Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Wreaths

We hosted our Home Learners group for craft day today and made craft-stick wreaths.

For each wreath you need 15 craft sticks, some red ribbon, and some glue (we used glue dots).  I couldn't find craft sticks the color of green I wanted, so I just painted them the night before.

First, you glue the sticks into three pentagon shapes.

Next, you place the three pentagons on top of each other and alternate the points, spreading them slightly apart to make a more circular shape.  You glue them together where they overlap.

Finally, you wrap red ribbon around the wreath, and embellish as you wish (we used pom poms and buttons). 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

First Day of Advent

Today is the first day of Advent and for the first time in several years we are all ready! The new candles are in our Advent wreath, ready to be lit tonight at dinner. Our Creche is set up, the Christmas tree is decorated, the Christmas village is set up out of reach of little hands, and our outside lights are up thanks to my dear husband braving the wind and cold. Our Advent calendar is hung, and I have a project or activity planned for every day.

This was the first year Baby B helped to decorate the tree, and other than one broken ornament, all went well.

Miss M had the job of placing the angel on top this year.

It seems like this time of year passes so quickly, and I want to make sure we slow down and truly appreciate what this season means so we have some simple family Advent activities planned for the next month.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Pilgrim Girl & Thanksgiving Bracelet

I have seen some adorable pilgrim crafts in a lot of places on the Web, and knew Miss M would love to make one.  I didn't use a particular pattern, I just freehand drew the pieces to cut out using this picture as my guide. 

After her pilgrim girl was glued together, we wrote the things Miss M was thankful for on a piece of paper and glued it to her pilgrim girl.  Her list included toys, her friends, and her brothers.  (The paper on top is covering the names of her brothers.)

We also made these adorable Thanksgiving Story bracelets from First Grader at Last.  Each bead color represents a part of the First Thanksgiving story (white mayflower sails, blue ocean, red cranberries, etc.)  I read the poem to her (found at the link above), and then she selected the beads and strung them on a pipe cleaner. 

 Simple but a fun way to remember the story!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Our Mayflower

Since we are learning about the First Thanksgiving, it seemed only appropriate for Miss M to get a chance to make a replica of the Mayflower.  We used a shoe box covered in brown paper for the boat and construction paper glued on wooden dowels for the sails.

Of course, what Mayflower would be complete without pilgrims? We printed these paper dolls off of Kaboose.  Miss M glued them onto craft sticks to make them stand up in the boat.

Simple to make, but it's been providing her plenty of fun all day long!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Rube Goldberg Model

Rube Goldberg was a political cartoonist in the 1950s who was also an inventor.  He made complex gadgets that performed simple tasks in the most convoluted ways.  You've seen his work in movies when the crazy inventor hits his alarm clock and it sets off a chain reaction the eventually ends in the coffee starting and eggs getting cracked into a pan.

Today, there are several international competitions where teams of college students strive to create the most complex Rube Goldberg machine they can (the current record is 244 steps).  For science, J had the task of creating his own Rube Goldberg model.  It had to be small (no bigger than 30cm by 60 cm) and it must include one of each of the six types of simple machines to accomplish a task.  J chose to have his machine pour a glass of water.

The video below shows his machine in action.  It starts off with a marble being placed into an inclined plane.  (Excuse our enthusiasm, this was the first test run that worked.) 


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Tot School: Animals

Tot School
Baby B is 17 months old.

This week I put six trays back out for Baby B for the first time in a while.  (I had taken them away because he was in a destructive phase and they were getting dumped everywhere.)

Our color of the week was blue, so I had a bucket full of blue things for him to explore, as well as a bucket of his wedgits to play with.  For fine motor skills I had some pipe cleaners to insert into a spice jar.  It quickly became apparent that the holes on the top were too small for him, so I removed it and he just put them into the jar instead. 

For our first sort, I wanted something easy to introduce him to the concept so we sorted Little People into people or animals.  To make it easier, all the animals were some sort of horse.  It took him a few tries to get the hang of putting them together by kind, but by the end of the week he had the general idea.

We also worked on matching animals. I had an education cube I had put animal pictures into, and then the matching animal magnets were in the baking sheet. He would throw the cube and then try to find the matching animal magnet. This was a lot of fun for him!

Baby B also spent quite a lot of time playing with is Leap Frog magnetic farm.

He played with playdough quite a bit this week, and did use his animal cookie cutters in it on occasion.

Playing with trains is his all-time favorite activity and he will spend an hour at a time at the train table every day.

For art we got out the ever-messy but oh-so-fun paint daubers to use.

My favorite picture of the week is this one of Miss M and Baby B just sitting and watching the view from their bench.

