Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Spontaneous Sewing and Related Activitites

I collected some sewing items and placed them in a basket for my 7-year-old. My favorite item is a small hoop that I filled with an old sleeve from a men's dress shirt. The other items include a needle threader, spools of thread, and scissors. My daughter has now added tape, much preferring to tape the thread on the back of her sewing project over tying knots (how do you teach knotting thread - I can't do it either).

My eldest does not do anything in a tedious fashion - coloring is barely within the lines. When I talked about sewing in rows or with small stitches, she responded with "I don't like to do it like that." I'm just glad she likes to sew. After finishing this first sampler for her brother's birthday, she sewed a simple dress for a bunny rabbit and embellished it with a pretty button. Her momma was darn proud.

I bought a salt shaker at the grocery so my little ones could enjoy decorating the lid with sewing pins. My almost-5-year-old much preferred decorating the pin cushion and using the salt shaker as part of the "pin cushion bug".

This needle threader is a jewel of a find. I had no idea what it was until I saw it on someone's blog (wish I could remember where and give them credit). I, the mechanical engineer, could not figure out how to use it (a failed presentation). But my 7-year-old figured it out by herself and now uses it with ease to thread a needle - very convenient if the artist likes to use lots of colors.

The 24-month-old found a new use for our marbles. She made a noise machine with the sewing tin lid. She enjoyed dropping the marbles on the tin and rolling them around and around. Then she had fun putting the marbles back into an old spray bottle, showing more patience than usual with the large quantity of marbles. She has had lots of practice, so she can now pick up 4 or 5 at a time and use her hand as a funnel.

My dear children must learn many things on their own. Their mother does not have many skills in the homemaking arena - though God is teaching me day by day! Many times I will try to teach or "present" something to my kids and it's literally the first time I have ever attempted the procedure. We have many frustrations and failures. And sewing was no different...until I set out the needed equipment and let the my eldest child teach herself and wow - she took off on it and does not want to stop.

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven--
   ...A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
   A time to be silent and a time to speak.

Ecclesiastes 3:1,7

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Marbles, Chopsticks, Rocks, and More

Spray Bottle, Marbles, Chopsticks, and a 24-month-old
The older kids like to fill the bottle with marbles (24-month-old gives up after 5 marbles or so), and the 24-month-old likes to add chopsticks. I rather like the presentation factor.

Fastening Mommy's Watch
Upon request from the almost-5-year old, he was allowed to have my watch and the little watch pillow to practice fastening and unfastening a watch. He has an amazing amount of patience for these tasks.

Ice Trays and Cotton Balls
A kitty ice tray has become a great tool for practicing all kinds of fine motor skills. The ice try was filled with cotton balls and the 24-month-old was removing the cotton balls with tweezers and then refilling the ice tray upon completion. The same day, the 24-month-old also practiced filling our usual ice trays with a 2-cup measure of water. These acivities are popular with the 7-year-old and the almost-5-year-old as well.

Easter Egg Tray and Pinto Beans
I think this Easter egg tray is so cute, but it has not been as popular as I would have thought for the kids. I placed 12 pinto beans on the little pink tray and I demonstrated with my pincher fingers putting one bean per hole. My 24-month-old only enjoyed this as long as I was at her side, and the minute I turned to help the older children, she began dumping both the pink tray and the bunny tray on the floor and everywhere else (effective strike). On previous strikes, I have removed the offending item, but this time I tried once more and stayed with her until she completed the task. Upon seeing that each hole had a bean and that she had used all the beans from the floor and her lap, she seemed quite pleased with herself.

Rock Bath
A dear relative who loves to shop asked my 7-year-old what she could bring her from the country of Oman. And my sweet child asked for rocks. :) So here are her beloved rocks receiving their first American bath.

The Rock! His work is perfect,
For all His ways are just;
A God of faithfulness and without injustice,
Righteous and upright is He.

