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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!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

How to Survive A Flight with Kids

A couple weeks ago I took an 18 hour (round trip) car ride to California and back to see my wonderful Grandma. Three kids and just me.

I have taken multiple car and plane trips by myself with my children, and somehow survived them all. I will be taking another one tomorrow! (50% chance my husband is coming with me). So how do I do it? Here are my quick tips:


Book and aisle and a window, don't purchase the middle seat. If there are going to be empty seats on a flight, it will be a middle seat. And chances are if someone IS assigned to the middle seat between you, you can ask the stewardess if there are other seats available for them (sometimes upgrading them to an aisle/window). I've never had anyone mind moving from between two children!


1. Pack yourself a treat or two (gum, candy bar, etc). I like to reward myself once in awhile. Am I the only one motivated by food?

2. Remember that, even if it's hard, you WILL somehow get from point A to point B. It is possible.

3. Be friendly and apologetic to people nearby. They can watch your bag while you take a kid to the bathroom. As long as they can tell you are doing your best, they will be nice.

4. Get to the airport EARLY. Being in a rush will not help the stress. And if you get there early, and tell the nice check-in lady that you are traveling with young kids, sometimes they will arrange your seats so you can have an empty seat near you. The extra space can save you.


1. Board the airplane early. Get your kids settled without annoying everybody who has to wait for you to arrange your kids before they can pass your row of seats.

2. Tell a stewardess you are traveling with busy little kids. And ask if she'll come by and check on you once in awhile. Or ask if you can take a drink to your seat (to give them sips of something until the plane really gets going). Sometimes flight attendants have brought us snacks, pilot wings, or even extra things leftover from first class. Make sure your kids say thank you!

3. Apologize to the person in front of you, and promise you will try to keep the kids feet from kicking them too much. Tell them you hope your kids will be good, and you know that no one looks forward to sitting by a bunch of young kids. Have your kids draw them a happy picture early on in the flight, maybe nearby strangers will be more friendly to them after recieving a peace offering :)

4. Okay, this is going to sound really shallow, but something about it really works. I try to make my kids as CUTE as they can be. I fix their hair cute, put them in dressy/casual clothes. They get more smiles from strangers, and I swear people are more patient with them. I do NOT know why.


1. Don't start packing too early. If I start packing my travel bag more than a day in advance, I have WAY too much time to think about other things to put in it. Then I end of over-packing and carrying around a bunch of junk we never even look at.

2. Don't pack a wide variety of items. If your kids think there are a ton of treats and suprises, they'll go through them fast - anxious to see what's next. If they think there are only a FEW things, they will try to make them last.

3. Snacks that travel well:

*teddy grahms
*Smucker's frozen PB&J
*dry cereal (like the mini boxes you can get at the store)
*fruit snacks or gummy bears/worms
*Cheese and cracker combo packs
*CAR RIDE ONLY - Go-gurt (I like the Simple Yoplait Go-gurts for my kids)

*I like to get a mini-water color paint set (dollar store often carries these). All you need to bring is the paper and the mini set. They can ask for a cup of water for rinsing and wetting the brush on the plane
*Silly Putty or a small container of play dough. Silly putty is fun because you can pull print and pictures off the airplane magazines with it.
*Old Maid card game
*Tic-Tac-Toe games (mine is magnetic) I'm always suprised how entertaining this is for them
*Dollar Store Jump Rope - it doesn't take up much room, and the girls love getting their wiggles out at the airport between flights.
*Origami (simple designs like cups, frogs, etc). Bring the paper and few printed directions off the internet.
*Small mini-flashlight (I would say for ages 4+, otherwise this could be a really annoying toy!). If you'll be traveling when the airplane is dark, you can do shadow puppets on the seat in front of you.
*Glow Sticks - again, for a dark airplane, can be fun
*A couple deflated balloons. Not great for ON the airplane, but at the airprt you can play a bunch of games with a blown up balloon (basketball through your arms as the hoop, volleyball, don't touch the ground)
*packets of powdered crystal light or kool-aid, to spruce up the water you can get on the airplane.


1. I have a little trick I like to use for anyone 2 years old and under. I throw on their carseat like a backpack (fully extend the seatbelt and use them as the straps), to get through the airport. If they are in their own car seat, they have a better chance of falling asleep and staying still. You can always check the carseat at the gate if you don't end up finding an empty seat near you. I have sometimes laid a blanket from the back of their carseat to the top of the seat in front of us. This gives your child some private space to calm down and (hopefully) sleep.

*PROS - The kid will be in one place, and won't try to break free. Your car seat won't get germy and disgusting under the airplane.

*CON - it raises your child up higher, and makes it more possible for them to annoy the person in front of them with kicking (the seat gets closer to them the high they are). If you bring on a carseat, you MUST put it by the window (for safe exiting in an emergency), which might be a downer for any older kids who were hoping for a window seat.

Safe journey!