Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden is the next book we were set to tackle this school year. I wanted to try to incorporate our younger kid activites into the curriculum this week instead of dividing it up. We wind up overlapping so much, it just made sense. In order to make our learning a tiny bit more flexible, with each unit study I have gotten both the hardcopy of the book, and if its available I have gotten the book on CD for the busy days when we are in the car. This has been a lifesaver!

Book summary:

Mary, a bitter young orphan girl from India, is brought to England to live with her uncle on the Yorkshire Moors. Upon encountering numerous problems in adjusting to the rigid, lonely, and unfamiliar life of her uncle's mansion, she gradually befriends Dicken and her cousin Colin. Together, they venture to restore the Secret Garden, into which entry had been forbidden by Mary's uncle. The story culminates when the garden flourishes once again; and Mary's cousin is able to walk again, thanks to her, after spending years confined to a bed, believing he was forever destined to be a hunchback. The Secret Garden conveys a message of hope--a message based on the powerful role of friendship in bringing about a change for the better

Extended Activities:
  • Find India on the globe, then also find England on the globe. Trace the route Mary might have taken, discuss the differences in travel then and now.
  • Use Google earth to view photos of India, or find photos of India online.
  • for preschoolers, do a flower/gardening unit
  • Grow a lima bean seed. Discuss the parts of the plant, and what plants need to grow.
  • Dickon planted potatoes in his garden. What do potatoes need to grow? Purchase small trashcan, punch holes in the bottom of it. Then fill it with potting soil. Cut up several potatoes and bury them in the potting soil inside of the trashcan. Watch potatoes grow. Better directions here.
  • Watch video on what the moors of England look like here
  • Compare and contrast England to India.
  • Watch movie versions of the book, compare the movie to the book. Which version did you like the best?
  • What would Mary, and her mother have worn? Look at fashions of the 1900's here
  • Get some paper dolls from the period
  • Draw a picture of what your secret garden would look like.
  • colin says there is magic in the world, but people dont know what it is, or where it comes from. He says that maybe its saying nice things to people that makes magic happen. Learn a couple of simple magic tricks.
  • Take the time to say nice things to each other.
  • place all the major events in the book on slips of paper. Have the child put them in order.

Art projects:
  • Make a construction paper flower collage
  • use clay to make a flower stamp, make a flower picture with clay stamp
  • use pastels to make a large (o'keefe like) flower
  • make tissue paper flowers
  • make a watercolor garden
  • do flower face painting

  • How does Mary change physically and/or mentally during the novel?
  • Where is Mary first taken after her parent's death?
  • What nickname does the clergyman's son give to Mary?
  • How might Mary's life be different if her parents hadn't died of cholera?
  • Mary eventually moves to her uncle's home. Is moving hard to do?
  • Both Mary and Colin are described as very unpleasant children. Why do you think they are so very unpleasant? Who is responsible?
  • At what oint in the story does Mary begin to be less contrary and selfish and more normal, caring?
  • Why does Mary respond differently to Martha?
  • Does mary do the right thing to Colin the night he has hysterics?
  • What is meant in this story by the quote "When you tend a rose, my lad, a thistle cannot grow."?
  • what is the magic that makes colin walk? (positive belief) What magic would you want for yourself? what would you choose for your family members/friends? Do you believe this magic exists or not?

Younger child activities:

Nursery Rhyme:

Mistress mary, quite contrary
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockel shells,
and marigolds all in a row.


Planting a Rainbow, Lois Ehlert
The Reason for a flower, Ruth Heller
The Tiny Seed, Eric Carle
Trees, Harry Behm and James Endicott
The Mouse and the Potato, Thomas Berger
Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Jeanne Titheringron
Over in the Meadow, Ezra Jack Keats

