Thursday, March 31, 2011

stART: Irving and Muktuk

You had to know with my kids’ rave reviews of this series that we’d do a stART project, and we did.


And, it’s related to New Jersey.  While I was busy doing my research of New Jersey, which I’ll admit most of my knowledge prior to this was: 1.  It’s called the Garden State, and 2.  Everyone jokes that it’s not kinda scuzzy.  Since my main memories of it are pretty much driving on a toll road, while traveling through, and that over 20 years ago.  I can’t really comment much.


Oh wait, before I start my synopsis let me come back up here and finish my thought (this would be where Jeff would say, “Finish your sentence,” as I’d stopped in mid-sentence and completely started something different).


See New Jersey is the blueberry muffin capital of the United States, or something along those lines.


Synopsis: Irving and Muktuk are two bears who love blueberry muffins.  They keep trying to trick the town into giving them all of their blueberry muffins, and the local sheriff keeps catching them.



After reading them the story they were each given a peg doll to color as either Irving or Muktuk and how he was going to trick them into giving them a blueberry muffin.




Here’s Superman’s.  Superman’s is a soldier.  His soldier will order them to give him the muffins.


Princess’ bear morphed into whatever disguise the most person said theirs was.  It was really rather amusing…….

Now click the button and go see some other awesome projects:

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

History: Valley Forge


I have no idea who gave me the idea of Valley Forge.  I think it was a comment I saw, but one of the places in New Jersey is Valley Forge.  During the Revolutionary War George Washington spent one very cold winter there and lost a lot of soldiers to frostbite and other problems.

EDITED TO ADD: So, I didn't do as through a research as I thought, Valley Forge was definitely not in New Jersey, sigh.  I swear when I was doing all that looking up it was.  Oh well, now I know, better fix that.  It's still a cool book.

But, I found what was the coolest book ever…….  Or, so I thought.  My kids didn’t get quite as much from it as I was hoping, but it was a little old for them.

It’s an interesting concept, and is based somewhat in history, or close enough.  As General Washington is walking the camp he sees a soldier lighting a candle one cold winter night and chanting something he doesn’t understand.  The soldier goes on to explain to him the story of Hanukkah and the two of them draw parallels between the Maccabees battle and their own struggle against the British government.

Like I said, I LOVED this book.  The older kids really enjoyed it and were able to get so much more from it.
After reading it I pulled out a simple Venn Diagram and had the kids each draw or write one thing that was different about the two wars, and one thing that was the same.

My kids drawings all prominently featured pictures of people missing toes, fingers and whole limbs from frostbite.  That’s about what they got from it.  And then they spent the rest of the day telling me about how they were going to lose body parts from the “bitter bitter cold.”

Ummmm, not so much guys, it was 80 something then.  Not anywhere near cold enough, but good imagination.

So, they may not retain much, but I’m sure it was an interesting study.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bible Alive: Job or how to draw parallels to current events

By now we’re all very aware of the horrible events that have happened in Japan.  We’ve seen the pictures and the videos, and it’s mind numbing.  For now at least I haven’t told my kids about it because I know they are not able to cope with that.


4But, my Sunday School class is a different matter, it’s amazing what a difference of two years does for a kid’s maturity level.  With our class we’ve been reading about Job and what happened to him.


As we got to the point where everything is taken from him and his “friends” are telling him it’s obviously because Job was sinful the tsunami hit Japan.


And that’s what some people did to Japan, thankfully a very few, and I haven’t run into it all that much, but I did read a few articles and some idiotic comments of people saying this happened to Japan because they sinned.


So, we talked about this with the people in our class, and talked about how to help people who are in a hard time.  Is it helpful to tell them what a horrible person they are or some pithy saying?


006Not really, and I don’t have much I can do for Japan, but I can help educate my students how to talk to someone going through a hard time, and what not to do.


So, we brainstormed what we would want someone to do for us in that situation, and then we made cards for someone we know who who is going through a hard time (sick, injured, death in the family, lost their job, you name it).


The neatest thing of all to me was our teen helper making a card for my friend who just had their father-in-law die.


But, the great thing about Job is it doesn’t end with Job in a horrible situation.  It ends with God answering him.



And God’s answer is that He is in control of everything.  The good and the bad.


We can’t create or control the charging horse, or the mighty storms, but God can.


