Monday, March 26, 2012

Massachusetts, and other things we have been up to

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Today we learned about Massachusetts.

We used some books from the library

Front of the lapbook: A map of Massachusetts with Boston labeled.   
"Where in the United states?" with a map inside of the U.S.A, he colored in Massachusetts.  

On the left is the state quarter.  We discussed the image including what a minuteman is, and "The Bay state".  Levi didn't know what a "bay" was, so we talked about that too and looked at pictures.   Under that is the state flag which he colored.   Its a mini book showing whats on the flag:  A star representing that Massachusetts was one of the original 13 colonies, a native American with their bow and arrow pointing down, representing peace, and the state motto. 

In the middle, is the postcard we received for our postcard project.  A mini book (with the state flag, bird, and flower inside), and a "draw and write" of the Salem Witch trials.

On the right, is a "secret code" I wrote using Morse Code, which Levi had to interpret.  (it says "I love you", and under that is the Morse code Alphabet.  At the bottom, Levi wrote his name in Morse code. 
Here is his Salem drawing, we read a book on the Witch trials (its an easy reader, so not too detailed with the graphic material).  He dictated the bottom portion which his Nai Nai (grandma) wrote down for him (he was a bit tired of writing at this point).

The inside of the Morse Code flap.  The page for this comes from a Massachusetts printable from here

And some other things we have been doing:

I was planning on doing this on for our study on Alaska, but I forgot about it in the freezer.  Is a frozen chunk of ice with some plastic creatures hidden in it.  I left it up to Levi to figure out how to get them out, his weapon of choice was a fork.   This was a fun and easy project,  I'm sure we will do it again with other surprises hidden inside.

 Some busy work - sometimes I just haven't got a lesson plan together, so I pull out some busy work.  Levi likes to do worksheets, and the Kumon ones are great for reinforcing all kinds of skills.  This one is a simple word writing one, with the letters placed in boxes.

We found this little guy on our front door.  In Florida there are all kinds of critters around, giving lots of opportunities to spot and observe living things.  

 And another living thing we found this week - in our garage!  Levi and Nai Nai left the garage door open when they went for a walk, and when they came back, there were two doves inside.   The two of them just did not want to leave.  We tried everything we could think of (even googled it), including making a handmade bird feeder and hanging it in the garage opening, shutting off all the lights, chasing it with a laundry basket and a broom, and just leaving it alone with all the doors opened.   They would flit around making little squeaking noises if you got too close, but never tried to fly out.  Finally, Nai Nai managed to gently pick one up when it was perched on top of one of the bikes, and let it outside.  The other one stayed over night, the next morning we left the garage open for a while to see if it would go out, and it must have flown off when no one was looking, because when we checked again, it was gone. 
And lastly, Buddy took Levi to the Arnold Palmer golf tournament. So of course, he got a new outfit for the occasion - a pair of golf shorts, and a v-neck polo.  The back says "Arnie's Army".   They had a good time! 

Next up, some real dinosaurs! 

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Easy Finger Paint Recipe

Here is how to make your own finger paint:

3 cups of water
1 cup of cornstarch
color of choice

Mix very well until there are no lumps and cook over over medium heat until thick and clear.   Stir it a lot so it doesn't get clumpy. 
Divide into containers and add color.   You can use a drop of food coloring, unsweetened kool-aid powder, or kids washable paint (a squirt).  

For even more fun, add some fine glitter!

This same mixture also works for glue, just add a bit more cornstarch or cook it longer to make it thicker.  Its perfect for paper mache projects.   Also, if little ones eat it, its no big deal (it tastes gross though).

Cornstarch and water is fun stuff too, just add water until its a fun liquid/solid texture.

Here it is in action being used to make paper mache bowls. 
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Sunday, March 18, 2012


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We learned all about Alaska! 

We learned about aurora borealis, the Northern Lights.  There were some amazing videos on YouTube with time lapse pictures that we watched, and I also found a Christmas card with a photo of the Northern Lights.   Levi did some finger painting to create his own version. 
 And then we cleaned up, which led to a water fight.

Next, we learned about the Iditarod, which Levi was very excited about.  We read a book that his great grandparents got for him when they went on a cruise to Alaska.   We also read about sled dogs, and then practiced some of the commands (I don't know how accurate we were, but it was fun!).  