  • Explain the process of a seed growing into a plant. If you have them, show pictures of seeds and plants. Be sure to explain that plants need water, clean air, and sunlight to grow. Then sing the following song and have the children act out the plants growing process as you sing. (the child will start curled up as a "seed")
The flower seed song (to the tune of Ten Little Indians)
One little, two little, three little flower seeds
Four little, five little, six little flower seeds
Seven little, eight little, nine little flower seeds
planted in my garden
Water those seeds and watch them grow (sing three times)
in my flower garden
The warm sun helps the flowers grow taller (sing three times)
in my flower garden
Watch those flowers sway in the breeze (sing three times)
in my flower garden
  • Give the kids art supplies and ask them to create their idea of a garden
  • Explain the purpose of earthworms in the garden. Purchase some earthworms from the bait shop. Let the children handle the earthworms, if you are brave enough make an aquarium home for the worms and allow the kids to care for them. (Worms eat corn meal, green leafies, grass cuttings, potato peelings, bread crumbs and coffee grounds (2 TBL every other week). When you are done, let them wriggle back into the ground.
  • How Bees pollinate flowers: paint flowers on a piece of paper that have 2 inch circles in the center and let them dry. Once they are dry, sprinkle either cornstarch or flour into the centers. Fashion "bees" our of pipe cleaners and show how the pollen will stick to the "bee" when it visits the flower.
  • Listen to Laurie Berkner's Bumble bee song Here.
  • The magic of the garden, was the special feelings that Mary and Colin experienced about each other and themselves. Hide a mirror in a box and cover the box. Have the children guess which special person could be in the box. Then pass the box and let them look into the box at the mirror.
  • make a paper plate self portrait using buttons for eyes, yarn for hair, and a Popsicle stick to hold it up. Have circle time and chat about the things that make each of us special.
  • Each child traces their handprints on a different colored construction paper. Each family member lists on each handprint something special about each child.

Vocabulary Words

Ayah - an Indian term for nanny
clotted cream
Cholera - a disease of the intestines that is often fatal
flatly - dull, without expression
frail - weak, sickly
moor - English prairie lands, rolling hillsides that grow wild plants
musty - smelling old and damp
nanny - someone paid to care for a child
sour expression - an upset look
stern - very strong and firm. Usually not kind.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Rosh Hashanah Unit Study

In our house, we celebrate all of the Jewish and the Christian holidays. I wanted to make sure as the kids got older that they understood the meaning behind all the holidays. So for this year we are going to do a short unit as a family in the evenings as each holiday comes during the year. This week we will celebrate Rosh Hashanah.

What is Rosh Hashanah?

"In the seventh month, in the first day of the month shall be a solemn rest unto you, a memorial proclaimed with the blast of horns, a holy convocation...."

Rosh hashanah is the Jewish New Year also called The Feast of Trumpets because it is a holiday where we blow the shofar, or ram's horn. It is a time for thinking about the past year, and gathering our hopes for the new year. Rosh Hashanah is observed in the Fall season of the western calendar, usually in September.

Leviticus 23 calls the blowing of trumpets a memorial but does not say what it is a memorial of. A memorial of the creation of the world, at which the sons of God shouted for joy (Job 38:7). This holiday was the new year’s day, on which the people rejoiced in a grateful remembrance of God’s benefits and implored His blessing for the future year.

Before Rosh Hashanah we reflect on the previous year, contemplate any mistakes we might have made, and putting things in order by seeking forgiveness from others, and from God. We pray prayers for forgiveness and search out hearts for areas where we might need to recieve or give forgiveness.
We try to maintain a reflective, forgiving mood. The eve before everyone has a bath to make their bodies new, maybe a new haircut and new clothes. Treats are given to children.

The eve of Rosh Hashanah a meal is prepared. Usually it includes fruits and honey both to celebrate creation and to hope for a sweet new year.

Traditional foods sweetened with honey, apples are served, pomegranates, cabbage, gourds, dates symbolizing sweetness, blessings, abundance and the hope for a sweet year ahead. So, so why an apple? Actually we eat apple dipped in honey. At the festive meal we take a piece of apple and dip it into honey as a token of the wish for a sweet year, adding the blessing: "May it be your will, Lord our God and God of our fathers, to renew us a good and sweet year." It works.

Teshuva (repentance)

Repentance is a singulary human ability to realize you have done wrong, say you are sorry, and try not to do it again. You are getting a "Do-over". It is important to both confess your sins to God, but also to repair any wrongs you have done to fellow humans. Such is the power of teshuvah that it restores people to closeness with God or with the other person. Repentance does more than undo the past evil. It brings healing and a new closeness and sympathy.

What is forgiveness?

Forgiveness is a rather complicated notion. In my opinion forgiveness means giving up the grudge. If you have a good basic relationship, and its either one little thing, or several that have caused a rift, then I think forgiveness will also repair the relationship. However, I don't think you have to want to hang out with someone in order to forgive them. Forgiveness is a choice you make in your own heart not to hold a grudge against that person, to just let it go.

Tashlich - Drowning Our Sins

On the first day of Rosh Hashanah, after the afternoon services, Jews visit a body of water or pond, containing live fish*, to symbolically "cast away" their sins into the river. Crumbs of bread are tossed into water, after the Torah verse: "And you will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea."

