Thursday, January 26, 2012

Learning about Monarch Butterflies

One fond school memory my older children have is raising butterflies. We bought a special kit, ordered our caterpillars and watched the magnificent change take place. My younger girls have been asking if they can have butterflies this year. As soon as the weather gets warmer, we will be ordering a new group of butterflies to observe. While we are waiting though, we started to learn all about these wonderful creatures by watching  Your Backyard: The Monarch Butterfly from Crowe's Nest Media.

Crowe's Nest media is a company run by a homeschooling family. They aim to produce nature videos that show God's marvelous creation.The Monarch video is a semi-finalist in the upcoming San Antonio Independent Christian Film festival for Best Documentary Film and Best Creation Film. That is quite an accomplishment!

We have studied about butterflies before and I thought I knew my stuff. I was pleasantly surprised at how much new information I learned about Monarchs! I had no idea about instar caterpillar stages, the difference between Monarchs and Painted Ladies, and that Monarch butterflies could be tagged.

The DVD is high-quality and presents the information in an interesting yet fun manner. All my children ages 3yrs. to 13yrs. enjoyed watching this video. I love that Crowe's Nest media showed how God wonderfully crafted these creatures. The images were stunning and I was so impressed with the children narrating the DVD. This is an awesome Christian science/nature-study resource to have-- and share with others.

After we watching the video a couple of times, we pulled out our Christian Kids Explore Science book and read more about butterflies. In the book it had a great idea of creating a butterfly life-cycle mobile---which we did. We talked about the many things we learned in the video.

Here's a closer view of the caterpillar---we think he turned out cute!

Oh no! We got a patchwork butterfly instead of a Monarch! :)

Crowe's Nest Media is in the process of finishing a downloadable study guide to go along with the Monach butterfly DVD. The study guide is designed to help children integrate the contents of the DVD and to further their learning. It will include content review, discussion questions, copy work pages for various ages, coloring pages, and opportunities for further study. There will also be notebooking pages so that children can create a "monarch" keepsake notebook. I'm looking forward to using this resource with my kids.

Your Backyard Monach DVD $19.95

If you purchase the DVD now and use coupon code : SpellOutLoud you will get the study guide download free when it is available (roughly a $9.00 value) plus $1 off the initial purchase. This code is good until Friday, Feb. 3, 2012 (feel free to share this code with others!)

Crowe's Nest Media is letting me giveaway 1 DVD to one of you! But wait--- there are also other bloggers giving away a copy of this wonderful DVD. Just visit each of the following blogs below for another chance to win.

*To enter, sign-in on the Rafflecopter widget. You can use your Facebook account, or under that big button is a sign-in with email link. Rafflecopter and SpellOutloud do not collect this contact information. It is only to notify winners.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Visit these blogs to see their reviews and another chance at winning a DVD:

The Curriculum Choice
Finding Joy
Handbook of Nature Study
Mama's Learning Corner
The Traveling Praters
Get Along Home
Feels Like Home

Disclosure: I received this DVD and the giveaway copy in exchange for a review. The opinions stated are mine. I also will receive a small affiliate commission if you purchase the DVD using the coupon code listed above. Thank you in advance for supporting this site.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Getting Ready for Nursery Rhyme Time

Starting in Feb. I will be posting Nursery Rhyme activities both here and on Totally Tots on Thursdays. Nursery rhymes are a wonderful way to introduce young learners to rhymes and develop phonemic awareness. Did you know that it is a skill to hear words that rhyme? I have been working on getting things ready for this unit and thought it might be helpful to list some of my thoughts and resources that I will be using.

The Books:

There are many different collections and version of Nursery Rhymes. I will mainly be using classic nursery rhymes. If you haven't read any nursery rhymes for awhile, you might want to pre-read the book versions you will be using. Some of those classic poems might be too harsh or violent (i.e. certain version of the Old Woman in the Shoe say,"She whipped them all soundly and put them to bed," while other versions say, "She gave them all kisses and sent them to bed.")

The Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme book by Scott Gustafson is a beautiful, hardback book. The pictures are gorgeous! I'm tempted to tear them out and frame them. My children love to look at the pictures in this book. I do want to point out that one poem included in the book, the Bat, Bat poem, has a picture of a wizard catching a bat.

My Very First Mother Goose is another good beginning collection. Wonderful illustrations. Some of the standard nursery rhymes are missing such as Mary Had a Little Lamb.

Best Mother Goose Ever by Richard Scarry is the book I grew up listening to when I was a kid. Typical Richard Scarry style illustrations.

Sylvia Long's Mother Goose is another collection that has good reviews on Amazon. I don't own this version yet but hope to add it to our collection soon.

This week I've been printing off nursery rhyme poem pages and sequence cards. Each week I will introduce a new poem (or two) and we will add the poem to our Nursery Rhyme notebooks. Any crafts and other misc. things will also be placed in the notebook. I plan on using the sequence cards in our pocket chart for retelling the rhyme. I will probably be printing off pages from Kizclub too. There are word cards plus coloring pages. Some of the full color pages could be printed on magnet paper and used for retelling.

I also gathered up various odds and ends that go with different rhymes. We will use those objects for retelling and games.

For those who are wondering what rhymes I will be doing--- well I never know for sure but here is a partial list to start:

Little Bo Peep
Mary Had a Little Lamb
Baa, Baa, Black Sheep
Twinkle, Twinkle
Hey Diddle, Diddle
Jack and Jill
Jack Be Nimble
Little Jack Horner
Hickory Dickory Dock

I've also been collecting Nursery Rhyme ideas on my Pinterest board. If you have any great nursery rhyme links, leave it in the comments so I can add it.

Pin It

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Lego Learning and More

I've been enjoying using Instagram on my iPad. Though not as convenient as an iPhone, I still love the instant way to share photos with others. Here are some photos from the past week and a half:

Pictures 1, 2, and 4: My son has been on a huge Lego kick this month. He has confiscated any sort of bins/bowls/drawers for sorting his collection by color. He even set up a way to photograph his creations using white foam core board and my craft light. He would love to get a stop-motion camera and start creating Lego movies too. He came up with the Noah creation after our history readings this past week. He now tells me he wants to get a bunch of the Roman Lego mini-figures so he can recreate even more history lessons. Yeah, I won't fall for that one---lol! Every day I have to make sure he's actually doing his school work and not just building, but I do love that he is being creative and learning new skills (such as photographing and photo-editing).

Picture 3: We got our brand new WriteShop Junior D curriculum in the mail this week. I will be using this with my 9yr. old daughter. I glanced through it and am so excited to start! We will start on Monday and I'll be sharing my opinions on the program next month.

Picture 5: One of the many science experiments we did this week and half just for fun.

Picture 6:  Each of my kids has their own clipboards. My little girls especially love theirs. When we are doing "school" each of them clip papers and either draw or color while we are reading or talking about things. They tell me they are doing their school work too :)

Picture 7: My girlfriends and I made a double-batch of The Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls. Boy are these good!! I don't think I would have ever made these on my own because when I first read the instructions I was overwhelmed. But it really isn't that hard. Now I feel like I can try these on my own. :)

Picture 8: I know I've shared about my Borsa Bell iPad bag before. I started carrying my bag around as a purse and it was too small for all the extras I needed, so I upgraded to the large Hobo iPad bag--picking the same fabric as before. I LOVE IT! It fits my iPad, wallet, Kindle (if I had one) makeup, diapers, and more!

Picture 9: I've been planning our week, our co-op class for Feb. and a nursery rhyme unit (to be coming up soon).

How was your week?

Linking up with:

Camera Phone Friday hostess Dawn Camp @ My Home Sweet Home
Weekly Wrap-Up hostess Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers 
Collage Friday with Mary at Home Grown Learners


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fun with Science

This past week I pulled out various science books and we went through and picked out experiments to try. Do you know how freeing that was? We picked them out to do them for fun! No learning objectives other than what the kids observed on their own. Here are a few that we did:

Static Electricity:

With the air being so dry in my house right now, I knew this would be the perfect time to have some fun with static electricity. It never gets old seeing hair stick up on end or secretively trying to stick a balloon on someone's back. We had lots of fun and giggles with this one.

