Sunday, April 29, 2012

Common playground injuries

My daughter is not a toddler anymore, but I definitely carried her down the slide on my lap many times. Luckily nothing ever happened. But according to this article on Yahoo, it is becoming more and more common for kids to get injured sliding on their mother's lap. Read it here.

Have you ever gone down the slide with your child on your lap? Did you think it was dangerous? I certainly didn't.

How to make Lego vegetable bricks

Wow! There is truly something out there on the Internet for everyone! I just saw this article and had to share.

As a mom to a six year old who loves Legos, I can easily see how making Lego shaped vegetables would go over big in my house. I'm just not sure if I want to put in the time to actually make them. I do think it's a fun way to get your kids to eat vegetables if you have picky eaters. But vegetables are actually very well liked in my household, so I don't think I'll be making these. But I am curious if anyone has tried Lego brick vegetables and whether it was a hit with the kiddies.

 What are some ways that you make or camouflage foods to get your picky eater to eat vegetables? If anyone is willing to try this Lego recipe, please let me know how it tuns out!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Socialization and Homeschool

Hey, all! I just wanted to share this video I found on Mom's Homeroom, talking about all of the options parents have when it comes to socializing our home schooled kids.

It offers great tips and opportunities for socialization. Just click on the link and scroll down a bit. The video is called Home Schooling and Socialization. Enjoy!

How are some ways you help your kids to socialize? Leave me a comment!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Earth Day 2012

Every year I am amazed at how little attention Earth Day receives in the United States. We are one of the world's worst offenders when it comes to the environment. Yet when it's time to raise awareness it seems people prefer to ignore the issues.

This year, I decided to get my young daughter involved in a small way. Recycling is not something new in our household, so my 6 year old is used to separating glass, tin, plastic, etc. But I wanted to do more. I wanted her to understand why we do those things and more importantly, I wanted to give her a sense of empowerment. I want her to know that every effort counts, that every paper we recycle makes a difference.

We started by reading "How to Help the Earth- by the Lorax". It is a Step into Reading level 3 book which was perfect for her to read by herself. Then, we talked about what we do at home to help the Earth. She noticed that there were more ideas in the book that we currently don't do, but would be able to easily incorporate into our daily lives. I loved the fact that she was proactive about suggesting changes.

The following day, we read the book once more and then we made our own Help the Earth chart to remind us of all the little things we can do. I wrote the list and she cut out pictures from magazines that illustrated our "to do's". We had great fun and since the poster has been up, we've talked more about what we're doing and she is also helping me to remind the other family members to "comply" as well.

Do you do anything special to help the Earth? I'm always looking for new ideas, I'd love to hear your comments!


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Lego Organizer

I really wanted to share a storage tip. And who doesn't need storage ideas, right?

I was going through some old magazines, just to clean out some clutter and I came across a great idea in an issue of Family Fun magazine.

One of the writers offered a fantastic suggestion for organizing all of your kids' Lego pieces while at the same time creating a surface for playing.

My 6 year old daughter is a huge fan of Legos and she plays with them everyday. She likes to spread out all of the tiny, little pieces all over the floor. Needless to say, we are constantly stepping on Lego pieces which is not only annoying, but it can hurt as well.

My daughter also likes to build her Legos and leave them up on display.

So this idea in Family Fun magazine was a perfect solution for us. We didn't do it exactly as it showed in the magazine. I basically took the idea and made it my own.

I went to the store and purchased two plastic 5 drawer storage carts. Then at a home improvement store I purchased a piece of white laminated wood and simply placed it on top of the two bins. The article in the magazine did suggest attaching the board to the carts, but I opted not to do that so I could move it easily if I needed to. They also suggested painting the wood, but I bought the white one, it worked better for us.

Finally, my daughter and I organized the Legos in each drawer by color, making the Legos easy to find when she plays. I still need to get some drawer dividers, but for now she has a great little play area! And I am very happy to have all those tiny pieces off the floor!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ideas for working with Word Wall Words

 So, as a homeschool teacher I think it's important to have certain routines in our classroom. One of the things my daughter loves to do is the Word Wall.

