Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Living Math: Dominoes

For a change of pace from our clock lessons we opted to focus in a bit on addition. Jayden is still working on basic addition, while Morgan is ready to move up to double addition. I needed a hands on fun alternative to teach these methods to them. They both understand the concept of addition, they both know how, but I still want to keep things moving along with them. I also wanted a creative way to teach Morgan to carry numbers while adding, as he's never truly tackled double addition before. We have a large pot of dominoes that we picked up for a dollar many moons ago. The boys were excited to find them in their workboxes, but were a tad bewildered when I said we weren't playing a normal game with them.

I tipped the dominoes upside down so no one would be too choosey about what they picked, because chances are they would have been. Then I had Jayden pick one domino. His job was to count the dots on each side, write the math problem, and find the answer. Counting the dots to find the answers was 100% acceptable. It was great practice for him to work on writing his math facts as well as he's never written them out before either.

I love looking at the way Jayden writes those nines. He puts a circle then gives it a tail! Very cute. We also took the opportunity to discuss teens. He knows the numbers, and can recognize them, but he's never truly written them out so we had to discuss putting the one first.

Morgan, on the other hand, was required to take two dominoes and consider each one a full number. So, if he plucked up a domino with 6 dots and 4 dots he could consider it 46 or 64, the choice was his. (He read them as true numbers so whatever numbers was on the left was what he based it on.) He then wrote his problems with both of the big numbers and added them. Not all problems required carrying. He was startled the first time he got the answer 109. He said, "This can't possibly be write 10. 9. Can it?" I had to point out that if he had three numbers it wasn't said 10. 9. He was impressed that he could add up enough numbers to reach 100 or higher.

It was also good practice for number writing. Interestingly enough, today when he was required to write even and odd numbers I noticed he went with numbers in the hundreds or higher. He thought he was being very funny and I heard much giggling over it. He was a tad disappointed to discover that 300 was an even number though. Guess who was giggling then!

I had the timer set on my watch, which turned out to be a good thing. No one wanted to stop playing with the dominoes. So I told them they had until the timer went off and then we had to move on to reading...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Weekly Workboxes: Space

Another week of school has passed us by and we didn't accomplish everything we had hoped to especially since we lost a bit of time this week with a couple of big, completely unexpected, interruption. That means we'll carry a little bit of our unit study from last week into this week. It works out well for us though as we're starting a Space Class with Professor H this week. These are live classes offered by CurrClick. This one is still up for grabs for $3.99 per family. It starts on the 29th (USA time) so hurry!

Because I'm not making the lesson plans I have a few space crafts picked out for the kids, but we'll see how many officially land in the workboxes this week. The final decision will come based on what fun things they'll be doing for their Space Class. So, don't be too shocked if you see some of these come up again in a week or two!
The rocket may take more then a day to build, but I think they'll fully enjoy themselves. They spent hours in one their cousins made last year. I think next week they may find supplies for simple space outfits in their boxes, as well as homemade space food (think pudding in a baggie).


What about you, what fun things have you got planned for your Fun Filled Weekly Workboxes this week? Blog about it and come link up here! If you don't have a blog, and want to share what you'll be doing, just leave a comment and let us know!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Living Math Update

We're still moving along with our living math ways here. We've spent a good deal of time focusing on telling time here lately, but we've also been using our math notebooks. These ones happen to be spiral bound vs three-ring binders, but the boys were tickled pink when I gave them to them. They use these right now for any of the problems they choose to work on in the books we check out of the library. They are fully enjoying the Firefighter & Zookeeper books. I let them pick a page or two to work off of, and they record their answers in the notebooks. Jayden has gotten to use a lot of graphs for determining what causes the most fires and how they are most often put out. The zoobook has a large variety of problems, and Morgan has fully enjoyed them all. He got his first dose of double digit addition this week with it, which was really fun for him. I've also taken to recording three math problems in their notebooks and having them record those answers as well. The questions are often based on what we're studying that day.

