16 December 2009

A Good Problem to Have

What homeschooling supplies would you buy if you had a few extra hundred dollars in your pocket?

We homeschool through a public charter school so we have an annual allotment of money to spend on curriculum, supplies, lessons, and field trips. At this point I've got some extra money and would love input on how to use it. There are some restrictions: it must be grade-level appropriate (first grade), it can't be sectarian (religious) and it must be purchased from an approved vendor (which include Lakeshore, Dick Blick, Rainbow Resource, and Barnes & Noble to name just a few.

So what do you think?

23 November 2009

Field trip to Egypt

Well, not really, but it felt like it!

Recently Gracie and I went on an extended field trip to the Bay Area. We went to see the King Tut exhibit currently at the deYoung Museum in San Francisco and the Egyptian-themed Rosicrucian Museum in San Jose.

Unfortunately there was no photography allowed in the exhibit, but we were quite surprised to see a stunning resemblance between King Tut and certain members of our family! Who knew? Maybe we're descendants of royalty! At the Rosicrucian museum, we felt like we had been transported to Egypt. The grounds were beautiful and filled with intricate buildings and plants like papyrus and pomegranate that made us feel like we were walking along the Nile. The highlight for us was a recreation of an ancient Egyptian tomb that we could walk through. The walls of the tomb were decorated with images from Egyptian mythology. On the right hand wall you can see some of the gods weighing the dead man's heart to determine if he will make it into the afterlife.This is a recreation of Hammurabi's Code that is supposed to be almost identical to the original.

There were also recreations of the Rosetta Stone and King Tut's actual mummy case (the original never leaves Egypt). There were plenty of original artifacts in the museum as well, but the recreations pleased us just as much. We learned about Hammurabi and different types of ancient writing, like cunieform and heiroglyphics earlier this year, so it was neat to see something close to the real thing. And it will be a while until we can travel to Egypt or Europe where those artifacts reside!

Although it's fairly small, it's a very comprehensive museum. On their website they have a 10-day curriculum guide to go along with a museum field trip, including a quiz, which we used as a scavenger hunt at the museum.

20 November 2009

Artist Study: Piet Mondrian

Here's what we did during our Piet Mondrian unit study...

Put up Mondrian Wall
Spied some Modrian art in Squeaking of Art, The Mice Go to the Museum and Anna's Art Adventure

Began art lesson from Masterpiece of the Month by drawing grid lines with a yardstick,

tracing them with a glue and black paint mixture,
filling in spaces, and numbering the work. (Notice the tiny #1 at the top center?)
Used electrical tape (much quicker and less messy, yet no less inspired!) to create another Mondrianesque work of art:
Used primary colors to paint a picture of a flower, inspired by Mondrian's Amaryllis.Our own little Amaryllis was inspired to create all on her own as well!

09 November 2009

Co-op Day: Under the Sea

This year a few homeschooling friends and I have been getting together for a monthly co-op. There are 6 moms and 18 kids ranging from our big second-graders to just under a week old! This month I was the hostess and had a blast planning a morning of ocean-themed fun and learning.

While waiting for everyone to arrive, the kids worked on coloring a printable mural and cut-outs from learningpage.com.

Next came worship. We sang Deep and Wide and Peace Like a River. We read a few Psalms that talked about the ocean like Psalm 89:9, Psalm 93:4, and Psalm 148:7.

After the group worship time we divided the kids up into 3 groups and they rotated through 5 different activity centers led by different moms.

Art center:

The kids made their own aquarium using paper plates, cornmeal sand, crepe paper seaweed, and foam stickers from Joann's. Unlike my example, they also decorated their plate before putting anything else on.I prepared the front of the aquarium top beforehand, since it was both time consuming and tricky for little hands to do. I used blue plastic wrap taped to the back of a paper plate.

Confession time: I did not take a single picture during our time together. These were taken after everything had been cleaned up and put away!

Science Center

:The kids learned about floating and sinking by making a hypothesis about which objects would float in both fresh water and salt water. Both an uncooked egg and a potato should float in the salt water and sink in the fresh water.

Sorting Center:

What's the difference between whales and fish? Inspired by this activity, we made a giant Venn diagram with two hula hoops to sort different characteristics written on index cards.

Reading Center:

We had lots of books available for the kids to read or look at independently or have read to them. I don't think my local library had any ocean-themed books left after I raided all the shelves! Here's a list of some good ones:

Turtle In The Sea

Mister Seahorse



A House for Hermit Crab

My Visit to the Aquarium

The Magic School Bus Gets Crabby

The Rainbow Fish

10 Little Rubber Ducks

Is This a House for Hermit Crab?


