Monday, June 3, 2013

Around the World: Africa

I filled our travel suitcase with African books, pictures, games and animals for the children to explore.


We read the Greedy Zebra and then the children used marbles and paint to make a white zebra with black   
                  stripes and a black zebra with white stripes. This was so much fun!!!                                         Check out Mama Jenn's blog for instructions.

We read 'Watering Hole' by the brilliant Graeme Base. I used plastic animals and put footprints in Crayola clay the night before. Aiden and Elle then matched the animals to the footprints by the watering hole.

Elle made the games Skisima and The Hyena from the, 'Math Games & Activities from Around the World' We played them throughout our Africa Unit.

We read, 'Safari in South Africa' and Aiden held up each animal as we read about it.

We studied these traditional African dwelling printables from St. Aidens Homeschool.

     Elle and Aiden then created their own using cardboard boxes. 
They used these throughout the unit for pretend play.       

We learned that Africa is approximately 3X the size of the size of the United States. There is a great curriculum guide at the  BU African Studies center.

We found lots of fun crafts in the, "Traditional Crafts from Africa" book like using an egg carton to create Mancala board.       

Aiden and Elle built a zoo. As the week went on it got bigger and bigger and bigger....

Aiden made stand-up African animals to practice his scissor skills (I did the more difficult cuts:)

I found the cute paper doll on the left at and the Egyptian one at Practical Pages.           Aiden wanted nothing to do with them, so Elle ended up making both of them.

The children played the South African game of Drie Blikkies from, "Sidewalk Games Around the World".
Think bowling meets baseball. They had a lot of fun playing it!

I cannot say enough good things about these Geopuzzles. Each country is its own piece. 
All of us have learned oodles about Geography using these.

That's it for Africa!

Happy travels!

Preschool Plant Unit

 “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”  - Margaret Atwood

            First, we marveled over all the shapes and sizes seeds come in and then we planted them.                
Check out Bonsai Aphrodite to see how to make these newspaper seed pots.

Then we prepared our garden for the Spring while we waited for our seeds to grow. 

Once the Spring nights warmed up we planted our seedlings and watched them grow!We planted cucumbers, snap peas, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and lots of herbs.

Finally, we began to harvest our crops! This was so exciting for Elle and Aiden...and me!

We also planted a sunflower house this year. We dug an 8' X 8' trench and then planted three packets of mammoth sunflower seeds and watered them daily.

  They grew and grew and grew until eventually they were higher than the roof. 
The children and their friends have spent many hours playing in their sunflower house.

We made yummy sunflower seeds as the flowers faded!

We also studied the dirt from the garden. 

They were surprised at how 'busy' the soil was!

We found a great recipe for dirt paint at Fit Kids Clubhouse and made worm tunnels in it.

                  After playing in the mud the children drew all the things they discovered in the soil.                           

         As flowers from our garden died Elle and Aiden pressed them using a flower presser given to       
us by a gardening friend.

We talked a bit about erosion and how it powerful water is. To demonstrate we created a aluminum foil river and watched how it 'pushed' things along. Aiden spent several afternoons playing in the stream with his
Playmobil 'guys'.

The children learned so much during our 'Plant Unit'. Besides all the amazing science, they learned patience, delayed gratification and to appreciate the quiet beauty a garden provides. We also used the wonderful plant thematic unit shown above from  Teachers Pay Teachers.  I used the Intermediate unit with Elle and the Primary unit with Aiden to reinforce the hands on learning we did.

Happy gardening:)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Science Workshop: Geology

We focused on Geology this month during Science co-op since Earth Day is in April.

First we talked about the surface of the Earth and the children drew the continents on a balloon. Aiden showed me a circle on the bottom of his balloon and said, "Look Mommy, I drew Antarctica!"   Ahhh..proud homeschool mommy moment.

We made yummy models of the Earth using peanut butter (MANTLE), chocolate shell (CRUST) and Red Hots (CORE). First, I gave the children a blog of peanut butter on wax paper along with a few Red Hots.
and asked them to place the Red Hots in the center and rolled the peanut butter around it into a ball. Then we placed our Earth's in the freezer for an hour. When we took them out the children added the chocolate shell. Once it hardened they sliced their Earth's in half named each part and ate them!

We talked about things that can change the Earth's crust like earthquakes, erosion and volcanoes. we made a shake table by placing the top of a boot box upside down in a tray on top of marbles. There is a wonderfully challenging experiment sheet I used with the older children:  lego experiment activity sheet . The younger ones had fun making their buildings!

The used water, ice and wind (blew through a straw) to see how they shaped the Earth through erosion. They used an experiment sheet and each formed a hypothesis as to which would cause erosion the quickest.

Aiden is four so volcanoes never get old:)

The children used crayon shavings to model how sedimentary and metamorphic are formed. They wrapped a pile of shavings in aluminum and then placed it under a large dictionary and took turns sitting on it to model sedimentary rock being  formed by pressure. Then after they made their observations I held a lighter under it to model how metamorphic rocks are formed.You can find more detailed instructions at the Flying Fox Academy blog.

This one was soooo much fun. The little boys mixed up a batch of 'rock' clay. Then they placed it on aluminum foil and put pieces of a plastic dinosaur skeleton we found at the Dollar Store on each 'rock, wrapped them up and I baked them. Check out Homemade Mamas for the recipe and instructions.

They looked and felt just like rocks when we pulled them out of the oven! The children opened up their 'rocks' and put all the fossils together to form a dinosaur! Super fun!
Then we made our own fossils. I put acorns, shells, leaves, etc. on the table and gave each child a ball of crayola clay on wax paper to use to make their impressions.

The children brought their rock collections to co-op. We used a Venn diagram and the children came up with different rules to sort the rocks. They sorted using attributes like color, texture, size, etc. Then they moved to the exploration table. They observed, weighed, measured, and tested for buoyancy at this table. The older ones used gram weights and the little ones used plastic teddy bears to weigh their rocks. I left this up all week for Elle and Aiden to revisit.