## Saturday, May 24, 2008

### Birthday Party...American Girl/Scrap Style!

Today was R7's big birthday bash- We invited her friends and their dolls to join us for some scrapbooking fun this afternoon. Next Sunday she'll be 8...more on her actual birthday celebration to come.

Here are some of the girls who came over- we have a mixture of girls of the year, American Girl today dolls and a few historical dolls- Felicity was especially excited that Elizabeth was here!

The favor bags- scrapbooking goodies inside along with a few bites of candy

The stash inside- patterned scissors, a \$1 album from Target in girly colors, adhesive, and a spool of ribbon- plus pictures of the girls and their dolls at the party and a bit of candy

The cake- a homemade ice cream cake made by Dan! It was yummo!!

Dan dressed as a waiter in a fine establishment and served the girls "tea" in tea cups. They were served on fine china with little china tea set centerpiece- very cute. Before the cake, he also served strawberries and cheese sandwiches and pretzels. Thanks for taking care of the food Dan! Most of the girls loved it...there were lots of giggles!

## Friday, May 23, 2008

### Countin' by Twos...

Recently, the younger kids have been practicing counting by twos. I-5 can also count by 3s and 4s pretty well. To put this skill into practice the other day, I had him do his math addition sums with frogs. I also requested that he count the total number of frogs by twos. I think he understands the power of counting by twos now!

There they are all paired out- oh and look one was left behind that means the number is odd.

Now that we have the answer, it's time to write it down!

I-5 is on and off with his number formation. See that 8 up there- look pretty good? Today he wrote one that was lopsided (now he was laying on the floor with me doing his math- which I'm sure had nothing to do with his poor penmanship but maybe someone should speak to his teacher about that...). Anyway, of course I asked him about it. His reply and I quote, "I think it looks fine, but since you are so picky I will change it."

Hilarious. Now you can be sure this was not said with malice or attitude but with a twinkle- eyed grin on his face. Boys.

## Tuesday, May 20, 2008

### A Couple of Art/Craft Sites

I just can't let these go without sharing them with everyone! I found these through a blog called By Sun and Candlelight.

Art Projects for Kids- this one is fantastic! She has lots of projects for kids based on real art techniques. One of R7's birthday presents is a pair of large art canvases. I have a project in mind for one of them. Stay tuned after June 1st to see the results which will hopefully adorn her bedroom wall.

The Crafty Crow- which hosts lots of ideas from different contributors. I found one that I really like and I can't wait to try it out at our house. Check this out!

## Monday, May 19, 2008

### All Those Secrets of the World

Last week we began a story called All Those Secrets of the World by Jane Yolen. It's the story of a little girl whose father goes off to war. She and her family watch the ships leave the dock in Newport News, VA to go across the sea.

Our lapbook cover and the ration book we are going to use this week

The setting is Virginia of course!

So, of course we need to re-visit the Virginia state bird and flower...sometimes I miss Virginia! We lived there for the first four years of our marriage.

We've been studying some "famous" animals of the Chesapeake Bay...which undoubtedly must include the blue crab!! In case you haven't heard, they have filed for federal disaster relief for the blue crab industry- no more Maryland crab cakes for a bit. Although our story setting is VA, this native Marylander(I mean really native...I graduated from college and graduate school in Maryland institutions and taught in a Maryland school system in addition to growing up there of course!) has been focusing on Maryland's Bay! What can I say??

Today the kids set up this nice little Chesapeake Bay scene- throughout the book the theme is how large objects look small when they are far away and vice versa upon the father's return. Here the kids wanted to show the boats are smaller because they are far away. Hey Grandma...recognize the Bay Bridge? I realize that it's missing some suspension components.

We'll be finishing up this week with some art work on horizons and the effects of oil spills on the surrounding ecology. Besides the rationing book, we're going to watch the Sound of Music with the kids- hey it has Nazis in it, right?

We could do more, but somehow there is an air of "hurry up and finish" since the ants came to stay with us. Truman's Ant Farm awaits!

## Friday, May 16, 2008

### The Ants Arrived!

I'm sorta glad Dan got the mail today. Sorta because my pictures that were developed by the Creative Memories photo lab were left to get rained on because the mail carrier left the box open...but then again if I had gotten it earlier then I would have had to transfer the critters myself. Shew! I'm science girl, but the only creepy crawly I'm into are spiders. Because I hate bugs.

We started with the National Geographic ant habitat from Target- I was just thinking today about how long it had been since we'd sent for them.