Deuteronomy 32:4

Friday, April 24, 2009

Washing and Peeling Potatoes Outside

Today we washed and peeled potatoes outside. I would love to get back to the roots of food preparation - inspired by nomads and others that posh society deems as uncivilized. It is so much more fun to do anything outside for children - even in bad weather. Today it was 80 degrees and sunny so damp clothing was no big deal.

Children love produce and and they love water. So it doesn't get much better than dunking potatoes in a bowl of water and scrubbing them with a wash rag. This is a popular activity at our house and begins about when they can sit in a high chair. The children will spend so much time washing the produce that I will eventually have to order them to give over the vegetable for food prep. Today the almost-5-yr and 24 mos. were participating.

After washing the potatoes, the almost-5-yr and 7 yr olds were given the task of peeling potatoes while I helped the 24 mos. use the potato water to water the plants (so she would not be trying to take their peelers away). She loved pouring the water from the bowl through the funnel this time, but I made the mistake of using all the water in one trip so the distraction activity was not nearly long enough.

It just so happened that the 7 yr who is well acquainted with a peeler was using her peeler to stab the potato and therefore lost the privilege of peeling and given the privilege of distracting the 24 month old. Oh, the joys of parenting.

I greatly assisted in the orderliness of these pictures, though it is my hope that I will some day succeed in teaching my children the "clean up" routine so that it will become habit, requiring no thought from them nor direction from me.

There were other things I wanted to add to this post, but this will have to do for now!

May the LORD reward your work, and your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.
Ruth 2:12

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Canada Geese Nesting on our Pond

We have been thrilled to watch a pair of Canada geese nesting on our neighborhood's pond. In a neighborhood of 1500 homes, we greatly appreciate ANY glimpses of creation. The female goose has not left her nest in at least a week and the gander (male goose) keeps watch usually from the pond.

Did you know that the geese go through a molting phase and during that phase they cannot fly? Then they regrow their flight feathers and their goslings grow their first flight feathers and off they go. I also thought it was interesting that the gander is incredibly protective of the eggs, but once the goslings hatch, the parents will sometimes care for goslings other than their own.

The pictures on this post are (1) the gander coming to tell us to buzz off (2) the goose on her nest and (3) a picture of the landscape surrounding the nest.

The following links have info on the Canada geese which I then used to teach the kids and create pictures cards:

Great Plains Nature Center
U.S. Humane Society
Canada Geese and Parasites Article
Personal Account of Canada Geese Nesting

And we found out at kidwings.com that it is illegal in the States to collect native bird feathers (to protect the birds). The site that has that information has GREAT bird information, like pictures and labels of feather types, bird diagrams, and more.

I used the printables maker at senteacher.org to create pictures cards with labels. The search engine was able to find pictures of goslings, a nesting goose, a swimming goose, a flight in v-formation, a clutch of eggs, and a molted feather (I didn't know birds molt!). I am still trying to figure out how I can post those picture cards.

I love homeschooling - I never would have researched Canada goose unless God had forced us to homeschool - now I can't get enough!

But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you;
    And the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you.
Or speak to the earth, and let it teach you;
    And let the fish of the sea declare to you.
Who among all these does not know
    That the hand of the LORD has done this,
In whose hand is the life of every living thing,
    And the breath of all mankind?

Job 12:7-10

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Continent Study at the Zoo

Sweet Daddy took us to the zoo today. It was a spur of the moment trip and my 7 yr asked if i could make the trip into a scavenger hunt (a GREAT teaching tool we've used previously). Instead of making a list for her, we grabbed a piece of paper, a pencil, and our world continents map and went on our way.

Our zoo has a continents map on each animal exhibit. The kids (7 and 4) have been hearing alot about South America - its animals and the rainforest and Amazon river. So first we decided to make a list of all the animals at the zoo that were from South America. There were only three, so it was an easy assignment. And then we decided to tally the number of animals from each continent on the continent map. The race was close between Africa and Asia, but Africa won in the end.

