Thursday, June 28, 2012

Stars and Stripes

With the Fourth of July next week, we have been spending some time discussing American symbols, including our flag.  We read a fantastic picture book called Stars and Stripes: The Story of the American Flag by Sarah Thomson.  (This book is out of print but we found it at the library.)  It tells the history of our flag from before the Revolutionary War through September 11, 2001.

I made the kids a Stars and Stripes snack out of blueberries, raspberries and banana slices to enjoy while we read.  

One of the reasons I liked this book was that it accurately portrays the origins of our flag and points out the fact that the story of Betsy Ross designing the American flag is just a myth.  Many of the other books for kids that I looked at wrote about Betsy Ross as if it were a fact.  We try to be historically accurate in what we are teaching the kids, and I was disappointed how few books had it right.  (The Washington Post had an article last year on five flag myths if you want to read more.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Friday, June 22, 2012

Week in Review: The Bug

It has been an unusual week for us.  The Boyscout and Miss M are both in a musical production at a local children's theater; the Boyscout has the male lead role and Miss M is in the chorus.  They have had rehearsals every day this week, so I have had a lot of one-on-one time with The Bug.  Unfortunately I have also had a sprained knee, so I haven't been able to do as much active playing with him as I had hoped.  Instead, we did some art.  He painted with glitter glue, markers and do-a-dot stampers several times this week.   You can see he was stacking all the marker caps at one point.

We also spent quite a bit of time playing with his toob animals.  These are quite a useful speech therapy tool for us.  We work on the names of the animals, the noises they make, and sort, group and count them.  Since this is a toy he enjoys, it is more fun that the flashcards we usually have to work on with him.  (The Bug goes to speech therapy for verbal apraxia, but we work with him at home to help reinforce what he is learning.)

One day he asked for the pattern blocks and we spent quite some time playing with them.  He did a puppy dog and train pattern, and spent some time building his own designs.

Otherwise we spent a lot of time watching the movie Cars (his newest obsession) and snuggling.  The bigger kids have rehearsals next week followed by four days of performances, so I am hoping my knee is better and The Bug and I can spend some quality time at the local parks.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Digging Up the Past

As we continue with our history studies, I wanted Miss M to have a first hand look at what an archaeologist does, so I set up a mini dig.  First, I bought a small clay pot at the hardware store and then drew a message on it using hieroglyphics**. (I know the colors are not traditional, but I wanted to make each word a different color to help Miss M decipher it later.)

Next, I broke the pot into several large pieces and buried them in our sandbox.  (I just wrapped it in a towel and hit it with a hammer.)  Miss M and I talked about the steps an archaeologist takes on a dig.  She got a permit from me to dig, and then sectioned her area into a grid using string and numbered each section.

Then she began to dig using small shovels.  Once she located a piece, she used small brushes to carefully uncover it.  (I made her wear gloves just in case any of the pot shards were sharp.)

Then she carefully drew each piece onto her paper, making sure to mark where she located it.

Once we had most of the pieces, she sifted to make sure we weren't missing any and then carried them inside to our "laboratory".

Next she used glue to reassemble the pot.

Finally, she looked up the symbols on the chart to discover the message on the pot.  (I had made it a special message for Miss M, rather than a generic history message).

She LOVED this project, and I know it helped her really understand what we are learning about history right now.

**(The hieroglyphics chart and this project idea came from the book Old Testament Days: An Activity Guide.  We will be using this book a lot this coming year, it's full of hands-on projects to go along with our study of Ancient Civilizations.)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day, I hope you have a special day celebrating all the wonderful guys in your life.

I am very blessed to have a great dad and to be married to a man who is not only a wonderful husband but also a fantastic father.  Happy Father's Day to two special dads! 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Blueberry Shoes

Since we knew we were going to be taking the kids berry picking, we spent last week reading berry books.  We had several favorites, including the book Blueberry Shoe by Ann Dixon.  In the story a little boy loses his shoe while blueberry picking, and thanks to several animals, when he finds it again the next year it is a home to a blueberry plant.  To go along with it we did a blueberry craft.

I gave the kids a brown crayon, blue paint and a hot glue gun stick to use as a stamper, and some green circle stickers cut in half.

I love how they each interpreted the project differently.

The Boyscout's blueberry bush.
The Bug's blueberry bush.
Miss M's blueberry bush.

Other favorites included Jam and Jelly by Holly and Nellie by Gloria Whelan (a sweet story about a mom and daughter who make jam and sell it to buy the daughter a coat for school), and The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Audrey Wood.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Blackberry Picking

One of the items on our summer bucket list is to go berry picking, and on Saturday we did just that.  We got the kids up early and drove an hour to a u-pick blackberry farm.  It was a perfect morning and the kids had so much fun!

They even got to see some newly-hatched baby birds in a nest under one of the bushes.

When we got home I made some freezer jam (Miss M helped briefly),

and I still need to make a blackberry pie. Of course, we also ate lots of fresh blackberries!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Head Start on History

Originally, I did not plan to start our new curriculum until August.  However, after a week of summer Miss M is already begging to go back to a school schedule, and especially to start our history lessons.  (This year we are going to be studying the Cradle of Civilization and the Old Testament using the plans from St. Jerome Classical School.)  So, we went ahead and got started today. 

We did the "What is History" activities from the Evan-Moor Ancient Civilizations history pockets and discussed what the word history meant. 

The Bug decided he wanted in on the coloring and gluing, so The Boyscout helped him make his own pocket book. (Yes, he is left-handed.)

As long as Miss M remains interested, we will continue to work our way through our history plans this summer.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Sand Play

Daddy put clean new sand into the sand box, and it has been the main focus for the kids this week.  We've had elaborate sand castles, pirate treasure hunts, and lots of cars and animals involved.

Baby B is reluctant to get into the sand (he doesn't like the feel of sitting in it) so to get him involved I made some texture cards.  I just took stiff cardboard and cut different shaped grooves or waves into one side.  I showed him how to move it across the sand and make different patterns.

This was a huge hit - a way he could play without getting INTO the sand.  (You can buy toys to do this, but this was a spur of the moment idea and I had the cardboard on hand.)

Friday, June 1, 2012

Welcome to Summer

We have a tradition for the last official day of school for The Boyscout: we usually welcome him home with a banner across the house. Yesterday, it was wet and threatening more rain, so we had to amend that to an inside banner.  The younger kids made it with wrapping paper and letters cut from construction paper.

After he got home (it was a half-day), we went out to lunch to celebrate. We topped the day off with a stop by the library for our summer reading program logs. That is always the first item we do off our summer bucket list.

Simple things, but a tradition we look forward to every year.