This is what arrived in the mail today complete with a little magnifying glass, some posters on anatomy, and a little circle chart on types of ants- very cool.

Here's a close up of the gel colony without the lid- good science is about to happen. The first thing each of the oldest three did was to push holes in the gel with a little plastic tool.

J2 got to help Daddy put the sugar water on top of the gel- with a plastic disposable pipette we just happen to have lying around!

Though it was only about 45 degrees most of the day out there in the mailbox, we put the ants in the frig following the directions closely. When it was time we pulled them out and dumped them out into the habitat.

And there you have it...our own pet ants. The kids wanted to check on them before bed to see if they were digging yet. Not yet...but they have discovered the starter holes and they look more on top of their game now that they've warmed up and eaten the sugar water.
We will be rowing Truman's Aunt Farm later next week after we finish our current row All Those Secrets of the World (post forthcoming on that title). Hopefully that will be just enough time to see the ants in action and let them make some tunnels in the gel.

And just so you know Grandma...yes Dan feels fulfilled now that his ants have finally arrived almost 30 years later(Dan is still waiting for the ants he ordered when he was little! Thank goodness ours actually showed up!).

### Peter Rabbit

We've spent the last two weeks working on Peter Rabbit. I have to admit I'm slowing down here a bit. Our last week of school is next week so we are working to wrap things up. The kids enjoyed The Tale of Peter Rabbit a lot. They all decided that J2 is a Peter while the rest of them are Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail. I'm not sure J2 would appreciate that sentiment!

I purchased the Five in a Row Peter Rabbit Fold n Learn for this unit- here's the cover page

Here we have some vocabulary, information on Beatrix Potter, some of R7's artwork and a graph on growing times of some vegetables.

We learned about England, rabbits, sickness, and we did the story sequence

Mini book on England

The difference between rabbits and hares

story sequence

What helps when we are sick?

### Sarah, Plain and Tall Update

Along with rocks and minerals, E9 has been diving into birds of prey, the states of Maine and Kansas, prairie habitat and rocky coast marine habitats. These are some notebook pages from chapters 1-4. We will do chapters 5-9 today and next week and that'll do it for our official school year. E9 will be taking the Iowa Test of Basic Skills on the 28th adn 29th of this month. Then it's on to summer schedule. Our adventure boxes are almost complete and I'm excited to post about it soon.

Birds of Prey and some prairie notebook entries
Maine- political map and a map of resources along with some sea notebook entries (thank you to my MOPS friend Gabby for her resources on Sarah, Plain and Tall)
Kansas and Kansas resource map along with a mini book on rock types- see post below for more rock and mineral investigations
Some facts about whales and seals (I even pulled out an old sorting game I made on whales/dolphins/sharks for E9 to do again- that was a flashback to his first semester at home when we did studies on the Magic Treehouse series of books back in first grade!), some experimenting with blues and greens- the color of the sea, and finally more sea notebook entries

## Monday, May 12, 2008

### Rocks and Minerals

Last night we did some investigating of rocks and minerals for Sarah, Plain and Tall. We borrowed the kit from a certain local university that has a few lending labs for teachers. If you are nearby to a college or university, I encourage you to check out what they might have to offer you as a homeschooler.

I started out by asking the kids how they might identify these rocks if they weren't sure what they were and that lead to talking about the different properties of the rocks and minerals that we use to categorize them- things like hardness, streak, color, chemical properties, etc. In a classroom, there are protocols for experiments running smoothly, but I'm working with three kids now so I let them have at it! Which means I let them take all the rocks out and just see what they could see after we talked about all the different properties. That's my kind of science and the kids loved it!

Here they are testing to see if the rock will react with 3% HCl (hydrochloric acid)- I know I should have a plastic tray but it was close to bedtime! This stuff is no worse than vinegar, but it brought back memories of spilling 6 molar HCl on my hand in college. That hurt! Results- the marble fizzed like crazy and that was a lot of fun. Check out the above picture- they wanted to see it happen a few times.

Yup- this one's magnetic! It's name? Magnetite- how about that?

Checking out the crystals and other properties on the surface of the rocks.

The Moh's hardness scale- the kids scratched glass microscope slides with each rock to see if it could make a mark in the glass. If so, then it was harder than 5.5 on the scale. If both got a mark it is around 5.5 on the scale and if it didn't, well it was less than 5.5 on the scale.

