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Tuesday, October 18, 2011


So I haven't blogged in months, but this was just too fun to not share. I love Halloween. I don't love bloody, scary, gorey Halloween - I love cute, spooky, playful Halloween. So here are some of my favorite decorations:

Cinderella's Pumpkin Carriage:

Here is our favorite pumpkin of all time. The girls did this two Halloween's ago. We painted it blue, sprayed it with glittery sparkles, and added embelishments. The accessories include: a lamp topper (on top of the pumpkin), some scrapbooking frames for the windows, and a belt buckle for the door. 4 Small pumpkins with painted wooden drawer pulls make the wheels. It rests on a ugly but functional sqaure frame made out of four kitchen skewers poked and glued into the sides of the tiny "wheel" pumpkins. We also colored a picture of Cinderella and glued her into the window. The girls loved it. So fun!

Halloween Witches:

Sorry that I didn't take too many pictures of how to construct these friendly witches. I have pictures of how to make their heads listed below, but the body was done so off-the-cuff, I didn't think to take pictures. The most important part of the witch is her heavy square bottom. This makes her easy to pick up and move, or sit in a chair. Attached to the MDF square that creates her bum, is a wooden 2 x4 for a spine, and a smaller 2 x4 to make her shoulders. Depending on how you want her arms, you might just want to have her arms be nothing but stuffing. Her hands are gloves filled with rice. Her legs are stockings filled with beans at the feet, and batting in the legs. This gave our witch "elephantitis" - but I'm not fixing it until next year. Here is how to make her face:

1. Buy a styrafoam bust of a head (Hobby Lobby has them for $7, Savers had them for $3) Buy extra foam pieces and toothpick them onto the face where you want more character. We made big eyeballs, a pointy nose, and a bigger chin.

2. Paper Mache over your styrofoam. I skipped this step to save time with my second witch. But it does make it more sturdy for outdoor use.

3. Create a lumpy, bumpy skin texture by painting over your DRY paper mache head, with a THICK mixture of flour and glue, and whatever paint color you would like her skin to be.

4. After her skin is all dry (ours took nearly 6 hours), comes the fun part! Now you get to paint on her make-up and glue on fake eyelashes!

5. Attached a wig and a hat seperately. I did this with toothpicks for the wig (I want to be able to use the wig again, so I didn't glue it on). And I attached her hat with simple sewing pins. We live in a very windy area, so I have to re-attach it once in awhile, but it's mostly secure.

6. Dig or drill out a hole in the bottom of the bust. Insert a long dowel that will attach her head to her body.

7. Put her out for everyone to see!

Pumpkin Candle Holders:

I borrowed this idea from "Family Fun" magazine, which I love. It took only minutes to do, and my kids (even my 2 year-old son) loved it. All you need is some glass jars of different sizes (jam jars, peanut butter jars, salsa jars - anything you have around the house), some masking tape, and some orange paint.

1. Cut masking tape into the shapes desired for a jack-o-lantern face. Have your kids place them on the jar however they wish.

2. Paint your orange paint over the entire jar. When it is nearly dry, remove the masking tape.

3. Place tea-light candles in the jars and light! We put ours in the bathroom where it can be dark and you get the best "glowing" effect.

Happy Halloween to all!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

An Unexpected $2

My oldest daughter wanted to play her violin out by the road for money! I'm growing a little tired of the money scheming ideas, so I told her "nope." A short while later a phone call I'm on is interupted by her new idea. She came down to the kitchen with a large sign that read: "For Love and Joy" - she has decided to play for free, just for love and joy. The "free" idea I might have expected, but the sign was too cute to ignore. So I let her go outside with it and play her violin out by the road.

A little while later her little sister joined her, and with the combined effort they recieved a little more attention. One passerby, although I tried to refuse it, insisted on giving them each $1. I hugged my girls (for the love and joy aspect), then took them inside for some cold smoothies.

Pretty darn cute. This is the stuff Mom's live for, right?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Things You Can Do With Very Little Planning

For about a month now, I have done nothing much in particular. While I have no impressive lesson plans or print outs for this blog post, I do have a little something to share. I call it, "5 Ways to Look Busy and Productive, While Not Actually Accomplishing Anything."

1. Play the Water Glasses

This entertained everyone, even my two year-old, for much longer than I imagined it could. Fill a variety of glass containers (it's easiest to create musicality with containers that are the same), with different amount of water. My children thought they were musical geniuses as they clonged the glasses to a repretiore of unidentifyable tunes.