That was Baby B's week in Tot School.  You can see what others did over at 1+1+1=1.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Miss M's Week In Review

This was one of those weeks where we did not have one specific theme to work on, but just worked on a variety of skills.

For language arts we made our own book about the fall leaf colors and did a color by letter turkey.  

Miss M's favorite activity this week was Read, Stamp, Write.  Usually she just wants to stamp the words, but this week she wrote them out as well.

For science, we reviewed our seasons by sorting seasonal pictures.  We also reviewed the three criteria for telling if an animal is a mammal and did lots of sorts into mammals and not mammals.  We are intentionally molding a Halloween pumpkin, and we observed it every day for changes.

For math we continue to work on beginning addition using unifix cubes and other manipulatives.

I found a cute turkey family worksheet over at Miss Kindergarten for counting review.  Miss M is a huge fan of logic games, and played Royal Rescue everyday this week. (I bought this game at the local teacher supply store last month.  The price on Amazon was so ridiculous I couldn't even bring myself to link to the game.  If I find it for a normal price somewhere else I will add the link later.)

And, of course, we had just lots of free play both inside and out.

I plan to do an update on Baby B on Sunday, as he had a busy week himself.  I also plan to post a video J did of his Rube Goldberg project, assuming I can get my husband to edit out the first few seconds where he says his name on the video.

I am linking this post to Preschool Corner {&5K Too!} at Homeschool Creations and Weekly Wrap-Up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Miss Tutu's Star

When Miss M brought the book Miss Tutu's Star by Leslea Newman home from the library, I knew exactly which craft I wanted to do with it.  I had seen the ballet dress with the handprint tutu on Pinterest and wanted to recreate it for Miss M's room.  [This is a sweet book about a little girl named Selena who wants to be a ballerina.  I appreciate how the dance teacher is always encouraging and tells her that since she has a heart for dance, she is already a star.  Selena practices and practices until she can get the steps right for her recital.  The illustrations are full of cute little details and the words rhyme in a fun way, which appealed to Miss M greatly.]

The original project called for doing this on canvas, but we did it on watercolor paper as we are framing it.  First, I just free-hand cut a leotard shape out of pink paper and Miss M glued it down.

Next, we made a tutu skirt using four of her handprints in light pink, and then when it was dry added another two on top in a slightly darker pink.  We were too impatient to wait for the light pink color to dry by itself, so I used a hairdryer to speed up the process.

We glued a pink ribbon and bow at the waist to finish it off.

The original idea for this project with a full tutorial came from Meet the Dubiens.  I am link this to stART (story + art) at A Mommy's Adventures and Kids Get Crafty at Red Ted Art.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Blog Makeover

For a while now, my poor blog has needed a makeover.  I knew what I wanted it to look like but didn't have the skills to do it myself.  So, for my birthday, my wonderful husband gave me a new blog design.

I worked with Becca over at Jumping Jax Designs and I couldn't be happier.  She was able to take the design I had inside my head and make it a reality.  She is a very talented designer, quick to respond to change requests and just a real pleasure to work with.

Along with the new design, I am working on making the blog easier to navigate.  I have added new pages for Arts & Crafts and Themes.  I am hoping this will make past projects easier to find.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Being Thankful

A few years ago, we started the tradition of doing a thankful tree at Thanksgiving.  I think the visual impact of seeing everything listed out really helps us to see how many blessings we have. This year's version is construction paper leaves hung with yarn on real branches.

For the first time, Miss M was able to join J in writing her own leaves and hanging them on our tree.

I let the kids write whatever they feel thankful for, we don't limit it to any certain number each day, so our tree is quite full already!  We will continue to add leaves for the rest of November, and to read what is already on the tree every day.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Building Chairs

We bought some new dining room chairs at Ikea, and Miss M and Baby B helped Daddy put them together.

This was fantastic practice for Miss M at following directions.  She was able to "read" them herself since they are all pictures and she did a great job at knowing which pieces and tools were needed for each step.

Baby B had more fun playing auto mechanic for his sister's car.

When all the fun was done, the chairs turned out great!

(Edited to add:  My Dad wanted to know why I didn't include a picture of the finished chairs, so here you go Dad!)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Will It Float?

A friend of mine started a local home learners group, and we have been meeting for some fun activities she planned out.  The first was a floating experiment.  The kids created boats from modeling clay (with some help from the Moms) and then tried to float them in a tub full of water.

 We let them play for a few minutes and then led them into a discussion on why some boats floated better than others. 

Finally, we extended it by laying pennies on the boats and seeing which could hold the most pennies.  This was a fun experiment (who doesn't love playing in water) and will also be a great one to revisit when Miss M is older.  You can see more pictures over at Homeschooling the Cameron Clan

Baby B spent the morning playing, but was ready to fish the boats out if we needed.