Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ancient City Word Puzzles

Beeper was interested in the picture word puzzles on his cereal box, so I showed himhow to solve them. Then he was sad that there weren't more, so we made some up ourselves. These are four cities from Egypt and Mesopotamia. I think a couple are easy, but the other two are a little more obscure.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


If you have ever done Cub Scouts, you probably know that that stands for, "Keep it simple. Make it fun."

One of my best friends is student-teaching a third grade class this semester. The regular teacher was injured recently, so my friend has essentially been doing the whole thing herself from scratch. She is also a Scouter and was telling me how she has been using a lot of ideas she has learned from Scouting, like the patrol method, KISMIF and "fun with a purpose."

It got me thinking just how much both Cub Scouts and teaching Sunday School have affected the way I homeschool. In fact, I think there is a lot of going back and forth between all three. Working in one seems to inspire me in the others.

The most important thing I try to remember with all three, though, is to keep it simple and make it fun, and that it is fun with a purpose. When I follow those ideas, things just seem to go more smoothly. I think that may be one reason things have been going so well this year for us. We've been keeping it simple and fun.

What experiences have influenced the way you homeschool?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A deal not to be missed

One of my favorite book stores is having a killer sale today only. BetterWorldBooks is giving a 50% discount on all bargain bin books today. Since the bargain bin books are usually $3.98 each, I just paid just under $14 for 7 books (all in “good” or “very good” condition). That will finish off my collection of the “Your ____-year-old” books by Louise Bates Ames.

(Note to any Swagbucks users out there. BWB is in the Swagbucks mall, so make sure to shop through the link there instead to earn swagbucks at the same time. They usually take about a month to show up in your account.)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Life schooling

Things have been more unschooly around here for the last couple weeks.

I haven't had as many activity ideas as we move into the Mesopotamia chapters in SOTW. Mostly we've just done the history pockets and whatever ideas Beeper has had.

I decided (once again) to lay off the formal math and reading lessons for a while. I discussed it with our principal, who agreed. We especially have wanted to take advantage of the favorable weather and let the boys play outside as much as possible, since we only have really good playing outside weather about three weeks out of the year.

It always amazes me how much we end up learning when we're not trying.

I mentioned Beeper's interest in calendars. He has also been asking to learn to tell time, so we have been doing things with clocks in addition to the days of the week study. Between the two we are getting language, math and practical life all rolled together. And it is easy, because it is something he wants to learn.

The thing that interests me most right now is the kind of language study we have had. I did not know how thoroughly you could study literature and language without being able to read and write. I recently explained word play to Beeper, and he loves that. He is always pointing it out now when someone tells a joke or makes a pun. "He's doing that word play thing!" I also explained alliteration one day when he was playing with word sounds. He really liked that concept as well and played with it for the rest of the day. He seems drawn to the poetic uses of language, like rhyming and alliteration. Maybe I should find a way to turn his interest in patterns into a lesson on rhythm.

On top of all that, of course, is reading together as much as possible. I really think with his learning styles that this is where most of his learning is going to come from - read alouds. Plus, we both really enjoy it. I have noticed too that while he still occasionally asks for picture books, he is preferring the chapter books more and more. (And strangely enough, when we do read picture books, he pays more attention to the pictures than he used to.)

It is nice knowing that I can let things ebb and flow like this. It feels right to sometimes be more focused and activity centered and sometimes just let learning happen as it will. It is nice to have the reminders that we are learning either way.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

You may be losing comments

I have seen this discussed on a few other blogs, but some folks still may not know. If you have a blogger blog and are using the type of comment box that opens at the end of the post (as opposed to opening in a new window or going to a new page) then some people may have trouble or not be able to post comments on your blog, especially if you don't allow the name/anonymous option.

I know many bloggers love getting comments, so I thought you should know that you might be missing out on some just because of your comment box style. I seldom comment on those blogs, because I have to change browsers to do it, and I am sure there are others who are doing the same.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Dinosaur Opening

I know there are several other dinosaur fans reading, and some of you live in or near Utah, so I wanted to let you know if you haven't heard: The main building at Dinosaur National Monument has been redone, and it will be reopening early next month.

The Utah Museum of Natural History has also been under construction this year. They are moving into a new building, which will be opening on November 17. This is the museum "Dr. Scott" from Dinosaur Train is associated with. According to his blog, one of the new exhibits will be a brand new species of Troodont discovered by his team in Southern Utah.

If you wanted to really make a big dinosaur trip of it, I think Hogle Zoo might still be running its Zoorrasic Park exhibit.

We're hoping to take a field trip to Dinosaur soon. Maybe we'll see you there!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Egypt Books

We read so much about Egypt from other sources that by the time we got to the chapter in SOTW about mummies an pyramids, all of the information in it was redundant, and we ended up skipping it. (I wasn't sure whether or not we should read it anyway, so I gave Beeper the option, and he opted to skip it.) Here's what we read:

Egyptology: Search for the Tomb of Osiris - This book is a lot of fun. It has a scrap of "mummy cloth" to feel, a short list of hieroglyphs, and even a senet board with pieces and instructions (the instructions were not very clear, but a little online research revealed that no one really knows how the Egyptians played senet, so you can pretty much play however you want). The format of the book did confuse Beeper, though. If you're familiar with the "ology" books you know that they have a story behind them, and the journal/scrapbook format makes it more realistic than reading a story would. It's that very premise that confused Beeper regarding what was real and what wasn't.

Magic Tree House Research Guide: Mummies and Pyramids - We did read the research guide all the way through this time, and Beeper was very interested from start to finish. In fact, I think this was our very best resource for information on the subject. It was right on his level and just the right amount of information.

Mummies Made in Egypt - This book by Aliki has great pictures and information, some might say a little too much information. It goes into great detail about the embalming process. It didn't seem to bother Beeper too much, but it made me a little queasy! It also didn't seem to interest Beeper too much. I am not sure what age to recommend on this, but I think it might be appreciated more by a slightly older child (who is not turned off by gross details).

Ancient Egypt - This is a thick reference book and obviously not something we actually "read." I like it mostly for the pictures. It is full of great photographs of the area, artifacts and monuments. It also has some charts and maps. This was our best resource for visuals.

Tutankhamen's Gift - I am not sure exactly what to say about this one, because frankly, I didn't enjoy the story, but others might. It doesn't bother me that the genealogy is a little off (I don't think my five-year-old really cares whether Akenhaten was Tut's brother or father), and I thought it would be fun to have a fictional account of events, since Akenhaten was an important part of Egyptian history (he's the pharoah that tried to turn Egypt to monotheism, but they went back to polytheism not to long after he died, under King Tut's rule). In the end, I just didn't like the way the story was presented. I love the illustrations, though!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Homeschooling Question Thingie

I was tagged by Pam, who I always enjoy trading homeschool thoughts with, so here we go:

One homeschooling book you have enjoyed:

Dumbing Us Down by Gatto. It gave me a new perspective on education. I wish everyone would read it. I don't think everyone would agree with it, but I wish they'd read it anyway. If you have a kindle (or use a kindle reading app) I'll loan you my copy. Seriously.

One resource you wouldn't be without:

I was going to say the internet, but that's too obvious, right? Our Old Testament Stories book. We actually picked it up at a thrift store, and I am so glad we have it. It has turned out to be the best thing for teaching scripture stories.

And the internet. And my printer/copier.

One resource you wish you'd never bought:

This is a tricky question, because even though there have been mistakes, I feel I've learned from them all, so I don't know that I "regret" them exactly. I did buy an $85 preschool curriculum once that didn't suit us at all. That was probably the biggest monetary mistake. Sometimes I wonder if we might have been better off without Gettman, tantalizing us with all those materials and an image of something we'd never achieve. That was probably the biggest psychological mistake.

One resource you enjoyed last year:

My husband. Besides the internet, he was my biggest go-to resource last year. I certainly couldn't homeschool without him!

One resource you will be using next year:

The Tiger Cub Handbook.

One resource you would like to buy:

A microscope. I think we can wait a little longer on that, though.

One resource you wish existed:

Story of the World: Volume 2 on Kindle. We're going to need this sooner than I thought. We're going to have to buy the paperback, because currently only volume 1 comes in kindle format. Although there are disadvantages to ebook format, I have loved having this on the kindle, and I would like consistency in format, not to mention less clutter.

