Friday, October 28, 2011

Trick or Treat

Despite our best efforts to suggest concept based costumes for W, he chose to portray Finn McMissile of Cars 2 for Halloween, and C was more than happy to be Lightning McQueen. Yesterday was the annual Downtown Trick or Treat event in MA that we've been attending since W was a baby. We enjoyed meeting up with friends beforehand at a local coffee shop. It was quite rainy but the event was rain or shine so we went anyway and the boys had fun. Luckily their costumes fit over winter coats! 

Earlier in the day we went to the Singalong at the library, and C had fun. They sing various songs including the Firetruck song, I'm a Little Teapot, ABC's, and the classic The Wheels on the Bus. It is more of a little kids event, so W chose to read books during part of it, but later joined in playing some of the instruments after the noisy parade. We checked some books out so we have plenty of reading material for a while. 

Last night also marked the first snow of the season. It is pretty unusual to see snow whilst still seeing the leaves in various colors on the trees.

Monday, October 24, 2011

FIAR: Andy and the Lion

Last week for Five in a Row, we read Andy and the Lion by James Daugherty. The text is in capital letters and kept very simple, while the illustrations are expressive and heartfelt. The book is not one of the longer FIAR selections, so I recommend rowing it on a week when you have a lot of other projects going and need a "light" fiar week. This story closely mirrors the Aesop fable of the Lion and the Mouse. The overall message is that creatures of all sizes matter and have a special purpose. 

Sunday was the blessing of the animals at church. It was a nice ceremony to acknowledge the animals of our community. There were several dogs, a cat and lots of photos of all sorts of animals. W brought a photo of our cat, he attended last year but we didn't want to stress him out again. 

W enjoyed the book and thinks that "the lion was good". We researched African Lions online, and found the National Geographic website to be very informative and have a lot of great photos. W was flabbergasted to learn that lions are full grown before his age, he couldn't imagine being a grown up lion. We also watched the famous youtube video of Christian the Lion who was reunited with the people that raised him after being introduced back into the wild years later. If for some chance you haven't seen it, it's pretty cool. It reminded me so much of Andy and his Lion being reunited, and it is extremely moving. W liked comparing and contrasting our own cat to his larger "big cat" relations. :) 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Teddy Bear Picnic & Little House stuff

We missed co-op this week unfortunately, but W and C decided they wanted to have a Teddy Bear Picnic anyway (the theme they did this week) with an apple feast. :) Jacob often sings this song to them, so we sang and watched it on youtube and gathered pretend and real food for our picnic. The boys enjoy a lot of imaginary play together. Most of the time this features cars, trains, or legos, but W has a renewed interest in his stuffed friends lately.

 Pooh enjoyed it, but it looks like Paddington passed out. 

Today we had our Little House book club, one of the moms in our group was very kind to bring a demonstration of a spinning wheel, carding wool, and knitting needles so the boys had a great time trying this first hand. We ate some homemade applesauce for snack. It was a low turnout but we had fun anyway, and I hope some more families will be able to make it next time. I will need to think of a good November activity. W and I finished By the Shores of Silver Lake this week, and will begin The Long Winter soon. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

SOTW: The more things change...

The more they stay the same. How little the world has really changed over the span of humanity, only now they put it on TV and tweet about it. W is learning about the Middle Kingdom of Egypt for history and ancient people and dictators fighting for power, all while the news of the death of Gaddafi is in the headlines. It certainly puts things into perspective! When I asked W where Libya was he said without hesitation "next to Egypt". He remembered it from our lesson maps and the GeoPuzzle.

I have been stretching the Middle Kingdom lesson into a few days and today we listened to the CD and did the narration. W and C also made "golden" Nubian bracelets with yellow card-stock and they attempted making sock monkeys with beans. We are about to head into the New Kingdom of Ancient Egypt and some Bible stories which he has covered in Sunday School, so I think by hearing these again they will sink in more with W, though he may surprise me at how much he remembers.

Photos and Fall Poetry

View of the fence Jacob built in our back yard, decorated for the season.

I have been wanting to read some poetry with W so I found a couple of autumn related ones online. I printed them on cardstock. This can go along with nature study and appreciating all the sights, sounds and smells of outdoors in the fall. Here is a nice poem for the season by Robert Frost.

Gathering Leaves

by Robert Frost

Spades take up leaves
No better than spoons,
And bags full of leaves
Are light as balloons.

I make a great noise
Of rustling all day
Like rabbit and deer
Running away.

But the mountains I raise
Elude my embrace,
Flowing over my arms
And into my face.

I may load and unload
Again and again
Till I fill the whole shed,
And what have I then?

Next to nothing for weight,
And since they grew duller
From contact with earth,
Next to nothing for color.

                                                   Next to nothing for use.
                                                   But a crop is a crop,
                                                   And who's to say where
                                                    The harvest shall stop?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I was tasked by the 5-in-a-Row supplement to teach W the following: there exist 12 inches in a foot, 3 feet in a yard, and 5280 feet in a mile (I Googled just now to double-check this last one).  In addition, we were tasked with measuring W's height and finding the height of La Girafe.