Morgan knows about odds & evens, but we haven't discussed them in a while so I stuck the question in his math notebook to see how he did. He didn't even need to ask for help! We played a new game this week called Number Neighbors. It's played rather similar to Go-Fish where you ask each other for cards, only instead of asking for a specific card you simply say, "Do you have any number neighbors for ...."

The game came from the book Math Games that I picked up over at Currclick. The boys enjoyed this one, all though Jayden was slightly annoyed we didn't play 10's concentration first! He was determined that we play the game before we put away our maths stuff for the day.

I also include one math fact problem each day as well. This gives me the opportunity to give the kids a problem they might struggle with. For instance Morgan does well with his double addition problems, but he struggles with the quick answers for three of the higher problems. So I sneak one in his notebook each day. Jayden is still learning his double facts so he gets simpler ones and I give him linking cubes to work them out with.

Super Math Bear is still enjoying watching over math sessions and checking their notebooks afterwards. I might have to find a bear paw print stamp for him to mark the pages after he's read through them.. As for how the boys like living math? Well, Morgan informed me this week that, "This is so much more fun! I'm so glad we get to do math like this, will we keep doing it this way forever?"

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Homemade Marshmallows

Ages ago, while hunting for honey recipes, I stumbled upon a book at our library that was printed in the early 1900's. The exact date truly evades me, as I've long since returned the book. Either way, the book had some amazing recipes in it, and I copied a few out for myself as the book is long since out of print. The funny thing about the book was that it was written well before the use of things like electric mixers and microwaves. So, the marshmallow recipe I made required something like 20 minutes or MORE of whipping the mixture.. by hand. I was truly amazed, because I was pretty sure my arm would have fallen off well before I would have reached the consistency the recipe required.

I've since made the recipe many times over using a variety of honey, and today (or tomorrow) I will be making lemon marshmallows. So far our favorites were the Raspberry ones I made and then rolled in toasted coconut. I despise coconut (especially rolled on my marshmallows), but it smelled divine. Why did I do it then? Because my husband likes coconut and I love making him happy. Plus it kept me from eating the whole pan full in one day!

We obtain most of our honey (or at least the flavored stuff) from The Honey Farm. We're about 45 minutes or so away from it, but they will mail order. That includes those of you who live outside of Australia. It's well worth whatever they may charge you, I promise! They only sell a very small portion of their fruited and infused honeys online, but if you ever come to Tasmania you must make a point of stopping into the shop. You get to taste HUNDREDS of different honey flavors. Chocolate, orange, clover, medicinal, chili spiced, and the list goes on and on. You can also get an ice cream cone in the shop which is made with 100% honey, no sugar!

Yup, that's a finger smear in the bottle. Jayden asks regularly if he can "have a lick" of honey. He's not the only one though. I caught Daddy dipping his fingers in the lemon and the raspberry so he could try mixing them together.. Morgan will only take dips of the vanilla honey, because he's not fond of any of the rest of it unless I make it into something like yogurt or cakes, etc.

Honey Marshmallows

1 cup of honey (we have used plain or flavored)
1 Tablespoons gelatin
1/4 cup COLD water

Put the water in a bowl and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Let it set until soft. Warm the honey, this takes about 30 - 60 seconds in the microwave. Next place your bowl of gelatin in the microwave and let it come to a full boil (only about 90 seconds on high). Mix the gelatin with a fork or wire whip until it's fully dissolved. Then add both the gelatin and warm honey to a mixing bowl. Mix on high until very light and fluffy (I wait for firm peaks to form which takes anywhere from 8 - 10 minutes).

Once you have some stiff peaks butter a 9x13 pan (I often use non-stick spray) and spread the mixture evenly in it. This will give you pretty thick marshmallows! You could use any pan you wanted though..

I cover my pan with plastic wrap (you can oil it if you want) and set it up on top of the fridge for 24-48 hours. We usually test them before bedtime. They'll be strong, test them the next day, they're usually still a wee bit strong (if using plain honey) and by day 2 they are great. You just cut them into squares and serve!

