Monday, April 29, 2013

chair pockets

I love a quick (less than two hours, start to finish), easy (followed this tutorial, more or less), and cute craft project that addresses a storage and organization need!  The coloring table is always junked up since it's not that big and my children apparently own more coloring and activity books than any ten kids need. Chair pockets get the coloring books off the table, but keep them accessible for use.  

Notice that there are nice tidy slots in the table that they could conceivably store some coloring books in.  Despite my best attempts, this solution has been repeatedly rejected.  Go figure.  I think it's because you have to turn the coloring books just right to get them to fit in the slots.  Maybe the chair pockets will be better used?  One can hope. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wrap Up: Make Way for Ducklings, Field Day, Teacher Inservice

We so enjoyed our row of Make Way for Ducklings!  This is one of those classic children's books that we had read plenty of times before we started our homeschooling adventure with Five in a Row.  I actually put our copy away for several months before this row, in hopes of them being excited to see it again when we got it out.  They definitely were!  Here's what all we did:

Social Studies: We spent some time exploring this super cool Google Lit Trip marked with where all the Mallard family went on their trip around Boston.  I knew next to nothing about the geography of the city of Boston before we played with the map, and I was sad to hear of places that just became "real" to me on the news with the explosions following the Boston marathon.  So very sad.  My kids didn't hear any of the marathon news, though, so their only association with Boston is Mr. McCloskey's delightful story.  Makes me grateful for childhood innocence.

Langauge Arts: We did an activity with both rhyming and alphabetical order.  In the story, the eight ducklings have rhyming names, playing off of the sound a duck makes, and starting with eight sequential letters of the alphabet: Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Oack, Pack, and Quack.  I had the kids choose a critter from Hazel's fingerprint drawing book and make 5-10 of them.  Then we named them with the same method used in the book.

I made baby birds, named Cheep, Deep, Eep, Feep, Geep, Heep, Ieep, and Jeep.  Jono made baby owls named Hoo, Ioo, Joo, Koo, Loo, and Moo.  Hazel made pigs named Oink, Poink, Quoink, Roink, Soink, Toink, Uoink, Voink, and Woink.  Charlie made kitties named Few, Gew, Hew, Iew, Jew, Kew, Lew, and Mew.  I thought these came out so cute!

For science, we read a couple of nonfiction books from the library on ducks, learned about their life cycle, body parts, etc.  We did a cut & paste sequencing activity on their life cycle.

We also did a fun demonstration on the how the oils that ducks spread when they preen their feathers make them waterproof.   We brushed some oil onto feathers, pretending that our paintbrushes were our duck bills, preening.  Then we used an eye dropper to drip some water onto the feathers and watched it bead up and roll right off of the oily feathers.

I had an applied math day planned, but FIAR got pushed out of our schedule that day, and we never made it up.  It was about the calendar (days of the week, 7 days in a week, etc), which we talk about enough as it is, so I'm not concerned.  I didn't plan an art day with this row, since we spent two days on science.

We took a park day, to try to spot a mallard family.  We saw TONS of bachelor mallards, a handful of couples, but no ducklings.  Seeing Mr. and Mrs. Mallard was exciting enough, though.  We did see some other (non-mallard) ducklings in the canal by Target on the way to swim lessons last week, and were running early enough that we pulled over and got out of the car to admire them, so that will have to be good enough.

bachelor mallards
Last Friday, we had field day with our homeschool group! SO fun. I was assigned to work with Jono's team, the 5-7yo boys.  That made for a wild few hours.  David was off work, and he came along and worked with Charlie's team (4yo boys).  Neither of us was with Hazel, but I did manage to get a picture of her in the sack race when I we were walking by on our way to another event.  All three of my kids placed first in three-legged race on their various teams.  Isn't that random?  Who knew that was a Wallace family strength?!

Oops. :)

After field day, I had the luxury of taking a teacher inservice day.  I spent Friday afternoon and evening, through Saturday afternoon on my own (stayed in a hotel, even!) to do some reading and thinking on our homeschool.  I read some, listened to a couple of Susan Wise Bauer's audio lectures (which I highly recommend!), and organized some curriculum I had bought and not yet gotten around to using.  I'm excited about using this new curriculum this week, and I'll have to post a review in a few weeks once I see how it's going.

It was a very productive 24 hours, and I need to do it far more often!  My wonderful dear husband said that the kids were angels and that he didn't see any reason why I shouldn't take an inservice day quarterly or so.  I think I'll take him up on that! 

Sunday, April 07, 2013

dolly knitting

I've mentioned before, I'm sure, about my need for quick, easy, instant gratification type knitting projects?  This usually translates into endless hats and baby booties, as I'm you've surely noticed.  Turns out that apparel knitting can be quick and easy, too, when it's done for the American Girl!  

I found this cute little free skirt pattern on Ravelry, and worked it up with some leftover green yarn with flecks of pink, purple, yellow, and white.  The colorway name is Tiptoe Through the Tulips (yarn dyer named it, not me) and it's really the perfect description for it.  I had maybe half a ball left, and couldn't figure out what I'd ever use it for, but this is perfect!  I made the little pink shirt to go with it.  Perfect spring outfit for Jess!
I was itching to work up another skirt or two, but let's be honest--our one little AG doll doesn't need more than one knit skirt, no matter how cute it is.  So I volunteered to make some outfits for my best girlfriend from Houston's little girl.  Her daughter is Jono's age, and is CRAZY about cupcakes.  She has two 18" dolls living at her house, so these outfits are for Hannah's dollies.  

