Tuesday, October 30, 2007

History and monkeys

Today in history, we read about the "Rise of Islam" ( Usborne Internet Linked Encyclopedia of World History) and the kids were introduced to Mohamed, Mecca, the Arabian Peninsula and Mosques. I asked our oldest to draw a picture of something we read about today that caught his attention. We are putting a caption under the picture. He decided to draw a Mosque. In true Nicholas fashion, his Mosque is quite realistic (he really drew it well) and is filled with monkeys and rope ladders (so the monkeys can get down from the top, of course). Our oldest is quite obsessed with monkeys and when he heard that Mohamed lived on the Arabian Peninsula, he immediately associated it with Aladdin and thus monkeys. Too funny!
The Internet Linked Encyclopedia of History has wonderful internet links to go along with each topic, so today, along with reading the wonderful text and looking at the appropriate pictures, we were able to take a virtual pilgrimage to Mecca. Really neat stuff!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Our First Chemistry Experiment

Our kiddos love science and history, so we are usually a little "ahead" (for those who also follow TWTM) in those subjects (we are also "behind" in some things, like reading, but that's another blog post - lol!). According to The Well Trained Mind, Chemistry is to be studied in Third Grade. We, however, have explored Earth Science and Space (second grade science) as far as my children are currently interested, so we moved on to Chemistry. We're using 4 Usborne Books and one non-Usborne book. We read about Atoms and Molecules in the Children's Encyclopedia and also in the Usborne Science Encylcopedia (internet linked). My kiddos are enjoying See Inside Science, because the flaps allow them to see inside an atom and peek into the period table. 100 Science Experiments includes many fun and educational chemistry experiments. To fill in around the edges, we are also using Science Wizardry for Kids by Margaret Kenda and Phyllis S. Williams.

Today, we tested to answer the question, "Do molecules move?" We used water and a drop of food coloring to see if the water molecules move. When you drop the food coloring into the water and leave it alone for a while, you can come back to find that the food coloring is completely mixed with the water, proving that the molecules do indeed move, and stir the food coloring.

We're going to be testing to see if molecules move faster in hot water or cold water this week and next week, we're going to find out if there is empty space between water molecules and we're going to make a water molecule out of marshmallows - yummy & fun!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

New Arrivals from Usborne Books

A little commercial :o)

We have several new titles available on the website. They are wonderful! Check 'em out at www.thebookladyonline.com . Here are pictures of two of my favorites from the new books.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Usborne Book Review: Animal Stencil Book

My 4 year old has been getting so much out of this book! The entire series (Dino Stencil, Animal Stencil, Diggers Stencil & Trucks and Tractors Stencil) is so much fun! The 8.5 X 11 pages are thick cardboard and on each page, there is a stencil that is removable. These stencils have animals cut out (with a picture of the animal on the page, behind the cut out) for your child to trace and he can use the outside of the stencil as a frame. You can peek inside this book by clicking here. My 4 year old is getting practice holding a pencil and with controlling the pencil as well. I love that he is getting this good practice with something that is purposeful to him. Great book and wonderful gift!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Book Review: Little Sugar Addicts by Kathleen DesMaison

Wow! I picked this book up from our local library, intrigued by the title. For years, we've been dealing with the effects of sugar on our oldest child. We try (desperately) to limit sugar, but unless we keep him in seclusion (that includes no grandparents), we simply cannot keep his diet sugar free. This book, Little Sugar Addicts, offers sound advice and is helping all of us (me included) very much.

She begins the book with a quiz, Are you Sugar Sensitive. You can see the quiz on her website, LittleSugarAddicts.com . This alone helped me to see myself in the whole sugar problem. It turns out, our oldest got his sugar sensitivity from me (DesMaisons says its genetic and if a child has it, then at least one parent has it, too). So, now I know that I have to work on myself. I was actually amazed (in a bad way) at the amount of sugar/ carbs I consume in a given day. I knew I consumed alot, and that I craved it, but it was so great to read DesMaison's explanation and to finally understand that it is a sensitivity and not a character flaw that draws me to carbs.