And yes there are horrible things in this world and we will experience them, but there is a MIGHTY God who is in heaven and He is in control.


And that’s what our final lesson was.  Creating something that shows God’s wonders, and drawing that.


Now, here’s the oddity I’m going to do.  I’m going to do a giveaway in exchange for your honest opinion in email of a book I’ve written.  I wrote Job as a kid’s Bible study with questions for little guys all the way up to adults.  I’d love to get someone’s opinion other than my own on this.  So, I’ll pick a couple of people who express interest and send them a printed copy of it for you to read an critique (couple being random number I decide on somewhere between 2 and 5).


The reason being, I’m toying with the idea of publishing the Bible stories I’ve been writing, except I want to make it a more complete idea.  I want it to be an actual Bible study.  So, let me know what you think, does that make sense?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Do your kids ever do this?

Yes that is Princess locking herself in the dog crate.

And then Batman proudly posing next to her like the proud Big Game Hunter.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Science Sunday: New Jersey dinosaur dig

In researching the state of New Jersey I found out it was the site of the first nearly complete dinosaur skeleton, it was just missing a skull.

Haddonfield, New Jersey was the site of the dig, and so that is how the hadrosaurus was named.  I was all excited and was going to make that our animal for New Jersey, but apparently we don’t know all that much about it.  Mainly because there is no skull found for one, which is leading to a lot of theories that this may not be a separate species.  Now, the state of New Jersey is not going along with that theory.

So, in honor of this being the site of the first dinosaur dig I decided to have our own dinosaur dig, you know with 11 kids crowded around my dining room table.  I searched my Evernote to find ideas, and all of them took a lot more time to prepare (because of course I decided to do this the night before).


Finally, success!  I had clipped a blog post by Monkeyin’ Around that was perfect (scroll about halfway down to find the idea).



When they all got there we first read “Digging Up Dinosaurs,” which I knew from past experience would be perfect for this.  As a caveat it does say millions and millions of years ago and all of the other evolutionary stuff, but I just said, “A long time ago,” (in a galaxy far far away).


Each kid got a small tub filled with rice and a pasta shell, about 10-15 penne pasta, 4 macaroni noodles, and 10-15 orzo noodles.


Their job was to dig through the pasta and put together a dinosaur skeleton.


Let me just say this activity was a HIT with all of the kids from the 11 year old girl to my 4 year.



All of the kids asked to take home their rice and pasta mixture, so I gave them bags to put it in.


I will warn you this does require sweeping up afterwards or a good vacuum.  If I’d planned better I would have used bigger tubs and less rice, but I didn’t think ahead super well, and these were the size tubs we had.


So, not a perfect project, but really fun.

Friday, March 25, 2011

What have we read:


So, I just discovered that blogger had eaten half of a couple of my posts recently because of an editing error on my part, so if the post I wrote about my boys and a birthday book we read made no sense to you head on back and it should make A LOT more sense now, or as much sense as I usually make.


Hmmm, I might need to take a break to eat some protein.  I’ve heard that seeing spots is not a good sign.  Ugh, my head hurts.  I’ll be back in a few minutes.


Okay, I’m back a day later, and a dollar short.  Okay, not the dollar short, but it is the next day, and I’m actually wondering why I’m sitting here when my eyes hurt and I’m tired instead of going to bed……….  Okay, type fast.


Hmmmm…..  I said “okay” way too much in that paragraph.  Need sleep.



Irving and Muktuk series- I linked to all the ones we had at our library, my boys in particular love these two mischievous bear and their adventures trying to get blueberry muffins.  I was not allowed to turn these books back in to the library


Good Knight- I only got to return it because they didn’t see me turn it in.  Very cute story of a little boy who is being forced through the different steps of bedtime and how he views what's going on.


Bob Books- Princess has been carrying these around nonstop and mainly will read the first few red books, though she probably can read all of them.  The boys went to the latter books but are picture reading, not word reading all of it.  Now to actually sit down with them and correct where I’m sure there’s errors, but it’s a very cool sign.  Did I mention Princess won’t let these books go?  Seriously, loves the books.  I will stop mocking them in my head now.


Okay, I’ve finished my scanning, now to take my sketch book to bed and color stuff.

