28 February 2009

ABC book: MNO

M is for magnets.
N is for noodle necklace.

O is for orange (marker and tissue paper).

See the rest of our ABC book here.

27 February 2009

Lesson from the garden

When spring is in the air, I know it's just about that time. Time to get outside, dig in the dirt, and plant a garden. I love gardening, but I admit it's difficult to take the time needed to keep it up, especially with little ones that are often more hinderance than help. (No! Don't eat the dirt! That's basil, not a weed! Walk around the plants, not on them!) But I continue to try. Most years my crops are pretty meager, but there's just something about it that I love.

At dinner one night this week, my oldest daughter informed me that we wouldn't have to buy so many vegetable at the store this year. At first I didn't understand where that comment came from, but we had just made our seed-buying trip and started preparing some beds. I was amazed at the connection she made. We weren't just playing in the dirt, we were working to produce our own food!

There are so many lessons to be learned in the garden. Even the basic art of gardening is a dying one, yet it is such a valuable skill to have! My children are learning stewardship and know what goes in the compost bucket and what goes in the trash. They are learning to economize by providing their own food. For math, there's measuring the beds and the distance between rows and plants. For science there's the life cycle of plants, pollination, and nutrition. What better way to feel like a pioneer than to grow your own vegetable just like Ma Ingalls?! And there is a wealth of garden-themed literature out there. These are some of my very favorites:

Weslandia by Paul Fleischman
The Gardener by Sarah Stewart
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert

It doesn't have to be complicated and just a few simple pots can be your garden. Gardening provides not only food for my family, but so many valuable lessons and skills. And I'm think my children (at least most of them) might be more help than hinderance this year!

25 February 2009

Teaching character with Dr. Seuss

We've begun a theme unit on Dr. Seuss in preparation of his birthday next week on March 2nd. In addition to being a lot of fun and fairly accessible new readers, many of Dr. Seuss' books lend themselves very nicely to teaching various character traits. Here's a list that I came up with:

  • The Cat in the Hat: honesty, responsibility, obedience
  • The Lorax: care for the earth/stewardship
  • Bartholomew and the Oobleck: contentment
  • The Sneetches: not judging based on appearances/looking at the inner qualities of a person
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas: anti-materialism/contentment
  • The Butter Battle Book: getting along with others
  • Horton Hatches the Egg: patience, commitment, value of life
  • Horton Hears a Who!: compassion, protecting the powerless
  • Green Eggs and Ham: trying new things, leaving your comfort zone
  • Yertle the Turtle: humility and compassion in leadership

What other life lessons has Dr. Seuss taught you?

Teaching values, improving reading skills and having fun at the same time works for me!

24 February 2009

Geisel's Titles

We all know Green Eggs and Ham and The Cat in the Hat, but there are so many lesser-known titles by Dr. Seuss. It's been fun to become more familiar with them, and I still have a few on my to-read list. I also learned that Theo LeSieg is another pseudonym used by Dr. Seuss. (LeSieg is Geisel spelled backwards.) Here's what I believe to be a complete list of his works of children's literature:

