Thursday, June 30, 2011

Counting Coins Math (DD age 5)

DD has been working a lot with coins and counting change recently.

Coin Toss and Change Counting

There's nothing wildly original about his idea, but boy did the kids like this activity!  I just took a big handful of coins (the same for each of the kids). They took turns throwing the coins into the heart cups and then had to count their change when they had tossed all of their coins.  I used 15 pennies, 7 nickles, 4 dimes and 2 quarters. We've played this over and over (I've added more and more money to make the counting more challenging)!

Coin Exchange Game:
Shari Sloane's Coin Exchange Sheet  DD enjoyed this activity. We've done this several times.

Money War Cards DD often just uses these as money flash cards, but boy has she become comfortable counting up her change!

By the way, they are working with coins over at Adventures of Bear.  Be sure to check out her wonderful blog.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Happy Birthday Dad!

The kids decided Dad should have a dragon-themed party (in honor of Ferno from LD's Beast Quest books). I'm no cake-maker (my friend M is amazing!!!), but the kids were happy with the results!
The kids enjoyed Dad's scavenger hunt -- it took them around the house, out to the tire swing in the woods, up our rope ladder and back all around the house!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Memory Work

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that we started using First Language Lessons.  DD really, really loves the memory work. So much so, that we've added in some other poems from this poetry book to the left. It has cute, short poems just perfect in length and in subject matter for DD. She really likes the Ladybug by Joan Walsh Anglund and memorized it within a day or so:


A small speckled visitor wearing crimson cape,
Brighter than a cherry, smaller than a grape

A polka-dotted someone walking on my wall,
A black-hooded lady in a scarlet shawl.

In the past four weeks or so she has memorized four poems, her address and phone number.  LD isn't as entranced by the poems (he's memorized them, but doesn't have as much enthusiasm).  He did, however really like learning his 7 times tables/skip counting.  I've heard him singing them to strangers!

Let me share them again:
Row, row, row your boat
7, 14, 21
Gently down the stream
28, 35
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
42,49, 56, 63
Life is but a dream
70 -- we've arrived!

I mentioned the 7 times tables (and tune) before, but it's been so effective I made up one for the 8 times tables too. I'll share that soon!

Meanwhile, this week we're memorizing some of Ben Franklin's saying from Poor Richard's Almanac. We're starting with...

Early to bed
Early to rise, 
makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

[Hopeful thinking on my part!! The kids never go to bed as early as I'd like because Dad gets home so late from work.]

A penny saved is a penny earned.

And one I love, but I'm not sure that the kids will memorize!

If you would not be forgotten
As soon as you are dead and rotten,
Either write things worthy reading,
Or do things worth the writing.

We're starting to watch the cartoon series, Liberty's Kids, so these sayings fit right in!

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Well, I finished my first official training week.  I'm planning to run a half-marathon in September.  I feel great and my "long run" which was just 6 miles was a breeze.  I'm watching the movie, Running the Sahara, for a bit of inspiration.  Three men set off to run across the Sahara Desert in 2007. They often ran the equivalent of two marathons a day for over 100 days.  What an achievement!  My goal is certainly more humble than that, but sure makes me feel good!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Reading Roundup - China

We are using the Five in a Row book list  and some recommended children's authors to add some spice to our children's literature readings. WOW! Have we had a wonderful time so far on this adventure! Here is our children's literature book list, a collection of authors and titles we are making our way through (though I liberally add in my own books/findings as you see!).

These books have a "China" theme to them.  The kids liked them all immensely. We did a fairly large unit on China back a couple years ago. We pulled out our China lapbook.  DD did a couple of the lapbook activities about China (you can find lots at Story of Ping)  and we made Mooncakes--here is a similar recipe.
Oh my goodness, we all LOVED these two books by Demi.  We read them over and over at the table.  The Empty Pot has a lovely message to it and The Boy Who Painted Dragons has gorgeous illustrations.  Highly recommend these two books! *10

This has a  been a favorite of our for years!  Another highly recommended book. *10
This is a chapter book I also read to DD (80pages).  It is about a boy who lives with his grandfather in Chinatown.The grandfather gives him a paintbrush that is magic and brings things to life.  DD and I enjoyed it.  *7.5
 We all enjoyed this version of the Magic Paintbrush. The illustrations once are beautiful (sorry I sound like a broken record in this post!). I loved the message in this tale. We would all recommend this book. *9

This is a folk tale about five brothers who have various abilities. A very cute story.  ED especially loved this book. For some reason this book is harder for me to rate maybe 8* or 9*
I wondered if this would be too "heavy" for DD.  But I liked her other books so we gave it a try anyway. The kids liked the first part, but it's definitely geared towards an older audience -- say 5th grade, middle school or higher. The pictures (as always) are gorgeous, but I wouldn't recommend this for early elementary.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Outdoor Time

 We're enjoying lots of playdates and time with friends this summer.  What a beautiful park!

