Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Skip Counting Game

 DD is just now learning to skip count by 3s.  I made a unicorn and dragon themed game to help her practice. The game is pretty straight forward. Each player takes a turn drawing cards from the file until they get a dragon (STOP!) card.  The player then sorts her cards and places them in skip counting order while the other player is drawing cards. The object is to be the first player to get all the cards needed and placed in the proper order -- 3,6,9,12,15,18,21,24,27
I made skip counting cards for 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, 6s and 10s.You can find the Unicorn Race Skip Counting Game here. As always, it's free to download. :-)

Hope someone finds it fun!

If your child is a good skip counter already, be sure to check out the wonderful game, Speed! that was made by a fellow homeschooler, Julie.  You can read about that game in this post.

Meanwhile LD and I played "Catch the Mouse" for math (for multiplying by 6s). We have a die with the numbers 4 through 9. LD rolled the die (5) and  multiplied that number by 6. Then he placed a marker on the mouse with the answer (30). The object is to try to capture the most mice by placing two markers on each mouse. If the other player has just one marker on the mouse, the player can bump him off the mouse, but once a player has two markers on a mouse, the mouse is his.  You can download my Catch the Mouse game here (there's a board for 6s and another for 7s).

Monday, January 30, 2012

American West Unit

As I mentioned last week, this semester we are studying the American West. We picked up where we left off last semester when we talked about Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett. (To the left is Davy Crockett's birthplace cabin in Tennessee which we visited last Thanksgiving.)

We talked about the Ohio Valley settlement and how as settlers made their way west they used the rivers for transportation.  We learned a couple of songs about the Ohio River and made our own small raft. We discovered that it was pretty difficult to keep our "supplies" afloat!

We also talked about the importance of forts in the American West. High walls surrounded the cabins which usually formed one wall of the fort. Farmers living in nearby homesteads would come to the forts to grind their corn and buy supplies. Cows and pigs were left outside the fort.

With it being so difficult to transport goods over the mountains and down the rivers, glass was not common. People often used greased paper for windows instead of glass. We spread oil on paper garbage bag to see how the oil let the light in.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

First Aid - Snakes, Spiders and Ticks (Day 5)

A few days ago our first aid topic was on snake, spider and tick bites.

First we went over the venomous snakes in our area and then went over some other venomous snakes they might encounter in America.

Then we went over some of the basic first aid measures you should take if bitten by a venomous snakes. In the picture they are trying to take off my ring. We also talked about the fact you should
  • remain calm
  • immobilize the bitten arm/leg/finger and keep as still as possible to keep the poison from spreading
  • if possible have the limb lower than your heart
  • apply a splint to keep the limb from moving (loosely to allow blood flow)
  • remember what the snake looked like
  • call 9-1-1
 ED did a little spider craft while the others were working on their math. Then we talked about how to identify the more common spiders to be worried about black widow and brown recluse spiders.
  • try to identify the spider that bit you
  • clean the spider bite site with soap and water
  • apply a cool compress
  • elevate the bite
  • look for signs of chills, fever, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain
 Finally we talked about why it is important to check for ticks. They can carry bacteria that cause Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. We talked about how sick that can make you.

The kids practiced taking a tick off me (a bean that I taped to my arm). They actually loved that!  We talked about why it's important to remove the head as well.

We used a lot of our first aid tips from the Mayo Clinic First Aid section.

Friday, January 27, 2012

First Aid and Fire Safety (Day 3-4)

Fire Safety 
We were quite overdue for a review of some basic fire safety rules.  Even though we've lived here for a year and a half, we hadn't made a family meeting spot outside in case of emergency. Nor had we gone over in detail how the kids can escape from their room in case of emergency.

We talked about what to do if your clothes or hair catches fire. Stop! Drop! Roll!  One source suggests covering your eyes.  We also talked about how to help if someone is on fire. Making sure to issue the orders to stop, drop and roll. To get something like a blanket to cover them, roll them, and smother the fire.  Once again we all took turns calling 9-1-1 and giving our name, address and describing the emergency situation.

 We then talked about being low to the ground if the room were smokey. We practiced crawling quickly across the room. We also talked about checking a door before opening it to see if it were hot to the touch.  We talked about how oxygen feeds a fire.
 Next we went to each person's room and had them see if they could escape through their window if need be.
This was especially important for ED because her window is tough for her to open because of her height. We had her practice pushing the window down by using a couple of board books.
 We wrote out some our fire safety tips and then I had the kids go over all of them with Dad. Dad brought up a good point about what to do in case of a forest fire (since just six months ago a neighbor lost their house to a forest fire). Dad also suggested that we have a fire drill one day soon. 

