Friday, December 28, 2012

Pattern Bird

Here is a very simple art lesson that turned out to be well-liked with the 1st grader.  We had been using K12's Art 1 lesson about patterns and they suggested a bird such as this.  I tweaked it a bit to work for for us.
We talked about patterns and he decided the colors he wanted for his bird's feathers and the background.  I actually provided cut out circle, oval, and wing shapes for him to glue his feathers on and place how he would like.  He had to create his own head and legs.  :-D   We are really working on trying to draw "big"...fill up the paper...we've a ways to go yet!  So this helped him be more successful and enjoy the end product.   I tried to encourage him to cover all white spaces but was happy with what he did do.    :-)
This would be a great PreK-2nd grade project. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012


This was a project from quite awhile ago that I never posted.  It was an "extra" for one of my 2nd graders who is a bit more "artsy" than the other and he was here for the morning but the other had an appointment and I really didn't want to go to much further ahead.  Life is much easier when they are both on the same lessons.  :-)
Throughout Literature2 and History2 they were learning about the Roman myth and the Hawiian Legend of the volcano.  So I printed up a picture and the "story" for both of those for either side of the mountain.  In the plume at the top is a little pocket where we placed his "How a Volcano Erupts" booklet. You can find this booklet "coloring page" at Crayola.
By the time he finished with the inside of the volcano, he really didn't want to do much with the outside or the plume of smoke.  It was more of a "for fun" activity so that was just fine.  :-)  This was made out of 2 pieces of brown 12x18 construction paper and a gray sheet for the smoke.
Around that same time we explored with baking soda and vinegar reactions (they had all done clay volcanoes using this concoction before so we just played around with colored vinegar and baking soda on a tray).
We also explored with that more "realistic" volcano eruption that was going around on Pinterest.  :-)
I used a candle warmer to melt wax on the bottom of a mug (dollar store had candle "cubes"...worked perfectly) and covered with sand.  (By the way, we are still using the was unharmed.)  We did try to do this experiment on the candle warmer but it didn't work.  So then we put the mug in a frying pan right on the stovetop.  It took a lot longer than I thought it would but it was kind of neat to watch as the wax started melting and started making streaks through the sand and eventurally one came to the surface..then another, then another!  :-)  Fun stuff!


Flat Stanley came to Michigan!

I have a nephew in CA that is in 2nd grade.  They were doing a Flat Stanley project and we got to participate!  Such fun!  The kids (and I) had a heyday!  Here were some of the pictures we got...shows a little of what we do for fun and school and allow me to chat about my feelings on our situation here.

Fridays are what we call "Free Fridays".  Stems over from my preschool days.  The preschoolers had more free time, we had chocolate milk for lunch, they got to choose anything they wanted to "repeat".  So after we started schooling at home I noticed there wasn't a whole lot of play.  Well, I don't feel that's right.  Not a big deal for my own kids because they are here all day and if they focused well they could get their work done in the morning and have a true half day.  But the other kids...not only did they need a break...but they needed to know they'd have time to play.  So during the week, we usually only about 20 minutes for "free play" (not counting outdoors) so we actually double up on some lessons during the week and have less planned on Friday.  We work right up until 10A and then they have an ice cream snack (this picture was from the last day before winter break and E. and W. brought a really healthy snack we had!) and if they got everything done they had free time for a good 45-60 minutes.  Typically we need to do one task when we come back in.  Older grades tend to need to do a bit more...but we try to do our best to give them a big chunk of uninterrupted time to play's important.  They work so hard during the week...they deserve it...but also because they need to learn to work and play together.  Social reasons.  I love this aspect of schooling at home.  Multi-ages.  I think the one room school houses had something going :-P.  Oh, I know that it was done that way out of necessity but I surely would love to see some of that again...multiple grades in one class.  They learn SO much from each other!  The kids that are ready to go ahead can do so without too much extra planning on the teacher's part.  The kids that need a little extra help can get it from their older peers, and in our case I do "group lessons" so it's introduction, actual lesson, review.  If they didn't truly get it the first time, they have the opportunity again.  :-)

