Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Preschool Patterns

We made this game by dismantling a sushi roller (they are made of some sort of wood, maybe bamboo?) and colored pony beads.  I make a pattern on one rod, and she copies it on another.  This, of course, helps with fine motor coordination.  Our older girls like to play with these too!

Using a hot glue gun, affix a pony bead on the end of each skewer

Pattern Sticks


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Fine Motor Practice with Nuts and Bolts

For a dollar a pound at your local home improvement center, nuts, bolts, and washers can become a great practice to strengthen those little hands.  Strengthening will help with writing skills!  These can be used for sorting by size, sorting by shape (nut, bolt, washer), and they can also be used to match which bolt goes with which nut, then screwed on.  After we're done and they've outgrown the activity, I'll put them in DH's toolbox to maybe use later.  He seems to like to have a lot of extra nuts and bolts laying around.  :)

Beeps sorting bolts by length

Beeps manipulating bolt and nut


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Model Magic For History!

I love the Crayola site.  There are so many fun ideas!  Now getting to them all during a school year is another thing entirely.  To wrap up our Northwest Native American unit study, we decided to use some Model Magic by Crayola to make some of our own totem poles.  I never knew totem poles were a family's story.  I thought they were solely religious.   Anyhow, the girls had a blast doing this easy and fun activity.

Our local store only had Model Magic in conjunction with a bunch of little plastic tools, which I wasn't interested in, so I purchased some from Amazon less expensively minus the plastic toy tools!

Model Magic is a wonderful substance.  It is very light, much lighter than clay or Play-Doh.  Once it sticks together, it can be taken apart again, but with great effort.  This is good when creating 3-D figures, though, as it really sticks and not a lot of molding needs to be done.  Once it dries, it is pretty sturdy, although try not to drop them! ;)

This is Beeps', age 4

This one is Coco's, age 8

and Dreamer's, age 6


Monday, April 18, 2011

Sketch Tuesday - Something With a Tail

We participated in Sketch Tuesday this week.  The theme was something with a tail.

Here is Coco's, age 8.

Here is Dreamer's, age 6.

Here is mine (blush), age unknown. ;)

I guess you can't see any of the tails here, but it is what it is!


Slavery in America

We wrapped up the first part of American History this week with slavery in the United States.  I checked out a lot of library books, and we had a few already.  As usual, my sensitive girl's heart broke and rejoiced at the same time.  Here is a list of books we have read about slavery and the Underground Railroad.

I decided to top off our week with some songs the slaves may have sung from YouTube.

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Science Notebooking

I want to incorporate more science notebooking, but I am kind of at a loss on where to begin.  Last year I had a nicely organized folder on my computer, labeled by week of science curriculum with nice little lapbooking components to fill out and paste into our 3-ring binders.  Well . . . that didn't happen!  They are still in their little folders, unused.  This seems to work for history, but it hasn't worked in our homeschool for science.

So, I need to simplify and start with something easy.  I am seriously overwhelmed by the number of 3-ring binders in our home.  Where will all of these beasts fit?  There is no room!  I am considering trying to find a bound notebook with unlined pages that can be used for sketches and we can glue an occasional graphic from an Usborne link, photos of science experiments and projects.  I think we could even staple in like a flap a science notebooking page found at various notebooking sites.

I need ideas!  I think the little minibooks and such are great ideas!  But how to incorporate them?  I don't print up a whole year's worth of pre-made minibooks, as sometimes our needs change and we just didn't cover something or we don't need to cement an idea in.  Does that make sense?  So, I think we'll print out some generic minibooks of all sizes and shapes and use Usborne graphics and such things to fancy it up.

What do you think?



Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pioneer Unit

We have thoroughly enjoyed our Pioneer studies.  I had grand plans of making butter, cheese, and candles, but they were waylaid.  Maybe the next time through this period we'll do those.  We have used a variety of resources including the following, which were the spines for the pioneer times.

The Pioneer Sampler
Pioneer Days

Some of these printables came from my Homeschool Freebies page that runs along the top of this page.  Just look under American History/Pioneers.  Most of them go with Little House on the Prairie.  The quilt patch is from Homeschool Share; scroll down to "quilt patch simple fold."  The rest I made up, but didn't share, as it was just a bunch of Google images on things Pa brought home when he went to the store on the prairie.

This whole lapbook (which we converted to our notebook) is on Homeschool Share.  The girls loved this section!

All of these are Lapbook Lessons.  The printed photos of things I Googled.  I wanted the girls to see food preservation in action, not just me trying to explain it.  It included drying food items and canning them.

You can see this a little closer here.

We hope to make another journey to our living pioneer farm soon.  It's called The Homeplace.  Last year my camera died on me, so I'm hoping to get more photos this year.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Color Matching Game

This game is easy to make and helps with color recognition and fine motor skills.  I noticed our daughter's (4) fine motor skills aren't as advanced as our older girls, although her gross motor skills are phenomenal.  So to get those little hands stronger, I've been focusing on fine motor skills.  Over the next few weeks I'm going to introduce some of these skills as games, getting her ready for Handwriting Without Tears PreK workbook and instructor's guide.

List of Fine Motor Skills Activities:

  • Have her peel stickers off sticker page and place on a sheet of paper.  Then color/decorate the page.

  • Color with chalk on sidewalk, trying to keep chalk held in O position.

  • Puzzles.

  • MagnaDoodle.

  • Playdough; flattening, rolling out, cutting shapes.

  • Tear newspaper going with the grain.