We went around testing our smoke alarms.  

ED really liked this simple preschool page about fire safety. There's a screenshot to the left. I wasn't impressed, but she wanted to do it over and over which is what matters, right?!

Finally we talked about what to do in a smoke-filled room.  We talked about how difficult it would be to see and how you need to stay very low to the ground. Then the kids did one of their favorite activities... one we do most every time we talk about fire safety. They took turns crawling blindfolded through a maze of objects trying to get to safety. It's a fun activity, but they really do *get it* and remember that they would have to stay low or crawl in case of a fire.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

We're Moving Soon!

Not out of the house, we're here to stay for a while yet... but the Homeschool Den blog will be moving. A couple of months ago one of the editors of Parents contacted me and asked if I would like to come under the Parents umbrella as one of their bloggers. I was honored and thrilled to join such a great team of people.  So in just a couple of weeks you'll find us over at the Parents website. We'll have a link from this site to get you to the right place.  Stay tuned for more about that transition soon!

I've had this post done for ages... at least mentally! I love to hear what others are up to and thought I'd do another general post about the rhythm of our day.

While each day is different overall, our mornings often start off the same. We all have breakfast and slowly gather in our homeschool room. Most mornings we start off with independent reading (though ED and I have often been up for a while so we may have already done some preschool activities together). LD loves to read so he starts reading the second he hits the kitchen.  I generally have to ask DD to find a book she wants to read, then she's happily engrossed. Right now LD is reading the Lightning Thief while DD is reading a chapter or so each day from a Nancy Drew book Grams brought us.

Then we have collection (which is our group time).  We often start of singing songs together.  Right now we are going over some USA basics about the states and Presidents. We're learning the "50 States That Rhyme" song. We've managed to memorize about half the states so far--and we point to each state as we sing it. It's been a fun challenge, though I doubt we'll ever sing all 50 states in 35 seconds like the young girl on you tube here!! I typed out the lyrics last summer.  You can download them here if you're interested. We are also learning a few basic facts about the US Presidents. We've covered the first five and we'll eventually go up through at least Abraham Lincoln. Our main unit in history this semester is on the American West. I'll be posting about some of the things we've been doing with that soon.
Most days we try to work on German. We always start with basic greetings and chit-chat (like "What day is it?" or "Today is cold.") Right now we're using a dictionary book that has great pictures. I'll ask questions like, "Where is something blue?" or "Where's the rug? What color is it?"  We're still in the slow process of vocabulary and basic language acquisition so we don't cover grammar at all (except in a natural way as I help guide them in their speaking).
We usually then do our morning projects (first aid, geography, experiments or whatever) together before branching off to the subjects the kids work on on their own (math, spelling/writing, music) as the day progresses.

ED has been doing some basic geography activities (again I'll have more about this soon) for her main preschool work. We also have been doing a test run of a website called Reading Eggs. She is really enjoying that and it looks like we'll probably get a subscription once our 4-week trial period is over. She's been jumping on that while the others are involved in subjects she's not interested in.

Right now LD is reading Real Science 4 Kids' Physics book, while I'm reading those same chapters aloud to DD. That's because we'll be doing some hands-on stuff in a couple of weeks and I want them to have finished the book before we do the experiments and activities. I have both pre-level 1 and Level 1.  Pre-level 1 is definitely better for DD (age 6). It's written in very simple terms.  I think LD would be fine with either level, but I'm having him read the Pre-level 1 on his own. He is really enjoying it. Then we may add in the next level when we actually do our activities.
DD is really enjoying the piano. She never has to be reminded to practice and stops at the piano to play several times a day. She's learning the Theme from Ice Castles at the moment. Meanwhile, LD still loves the trumpet. I think we found a high school student who will give him lessons once or twice a month. I can teach music generally, but I'm a woodwind player not a brass player!
So there's a bit more of a glimpse at the kinds of things we fit into our homeschool day. I have a couple more postings about our first aid unit and then I will be posting about some of the other things I mentioned.

PS If you are interested in learning more about Real Science 4 Kids's Physics textbook you can check out the Pre-Level I sample here. And here's the link to the sample of Level I.  LD just finished reading Pre-Level I this morning and as I said above, he really enjoyed reading it. I plan to use other materials for our activities so don't have any recommendations one way or the other about the teacher's manual or lab workbook.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Game: A to Z, Jr.

