Monday, October 27, 2008

Planet Earth- Plains and jungles

We are still doing some science with the Planet Earth DVDs. They are so incredible. We have worked through the oceans, the plains, and are now on Jungles. We took a trip to the zoo with our friends to observe plains and jungle animals and their habitats.

We are making murals for each of the sections of Planet Earth.

This week Garrett and Tyler will finish up some research and Riley and Cole will be reading books about Koko the gorilla who does sign language. We will probably wrap up jungles this week and then decide what section to do next! If you haven't seen these DVDs, you really should try to get your hands on them. You won't be disappointed!

Monday, October 20, 2008

More American Girl fun

We are still learning about Colonial Williamsburg with Felicity. I thought we would be moving a bit quicker through these books, but we are taking our time and enjoying them, which is fine with me. I'm not going anywhere. We have learned so much about the late 1700s!

We are loving learning about the Boston Tea Party right now. Riley was definitely surprised to learn what kind of tea party it was.

We made quill pens, just like the ones the girls during Felicity's time used for their school work. It really put some perspective on how much work everything was back then.

We also made Felicity's baked pumpkin pudding, a popular dessert made by the colonists after the Indians introduced them to pumpkins. It was from Felicity's Cookbook.

There is no sugar in this pudding, only molasses. It is really spicy.

Riley is becoming a pro at the egg-cracking business!
This is such a fun way to learn about history, we are loving it!

Expanding vocabulary with I SPY

Do you use the I Spy books with your elementary kids? I forgot how wonderful they are until this morning.

We pulled out an I Spy big book that I have had for years. In the 30 minutes or so that we looked through it, I was amazed at how many new words were added to Riley and Cole's vocabulary.

There are literally thousands of items in the book to spy, so you are likely to find words that your kids haven't been introduced to.

I had no idea they didn't know the word "nut" (the kind that goes with a bolt. Hello?). There were a couple of other words like that I had just assumed they knew, but they didn't until today. They also learned the word abacus, dreidel, some new vegetables, and several others.

Building vocabulary is so important, so I just wanted to share a simple and fun way to add some new words!

Friday, October 17, 2008

So true

I learned most, not from those who taught me but from those who talked with me. - St. Augustine

Monday, October 13, 2008


I get so excited when a big box is on my porch! Last week I placed an order with Homeschool Library Builder. They are so cheap! I got several great condition books for one or two dollars. Some I paid a little more for, but all of them were great prices.

We love these Childhood of Famous American biographies. Exposing our children to greatness through reading biographies about amazing people is one of our educational goals.

I got some Five In A Row books.

I got some science and social studies books that go along with units we will be doing.

Some Henry and Mudge, just cause we like 'em,

Two for our Planet Earth studies (one looks a little old, but I think I paid a dollar for it),

And a couple of classics.

I'm very happy. Does anyone have another favorite cheap used book site?

Friday, October 10, 2008


We just finished up a five in a row unit on the book Grandfather's Journey.
We learned a lot about Japan. Riley and Cole were so interested in it that we ended up spending an extra week on it. They wanted to check out more books and dvds from the library, so of course we did.

For art we used oil pastels (thank you GAR!) to try to recreate one of the pictures in the book of the sun reflecting on the water.

We learned about origami and tried a few ourselves. They liked it so much that we ended up checking out a dvd with step-by-step instructions and making more. It was a lot of fun.

We read the book Yoko, about a Japanese cat who takes sushi to school for lunch and eventually gets a friend to try it. We had a special Japanese lunch. It was nothing new for my kids to eat sushi and edamame, but I taught them how to roll it themselves this time.

Ingredients from the Asian market.
Cole rolling sushi.

Garrett whippin' up some edamame.

Don't you love how savvy he is with the chopsticks?
Riley's thoughts...

After the meal Tyler remembered that he still had some Japanese candy his aunt had brought back from her trip. Perfection.

This unit had a lot of geography.

We learned about Tokyo, Mount Fuji, Japan's fishing industry, architecture, and much more. We even tried our hand at painting Japanese symbols. I'm glad I followed their lead and spent an extra week on it. It was well worth it!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Another great one to live by

They may forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel.-- Anonymous

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The power of learning by teaching

You know how you feel like you have learned so much since you started teaching? Of course it is because you really have to know what you are talking about to be able to relay the information to others. You have no choice but to learn!

I've found this to be a very valuable tool for getting my kids to own what they are learning. I have them teach me.

For example, today Tyler began a Ben Franklin biography. It is full of a lot of information beginning with Franklin's childhood. Tyler's assignment was to read the first 30 pages, and then teach me what he had learned about Ben Franklin so far. He did a great job of explaining details and trying to get me interested in what he had read. He even referred back to the book several times to check facts and remember something that had slipped his mind as he "taught" me. It was a great reiteration of facts for him and really helped reinforce what he had learned.

Having them actually teach you or their siblings puts a more interesting and fun spin on comprehension and review.

Try it!