Saturday, June 30, 2012

Milk Paint and Melted Crayons

On hot summer days we rarely feel like doing any schoolwork.

Often we'll find fun activities to keep us occupied and while the boys don't realize it I do count all of our activities as part of school.  Today we had fun with art and science and combining the two.  We made our own paint and tried our hand at melting crayons in the sun.

I quickly made up a batch of paint from sweetened condensed milk and food coloring.

Once painted, it dries nice and shiny and it's an unusual consistency to paint with.   They tried painting some of the stuff they had found on a nature scavenger hunt and they tried making prints on the paper and then they just painted with paint brushes.

We put our broken crayons in the sun and watched them melt bit by bit throughout the day.

Some of them melted completely; others hardly melted at all.

Ian told us that "the dark colored ones melted first because dark colors attract the sunlight more."  We'll probably keep them outside another day or so and keep checking on them to see if they will all continue to melt and then we'll try coloring with them. 

Just a few simple activities can go a long way!  

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Friday, June 29, 2012

Old Sturbridge Village Field Trip

Though Alec was a bit sore this morning, we decided to stick with our original plan to go to Old Sturbridge Village.  We arrived right for opening time and the rain stopped.

We had a great time.  The place is HUGE.

I don't remember it being that big; in fact I didn't remember much about it at all.  They had lots of hands on things for the kids and tons of live demonstrations.

I'm sure much of it was more than they could truly grasp and understand but they enjoyed it and the two older boys said they'd like to go back another day when it wasn't so hot.

We went on a horse drawn wagon ride.

They got to pump water from the well.

They practice weaving and use a spinning wheel.

They pet live animals and learned to stretch wool into fiber.

Carding the wool to make it soft and fiberous.

The two older boys made a tin candle holder.

Making tin candle holders.
We had a snack, played on the children's playground and checked out the indoor play area for children on the way out.

We made it a full 3 hours before they asked if they could go home and go swimming. 

At lunch they were telling me they would have hated to live back then with no electricity, they said they "couldn't imagine having to walk to get water outside! And what if it froze in the winter?"  they asked.

They noticed all the period costumes had many layers, long sleeve, and pants and were incredulous that people wore that year round even in the heat and that they had to keep the fire places going all year long too.

I think they definitely got a good feel of what it was like in the 1800's in New England and isn't that the whole point?

We'll go again another day and learn even more.

Making quilt squares with plastic tiles.

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Never a dull moment! Crafting and Spending Time In Nature

We've had a pretty busy couple of days.  We spent lots of time crafting, playing, and exploring nature.  One thing I have learned is that life with three boys is never dull.  It's messy, loud, and always keeps me on my toes.  Even a simple trip to a nature center is never quite so simple.

Last night I took the boys to the 7th Annual Reading In The Park... what a fabulously fun night all centered on reading!

They had 10 (yes, 10!) different craft stations set up where the kids were able to participate in crafts related to different books.

There was entertainment , a wonderful children's singer named T- Bone who was very lively, funny and entertaining.  Here is a link to his page on which you can find his touring schedule.

 Each child received a free book at the end of the night and they handed out water bottles and snacks.

 Oh and did I mention this was all FREE?!

My kids loved it.

We met my sister and nephew there too.  Then we started right in on the crafts and each of the boys made a few; sadly we didn't make it to all 10 stations; Alec gladly would have but his brothers lost interest after a a bit.  They played on the climber for a bit and then we sat and ate a picnic in the park.  I turned around and witnessed my two older boys and my nephew make up their own game to play and before I knew it they had at least 3 or 4 other boys joining in and they were all giggling and rolling on the floor laughing.

I'm always asked if I'm worried about my kids finding time, opportunity and other kids to socialize with and then I see them make friends in an instant and I know I have nothing to worry about.  T- Bone's show started soon after that and all the kids were called up to sit, sing, and participate.  When the music was over they each picked out their free book and we headed home.  Alec read his entire book on the ride home out loud to everyone so they even got some bonus reading time in!  We'll definitely be back again next year!