On another note, I think I'm going to train for a half-marathon in September. I'm excited to have a big goal -- just for ME!  :-)  It has been years since I last trained for anything.  My last marathon was on the Sydney Olympic marathon coarse... and I finished in the Sydney Olympic stadium with a personal best of 3:25... obviously that was a long time ago -- before I had kids!

Does anyone know what this interesting bug is?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

6th Grade Math Learning Video Lessons (area/perimeter, etc.)

Someone mentioned this math website on one of the blogs I frequent now and then.  I decided to check it out and wanted to mention it for those with kids in 5th or 6th grade. I think even LD will learn something from these short math videos. I watched two of them. They were easy to follow (from my perspective, though haven't shown LD to get his opinion).  The ones I watched introduced the idea of 1) area and perimeter and 2) balancing equations. Here's the link if anyone wants to check them out. 

Monday, June 20, 2011


We had this ever-growing yellow-jacket's nest on our front porch.  Dad sprayed this nest twice without luck, so we finally called in exterminators.  But in the meantime, we did some reading about wasps from a free download by Homeschool Bits. We learned that wasps are extremely beneficial. Nearly every pest insect on Earth is preyed upon by a wasp species.  Unfortunately, this nest was right next to our front door (and yellow jackets are aggressive.  I was once stung over 70 times by yellow jackets -- long story, but I was trying to protect a girl on a horse back riding trip.)

I sure love the materials put out by Homeschool Bits  (DD did a very cute sunflower lapbook a couple of months ago which is where I first encountered her wonderful products).  I was very happy to find these learning cards about wasps (as well as spiders, cockroaches, bats, and deer ) offered by her free at currclick! Wow!! I've been so impressed by all the units/lapbooks we've purchased and her prices are amazing (50 cents to a dollar... often for close to 50 pages of materials!)

These are the cards from Homeschool Bits. You can cut each page to make four cards, but I chose to bind them together for the kids to read while eating. (Yes, our dining room table is often covered with books. Some of our best reading happens around the table.)  She has fascinating information on each card! We've all learned quite a bit from these cards--cockroaches can live for a week without their heads! 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Timez Attack -- Multiplication Video Game

If your child is learning his or her times tables, there's a wonderful video game you can download for them to practice. The graphics are great.

Timez Attack -- There's a free version or you can purchase a version that has more levels. You should check it out if you haven't already!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Reading Roundup -- The Amazon Rainforest

We are using the Five in a Row book list to add some spice to our children's literature readings this summer and into the fall. We bought two of the FIAR curriculum guides (for vol. 2 and 3) and will use the other two lists as a reference to bring great books into the house. We also will be going through the children's literature author's list suggested by Lucy Calkins in her book Raising Lifelong Learners.

We are thoroughly enjoying these books. It's added a lot of spice to our reading day! And if you're interested  here is our children's literature book list, a collection of authors and titles we are making our way through. I also have some of historical fiction to go along with early American history.

These first books are ones we read to go with our world music class and our study of Mexico and South America.  Here is the post about  some of the geography activities, songs and games we did to go along with our world music study.  We all loved The Kapok Tree. It has gorgeous illustrations and gave a wonderful introduction to the animals of the Amazon rainforest.  It also touches on why it's important to leave the rainforest intact and to try to curtail logging.  The kids have asked for this over and over!

A song about the rainforest to the tune of "And the green grass grew all around, all around and the green grass grew all around." My kids liked this and helped sing the song as we read the book.

The true story of a man who brings books to children in the mountains of Colombia, South America
I'll be writing about our reading adventures on Fridays -- our reading roundup. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Domino Math -- PK, K and 2nd Grades

DD took a domino and created an addition problem writing it on her recording sheet.

We used the domino recording sheet from Mathwire. You can find more domino math ideas on the investigating dominoes page and on  this Mathwire page.There's a cute activity also for addition called the domino parking lot with use with regular sized dominoes.

ED simply counted the dots and put her wooden numbers on top of each side of the domino.

I changed the addition sign to multiplication for LD.

You can extend these activities by printing out the double-nine domino set from Mathwire.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Green Eggs and Ham Preschool Activity

I made this a while ago, but never got around to introducing it to ED.  It was a big hit the yesterday.  Then DD came over and wanted to play.  I had a number of extra eggs and ham without a letter on the reverse side, so they took turns trying to find the letter for their plate. If they got a blank egg or ham it was the other person's turn.

I don't remember where I saw this idea, but it obviously goes with the book Green Eggs and Ham. I don't remember why I chose the letter R--we were probably doing rainbows at that time (as I recall).

You might be interested in this post Preschool at Home: Learning Letters 

Other books-and-activities we did when the kids were little:

See you again soon here or over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page. Don’t forget to sign up for our Homeschool Den Newsletter! ~Liesl

Don't miss our other preschool posts. This page has links to dozens of our Preschool Activities!!
You will find all of these posts over at our new location (

Don't miss our HUGE List of Things to Do with Your Toddler or Preschooler with 100+ Activities (It's a free printable)

Here are a few of our more popular posts:

Preschool at Home: Activities You Can Do with Your 2-4 Year Olds (Fine Motor Skills)

Preschool Math Activities for ages 2 1/2 to 3 1/2

Preschool at Home: Science for 2-5 Year Olds (and Up!)