2. Observe Nature

We found this little bird nest the day before the eggs arrived. We watched the progress until some not-so-cute featherless birdies take the place of the eggs.

We left on vacation, and returned to an empty nest. My kids enjoyed watching the changes everyday. It really is humbling to watch little miracles like new life in nature.

3. Make "Bouyant Buddies" out of craft foam sheets, and corks.

We found that glue didn't work well, although a hot glue gun might have produced better results. I would just try to cut the pieces small, and fit them tightly together like a puzzle. A link to "Family Fun Magazine's" craft instructions for this will be posted later. I'm feeling lazy.

4. Encourage Entrepreneurship (That doesn't look right - spell check please?)

My oldest daughter, at two years old, was once given a choice of prize: a quarter, or a pack of gum. She chose the quarter. She has an eye for money, and is always scheming ways to build it. This week, it was through origami. She enlisted her younger sister to make about 30 origami animals and creations. They sold them out on the road for 25 cents a piece, and put their heart and soul into the marketing of their product! A road biker stopped by and purchased all remaining origami for the exchange of a $5 bill, and the surrender of about 75 cents in change. Although not entirely convinced the ONE five dollar bill was a good trade for their small pile of nickels and dimes, they were glad in the end! :)

5. Paint a Picture Outside

Get out some paint and get inspired by something outside - like a newly caught butterfly from your front yard. My daughters have become great little bug catchers this summer!

My other daughter opted for a different subject for her painting: her father in a dress. Now, she insists that he is not actually wearing a dress, but a super-hero cape...but that's a little hard to believe when you look at the finished product. You might notice from the picture - she is indeed painting the picture upside-down. Interesting, hmm?

That's all for now. No sense in jumping full force back in to blogging, right...BABY steps....

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Things Never Go As Planned!

So, why have I not posted for nearly two weeks now? Have you noticed on our events calendar (bottom of the page) that there are two weeks completely blank? I didn't even bother to plan for every week in the summer, because I knew we would hit times like this: We're tired!

My two-year old had croupe for about a week. We've hosted a total of 33 people at our home over the last two weeks. Between swimming lessons, and the twice weekly violin/tutoring, and all the company, and all the sickness...our daily worksheets and silent reading are about all we can handle right now.

I will start fresh the week of the 4th and re-introduce stars and planets week. I may replace Medieval Week with Weather Week again, since we only half-heartedly did that unit.

For any that are paying attention to this blog at all, sorry for all the delays. But we're TIRED. Check back after the 4th :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Insect Week!

So, we're vacationing at a lake and taking it pretty easy. We're having fun...see?:

We're still doing our daily worksheets, (which I realize have several repeats and typos that need correcting). We're still reading (just finished Mr. Popper's Penguins, and now we're on to The Story of Doctor Doolittle). We're being active and staying busy, but not really following a specific lesson plan.

Today we piled into a Rhino and went down to the lake to play in the mud and collect some bugs!

Mosquitos and mayflies were easy to come by. We also caught an interesting-looking spider of some kind. My little two-year old mostly threw rocks and mud.

So we'll keep looking at our library books on bugs and insects of every kind, and catching the fish that eat them...but I'm not certain we'll get to any hard-core educating this week :)

Timpanogos Cave Outing

To finish up our week on Habitats, we took an excursion to the Timpanogos Caves.

We had some good friends join us, too.

We packed a backpack with coats (for the 45 degree caves), plenty of water, and more candy than I should have packed. The candy was in case I needed a bribe to keep their feet moving..which I did.

As it turns out, this was a pretty hard hike. It's a mile and a half on a paved trail to the cave entrance. The path rises 1,065 ft to an elevation of 6,730 feet above sea level. Pretty darn steep. And there are several places that made me nervous one of my kids wcould just slide right off the side! I would not recommend this hike for anyone under 5, unless your fine with carrying them yourself.

Along the way we saw spider webs, chipmunks, wildflowers, birds, and this spectacular view:

Some pictures of the cave interiors can be found following this link.

We were hoping to see bats, but never did. So much for teaching my kids about things that live in a cave! Oh well, we had fun.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Habitat Week (Snowy Habitats)

More library books this morning about anything alaska/arctic/antarctic: polar bears, penguins, whales, sea lions.

Then we went into town and got - what else - snow cones! We took our snow cones to the park and read "Mr. Popper's Penguins" in the sunshine as we enjoyed our treats. This book is so-so entertaining, but nearly every chapter has good information about penguins, like how they build nests, take care of their young, how they stay warm, what they eat, how they hunt for food, etc.