We start the week by playing Word Bingo on Mondays. We do this every Monday and it's our first activity of the day. I have a set of 12 words that we will be working on throughout the week. I print them randomly in 3 columns (I don't actually used a bingo board, although you can). Then, I give my daughter a bag of pennies for her to mark the words as I read them.

When one column is completely filled in, she yells Bingo! As an end to the activity, I will write each word on an index card and my daughter will pin them on our Word Wall. It's a great start to our week and we both enjoy this activity.

Here are some other ideas for working with Word Wall Words:
  • Word Pyramids - I give my daughter a sheet with blank lines (in the shape of a pyramid), and she has to spell out the words, letter by letter. We do 3 word pyramids at a time (more than that would get boring!). Depending on the level of difficulty of the words in a particular week, we may do word pyramids a couple of times a week.

  • Alphabet word order game - My daughter takes the index cards down from our Word Wall and she places them in alphabetical order. This is a great activity for practicing alphabet order, especially when there are several words with the same first letter. The kids really need to think about alphabet order to place the words correctly. Again, another simple activity, but for some reason, Buttercup loves it.
  •  "Words out of a hat"  - This is a game I created to practice sentence parts (Not a very creative name but it works). I wrote down a set of language related directions and Buttercup will randomly pick one out of a hat! and she has to follow the instructions on the paper. For example: Once card reads "Choose any word with a long vowel sound". Buttercup looks at the Word Wall to find a word that fits the requirement. I have included this activity in My Printables, so feel free to print out the directions and try them out. I would suggest playing this game once or twice a week. In my house, we play it every day and Buttercup goes through all of the cards because she loves this activity as well. I think it might be her favorite.

  • Writing practice - Sometimes I'll just ask Buttercup to pick 3 words and write sentences in her notebook.

  • Word Scramble - Towards the end of the week, when Buttercup has pretty much mastered all of her Word Wall words, I give her a word scramble. I usea free website called Superkids that allows you to plug in your own words and it scrambles them for you. Word scramble is a more challenging activity which is the reason I reserve it for the end of the week. I want to make sure Buttercup has a good grasp of the words (imagine trying to unscramble words before you really even know how to spell them; that could be very discouraging for the child).

We end the week with a "test" (in quotes because we don't really do tests in our homeschool). I will read the words from the week and she will write them down. There is a reward for spelling all 12 words correctly! That is a huge incentive and makes the "test" more of a challenge. My daughter will usually be able to spell them all. If she still has trouble with a word, we will work on it the following week.

Here is a complete list of our Word Wall activities and games:
-Word Bingo
-Word Pyramids
-Words out of a hat
-Alphabet order game
-Word Scramble

Try out these activities and let me know how they work out for you.

Happy Homeschooling Adventures!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

1st Grade Art Project - Shadow Art

Since we've just finished our Science lesson on shadows, I decided to follow that up with an art project.

We set up a work area in our kitchen, where I placed a lamp (to create the shadow), a Wegman's can of beets (the only can I had), and a sheet of paper.

My daughter outlined the can on the sheet of paper, drew and colored her depiction of the can and made the shadow.

Simple, but fun! Here are the pictures.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

1st Grade Science - Shadow Experiment

So I've been waiting to do our Shadow Experiment for quite a while now. We were waiting for a sunny day and they've been few and far between. But luckily, yesterday we had perfect weather and a nice spot in our backyard for our experiment.

I created a little worksheet to help us along, which I'm including with My Printables for anyone looking to do an experiment about shadows.

First, you need to pick an object (we did our experiment with a water bottle). Stand the object upright and measure its length and write it in the worksheet. We started at 10 am, but you could start earlier.The earlier you start and the later you finish, the more data you will collect! We went outside and picked a spot that we knew would be sunny for most of the day.

We placed the water bottle on the ground and used sidewalk chalk to mark the spot for the water bottle. That way every time we went outside to make an observation, we would place the bottle in the exact same spot. At this point, we also marked our first shadow. My daughter then measured the shadow and documented it. Right away, we had two pieces of data that we could discuss (the bottle's actual size and the first shadow size).

