A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Our Week - end of January

Hard to believe it's time for another weekly wrap up, let alone the last one of January!  It's gone by quickly, with 3 appointments and with Paul only being home 3 days.

I was wrong!  I thought Katie would finish her ABC coloring book in February, but she finished it this week.  This actually works out well, because she's suddenly doing more coloring in math, and I think her hand gets weary after a while.  Although the link above in not an affiliate link, there are affiliate links within this post.

In botany, we're enjoying seeing our plants popping up.  We've been amused by the clump of dirt clinging to a lima bean stalk.

The pumpkin plants are showing their first true leaves now, and we've observed how seed leaves are different than true leaves.  It's always so fun to watch kids get into growing things.  I hope the kids will want to be involved when it comes time to replant the porch planters soon.

Eli wants to build a small light hut and do a time lapse stop motion video of a plant growing.  I think that would be really cool!

Teenagers.  I love watching my kids grow up.  And I like my teens (and many of their friends, too, like Miss A, above).  But some of the issues that come up are a little scary.

Another botany project this week was to make a flower from clay.

Jack's been enjoying playing with the clay ever since.  Sometimes I need to be reminded to get "the cool stuff" in the school room out and actually use it.

We learned about the Declaration of Independence this week, and practiced writing with feathers.

We did NOT make ink from crushed berries, because I'm lazy.  We used brown liquid watercolor.

We got a package from Annaliese this week!  A fun little box of Australia trinkets including kangaroo jerky, Vegemite, animals, boomerang (I promised Josiah I wouldn't put his face on the blog), koala t-shirts, and pencils.  She seems to be having a great time in Australia.  I'm thrilled for her, and maybe a tiny bit envious as I see her post photos of fireworks over Sydney harbor on New Year's Eve.

Back to plant science.  We've started noticing and collecting seeds in our botany notebooks.  Both from dying flowers (always an abundance of those around me) and from the foods we eat.  We've also observed seeds from various seed packets.

This week, because Hannah was at the eye doctor one day and I was at the dentist 2 days, we did not do a whole lot of artsy crafty stuff, but we did do one project.

We used liquid watercolors to paint a whole sheet of watercolor paper one day.  Then a few days later, we used the leftover sticky hearts from the girls' glitter heart shirts to stick in the center of the page, and then we use oil pastels to color bands around the hearts.  After removing the sticky heart, the original watercolor color shows.

Luke used to lean forward and slam his head into the floor when he got upset.  Now he's scooting over to a wall and slamming his head into walls instead.

I saw these dice ages ago and thought they'd be a fun addition to our homeschool.  I'm embarrassed to admit how long they sat, unopened.  I recently saw a couple of blog posts about using them and finally decided to open them.  Since Jack was reviewing verbs, we started with the action story cubes.  I gave Jack 4 and Hannah 4 and asked them to pick a picture from each and write a sentence about it.  The kids liked the dice, and we have several more Creative Writing ideas planned for them.

Miss Hannah should have new glasses in the next week or two.  I've had to write a little larger on the board for her, but other than that, we're getting by.  My new glasses have arrived, although, I keep forgetting to wear them to drive the kids to school in the morning!

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Reinforcing Concepts with Learning Placemats #ReadYourWorld

Although I've chosen to make today's craft China themed, this project can be customized for a wide variety of learning themes.  

As part of Multicultural Children's Book Day, we recently got the opportunity to review the book What Was It Like, Mr. Emperor? Life in China's Forbidden City.  This hardcover 102 page book by Chiu Kwon-chiu and Eileen Ng is packed full of fascinating little tidbits about the place that was home to China's leaders for nearly 600 years.  

The Forbidden City today is a very popular tourist attraction in Beijing.  But in it's day, it was home to the Emperor, his wife, his consorts, his concubines, his officials, his slaves (both maids and eunichs) and more.

When I was there in 2010, I was in awe of the architecture and the carvings and furnishings.  It's all slightly overwhelming.

But reading through this book, with it's whimsical illustrations, makes it easier to imagine what life was like for the real people who lived there.

This book helps kids put themselves in someone else's shoes for a little while and think about a very different way of life.

Intended for kids in third grade and up, it held the interest of even my teenagers.  One of my teens picked the book up in the school room and got completely absorbed in it, pausing to ask, "Hey mom, how would you like to be the guy who has to examine the emperor's poop?!"  Um, no thanks!

Our family has a deep love for China and this seemed like a good time to do a fun craft with the kids to celebrate China and reinforce some of the things they know about it.  

contact paper (I used black contact paper for the back and clear for the front)
China themed stickers (I used these and these and these.)
odds & ends for decoration, such as ribbon or ric rac, reproduction coins and glitter
maps or brochures
red envelope

I cut a placemat sized piece of black contact paper (you could also use large construction paper) and peeled the backing off.  Then we sprinkled red and gold glitter.

