Friday, September 30, 2011

Book review: Rhythm of Family

I was very intrigued when I was asked to review "The Rhythm of Family."  (sigh there are just some times that Amazon widgets are more trouble than they're worth, and tonight is one of those) I like the idea of slowing down and enjoying our families and nature.

And then I got the book, and I saw it was broken down month by month and there were snow pictures.  Immediately I thought (before reading it), “Oh no, here’s another book that I can’t use for 6 months of the year because I’ve never heard of snow.”

And then I actually read the book.

And yes, there are pictures of snow, but instead it’s suggestions of things you can do inside when you're trapped by bad weather.  Immediately I thought, “oh I can do this in July when it’s hotter than heck and nobody in their right mind goes outside.”

I really enjoyed the author’s layout and look forward to rereading the chapters as I come up to each month. First there’s a segment from Mom’s point of view, then the Dad’s, and then a few nature-inspired craft projects that are seasonal (but not necessarily snow related) but not limited to that season, and then a recipe to try for that month

For us the rhythm of our family as it nears October is to become insanely obsessed with Halloween and costumes. Okay, maybe that’s just my boys and somewhat the girl.  They've been talking about it coming for MONTHS!

So, we started setting up for it this week.

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Some of you may remember this from last year, we slowly added projects to our Halloween mural as we made them.  We’ve gotten started already and made our first one yesterday.

These are the Halloween books we plan to make projects for (with links to previous projects).

Spookley the Square Pumpkin- super cute book about how we all are helpful no matter how different we are.

Skeleton Meets Mummy- how two Halloween monsters get scared when they meet


Ten Timid Ghosts- a countdown book where the witch scares the ghosts out


Clifford’s Halloween- Clifford needs to decide on a costume.


Going on a Ghost Hunt- Kids go through the “spooky” woods to find a ghost.

NEW THIS YEAR
Skeleton Hiccups- we read this last year, but no project.  Skeleton is trying to get rid of his hiccups and tries all of the usual cures.

The Little Old Lady who was not Afraid of Anything- I lost our copy last year, and hope to find it again this year………

Whoooo’s Haunting Tiny Ghost- Tiny Ghost learns how to be brave at school and then has to remember what he learns when he goes home to a scary house

Halloween Hats- library book about Halloween costumes, I haven’t read it yet…….

Old Devil Wind- I loved this one for choral reading as a teacher great repetition, rather like “The House that Jack built.”

So, that’s the rhythm of our family this month.  We’re going to be planning lots of fun Halloween activities.

If anyone is interested and still reading at this point, here’s my pinterest board for Halloween.

Favorite Resource This Week

DISCLOSURE: I received a copy of Rhythm of Family for review, I was not paid for my review and other legal mumbo jumbo for me to write which I’m not remembering at this time of night.

Little known fact

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Practicing spelling requires you to roll around the floor in circles as you say the words.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Colonial America: natural dyes

So, a few weeks ago we set about learning how the colonists made their clothes and got the different colored cloths they got.

 

We gathered some different items that had been suggested and boiled our materials for 30 minutes or so and pulled it all out.

 

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Then we pulled it all out and separated it out into the different fibers and observed them.

 

Do you see what we discovered?  Here’s what we used: blueberry tea, red onion skins, yellow onion skins, and cayenne powder.

 

What did we get?  Brown, brown, blue-tinged brown, and brown.

 

We also discovered that canvas dies quite well.  The tight woven cotton did not, the bubble gauze cotton (very loosely woven) did, and the wool roving also took the dye well.

 

So, has anyone used a natural die and gotten a color aside from brown?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Virginia: Patrick Henry

 

Did anyone else always find Patrick Henry to be the coolest guy ever?  I always admired him when I was in school and thought he was one of the most interesting founding fathers.  And then when I went to Williamsburg a few years ago I found more to admire about him.

 

Did you know he didn’t agree with how our government ended up with, and because of that he felt it wasn’t right that he should be involved in any federal office despite being asked to several times?

 

Reading this book I learned more things about him, for instance he has no head for business.  He ran two stores and one farm into the ground, but he’s a great lawyer.

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I was trying to think of a good thing to do for what we learned about him, and came up with a simple booklet that we cut the top half in thirds, so it was a flap book.  On each different flap we wrote something he tried his hand at and if he did well or not.