After snow-cones and the park we came home, took care of the goats, splashed in the sprinklers (Which it was a little chilly for), and started on the craft project we should have done last week with health and nutrition week: weaving a jump rope.

"Family Fun" has the best set of instructions for this. It takes no time at all to get the hand of this weaving technique, but it does take a LONG time, at least by my impatient standards. We worked on our jump rope for nearly 2 hours, and it got about 4 1/2 feet in length. Which was just long enough to make it useful as a mini jumprope: And also as a leash!

Our other lesson today was on learning the continents. I drew a large (and nowhere close to-scale) version of a world map on my driveway with sidewalk chalk. I taught them to sing: "North America, South America, these are continents...Africa, Europe, these are continents...Asia, Australia, these are continents, Antarctia and the Arctic!" After singing it about 10 times each, it started to stick. When I tested them, by asking them (out of song order) where each continent is, they generally go them right. We still have a little work to do. They would easily mix up Asia and Australia for some reason? More work/play with it tomorrow!

Habitat Week (Wetlands)

Our first day of Habitat Week felt like a busy one! Scripture study with breakfast, daily worksheet, a few library books about creatures that live in wetland areas (alligators, ducks, snakes, mosquitos, beavers, frogs, turtles, fish, slugs, leaches,etc.), plus a little brainstorming of our own. Then we drove off to violin/math at Mrs. Sorenson's house - packing our clipboards with us in the car for our next adventure: straight to the bayou for lunch!

What? How could she have lunch in a bayou when she lives in Utah, you ask? Have you never been to Pirate Island? :) Their entire back section of the restaurant is themed like a swamp, complete with a soundtrack of frogs, crickets, and mosquitos. The kids had no idea where we were headed when I told them we were going to the swamp for lunch! We sat in that section of the restaurant drawing the things we heard/saw for about 10 minutes. Then we went to our table, ordered pizza and party-partied.

As it turns out, I'm not a big fan of arcade games, but there is really no way around them at this place. None of my kids are skilled at any of the games, but the have to play them anyway. After playing $5 worth of tokens, we had accumulated a mere 35 tickets. Guess what we could "buy" with that? 6 bite-sized tootsie roll candies. Thanks for nothing, Pirate Island.

But it was fun to get out of the house, and my kids walked away from Pirate Island thinking it was very "Princess and the Frog"-ish, which I hadn't considered. Maybe if I were a nicer mom, I would have let my kids watch that movie on our wetlands day of Habitat Week.

After Pirate Island we had a number of errands to take care of on that end of town, so that was pretty much the day. If we'd had more time I would have done some solid, liquids, gases lessons. Oh well, another day!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Plants & Insects Week (June 13-17)

Objective: To introduce my children to a wide variety of plants and insects. Teach them patience in observation, and awareness in the little things all around them.

By The End of the Week My Kids Will Be Able To:

*Identify a few local plants

*Tell me about the physical parts of several insects

*Understand the things a plant needs to survive

*Write their first book report (or picture book, for my nearly-kindergartener)

*Understand even and odd numbers

Math Activities Planned for the Week:

a href="">>*Dice Addition! - A dice rolling game that encourages quick addition skills. Add up your dice rolls and be the first one to 30!

a href="">>*"Subtraction Bowling" - You'll notice when you click on the link that the real way to play this game is with addition, but I wanted to practice subtraction. So here's hohw I changed the rules. Everyone starts with 100 points. I will label the 10 water bottles with ten points each. When you bowl over a water bottle (I will partially fill mine with rocks or sand to weight them a bit), you can subtract it from your 100 point beginning total. Closest to zero wins! This will be a good way to practice the "greater than"/"less than" concept, too. Plus my 2 year old will love this game!

*"Slap It!" - A game to reinforce the concept of even and odd numbers. Divide a deck of cards between two players. At the same time, each player will (not peaking!) take the first card off their personal deck of shuffled cards and create a pile in front of them. Slap your own pile, or your opponents pile if you see an ODD number. Did you slap it first? Take the card you slapped and every card under it. If there is not an odd number, leave the cards there for the next round. Keep going until someone has won all the cards.

Science Activities Planned for the Week:

*How does a flower drink its water? - Purchase two white carnation flowers at our local flower shop. Cut the end of each stem off (a little more than an inch), and quickly place it in a vase of water that has been heavily colored with food coloring. Within two or three days, you will observe the flower petals tips taking on the color of the water. Flowers absorb their water through the stem and it travels through the entire flower.

