Homeschooling

Learning with Pinterest-Ancient Greece

This week, we continued our exploration of ancient civilizations by learning all about Ancient Greece.  As usual, Pinterest was full of great ideas to try out, so we picked a few and had a really fun, educational time.  Our library also had a nice selection of books on many topics related to Ancient Greece, so we scooped those up on our weekly visit.

Books on Ancient Greece (or related topics)

Greek Myths for Young Children (Stories for Young Children)

1. Greek Myths for Young Children by Heather Amery

This was an easy to read book full of the most popular Greek Mythology stories.  Ben did not really care for this book because he thought it was too violent (we read the Prometheus story first and you know how that ends…) But if you have a more adventurous child, then this book would be a great way to introduce Greek myths to your student.

Zoo in the Sky: A Book of Animal Constellations

2. Zoo in the Sky by Jacqueline Mitton

When you think of Ancient Greece you automatically begin to think about the constellations, which are always a big hit with small children.  This book is full of beautiful illustrations and short commentaries about each animal constellation.  There were some constellations that I had never heard of, so I really liked that as well.

Seeing Stars

3. Seeing Stars by Dandi Mackall

This was our favorite book this week.  I am a sucker for rhyming children’s books, so I loved that they had a short poem about each constellation.  Another cool feature that Ben really liked was that the stars had a glittery finish so each constellation seemed to twinkle.

 

Ideas we found on Pinterest related to Ancient Greece

catapult
It actually worked too!

Apparently Ancient Greeks used catapults in some of their battles, so when I saw this cute pin on how to build a catapult, I knew that Ben would get a huge kick out of it…and he did.

parthenon
Hey at least we got the columns right:)

I found a fun post on how to recreate the Parthenon as a gingerbread house.  While ours was not as pretty as this pin, it was still delicious.

 

After we read and did a few crafts, I had Ben create his own constellation and give it a name.  So here we are introducing the constellations, Adventure Pal and Adventure Dude.

constellation

 

**In addition to all of this fun stuff, we also located Greece on the map and visited a few websites about Ancient Greece that were geared towards children.  We also plan to watch Disney’s Hercules and one of the Percy Jackson movies this week for family movie night.  If you have not read the Percy Jackson books, they are chockful of mythology and really fun to read…even if you are a 37 year old woman…

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Homeschooling

How I Spend Less than $100 a Year on Homeschooling My Children(Part 3)

Today I am back to share with you some of the ways I save money while teaching my children the subjects of English and spelling.  Make sure you check out Part 1 and Part 2 for ideas on ways to save on Science and History.

K-2nd Grade

The early years of elementary school are basically devoted to learning how to read and write well. (In one of my earlier posts, I shared the different ways that I have taught my son to read this past year, that really worked well for us.)

Here are some of the ways that we teach English to K-2nd graders in my house:

1. Pick out a learning to read book.

readingbook

There are so many different ones out there, but we really love The Reading Lesson: Teach your Child to Read in 20 Easy Lessons. It is presented well and has cute stories that my son loves to read. **Remember to check on Amazon for used books, they are way cheaper than the newer versions and work just as well

2. Keep a writing journal

notebook

Almost every child loves to draw and tell stories, so if you combine the two, you have the perfect formula to teach writing.  I usually have my children write a few sentences about something that has happened in the past week and then they draw a picture at the top to illustrate the story.  **This is such a great idea, because kids love to look back on how far they have come in writing and drawing over the years** We sometimes use just simple spiral notebooks, but if you can find these in a store, they are pretty awesome too. (I think Target and Walmart carry them for around $3)

3. Spelling tests

For K-2nd grade, we usually focus on sight words to use as our spelling list because these are the most common words that your child will be reading and writing for awhile.  Here is a great website that contains all of the Dolch sight word lists that you can use for your spelling tests.