  • And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street
  • The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins
  • The King's Stilts
  • Horton Hatches the Egg
  • McElligot's Pool
  • Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose
  • Bartholomew and the Oobleck
  • If I Ran the Zoo
  • Scrambled Eggs Super!
  • Horton Hears a Who!
  • On Beyond Zebra
  • If I Ran the Circus
  • How The Grinch Stole Christmas
  • The Cat in the Hat
  • The Cat in the Hat Comes Back
  • Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories
  • Happy Birthday to You!
  • Green Eggs and Ham
  • One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish
  • The Sneetches and Other Stories
  • Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book
  • Dr. Seuss's ABC
  • Hop on Pop
  • Fox in Socks
  • I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew
  • The Cat in the Hat Songbook
  • The Foot Book
  • I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today! And Other Stories
  • My Book About Me
  • I Can Draw It Myself
  • Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?
  • The Lorax
  • Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!
  • Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?
  • The Shape of Me and Other Stuff
  • There's a Wocket in My Pocket!
  • Great Day For Up!
  • Oh, The Thinks You Can Think!
  • The Cat's Quizzer
  • I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!
  • Oh Say Can You Say?
  • Hunches in Bunches
  • The Butter Battle Book
  • You're Only Old Once!: A Book For Obsolete Children
  • I Am NOT Going To Get Up Today!
  • Oh, The Places You'll Go!
  • Daisy-Head Maisy
  • My Many Colored Days
  • Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!
  • Gerald McBoing McBoing
  • Ten Apples Up on Top!
  • I Wish That I Had Duck Feet
  • Come Over to My House
  • The Eye Book
  • I Can Write
  • In A People House
  • Wacky Wednesday
  • The Many Mice of Mr. Brice
  • Would You Rather Be a Bullfrog?
  • Hooper Humperdink…? Not Him!
  • Please Try to Remember the First of Octember!
  • Maybe You Should Fly a Jet! Maybe You Should Be a Vet!
  • The Tooth Book
  • Because a Little Bug Went Ka-choo!

And now you know!

Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book

Write about your nighttime/before bed routine. Make it a list, a paragraph, or a mini-book.

Create your own news reports from home. What's going on today? Make a video of the news report performance.

Write word-form numbers in number form

Search a globe and figure out possible locations of the Audio-Telly-o-Tally-o Count machine halfway between Reno and Rome.

Make a tally chart and keep track of recurring events such as phone calls, cars driving by, a certain word said.

Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook has several recipes based on this book. Make Moose Juice, Goose Juice, Biggel-Balls, and Hoop-Soup-Snoop Group Potato Soup.

Make a list of nocturnal (nighttime) vs. diurnal (daytime) animals. We played guess the nocturnal animal with these sounds.

23 February 2009

Fox in Socks

March 2nd is the birthday of Theodore Seuss Geisel and has been proclaimed Read Across America Day in his honor. We're beginning our celebration of Dr. Seuss's birthday a bit early. We'll be spending the next two weeks giggling and delighting over the wonderful words of Dr. Seuss. We began with Fox in Socks because it happened to coincide so nicely with our letter of the week, X.

  • Word sort with –ox and –ocks words (-ox words: box, fox, pox, ox; -ocks words: socks, rocks, blocks, tocks, clocks) We also made a third category for –alks words that also rhyme like talks and walks)

  • Practice making new words by using word families found in the book (-ick, -ose, -ame, -ue/-oo/-ew).

  • Read the book as Reader's Theater. Newer readers can take the words of Knox. Reading the part of the fox is no easy task!

  • Reading these tongue twisters in an effort to master them is a great way to get in some good fluency practice.

  • Make your own tongue twisters. Start with a word chain, altering one letter or sound in the word and try to make a sentence out of them. For example: boat… goat… moat can become the "A goat is in a boat in the moat."

  • Cut out paper socks. Decorate, creating pairs of socks. Play memory or match socks quickly, beating a timer.

  • If you are very brave, make your own band broom parade. It can become a direction following exercise. Give directions like play loudly or quietly, hop on one foot, or walk backwards.

  • Make a sentence game at Seussville.com

  • Learn more about foxes.

21 February 2009

ABC book: JKL

J is for jack-o-lantern.

K is for kinesthetics (that's using your body, for those of you not married to a PE teacher).

L is for lentils.
See the rest of our ABC book here.

20 February 2009

It’s all good.

I think that as a homeschooling mom it's really easy to feel inadequate. And then those questions begin in our head. Are my kids learning what they should? Am I focusing enough or too much in a certain area? We'd better start taking piano lessons (or gymnastics or Spanish)! I didn't do art (or science or spelling) this week (or this month or this year)! But it's all good! Take a breath and know that you're fine. And your kids will be too.

