Friday, March 25, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: 3/21 – 3/25

This was my first week attempting to do “real” work with two kids.   Vicki has played around with some stuff in the past but it was usually completely independent “play” or done without Georgie around.  Even though Vicki’s is still completely optional, she now has some actual curriculum to work with. 

My first hurdle was to find each of them a work area that would keep them from bothering each other.  Vicki loves to grab Georgie’s stuff and Georgie loves giving the answers for Vicki’s.  I went with setting up our two tables so they would be sitting back-to-back.  Someone suggested this to me on one of my forums and I think it will work well.  This way they aren’t too focused on each other and I can sit on the couch in between to help whoever needs it.  Vicki’s table is not ideal since it has a (slightly ripped) padded top which is difficult to write or color on but it should do for now.  Eventually we will get her a table like George's which is height adjustable.


When Vicki didn’t feel like “doing school” she played with the Tag map or on the computer.

Language Arts

Georgie is continuing along in Explode the Code.  I think we are actually somewhere in Book 2 but I’m not sure since I separated all the pages in order to file them at the beginning of our year and match them up to AAS.  He likes the silly pictures and continues to have absolutely no problem finding the correct answers.

For Grammer, we have moved on to simple sentences in our Scholastic GUM program.   We’ve never covered this type of thing before but Georgie had no problem telling what was a sentence and what wasn’t.

We started our Handwriting without Tears.  Georgie is working in the First Grade book since his primary problem is lowercase letters.  It does start with a review of uppercase, which we will go through a little slowly to get him used to their method and to make sure he’s making the letters correctly.   We started with Frog Jump Capitals – those that start with a straight line and then return to the top.   I had printed off some gray block paper with starting dots for him to practice on.

Georgie also enjoyed reading his new issue of Highlights High Five and doing the puzzles.  He used to get Your Big Backyard and when he’s a little older I hope to get him National Geographic Kids or Zoobooks.  I think magazine subscription are a great way to encourage reading and an interest in new topics.


Vicki has expressed interest in learning to read (thanks to Georgie’s book worm) so I pulled out our Get Ready for the Code book again.  She did really well the first day.  I didn’t have her do any of the letter tracing pages but she liked circling the pictures that started with the correct letter sound.  She knows her letter sounds from watching Leapfrog Letter Factory DVD.

I have the Pre-K level of Handwriting without Tears for Vicki.   I bought the Teacher’s Manual but none of the other manipulatives.  I made my own set of Capital Letter pieces out of thick black foam.  The hardest part of preparing them was getting the price and brand stickers off.   Next time I buy foam I’m going to try and get pieces that attach the UPC with a little staple because no matter what I tried (vinegar, alcohol) I couldn’t get the residue completely off.  Vicki did enjoy playing with the pieces.   I made my own set of Letter cards but have not introduced them yet.    She also did a pre-writing page where she traced and then copied horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines, and circles.



We are continuing along with MEP and Addition/Subtraction worksheets until the end of the month when the Co-op sale ends and we can get our Math Mammoth.    We do still need to work on sitting without correct posture while doing written work.


Vicki did some counting cards I downloaded from Confessions of a Homeschooler.  She doesn’t like using clothespins but was able to use a dry-erase marker on the laminated cards.


She also did a counting worksheet from tlsbooks.  In the past she would point to the correct number and I would circle it for her.  This time she wanted to do it herself.


One unexpected effect of having Vicki join us for school was Georgie asked why he didn’t get to do “fun school” anymore.  It made me realize that I had been very lax in adding games into our school day.  So, we pulled out one of our word building games – Tri Words.   It gave Georgie practice in reading, spelling and writing since he wanted to keep track of the words we came up with.


We continued to use the Wii Fit for some physical education.  Georgie’s favorite is still the Basic Run where he gets to follow the kitten around. 


We also got some fresh air and exercise enjoying the first week of Spring.


We finished up our study of Japan, which can be seen here.

I am going to be deviating from our scheduled program for the next month.  We are scheduled to continue along in our study of the countries of Asia, followed by Desert habitats.   But, our local museum is having a month of hands-on activities and science experiments to celebrate the opening of the newly expanded Dinosaur Den.   In order to best incorporate all this fun into our schooling, we are going to play paleontologists for the next month.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Yay, Spring!! Wait….What???