The map is one that I printed from Super Teacher Worksheets.  We colored in the provinces that I've been to.  Since the map and the envelope were our biggest items, we placed those first to make sure they'd fit.  Then we added stickers, including the Forbidden City, like in our book.  Last of all were the coin and the yellow ric rac boarder at the top and bottom.

After everything was arranged the way we liked it, I covered our placemat with clear contact paper.

It's difficult to photograph a shiny surface, but you get the idea.  The great thing about this craft is that you can take any theme and run with it.  Holidays, dinosaurs, books, countries, science concepts... almost anything can become a theme for a placemat that not only looks cool but also reminds children of what they've learned.  

The MCCBD team’s mission to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. Our young readers need to see themselves within the pages of a book and experience other cultures, languages, traditions and religions within the pages of a book. We encourage readers, parents, teachers, caregivers and librarians to follow along the fun book reviews, author visits, event details, a multicultural children’s book linky and via our hashtag (#ReadYourWorld) on Twitter and other social media.

The co-creators of this unique event are Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book/Audrey Press. 

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2016 Medallion Level Sponsors! #ReadYourWorld
Tuttle Publishing * NY Media Works * LLC/KidLit TV

Multicultural Children’s Book Day has 12 amazing Co-Hosts (All Done Monkey, Crafty Moms Share, Educators Spin on it, Growing Book by Book, Imagination Soup, I’m Not the Nanny, InCultural Parent, Kid World Citizen, Mama Smiles, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Spanish Playground) and you can view them here.  

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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Our Week with a visit to Shriners

Holiday weeks always end up a little "different" but despite having the big kids home Monday and having 2 appointments for Hannah, 2 appointments for Katie and one appointment for Luke, we still got a lot done!

Even though MLK Day was a school holiday, we still did spelling and dissected a bean seed.

And we finished up our Valentine Wreath craft.

Since Brianna was home, I had her do a messy art project with the girls involving shaving cream and liquid watercolors.

Very messy.

The end result is really pretty, but...  it stays messy.  :(  I wanted to use these to make journal covers, but I think we'll have to cover them with contact paper and make them spring placemats instead.

Tuesday, we made plant stakes (a foam sticker stuck on a craft stick, with the seed name written on the stick in Sharpie) and planted more seeds.  I'm a little afraid the lavender seeds might not sprout.  They're old, and we haven't seen anything pop up yet.

The kids are fascinated by the different types of seeds we're seeing.

This is our light hut, a project from our botany book.  Eli built it for me on the weekend.

And here are all our little future plants, nestled in their warm home.

They planted pumpkins, sweet basil and lima beans.

If you missed it, the girls wore their new Glitter Heart Shirts that I made.  I really love them, and have already made stencils for shamrock shirts they can start wearing after Valentine's Day.

We had another pin-flop this week.  We tried making window clings from directions I found online.  Hearts, for Valentine's Day.

Except they weren't thick enough, and they totally came apart in fragments when we tried to take them off the leading blanks.  Oh well.  Not every craft is going to be a success.

We investigated flowers and seeds with magnifying glasses.

The kids thought it was great fun.  Their tolerance for cold is better than mine.

In sorting things in the school room, I came across a file folder full of all the things I've printed... and not used.  So I'm trying to use some of those up with Katie, since she's likely my last student.

This week, Jack & Hannah finished the first book in their 2 book set for Spelling.  It's an exciting halfway-through-the-school-year sort of milestone.

No picture, because Daddy took them, but Hannah and Katie went to the dentist on Wednesday.

I found these cute printables to make paper bag puppets on Super Teacher Worksheets.  Jack's on the left, Hannah's on the right.

And this one is Katie's!  She was working on her math when the big kids made their puppets, so she did hers all by herself after lunch.  Her cutting and gluing skills are coming along nicely.

Sam got another wrestling medal!

Paul was in school this week.  He took a fire class.  Fireman homework is a little different than normal school homework.

The children found it fascinating, too, of course.  His homework is much more dangerous than theirs.

Friday, the girls and I spent the morning at Shriners.  Katie has grown 1.75" and gained 3 pounds since July (although it occurs to me now that a smidge of that weight is probably clothes, since she wouldn't have been wearing leggings and long sleeves in summer).

Hannah has grown 2.5" and gained 5 pounds in the same 6 months time.  Growth spurt!  Notice Hannah's not wearing her glasses?  Yup.  They broke.  She hasn't been to the eye doctor in over a year, so we're taking her in on Tuesday.  I'm sure her prescription has changed.

One of the great things about having teens is having extra people in the house who can explain things.  Jack was having a hard time with a math lesson, and I offered Brianna peanut M&Ms to explain it to him.  Win win!

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