Since the majority of the school day is usually devoted to language arts and math, you can feel good that any teaching you are doing in any other subject is probably more than they would be getting in public school. The backyard and the kitchen are probably the best science classrooms. Learning to interact with others across generations is social studies. Remember, a textbook and worksheet is not a requirement for learning! And give yourself double points for doing anything ever in art or music!

It's hard to prevent them from learning. Kids are naturally curious. In fact I am sure there is a direct correlation to the curiousness of your children to the messes they are responsible for. (I don't know if that's true, but it's a comforting thought, isn't it?)

You are teaching them valuable life skills. If you made your child go back and brush their teeth (this time with toothpaste) or stop to say thank you to the neighbor who gave them a compliment, or pray before lunch, you're teaching them! Don't sell yourself short. These important life skills are part of the well-rounded education that you're giving them!

They can always learn it when they're older. I have a confession to make. I never learned the whole pint/cup/quart thing. Or gallon. Maybe I missed that day. But you know what. I turned out ok. And I'm learning it. Two cups in a pint, right? Though I still think liters and milliliters make SO much more sense. And everyone knows how much 2 liters is. But I'll save that soapbox for another day. My point is that in reality some things might get missed. But that's okay. Anything that can be learned at 6 can also be learned at 16 or even 26!

In all seriousness, taking on the education of your children is no small task, but just realize that you don't have to be perfect. I love Psalm 25. I call it the teacher Psalm because the Psalmist uses verbs like teach, show, guide, and instruct to describe God's actions. And really, isn't God the ultimate teacher? It's amazing to think that God understands how to solve algebraic equations, diagram a sentence, and conjugate Spanish verbs. He also knows about learning styles, teaching methods and techniques . And He knows how to work through us to educate and care for our kids. He gives us the patience and grace and perseverance to take on this amazing challenge. And if God is on our side, we're gonna be just fine. Even if our kids don't know who Pablo Picasso is.

18 February 2009

Abraham Lincoln: Bible Connections

We've been having some very practical issues with honesty (or lack thereof) this week, so it's perfect that we're studying about ol' Honest Abe. We are going to read several Bible stories that deal with the issue of dishonesty and its consequences. We will read the Bible story, look at the actions of each person and see what effect the action had on them and on others around them. I also wanted to look at the motivation for each person's dishonesty and discuss alternative actions in the light of such motivations.

Here's a copy of the worksheet available for you to print out and use. I also have my answer sheet, which obviously may differ from yours.

Honesty Bible Worksheet

Bible story



Why did they do it?

What should they have done?

Genesis 12: 10-20

Abram lies about Sarai being his wife.

Pharaoh makes them leave Egypt.


Told the truth and trusted God to keep them safe.

Joshua 7

Achan stole some things that were for the Lord's house.

Israel lost a battle.

Achan and his family were stoned and burned.


Realize he would appreciate the things more seeing them in God's house, rather than buried in his tent.

Acts 5: 1-11

Ananias and Sapphira kept some money for the church for themselves and lied about it.

They fell down and died.


Told the truth about what they gave.

17 February 2009

WFMW: Score!

I love thrift stores. Always have. At least since I discovered them in college. But they are not always the easiest places to navigate with three children five and under. Sometimes it takes a little bit of digging and searching to find that bargain in the rough. So it's been a while. But last week I rediscovered the joy, the thrill of the hunt, the satsifaction of success! Here's what I found:

The Polar Express (Van Allsburg),

The Legend on the Indian Paintbrush (dePaola), (for a unit on Native Americans coming up this semester)

Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? (Carle),

Frog and Toad Together (Lobel), (Gracie's reading these by herself now!)

A Pippi Longstocking book (that must have been comandeered before I took the picture!)

The Cat in the Hat; One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish; Dr. Seuss' ABC book (all by Dr. Seuss. We'll be doing a Dr. Seuss unit to celebrate his birthday coming up on March 2nd)

Ed Emberly's Great Thumbprint Drawing Book (a very sneaky way to work on fine motor skills!)