We don't roast these per-say because they do melt quickly, but I like to top a warm graham cracker with them and some of my agave sweetened chocolate. It makes a really tasty smore! Homemade graham crackers can get soft when reheated in the microwave so I simply stick two graham crackers in the toaster (yes for real, I don't own a toaster oven) and I set it to the lowest possible setting. They get soft for about a minute and then crisp right back up. It's long enough to melt my chocolate and marshmallow. However, these marshmallows are very tasty on their own.

If you want to roll them in toasted coconut use about 1 cup of coconut toasted on top of the stove in a non-stick skillet. I cook it on a medium low heat until it turns golden brown and becomes very fragrant. You could also roll them in cocoa before storing in an airtight container.

Thanks to the handy folks at pccrafter I was able to "write" this recipe on a downloadable recipe card for you. You can download it here. This is a pdf file, so please be patient while it loads. For best results print on cardstock. After downloading simply print, cut, fold, and laminate. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Read Alouds

This is just another book list! This is our running list of read alouds, some we've read, some we haven't yet but are hoping to. It's always fun to learn about a great new book to delve into, so I thought I'd just throw my list here. There are a variety of places you can find suggestions for good books to read, but one of my favorite is Deliciously Clean Reads. (Note, she's recently moved to Homespun Light, but you'll still find great book info on the old blog..) These books are in no particular order or age level, that's something you'll have to decide for yourself.

Read Alouds:
  • My Side Of The Mountain by Jean Craighead George
  • On The Far Side Of The Mountain by Jean Craighead George
  • Frightful's Mountain by Jean Craighead George
  • Frightful's Daughter by Jean Craighead George
  • Nim's Island by Wendy Orr
  • Nim At Sea by Wendy Orr
  • The Tales Of Olga Da Polga by Michael Bond
  • Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
  • Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
  • The Tale Of Despereaux By Kate Dicamillo
  • The Miraculous Journey Of Edward Tulane
  • Mr Poppers Penguins by Richard Atwater
  • The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
  • Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Lavine
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
  • Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes
  • Happy Hollisters by Jerry West
  • The Wheel On The School by Meindert Dejong
  • Henry & Ribsy Beverly Cleary
  • All Of A Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
  • Dot And The Kangaroo by Ethel C. Pedley
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Spy Dog
  • The Enchanted Woods
  • Trouble According To Humphrey
  • Friendship According to Humphrey
  • The World According to Humphrey
  • Archer's Quest

Red indicates books we've all ready read together. Black/Blue indicates books we'd like to read. See here to understand why we link to Book Depository. Last updated November 2010

Birthday Party Photos..

I didn't forget about birthday photos, we just have a few technical difficulties with the pictures and hard drives lately. Now that it's all sorted out and all the missing pictures have been found I can share them! This crazy zany thing staring you down with the "evil eyes" is Morgan's bird. We had a rainforest/Diego party for Jayden. I had some Deigo material that I had picked up while in America. My intention had been to make Jayden a shirt, but I didn't pick up enough material and it's been sitting in a box ever since. I ended up pulling it out and whipping up a few party bags from it. Inside were the feathers, eyes, cups, straws, and other "things" for making these funny little birds. We had bird races in the living room during our party. We had many exotic birds flying around!

We printed out (on many sheets of paper) Baby Jaguar, and then proceeded to cut a spot out for the kid to play "Pin The Spot" with it.

Nana was more then willing to play this game too, so of course they gave her a few extra spins and then put her on the wrong wall in an attempt to knock her out of the game

Jayden was also convinced for a while that he was really 7 because he'd had a birthday the day before and he was 6, and if he was having another birthday then he must surely be 7..

Jayden's favorite part was convincing cousins to come outside and jump on the trampoline with him, which they did.. Over, and over, and over and over.. Then they willingly agreed to come inside and play Wii with him while the rest joined up for a quick game of S'math.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Party Banner

We have a birthday banner. Truth be told this banner comes out for many birthdays, including the one we celebrate on Christmas. It's so much fun to hang it up and enjoy. I first saw the cupcake material in our local craft store and I was really drawn to it. However, I all ready have a party cloth and it's much more whimsical and less pink, and since I'm the only girl in the house less pink is more us. Anyway, I considered the material for a minute and then opted not to get it. However, I spotted a felt birthday banner made from simple triangles. I no longer remember where I saw it, but I do remember someone having used felt letters to write Happy Birthday upon it.

you will ignore that wrinkle, right?

