Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Entertaining Baby

We used this contraption on a recent car trip to entertain Baby. It continues to be a great toy, especially during school hours.

It's a Parmesan cheese shaker and milk jug tops. She also loves putting them in and pulling them out of the gallon bag.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Japanese culture for kids

Kids Web Japan, especially the Virtual Culture portion, is a site designed specifically to help kids learn about Japan! This page has the culture links pretty well covered; if you're looking for anything on culture, I'd wager you can find it. Activity Village also has a fun page on Japanese culture for kids, as well as some crafts. Here are more crafts from Enchanted Learning, and some from the Crafty Classroom. DLTK Kids also had some fun links, like counting to ten in Japanese and other interesting crafts (although the karate kid made out of a toilet-paper roll may not count as "preserved Japanese culture"). I like the coffee-filter fan and the Dessert Sushi here.

Comm. Central mom Jennifer Sathianathan is running with the Activity Book's idea of a Japanese meal, complete with rice with chopsticks, fish (sticks), and tea, followed by a round of sumo wrestling! How fun is that?!

(Note: I told Jenn I would need to tell all you moms about the pool-noodle-and-duct-tape light sabers she fabulously constructed, like these--but somehow, I cannot find a true link to history. So Yoda and a dotted line to Japan are about as close as I will get, just in time for pool noodle clearance sales.)

This week in Comm. Central: 08.29.11

Although Tokugawa Iemitsu (whom I'm sure you've all heard of time and time again) mysteriously has his own Facebook page (?!), I haven't found much for students with the exception of this 55-minute PBS program, The Will of the Shogun, part of a series on Japan: The Secret Empire. Sadly, I did not take the hour while the kids were in co-op to sit down with a good bowl of popcorn and watch this, so you are on your own.

At our house, we will be putting our Bible verse to the tune of "This Old Man" (or for you Barney lovers, "I Love You, You Love Me"):

for "'In him we live and move
and have our being,'
as even some of your own
poets have said
"'For we are indeed his o-o-o-offspring.'
Acts 17, verse 28!

If you're really desperate, you can put the History fact to the tune of "Itsy-bitsy Spider":
In 1633 the Japanese sho-o-gu-un,
Tokugawa Iemitsu, established a clo-osed door
policy isolating Japa-an from the rest of the world
to preven disruptive fo-reign influence
allowing them to retain
(repeat last line's tune) their unique culture.

I warned you. It's a stretch. :)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Lamplighter 25% Off Sale

Lamplighter is a publisher that gives new life to really old classics.  Rich literature.

Now until August 31 they're running a 25% off sale on select titles, which includes some Lamplighter Theatre (audio).

FYI: The same folks that did Focus of the Family's Adventure in Odyssey are doing the Lamplighter audio.  It is excellent.


Books We're Loving

The Many Rides Of Paul RevereThe Many Rides of Paul Revere is children's book that gives a broad sweep of Paul's life - from before birth to his death.  I read this aloud in short segments in the span of a couple weeks.  The are pictures on every other page (or so), and the language is (probably) easy enough for a third grader to read himself.  But, after reading the first chapter aloud, I wanted to read the rest!

Paul Revere & the World He Lived InAfter reading the children's book, my husband recommended Paul Revere and the World He Lived In, a very interesting biography. (and just $0.45 from Amazon)
Skippyjon Jones

Skippyjon Jones is a silly siamese cat who thinks he is (or wants to be a chihuahua).  There's alliteration, rhyme, Spanish interspersed, audience participation and a bit of mischief in each book.  The best part?  I found some at the library this week that had CDs included! (read by the author).  Very cute books indeed.  You will find yourself chuckling aloud.
Skippyjon Jones, Class ActionSkippyjon Jones and the Big BonesSkippyjon Jones, Lost in Spice

Boxes for KatjeBecause we focused on the Netherlands this week, I found Boxes for Katje at the library.  Katje is a Dutch girl who received boxes from an American girl after World War Two.  I will just warn you, grab a tissue when you sit down to read it.  At times, the generosity and gratitude was overwhelming to me.  I think we will read this book again - especially nearer to the consumer driven holiday of Christmas.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Memory work rebus

My son had fun making a rebus out of our existing stanzas of "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere." I pasted the lyrics into a Word document in this all-purpose school font, took out some good words to illustrate, and let him go to town drawing in the blanks. All in all, it was a hit--and it was successful on the memory front, too.

