Monday, November 4, 2013


 Last week, there was a lot excitement about the upcoming Halloween festivities (which for us means costumes, trick or treating on our street, and helping to pass out candy). Instead of sticking with our Growing Up Wild curriculum for the week, I decided to spend a week on pumpkins and a few Halloween related activities. It was a fun week! Here is what we accomplished. 

We did a variety of activities with a pumpkin we actually planted and grew ourselves! (Literally this was the only thing we planted that made it!) The kids had to find the circumference of the pumpkin using linking shapes. They each made and recorded their predictions first. Our pumpkin was 32 links.  

They measured the height of the pumpkin using blocks. The pumpkin was 15 blocks high. 
Here is where we recorded our predictions and actually findings. 

In her journal, Ava had to draw a picture of the pumpkin and describe it. She made a neat observation. She said, "Hey mommy, the lines on the pumpkin remind me of the segments of a worm!". 

The activity all the kids had been waiting for since they helped Daddy pick the pumpkin out of the garden was the carving! Lilly wasn't so impressed with the way it felt, but the other two had fun separating the "guts" from the seeds. 

Ava was in charge of the face design this year. I don't have a picture, but in her journal she needed to draw different ideas. It was cute because she showed her ideas to Dominic and then showed me the idea that they both agreed on. The picture above shows the winning design. 

The kids really wanted to eat the seeds, so we roasted all the seeds they had collected. They were really good! 
In math Ava continued practicing counting and writing numbers through 30. 
Ava was also introduced to adding and subtracting this week! She was so excited. She loves writing the number sentences and finding the answers.  
All four of our children dressed up as a character from the Wizard of Oz. When we were at the craft store earlier in the week, we found this neat felt board kit with all the characters for only $4.99. It was a fun center choice for the week! 

We also sang some Halloween related songs and brought back out the classic 5 Little Pumpkins felt board activity. 

We read a non-fiction story on the life cycle of a pumpkin and created the mini book Pumpkin, Pumpkin What do you See. 
I found the mini book on Teachers Pay Teacher. I can't find the link to the blog. 

We had chocolate scented play dough in the sensory table along with Halloween cookie cutters, bats, bugs, and spiders. 

In addition to our daily reading lessons, we also played several rounds of pumpkin patch sight word memory. I just wrote sight words on the back of pumpkins to create this game. It was a fun way for Ava to practice! 
Finally on Halloween afternoon, we took some time to make some pumpkin chocolate chip muffins! They were a hit! 

Ava has been waiting for November for months. She has been very interested in learning more about Native American culture and more about the pilgrims. Though we have found and read lots of books on the topic, I promised that we would dedicate our school time in November to this theme. Here we are in November! This week we are having a slight set back with school time. Or maybe I should say, this week is when we get to experience the more flexible schedule of home schooling. Our youngest foster son has been in the hospital since Saturday. Right now his health is a priority and one of us is with him 24/7. The other kids get to have a fun spontaneous play date with good friends and visit with Grandma and Grandpa for a couple nights. When our house is back and running, (hopefully in the next couple of days!!) we will dive into learning more about the Native Americans and the pilgrims.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Wiggly Worms

This week we took a look at the ever popular topic in this house....WORMS! We did W is for worms last year. I was able to use some of the same activities. But, this year Ava could do them more independently and Dominic and Lilly were more interested in participating. Our curriculum offered a neat activity on dissecting a gummy worm and we enjoyed many worm related books and stories. One thing I am finding with home schooling while raising 4 little ones is that its a little harder to grab the camera when activities are occurring. I usually have a baby on one hip or am trying to keep another from getting into something they shouldn't. But here are a few pictures of our week! 

Thanks to Papa and Mimi the kids now have a worm compost right in our school room! We were able to dig a few worms our of the bin for some worm observation. We looked at how to identify the head and segments. We described how the worms moved and looked. 

This next activity (that came from our curriculum) was a hit. After looking at a real worm, we did some work with a gummy worm. Ava had to draw the worm, measure it as is, measure it stretched as far as it could be stretched, count it's segments, and compare and contrast this worm to a real one. She also had to taste and describe the different colors of the worm. That was probably her favorite part! 

In her journal, Ava, completed a Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting the gummy worm and earthworm. Prior to the activity, I created the different phrases. She had to sort and glue them in the appropriate place on the diagram. 

Ava did some measuring work. This was an activity we did last year too. She had different types of yarn, beads, and other material all cut in different lengths. We called them worms. She had different pictures of animals. Her job was to find which worms measured the same as animals.  
We, of course, had to make a worm snack! This year we just used yogurt and sprinkled the Oreo cookies over the top to give it the dirt affect. Easier than making dairy free pudding since Dominic is allergic to milk, and much healthier! They loved it just the same!  

Ava had lots of fun practicing writing her numbers in the window with Crayola window crayons. This is an activity I plan to do for practicing sight words too!

We spent some time reviewing fact and fiction. I wrote down all sorts of things that were true and false about our family on sticky labels. Some of the labels said things like, "Ava is taller than Daddy.", "Dominic likes to be called Big Buddy", "Lilly's eyes are purple", etc... We read each one and sorted them as fact or fiction.