Sunday was the First Day of Spring!  Last week we had a couple of absolutely beautiful 60 degree days.  The crocuses were starting to show up, the trees were starting to bud, birds could be heard singing (mourning doves are pretty much the only birds I can recognize by sound and they’re back!).  It was perfect!  I began planning a small unit on Spring, including lots of nature walks.  We would listen for birds, look at flower buds, learn about how plants grow….

I had it all ready to go.  You want to know what we ended up doing this week?  Here it is…..





It was actually kind of pretty. Just definitely not Spring-like.   So, I got to explain to Georgie that just because the calendar says it’s Spring, doesn’t mean the weather is going to cooperate.  Poor kid, I think this disappointed him more than not getting snow on December 1st.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


The next country we learned as part of our Asia studies was Japan.

We began by finding Japan on our giant wall map.  Georgie noticed the longitude/latitude lines on the map and wanted me to tell him how to find it using those lines.  We did spend a very brief amount of time learning about longitude and latitude when we first began our Geography lesson but it looks like it may be a good idea to spend some more time on it soon.   He was able to trace the longitude line at 150 degrees east down and look slightly to the west to find Japan.

We discussed how Japan was an archipelago, made up of a string of islands, some large, some very small.  We looked at what bodies of water surrounded Japan – the Sea of Japan, the Pacific Ocean, the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea.

We went to National Geographic Kids and viewed a video about Mt. Fuji and a local celebration, looked at pictures of Tokyo, Mt. Fuji, rice paddies and Himeji Castle.  We also read about the Geography, Nature, History, People and Culture, and Government of Japan.  

We briefly discussed the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  I did not want to go into a lot of detail since I felt it would scare Georgie to see too much of the devastation.   We did view some age appropriate information on earthquakes here

We have a simple reader and a set of flashcards on World Landmarks, both from Target’s Dollar Spot.  Both included information on the Itsukushima Torii, the Floating Shinto Shrine Gate.  After learning about the Gate, we learned more about the Shinto religion in our new Usborne Internet Linked Encyclopedia of World Religions.  I think this book is going to be a great resource and I suspect that I am going to learn as much as the kids.

We read from Children Just Like Me, and learned about Hina Matsuri, or Doll’s Day, and Kodomono-hi, or Children’s Day, in Children Just Like Me: Celebrations.  We read more about Children’s Day in the story A Carp for Kamiko and made our own carp kites.

We learned about the Japanese flag, a red “rising sun” on a white background, which stands for warmth, brightness and sincerity, while the white stands for purity and integrity.  

We looked at samples of Japanese alphabet and then learned how to speak some Japanese at Time for Kids.  We heard how to say hello (konnichi wa), good-bye (sayonara) and thank you (arigato) which I already knew how to say – thank you very much Mr. Roboto.  Georgie really liked saying konnichi wa for some reason.

We listened to some traditional Japanese Shamisen music through a link in our Intellego unit.  Georgie did not like it at all so we ended up not listening to the whole thing and instead looked up some information on the shamisen.

We learned about the Japanese Art of Paper Folding, origami, and looked at some very elaborate samples through Google Images.  Using a design I remember from elementary school, we made some jumping frogs that the kids then had fun racing.
We finished up by learning about some of the animals of Japan.  We watched an episode of Be the Creature about the Japanese Macaques, the only monkeys found that far north.

Georgie did his notebook quiz on Japan.  His favorite thing to learn about Japan was making the fish kites and the folding paper frogs.

We added stickers to our passports.  Our next country will be Saudi Arabia.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up: 3/14 to 3/18

We had another pretty good week despite an excess of outside noise.  We had some trees removed this week which meant 4 days of saws and wood chippers right outside the window.  It made it difficult at times to read-aloud or watch videos but we still managed to get some work done.

Language Arts

This week was a review week in both spelling and phonics.  We completed the short vowels last week so this week I went back and reviewed all the cards we completed in AAS.  Georgie did great – he had no problem spelling any of the words and could do all the sounds on both the Sound cards and the Phonogram cards.  We will be moving on to the next lessons right away.

We continued with our Grammar lessons using the Scholastic books.  We don’t have the readers they recommend using but we were able to do the assignments using readers we do have.   We are still working on nouns and one of the assignment was to go through their reader and find People/Animals, Places and Things and list them in a chart.  We did it using Green Eggs and Ham, without any problem.

