Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Finishing Up Our Lessons Before Thanksgiving

 After breakfast, I settled the boys down and we started math.  We've been sprinkling in some fun Thanksgiving themed lessons to go along with our traditional schoolwork.  Today I had hoped to finish up everything.

I really hadn't found anything exciting and all that interesting for Evan to work on and he was having fun playing with our new colored ball point pens drawing pictures, lines, and making up his own dot to dot so I just let him be. 

The older two boys, however, had this fun Thanksgiving Logic Puzzle to work on.  They needed a bit of help, though mostly I just assured them that they were reading the clues right and were on the right track.  In no time at all they figured out all of granny's kids favorite Thanksgiving foods.  Good thing too as they were working with pen today instead of pencil and if they had made any mistakes we wouldn't have been able to erase and start over.  I warned them before we even started that they had to make sure they were being extra careful before they marked anything when using pen.

I sat down with Evan and today we read 6 books! 

I saw a huge improvement over yesterday's reading and decided to play a sight word game with him using all these new Bob Book's words that we've been coming across.  I wrote all the words on a giant shower curtain liner we picked up at the dollar store using an erasable marker and gave him a fly swatter. 

He had to hit the words and I gave him the choice of reading them as he hit them or hitting the words as I read them.  He chose to have me call out a word and then he'd find it, say it, spell it, hit it and say it again.  The older boys wanted to play too since it was fun (I guess).

Our slap a sight word game

it's so much fun, especially on a tile floor as it's nice
and loud! 

We all sat together and read 'Twas The Night Before Thanksgiving and we compared it to yesterday's book The Night Before Thanksgiving.  It was another funny, cute story and we had fun with it.  I think my favorite part was when all the kids hid the turkeys under their shirts to save them from the farmer.  They looked very silly with the turkey wings and legs hanging out from under their great big bellies! 

The Night Before Thanksgiving by [Wing, Natasha]

I had one last math game for the older two boys.  I had downloaded this Turkey Fractions packet and printed it out on card stock.  We turned it into a memory game.  Each fraction was represented in words, pictures, and numbers so we made three columns of cards and they picked one card out of each column until they were able to find three cards that matched.  Some of the fractions even required adding.  It was great, fun, math practice.  I was impressed when Alec extended the activity on his own by putting his cards in order by the size of the fraction! 

our first match! 

putting fractions in order! 

We finished up our school day with a science movie or two.  I found Really Wild Animals: Adventures in Asia at the library and knew that with the giant panda picture on the front that Alec, at the very least, would love it!  All three boys sat and watched and learned a bit about animals of Asia.  They were able to tell me that the Arabian Oryx, Camel, Ibex, the Dole, and the giant panda were all animals of Asia.  I was pretty impressed since I don't think I even know half of those animals! 

Sometimes I don't think I'm nearly smart enough to teach my kids- they end up teaching me so much more than I think I ever teach them! 

They ended up watching a second movie in this series called Totally Tropical Rainforest during lunch.  It's a great series that balances silliness with science and facts. 

National Geographic: Really Wild Animals - Totally Tropical Rain Forest

Ian ended his day with some more art.  Since he was the only one that wanted to do art today I let him decide what he'd like to do.  He chose to draw and paint the Mayflower.

 I found this How to Draw The Mayflower mini-lesson on Art For Kids.  I set him up with some paper and propped my laptop next to him, then I just let him be.  He did a great job.  Though he did tell me he's not totally done yet. Once the paint dries he wanted to color in the sky and make the sails either a red or a yellow color just to be different. 