One homeschool catalog you enjoy reading:

Does Amazon count? Or OTC.

Tag six other homeschool bloggers:

We Don't Need No Education

Home Educated Mom

Family Fun Notebook

Maybe Montessori


Cornelia's Kids

Montessori Tidbits

Thanks to everyone who reads this blog, btw. I enjoy hearing from all of you.

Also, if you've done one of these, would you please put a link in the comments? I am enjoying reading about what other people are using.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Scholastic Dollar Sale (10 FREE)

I just found out this morning that Scholastic is having another ebook dollar sale that ends tomorrow, and this time you can get ten of your books for free with a coupon code. Go here for more information.

Here are a couple I've downloaded in the past that we've gotten some good use out of:

Science Mini Books and Manipulatives

Word Building Activities


We've been needing something to mix things up a bit. Fortunately, I actually remembered Talk Like a Pirate Day ahead of time this year (with some help from the CurrClick Newsletter). We started reading Peter and Wendy this weekend, and we will be spending the day snacking on pirate booty and watching pirate movies (my favorites are Muppet Treasure Island and Hook). Maybe we'll even throw in some education with some sink/float (walking the plank) activities, learning the "ar" phonogram, a round of "Where's the Boat?"... maybe even a treasure hunt.

Will there be pirate talk at your house today?

*If pirating is not your thing, Hobbit Day is also this week (Thursday).

**Obscure tie-in: I am a big pirate fan, because I went to a high school with a pirate mascot. Why not drop by this post and tell us about your homeschool's mascot (or make something up).

Friday, September 16, 2011

Egypt fabric

A fellow Spoonflower artist designed this fabric last year for the desert contest. If you do a search for "Egypt" on Spoonflower, there is actually a whole bunch of fabrics now, including this very cool collection, but I think "Wee Egypt" is irresistible. I managed to get all of this out of a fat quarter (notebook, two drawstring bags, two bookmarks). You can see more pictures of these on my flickr page.

Beeper especially loves the notebook. It holds a small drawing pad and a set of colored pencils. It should be useful for church and road trips. Or maybe just a field notebook for sketching outside.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Story of the World: Chapter 3

Someone asked what I know about the activity books that go along with Story of the World. Answer: Nothing. Well, I do know they cost a lot.

For us, activities that go along with the story have suggested themselves naturally. One of the areas I am trying to work in where I can is art history, art styles and experimenting with different media. For Chapter 3 in Volume 1, this was especially easy, because the whole chapter is about writing. It talks about cuneiform and hieroglyphs and the differences between writing on stone, clay and paper.

The pictures in the book aren't that great, but we have a lot of books about Egypt and Ancient Civilizations in general, so we looked at those. We found really good pictures of both kinds of writing and studied them and talked about them.

We got out some play-doh, and I showed Beeper how a pointy stick pushed in clay made the triangle marks in cuneiform. I tried to explain how using a hammer and chisel on stone would also make similar marks. We tried drawing pictures like the Egyptians in the clay, but that was a lot trickier. The cuneiform is supposed to be picture writing too, but the pictures are more abstract, because they were designed to fit the medium.

I was going to save paper-making for the Chinese, because I thought making papyrus was different, but the book describes the papyrus-making process as pretty much the same: they made pulp, flattened it and let it dry. So I decided we'd go ahead and make paper now. We can always make more when we get to China.

You can easily find plenty of paper making tutorials online. We used this one. It is a simple and straight-forward video.

I used our local freecycle yahoo group to ask if anyone in the area had some window screening we could have. I explained we were going to make paper as a homeschool project and only needed a scrap. I received a reply from someone who makes paper as a hobby and had an extra set of frames she was willing to give us. Yay!

It was easier than I expected to make the paper. We made several sheets. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures, and we sent the best sheets to grandparents for Grandparents Day. We were going to write notes on the "papyrus" for the grandparents, but Beeper had too much trouble with that. We sent them blank sheets for their own use instead and included a card written by Mama explaining that we were learning about Egypt and had made paper.