Genesis 21:1-4, 5-12, 13-21, 22-27, 28-34

Coloring pages


Charity box, rosh hashanah apple cards, shofar
honey card craft
apple candelstick craft
3 D Dove
apple of hope

Saturday, September 12, 2009

catch up week: narnia craft wrap up

We forged ahead in our school work, but we left a few narnia crafts behind. So we used our catch up week to finish them and as an excuse to drink hot chocolate.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Unit

Cloudy with a chance of meatballs unit study

Because we planned to see the movie, and I love the book to begin with, we decided to do a unit study on the book. The kids are super excited about the idea. There have been some new books that have been published in anticipation of the movie. If you have older kids, there is a novelization of the movie also. We decided to focus on the weather and nutrition for our part of the unit study.

**Unlike other units I have written, this is not my original work, I have merely compiled other resources into one place for our unit.



Oats, and Beans, and Barley Grow

Oh my what will the weather be?
Oh My, What will the weather be?
Oh my, what will the weather be?
Oh my, what will the weather be?
It will be (rainy, cloudy, sunny, snowy, windy) today.

Whats the weather like today?
Whats the weather like today? like today? like today?
Whats the weather like today? on this (day of the week) morning?
The weather is (sunny, rainy, cloudy, snowy, windy) today X2
on this (day of the week) morning.

Mr Sun
Oh Mr. sun, sun, Mr. Golden sun
Please come shine on me
Oh Mr. Sun, sun, Mr. Golden sun
Hiding behind a tree
These little children are asking you
To please come out so they can play with you
Oh Mr. Sun, sun, Mr. Golden Sun
Please come shine on me.

What's The Weather?
sung to the tune of "Clementine"
What's the weather?
What's the weather?
What's the weather like today?
Tell us (child's name),
What's the weather?
What's the weather like today?
Is it sunny? (hold arms above head in a circle]
Is it cloudy? [cover eyes with hands]
Is it rainy out today?[flutter fingers downward]
Is it snowy?[wrap arms around body and shiver]
Is it windy? ["blow children over" with a swoop of your arms]
What's the weather like today?

  • Take the kids for a walk to look at the clouds in the sky on multiple days and talk about the different shapes of the clouds.
  • Watch a weather report with the kids, then have the kids give their own weather report using cut out pictures of weather.
  • Let the kids do a fashion show for various kinds of weather
  • Make a storm. Begin by rubbing your hands together making a soft sound, Tell the children to imagine that it is beginning to rain softly. continue to develope the storm by snapping fingers. Follow this by patting your legs, then reverse the action to have the storm subside. (You can add in thunder with a drum, or a cookie sheet). Then have the kids create a storm also.
  • write the names of different clouds onto a divided sheet of paper, then have children create the cloud types with cotton balls, glue, and marker.
  • Graph the weather for the week.
  • create Mr. Weatherbear from cardboard, cover him with felt. Cut out various weather outfits from felt. Each morning when we do the weather graph, have the children dress Mr. Weatherbear for the day's weather.
  • Practice writing in the "snow" (using shaving cream).
  • Turn on the sprinkler and go rainbow hunting.
  • There are many people that work together to make the community function smoothly, called community helpers, such as the mayor, doctors, police and firefighters, as well as the storeowners, transportation workers, and sanitation workers. Make a list of community helpers referred to in the book. Have your child brainstorm other community helpers to add to the list.
  • Have your child make a pretend map using the description at the beginning of the book, including oceans, deserts and mountains. Make sure he adds a compass rose (North, South, East, West) and labels the town of Chewandswallow. Make a story disk (maybe with a meatball on it) and place it on your map. You could also let your child make a small map of Chewandswallow for your lapbook.
  • visit a land fill and a recycling plant. Think about ways you can stop throwing so much stuff away that will be hauled to landfills (recycle more, take things to Good Will, start using cloth bags at the grocery instead of plastic, make a compost pile as mentioned in the story- “the rest of the food was put back into the earth…”).
  • Measure 15 inches (like the drifts of cream cheese and jelly sandwiches). What in your house is 15 inches high/long? Compare to things bigger or smaller.
  • make giant meatballs or pancakes together!
  • Messy, but fun- Dry out some pieces of bread and let them build a boat or house with peanut butter.
  • Go and see "Cloudy with a chance of meatballs" at the theater.

