Saturday, October 29, 2011

o is for owl {free printable}

I usually spend Saturdays preparing meals for Sunday. But, since I got most of my cooking done yesterday,  I had time to do a craft with CJ instead. I printed out the parts for a cute little owl using free templates from the Lakeshore Learning website. When my oldest daughter saw what we were doing, she said, "He's up to o already?"

I explained to her that this not for his abc notebook, it was a different project. But then I thought, "Why not?" So our owl got glued to a notebook page. I used the scraps cut from the owl's body as a stencil to draw an o, making it about 1 cm. smaller around the outside edge. We glued the o on top of the owl and our notebook page was done!

 My "stencil." Can you see the cuts along
 the edges where CJ was practicing his
scissors skills?

The owl was a bit big for the page, but I think it is still cute.
If you want to do more with owls, the Lakeshore Learning site also had some cute printables for owl addition.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Jamestown {free printable}

Our homeschool co-op is studying Virginia history this year. Since the co-op mothers also wanted to give our children a chance to improve their writing and speaking skills, we set things up a little differently this year. Rather than having one of the mothers teach the class, we are having the older children (11 and up) take turns giving a presentation to both their class and the younger class.

This Friday it was my 11 year old son's turn and his topic was Jamestown. He is the youngest in the class, and I have not had him do a lot of formal writing yet, so he needed my help to prepare his speech. While I was gathering information for him on the internet, I came across some great websites.

The most informative was The Jamestown Settlement & Yorktown Victory Center Visitor's Site. My son and I enjoyed watching The Jamestown Chronicals, a series of short video biographies about some of the people related to the settlement of Jamestown. They also have some nice educational downloads. The National Parks Service site for Historic Jamestowne also looked interesting, although I didn't take the time to explore it.

We were also looking for some ideas to make his presentation more interesting. Since he was planning to show off the model of Jamestown that he had built using our Revolutionary War Time Traveler's CD, we thought it would be fun to have the older students make their own Jamestown forts using graham crackers. We ended up splitting the class into two groups and having each group build a fort.

But the idea of passing out cookies, pretzels, and frosting to twenty-one children between the ages of 5 and 10 was a bit frightening. So I came up with a craft for the little ones based on the diet of the Jamestown settlers during the winter of 1609-1610, also known as the "Starving Time."

The colony had suffered many setbacks, but finally began to prosper under the strict leadership of Captain John Smith. Most of the original colonists had come to America in search of wealth and refused to help grow food or build shelters. Smith insisted that if a man didn't work, he shouldn't eat. But after Smith was injured in a gunpowder accident and returned to England, the colonists lost all concern for growing food.  There wasn't much set aside for winter, and relations with the native tribes had gotten hostile that they were afraid to leave the fort to look for food. They were forced to eat whatever they could find including dogs, cats, horses, snakes, and old shoes. Some of them even dug up bodies to eat, and one man was discovered to have murdered his wife and was eating her!

Jamestown During The Starving Time craft
Also, if you are studying Virginia history and would like to create a lapbook, The Fairfax County Public Schools has a site called Engaging Students with Foldables where you can download minibooks which line up with the Virginia SOL's.

by RTT (11 years old)

In December of 1607, the Virginia Company of London sponsored a settlement in North America so they could make money. This colony was chartered by King James I, who hoped to increase English holdings in the New World and convert the natives to Christianity. It was settled by 104 men and boys, who sailed to Virginia on the Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery. The site for Jamestown was chosen because it was surrounded by water on three sides and easy to defend, the water there was deep enough to anchor their ships, and there were native nearby who they could trade with. By June 15, they had built a fort on the site. The fort was triangular with a bulwark at each corner.

It wasn't long until the colony began to have problems. The colony had been built on traditional Powhatan hunting grounds and relationships between the settlers and the natives were not always very good. Although the location of the settlement gave them protection from attacks, the swampy climate caused many diseases. Also, since many of the colonists were upper-class Englishmen who were only there to get richer, they refused to help with the work. By the winter of 1607, only 38 of the original 104 settlers were still alive.

