Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Egyptian Feast

Tonight we had our much anticipated Egyptian Feast. The kids looked forward to it all week. These little mini-units really are adding the "hands-on" spark to our week I was hoping for.

We used sheets and safety pins to make last minute no-sew costumes. Inspiration struck in the craft aisle and I picked up some foam sun visors at walmart. I love a store that will sell me chicken and craft items all at the same time. We used those, along with sticky gems to make the Egyptian style pharaoh necklaces.

Chloe was happy and posed for a picture. The second picture she isn't so happy. She wasn't thrilled with the idea of wearing it all the way through dinner. It itched, it felt weird, she swore it was poking her. The Egyptian princess was displeased. I let her go and change. Sometimes, its just not worth it :). After changing we got back to happy faces thank goodness.

John became confused about which country we were studying halfway through the meal and stuck a gem in the middle of his forehead. Silly Silly boy. Emma Gave Daddy the history lesson on Egypt. Before we ate we each dipped a bit of bread in "wine" (grape juice). We discussed how the egyptians did that as a sacrifice to the gods. I supposed in a way it was sorta like saying grace for them.

For our Menu tonight we had:
Egyptian Shrimp
Cut fruit
Pita Bread with Hummus or Fig Jam
Tiger Nut Sweet
Spiced Oranges and Raisins (over ice Cream)
Raspberry Mint Cairo Cooler
Root Beer (cause they drank a whole lotta beer)
Ancient Egyptian Chicken Marinade
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2T cumin
1/4 white onion, grated
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 t cayenne pepper
1/4 t black pepper
1/2 t salt
Marinate chicken tenders for several hours, then grill.

I printed off some hieroglyphic alphabets and the kids made their names on the scratchy pads. The kids made ankhs out of clay.

I taped up some paper up in the hallway and let the kids practice their "tomb painting". And no, those aren't all my children, a friend stopped by for me to help on her blog :). I will link up to it when she has it all running.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Field Trip: Discovery Green, Alice in Wonderland

We went down to Discovery Green, a big park in the center of downtown for some fun and a play today. It was so. much. fun. THIS is why I choose homeschooling. Emma really enjoyed the play. At times John payed attention (he even blew kisses at the actors) and at other times he was more interested in a snack :). It was such a blast, I am so glad the spring weather has sprung around here.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Our friend, the anole

This totally cute little guy turned up in our yard today while the kids were playing. He quickly became our nature study. The kids came rushing in screaming that they found a chameleon. I sent them back outside with my camera to capture some pixs.

Here is some info about our friend.

Meet the Carolina Anole
Found naturally throughout the southeastern United States, anoles are often referred to as the "American chameleon" because of their ability to change the color of their skin from green to brown (and vice versa). Anoles are typically found in bushes or trees, but because they are excellent climbers, they can also be seen on walls and fences. A distinguishing characteristic of the anole is the bright red dewlap present in all males and some females. Anoles can inflate this vividly colored piece of cartilage located under their chins to make themselves look larger and more dominant. This behavior is most often seen in males intimidating rivals or courting females. Females also have dewlaps, but they are less colorful than those of males and seldom displayed.

Like other reptiles, anoles are ectothermic (cold-blooded) animals that regulate their body temperature using the environment. When an anole needs to raise its temperature for activities like hunting or eating, it basks on a tree branch or a rock, absorbing heat from the sunlight. To warm up quicker, some anoles change color, from green to brown, because dark colors absorb more sunlight than light colors do. To cool down, anoles seek shade and shelter beneath a rock or log. They can also change color, from brown to green, to absorb less sunlight.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Burning Grass and sundials

We studied the sun today in Science. We are using the Apologia elementary curriculum. The kids made use of the new magnifying glasses they got for Easter by trying to focus the sun's beams to burn blades of grass.

We also created a simple sundial and followed the shadows around the yard each hour of the day. I think because so much of what we are doing is "hands on" the kids really look forward to both the science and history.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

How to Train your Dragon, Viking Feast

I LOVE unit studies, love, LOVE, big pink puffy heart loooooove unit studies. I could, and have gotten lost in them. Remember when we studied birds for three months? I still plan to use the more in depth, longer studies. But, I wanted our family to have a smaller, hands on units once a week to celebrate whatever we were currently learning. It is so fun. To make it work it has to be simple, easy and doable on a weekday night.

Tonight we had our viking feast for our little "mini unit" on How to Train your Dragon. We read the book and Daddy took the kids to see the movie this morning while I was at a medical appointment.

For our menu:
  • Non alcoholic mead (because Brian draws the line for historical accuracy at liquoring the kids up. although... they might sleep good that night)
  • root beer (we are vikings after all, must have the drinks flowing)
  • beef stew with root veggies
  • Jarlsberg cheese
  • brie on rye bread
  • stewed fruit and yogurt
  • gluten free pancakes with Cherry fruit sauce
  • a chocolate bunny (vikings did eat rabbit, just probably not chocolate ones.. but this is what happens when CVS extra care bucks meet the Easter clearance aisle).
For the non alcoholic mead: take a sliced lemon, a cup of honey and throw it in a saucepan or teapot, sprinkle it with cinnamon and pour 3 cups of boiling water over. Let it steep for a few minutes, then strain it and chill it.