Science Experiments
  • "When it rains where does it go?" Have kids use eyedroppers and various materials (cotton, synthetic, paper, papertowels, cardboard). Drop water onto the materials to see which are absorbant. Then ask question like which surfaces outdoors will, or won't absorb the rain? What type of clothing do you want to wear in the rain? What causes flooding? Talk about saturation point.
  • Pop Popcorn, show kids a cup of popcorn kernels. How much popcorn do you think this will make?
  • The water cycle involves evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and collection of water.
  • Make it rain using this condensation technique
  • Read here about thunderstorms and lightening.
  • conduction activity here
  • convection activity here.
  • convection current activity here
  • make a tornado here
  • Make a storm with a tornado tube and some old bottles.
  • Learn about evaporation by placing a dish of water in the shade and another in a sunny spot. Put a thermometer alongside the dish to introduce temperature. Observe the dishes and thermometers periodically during the day.

  • Make a cloud mobile (p 463 circle time)
  • make rainbow mobile (p.476 activity)
  • make a windsock
  • Make a symmetrical cloud painting by placing drops of white paint on a blue paper, then folding the paper in half, pressing down. Open he paper, add glitter to the paint areas, and there's a white puffy cloud.
    Observe the clouds and draw what you see.
  • Make a diorama of a favorite part of the book (you can use play food to be the “giant food”).
  • make a spaghetti and meatball hat craft here
  • make this picture except have food falling.
  • corn weaving with yellow, brown, and orange construction paper. (p. 169 circle)
  • make an ear of corn from a paper plate.
  • make banannas from hand tracings. Paint the fingers yellow and the little bit of wrist brown.
  • make grapes with purple paint and fingers.
  • make paper plate pizza. take paper plate, paint red paint for sauce. Cut toppings out of construction paper.

  • Play the weather game (p. 473 activities)
  • make "puddles" (about 8-10) out of blue construction paper and laminate them. Have the kids practice gross motor skills jumping from puddle to puddle.
  • play games on movie site

  • In this book the sanitation department has to work really hard to keep up with the leftovers. How do you get rid of your garbage? Does your student know where it goes? How is recyclying different?
  • Where does our food come from? We know it doesn’t rain down from the sky, but does your student understand that food doesn’t really “come from” the grocery store? Talk about Froberg Farms.
  • List the problems that happened, such as flooding, tornados, etc. Ask, how can we stay safe during this weather?
  • how it would affect the economy, employment, etc. in our town or area if food suddenly started falling from the sky. **Think about stores, employees, truckers, shipping industry, warehouses, factories, packaging plants, and an almost endless list of areas it would affect.
    ** How would it affect your family economically? This will vary depending on your employment and buying habits or how much you grow yourself, etc
  • how it would affect the economy, employment, etc. in our town or area if food suddenly started falling from the sky. **Think about stores, employees, truckers, shipping industry, warehouses, factories, packaging plants, and an almost endless list of areas it would affect. ** How would it affect your family economically? This will vary depending on your employment and buying habits or how much you grow yourself, etc
  • Discuss your family food budget. Compare prices from several stores and graph the information. Talk about using coupons, buying in bulk, etc.
  • Discuss cooking from scratch versus packaged or restaurant meals. Compare price of prepared food to fresh. For example price raw potatoes, frozen potato products, boxed or canned potato products, potato chips, French Fries at a restaurant, etc. Compare cost per ounce.

Language Arts
  • Write about what food you would like for it to "rain" on you. If food dropped like rain from the sky, wouldn't it be marvelous! Or would it? It could, after all, be messy. And you'd have no choice. What if you didn't like what fell? Or what if too much came? Have you ever thought of what it might be like to be squashed flat by a pancake?
  • The Israelites and Manna (Exodus 16)
  • Students will use a spreadsheet to organize compound words they find in the book Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. After entering the data, they will sort the columns by alphabatizing the words. As a fun ending activity, they will re-sort, using only one column of words, thus creating “new” compound words. Students will write a sentence with their new compound word.
  • A tall tale is a story that contains humor and elements which are exaggerated or hard to believe. Discuss with your child how this story fits the definition of “tall tale” and give specific examples.

  • Discuss healthy food choices, including the five food groups (grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat and beans). You can include in your discussion any particular choices your family makes regarding healthy eating (trying to eat mostly whole-grains, not eating meat, etc.).
  • Talk about the food pyramid, identify the different categories. Try to eat meals with offerings from each.
  • Ask your child to analyze the day’s meals as written in the book (breakfast, lunch and dinner). Are the meals healthy? If not, what could be changed?

