Thursday, October 27, 2011

Learning by Heart – Oct. 28, 2011

The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom”
-Henry Ward Beecher

Working on his hula-hoop technique. M – and a hula hoop. :)

Besides trying his best to figure out how to “work” a hula hoop (which was hilarious, by the way), M had a great week…


Independent Activities:

I bought a Kumon book of crafts a few months ago to keep M busy on a long car trip (it was perfect for that), and he recently re-discovered it when I was sorting through some craft supplies:

There are 80 pages of crafts in this book.  It has kept him busy and interested all week long.  It’s great for scissor practice and folding practice.  It calls for glue, but M has (thankfully) chosen to use double stick tape instead.  All kinds of neat little things can be made – a dancing dog and a rooster that flaps his wings are two of our favorites so far,  As well as this little fishing game:

working in his "make it" bookMaking the fish…

A little paper fishing. and then catching one.

The only downside, as you can imagine, is having somewhere near 80 little paper crafts lying around the house. :)  Still, I highly recommend it.


Pin punching autumn shapes:pin punching autumn shapes

M still really enjoys these.  There are two ways to do this – place push pins around the outline of the shapes, like this:placing the pins around the shape Or use one pin to make holes all along the outside of a shape and then punch it out (like a perforated shape).  He loves doing both, and they are both great fine motor skill work.


Design and Drill set – well, this was supposed to be a photo of M drilling a design, but then he decided to make hand shadows where the sun was shining on the floor. :)  (I wrote more about this great toy a while back in this post, if you are interested.)Design and Drill set 



We have a drawer full of “dead” batteries.  I am not sure why M insists on keeping batteries that are all used up, but we have learned to just not ask questions about these things or we will get an earful on batteries, which may just be his favorite conversation topic ever.  Anyway, they came in handy this week when M decided to build a battery tester with his Snap Circuits set:making a Snap Circuit battery tester (the railroad track is just there for decoration, because we LOVE stepping over things like that in this house.  All. the. time.)  Turns out, many of the batteries still had plenty of energy in them to light a 2 watt lightbulb or make a small motor go, so now they’ve been relocated to the “non-dead” drawer and it’s only slightly annoying when we have to go through them again trying to find one that will actually work in something important. ;)



We played a “penny drop” game this week.  This was kind of taken from Peggy Kaye’s book, Games for Math:penny drop game - set up

I made a quick chart of numbers 1 through 9 and we took turns tossing or dropping a penny on the page.  Whichever number the penny landed on was the number of linking people we would pick and link together.playing our penny drop gameOnce they were all gone we looked at our rows and guessed who had more (simple graphing), then counted them to see if we were correct.  This was fun, but not much of a challenge for M.  However, I love these little linking people and just had to use them for something. ;)  



M has been practicing his writing.  He seems to have a preference for the letters M T H E and W. ;)   An occasional N and A get in there too.  He has been seeing how tiny he can write, and then of course I have to read it back to him, which really is about as much fun as you’d imagine. ;)notebook work


We played a little game matching up objects with their beginning sounds for a few random letters (based on whatever small wooden pieces I could find lying around, which were originally from Michael’s).  I had written the word on the back of the objects so we could self-check to see if we had chosen the correct letter.  M matched upper case to lower case also:phonics sorting I was glad to find that he didn’t have any difficulty with this, seeing as how we didn’t do much of this sort of thing over the summer.

We also played a feeling game with the large foam letters.  M would close his eyes (he decided against a blindfold, very emphatically) and picked a letter.  He would feel it for several seconds and make a guess.  I usually gave him a choice between two letters and he did really great!

feeling letters But I don’t quite understand the bare shoulder thing going on here, or why he insists on wearing snowman pajamas already. :)


M also made up a little story this week and had me write it down on his whiteboard so he could copy it: fish story fish story finaleI do not take dictation as quickly as he’d like, so I may have missed a few parts. :)  I think this is a great idea for helping him focus on spelling and phonics.  In the near future I plan to see if he would like to make up a story for me to type out for him,  and then have him try to sound out some of the easier words… we’ll see how it goes.  He is definitely more interested in this kind of thing if it builds on something he’s already created.  