Brain Quest (2nd grade)

And all for about a dollar each! And what's even more impressive, the kids were with me! Yeah me!

I know photography does not work for me (see above), but finding good homeschooling stuff at thrift stores for a song does work for me!

See what works for everyone else for the last time (sniff) at Rocks In My Dryer.

16 February 2009

Abraham Lincoln: Memory Verse

Abraham Lincoln was known as "Honest Abe." Honesty is a virtue that we need to encourage and build in our children. This verse sums it up in a very simple and understandable way.

Proverbs 12:22

The Lord detests lying lips, but He delights in men who are truthful.

14 February 2009

ABC book: GHI

G is for glitter.

H is for hearts. (I knew that heart punch would come in handy someday!)I is for...leaves? All right, I blew it. But our theme that week was fall, so it kinda made sense. Besides, what other options did I have? Besides ink or ice (just take a picture of it in an I shape). Any other ideas?

See the rest of our ABC book here.

13 February 2009

Jelly Telly rocks!

Jelly Telly is my newest favorite thing. I heard about it a few weeks ago and have been trying to incorporate it into our school day. It's been working really well as a motivational tool. When Gracie has finished all her other school we get to watch Jelly Telly.
So what is Jelly Telly? A free daily online show that's kind of like Sesame Street in that it's comprised of short clips of various features, but it's definitely got content geared for elementary school age. Don't tell my two-year-old. She loves it! The features include old science films revamped, sports tips, and songs teaching the Bible. This one on Judges is my favorite so far...

I love that it combines faith and science so beautifully. It contains sometimes complex scientific knowledge while maintaining a strong Biblical focus . And a lot of fun, too! It's all good, educational stuff and I feel confident letting my kids watch it. Did I mention it's made by the creators of VeggieTales? And like VeggieTales, there's humor geared towards me that my kids just don't get yet. So I can watch it and not go nuts. I appreciate that!
Here's a little more, just for fun...

12 February 2009

Abraham Lincoln: Resources

This virtual museum includes literature resources, a very simple biography, and activity ideas and links.

A great lapbook to make (along with so many others) can be found here.

Mrs. Payton and her students share what they've learned about Lincoln here. The treasure hunt and quiz are worth checking out.

Homeschool Freebie of the Day is offering a radio drama and a reenactment of a speech originally given by Lincoln. Today only!!

Abraham Lincoln: Activities

Language Arts:

Write a letter to the president just like Grace Bedell (in Mr. Lincoln's Whiskers) did. What advice would you give him? (LA.W 1.1)

Read a book by candlelight just like Lincoln did when he was a boy. (LA.R.1.9)


Do math with chalk on the back of a shovel like Lincoln did as a boy. (M.NS 2.1)

Have a money scavenger hunt and try to find Lincoln on a coin and a bill. Take a closer look at the other people, symbols, and monuments represented on different coins and bills.

Social Studies (K.6.1):

Look at a map of the United States and find Lincoln's birthplace (Kentucky), and boyhood home (Illinois) and other significant places in his life. (SS.K.4.2)

Make a list of some of qualities in Abraham Lincoln that made him so admired. (SS.K.1.2)


Abraham Lincoln had lots of pets. Think of a pet you have, someone else has, or you would like to have. What would it need to be healthy and happy? (SS.K.2.a)


Build a log cabin with pretzel sticks and frosting or glue popsicle sticks to a box.

09 February 2009

Abraham Lincoln: The books

While these are all great books, they all required a bit of background info. I would recommend starting with a very basic biography like this one, especially for a kindergartener who has no substantial previous knowledge of Abraham Lincoln's life or accomplishments.

Mr. Lincoln's Whiskers by Karen Winnick

A really cute story based on actual letters written in 1860. An eleven-year old girl's suggestion helped Abraham Lincoln win the election! Vocabulary: railsplitter, whiskers, suggestion.

