Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas Around the USA

The three weeks before Christmas break I basically threw all the regular curriculum to the side & focused on Christmas themed activities. One of the fun things we did was the Christmas Around the USA unit from Enchanted Homeschooling Mom. We kind of rushed it to get all 50 states squeezed in the three weeks, but we did it.

Our Christmas Around the USA set up

The unit has a pdf with Christmas activities you can do for each state. Many states also have crafts, links to a website or You Tube video, movie suggestions & holiday traditions from one family. My family's info is on Oregon's page. I didn't tell the boys that we were in the unit. They were shocked & so excited when we stumbled upon our picture and information. After we read through a couple states the boys would fill out little state cards and add them to their paper suitcase.

When they finished with their state cards they glued a state stamp into their passport.

Another fun thing was coloring a state penguin ornament after learning about each state. There were 50 penguins, of course, so the boys started getting creative with them. Some had different diseases & some had accessories for their profession.

The unit comes with an idea for making a cardboard tree, but instead we used this tiny fake tree I had with my Christmas stuff.

The unit also includes Christmas lights with state abbreviations on them. We used them to learn the abbreviations for each state. When we finished up the state stuff for the day I'd tell the boys the abbreviation and they had to guess which state it belonged to. I was actually quite surprised how much they loved this. Even on their own they'd look at the lights and try to remember which state it was.

 Other Activities for learning the 50 States:

We started the day by singing the 50 states song that came with the Christmas Around the USA unit & also watching on You Tube & trying to sing the Fifty States That Rhyme.
Scrambled States of America
We read the book & played the game. The boys loved the game. We'll need to make sure we continue to play it occasionally.

Each boy had their own workbook, but essentially they taught the same thing: state nicknames & capitals.

I really enjoyed this unit & I know my boys did too. It was just perfect for getting them excited to learn about the different states.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Gingerbread Week

The first week in December was Gingerbread Week. I don't feel like we did a lot with gingerbread week, but what we did do the kids really enjoyed.

 :: Gingerbread Glyphs ::  
All three kids made a gingerbread glyph. We then glued their gingerbread man to construction paper & they each had a different task to complete.
Capt. N's Acrostic Poem
Mr. T's list of nouns
Princess K's letter tracing

:: Noun Town ::
During Grinch Week we studied adjectives. For Gingerbread Week we focused on nouns. To combine gingerbread & nouns we made a noun town.
The boys made their town by decorating paper gingerbread houses.
We discussed different types of community buildings. Then the boys made their buildings. Our town had a bakery, candy shop, school, Christmas tree shop, Hershey's Factory & 2 houses.
After making our town, the boys were given pieces of paper to write down as many nouns as they could find in our paper community.
The last day of Gingerbread Week they wrote a short story about the town.

:: Other ::
Mr. T categorized nouns from an Evan-Moor Literacy Center book into people, places or things.

Mr. T has been doing these Addition Adventure worksheets from MindWare. This week he completed the gingerbread man sheet.

We also did Christmas themed mad libs throughout the week. Unfortunately, we didn't ever get to the most important part of gingerbread week: actually making gingerbread men. Bummer! We have made gingerbread houses a number of times in the past, though.

I gotta say, I love theme weeks. They're just plain fun! What are your favorite themes?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Verbs at the Zoo

Any time we can throw learning in at the zoo is a hit in my family. This particular week we were studying verbs. I made two small books for the boys to take with us to the zoo & their job was to fill their book with as many different kinds of verbs as they could find. They did a great job & found verbs such as sitting, sleeping, waddling, relaxing, coiling, crawling, eating & flying.

The book is simple. I designed the cover & printed them 2up on a sheet of light green cardstock. Then cut sheets of plain paper in half, making them 8.5 x 5.5. Next I folded the cover & 5 sheets of the now cut paper in half. The pages are put together like a book, then stapled.

A few examples of verbs the kids wrote in their books & my pics to go with them: 

I'm sharing this post with the Hearts for Home Blog Hop.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Reindeer Report

As part of our Reindeer Week, the boys created reindeer reports. We started by visiting a Christmas tree farm that had reindeer. The kids were quite interested in the reindeer. They asked the woman watching the reindeer all sorts of questions including, "How can you tell the difference between the boys & girls since they both have antlers?" The poor woman did such a good job answering them honestly without being weird about it. We also got a couple books from the library to learn a bit more.

They used a coffee filter book idea from That Artist Woman for the report. I love how they turned out. They're chunky and not perfect at all.

:: The Cover ::
The boys started their cover by painting a piece of watercolor paper blue. After the blue dried they used the end of a paintbrush to make white snowflakes.

I made a template from an old cereal box that was the same size as the coffee filters. They traced around the template.

Then cut it out.

They glued their cut out snowy background onto a piece of chipboard. Next was drawing a reindeer head & cutting it out. Then add all the other details.

:: Inside Pages ::  
The boys made 4 pockets for their book. We scoured the reindeer/caribou books for information pertaining to that particular pocket. We discussed the information & I added it to the white board. The boys could then use that information to make tags for their pockets.
The first pocket is about random Reindeer Facts.

Mr. T's book has a couple photos added as pages.

The mammal pocket has three bits of information. 1.) A tabbed mini book showing the classification of reindeer from class to species. 2.) Various information about what makes a mammal a mammal. 3.) A photo with keywords pointing to the different parts of a reindeer.

Food Chain Pocket
Capt. N's food chain pocket has 3 pull outs. He made one sheet listing a reindeer's predators, another listing the things a reindeer eats & the third sheet has a diagram showing a bear eating a reindeer, which is eating grass.

The final pocket is a reindeer's habitat. The three things the boys chose to put in this pocket were a map showing where reindeer live, a paper listing the two types of reindeer habitats & a drawing of a reindeer in its habitat.

These turned out great. The kids not only learned a little more about reindeer, but we also had mini lessons on various habitats & animal classification. This was a fun project to work on right before Christmas break.

Sharing this post with Mom's Library Link Up

Monday, December 24, 2012

Oregon Zoo Lights

Most years we take the kids to see the Zoo Lights at the Oregon Zoo. We love visiting the zoo & look for almost any reason to go. Zoo Lights makes seeing the animals even that much more fun. There are over a million lights, hot chocolate, train ride & Frosty or Rudolph ready to take pictures with you.

 We got there early this year & saw many animals in the daylight.

Speckled Mousebird

Damara Zebra


 Once the sun started going down the lights came on.

This walkway is beautiful & is one of my favorite areas during Zoo Lights.

Another one of my favorite areas. It has a lot going on: A river of lights complete with a crocodile. A flying eagle. An elephant spraying water. And lots more.

It's a photography challenge getting decent pics of the kids in the dark with lights behind them. I tried playing with various silhouette effects.

Happy Holidays to you.
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