Pioneer Crafts

There were lots of craft options to go with our pioneer-themed summer school this year. I considered samplers, rag rugs, even a corn cob doll. In the end, though, I decided to go with simple nine patch quilt block pillows. Bunny and Ladybug had a great time sewing these by hand, and they both love having something useful that they can keep!

2015-16 School Year–Week Eleven+

I waited until today to share our latest weekly wrap-up because it was more like a week-and-a-half of school. We had a regular week last week, although we replaced our normal history and some of our literature with our yearly Thanksgiving studies. We also had two days of school (plus a little bit) this week, to finish up everything we needed to do before the holiday.

In math, Turkey and Bunny have been working with percent increase and decrease. They way I’m learning how to teach these topics makes so much more sense to me than the way I was taught…I think math could have been much easier for me in junior high and high school with a different approach like this! Ladybug is still working on multiplying with carrying, which she is extremely good at, as well as slightly more complicated equations.

Turkey and Bunny, and Ladybug, each finished the fourth chapter of their science curriculum this week. Turkey and Bunny have been learning about applied science, technology, and simple machines. Bunny has decided she’s not “into” this kind of science, but she’s really looking forward to the next chapter, which focuses on archaeology and paleontology. Ladybug learned about the different kinds of feathers, and I have to admit, most of it was new to me, too!

In writing, Turkey and Bunny worked on comparing two short stories: “The Open Window” and “The Monkey’s Paw.” While both stories had scary elements, in the end, “The Open Window” ended up being pretty humorous, but “The Monkey’s Paw” was freaky. I can’t say I was a big fan! Ladybug has been working on more complicated sentence diagramming, including learning about complete subjects and predicates, direct objects, and adding adjectives and adverbs to describe different words in a sentence.

In addition to our Thanksgiving reading, we also had a few fun crafts (including our yearly staple of hand-and-footprint turkeys, which we waited until today to make, so Moose could join us), and we finished our thankful tree. I love seeing all the many and different things each of my children are thankful for!

I think next week will probably be a fairly normal week of school, before we get into “Christmas School” the week after. We’ll be learning about Christmas in Poland this year, which is new for us…I’m really looking forward to it!

St. Patrick’s Day Crafts

St. Patrick’s Day is only a week away. It’s one of my five favorite holidays, so I try to find lots of fun things to do. Here’s a peek at some of the crafts we’ve done over the years:

If you’re looking for recipes or reading lists, I have that covered, too!

2014-15 School Year–Week Fifteen

This was our last week of school in 2014!

It was a light week. In the mornings, I had the children work on religion, math, very limited language arts, crafts (more on that in a bit), and reading. We also finished A Christmas Carol, and did a poetry study of “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

The afternoons were all about fun. I decided that this would be “Nutcracker Week,” which worked out well, because we own recordings of five different productions. We started with the Bolshoi Ballet on Monday, which enabled us to both recognize the Nutcracker’s Russian roots, and continued our study of Christmas in Russia. On Tuesday, we watched our new production for the year–the Vienna State Ballet. Wednesday I was feeling British, so we watched the Royal Ballet performance. We watched what I think is probably our most unique version on Thursday, the Dutch National Ballet’s production. And I saved the best for last…today we watched my all-time favorite, the San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker. I had Turkey and Bunny take notes on what they really liked in each performance (or what they found unusual), and then had them attempt to rank them when we were done, which is no easy feat! (For the record, my ranking goes 1.) San Francisco Ballet; 2.) Dutch National Ballet; 3.) Royal Ballet; 4.) Bolshoi Ballet; and 5.) Vienna State Ballet.)

To go along with my favorite part of the Nutcracker in both music and dance, “The Waltz of the Snowflakes,” we spent some time a few mornings making snowflakes to hang in the schoolroom. Turkey, in particular, enjoyed seeing what patterns he could make, and even I made a few snowflakes. We weren’t happy until we had a full-on blizzard going!

IMG_8149

The snowflakes were craft one. We also made our ornament for the year–a cute clothespin donkey. We had quite the assembly line going to get them finished!

