Tuesday, December 14, 2010

We've got you covered Jesus

I thought the nativity looked a little different when I walked by today...

"Stable has been secured!"

"Repeat, the stable is secure. Over."

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas plans

As we do each year, we're changing our homeschool focus a bit during the Christmas season. We do a little less seat-work, a little more reading and a little more crafting.

Doing dot to dots with the beloved football pen

In past years, we've done Christmas unit studies like the 12 Days of Christmas and the names of Jesus. This year, we're just doing a bunch of different "Christmasy" things:
  • Reading the prophecies of Christ's birth and the verses that show their fulfillment, and hopefully making a chart of everything
  • Completing a timeline of the events of the nativity using classic artwork and looking at another from the Met here.
  • Learning some beautiful Christmas carols
  • Reading LOTS of Christmas books - some are listed below.
  • Memorizing Matthew 1:21 and Isaiah 9:6
  • Going to a local "walk through Bethlehem"
  • Visiting the Festival of trees
  • Making gifts and ornaments
Check out this really cute nativity set to color and wrap around toilet paper tubes.

Little Man doing some nature study from inside the nice, warm house. We could actually examine individual snowflakes on the window sill!

Christmas books we love:
Bright Christmas: An Angel Remembers by Andrew Clements
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
The Christmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco

And some new Christmas books we'll be reading this year to go along with our American history studies:

Christmas in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
An Early American Christmas by Tomie DePaola
Miracle in the Wilderness: A Christmas Story of Colonial America by Paul Gallico

Enjoy your Christmas season!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Our Thanksgiving ABCs book

We've been working on a Thanksgiving ABCs lapbook this past week and I have to tell you about it because it has actually worked out even better than I hoped! I LOVE that! I found it here. You do need to join her Yahoo group in order to download the file.

The cover

At first, I thought that just Little Man and I would work on it. He's been having a grand time cutting out the little booklets, tracing the letters and pasting in pictures from google images* and stickers from my scrapbook stash.

Then Z-Man showed some interest and I realized that this is a great narration tool! The booklets are quite small and he hasn't exactly mastered the art of teeny tiny writing yet so he narrates and I write. I'm always amazed at what he remembers (and I'm sometimes amazed at what he doesn't, but we're staying positive here.) For instance, for one of the booklets on the Mayflower, he told me, "A guy named John Howland fell overboard and was miraculously saved when he grabbed a rope that just happened to be hanging out of the ship." Seriously? After all the people we've read about (a LOT of whom seem to be named John) you remember the name of the guy who fell overboard? Love that!

The first page.

The first page opened up.

Happy Thanksgiving, All!

*I don't look them up with my kids though! I'm always astounded at the nasty images that even the most innocent google images search can turn up.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Lighthouses and Bridges

What a wonderful week we've had with The Little Red Lighthouse and The Great Gray Bridge.

We LOVE this book! I know, I say that about all the FIAR books, don't I? There are a few we haven't read so I may yet find one I don't like. I doubt it though.

I realize that, based on my last few posts, some readers might think all we do is run around outside. Fall is beautiful here and we try to get out in it as much as possible. Believe me, where we live there will be PLENTY of time to hole up in our cozy house for days on end. We DO stay home and do our work most of the time, though. (Wait, "most of the time" would be more than 50%, right? Like, 51% of the time? OK. Just wanted make sure I was telling the truth.)

We talked about lighthouses and the boys remembered all the lighthouses we saw on our trip to Maine:
We read Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie, another book we love, based on the true story of a young girl who has to take care of her whole family AND two lighthouses during a terrible storm.

We drew lighthouses too:

We talked about bridges and read The Bridge Book by Polly Carter, an entertaining summary of bridge building throughout history. It had some really good "boy" stories like the Roman soldier who single-handedly held off an entire army on a narrow bridge until the bridge could be destroyed behind him.

This book is based on the true story of P.T. Barnum and how he proved to doubters and naysayers that the Brooklyn Bridge really was safe to travel:

We made bridges:

and then lots of little boats to go under the bridges, and then diving boards and slides into the water...

Speaking of boats, one of the FIAR lessons is about boats and I found such a fun way to learn the names of a lot of different boats. There are little boat cards to print out at homeschoolshare.com and, if you print out two copies, you can play Go Fish! As in, "Do you have a chinese junk? No, go fish. Do you have a catamaran?" Good homeschooling fun.

Here's THE PERFECT poem by Christina Rosetti that ties in boats, bridges AND our previous weather study. I love it when things come together!

Boats sail on the rivers,
And ships sail on the seas;
But clouds that sail across the sky
Are prettier far than these.

There are bridges on the rivers,
As pretty as you please;
But the bow that bridges heaven,
And overtops the trees,
And builds a road from earth to sky,
Is prettier far than these.

Oh, and here are some really cool bridge videos: http://www.kinderpedia.com/bridge.asp

We ended our week with this absolutely gorgeous book about New York City that made us all want to jump in the van for a field trip:

Next, we'll be expanding on the lighthouse theme with a mini unit study on light! More on that as soon as I find time to post!