As food shortages got worse, it looked like the colony was going to collapse. Then Captain John Smith came up with an idea to get food from the natives by trade. Chief Powhatan sent gifts, which allowed the colony to survive. For the next year, Smith ruled the colony with a strict hand. He insisted that his people work, or they would not eat. He burned villages and stole food if the natives refused to trade. He was feared and hated by both the English and the natives, but Jamestown flourished under his rule. However, in the fall of 1609, he was injured in a gunpowder accident and returned to England.

With John Smith gone, the settlers once again stopped working. Powhatan also saw his opportunity to get rid of the English once and for all, and ordered his warriors to stop trading with them. Trading parties that went out from the fort, never returned and were presumed dead. The settlers were afraid to leave to look for food, and the winter of 1609-1610 became known as the starving time. The colonists ate whatever they could find to stay alive, including rats and boot leather. They even dug up dead bodies to eat, and one man even killed his wife and ate part of her before he was caught. The colony almost ceased to exist.

Then, in the Spring of 1610, more settlers and supplies arrived from England. This new group of settlers came under a new charter issued by King James, which provided for stronger leadership under a governor and a period of military law with strict punishment for those who did not obey. Those who broke the laws were shot, burned at the stake, or hung. Offenses such as cursing were punished with physical torture or public humiliation. The settlers were still dependant on the Powhatans for food, and became more violent in their attempts to get it. The natives responded with equal violence and relations between the two cultures got worse.

During the winter of 1612-1613, Samuel Argall came up with a plan to kidnap Powhatan's favorite daughter, Pocahontas, and hold her for ransom. However, Powhatan refused to give in to the demands. So, Pocahontas remained with the English for more than a year and became used to their ways. She was baptized and fell in love with a planter named John Rolfe, who had introduced tobacco as a cash crop to the colony. She and John were married in 1618, which brought a truce between the English and the natives. Although Powhatan was not happy with the marriage or the truce, he was tired of fighting and felt powerless to stop it. But even with this truce, Jamestown still suffered from food shortages and disease. Colonists who wished to make money began growing tobacco, and not enough corn was planted.

Tobacco cultivation required large amounts of land and labor. Settlers moved onto lands occupied by Powhatan natives, and an increased number of indentured servants were sent to the colony. The first documented Africans arrived in 1619, and the number of African slaves increased significantly in the second half of the 17th century.

In 1622, Powhatan's successor, Opechancanough, attacked the white settlements in order to prevent them from taking more land for tobacco. 347 settlers were killed, including John Rolfe. The attacks came as a surprise because their had been peace for many years. Although the natives were driven back and completely defeated, King James revoked the colony's charter in 1624, as a result of the high death rates and the colony's poor financial state, and Virginia became a royal colony.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Black Book of Colors

When I saw this book on the shelf of my library I thought, "What in the world? Why would anyone read this." At first glance, it looked like a book full of black pages, with text on the left side and nothing on the right. And then I took a closer look.

 Above every line of text was a line of Braille. 

And on each "blank" page, was an "invisible"
textured print illustrating part of the text.
What a wonderful teaching tool!  The Black Book of Colors

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Keeping Toddlers Busy

It's been a while since we last had a toddler around. I'm not sure what I did to entertain the little ones in the past. I guess it was easier because the other children always had a playmate close to their age. Since there is a four and a half year differnce between our little Cracker Jack and the previous "baby", I've had to come up with some creative ways to keep him busy while his older siblings are busy learning.

One of his favorite activities is finger painting. He's never been one to put things in his mouth, but just to be safe I use ketchup and mustard. He likes this twice as much because he has fun smearing it and he gets a little treat.  His masterpieces aren't really suitable for keeping (in fact, they are usually nothing more than a smear of "paint" that soaked in before he could eat it), but he has fun and it keeps him out of trouble.

