Friday, September 9, 2011

Show & Tell: ECC Weeks 3 & 4—United States

Greetings  from the great melting pot known as the USA!  This year we're trekking the globe with Exploring Countries and Cultures, and our first stop wasn't so much a "stop" as it was just a "continue to stay right where you've been staying."  Yep, we were in the United States for two weeks.  But even after coming out of a year of U.S. history, we learned a lot and reviewed a lot, so it was two weeks well-spent.

I know I said it in my last weekly report, but we're really enjoying doing Bible in the evenings with Greg.  During the course of the past two weeks, we read about Dwight Moody's repentance, boldness, and strength and Harriet Tubman's compassion, joy, and perseverance.  We also finished the first book of Tales of the Kingdom, which was much-loved by everyone in the family, and we read about Navajo Indians and missionary kids from Window on the World.  Did you know that many missionaries have to send their kids off to special schools for missionary families?  I had no idea!  I guess I just assumed they either went to school where they lived or they homeschooled.  I can imagine the kind of dedication to the Lord it takes to pack up your family and head to a foreign country.  I cannot imagine the kind of dedication to the Lord it takes to do so knowing that your family will not be intact once you're there.  This really touched a tender spot in my heart and has been a topic of prayer in my life over the past two weeks.

Next week we begin reading through the book of Matthew, so Hannah made a bookmark for us to use as we read. 

In geography, we really focused on getting to know how our little area fits into the world.  First, we labeled a map of North America so we could see what all borders the United States.  We also labeled two major U.S. landmarks:  the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains.

Next we did a map of the United States.  We labeled the "four corners" of the U.S., as well as all the states that border our home state of Texas.

Hannah's friend Rachel spent the night one night, and we had fun reading How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the U.S.A. together.

I had printed up little cards with pictures of the cherry pie "ingredients" on them. 

Front of the cards

Back of the cards
As we read the story, the kids looked at a U.S. map to find where we were supposed to go to get each ingredient.  When they found the right location, they would place the card for that ingredient in the correct spot on the map.

When we finished the story, we baked (of course!) cherry pie.  But this time I took Erin's suggestion and bought some frozen pie crust.  It saved me a good hour's worth of work and, if I'm really honest with myself, it tasted better, too.  Thanks, Erin!  :)

We bought a 2-pack, so we cut the second one into strips to give it that "woven" look.  Go ahead and say it:  Cheater, cheater, pumpkin-eater!  :)

Then the kids raided Millie's kitchen and found some cookie cutters to use on the leftover dough.

Very proud of their hard work!  :)
 While the pie was baking, the girls went into the school room and put together a North America GeoPuzzle.  It was a lot of fun watching them work on this.  They delegated tasks and got straight to work.  They changed strategies a couple of times, but they really worked well as a team.  And that's a good thing because someone in that group tends to be a weeeeee bit bossy.  But I won't say who.  ;)

Mission accomplished!
One of our goals in geography this year is not just to learn where the states and countries are on a map, but to try to learn about the culture in each area.  So far, our art projects have been a great way for us to accomplish that.

Because the United States was first inhabited by Native American Indians, the first art project we did was to make sandpaintings similar to those that the Navajo Indians made.
Sketching out her design

Adding the sand

Think she's tired of having her picture taken?  ;P
Some neighborhood kids that were walking the street even stopped in to join us.  That was kinda fun! 

And since Hollywood is such a major influence in the United States today, we went back to the roots of motion picture and examined the old-fashioned flipbook.  Actually, we were supposed to have the kids make their own flipbooks, but after seeing the amazing video Pauline's hubby did with their kids, we decided to skip the flipbook and go straight for the motion picture.  :)  The kids were super-excited about this one.  Rachel and Hannah came up with a storyline and gathered their props, and we got busy taking pictures.  Here's what they came up with.