Books we read, "Granite"is all about sled dogs, and the other two are from the library. 


 On the front:  A map of Alaska, and the state capital, Juneau.   A map of the United states, showing where Alaska is located.  We also looked at a map of the world, and talked about why Alaska is shown under California on maps of the U.S, when its really not there!     Under that is the state flag, and a constellation experiment we did (more on that later)

On the back of the lapbook is Levi's painting of the Northern Lights, the crayola finger paints have a translucent quality that gives a nice effect.  Usually I make finger paint instead of using store-bought though. 

 The inside:  At the top is sled dog commands, with what they mean on the outside and the commands under the flaps.  Next to that is a quiz that we used to discuss facts about Alaska.  
In the middle are the two Alaska postcards we received, one is the oldest church in Un-Alaska, and the other one is Alaskan bears.  Levi loved the bear one, b/c on his first camping trip we saw a real bear (up close!).      Next to those are two mini books with the state capital, flag, state bird and state flower.  
At the bottom is the christmas card of the Northern Lights.

This one shows what they look like opened up!

Another thing that we did was introduce cuisnaire rods.  We are just starting to use Miquon math, which is a very different approach to teaching math.   I'm not a math person myself, and Levi is much more interested in books.  We have a bunch of different math manipulatives, but we didn't have these, so I ordered them from Amazon.  For today, I just let Levi play with them on his work mat.  He made them into shapes!

Lastly, right before bed we talked about Alaska's flag again, which shows the Big Dipper.  We traced the circle of the flashlight, and then poked holes in the shape of the Big Dipper.  Next we taped it to the end of the flash light and tested it out.   This picture was taken with the flash, but in the darkness it was fun to see the constellations on the ceiling.

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patty's Day! And a unit study on rainbows

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Happy St. Patrick's day!

First of all, we had a visitor this morning.
Levi was shocked to see what the leprechauns had done in our house - foot prints everywhere, shamrocks drawn on the wall,  flour spilled, water turned green, a message on the window and even green water in the toilet!   He also found a treat of golden nuggets.  

Yesterday, we did a quick unit study on rainbows, and St. Patrick's day. 

 It was a beautiful day, so I brought his work table outside.  We did some rainbow coloring, and work with the dot markers (we have shiny ones)

Next we made some red juice, with our new juicer.  This one is beets and carrots.

 He wasn't too impressed.  

For clean up, we played with the hose and watched how the water made rainbows in the air.  We had discussed how rainbows are made, with water bending light.  
Another demo we did was to take a glass of water, and put it on a piece of white paper in the sunlight.  The light shines through and makes a rainbow on the paper. 

On the front, we have a rainbow we cut out of a magazine, the dot marker rainbow made using a fruit-loops printable, and Levi's drawing of how rainbows are made:  sun + rain = rainbow

The back has the St. Patty's day stuff - "If I had a pot of gold", Levi drew a monster truck, and a drawing of the engine.    Next is a mini-book containing St. Patrick's day vocabulary words which Levi had to copy.   And last is a color-by-number page.  Levi usually doesn't like to color, so this was a pretty good attempt from him. 

And this is the inside.  Some of the printables are from here.    There is a set of layer books which contain songs about how to spell each color.  On the right is a ROYGBIV sheet which Levi colored.  I made a pocket for the color words underneith so he could match them up. 

We also made a color wheel by mixing paint, and discussed primary and secondary colors.  Under that is some flowers which he colored using complimentary colors. 

We also made some St. Patrick's day play doh:

Basic play doh:

2 cups of water (add food coloring if desired)
2 cups of flour
1 cup salt
2 TBS oil
1 tsp cream of tarter

Cook over medium heat until it looks like play doh, let it cool and then kneed it until smooth. 
You can also add food coloring, fragrances, glitter, etc.   For this one, I added a drop of green coloring, some peppermint extract, and some gold glitter.  

For dinner, I kept it simple by adding whatever I could find in the fridge that was green and adding it to some potatoes.  A little olive oil, some herbs from the garden, and salt and pepper.  Then added broccoli, zucchini, and spinach. 

