Thursday, January 31, 2008

Chicago History Museum

Today we used the Great Kids Museum Passport we picked up at the library on Monday to hit the Chicago History Museum.

This was their favorite section...
There was an audio tour that was available for free. They also have it on their website so you can download it onto your iPod. I downloaded it but didn't get a chance to preview it so we didn't do the audio tour. I may still check it out and if it seems okay we might do it next time. The kids LOVE audio tours.

Their favorite thing in this section was the old "L" car...
This is Clara demonstrating how slick the seats are... sigh.

The only disappointment of the day was that the Great Chicago Fire section section seemed a bit "light" for my obsessed son. This whole thing started after he checked out this...The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 (from the Graphic Library: Disasters in History series)

from the library this fall. He became so obsessed that this book held the number two slot on his Christmas list. I couldn't even guess how many times he has read it.

We really enjoyed ourselves today. I love museum days and love the winter because of that. So many of the museums in the city offer great admission deals during January and February. In February both the Art Institute AND the Field Museum have free admission. Guess where we'll be going a lot next month! :-)

Misc. fun pics from our day are on my other blog.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

our sled team...

I googled my way across the internet yesterday and found this at the Crayola site. At first I thought we would do it just for fun... but now I think it might work for my activity I mentioned yesterday. I'll probably wait until next week to do it so we can see if there are any usable pictures from the ads in the Sunday paper.

Here's Alex coloring his team of dogs...
And Clara coloring hers...
And the finished product (please excuse the horribly shadowy picture)....
I did something a little different than they had in mind with hanging it. I wanted to use a clothes hanger so it was a little sturdier and portable. The kids really enjoyed making this. They even got out the dog book again so they could color their dogs like real sled dogs (Alex's team - in the back - has two huskies and one malamute.... with Clara's I don't have a clue... one has an orange head so figure that one out... lol!).

We also worked on our sled dog lap book as well. Tomorrow we'll do some more... maybe. Tomorrow may just happen to be field trip day... we'll see how the weather is when we get up.

math books - january 28th

Since our Mondays have gotten really crazy and I have to haul my library bag all over the city that day... my new additions each week to our library basket at home are going to be limited.

Construction Countdown by K.C. Olson
Perhaps I had a momentary lapse and thought that I was picking out books for Alex instead of Clara. I remember doing this one with him when he was in kindergarten. It was a perfect boy counting book. It's a nice book that covers counting down from 10, however, Clara is rather luke warm about the subject matter of the book... sigh.

One Lonely Seahorse
Okay... you know I vent about the abundance of books that cover counting 1-10 and the few that go beyond. Well... this is another 1-10 book but the amazing photographs make this forgivable for me.. lol! All of the creatures and scenes in the book are made from produce and they are just fascinating to look at!

and finally....

We All Went on Safari by Laurie Krebs
This book was a fun find! It is a "counting journey through Tanzania". Again another 1-10 book but the additional content in this book makes it a favorite. For each number, a member of the group counts a different animal native to the area. It gives the name of the person and in the back of the book you can read about the meanings of the Swahili names. After reading the descriptions Alex and Clara picked out Swahili names for themselves. Each page also includes the Swahili word for each number.

The back of the book contains a nice collection of information. There's a two page spread with facts about the animals they encountered on their safari (plus the Swahili names). There's a nice page about the Maasai people and a page of Tanzania facts too. Oh... and of course, there's a map. We got our globe as well.

Some days our random math books from the library are a disappointment and other days we find some gems!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Iditarod book

Dashing Through the Snow by Sherry Shahan

In the limited time I had at the library yesterday, I managed to grab the book above and a couple of books on Alaska. Today we sat down to read a little of each book. We started with Dashing Through the Snow. We couldn't put it down! We read through the whole thing and the kids were glued to the story. The book takes you step by step through the Jr. Iditarod. The photographs are wonderful and really tie into the story nicely. They aren't just random pretty pictures... but great illustrations of what is talked about on that particular page. On one page in the book it lists what each musher must have on their sled.... I think tomorrow we may do a little activity of "packing our sled"... if it pans out anything at all like I have it in my head, I'll post it here. The book appears to be out of print... but if you see it at your library... its definitely worth checking out.