The idea itself was cute, but I wanted to use party themed material. I'm a tad neurotic that way.. I then remembered the "party" (as I often refer to it as) material at our local craft store. I got very excited when I realized I had a project I could use it for, and our next trip out that way I picked some up.

When I first saw the material all they had was the cute cupcakes, but when I went back to make the purchase they actually had the matching polk-a-dots and the ice creams. I opted to get a bit of each and space them out in the banner.

I ended up making a triangle in a word type program and used that as my pattern. I used pinking sheers to cut them out because I didn't want to worry about hemming a ton of triangles, and since they hang up I doubted they'd need washing too often. I used ribbon on one row, and I used a minty binding on another row. I still have more left that I've been debating about making into another banner for a few months now.

I love seeing these things hanging up on the kids birthdays (and the adults too!) In fact, I tend to get a little sad when I have to take them down and pack them away. The best part is they aren't themed for anything more then fun so we use them quite often for a variety of things, and even the boys think the birthday banner is cool!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Chore Charts

Before moving to Australia we use to use the handy "I Did My Chores" system. It's really great and simple to use and it was a big visual for our then non-readers. However, when you're moving "as far around the world as you can go before you start coming back..." you have to be quite choosy about what you're willing to put in your bags. Chore charts were not very high on the priority list. Which means, every day, despite always having done the same chores, the boys would always need reminding of what to do. Which made me seriously question my sanity, and probably would have made my parents question theirs when I asked them to hunt through our storage shed and find the chore charts. (Seriously, guys, don't do it!)

While scanning a homeschool message board Celia posted about someone who created a chore chart with the workbox system in mind. It was one of those lightbulb moments for me. No point in everyone losing their minds when I could make something up with my handy little scrapbooking program!

So now the boys have a morning chore chart and an afternoon chore chart. The idea is that they find it empty in the morning and they fill it up with x's as they move along. Only, one morning, I forgot to clear it so Jayden was pretty pleased that he had no chores to do. It took a tad of convincing from the other guys at the table that he wasn't quite that lucky. He was very disappointed when I yanked all the x's off his chart during the discussion..

The charts only took me about five minutes to make in the program and then I printed them out and laminated them. I keep the x's in a bowl on the counter near the charts. The afternoon chart has recently been moved upstairs because we spend our afternoons upstairs during the winter months. It's also not all inclusive of their chores. For instance, they are both learning to dust (one entire shelf each week), Morgan is learning to wash the bathroom down, and they are both learning to vacuum downstairs. These chores are done once a week on a specific day, and with me near by to instruct as they go along.

The chart also doesn't include Saturday chores (cleaning pet cage, washing dog, and cleaning out the car.) I may choose to change the charts down the road as chores change and things, but for now it's an easy way for them to see what they have to do in the morning/afternoon without worrying if I'm busy doing my own chores.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Weekly Workboxes

We've been "off" from school for the past couple of weeks. It was completely unplanned, but life happens. All three of us had a small bought with a tummy bug which was followed with a wicked cold. No, it wasn't swine flu, I promise! We weren't put into quarantine or anything like that. Instead we bought the local supermarket out of tissues, eccinachia, and orange juice. Then we rented movies, pulled out the blankets and hid for a week. So we're all ready to roll this week with school and I've pulled a few things we had hoped to get to last week, but didn't.

This is a train craft Jayden wanted to work on when Morgan had soccer clinic two weeks ago. Only he was feeling downright miserable, and so was I and it never happened. You can get the pattern here. The upside to waiting was we now have plenty of empty tissue boxes!

Jayden received some new Thomas magazines in the mail (thanks Mom & Dad!) so he'll be getting a couple of those, and I found the animal magazine for Morgan. Why is it so hard to find a decent magazine for non-preschoolers?

