Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Halloween Week!

 preschool corner

We didn't get much school work done this week, because we focused more on fun family activities. That was okay with me, and definitely okay with the kiddos :) We did do some undercover learning though!

We started the week off by doing our pumpkin seed experiment (you can find the chart we used on my printables page). The kids were really into tapping on the pumpkins, and examining them to see if they could guess which one had the most. Boy were we way off! Bunny guessed that there was 1 seed in the big and small pumpkins, and 11 in the middle one. Raymond guessed 50, 60, and 100, respectively. Boo Boo guessed 100 for all of them.
I scooped each pumpkins guts out, one by one. As soon as I would scoop them out the kids would sort through it to put the seeds in a bowl. Thankfully, I put down a cheap table cloth I picked up at the dollar store. Bunny touched the pumpkin guts once, decided it was gross, and watched a movie until we were done.
The results were pretty close. The small pumpkin had 432 seeds, the middle had 307, and the big one had 480. We found out that size sort of matters, the bigger the pumpkin the more seeds it'll have, but most are not mature enough. The small pumpkin had no immature seeds, whereas the large one had a ton of them. We only counted the ones we could eat.
The fruit of our hard labor... lots of yummy roasted pumpkin seeds!
When we were done with the seed experiment, I took the smallest pumpkin, cut it up and put it in the refrigerator. The next day we baked it in the oven, scooped out the cooked pumpkin and pureed it. Yummy, pumpkin puree! That little pumpkin made a ton of puree, which was refrigerated again (so we could drain off any excess water that would rise).
After portioning the puree out, we ended up with 2 home baked pumpkin pies, and enough for 2 more  placed in our freezer. The kids have loved our pumpkin week!
Right before football practice, we took our butterflies to the park to be released. That was a ton of fun, but somewhat sad. 4 out of 5 of our butterflies survived. The first one out of it's cocoon didn't fully develop it's wings. Raymond nicknamed it Butter, because it was all butter, and no fly.

Each of the kids took turns taking out a butterfly and releasing it. These are my favorite pictures of the week.

The last thing we did this week, was carve our pumpkin. Daddy did it, and the kids picked the template. We love our spooky pumpkin :) The kids can't wait to go trick-or-treating tomorrow night, so Have a Safe & Happy Halloween everyone!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Give me 5 minutes please....

Or, what works for us Wednesday :) When your homeschooling 3 children at different grade levels, "give me 5 minutes please," is something I would say quite frequently to my kids. My oldest is pretty independent, and thanks to our work strips, they always know what their supposed to be doing. My younger 2 however, need a lot of direction. I try my best to stay organized, and set things up ahead of time, so that everything runs smoothly. It just doesn't always happen like that. There's days when certain lessons run longer or shorter than I account for, which then leaves  someone sitting there waiting for my help.

My kids were getting into trouble playing fetch with the dogs (using their pencils), so I came up with activity bags. These have been a huge help to us all! The kids love them, and they've actually become more productive (they look forward to the bags).

Each bag has a different activity in it, to keep them occupied for a few minutes. I put simple activities in them, that can be cleaned up quickly and easily, and are inexpensive. Each bag has everything in it needed for that activity. Here's a few of the activities in our bags

pattern blocks w/ patterns
water color w/ paper and water container (clean empty pudding cup)
 how to draw books w/ paper
make a sign w/ neon cutouts and foam shapes and letters
noodle jewelry making (dyed pasta and yarn)
search and find containers (dyed rice in clear containers w/ small toys and buttons

The best part, is that everything in our bags came from the dollar tree (including the gallon ziplock bags), or around the house. Super easy, and super affordable way to occupy the kids, to buy yourself those few minutes you need. These have become so popular in my house, that my kids ask to use them during their free time now, instead of playing video games. Yay!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mission of the month

Mama Jenn has started a neat little goal, that looks like it really motivates others, and ... who doesn't need a little motivation at times? I know I do, especially around the holidays when it gets really busy. What a great way to stay on track.