In the end, they only had to record data on two of the rocks. I'd have gone for all of them, but in the interest of time AND the fact that the pre-made data chart only had room for two- that's what we stuck with. This time of year the kit is busy otherwise I could have kept it for two weeks. I think we got a nice evening's work out of it though and I got to send it all back today instead of finding a place for it!

The kids were delighted to find another use for our magnet wands though...look out!

## Saturday, May 10, 2008

### More Book Finds!

I can't believe I forgot to share last week's book sale finds! The sale runs through this weekend as well, but I think things are pretty well picked over for now. I did leave one thing behind that I regret, but I'm not sure it's worth going back for...(a copy of the Klutz book on Chinese jump rope- no jump rope, but the book alone is worth the 50 cents I would have paid that day!) However, I made some excellent finds. I can't believe I'd only been to this sale one other time and had not been back until now. That won't happen again!

Ok, these three made my day! We have the final two books in the Core Knowledge series on What Your ___ Grader Needs to Know. I still needed 4th and 6th grades. These were in the adult section for \$2 each I think, but that means I paid \$10 for the entire series because two were given to me. Since I use the dictation method for grammar, I like these books to give me a quick and easy idea for the benchmarks on grammar for each grade.

The real find above is the other book WriteSource 2000- this book has remained elusive to me as I could never figure out which one to get. I kept seeing the workbooks and not the handbooks new and it is a pricey book that I've always waited on. It's a grammar handbook and much better than I'd imagined it for the last two years. It was on a shelf in the children's area under hobbies! And it cost me....50 cents!!!!

Never pass up an Usborne book at a booksale- check out the titles I picked up. There are number puzzles, a few science and social studies titles and a phonics story. R7 can use the earth and animal facts for her adventure box this summer.

The American Girl collection- I think we pretty well had picked over the stories she didn't have but after our inventory we found a few more of the doll stories she didn't have. In addition to those, I picked up some other ones that though she scoffed at, she will appreciate later. Several are out of print and we had gotten from the library and she liked it. Groom Your Room and Salt Dough are fun craft books. The manners book she didn't want, but I have a feeling when she's a little older she'll like it. Finally we have the ever popular Care and Keeping of You. Very soon it will be time to give her this book and share its contents. It was in great shape and I figure better to spend 50 cents rather than \$10 for a new one.

Here are some reference titles- once again an explorer book along with some science and social studies. Kid Concoctions will be a future bloggy giveaway since I already have it.

Finally, some wonderful picture books we either didn't have or I thought we could use more of to share! I have a board book copy of Spilt Milk that is an abridged version of the original. I also have an art set that goes with it so totally worth it to get the real deal. Our copy of One Morning in Maine is not as nice as this one. Plus, I picked up tons of FIAR titles which I have either given away or sold! I have a few left for any interested parties...The Little Rabbit, Katy No Pocket and Madeline are some I can think of.

## Friday, May 9, 2008

### Another Day in our Homeschooling Life...

Well we are starting to sort of wind down for the school year. We started back in mid- August and I think we could all use a break! However, we have two more weeks during which to press onward. Here are a few things we've been up to this week. Most of these were taken yesterday.

I've really been making an effort to incorporate some more hands on stuff for R7's math. She is really quite a kinesthetic kid and I really need to remember that sometimes! I got a few suggestions from my FIAR pals and one of them was to let her work her problems on the board. She loved it!

This is one of E9's new Usborne Books called Science Things to Make and Do- and they have taken that to heart over the past couple of days

At one point I was asked for stamping inks and look what appeared after that!

Yesterday they did the robots and today they did the rocket shapes. They had to test all the ways the shapes could fit together and E9 made them into rockets with sticker flames. Love the sticker flames.

This little contraption uses a straw to blow a tin foil ball out the top. My job? Cone making and general permissiveness.

While the bigger kids were fiddling around with science and art J2 and I were having a good time! Tot time today included a few rounds of the "moon game" which we played again today, but he would not go for the Goodnight Moon game.

I pulled down the puzzles and introduced J2 to the alphabet train. He was delighted so now my job is to pull down all the puzzles and find a new more accessible spot for them. I've almost worked it out. We'll see.

Today J2 jumped at the chance to listen to the Farmyard Tales on CD- I offered at three different times to read them to him, but I was rejected! He did like the idea of listening to the CD. He ran to get the book and I got the CD spinning. He did pretty well following along considering there are no beeps for when to turn the page.

We've also been doing regular school work as we finish up Peter Rabbit and continue with Sarah, Plain and Tall.