*Bug Collecting - I don't suppose instructions are truly needed here. We're just going to search for as many different types of bugs as we can, and try to catch them! Or maybe take pictures of them with our camera if it seems unsafe (wasps, for example).

*Parts of an insect - Here is a worksheet your child can fill in on the anatomy of an ant (warning, no answers provided).

*Reading and Writing Skills While Learning About Insects - Here is a website with so much information I can't possibly write about it all. It includes lesson plans for ten days about insects, including poems your children can re-write for handwriting practice, some fun websites to view, and even some quizes.

Arts & Crafts Activities Planned for the Week:

*Make a leaf stamp. Collect a variety of leaves, weeds or flowers. Paint them with paint, and stamp them onto brown paper bags, or large sheets of paper.

*Learn about Claude Monet's "Poppyfield near Argenteuil". Make a homemade stamp by carving a potato to look the shape of a poppy. Let the kids make their own rendition of this masterpiece.

*I have yet to track down a large enough butterfly paper punch, but I would love to do this activity with my children. You simply punch out a butterfly shape using a variety of coordinating scrapbook papers. Then glue the body only onto a paper, and pull the wings towards you for a 3-d effect. Frame in a shadow box for a beautiful bedroom decoration! Here is the same concept, without the frame, at

Language Arts Activities Planned for the Week:

*Teach them how to organize their book report on any bug or insect they choose. Help them map out where the bug lives, how to identify it, what it eats, how long it lives, where it hatches its eggs, etc...

*These Daily Worksheets will be most of their language arts skill practice for the week:

*Grade Level K
*Grade Level 1

Computer Activities Planned for the Week:

*Try for some fun information and activities about lady bugs.

*This might be a fun week to try some typing exercises. While not bug or plant related, it's a good skill to practice:

PE Activities Planned for the Week:

I brainstormed about this for awhile, and came to realize that all the insects-related PE activities would seem a bit too young for my nearly second-grader. We might just go rollerskating, swimming at the pool, or play at the park this week. Sorry so boring.

Field Trips Planned for the Week:

*Go to a local greenhouse, maybe even asking a staff member to tell you a little about some of the local plants. If they have Venus Fly-Traps it would be a good way to demonstrate a link between the plants and insects this week :)

*Take a hike, observe plants and insects

*Go to Witt's Lake and try to scoop up signs of life from the lake. Draw what we find. Use a magnifying glass to observe them.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Fitness Party!

Today is Friday, so it's PARTY TIME! After going out of town all day Thursday, I'm behind on the school projects I had hoped to complete - but who cares?! Time to celebrate the completion of our first summer school unit!

Our fitness party had the main purpose of being a good time. Aside from that, I the kids exercised, ate delicious healthy snacks, challenged their balance and flexibility, and even answered a few quiz questions.


We set up an obstacle course using a bunch of odds and ends from around the house, and (the best component of all) a recent gift from my awesome inlaws:

All in all, the obstacle course was as follows:
1. Climb up the monster blow-up slide and come back down it any way you chose
2. Limbo under the volley-ball net
3. Pick up a 20 pound weight and run around the pick barrell with it. Put it down where you got it from
4. Kick a soccer ball into the net
5. "Over-Under": crawl under the table, over the kiddie slide, under the table, over the two chairs
6. Duck under the volleyball net again
7. Balance on a wooden plank to the finish!

We made a leader board and had a healthy competition going for the fastest time through the obstacle course:


*Goldfish crackers
*Strawberry Spinach Salad
*Lightly seasoned popcorn
*Veggie Platter
*Multi-grain muffins


With a giant game of Twister! I constructed this game from a 9' x 12' drop cloth purchased from my local hardware store ($24.99) and some containers of spray paint ($3.99 a canister). I painted it in my garage and left it there to dry through the night. It was only in the morning, as I folded up the cloth, that I realized it had leaked through the canvas onto my garage floor! Anyone want to play twister in my garage?


*How many glasses of water should you drink every day? (6-8 for children)

*How many food groups are there (4)

*Name a food item that belongs in the fruit/vegetable/grains/meat&beans category

*Name a food that contains items from more than one food group (like pizza, spaghetti and meatballs, quesadillas...)