We only spent a little over an hour at the zoo before it closed and we practically ran to the different exhibits, but the kids had a blast and we only skipped a few exhibits due to time. I can't wait to see what God will teach us on our next visit to the zoo!

So they went into the ark to Noah, by twos of all flesh in which was the breath of life. Those that entered, male and female of all flesh, entered as God had commanded him; and the LORD closed it behind him.
Genesis 7:15-16

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tent Caterpillars - Webs in Trees

Wow! The tent caterpillars have made their webs in the trees and there are TONS of them crawling in and out of the webs. Honestly they gross me out but the kids are fascinated. Unfortunately, the tent caterpillars are destructive little things and a third of the leaves on the most infested tree are gone.

We did not know the name of the caterpillars so we called our local nature center and they gave us the "tent" caterpillar name. After researching on the web, we found their life cycle and more interesting facts like predators and natural protection methods.

Life Cycle and Pictures
Moth Picture
Natural Pest Control

If we were organized, I might print the pictures of the moth and different life stages and make them into cards. Then I'd put a circular item on the floor and tell a story about grandmother moth, etc. going around the circle. We did that for the frog life cycle and my 4 yr still practices the story with the life cycle cards by himself. We used the bottom of my sewing tin as our circular container. Thank you Lord for these fun yet simple ideas! The favorite parts of the story might involve some predator action but the kids remember and understand it!

"I smote you with scorching wind and mildew;
And the caterpillar was devouring
Your many gardens and vineyards, fig trees and olive trees;
Yet you have not returned to Me," declares the LORD.

Amos 4:9

Monday, April 13, 2009

States 101

The kids (7 and 4) fight over our interactive globe and like to be quizzed on states, countries, and continents that they know. Inspired by Montessori map studies, we ventured into the realm of pin-pushing a state (from the U.S.) to learn some new states in a fun fashion.

My 7 yr old picked Iowa which I of course knew NOTHING about and so began the hunt. Found some fun stuff. And 7 yr liked most of it - except the part where I mistakenly thought she might like to read a Wikipedia page about Iowa (I liked it) - gotta stick to the "living books" as Charlotte Mason would call them.

The best sites we have found for doing history research are museum websites. Many times they will have interactive games and booklists for children. The following games were a hit for my 7 yr.

President Hoover Hats - Interactive with Fun Facts
Iowa State Symbols and Facts Quiz
Historical Iowa Farm Picture Quiz

State Symbols Pictures


Montessori Journey - United States Pin Pushing

State Nomenclature and Abbreviations - Pictures of Flag, Bird, Flower, etc.
United States Maps

Numbers in a row:an Iowa number book / written by Patricia A. Pierce

* Laura Ingalls Wilder who wrote "Little House on the Prairie" lived in Iowa with her family for a short time.
* Corn Palaces (yes, miniature palaces made of corn) were built in Iowa to celebrate the corn harvest in the late 1800's.

Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the LORD your God.
Leviticus 19:9-10

Teacher blogging about her Montessori classroom.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Freed Slave and Pioneer

Many of our field trips have included trips to former plantations since we live in the southern United States. These former plantations provide a wonderful opportunity to teach our children about slavery. Today we read a book about a freed slave who bravely searched the country for her daughter who had been sold apart from her when she was 10 years old. As usual, I could barely finish reading aloud to my daughter. We live in such a cushy world with our field trips and soccer. May we not forget what has gone on before us and what still goes on today.

Aunt Clara Brown Offical Pioneer

Apology from a Racist

O Lord, I beseech You, may Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and the prayer of Your servants who delight to revere Your name
Nehemiah 1:11

Montessori Spanish
Wide range of topics in a Montessori education.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Creek Time, Habitats, Palm Leaf Cross Craft, More...