Art/ Sensory/ Spelling/ Science:

This was the hit of the week.  You can read about it in this post from earlier in the week.

cooked, puffy letters


Creative Play:

M was awfully proud of the suspension “bridge”, which was actually more of an entire suspension track, that he made:suspension trackThe photo is not terribly clear, but he had an entire train track built up in the air around our living room, held up here and there by whatever was handy.  His trains actually went around the whole thing a few times, until of course the inevitable and spectacular crash happened. :)


M went to a Build and Grow class at Lowe’s (for children 5 and up) and got to build this little wooden monster truck with a real flashing light and glow-in-the-dark stickers. :)  He was very proud of himself and enjoyed hammering real nails into wood!monster truck from Lowe's The apron and safety goggles, as well as the supplies for building the truck were all free.  This is a great program, and Home Depot has a similar one.  I highly recommend it for any wood craft lovers out there!!

And we made some delicious pumpkin muffins:pumpkin muffinsI wish I could pass them around to all of you, they were the perfect treat for this time of year!

I am linking this post up to Preschool Corner and Weekly Wrap-Up.  Check them out for some great homeschooling posts!

Have a toasty warm and beautiful day! :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Art Time and a little spelling Practice

puff paint all ready to go.

Deborah over at Teach Preschool has a wonderful Facebook page, where she shares great ideas that she runs across when she is online.  It is truly fabulous.  And that is where I found this little idea about puffy paint (and I’m kicking myself for not noting the blog where she saw it).

This project was definitely a hit!

We’ve done something similar to this, here, and that was also a hit with M, but today’s version gets microwaved and turns all soft and puffy (or hard if you put it in for too long – oops!)

Recipe: 1 Cup of flour, 3 tsp of baking powder, and 1 tsp of salt.  Mix these together, then add enough water to make it pourable, but not runny.  It’s a bit like pancake batter, so go for that consistency, although I think ours would have been better just a tiny bit thicker than we had it.making puff paint batter


I used a funnel to pour it into 3 squeeze bottles, filling them up about 2/3 or 3/4 of the way; then added food coloring and shook them up until it was mixed in.  The shaking part may not have been the smartest decision since it made the baking powder want to explode out of the bottles, but oh well.  You might want to mix your colors in bowls, and then transfer them to the bottles. ;) puff paint all ready to go.


I had written our last name on some cardboard, in “bubble” letters and M filled them in with the paint.  He loved this.  I’ve been trying to get him interested in learning how to spell our last name, and was so happy that this worked!

This is how the paint looked wet, as M filled in the letters:painting

He loved doing our last name so much, he asked me to write his first and middle names out for him too, so I did and he painted his entire name. :)

We put the painted cardboard in the microwave for about 20 seconds at a time, testing it each time to see if it was done.  It puffs up and feels a bit like play dough, except firmer and not mold-able of course. 

Very cool results:cooked, puffy letters


I was thinking of this as art, but M kept referring to it as our “science experiment”, and I guess he was right too!  So, we had art, spelling, and science – and fun – all in one.  It doesn’t get better than that! :)

Have a beautiful day! :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Art Time! Autumn oil pastel artwork

finished oak leaf 

M and I recently made some autumn-themed artwork with oil pastels.  They turned out so pretty and were fun to make too.  M had to get past an initial “this feels weird on my fingers, and oh ack, it is making them dirty too” sort of thing, but then I reminded him that he is washable and he began to enjoy the process. :)  (That conversation was a bit surreal for me, considering the fact that he is normally drawn to dirt and messiness.)

Our supplies: supplies

Construction paper in light colors, and cut in half (we used a light brown, white, and yellow); shape templates cut out so there are both the negative and the positive pieces (I found these printable shapes at Lakeshore Learning – they have quite a few free printables); and oil pastels.  We tried using cotton balls to smear the pastels, but found using our fingers gave us a much better result. 

The framed picture is there because we took a few minutes to look at it and talk about the many, many autumn activities going on in it.  I love this set of seasonal prints that I got for free at a book sale.  They weren’t painted by anyone famous or anything, but the detail and the style really appeal to me.  I’ve framed them and placed them in our breezeway above M’s little desk (we’ll switch them out each season): autumn art

We talked about the colors of autumn, and M decided that just about any color can be an autumn color if you do it right, so we decided to use all the colors of oil pastels.