The stew: I bought a package of stew seasoning and threw it in the crock pot. I was careful to use only root veggies like carrots and turnips, but not potatoes, the vikings didn't farm them.

stewed fruit: I threw a frozen package of mixed berries into my smaller crock pot and let it cook on low

cherry fruit sauce: I took a container of cherry jam, added some apple juice to thin it and heated it in a saucepan.

I managed to score some bamboo plates (the vikings would have used wood) at Whole foods. I was so excited, obviously in a mini unit I am not going to go crazy over historical accuracy, but it was a nice touch. The viking hats are available in the party goods section of Walmart right now because of the movies release. Emma wanted to dress up like a dragon, and those pajamas are available there too.

Our activities and printables:

  • you can print out the game "viking voyages" here
  • the how to train your dragon site is here with lots of online games.
  • make a viking shield out of aluminum pizza pans here
  • BBC's kids viking site with games and just a ton of cool info is here
  • we made a viking longboat with directions here
  • we made a viking paper doll with the printables here

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Look who turned up for Nature Study?

This super adorable bunny invaded our yard yesterday during school. The kids went nuts. I went nuts too. It is so stinking cute.

There was pretty much no way I was going to get everyone back inside to finish up school, so we just grabbed the books and headed outside. We had to stop school every 20 minutes or so for "bunny watch".

Brian jumped in to help with school today. He taught Chloe all about quarters in money and in fractions. The kids think he makes a pretty good substitute teacher.

Brian was so cute, he made a salad bar for the baby bunny and overturned a chair so the little guy would have shade and be less conspicuous to predators.

John and I worked on his speech exercises while we did the sand table.

Hey There little Red Riding Hood.....

That song was so NOT part of our Red Riding Hood study. It gives me the heeby jeebies. But here is what we did do (if the links don't work, visit the blog and you will get the links):

  • We used this page (click for the link) for the readings. It has four different versions of the Red Riding Hood story.
  • we found coloring pages Here.
  • If you want to highlight the stranger danger aspects of the story THIS is a great resource.
  • DTLK has some great crafts and activites. We watched videos of little red riding hood on youtube here and here and here.

Why Fairy Tales?

Before I had small children, when I was studying in college, I remember the ideas being planted about the usefulness of fairy tales in introducing the world to children. I am speaking of the original fairy tales, the unsanitized versions; not the Disney versions. It is of vital importance that we not try to whitewash the fairy tales, because that slightly grim edge is what makes them useful.

The world is a scary place, but children are innocents. You don't want to terrify them, or rob them of that feeling of safety; however, you want them to be safe, and wise. Fairy tales are the perfect vehicle for this. They present a world that is much like our own, only it is just fantastical enough to not be personally threatening to the child. Rather than shelter children from life's evils, we can equip them with the tools needed to face them head-on with confidence.

We studied "Little Red Riding Hood" this past week. Of course the moral of the story is "listen to your mother and don't talk to strangers/wolves". Just yesterday there was a story on the news. At a park that we frequent with the kids, a man tried to abduct a little girl. We talked about this with the kids, and what was interesting is that they made the connection between the story of Little Red Riding Hood and child abduction.

Bettelheim, a famous autism researcher commented as follows on fairytales : "The prevalent parental belief is that a child must be diverted from what troubles him most: his formless, nameless anxieties, and his chaotic fantasies. Many parents believe that only conscious reality or pleasant and wish-fulfilling images should be presented to the child-that he should be exposed only to the sunny side of things. But such one-sided fare nourishes the mind only in a one-sided way, and real life is not all sunny."

The fairy tale, according to Bettelheim, confronts the child squarely with the most scary subjects in life: death, aging, loss of a parent, being trapped or lost, and other stresses. The fairy tale simplifies all situations, allowing the child to come to grips with the problem in its most essential form. The figures are clearly drawn and the details, unless very important, are eliminated. All characters are typical rather than unique.
Fairy tales, REAL fairy tales present the darker side of the world without scaring the begeepers out of kids. You cannot present the world as a perfect, wonderful place because it isn't and most kids already know that. Real life is much more like a fairy tale: deeply flawed at times, sometimes prejudiced, at times dangerous, but also wondrous, and magical with good things that could make you swoon. There is always room for a hero in an imperfect world, and isn't that what we are trying to inspire in our kids, heroism?

So to that end, before my children are too old, we decided to review some fairy tales. I will post here what resources we use if you want to follow along.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Oh Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun....

The weather here has been gorgeous, absolutely awesome. Chloe the cat decided this morning that she likes to do her schoolwork in the sunlight that streams through the kitchen window. Most of this week we just took school right outside. One of the best parts of homeschooling is that we can do school wherever we please. If we keep this up I am going to need ideas on how to keep papers from flying away in the breeze.

It has been a bit difficult to focus, the warm (but not disgustingly hot) weather beckons. This is the magic time here in Texas, the gorgeous just right weather. Unfortunately that will evaporate right around the end of May when we all scurry inside, or into pools to avoid the heat.

Today we started a "Fairy Tale unit" that I will post up on the blog in the next couple of days and we had some friends over for recess/PE.