For 3rd grade and up

Starting in the 3rd grade, students begin to learn grammar and the best way to teach grammar is to find a great workbook.  I have used many different types of grammar workbooks over the years, but I think my favorite one is the Easy Grammar series by Wanda Phillips.

grammar

I really like this grammar workbook a lot because each lesson is presented well and they provide many different sentences for the student to work on.  Amazon usually has a nice selection of this series year round and they run about $10-$15 a book. **A great thing about this book series, is that there are over 300 pages in each book.  So if you teach grammar every other day, one book will easily last for two years which of course will save you money.

Literature guides

Another fun way that we study English is to use literature guides.  I love using literature guides because they really help the student to review what they have read and are proof that the child actually did the reading:)  One of our favorite companies that makes these guides is Progeny Press.  Amazon has a great selection of used guides for under $10 and they also resell very well, so you can recoup most of your cost.

hobbitguide

Another really affordable place to find literature guides is on Teacherspayteachers.  This site is filled with all things educational and better yet, everything is created by real teachers who use these products in their own classrooms.  ***There are no real books, just digital downloads of the products, but I love that because it takes up no room on my bookshelf and you can print off however much you want of the product.

Library Books

The number one way to teach grammar and increase your child’s vocabulary, is to expose your child to high quality literature.  My daughter has always had an easy time in grammar and spelling, which I credit to the fact that she loves to read. So every year, I print out a list of books that will expose my children to good classic literature.

**I usually have my child write a book report or an essay on one of the books that we have read each semester. This reinforces grammar and helps to improve their writing skills at the same time.

If you have read any of the other posts in this series, you will already know that the number one way to save on homeschooling is to utilize the library.  We almost always choose books based on what is available at the library.  Luckily for us, our library has a really great selection of children’s books, so we hardly ever need to buy literature books to use for school.

Spelling for Grade 3 and over

There are numerous spelling programs out there that are really affordable.  We have used Abeka for many years because it can be found easily and very cheaply on Amazon for less than $10.  However, this past year I found an even simpler and cheaper way to teach spelling to my children….it’s called the dictionary!

One day it just hit me, that our Abeka spelling books were basically just glorified spelling lists.  I thought to myself, “Why am I spending money on something that I can create by just using a dictionary?” So this year, we are simply picking out challenging words in the dictionary for our weekly spelling list.  This is working out great so far, because it is already December and we have not even made it all the way through the letter B yet!  **I wish that I had thought of this years ago and saved myself a lot of money…

Next, I will share some of the ways that I save on math curriculum.

 

 

Homeschooling

How I Spend Less than $100 a Year on Homeschooling My Children(Part 2)

In Part One of this series, I shared ways that I save money on homeschool science curriculum (generally spending less than $20 a year). Today, I will be sharing some ways that I save money on history curriculum.

K-2nd Grade

For K-2nd grades, history is basically full of learning about historical characters and holidays.  The cheapest way that I have found to teach K-2nd grade history, is to use the library!  There are so many cute picture books on historical figures, that I can not possibly list them all.  To streamline the process, we usually try to study historical figures during their appropriate holidays. (For example, US presidents around President’s Day, Columbus and other explorers around Columbus Day, important African Americans during Black History Month, etc.)  Luckily our public library usually has a display of books set out around these holidays that make it really easy to find many books on each historical figure.

After picking out which historical figure/holiday we will be learning about, I always head over to Pinterest to find some fun crafts for my kids to do.  All kids love coloring, cutting, and glittering so why not learn and have fun along the way??

**Another great way to introduce history in K-2nd grades is through videos.  My family has especially loved the Liberty Kids DVD series (It follows a group of kids during the Revolutionary War years as they experience the events leading up to the war and all of the historical figures they meet along the way)

**One very popular history series that we have loved is the Who was ….? book seriesThese are really entertaining and well-written biographies about various historical figures.  The best part is that most libraries have many books in this series, so check there first!!

Textbooks

For 3rd grade and up, once again textbooks are best.  Amazon and Ebay have an amazing selection of used history textbooks year-round to choose from, including Abeka history books which I have found for under $10 many times.  Besides the usual homeschool history curriculums, another really cheap option is to buy used public school textbooks, which can be found for under $10.  Some homeschoolers do not like to use public school textbooks, but I really do not mind at all.  In fact, I kind of like them because they always have review questions, include writing assignments at the end of each chapter, and they are usually really well written also.