Artist at work

his half- way completed painting. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Coffee Filter Turkeys, gobble math, and Thanksgiving stories

   I planned to head to the grocery store as soon as the boys were up and ready this morning so I knew we'd get a late start on school today.  I pulled everything out that I wanted to get to today, last night while I only had Evan home with me, because I finally had time to think and plan.  I wanted to get some math, reading, writing and art done as well as grocery shop, clean the house and make a pie or two.  Yeah, I know you are all probably thinking I'm such a slacker with my short "to do" list-- right?  (I say totally tongue in cheek!).  Sometimes I'm amazed at all we survive during the holiday season.  It's wonderful to see our families and spend time together but it is so hard not to get caught up in all the prep work. Usually by the time the actual holiday arrives I'm a grumbling mess, but I'm determined to enjoy myself this year. Anyway, onto schoolwork. 
       The boys decided to sleep in and all got out of bed later today than I swear I've ever seen them get up.  I made them all shower real quick while I finished cleaning the bedrooms and then I shoved everyone into shoes, a coat, grabbed a math sheet for the two older boys and headed out the door.  Since I knew Evan was getting sick of the color by number pages I had found for Thanksgiving we tried something totally new today.  We have been working on counting by 5's and 10's and I found this great skip counting worksheet.  I knew I'd have to work with Evan on skip counting by 5's but I was able to give Alec the skip counting by 2's worksheet as practice and Ian worked on the counting by 3's.  They completed their worksheets in the car while we listened to The Hobbit on our way to and from the store. 
     Once home the boys finally ate breakfast (and I say finally because it was almost 10!).  Once they finished eating and I was done putting groceries away, I sat with Evan to help him on his skip counting sheet.  First we reviewed how to count by 10's then we counted together by 5's and then we dug into the sheet.  Mostly he wanted to skip count by 10's (15, 25, 35, etc.) but by the end of the page he was really getting the hang of it.  While I worked with him the two older boys were sitting at the table playing a cute addition game I found called Addition Gobble Bump.  Using three die they add the numbers quickly and cover the sum with a colored marker chip, they can bump one another off a space unless they manage to get two of their colored chips on a space then they're safe.  The first one to run out of chips wins.  They had fun and good naturedly grumbled and moaned when they got bumped.  It was very basic addition practice but you'd be amazed how much they still really need that! 

     After math Evan wanted to read to me.  He picked out 5 Bob Books!  I love that he's so enthusiastic but I'm getting nervous that one day I'll have to scramble around to find the time to sit and listen to a dozen or more!  He did great reading his books and was happy to share the stories with his brothers.  When he was done we all sat together and read The Night Before Thanksgiving.  It was a cute rhyming story set to the same rhythm as 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.  The boys immediately pointed out the similarities and we loved listening to the silly story.  The boys grumbled a bit when I mentioned writing a story so I suggested we sit in a circle and tell stories out loud.  They loved that idea.
     I had found these wonderful Pick- a - Turkey cards that we used to pick a character and setting every time we felt the need to change up our story a bit.  We had some really hilarious stories going on too!  At one point we had 6 turkeys, a hungry bear, a cow and a cook in the market after getting tired at the amusement park.  You probably had to be there but I was amazed at the stories and details I got out of my boys.  We worked together and stopped the story teller when things didn't makes sense.  I would then model for them one way they could have phrased it without confusing the reader.  We often recapped our story to a new character we stumbled upon and had so much fun laughing.  It's not often you encounter a turkey at the beach or a cook working at the post office!  Mostly I sat and thought of how much shorter (and, frankly, boring) their stories would have been if I had made them sit and write them down.  While I do agree they need to learn to write and put their ideas down on paper I think that is something they can learn to do at a later date.  Like I told the boys, many authors dictate their stories first into a recorder of some kind so they don't loose their ideas while thinking about spelling, punctuation, and proper letter formation.  All in all I think we had a fabulous "writing" activity going on today.  You know it's good when they all groaned as I cleaned it up and asked it we could do it again tomorrow! 
     With all of our work done for the day we turned to some fun.  We were making coffee filter turkeys today.  The boys used brushes, watercolors and coffee filters to make the turkeys' colorful plumage feathers.  Once the coffee filters dried we glued construction paper bodies and wings onto the front, added some cute googlie eyes, yellow paper beaks and red waddles and we had a wonderful collection of birds.  I love how they look hanging in the windows. 