Both kids did some writing using the white boards.  Georgie is wearing his “hard” hat so he can go help the construction workers take down the trees.  (NOT!!)

Our Handwriting Without Tears came in so I’ll be spending the weekend adding it to our workfiles.   I hope it will help Georgie to start writing in lowercase letters more. 
Georgie did some reading in his Tag books.  He’s currently going through the TH, CH and SH digraph books.   He is also trying to read EVERYTHING.  Every book I do as a read aloud, every worksheet, every website he wants to try and read it.  He is reading a little ahead of the short vowel words we have completed but not that much so he can only read about 50% of the words in these.  I love that he’s so interested in trying but it’s also frustrating because I’ll be in the middle of reading one paragraph and he’ll suddenly start to work on a completely different paragraph.   It’s making it a little hard to get things completed.  We may have to start moving a little faster on teaching him the phonics rules (especially long vowel words) so he can start sounding out more.
With all the noise and chaos I didn’t take the opportunity to work on Phonics with Vicki.  Hopefully I’ll at least get the chance to see what she already knows next week.


We are continuing along with just MEP until the end of the month when the co-op sale will be completed and we can get our Math Mammoth download.  I can’t wait and I think Georgie will really enjoy it.  He’s definitely ready to start working on place value and getting past single digit addition.

I did some work with Vicki this week.  Using neon colored spoons (left over from Steph’s sweet 16 party) we worked on patterns, more or less and counting.  She didn’t have any problem with simple patterns, counting to 10 or telling which group had more.  I am considering printing out some MEP for her to see how she does with a little bit of structure.  
Physical Education

We were able to start some new exercises this week using the Wii Fit Plus.  Georgie loves the Basic Run Plus where he gets to follow around a kitty.  He did well enough to unlock two additional trails, which he wanted to check out right away so he ended up doing the course about 4 times in one day.  Vicki ran along with him for the first couple of time.  He also liked playing the Hula Hoop and being a penguin catching fish on a tilting iceberg. 

Now that the weather is getting nicer, we also will be spending more time outside.   This week was gorgeous but we didn’t get out much due to the tree removal and next week we’re actually supposed to get some snow (???) but we’re definitely getting there.


We continued our Geography study this week with Japan.  We have a few more activities to do so will be finishing that up next week.

We did take a day off for some St. Patrick’s Day fun, seen here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

We took a break from our regularly scheduled programming to have some St. Patrick’s Day fun.  I didn’t plan ahead so we had no books from the library and nothing planned.  What I did have was shamrocks, jewels and stickers left-over from last year.

The kids dressed in green but Georgie declared “I’ll wear green but I’m still not going to be Irish”.   I did explain to him that he is, in fact, about 1/8 Irish (he gets a little bit from both sides).

The kids made necklaces by stringing pieces of green straw and stickers.
They decorated wooden shamrocks with paint, glitter, jewels and stickers.  Vicki loaded hers up with so many layers of paint and glitter glue that it will probably take about three days to dry.   Georgie did mostly stickers, with just one blob of gold glitter that he tried to get to dry faster before deciding to just wipe off the excess.
We learned about the symbols of St. Patrick’s Day, watched a Sesame Street video about Irish Step Dancing, read a story about a Dragon and a Leprechaun, and printed an easy reader from Scholastic.

We also played some fun St. Patrick’s Day themed games at The Kidz Page.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up: 3/7 to 3/11/11

We had a pretty productive week despite my tentative plans to take it easy on weeks Steph is here. 

Language Arts

Georgie has completed all the lessons on short vowel words in Explode the Code and All About Spelling.  Things have been pretty easy up to this point but I expect they will start getting harder soon.

We began working on Grammar using the Scholastic Skill Builder: Grammar, Usage and Mechanics book with supplementation using the MacMillian/McGraw-Hill Treasures Grammar Workbook.  Both were free resources but I decided to use the Scholastic as our primary because I have a Teacher’s Manual for that one.   We started with recognizing nouns and Georgie had no problem with the concept.  We also played Very Silly Sentences to help reinforce what he's learning.

I’m getting ready to order Handwriting without Tears for Georgie soon.  He is still reluctant to write lowercase letters and I think HWT may help him get past it.