Pennsylvania, a summary, and some other ideas or some such

Hmmm, chocolate is starting to get to me.  I can feel the sugar coming in, or maybe that’s my body starting to de-stress and calm down.  Take your pick.

Going around from left to rightish, on the left hand side:
Pennsylvania picture from Musings of Me
envelope with Union and Confederate soldiers
Berenstein Bears picture
State Symbols page (link to printable will be below click on the picture)
F is for Firefly drawing
Right hand page:
Ben Franklin inventions
Chocolate activity
Not in yet: firefly book (click on the picture to go to the printable)
pennyslvania state symbols
Other activities that didn’t have a printable:
Hershey fraction math
Liberty Bell
Amish/handkerchief doll

And sigh of accomplishment, Pennyslvania is done.  There was a lot there and we barely even scratched the surface even with 2 weeks on it.

Other things you could study that we didn’t even get to: more on the Amish, Crayola, there’s a couple of books on repeating Ben Franklin’s experiments, Gettysburg Address (there is an awesome picture book of this but I couldn’t find it and I don’t know the illustrator, but it’s pen and ink drawings, LOVE it), and I’m sure a whole LOT more.


Shibley Smiles

Thursday, March 24, 2011

stART: Chocolate and how it gets from the tree to my mouth



So, I’m now eating some ridiculously healthy and delicious homemade chocolate that my friend made for the parents.  The kids ate chocolate chip cookies, the state cookie of Pennsylvania, and we got YUMMY homemade dark chocolate.

I took the little kid activity from All About Chocolate from Reading A to Z.  I printed an extra copy of the book and cut out the pictures for the kids to glue onto the sheets in order.  The older kids answered the worksheet that did the same thing.


073And that’s what the first 52 pictures on my camera looked like.  I’d watermark them, but I really doubt anyone is going to steal that.  I mean really.  FIFTY TWO pictures of Diego?  Okay, so as a kid I took a whole roll of my Cabbage Patch Kids, but at least I was posing them and trying to tell a story.


So, that’s what the first page looks like.  As you can tell, it’s fairly simple, especially since this one was numbered.  That’s what it looks like in the factory process.


Now, the farm to factory looks a bit different.






Okay, so picture quality isn’t all that great, but that’s partially because I saved on ink by not printing it in the best quality.


If you print as much as I do you need to save on ink somewhere, and this is where I choose to do that.


So, that’s the last activity I have for Pennsylvania.

All in all, it was a great state study.  I’m learning more and more of how to structure this co-op, so it’s getting better and better each week.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Geography/History: Battle of Gettysburg


 So, blogger is deleting half of my post.  It looks like it's showing up in Google Reader, but not on my blog itself, that makes no sense......  Sigh.  Now, to try copying it in.  It's one of those days.

It just won't admit it's there, now to rewrite it.

Try 3 or 55 or so.  It’s one of those days.  I may have solved the whole blogger not recognizing my post is there thing, maybe.

You ever find one of those perfect books?  Well, I just did.  This one was a perfect introduction to the Civil War and gave a little bit of history without going into too much detail.

Then we looked at the confederate soldiers.  That’s them in the picture, and we talked about their uniforms, which if Livewriter had worked properly would be all nicely cropped......

See, the Confederate army didn’t have all of it’s soldiers in one uniform.  There were uniforms by state, by different groups, and an official uniform.  So we talked about how hard it might be to know if the person coming at you was a friend or a foe.

And then all of the boys started their little guys shooting, and I figured that was enough for one day.

And on a totally unrelated note, have you ever notice where you have weeks and days where nothing is happening, and then you have a day where it all happens at once, and you can’t keep up with it all?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bible Alive: Deeper Into the Word!


So, this isn’t an activity I did with my kids, but it’s actually a Bible study tool to help with my Bible study.  And it’s a really neat concept.


If you’ve done any number of adult Bible studies you’ve seen them talk about “word studies,” which is where you look at a word and you (depending on the study):


1.  look up it’s dictionary definition in English (this is the most common).

2.  look up what it’s Greek/Hebrew word is and other ways it can be translated

3.  look up the context behind that word.  For instance there are a lot of words in English that have meaning beyond what it says in the dictionary, Holocaust would be one of those words (or at least the closest thing I thought of as an example).

4.  look up other verses that word is used in and read those verses.


Now, that’s a lot of work.  It’s work I really enjoy, and yes I am a nerd, thank you very much, my nerd credentials are well-verified.