The girls got a new game for Christmas called A to Z, Jr by Discovery Toys.  What a great game!
The game itself is the perfect age for DD and LD (ages 6 and 8). It's similar to the game Scattergories. Each person rolls the die and picks up a card. Then he/she has to name as many objects as they can for the category they rolled. Categories might include:
  • snack foods
  • purple things
  • stuff you see in a parade
  • boring things
  • stuff that fits in your pocket
The person covers the beginning sound of each object she/he listed.  To win the kids have to get five in a row while I have to cover my entire board.

We've been also using it for ED's preschool work.  One day we turned over some Memory cards that we have.  We took turns drawing a card and covering the first letter sound of the card we turned over.
Another day she went through some of the alphabet words we have (a cut and paste alphabet printout book I had on hand). I don't have the exact link, but here is something similar that you could print out on cardstock.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Sistine Chapel

If you are doing art appreciation, you might be interested in going on a virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel. This website was absolutely gorgeous and well worth a look at Michelangelo's magnificent work: http://www.vatican.va/various/cappelle/sistina_vr/index.html
You can scroll in and out and move the cursor around to see different parts of the room... not just the famous portions like The Creation of Adam below (photo from Wikimedia Commons).
If you are wanting to add in some art appreciation, be sure to hop on over to Confessions of a Homeschooler.  Erica has a wonderful free art curriculum called  "World's Greatest Artists." You'll find it on her right sidebar under as the last entry under "My Curriculum."

Thursday, January 19, 2012

First Aid and Fire Safety (Day 2)

The next topic we covered was on broken bones. We talked about immobilizing the bone. I told them the story of when my sister broke her arm. My parents wrapped a magazine around her arm and secured it before rushing her off to the hospital.  We practiced wrapping the arm and they learned how to make a sling.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Spelling: Silent Letters

Instead of jumping straight back into All About Spelling, I had the kids work on words with silent letters last week.  You can find this word sort in the language materials area at Montessori for Everyone.

I made a couple of work sheets for DD and LD to do with these. You can download them here if you are interested. You can see the first two pages below.

UPDATE: We have a new Spelling Sort over at our new location:

Silent Letter Worksheets and Word Sort

Have you heard of Spelling City? I've heard about it for years, but only now am giving it a go with LD and DD. You can type in the words your child is learning. There are lots of activities to choose from (this is a screenshot of the fill in the missing letter game)...
And this was Hangmouse:
LD said it was "good." Can I play one more game and THEN let DD try it? (Of course it was bedtime when he was asking this!) So then they played a round of unscramble and I sent them off to bed:
The other spelling game website we tried out was http://kidsspell.com. It was similar in that you could type in your spelling word list. It had an even larger selection of games. Here are just three we tried out. From what I see, I bet we'll get even more use out of this website.

We also did some contraction review. This cute penguin and snowman themed activity is from Heather's Heart. Thank you, Heather!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Preschool Math: numbers greater than 10

ED is ready to tackle the teen numbers. She often skips some of the numbers after 13. I am using a homemade version of the Montessori seguin board (download the packet I made here).  It's a board with lots of 10s in a row. The child then places a digit over the zero to make 11, 12, 13, etc.
1) First ED counted the number of animals.
2) Then she pulled out the same number of beads. I made a big deal about the group of 10 beads being called her special 'golden beads.' She promptly fell in love with them!
3) Next she chose the proper digit and placed it in the ones column to make it "one ten and one" (for 11), "one ten and two" (for 12) and so forth.

If you're interested in the printout packet I made of the seguin materials you can download them here. You can also buy a proper wooden seguin board (such as this or  this teens and tens board), but I never used them enough with my older two to warrant the price.

Monday, January 16, 2012

First Aid and Fire Safety

One of the things hubby and I wanted to be sure cover again this year was emergency situations.  I'm a bit ashamed to say that we hadn't gone over this for close to two years.  Most of this information was new to ED.