We each chose a cut out shape, or a page with the shape missing, and talked a tiny bit about how these are referred to as positive and negative spaces. 

To do this, place your shape on a piece of paper, and color around the outline, using quite a bit of pressure:rub the oil pastel along the side of the shape 

Then use your finger to smear and smudge the color onto the paper.  For the above photo, you’d smear the pastel outward, for the photo below M smeared it inward:Smear the color onto the paper with your fingers 

And look – pretty, pretty artwork:finished artwork

We made several of these and plan to string them into a banner.  Hopefully I’ll have a picture of that to share at the end of the week.

The inspiration for this art project was from this post over at Catholic Icing.  I thought it would make a beautiful project for fall.  It would be fun to do something similar with watercolors, don’t you think?  That just might have to make it onto our art to-do list!

abc button

Have a beautiful day! :)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Learning by Heart – Oct. 21, 2011

The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom.”

      - Henry Ward Beecher

Playing in the leaves! I never see M more joyful than when he is playing in the leaves!  But why does he wear his bike helmet non-stop?  Do your children do this?? :)

Technology really seems to have something against me this year.  I lost my USB cable for my camera, so there are not many photos for this week.  {Sigh.}  We actually had a really great week and I was very excited to write about it.  Ah, the irony. :)

However, for you that means a nice short and sweet post. :)  Here’s a bit of what M’s week was like…

Nature Basket – I recently added a magnifying glass to this to add a new level of interest.  Here are M’s fall treasures thus far:

nature basket Pinecones, sticks, interesting weeds and rocks, a cattail, 3 feathers,
and a shell from our river walk.


Remember last week when he learned our phone number and how to properly use a phone?  Well, this week he learned our cell phone number, and took to calling himself and talking to himself on both the cell and the home phone:calling and talking to himself I am not kidding.  He was actually having a conversation with himself. :)  Looks like a good one too, doesn’t it?



Scissor Practice – I folded some construction paper in half and drew one half of an image on the front: fall scissor practice M had to try to cut right on the lines and then guess what it was before he opened it up.  This tied nicely into our recent discussions about symmetry too.  Interestingly, he didn’t guess any of them right.  He guessed a hill, a blahblahblah (some nonsense word), a Christmas tree (?!), and a robot.  :)  They turned out to be, in order: a pumpkin, an acorn, a leaf, and a scarecrow – he could tell when they were opened up (thankfully!).  I drew the pumpkin, acorn, and scarecrow freehand, and found a maple leaf template on Google Images (I’m not sure of the link, but there are many available).

He did great with these and stayed right on the cutting line, having trouble only with the scarecrow who unfortunately lost part of his hat, and had his head entirely cut off. :)  Thank goodness for tape!  M had a lot of fun putting funny faces on them (the stickers are from Michael’s) and hanging them on the window!Finished craft / scissor practice  This turned out to be a big hit!


Lacing cards – I sometimes forget about these, but we have many of them, and it is easy to make your own.  M still loves to do these, and he comes up with new things to do with them:fall lacing cardsLike “sew” them together and hang them up as part of the fall decor.  Sometimes I think our home looks like we have a 5 year old decorator, and then I realize we actually do and that I love it. :)


Caramel Apples – We had fun making caramel apples this week – just 3 of them because somehow we ended up with a very small amount of caramels. :)  M was in charge of unwrapping all the caramels (great fine motor work that takes a long time, but is highly motivating):unwrapping caramels 

I think we added a bit too much milk to the mix because even after our caramel had cooled and we had dipped the apples, only a very thin layer covered them.  But they were delicious!  And I think they were beautiful, don’t you?pretty caramel apples


Crocheting!  That’s right – crocheting!  I’ve been crocheting for over 30 years now, and over the summer M took a huge interest in this and we’ve been crocheting up a storm together ever since.  This is how we do it:crocheting and cuddlingMy hands are on bottom, holding the crocheted fabric.  I love seeing how much alike our hands look. :)

It is too difficult for him to maneuver the crochet hook and yarn while holding onto the fabric, so we snuggle up and I hold the fabric for him.  He does everything else and he has really gotten very good at it.  Of course I guide him and talk him through it as needed.  It’s a good little extra snuggle time for us. :)

Here’s a “shaving washcloth” he made for Daddy’s birthday:crocheted washcloth for Daddy

We did manage to squeeze in some math, science, art, and a little phonics work too, but those pictures are still waiting.  Hopefully I’ll be able to share them next week!