We then practiced our skills at finding fact and fiction by reading, The Diary of a Worm. We read it two times. The first time we read it for enjoyment. The second time we went page by page finding information that was true about worms, and things that were made up just for the story. We recorded our findings. 

Ava is loving any time we spend doing our reading lessons in our reading program or time practicing sight words. This week we didn't have time to work with sight words as much as I would have hoped. But she did do this activity. I color coded different words. We practiced reading them. Then, she had to stamp each word with the correct color.   

This was a simple little worm project that we did to practice cutting skills and just for fun too. 

Dominic's worm!

Ava's worm! 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Look at Leaves

Okay I am going to keep this post honest (not that I am not honest in the others). Maybe a better term would be keep it real. This school week was one that was all planned out one way and really just didn't go the way I had planned. First I have an almost two year old and almost three year old. For those who have gone through the twos and threes I don't need to explain anymore. Sometimes they are super cooperative. And, well, sometime they are just not! This week...not so much. Second our youngest has a lot of medical needs. He has been with us for just two months and we have already had 35 appointments for him. This week alone we had 5. Thank goodness we home school. Otherwise Ava would be late or miss preschool all the time just trying to fit our little guys schedule around hers! We had to fit school time in at odd times this week. It started on Sunday afternoon, happened throughout the week, and we finally finished the weeks plans Friday night! So glad its a new week and we get to give it another go!

This week we took a look at leaves and explored why they change colors and fall off the trees each fall. In our math series, Ava, is continuing to practice numeral recognition and working hard on mastering writing her numbers. In reading she has really taken off. She tries to read anything and everything put in front of her! Her reading lessons are really clicking and she is currently having fun reading her way through the first Bob Book series as well as the classic Sally, Dick, and Jane books.

Here is a glimpse at our not so smooth home schooling week! 

Ava and Dominic took some time to observe the colors of fall right in our front year. They then had to paint what they saw. 

Daddy took the kids on a leaf hunt. Ava was very excited to share all the beautiful leaves she found. We examined them closely and discovered that leaves have veins and teeth (that function differently than us of course!) We read some great non-fiction books that helped to explain why the leaves change colors and fall of the tree each year.

In her journal, Ava reflected on how she used her senses as she hunted for leaves. She illustrated her thoughts and dictated what to write. 

The sensory table was filled with sticks, leaves, acorns, and buckeyes. 

One of the center activities was to count dots on a leaf and place the leaf in the correctly labeled section of the tray. Ava worked on numbers 9-13 this week. 

Dominic worked on strengthening his fine motor skills with a beading activity.

Another art activity we worked on was a hand print fall tree. I helped the kids create the trunk and branches of the tree by painting their hand and arm and pressing it on the paper. They used a sponge and brush to create the leaves. 

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Ava worked on making a collage with some of the leaves she found. 

Another center activity was working with opposite cards. 
Dominic practiced using the scissors. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Hopping Around Like Grasshoppers

This week we studied grasshoppers. Honestly, I wasn't all that excited about this topic. I can't say we have ever seen a grasshopper near our house. But, then learning it not just about what we see all the time so I decided that we would stick with the grasshopper theme. I think we all learned something new this week! Here is a glimpse at our week! 

Here is where we start each school day. We begin with the calendar and weather. We have an ongoing pattern that we work on each day ( I switch it up every week or two), we practice our weekly site word, keep track of the days we have school using straws, and have our music and story time here too. 

Ava likes to look at books as she falls asleep. She came down in the morning with this great big insect book. She was super excited to tell me she had something to show the class. (Which made me laugh because the "class" consists of just us.) But I went with it and let her have her show and tell moment to open up our grasshopper theme. We read several other grasshopper related stories throughout the week (both fiction and non fiction). 

We explored how grasshoppers move through music and movement. They loved doing this! 

One of this weeks centers for Dominic was sorting bugs by color (the bug collection included grasshoppers). 

Ava used the same bugs to complete different types of patterns. 
Here is a pattern she created all by herself without any help. I was excited to see how complex the pattern was. Last year her own patterns would have been simple AB patterns. Amazing what a year will do!

Okay this is not grasshopper related, but its something I told myself I wouldn't stress about this year. Last year I would have stressed to create a number review activity to fit out theme. This year I am content with not recreating the wheel. The Melissa and Doug number puzzle accomplishes the same thing! 

I kept the same sensory table open this week. Something new coming for next week! 

This weeks sight word was can. Here is one of her sight word works. She used gems to build the letters in the word.

Dominic wanted to give this work a try too!
Ava practiced her sight word in her journal as well. She needed to illustrate a picture of a grasshopper and write what grasshoppers can do. She wrote, "Grasshoppers can jump." 

She reviewed all the sight words so far by using dry erase markers to copy the words. Using these markers is something she loves to do. 

Ava created an "I Can" book by stamping the word can on each page to complete a sentence. For example, the first page read, " I ________ run." Ava filled in the blank by stamping the word can. The other two had fun with the letter stamps while she worked on this activity. 

Again, not grasshopper related. One of the art activities this week was the option to paint at the easel. Sometime it is nice not to have a specific project for her to create and let her have all the artistic license.

On the reading front, Ava is moving right along in our reading program and starting to pick up books on her own and sound out words. It is so much fun to see her so excited about it. She loves to read to anyone who will listen to her! 
Next week we will explore leaves!