T is 3 years old.  He loved Flat Stanley! :-P  Here Flat Stanley was watching T. transfer water with small letter sponges.  Schooling at home is an awesome opportunity for Mr. T.  Typically he sits across from the 1st grader.  He learns SO much!  Though one downside is he really doesn't "act his age"...I see behaviors that I didn't see in the other two until they were older.  :-) We do independent tray work for him for the first 2 hours of the morning...this keeps him at the table and out of the other kids "hair".  He loves it...and when I'm not diligent in switching out trays (only happened a couple of times) he was quite put out.  So I learned my lesson.  Our only downside with having him at the table with us is that he's loud!  :-D
Boy, were the kids surprised when Flat Stanley pulled out his TKD uniform and black belt!  :-D  Yes, I was having fun too!  All the school-age kiddos here are enrolled in TKD.  Great for them all...and all for different reasons.  They get such a work out twice a week  also...and with our online school, we can count it toward instructional physical education.  Here the kids were getting ready to head to class.  :-)
Island Hopping! 
2nd graders had Peter Pan as for Literature.  One family brought the movie which we watched over the course of two days, if they wanted.  A couple opted out.  5 kids ended up making salt dough islands.  :-)  Fun stuff!  I wish we had MORE time.  There are a lot of extras we could be doing but need to hold back on because of progress requirements.
Free time!  Actually this was in the evening and C. and T. were actually playing together nicely...being a good example for Flat Stanley.  :-D  All the kids, no matter the age, still love the safari, polar and farm animal set.  :-)  Well used toys!  Their play just changes as they get older and begin to use their imagination.  (Not always toward the good...)
Fractions!  That has been our 2nd group lesson.  We are working our way through another booklet.  2nd-4th grade.  So intro for 2nd grade (which really isn't an intro but their course curriculum states so...these two 2nd graders are math kiddos...they soak it up!), actual lesson for 3rd grade, review for 4th.  Pizza Fraction Game was a great help when we were learning how to compare and order fractions.
One of the last days that Flat Stanley was actually snowed.....................then rained and melted it all.  Then froze and snowed a bit more and one kiddo got a snow day.  :-)  I allow the other families to make their own decision...usually a school snow day is because of the many back roads in this rural community.  With the one that did get a snow day...that's because his sister goes to brick and mortar and so really...if sister is home for a snow's not really fair to him.  :-)  Anyway...maybe next time Flat Stanley will bring his snow pants so he can play out in the snow!  This is our group December picture.  My goal is to get a monthly group picture.  :-)
Flat Stanley renewed C.'s interest in the Flat Stanley book.  This is actually the only one we actually own.  But we are heading to the library tomorrow and that is was C. will be looking for.  :-)  The children are expected to read independently every day.  We aim for 20 minutes (depends on age/development).  A.-4th grade reads much more than that.  C. probably reads just about that.  He'd rather sit and read a nonfiction book vs. a chapter book though.
Flat Stanley got to learn about Claude Monet's Haystacks and about how to portray shadows with oil pastels.  We love K12 Art curriculum!
This day was a "special day".  W.-3rd was having a Winter Wonderland Celebration with her online via a class connect session.  So, we had some hot cocoa along with her.  :-)  Here L. and A. were watching Bill Nye the Science Guy: Mammals.  In first grade, we are starting the animal classification unit in Science.  Bill Nye the Science Guy is their new favorite DVD.  I also like them a bit better than others because they only last about 20-25 minutes.  We can get it done in one session and still get other stuff done.  Educational DVDs are being used to either introduce or review a unit/topic.  Thank you...Bay County Library System...all nonfiction DVD's are free.  :-)
Ah!  There's W. and her hot cocoa.  :-)  Winter Wonderland Celebration.  At MVCA, each student is assigned a teacher who is an awesome support!  Always there to help!  For new families thinking about homeschooling...this is a good route to least for one year.  :-)  No, schooling at home is not the same as homeschooling.  We have a lot more expectations.  MVCA is a public school. would give you an idea of what children should be working on, provide you a curriculum while you research others (an excellent curriculum it is...but no way could I afford it on our own), provide you basic materials-books etc, and there is an awesome support team! The online record tracking system helps can see progress, etc.  Would definitely get you started down the right road.  Then after you get a feel about it all, you can made a decision on whether to truly home school, continue with an online public school, or have your children attend a brick and mortar school.  Thank goodness for choices!
Check out that smile.  C. is tending to stress about writing.  There is a LOT of writing in K12 curriculum...all subjects...and more as the children advance.  4th grader loves all the learning but does not like all the writing.  He has never had to write so much.  So, some lessons I'm changing the activities a bit so there isn't an overwhelming amount of writing in one day.  Otherwise there is time be wasted because both of these kiddos will just sit with a "block".  Anyway...Flat Stanley made writing a little more fun for C. this day.  :-)
We took this one as a way to let the CA 2nd graders be reminded that in MI at this time of's we eat lots of soup in this family!  :-)  Keeps us warm.  Mmmm!
A.-playing for Flat Stanley.  :-)  I do recommend piano lessons to all families :-P...especially the families that work with me.  Why?  Piano gives much of the basic instruction of music.  I had all sorts of plans for music/PE instruction but find time has shoved so much of what I wanted to do to the back burner.  I'm coming to the conclusion that I just can't do everything.  :-) A. has been playing for about ...oh let's see...end of first grade or beginning of 2nd.  A good time to start!  He's in 4th grade now.  C. just started this year...doing great!  I love the music (most of the time) in the morning and evenings and I'm always very happy when they choose to play outside of practice time.  :-)  A. gets to play in a piano festival this year with his new awesome teacher!  :-)
Ah...see I told the pictures would make me blab!  I love what we are doing...mostly.  :-D