Linking up to:




Have a beautiful day! :)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Science Sunday – Heat and insulators


Science Sunday

We did two science experiments this week, both related to heat.

{I find many good ideas for preschool and early elementary science activities over at Kids Science Experiments.  There are a lot to choose from, and most are very easy to prepare for.}


First Experiment – Magic Jumping Coin

To do this you need a glass bottle, icy water, and a quarter.

Place the bottle neck and the quarter in the icy water for about a minute:bottle in icy water

Take them out and place the quarter over the bottle opening.  Place your warm hands around the bottle neck:watching the coin "jump"

After a few seconds the coin will “jump” (more of a small “pop” up and back down).  Why?  The molecules in warm air move around more and take up more space than the molecules in cold air.  When your hands warm up the air in the cold bottle, the molecules start moving around more and to make room, they “pop” the coin off the top of the bottle. 


Second Experiment – Insulators

***Note!***  Karen from Science Matters (click on the link to check out her awesome blog) emailed me with some good information about the experiment below.   Apparently we did it all wrong, and that is proof that learning is a lifetime sort of thing, right? ;)  Here’s some good information and ideas that she gave me:

“To truly test the insulating properties of the materials, you'd want to wrap the sides of the glass (around where the water is) in the material.  You actually lose more heat through the sides of the glass than the top.  It's not surprising that the temperatures were very similar, since all 4 water samples were losing heat through the glass at about the same rate. 

It's surprising that the aluminum foil insulated as well as it did - aluminum is a conductor, basically the opposite of an insulator - it carries heat away.  Think of stirring a big pot of soup... if you used a metal spoon, what would happen after the spoon was in the pot for awhile?  It would get hot - too hot to tough eventually.  It's carrying the heat away from the soup (and to your hand).  A pot holder or an oven mitt is a great insulator - if you put that around the spoon, it will be insulated and the heat won't reach your hand (or it will take a very long time to do so). 

Wool is a great natural insulator - it's job, on the animal, is to keep that animal warm by trapping its body heat.  Cotton does pretty well, when it's dry.  The problem with cotton, is that when it gets wet (either from sweat or from precipitation) is that it traps the water, which kills its insulating properties.  (That would be a great experiment - comparing a dry cotton cloth with a wet one).

If you ever decide to re-try the experiment, some other fun materials to test: a pot holder, bubble wrap.  Of you could try several different mittens/gloves and see which would do the best job at keeping your hands warm!”

We gathered up our materials: 4 glasses, 4 rubber bands, a fluffy sock, newspaper, aluminum foil, and a cotton cloth:insulators and glassesM and I both guessed about which of these materials would keep hot water warm for the longest amount of time.  I guessed the aluminum foil, M guessed the cotton cloth.

We heated some water in the microwave, and filled each glass to about 2 inches below the top.

Then we quickly placed our insulating materials over the glasses, and held them in place with rubber bands:covering the glasses of warm water

We set the timer for 30 minutes, then checked the glasses:checking the glasses

Each one still felt pretty warm, so we got out our candy thermometer and took their temperatures:taking the temp of the water

The glass that was covered with the cotton cloth had the warmest water.  The aluminum foil glass had the second warmest.  The sock glass was in third place, and the newspaper glass was the coolest.

We were supposed to use a woolen sock, but I could not find one (I know my husband has some that are real wool, but they are stored away right now).  I’m guessing the wool would be the best insulator, and so I guess it makes sense that cotton came in first with our experiment, although I was surprised at first. 

  science exp. insulators (3)   

To make the experiment as accurate as possible, we should have had 4 candy thermometers and placed them in the glasses all at the same time.  However, the cotton-covered glass was the third one we tested, and it was still warmest, so I suspect our results were correct.

Check out the Science Sunday link-up to find more fun science activities!

Have a beautiful day! :)


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