We went back outside every hour, placed the bottle in the same spot and marked the new shadow. If you can't go outside every hour, that's fine. Just note the time you do go out to measure. The point of the experiment is to notice the size of the shadow changing as well as the position of the shadow that moves on the ground like a clock.

My daughter loved coming to the conclusion that the sun works like a clock!

The next day we finished our experiment by talking about what we discovered and answering the questions on our worksheet.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Teaching Synonyms and Antonyms in first grade

I recently taught my first grader synonyms and antonyms. I've mentioned many times before that one of my objectives in homeschool is to make learning fun. I try to stay away from lecture based lessons, opting instead, for games and other activities that reinforce my teachings in a stress free, fun environment. It seems to work so well for us, so I wanted to share some of my ideas.

I started by making a list of simple words, words at the first grade level. Then, I printed the words in card format and we played Synonym Match Game. It is a very simple game similar to Memory Game. My daughter and I spread out the cards faced down on our table. Then we took turns turning over two cards. The main difference is that we would turn over one card, read the word and say its synonym. Then, we would turn over another card. If that card matched what we said, we would keep both cards and the next player would take a turn. If it didn't match, we would simply turn both cards down and the next player would take a turn.

It was a great learning exercise because my daughter practiced reading and she had to come up with the synonym on her own. She was motivated because she wanted to win; she wanted to make as many matches as she could!

The game actually took longer than I expected or even planned for, but my daughter had so much fun with it, she just wanted to keep going.

When we were done, she wanted to play the Antonym Match Game, which I had planned as a different lesson. But since we were having fun and she was learning, we just kept going.

I have both games here under My Printables. Feel free to print out the cards and play! Please make sure you read my terms of use before you print. As always, these are my original ideas and I would appreciate credit if you mention it in a blog or website.

How do you teach synonyms and antonyms? I'd love to hear your ideas.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

1st Grade Art Project - George Seurat and Pointillism

For our next art project, my daughter and I chose George Seurat. We liked the idea of exploring a new style of art and pointillism sounded like fun.

We took out a library book on George Seurat.

We read it over a period of 2 or 3 days. These biographies, while they are for children, are difficult to read for a 6 year old. So we take our time reading. I do a lot of the reading, pausing to ask questions and discuss certain things.

My daughter loves to look at the art work on the pages. She especially likes to read where the painting is displayed, ie Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. When she finds paintings displayed in NY or Philly, she gets super excited and we plan a trip to see the art work.

Ok, so then it's time to do our own art project. Even though, George Seurat liked to paint things he saw around him, realistic things, like people at a lake, we decided to take a couple of things from the kitchen and paint those.

My daughter placed some fruits on our kitchen counter. She then outlined the fruits on her white paper. We chose the colors, remembering that Seurat, would never mix colors, instead he would place colors close together on the canvas to give the illusion of a new color. For instance, if he wanted to use the color orange, he would place dots of read and yellow very close together, giving the audience the appearance of orange.

Here are some pictures of our George Seurat art project. My daughter enjoyed it and did tell me when she finished that pointillism is hard work!

I am including some information about George Seurat and Pointillism for your reading pleasure and reference.

George Seurat was born in Paris, France in 1859. George wanted to make his paintings different than anything he had seen up until that time. He thought about painting in a unique way; he thought about it from a scientific perspective. He wanted to use color, lines and shapes to convey feelings to the audience. If he wanted the audience to feel warmth, he would paint in a way that the canvas shimmered with warm tones, thus giving the audience that feeling. If he wanted to convey a cooler feeling , he would use darker colors and shadows. George Seurat worked slowly on his paintings, some of them taking more than a year to complete. For his painting, Une Baignade, Asnieres, he would go during the day to the lake and make lots of sketches. Then he worked late into the night in his studio on those sketches. His most famous painting is Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. This is a perfect example of dots of paint mixing together right in front of your eyes to create warmth and coolness. Even though, George Seurat only lived to be 32 years old, he created a style that influenced many famous artists of the time, like Gauguin, Van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec.