Sunday, January 30, 2011

Paper Mache Snowman Faces

Tommy's Snowman Paper Mache face, with carrot nose and coal eyes and mouth
One of the books we read this week was The Biggest, Best Snowman Ever by Margery Cuyler.

A very sweet story with an even sweeter lesson, that you are never too small to accomplish big things!  Nell, the little girl in the story, is told that she is too small to do much of anything.  She sets out into the wintery woods where she meets up with her animals friends an together they build the Biggest, Best Snowman Ever!  Proving that with a little help from her friends, she indeed "big" enough to do BIG things.

To go along with this story and our week long theme of Snow/Winter, we opted to make paper mache snowman faces. 
We started off  by practicing writing our letters in flour, an idea I have seen all over the blog-sphere.  It is great fun for little people and a wonderful exercise for little fingers.

Once the boys were done making a complete mess writing their letters, we started to work on our snowmen faces.  We used water and flour mixed together and then dipped bits of toilet paper into the mixture.  I helped Tommy form some of his pieces because it was difficult for him to do so since it was so sticky.   It was great fun, until I went to clean up! 
We waited about a day for them to dry and then painted them.  Orange for his carrot nose and black for his coal eyes and mouth.  I think these turned out so great and the pictures don't show their depth.  Tommy had so much fun to have complete control over his creation and I think that shows!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ice Cube Sun-catcher

This was a very cool activity for the children and myself.  It took a few days to complete but the end result was worth it!  Isn't our ice cube sun-catcher pretty?!

 We tied this project into Charlie's science lesson on measuring liquid. It also turned into a spontaneous art class when the boys mixed different colors of food coloring to make the colors that they wanted. We used our fun tropical ice cube tray from Grandma Candace for the ice cubes. We put the tray outside for a few hours to freeze them. Again linking into Charlie's science lesson on temperature. That is one of the cool aspects of homeschooling, that lessons over lap and the younger ones can be learning right along with the older children.

Once the ice cubes had set we filled a cup with water and placed it in the middle of the black flat bowl.  The water in the cup keeps it from moving around when we filled the black bowl with yellow colored water. It also makes a smaller circle in the sun-catcher that we can use to hang the sun-catcher from a tree etc.We placed our sun-catcher outside again (I guess temperatures in the low teens are good for something!) and let it freeze over night.

In the morning we brought it in and ran it under the tap for a few seconds to loosen our suncatcher from the mold.  Our ice cubes did not hold their "tropical" cute shapes but melted into small round balls.  Regardless, we all thought it turned out very pretty.

Daddy hung it from the playscape in the backyard and we will continue to enjoy it as long as the weather permits.  This is one of those projects that we will certainly do again and the possibilities are endless!

Linking to:
Something for the Weekend
Kids Get Crafty
Preschool Corner and 5K too
Creative  Connections for Kids

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Preschool Theme: Winter/Snow

 This week we focused on all things Winter/ snow for Tommy's school time.

We read a lot of fun books.

We made snowball cookies. Tommy loves to help in the kitchen.  He calls me "Big Chef" and insists that I call him the "Little Chef".  Oh, how I long for him to stay this sweet forever!!

For a fun craft the boys made snowmen out of shapes.

We also made an ice cube sun-catchers. 

We all had fun doing resist snowflake paintings. I used a white crayon and drew snowflakes on a piece of white paper. Then the boys painted with water colors over the paper to "find" the snowflakes. Tommy loved watching the colored water pull away from the wax on the paper. It was a fun project!

Tom also did a few worksheets from focusing on the letter A and the number 2.

We practiced our letters in flour and then made paper mache snowman faces.
Tommy continues to amaze me.  We are just starting to do formal instruction with him with regards to the alphabet and number recognition.   He can write his name and can correctly identify most of the alphabet.  Yesterday at lunch I was reviewing the sounds that all the letters make with Charlie.  Tommy knew every single one of them and answered with lightening speed.  I was shocked but very proud of our sweet boy!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Happy Birthday Charlie

Our independent, outgoing brainchild who loves to laugh, cuddle up with his lovey and kitty, who will offer you a bite of his donut because he is generous like that.  Who thinks that anything about bottoms and stinky feet is hilarious. Who is obsessed with trains and LEGOS and prefers the color orange over any other.  Who adores his little sister and is partners in crime with his little brother.  Who stole our hearts and made us parents.  Who continues to amaze us each and every day at his vivid imagination and inventive skills.  Who can ride his bike (with training wheels), is learning to swim and can read.  Yes, that boy is turning 6 today.

Can you believe it?  We barely can!

Happy Birthday dearest Charlie.  May you always know that we love you completely and may you always feel God's love and grace!

School: Theme of the Mummy

The boys playing in the snow at the kitchen table
We are FINALLY back to our "normal" selves, thank God!! (Our 2 month old baby has been in the hospital with RSV.  She is home and doing great now.) And even though this week has been a bit rusty around the edges, we still managed to get a lot accomplished and have some fun in the midst of it all!

I have made some changes with regards to our schooling and plan to make more in the upcoming weeks.  I have been longing to do more unit studies with the boys that both of them can participate in and also find other sources for Charlie's LA.

The boys playing LEGOs together
  First change was with Charlie's Language Arts curriculum. I am not pleased with some of the content/activities that the K12 provides so I am picking and choosing what lessons we complete from them.  Instead we are going to be using The Magic Tree House series books which we can also use to do unit studies of different topics.  

We will read The Magic Tree House book and if there is a study guide book to accompany it then we will use that to do further research.  If not, then we will use other books from the library.  We will plan on studying one subject for a few weeks or until we are finished doing the projects/readings.

Using blocks for math
I also am starting to work on another curriculum for Tommy.  He is eager to do "school" with Charlie...sometimes.   I won't enforce school time with him until next September, but need to have some stuff ready when he does want to participate.

I bought the first four books from The Magic Tree House series and asked Charlie which one he wanted to ready/study first.  He choose Mummies in the Morning.   We read the book in about 3 days, during lunch and before bed.  I was surprised that it held the attention of  both the boys. Charlie was REALLY into the book and begged to finish it. Tommy was obsessed looking at the picture of the Mummy. Gotta love it!!

Charlie wrote his name in Hieroglyphics
To go along with our study of all things Mummy we made hieroglyph writings just like the ones that were in the tombs of the great pyramids.  Charlie did his name and the word train, of course :)  We also made a bookmark with hieroglyph writings on it to use with our Magic Tree House books.

This week we started reading from our daily devotional book for kids.  There is a short reading for each day and then activities you can do to go along with what you are studying.  So far we are all enjoying it.

Charlie continues to work very hard on his phonics and math.  This week he reviewed his sight words, reviewed the alphabet and made a letter train, identified vowel and consonant letters, built nonsense words and blended word parts.  

He also started a dictation notebook.  Every day he will be writing a few words in the notebook and we will keep track of any words/letters that he may need additional review on.  We both really like the phonics program that K12 provides.
Tommy on doing math

Both boys enjoyed the new website.  We signed up for the members only portion which has math components as well.  This is such a great learning tool and Tom enjoyed the numbers section.

We had a  pretty great week considering that we were just getting off a 2 week holiday break and then 1 week of sister and mom being gone in the hospital.  I love being able to teach our boys at home and feel so blessed to be able to do so.  The time I am spending with them is priceless!!

Excuse Our Dust

We are updating this blog and apologize to those of you that are being bombarded with posts tonight.  Life happened and I have been unable to keep this blog up to date, until now.

Grab your coffee or your tea and sit back and see what we have been up to.

And please join us as we continue on with our Homeschooling adventures!!

Snowman Soup and Christmas candy

This year the boys made some cute little packages of Snowman Soup for some of their friends and neighbors.  As part of our Christmas preparations we tried to focus more on giving and doing for others like Jesus did,  then the presents that they would receive on Christmas.

After washing our hands :), we let the boys stuff their little bags full of marshmallows, a candy cane, a packet of hot chocolate and a few Hersey Kisses.  Tommy was MORE then generous with his bags!!   We wrapped them up, tied on a recipe for Snowman Soup, and delivered them through out the neighborhood or gave them to friends when we saw them.

It was a fun project that the kids could have a lot of control in and a great family project of giving to others!  Something we will certainly do next year!

Trent also made some of our famous candy cane bark for his boss and co-workers.  He really went all out this year and experimented with different chocolates and what combination went well together etc.  I believe that he settled on a dark chocolate base, then white chocolate and crushed candy canes on top.  I have to say that I LOVE working in the kitchen with my husband and we seem to do a lot more of it during the holidays!!

Homeschool: Kindergarten & Preschool CHRISTMAS!!!!

We are finally healthy, just in time to celebrate Christmas!!

Trent is on vacation for the next 2 weeks so we are enjoying our family time. We are having a very short week of academics, spending time with family and friends, celebrating some old and new traditions, and just trying to relax and spend time with one another.

Charlie worked on a few Science lessons this week. We learned about plants, what they need to grow, the different parts of the plant etc. Charlie made a sunflower and really took time carefully cutting out each piece and then gluing them to the "stem". He graphed different types of beans and did a few computer games about plants through his K12 online curriculum.

We also revisited our Kidney Bean plant that we planted a few months back. The plant was doing great until it collided with some clean dishes and the stem broke :( So, it was perfect timing to harvest our 3 beans.

That is all the school we did. The rest of the week we have been finishing up all the errands we needed to wrap up before the holiday. The presents are all wrapped, the Christmas work party attended, turkey is defrosted, laundry is almost done, last trip to the grocery store has been run. We are preparing for Country Lights and then it is off to Nie Nie and Papa's house in the morning.

Merry Christmas!

Stained Glass Nativity Ornament

This was by far our favorite Christmas craft to make and one I will cherish always. It was so simple and yet, I think it captures exactly what we need to focus on at Christmas time.

I had bought some vinyl Nativity scenes last year. I had no idea what I would do with them but I loved them the minute I saw them.

