Friday, May 27, 2011

2 Week Wrap-Up: 5/16-5/27/11

We had a pretty slow two weeks.  Daddy went away on a business trip and that always leads to cranky children and tired Mommy.  But we did manage a few things.

Over the weekend, we went to a Fun Fair at a local elementary school after Georgie’s T-ball game.  Georgie rode a pony for what I think is the first time.  Vicki cried and refused but then spent the next two days saying she wanted to do it now.

Scholastic had another one of the Dollar Deals for ebooks so I bought a few more that had printable game boards.  Last time I bought things that went along with our themes or things for Georgie to do.  This time I looked for game activities for Vicki.   Since Vicki badly wants to learn how to read, but hates doing worksheets, I had been considering Happy Phonics or subscribing to the Evan Moor Teacher’s File Box.  Both are pretty expensive.  The Teacher’s File Box I would also be able to use to get worksheets and activities for Georgie but, since I was considering this right AFTER the sale stopped at the co-op, it would have cost $99 and I really wasn’t sure how much we would use it.  Especially since I already have a lot of the Evan Moor stuff that is specific to our upcoming activities.

I ended up finding 19 books that had games and activities that would be appropriate for Vicki.  Most also had stuff for Georgie and things that we could use for future years.   I spent some time printing out the games that were a good level for right now and Georgie spent some time helping me color them.


I also went to a Scholastic Books Warehouse Sale last week.  I love going to these.  The prices are wonderful and the selection pretty varied.   Two of my finds this time were two wipe-off books for Vicki.  While she hates worksheets, for some reason she loves white boards and wipe-off books.


The Learning book opens into an easel and covers letters, numbers, seasons, months, days of the week, addition, simple words, comparison words, color words, shapes, opposites, clocks and weather terms.  So even Georgie could get something out of using this book.   And, since it was 50% off, I only paid $4.49 for it.


Vicki and I also started MEP Reception.   She enjoyed Lesson 1 and it was the perfect amount of time to keep her attention – about 5 minutes.


She also did some dabber paint pages.  I have a pretty big collection of these from Making Learning Fun, Confessions of a Homeschooler and Homeschool Creations.  


She did two or three pages before deciding that stacking the tops was more fun.


We did complete Part 6 of our Prehistory study on the Ordovician and Silurian Periods.


What Georgie did in his core curriculum these weeks:

Handwriting Without Tears:
Page 15 (lowercase o), practiced c, o and numbers on paper.

OPGTR Reviewed Lessons 41-48 and did Lesson 49.
Books he read this week were all repeats except Rainbow Fish: Spike and the Substitute.

I expect to add ETC back in soon since we will be doing beginning blends in OPGTR.

AAS Step 13 – Segmenting blends (very easy for him), Step 14 – final blends (very easy).

pg 25 Scholastic 1st Grade Reading Comprehension worksheet; Scholastic GUM pg 10 – review of capitalizing I and telling sentences.

MM Yr1 pg 58, 59, 84, 85 (addition/subtraction) and Yr2 pg 63 (shapes).

Sign Language:
Continued reviewing the alphabet and his name.

Read Aloud:
Our read aloud this week was Magic School Bus Dinosaur Detectives.  I found some great coloring pages (free downloads) from Dover Publishing that are pages full of sea shells.  Lots of intricate coloring like Georgie really loves these days.

Prehistory – Part 6 Ordovician and Silurian Periods

This week we learned about the Ordovician and Silurian Periods in Prehistory.    I combined these two periods because they were covered together in our Usborne Internet Linked Encyclopedia of World History and our Usborne First Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life.    That and making cooksonia was the only craft/activity I could come up with (and I actually didn't even come up with that one - Angela at Satori Smiles did).  The creatures are starting to get more complicated and I am not at all artistic.

As usual, we started with going over our Charlie’s Playhouse Creature Cards and comparing them to our timeline.  I did separate the periods for this activity.  Georgie loves picking out critters from the timeline, reading what the timeline says, then learning more about them from the Creature Cards.  As we move on to reading in our encyclopedias, he’s been really good about recognizing creatures that appear on our timeline.

In our UILEWH they have pictures of two other spore-bearing plants besides Cooksonia – Aglaophyton and Rhynia.  Since they were similar to, but different colors from, cooksonia I let the kids pick what color they wanted to use to make models.  I did tell them to make each plant one color but their creativity took over. 