The craft projects & one of the books we brought home
We're sure having fun! 
This morning while the boys were playing, I quietly set up an art project; I found some plastic 3 ring binder dividers at the dollar store in an array of bright colors and thought ooh! cheap colored plastic!

I cut them into strips, triangles, circles, ovals, etc and put them in a bin.

I then taped clear contact paper to the windows sticky side up and let them create abstract art.

I did point out that if they overlapped the pieces they could make new colors but after that I left them alone.  It was a wonderfully quick, no- mess art project.  Perfect for a day we have plans outside the home.

We headed to my sisters house and we took all the boys to a nature center.   It was a really neat nature area set up to teach all about nature here in New England.

Inside they have birds, turtles, frogs, snakes and a cute show all about animals that come out at twilight (it's very dark in the show room but amazingly my kids didn't care!).  Outside there are owls, red tailed hawks, falcons, a butterfly garden a cute little tree house where we ate lunch (it's only about 4 steps off the ground so the boys were a bit disappointed; they wanted to climb a ladder), and many walking trails through the woods, around a duck pond and lots of rocks for climbing.

My boys love to climb, unfortunately this lead to disaster and injuries today so our time at the Nature Center ended rather abruptly.

My middle child was on a boulder trying to help his cousin climb up when the extra weight threw him off balance and pitched him into the air head first.  Luckily he managed to land on his butt, however he landed on a rocky mound and continued to tumble the rest of the way down to the bottom head over feet.

 Amazingly enough he walked away with only a few minor scrapes and bruises on his arms and lower body.  But we left and headed off to find him some ice, Tylenol and to let him rest.

I thought for sure we were going to be calling my husband to meet us at the emergency room.  It was awful to watch and one of those days/ things that I know I'll never quite forget.

The boulder that caused all our problems. 

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bubble Painting, Mystery Writing, and Melted Wax Suncatchers

 Our day started out pretty good.  After the usual coaxing from me to turn off screens and get ready for our day, we jumped into our homeschooling.

I get some grumbling but usually once I mention a few of the day's projects that quickly turns to excitement.

Every morning when Ian gets up he asks if we can do science first today.  I find this funny since we've been doing science first almost every day.  It was a beautiful sunny morning and our activity was outside so I, of course, said sure!

We headed outside where we, once again, played with bubbles. This time they used a tin pie plate and a regular drinking straw to make a mound of bubbles. I put a tiny bit of paint in each tray in the hopes of making bubble prints too. 

 However, it seems like you need a ton of bubble solution in each tray (or else it was the wind messing us up). The bubbles kept popping before the mound got over the lip of the plate and making prints was just too hard. So, I ran in the house and grabbed a wand for each of them, then they took turns using different colored bubbles and blew them directly onto the paper. They came out with some pretty neat artwork too.

 After blowing a few bubbles onto the paper they started chasing each other around blowing bubbles at each other, or trying to get them to land in the lake again today like they did yesterday.  I let them run around and have fun with it.

 My husband questioned me last night what they were learning by blowing bubbles for a week so I turned to the boys and said, "well, boys what did you learn by blowing bubbles?" Their answers:  

  • "All bubbles are round no matter what size and shape you start with"
  •  "bubbles are round because it's a strong shape and can hold lots of air inside it" 
  • "some bubbles that are bigger and more oval wobble when they move and have a harder time than round ones"
  •  "sometimes bubbles are made up of more than one bubble" 
  •  "you can catch bubbles if your hands are wet but not if they're dry!" 
 Pretty good for a few days of playing!           

 After our bubble painting we had a silly string fight; just for fun!

But they noticed it was wet at first and then the air helped it to dry.  They also commented on how it felt like squishy, soft, foamy string.

I knew they were making wonderful childhood memories.  Especially once they each started piling on their heads making clown hair, or when they ran around me in circles trying to tie my legs up with it giggling like mad.  It was great!  Even better, they decided to try and make balls and wigs out of all the string afterward and ended up cleaning up 99% of the silly string out of the yard so I won't have to hear about it later! 