I had the boys take small pieces of tissue paper and lay them down on contact paper to give a stained glass effect. We covered that piece with another piece of contact paper and then laid the vinyl Nativity on top of that. Then I attached some simple ribbon we had in our craft drawers to hang the ornament from the tree or in the window.

I just love them! and the kids really enjoy making the stained glass.

Merry Christmas!

Homeschool: Kindergarten Getting Ready for Christmas part 2

(Penny watching Charlie do school)

The last 2 weeks we have all been kind of "off". It all started with a migraine for me, followed by nasty head colds for all the kids and I, ear infection for Charlie and tummy bug for Trent :( There was a lot more fighting and whining going on and far less patience on my part. LOTS of prayers were said :)

So, some days we simply have been in survival mode and others have been better and more productive. We did manage get a lot of school done and do some fun projects along the way. I did scale back our Christmas curriculum that I had planned and I am thankful that I have not tried to push things and get it "all" done. Instead we have been able to spend a lot of quality family time together focused on the true meaning of Christmas!

Charlie is starting to work on graphing in his math and he LOVES it! We did a bunch of graphing last year so he has a good idea of the process and is doing more complicated problems.

He also continues to plow through his phonics and is doing really well. He is spelling words and reading up a storm! I do need to set aside time each day for him to do more independent reading. I also need to find more beginner readers for him to work through.

(Charlie making words)

We are also working on following instructions and listening carefully. He sometimes has a hard time focusing on things if it isn't something he 100% wants to do or isn't something that he choose to do. If it was his idea to do it then he has NO problem giving all of his attention to it. I am sure that this is something that we will continue to work on for a.long.time. with all the children! :) (Thanks Aunt Susie for the advice and encouragement! It helped us a lot and he is doing SOOO much better!!) It is obvious that he is really trying.

(Learning about muscles, the brain and your heart)

We did a really cool science project (despite my migraine) and managed to have fun doing it too! We reviewed about bones and joints and learned about muscles in our body. We made a neat model of an arm with a paper towel role, deflated balloons and tape. The balloons represented our muscles and how they work to make our arms move. Charlie enjoyed this project and even added veins and drew bones on the paper towel roll.

Charlie showing me how his "arm" bends with the "muscles"

We also learned about our teeth and the boys watched a video about Molly Molar on the computer.

The boys made some homemade peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. They were super yummy and no one even noticed that I used whole wheat flour :) Charlie made his cookies "mystery" cookies and hide chocolate chips in the middle.

Then we started working on our Christmas crafts. The boys made pine cone glitter ornaments and Christmas trees out of pine cones that Grandma Candace brought from Whidbey Island.

We also assembled our Gingerbread Train. Trent hot glued the cookie pieces together and the boys and I decorated with royal icing and lots of candy. It was really nice to work together and a fun activity for all of us.

Tommy worked on counting and number recognition using one of our Leap Frog games.

And despite all the sickness, we still managed to have some fun.

Honestly, I am really looking forward to next week. I pray that we will all be healthy and getting back into our new groove!

Homeschool: Kindergarten & Preschool Getting Ready for Christmas

The germs were still lingering but we managed to get A LOT of school done. Charlie is flying through his phonics and is doing great! He is reading new words everyday, spelling words and eager to read books. We still need to get caught up on our Science lessons, but I am not concerned. I know that once the holidays are over we will be able to start our new schedule and will quickly get caught up.

Tommy under the dining room table playing with beans and cars and asking me for "sum pivacy pease, Mama."

Tom tracing letters.

Tom doing the magnetic ABC puzzle.

I spent more time this past week working with Tommy on his ABC's and number recognition. We had fun working on his ABC puzzle, recognizing letters and placing them in their correct spot, talking about different words that start with letters etc. He is READY to start a full on school curriculum. I had backed away from a curriculum that I had planned because I thought it was too advanced and not that engaging. Come January though I will have a new curriculum for him so that he can "really" do school right along with us.

We started our Christmas study activities last week. We brought out our Nativity and let each boy take turns unwrapping each figure and placing them in the stable. They LOVED doing this and it is something we will make a yearly tradition. Then we read our new Christmas book, I like to buy a new one each year. This year I found a great little book at Michaels that is simple enough to keep both boys interested in the story, and yet nicely tells the story of Jesus' birth.

We have also been doing a lot of fun activities.

The boys decorated ice cream cones with green frosting and different candies to make Christmas trees.

We had a fun Christmas themed tea party.

I made the boys Candy Cane play dough with silver and red glitter in it. They had great fun playing with it. This is the second time we made homemade scented play dough (the first being our pumpkin spice for Thanksgiving). We all really enjoy the fun scents and glitter in it!

The boys had fun painting a Christmas picture with water paints and q-tips. I remember doing this type of thing at my Granny's and loved it. They did too until the paper started tearing from the water.

The boys also made wreath ornaments to give as presents.

I am praying that we are at the end of our sickness and that we can all be healthy before Christmas. Trent is on vacation for 2 weeks and I hope to do some fun projects with him around and really focus on the true meaning of Christmas :)