Baking Soda and Vinegar Reactions:

We blew up a balloon using vinegar and baking soda! An easy way to observe a chemical reaction and bi-products of that reaction.

Sedimentary Rock Building:

What? This doesn't look like science? Well we made this creation to demonstrate sedimentary rocks! This recipe is found in Christian Kids Explore Science Earth and Science book.

Neutrons, Protons, Electrons Oh My!

My 9 yr. old and 12yr. old worked on building an atomic model and models of H2O and O2 molecules from Styrofoam balls. We followed the directions found in Christian Kids Explore Science: Chemistry book.

Observing Nature in the Comfort of my Home:

I also got this awesome DVD in the mail from Crowe's Nest Media. Oh it makes me wish spring was near! I'll be writing in more detail about it next week along with other bloggers and we'll be giving away a couple DVD's too.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up: Illuminations

I can't believe I'm organized enough to actually link up in my first ever Weekly-Wrap Up hosted by WUHS. We've been working hard at getting back into the school grove after the holidays. We added some new curriculum this semester and will be adding WriteShop Junior book D to the line-up as soon as the mailman delivers it.

We finished up our second week of using Illuminations and Mystery of History Vol.1. Illuminations is is an all-inclusive *curriculum, covering Bible, Language Arts, Literature, Science, Humanities, Geography, History, Life Skills, and Projects. We've been reading through our first book, Adam and His Kin by Ruth Beechick. I decided to read this aloud to the kids and I have been surprised at how interested they are in this book about Adam's family. It has brought up some good questions and discussions.

Each week I print out the Illuminations schedule and put it in my binder (I print out a month's worth of schedule/materials at a time). I file each behind the appropriate tab. Then I print custom schedule sheets for my 3 older kids to place in their binders. Illuminations always you to edit and change the text on the schedule. So for instance, my children are using a different spelling program than what is scheduled in Illuminations. I can replace the text with my children's specific spelling assignments. I love that!

My kids place their weekly schedule in their Mystery of History binder. It is set up with tabs for all the continents plus a misc. tab. All their history, geography, and reading assignments will be filed here.

Here's an earlier assignment that was filed in the notebook. Assignments vary from reports, graphic organizers, maps, to notebooking pages and art projects. By the end of the year each child will have a complete portfolio of work.

I like that all my kids are covering the same time-period but have different levels of assignments. This week we read about Noah and the flood and dinosaurs. My younger kids played a dino matching game while my middle schoolers worked on a mini-report on an ice-age animal. 

Since our local co-op is not meeting yet, we have been using this opportunity to work through some fun science experiments from Christian Kids Explore Science: Earth & Space. We've studied astronomy in-depth a couple of years ago, but I thought it would be a nice way to review and it tied in well with our Days of Creation lessons in history. Can you guess what this experiment was? It looks like a galaxy with all the star confetti. It was actually a tornado-in-a-bottle.

My younger girls are continuing with All About Reading Pre-Level 1 and Level 1. This activity was for my 5yr. old, but the 3yr. old wanted to "feed the monster" too. Each slip of paper had a word that my 5 year old had to read before feeding the monster.

The girls have also been using the ipad for school, making crafts, coloring, and of course playing. :) Well that's it for this week! Swing on over to WUHS to see what everyone else is up to.

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App Activities: The ABC's and a Zoo

Each week it seems like I learn about more educational apps and uses for the iPad. I thought I'd share what we've been doing with our iPad this week.

As usual, my preschooler and toddlers seem to use the iPad more than their older sisters and brother. I have some great ideas for the older kids though which I hope to share in an upcoming post.

Our new app of the week is The ABC's of God. This app is geared toward young children learning letter recognition. It pairs scripture with the process of learning letters. What a great combination!

★Trace each character in a wooden stencil, on a felt pad, and on a chalkboard!
★Find letters using a flashlight, match them on a fridge, and more!
★Unlock bonus games and collect stickers!
★And learn about who God says He is, in His Word!