Hands-on math: Ice Cream Shoppe

 My kids have liked playing Ice Cream Shoppe for math lately--and it has a lot of variations for different skill levels. I cut out a variety of construction paper ice cream "scoops" and a handful of brown "cones." (If you need a pattern, this link may help.)

(Our Ice Cream Shoppe is casual: No shirts, no shoes, who cares?)
The kids get to make their own ice cream cones with whatever and how many flavors they like. We can practice
1) addition: how many of each color; how many scoops on two or three cones
2) counting money: one cent for each scoop, ten cents per scoop (for counting by tens), etc. Somehow using real money makes it feel more fun for us!
3) colors, for pre-K students
4) role playing
5) number writing: we keep a dry erase board nearby to write our addition problems, number of scoops, etc.
6) making patterns using scoop colors

For a little more variety, we switch places and I buy the ice cream from them!
My daughter, paying for her ice cream

Hands-on early readers' activity: Body outline

For this activity today, I
1) outlined the kids' bodies on freezer paper. (I use freezer paper because it's cheaper and wider than art paper, and lined so it doesn't seep through.)
2) Then they filled in the outline with paint. In theory it was supposed to look like them, but, well, you can see how that turned out.
3) Later on as a reading exercise, they read the names of body parts I'd printed on index cards, gluing them in the right place.

Monday, August 22, 2011

New Amsterdam colony, Henry Hudson for kids

For those kids who can't get enough of this week's topic, there's a whole 56-minute video on Dutch New York and Henry Hudson. Wowsers. Or, you could watch this two-and-a-half minute clip that covers Hudson's trip and a little beyond. National Geographic had this 1m39s segment on what Henry Hudson would have seen in 1609. There's also a 28-minute drama filmed in 1964 of Hudson's life: "realistically portrays the conflict Henry Hudson experienced when he went in search of an open water route to the Orient, and no one would follow him. What he discovered instead was an inland sea, a discovery that ended in tragedy." (No, I have not watched these.) This clip from Videopedia world is a good short overview.

I'm most excited about this site from the New York State Education department, which has a lot of classroom activities about Hudson, including journal notes, illustrations, and maps. Scholastic also has this page on Hudson. New York also had this pdf chock-full of 70 pages worth of information, "On the Half-Moon [Hudson's boat] with Henry Hudson."


We're going to do our report on the Netherlands this week.  Here are some of the resources we're using:

Children's books on Holland

Crafty Crow guest blogger on the Netherlands

Ice Skating Craft

Make a Dutch Costume (hat & clogs from paper)

Make a 3-D Paper Windmill

Handprint Tulips


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Charlotte Mason Info

There's an informal group of homeschooling moms that meets once a month at Books a Million in NLR to discuss the six-volume series by Charlotte Mason - about 60 pages at a time.  The next meeting is tomorrow, Monday, from 6-10pm.  You don't have to show up on time or stay the duration.  The group is very relaxed.

I'm going.  I've been a handful of times and always leave encouraged and definitely learn many things.  I've not read the assigned readings (somewhere in the range of pp205-265 in Formation of Character) but I'm still going.  :)  email me if you want to ride together: luvmyhub AT gmail DOT com

Another CM resource I found about (from a friend who goes to the once a month meeting) is this blog.  Warning: if you click on that link prepared to feel inadequate.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Weeks 1-3 Review Crossword Puzzle

Week 3 Review for you to download (two pages)

Mayflower On Our Street

Using some of Janel's great links for the Mayflower, on the math worksheet I found dimensions of the Mayflower - it was 90 feet long and 26 feet wide.  First we started in our driveway with a 25 foot measuring tape, sidewalk chalk and cones.
Our driveway was long enough just not wide enough.
Next stop: the street.  He's writing 26 - I was trying to get in a bit of handwriting, does chalk count?
Below he's outlining the bow of the ship.
And little sister?  She was happy playing in the mulch of one of my potted jalapenos.
After tracing an outline of the ship, we talked about how many people were on the boat (102 edit: 128, counting the crew) and where  or how those people would sleep.  I traced a "bed" for him. K'nex in the pants - optional.

We duplicated this approximately 10 times across the street, with hopes of making a 10x10 matrix.  Quickly we realized that the Pilgrims' beds were smaller that what we were drawing (or there's another sleeping configuration that we'll investigate later today).