Another thing which will keep him entertained for at least a half hour is a container of water, a spoon, and a few of his plastic animals. After he is through splashing, I give him a towel and he wipes up all the drips. This is a good activity to do after finger painting because the water washes up the paint mess.

He also enjoys putting coins into his piggy bank. It is way for him to practice manual dexterity and, since I tell him the names of the coins as he drops them in the bank, he is learning something about money. I haven't used this during school hours, though I suppose a roll of pennies could keep him busy while I helped the younger children with lapbooks or something that we could do while we sat by him at a table.

We also try to include him in as many things as we can. He loves snuggling, so I can usually get him to sit quietly in my lap while we are reading. And when he won't sit still, one of the older children will sometimes take him into his bedroom to play while they sit on his bed and do their reading.

What do you do to keep your toddlers busy?

Color Sorting With Paint Sample Cards {free printable}

Here is another activity I put together to keep the toddler busy during school hours. I found this idea at Walking By the Way, the blog written by Ami of Homeschool Share. She even created a grid that you can download. But I don't have any colored ink in the printer right now and I wanted to use different colors than she did. So I made my own.

All you need is some paint color sample cards, a scissors, a color sorting chart (and colored pencils if you print in black and white), and a laminator. I used some Scotch brand self-laminating pouches that I purchased a while ago.

Unfortunately, this activity is a bit too advanced for CJ. But his older sister had fun with it!  Maybe I should have tried the simpler activity I found on the Chasing Cheerios blog.

color sorting chart

black and white color sorting chart

Monday, September 12, 2011

How To Make Colored Rice

I had two problems. First, we were given a five pound bucket of white rice- leftovers from y2k. I know rice keeps for a long time, but the idea of eating food that is more than ten years old doesn't really appeal to me, especially since we try to avoid white rice anyway. Second, I have a two year old who needs to be kept busy while we are doing lessons. What to do? Why not dye the rice and let my son play with it?

Children love the feel of rice. It is great for pouring and measuring practice. Or it can be glued to cardstock to create collage pictures. A cookie sheet covered in colored rice is a great place to practice writing the alphabet, or for driving toy cars.

I had seen several recipes for coloring rice that involved the use of rubbing alcohol, but I wanted something a little less toxic. Once again, Google proved to be a valuable friend and I was able to locate directions which were more toddler friendly.

What You Need:
2 cups white rice
2 T. white vinegar
10 drops food coloring
quart mason jar with lid
cookie sheet
aluminum foil

Measure the rice into the jar. (If you are feeling particularly patient, your toddler would love to help with this.) Add vinegar and food coloring. Screw lid onto jar and shake until rice is evenly colored. Line cookie sheet with foil. Pour rice onto foil and bake in a 200 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until rice is dry. Allow to cool. Store in a closed container.

Edited 9-19-11:
I just came across a blog post on It's A Preschool Party which shows how rice can be dyed using unsweetened drink mixes. Not only is the rice colored, but it is scented too! Check out her Smell Good Supplies.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Many Faces of Notebooking: Science

My two oldest boys will be doing Apologia's Chemistry this year and my 13 year old daughter will be doing Physical Science. Since both of the boys plan to go into science related fields, we place a lot of emphasis on this subject. I splurged a little and purchased each of them one of the slightly more expensive Avory binders with the clear cover that you can slide an insert into. Then I designed a cover page for them to decorate. Here is the binder belonging to my 15 year old "mad chemist":

The boys will be using the notebooking and lab pages from Knowledge Box Central's Chemistry Lapbook Journal and their sister will be using pages I printed from the Apologia Yahoo Group files section. I really like the KBC lab forms, but the other pages have waaaaay too many lines for answering the questions and take a lot more paper than the free pages I found in the Yahoo Group files. The grading form you see in the picture below is one that I created. 

Knowledge Box Central Notebook Journal

On Your Own Questions for Physical Science

I believe hands-on experience is the best way to learn, so experimentation and observation have always been a big part of our science education. Several years ago we even devoted an entire month to studying slime. We've been using Apologia textbooks for six years, and my children absolutely love them because of all the experiments that are included. I love how the elementary texts have notebooking worked right into them. However, I've decided to do something a little different with my younger group this year.