Vicki has shown a lot of interest in learning to read ever since Georgie's bookworm was set up.  I’m going to start going through AAS with her, in a light relaxed way to see if she’s ready for blending the sounds (which she already knows) into words.  I’m not going to worry about spelling mastery at this point in time.

I’m also thinking of getting the Handwriting Without Tears Pre-K workbook for Vicki.  She’s starting to show more control when coloring and I like their easy introduction to writing.


We are still using MEP and will probably continue to use it as a supplement but we are definitely switching to Math Mammoth as our primary program.  It is available through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op this month and has already hit the 40% off level.  If it reaches 250, it will go to 50% off.

I stopped using the Money workbook since the addition was getting too hard for Georgie without understanding more about place value.

I also stopped using the Time workbook since it was just doing time to the quarter hour and at this point I think Georgie can handle learning about the minutes associated with all the numbers.  He can count by 5’s, which should make it pretty easy.  I made him a clock where he can lift up the number and see how many minutes are associated with it.   He’s been using it to compare to our clock (that shows the actual time) and see what time it is.

I’ve started doing calendar time with the kids again.  I have a bulletin board set with pieces for the months and dates but it was hard to keep all the pieces together and keep the kids from pulling them off, so I stopped doing it.  Oriental Trading recently had reduced price shipping and, in their clearance section, clear plastic calendar templates.  I made a file in Word with a graphic in each space that should get a number for the month (I did start March too early) and the month at the top.  I taped this behind the plastic template and we use our dry-erase crayons to write the date in each day.  Then we go over the Months of the Year and the Days of the Week.  The plastic keeps the kids from ripping it and if they scribble on it or write in too many dates, I can just erase it instead of having to print out a new calendar.

We continued our Geography study this week with India.  More information on that can be seen here.


We are still working in Asia but we completed our next Country this week – India.   India is another country that Daddy visits for work so, once again, we had some actual currency to explore.


We started our study (as we probably all of them will) by visiting National Geographic Kids and exploring the pictures, videos and descriptions of the Geography, Culture, History and Physical Climate of India.  The kids love looking at the beautiful pictures and watching the videos.

We found India on our wall map and circled it.  We took a closer look and discussed some of the physical features, mainly that it is a peninsula surrounded by the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal.  We also noted the location of the Ganges River, which is sacred to Hindus.

We colored an outline map of India and a flag from Enchanted Learning.  Georgie really struggles with being forced to make something specific colors and finished it as quickly as possible.

We read Toot & Puddle: Toot’s Tour of India.  The kids enjoyed the story (they are familiar with Toot & Puddle from PBS) but I found it very light on actual information.  There was a brief mention of crowds (not actually shown in any of the illustrations), a ride on an elephant and reference to the Jaipur Sundial.

We read from Children Just Like Me and discussed the variations between the lives of the children in the book and our lives.  Georgie was amazed about the girl who lived without electricity or running water.

We read about Diwali in Children Just Like Me: Celebrations.   We read briefly about Holi but I didn’t want to dwell on it and give the kids any ideas about having paint fights.

We made Diwali diya by decorating small tins with tissue paper and gems, then inserting red, yellow and orange feathers to simulate candle flames.  As usual, Georgie did an even row all around while Vicki piled everything.

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We looked at rangoli decorations on Google Images.   From Wikipedia:  “Rangoli is a traditional decorative folk art of India. They are decorative designs on floors of living rooms and courtyards during Hindu festivals and are meant as sacred welcoming area for the deities”   They are usually made with colored sand or rice powder.   I found some rangoli coloring pages from Activity Village.  I originally printed out just one design but Georgie really enjoyed doing these so I ended up printing out more.  He loves to color when he can be creative and use whatever colors he wants.   He ended up doing five in all.  Maybe in a few years we’ll try doing them using colored sand but for now, crayons are good.


While the kids colored their rangoli, I read to them from The Magic Tree House: Tigers at Twilight.  This actually worked very well and was probably the best read aloud sessions using a non-picture book we’ve ever had.

I made an information sheet for the kids (another thing that will be done for each country we study) that showed a color picture of the flag, a sample of the currency and the alphabet.   We were able to look at some actual currency from one of Daddy’s trips to India.  The kids both liked the colorful money and that some of the bills had a tiger and elephant on the back.

