Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sunny Tuesday School

We started our school day today with an addition warm-up. (Kiddos always complain that they don't need to review, but I noticed that they were a bit rusty with a few addition facts!) This is a game called "Hamster Run" from Really Good Stuff.

Then they compared numbers in "Get to the Top," from The Mailbox's Mix & Match Math Games. (Yes, those are hamsters climbing the mountain...the kids really liked the hamster game pieces from the first game!)

We learned about Mobius strips today and decided to make some of our own. Take a strip of paper and label the corners A, B, C, and D.

Make a loop, but twist the paper so that B is lined up with C and A is lined up with D. Tape the ends together and you have a Mobius strip!

What happens when you start drawing a line on the inside of the strip?

Hey, wait a second! I started this line on the inside and now I'm on the outside!

And now I'm back where I started from!

What happens if I cut along the line I drew?

Wow, I got a longer Mobius strip!

We made several strips and cut them different ways. We ended up with really curly, intertwined Mobius strips...

...and two connected loops. The kids really enjoyed experimenting with them!

We planted our Christmas amaryllis today as well. When we opened the box, we discovered that our bulb already had a few pale leaves and a bud.

The kids were careful to leave the "neck" of the bulb exposed.

A little water...

...and some sunshine...

...and our amaryllis will be taller than 3.5 inches very soon!

Took a lunch break and enjoyed some very silly Christmas Mad Libs.

I've been waiting for a warm, sunny day to do some measurement practice outdoors.
Gallon Man reminded us how many cups are in a pint, how many pints are in a quart, etc.

The kids measured 16 cups of birdseed into a gallon orange juice container. We compared the orange juice container to our half-gallon of milk and calculated how many cups and pints our milk carton contains.

When we finished practicing our measurements, we made a treat for the birds!

Hope you had a great day, too!

New Stuff in our Classroom

We're trying a few new things in our classroom this week. I found a fun spelling idea on Pinterest: clothespin spelling! I made cards with all of the kids' spelling words for the next two weeks, and I used a plain old ballpoint pen to put letters on the wooden clothespins.

I believe this activity was originally used for sight words for young readers, but it works really well for spelling, too. Dude, in particular, hates to write, but is willing to practice his spelling words in alternative ways.
(I'm hoping it might improve his pincer grasp and fine motor skills as well!)

Another new classroom activity: "That's Debatable!"

We talk about all kinds of things in our family, from the current economy and how it's affecting Americans to the unrest in North Africa and the Middle East. One of my goals for my children is that they are well-informed enough to discuss "big" topics, and that they have the skills to defend their positions in arguments. The kids really enjoy our family discussions so I thought up some argument-starters and put them in the "That's Debatable" basket

We'll use these to start our day, as a break from lessons, or to fill a few minutes whenever we need a quick activity.

These are small and hard to read in the photo, so here they are:

"The 'good old days' were a lot better than today. We should try to live the way people lived 'back then.'"

"Students in other first world countries have higher math scores than American students. This means that American students are lazy and should work harder."

"Grocery stores should stop giving people plastic bags so people will be forced to bring their own bags. That's how they do it in European countries."

"Learning to spell correctly is a waste of time because we have spell-check now."

"Kids should be taught to use 'Sir' and 'Ma'am' when speaking to adults."

"All politicians are crooks! We should kick them out and put ordinary people in those offices!"

"Opinions are like math problems. You're either right or you're wrong."

It's amazing how impassioned the kids can be about issues like these, and it's a lot of fun to hear them express and defend their opinions. I'm frequently surprised by what they have to say, and I can't always predict what side they will be on!

Well, the guinea pigs are neither new nor in the classroom, but they did hang out with Super and me over the weekend while I did lesson plans and she made cute little felt critters. She wasn't feeling well, so this was a nice restful project to work on...

Guinea Pig





Friday, November 18, 2011

Highlights from the week

We took a lovely fall walk and saw these birds flying. They were soooooo high up and I don't have a powerful zoom on my camera, so they look like a dot-to-dot here.

And we saw this handsome fellow relaxing in the grass. He didn't seem too bothered by us (but we kept a safe distance!)

We played "Which One Doesn't Belong?" (I need harder questions next time!)

We read "November" by Thomas Hood. I'm glad this poem doesn't describe our weather! As you can see, Dude gave the poem a lousy "review."

We made a fall word web, then used our ideas to write our own poem.

I'm really not sure what is happening here. I'm pretty sure I didn't take this photo.

Another homeschooling family organized a great activity: making bags for homeless people. Each bag contained a water bottle, a snack, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a bar of soap, a pair of socks, a pack of gum, and wet wipes. We always keep a few of these in our car for when we see someone in need.

We reviewed parallel and perpendicular lines, along with lines, rays, and angles. (Dude gets a little carried away with the arrows on the ends.)

We enjoyed some vanilla cake--not homemade but still very good. These pieces look tiny because this is what we got when we split the last piece!

We treated Gomez for an ear infection, and trust me, that is a challenge. Apparently he would rather hurt, itch, and run a fever than get two little squirts of medicine a day.

I put an idea from Pinterest into action. I moved our various household cleaners out of the laundry room and put them in a shoe holder on the kitchen door. It's not the prettiest decorating idea, but at least they are accessible--and maybe we'll use them more now that we can see them!

Analogies, Pilgrims, dividing hundreds, and probability; guitar, piano, and drum lessons; Scouts, karate, animal care, and whatever else that I can't remember right now! It was a fun, busy week! Hope yours was, too!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Trying something new...

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Anatomical Pilgrims

Dude was grumpy today because he got some terrible news. He is not allowed to quit piano lessons now that he's taking drum lessons. (His mother is so mean!)

He didn't bring much enthusiasm to our history class after that. He refused to put together his Pilgrim man, telling me, "This is a project for four-year-olds."

I told him that I knew it was geared towards younger kids, but it was just supposed to be a fun little activity to keep their hands busy while we read these books:

And these:

Meanwhile, Super (who plays the guitar and doesn't have to take piano, which is so unfair) worked quietly on her Pilgrim woman.

After a few minutes, she noted: "My Pilgrim lady is totally hollow. She can't survive like that!" She proceeded to make a heart, brain and pair of lungs and glued them inside.

Dude watched for a minute, then chimed in: "I'll make her some white blood cells to protect her from smallpox!"

Super: "You can make her a pancreas, too!"

Dude also cut a long strip of paper and twisted and folded it into intestines. (And yes, the Pilgrim couple ended up with all the main body systems.)

Much hilarity ensued, with comments such as: "Eew, his spinal cord is stuck to my finger!" and "Don't even bother making an appendix. It will just get infected."

Thank you, Super, for taking a rather uninspired idea and making it infinitely better! And for helping your brother get into a better mood!

Not exactly the lesson I had planned...but they are learning just the same!