I love that I don't have to print out worksheets for this type of letter identification practice. Right there covers the price of the app! :) Children find the letters in various settings. First they find the capital A on a page with only one correct answer. They do the same for the smaller case letter. Then they come to a page as seen above where they have to find multiple capital letters, then lowercase. Finally they find both capital and lower-case version of the letter in a Bible verse. This app is well-done and a great fit for my family.

Our new book of the week is Dr. Seuss's If I Ran the Zoo by Oceanhouse Media.This is a classic Dr. Seuss book made new for the iPad/iPhone. This book is about young Gerald McGrew who knows just what he'd do if he ran the zoo. He'd find the most unusual animals in all the out-of-the-way places. In typical Dr. Seuss style, the creatures are all very imaginative. This book is actually pretty long and we had to read it during several different sittings. Good thing it has the "Read to Me" setting! :) That is one feature I love about OMbooks. It makes this an easy way to turn the iPad into a listening center.

A nice craft extension after reading this book would be to create your own animal to put in the zoo. We used pieces from our Bug Craft Kit.

What has been your favorite app this week?

You might also be interested in:
There's a Wocket in my Pocket


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Our Muddy Meanderings

We've had unseasonably warm weather in our area. In fact, we haven't had a significant snowfall yet, which is really weird. Most of our winter has been rainy. Last week though, we had a beautiful day. I hadn't planned on going anywhere, but it was too nice to be inside. My mom happened to be over and suggested a local state park. I totally forgot the entrance is free during the winter! So we dug around the house for socks, shoes, and jackets and headed for an impromptu nature walk.

The first stop was the natural spring. My mom needed a couple of gallons of water to feed her water kefir. No, it's not a pet. She makes it into a drink (see previous link for more details.)

For the first part of the walk, we took a road down to the river. That way Lil Pumpkin could get some energy out and walk on her own. She was so excited! She babbled and babbled the entire short walk to the river.

The trees' shadows lined the road. We spotted a couple of woodpeckers. Saw a couple dogs being walked, but I think our noise drove most of the wildlife away. :) Harmony Art Mom suggested doing a Silent Nature Walk. I don't think that would be possible with my group. I like the idea though!

The best part for the kids was that it was ok to walk in the mud! Good thing since the trails were mud. A stroller + mud= hard work. I probably should have worn Lil Pumpkin in the carrier. The kids went to the river bank and spotted various animal tracks. We saw deer, raccoon and maybe coyote tracks (could have been dog prints though--I'm no track expert.)

Breaking up the monotony of brown and grey tones were the occasional splashes of green--mainly from moss.

It will be interesting to come back in a couple of months and see this whole area bursting with color.

If you are looking for some winter nature studies ideas, you might want to check out Harmony Art Mom's Winter Nature Study e-book. She has a ton of resources and information on her Handbook of Nature Study blog. Reading her blog has inspired me to get my kids out more to learn. :)

I also have a nature notebook page for each season of the year. You can find them here: Nature Notebook Pages 

Not sure what notebooking is? I highly recommend reading Notebooking Success by Jimmie. You can use this tool for any curriculum and any subject.

Do you incorporate nature studies into your year? How?

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Kindness Craft

This year I have been intentionally teaching my children virtues. I had found myself telling my kids to be nice, be kind, be attentive, but I hadn't told them what that meant. I just expected them to do it. Thankfully I came across a wonderful company called We Choose Virtues that has the cutest virtue cards to help with our virtue training (You can see my WCV Flashcard Review here)

We use the faith-based parent/teacher cards. There are also community cards that contain no scriptures for those in public school or community settings. Sometimes we stick to a particular virtue for more than a week or so. Currently we are working on showing each other kindness.

With 6 kids in the family (once again my ds is missing from the photo) we have many opportunities each day to show kindness.