And Sister moved from potted plant to pulling weeds.
Mayflower cross-section credit
from The Gun Deck, sometimes referred to by the Pilgrims as "betwixt the decks" or the "tween deck," is where the Pilgrims lived for most of the voyage.  They occasionally ventured to the upper deck, especially during calmer weather when they would be less likely to get in the way of the seamen and there was less danger of being swept overboard.  The gun deck had about four gun ports on either side of the ship for cannon.  Even though the Mayflower was a merchant ship, it needed to be able to defend itself from pirates, and needed to be prepared for the possibility of conscription (when England was at war, the King or Queen could turn merchant ships into military vessels.)  The height of the gun deck was around five and a half feet.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Walton Family Builds Art Museum in Bentonville

A world class 200,000 square foot American Art Museum is set to open in November in Bentonville.  It will showcase art from the colonial period until today.  Read more information here.  See pictures here.


Monday, August 15, 2011

A few memory work ideas

American Heritage...with a little flair

Rather than the same ol', same ol' memory work, we've taken Patrick Henry's words and begun to make them a dramatic reading. I acted them out first (no pictures will be posted...), and then my son took a shot, and was actually pretty good! I think it helps him to put himself in the colonists' shoes and think about the words, as well.

Add some actions

I ask my son to think up hand movements for some of our memory work, and he seems to like thinking up creative motions!

Flash cards/Rebus

For our literary work, consider making flash cards with pictures on them that you flip through as you recite: One for land, one for sea, a shore, and alarm, a village, a get the idea. Alternatively, have your student make a rebus--you know, one of those picture puzzles where you replace some words with pictures or symbols to tell the story.

The Mayflower for Kids

This week's topic is fairly easy to flesh out--the net is full of related topics. Here are a few links to get you started!

Here's a video from the History Channel with illustrations and music; if you let it continue to play, there are ten other related videos. There's another on the History Channel's site with lies debunked about the Mayflower that includes some ship footage. I have not previewed all of these. had a long list of lesson plans and activity ideas; also had some neat resources, including printables, as well as these for teachers. These links from the University of Missouri also included a number of interesting links, including a copy of the Mayflower Compact, a list of the passengers, an activity to show how crowded it was, mazes, crafts, etc. This site has an account by William Bradford about the voyage.Your kids may also enjoy looking around on This interview with children's author Kate Waters had some interesting facts to help kids picture life on the Mayflower, and helps your kids decide whether they would sign the Mayflower Compact. They also have a related math worksheet. You might also check out this site by the Smithsonian.

Children's Theatre

Saturday's mail brought us a brochure from the Arkansas Art Center, announcing the 2011-2012 season for the Children's Theatre.  My second-grader poured over the pages.  All of his enthusiasm lead me to email the give them a hint for a birthday gift (that's not plastic, requires expensive batteries, or makes obnoxious noises).

The titles for this season's performances are:

Miss Nelson Has a Field Day
A Year with Frog and Toad
Goldilocks and Little Red Riding Hood
If You Take a Mouse to School
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe


Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Elements

My sister-in-law just sent me a link to this book.  It looks fabulous.  There are 3 copies in the CALS.

The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the UniverseThe Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe

The Photographic Card Deck of The Elements: With Big Beautiful Photographs of All 118 Elements in the Periodic TableIf you're looking for more, there's also The Photographic Card Deck of the Elements.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hokusai: Living Book

A book we have enjoyed from the library has been The Hokusai Sketchbooks: Selections from the Manga by James Michener*.

Let me be the first to say I am a novice when it comes to art history or even art appreciation.  In all honesty, I could care less about Japanese art but this book captivated me from the first peek.  I've spent about an hour perusing the book because I find it so interesting.

The author, a westerner, explains the sketches and their significance in a couple of sentences.  I told someone today that I would consider it a living book.

Of interesting note, the author writes an essay in the beginning of the book,

My own reaction has certainly been subjective, especially since the airplane in which I was carrying the completed manuscript for this book from America to the publishers in Japan crashed into the Pacific Ocean.  Fortunately, all passengers and crew members were saved, but my manuscript and the make-up pages illustrating it were lost, and that was a grievous blow.

The first edition was printed in 1958... before computers.  Michener wrote the entire thing again.  From scratch.  He was intimately familiar with Hokusai.