Monday, January 28, 2008

a pleasant surprise

It amuses me to see Clara imitate with her toys what we do for school. Since we've been doing the "living math" approach for her... she has decided to teach her toys math using the same method. So, the other night at bedtime we rounded up all of the counting books we could find in her room so she could read and count with her stuffed animals before going to sleep.

While digging... this book emerged from the depths of her bookcase...
Hello Kitty: Hello Numbers

I remembered buying it but I hadn't ever given it much thought. It was just a book she wanted to buy (probably at the 75% off book store) because of Hello Kitty on the cover.

Well... I flipped through it real quick and saw that it was a cute little counting book.... and best of all, it went BEYOND ten (it goes to 20)! So, today for her math time, we got out the Hello Kitty book and read it. It was great to give her more practice forming the numbers 11-20 with her blocks. And then the big bonus was the set of punch out flash cards we found in the back.

She worked quite a while with putting them in order... mixing them up and doing it all over again.

We got some new math books at the library today... I'll check them out tomorrow when we do math and see if I got any worth mentioning here.

Friday, January 25, 2008

more iditarod stuff today...

Today we started our Hands of a Child Sled Dog lapbook we got from Homeschoolestore (it was their free lapbook a few weeks ago). The kids were so excited to get started after we spent some time over lunch looking at musher profiles on the Iditarod site. A lot of mushers have websites where you can see their teams. I have a feeling that Alex and Clara are going to follow the musher with the cutest dogs... LOL!

Oh before we got started on the lapbook, we did the Alaska map worksheet I found on Enchanted Learning. The kids did pretty well with it.... it was good practice with map skills. We also got out the globe (as you can tell in the photo below). Slight rambling ahead... I LOVE globes! I have started (unofficially) collecting them. It's amazing to me that you can buy them for about $10-20 at antique stores. I know they may not be completely accurate, but they're close enough for what we use them for. And with having them scattered throughout the house, we use them quite a bit.

Okay... back the lapbook.... this is our second official lapbook project. Last time I think I overdid it. We did too much the first day. Today we just did the first two sections... the history of sled dogs and the main types or breeds. Much more manageable... plus it gave us the opportunity to follow some "rabbit trails".

So, today we got our older version of the book below...DK Encyclopedia of the Dog

The kids love to look at it anyway... but it has great color photos of the different breeds of dogs we talked about today (oh... except the Alaskan Husky... which isn't in this book but was in our lapbook). We took quite a bit of time comparing the different the dogs... how they were alike and how they differed.
We looked up where they originated from on the globe too. It was a good little project.

Thank you Tracy and Alice for the book suggestions! I have the following books in my Amazon cart... but I haven't done anything with them yet...

Woodsong by Gary Paulsen
Dogteam by Gary Paulsen
Togo by Robert J. Blake
Akiak by Robert J. Blake
Balto and the Great Race (we have a Balto book but this is at a higher reading level)
The Mystery on Alaska's Iditarod Trail by Carole Marsh (just for fun since Alex loves mysteries right now... however, I'll have to convince him that it is okay to read book #8 without reading any of the ones before it... sigh)

Alice, also thanks to your suggestion, I have PBS Nature: Alaska DVDin my queue at Netflix (this is the disk that the Sled Dogs episode is on). I wasn't able to find the other DVD on Netflix, but I'll try the library next.

Thanks again for the wonderful suggestions! :-)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

what in the world...

have I gotten myself into?

Am I the only one who thinks that with homeschool projects some of the time? A couple of families from our homeschool group signed up to participate in the eIditarod. I totally forgot to sign up during the registration period and then decided that I desperately wanted to do this last week. So I sent a pleading email to the administrator of the program and found out today that we got in (didn't realize that the confirmation had gone to an email address that I NEVER check). I was so excited! I got the kids all riled up and told them that TODAY (yes... today) we were going to do our wall map so we would be caught up with the schedule and prove that we are worthy participants even if I did sign up late... lol!