We are going to start saving all of our paper scraps from cutting projects and whatnot in a box so that we can recycle them into new paper. I don't know that we're really saving anything because of the amount of water required to make the paper, but it is fun.

I also wanted to do an activity about what my art history teachers referred to as the Egyptian Canon - the rules the Egyptians followed when drawing (the reason the all looked so funny, and the way the relative size of the person shows how important he is). I printed a picture of the Palette of Narmer to look at and talk about. I thought we could do some sort of project on graph paper, but I should have put together something more concrete, because the activity flopped. Oh well. Next time. (Beeper loved the picture, though, and ended up adding it to his history pocket for Egypt.

I'd like to do more with hieroglyphs too. We'll probably find a way to work those in somewhere else this month.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


We had a Mama Sick Day last week. To entertain the boys so I could rest, I picked through our box of sensorial materials and pulled out anything I thought either of them might be interested in.

I decided to try teaching Little Fish about rough and smooth using the touch boards. That was something easy we could do while snuggling in my chair. He enjoyed the presentation and enjoyed feeling the boards.

Beeper came over, touched one square on the boards, made a face, and went off to find something else to do instead (he ended up spending a lot of time that day with the baric tablets).

I found it interesting that even now Beeper does not like touching the sandpaper, yet Little Fish had no problem with it and even enjoyed it. Beeper has never liked the touch boards, touch tablets, sandpaper letters or sandpaper numbers, even the 600 grit. (Actually, "runs screaming," may be a more accurate description than, "doesn't like.") That's why we now have alternatives to the touch tablets and sandpaper numbers, and I have thought about using this idea to make felt versions of the sandpaper letters.

I have been asked why Montessori didn't work for us, and I think this is one reason. Beeper is one of those over-sensitive kids (I think there's a medical term for this now, but it escapes me), and he hates all the touch activities, which are a big part of the early Montessori sequence.

I have learned that there really is no perfect system of learning that works for every single child. It really is important to be able to recognize when something is not working and be able to move on to something else, no matter how cool the system seems to you or how well it's working in someone else's home, or even with another one of your kids.

After all, that's one reason we homeschool, right? Because the system doesn't work for everyone.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Not to be pushy, but...

A few weeks ago I was in the mothers' room at church with three other moms. It's not usually that packed, but there are a lot of babies right now, and we have two wards (congregations) meeting at the same time. Somehow the conversation got on cloth diapering. The one mom I didn't know had cloth diapered a couple of her kids, but not this one, because she didn't feel like the effort this time around, not that it's hard, and it's okay if you don't, but it's great if you do...

That's cool.

The mom who was just there to change a diaper made a hasty exit somewhere in the middle of the discussion on bidets. (I sort of wish I had gone with her.)

The conversation moved on to organic smoothies (or were they juices?) and detoxing and the poisons we put in our bodies.

Okay, whatever works for you.

I think it was when she started talking about how her diet was the embodiment of the Word of Wisdom and started likening cheese to poison that I started having trouble not rolling my eyes.

Then she brought up vaccines. Oh boy. One of the other ladies is a nurse and I could tell she wanted to defend vaccines without causing too much contention (or maybe it was just that she couldn't get a word in edgewise). There were statements flung by the non-stop talker like, "You should do your research," and, "Did you know..." It looked like the nurse really wanted to say, "As a matter of fact, I did know, and that's why..."

This is when I excused myself, because I had to go teach a class. (Yeah, class didn't start for ten more minutes, but I hate to be late.)

I was upset. I felt like this woman had cornered us (in more than one way: she stood in front of the doorway as she was talking, and it's hard to leave the mothers' room if you're not done nursing) to force her opinions on us. Sharing differing opinions is one thing, but I didn't like the way she had done it - the attacks, the "you're hurting your child" refrain, the "this is practically gospel" attitude.

I was forced to reflect. How do I share the things I am most excited about (like homeschooling or scouting or breastfeeding)? Is there a way to share that excitement without making others feel trapped, inferior or defensive?

I want people to understand homeschooling better. I want then to know that it is not as hard as they think and they could probably do it, if they tried. I want them to know that there are many different ways to learn, and homeschooling is not only different than public school, every homeschool is different from every other homeschool. It is where you get to collaborate with God and design what is best for your family all the time.

