Friday, December 16, 2011

Last Day Before Vacation

Today was our last day of "school" before a fun winter break!

We finished our geography study with Paddle-to-the-Sea by Holling C. Holling. I took these photos before the maps were fully colored in--I should have waited because they look even more awesome now!

We read a couple more chapters of Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes together, and then we went for a SWIM!

Hope you had a great day!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Super-Awesome week so far...

We are staying busy indoors while it's COLD outdoors!

We started our week by decorating our little classroom tree. It's blue! This photo makes it look like we pulled a charred branch out of the fire pit, but the tree is actually a very pretty shade of blue. (Maybe that pale, snowy light coming from the window messed up the color...???)

We enjoyed listening to this CD that I picked up on our trip to New Mexico. Robert Mirabal is an award-winning flute maker and musician.

We had some interesting discussions based on our "That's Debatable!" questions. This one was, "Trucking companies should have to pay higher taxes because they damage roads and pollute the air."

The kids quickly discovered that situations like these are complex and black/white/right/wrong thinking just doesn't work!

We played a few rounds of Animal Classification Go Fish. (I saved this wonderful felt gift bag from my birthday...I knew it would be perfect for something!)

These cards are yet another awesome Pinterest find. It was fun to hear the kids say, "Hey, I didn't know these animals were related!"

After playing the classification game, we compared reptiles and amphibians.

It's amazing how a few Angry Birds stickers can turn practicing fact families into a "game." I'm thinking of making some kind of bean bag toss for this to add a kinesthetic element.

Speaking of games, pop and potato chips make every game more fun! This is Three-in-a-Row from Lakeshore Learning. The kids found it to be way too easy (I guess they know their division facts better than I realized) so they changed it to "Five-in-a-Row." (And they tried placing their discs on the board tiddlywinks style. Which led to a lot of mayhem and lots of discs all over the classroom floor.)

We practiced spelling with a fun idea from Pinterest. For some reason, I can't find the specific post, but the original idea came from Hello Literacy. Anything to get Dude to practice those spelling words!

Here is my Spelling Stamps tub.

And here are the instructions. Really working on the "put it back after use" rule around here!

We also reviewed how to add -ing to words that end in -e. I had noticed a few errors in the kids' writing and wanted to give them some hands-on practice with this. I just wrote each letter of the word on Post-it Notes. The kids yanked away the -e and slapped down an -ing.

This is our Daily Puzzler box. I found the cute winter box in the dollar section of Target. I'm using Laura Candler's Daily Math Puzzlers for this activity.

The kids pick one and we work them together on the white board. After we solve the problem, the kids get to write "SOLVED" or "BTDT" or something similar in big red letters on the card. So satisfying!

This is our Quiz Bowl. (The polar bear container is from Dollar Tree.) As we move through our week, I'm jotting down questions about what we have learned. On Friday, the kids will pull questions out and answer them.

This is way more fun than an actual test! Plus I can keep the questions in the bowl for as long as necessary, or save them for a review later.

We spotted this garter snake in our flower bed. He was trying to soak up a few rays between snowstorms.

Remember our pale, dinky amaryllis? Just one week of TLC and it's almost 6 inches tall!

Hope you're having a great week, too!

It's Cran-Tastic!

We finally finished our cranberry study today! Of course I had planned to do this with the kids before Thanksgiving, but never had time to do all the activities. I thought it looked like a lot of fun when I read about it at Almost Unschoolers, and I didn't want to abandon the idea...

First we opened our cranberries crosswise and lengthwise to compare the patterns inside.

Look how teeny tiny the seeds are! They fit inside the pattern on the paper towel!

We watched an interesting video about cranberries here. (And we got a kick out of the way the British narrator pronounces cranberries.)

We predicted that the cranberries would float due to the little air pockets inside. We floated a few cranberries in water, then discussed how cranberries are harvested.

I made a very thin cranberry slice and put it on a microscope slide.

I can't believe this almost kind of worked! I didn't know I could take a picture through the microscope lens. The focus isn't the best, but still, it's cool.

I had made cranberry juice the night before by soaking about a cup of cranberries in very hot water. (I poured boiling water over them and when that didn't release much color, I microwaved them for a minute.)

So here we have plain white vinegar, orange juice (we were out of lemons,) baking soda and baking powder. The kids remembered the basics of acids and bases. They both predicted that cranberry juice would be acidic, but weren't sure just seemed like it would be.

Their suspicions were confirmed when the vinegar and the orange juice didn't do anything. But look what happened when we dropped in some baking soda!

Then the baking powder...

It floated on top at first, so the kids got impatient and decided to stir it. Then it got foamy and turned deep purplish-blue.

We really enjoyed our cranberry study--thanks to Almost Unschooling Mom for a fun idea!

P.S. A million points if you get the title reference!