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.

21 September 2009

We heart Bach!

Composer studies are a new addition to our curriculum this year and so far, I am amazed at the positive response it has gotten.

I'll be honest, I wasn't and still am not exactly sure what I'm doing. But I've seen big results for rather little input. We've read a few books about Bach and listened to CDs of Bach's music all from our local library. We Netflixed a DVD of Bach performances. And that's pretty much it. But Gracie's interest in Bach is flourishing!

I definitely want to take advantage of some musical learning opportunities. Gracie's started taking an interest in musical instruments, guessing which instruments she is hearing during the songs. So we'll be looking more into that. We also might even dive in and begin piano lessons. I've been planning on doing music lessons eventually. Now might be a very good time to start.

Week One:
Listen to Bach on Pandora

Week Two:
Watch Bach: Greatest Hits (available from Netflix)
Read Johann Sebastian Bach (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers)

Week Three:
Read Johann Sebastian Bach (Primary Source Library of Famous Composers)
Listen to Bach Greatest hits (from our local library)

Weeks 4, 5, and 6 are still ahead of us, but here's what I have tenatively planned:

Week 4:
Classics for Kids website and worksheet
Read Sebastian: A Book about Bach

Week 5:
Leonard Bernstein - Young People's Concerts
Learn about different types of instruments: brass, strings, woodwind, percussion

Week 6:
Making Music Fun lesson plans
Bach appreciation fancy tea party

14 September 2009

Book of the Week: Simon and Adele

Adele & Simon is a wonderful book we found at the library a few weeks ago. I love it when I just randomly choose some books from the shelves and there is a real gem among them like this one.

First of all this book is a great child's-eye view of Paris. It's a great way to see Paris and all it's wonderful landmarks in a natural, "not teachy" setting. You can even follow the children's route through the city on the endpapers of the book.

Secondly, this book has layers. In addition to introducing your child to the monuments of Paris, there are nods to some great French artists. Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt even make a cameo appearance. (Read more at the Amazon.com review of Adele & Simon.)

Thirdly, there are I-Spy opportunities on every page. As Simon and Adele make their way home through Paris, Simon loses things as he goes. Can you find his missing item on each page?

Adele & Simon is such a wonderful and fun book. If you can't take a field trip to Paris, spending some time with Simon and Adele is the next best thing.

Check out (pun intended) other great books at the inaugural Children's Book Blog Hop at The Joyful Chaos.

04 September 2009

Look what arrived in my mail box this week: Kris over at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers had a great giveaway last week which I was lucky enough to win! She notified me on Friday and the package arrived on Wednesday. Talk about speedy delivery!

I was given the choice of any of the "10 Days" games which include the United States, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Since I lived there a few years, I chose Africa. (Plus I want my children to know that Africa is not one big country!) My daughter and I had fun trying it out this afternoon. I'm sure we'll know our African geography like the back of our hands in no time. But look what's missing:
You probably don't notice anything, do you?
Well, that little pink circle inside South Africa is actually a little country called Lesotho, which is where I made my home for 2 years. Who would have thought that its absence would even be noticed?
Poor Lesotho. No respect.

03 September 2009

Unschooling Thursdays

Homeschooling is a beautiful thing because it is very efficient. It doesn't take nearly as long as traditional schools do to cover the same material, so we are blessed with some extra unscheduled time. And rather than squander that time, this year we are going to spend our Thursdays doing a plethora of sometimes rather "unschool-y" activities. I think this will be the perfect time for some valuable student-led learning. Therefore, we are introducing "Unschooling Thursdays" to our schedule this year.

One of the appeals of unschooling is that there are so many valuable skills that children need to learn that don't fit into the nice neat boxes of math, language arts, science, and social studies. Yet often these are the very things that get saved for last or pushed aside completely.

While I love the idea of letting students pursue activities and subjects that interest them, I know my daughter would probably never choose to practice her writing or learn addition facts on her own. But I can offer her one day a week of more free exploration.

At this point I will be providing some structure in unschooling Thursdays, since she might very well choose to play with Barbies amd watch Angelina Ballerina all day, which might have some educational value, but is definitely not what I'm trying to achieve.
So what am I trying to achieve? I want to instill a love of knowledge. I want her to see that education is more than textbooks. I want her to develop practical life skills. I want her to have experiences that will add depth to things she has read about. I want her to have an active part in her education.
Here's what we might on any given Thursday:

Field trips

Nature studies


Artist studies

Composer studies

Educational and strategy games


Independent projects

Entrepreneurial skills

Many of these activities are in line with the Charlotte Mason philosophy, which we are adopting this year. It will be interesting to see what else happens on Thursdays this year!

Read more at FiveJs.

01 September 2009

Happy September!

I just received my first blog award from Three Queens and a King. Thank you! Now I have to tell 10 things about myself and pass it on to 10 more bloggers. Here goes:

1. I owned a Volkswagon Westfalia camper van named Mothauthau, which according to my Sesotho dictionary means one who picks people up from various places.

2. I'm definitely NOT a neat freak, but I do like keeping the clothes in my closet in "rainbowetical" order.

3. I've only had one cavity ever. Unless you count the one that I had in my wisdom tooth that was pulled. But that definitely doesn't count.

4. I had been to all 50 states by the time I was 16 years old.

5. I am a terribly cheap person.

6. I hate running. I would rather walk or hike for 20 miles than run one.

7. Autumn is my absolute favorite time of the year. Unfortunately we don't really have an autumn in southern California. Sigh.

8. I worked at Chuck E. Cheese all the from high school through college. And yes, I dressed up as the rat once in a while.

9. Dr. Pepper (called "Deep" in our house) is my drink of choice. I do limit myself to 1 a day and have even switched to diet in a lame effort to be "healthy".

10. I have a thing for completing things. That's why this has been sitting unpublished for the last week until I could come up with number ten!

I'd like to pass this award on to some lovely and talented ladies:

1. Bubbles, Balloons, and Blessings

2. A Hundred Happy Things

3. My Two Happy Homeschoolers

4. Academy at Thousand Oaks

5. higher education

6. Love 2B Home

7. Homeschool and Etc.

8. Journey into Unschooling

9. Kids Art Projects and Lessons at Ms. Julie's Place

10. Life is Not a Cereal