Friday, December 21, 2012

Watercolor Tree Reflections

We've had so many cool art projects these last two weeks!  Maybe with being on winter break I'll get some pictures organized and post about a few.  Here's a really simple one we did for Art2.  We will definitely be doing some variation of this again but hopefully with real watercolor paper.  :-)  We've done so many neat projects with watercolors...I really do need to invest in some good quality watercolor paper!
This could be done in 1 day if you had a good chunk of time.  However we split it up into two sessions.
Session 1:  
Create a horizon line with a brown strip of paper.  Then we used brown paper to create simple tree trunks and limbs.  Then the kiddos cut leaves from green tissue paper.  We spread glue across the tree trunks and just pressed the "leaves" on.  I think the goal was to cover the whole top with overlapping green tissue paper but 2nd graders don't have time or patience for that so I let them do it how they wanted.  :-) 
Session 2: 
We added watercolor around the green leaves for sky since we didn't cover the top with tissue paper.  Then we painted the river below the horizon line.  While wet we added shades of green watercolor spots to represent the reflected leaves and then brown trunks.  The point was to let the watercolors encourage them to use their water!
Fun stuff! time I'd use bigger paper and real water color paper!  I'd also like to do this with older kids!  4th grader did something similar with evergreen trees at art camp that turned out really cool.  Here are the closeups, if you are interested. (They were wanting the little tiny bit of glitter watercolors that were left!  I'll need to see if I can find some more that stuff.  The sparkle is pretty cool.)


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Animal Art

Art2 had a series of lessons that was an interest for all children so we used it as a week long morning group lesson a bit ago.  We finally finished up last minute details this past Friday they be!
First off, we looked at all sorts of realisitic pictures of animals and talked about color, texture, etc.  Then the children chose one animal to focus on for all the projects.  The children started with a realistic oil pastel drawing with watercolor resist on the right.  Then we discussed the different components that make something abstract and they used their choice of media to draw an abstract picture of the same animal in their sketchbook.  Next we used homemade clay to create a realistic sculpture, finally we brainstormed how we could create an abstract sculpture and sketched it in our sketchbook and then created the sculpture.
Grade 1---whale
This 1st grader is one lucky boy...he gets in on a lot of extras!  My goal with him lately has been to encourage him to draw big.  This was a perfect project to encourage that!
Grade 2---seal
I loved this activity for C.  Here is the kid that fought tooth and nail about any type of art in September.  I heard everything from "I can't draw." (yeah, right...check out that realistic drawing of the seal on the right) to "I don't like art."  Well, really the issue was he hadn't had much true experience in art.  We really not really something I'd want on my desk...but!  This would have not been created by Caleb even 2 months ago.  He really took this an extra step...he used yarn wrapped around a Styrofoam ball for the head of the seal, sewed two very different buttons for the eyes, pipe cleaner for the whiskers and nose and he made a point not to put them where you'd find them on a seal.  VERY different than what he typically would come up with.
 Grade 2---whale
This one took me by surprise.  If I had to say who was the most "creative" in my's this child.  Very imaginative/creative.  But I would say that he had the most difficult with the abstract creations.  This isn't the greatest picture of the whale on the rock.  The picture doesn't do it justice.  It's actually something I wouldn't mind sitting on my desk.  :-)  But I really had to walk him through it and that was as "abstract" as he could get. He changed the colors because I encouraged him but could only go from blue to green.  Funny!   Actually his sketch had a couple more abstract but when he got right to it...he really couldn't get past his wish for it to be realistic.  :-)  Interesting.  Art lessons tend to help me learn about the child a bit more!