**If public school textbooks are not your thing, you can also try out two of our other favorites:  Mystery of History or The Story of the World, to see which one fits your family the best.  We have used both series and they are really engaging textbooks. You also can usually find used copies on Amazon for less than $20 or just borrow from a friend:)

Sonlight

Another way to teach history in 3rd grade and up, is to have your child read “living history books”.  The most popular curriculum that uses living history books is Sonlight.  I personally have never bought Sonlight curriculum but know several people who have and they love it because:  #1. Everything is planned out for them and #2. It all comes in one huge shipment that they do not have to piecemeal together.

If you want to go this route and save yourself a lot of money, you can easily go onto the Sonlight website and download the suggested reading list for your child’s grade.  (Sonlight really does not care if you do this, I checked!)  After downloading the suggested reading list, head over to the library to see which books they have in stock.  While I have never used a Sonlight “curriculum”, I have had my children read some of the books on the Sonlight reading list. Surprisingly, my public library usually has about half of the titles in stock.  After checking out the library, I usually keep a list of books to look for at yard sales and the thrift store.  Usually between the library and yard sales, I find about 75% of the books that were suggested for my child’s grade.

** I very rarely buy any additional books on the Sonlight reading list because the reading lists are quite extensive and you can easily supplement with history books from the library that focus on the same time period you are studying about.

I hope that some of these ideas might help you to save money while teaching history this year:)

How do you save on history curriculums? Do you piece together your own curriculum or do you prefer the full curriculum sets offered by companies like Sonlight?

 

 

Homeschooling

Learning with Pinterest-Ancient Egypt

We started a new year of homeschool last week and now we have a 2nd grader and a high schooler in our house….which makes it all a little crazier! (Homeschooling in high school is way different than middle school…trust me..)  While Emma is trudging along with her massive high school course load, Ben and I have been diving right into 2nd grade history by exploring Ancient Egypt.  Of course, we hit up the library and Pinterest to find loads of cool ideas and books to enjoy on the subject…and spent zero dollars along the way:)

Books on Ancient Egypt:

1. The Mystery of King Karfu by Doug Cushman was our favorite fictional book we read about Egypt.  In this book, while helping the main character to solve a mystery, you are introduced to a lot of interesting facts about Ancient Egypt.  Ben especially loved how the clues are hidden throughout the book in the detective’s journal entries.  My favorite part was that we had to decode a series of hieroglyphics to find out what the lost treasure really was (Spoiler alert: It was not at all what we expected to find!)

Ms. Frizzle's Adventures: Ancient Egypt

2. Ms. Frizzle’s Adventures in Ancient Egypt by Joanna Cole

If you are familiar with the Magic School Bus series, you know that Ms. Frizzle loves to dive right into the school lesson…literally.  In this book, the children travel back in time and get to find out first hand what life was really like in Ancient Egypt.

I Wonder Why Pyramids Were Built & Other

3. I Wonder Why the Pyramids Were Built by Philip Steele

I liked how this book was laid out because the author poses a popular question about Ancient Egypt and then answers it with a lot of fun details and pictures that a child can easily understand.  **Ben did not like the section on how mummies were made…which was not a surprise:)

Fun Stuff

After reading all about Ancient Egypt, we headed over to Pinterest to find some fun activities and crafts to reinforce all of the facts we learned during the week.