Kettle Gretel is the VirtueVille kid who teaches about kindness. She loves to make hot chocolate for all her friends. My younger girls pretended to make hot chocolate for each other. While doing this, we sang a little song to the tune of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" with the words taken from the nursery rhyme "Polly Put the Kettle On"

Gretel put the kettle on, kettle on, kettle on
Gretel put the kettle on we'll all have hot chocolate.

(Name of child) take it off again, off again, off again
(Name of child) take it off again, our friends have gone away.

Then we did an art project to help us remember the keyword pictures and Bible verse.

The girls colored their kettle and cup and glued onto a piece of construction paper.

The "hot chocolate" being poured from the kettle to the cup has the theme verse.

Now instead of saying, "Be nice now," or something along those lines, all I have to say is "Kettle Gretel" and my kids know what I'm telling them and what I am expecting from them. :)

You can download the craft printable here: Kettle Kindness Craft

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Friday, January 6, 2012

Life is Art

After all the holiday decorations were taken off the walls and put away, I realized I packed my framed photo that usually hangs in the front room. After looking at a blank wall for a couple of days, I almost went looking for it in the attic, but the mailman saved me from that task. He delivered a package that I had not expected yet, and when I opened it, I found a beautiful photo art canvas that would fit nicely on my bare wall.

This awesome piece of artwork was created by Tara Kelley from Life is Art Creations. Tara and her husband work together taking alphabet photos found in nature and their surroundings, and then create word-art from those photos.

I picked the word "Hope" and I love the verse that was paired with the photo. This is one of my words for this year.

There are over 10 available prints to choose from, such as my "Hope" print or this cool "Smile" print. Or Life is Art can create a customized piece for you! Family names or your own one little word can be made into one-of-a-kind artwork.

Which print would you want on your walls? Life is Art is giving one of you the opportunity to win a 11x14 print (not canvas) from her collection.

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Monday, January 2, 2012

2012 Curriculum Additions

When we started off our school year, I knew we were starting off with half our course-load. I was hopeful that by January I would be able to add what we needed. I'm thrilled that God met that need and we are excited with what we will be studying.

Our first big addition is a new History and Literature program:

We will be using Illuminations Year 1, Grades 3-8th this year. Illuminations is an all-inclusive *curriculum, covering Bible, Language Arts (grammar, writing, copywork, spelling and vocabulary), Literature, Science, Humanities (poetry, theatre, music, and art), Geography, History, Life Skills, and Projects. It is a customizable schedule plus includes reader guides, graphic organizers and more. I love that all my kids will be using this program.

Illuminations Year 1 uses Mystery of History Vol. 1 as its history spine.

"This is everything you need for teaching Ancient Civilizations through the time of Christ, all in one book. Chronological, Classical, Complete. This is a truly unique and remarkable new product! Written for 4th – 8th graders but adaptable for the whole family." -Bright Ideas Press

We are looking forward to studying ancient history for the second half of the year.

Another exciting addition is a unit study on Ancient Art and the Orchestra by Harmony Art Mom. If you are looking for fine-arts curriculum or nature studies curriculum, you need to see what Barb has available! Even though it says Grade 5, I asked it it was ok to switch based on what we were studying. She said that would work fine. The material is suitable for all 3 of my older kids grades 4-8th. I think this will integrate perfectly with our Mystery of History year 1 curriculum.

We'll also be doing a butterfly nature study during the spring. While we wait for the weather to warm up, we'll be using Crowe's Nest nature videos.

For my preschooler/almost K'er, we are thrilled to be using All About Reading Level 1. We are moving through this very slowly right now. She's just starting to understand blending but has not fully grasped the concept. She also continues to do All About Reading Pre-Level 1 activities with her sister, though she knows all her letters and sounds.

Here is my All About Reading Level 1 review  if you would like more information.

I have had The Fallacy Detective on our "to-do" list now for 2 years. We started and got through 3 lessons before I got sidetracked with little ones. I put it on our curriculum list at the beginning of the year but we never touched it. Well another mom approached me asking if she could teach this to all the middle-schoolers in our co-op. Yes! I'm excited that this will finally get done.

Have you made any new curriculum changes for the 2nd half of the school year?