sharing with little brother and Mommy.  

Hide the Leprechaun Activity:  print a picture of a leprechaun, buy some stickers or use some shamrock cut outs, roll two dice, add the numbers together and add that many stickers to the leprechaun.  The goal is to help the leprechaun by eventually "hiding" him under the shamrock stickers.  For younger kids, just roll one die and add that many stickers to "hide" the leprechaun - for older kids, use two dice and multiply, etc.

We've been practicing the numbers 1-100 in school this year so I wrote some of these numbers on slips of paper.  I purchased some pretend gold coins and piled them on the table.  Miss A and I pretended to be leprechauns and the goal was to see who was the luckiest leprechaun.  

We each took turns drawing a number - the one with the largest number won a gold coin.  At the end of the game, we compared our gold stashes and the one with the most was the luckiest leprechaun!  But the fun didn't end there.  The luckiest leprechaun then had to jump up and do a little leprechaun dance!  :)

This activity was based on a short story I wrote for Miss A titled:  Magical Shamrocks!  The basic idea of the story was that Miss A overheard two leprechauns talking about magical shamrocks.  When gold was placed inside the leaves of a magical shamrock and the shamrock was closed, one would find the gold had doubled when the shamrock was opened back up.

After we read the short story, my daughter took some yellow paint and a cotton swab and put dots of yellow inside one half of each of the paper shamrocks I had given her.  We then closed each "magical" shamrock briefly and when we opened each one again - we found that the "gold" had indeed doubled!  Then she wrote number sentences corresponding to each magical shamrock.  

NOTE:  You may want to put a limit on how many "gold coins" your younger child can add to the shamrock if you are wanting him/her to be able to count the final results well or make simple number sentences, etc.

I had seen this idea on Pinterest before - a writing activity asking children what they would do if they found a pot of gold.  I just added a leprechaun to the mix because chances are that is how you would find said pot of gold on St. Patrick's Day, right?  :)

This was a rhyming rainbow Miss A made.  I had seen the idea before using math facts, and thought this twist would be fun too!  

I wrote some words on a large sheet of white paper in rainbow band arcs.  Then I wrote a word that rhymed with each on pieces of colored paper.  Miss A had to match the words up and glue the colored word on top of the word it rhymed with.  Thus - a rhyming rainbow!

More fun with shamrocks!  Miss A would pick a shamrock, turn it over, and then had to come up with a number sentence that would equal the number on the shamrock.  THEN, if the shamrock happened to be a glittery one (she loved those the best), she had to write the number word next to the number sentence as well.

Of course we have had some visits from our house leprechaun, doling out plenty of green mischief this week!  We've been victims of the traditional turn-the-milk-green caper and the not-so-traditional trick of putting green grapes in the bottoms of socks and leaving stickers (very lightly so they could be easily shaken off) stuck to our dog!  

My daughter has been thinking of a way to trap the little fellow so stay tuned - come Saturday morning, we hope to be the proud recipients of a pot of gold!  :)

And should you need to leave a few books out for your own little house leprechauns to read (might keep them from mischief if they have a good book in hand to distract), here are a few that graced our shelves this week:

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Homeschool Theme of the Week: Penguins & Polar Bears!

For the past couple of weeks, we have been covering the topic of penguins and polar bears.  Here are a few of the activities and crafts we worked on - enjoy!  :)

Miss A made a penguin from a cardboard container in the kitchen.  I poked a hole in it for the mouth, and she fed it fish based on the numbers from her addition facts.  

For this activity, Miss A colored two penguin pictures I had printed out.  I left one untouched and covered one with a layer of vaseline in order to illustrate how a penguin's feathers work to keep it from getting terribly wet and cold.  Miss A had fun discovering what happened when water was poured on each.

Uh-oh!  Penelope Penguin found herself encased in a block of ice recently!  Miss A had a great time figuring out the best way to free her.  This was a great problem-solving exercise, and I was pleased with Miss A's suggestions (which we tried).  The one that worked best was to use the hose to pour water on it and watch as the ice quickly melted, and Penelope was free at last!

For anyone with a Cinderella loving daughter - this is a fun version of that much loved classic!  We used a giant Venn diagram to compare the Disney version of Cinderella with Cinderella Penguin.

LOVED this cute idea and had to include it in our week!  Here is where you can print out your own copy of Penguin Pie!

We helped penguins populate an iceberg today - well, not real ones.  But as you can see - still pretty adorable! 
To populate your own iceberg...
1.  Draw an iceberg on a piece of paper. 
2.  Roll a couple of dice, add the numbers together and add that many fingerprint "penguins" to the iceberg.  (for younger kids, just roll the dice and add that many penguins to the iceberg.)
3.  Keep going until you have filled it up!
4.  Add the fun details (eyes, tummies, etc.)! 

Using equal parts of shaving cream and white glue, I mixed the two together to make a puffy paint.  My daughter used the mixture to paint a polar bear picture I had printed out from a place online.  (Just another great idea found on Pinterest!)

This was an estimation activity:  guess how many cotton balls it will take to cover a polar bear picture and then glue them on, keeping track so you can check your answer against your original guess!  :)

ICE PLAY!  Simply freeze water in different sized containers to make icebergs and set them afloat in a tub of water.  Add miniature plastic animals and PLAY!  Found this idea on Pinterest which led me here.

I purchased a baby polar bear figurine from our  local Michael's store and a Toob of ocean animals which contained a penguin.  I have posted links below to some other great Toobs for those who might be interested in obtaining more penguins or an entire bunch of arctic animals.  

Note:  You may want to point out to your kids beforehand (if you plan on giving them penguins AND polar bears to play with at the same time) that polar bears and penguins don't actually live in the same place.  This would be a great time for a mini geography lesson - pull out a map or a globe and show them where these creatures live!  :)

I have posted links below to a few of the books that we used this past week.  If some contain too much information for your child's age level, just pick out the parts you want them to learn about and read those!  :)

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Friday, March 2, 2012

Homeschool Theme of the Day: Dr. Seuss!

NOTE:  I am participating in the Circle of Moms Top 25 Creative Moms and would loooove a vote.  You don't need to be a member and it only takes a few seconds.  Simply click the badge on the sidebar, find my name on the list (I am currently in the #60's area) and click on the vote hand.  Thanks for your support!  :)
Now on to what you really wanted to see....

A very happy Dr. Seuss birthday!  :)

Here's our fun snack and snack details:
Hat:  peanut butter sandwich with marshmallow cream and strawberries.
Muffin cups 1 & 3:  colored goldfish (think One Fish, Two Fish...) and Cheez-it letters for making up wacky words.
Muffin cup 2:  "Green eggs" made of cheese and an M&M center.
Details:  Nutella lettering and blue M&M's.

And a fun activity of course!  So easy - just let your kids design their own Seuss-like creature!

My daughter's finished product.  Kind of hard to see the creature, but it IS there.  :)

If you are needing a Dr. Suess "fix" for the day, you might want to check out this site:

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