For math today we made our own paper plate clocks with flaps that lift up to show the "real" time" underneath the number.  My two older boys know that you count by fives when telling time, but I really want them to get to the point where they don't have to start at the 1 and count by 5's all the way around so after I saw this post on pinterest I thought that sounded like a quick way to reinforce and build this skill.

  •  I drew the numbers around the outside of the first paper plate to make the clock, then I cut flaps and clock hands.  
  • We assembled the clock using brads after I poked a hole in the middle of the both plates.  
  • They used brads to stick on the hands and hold the two plates together.
  • Then they used a marker to write the numbers under each flap; for example under the 1 flap they wrote :05, and worked together all the way around the clock labeling each time increment. 

We then took a few tries using our clock by each taking turns yelling out a time and moving our hands to match.   Ian really needs to practice using the terms quarter of, quarter past, half past, etc so I did challenge him to try and use those terms.  I tried to help him by drawing lines on his clock face to divide it into quarters.  We'll keep these for use throughout the year since they are so sturdy.

For spelling we played a game called break the code.   I found this and the simile game idea in a book called 101 Reading Activities, which had some really fun ideas that don't involve a ton of writing, which is something my boys just hate! 

We assigned each letter of the alphabet a number and wrote out a sentence using the numbers then swapped paper and filled in the words to the code.  I was so excited Evan asked to play; I took him into another room and he gave me a sentence to write and we sounded out the words.  I was surprised to learn how many letter/sound combinations he already knew!

Then to break his brothers code we had to look for the number and I then asked him to tell me the name of each letter we found.  It was great practice for him and now I know which letters he still needs to work on too.  I'm thinking we'll repeat this activity when we do out week of "spy camp." 

Evan's sentence "Batman is in his cave"

 I sat down with the boys and read poems with similes and talked about what similes are, then we did a fun and very silly simile activity. I took a bunch of items and placed them in a bag; as they pulled an item out they had to come up with a simile for it.

Some of them were quite funny! I think my favorite was when Alec pulled out the green airplane and said "this airplane is as green as the Joker!" I let them get as silly as they wanted.

 Having fun while learning is just priceless.

 While they may not have always made a good comparison I'm thinking they'll remember using like or as when comparing and they'll definitely remember all their giggling! Even Evan came up with some pretty awesome comparisons like "this ball is as soft as a mushroom!"

 We turned our attention to art and made some melted crayon sun catchers.

  • The kids sharpened crayons in some cheap pencil sharpeners and we placed the shavings onto wax paper.  
  • We layered another piece of wax paper on top
  • I ironed them together using a pressing cloth.  
  • This, of course, melted all the crayon shavings, sometimes causing really neat color mixing.
  • We then cut them out into fun shapes and hung them with some ribbon in our windows.

Linking Up With:

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Making Bubbles and Puff Paint; Activities galore today!

We had another fun day filled with activities today.  I'm really trying to ease us into homeschooling and find that fun hands on lessons work best.  The boys think we're playing and having fun and I know we're learning. 

Continuing w/ our bubble unit we tried making our own bubble solution.

Found on, yep you guessed it, Pinterest!

All you need is
  • 1 cup dish soap
  •  12 cups water
  •  1 cup cornstarch 
  •  2 Tbsp baking powder
Mix all ingredients together gently trying not to cause any bubbles.

I didn't have a cup of dish soap though but I did have 1/2 a cup of dish soap so we cut the recipe in half and really it made  more than we needed for a morning.  I made the boys figure out how much of each ingredient we needed if we only needed half of each and they easily figured it out. (math!)

 It was super easy to make and once we had it all put together we headed outside.

 I wouldn't recommend using this solution inside since it does leave that chalky cornstarch residue everywhere. 

I have all different shapes and sizes of bubble blowers and today's focus of the lesson was to point out that no matter what shape you start with a bubble is always round.

 I even had the kids experiment with making their own bubble blowers using pipe cleaners or even their own hands  (Ian always gets a kick out of using his hands to blow bubbles so why not right?!), and they inevitably asked if they could use the bottles and socks from yesterday's snakes.  We tried it with and without the socks.

