Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Curriculum possibilities and ebay!

Holy Cow! Did you know you can buy homeschool books, and even entire curricula, on ebay?? I always forget ebay is out there... I'm so excited - many of the books I've been looking at are there for half price. Jackpot!
And I've come across 2 more curriculum producers that I find exciting. McRuffy has really interesting science and math programs. And 'Artistic Pursuits' from Rainbow Resource Center looks like a great art program that involves history, theory, and practice. I'd been wondering how I would teach art because I know so little about it, and this gets rave reviews. I also just discovered which seems like a really good resource. Just thought I'd share!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Tot School July 25

Tot School

This week in Tot School, the grassy letter G!

We did a lot of work with homemade musical instruments. We were inspired by a library book, Max, the Music-maker. First we filled glasses with different levels of water and tapped them with spoons. This somehow morphed into a pouring exercise in the bathtub... I love that about Tot School. You never know where a project might lead!!

We made a cardboard flute, harp, and guitar. They look awful, but the harp and guitar actually worked pretty well!

G for guitar!

G for gingerbread cookies! And, of course, we read the story of the Gingerbread Man!

G for granola! This is delicious homemade. I could live on it, and Crumpet loves it for a snack.

We made paintings by rolling marbles in paint, and dragging string through paint.

We made sculptures using marshmallows and toothpicks. I saw this at Blissful Moments. Great fun, until Crumpet ate all the marshmallows!

I filled plastic eggs with a variety of objects - 2 with pennies, 2 with beans, 2 with rice, 2 with water, and 2 with salt. Then I separated them and had him match them by sound. He was really quick to figure it out! (This is a project found in several toddler project books, and I've seen it on a couple of blogs.)

We went fishing using a magnet on the fishing pole and paper clips on the fish. We used it to work on colors, and also lower case letters (from Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready).

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tot School

This week in Tot School:

Crumpet has been having trouble with the difference between E and F so we did them together this week. We put googly eyes on the E's and flower stickers on the F's. (The laminator didn't really like the googly eyes!)

We made this elephant out of an E. ("Our Crafts N Things")

We made letters out of popsicle sticks and playdoh.

We painted with feathers. This didn't work as well as I hoped, but it was fun.

We practiced matching upper and lower case letters using these eggs. ("Adventures of a Flake")

We used a pre-K workbook and went hunting for E's.

We matched Easter egg cards.

We worked on organizing colors by shade from lightest to darkest. (Mommy, Teach Me!) We did this using paint cards from Walmart. Crumpet had no trouble with the lightest and darkest, but he had some difficulty with the shades in between.

We've been raising butterflies for the past couple of weeks, and they emerged from their chrysalides this week! This was a really neat project. For more info, check my other blog postings.
We went to a festival called "Touch a Truck". There were lots of trucks - fire trucks, a school bus, construction vehicles, a garbage truck... The kids could climb all over the trucks, steer, and honk the horns (it was LOUD!). Crumpet was ecstatic!

LOVE this boy!

Thursday, July 16, 2009


We spent the last couple of weeks raising our own butterflies! I had been looking at this kit for ages, and really wanted to try it. But... I was really worried it wouldn't work and Crumpet would be crushed. Finally, I read about someone who used it successfully (Rose Cottage), and I ran out to the store that day! The kit comes with the mesh butterfly house and a mail-in form to order caterpillars. The caterpillars are included in the purchase price, but there is a $3 shipping charge. Here's what you REALLY need to know. Do NOT do this in the summer unless you can sit at your mailbox for a week or two until they arrive. I checked my mailbox every 1-2 hours for a couple of weeks. Seriously. And still, when I pulled them out of the mailbox, they were crispy. Dead. Fortunately, Crumpet was not with me at the time, so I hid the evidence. Insect Lore guarantees that you will end up with at least 3 butterflies, so I called and asked them to FedEx new caterpillars. I fully expected to have to pay extra, but they sent them free! They did tell me that even an hour in a mailbox at 90 degrees will kill the caterpillars. So beware...