IMG_8112

And, for a fun end-of-the-week activity, I got the new Lego: The Hobbit Lake Town set to go with the sets the children and I built after we finished the book earlier this fall. It’s a small building, but it was fun to build, and added some new minifigs to our Lake Town setup.

IMG_8106

I’m looking forward to taking a break and just having fun for a few weeks, but we’ll be back in 2015, ready for more learning (and fun!).

2014-15 School Year–Week Twelve

Better late than never is the best I can say about this wrap-up!

Our twelfth week of school (the “Thanksgiving School” week) was November 17-21. But we also had two more days of school last week, so I decided to add those into this wrap-up. But with Thanksgiving and everything…well, I put it off a lot!

To be honest, a lot of what we did those seven days is a blur, but I’ll see what I remember. Turkey and Bunny continued to work on using scientific notation in math, and revisited measuring angles and other activities in geometry. Ladybug continued to borrow while subtracting, and she’s quite good at it. Next week, she starts multiplication!

In history, we learned more about the Crusades, and about Richard the Lion-Hearted. We also learned about the Jewish Diaspora. Learning about the history of Thanksgiving in America took up the bulk of our time in history, however.

Our science lessons moved from the leaves of the plant to the roots. We read the story of Rip Van Winkle in our poetry and short stories book, and I realized that I had never actually read that story myself. I really enjoyed it, and other than all of the complaining about the writing assignments that accompanied it, I think Turkey and Bunny really enjoyed it, too!

We finished up our thankful tree this week, and did a few Thanksgiving crafts. I’m glad the children still enjoy doing these sorts of activities…I don’t know how much longer we’ll have with stuff like this.

Tomorrow we get back to a more or less regular schedule, with a little Christmas fun thrown in!

The Legend of the First Tinsel

Today in school, we learned about Christmas in Russia (which involved watching the Bolshoi Ballet Nutcracker), and Ukraine. Part of learning about Christmas in Ukraine including reading the Ukrainian version of the legend of the first Christmas tinsel. To go along with the story, we made these cute ornaments…they were a lot of fun!

P1340058

Bookmarks

When we were at the St. Louis Scottish Games, the children received a “ticket” into the play area: a plaid (of course!) ribbon marked with the year and pinned to their shirts–pink for the girls, and green for the boys. They really liked these ribbons, and didn’t want to throw them out when we got home. Like all ribbons, however, they started to run into the problem of unraveling. After thinking about what I could do to preserve them, I got out my laminator, and turned them into bookmarks. They’re the perfect size for it, and now they can see how beautiful the ribbons are without having to worry about them coming apart!

P1320390

2012-13 School Year–Week Twenty-Six

This was a fun, busy week of school! We had a lot of work to do because of our upcoming vacation, and we also had some extra stuff to do for St. Patrick’s Day. We managed to get everything done, though, and had a lot of fun in the process!

Turkey and Bunny continued working on fractions in math. They’re still adding and subtracting unlike fractions, and have added mixed fractions, as well. They both continue to do really well with this area of study, and they’re even remembering to reduce their answers (thankfully!). On Friday, we had a brief introduction to decimals, and how they relate to fractions.

Ladybug worked on the letter “l” this week. Her reading is really improving, although I have to remind her that she doesn’t have to sound out words she already knows! And she will literally sound out everything, if left to her own devices. Her reading is improving, although she is still mixing up “d” and “b” occasionally, which I assume is a normal mistake at this age.

In history, we learned about the beginning of World War II, which was both interesting and depressing. I didn’t much enjoy having to teach the children about concentration camps. Turkey and Bunny were both baffled and outraged at the idea…fortunately, I think it mostly went over Ladybug’s head. We also learned about Pearl Harbor, and how America finally entered the war after a period of isolationism. After our vacation, we’ll learn more about America’s role in the war, and how it came to an end.

We finished our lesson on the integumentary system in science this week, and got to do a few fun experiments to go along with it. We made a glue dot braille alphabet, which was particularly fun, and also used paper clips bent at varying widths to see how sensitive our hands, backs, and arms are. We only have two chapters left in our science book…I think we’re all going to be sad to be done with our study of human anatomy!