I want to help them understand that in homeschooling you get to learn right beside your children. You will learn more about everything from dinosaurs to the Roman Empire. Your knowledge and understanding of the gospel will grow. You will even learn things like patience, getting along, how to see someone else's point of view, making up and starting over when you have a bad day. Right alongside your children.

How do I convey all that and still convey that I respect your parenting desision, even when it's different than mine? I just want you to know what's out there, instead of just accepting the default. Because if you do know all of that, and you prayerfully made the choice that was best for your family... that's cool.

I just don't want you to miss out on something great. That's all.

While I will probably never be able to say all that very well, I recently came across a blog by someone who is good at saying all of the things I have been thinking. This post does an especially good job of describing how I feel about homeschooling: The Hidden Lessons of Home Education.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Beeper meets Egypt

...and falls in love.

I have some Ancient Civilizations DVD's I had to buy a few years ago for a college course (I don't think I paid near that much for them. I don't know that they're worth that much, especially as a homeschool tool). I was watching the Mesopotamia and Egypt episodes to see if they'd be appropriate for our studies. Beeper came in during the Egypt one and after a minute was saying, "Wow.... Wow." Something about those giant monuments spoke to him, I guess.

You can bet we started right into our Egypt studies. We bought the Egypt toob a while ago and have been saving it, so I got that out, and we read the next chapter in Story of the World.

The toob made Beeper think of the Around the World toob, because it also has the pyramids of Giza. He wanted to compare the two, so we got out our Africa box, where I had put the other pyramids. It turns out the pyramid models from the two different toobs are actually a little different. We spent some time looking through our Africa box, especially at pictures of the pyramids and the sphinx.

After the Africa box, we took out our Africa puzzle and control map and did that together. We moved all of the pieces onto the control map, then back to the puzzle. I like the way the Montessori continent puzzles familiarize younger children with the shapes of the countries and how they fit together.

The chapter in SOTW talked about the Nile overflowing and how that affected farming in Egypt. We did a small version of this project. Ours didn't turn out as nice, but Beeper still got the idea.

The History Pockets activities for Egypt are all pretty cool ones, so we did all of those right away too. Little Fish even colored some for himself. (Both boys especially liked the little crocodile going up the Nile.)

Beeper is very excited about Egypt, so we are looking forward to more fun activities. Some silly stuff we also did that day included watching Garfield's Nine Lives and looking at Find Waldo Now (which it turns out covers almost all of the time periods/civilizations we'll be taking about this year).

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Note to self

I am writing this down, because it is something I want to make sure I remember:

Making cookies with Beeper, just the two of us. "Mama, I like making cookies with you. I like getting to talk to you."

Spend more one-on-one time with Beeper. Let him talk.

Friday, September 9, 2011

What we are reading

We are currently reading four chapter books simultaneously. Beeper is handling this much better than I expected. One of the books is, of course, Story of the World Vol. 1. We usually only do a chapter (give or take) a week and base many of our activities around it. Then we have three books going that are more fun, and Beeper just chooses whichever one he is in the mood for. They've been getting about equal time.

The Phantom Tollbooth is a book I remember my mom reading us at some point. As I recall, it has a lot of math and English in it and may qualify as a "living book." I wasn't sure whether it would be too old for Beeper, but he likes it. There is a lot of advanced vocabulary in there, but Beeper likes learning new words, and he loves the word play. (He was chuckling for days over the watch dog's reaction to killing time.)

Ramona: Age 8. Beeper is a big Ramona fan, and this is the one I remember my third grade teacher reading to the class.

Mummies in the Morning - We're moving into Egypt, and Beeper was happy to see there was a Magic Tree House book about it. He couldn't wait to start it. Hopefully we'll also get to the research guide this time.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

More Math

To help Beeper learn math facts I decided we need to start checking the "Little" number books from the library again. Beeper loves these books. I checked out My Ten Book last week, and he could wait to read it. Then he wanted to read it a second time.

After the second reading, I gave him ten counters (trains) and he spent several minutes adding and subtracting them. I didn't give him any kind of direction in this. Beeper seems to have a natural number sense. I just let him play with them to give him a feel for the number ten.