Finally, 5 healthy caterpillars arrived at our door. Crumpet was ecstatic. Me too! They come with all of their food and you just leave them in the original container until they make their chrysalides.
The guide says that after 7-10 days, the caterpillars will attach themselves to the top of the food jar and begin to spin chrysalides. Ours did it after 2 days.
We removed the top of the jar and attached it to the mesh of the butterfly house. The chrysalides vibrate madly when disturbed, which is pretty freaky. Apparently, it's a self-defense mechanism.
An empty chrysalis, which means...

Butterflies! This was also supposed to take 7-10 days, but only took 6 in our case. All 5 butterflies emerged. The directions come with a recipe for sugar water to feed them. You place it in droplets on fresh cut flowers. They recommend carnations. We used our own sunflowers and marigolds.
The butterflies live for 2-4 weeks. They lay eggs after a week or 2 so it's best to set them free so they can lay the eggs in an appropriate place. Crumpet wanted to set ours free right away so they could be happy in the wild. (I've trained him well!) None of our release pictures came out well, but in this shot, there is a butterfly on my husband's finger. Really neat. Now whenever a butterfly goes past, we say "Maybe it's one ours!". I totally recommend this project - the whole family learned a lot and really enjoyed it!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Tot School

Tot School

This week in Tot School:

We worked on the letter D. We added to our alphabet book and our lower case pipe cleaner letters.

Crumpet's dinosaurs decorated the D's. Oh, how he loves painting with his toys!

We made Dog biscuits for our letter D baking project. The dog is very pleased!

We went blueberry picking and made pies this week. Crumpet loved picking the berries, and for now, he's willing to eat blueberries (something he would not eat before the adventure).

We did some sweeping practice.

We put together our giant alphabet puzzle. Crumpet is getting pretty good at this.

Water play in the kitchen sink. We used basters and a variety of funnels and containers for pouring practice.


General Homeschooling Info

Just two bits of information that people might be interested in.
The first is that the current issue of Heart of the Matter magazine is out. This magazine usually has some good articles.
The second is that I've found yet another really neat curriculum (There are so many great ideas out there - I could spend a fortune!) This one is called Five in a Row, and it's a unit study program for younger children based on classic children's books. It looks really interesting, and it's pretty cheap to buy the teacher's manuals ($25-$35 a year). I'm guessing you could find most of the actual books at the library. They do programs for preschoolers and older kids, but I'd be considering it for the first few years of elementary school.
Anyway, have a look!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Tot School

Tot School

Crumpet dressed up as a pirate and went digging through a bowl of dried rice and beans searching for pirate gold. He loves to dig, and he practiced counting as he found the coins.

We made lower case letters out of pipe cleaners and used a glue gun to attach them to card stock. Then we linked them all together using a key ring. I saw this on Tot School and it's a good way to practice lower case letters. We'll add to it as we learn new letters.

We completed our bee count for the Great Sunflower Project. 5 bees in 5 minutes. Not bad! I guess the bee populations around here are still doing okay!

Crumpet is learning to set the table using these cool placemats I found.

We made a volcano out of playdoh, baking soda, and vinegar. He loved this, and we used up all the baking soda and vinegar in the house!

We use these bathtub paints to work on color mixing.

Crumpet used a hammer to pound in the numbers in this puzzle. This is another Tot School idea, and it helped renew interest in this puzzle that he was bored with.

Crumpet practiced counting out the correct number of beads to put in each of these little boxes.
For field trips this week:
We went to the Thomas and Friends Live show. Crumpet loved it and wants to know when we can go to another show. We went to a playdate with the mom's group I belong to. We went to a carnival on the military base here. Crumpet and his cousins got to climb in tanks and fire engines - they were so excited! And we saw fireworks. Happy 4th of July!