Monday, April 27, 2009

April Afterschool Report

Well, this month has two holidays that we spend quite a bit of time on. I already blogged about Easter and Earth Day, but we also did quite a bit that was not tied to a holiday.

Math - Mostly we are just practicing addition within 7 and subtraction within 5. I have also had him practicing counting nickels, dimes, and quarters. My find of the month is Sudoku puzzles. Here is a website that has some sample puzzles for kids. There are 6 altogether that are 4x4 in size. The first two I walked him through, asking him for the answers after leading him there. By the third puzzle he was leading me through the "logic". Then I printed out the second sample page of three puzzles and he did the first two all on his own, asking for one hint on the third one. I'm going to see if I can find more 4x4 puzzles before moving on to 6x6.

Music - We spent some time earlier in the month on Sergei Prokofiev and "Peter and the Wolf". Our library has a book with CD and a DVD of a ballet. We had fun trying to pick out the instruments and move like the animals.

Art - Because the first Saturday in May is the Kentucky Derby, which is like a two-week holiday where we live, I chose Degas for his "Racing Horses" painting. We also read "What Makes a Degas a Degas?" by Richard Muhlberger.

Also, I found this wonderful blog called ART PROJECTS FOR KIDS. It's awesome. Samuel did this project, except his chameleon had stripes and polka dots and his background color was orange. It was his first time doing a watercolor resist and he was so amazed at how his crayon marks showed through the paint. We put it in a frame and put it on his art gallery wall in his room (it's just three dollar store frames in a row on the short wall next to his window).

Reading - I've moved into some challenging books for his reading aloud time, mostly level 2 and 3. He's doing very well. I always have a fairly large choice, but he gets to choose which ones he reads. For his "fun" reading time he usually chooses easy picture books, which is good too. Just recently we started a reading journal, where he records the books he reads and draws a picture from the story. I'll blog about that more later, after we've had a chance to develop it more. Here are the challenging books he has read for me:
"Dolores and the Big Fire: A True Story" by Andrew Clements
"The Berenstain Bears and the Tic-Tac-Toe Mystery"
"The Case of the Puzzling Possum" by Cynthia Rylant

Literature/Poetry - We are reading Charlotte's Web" by EB White and poems from "The Bill Martin Jr Big Book of Poetry". We'll probably finish up both of these in May. A la Charlotte Mason, I usually only read one chapter from the 2 or 3 books we have going at any given time each day or two, plus one or two poems each day, in order to "savor" them. We also have two chapter books going that fall in the Nature Study category.

Geography - We are listening to "Paddle to the Sea" by Holling C. Holling once a week in the car (although we usually listen to 2 to 4 chapters at a time). I also checked out the book and we look at the pictures and use our US placemat map (I really need to get a bigger map!) to see where he is. A really fun thing we've been doing geography-wise is singing "The Fifty States That Rhyme" song. There are several versions on Youtube and I wrote down the words to the one we like and we listen and sing along. It's very hard. I don't think he's learning anything from this, but it's just showing how learning can be fun. Here's the version we like:

Nature Study - This is one of our bigger areas of study just because it's so much fun. We finished up Thornton Burgess' "The Adventures of Danny Meadow Mouse" and began "The Adventures of Grandfather Frog". We have also been reading from "The Tarantula in My Purse" by naturalist Jean Craighead George. Strangely enough, we haven't heard one word about a tarantula! We also visited the Louisville Science Center and spent a whole afternoon exploring, learning, and having fun. Of course, the weather has been nicer and we've spent countless hours outdoors, exploring the effects of our winter ice storm on our little patch of trees we watch. We lost our tree that was home to a pair of mourning doves, but we have still seen them around.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Earth Day - Hooray!

Usually I do not post plans because I am sure to change them. Just compare my Kindergarten Curriculum posting in relation to my Monthly Reports. However, Samuel is taking an interest in my blog and wants me to post everything. While we have started our Earth Day fun/lessons, there is still time before Earth Day (April 22) and maybe it would be of interest/use to you for this year.

These are the books and videos I have gotten from the library so far:

Every Day Is Earth Day, by Kathy Ross (A Craft Book)
Earth Day -- Hooray! by Stuart J. Murphy (a living math book and the inspiration for my post title)
The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss (in DVD and book format)
The Magic School Bus Holiday Special DVD (three programs about recycling, saving desert animals, and the rainforest)
I also plan on reading the creation story from the Bible to relate how we should use what God provides, but still take care of His creation.

The first book I got was the craft book. Samuel loves crafts and was desperate to find one we could do RIGHT NOW, without having to go to the store or wait until we had collected whatever trash we needed to make the craft (like toilet paper rolls, etc). The one we decided on was the TRASH MONSTER!:

Trash Monster
Side View

Top View (Face)

Here are the directions:

  1. Cut a large oval hole out of the bottom of a grocery bag (Samuel drew the oval and I cut it out). Open a second grocery bag and slide the first bag inside so that the bottom with the hole is at the top. The hole is the monster's mouth.
  2. Crumple newspaper into balls (we used half a page for each ball) and glue them above the mouth for eyes. Cut sharp teeth (triangles) from an old magazine cover and glue them around the inside of the mouth (we used scotch tape instead of glue).
  3. Cut large letters from the magazine to spell out "trash monster" and glue them to the front of the bag (our bags had writing already on them so we first glued our letters to the back of a piece of paper that we had previously drawn something on the front - more re-using!)
  4. The directions in the book made a nose out of a pipe cleaner that you could also use as a handle, but our bags had handles on them and Samuel wanted to draw on his nose so that's what we did.
  5. Take your trash monster for a walk and feed it trash you find along the way. Since we made this, we have had wet weather and I didn't think it would be a good idea to put wet trash in a paper bag, so we have been "feeding" it with bits of trash that cannot be recycled like the plastic from clothing tags and Easter candy wrappers.