We found this easy pin on how to make your very own sundial with just a paper plate, playdough, and a pencil.

sundial1
12:00
sundial2
2:00

Knowing that Ben loves to create anything artsy, I found this cute pin on creating a hieroglyphics tablet which Ben really enjoyed making (as did Emma…while taking a break from high school-ish stuff)

 

I also had Ben draw some Egypt-themed illustrations…which always give me a laugh!

egypt1
I told him to draw a camel, a pyramid, the Nile River, and a palm tree…he said he was drawing a cactus since it was a desert, so I said ok
egypt2
A happy mummy because Ben does not like anything scary. Also the book on mummification, may have traumatized him
egypt3
A nice crocodile
egypt4
Of course he had to draw a freestyle picture. This is a drawing of a crocodile battling a purple hippo. **I think that is an anglerfish and a mini-shark cheering him on:)

After reading and creating things, I always try to ask Ben questions about what he learned, so here they are:

1. What is the name of the largest river in Egypt?

2. Name three animals that live in Egypt.

3. Why did the Egyptians build the pyramids?

4. What were the Ancient Egyptian kings called?

5. What kind of climate does Egypt have?

6. Where did the Ancient Egyptians grow all of their food?

 

Well that wraps up our unit on Ancient Egypt.  I hope that this post gave you some insight into how you can homeschool for cheap (or even free) with just a little planning and a lot of Pinterest!

 

 

 

Homeschooling

How I Spend Less than $100 a Year on Homeschooling My Children(Part 1)

One of the most common concerns that parents have before they start homeschooling their children is how much it will cost.  Yes, there are some really expensive homeschooling curriculums out there (cough cough…Sonlight) that are considered to be complete curriculums.  These will include all the books you need plus a daily schedule to take the worry and fuss out of planning your homeschool year.  I am not criticizing these companies because they offer a valuable service to busy parents and a no fuss approach to homeschooling.  I personally just cannot see spending up to $600 on one year of materials when I can put in a little work and create a curriculum that will suit my children’s educational needs and learning styles.

In this series, I will discuss how much I usually spend in each subject that I teach throughout our homeschooling year.  I also will be sharing some tips to show you how you can provide a wonderful homeschooling experience without breaking the bank.

Science

**In the early years of K-2nd grade, you do not really need a standard textbook.  The children in these age groups usually are focused on simple biology topics, like the life cycles of plants, frogs, and butterflies.  In our local public school system, I don’t think that they even start using textbooks in science until 3rd grade.

This year for my 1st grader, I picked out thirty science-related topics to learn about during our school year each week.  After deciding which topics to cover in our school year, I then searched Pinterest for some fun ways to reinforce the science topics that we would be studying each week. (Let me tell you, Pinterest is a great resource to use for homeschooling!)  Teachers, bloggers, and fellow homeschoolers have so nicely decided to share with the public some of the many ways they have taught their students various science topics. Why not take advantage of this wealth of knowledge??

After searching for ideas on Pinterest, the next place to go is to the library. Most libraries have a great selection of books on a variety of science topics. The best part is that it is totally free if you are a member! I usually take some time over the weekend to write down a couple of book titles to check out for use during our science class each week.

After I have searched Pinterest and the library, the only things that I might spend money on for K-2nd grade science would be supplies, but mostly we just use what we have around the house.

Another really cute idea for K-2nd grade science is to watch the Magic School Bus and read library books that reinforce the topics covered in the show.  A bonus is that the Magic School Bus series is currently on Netflix, so that is basically free if you are already a Netflix subscriber.

So in my experience, K-2nd grade science can be basically done for free with alot of planning and utilizing all the free resources that are at your disposal.

When my children start 3rd grade, we usually start using real textbooks. Our favorite science textbooks are from Apologia. They have a great selection of science textbooks and are really written well. You can usually find them used on Amazon or Ebay for $10-$15. The best thing about textbooks in my opinion, is that you can reuse them for each child at no additional cost and when you are done with them, they resell very well.

Another way to save money on textbooks is to borrow them.  Our homeschool co-op has a small library of books that teachers have used for their classes taught at co-op.  As members of our co-op, we can borrow textbooks and other materials from the library quite easily.  Another great thing about our co-op, is that our teachers generally use Apologia textbooks (which we love!) in all of their science classes, so they have a really great collection that we can choose from.

