Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Please Tell us about Your Country - French Edition

The original post to see what this project is about is here.

The French embassy was kind enough to send us:

  • Paris Map – This is a great little map because it places the famous French monuments on the map with a little image of the structure. It'a mini Beaux Arts map.

  • News from France – A monthly review of French news & trends

  • A brochure for Tivi 5 Monde – French TV. This was the Toads' favorite thing.

  • A French highway map.

  • A business card with the French embassy's social media addresses.

  • A booklet on the European Union – This would be great information for older kids, especially with the recent Nobel award.

Merci Beaucoup!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tea House with Australian Money

There was a time when my Toads loved to play grocery store.  I have checked out many a little boy with a basket of fruits & veggies.  I have tried to move it towards playing tea shop instead.  I need the fortification of a cup to get through the activity and everyone appreciates the biscuits.  Our menu yesterday included Turkish delight.  Grandma took pity on us after our Turkish delight failure which I posted about here.

Younger Toad just loves to play and older Toad is getting a little better about change.  He can count out his money to pay for things great, but when the coins don't add up even, he struggles with figuring out what he's due in change.  With tea shop, I write out a little bill, and he has to figure it all out like at a restaurant.  He does better figuring the sums when it's written down.

Of course the novelty of this is different money - it comes in colors, and there's animals, and one dollar coins instead of bills.  We had a talk about currency and the differences among countries.

You can find images of the reverse side of the Australian coins at the Royal Australian Mint website.  The front side is an image of the Queen.  Wikipedia has images of all the bills.  I formatted them up and glued them together after printing them on card stock.
  Australian Coins and Bills

Monday, October 29, 2012

Rousseau inspired Jungle Paintings

Up to 75% off art & craft supplies at MisterArt

I've gotten a bit behind in my recaps of our coop art classes.  This project was from two weeks ago.  We looked at the art of French artist Henri Rousseau.  The assignment was to paint your own interpretation of a jungle after looking at the Rousseau jungles.  We focused on:

Tiger in a Tropical Storm (Surprised!), image source Wikipedia

Exotic Landscape, Fight between Gorilla and Indian

We talked about the concepts of foreground, midground and background as well as the importance of a horizon line in landscapes.  There was a lot of variety to their interpretations with a night scene, tigers, and even a volcanic eruption.
  For more information and fun about Rousseau:

  • See all Rousseau's works online.

  • You can create your own Rousseau inspired jungle online if virtual painting is more your style.  Visit the National Gallery of Art's Kids page to play.

  • For a great kid's eye view of the painting Surprised, here's a fun video at NickJr.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Stone Soup

October is National Children's Magazine Month.  I think it's a great fake holiday because I remember how thrilled I was to get my magazines as a kid.  Cricket was always devoured the day it came and I kept them for years.  Older Toad is subscribed to Spider currently.  That's been so well loved I've subscribed him to a bunch of new stuff lately.

Another kids magazine that's still around from that time is Stone Soup.  The picture above is my artwork from when I was a kid and took classes at the organization who publishes the magazine.  I won't date myself by saying when it was included.  I just subscribed Older Toad to the magazine, thinking he's ready and next year he might be interested in submitting his own artwork.

Another new one for us is ChopChop.  I had been on the fence about this one but another homeschool mom at coop was raving about it so I thought it was time.  We haven't gotten our first issue yet.

We're ready for Ranger Rick.  We've been getting Big Backyard and I must have checked the wrong box on the renewal.  I need to contact them to change it.  It still gets read, but too quickly, and the games are too young for Older toad and too old for younger.

Zoobooks is another new one for us.   A friend gave us some back issues last year and they were enjoyed.  I'm thinking they will be great companions for our nature based lapbooks.
Save 81% with FREE SHIPPING + Get a FREE poster and FREE animal stickers with your Zoobooks magazine!

 National Geographic Kids was a failure here.  I didn't like all the ads and sponsored fake content.  The Toads didn't respond to the confusing layout and they weren't getting fully read.  We didn't renew.  I really like regular National Geographic so we'll wait til everyone is old enough for that.

Another failure, sort of, was Babybug.  They actually both loved it but I had an agenda that they could've cared less about.  I was hoping it was something Older Toad could read to younger Toad and they could enjoy it together.  Instead Older Toad read them to himself and I'd read them to younger Toad over and over as bedtime reading.  I like the magazine but I'd really rather read something along the lines of Goodnight Moon over and over.  So I thought we'd try again when younger Toad is an emergent reader.