        Ian helped make our Thanksgiving pumpkin pie this afternoon.  I basically just watched over his shoulder as he measured and mixed everything.  We popped it into the oven and he looked at me and said "that's it?"  I agreed that pumpkin pie is quite easy to make.  We then all sat down to lunch and watched a few episodes of How it's Made.  I couldn't believe how fast the day flew by... until I thought of all that we had accomplished!  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving treats

    At dinner last night my husband expressed his concerns that I've done away with most worksheets since he feels the boys need more instruction on writing and math.  While I can't argue that they don't need more work I still don't love the idea of lots of worksheets.  I did tell my husband that we had started using worksheets this past week and that I planned to rely on them a lot again this week since I'm so buys trying to get the boys to all their activities while also cleaning the house, going grocery shopping and getting ready for our big family thanksgiving day meal here.  I am very behind this year on all my holiday prep work and don't feel like I can teach and get everything done.  Luckily, the older boys especially, can always use some review and that will allow them to work independently.
    Evan was the first one up today and I asked him if he'd like to read to me.  He picked out four Bob books for us to read together!  I was stunned that he wanted to read that many to me.  I was also glad to see the "new" book for today was called Who; a word we just started talking about this weekend.  The boys play a game called What.  If you say (or spell) the word What they chant "you're stuck with the word!"  Well once Evan knew how to spell What I jokingly told the boys we should change the  word to W- H -O and then maybe Evan would learn how to spell who just like he did the word what.  Evan did a great job reading to me and I pointed out to him how much his reading skills are developing every day. 
    By the time we finished reading Alec had joined us and I let the boys play for a bit then sent them all to eat breakfast.  We had about an hour until we needed to get ready for trampoline and I showed them what work I wanted them to do for the day (though we had some last minute changes since I ran out of computer paper this morning!).  I had Ian and Alec work on two answer and color by number papers (here's the link for the second sheet).  Ian tried to grumble about it but I pointed out that they were all pretty easy addition and subtraction equations that should be a very easy review for them at this point.  Evan had one last color by number paper to finish up.  This time I added a 2 before every number on the page so we could practice our twenties.  He read all the color words quite quickly without any help! 
    Once I described their work to them and they were all settled with their breakfast food I read aloud  a cute little book called The Littlest Pilgrim.  I can't say it was the best book we read about Thanksgiving since it was mostly about a little pilgrim girl trying to find a way to help her family and ends up making a new friend instead.  After breakfast they quickly got ready for the day and settled down to start working on their math sheets.  After just a few minutes we had to pack them up and head to the car. 
    The boys took their sheets with them in the car to work on while driving to and from trampoline.  We also listened to The Hobbit and now that we're about half- way through the book the boys are quite enraptured with it.  They groaned when we stopped to get computer paper and when we stopped to get eggs since they just wanted to keep listening to the story.  They're already looking forward to listening to The Lord Of The Rings series. 
   We had a substitute teacher at trampoline today and the boys had even more fun than usual.  I'm glad because Alec and Evan were thinking of quitting before today's class and they've already told me that they're re-thinking that decision.  Today the boys worked on flips, jumping really high with control, and trying to finish up their book of tricks. 
    Once home we ate a quick lunch and watched an episode of How It's Made.  I printed out our writing assignment for the day.  I found a cute printable How To Cook a Turkey worksheet that I asked the boys to fill in (I wrote the words for Evan while he dictated them to me).  The boys answers were pretty uniform.. First you buy the turkey, then you put it in a big pot and then you cook it.  I loved that they had to tell what temperature and for how long to cook the turkey though since that was super funny.  I think the best was Evan's response:  Cook it at 50 degrees for about 30 seconds.  I could sleep in on Thanksgiving if I could find a way to cook turkey that quickly! 

    Once everyone finished their work for the day we worked on making some yummy Thanksgiving treats.  We always have lots of pies and my kids are not big fans of pie.  They like cookies.  When I saw these adorable pilgrim hat and acorn cookies on Pinterest that only required a bit of assembly I thought they were perfect.  We started by unwrapping lots of Hershey Kisses and Reece's Peanut butter Cup Miniatures.  While the boys were unwrapping I prepared three pastry bags of frosting (though you could use a sandwich bag with the corner cut off or even a knife with the frosting).  Once they were ready I quickly demonstrated how to make one of the Pilgrim hats.  We took a fudge stripe cookie and a peanut butter cup and "glued" the peanut butter cup onto the backside of the fudge stripe cookie using  a dot or two of frosting.  They were easy and adorable and all the boys had fun making them.  For the Acorns we took Bite Size Nilla Wafers, Hershey kisses and Tollhouse morsels.  Using the frosting as "glue" once again we put a dab of frosting on the kiss, adhered it to the bottom of the Nilla wafer and then put a dab of frosting on the top to hold the morsel in place.  Evan was super excited about these cookies since he LOVES Nilla wafers!  Of course, we all tried at least one of each just to make sure they were OK to serve to our guests. 
Hard at work... so serious! 

Acorn cookies
Pilgrim hat cookies

Friday, November 22, 2013

What can we learn when mom's on the couch?

     Laid up with a bum foot and a horrible night of sleep I spent the day on the couch.... well, for the most part anyway.  I think it's just about impossible to spend the whole day on the couch when you're home with three boys by yourself.  I wasn't planning on doing much in the way of school today but was feeling like we should do something when all three boys asked if they could build another fort in the middle of the living room.  I agreed and they soon set to work dragging in kitchen chairs, blankets galore and clothespins.  They worked together and had a wonderful fort set up in no time.  They soon applied lots of problem solving skills when the fort caved in or the blankets couldn't stretch far enough apart.  They figured out how to make the most of the space inside the fort and keep all the blankets in place.  They brought down most of their stuffed animals, lots of pillows and blankets to put in the fort and started playing.  It wasn't long before they asked to play with the Kindle, DS's and watch TV/Movies.  I said sure.  Pretty much anything that allowed me to stay on the couch in my PJ's with a blanket on my lap sounded wonderful today! 

     Ian came out after a while and asked if he could do an art project today.  He really wanted to paint so I helped him get out some supplies to make some fun Q- tip trees.  He saw this idea on Pinterest, and even though the original page had all the instructions in Spanish it was quite easy to figure out.  As soon as I set out the supplies, I let him be.  He completed the project himself in no time and then was off to watch another episode of Axe Men. 

      I did muster up enough strength to make lunches for everyone today and while we ate I read a few books to them.  We read our last few books about insects and bugs in winter called Not A Buzz to be Found and Winter Lullaby.  We loved the illustrations in both of these stories! I can't say we learned much more about bugs in winter since we've already read a few other books but we did enjoy these stories just the same.  Our last story was called The Very First Thanksgiving Day.  It was another beautifully illustrated story with lots of rhythm and rhyme.  We enjoyed comparing this book to the one we read yesterday and applying our knowledge of the Pilgrims to what we were reading today.  Evan took a mini break from his screens, after lunch, and read a few more Bob Books to me.  I keep hoping that one of these days it will all just click and he'll take of with his reading.  He's definitely making progress but he's still a long way from being an independent reader.  I'm just so happy he's finally trying. 
      Alec played Chess and Nine Men's Morris on the Kindle.  Ian was learning all sorts of geography and "real" world skills in watching Axe Men, Yukon Men, Alaska the Last Frontier and so on.   I did spend a good portion of the day, with the help of my laptop, looking up new teaching ideas, worksheets and lessons.  I mostly searched Pinterest and the Teachers Pay Teachers sight looking for some new and fun ideas.  I found so many ideas to print and try out with the boys.  Our homeschooling always looks more traditional through the winter since we're stuck indoors and need more to do then we gravitate toward unschooling and field trips in the spring and summer.
    I was feeling much better after a late afternoon shower and so I asked the boys to complete their day with a math worksheet/activity each.  Ian and Alec chose to do a pumpkin coordinates paper.  This one was a bit trickier but it was still great practice for them with using a coordinate plane to grid points and connect the dots.   Ian got pretty frustrated at times but I coached him through it and pretty soon he was cruising along on his own.  Alec had no problem with it all.  Ian chose to color his, Alec did not.  That was kind of a bizarre twist in our house where Alec loves to do art and Ian usually does not, but I guess that's changing.   Evan did another Thanksgiving color by number sheet.  I found this great pack of free ones through Frugal Homeschool Family.  To make it just a tad bit more challenging for him I changed all the single digit numbers to double digit numbers (I just used a black pen to draw a 1 in front of all the numbers on the page).  He was able to sound out pretty much all of the color words this time and with a couple of tries was able to tell me all the numbers, especially once he discovered that they were in order.  All in all it was a pretty productive day!   

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Awesome Artwork!

    Evan was up nice and early and wanted to play Word Monkey on the Kindle.  Alec soon joined him and asked to play Chess and Stack the States.  They did a good job taking turns and not fighting so I let them be for a while.  Ian watched a few episodes of How It's Made and American Pickers.  They got all ready for the day and spent a bit of time on our library's website requesting new books and movies. 
   Evan saw me looking through our box of books trying to decide which ones I wanted to read today and he offered to read a Bob Books to me.  We re-read Mat Hid and read Hop.  Again he was able to read several pages in this brand new book to me without any help!  We had a few new words and when I asked him how he knew what that page said he told me that he doesn't know how to read he's just making good guesses.  I smiled and reminded him that a lot of the best readers just make guesses as to what's coming next in the story, as long as he looks at the words to make sure they make sense with his guesses he's doing a great job. 
    We finally decided we wanted to start school.  Ian asked if he could do one of the art projects he picked out on Pinterest the other day.  I had planned to do a project today anyway since he was so interested.  He ended up picking the same project I was thinking about doing today!  We painted birch trees. We followed the directions of the Doodle All Day website using liquid watercolors and the sunsets were quite vibrant.  I love how they came out!  Unfortunately, Evan struggled with using the credit card to make the lines in the birch tree, threw the card full of black paint across the room and quit.  He decided to try again after lunch (after I sent him to his room and he threw a major tantrum). 

Ian making birch lines on his tree

Alec is a natural

Their finished paintings 
Even Evan's came out just great once he calmed down. 
       While waiting, between steps, for our art work to dry the boys played toys for a bit and we sat and read  If You Were at the First Thanksgiving  and Oh No, Woolly Bear!  The boys knew quite a bit about the first Thanksgiving but we definitely learned some new facts through reading If You Were At The First Thanksgiving.  I love that this is part of a series.  We'll definitely be checking out a lot of the other books since they are well written and informative.   Oh No, Woolly Bear reinforced the lessons we learned in Bug and Bugsicles and where bugs go during the winter.  After we were finished our artwork I decided school was done for the day.  I just love homeschooling! 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hands- on History Lesson about Native Americans

We went on a field trip today to the Mashentucket Pequot Museum.  I have never been there, nor had any of my kids and I thought it was the perfect field trip to take right before Thanksgiving.

Our trip was made even better since my sister and her boys joined us and I had a Groupon that saved us all money.  We learned SO much!

We got to learn about the ice age, glacier, and extinct animals.  We saw the tools native American's used, food they ate, replicas of their houses and villages.  It was amazing!  We had such a great time.  The museum has wonderful interactive TV's that drew the kids in.  There were movies to watch.
Walking through the village they give you what look like old flip cell phones and you can listen to stories about the village, the people in it and the jobs they do.

My boys were dreading this field trip and they had such a good time.  I love when we can make history lessons really come alive-- they're so much more memorable that way!