A. Lincoln and Me by Louise Borden

A boy is inspired to learn more about Abraham Lincoln since they share a birthday as well as other characteristics. Vocabulary: beanpole, signature.

Abe Lincoln Loved Animals by Ellen Jackson

A great one for animal lovers! This book is based on stories told by friends and family of Abraham Lincoln, and although their accuracy cannot be verified, there seems to be a consistency showing Lincoln's care for animals. Vocabulary: cruelty, pardon.

Presidents by James Barber

I love Eyewitness Books. Definitely above my daughter's level, but it's so packed with pictures that it hardly matters. My daughter had fun flipping through the pages and laughing at the silly hairstyles! Chester A. Arthur definitely wins the prize for wackiest facial hair!

07 February 2009

ABC book: DEF

D is for dough. E is for eyes.
F is for foil. See the rest of our ABC book here.

06 February 2009

Chinese New Year: Bible Connections

At the Chinese New Year parade in Chinatown we saw lots of red, which is said to drive away the evil spirits. We read Mark 5:1-20 , the story of Jesus healing a demon-possessed man and learned what God can do with evil spirits.
We made a changing picture book following these directions. On one side we drew words representing the man before he met Jesus. On the other side we drew words showing how he was after he met Jesus. It's a really visual way to see the change in a person after they have met Jesus.

I didn't cover this in school with Gracie, but I thought it was worth sharing. In college, a professor taught me about some Chinese characters that amazingly reflected stories from the Bible. This explains it much better than I can. Isn't it amazing to see God at work across continents, across cultures, and across centuries!

Hundredth Day!

I'm jealous! I never had a hundredth day party! But that teaching concept wasn't invented until 1981. (It pays to read the back page of a book.) And yes, I went to kindergarten before that, but not much before! But it's such a great idea. A fun way to teach counting and place value and have a party all in one!
There are so many good hundredth day books out there, too! My favorite was this one:There are so many great learning directions to go with this book. It reviews the alphabet (note the student's names each start with a different letter) and has great activity ideas to celebrate the hundredth day, including fun recipes. We used what we had on hand and made this:This was a fun book, too. Be warned, there's an entry for each of Emily's 100 days, so it's not a quick read! But it is a lot of fun, even if it takes a couple of sittings.
Gracie wanted to know if we would have a thousandth day party, too. A great idea in theory, but I doubt I'll be able to keep track for that long. That should be in the middle of fourth grade. Will Gracie actually be in the fourth grade someday? It's hard to imagine!

04 February 2009

Chinese New Year: Show and Tell

Gracie says, "It's handmade. I cut to make it. Chinese New Year dragons are not scary. The eyes are sequins. (When folding the paper) it's like they're fighting to be on top."

03 February 2009

Chinese New Year: Memory Verse

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you again slave to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship, and by Him we cry, "Abba, Father."

Romans 8:15

This was a tricky one. But it seems that there is an undercurrent of fear in so many of the Chinese New Year traditions and myths: wearing new clothes so the evil spirits won't recognize you, decorating with red and lighting firecrackers to repel evil mythical creatures, sweeping the house to get rid of bad luck while making room for good luck, offering sweet foods as "bribes" to gods. This verse reminds us that our relationship to God is not one of bribes, manipulation, or rituals, but one of children and a loving Father.

02 February 2009

Chinese New Year: Resources

Montessori Teacher Training has great ways to celebrate Chinese New from learning to use chopsticks as fine-motor practice to games to a recipe for fortune cookies. Yum!

Speaking of fortune cookies…try this fun crafty version. I used chenille stems instead of floral wire and a hot glue gun.

I love Kids Craft Weekly! Here's her take on Chinese New Year crafts.

Wikipedia is a fantastic source to everything you ever wanted to know about Chinese New Year. Really, everything! The mythology section explains the supposed origin of this holiday, which was completely new to me, and very insightful.