I decided that the conversion numbers are the least important aspect of this lesson. Foremost is to show that measurements are useful.  I asked W how we might build a lid for our stove, and we worked through using the measuring tape to decide where to make cuts in our imaginary lumber (our pretend buzz cutting being the highlight of the lesson).

Next, we thought about other things we might measure or different ways to measure things.  I told W about how there are devices that measure distance by how long it takes light to bounce back and forth.  We put the same principle into practice by counting how long it took for W to run back and forth.  W knew that the longer it took for him to bounce back and forth, the greater the distance.

I also wanted to emphasize that measuring units are fairly arbitrary, so we remembered a past lesson in measuring the house in lengths of W.  We created "the crayon" as a unit of weight and talked about how we'd decide how many crayons a book weighed.  We also talked about why there are different measures of length: for greater distances, you want a larger unit so that you count in smaller numbers.

This was a great lesson for W because it kept the Daddy lecturing to a minimum in lieu of several small, fun activities.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Geography Puzzles

Last week during a rainy day W and I did puzzles that tied in with our Giraffe that Walked to Paris theme, as well as studying about Africa. We used the GeoPuzzles for the continents of Africa and Europe. I helped him form the outline and then asked him if he could find the interior pieces and he turned them around until they fit.

We used a yoga mat to keep the puzzles stabilized. They are made of sturdy cardboard and most of the pieces are shaped like the countries. I showed W how they overlapped yet it looked like Europe was zoomed in since it has some smaller countries. These puzzles are fun for all ages and a great way of learning about countries all around the world. We often use Google Maps and Google Earth as well when focusing on particular countries for FIAR or seeing "directions" in our stories, like how the Giraffe Walked to Paris, or where the ingredients came from in How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Math Monday

This week W begins Chapter 6 of Math-U-See Alpha. He completed chapter 5 last week and even wanted to do the extra fun pages that go along with the chapter, woohoo! I am hoping he can cover a chapter per week now that he's on a roll with this material. I think that is a good pace to be challenging enough. He works on the Kumon geometry workbook every now and then but doesn't find it as appealing as MUS. They use the number line differently, so I don't want to confuse him too much (MUS goes 0-9, while Kumon uses 1-10).

He is working on addition problems and sometimes it surprises me what he can get right and the things he gets stuck on too; the "teen" numbers are difficult for him to remember how to say and write sometimes when just reading them, although he can count them fine reciting out loud. W continues writing some numbers backwards, sometimes both ways on the same page. I can tell his brain is trying to figure them out and by 3rd grade or so kids usually can master writing numbers properly.

Math-U-See "names" some of the manipulative blocks by color & calls 8 chocol-8, 7 se-vanilla, and 9 minty nine so W likes these nicknames for numbers and it's helpful when doing the color matching exercises. We use the blocks sometimes for building or solving problems that aren't even MUS. C likes them too, mostly for building towers, but also likes counting.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Raking Leaves

W asked to rake leaves the other day. I couldn't deny him that, so I went into the dusty old shed and found it. The only problem was that there weren't really that many leaves yet. Boo.

Probably by the time there are he will give up all interest. ;)

C, on the other hand...

Watch out! I've got a rake and no idea how to use it.

Friday, October 14, 2011

FIAR: The elusive Giraffe That Walked to Paris

A friend from co-op lent us the hard-to-find book The Giraffe that Walked to Paris by Nancy Milton and illustrated by Roger Roth. (Thank you Steph!) :) We are rowing it for Five in a Row this week. It is a pleasure to read, the story is a true one based on a gift given to the King of France from the Pasha of Egypt in the late 1820's. The illustrations are beautiful, in soft colors and extremely detailed. W and C both liked this story, it is quite long so I was pleased that C listened too.

I always wanted to go to Paris in the fall.

We found many materials online to accompany this book. Check out this paper printable of Paris from Made by Joel, an artist's website. It am a dork about paper dolls, so I was in heaven, but W even liked them. We printed the pdf on cardstock so it will last longer and W had fun coloring in all the people for the city. We will continue using this for our French lessons with HOP, Muzzy, and the First Thousand Words in French. We found a Giraffe coloring book page which resized nicely to go along with our city.

Thank you to the Pumpkin Patch blog for your free lapbook for The Giraffe that Walked to Paris. This covered vocabulary words, which months go in which seasons, a wind science experiment, learning about giraffes, geography, and history. Jacob is planning a Daddy lesson on measurement to go along with this theme too. 

Now I just wish la Girafe would come back in print!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

SOTW: Narration - Ancient Asia and Africa

W is currently learning about Ancient Asia and Africa in The Story of the World Vol. 1. With these lessons we first read the book, then work on map work or coloring activities, then a day or so later we review by listening to the CD chapters we covered and then do narration. This way I find the stories sink in more for him (and me). We are not completely classical in our approach by any means, I don't think we could live up to the rigorous schedule, but I do like some of the methods and materials.