*Of interesting note, the Wikipedia bio on Michener does not mention this book.  However, his third wife is mentioned and it is to her the book is dedicated.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Composers and Music lessons+
 I was looking for a way to introduce Baker to each composer without spending any money and found this site. It has lesson plans and biographies and related worksheets (color pages and such) and music theory materials and on and on it goes. Sign up for the newsletter. Lovin' it!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

SEEK: A Science Enrichment Program for Homeschoolers

Last year we participated in SEEK (Science Enrichment Education for Kids) at the 4-H Center.  There are 12-week classes (end of November through February) for 1st through 12th grades.  

Our experience was such a positive one that we've signed up again this year (going on Wednesday, anyone want to carpool?).


Soft Pretzels

Yesterday after Comm. Central we made these soft pretzels from Smitten Kitchen.  Super yummy and easy to make.

We also had a light dinner.  :)


Periodic Table for Kids

I like this periodic table of the elements in pictures! You might pair it with this photographic periodic table, or this photo gallery of the elements from NeoK12 also has a number of videos to introduce the table and the elements. This is a catchy video introducing some of the elements as well. David's Whizzy Periodic Table helps fill in some of the gaps in knowledge from what we're learning about atoms into the periodic table, simply because you can see a "nucleus view" and a "shell view" of each element.

For older students, here's an interactive periodic table, and an interesting interactive, in association with NASA, that models the periodic table.

For those of you who would like even more links--as in, 183 links on the Periodic Table, lesson plans, and activities (including but not limited to Periodic Table Bingo and Periodic Table Tetris), click here!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Young Peacemakers

I desire to teach my children to resolve conflict in a timely, calm manner. Before I was a mother I bought these activity books.  Read about them here.  See entire first lesson here.

There are 12 comic-book-like workbooks. The curriculum is designed for 3rd-7th grade.  I'm reading it to my 2nd grader and we will most certainly visit the booklets again another year.

Guy Fawkes Day

Take a peek to view information about Guy Fawkes day written for kids.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Thirty Years' War for kids

Unfortunately, there's very little for younger kids about the Thirty Years' War that's engaging, in my opinion! But three quick ideas as you prepare for next week's history topic:

1) Consider acting out the war with Legos. This home video is a little dry in my estimation, but it may give your kids an idea on how to do it themselves. Army men may also work!

2) If you have multiple children, have them stage a drama. You might put signs around their necks to designate sides or main characters; have a "Treaty of Westphalia" paper that both sides sign. (For older kids, have them make the signs and papers themselves as another way to remember who were the sides, what was the treaty, etc.) They can designate parts of a room--or different rooms--as different countries, etc. You can be as elaborate as you want. I'm sure my boys will be involving the Nerf swords.

3) I thought this digital poster explaining the Thirty Years' War was pretty cool!

Note: You can apparently create your own on Glogster. Here was the original blogpost on creating the poster by a homeschooler. Glogster "is the leading global education platform for the creative expression of knowledge and skills in the classroom and beyond.  We empower educators and students with the technology to create GLOGS - online multimedia posters - with text, photos, videos, graphics, sounds, drawings, data attachments and more." Kind of a fun way to put together information--may have to try this out!

Math Drills

Anyone else kicking themselves for not doing math over the summer?

After struggling to complete a few math problems in his workbook, I quickly wrote numbers on paper and cut them out.

Then we did whole body math drills.

I called out the problem and he jumped on the answer.

It was much more fun.

Timeline Song

For those new to Comm. Central this year, here's a video to help you sing the timeline song that begins with Jamestown.

Atom Video

Here is a link to a juvenile atom video from CALS (Central Arkansas Library System). And here's a link to watch on-line.

Good information along with some silliness to keep your youngster engaged.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ice and Salt Free Play

With record temperatures today (113*) playing with ice is a great way to stay cool.  I like this activity because it is:

1. cheap
2. easy
3. all materials on hand
4. easy clean up, can even be done outside.
First sprinkle salt on a big-o-block-o ice.  Then squirt colored water on top.

Watch the ice and salt do its magic.
Sister played in Mt. Laundry.
If I had a better camera, you could see the intricate details of this ice sculpture.
When we do this project again, we'll have a block of ice without salt and compare the melting rates.
But for today, it was very fun.  And easy.
The below picture is taken from the top; the salt melted a hole through to the bottom.

And what's not to love about undies as a necklace?!  :)


HT: The Artful Parent