 Grade 3---zebra
I was impressed with the process for this child.  She enjoys art but doesn't necessary think "out of the box".  After a few suggestions though...she was on her way!  This wasn't her lesson so when she wanted to paint on a plate for abstract "sculpture", I went ahead and let her.  I loved the conversation.  A tidbit of it was "I have a mommy (on the right) and a baby zebra (on the left).  I'm painting it red all around to represent love."  :-)

Grade 4---hedgehog
I smile when I look at the oil pastel on the right.  What you don't know was that he was completely in a funk that day and he didn't get it completed during time allowed so he tried to work on it in the afternoon and I had finally decided...forget it.  He can just skip out on these lessons...he be better off using the time on his own lessons anyway.  Yes, it was bad.  Tears/attitude about not being able to do something "just right".  Anyway...after a bit of a break I gave him one last chance at it in the evening and this is what he came up with.  Beautiful!  Again...the picture doesn't do the sculptures justice...his realistic sculpture is pretty cool.  Textured top, etc.
Anyway...I plan to do this as a series of projects in the summer or over spring break with my two boys.  I might add a few different techniques and only do one sculpture though.  We might do something different than animals.  Haven't decided yet.  We have a bit of time to decide!  They really had a lot of fun with this.  The homemade clay ended up being something of a flop.  Hard to mix up and then it was soft that it wouldn't stay in the position we wanted.  So that did hinder some of the possibilities.  It also took over a week to dry and some were still a little soft when we went to paint them.  I placed them in the oven at the end even though it wasn't an oven-dry recipe.  So, saying that...this last week we created dough islands and we ended up using a salt dough recipe.  That's the dough I will use from now on!
For each child:
1 C. flour
1/2 C. salt
1/2 C. water
Mix together. Kneed well!
Kids had great success with making and using this dough.  Easy! Dries well at 200-225 degrees for a few hours...depending on how thick the creation is.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


A "few" years back in my college Art for Elementary Teachers class we did Styrofoam/marker prints.  Yeah...that was a few years ago.  :-)  Anyway...did a variation today with 4th grader.  We'll explore a bit more but it's a neat concept.

No, I didn't have any Styrofoam to use.  So I was asking my dear husband and he suggested my craft foam.  Duh!  Anyway...does it work?  Very nicely!

Yellow craft foam background-designed with washable markers.  I might pull out craft foam and permanent markers.  That would be a nice change of pace for some of our drawing activities.

1st print that was made.   
Be sure to dampen the paper evenly, before pressing lightly onto foam.  We used a damp sponge.  Obviously some parts of the paper were wetter than other parts.
2nd print.
Yes, I agree that these should be monoprints but we were just exploring.  I took this picture while it was still damp.  You can see the darker spots were it was damper.  So, if you try to do a print...make sure that your paper is good and damp.  :-)  And press firmly!
Side note:
This was a project to go along with a Monet lesson.  At first I thought it really didn't have much of a connection when I skimmed the lesson.  But I love how the print is makes the project so "soft" looking.  4th grader enjoyed this lesson.  I'll be having it available for the other students also.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Number Work

L., 1st grade, works pretty hard.  The nice thing is that I have him for more hours and we can spread his work out over the course of a day.  So, most days, he probably feels like he has it easy.  :-P  This last week, we've been having him do independent, supplemental activities after group lesson/PhonicsWorks, slipping in whatever 1:1 I can...but my main focus is the 2nd and 3rd graders at the moment.  The only problem with this is that he is more tired in the afternoon.   Ah well, it's working for now.  
One of the activities he does daily is "number work".  He adds the date to the calendar every day.  I print the copy of the monthly calender from Homeschool Creations, Calendar-Notebook-Binder.  We actually started this calendar binder with all the kids in September and it quickly went by the wayside as we got busy.  But, I have started pulling some of it back in for L. 
Lovely!  Wonderful site!
After L. adds the date to the calendar, he pulls his white board to him and on the top has a question..such as
How many days in December?
How many days until Christmas?
How many days in 2 weeks?
How many months in a year?
Then he fills in the chart. 
First column: write the numeral
Second column:  tally marks
Third column: sketch base ten
Fourth column: sketch coin
 Click here is a downloadable copy of the chart.  We'll start using it ourselves as soon as I can get it laminated.  It'll be easier than have to recreate the chart every day.  :-)
We have started with numbers up to 30 but I will be numbers up to 100 now that he has the hang of what to do.  Eventually I'll be moving into story problems for him.  Great practice!
I found that a very simple money chart with the number patterns written down with each corresponding coin was very helpful in reviewing coins.  A simple chart is included in the Number Work Printable also.  There should be room at the top to tape or sticky tack on the real coin if you wish.  You can tell in the picture that it was how I quickly made the first chart...sticky tacked a coin on manila paper, with numbers written below.  Done on a whim...very helpful.  :-)
  We've also been working on number practice writing sheets.  Main goal was writing the number in correct formation and the secondary goal was to learn to write the double digit numbers the same size.  I think we succeeded.  You can find the Numbers 1-20 at Best Coloring Pages