Your kids might also enjoy the activities in our Dinosaur Packet.

See you again soon over at our new location or over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page! ~Liesl

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Catch the Mouse Game -- Practicing the Six and Seven Times Tables

Goodness, we have been so busy here there's hardly been any time to write.  It's the end of the semester and many of the kids' (and my) activities are coming to a close. There have been extra practices and parties and we're still doing our slow but steady homeschool stuff. Lots of books and lots of games this time of year! Plus we're finishing up some old (unfinished) lapbook projects and starting on new ones.

LD is just starting out with his 7 times tables.  We've been singing many rounds of our 7s skip counting song:

Row, Row, Row Your Boat...
7, 14, 21
Gently down the stream...
28, 35
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily...
42, 49, 56, 63
Life is but a dream...
70, we've arrived.

And here's a game I made to play with LD this next week for practicing 7x4 through 7x9.  Here is the link to the game board I made if anyone's interested. [LD liked this so much that I made another board to review his six times tables 6x4 through 6x9--at that same link.]

Here's how to play the "Catch the Mouse" game:

**Use a wooden cube and write the numerals 4 through 9 on each side. Each player takes a turn rolling the die and multiplying by 7.

 **The object is to try to catch the most mice by placing two of your own markers on a mouse to capture it.

 **Let's say you roll a 4.  Multiply that by 7 and place a marker on the 28 mouse.  The next player rolls.  If there is just one marker on the mouse they can bump the other player's marker off the mouse. If their own marker is on that mouse and they place a second marker, then that mouse has been captured.  

 **The game ends when all mice are caught. The winner is the player who has caught the most mice.

Catch the Mouse Game Boards

On another note, I am planning to start back up with our study of German... probably in the fall or perhaps slowly this summer.  I have a couple of number and color sorting cards I made. They're in the Free Downloads area--scroll way down to the very, very end in the blue section.  

Is anyone else teaching their kids German?? I have a few sources that I really like and will share them at some point. 

We're learning German because that's the language I studied in school. I spent a semester studying in Heidelberg.  I taught a beginner's German class years ago to high school students.  And I watched lots of German TV when I was in the Peace Corps and taught in Hungary. I'm no pro, but can teach the kids the basics! :-)  

I'd love to hear what's worked for other families teaching their young kids a foreign language.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

to, too, two practice worksheets

The kids are working on the different forms of to, too, two.  Here's a quick exercise I made for them.
You can print this out here:  to, too, two practice worksheets

You can also find a free file folder game called "to,too,two much glue" at File Folder Fun which practices these same skills.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

This and That--Garden Science

Plants, plants, plants!! That's still the main focus of our homeschooling life. The kids are enthralled by the growing process this year. The kids tenderly attend to their plots in the garden. We watch each strawberry ripen eagerly. They rush to inspect the blueberries and peas forming! They help bring in the lettuce for our supper each evening.

And, they/we are loving the Junior Master Gardener handbook -- and are enjoying the activities and experiments immensely. Here are a few activities from last week:

 Bean Maze: This is a bean plant placed in a box (before we sealed it up to be dark).  We're hoping the bean plant will make it's way through the various cut-out windows to find the light at the end of the maze.
In this experiment, LD had to cover a part of the plant for two weeks to see what will happen when part of the leaf does not receive direct light.

This activity shows that some plants do not grow directly from seeds, but will form roots from the stems themselves.  LD is using mint and catnip for this activity.

How are plants affected when the seeds are planted upside-down or sideways?? LD hopes to find out in this experiment!

Monday, June 6, 2011

This and That--Language/Spelling

A few weeks ago we started using First Language Lessons. The kids -- and DD (age 5) in particular -- are enjoying it. We've memorized three poems and are enjoying the leisurely introduction to common and proper nouns. This curriculum suits us at this point. The lessons are in small bits (we spent about 10 minutes, but often do more than one lesson) and most importantly DD enjoys them a lot.

We've been reading a lot together.  I'm using the Five in a Row book list to add in lots and lots of new read alouds for DD and ED (and often LD too!).  

I've thrown in a lot of these sorting activities to the kids' workboxes. It takes them about 2 or 3 minutes to sort them.

These are all from Oceans of First Grade Fun:

Complete/incomplete sentences
ight and ie words
or -- ore words
ED has been working on letter sounds and this Melissa and Doug puzzle currently gets a lot of use.

Reading: LD and DD do independent reading every day. LD loves Beast Quest books, Andrew Lost and AtoZ Mysteries. He reads at least two books a day; he loves to read!  DD is picking up lots of picture books and is reading through the Beacon Second Grade fairy tales that I mentioned a couple of days ago.