*Identify something you could expect to see an amount of on a nutrition label

*What food group are we supposed to have the most of? (grains)

*How many minutes of exercise are we supposed to have every day? (30 min-1 hour)

*At what age does it become important for you to eat healthy and exercise? (trick question - EVERYONE needs to eat healthy and exercise)

Heart Rate Activity

This activity was designed to show my children that their heart rate is an indication of their health. And that the harder you exercise, the better the work-out your heart gets, and the healthier you can be. You know you're doing a good job exercising if your heart rate is increasing.

The plan is simple: Do a variety of exercises. Observe heart rate activity after each one. Determine which exercise was the most effective in raising our heart rates.

So we ran for a few minutes, we did monkey bars for a few minutes, we jumped on the trampoline, we did sit-ups, we climbed and came down the slide over and over...

We wrote down our heart rate after each exercise, then graphed our findings in a bar graph. This bar graph concept was difficult for them to design (labeling the sides of the graph, understanding what numbers go where), but once the core of the graph was designed, they understood filling in the information.

So are you curious which exercise really got our hearts a-pumping? Climbing up and coming down the slide repetitively was easily the exercise that made our hearts race the fastest.

Sorry no pictures!

Learning About Edgar Degas

It's Health & Nutrition week, which means we'll be talking about exercise and fitness in addition to talking about the importance of a balanced diet. My girls take a fun dance class together, so I thought they'd be intrigued by the art of Edgar Degas.

*Warning - Degas is well known for his nudes, I would carefully select his art pieces to share with your children. I wouldn't just hand them a library book with with famous works, or google search his name in images. Just a heads up!

My favorite aspect of Degas, is his focus on the ballet. He loved the muscular tone of these young dancers, and was intrigued by the difference between the shapes in a young man and a young woman's body. His most famous sculpture is "Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer"

I find it interesting that he mixed mediums with his statues sometimes. This statue has real fabric in the skirt, and even some real hair pieces.

So I read to my kids a few interesting things about him from and a few other internet sources, while the kids tried their hand at a sculpture themselves.

I wish I had planned better and used clay. I used home-made playdough instead. Not easy to work with. Very crumbly and, impossible to make a standing figure with. We tried wrapping straws and wooden skewers with playdough to make the limbs more sturdy, but it didn't work very well. In the end, my children had a lot of fun, and they really didn't care how professional their sculptures were. Here's what they created:

Even I tried to make one! She's got a little Wicked-Witch-of-the-West thing going on here, but HEY nobody else wanted the green play dough, okay?

So it was a fun activity. But I do wish I had let the kids try something new by working with real clay.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Food Pyramid

First day of Summer School!

Wait...let me back up a bit. Our Health and Nutrition week began a little earlier than today. On Saturday, our family participated in the Live wElle 5k Event (Springville, Utah), which was both emotionally touching, and physically motivating. The charity behind the event celebrates the life, and mourns the loss, of an 18 month old baby girl, Elle, who was backed over in the driveway. The money raised from the race provides scholarships to college-bound students, and helps struggling families. I was brought to tears at the concluding speech of the event, and was grateful for my belief in a post-earth-life existance, where families are reunited once again.

I was also proud of my husband (who placed third in his age division) and my girls my both ran a 400 meter dash. My 7 year-old finished 5 year-old started off strong :) It was a great event, and I hope my kids will see exercise as a good way to set personal goals and stay strong and fit.

My fears are set aside - my kids are fully on-board with the idea of summer school. I think it had something to do with the mention of art projects, earning beads, and fun suprises.

We started off the morning with our first Daily Worksheet:

The worksheet took longer today (and probably will all week) then it should the rest of the summer. It took them nearly an hour, with lots of help, to get through the exercises. My nearly kindergartener had an especially hard time with understanding the concept of place value (hundreds, tens, ones), as she had never heard these terms before. But they enjoyed themselves, and felt very important at their school stations with fresh paper and lots of colorful markers and pens around them.

After the worksheets, it was time to feed our goats! We went outside, fed them bottles of milk, gave them scoops of grain, and cleaned the barn stall. By then it was time to go inside, but our most fiesty goat, Mocha, nestled under our trailer and it took several extra minutes to coax her back into the barn stall! Then we headed back inside.

We sat around the fireplace as I began to explain our first lesson - The Food Pyramid. First I showed them a copy of a food pyramid chart, explaining each segment of the triangle and what type of foods belong in it. On large posterboard (thank you Dollar Store), I drew a blank food pyramid, labeling only the segment headings. Then my children wrote in the number of recommended servings. I had a prepared folder of images I'd googled and printed out (bananas, broccoli, apples, bread, rice, fish, meat, chicken, cotton candy, get the idea). The kids took turns cutting them out and taping them on the right segment of our food pyramid poster.