I had downloaded the free Elementary Life Science text some time ago from Scott McQuerry's website. I liked his fun approach and his emphasis on experiments, but we had already covered most of the Life Science material. However, when he introduced his Earth Science text, I figured it would be the perfect way to cover some topics that none of the Apologia elementary books address. I also had a copy of Ann Voskamp' A Child's Geography: Explore His Earth (which covers a lot of the same things) and being inclined to overkill, decided to add that in too. We will be notebooking through both of these texts and filing these pages in simple 3-prong folders.

The Many Faces of Notebooking: Math

Math notebooking is a little bit more difficult than notebooking a subject like science or history. I do tend to rely on textbooks and workbooks more often than not. But we do still sneak in some notebooking and living math on occasion.

This year my 6 older children will be using The Life of Fred textbooks for mathematics. We really enjoy the way the author uses a storyline in these books to bring math "into the real world."

Lessons will be completed in simple, inexpensive spiral notebooks. The August Notebooking Round-Up at The Notebooking Fairy mentioned some new Dinah Zike products which are kind of a mix between lapbooking and notebooking. I plan to have the children create something similar to include additional notes and formulas in their notebooks for future reference.

My 6 year old will be using a combination of the free math curriculum made available online by the Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching  and living math activities.  She will also be doing some math notebooking along with the 11, 10, and 8 year old. We completed my Geometry Notebook Pages in the Spring, and will be doing the Counting & Numbers pages this Fall.

Math notebook pages are stored in plastic 3-prong folders.

The Many Faces of Notebooking: Bible

Notebooking has always played a large part in our homeschooling. I love how something so simple can still be versatile enough to work with a variety of curiculums and subjects. Notebooking gives me the flexibility I need to accomodate the various learning styles and personalities of my  large brood, without spending a fortune on curriculum and workbooks. Notebooking allows my children to exercise their creativity, while maintaining enough uniformity that I don't go crazy trying to keep up with what everyone is supposed to be doing. Notebooking is never boring because there are so many options available. Here are a few of the different types of Bible notebooks that we will be using this school year.

The older children (15, 14, & 13) will using Foundations In Romans, an inductive Bible study that I purchased from Simply Charlotte Mason. They will also be beginning to hand scribe their own copy of the Bible. This idea comes from Deuteronomy 17:18 where the king was commanded to make his own copy of the law. When I was in highschool, one of my homeschool friends was working on this project. I had forgotten about it, until I saw a product called Journibles in one of my catalogs. After careful consideration ($$$), I decided to go ahead and let the children created their own altered notebooks for this project instead of purchasing the journals.

Altered notebook made from composition book, Dodge ad, and duct tape.

The Bible notebooks for the middle (11, 10) and younger children (almost 8, 6) are economy 3-ring binders with a decorated cover page taped on the front. The three oldest will be filling out Bible character biography sheets that I copies from A Garden Patch of Reproducible Homeschooling Forms as they read through the Old Testament. I printed some fancy borders on the backs of these pages so they could draw a picture from the life of each Bible character. The 6 year old will be using the Old Testament and New Testament Bible Scribe pages from Westvon Publishing. These have a verse at the top of the page, a place just below that to illustrate the verse, lines at the bottom to narrate the meaning of the verse, and a banner running through the middle of the page to copy the verse onto.

Bible notebooks- tabbed divider created from a colored file folder.

Example of Westvon Bible page and framed coloring page.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

New! Math Notebooking Pages

Includes fifteen pages dealing
with various aspects of geometry.

Includes twenty-one pages
dealing with various aspects
of numbers and counting

We have two new math notebooking sets for sale at Currclick, Geometry and Counting & Numbers. They can be purchased for $5.00 a set. Here are a few examples of the Geometry pages, completed by my seven-year-old daughter.

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