  • Spray plants with water sprayer.

  • Sort coins and buttons.

  • Finger puppet poems using hand motions.

Here is the first installment!

Purchase multi-colored pack of foam and multi-colored large paperclips.

Cut in strips 2 inches long and 4-5 inches long.  Then attach 3 together with brad fastener.

Child can then attach the correct color of paperclip to the foam strips!

Another idea would be to introduce color words.  Write the color names on a 3 x 5 index card in the same color.  Tracing your finger from left to right under the color word, say the color out loud while child is watching and listening.  Then have child repeat back the color.  This will help with pre-reading skills of left-to-right and recognizing that the letters mean something.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Northwest Native Americans

Out of all the Native American regional groups, I have found the Northwest to be the most interesting and amazing.  Maybe it's because they were so different than the tribes east of the Rockies.  They were more wealthy than the other groups, their foods were very much different than the others (fish oil, salmon, blubber), the interesting tidbits such as using the oily candlefish for actual candles, and the totem poles!  Fascinating.  I would love to visit this area some time.

We read If You Lived With the Indians of the Northwest Coast.  This book is packed with interesting tidbits, and it has sparked my own imagination to delve deeper.

Anyhow, the girls loved sketching this Native American group.  From totem poles to flaming candlefish, they spent an hour or more a week drawing.

I have made many printables to go along with this unit.  I will put the link to download for free above each photo, and any stragglers at the end.  I hope this gives you inspiration for your own notebooking pages!  We love to use lapbook components in our notebook, as the thought of a whole lapbook sometimes overwhelms me.

If you just want the printables sans all my comments and photos, go to Homeschool Freebies along the top of this page, then scroll for Northwest Native American stuff.

These sketches are Coco's, age 8.

The red notebook page is just construction paper, and we mounted pictures of what the Northwest Native Americans ate most of the time, salmon, fish eggs, fish oil, berries, and seaweed.

The second notebooking page is related to head shaping and molding that a few tribes in Northwest America did.  Download free here!

NW Native American head shaping notebook pg

I'll speak of the boys and girls jobs first.  These are just simple folds, and we wrote what the children's work was found in If You Lived With the Indians of the Northwest Coast.

The Cedar Houses minibook is a little more complicated, so this photo and the next 2 describe it.

This is inside the Cedar Houses flap book.  There are 3 flaps to open, revealing totem poles and cedar houses from the NW coast.

This is a photo of under each flap, identifying some things about the NW Native American cedar houses, including drying fish hanging from the rafters, candlefish, and totem poles.  You can see a bit of the picture revealed under the flaps.  I love this minibook!  Download free here!

Cedar Homes mini book with inside flaps

Dog Wool This was so interesting to me.  They raised these wooly dogs to make clothing.

Winter Stories

Summer Homes Inside the "Summer Homes" component is a tab book for moving to the woods, hunting and gathering, and fishing, which they did all this in the summer.

Most Important Day of the Year This is the inside of this component.  Unfortunately, I accidentally printed it in grayscale, but the printable is actually colored.  Check it out!

Dugout Canoe

For the Using Cedar graduated book I found pictures of each category on Google.  I didn't share it, as I just Googled the images, and I didn't know which were copyrighted pictures or not.

Overall, we had a blast with these materials!  Please feel free to comment on any more ideas!


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cowboys and Cattlemen

We are nearly done with our American History curriculum, on to cowboys and the Wild West.  We are using a book called Wild West by Kingfisher that is very well done.  The illustrations really help you get a feel for life on a ranch.  It is out of print, but worth picking up used.

Even though I grew up on a tiny ranch and am familiar with the whole bit, the girls haven't a clue.  I found these videos to enhance our studies of cowboys and the west.  I hope you like them.

Cowboy Songs

I found a few printables on Homeschool Share on cowboys.  Here are photos of how we used them.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pioneer Dried Apples

I've considered drying green beans or drying strawberry puree, but I just couldn't wrap my mind around leaving a layer of crushed strawberries on my counter for 5 days and then eating it.  The green beans weren't much better, as after cooking them as recommended in a book we read with salt, we were supposed to hang them and let them drip all over the place!  Ah!  The conveniences of our time!

So, we used our oven at the lowest setting to do some apple slices and some grapes.  That didn't freak me out as much!  ;)  The dried apples were so yummy, that we're going to try again, this time by cutting the apples into rings.  This is about the easiest thing you could do for a project on Early America.

Dried Apples

Cut apples in eighths (we tried smaller, and it would be better thicker) or core the apple and cut into rings.  Put into 170-degree oven for 3-6 hours.  After 3, then hourly, squeeze the apples.  If your fingers are moist, continue baking.

We used the same process for raisins.  I didn't like the raisins, but DH and the girls did.  These were delicious, and very healthy.  It's nice to have a quick snack too.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Spicing Up Boring Notebook Pages


I really didn't like the notebooking pages that came with our curriculum.  They didn't really have much to do, and the pages that did seemed to be a repeat of the one before.  I didn't use many of them, but I wanted the girls to learn more about some American inventions and didn't have enough time to create some new ones, so I tried to spice up the material we had.

As you can see, the page is rather dry.  One idea would be to use the picture by cutting it out and pasting to a new page with writing lines.  Alternatively, you could use the text for copywork and choose a sentence or two to write on a generic notebooking page.

To make things as easy as possible, I found some pictures on Google and made some flaps at the bottom, as you can see in the picture.  It's still kinda boring.

What would you have done with this page?  :)