So far, we've really only been working on her first step, but its making a huge difference for our family. The first step is to eat a protein rich breakfast within a hour of getting up in the morning. I was amazed to find that I and my oldest were not eating breakfast or were eating something late morning (usually very full of carbs). Eating within an hour really sets the stage for the rest of the day. DesMaisons recommends starting out slowly and adding protein to the usual breakfast. For us, the kiddos usually want pancakes, oatmeal, grits or french toast. So now, breakfast looks like this: pancakes or french toast, eggs (for me and the youngest - oldest won't eat eggs), sausage or ham, milk and a fruit or veggie (oldest will only eat broccoli, so sometimes we have broc for breakfast). Other days we might have peanut butter and honey sandwhiches with milk and a cheese stick or a chicken and cheese quesadilla. DesMaisons says that its important to first add things (mostly protein and veggies) to their diet, instead of trying to take away sugar. As we all know, forbidden fruit is so sweet, and she demonstrates how when we forbid sugar, we make it much more attractive to our kids and we encourage them to sneak it behind our backs- after all, it is very addictive. Her thoughts are, if we add protein as often as we can, we will begin to help regulate their blood sugar and cut out some of the cravings. I love that she talks about making the changes slowly, so that our children will be able to see and feel the difference and therefore "buy in" to low sugar living.

So, the first step, and what we've been working on is, get them to eat a protein rich breakfast within one hour of waking in the morning. Wow! What a difference - we went from super-grumpy kiddos (and mama, too) who fought me (and each other) on everything, to - well, moderately grumpy kiddos who only fight about half the time. In my book, thats an amazing improvement!

Following our protein rich breakfast, she advises (in subsequent steps) to include protein rich foods at snack and other meal times. Even though we are really working on step one right now, I decided to include as much protein rich foods in their diet as I could. It has been my experience these last few weeks, that when I offer a protein rich snack before they realize they are hungry, they will happily eat it and maintain a more even blood sugar level. Some of our snacks include, a hand full of pecans (their favorite), a spoon of peanut butter (we like Skippy Natural, although it does have sugar), a cheese stick or slice, hummus and whole wheat pita or veggie sticks, herbs and cream cheese spread on a whole wheat tortilla, rolled up and cut crosswise to make pinwheels (also yummy with ham and cheese or pb&j), yummy organic yogurt with real fruit.

I think the key is catching them before they start looking for something to eat. Once my kiddos start looking, nothing will satisfy them except carbs, and that sets them up for mood swings. Here is a picture of them having a snack of yogurt (not organic and full of sugar; this was day 2, before I had a chance to get to the store to buy better yogurt)- I took the picture because I could not believe how well they were getting along. At the time of the picture, they had been awake for ten hours with no nap, and usually at that point in the day, everyone is grumpy and they usually do nothing but fight (wrestle is more like it). This day, one of the first trying DesMaisons' method, as you can see, was peaceful - and that is definitely what I need - peace!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Now THIS is Fun!

Today, instead of T.V., we are face painting. With the myriad face painting kits available this time of year, why not make paint the medium and sweet faces the canvas. What a fun art class this turned out to be.

Nicholas painted his own face using one of the suggested patterns in Usborne Face Painting. He's a "Strong Man" as you can see by his curly mustache and beard. Simply adorable!
Andrew's face was painted by Mommy based on the "bat" in the Usborne Face Painting book. Of course, he's "Batman"! The picture at the top shows his "work" on the canvas of his arm. Fun!

Friday, October 5, 2007

More Homeschooling with Preschoolers

Finally, I'm back and sharing Part II of Keeping your Preschooler Happily Learning While You Work With Your School-Age Child.

Here are some more ideas we've used this last month for homeschooling with preschoolers. One of the biggest hits with our little guy has been a listening center. We have books on CD and a CD player with headphones as well as an MP3 player with ear buds for him. I was really surprised at just how much they both love listening to music and books on CD. Here are some of the books on CD that we have in our collection. These are available on my website www.TheBookLadyOnline.com .

The Story of Jesus is probably our favorite. It has 7 short stories from the life of Jesus. My kiddos love it and it is both entertaining and educational. The other books pictured above are chapter books which are nice for a little extended listening time. They are long enough without being so long that your little one would lose interest.

Another fun activity that has been great for keeping our preschooler occupied while our 2nd grader is getting one on one help with school is a card making activity bag. Our little one loves to make cards for grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins or friends and will happily sticker his cards for quite some time. I just took a plastic zip top bag and filled it with cut and folded card stock in different colors (finally, some of that scrapbooking stuff is getting some use - lol!) along with stickers, scissors, a glue stick and pictures to cut out. Later you can show him/ her how you address the envelope and have them stamp and mail it.

When the weather permits, something else that can either be for your preschooler during school or for everyone instead of t.v. would be water play. Sand and water tables are nice, but if you don't have one, kiddos love to water the garden or yard (or each other) with the garden hose.

Or you could have breakfast outside on a makeshift table and chairs.

Well thats all for now. We'll keep experimenting here and post our results as time permits.