Map of Ancient China with the Yellow River Valley colored in. W remembered the Yangtze River from The Story About Ping which he rowed for FIAR last year. :) He also got some library books about China for last week to go along with this theme. 

W playing with tangrams

Chinese Pictograms 
W's notebook was mistakenly left outside as you might be able to tell from this pic (oops) so some if it got wet from dew but it is dried out now and usable again. 

W really loved the stories about Anansi the spider from Ancient Africa. Here is an example from the narration book, we just use an empty drawing booklet and I write what W says to summarize what he read. It doesn't have to be long but it gets him to articulate the way he understood the story. He drew a picture for the narration of Anansi and the make believe food.

Monday, October 10, 2011

FIAR: Little Nino's Pizzeria

Last week we rowed the Five in a Row Volume 3 selection Little Nino's Pizzeria by Karen Barbour. It is a sweet story about a little boy who helps his father in his pizzeria, but then his father decides to be a bigger business man. This made little Tony sad and eventually his father decided he wanted to go back to making pizza and working with his son. We discussed many social studies issues such as serving, helping the hungry, and running a family business. This was a story that C sat with us to read each day. The vivid illustrations really kept his interest. W & C count pizza among their favorite foods, so they were excited to participate in making it and they got to see the yeast in action when we made the pizza dough. For toppings they chose turkey pepperoni and cheese, and we added some fresh oregano and basil.

pardon the fork and bite mark. it was good.

W visited a web site about the artist Henri Matisse, whose style is similar to the art in Little Nino. We also played a few pizza games, and found a neat site on pizza fractions here. Little Nino's Pizzeria was featured on Reading Rainbow (see below), so of course we watched this on the day we made pizza. We recently got DSL so we have been enjoying our higher-speed internet. :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Full Fall Days

We have been having a good week. I am feeling really happy with where we are at in general. W is rolling along with Story of the World (Ch 10, W began Ancient China today), Math-U-See (Ch 5 Alpha), science supplements, Explode the Code 1 1/2 and Printing Power workbooks among many other things. Today we made pizza dough for homemade pizza to go along with the book we are rowing this week, Little Nino's Pizzeria. That post will be once we have the photos of the finished product. ;) Anyway, this was something both boys enjoyed using their measuring cups and seeing how the yeast changes and makes the dough rise.

This week we hosted our FIAR co-op here Monday, and went to another homeschool co-op yesterday. So far the focus has been on the New England states. The kids listened to a book on the Nashua River called A River Ran Wild: An Environmental HistoryThen one of the moms did a presentation. The kids brought in some rocks, leaves and twigs to add to a large container of water to see that once they settled, natural things did not hurt the water. Then they added in paint and oil, and quickly they got the idea of what should not go into the water supply! They also read One Morning in Maine, we have been on a Robert McCloskey kick lately for sure.

W has been enjoying this co-op, but I find it challenging to keep C entertained through the whole thing. He sits down and listens to stories at home, but his attention span is better for short stories, and his energy level is high. It is an afternoon co-op at the time he usually takes a nap at home. They had a variety of puzzles and activities so he did pretty well, and since this was our 3rd time going I felt more comfortable with him doing his own thing.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

FIAR: Make Way for Ducklings

For our Five in a Row co-op, we rowed Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey in September. Yesterday we had our monthly meeting with four local homeschooling families to read the book together. The kids got to share their artwork and activity pages they worked on. Our friends even brought a real duckling in, it was so cute! We heard it peeping, and they told us the duck parents were very upset that they were taking the duckling since they didn't know it would be right back that afternoon, they were so protective just like Mr. and Mrs. Mallard in the book.


W worked on some activity pages made by a friend's Mom on CurrClick, and learned about the duck life cycle. He read about the statue in Boston which he visited last March and will see again in a couple of weeks. 

W is working on lowercase letters; every now and then an upper case sneaks in, but there is great improvement already!

W (pre-glasses last spring!) and Mama Duck

He also read a Rivers booklet from CC. This geology/ science study has tied in with where we are in The Story of the World as well, he is learning why ancient cities were located on rivers since not only was it a good water source for drinking and crops but it also gave them much easier transportation on boats compared to crossing mountains or deserts. I love when the stars,.. err... curricula align, much easier for planning lessons! ;) Outside he used sand from his sandbox to make hills and obstacles for his mini river to go around. We checked out a Rivers and Ponds DK Eyewitness dvd from the library as a supplemental resource. They have a pretty large collection of these dvds there so I will try to remember that for next time, he really enjoyed watching it. 

W also read Homer Price by Robert McCloskey as a read aloud and finished it last week. It is a chapter book which reads more like short stories. He absolutely loved it and many of the stories made him laugh. I did get a chuckle out of the doughnut story, although personally I prefer Mr. McCloskey's books for younger readers.