  • Have a vegetable tasting.

  • Where does it come from? (ketchup, orange juice, peanut butter, applesauce)?

  • make butter, fruit salad, peanut butter, muffins
  • make "stone soup" (veggie soup with a stone in it) and read stone soup.
  • Junk food, or healthy food? Talk about what makes food healthy, what makes it junk?

  • using the food ads, make a nutritional menu for your own healthy restaurant, then using notpads dramatic play restaurant.

  • Memory verse: “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.” (Psalm 34:8)

  • The people of Chewandswallow came to a place where they needed a refuge from the extreme weather they were experiencing. Talk with your child about what it means that the Lord is our “refuge”; share personal examples of how He has cared for you and how you have experienced “tastes” of His goodness in your life.

  • Bible Story- Manna From Heaven

    In the Bible, there was a time when food really did rain from the sky! Read Exodus 16 with your students. Be sure to discuss thankfulness and complaining. You may even want to mention that we need to be thankful for the foods we do have to eat even when they aren’t our favorites.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Sneeze that got away

Today we also talked about how when sneezes get away uncovered they can cause germs. To demonstrate I took a spray bottle full of regular water, pretended to sneeze, but didn't cover it. The kids were able to see and feel the water vapor land on them.

Then we added food dye to the bottle. (call me crazy but I didn't want the food dye to stain their clothes). We "sneezed" into tissues using the spray bottle, and saw how it stained the cloth.

This was a big hit. It just went on and on, by the time we were done, the clothes were soaked.

On a completely unrelated note, how does the dog wind up in every single blog post?

Playing Doctor

Since we are studying germs it seemed the perfect time to talk about the doctor. The kids got out their doctor kits and their animals to have some dramatic playtime. They had a blast, didn't want to stop, as I write they are STILL playing doctor more than two hours later. As you can see we started with stuffed animals, then the dog joined in the fun and became the "live" test subject. Poor Mac, I told him to run... he just didn't listen.

Germs/Bacteria in Food

We learned about germs in food by using yeast growth. First we drank two sodas. This might have been the kids favorite part of the experiment. When else do they get to drink soda at 10am?

We dropped one teaspoon of yeast into each bottle, then we filled each halfway full of warm water and put a balloon on top. One bottle went into the fridge, and one went onto the counter near the oven.

We talked about how the yeast would act as bacteria would, if the balloon blew up, then the yeast was growing.

When we got home, the balloon on the counter had blown up, but the one in the fridge hadn't blown up at all. We are going to watch it a few more days to see what happens.

Glitter Germs

We are learning about germs, and unfortunately germs are invisible. Since kids this age are so concrete, I wanted to give them a way to "see" the germs.

First we used hand lotion to give the glitter something to stick to. Then I sprinkled glitter on the kid's lotioned hands.

I had them do some of the things they would normally do on an average day. Like turning on a light, or scrathing their nose. They were able to see how the glitter rubbed off onto the lightswitch.

Chloe was in the shower when we started, so she played ring around the rosie with Emma and John when she came out and we saw how the glitter transferred onto her hands also.

After this experiment everyone felt that they understood germs more completely. The kids were motivated to run around the house sanitizing all the lightswitches, doorknobs, remote controls, and keyboards.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Frustrated in Slackerville... sort of OR can I have a Mulligan?

Well, we are behind... already. Even though I understand why, I find it depressing. Last week Brian had four days off, which only left us three days for school. You might have noticed the "blog silence". On those three days I wasn't getting much sleep and was feeling pretty off anyway. So for most of those days we went for the "fun factor". So now I am a little frustrated. I know we did school over the summer, so its not as though we are in danger of not doing enough school for the year. But I hate getting off track.

At first I thought maybe we should try to cram two weeks worth of school into this one week. But honestly, that makes me tired and overwhelmed. I can only imagine how the kids would feel about that. Instead, I think we are just going to have a catch up week this week and get back on track next week, just a little behind.

I think I tend to schedule us as though we don't have a real life where people get sick, or have unforeseen circumstances. I schedule us for the ideal circumstances, and then when real life happens (as it always will) I feel defeated somehow. So, to remedy this, I think I am going to start scheduling some catch up weeks into the schedule. If I loosen up the scheduling, then when something happens I won't be scrambling for what we are doing. If we don't need to use the catch up week, I can just stick a random unit study in there.