We also wrote down everything we ate all day, on the left side of the poster, according to the food group it belonged to. I was amazed at how easy it was to get my kids to voluntarily eat vegetables at lunch (we usually do fruit) because they saw we hadn't had any vegetables yet that day.

For lunch we had whole wheat tortilla quesadillas, carrot sticks and grapes.

After lunch the girls did silent reading for 25 minutes while I read books to my little man and put him down for a nap.

When I came down, I drilled them on the food pyramid, and rewarded them with their very first bead of the summer:

They were thrilled with their prize, and quickly slipped them onto their necklace strings.

Next, we started our art project: sewing lunch bags. I was excited about doing this project, and maybe even finishing it in a just a couple hours...this did not happen. As it turns out, these directions made no sense to me. I cut out all the fabric, liner, and insulation (while my girls patiently watched and helped how they could). Then I read through the directions and became completely lost. I'm gonig to call my sewing queen neighbor later this week and see if she can help me make sense of it. Then I will post BETTER directions :)

Health and Nutrition Week is off to a great start!

Free Printable Handwriting Paper

As you do your daily worksheets, daily journal, and other activities, you might find it helpful to have some nicely lined handwriting paper handy:

Lined Handwriting Paper

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Daily Worksheets (For Kindergarten and First Grade)

I am so proud of myself! I learned how to make a word document a pdf, and then I learned how to publish a pdf on this blog! Hooray for me!!

I have created daily worksheets that will be the first activity in our summer school sessions. They have math, spelling and hand-writing exercises, as well as a few puzzles. They are easy to print as you need them.

Here are the links to download 7 weeks worth of daily worksheets. Hope you find them useful.

Grade Level K

Grade Level 1

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Animals & Habitats Week (June 6th-10th)

I would like to remind all of you that I am going to give this my best shot, but I will not sacrifice my sanity to make my children accomplish all of these things! If they're not having fun, or if we're just too tired, I'm not going to push it. I'll post pictures and suggestions as we get these activities done.

Objectives: Learn to describe a wide variety of habitats, and what live in each one.

By The End of the Week My Kids Will Be Able To:

*Understand the concept of estimating

*Identify solids, liquids, and gases

*Identify the different continents (and oceans, if you're feeling ambitious)

*Say they explored a cave

*Use a guide book to help them identify some local plants

Math Activities Planned for the Week:

*"Guess that Number" Estimation Game - prepare a cookie sheet with a few seperate piles of items. I'll probably do something like 5 dried beans, 12 paper clips, 20 Skittles, 15 sea shells, 25 pebble-sized rocks, and 45 grains of rice. Have the kids guess, then count how many items are in each pile.

*"Guess that Number 2" A More Difficult Estimation Game - prepare a series of the same size of jars. Use the same type of item in each jar, but vary the amount in each. Label a few of the jars with the correct number of items contained inside, but leave several for them to guess. I will probably use ziplock baggies and dry bow-tie pasta.

*"Guess that Number 3" A More FUN Estimation Game! - same concept. More hands-on. Set out the following for estimating:
*A turkey baster, an infant medicine dropper, a syringe style medicine dispenser, a large spoon
Now set out several tupperware conatiners (two of each, but a variety of sizes). Fill one container with water (add food coloring for fun), and set a similar container beside it, empty. Your kids can use the items set out to find out - How many Turkey Baster squirts of water will be in this container? How many drops of water will be in that container? Etc.

Science Activities Planned for the Week:

*Identifying solids, liquids, and gases using this site ( as a guide. It has simple experiments to help introduce each state of matter, and even has links to simple quiz questions.

*Habitat Observation - Give each child a clip board and some crayons, pens, or pencils. Go to an area by water (river, pond, lake) and observe what lives there. Have your child draw what they see. Notice plants, animals, insects. Why do those things chose to live by/in the water? Make the same observations in a wide variety of areas. Examples could include: in the mountains, in a garden, in the soil (under rocks, for example). You could also do this activity using library books, which would be faster, and you could talk about a wider variety of habitats, but it won't be as memorable or fun!

*Learning Countries (and possibly oceans) - While my kids are riding their bikes in the driveway, I plan to make the best world map from sidewalk chalk as is humanly possible. I will likely try to make it look a bit like this. I will also bring out an easy-to-read map, in case my drawing turns out less than accurate.
I'll identify the countries to the kids, then have them try to throw a beanbag on them, squirt a water gun to hit them, blow a bubble that pops on them, or bounce a ball on top of them. I'll repeat this activity more than once that week, and hop they might start getting the hang of which country goes where. I will have them try their best to fill out a blank map once they get inside. If they can't remember, no big deal. It's just fun to try!