A huge bubble they blew

Alec's pipe cleaner is a heart
Evan blew a bubble w/ this water bottle! 

I think what I was most impressed with though was the the naturally scientific way they make predictions and observations. 

Before we even started Ian told me he was "pretty sure all bubbles were round no matter what shape you start with".  So he picked up a square blower and said "see the bubbles round even though I started with a square."

Alec said "the bigger bubbles seem to wobble more, I bet it's harder for them to move and keep the air inside since it's so big."

Towards the end of the morning they tried catching bubbles; Alec remembered the book we read yesterday said that you need wet hands to catch a bubble since dry ones will make them pop so he told everyone to stick their hands in the bubble tray and get all soapy before starting.  They managed to catch quite a few, Ian even managed to catch 2 or 3 together before they popped.

They blamed the wind on the popping since it was a very windy morning.  Alec's highlight was watching this big bubble he blew float all the way to the lake and land on the water before popping; "because it landed somewhere wet!" he says.

Another bubble bounced off the water twice before hitting a lily pad and popping.  They had so much fun!

"Look I caught one!"  Look at that smile! 
When they had tired of the bubbles we moved onto other subjects.

We played a game of Scrabble to work on spelling skills and while they do need help with this game I always make sure they find one word out of the letters they have before I'll help them find a word or place to play on the board.

Afterwards we read some more Shel Silverstein and I had them write their own acrostic poetry (those are the poems where you write a word vertically down the side of the page and think of a word or phrase that starts with each corresponding letter-- I think we've all done those in school many times!).  They came out pretty good too!

"evolve into adult forms"-- where does this kid get his vocabulary?!

For art, we made our own puff paint 
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 cup of salt
  • 1 cup of water 
  •  food coloring.  
I mixed the flour, salt and water together first and used a funnel to pour them into squeeze bottles and then I added the food coloring to each bottle.  We needed a few batches in order to fill up all the bottles and make many different colors.

Then we went outside and I had the kids drip/ draw onto black construction paper.  This was an idea I had found on Pinterest but I have to admit that I didn't like this one.  We had major problems with the bottles clogging constantly and then it would spurt out a big blob.  

I took it as an opportunity to teach Alec about abstract painting; just playing with shapes, color, design rather than trying to draw a picture with the paint.  I ended up washing the leftover paint down the drain and am looking for a new "recipe" to try next time. 

For math I turned the focus to money and coins and played what I've dubbed "the fat piggy game."  This is a review of coins for Ian and an introduction for Alec and Evan.  For Ian I gave him a large pile of coins and he had to add it up.  He had a little over $7.  Alec had to identify each coin, tell me the amount of each one and try adding small piles of pennies, dimes and nickles.  he added a little over a dollar.   I also had him practice trading in pennies for nickels, pennies for dimes, nickles for dimes, etc to show him how each coin is made to take the place of several smaller coins.  Evan just had to try and tell me the name and since he only knew penny that was plenty.

Once Alec added his coins I had Ian add the two totals on paper by lining up the decimal point.  We came out to $8.43 cents.  I asked him if we could divide that equally between him and his two brothers.  He finally figured out that wouldn't work and with a little scaffolding we realized he would need $9 so they could each get $3.  He counted out the coins we would need to get to 9 and then divided them into three equal piles.  The best part?  They got to keep the coins I had given them when it was all over and fatten their own piggy banks.

My kids love money and through playing games like Monopoly and Life Ian can now count out and figure out change back using large dollar amounts.  I knew if they got to increase the size of their piggy banks I'd definitely have their attention! I got so many hugs and "thank you mommy for the money!" I'm sure they'll be thrilled to play again-- just not too often or I'll run out of coins!

All in all it was a fun and low key way to cover most of the subjects.  Trying to begin homeschooling over the summer I am trying to keep it light and fun but make sure it is something we can feasibly keep up throughout the whole school year as well.

So far it seems to be working great!