I thought it might frustrate them if the pompoms wouldn’t stay on the tips of the pipe cleaners well so I twisted the pipe cleaners into small loops to make a platform for the pompoms.   Once again the kids did their own thing and glued the pompoms on to completely different places.   They actually didn’t like this activity too much.  Georgie thought it was too messy since the glue kept running down his hand.  I stuck the pipe cleaners in straws to hold them upright and gave them cups to stick them in so they wouldn’t have to hold them but….
What they did enjoy was swiping a bunch of straws and joining them together into swords.  I have a huge bin of neon colored straws and pipe cleaners that I believe I purchased to use for color matching activities.  Since we are past that point, I guess I can let them be creative with them.
We looked at some web links with animations of Silurian creatures and watched Before the Dinosaurs: Walking with Monsters on Netflix.  Not everything on the video matched our current time period and we will probably watch it again in a few weeks.

We read the book When Fish Got Feet, Sharks Got Teeth and Bugs Began to Swarm and The Usborne Great Dinosaur Search.  The dinosaur search book actually starts with the Silurian period and we only covered that page but Georgie really enjoyed it.  He loves I-Spy type books and computer games.  I may have to buy this book since it’s already over-due from the library.
When Fish Got Feet, Sharks Got Teeth, and Bugs Began to Swarm: A Cartoon Prehistory of Life Long Before Dinosaurs
The Great Dinosaur Search (Great Searches)
In getting these pictures from Amazon, I realized there is a whole collection of these books, they are only $7.99 to $9.99 each and they are part of a 3-for the price of 4 promotion.  Cool.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Prehistory - Part 5 Cambrian Period

We moved on to the Cambrian Period in our Prehistory study.  This was the era where there was an explosion of new creatures appearing in the seas, many with hard exoskeletons to protect their bodies and jointed legs – the early ancestors of arthropods.

We started out by reading about this explosion of life in our Usborne Internet Linked Encyclopedia of World History.  We went online to learn more about a few of these creatures.  We were able to examine them closely and decide whether they were arthropods or not.

We played a game online where we tried to identify the different Cambrian creatures in a crowded picture.  We were really bad at this (yes, mommy too).  We were able to get a few of them that appeared on our Charlie’s Playhouse timeline but on the rest we were completely without a clue.

Speaking of our timeline I spent way too much time trying to figure out a way to hang this temporarily yet securely while only showing the 6 or so feet we had space for.  I finally managed it using an arrangement of binder clips, paper clips and rubber bands.  I think having it hanging during our entire study will be more meaningful for the kids than pulling it out only when we are going to actively use it.
We pulled out the appropriate Creature Cards and matched them up to the animals on the timeline.  Then we worked on making some critters of our own.

First, we made wiwaxia (basically because it seemed the easiest).  Each kid made a slightly flattened ball of clay (with a little help), carefully added scales made from black beans and then added yellow toothpick spines. 
They enjoyed this so much they were eager to try making another critter.  Since this was supposed to be their project not mine, I picked hallucigenia as the next easiest.

A long thick snake of clay, matchsticks for legs and more toothpicks for spines.

Next we learned more about Trilobites by reading a book from the Exploring Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Creatures series called Trilobites.  We then made a papercraft Trilobite from here.  These could be laminated to make them last longer but I didn’t bother.  I also used tape (regular and double sided) to put them together rather than glue.  The kids had a lot of fun playing with these including opening up their bedroom window so they could grab leaves off the tree outside to feed them.
We finished up by doing an online coloring page on Trilobites from Enchanted Learning. (A membership may be necessary to do this activity).

I finally found the secret to reading aloud to these guys – letting them color.  It still doesn’t always work for Vicki but Georgie is getting very meticulous with his coloring and seems to enjoy it while still being able to follow the story.  While I read from Magic Tree House Dinosaurs Before Dark they colored a page on The Paleozoic Sea from here.  (The link for this coloring page is actually wrong in my Prehistory Lesson Plans tab but I will fix it).
We finished up by reading from our DK Prehistoric Life and Usborne Internet Linked First Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life.

Next we will cover the Ordovician and Silurian Periods.

Friday, May 13, 2011

2 Week Wrap-Up: 5/2-5/13/11

I never did a weekly wrap-up post last week since we mainly worked on our Prehistory study.  This week was much more productive. 

I decided to change the way I do my weekly wrap-ups (again?) to try and keep them more interesting.  I’m going to start with all the fun, unusual activities we did and then just list what we accomplished in our core curriculum at the end.