Magazine Literacy is an organization who distributes  magazines to needy families to promote literacy and they're interested in your back issues.

The International Reading Association is one of the participants.  Here's their parents section.

What do you love to get in the mail?

*If you click on the Zoobooks link and subscribe I will get a small commission that goes towards homeschooling supplies (or in this case as you can see our magazine subscriptions bill).  All other links are provided FYI and there is no relationship.

Friday, October 26, 2012

M & M Math

I bribe my kids. Just to get that out in the open. I want them to love math in spite of the fact I'm rather math phobic. In homeschooling them I've come to realize I'm not inherently bad at math, I just got a very poor math education. So I keep my feelings under wraps and I compensate with chocolate.

Younger Toad asks to do math every day. He knows math comes with M& M's or mini marshmallows (which are his absolute favorite thing) so for him it's super great fun.

He's only 3, so it's really all about counting. I use a free math printable from Montessori Printshop (01-10 quantity, symbol and written word cards). I printed out two.  One is whole, and one I cut up for matching. He counts the red dots, puts a treat on the dots, counts the treats and then he gets to match the numbers and words (from the sheet that was cut). Some days we'll do a little addition and subtraction too before they get eaten. “If you have one marshmallow here, and you add these two marshmallows, how many marshmallows do you get to eat?” We've been doing that for awhile and he loves it. 

This week I wanted to try something a little different so I got out a ruler and taped the ends to the table (so it didn't slide around and destroy our piles). Then we counted the numbers on the ruler and placed the correct number of M&M's above the number. By building the M&M towers, it really reinforces each number is one bigger than the last. The Montessori sheets were becoming a little rote and he really had to focus on this activity so we will continue to do it for awhile.

Older Toad gets M&M's too. He gets one M&M for every math problem he gets right but I take 3 away for every one he gets wrong. This was in response to how he was handling his math. He was not checking his work.   If he didn't know an answer, he'd guess and wait for you to correct him. I'm trying to enforce him checking his own work. We're focusing on subtraction right now.  By encouraging him to check his own work we're drilling the inverse operation at the same time, but not requiring twice the work. It has slowed him down a bit and encouraged him to focus. One day he got no M&M's and that made quite an impression. After starting this, he still makes mistakes of course, but he feels the system is fair since he's getting more candy than he did before we started.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Matisse Inspired Collages

Last week in art we made collages based on the work of Henri Matisse.  The focus of the project, beyond learning about collages, was to talk about positive and negative space.  Positive and negative space relationships are hard for kids so we'll continue to practice as we do more drawing. 

The two Matisse works I emphasized were:

La Gerbe, image source:
The Creole Dancer, image source:

La Gerbe is an easy work to figure out where the positive and negative shapes are.  Everything colored is positive and everything white is negative.  The Creole Dancer is harder; just because it's a cut out doesn't make it positive space.  The figure is the positive and the background is the negative.

Each student got a 12" X 24" each piece of paper and were asked to fold it in half.  They were asked to keep the white background on one half of the paper like in La Gerbe above and in the other half, use one or more colors for a background like in The Creole Dancer.  Everyone had scissors and lots of colors of colored paper.  They were asked to cut out whatever shapes they wanted and glue those down to the background.  This project always leads to lots of variety and everyone enjoys it.

Here are some books we've enjoyed at home about Matisse:

For more information about Matisse's collages, check out the following websites:
Centre Pompidou
Matisse Museum

Monday, October 22, 2012

3 part Montessori Cards for the Nobel Peace Prize Winners 1908-1917

This is my second batch of 3 part Montessori cards for the Nobel Peace Prize winners.  Here is the post that covers the years 1901-1907 from last month.  Today, these cover the years 1908-1917.  The strange year separations are partly based on my desire to keep each batch to 10 cards and partly based on the years involved.  These cards span the years of WWI (when the Prize was not awarded for several years) so there's opportunities for interesting conversations regarding that.

These are formatted large to make it easier for me.  I think they're just the right size finished if you print them two pages per sheet.  As always, print two copies so you have a control.

The current Nobel Prize winner was announced last week.  Here is the announcement regarding the winner, the European Union, at the Nobel Prize website.  Here is the link to the kids/education division of the EU to learn more about the organization.

Nobel Peace Prize Winners 1908-1917

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Please Tell us About Your Country - Canada Edition

The original post to see what this project is about is here.

The Canadian Embassy was kind enough to send us:

  • 2011 Trade & Security Partnership Map.  This is an interesting edition to our project because it shows trade goods by province and state rather than a standard political map information. 

  • Student internet resource postcard

  • FAQ sheet

  • O Canada coloring sheet which has a recipe for Maple Sugar Pie

Of all the embassy's websites I visited in the course of this project, the Canadian one had the best and most materials online.  You can check out the website here.

Very kind, eh?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

World Food Day

World Food Day was this week.  It's an initiative of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.  You can go to the official website here.

We shared What the World Eats in celebration of the Day. My kids thankfully don't know what it is to go hungry.  Nor do they have a very good appreciation for the diversity of different foods that people all over the world eat.
  I think this is a great book to use as a starting point for those conversations as well as just a lot of fun.

I thought it also might be a good time to start a small service project for Older Toad.  I gave him the money to fund two loans through Kiva.
Kiva is a microfinance non-profit that connects lenders with borrowers in developing countries.  I gave him the caveat that he had to fund two loans that were to be used by someone in food production.  Since World Food Day is focused on reducing hunger, I wanted him to learn about the needs of agricultural small business owners.  Kiva will send updates via email which we can read and I hope he learns something about small businesses, food production in other countries, and community service (at least digitally).  I'm hoping he's interested enough we will roll over the funds into another project.

When the toads are older it'd be great to volunteer at the local food bank.  If you've done any community service focused on food with your kids, please share.

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A Pinch of Joy

Friday, October 19, 2012

Alligators Roar Really Loud

We had great time on our camping trip to Myakka River State Park.  This was the last photo of the trip, on top of the forest canopy tower.  It was really windy and my husband wisely wrapped the camera strap around the post.  The wind swept the camera off its post and the batteries went plummeting 74' to the ground.  That was it for the batteries.  

It was great getting to go in the middle of the week because the park as a whole was so much quieter.  We saw tons of wildlife.  It reminded me of Yellowstone where every car locks it up and clogs the road with gawking at the wildlife 10' off the road.  This park didn't have the congestion but definitely had a whole menagerie of animals trained to hang out right next to the road for tourists.

Deer and deer and more deer.  Some pigs and many beautiful birds. We saw potentially a hundred alligators.  The one in this photo we suspect we saw twice since the two areas we spotted him were so close together.  This photo is from the first time.  Just after taking this, an alligator in the distance started to roar.  This one took great exception and started roaring, hissing and thrashing in response with vocalizations worthy of Jurassic Park.  We were thankful we were 50 feet away.  The next time we saw it, or its twin, we were floating down the river in the canoe and spooked an alligator on the bank.  We were about 20 feet off the bank and potentially this same enormous alligator (biggest of the trip, well over 11') came running at us mouth open.  Of course it just wanted to get off the bank and into the water but it definitely got our hearts thumping and reminded us where nature intended us in the food chain.

We almost stepped on the yellow rat snake, pictured above, in the middle of the trail.  That's what made the trip so great.  Venturing into nature with a 3 year old and a 6 year old is not quiet and we still saw so much neat stuff and only got nervous a couple of times.

Before we left I worked up a night hike printable you can access here.  We found everything on our list except for bats, possums, and fireflies.

Monday, October 15, 2012

It's alright to be Bright

The British National Association for Gifted Children, is gearing up for their annual conference.   In conjunction with that event, they hold an annual campaign called It's alright to be Bright.   They released a science fiction themed activity guide for this year that has some fun looking projects.  It's available as a free PDF on their website here.  On the same page you can access the previous year's activity booklets as well.

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Night Hikes

We are headed out to go camping today.  We'll have a great time but I'll be on a bloggy break for a few days.

I wanted an activity that the Toads could do together so I worked up a little night hike checklist.  Some of the animals are pretty specific to Florida but you could take the idea and work up something for where you live.

On Our Night Hike

Insects are great thing to study while camping since you can find them everywhere including the campsite.  It's also something the Toads can explore together.   I've packed up a few activities to do on insects while we're there and the resources below.  I'll do  a more complete post about our insect mini unit when we get back.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Making Rope Inspired by Call it Courage

We've started reading Call it Courage by Armstrong Sperry as our literature study for Australia/Oceania.  For us it's probably the perfect story - there's fishing, hunting pigs, tropical plants, dogs, boating, boys, you get the idea.

Rather than use it as literature and break it down like in English class, I'm arranging our whole study around projects that recreate Mafatu's tasks in the book.  Projects that hit those themes above that are so loved around here.  For chapter 1, we made rope.  Chapter 1 talks about Mafatu making sharklines out of coir.  Toad did a handwriting worksheet with the definition of coir (fibers from coconut husks used for making rope) and then we went outside to make our own rope.

We had a teeny bit of background with rope.  Earlier this year at the state fair, the Toads got to try their hands at making twisted rope.

Mafatu didn't have access to a rope making machine and neither d0 we so we plaited our rope.  It was an opportunity to learn how to braid too by plaiting the fibers rather than twisting.  Our Bismarck palm puts out thread-like fibers so that was the first material we tried.  It's the curly parts below.

Braiding those gave us a small plait.  

Toad could tell that the braid was stronger than the individual fibers but that it wasn't the best material since it was brittle.  I showed him how to work in new threads when ones broke or he ran out of room.

Since the Bismarck fibers were only semi successful and we don't have any coconut palms in the yard we talked about what else we had that Mafatu might have had.  Toad wanted to try fibers from a Queen palm next.  He found those easier to braid.  Even though they were stiffer, they were larger, and easier to hold.  He discovered that while easier to braid it didn't make very good rope either since he ended up with a flat band rather than a round rope.  He was really appreciating the rope making machine at this point.

The Toads love fishing for sharks so they learned something about the benefits of the tackle shop for sure.  Trying to make their own rope they learned something about the materials they used, the problems in their technique and gained a bit of appreciation for the challenges involved in having to make all your own supplies.   The project was super successful and we're looking forward to the rest of the chapters and the upcoming projects for those.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Our Latest Audiobook Comes Without Turkish Delight

I signed up for an Audible account in August. 

This was breaking down for me a bit as it felt like it was an out of budget item and I felt like the library really should fulfill our audiobook needs.  I'm a frequent flyer at the library but it wasn't meeting our needs on this one subject.  

At least half of the audiobooks we were getting were damaged and wouldn't play in some way.  That was annoying for all of us to only get half the story.  Also, some of the titles had multiple editions available.  It was really hard to get information about the individual edition such as the performer who did it or overall quality of the performance.  We  got several books that had actors with voices that to me were like nails on a chalkboard.  The boys were fine with it and enjoyed them, but I'm riding in the car too and I figured out I'm pickier than they are.  Which leads in to the last point that I learned.  I need the better 'quality' audiobooks.  Meaning ones that are performed by acknowledged actors and have reviews to see if other people liked that particular edition.

The one that did me in was a lousy Wizard of Oz.  After that I was desperate for one I would like as well as the kids so I got Jim Dale's version of James Herriot's Treasury for Children.  As a kid I loved watching All Creatures Great and Small and it still reminds me of all my years around horses.  It seemed like something I'd enjoy sharing with the kids but the library didn't even have it.  So I signed up for Audible as a trial and got that for my free purchase.  It's a great audiobook.  Jim Dale's the actor.  He did the Harry Potter series and we'd previously enjoyed his version of Around the World in 80 days.  I like to support the audiobooks we listen to with an out of car activity so for this one I shared the beloved (to me)  TV series from the library with them.

We've since downloaded two more offerings.  Journey to the Center of the Earth and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (we just started this).  Both were well done.  I did a post here about our Journey to the Center of the Earth activity that includes a free vocabulary printable.

So far Audible has worked out great.  One downside, which I wish had been disclosed on the website before I signed up, was the need to have Itunes in addition to the Audible software.  Itunes is the only way to burn the books to CD to listen to in our car.  The Audible software will sync with a player fine but that's not how we use the books.  Itunes is free but you have to transfer the files through the programs and it's extra time.

Another downside is even they don't have everything either.  They didn't have Seven Little Australians.  Our library doesn't have it either but it's a fairly well known book in the greater Commonwealth so I was a little surprised it wasn't available online.  I ended up buying an edition used.  They have different versions of Audible for different countries (like Amazon since it's an Amazon owned company).  If you're an international reader of this blog and going to want books closer to home go with your local Audible service.

In honor of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe we made Turkish Delight.   I first looked in the cookbook below, Once Upon a Time in the Kitchen, which is our go to cookbook for literature based cooking but was really surprised to see they didn't have it.  

I've made Turkish Delight once from a Martha Stewart recipe and it was a failure so I didn't choose that one.  Joy of Cooking of course had it, but we FAILED (cue whiny reading voice)!   So now I'm 0 for 2 on Turkish Delight.  Too runny both times.  If anyone has any suggestions of fail safe recipes please comment on them because I'd really like to finally get this right.

Toads unsuccessfully tackle Turkish Delight


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Sun Scholars

* I did not receive any compensation for writing this review.  All opinions expressed are my own.  If you use the Audible link on the left sidebar of my blog to do business with Audible, I will receive a small commission.  Any monies generated by this blog go into more homeschool supplies.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Making Gothic Stained Glass Windows

 I didn't get enough students at coop to hold  my Appreciation of Architecture class but making Gothic stained glass windows was one of the fun projects I had planned.

The stained glass windows are partly what makes Gothic cathedrals so breathtaking.

St. Denis Cathedral, France

I was on Pinterest getting lost in all the cool stuff and found these two posts about rainbows from the dilly-dali art blog.  This one is Rainbows Two Ways and this one is the directions for how to make the gelatin (the color in the above sample).  I thought this technique could be applied to making simulated stained glass.

You'll need to use the above links to make your 'glass'.  It takes several days to dry so this project does take some advance planning.  You'll also need clear contact paper and a black sharpie.

Cut out a piece of clear contact paper larger than your finished window plan.  I started with a 7" X 11" sheet.  Then on the back, meaning the non-sticky side of the clear paper, draw in your tracery.  Tracery is the stone/masonry framing that surrounds the glass.  In most Gothic windows, there's wider and thinner sections.  You can see in mine above, I put some in, didn't like it and changed it's position.  I intended to do another to show a nice finished sample for class but oh well.  I like this one in my window right by the kitchen table since it reminds me of my travels.

Once your tracery is drawn on, carefully peel back the paper backing and put your paper sticky side up on the table.  You'll see all your lines right through the paper.  Now you're ready to apply your 'glass'.  I was trying to use all the colors so I went with a rainbow theme (also see below, rainbows is what I was encouraging the boys to do).  If you're trying to be more accurate, look at some examples first.  You might be inspired by the blue windows of Chartres or the red of St. Chappelle (which I intended to mimic for my class sample).

When I was done, I stuck mine to the window.  You could also mount yours to black paperboard cut in a shape you like.  Mounting them on black paperboard gives a very Xmas ornament look so with the holidays coming, keep that in mind and you could take this project a lot of different directions.  It can't live on the window forever so I intended to take it down and frame it for this year's Christmas tree.

My stained glass window took about two hours while I was helping the Toads with their windows.  I did a post here about how the boys interpreted this project.  I presented it as window rainbows.  We did this project during the summer when 'school' was not in session so I wasn't trying to attach it to any historical theme.

If you use these directions to make stained glass, please share your work in the comments section for all to see.  Have fun!

For more Gothic inspired fun, you can find my Gothic architecture game on Currclick here:

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Please Tell us About Your Country - India Edition

You can read the original post regarding what this project was about here.

The Indian Embassy was kind enough to send:

A Time to Rejoice - A really nicely designed booklet covering India's fairs and festivals.  The pages are shaped like carousel animals and the last page is a handy month by month reference.  I'm looking forward to Yoga week in February.

India Perspective - Our parcel included Jan. 2012 and Nov 2011.  This is a glossy magazine produced by India's Ministry of External Affairs.

India Review - We received issues Feb - May 2012.  This is monthly magazine focused on geopolitical issues.  It would be great for high school students.

Incredible !ndia - This is a booklet series focused on specific areas of Indian tourism.  We received larger booklets on Adventure Sports,  Nature & Wildlife and Arts & Crafts.  The Toads of course loved Nature & Wildlife with the tiger on the cover and I liked Arts & Crafts.

Incredible !ndia - We also received in the same series a set of maps of New Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai and a little booklet about Tirupati.

A cd with a publicity documentary about India.

And last but not least we received a little booklet about Varanasi.

आपको धन्यवाद देता हूं। 

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