When we did the skip counting, we ended up talking about odds and evens. I gave him a hundred chart and instructed him to cross out one, circle two, cross out three, circle four, etc. After a minute, he said, "I see! It's a pattern!" Then, to drive the point home, I had him set out our number cards and 45 rocks in the pattern outlined here. Again, he picked up on the pattern and he had a really good visual representation of the difference between odd and even.

I am not sure whether this really counts as math, but Beeper asked me to teach him about the week. I put together a simple chart for him of the days of the week. I drew some pictures on each one to represent things we do every week on that day:

I added a post-it with the word "today" on it. Beeper enjoys moving it every morning and saying what yesterday was and what today is. It's a very simple activity, but he likes it. (He also likes TMBG's song about the days of the week.)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Adam Through Tower of Babel

Most of our Old Testament studies over the last month have involved either watching the stories here or reading them out of our Old Testament Stories book and talking about them.

We did do some activities to go with Noah. The color wheel and rainbow activities we did last month were meant to be part of a Noah unit. We also did this skip counting activity:

The pictures came from a couple of different downloads from here.

We played a game from The Siblings' Busy Book called, "Where's the boat?" One boy would turn around while we hid the boat. Then we would recite, "Ahoy, [name]! Your ship was lost at sea. Wherever could it be?" For Little Fish, of course, we had to hide it in a really obvious spot. He liked it best if we hid it in the same place over and over. For Beeper we played 'hot and cold.' For the baby, the book suggested having one child hide the boat behind his back. Then you hold the baby in front of each child and say, "Does _______ have it?" and let the baby enjoy looking at his siblings' faces. The child with the boat then gets to bring it out and say, "Peek-a-boo!"

We made up a game that could be used either with Noah or Adam (Adam names the animals). It uses the animal cards we purchased from the dollar spot at Target, and we call it the Wild Kratts Game. Beeper recently discovered and loves Wild Kratts, a show on PBS Kids, and that's where we got the idea. To play, one person picks an animal card and gives the other person one or two clues about the animal pictured. The other person asks questions to try and figure out what animal it is. It's basically twenty questions with only animals.

When we did the Tower of Babel, I got out our pink tower (Montessori tool). It's way too easy for Beeper, but he still likes doing it. The full tower is way too hard for Little Fish, but he can build the toddler version with every other block. He is always happy to knock it down.

We started our timeline this last week and tried to include scripture stories. I decided we'd try a fold-out book format. For the dispersion I used colors for the lines that correspond with the continent colors on our Montessori maps. Beeper and I took turns drawing pictures for it. Hopefully this will help us see how things fit together as we go through the year.

As I have been trying to increase my own knowledge and understanding of these scripture stories and their connection to history, I have discovered the Maxwell Institute's website. It is packed full of writings by big LDS archaeologists. I highly recommend this page and the next one by Hugh Nibley, which cover archaeological findings relevant to the Tower of Babel and the brother of Jared. It is full of really cool stuff. Now I am working through Abraham in Egypt, also by Nibley, in preparation for both our Egypt unit and learning about Abraham.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Toddler Tuesday

It has been sometime since I have done a Toddler Tuesday. Sometimes I try to give Little Fish his own Montessori-type, practical life activities, and sometimes I try to just include him in whatever I'm doing with Beeper. I've been trying to include occasional comments in my regular posts about juggling the three boys in case that may help someone (and some days it really is like juggling - back and forth, back and forth, back and forth).

There is certainly a difference being a second child. I happened to start this blog when Beeper was the age Little Fish is now. I was looking through those old posts last week, and I found myself thinking many times, "I was doing that with a two-year-old?" Beeper was (is) definitely gifted, but I think in my over-enthusiastic, hyper-focusing way I tried to push him too much. I guess it didn't do too much damage, as he is a pretty good learner now, and those three years of experimenting certainly did me some good.

Sorry for the meandering reflections. Back to Little Fish. He tends to love the few activities I do give him, and even though he is not doing a lot of what Beeper was doing at that age, he is doing things Beeper wasn't doing.

I made this lacing snake for Beeper when he was two, and he didn't want anything to do with it. Little Fish loves it. (idea came from Montessori Mama)

Here he is untying the bows on a dressing frame. He saw me getting a shoelace tying lesson together for Beeper, and he wanted to do it too, so I gave him this to do. He did it many times.

They have both loved dropping toothpicks into a cheese shaker. (idea originally from Chasing Cheerios)

He has shown a lot of interest in matching lately, so I'll be putting more of those kind of activities together for him. He also has an interest in pouring. Unfortunately, since he doesn't have Mommy's full attention, I am not usually right there to see when the activity starts disintegrating, so I can't properly swoop in and divert his attention before he ends up making a big mess. I also haven't been able to teach him good cleaning up habits.

Still, he may end up being more of a Montessori kid than Beeper was. Having less push from Mommy will probably help too. I guess there are both pros and cons to that.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The First Nomads Become Farmers

The next section in SOTW was another one that lent itself to many activities. The first was actually accidental. I was pulling some stuff out of storage to use for the week when Beeper saw his farm set. He grabbed it and set it up on the table for he and Little Fish to play with while I read the "The First Nomads Become Farmers" section to them.

Little Fish especially liked these rows we have of tiny vegetables that can be "planted" and harvested over and over.

We could not talk about farming without pulling a few carrots out of the garden for a snack. We had more and bigger carrots this year than ever before, which has been fun, but we also learned that bigger isn't always better. Our biggest carrot turned out very bitter.

During naptime, Beeper got out our Imaginary Island game. Together we made a very big island. Then we talked about where the best places to live on the island would be. Since our island had a lot of water, there were plenty of inhabitable spots. Beeper pulled this out again the next day, just for fun, and we ended up singing, "'Give,' Said The Little Stream," and a song Beeper made up called, "Go Little Stream."

We used a suggestion from our curriculum and made crescent rolls for dinner that night as a reminder of the "fertile crescent."

We spent one morning in the yard looking at different kids of dirt. Unfortunately, we don't have a big variety here, but Beeper got the idea. We talked about how the quality of the dirt affects what you can grow and that is another advantage to living near a river - better dirt.

Beeper didn't understand what canals were, so we dug a river in the sandbox with a couple of canals coming out. Then we filled it with water.

SOTW has a picture of an ancient farming tool called a shaduf. As I was talking to Beeper about it, I had the impression that he didn't quite understand how it worked, so at some point during the week I built one for him. Note: if you do this, I recommend round sticks (like dowels) rather than flat sticks (like popsicle sticks) so that it can pivot.

As long as we had the popsicle sticks out, though, the boys had fun playing with them.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Super easy and cheap fabric box 2

I recently ordered a swatchbook from Spoonflower. It's a little sample book of all their different fabric options. This would be a really, really easy way to make the second Montessori fabric box yourself. It would cost $2 to order two of the booklets. Then all you would have to do is remove the grommet or cut the fabric from each book using pinking shears.

The fabrics in the book are all white except the newest one - cotton silk - which is currently printed on. The variations in texture for many of them are subtle, which is why it would be better as a second fabric box. You'd want the child to have some experience feeling different fabrics before tackling these.

Friday, September 2, 2011

If you are a new homeschool blogger

If you have a blog that you started since October of last year that is about homeschooling, or at least talks about homeschooling on a regular basis, go link up at The Homeschool Post. They want to know who you are so they can welcome you. (I don't think there's there's a gift basket, but you will probably get some followers out of the deal).


I threw in one more primitive weapon into our nomad study - the sling. These are pretty simple to make and fun to learn to use. Plus, it will be a good thing for the boys to be familiar with for some of the scripture stories we'll been covering.

I made our sling using this video tutorial as a guideline. There is also a link on that page to a video about how to use a sling. Our ammunition? Marshmallows, of course! At least until Beeper gets good enough that we can trust him to fire the rocks in the right direction. We'll also throw a foxtail around for practice, because the mechanics are the same. (Note: for younger kids, use a foxtail softie; for older kids, this is a physics/math lesson in tangential momentum (the flight path will be perpendicular to the angle the sling is at when you release it))

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Paper Paris

This could be a fun addition to a continent box or continent study:

Paper City Paris