Our read-alouds for the week were all St. Patrick’s Day related. We finished the book we started last week, Shamrocks, Harps, and Shillelaghs, and also read Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland, our favorite leprechaun legend from the Lion Storyteller Bedtime Book, and The Night Before St. Patrick’s Day (that last one was just for fun). I also put another favorite St. Patrick’s Day book, in our book basket…there just wasn’t time to read them all out loud!

No holiday would be complete without some crafts. I saw these adorable St. Patrick paper bag puppets on Oriental Trading’s website, and I thought they’d be fun, so we each made one (I gave mine to Moose…he loves it!).

P1230655

Since there were 12 kits in the pack, we also made a few St. Patricks that could be hung up. Still cute, even if they’re not as “playable!”

P1230658

I found these little fuzzy guys at Michael’s, and since I’m a sucker for fuzzy crafts, the children made them, too. Not too sure where they’re going to end up, but they’re adorable!

P1230686

During Turkey and Bunny’s math test on Friday, I also made some shamrock cookies for our St. Patrick’s Day tea party…that counts as school, right? Turkey and Bunny seemed to enjoy trying to steal the cookie dough while I was correcting their tests, anyway!

P1230648

I’m looking forward to our vacation, even though I have so much stuff planned in the next two weeks, I’m not really going to catch a break!

2012-13 School Year–Week Twenty-Two

We had another fun, busy week of school! Of course the highlight of the week was Valentine’s Day. In addition to making traditional Valentines for our loved ones, we also made Valen-“swines!”

P1230417

We read about the real St. Valentine, and had a Valentine’s Day tea party, as well:

P1230426

We did do some actual work in school this week, too. We learned about the liturgical year and the liturgy in religion, just as a refresher before the beginning of Lent, and started our Jesus Tree. Turkey and Bunny continued to work on geometry in math, did a fun writing assignment that took all week to perfect, and worked on some easily confused words in grammar. We all finished the lesson on the nervous system in science, and got to World War I in history. Ladybug continued her two-week study of the letter “O,” and has moved on to capital letters in handwriting.

Only a month until our next big vacation…is it wrong that I’m already looking forward to it?

2012-13 School Year–Week Sixteen

We only had three days of school this week. We couldn’t be normal and do school Monday-Wednesday, though. We had school Monday, Tuesday, and Friday. I know, we’re weird. Monday was a regular day of Christmas school, because I had six days worth of lessons for Christmas in England, so we couldn’t cram everything into one week. That day’s theme was Christmas in present-day England. We read The Jolly Christmas Postman and A Child’s Christmas in Wales, as well as looked through Christmas in England, to compare a modern English Christmas to our own (they’re very similar!). We had math and writing assignments, as well.

Tuesday was our annual “Nutcracker Day.” We read what is now my favorite picture book of the Nutcracker…I’m so glad I borrowed it from the library! We already had one very short picture book that is also short on details (but does have nice illustrations), and one full version of both Nutcracker stories, which is a bit ponderous to read in one sitting, but is very detailed, and lacks illustrations. I’ve looked at many other versions in bookstores, and never found one I really liked, but I grabbed this one at the library, and it’s just what I wanted. The length of the story is just right…it took about a half-hour to read, which meant I still had everyone’s attention at the end, but it was full of good detail. And the illustrations were wonderful! I’ll be adding this to our permanent collection before next Christmas, I’m sure. We also read The Day Before Christmas, which is a bittersweet story about a little girl and her grandfather, who go to see a performance of the ballet together, just as the grandfather used to do with his daughter, the girl’s mother, before she died. The story perfectly captures the excitement of going to the ballet, especially for the first time.

This year, we watched two productions of the Nutcracker, instead of our usual one. Of course, we had to see our standard (and favorite!), version…the San Fransisco Ballet’s interpretation of the classic story. To go along with Christmas School this year, we also watched the Royal Ballet production, which isn’t quite as captivating as the San Francisco Ballet, but comes close.

Today we had our much-anticipated Christmas tea party:

P1210923

We also did our first day of winter activities, which included reading several winter-themed books (I love the copy of Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening we got this year!), and doing a fun craft:

P1210946

Now we’re on vacation for a few weeks…I’m really looking forward to the break! I love Christmas and homeschooling, but when you put them together, it’s exhausting!