We still haven't touched our new art curriculum. I'm only slightly embarrassed to admit that. You see, I opened it up and thought we'd work from cover to cover, but the author suggested differently which kinda freaked me out. I think I'm over my freak out moment, and we'll be starting with a marker lesson. We're all really excited to dig in, and I suspect this will be a full family affair!

Morgan received the Spy book for his birthday. It has a few cases in it, and then lots of tips and tidbits on spy-type things. There's a particular craft involving an empty matchbox that he's itching to try out, so he'll find those supplies in his box. The gardening book is for all of us. We have a few veggies we'll be planting, and yes I know it's winter here! I thought these seed cups looked like fun and the kids will enjoy helping to plant some lettuce (for outside), tomatoes (for inside) and pepper/capsicum (inside, slow growing stuff too!)

We'll also be working on an Artists Pocket from the June Evan-Moor Pockets. We'll probably work on those over a matter of weeks. Which will be lots of fun as we pull out a few other artist resources to use as well.

What about you, what fun things have you got planned for your Fun Filled Weekly Workboxes this week? Blog about it and come link up here! If you don't have a blog, and want to share what you'll be doing, just leave a comment and let us know!


Jayden was born with an obsession for two things: dogs and trains. His infatuation with one is just as intense as the other. For his 2nd birthday we had a Blue's Clue's style party and the two big hits were the cardboard house we made and let all the kids scribble and color all over the inside of it, and the huge bags of dogs. Seriously huge bags! We bought every dog we found over a several months and for his birthday we had two huge trash bags full. We opened them up and dumped the dogs on top of him. He spent weeks carrying them around (or as many as he could at one time) and still complains that we haven't brought them all to Tasmania yet.

His train obsession is no less. We use to live in a town where there was a few old trains hooked up and the kids could go inside and look around. They could view the model train set up inside the museum, or they could simply play on one of the old trains that was always "open". He would spend hours begging us to take him there, and then spend hours playing on the trains. When we'd return home he'd dig out all his tracks (and there were a lot, especially when you're in a small two bedroom apartment!) and play for hours.

His train obsession was so big that for his 3rd birthday we had a fun Thomas Train party. We spent weeks painting boxes to look like Cranky, James, Toby, troublesome trucks, and others. We set up a small course for the kids to go through and play games at each train. This birthday is still remembered to this day by Jayden. He use to spend hours pouring over the scrapbook we made from it (he'd still do it, but that's in America right now..), and each year his birthday comes around he asks for another, "really cool Thomas party!"

A year or more ago these materials were on sale at our local craft store. Jayden fell in love with all the tracks and trains and I bought a piece of each. I had recently made a quilt using this same pattern for Mom (hi Mom!) with different material. So began the process of cutting out all the pieces. Then I sewed lots of rectangles to lots of squares and I ironed all the seams. Then, due to moving I packed the project away, much to the disappointment of a train loving little boy.

Six months later I dug it out on a wet day and found myself too swamped with a headache to deal with the frustration of trimming the blocks I'd made. So I tucked it away again and there it stayed for another six months (or more) until yesterday when I pulled it out. Much to the delight of my mother-in-law I took it with me while visiting and with some serious moral support threw all the pieces on the floor in various patterns until we landed on one I liked the best.

I managed to sew up the rows last night, and this afternoon I sewed all my rows together. I'm not as impressed with it as I'd like to be. I feel the rails are going all higglety pigglety, and I don't think my seam allowance was as wide as it should have been, so not all my train pieces look as neat and square as they should. Maybe that's what happens when you take 2 years to work on a simple project. (The first one took me two weeks, and most of the work was done in a day.. seriously!)

However, the best thing about train loving boys who've waited 2 years for train quilts.. they don't care if the rails aren't straight or if train squares don't appear to be perfectly square. The point is, he's just grateful for the blanket. You think I can get a back and binding on it before another 2 years pass by? It's probably a good thing the trains aren't too whimsical, at this rate it might become his graduation present! (No, he doesn't normally suck his thumb, he thought he'd pretend to be his big brother, thus the big grin on his face..)

You can download the same pattern for free here. As for the material.. I bought both the material on the pattern, and the material in the pictures from Spotlight. Both of which were considered American Quilting Range Material..