A Thanksgiving Feast

Last week our small (but quickly growing) homeschool group got together for a “Thanksgiving Feast”.  The kids in our group range in age from 8 months to 7 years.  If you include the little guys (who will be moving and ‘trying’ to participate before we know it) there are 11 boys and 4 girls.  We typically get together once a month for crafts and games but we thought November might be a good time to add an additional fun time.  We decided to keep it pretty simple.  All the kids dressed in Pilgrim or Indian costumes.

We gathered in a circle and each said what they were thankful for and then we ate.

Our menu included such things as turkey shaped sandwiches, sweet potato fries, grapes, pumpkin muffins, and acorn created deserts.  Once the meal was over the kids created Thanksgiving cards for the residents at at local nursing home.  I bet this is a tradition that they will be asking to be repeated year after year.  Thanks you Jamie, for suggesting such a fun activity and opening up your home for the feast.

Grass Heads

Last year, when I was teaching, and BroBro was in Preschool he made an ‘egg head’.  I must admit, I thought it was one of the cutest crafts I had seen.

So when a group of us homeschool moms got together for our monthly craft and playdate last month with the theme of spring in mind, I had a dilemma.  When I think of spring, I think of  flowers and petals but those crafts just weren’t going to do it with this group.  This group is largely made up of boys ranging in age from 4-7 with a tag-along 2-year old girl on one end and an 8-year old girl on the other.  No, the pretty stuff just wasn’t going to work so I had to find something cute enough for the girls but cool enough for the boys.  What better idea than the grasshead?

I wanted the project to be hands on and the grasshead was a great way to do that but a few things needed to be changed.  Our quick, to-the-point active boys probably didn’t have the carefulness needed to handle the delicate egg.  And while they would be able to draw the faces without any difficulty, I did want them to spend more than 2 seconds on their activity.

So I did what I always do when I need an idea and  searched the internet.   I loved how Red Ted Art’s Blog used the pantyhose and created theirs with big goggly eyes and a pinched out nose.  But this time around, I figured that just might take too much patience for our group of boys.  I also loved how SALSA PIE used a pot and drew on a face.  This seemed simple enough.  I just might try that one at home but it would be a bit pricey to buy pots for all the kids in the group.

I then came across the idea of using a cup.

I also liked what I saw at The Teacher Wife.  She used clear cups and printable face pieces.

This seemed to be the easiest way to accomplish a fun and successful grass head.  I decided to use the clear cups which turned out to be a fantastic idea.  BroBro found it fascinating to watch the sprouts of grass as they took root and began to make their way to the top of the cup.  I also choose to use foam with sticky backing to make the faces.  This made it easier for those small boy hands to cut out the faces they wanted and easily stick them to the cup.  If they messed up, they simply drew and cut another face part and placed it on the cup.  When the project was completed the kids were so excited to water their heads and couldn’t wait to see the hair begin to grow.  It only took about a 10 days for our heads to spout a full head of hair.

A complete description of how we completed the project is listed below.

What do you think?  As cute as the egg?   I think so!  I just think BroBro’s is in need of a serious haircut!

Cup Grass Heads

Materials:

*  clear plastic cup  – we used 9 oz but 5 oz would work great too.

*  potting soil

*  grass sead

*  craft foam with sticky back

Steps:

1.  Cut out the pieces for your face and stick them on the cup.

2.  Fill cup 3/4 full of dirt

3.  Layer with a generous amount of grass seed

4.  Top with soil

5.  Water and watch your grasshead grow.

Notes:  There is no drainage when the cups are set up this way so be careful about watering your head too much.

Face Off!

When we finished our math curriculum this year I wondered whether or not to order and begin the next level.   I decided against that.  With the new baby in the house and the routine gone haywire, we were lucky to do anything with school.  In addition, BroBro had started this Kindergarten curriculum a year early, and although he has breezed right through it, I just did not want him to hit a point where he developmentally found it too challenging.  So staying true to my teaching roots, I did what all of us do when we can’t move on…review, review, review.

BroBro has been using RightStart math this year.  With this curriculum we have learned how to use the abacus to understand basic number sense and apply the concepts of addition.  In our review I thought it might be good to have him start memorizing addition facts.  I created flashcards with specific facts.  First we worked with sums of 10.  Then we practiced doubles.  We are currently working on 10 plus a number.