Animals and their Habitats
Tundra, Rainforest, Ocean, Desert. Kids loved matching the animals to the habitats. Though I had to look online to know where they lived!
Habitat Quiz
Tundra, grassland, woodland, rainforest, desert. Somewhat informative. Advanced for 7 yr old but she likes a challenge as long as it is on the computer.
Rainforest Lapbook
We are way too disorganized to do such a thing but what fun for a kid - if the parent is not too critical and allows much creative freedom.

One of our favorite outdoor activities is creek time. A short walk from our house is a small creek that the kids adore. The 7 and 4 yr olds spend between 5-20 minutes exploring. The 24 month old plays in the stroller with the wildflowers, sticks, or nuts that I give her. The big kids need little direction or inspiration. There are rocks, sticks, bark, snails, ladybugs, wildflowers, and oh so much more! There are fluid mechanics, botany, biology, ecology, and the God of creation in every visit.

On the 2nd day of taking an 8 yr old neighbor with us to the creek, she said it was the "best day of her life - well, except for yesterday" (the first day we took her to the creek).

Kids love the outdoors and I prayed God would help me get them outside more often. It was torture for me. Then my mother became ill, and out of necessity we had to be out of the house to keep it quiet for my mom who passed away a short time later. So from tragedy comes one of many blessings - we now go outside almost every day even in extremely cold weather. It is WONDERFUL! (Though I confess I do not always want to go.)

Cross Craft from Palm Leaves
I made them - kids were busy taping them to their other crafts which included egg collages made from broken dyed egg shells (from nature center class). FUN!

Create Your Own Nomenclature Cards Online
AWESOME! Creates cards with your words and site searches Internet to find matching pictures.

God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
Genesis 1:31

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Frog Frenzy, Online Games, New Links

Our local nature center offered a class for little ones about eggs today. Did you know that in springtime frogs lay their eggs in clusters and toads lay their eggs like a necklace? I thought frogs were toads!

My daughter saw life cycle diagrams in some of our library books and spontaneously began creating life cycle diagrams of her own one day. Butterflies and frogs are especially fun life cycles because there are so many stages. Below are links to frog life cycles as well as a quick introduction for us that are clueless.

Frog Life Cycle Cards
Frog Life Cycle Description
Frog Life Cycle and Diagram
Life Cycle Cards for Ants, Frogs, Butterflies, Ladybugs (free registration)
Frog Life Cycle Work from Montessori Teacher

If your town has a local nature center or if there are ranger sponsored events close to you at nearby parks, your kids will learn more in one trip than a month of reading about nature.

Today, the naturalist flipped over a lily pad in the pond and on the bottom was a black snail and lots of snail eggs. Then they dug into a heap of brush and dirt for worms. In another pond, the kids saw the tadpoles and a turtle hanging out on a rock. For moms who cannot tolerate the outdoors, it's a wonderful opportunity to create a love for nature in your kids with the help of a nature lover.

For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
Romans 8:19-21


Homemade Montessori
The Learning Ark
Chasing Cheerios
Montessori Homeschool

Homemade Montessori
Great homemade science classification cards.
Making Learning Fun
Creative learning printables with countless themes and seasons.

Grocery School - Spring Flowers

Monday is grocery day. Weekends we save for Daddy time so by Monday, we are short on supplies. God's lesson plan for the last few weeks at the grocery has been on seasonal flowers, especially bulb flowers right now. As I see them popping up in our neighbors' yards, I show the kids. And them comes grocery day. Great time for review and the kids love it.

If you're curious, we are just passing daffodil and hyacinth season, and entering tulip season with lilies on the horizon. And no, we did not study this in a book. This is just from taking walks or looking out the car window, and then taking a trip to the grocery.

And getting a book from the library would be a wonderful next step if I could stop getting overdue charges that prevent me from reserving books. Baby steps, baby steps.

Here are some coloring sheets that I may have the kids paint in one way or another. Or maybe not. Or we could make a matching game with the flower and name. Or maybe not.


List of Flowers with coloring pages:
Flowers by Month