While we love Apologia science books, I just felt that something was missing in our school day, especially in science.  The problem was that my kids would speed through the daily readings and I never knew how much they were retaining from what they had read, so I started to look for study guides for the series.  Sadly, there were not too many options besides lap books (which I hate!) So…. I decided to write up my own study guides for each of our Apologia books.  Now if you don’t have the time or inclination to write out a study guide, there is a great website called Teachers pay teachers that has numerous affordable resources for homeschooling families.  ** I even have my own store on that site, check it out if you need some Apologia study guides 🙂

I hope some of the ideas I have shared will help you to think outside of the box, when it comes to finding unique ways to save on homeschooling materials.

Next, I will share how I save money while teaching history.

Homeschooling

Learning with Pinterest – Birds

Since spring is finally here, we decided to learn all about birds this week in school.  Luckily, our library had lots of books about birds to choose from and of course Pinterest was loaded with great ideas.

Here are some of the bird books that we read this past week, as well as, some that we own and love to read again and again.

Mama Built a Little Nest

1. Mama Built A Little Nest by Jennifer Ward

This was a wonderful book that introduces children to the many different types of nests that birds can build.  The pictures were beautiful and the author used clever poems to introduce each type of nest.  I also liked how the author gave fun facts about the different birds who built each nest because it helped to add more of an educational aspect to the book. **Ben loved the poems and also really enjoyed looking at each bird with its unique nest.

Franny B. Kranny, There's a Bird in Your Hair!

2. Franny B. Kranny, There’s A Bird in Your Hair! by Harriet Lerner

This book was really cute. It is about a little girl with wild, curly hair that refuses to get a haircut until….a bird happens to land in her hair and decides it will make the perfect nest!  **Ben giggled a lot reading this book.

A Mother for Choco (Paperstar)

3. A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza

This book reminds me a lot of Are You My Mother? by Dr. Seuss.  It is about a little bird that goes looking for his mother and cannot find anyone who looks just like him.  He eventually finds a mama bear who takes him into her family that is full of all different types of animals.  We loved this story because it is heartwarming and shows that families come in all different shapes and sizes.

The Baby Beebee Bird

4. The Baby BeeBee Bird by Diane Redfield Massie

This book is about a tiny bird called a BeeBee Bird that gets its days and nights confused at the zoo.  Each night after the other zoo animals go to sleep, the little bird makes a lot of racket, which keeps all of the animals awake.  The zoo animals get fed up with his nocturnal habits and proceed to teach him a lesson that he will never forget.

Horton Hatches the Egg

5. Horton Hatches The Egg by Dr. Seuss

This is a classic book that we read again and again.  It is about a nice elephant that gets tricked into sitting on an egg by a lazy bird.  Poor Horton has to suffer through all types of weather, gets mocked by other jungle animals, and eventually becomes an attraction at a circus show all because he promised to sit on this egg.  We love this story mostly due to its surprise ending, especially as to what kind of animal hatches out of the egg:)

Dr. Suess's Gertrude McFuzz: Vocal Score

6. Gertrude McFuzz by Dr. Seuss

In this classic from Dr. Seuss, a bird named Gertrude McFuzz wishes for a bigger and better tail because her own is pitifully small in comparison to her other bird friends.  One day, Gertrude learns of a magical berry that can give her a new, beautiful tail if she eats one.  However, she decides to get the biggest tail possible and eats all of the berries at once! She quickly learns that too much of a good thing can be bad.

After we read all of these books on birds, I headed over to Pinterest to find other ways we could learn about birds by doing art projects and experiments.

I found this cute pin  and this one.  **Of course, Ben’s turned out to be quite unique, but still awesome:)

birdpic2

birdpic1
Sword-wielding villainous bird

 

I also stumbled across this pin about how to conduct an experiment on which types of bird beaks are used to eat different foods.  So I decided to make up a couple of worksheets to use in science class this week.

 

birdpaper2
Yes those are devil birds apparently:)

 

We used tweezers, a clothes pin, a slotted spoon, and a straw to simulate some of the many different types of beaks there are in the bird family.  We tried to see which beak could best pick up bread, eat a banana, scoop cheerios out of water, and drink water from a narrow necked bottle.  We then ranked each “beak” from 1-4 in regards to how well it could eat each food type.  We had a lot of fun with this:)

 

Then to make sure Ben remembered all the important facts, I made up a simple worksheet that he did really well on.

birdpaper1

Overall this was a fun lesson and I think that Ben retained a lot of info about birds and their anatomy.  **In fact he pointed out that the robin at the park had an insectivore-type beak:) So maybe I have a budding ornithologist on my hands!