Learning about how they made tools by watching a video

Learning about glaciers and the ice age

Extinct species of wolves called dire wolves

Learning about how local native American's used the woods around us to survive

Tool they used

Diorama of their village complete with fishing fences

Comparing our modern day tools to theirs

Alec learned all about the Atlantic Sturgeon

Listening to a story of what this native American girl is doing

They loved the "phones"

A wigwam we got to go into

We ended our day with a quick trip to the top of the lookout tower

Linking Up With:

Chaotic Bliss Homeschooling

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thanksgiving crafts and worksheets

Today we focused on school and some Thanksgiving crafts.

I gave the kids choices, like I usually do, and we planned activities that they wanted to participate in.  I knew I wanted to do a "thankful" craft, but I couldn't decide on a Thankful Pumpkin pie, a thankful pumpkin or a thankful turkey.  I was glad I asked since they all ended up choosing a different one to make!

Ian's only requirement was that he be able to paint it.  While they got ready for the day, I pulled out the necessary supplies.  I knew we'd get a late start on our day as they were watching a marathon of How It's Made episodes and I had a lot to do around the house. But that is the beauty of homeschooling.  We can do schoolwork whenever we want! 
We started by painting those things that needed to be painted and setting them aside to dry.  While they were drying we read a very cute Thanksgiving book called The Thanksgiving Door and started on some math work for the day.

Mixing colors to get them "just right"
I had Evan work on another turkey number and color page-- this sheet worked with two digit numbers and had more colors listed for him to practice his color words.  I also found another coordinate pair worksheet for the older boys-- this time they colored in squares to make a Native American Indian picture.

Ian finished his pumpkin pie craft and had to come up with a few more items that he was thankful for to fill in the pie.  It came out great! He was thrilled to be able to use a permanent black marker. I guess something it's the little things in life that really make our day.  He did ask me to plan some "real" art projects and paintings for later in the week since he has decided he loves to paint and really misses it.  I brought him to my Pinterest page and set him up with his own board.  He pinned many wonderful art projects from some of my teaching and art boards and we now have a wonderful "list" of art projects we can start tackling!

While Ian was copying his words, Evan was hard at work copying his too.  I had sat down with him and had him dictate what he was thankful for and I wrote it all down on scrap paper.  We cut an orange piece of construction paper (and really I should have used scrapbooking or oak tag paper) into 8 strips and I had him copy his words onto each strip of paper.  He did an amazing job of writing out all the words.  I then used brads to turn the paper strips into a pumpkin and added a few leaves and vines to the top using glue.  It's adorable!  He also read a new Bob Books to me called "Mat Hid" and I was pretty impressed when he read a page or two without any help first time through!  I guess he really is picking up words here and there. 

We should have used stronger paper so it
would hold it's shape better. 

Alec pulled out his Angry Birds bird book so he could check and see what real turkeys look like before painting his turkey.  He then cut out feathers, wrote out his thankful list and copied each word/ phrase onto one of the feathers also using a permanent marker.  We decided to add feet to the turkey and found some googlie eyes and a balloon to use as his waddle.  He is super cute!

His finished project. 

After lunch we finished up our math worksheets-- after a bit of work this morning I had them all take a break and go play for a while.  I find they're much more willing to work when we break up the work throughout the day and throw in a bit of fun now and then.

The boys asked to watch Flubber again and we talked about properties of matter, how the flubber in the movie is different/ same to the flubber we make.  I know it's kind of a stretch but I did request this movie from the library for them as part of science.  I guess, since they've watched it a few times already, that they really love it.  The younger two decided to spend the rest of the afternoon playing with our latest batch of flubber and a bunch of Mario Brothers toys while Ian bundled up and headed outside to play.  It was cold but nice and sunny and he's still got a lot of digging to do before the ground freezes. 
"It's both a liquid and a solid" says Alec

Linking Up With:
Tots and Me