We read the story The Birth of Krishna from Children Just Like Me: Our Favorite Stories.  I really need to get a copy of the Usborne Encyclopedia of World Religions to use as a reference.  I would like to be able to discuss the various religions better as we come across them in our studies.

We went to Time for Kids: Homework Helper and listened to the correct pronunciation for the Hindi words for Hello and Good-bye (namaste), which Georgie noted was like in Hawaii where Aloha is both Hello and Good-bye.  We also learned how to say How Are You? (Aap kaise hein), Thank You (Dhanya vaad) and Hey, it’s my turn to use the computer (Suno, ab meri bari hai computer pe khelne ke liye ).  I like how the site throws in a few fun phrases to learn.

One of the pictures shown on National Geographic Kids were of mendhi, traditional henna tattoos applied for weddings and special festivals.  I cut out handprints from cream cardstock and let the kids decorate them with brown paint.  I was hoping to let them use q-tips to draw finer lines but I couldn’t find any.  The paint brushes didn’t work as well, especially when they were globbed with paint.


We went to one of the links from our Intellego unit and listened to traditional Indian music.  We also watched a Bollywood style dance.

We watched Riki Tiki Tavi, which is one of the stories from the Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.  The movie has been one of my favorites since I grew up watching it on television (we won’t mention how long ago that was).   The kids were a little scared at the beginning but ended up really enjoying it and asking to watch it again.   We did briefly discuss the English control of India and how the family in the movie was not Indian.

After the movie, the kids wanted to know more about mongooses and cobras so we researched the animals of India on National Geographic Kids and National Geographic.   We used a print-out from Confessions of a Homeschooler and learned more about cobras, water buffalos, tigers and elephants.  We also learned about peacocks.  The kids have seen peacocks before since they are very common in zoos around here.  We did a peacock dabber page from Making Learning Fun.


The kids played with some paper dolls I ordered through Dover books.  To make them last a little bit longer, I laminated them and used pieces of velcro to attach the clothes.  On the back of each outfit, I wrote about if it was worn for a certain festival or by a certain group of people.


We discussed some of the similarities and differences between life in the US and life in India.  Georgie was really stuck on the “no electricity, that means no television” idea.  

The kids answered questions for our review sheet and put their India stickers in their passports.  Next week we will be moving on to Japan.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Nature Walks - Living on the River

We finally had some decent weather and we took the opportunity to get outside in the fresh air. 

Saturday morning was beautiful with semi-sunny skies and temperatures approaching the high 50's.  We were doing some work outside and decided to take the kids for a walk down to the river.  Our property borders on a mid size river but the yard and house are about 300 feet away from the river with a slope down of about 45 degrees (something we appreciated on Monday).  Quite a walk so the kids haven't been down there too often.  We may get the chance to go more often since Georgie can now make the hike down, and more importantly the hike back up, without assistance.

The kids had a great time throwing sticks into the river, playing on fallen logs, jumping in the few remaining patches of snow and enjoying the fresh air.  Once the weather gets warmer we will be able to go wading or canoeing on the river to check out snails, tadpoles, fish, turtles and ducks. 
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This is the view of the River from our back deck on Saturday….
and this is the view on Monday.
We had just a little bit of rain on Sunday and the entire area the kids were playing in ended up under water. 

Monday was a bright, sunny but really cold day.  I decided to be brave and took the kids and Zappa for a walk.   We kept an eye out for signs of Spring but other than hearing some birds, the kids and I agreed there weren’t any.

First we went down the street to check out how high the river was.  The trees to the right just past the boat rack (the one on the left has a sign attached to it) are usually right at the edge of the river.  We took the opportunity to discuss what effect periodic flooding has on the river and the land surrounding it.
As we walked around the neighborhood there were a lot of mini rivers of water running down the streets.  I knew better than to think the kids (especially Vicki) would stay out of the water so I had them wear their boots on our walk.
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We had the opportunity to check out some worms floating in the puddles and one that managed to escape.
By the time we made in back home, the kids were both wet to the knees. 

I’m hoping we’ll start getting more nice days soon and we can start finding some signs of Spring.

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up: 2/28 to 3/4/2011

We had a good week with more participation from Vicki than we usually get.

