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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.