Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween 2013

Again this year, the boys just wanted a new superhero costume from Target so they could amp up their dress up games.  Hazel is the only one who still wants me to sew for her, which frankly, is fine by me.

This year, she was dead set on Princess Celestia from the My Little Pony cartoon.  She is obsessed with MLP.  I tried my best to talk her into one of the ponies that did not have a horn or a crown or jewelry or any of the extra junk that the princesses have.  Nothing doing.  She was only interested in Princess Celestia.

We did our best, and I think we did OK!

I started with these two tutorials: one and two, and used them as a base for wings, mane, tail, ears, horn, and cutie mark. I used a purchased white sweat suit, though.  No sewing a hoodie for me, thankyouverymuch.   The necklace and crown I totally winged, using sparkly craft foam with velcro dots and "jewels" hot glued on.  She's pleased, therefore so am I!

with her protectors, Iron Man and Wolverine

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Wrap Up: Wee Gillis

Our Wee Gillis unit is a wrap!

Wee Gillis is a book by Munro Leaf, from Five in a Row volume 2.  I was excited about this book for two reasons.  One, we Wallaces have some Scottish heritage and two, we really enjoyed our row of Ferdiand, which is also by Munro Leaf.  Here's what we did with Wee Gillis:

Geography: We placed our story disk on Scotland, colored a map of Scotland, and discussed the lowlands and the highlands, as mentioned in the story.

Social Studies: We learned about kilts, tartan, and bagpipes!  I read some from a library book on Scotland and we talked about traditional Scottish dress, kilts, and tartan.  I showed the kids the wool blanket that David got in Scotland that is in the Wallace clan tartan, and then we tried paper weaving a Wallace tartan-like pattern.

the real and the paper Wallace tartans, for comparison, with a goofy face from the 6yo

and bagpipes! We watched several youtube videos of bagpipe players, and then we made our own "bagpipes" following these instructions.  They don't really make "music" but they do illustrate how bagpipes work, and the kids LOVED them.

The kids' Musikgarten class has also been studying the British Isles and I planned this row to coincide with their week in Scotland.  They listened to some music with bagpipes, read a Scottish fairy tale, and sang some related songs, I think? I don't always get clear answers to "What did you do in music class?" It's fun when those things can line up like that, though!

Science: In the story, Wee Gillis' lungs get very, very strong from calling cattle with his lowland relatives and holding his breath while stalking stags with his highland relatives.  We read a library book about our lungs and then tried this lung capacity experiment.  Jono took one picture of Charlie, but you can't see much.

No one was satisfied after their first attempts (marked in black sharpie) and wanted to try again.  Jonathan and Charlie significantly improved their result (in silver, hard to see) on their second try.  I suspect Hazel's lungs held more air than she managed to blow out, too, but she couldn't prove it.  Mama can empty the entire bottle.  Kids were suitably impressed.

Art: I photocopied two illustrations from the book for us to compare.  The two pictures appear at first glance to be nearly identical, but the kids found four things that were different between them and circled them.  They seemed to really enjoy looking for those details.  I'll have to get some similar puzzles for them to work through.

For language Arts we read some lovely poetry! We read the A.A. Milne poem "Halfway Down" and the Robert Burns poem "My Heart is in the Highlands" and discussed them.  We ended up reading most of the rest of the book of poems by A.A. Milne.  He's certainly a favorite.

We watched both the movie of Wee Gillis (from the library) and the Pixar movie Brave, which we hadn't yet seen.  Both were popular, although the kids said that Brave was too scary.  That's been true of every Pixar movie they've seen the first time through, so I wasn't surprised.  I thought it was cute!  I did not show them Braveheart, of course, but we did read the little blurb in our Scotland library book about William Wallace and his campaign for Scottish freedom in the 13th century.  Charlie was particularly interested in that, given his middle and last names.

Overall Wee Gillis was a very enjoyable row, and we just have one more book on our list before Thanksgiving!  We'll be spending some time learning about flight with The Glorious Flight and then do a short geography unit before we head to Virginia to see the grandparents for Thanksgiving.