The cute little cupcake appliqué is also from Ravelry, but it's a paid (but cheap!) pattern. I need to make some more of those cupcakes to put on hair clips and use as bows on little girl birthday presents! 

The shirts are both Liberty Jane patterns.  The cupcake shirts are (slightly modified) from their free trendy tshirt pattern.  I lengthened the sleeves, took out some of the fitted-ness of the body, and shortened the length.  Their t-shirt is a bit too trendy, in my opinion, with it's tiny cap sleeves, fitted body, and looong length.  I love a shirt that fits me like that, but it looks silly on a doll that is supposed to be ~10 years old.  The pink shirt is their Magic Number top, worked as written.  That pattern was fun.  I'm planning to make the dress version soon! 

Easter 2013


We made rice krispie treat bird nests with dyed green coconut and jelly bean "eggs".  Turns out the kids aren't huge fans of coconut.  We won't bother with this one again. LOL

My mother-in-law passed down her jello egg molds. I tried them a few years ago and didn't manage to get any whole jello eggs out of them.  They all cracked down the middle.  I read some tips online this year, and tried again, with success!  You need to spray the interior of your molds with cooking spray.  Turns out that jello is not slippery enough on its own.  These were enormously popular and went FAST.  

Dyeing eggs!

all set up and ready!

I sewed Hazel's Easter dress for the first time, this year.  I'm thrilled with how it came out!

boys and dolly got coordinating duds

homeschool group egg hunt!

glow-in-the-dark egg hunt at home--with glow sticks in the eggs! 

eggs lurking on the fence
Charlie's basket afterward
 the baskets!
sleepy-head girl with her new Barbie 
checking out his new batman toy
Build-a-Bear got a new outfit!
 Easter Sunday morning, all dressed up!

And though it escaped all notice of my camera, we did spend the two weeks before Easter working through our Resurrection Eggs at breakfast and discussing the work of Jesus on the cross.  We do the eggs, and the baskets, and the hunts and all, but my kids are certainly not confused about the true meaning of Easter.  This is the third year we've used Resurrection Eggs with our kids, and I really can't recommend them enough.  Simple, hands-on, and practical, they help you talk about the cross with even the youngest of listeners, which is no easy task!  They can be bought, but we made ours at MOPs several years ago.  They're easily made with a dozen plastic eggs and some items from around the house or the dollar store.  If you want to make a set, my friend Courtney's blog gives instructions for ones like ours (she organized the MOPs craft).  

I hope your family had a wonderful Easter, too!

Wrap Up: The Story of Ferdinand

We recently finished an enjoyable "row" on The Story of Ferdinand.  This is a story I remember from childhood and was excited to do with the kids.  Here is how it went, by subject:

a little bull craft we made (printable from
Social Studies:
We found Spain on our map and were thrilled to find there was a tree on the map! A cork tree, perhaps?  We colored the map of Spain and looked at some library books about the country.  We talked about bullfighting as a sport, and then watched the Bugs Bunny episode where he fights a bull.  "What a gulli-bull! What a nin-cow-poop!" Good times!

We also tried our hand at learning a few Spanish words that were associated with the book.  We learned el toro (bull), la madre (mother), la flor (flower), and el arbol (tree).  I think after a week of practicing, Charlie is the only one who actually knows them, but we tried.  They did very much enjoy the beginning Spanish vocab book we got from the library, though.  It was requested several days at story time. 

our flashcard for el toro got lost at some point.  Fine by me, or you'd just make fun of how bad my drawing of a bull was!  David kept saying, "el toro--the reindeer!" It did look like a reindeer. 

Applied Math:
We measured in feet and inches.  I made up a little worksheet for each of them with a few objects that they could go measure.  They would tell me if it made more sense to measure it in feet or inches, run off to do so, and then come back and write in the answer.

measuring a popsicle stick
measuring the length of the rats' cage

Language Arts:
We did our first parts of speech/grammar lesson this week.  I read them a library book about nouns, and they had no trouble figuring out what sorts of words qualified.  Then we made three columns on our big white board for people, places, and things, and read through the first half dozen or so pages of Ferdinand, putting the nouns in the proper columns.  I was surprised at how much of this they grasped! Maybe they'll be ready for formal grammar sooner than I expected.

This was everyone's favorite day with this row.  We did some drama!  I pulled one child at a time (or two, of the scene called for it) into the hall and whispered what they were to act out, and then the child(ren) left would watch the performance and guess what part of the story they had seen.  This game was repeated many, many times over the next few days. They've also been acting out other picture books recently, with Caps for Sale being the most frequent production.
Jono and Charlie, as the other bulls who lived with Ferdinand who fought and butted their heads all the time.
Hazel, as one of "men with funny hats" who jumped for joy when they found Ferdinand, who appeared to be the fiercest bull of all. 
Jono, as the very angry matador, when Ferdinand didn't fight in the bullfight
In non-FIAR news, we added a new extra curricular last week.  We started swim school!  We'll be swimming on Thursday afternoons through April and May and will likely add Tuesday along with that this summer when our Tuesday music class is on break.
Jono's class
Hazel and Charlie's class
Charlie, blowing bubbles and kicking his feet at the same time, right after he told his teacher there was no way he could do that.  He may learn ot swim after all! 
And one more cute moment that comes with homeschooling 4yos, to finish with.  Spiderman joined us for math one day.  I cracked up when Charlie bent him at the waist so that he could see his math.  You'll also notice that Charlie is in a firefighter costume.  It's the rare day that finds Charlie in regular clothes.  Where's the fun in that?!

Thanks for reading.  Our next row is Make Way for Duckings.  I love me some Robert McCloskey!