This book synthesizes all of that work for you with 100 of the most common/misused words.  I could see this being a really great tool for someone who hasn’t had much training in how to study the Bible, but is interested in starting to learn more.


I’m probably going to look at some of these a little more in depth and then pass it on to a few friends of mine who have expressed interest in learning more about the Bible.


I’m still reading another book I got called “If There is God, Why is There Evil?” (or something along those lines), and it’s one I’d love to get an opposing viewpoint on because all the arguments make perfect logical sense to me.

Monday, March 21, 2011

What in the world are they?

learning laboratory at mama smiles



As we walked through the forest we came on a bunch of these little hut places.  At each one we theorized what it was for.  This one had  no discernible place to go in, so we decided it was a trap like they make on Scooby Doo.




This one was still being built, and there was a rather large pile of sticks nearby it.  And we’re not talking little sticks, we’re talking at least 6 foot tall sticks that have clearly been cut to length.


Theories on who built it: maybe a man, maybe a big bird is building a nest, maybe it was an animal of some kind making a home.



This last one they weren’t as cooperative on a picture, but they’re just exiting it.  Inside of this one is a blanket that looks to be rather tattered and torn.  Aside from the blanket there’s no signs of it being someone’s house.  They all agreed someone must sleep in it.



But, my absolute favorite part of the walk came from Princess.  All through out whenever she thought it might be starting to be too scary she’d say, “There’s no reason to be afraid, because I learned in church God is with us no everywhere we go.”


Oh, and if you’re kids are anything like mine and they play with those silly toy cameras at the line in the grocery store and beg you to get them, here’s what you need to do.  Go to Party City and get the little cameras they have for 35 cents each right now.  Heck, you can get 6 of them for the price of one of those silly Disney cameras.  Princess loves the thing.


No really LOVES it!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Science Sunday: The ill-conceived nature walk

Science Sunday

017Ha ha ha ha ha, okay I have to say the title amused me.  But, it’s ill-conceived because I hadn’t completely thought through what my goals were.


And yes you can walk for the sake of walking, but I had a learning goal in mind:




Goal 1:  Didn’t happen.  It’s a little hard to gather all of the little twigs and such if you don’t have a bag to put them in.  But, we saw lots of things that would make great nest materials.


Which the kids had no interest in.




Goal 2: Insects- which we didn’t really see all that many of.  Too early in the season probably.  But, Superman proudly flipped over a BIG rock and showed us how there were “bugs under here Mommy, come look and see.”




Goal 3: Birds- which we saw exactly 1.  This vulture.  We see a lot of these in our city, it’s not fully “civilized,” so to speak, so there’s a lot of deer, and other wildlife that gets hit on a fairly regular basis.


But, we did hear a lot of birds.


So, my goals didn’t work out all that well.  Instead we had a totally different learning experience:


Example 1: What made the marks on this tree? 


This led to a long discussion about what animals could possibly do this, and finally my pointing out these aren’t claw marks, but someone cutting the tree.  Why did the person cut it?




Example 2:  What animal did this?


Okay, I honestly have no idea, but we came up with a lot of theories.  To me some of that inner stuff looks kind of like gum that’s melted.




Example 3: Oserving what was there: turtles.  We spent a long time watching these turtles in the pond, and talking about why they’re sitting there, what turtles eat.  What is plankton, what are tadpoles and minnows, so on and so forth.


In all, it was a wonderful day.

But, here’s a couple of take-aways for those of you planning a hike.


1.  Remember the ages of your kid and plan the length of the hike accordingly.  I wanted to go further, but realized we were at a point where we needed to head back, so we did.


2.  Bring snacks and water, even if it’s a short hike.  This always improves my kids’ moods.  We stopped a couple of times on the trail to eat their snacks (granola bars).



3.  Make them stock and carry their own backpack.  They were responsible to put in 3 snacks, and I gave them the water bottles.  The boys got permission to add a flashlight and a stuffed toy.


4.  Check what they put in.  Princess added in her new Bob books, a hard back, and about 10 pounds of weight.  She was not happy when I took away all of that, including the glittery tiara.  She did get to keep some of her wands.


I’m not that mean, or stupid.


Stay tuned later this week for our most frequent conversation piece…….  I bet you’re all curious now!

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