Last week, we learned about the Vendian period (click to see details)…
while this week we learned about the Cambrian period (click to see details).
Georgie had his first t-ball game last Saturday.  It was….interesting.  Team sports may not be Georgie’s thing.  He was extremely distractible and showed little interest in learning how to play.  Instead he chased butterflies, dug in the dirt, kept sneaking over to talk to the pretty girl playing third base (at which point the coach actually picked him up and carried him back to where he was supposed to be).   He might need a few more years, and a strong desire to actually play, before he’s ready for sports.
Vicki did a few things this week (besides drive me crazy, that is).  She played a solitary game of Very Silly Sentences which basically involved rolling the die/spinning the spinner, picking up the correct color card and stacking them on the game board.  She did periodically ask what the cards said.  This actually kept her busy for quite a while.
The other thing guaranteed to keep her amused for a little while is playing with our balance scale and Unifix cubes.
I’ve been trying to come up with ways to keep Vicki amused while I work with Georgie.  I’ve set up Tot Trays, had special toys just for school time, had her own “school” stuff available.   Most didn’t work for very long – she either lost interest in what was available or wanted something completely different right from the start.  Even television or Leapster games aren’t likely to keep her interest for more than a few minutes, and since they are very distracting for Georgie, I try to avoid them during school time.  So, here’s my latest attempt.

I set up a crate with hanging file folders.  In each folder is a different activity.  We have counting cards and starting letter cards from Confessions of a Homeschooler that she does using dry erase markers….
picture cards to be done using bottle cap letters, some from Confessions of a Homeschooler, some from other sites and some I made up myself….
a pattern chart to do with our Unifix cubes…
a few file folder games from File Folder Fun, her Handwriting without Tears capital letter cards and foam pieces, a few dry-erase workbooks and Boggle Jr.

I think I may have to work with her one-on-one first to get her started before starting school with Georgie.  I feel like by the time I find what works with her, she’ll be old enough to join us in regular school work.

What Georgie accomplished this week:

HWT pg 12 (caps), 13 (numbers), 14 (lowercase c); additional practice on capital letters and numbers on paper.

OPGTR Lessons 46, 47 and 48.   A review of Lessons 41-48.
New books he read this week were The Eye Book and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

We are taking a break from ETC until we do beginning blends in OPGTR since I want this to serve as review/reinforcement.

AAS Step 11 – dictate phrases; Step 12 – th, ch, sh.

pg 24 from Scholastic 1st Grade Basic Skills: Reading Comprehension; pg 8 and 9 from Scholastic GUM (capitalizing I).

Math Mammoth pg 52, 53, 54, 57 (addition) and 76, 81, 82, 83 (subtraction) from 1A; pg 11 (place value), 50 (clock) and 62 (shapes/measuring) from 1B.

Sign Language:
Continued reviewing the alphabet, his name and I love you.  He periodically “borrowed” the book to flip through and try other signs.
Our read aloud for the week was Magic Tree House Dinosaurs Before Dark.  If finally found something that works to get them to listen during read-alouds – coloring!   It has mixed results from Vicki and usually keeps her semi-quiet but Georgie loves doing somewhat elaborate coloring pages.  He's getting very meticulous with his coloring these days.  After I read for a while, he may stop coloring and curl up on the couch with me to listen.   I do try to make the coloring pages somewhat relevant to what we’re reading or what we’re currently studying (which may be the same general topic, as they were this week – prehistory).

I feel like we have made some real progress and almost have a workable routine.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Prehistory – Part 4 Vendian Period/Making Kimberella

This week we were finally ready to introduce our Charlie’s Playhouse timeline playmat and Creature Cards.  While we will be concentrating on one Period at a time, the kids were very interested in this new toy with all the bizarre creatures and had to explore it more fully before we could narrow our focus.  We spent quite a bit of time just looking at the timeline, reading the various description and trying to pronounce the creature names.   Our living room isn’t long enough to open the entire timeline so we mainly concentrated on the earlier time periods, which definitely have some of the more bizarre creatures.


Once some of the novelty wore off, we folded the timeline so just the Vendian Period was showing.  We pulled out the appropriate creature cards – Tribrachidium, Dickinsonia, Spriggina and Kimberella.  We read the descriptions of each critter, discussed how big they were (mostly small but Dickinsonia could be 3 feet long!!) and how odd looking they were.  We then matched up our cards to the timeline (pretty easy at this point) and read the timeline information for each creature.


The timeline describes Kimberella as looking like “a pasta shell on top of lasagna” so I decided to go with that.   I soaked lasagna noodles in water long enough for them to soften (this took about an hour in warm tap water).  Once they were malleable, I cut them in half lengthwise and wrapped each one along the outside of a piece of cardboard cut in the shape of a pasta shell.  Once they dried and re-hardened, I glued a pasta noodle on top. 


Once the glue dried, the kids painted their “Kimberella”.   Since we have no idea what color most prehistoric creatures actually were, they were able to be as creative as they wanted.



We also read about the Vendian Period in our Usborne Internet Linked Encyclopedia of World History and our DK Prehistoric Life.

Next, we will be moving on to the Cambrian Period and having lots of fun learning about Trilobites and Hallucigenia.