Family Fun · Homeschooling

Learning with Pinterest-Chinese New Year Edition

image

We love learning about other countries’ cultural traditions and celebrations, so this year we decided to celebrate the Chinese New Year.  Luckily, the library had lots of cute books on the subject and as always, Pinterest had lots of fun ideas to celebrate the holiday.

These are the books we enjoyed the most:

PoPo's Lucky Chinese New Year

PoPo’s Lucky Chinese New Year by Virginia Loh-Hagan

Ben and Emma both enjoyed this book a lot. This is a cute story about how a little girl’s grandmother comes all the way from China to introduce her grandchildren to Chinese New Year traditions. (Did I mention that the grandmother is also really superstitious?) We especially liked the little asides that give you more information as to why they believe certain things are lucky and which things to avoid that bring bad luck.

Lanterns and Firecrackers: A Chinese New Year Story (Festival Time)

Lanterns and Firecrackers by Jonny Zucker

This was a nice book if you are looking for a simple explanation as to how to celebrate the Chinese New Year. It was a quick and easy way to show Ben how Chinese families celebrate the holiday.

Great Race

The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac by Dawn Casey

This is a definite must read.  It tells the story as to how the Chinese determined which animals would get a year named after them by holding a race.  Ben and Emma really loved this book, due to the beautiful pictures and the great writing.  If your children like fables, they will love this book.

Seven Magic Brothers (Chinese Edition)

Seven Magic Brothers by Kuang-Tsai Hao

This book was not about the Chinese New Year, but is a beloved Chinese story.  It is about seven identical brothers that each have a different magical talent (ex: being fireproof, possessing super hearing, ability to swallow anything, etc).  When one of the brothers is condemned to death, each brother steps in to save the next, by using their amazing talents. This was a really fun read!

Tikki Tikki Tembo

Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosul

This book is also not about the Chinese New Year but is a Chinese fable.  We actually own this book because my kids love this story so much! This book tells the story as to why Chinese people choose to name their children short names.  (The main character in this book has an absurdly long name that eventually gets him into trouble)  Both the writing and the pictures are beautiful throughout this story.

Interesting facts about the Chinese New Year

1. Its important to sweep out the dirt in your house before the New Year starts to “sweep out the bad luck”. **But only throw the dirt out the back door!

2. Clean your windows to allow good fortune to flow in

3. Open your windows and doors at midnight to allow the old year to leave

4. Only serve whole chickens (to keep the family together) and whole fish (to have a good beginning and a good end)

5. Leave noodles unbroken to ensure a long life

6. The first person you meet on New Years and the first words you hear are important for how the year to come will be

7. Wear red clothes to scare away the bad spirits

8. Children should wear new clothes to confuse the evil spirits

9. Avoid the number 4, because it sounds like the Chinese character for death, so it is considered bad luck

10. Throw firecracker snaps on your front door to scare off evil spirits

11. Eat oranges to guarantee happiness and wealth for the year to come

**My kids were highly entertained by these traditions:)

After we learned all about the Chinese New Year, I headed over to Pinterest to find a few cute crafts that we could do together.

I settled on making these cute dragon flame blowers and these banners. **Images from Pinterest**

Dragon Toilet Paper Tube Kids recycled Craft - perfect for Chinese New Years, imaginative knight and princess play - easy to turn into a puppet!The Stuff We Do ~ For the Chinese New Year, we made good luck symbols. ~ Sherry

Another fun tradition is to give children money in red envelopes to ensure good luck for the coming year, so I made a couple of these cute envelopes to give to my children.

Celebrate Chinese New Year with these DIY Lucky Red Envelopes. We have a printable template to make it easy!

