Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Blueberries for Sal

We needed a project that we could get done in just one day, and I happened to have gotten "Blueberries for Sal" from the library.  

Printables come from Homeschool Creations.

First Levi made a mini book.  It includes different locations from the story, and cutouts of Little Bear.  The text includes positioning words so you know where to glue Little Bear on each page.   I had Levi do all the cutting and read the book to me when he was finished.

Next I laminated a "Read, Build, Write" worksheet that we can use in the future (I need to get some lowercase wooden letters though).   For this, Levi chose a flashcard with a word on it, read it, "built" it with the wood letters, and then wrote it.   

The whole time we were doing the above activities, Levi was also eating blueberries.   With the rest, we made jam.

1. Put blueberies in a pan
2. Add a big squirt of lemon juice
3. Add a big squirt of agave (or honey, or put some sugar in there)
4. Cook at a gentle boil until it looks like blueberry jam.
5. Eat.

While thats cooking, remove a spoonful of juice and use it to tye dye a scrap of fabric.  And squeeze the fabric into a little bowl and use it as paint!

 For this one, Levi had to read the word on each bucket, and write the number below the word.  Then he used a pencil eraser dipped in blueberry juice to dot on the right number of blueberries.

The juice changed from purple to a blueish color when it dried. 

Next we did some math.  I gave him math problems, and he had to find the right number of blueberries to put in the bucket, and then give me the answer.   I think next time it would be more fun to use actual blueberries in an actual bucket, or at least pom poms.  I could also have him write down his math equations and record his answers.   I saved this one to use again. 

And these are the crafts we did:
Tye dye fabric, dyed with blueberry juice.

Blueberry pie - this looks simple, but actually involved several skills.  First he colored the background with a lite tan color, he had to cover all the white paper.  Then he traced a small bowl and cut out the circle.  Then he cut strips to make the cross hatching.  He used a large hole puncher to punch out all the blueberries, and finally glued it all together (I made the edge crust)

The basket of blueberries was made with a cork as a stamp, and Popsicle sticks for the basket. 

And that's it for a few days, we are on vacation!


In our garden we have a milkweed plant, which is a favorite of Monarch butterflies.  We found some caterpillars on it, and put them in our butterfly net to observe.  
Just like the "Very Hungry Caterpillar" first they ate and ate (and pooped) and ate some more.   One, and then the other formed a "J" shape at the top of the net and shed their skin one last time forming the chrysalis.   
Monarch butterflies have a chrysalis that is bright green with a ring of gold dots around the edge.  
When the butterfly is ready to emerge, the chrysalis turns dark.  Here you can see that the one in the background is about to come out! 

And here it is!

We released them in the garden, in the same spot we had found the caterpillars.

Levi's lapbook is made mostly of printables I found online.  For this one, there was a a LOT of color printing, and the questions were pretty specific-  I think I prefer the format that allows for a little more creativity. 

A couple of the pieces came from Lapbook Lessons,  and the rest comes from a Magic School Bus printable

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Stress balls, splash bombs, and a Glowing bath

Yesterday, it rained in the afternoon, so we did some indoor activities.  

We made "stress balls" from balloons.  These can be used for sensory play and help to strengthen little hands and fingers.   Kids can also describe them, and compare them
Fill the round part of a balloon, use a funnel and a chopstick if its tricky.  Tie a knot and pull it tight.  Take a second balloon and cut off the 'neck'.  Stretch it over  your filled balloon to hide the knot, you can add a third layer for added strength if you want. 

*tip: use large, good quality balloons, dollar store balloons don't hold up well.  

Filling ideas:
small pasta
water beads
play doh
cornstarch and water
hair gel
flax seeds 
Flour in the red one, and rice in the yellow.

We made sponge bombs (and tested them in the bath).   
They are super quick to make: 
Cut 2-3 sponges in strips the long way (I got 3 strips from each of ours)
Bundle them up, and put a zip tie around the middle.  Pull tight, and then cut off the excess zip tie. 

Get them wet, and throw them!

And the best part of the bath, was that it GLOWED!

I picked up a blacklight from walmart similar to this one, but half the price, and just to try it out, I set up a glowing bath for Levi.   I just used some things from around the house, but next time we will try some more stuff.

Glowing solutions:
Ink from a yellow highlighter (just remove the sponge tube from the marker, and put it in water)
Tonic water (glows a bright blue)

And other glowing elements:
glow in the dark bugs, stars, etc (I could only find 2!)
neon objects (maybe try a dollar store or party store to find some fun stuff! )
white objects (I put some white yarn bits in the bath)
water beads hydrated in yellow highlighter water or tonic water (tonic water will need to be watered down with regular water, for some reason they wouldn't hydrate in just tonic)

I also added:
clear cups
plastic test tubes
a big neon green bowl

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012


On our way home from a homeschool field trip, we stopped by Rockledge Gardens, which is a huge gardening store that has a little of everything.   You could spend hours in there looking around.  They even have a butterfly garden and a kids play area.

On our way out, I saw a bag of ladybugs, so they came home with us for our garden.

First we put them in our butterfly net, and watched them for a little while

 Then we let them out near the garden...

This one liked Levi's crazy hair...

Levi thought they might be thirsty after being in their little bag (he brought them a whole glass of water).  So we decided to give them a wet piece of napkin, and sure enough, they flocked to it.

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These little guys kept Levi entertained for hours, and they are a good addition to our garden, maybe they will take care of whatever is eating the basil.  