And last, for desert we made some vegan peppermint patty's.  I used a recipe for reference, but modified it a bit.  I used honey instead of Agave (just because I didn't have any agave on hand), and added some shredded coconut.  I also tripled the amount of mint, but I think it could have used even more.   For the chocolate, I used vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips, but added a square of unsweetened baking chocolate for more of a bitter-sweet flavor. 

Busy day today, but lots of fun!   Tomorrow we plan on going to the Strawberry festival. 
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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Kites, syrup and Vermont

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We have had a busy week!    On Wednesday, Levi went to his "Mr. Science" class.  The kids learned "How to Take over the World", using balloons to represent their own world.   We went to the park afterwards as well, and as usual, Levi had a great time.    In the evening, we went to a local park for an evening of listening to music, and looking though some amazing telescopes.  We could see Mars, the moon, a star nursery and a lot more in incredible detail.   Levi also got one of the musicians to play "Oh Susannah" and sing along with him, its still one of his favorite songs.
Thursday we went to story time at the library and listened to some stories about spring.
Friday we went to a MOPS meeting, Levi got the chance to hang out with some friends while I had some mom time.
And Saturday was back to the library for an etiquette class and a book sale (we came home with 22 new books and have read half of them already)

Its been windy this week, so of course we took the opportunity to test out Levi's new kite. 

For our postcard project this week, we received two postcards from Claire from Vermont.

First of all, we located and colored in Vermont on our map of the United States and then looked at a map of Vermont and labeled the capital, Montpelier (which I still can't pronounce).

Next, on the inside of our lapbook from top to bottom:
Top: A picture of the state flower (red clover) and state bird (hermit thrush), a mini book where Levi wrote the capital, bird, and flower, and some green mountains, for the green mountain state.

Middle: the two postcards we received, the first showing Burlington, and the second showing Mount Mansfield. 
On the right is a mini-book with the state quarter on the cover.  Inside Levi drew pictures of the process of making maple syrup.   We watched a video on youtube about the process, and checked out some books from the library to read about it. 

Bottom: The Vermont state flag, which we looked at a picture of and talked about all of the symbols on it. 
And on the right, is a recycle symbol -  whats that for?   We learned all about Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream!   Ben and Jerry's is the only ice cream place Levi can eat, there are 2 flavors there that he isn't allergic to and they have 'non diary scoops' to prevent cross contamination from the dairy. 
Ben and Jerry's is a great company, based in Vermont.  One of their focuses is helping the environment.  On their website we learned about their efforts to "reduce, reuse and recycle". 
Did you know that they feed their food leftovers to local pigs?  And the pics don't like the mint ice cream, but will eat the cookies out of it!  

And of course, we had to have maple syrup on waffles for breakfast:
Because it was the last waffle, I had Levi write "waffles" on the grocery list.  I think I'm going to put him in charge of "the list" because he seems to like to practice his writing for practical applications like this one, and I can have him read his writing to shop at the store later.    The only thing is, we will have a much bigger list with the size of his handwriting!

More postcards arrived in the mail today, so on Monday we start our next postcard!
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Monday, March 5, 2012

I speak for the Trees!

First up is a fun, messy activity that is quick to set up.   All you need is some cornstarch, plastic containers, water, and some kind of brush.   Just put some corn starch in each container, and provide some water to add.   You can add food coloring too for a lesson in color mixing (and a surprise, put it under the cornstarch so you can't see it until the colors are mixed!  

If you only put a little water, you end up with "ooblek" which is a weird solid/liquid substance that is a fun sensory experience.  Add some more water and you've got chalk paint, perfect for decorating the driveway or even the mail box.  It washed away easily with the hose (or a little rain).  

In honer of Dr. Suess's birthday (March 2nd), we have been re-reading all of our Dr. Suess books.  Levi seems to love them all!   These books are a great opportunity to discuss rhyming words.   We made many lists of words like "rat, hat, cat, bat, sat, fat, that, mat".  There are also a lot of cute printables in Dr. Suess themed that were easy to pull out for Levi to work on independently. 

And after all of his hard work doing his assignments, we went to the premier of "The Lorax"!    Its a great move, kept the integrity of the story while adding more elements.  The Lorax is my favorite Dr. Suess book, and with the movie coming out, that inspired another outfit...

Tomorrow.. we work on another state for our postcard project!  We got postcards from 2 more people in the mail.   
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