So... they kids are beyond excited (they love the Balto story) and are ready to get started. Well... this is where I realized that I had no easy way to make the wall map. I have no overhead projector, no copier to enlarge the map on the site.... and quite frankly... no talent to freehand draw it (not to mention not having the patience for it). Ack! But I had all ready riled up the kids so I had no choice but to go forward. I didn't like it, but I did it. I think there's something wrong with my wiring where I have to completely panic about something before I get the clarity and focus to get through it. Alex and I started by dividing our map and our sheet of poster paper into grids (look at that... measuring and skip counting by fours since we did 4" After that, I did better with the drawing when I only had to focus on one little square at a time.

The kids were still making me batty because they wanted to be doing something... so I printed some pages off of the Alaska website and set them to work making a poster about the state...
(that's Clara being a little overly dramatic about taking the lid off of the glue)
Alex taping up the finished poster....
Not a terribly exciting poster... but hopefully they learned something and I managed to stay sane while drawing the map below...
(please don't look at this map too closely... I did the best I could.... LOL!)

Clara did all of the tracing... the rivers, the border and the race route. Alex did the colorful title (after I had mentioned that this previous poster was a little I wanted to have the kids label the checkpoints, but honestly... I needed the thing done and out of the floor. It was only a matter of time before the dog walked across it or Clara spilled something on it. So, I labeled the checkpoints but Alex read them off for me and spelled them for me when I needed him to.

Our next big project is to research the mushers so we can decide who we'll follow this year. We will also probably start the Hands of a Child Sled Dog lapbook we got from Homeschoolestore a few weeks ago. Although this one, Iditarod, is intriguing me too. Perhaps we'll just do the sled dog one this year and we'll save the Iditarod one for next year if we do this again.

I need to get some books to read too... we have Balto, but I need to see what else is out there that would be fun to read. If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them!

Friday, January 18, 2008

this week's math books..

... from the library.

I think I began rambling on about this before I started this separate blog for my homeschooling stuff. A month or so ago I decided to drop a formal math curriculum for Clara for kindergarten. We still do math daily but we're using more of the "living math" approach. I read about this approach at the Living Math site. I had used it to supplement Alex's kindergarten year, but this was my first time using *just* living math books.

In Texas I was able to look up the subject we wanted to work on and request those books from the library (online, available to pick up at my local library branch). Chicago Public Library system is harder to navigate... you have to actually talk to a person to request a book and you have to pick it up at it's branch. So, needless to say, we've just been taking a scattered approach to getting books... while Clara is in gymnastics, Alex and I grab random books in the picture book section that have the number sticker on the spine. It's hit or miss... but its been okay.

This week was a fairly disappointing one.

Ten Little Mummies by Philips Yates
Cute, cute little book. It deals just with one through ten. But it is taking away one versus adding one. The kids both enjoyed it. And it was good practice for Clara.

Ten Go Tango by Arthur Dorros
Another cute book... the kids both enjoyed it. The only thing that was a disappointment to me, was that it was yet another counting book going only as high as 10. As long as the story is good... I try not to get too worked up and count it as practice with our Math-U-See blocks for Clara.

Big Fat Hen illustrated by Keith Baker
Didn't help us much as far as math... but fun book with great illustrations.

Roar! A Noisy Counting Book by Pamela Duncan Edwards
Fun book, fun read. Disappointing for us... just because of the 1-10 thing.

How Many? How Much? by Rosemary Wells
Loved this one. Lots of kindergarten math skills are covered. This is the book that gave us the idea to make the store the other day. One thing is... I tend to not read these books ahead of time. This one I should have. It had several "take the next step" suggestions that required some prep work. The kids wanted to do them right then as we were reading... but I wasn't prepared the first time we read it.

Click, Clack, Splish, Splash by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin
Another 1-10 book but not a disappointment because my kids ADORE the books by Cronin and Lewin. They love seeing what the farm animals are up to and this one didn't disappoint.

I hadn't really thought about this until we started doing the living math books for Clara... but I think I may start a "circle time" sort of thing in the morning, first thing. At first the math story books were just Clara's... but then Alex wanted to join in too (he participates with his blocks... but Clara is the one who gets to answer all questions first). I think it might be fun to do a little group time in the morning. Maybe I'll add calendar and possibly weather too.