We ate ramen noodles for lunch (unbroken to guarantee a long life) and cutie oranges (to ensure happiness and wealth)

Before we went to bed we snapped a few firecracker poppers on the front doorstep to scare away the evil spirits.  We also remembered to put the red envelopes beneath the children’s pillows to ward off evil dreams.

Happy Chinese New Year!

 

Homeschooling

Learning with Pinterest-Groundhog Day

overall groundhog pic

Since Groundhog day was this week, we decided to learn all about groundhogs in science and make a few fun crafts for art.

Interesting facts we learned about groundhogs:

1. We learned that groundhogs are related to squirrels.

2. The people who love groundhogs are called marmotophiles and scientists who study groundhogs are called marmotologists.

3. Groundhogs seal themselves into sleeping chambers inside their burrows using mud so they can hibernate in safety.

4. They can swim and climb trees.

5. Some people call groundhogs whistle pigs, because they whistle when they are in danger or scared.

I  found a lot of cute books at the library that were both informational and fun to read, which is always a plus:)

Groundhog Gets a Say

Groundhog Gets A Say by Pamela Curtis Swallow:  The groundhog in this book decides that he deserves a whole month dedicated to him and not just one measly day! So he enlists a reporter to write all about what makes him so special, in hopes of getting February turned into Groundhog Appreciation Month.

Substitute Groundhog

Substitute Groundhog by Pat Miller:  In this story, a groundhog gets sick right before Groundhog Day and searches for a last minute replacement.  However, each animal that applies is missing a crucial skill to do the job right.

Double Trouble Groundhog Day

Double Trouble Groundhog Day by Bethany Roberts:  Grandpa Groundhog is retiring from his forecasting business and his twin grandchildren start fighting over who deserves to replace him.  They realize that the job is harder than it seems and that they might need some teamwork to get the job done right.

Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox

Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox by Susan Blackaby:  This is a cute story about a groundhog that is searching for signs of spring and happens upon a hungry fox.  The groundhog outsmarts the fox into waiting to eat her by asking him to help her find the signs of spring.

After we read all of the stories, I had Ben pick out two facts to write about in his journal and then he drew a picture of a groundhog.

 

groundhog pic

Then, Ben decided his groundhog was too boring and drew another picture with a lot more pizzazz.

bensunandmoon

Here are some of the questions that I asked Ben, to make sure he retained some of the many facts that we learned about groundhogs this week:

1. What do groundhogs eat?

2. What happens if the groundhog sees his shadow?

3. How does a groundhog keep rain from flooding his sleeping chamber?

4. Name two animals that are related to groundhogs.

5. Is a groundhog a mammal or a reptile?

We found this cute craft on Pinterest and then we made our own groundhog silhouette, complete with his forecast for spring’s arrival.

groundhog silouette

Finally, we decided to make some edible groundhogs to celebrate Groundhog Day and found this adorable/delicious idea on Pinterest.

groundhog cookie

 

Happy Groundhog Day!

 

Homeschooling

Learning with Pinterest (Snow edition)

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This week we had a snow day, so we decided to focus our science and art on all things snow related, like polar bears, the Arctic, snowmen, and Eskimos.  Luckily, between Pinterest and our library we had a ton of really cute ideas to choose from.

Books we read:

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Snow Bear by Jean Craighead George:  A cute story about a little Eskimo girl that befriends a baby polar bear.  The pictures are especially pretty.

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There Was A Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow! by Lucille Colandro:  Ben especially liked this book.  This lady keeps swallowing random things and eventually spits out a snowman.  Silly, but cute:)

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Sadie and the Snowman by Allen Morgan:  We actually own this book because we love it! Its an adorable story about a little girl that keeps rebuilding the same snowman throughout the winter and finds a fun way to save it to make a new one the next winter.

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Cupboard Bear by Jez Alborough:  This was a new rhyming book we found at the library and really liked.  This story is about a polar bear that has a really realistic dream about snow turning into ice cream.

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The Hat by Jan Brett:  This is a silly story about a little hedgehog that gets a sock stuck on his head and tries to convince all the animals that he is happy and warm, when all he really wants is to get the sock off of him.