I'll post pictures if we do any other crafts from this book. It's out of print as far as I can tell, but it's pretty good and I recommend trying to find it at your library or you can find it used through Amazon.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

To Bunny or Not To Bunny?

It's not about the Bunny. I know that. But the Bunny is a part of the day, just a very small part.

Beginning on Palm Sunday, I began our bible readings with Matthew 26 and continued each day through the rest of the story. I was happy, when I got to the part where Peter denies Jesus three times before the rooster crows, to hear Samuel say that was the bible story at school that week. At least I know he's getting some religious training, but I am not going to rely on that or our church for teaching him the important things.

We went to church on Saturday afternoon because our church asked its members to save the Sunday morning services for guests and those who were bringing guests. Then we went to dinner in a non-crowded restaurant because it wasn't Easter Sunday, and stopped by the Wal-mart to pick up a basket because we realized earlier that day that Samuel's basket from the past 3 years was missing.

Saturday night we also began making Resurrection Cookies. This was something I wanted to try last year, but we ran out of time. You can find the directions on many sites. I used something I printed out last year, but is no longer posted on that site. I googled "resurrection cookies" and came up with lots of sites, but linked Annie's Page.

Basically, you are making merengue cookies, but every step has some significance to the Easter story, with a bible verse reference to read aloud. The last step is to put the cookie sheet in the oven (tomb), turn off the oven and seal the oven/tomb with a piece of tape. In the morning you open the oven and give everyone a cookie to break open and see that the cookies have a hollow middle or are empty like the tomb, and read one last verse of the resurrection.

So, Sunday morning, the first thing is the basket. But while he was looking at the basket, he saw the first of the Resurrection Eggs that Hubby and I had hidden. This is the third year for this and he loves it. You can make your own eggs and follow an outline from many sites that you can find with Google. But I couldn't get it together, so I went to the local Christian bookstore and bought the eggs put out by Family Life, and the book "Benjamin's Box" by Melody Carlson that specifically goes with these eggs. Each egg has something in it that helps tell the Easter story, like a piece of cloth for the buriel clothes or a dice for when the soldiers cast lots for his clothes. The last egg is empty to signify the empty tomb. We all love this tradition.

Then we opened the oven/tomb and broke open the cookies to see they were "empty" and read the last verse. Non of us liked the cookies, but we all enjoyed the process and story.

Then we visited family and there was one way-too-many-eggs Easter egg hunt. All in all I think it's a pretty good balance with the main focus on Jesus.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Samuel's Zoo Notebook

I mention this often under the Science/Nature Study heading of blog entries, and since this is an ongoing project, I thought I'd take some time to describe it.

I am a sometimes scrapbooker. I am usually about a year behind, but Samuel loves my scrapbooks and asks to look at them often. Of course, he is the main subject of most of them of the last 5 1/2 years!

Since Samuel loves animals, we go to the zoo often. While other kids are running from one animal to the next, Samuel "observes" each animal for more than a few seconds. While other kids are shouting "hey look at the monkeys", Samuel knows that they are actually lemurs and the names of the 3 different kinds of lemurs in the exhibit at that. That is just his "thing" like other kids might be into dinosaurs (Samuel couldn't tell you much about them) or cars (knows nothing beyond the color of the car). So we usually visit a zoo when we are on vacation and between these trips and our local zoo trips, we have a LOT of pictures.

When Samuel was four, I started a Zoo Notebook with him. First we bought a cheap 3-ring binder in his favorite color (orange) and he helped me design the cover with a picture of himself eating pizza at the zoo and the title of "Samuel's Own Zoo Book". I anticipate he will want to change this when he gets older :-)

Next I sorted all the pictures by animal and asked him to pick an animal. He chose the Red Panda which we saw at the Atlanta Zoo. I asked him to tell me something about the Red Panda which I wrote in the journal box. The page ended up looking like this:
Red Panda Notebook Page
If you can't read the journalling, it says:

"Once upon a time, there was a little red panda, and the red panda climbed up a tree and he went into his cozy warm house. I saw this at the Atlanta Zoo." :-)

Clearly, I had a little work to do on the journalling aspect of this project. For the pages after that, I would first ask him what he knew about the animal, then we would go to wikipedia, where I would read him some of the facts from that animal's entry. THEN, I would ask him to tell me about the animal and I would write it down. It's been a process. The last page we did was a few weeks ago on the Polar Bear, which I think we saw in Palm Beach, FL.
Polar Bear Notebook Page
The journalling reads: "Polar Bears eat seals. They live in the Arctic and spend a lot of time on the frozen sea. They like ice because it helps them hunt for seals. The polar bear is an excellent swimmer. They are a vulnerable species which means they are endangered."

He also is now designing the pages himself, picking the colors, papers and stickers and placing them where he wants them on the page.

After the first few pages, I added some alphabet tabs and put the animals in alphabetical order. I can see this being something that Samuel continues to add to and the pages getting a little more descriptive. I have an idea to go back and add the Latin Scientific names of the animals at some point.