We'll see!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Atelier Homeschool Art...

... and a little bit of a trip down memory lane. :-)

Angel asked the other day about Atelier Homeschool Art... so I thought I would just post about it.

First of all... we have only used one level, so my commentary here is restricted just to Level 1. We have all three modules. This is our second year with that level because we've been working through it rather sporadically. I didn't purchase the art prints... not regretting that yet, but we've only done one of the artist appreciation lessons so far. I also didn't get their package of art supplies. At the time I picked up Atelier, we were living in Texas in the 'burbs, so I just watched the Hobby Lobby sales for the items I needed and went in and purchased just those items that were on sale. Now we're in the city and not only do I not go to the art supply store as regularly, I usually have to carry everything home. That tends to change my opinion on buying the supply packages for things. :-)

Level 1 is pretty basic... but still enough of a challenge for my kiddos. We enjoy the instruction we get from the DVD. For most projects, the instruction is step by step. I just stand ready with the remote so I can pause it while we work. As for your question, Angel, about getting enough instruction from a DVD. We've never taken a formal art class.... but I can't imagine that it is the same as an actual class. BUT... they are getting great instruction.... much better than I would be able to do on my own (if left to my own devices, the projects I tend to tackle lean more toward crafts v. art). We also have no room in our schedule to add a formal art class. I would love to at some point, but at this moment we have too much time tied up in gymnastics, dance, music lessons, etc.

I also enjoy being able to do the projects along with them rather than needing to "instruct" them. I'm there to help out and since I'm doing it too, I have the familiarity with the project... but I'm not actually teaching them how to do it. I love that since it's DVD based you get to see in large full color format what it is you are trying to do. And, they show a classroom of kids doing the project too... which helps confirm that there are a lot of different outcomes for the same project (if you have a perfectionist in your home like I!). Oh... and one more thing... the prep time is practically zero. I purchased all of the art material before we started school last year so I just look at the materials sheet for the specific project we're getting ready to do and grab just those items.

I love their projects... (here's my trip down memory lane... this is from 9/06)... in this project the kids learned about color mixing while learning about Picasso and creating their own version of his work...
Here were worked on line drawings by drawing a familiar character... the cat in the hat...
This I just posted the other day... but here the kids learned to tell a story through a series of pictures...
I love Level 1 but I think we've spent enough time on it... I'm ready to finish up and move on to the next level.

So... my summary (sorry, I ramble).... Atelier is a great program if you don't have access to or time to take an art class. Honestly, I would probably still use it even if we were taking a class. The kids love it on those days when they need a break to do something "fun" and I love how easy it is to use!

I hope that helps Angel... if you have more questions... please let me know!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

letting math "happen"

I really need to learn to be okay with letting learning happen at times. Today was one of those days. We read a math book I got for Clara at the library (I can't remember the name, it was a Rosemary Wells book though... I'll post it tomorrow). In that book it suggested that you play "store"... pricing items, buying items, paying for them and making change. The kids really wanted to do this. So I told them after lunch if they got all of the seat work done before 2:00, they could play store.

Clara was done first so she set up the store. She made price tags with this cool punch I got from Fiskars (probably not the project they had in mind for it when they sent it to!). Once Alex was done with his work, they priced everything. They got the change bowl out... Clara put some in her metallic pink purse so she could shop and Alex kept some so he could make change.

A couple pics of Clara contemplating her purchases...

(the blue basket is her shopping basket)
Alex was selling Legos by the piece, so he's separating pieces so there's no misunderstanding over what Clara owes. :-)

They did really well... counting out money and making change. They did it several different ways.... sometimes Clara just picked out things and paid. Other times, I had her get out a dime and figure out what combination of things she wanted to get with that dime.

The reason I guess I'm saying that I have to let go and let math (or any other subject for that matter) just happen is that I get caught up in checking boxes in my teacher's guides instead of embracing some of these learning experiences. Yes, we didn't get to history today... but I'm hoping that through playing store they learned a little more about money and that they had fun doing it.