Now, granted, it isn't nearly as good as the one Jason and the kids did.  But still, I thought it was pretty clever.  Greg, however, thought it was much better when I was telling him about it than when he actually watched it.  :P  But the girls did walk away understanding that motion pictures are made up of a series of still images, and that was the main idea, so I'm gonna call it a success.  :)

In science, we've been looking at deciduous and coniferous forests.  One of our assignments was to map all of the coniferous, deciduous, and mountain forests in the entire world

It doesn't look that hard, does it? Try it sometime. You'll be ready to rip your hair out by the end of it. But at least I learned from it, and was able to adjust as needed a couple of days later for another assignment.  We were supposed to draw a sketch of six different plants that were listed on our worksheet.  Instead, we googled them and printed them out. 

Something we did that was better-suited for Hannah was searching for different kinds of leaves.  We learned that leaves are used to help identify trees and plants, and if you learn to look for certain attributes of leaves, you can compare your findings with a field guide to identify your tree. 

Some leaves are broad, flat leaves with smooth edges.

Some are needles that grow in clusters of 2 or 3.

Some are broad, flat leaves that have toothed edges.

Some are broad, flat leaves that have lobed edges.

Some grow in an alternating pattern down the stem.

And some grow straight across from each other.
We also learned about several different landforms.  Over the summer, I googled images of all the different landforms she would be learning about throughout the year so she could see what they really looked like.  Each week, two landforms are introduced, and she chooses one of them to draw herself.

Here's an isthmus in real life ...

... and here's the isthmus Hannah drew.

Here's a butte in real life ...

... and here's a butte Hannah drew.  Looks like some guy is sweating trying to climb up it!
The kids know that our next stop is Mexico, and they can't wait to go!  Their bags are packed ...

... and waiting by their beds for an early pretend flight to Mexico City.

Our little Indian won't be alone much longer!

And we'll give you all the details in our next weekly report!  :)

Feel free to visit the My Father's World Weekly Highlights or Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers to see what others did this week!  :)

Show & Tell: MFW K—A-a Apple and N-n Nest

We've been having fun, fun, fun in Kindergarten this year!  I've been doing a terrible job of keeping up with weekly posts, but here are some highlights from Millie's A-a Apple and N-n Nest units.  :)

A-a Apple

Millie couldn't wait to get home and watch the VRRROOOMMM: Apple Farming movie we checked out from the library.  We stumbled upon it when Hannah was in kindergarten, and it has made its way home with us several times in the past three years. 

My kids absolutely adore this movie, as well as the other three in the series.  They're loaded with great information, but it's all presented in a very kid-friendly way.  We saw how apples are planted, picked, packaged, and even prepared!

We learned that apple trees have to be kept healthy if they're going to bear fruit, and that helped us understand our special words for the week:

If I stay in Jesus, I will have much fruit.

We learned that God doesn't give us fruit like apples and bananas, but instead He gives us fruit like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  We discussed how if we don't spend time with God, our spirits are unhealthy, and we won't have much fruit at all.  But if we do spend time with God and try to honor Him with our lives, our spirits are healthy and we will produce a lot of this wonderful fruit.  We made a little fruit basket and hung it on the kitchen counter, along with pieces of fruit that had the fruits of the spirit printed on them.  Every time we observed one of the fruits of the spirit, we would add that fruit to our basket.

Don't let this picture fool you!  I think we only had three legitimate pieces of fruit in our basket by week's end!

(If you want to make your own Fruits of the Spirit fruit basket, feel free to download the file here.  All we did was print it, cut it out, and staple the basket to brown construction paper.)

For our fun projects this week, we made apple cupcakes (which didn't turn out nearly as cute as the ones I found online, but we had fun anyway!) ...

... cut an apple in half to see the "star" inside ...

...stamped apple prints onto our Special Words to Remember page ...

... made an apple tree with a handprint trunk and fingerprint leaves ...

... and baked some apple pie to take to the Durhams' house for Hannah's United States party! 

We had planned to have an apple taste test so the kids could see that each apple has its own unique flavor, but we still haven't gotten around to that.  (I have a sneaky suspicion, though, that our eating habits are gonna have to change significantly after all these desserts, so I think an apple diet is in the very near future!)