Vicki was very interested in Georgie’s bookworm and decided that she wanted to learn to read.  So, one morning before Georgie was awake, I opened up the Funnix program that we downloaded for free in January.   We did about four steps of Lesson 1 before Vicki was bored with it and didn’t want to do anymore.  I think I’m going to have to look ahead and get a better idea of where she should start before we try it again.   Until then, we’ll have to stick with Starfall.

Vicki did play with her numbered hearts this week.  She laid them out in order, then jumped or tiptoed from one to the next.  And then I turned my back on her and she tore them all in half.   I really can't wait until she gets past this destructive phase.
Vicki also likes to watch George play on the computer and he discovered a new place to play this week – Leap World.  Leap World is an online play community from Leap Frog.  You gain access by owning one of their toys that can be hooked up to the computer.  We have a Leapster 2 and a Tag system so we are able to have two separate accounts for the kids.  LeapWorld allows players to make up their own avatars and explore a virtual world with lots of learning games.

We are continuing with math using MEP and various worksheets but I will be purchasing Math Mammoth through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op this month.   I may continue with some MEP for the puzzles but Math Mammoth will be our primary program.

Reading, writing and spelling are proceeding at our usual pace.  He is much more interested in reading books himself now, even if some of them are beyond his ability.  We read The Story of Ping as part of our China study this week and he wanted to read it aloud to Vicki and I.  He went through the first five or six pages reading all the words he knew, letting me fill in the ones he didn’t, before he became tired and just let me finish the book.

I’m getting ready to add some Grammar to our day.  I currently have the Scholastic Skillbuilder: Grammar, Usage and Mechanics Grade 1 Workbook and Teacher’s Manual, the McGraw Hill Grade 1 Grammar Workbook, Sheldon’s Primary Language Lessons and KISS Level 1 Grammar Lessons.  All were free resources and I’m looking through them trying to decide which one(s) I want to start with.

For Physical Education this week, we did some dancing around to music from my ITouch.  I have a fairly eclectic selection of music with a playlist of all kid’s songs.  Their favorite is definitely the Chipmunks doing Shake Your Groove Thing although Vicki is also doing really well learning The Time Warp (Chipmunks version, of course). 

We moved on to Asia for our Continents and Cultures study and learned all about China.  Those lessons can be seen here.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Continents – Asia/Cultures - China

We started the next Chapter of our Continents & Cultures unit study.   We found Asia on our large world map and outlined in with a dry erase marker.  We read about Asia in our Scholastic Atlas of the World and discussed how large and diverse of an area it covered.  We then narrowed our focus to China.   Of course, the first thing we had to do is grab the dry erase markers again and outline it on our world map.  The kids really love drawing on our map so I let them have some fun but I told them to draw everywhere but on Asia.  George drew some ducks in the Atlantic Ocean.

First we discussed the Physical Geography and Landmarks of China:
We looked at the Scholastic Atlas and discussed some of the geographical features of China.  China has high mountains, deserts, modern cities and borders the ocean.  We read The Story of Ping and found the Yangtze River on our map.  
We went to the Time for Kids Homework Helper Sightseeing Guide and clicked on various features for a brief description.   We learned about the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City and the Grand Buddha.

We did a workbook page from A+ World Geography workbook that I’m pretty sure I bought at Target’s Dollar Spot.  It’s easy to see that Georgie is not particularly interested in realism when coloring.
Our next and largest area of study was the Culture of China:
We read from Children Just Like Me, Children Just Like Me: Celebrations and World Folktales (The Blue Rose). 

I made up a summary sheet with information about China before we began our study.  It included a color picture of the flag, pictures of the currency, what language is most common (Mandarin Chinese) and how to say hello in that language (Ni Hao), and a selection of characters written in Chinese, so they could see the difference between Chinese writing and our alphabet.   I have a similar sheet for each Country that we will be studying in detail.
We listened to music from China that Georgie thought was too relaxing and said it made him fall asleep. 
Once he “woke up” again, we continued listening while they colored a picture of the flag of China.  Georgie had a real struggle with using the correct colors and ended up not finishing his picture.  Vicki’s picture is on top and this is probably the closest she has ever come to coloring within the lines.  The flag was printed from Enchanted Learning.
After discussing the meaning of the flag (the large star stands for the Communist Party, the smaller stars for the 4 classes of society – workers, peasants, soldiers and students) we were able to look at some actual currency thanks to one of daddy’s many trips to China.  Both kids thought the money was much more colorful than ours and the purple bills were their favorites.