Arts & Crafts Activities Planned for the Week:
*Make Buoyant Buddies out of foam sheets and corks - talk about types of animals that live in the water (ocean, lakes, rivers). Here are pdf stencils for the animals.

*Make a popsicle stick puzzle. Have your child draw a picture of an animal that lives in a habitat you have discussed. They can even flip the popsicle sticks over and do another one.

Language Arts Activities Planned for the Week:

*Create a Mad-Libs to learn about verbs. Maybe something like the following:

My favorite animals is (your favorite animal). This animal lives in (name a country) inside a (name a type of habitat). (Your favorite animal again, plural) like to (verb), (verb), and (verb). They especially like to (your favorite game)! If you are going to keep a (favorite animal) for a pet, it's important to know that they need lots of (type of food), and a (type of climate) place to stay. Give them lots of love and attention. Tell them (exclaimation) often so they know how much you care. And whenever you are (verb that ends in -ing), bring them with you!

I am still working on daily worksheets for the summer. I'm thinking something like the following:

*Grade Level K
*Grade Level 1

(**my lack of technical skills is slowing the posting of the pdf worksheets I've made - Sorry!**)

Computer Activities Planned for the Week:

*There are a lot of internet sources for observing different animals in their habitiats. Have your kids check out for a wide variety of videos and pictures.

*YouTube has a bunch of short clips. Get on their site and search with terms like "forest habitat", "ocean habitat", "swamp habitat", "rainforest habitat", "desert habitat", "arctic habitat", "underground habitat"....

PE Activities Planned for the Week:

*Swim at Spanish Fork Reservoir (watch for fish, ducks, birds)

*Hike up Hobble Creek Canyon (observe how it feels cooler in the trees, what things grow in the mountains...)

*Weed all around the yard. What? It needs to be done! (explain how Utah is mainly desert and that the plants that do best here need little water)

Field Trips Planned for the Week:

*Hike the Timpanogos Caves in a guided tour

*Go to the Zoo. Zoos try to make the animals feel at home. What things do they "decorate" the cage with to make the animals feel they are in their original habitats?

*Get a Snow Cone and read a book about the Arctic Habitat

Monday, May 16, 2011

Intro To Health and Nutrition Week (May 30th-June 3rd 2011), Pictures to be posted upon completion

Today is an adventure: writing up the first week of lesson plans. You've probably noticed the schedule I posted at the top of the blog. I'm going to try to stick to that, but will be flexible under extreme circumstances (like, for instance, I just don't feel like it and will just go to the park and pick up a RedBox for my kids instead!).

I thought "Health & Nutrition" would be a great way to start off the summer. I'd like for my kids to be active and this might be a good way to jump-start a summer tradition of exercising together. Maybe even running in a 5k together someday, when the kids get older of course.

Will I get through all the activities listed below? It would take a miracle. But I'm nothing without a goal. It just feels better to have a plan. So here we go!

Objectives: Learn about the food pyramid and find fun ways to stay active and be healthy.

By The End of the Week My Kids Will Be Able To:
*Identify foods that are healthy, and the food group they belong to
*Recognize fat, calories, sugar, protein, and vitamins on a nutrition label
*Know how to chose (or make) a healthy snack or meal
*Learn simple fractions (whole, half, one-quarter, three-quarters)
*Create and read a bar graph
*Sew a lunch bag
*Try new ways of exercising and maybe even identify some muscles
*Appreciate Edgar Degas and his paintings and sculptures of ballerinas (we will make a clay sculpture)

Math Activities Planned for the Week:

*Take Heart Rate doing various activities (resting, skipping, dancing, jump-roping,walking, jumping on the trampoline, laughing). Make a graph together and figure out which activity got your heart rate up the highest.

*Demonstrate Simple Fractions using a cardstock pizza. Print the pizza picture and laminate it, or draw your own on a paper. Cut out the pizza into quarters, or eighths (if you're feeling ambitious). Point out 1 (whole), 1/2, 1/4, 3/4, and build from there.

*Conduct a survey about favorite pizza toppings, and make a bar graph

Science Activities Planned for the Week:

*Chart the Food Pyramid. Make a large copy of the food pyramid together, discussing what each food group means. Kids can draw the food items, or you can print them out from your computer, or even find some in magazines. Let them put the food pictures with the appropriate section of the food pyramid. Here is a link to some simple coloring pages and free printable worksheets.