My mission for November is
      make a few more games  for the boys
      get a bit more organized with our school stuff
      do more hands on cooking with the kids

The boys have been loving the hands on learning with the games, so I need to look ahead through their books and decide on a few more topics to make games about. It takes me a few days to make the games, and it would be nice to have them made and already ready to go, when they need them. Our school stuff looks organized, when really, the shelves are bursting at their seams and there is no real order. It makes sense to me, but when I ask anybody to get me something, they can never find it. And the kids love baking with me. I don't think I've ever heard about kids being so excited over black spotted bananas (this means banana bread), except at our house. During the winter I bake a lot anyways, so I just need to make sure I include them into the baking. Wish me luck, I know I can do it!

Mission of the Month

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New Games!

As promised, I finally got a chance to pick up some more color ink, print the games, and let the boys play them. Of course they only got to play with 1 of them, because we only had a chance between football games yesterday.

Since we only had time for 1 game, the boys chose to play Medieval Times. I let them play using the jumbo foam dice I picked up at Target (another great find!). We used bottle caps as markers, each cap had a different sticker. All I did, was print it out and glue it to a file folder, but the cards I laminated. The boys had a ton of fun playing this, and Orion tried really hard to practice his time telling. I'm calling this game a success!
I had enough time to print out Your Place in Time, laminate it, and set it up. After laminating it, I just taped the ends together, so that it can fold up after play. I glued the directions and an envelope (to hold the cards in), to the outside of the gameboard, so now we've got all our pieces in one place. The boys can't wait to play this one :)
Click here to download the Medieval Times game board

Click here to download the Medieval Times cards and directions
Click here to download Your Place in Time game board

Click here to download Your Place in Time cards and directions

If you play either of the games, please comment and let me know what you think!

Weekly wrap up

We had a short week this week, because we went trick or treating with our homeschool group on Friday, and our butterflies emerged on Wednesday (we'll have a whole post with more pictures, when we let them go). The butterflies have been our main focus right now, but we did get a few things done.

We started the week with a Halloween art project, making witches hands! Super easy and fun to make. Have children trace their hands on green construction paper, and cut them out. I pre-cut a bunch of small triangles in different colors for nails, and my kids just glued them on. Together we took a black marker and drew lines on the hands to make them creepy. The kids loved this!

After observing the caterpillars on Tuesday, the kids painted and made books about the butterfly's life cycle. They came out amazing!

Olivia worked on the letter E this week. Big and little E sort, and E lacing.
She also did an E collage, where she stamped the letter E with some stamps that start with E. She made stamps with elephant tracks, earth's, and envelopes.
Bunny also practiced her cutting skills, using her Kumon first book of cutting. She really loves her Kumon books, and we use them every other day. I highly recommend them, especially if you have a child who's particularly not interested in cutting, coloring, or tracing.
To practice her counting and numbers, we brought out the bottle caps and cards. The bottle caps I made using water bottle lids and number stickers, and the cards I downloaded from Shannon's totschool.

We also worked on patterns using the pattern blocks and cards. Thanks to swagbucks, these were totally free!

The kids also worked on designing their own pumpkins. Super cute activity! And they had so much fun trying on different faces, before committing to gluing them down.

The boys still had their "normal" subjects to complete, just a bit more relaxed this week. Check back in a few hours, and I should have the downloads available for our new games!

preschool corner

Tot School

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sneak Peak!

Have you noticed how easy it is to find ideas, and games to do with preschoolers, but not older kids? My boys love games, and I feel like they actually retain what their learning when they get to practice using what their learning. I've been busy writing down things that my boys need work on, and mixing them with themes that my boys love.

I was up late last night putting the final touches on this game board. This morning I made the game cards, and wrote the directions. Orion has a hard time with time telling, so I made this especially for him.It's a small game board called "Medieval Times," where you have to rescue the princess from the dragon by telling the time. Corny I know! But my boys really love this sort of stuff.

This one is a bit of a bigger game board, for Raymond. It's called "Your Place In Time." The object is to find your way back home, by naming place values. I'm a bit of a nerd, and the story for this one, is that you've been sucked through a wormhole, and randomly landing throughout time.

