Saturday, December 24, 2011

Last Weekly Update of the Year!

We haven’t done much traditional school work in the past few weeks.  Lots of games, lots of reading and LOTS of Christmas crafts.  Georgie’s reading is improving at a very rapid rate and he’s now reading Level 2 readers quickly and easily.  I may have to make reading to his sister an official part of our school day.


Our last two Christmas crafts were making paper strip candy canes and salt dough ornaments.  I found about 4 completely different salt dough recipes online and used the one that used the least amount of salt since the only large container of salt we had was sea salt.   Despite over 30 minutes of baking, the ornaments never became completely hard but I still let the kids paint them and we’re going to attach a few of them to the presents going to the grandparents.



We had the last day of homeschool bowling for the Fall session this week and the kids received their participation trophies.

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We finished up the week with a trip to the movie theater to see Chipwrecked.  This was the first time these guys have been in an actual movie theater in over 2 years, when we saw Up in theaters.   That was such a traumatic experience that we blocked out all the details and only retained a strong feeling of dread at the thought of bringing these two into a movie theater again.  But, they are more than two years older now and it was a school day so the theater was likely to be empty or full of younger children, so I decided to take a chance.  They did pretty good.  At least I don’t think they disturbed anyone but me.  Georgie kept turning around to wave to the pretty girl in the row behind us and danced around at the end of the movie but all in all it was pretty good.   By the time they have the free movies next Summer, I may even be willing to do it again.

at movies to see chipmunks

Sunday, December 18, 2011

More Christmas Crafts

We have been doing lots and lots of Christmas Crafts.

We decorated foam stars and ornaments with glitter glue and stickers…..

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crayon resist Christmas trees (which didn’t work well because the kids didn’t do enough crayon and I evidently watered down the watercolors too much).


Ornaments using sticky boards and tissue paper squares.  This one is Georgie’s.  Each piece of tissue paper carefully placed.


These two are Vicki’s.  The one on the right was Georgie’s until Vicki threw a handful of tissue paper at it and he had to start over.


A wreath from a paper plate, bowtie pasta and pompoms.  The symmetry tells you this is some of Georgie’s work.


popsicle Christmas trees….

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There’s more to come.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Painting with Shaving Cream

We’ve been doing lots of Christmas crafts in the past couple of weeks and we’ve done two different ones that involve shaving cream.

We started out with a technique that is supposed to give a marbling effect.  I cut out various shapes from cardstock – stockings, trees, ornaments and stars.  I put a small amount of foam shaving cream in a bowl and (my first mistake) let the kids take turn picking colors.  It would have been easier, and much less messy, if I either made them agree on one set of colors to use for all the shapes or given them each their own bowl of shaving cream to chose one set of colors for all their own shapes.  Instead I “cleaned” the shaving cream between each set of shapes so they could all be different colors.

We added of few drops of paint in two or three colors to the shaving cream and the kids lightly swirled it around using children’s butter knives.


We then placed the cardstock shapes on the shaving cream/paint and lightly pressed down.   The cardstock was removed and the excess shaving cream removed using a ruler.

Vicki decided right away she preferred using the knife to just transfer plops of paint and shaving cream onto her cardstock shapes.  At which point, I did end up getting a second bowl of cream for Georgie to use.


I evidently didn’t scrape off enough of the shaving cream (the paint appeared to be coming off as well when I scraped too close to the cardstock) and we ended up with a slightly puffy look to our shapes.  Which was great except that any touch either flattened it right out or caused it to flake off.


The kids enjoyed this enough that they kept asking to do more.  I found it messy and the results somewhat disappointing.   I think marble painting (where a cardstock shape is put into a container, paint covered marbles are added and rolled over the cardstock) produces a nicer effect and is a LOT less messy.

Our second project was using a mixture of shaving cream and Elmer’s glue to make puffy paints.   I drew the outline of a snowman on dark colored cardstock with chalk and allowed the kids to paint it using this mixture.


The kids then used pompoms, paper circles and googly eyes to decorate their snowmen.  Georgie also did some embellishment using chalk.IMG_7340


I don’t know if I messed up the “recipe” even though it wasn’t very complicated (equal parts shaving cream and glue) but our snowmen weren’t as puffy as our other shaving cream paintings.

I’ll be posting about all our other Christmas crafts in the next week.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lego Art at the Museum

Our local museum is having a special exhibit of works by artist Nathan Sawaya – The Art of the Brick.  The exhibit features large sculptures made out of Lego bricks.  The kids had a great time viewing the sculptures (they were amazing!) and then heading down to activity stations where we could make our own Lego creations.




Vicki made one little display and lost interest in building.  Instead she played with some of the other toys that were in the classroom.


She tried to interest Georgie in the dragon but he told her he was too busy making his art.


Georgie and I made some houses for a Facebook picture contest the museum is sponsoring.



The museum is having a big Toy Festival the week after Christmas that I’m hoping to take the kids to.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Wrapping up Prehistory/Dinosaurs

We finished up Prehistory with some fun dinosaur activities.   The kids and I have really enjoyed doing our prehistory unit.  We didn’t get to all the activities I had planned, and it took WAY longer than I intended it to but we all learned a lot and had lots of fun.

Our wrap-up started with us playing a game where we matched up some of our small plastic dinosaurs with flash cards (from Target Dollar Spot).  Vicki was upset because the pteranodon (her favorite) didn’t have a mommy.  For most of the dinosaurs I had two of each kind in the size we were using but pteranodon I only had one.   So, I had to pull out one of our larger dinosaurs so that they could play together.


Georgie really stretched his reading skills telling the information on the back of the flash cards to Vicki and I.  We were able to match up all of our dinosaurs and after we were done the kids played with them for a while.




The kids painted some wooden dinosaurs models I picked up from the craft store.  We didn’t use the paints that came with them since they were just boring old green, brown and red and Vicki had to have pink and purple, while Georgie needed yellow and orange. 

Vicki painted her dinosaur, her shirt and the table.



We also did an excavation kit where you dig a dinosaur skeleton out of a block of plaster.  The kids enjoyed doing this but it was a lot of work, very messy and they needed a lot of help.  I pulled out some extra tools – toothpicks, brushes, a small screwdriver and a screw – since I didn’t really want them using the chisel that came with the kit.  It had a fairly sharp blade on it which just seemed to be asking for trouble.  Georgie was very excited whenever bones were uncovered and had the most fun doing the delicate work of getting the plaster out of the cracks.  Vicki mostly used the hammer and a screw to chip away at the main block.





After all the bones were excavated, they snapped together into a full skeleton.  There were no directions for this part but we were finally able to get him all together with just two broken bones (one toe and one arm).


We finished up by pulling out our Charlie’s Playhouse timeline and reviewing all the creatures we had studied.  Georgie wanted to color a picture of his favorite, Cooperaceras, but since mommy has no drawing ability at all and there seems to be a shortage of coloring pages for Permian Period critters, he had to settle for a nautilus instead.


I still haven’t decided what we’ll be doing now as far as History/Geography/Science are concerned.  For the next few weeks we’ll just concentrate on getting through the holidays but after that I have to decide between: 1) return to our world geography/cultures and habitats study (possibly with a quick review of what we’ve already covered), 2) do unit studies using Magic Tree House and Magic School Bus chapter books,  3) do US History and States Geography along with unrelated science topics.  I have everything I would need to do any of these plans, I just have to pick one.