The first day, I went over first aid for cuts.  ED helped me to 'prepare' my arm so she wasn't afraid (she drew on my arm with red marker and helped spread the 'blood'). I called the older two into the room and told them I needed immediate help.  LD said immediately, "Oh Ma, that's ketchup." Smart kids, right?! But then they got to the task at hand... putting pressure on the wound to stop the bleeding, wrapping my arm and calling 9-1-1 for help - giving their name, address and explaining what was wrong. We looked at all the various things in our first aid box and we went over where it is kept.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

My New Vocabulary Word -- Cholesteatoma

Unfortunately, I learned a new word yesterday... cholesteatoma. I really didn't like wikipedia's initial definition, "destructive and expanding growth" but overall I'm hoping it's not that bad.  Read on to see what I have...

After several months waiting to see a specialist, I finally got in to see an ENT.  I have a long history of ear infections which started for me around the age of five. I wear hearing aids in both ears as a result of severe ear infections and various problems (bones being eaten away) as a child/youth. In the past couple of years, I've had about four different doctors look into my ears. They all have had much the same reaction... "Oh my!" "Goodness that looks awful."  "I see lots of drainage." and then... "but it's not infected." The past six months the drainage, itching, swelling and general discomfort (including random flashes of ear pain that shoot by, but pass quickly.) has been at times horrendous, mostly tolerable.   I took it all in as the new norm having moved from a dry climate back to the humid climate of my youth. The specialist yesterday listened carefully to me spout out my long history of infections, surgeries, and my most recent symptoms. Then he looked into my ears and told me they both are indeed infected -- and that my one ear has a growth behind the ear drum (cholesteatoma). He said I need surgery as it is (in his words) "potentially quite dangerous." They'll go in behind my ear, remove the bone that runs parallel to my ear canal and then remove the growth.  (If I were to leave it be it can cause facial paralysis, deafness, even brain problems.)  So obviously surgery is a happy option, but I'm pretty bummed to have to fit in all the things necessary to get me better (CAT scan, other appointments, surgery, recovery).  One outcome of all this is that I could lose some of the hearing in this ear (which is my "good ear").  Today I feel fine with it all, but I sure was teary yesterday (the surgery 30 years ago on my other ear was very painful), but I'm hopeful that it's more routine and pain-free these many years later.

Meanwhile, this past week was a busy one. We started back into our school routine, returned to our regular sports and music activities, started a new one (DD added in Irish dance lessons which she loved, loved, loved!) and did some make-up gymnastics classes from when we were out of town.  It was busy, busy!  I'll be writing up a couple of school-related posts in the next day or so.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Recipe: Taco Soup

It's the perfect time of year here for a warm crock-pot meal.  My kids love taco soup and I thought I'd share our recipe:

1/2 onion chopped
1 can pinto beans rinsed
1 can kidney beans rinsed
1 small can green chillies, undrained
1 1/2 Tablespoons taco seasoning
2 chicken breasts
1 can tomato sauce
2 cups chicken broth (mine is homemade, just the frozen water/broth leftover from after boiling chicken breasts for other dishes)
1 large can diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 hour before getting ready to serve I add 1 1/2 cups or so of frozen corn (you can add it in first thing, but I like doing it at the end)

Cook in a crock-pot on high for 5 hours or so. Before serving chop up or shred the chicken breasts.  Serve with a teaspoon of sour cream (per bowl) if desired and with crushed tortilla chips on top.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Seahorse Art--Based on Eric Carle's book

Eric Carle's books are always inspiring for an art project.  A couple weeks ago we read Mister Seahorse. I cut out seahorses and the kids had a blast painting. The girls each did three or four paintings each.

Be sure to visit Deep Space Sparkle for other Eric Carle-based lessons and other fantastic art project ideas.
 A couple of years ago we  did a chameleon craft based loosely on Eric Carle's Mixed Up Chameleon.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Wonderful Holidays and a Happy New Year!

I stretched out our early December activities and posted them over the past couple of weeks, but in reality we had a prolonged break for the holidays. I notice a number of comments and will try to get back to you soon.  In the meantime, I want to rave about our amazing break.

We had Grams and Gramps with us for three wonderful weeks.  We did so much together. We saw holiday light displays and of course celebrated the holidays.  We ate too much, played lots of games, took the kids ice skating, roller skating, and we just got back from a skiing trip. During the week we were away, we also went to a cave (above).  Grams and Gramps spoiled me and hubby rotten -- letting us go on dates, letting us sleep in, doing the dishes and cooking endless meals, helping get things tidy.  [Thank you again!! Hugs! I know you're reading!!]

We took the kids skiing for the first time. (It's been about 15 years since hubby and I last skied.)  We were stunned to find out that there was a homeschool deal on the day we decided to ski, so it cost us 1/3 the price.  If you plan to go skiing this season, it's well worth a phone call to see if there's a homeschool special on particular days. (You may want to bring a homeschool ID with you. You can create one for you and your children at the homeschool buyer's co-op. It is free.)