Monday, December 3, 2012

Printable Multiplication Book

Math3 started multiplication last week.  Well, the curriculum assumes the 3rd grader had already learned the basics of multiplication.  But our school district's curriculum doesn't coincide very well to K12's, it seems moreso in some areas than others.  So we did a bit of back tracking and had a group lesson for 2-4th graders.  Intro for 2 and 3rd graders and review for 4th grader.  Our goal now for the next few weeks are to memorize our basic multiplication facts up to 12.  If you ask our 4th grader, not knowing the facts make Math4 much more time consuming.  :-) 
I created a very simple multiplication set that I bound together for our week long group lessons.  The children are not completed with theirs yet but the booklet went over well and I thought someone else might find the printable pages useful.
a                                           b
a) Simple cover that I printed on card stock for the front.  For the back I printed a times table to 12 that they can add stickers on as they memorize their facts.  :-)
I added a colored times table also to help them realize they only really have to learn about half due to commutative property.  :-)
 Link for 12x12 tables: Study Skills for All Ages
 b) Page 1:  Initially, the children were each given a set of 18 objects and they were to divide them into equal groups.  So with 4 children...I was betting that they'd divide them differently.  They did.  :-)  Then they worked on the first page here.  This allowed them to be introduced to the concepts of groups/sets, repeated addition, skip counting, what a multiplication problem looked like.  I also slipped in that a the "total" of a multiplication problem was the "product".
c                                       d
c)  They chose a multiplication problem to write  in the box.  I encouraged numbers greater than 2 and less than 10.  Then they showed me they understood what I meant by using repeated addition, skip counting, and an array to come up with their product.  Oh, yes, we had introduced an array on day one with our equal groups. 
d)  They enjoyed our commutative property grids.  After doing some up on the dry erase I gave the children dice to roll to figure out their multiplication problem (we rolled again if we got doubles).  Then they created a grid for their problem and then in the same square they drew that they understood commutative property.  So they did this 4 times....a set of problem in each square.
(We added + between blue and yellow stars and = before green star. 
Doesn't matter which order we mix...we still get green.  :-)
e                                         f
e) This page was just a review and a "make sure" that they understood the basics.  They did this sheet on their own with their own chosen multiplication problem (using larger numbers again)
(hard to see the pencil, sorry)
f) introduced associative property, refreshed memories on friendly numbers (like 10---easy to multiply by) I used post-its and wrote a 3 factor multiplication problem on each post-it note and then they rewrote the multiplication problems adding parenthesis and/or changing the order of the factors. 
And then we have pages from 0-12...each with a "story problem" to solve on the right side and space on the left to draw a sketch of the story problem.  On the bottom is a little tips for multiplying by that number.
(We are working our way through all the pages through 12...we'll go back and add color and designs to the cover and pages.  I playing with the idea of having them write all the multiplication problems using the factor inside of the number . For example, inside 2 we'd right 2x0=0, 2x1=2, 2x3=6, etc)
  Interesting 4th grader who did have all his multiplication facts memorized last year and doesn't now and was reviewing with us was very excited about some of the activities we did.  He told me "they never did this when I learned multiplication."  Sad.  It was basic activities that I thought most people did to help children understand multiplication.  But you know what...I wouldn't have been surprised if his teacher didn't teach the basis of multiplication so much...or if they did it was just to touch on it saying it was repeated addition.  Most likely they spent their time working on memorizing facts.  I'm a firm believer that before they start "memorizing facts" they should understand the why of a concept first.  (Each teacher is different.  We weren't impressed with last year's teacher for A.  His attitude toward learning went downhill this year amongst other things.)
I had hoped to do math notebooking this year but that good intention fell by the wayside when my two oldest got accepted to MVCA and I was trying to do math using K12's approach.  3rd/4th grade math instruction is mostly online.  I like the sequence but I don't care for the online instruction.  The teacher's guide really doesn't do all that well with explaining what they are explaining to the kids so if they don't get it...I'm lost.  They teach math a little differently than I learned.  So now I've been going ahead in their lessons to get a good idea of what they are doing and we do the math mostly offline with 1:1 or group instruction.  Much more timely this way!  So, in came the idea to make a multiplication book.  This is something they'll be able to go to for a reference.  I have begun to make something similar for A.'s fraction unit.  We started a group lesson on fractions today also with 2-4th graders.  Review for 3rd-4th grader and intro to 2nd graders (both love math and like these "extra" lessons).  I'll go as in depth as Aaron's lessons go.  I'll share the fraction booklet when it's completed.