Sunday, December 30, 2007

Fun Math Games!

We are having FUN practicing our math facts by playing math war. Here's how we play it. All cards are dealt out evenly among the players. This particular game can be played by two players at a time. We usually have the next person play the winner. The players stack their cards and each flip over the top card in their stack. These cards are added (subtracted, multiplied, divided). If the product is an even number, one player gets the cards. Odd goes to the other player. We usually play through one stack then count the cards to determine the winner.

Something else that has helped us with math facts has been using them for copywork. Nicholas will copy each fact two or three times, depending upon how much practice he needs with that particular fact. This has gone so far in helping him with memorization. Its so funny. When I was a student, we also copied our math facts, but since copying math facts was so often given as a punishment, we thought of it as an unpleasant task. I guess that's why I never even considered using math facts for copywork. Then I read the suggestion on a yahoo group I belong to and slapped my forehead! It makes so much sense. Nicholas enjoys copying his equations. I guess its all depends on perspective. :o)

Friday, December 28, 2007

Fairy Tale Cookbook!

We found this fun book at the library last week. What a wonderful book for homeschoolers like us who want to add fun an enrich the learning experience, but need a little help in the creativity department. The author, Sandre Moore has included fun recipes based on many of the classic fairy tales (Red Riding Hood's Basket of Goodies, Big Bad Wolfe's Favorite T.V. Snack (Pigs in a Blanket), Sleeping Beauty's 16th Birthday Cake). What I find the most fun is the other stories she uses to create fun food. There is a Mad Hatter's Tea Party, Pocahontas' Thanksgiving Feast, Bilbo Baggins's Eleventy-First Birthday Dinner, The Who-ville Christmas Feast and so many more. This is definitely one we want to own.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Story About Ping and Medieval Chinese History

We are starting our study of Medieval Chinese History this week. The Story About Ping, from Five In A Row will dovetail so nicely with our study. Here are our plans:

Day One:

Read The Story About Ping, then talk about Ping's experience when he tried to hide from his responsibility. A few things for the kids to ponder:

* I wonder how Ping felt when he realized he was all alone.
* I wonder what would have happened to Ping if the little boy had not set him free.
* I wonder if the black fishing birds like having the ring around their necks and working for the fishermen. Would they rather work for themselves and get to keep the fish they caught?

Geography - locate China on the globe and put story disk on globe.

Read Chapter 8 (part one) in Story of the World. Color the map of the Yellow River, Yangtze River and Grand Canal. Dig a "canal" in the garden or sandbox.

Make jade beads out of blue/ green Sculpy and bake them.

Add up all of Ping's family members for a quick math lesson. Its a nice practice with adding multiple numbers including double digit numbers. In addition, do some copy work of math facts to help with penmanship and memorization of math facts.

Listen to traditional Chinese music from this site.

We will also try to learn one or two Chinese words per day.

Day Two

Read The Story About Ping then talk about discernment relating to things that look better than they are (the rice cake crumbs that lead to Ping being captured - from the lesson in Five in a Row). Once we talk about the story, have the children give examples of things that look better than they are.

Literature: Talk about fiction and define it ( a story that comes from the author's imagination). Talk about "Once upon a time . . . " as a story starter and work on a story of fiction either together or individually. It would be nice if we also illustrated our story(ies).

Read Yeh-Shen: a Cinderella Story from China.

Do a few pages from Explode the Code and practice reading aloud.

Day Three:

Read The Story About Ping then look at the illustrations and talk about the art medium (colored pencils). Practice drawing water with colored pencils and try to achieve the effect of movement and reflection in the water. I would also like to look at some Chinese art, both in books we own and online.

Talk about reflection and look at reflections in different things (mirror, water, glass).

String the jade beads (from day one) to make a necklace or bracelet.

Read Lon Po Po: A Red Riding Hood Story from China. Also, read The Three Wise Kings by Tomie DePaolo.

Copywork: Practice writing Chinese "sayings" (a few a day for the next 3 days). These will be cut apart and put into homemade fortune cookies.

Math U See math lesson. Read Two of Everything.

Practice reading aloud.

Day Four:

Read The Story About Ping. Practice counting/ adding Ping's family again. Also, count the black fishing birds and the rice cake crumbs. Practice Math U See lesson.

Read Chapter 8 part two in The Story of the World. Look at pages in Usborne Encyclopedia of World History. Look at the links.

Create a small bowl out of sculpy. Bake it. This will be an lacquered bowl (from SOTW Activity book).

Do a few pages from Explode the Code. Practice reading the new words. Practice reading aloud.

Read aloud The Emperor and the Kite.

Copy work: more Chinese sayings for cookies. Practice drawing Chinese words.

Day Five:

Read the Story About Ping.

Read some Chinese Poetry. Here is a nice site with the poems in Chinese and with an English Translation. There are also other sites with audio of the poems being read.

Practice eating with Chopsticks. We may also set up a Montessori style tray with a transferring activity using chopsticks. This would be a nice activity to have available for the entire week.

Go to the park and feed the ducks. Talk about ducks and other birds. Take pictures of the ducks or draw the ducks for nature journal.

Bake fortune cookies. Eat some and share the rest with friends.

Paint the sculpy bowl from day four and "lacquer" it with 1 part white glue and 2 parts water. (from Story of the World Activity Book).

I'll try to take some pictures.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Tummy Trouble?

Mom: Son, I think your pants are too tight.

4 Year Old: No, they're not.

Mom: You look uncomfortable. I think they are too tight.

4 Year Old: No, they're not - that's just my tummy trying to bust out of them.

It seems I get corrected a great deal by my 4 year old.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

A Little Encouragement for the Arts and Crafts Challenged

For the last few weeks, the kids and I have been enjoying some of the fun ideas over at Serendipity. What a fun place! In particular, my boys have enjoyed Gnomes andGnumbers: A Mathematical Tale.

I like to think of myself as creative, artistic, talented . . . I'm not. When I find sites like Serendipity, my mind fills with the wonderful fun we will have making the little gnomes and how cute they will be when they are done. Then the reality of what our gnomes will look like sets in as I begin to make them. I am not artistic nor talented in that way. As I worked on the gnomes, I really began to come down hard on myself with that mommy self-talk; "These aren't as cute as the one's on Serendipity.", "What was I thinking?", "The boys will be so disappointed - these gnomes look stupid.", "We should just quit now" etc.

Then the boys walked through the room I was working in and saw the gnomes. They said things like, "Mom, these are awesome.", and "I want the blue one. Nick, you can have the red one". The boys LOVE THEM! Even though they are not perfect, the boys love the gnomes (and the little felt Saint Andrew and Saint Nicholas). Our kids don't care if things are perfect, as long as their learning is joy-filled. So, if you are doubting yourself, go ahead and do it anyway. As long as it will bring you and your family joy in learning, perfection isn't necessary.