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Way up in the Arctic by Jennifer Ward:  This was a really cute rhyming book that introduces different Arctic animals as it counts up to ten.  Ben especially loved it because the numbers were hidden in the pictures, so he enjoyed finding each one.

After we read all of these great books, we picked out some crafty art projects from Pinterest to do for fun.

This one was a really adorable Eskimo that we made using a coffee filter and cotton balls.

 

 

 

 

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Ben’s Eskimo

 

 

We also found this cute craft that gives a window view of a snowman outside in the yard.

 

art projects for christmas | Kindergarten Kids At Play: Fun Winter & Christmas Craftivities
Pinterest version
snowmanart
Ben’s version

 

After we read our books and did our crafts, I asked Ben some questions to see what he retained.

1. Name three animals that are found in the Arctic.

2. What kind of a home do Eskimos live in?

3. What is an igloo made out of?

4. What does a Polar bear eat?

5. Is the Arctic warm or cold?

6. Is the Arctic at the North Pole or South Pole?

**I am always amazed at how many facts children’s storybooks contain!

After we did all of our school work we headed outside and made what I call “Southern snowmen”….or otherwise known as miniature snowmen:)

 

Then we finished our day with homemade slushes made from fresh snow and Kool-Aid…the kids might have had 3 or 4….

benicee
Yum

 

Well that was how we worked a snow day into our homeschool routine and made some great memories along the way!

 

Homeschooling

Learning with Pinterest-Hibernation

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My kids love to do crafts and art projects but I am always at a loss as to what to make.  Luckily there is this wonderful, addictive site called Pinterest that always has the answer. If you combine Pinterest with library books and random art supplies, you have a really cheap way to teach a ton of subjects!  So I decided to post some of the ways that we use Pinterest in our school day that might hopefully inspire you to get creative with your own kids.

This past week, I decided to focus on mammals and hibernation in science, since we have been having such a cold winter lately.  My local library happened to have almost every book I was searching for that day, so we had lots of cute books to choose from.

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Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner:  This was a really cute book that shows the many different ways that animals survive the winter, above and below the ground.  Really beautiful pictures.

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Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman:  We actually own this book and it really is a great rhyming series to have in your collection. This story is about a hibernating bear that is awoken by his friends in the winter when they decide to have an impromptu party.

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Ridiculous! by Michael Coleman:   I found this book in the non-fiction area of our library.  This was a cute story about a little tortoise who decides that she does not want to hibernate anymore and sets out to find what she has been missing each winter.

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Sleep Big Bear, Sleep! by Maureen Wright:   This book was Ben’s favorite story this week.  It is about a bear that is hard of hearing and when Old Man Winter tells him to go to sleep he thinks he is telling him to do other things, like sweep, leap, etc.  There were a lot of giggles while we were reading this book…

After I found all of these cute books at the library, I clicked over to Pinterest and found lots of cute bear activities.  This is the one that I picked out to do this week (except we made a brown bear!)

See the source image

bearart
I think we did pretty good! Ben helped to glue everything and he also drew all the snowflakes. Oh and he signed it “Ben Bear” of course:)

Then after all of the fun stuff, we learned about what makes a mammal so special and wrote a few sentences about what we had learned this week.

 

hibernationdrawing
Of course Ben had to draw a Dr. Cow with udders and a stethoscope as his example of a mammal….fun times…

 

hibernationwriting

After we read our books, did our craft, and wrote our sentences about the lesson, I asked Ben some comprehension-type questions that he really did well on.

  1. Name some characteristics of mammals.
  2. How many mammals do we have in our house? (We have 4 humans, 1 guinea pig, and 1 cute dog…he named everything but the humans. His mind was blown when I told him that we were mammals too.)
  3. Why do animals hibernate?
  4. Name two animals that hibernate. (He chose brown bears and bullfrogs)

So overall I think this lesson was a success.  We had fun and my child actually remembered most of the facts from the lesson, which is all I ask of him most days:)