For the most part we came away unscathed, though at one point I took LD and DD up to the top of the mountain. LD was in the chair ahead of me and lost a ski as he got on, so I brought it up with me.  When we got to the top the attendant came towards me to get the ski. I was paying attention to him, not poor DD when I realized she hadn't gotten off the chairlift!! Oh my goodness!! The attendant rushed back and shut down the lift, but not before DD was up about 12 feet in the air.  They had her slide onto her belly and dangle down (we still couldn't touch her ski she was that high up).  "Is she athletic?" they asked me. "Ummm..." "Okay honey, now drop down and we'll catch you." And poor DD dropped out of the sky into the two attendants' and my arms.

Another event later in the evening, had LD slip off the chair just as they were starting out.  Dad hadn't even lowered the safety bar when LD started slipping. Dad managed to grab LD's arm and he dangled down (not too terribly high, but enough for LD to make a good story of it and scare the pants off me!).  They stopped the lift and LD safely got down to the ground and rode the next chair up.

Overall, the kids had a blast.  Even ED had a fantastic time... skiing for probably about five of the eight hours! That meant endless runs for me (or Dad) up the carpet lift and down the hill bending over and holding ED upright. (She never did really get the "pizza" position properly.)

So now we'll be getting back into the swing of things this week.  I did get quite a bit of planning done for the new semester. I'm feeling refreshed and ready for the new term; hopefully the kids are too!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Spelling: Long I words--igh and ie words

 I found a bingo card creator and have made several cards so LD can do some reviewing.  This is the "long A" sound words, but you can create any word list you want.  Here is the link to the bingo card creator website.

I'm often raving about All About Spelling and just wanted to include a picture of the tiles. Each lesson presents a new rule and before writing on paper, the kids practice pulling tiles down to create the word. We start out our lesson reviewing some old words before going on to the current lesson.

Some homeschoolers have a big board for this. Since we often sit on the floor, this small whiteboard has worked out well for us so far.

This is another word sort for the long I sound-- ight words and ie words. I found this at Oceans of First Grade Fun. Thanks Yolanda!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Phases of the Moon Activity: Homemade Oreo Cookie Recipe (Yum!!)

We had a lot of fun with this part of our astronomy unit.We talked about the phases of the moon. We started off with a lamp and held an egg in our hand. Then we moved the egg slowly around, watching how the shadow on the egg changed as the egg moved relative to the earth/our eyes.  We all took turns slowly watching the shadows on the egg change (photo blend below).  Then we pulled out some readings and read about the different names of these shadows... half moon, crescent moon, gibbous moon, etc.

We filled out a worksheet (photo above) and went on to the Phases of the Moon lapbook pages below. I didn't like this lapbook quite as much as the others because it didn't include the gibbous phase (look at the egg collage: middle picture/top row) when there's a lot of light and only a sliver of shadow. I printed out the worksheet from the teacherfile box (all the Evan Moor books available as printables such as history pockets, take it to your seat science centers and more).  I got my subscription for 30% off from homeschool buyers coop. You can also make your own Homeschool IDs there.
Next we went on to showing the light and shadows on oreo cookies. I've seen this activity done with "real" oreos (sorry can't remember when or where), but I've had this homemade oreo recipe to try out for two years.  This is the first time we actually used it. Oh my goodness, those cookies were awesome!! I'll share the recipe below.  First, here are oreo moon phases:

First we followed the sheet exactly, making sure the light and shadows were aligned properly.  Then we started with the full moon at the top and I had the kids try to figure out what came next (picture below). They had to concentrate pretty hard to do this.
Homemade Oreos:
And now the recipe:
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (it called for "Dutch process cocoa, I used Hershey's unsweetened cocoa)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar (I used 1 1/4)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons room-temperature unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks)
1 large egg

Place very small spoonfuls of batter on the greased cookie pan.  Be sure not to make the blobs too large because they flatten and spread out a lot. Since we made ours into proper looking oreos (cream in the middle) after this activity, the cookies wound up huge (larger then I wanted the kids to be eating in one sitting).

Bake for 9 minutes at 375.

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

The print out has been in my recipe box forever, but there is a tribute: "Adapted from Retro Desserts, Wayne Brachman." Again, sorry I don't have an original link.