I knew that calling out numerous math facts and completing worksheets was going to be tortuous for both BroBro and myself so I had to come up with some practice games.  One game I located in my files of old teaching materials was a game called Face Off.  This game is easy to set up and easy to play.  It only requires a printed board, a dice, and place markers (beans, pieces of paper, counters, etc).  The problem with this board though was that the numbers did not work for the facts BroBro was learning.   On this day I just taped a piece of paper on top and changed the numbers to the ones we needed.  This gave me an idea.  I needed to create my own game board that included interchangeable mats so that we could play no matter which math facts we were practicing.  I created a mat for both the doubles facts and 10 plus a number facts.  I will create more as we continue with various other facts.

I laminated the board and mats.  I also added velcro to the front of the board and the back of the mats so that they would stay in place when they were used.

The game starts by having each player cover all of their numbers (we use beans).  Each player takes turn rolling the 10-sided dice.  For doubles we simply doubled the number rolled.  For 10 plus a number we added 10 to the rolled number. As each player rolls a number and calls out the answer to the fact they remove the place marker on the corresponding number.  If they have already removed the marker on that number then their turn is over and the opposing player rolls.  The winner is the first player to remove all of their place markers.  

When we are finished all of the materials are collected in a ziplock bag.  This makes it easy to grab when we are at the house but also when we need something to take with us to a doctor’s appointment or when we go out to eat.

And because I have a copycat toddler sitting nearby I also created 2 different number matching boards.  Pretty girl can’t count just yet but it will be a great way for her to practice when we start that skill.  For now she just places the counters on the numbers.

So if you too have a young one who likes playing games to review math skills then play a game of Face Off!

Rocks, Rocks Everywhere!

One main curriculum that we have used this year for homeschooling has been My Father’s World. I love this curriculum and definitely plan to use it again next year.

One of the things that I have enjoyed about the Kindergarten level in this curriculum is the way it is broken into themes.  This ends up being a perfect way to focus our curiosity and organize our weeks.  In the past we have talked about everything from the sun and the moon to the apples and the octopus.  This week’s theme was ROCKS.  We started off the week by reading about the wise man who built his house on the rock and the foolish man who built his house on the sand (Matthew 7:24-29).  We discussed how Jesus is our rock and how important it is to listen and obey and build our own life on the rock of Jesus.

We read books about rocks and Big Man discovered that they have different names depending on how they are formed and different hardness depending on how they can be scratched.  Next, we embarked on a nature hunt for….? You guessed it! ROCKS! I started off asking them to find 10 of the coolest rocks they could find.  This soon proved to be way too small of a number as I quickly realized that preschoolers and toddlers care very little about looking closely for the cool factor and way more about being the quickest to get their basket the fullest.   Once we got home, a bowl full of soapy water and a scrub brush was all they needed for another 30 minutes of entertainment.  It was at this point that just a couple of those cool factors started to make a bit of sense.  Big Man began to notice some of the differences in their shapes and colors.  This was 30 minutes well spent….for ALL of us.

Later in the week I was glad that they thought it more exciting to collect a basket of rocks.  We ended up using this rocks to sort and order.  We put them in a row from smallest to largest and then from lightest in color to darkest.  We even found that the basket of rocks made, challenging but yet still fun, building blocks.  They could be manipulated and turned in different directions and we played around with them trying to see how tall we could get them to stack before they all came tumbling down (or got knocked over by Pretty Girl, whichever one occurred first).

We used our theme of rocks to also talk about what objects float and which ones sink.  Along with various other objects Big Man predicated that the littlest of rocks would float while the larger ones would sink.  He was so excited to see he was right when his largest rock fell to the bottom of the bucket but quite surprised to discover so did the itty bitty one too.  I believe his comment was “HEY!”  We also tried markers, balls, apples, water bottles, paper clips and various other objects.  He sorted all the objects into those that would sink and those that would float and now will proudly tell you that the size of the object does not matter.  It is wether or not the object has air inside that determines if it will sink or float.

For added fun I found a paper version of the game Rock, Paper, Scissors and we finished our week by pulling out the acrylics and painting rock people (and a few monsters).  It has been a fun and full week of many ROCK DISCOVERIES and who knows, there just may be a rock monster family production at our house tonight.