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sight Word Candyland

Levi really enjoys playing games, but has outgrown some of his old favorites.  I turned Candyland from a color based game, into a sight word game simply by writing sight words on the playing cards with a sharpie. 

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A quick and easy modification that resulted in a game that reinforces sight words!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sewing for me - Romper

And just to show that I do make something for myself every once in a while....

Maybe a little dorky, but its super comfy! 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Little House in The Big Woods (part 3)

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Ok more on our Little House in the Big Wood project:

Going along with the winter theme, we reviewed "left" and "right" hands, and decorated paper mittens.   We also started a poetry journal and included a poem about mittens, and a craft project demonstrating symmetry.  We talked about Christmas at the Ingalls house, compared to Christmas at our house (yes, totally off season).  Levi also did a write up about a gift he received, he wrote about his surf board.

His handwriting is getting a little better! 

Next we talked about Pa's fiddle.   In The Little House books, Pa often breaks out his fiddle to play and sing along with.  We made a mini fiddle with a rubberband to "pop" while singing "Pop goes the weasel"  

In the book, they make maple syrup right from the trees, and have a big party afterwards.   We learned about maple syrup making when we studied Vermont, so this was just a review.  Mainly we ate maple syrup, on our made from scratch pancakes.  We use a dairy free recipe, that you can find here.  
He wanted super hero shaped pancakes, but super hero masks was the best I could manage.  

At the party, Uncle George played his bugle, so Levi decorated a toilet paper tube, watched a bugle video on youtube and then tried out the bugle calls himself.    We also tried square dancing!  

Next in the book is spring time, Laura and Mary go to town for the first time, and Laura picks up too any pebbles and her pocket rips!  Levi sewed a mini pocket on my sewing machine, and cut out some paper pebbles to put into it.  

Another thing they did in the spring time was make cheese.  Another activity that we can't actually do because he has a dairy allergy, but we replicated some of the techniques they used.  

So part of the process of cheese making involved cutting up the chunk into curds.  We did this using some tofu, and a fruit cutter thing I found that works perfectly for this (although not for cutting fruit).
We added a little salt and then put the "cheese" into a clean cloth, and squeezed the "whey" out of it.  Put it under a heavy container to squeeze even more out of it (they used to use a big rock for this).   Tasted it a while later, it tasted like rubbery, salty, tofu, so not that yummy, BUT he saw how all the water was squeezed out and got a better idea of the process. 

And then we made a smoothie with the rest of the tofu - orange, mango, tofu, and some orange juice:

We did a few other small activities and mini books for our lapbook.  One about cousin Charly, who was just like the "boy who cried wolf" and ended up stung all over by yellow jackets.  Another reviewed what the family did throughout the seasons.  And lastly we read a poem about being afraid, and about when Pa thought a stump in the woods was a bear  - and talked about being scared.  Levi drew his own "stump monster" to go with the poem.  

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You can find the rest of this unit study here:

This was our first "Big" lapbook based unit study, and I think Levi really got a lot out of it.  there were so many activities we could do, just from this one book!    I'd love feedback/suggestions if you have any ideas to share.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dying Playsilks, a lesson in Absorbtion

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I'm participating in a swap on Craftster and I decided that I needed to make a silk scarf for my swap partner, so I let Levi help me do it because its very simple, yet you can get some amazing results.   These scarves are wonderful for imaginative play - Levi's scarves are often being used as super hero capes or to make forts, but he has also used them for babywearing his doll, or as a blanky perfect for travel because it folds up so small.  For adults, you can use them as, well, a scarf.  But they are also great for other things as well - everything from "wrapping paper" to decoration, to a beach cover up.  

To dye a playsilk, I dip the silk in vinegar, and tie it up with rubberbands like you would tye dye.  The dye is acid dye - just a tiny bit goes a long way.  I just mix it with water until it dissolves.  

Next is the fun part!  
After everything is dyed, I wrap it in foil, and out it in a steamer for about 15min.  Then rinse, and dry and thats it!  

And this is what you get....
Pretty isn't it?   This is one we made before, the one we made today wasn't dry in time for pictures!  

And each one is different... 

With the leftover dye, we played with it on some paper, and watched it absorb.  Levi tried putting two drops close together to se what would happen, he also tried dripping dye on wet parts of the paper. 

And then he decided to try blowing on it.

We just used basic construction paper, it might be interesting to compare with different types of paper
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Water Beads and Shaving Cream

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Have you played with water beads yet?   The first time we saw these was at a farmers market where they had a bowl of them to play with.  They were selling them to put plants in, but the guy said he once sold a ton of them to a lady who wanted to fill her bathtub with them!    Well they do have a fun texture to them, and can be used for lots of sensory play.

Today we mixed water beads with shaving cream:

Other things to try:
bounce them
paint with them
put them on the light table
make them glow in the dark
grow plants in them
step on them
watch them hydrate and dehydrate
scent them
freeze them
put them in a "wave" bottle
hydrate them with other liquids
put them in a water balloon
sort them
try to pick them up with chopsticks
use them in sensory bins
put them in a wading pool
mix them with slime (cornstarch and water, or the borax/glue slime)

Some of these ideas I found on a blog with lots of fun ideas for kids, called Fit Kids Clubhouse, and another blog called The Chocolate Muffin Tree, some I saw on Pintrest, and some I just thought would be fun, and I'm sure we will think of even more!

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