N-n Nest

This unit was actually not just about nests, but about all different kinds of animal homes.  We did spend most of our time focusing on nests, though, because learning how well a mother and father bird care for their eggs and chicks helped Millie understand her special words:

God takes good care of me.

I remember when Hannah did kindergarten, I was amazed to learn that when a bird builds its first nest, it has never seen it done before, yet it knows exactly how to do it.  God has created birds so that they know not only how to build a nest, but how to build their particular kind of nest.  (Not all nests are built the same way.)  There is no explanation for this other than God-given instinct:  Birds are created with specific knowledge given to them by their Creator.

Millie and I obviously weren't given this knowledge, which was quite clear when we attempted to build our own nest.  :)  First, I told her that we were going to pretend to be birds and fly around and gather materials we would need to build our nest.  I never expected her to take me literally, but I heard a "tweet, tweet, tweet," and when I looked up, this is what I saw:

She did a good job of "flying around" and gathering supplies.  By the time she was finished, she had found some pine needles, some leaves, and a piece of string.

After she collected her supplies, she went and got the watering can and some dirt and mixed the two in a bowl to make mud ... you know, just like the birds do!  ;)

The she carefully formed a nest shape ...

... and tapped everything into place ... literally!

Next, she added the mud to hold it all together.

It's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it!

We let it dry overnight.  When we went out to look at it the next day, we saw that all the mud had settled at the bottom and dried, making it rock hard

It wasn't exactly the soft place we had envisioned for our eggs, so Millie added some grass to it.

Aaaaah, much better!  At this point, I considered the project finished and was ready to toss it, but Millie insisted that we put it in the azalea bush in case some bird was looking for a place just like it to move into.  :)

I remembered seeing a bird's nest in our Japanese magnolia tree, so I showed it to Millie while we were outside.  It really didn't look that impressive.  Just a bunch of sticks, really.

Millie remembered reading in one of our library books that birds often use their nests for the spring and summer, then abandon them, so she asked if we could take it down.  It was much more impressive when we got the bird's-eye view!

What fascinating little architects they are!
For our fun projects, we made peanut butter and chocolate bird's nests with the Durhams ...

I forgot my camera, so here's a morning after shot.  :)

... colored some pictures and matched up animals with their homes ...

... made a tree, complete with a bird's nest and bird ...

... and watched our Kindergarten caterpillar grow, grow, grow!

We also learned that it takes approximately 5 weeks for grapes to turn into raisins.  Remember these babies from our S-s Sun unit?!

And we had a very sweet day today when the girls' subjects overlapped and Hannah read Millie a book.  Part of Hannah's writing lesson was to be able to identify plot, characters, conflict, and setting.  Millie still needed a fiction book for the day, so I told Hannah we could all read the same book and she could tell me the literary elements when she was done.

See this?  Reason No. 5,692 why I love to homeschool!  :)
In math, we spent some time over the past two weeks working with unconventional methods of measuring length and capacity.

We measured a flip-flop first with blocks ...
... then with paper clips.
And we measured the length and width of the kitchen table with popsicle sticks.

Finally, we measured water using a variety of cups and bowls and compared their capacities.

And in reading, Millie's still plugging away at her Hooked on Phonics lessons.  Sometimes I think she does better with her sight words than she does with her blends.  She understands the idea of blending, but she still usually has to make each sound before she can say the word.  She did tell me the other day that she wants to go to Chuck E. Cheese's for her Reading Reward Day when she finishes this level, so she's very motivated right now and she's working really hard!

Oh, and before I forget, someone had her first day of ballet this week.  This morning I was greeted to the sound of a bedroom door opening, little feet dancing down the hallway, and a high-pitched squeal followed by a very excited voice saying, "I get to go to ballet today!"  :)

I've already shared with you two sets of Millie's special words to remember in this post.  Now I'll leave you with some of my special words to remember.  :)  Millie was playing in the living room one day, and she looked up at me and said, "Mom, I really love my kindergarten!  I bet Christopher loves it, too!"  Melt. My. Heart.  I love, love, love, love, love this child! 

Feel free to visit the My Father's World Weekly Highlights or Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers to see what others did this week!  :)