 

The kids remembered how he did surprisingly well for it being a fairly complicated book for their age.  Sometimes I’m amazed at how much they remember about these books.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Virginia: George Washington’s Teeth



I don’t know about you, but me, I’m always weirded out by any book about teeth or talking about them, because I’m totally paranoid my teeth are going to fall out someday.  It makes no sense because I go to the dentist, and I brush my teeth, but I can just imagine how horrid it would be to have no teeth.

I tell you this so you know how big a deal it was that I read this book to the kids.

It goes through in pain-staking detail, and in a very entertaining fashion all about how George Washington slowly lost all of this teeth.   Then talks about what he did to try and solve the problem.

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Well, at the end of the book George Washington makes an impression of all of his teeth using plaster of paris and a small mold.  Well, I didn’t make the plaster up in time because I forgot about wanting to do that, so we made molds with play-dough.

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And just as obviously it wasn’t our teeth, it was random small toys, but it did get the lesson across because they spent days talking about his teeth.  Much to my chagrin.

And yes, that is another head wound on Batman’s head.  In the same spot………  Each of those are links to a different incident……..  Sigh, how do they always fall there?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Princess all by herself

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I corrected her on the b/d switch, but other than that she figured out them all by herself.  And then drew the picture.
  learning laboratory at mama smiles

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Science Sunday: turtles

Science Sunday
We started studying sea turtles this week, and we got to the part about how hard and awkward it is for them to maneuver on land.  So, we tried to move like them.  The kids had to put their hands on their shoulders and could only move using their arms.
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Needless to say, they did not move very much or very far.

Then we watched several videos on youtube of sea turtles laying eggs, hatching and baby sea turtles.
I can’t find the first one I had found which does such a great job of showing how hard it is for sea turtles to move, but this one was rather fascinating.
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Then I told them how I got to go see a sea turtle farm with baby sea turtles, which led us to videos of baby sea turtles.  We watched several, but I’ll only share with you their favorite, what I’ve dubbed the “Bite my finger, are you sure it’s not Uncle Sean” video.
Where would our lessons be without the wonders of youtube?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Singing in the Kitchen

I’m going to link this up to What My Children Are Reading because we’ve been getting some music books recently.
Ever since reading this book, I've added something new into our homeschool day, and it's made a huge difference. We start off the morning with singing. I tend to stick to fold songs, which you'll notice are the books I've linked to up there. They're the songs I remember singing as a kid, and songs that have a lot of movement in them, and a lot of fun silly songs. If you saw my post over on ABC & 123 then  you know I’ve also been using songs for working on phonemic awareness.  From what I’ve found the best song to book come from Raffi and Mary Ann Hoberman.  I’ve had great luck with both of those.

The kids and I have been singing all of the songs from the CD included with “Singing in the Kitchen,” and I plan on making an instrument basket.  So far I’ve got some dowel rods that we’ve been using as drum sticks and just banging together or on the floor.  My next one I think is going to be some shaker eggs using Easter eggs.

As you can tell, I’m really enjoying this book, and I almost think the CD alone is worth the price of the book, but I’m a fan of folk music and am likely to be singing songs like that anyways.  If you’re not a fan of folk music, but you’re wanting to incorporate more music then you’ll probably like the great suggestions of the book itself more.

I’m kinda tempted to learn to play the guitar.  I think it would be so much fun to sit upstairs with a guitar and sing with the kids.  A girl can dream.

But, I would recommend the book, it’s a lot of fun, and a nice quick read.

Favorite Resource This Week


DISCLOSURE:  I did receive a copy of this book in exchange for a review, I was not paid for my opinion, and given that the songs are now rather stuck in my head, I sincerely doubt I’m making up my opinion.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Making more monsters

Ages ago one of my first posts was about making monsters.  Well, that interest is still going strong 3 years later.
This time they did pretty much all of the work.
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Cutting, stuffing, sewing, and all of that.  All we have left is to sew the final seam shut.  I had intended to have them hand sew it, but they REALLY want to use the machine.  I mean really really.

And that particular interest has lasted almost since I first got the machine when they were 2 years old.  See the blue tape on my machine?  That’s because at 2 they figured out you can stuff pins in there.  When I took my machine in for its first tune-up they found 20 something pins in there.