Thanks for following along!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Wrap Up: Henry the Castaway

We spent the first two weeks of October on the Five in a Row unit Henry the Castaway, from volume three.  This was a book that neither of my available library systems had, so it's one I put on my kids' Christmas wish lists last year and they got from my brother and sister-in-law.  Score one for homeschool Christmas gifts!  It's an adorable story and a super fun "row".  Here's how we did it:

Social Studies:
In the story, Henry and his dog Angus set out to explore the "uncharted seas".  They come to a river that Henry says "must be the Orinoco River... (which) goes through very wild and dangerous territory."  We found the actual location of the Orinoco River which runs through Venezuela to the Atlantic Ocean  and placed our story disc on it.  The kids colored a map of Venezuela and located the Orinoco River.  We checked some books about Venezuela and South America out of the library, but the kids have mostly ignored them.  We also watched this short video clip about the river, the local plants and animals, and the people groups who live nearby.

We did a second social studies day on Columbus and (general) explorers.  In the story, Henry finds some cats on the island they explore and names them Mrs. Friday (which is an allusion to Robinson Crusoe? I've never read it.), Columbus, and Elizabeth.  He also talks about "exploring the uncharted seas".  We read kids' library book about explorers and discussed what it might have been like to take off in a boat and really not know (exactly) where the ocean you were sailing would go.  While I read, they colored a picture of Columbus.

For geography, we read a book called Mapping Penny's World which was a fantastic introduction to map reading.

We read a library book called Follow the Water from Brook to Ocean.  Very cute story and illustrated how streams flow into larger rivers which flow into the ocean, etc. We also started reading the Caldecott Honor book Paddle-to-the-Sea, which is about a boy who carves a toy canoe and sets it to float out on the melting spring snow from his home in Canada above Lake Superior with the hopes that the boat would float through the Great Lakes and out the St Lawrence River to the Atlantic Ocean.  We aren't finished with this book yet, but it's been a big hit so far!

We did the lesson from the manual about tallying using the animals in one illustration of Henry for counting.  My kids were not super interested in this, so I'm not sure it stuck. We'll try again.

We looked up Scottish Terriers (like Angus) in a dog breed book and that led to discussing different kinds of dogs that the different people we know own.

We found this adorable go-along book about cataways--Castaway Cats.

We spent some time on survival skills and talked about what Henry did right when he was on his adventure with Angus and got stuck on an island with no way to get home.  We read a library book called Lost in the Woods and discussed it.  I'm pretty sure my kids think they're experts at building a shelter and killing wild game, and I'm not remotely confident they paid attention to the admonition to STAY IN ONE PLACE, so yeah... let's just hope they never get lost.  They'd be in trouble.

We also built popsicle stick rafts (since we couldn't really build canoes like Henry had) to float in the water on our own Exploring Adventure.
This is how explorers dress! 
And then... we set off like Henry to see if we could explore the uncharted seas.  For us, the uncharted seas were simply the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain.  We went to Fontainbleau State Park to hike nature trails and splash in the "beach" on the shore of the lake.
Setting off down the nature trail.
Ahh, nature.  Either a large worm or a small snake.  I wasn't sure. 
"Splash" turned out to mean totally swim in your clothes regardless of the fact that this was one of the first mornings we had temperatures in the low 70s.  I have no clue why there weren't shivering!  Good thing I packed a dry set of clothes for everyone just in case!  

my view
My sandy one.  This kid LOVES the beach. 
trying to blow his raft along

We brought home a TON of these little brown and white shells.  
A few other fun shots from the week:
Jono doodled this while I read Henry one day.  If you're familiar with the story, I'm sure you'll recognize parts! 
Jono built some towers with sums of seven using cuisenaire rods.  He's a big fan of towers. 
The twins started All About Spelling this week and really enjoy it so far!
It was a fantastic adventure and a wonderful row.  Thanks for following along!