 I plan on putting both up for download, but I want to print them and let my boys play first. I'm out of color ink, until tomorrow... so hopefully this weekend they both will be available to you all.So, what do you think? Anybody out there looking forward to playing?


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Frugal Finds

Cheap, penny pincher, frugal, whatever you call it.... that's me! I'm always on the hunt for a good deal, or a way to do it myself. I know there's others out there like me, so I'm going to share a few frugal finds, that we use almost daily.

 The dollar area at Target is my favorite place. It's a great place to find homeschool supplies, among other things. Practically any dollar store, dollar spot/section is a great place to look for things. During back to school time I was able to get a giant foam clock, and some foam counters to use for math. We use these so much, they were worth their $1. The play money came from the party/$1 area in the toy section at Walmart. I bought 2 packs, because my oldest will be counting pretty high this year with money. It's also cheaper, than printing and laminating play money you find pictures of.

Recycling is a great way to make things you can use as manipulatives. I've seen other people use these with their children, so I thought we'd give it a try. My daughter loves them! I had this grand idea to cut circles out of pretty cardstock, then write the letters on them nicely. But I ended up going an even easier route, and putting number and letter stickers on them. Super fast, and super easy. And since we drink a ton of water around here, we had bags of water bottles (we recycle those too) to take caps from. I'll be making some printables soon to use with these.
Empty pudding and soup bowls, are great for art projects, and sorting containers. Raymond actually won a pack of 24 of those giant soup bowls at the county fair, and their pretty durable. I use the soup containers to hold some of our manipulatives in. The pudding containers are great for holding a small amount of water, for water color painting, and for sorting like things. This is what works for us Wednesday. I'll post a few more frugal finds, in the weeks to come, and if you have any feel free to share!

Pumpkin Chart Printables

This morning I finally buckled down, and made the pumpkin charts we'll be using for our experiments. So feel free to print and use them, and link back if you use them :)

Pumpkin Seed Guess Chart, includes directions and questions/discussion topics.

Moldy Pumpkin Chart, includes directions, and questions/discussion topics.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A light where there was none

We've battled with Raymond's ODD (oppositional defiant disorder), for years now. As he's gotten older, it's seemed to have risen to a peak. There have been days where hardly anything gets done, because something very little turns into something humongous! Our main concern, is accountability. Raymond cannot accept responsibility for anything negative that he has done (even when you catch him in the act).

The other day when we came home from the pumpkin patch, I noticed some scratches on the side of our van. Upon closer inspection, I realized that Raymond had scratched his name onto the sliding door. At first we calmly asked him why he would do that to our car, and that caused him to erupt into a tantrum. He screamed, cried, and pleaded that it wasn't him. My husband firmly told him, that we know it was him because it is his writing, and his siblings cannot write like that. The punishment was no video games, or computer games, until he can admit that he did it.

Yesterday night (while outside playing with the neighbor boys), he calmly walked up to the front door and yelled through the door, "alright guys, I did it... I wrote on the van." And that was that. We told him that we were proud of him for admitting it, but disappointed that he would scratch our car. We didn't want to make a big deal out of it, because we need him to understand that it's okay to make mistakes. I feel like we've taken a big step, and I'm so proud of him for admitting fault for something!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Butterfly Update

We are now on day 3 of the chrysalis stage! The kids are waiting patiently for our butterflies to emerge, and are even more excited now after being able to see them at the bug fair.

We got lucky and all 5 of our caterpillars seem to have made it this far. This morning after observations, I finally took them out of their cup and pinned them inside the netted cage. I have to admit, I'm a bit creeped out by the way they look.

I was searching around for other butterfly ideas, and came across Mama Jenn's blog, and her neat idea to use butterfly pictures to make a matching game. Bunny loves plays it the most, but the boys did have fun with it too! I did it the same way Mama Jenn did, and it seems to be holding up fairly well since it's laminated.

Tonight I hope to get started on making some pumpkin experiment sheets, so we can start on those experiments soon :)