One Small Place by the Sea

Miranda's Beach Day

Drama Center:

The kids played charades, pretended to be different animals, and put on a puppet show based on some of stories they had read.

After centers we finished up with a "sharing" time. This seems to be a favorite activity for everyone! The kids are able to present something they learned, read something they've written, or recite a poem or verse they've memorized. Some of the little ones just like being in the spotlight! It's great because public speaking is one of those skills that are hard to develop when you're homeschooled.

This was our third meeting and the kids are really starting to feel more comfortable with each other. Meeting for co-op once a month has been great for all of us and our kids since it makes coming together a treat and not a drudgery. Hopefully our co-op will continue to be a blessing to us all!

27 October 2009

Book of the Week: Color Dance

Usually I let my kids choose their library books, but Color Dance jumped out at me (isn't the cover beautiful?) and I had to check it out. I wish I had known about this book last year when we did a theme unit on color. It would have been a great resource!

In this book, dancers twirl about with different colored scarves making all kinds of beautiful new colors. Color mixing is introduced, but goes beyond the basic red + blue =purple. There's also aquamarine, vermillion, magenta, and chartreuse. (So that's what chartreuse is!)

After reading this book, you might feel a bit inspired, so have some paint on hand for some color-mixing experiments of your own.

See what else is being read this week at The Joyful Chaos. Happy Reading!

16 October 2009

How to See Down Steven Tyler's Throat

Ever since we took a tour of a local hospital, Gracie has wanted to be a doctor and has been begging to study the human body. We're doing life science this year and our curriculum, R.E.A.L. Science, starts off with a human body unit.
While scouring Netflix for some good educational movies (one of my favorite homeschooling resources, by the way), I came across this little gem. Although it's not geared specifically for children, National Geographic - Incredible Human Machine had my kids spellbound. It uses some amazing technology to actually film inside the human body. We saw the inside of a stomach, lungs, and Steven Tyler's vocal cords! This is a great way to take your human body study to the next level and actually see the organs and systems you've learned about.

A few words of warning: There is definitely some blood seen during a surgery in progress. I had to turn away, but my kids were fine! The movie does talk about the reproductive system as well, which you might want to preview for your own children.

01 October 2009

Inspired by Miss Potter

A few weeks ago I read about the movie Miss Potter over at Harmony Art Mom's blog. I assumed it was a brand new movie, since I had not heard of it. As soon as I found out that it was a few years old (how did I miss it?!) off to Netflix I went, popped it into the top of my queue, and watched it a few days later.

Such a delightful movie! And it captured the imagination of my daughters, as well. We dug out our copy of the Beatrix Potter The Complete Tales and reacquainted ourselves with Peter Rabbit, Squirrel Nutkin, and other little creatures.

Gracie was inspired in her own way. Last Thursday (our unschooling/masterly inactivity day) she decided to make her own picture book, with the help of many of Beatrix's characters.
So far she's drawn Jemima Puddleduck and Peter Rabbit (although he looks a bit foxy to me!) Can't wait to see who's next!

29 September 2009

Book of the Week: Squeaking of Art

SQUEAKING OF ART, The Mice Go to the Museum is such an inspired book that you could use it as an art curriculum for a year! Ten mice wander through galleries of various themes (still-lifes, children, abstract, etc.) and ask questions. So many questions! You could spend days discussing all these questions with your children! Children will love to guess just which artwork each mouse is commenting about.

Each gallery is full of masterpiece-inspired works, and in the back of the book you'll find a helpful "cheat sheet" of information about the artist, title, and location of each piece.

This book is such a fun way to add a little more art appreciation into your children's lives, and they'll think it's just a fun book!

Visit The Joyful Chaos for more wonderful books!

25 September 2009

How to Mummify a Barbie

Learning about ancient Egypt just wouldn't be complete without making your own mummy, and mummifying a Barbie is a lot simpler, cheaper, and quicker than mummifying a chicken.

You'll need: a Barbie (of the dollar store variety), oil, spices, salt, and gauze or other cloth.
Make an embalming fluid by mixing oil and spices and spread it all over the doll.

Sprinkle the body with salt.

Roll it up in the gauze or cloth.

Tuck in some "amulets" which served as good luck charms.

Don't forget to make a mask.

Mummies Made in Egypt is a great book to go along with your study of mummies which describes the mummification process in great detail.