We discussed how they don’t speak English in China.  We took a closer look at various characters and looked at how to write their names in Chinese.  Neither of the kids wanted to try and write their name in Chinese.  I couldn’t really blame them, it looks pretty complicated.   The top one is George and the bottom one is Vicki.
We went to the Time for Kids Homework Helper website and listened to the correct pronunciations for Ni Hao (hello), Zai jian (good-bye), Xie xie (thank you), Bu yong ke qi (your welcome) and Ce suo zai naer? (where is the bathroom?).   The kids already knew how to say hello from the PBS show “Ni Hao Kai-Lan” but they got a real kick out of the last one.

We read A Visit to China by Mary Packard.  It is a cute little story that mentions how red is considered a lucky color.  Georgie said “red isn’t my lucky color.  Mine is green because red means stop and green means go, and I prefer Go”. 

We learned about Chinese New Year using some materials we obtained through Panda Express’s educational program.  Other than a few mentions of the importance of food during the celebration and a brief (commercial) mention of Panda Express at the beginning, it was a very good video.  It explained the origin of the Zodiac animals, about the Dragon and Lion parades, about firecrackers and about the year of the Rabbit (2011).  The kids enjoyed watching it and Georgie had me read every animal on the zodiac and what the characteristics of it are.  Georgie and I are both Roosters, Vicki is a Boar, Steph is a Dog and Daddy is a Monkey.  Georgie decided he didn’t like that and decided I was a snake, he was a Dragon and Vicki was a rat.  Daddy was allowed to stay a Monkey (he actually put daddy down as a monkey before we knew for sure since Panda Express only listed birth years back to the 70’s) and Steph stayed a dog.
I had a coloring page on the Chinese Zodiac printed from Enchanted Learning but neither of the kids showed any interest in sitting down and coloring it.

We did play Chinese Zodiac dominos that were printed from DLTK.
We made Chinese lanterns using a print-out from Crayola.  
We played a game using pictures and descriptions that I printed off from….somewhere I can’t remember.  I thought they were from Teacher’s Book Bag but I wasn’t able to find them in any of my files so if anyone knows where these are from, please let me know so I can mention it.  I separated out the pictures and the descriptions, laid the pictures out on the table, read the descriptions and Georgie would tell me which picture went with the description.  We learned about pandas, pagodas, the Forbidden City, Buddha, rice crops and the Great Wall playing this game.  We attached the matched up pictures and descriptions to cardstock to add to our notebook.
My kids are not adventurous eaters but we did try out using chopsticks to eat dry cereal.  I did a "cheat" using a piece of paper and a rubber band since they don't quite have the motor skills to use them correctly.  They really liked the chopsticks and every day tried to find something to eat that they could use them again.

To finish up we discussed some of the differences between life in China and the US (eating utensils, clothing, foods, language, names – last name first, first name last).

Our next (and final) area of study was the Animals of China:  
We used an Animals of China print-out from Confessions of a Homeschooler.   We used our Scholastic Encyclopedia of Animals and the National Geographic and National Geographic Kids websites to find further information on each animal. 

We did some coloring pages from Enchanted Learning.  Georgie’s favorite was definitely the Giant Panda.  You can see he still likes to get creative with his colors.
We were definitely able to get the most information on the Giant Panda.  National Geographic Kids had lots of information including pictures and video about them.

As we proceeded through our study I mounted all our information to a tri-fold presentation board hanging in front of our fireplace so the kids could look at it frequently.
To finish up our study, I gave Georgie a brief quiz to see what he remembered.   He knew that China was on the Continent of Asia and he easily named an animal found in the country (Panda bear of course).  When asked to Name one thing you liked learning about this country, he answered “about panda bears and the red flag with stars and the new ways to write kind, heart and good”. 
The kids finished up by adding the China stickers to their passports.  I made their passports by printing a cover and pages watermarked with a map of each continent.  The stickers came from Highlights, either free with promotional materials or with our brief subscription to Hidden Picture Puzzles, I’m not sure which.  Those countries that we will be covering that didn’t have stickers provided, I printed off my own.
Other books we used during this study:
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