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Beautiful Autumn Walk

We've been reading some fall books lately, like these:

and talking about all the changes that take place in nature in the fall, particularly in trees. We went for the most beautiful nature walk at a local arboretum - what better place to learn about trees and leaves?

We discussed simple and complex leaves, leaves with serrated edges, how leaves use CO2, water and energy from the sun to make food for the tree and how they give off oxygen, the breakdown of chlorophyll in the fall, deciduous vs. evergreen and all things leafy.

Speaking of leaves, does anyone know what these plants might be? They consisted of just one enormous leaf on top of a thick stalk. We found one fallen over that made an excellent umbrella.

Because there were bridges over running water, we played Pooh Sticks. If you have ever read (or listened to) the original Winnie the Pooh stories, you will understand that bridges over running water simply cannot be crossed without playing Pooh Sticks.

And some of us rolled down a large hill because, well, it was there. I guess that really needs no explanation. :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wind Farm field trip

Yesterday we drove up into the hills, got lost twice and finally ended up on an unlabeled dirt road to see the windmills! Now, these things are HUGE and you can see them from most anywhere so you would think it would be tough to get lost but there are 19 of them and, well, they all look exactly alike. We did finally find the windmill that our homeschool group was visiting, though, and it was a spectacular sight.

These stand over 300 feet tall. The rectangular part at the top that houses the generator is as big as a school bus. And each blade weighs seven tons! As I stood under it to take this picture, the clouds were moving in such a way that it looked like the turbine was moving toward us (or falling on us) - kind of scary. Especially given that one DID fall last year - I am not making this up. Fortunately, the injury list was limited to several rows of corn.

There was an actual blade that the kids could explore. These are hollow on the actual windmills and workers can walk inside them when necessary. 300 feet up and in complete darkness. Now there's a job my high school guidance counselor never mentioned. Go figure.

The blades are made of fiberglass.

And make a lovely play structure if you have the room.

We found out that these 19 windmills produce enough power to run 9,500 homes. Amazing!

Interesting note:
Since the hills upon which these windmills stand lie directly under a major migratory flyway, there was apparently some concern that birds might be killed by the blades. Several environmental agencies came out and checked around and, finding no dead birds, they came back with some of their own and spread them around the bases of the windmills!

No, really, I promise I am not making this up.

The idea was that maybe birds really were being killed, but they were quickly being dragged into the woods and consumed by predators. After a week of checking on the carcasses, they were satisfied that this was not the case. One could go into a discussion of the ethics involved in killing one set of birds to see if another set might be in danger but one won't because one needs to go to bed.

I did mention to Z-Man that, again, through obvious negligence, I was never made aware of "dead bird distributor" as a potential career path. And I guess I'm OK with that.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

I LOVE fall in the Northeast

We are so blessed to live close enough to the Adirondacks that we can drive up for a day. Today Little Man made it up (and down) his first mountain all by himself. Hard to say who was more excited about that - him or those who would have had to carry him.

I think we missed peak color by about a week, but it was still gorgeous.

No, I haven't enhanced this - the sky really was that blue.

A woodpecker has been here!

I find it so amazing when trees find a way to grow right on top of huge rocks.

Ahhhhhh... rewarded with a spectacular view. We climb one of these mountains several times a year and they never cease to awe me. Such stunning beauty.

And now for a sustaining snack to get us back down the mountain. The promise of Barb's famous donuts probably provided a little more motivation. On the way home, we asked the boys to name the best things they saw today. You'll be happy to know "the view from the top" ALMOST edged out the donuts for the number one spot. Good grief. Maybe it's a boy thing. They're just lucky they're so cute.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A week of pre-school work boxes

Work boxes are still working for us! I think, eventually, Z-Man will move on to something more like a checklist or a daily schedule that he can cross off. For right now, however, work boxes really help to keep us on track and moving through our day without whining or complaining. And THAT is worth a lot.

Little Man participates in our breakfast Bible time and our Morning Service, where we learn a new hymn each week and learn about a certain character trait. We then do FIAR all together and work on our current unit (weather) and read another picture book on our unit or our history study (Z-Man and I tackle the more advanced books later.) The funny thing is, Little Man doesn't think of any of this as "school" (which is fine with me!) No, only his "chores" say school to him - and that means workboxes. He gets three a day and is very pleased with himself when he finishes them. So cute!!

So here is a week's worth of Little Man's workboxes:

Tangrams, a geo board with shapes to make and a world puzzle

This was a tent in a house with telephone poles and a road. :)

Cutting project from a Kumon First Steps workbook, sounding out three-letter words, a really cool pack of raised pictures for doing crayon rubbings.

Our 21 Rules of This House coloring page - he prefers to paint it, Cuisenaire rods with a pattern book for making buildings and vehicles with them, glitter glue to decorate our Bible verse with, once we write it out together.

An adorable little foam counting puzzle, right and left counting puzzle, a four seasons activity to go with our Henry books (there are four books - one for each season.)

Tangrams again! A basic addition puzzle and another cutting project from the Kumon book. We also have a Kumon workbook for pasting and one for folding. We also have quite a few letter recognition activities but I'll have to put those in another post.

So there you go! I hope to do more of these posts occasionally so you can see what Little Man is up to.