YEAH……….  I think it took them less than 2 minutes.  Then they did the patented scatter and run technique.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Archeology Dig

Our first history lesson together this year for US history started with learning about how we learn about the past.  Hmmmm, there really is no way to make that sentence less awkward is there?
So, we conducted an archeological dig.  First I saved a couple of 3 liter bottles (I almost think this would work better with a big flat tub, but that’s up for debate).

Then we gathered lots and lots of small items to go into two different dig sites.  The first had all sorts of small toys and little things, and the second had lots of kitchen utensils, silverware and the like.

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Then we had the kids dig through the layers and find what was in the  different layers.  If my kids were just a little bit older I would have forced them to document the layers, but they were struggling enough with drawing what was in the bottle I didn’t want to totally ruin the experience.

My thought was if we used a big flat tub, we could lay it out in a grid pattern instead of observing layers, we could observe the grid.
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After pulling it all out they drew what they found.

The older kids after a very short discussion all agreed their dig site was a toy shop.

My kids argued for a while.  One of them thought it was a restaurant, another thought it was a kitchen, and the last one thought it was a home.  Finally they each (with some help) wrote the place they thought they had found.

All in all they really enjoyed this dig site.

And, did you notice!  I actually remembered to do a messy project OUTSIDE!!!!!  I was so proud of myself.

You have to take the little victories.

Now head on over to All Things Beautiful to see some more posts about history.  Then head over and check out Journey to Excellence for Study America Saturday.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Playful Spaces

So, I’m in the middle of taking the Playful Learning e-course, and I promise to tell you all about it when I’ve finished it.  I will tell you, that you want to sign up for it when you have plenty of time to do the homework because it obviously involves rearranging things and can be time intensive.

 

But, as I was getting ready for small group the other night I decided to set up a “Playful Space” to help preserve my upstairs………….  12 or so kids running around is not always conducive to a clean upstairs.

So, here’s what I came up with:

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I just set up our wooden Melissa and Doug castle on some green fabric with defenders all over the escarpments.  Then approaching the castle were all of the fantastical monsters on the grass.  Far off is the pirate ship on some blue fabric.

 

From the sounds of thuds I heard upstairs the boys really loved the set up.  The only complaint came from Princess who said the boys wouldn’t let the girls play with the castle.  You can’t win them all.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Hampshire: The Oldest Barn



Tuttle’s Red Barn, is a true story about a family barn that has been in the family for over 400 years.  It follows the family from when the first one came over all the way up to when the book was published in 2003 (give or take on that last year).

It’s a great chance to do a timeline activity and that’s just what we did.  I scanned images from the book and we put them in order on sentence strips.
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It was a real struggle on some of the pictures to figure out where it went in the timeline.  Some pictures were easy to figure out, if it had a car it was more recent, but there were many times it could have been in different places.  We found ourselves double checking the book very often.

I love the story and was talking with the other Mom about how cool it would be to visit there someday.  She went home and looked up this family on the internet and we were both so sad to learn that it’s currently for sale because the next generation isn’t interested in taking up the family farm.  Isn’t that sad?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Noah’s ark or maybe just a fun boat to play in

So, because I’m a crazy over-achiever or maybe a perfectionist or something I’ve decided to completely write and design my own Bible study curriculum that goes through the whole thing in 2 years.  More or less.

I mean we’re not hitting everything, but it gets most of the major stories and themes.

Well, this past week in our Sunday school class was Noah, so of course we had to make arks.

SUPPLIES:  individual milk cartons (or in our case orange juice), floral foam (can be found at the dollar store or Michael’s), brown acrylic paint, Noah’s ark printout, sharp knife

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1.   Force your kids to drink 14 cartons of orange juice in 2 days, then cut out one side of your ark, so it looks like a boat.

2.  Paint your ark.  I know, normally I’d show me painting, but I didn’t think to take pictures until afterwards.





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3.  Cut your floral foam to fit inside your carton.  This is a very exact science which will require shaving off bits and pieces and then shoving it into your ark.

And, it is very messy.






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4.  Color the printout and cut out each of the figures.  Then tape them to the ark.









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Now set your ark adrift on the ocean.  And look forward to the squeals of delight from your kids.  Yes, that is a mandatory step.
So, I made 24 of these for my class including the sample (I pre-painted them, they colored the pictures).  We used every single one of them.  No joke.
Noah Ark Papers learning laboratory at mama smilesabc button
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