*Food Pyramid Bingo would make a fun game. Create your own bingo sheet at the link provided typing in these labels: Grains, Vegetables, Fruits, Dairy, Meat & Beans in any pattern you chose. Now name a variety of foods, and have them place the correct category to get a Bingo!

*Nutrition Label Wise-Up - Point out where to find the nutrition label on a variety of different packages. Talk about how to look for low amounts of sugar, fat, and calories. Point out where you can see how many vitamins and minerals are provided.

*Bake a Home-made Pizza. Use measuring cups and point out the fractions. What food group do each of the ingredients belong to? How big is your slice? (1/8 of a pizza?) How many toppings are on each slice? Which slice has the most/least toppings?

Easy Pizza Dough

3 tsp yeast
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 cups of warm water
3 cups of bread flour

Roll it out. Put on your toppings, and bake it until the cheese is melty (a word?) and browning

Arts & Crafts Activities Planned for the Week:

*Sew a lunch bag

*Make a Jump Rope (you will need about 250 nylon weaving loops for each). The directions are pretty simple, but I'm guessing it will take longer than 2 hours for me to finish these projects my girls might start and get tired of!

*Sculpt a ballerina out of clay, or play dough. I plan on showing my kids a few pictures of Edgar Degas paintings and sculptures of ballerinas. Be careful if you're google searching these images with your kids, he has done a few nudes!

Here's a simple recipe for play dough. My sister discovered that if you add jello (any flavor you chose), it gives it a vibrant color, and a delicious smell!

1 cup flour (white)
1/2 cup salt

2 tablespoons cream of tartar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup warm water

3 oz pkg Jello (any flavor)

Combine ingredients and cook over medium heat until it thickens and pulls away from the sides of pot and becomes dull. * Note: it burns easily so don't put over too high a heat and keep stirring. Mold and knead until cool enough to touch. Store in a closed plastic bag.

*Set up a bowl of fruit, and have your children try to sketch it.

Language Arts Activities Planned for the Week:

I am still working on daily worksheets for the summer. I'm thinking something like the following:

Ages 4-6 Worksheet
Grade Level 1
Grade Level K

Computer Activities Planned for the Week:

*I plan on maybe You-Tube-ing some Veggie Tales silly songs. I'll have my 7 year old control the mouse and keyboard as I guide her to the right pages. I want her to get comfortable using search engines and exploring with the mouse.

PE Activities Planned for the Week:

*I think the Heart Rate activity (see math activities) should definately count as Physical Education!

*Go to the high school track. Make fractions with distances run (1/2 way around the track, 1/4 of a mile (4 times around the track is a mile), etc...)

Field Trips Planned for the Week:

*Go on a "hunt" at the grocery store for healthy snacks (and hidden messages). Come home with a snack with low amounts of sugar and fat.

*Host a Fitness Party with a bike obstacle course, and a variety of physical challenges and quiz questions (game show style).

I'll post photos when I've actually done these activities with my kids (in the coming months), and will add comments about what worked well and what didn't. If any blog readers try them first, please send in your pictures and thoughts. Two heads are better than one!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The importance of reading with children -

The importance of reading with children -

A great article about the benefits of reading outloud with your children. I especially liked the link to the Sylvan Learning Center reading program ( You can fill out a questionaire about your child's reading level and interest, and it will generate a LONG list of book recommendations. Great tool.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Planting Spring Time Flowers!

It was a beautiful sunshiny day yesterday. I just had to be outside. So I had my kids come out and help me plant some snapdragons.

The gardening tools were a bit much for them, so I just ended up handing them spoons. My 7 year old was an all-star at this. Dig a hole, put in the flower, cover it back up, give it a drink of water. I had to help my barely 5 year-old dig a few holes when her hands started getting tired.

My 2 year old wanted to dig all the wrong places. So I brought out something to distract him: our new pet goats. Meet Oreo and Nilla, our 4 week old Nigerian Pygmy goats. Having grown up without so much as a goldfish, this is a bit of an adjustment. But I've got to say, they are a lot of fun. They are silly and playful, and bottle feeding them is just so cute. Highly recommend everyone gets a goat :)

After everyone was tired we went inside for dinner: flower salad (grapes, with a chocolate chip center, an apple slice stem, and some spinach leaves for grass/weeds) and lasagne.

All in all, a great day! And only a few short weeks until we go full force with summer school. Lesson plans to be posted soon!