Books We Are Using This Year
  • The Story of the World: Ancient Times (Vol. 1)
    The Story of the World: Ancient Times (Vol. 1)
    by Jeff West,S. Wise Bauer,Jeff (ILT) West, Susan Wise Bauer
  • Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2
    Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2
    by Bernard J Nebel PhD
  • Math-U-See Epsilon Student Kit (Complete Kit)
    Math-U-See Epsilon Student Kit (Complete Kit)
    by Steven P. Demme
  • First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Level 4 Instructor Guide (First Language Lessons) By Jessie Wise, Sara Buffington
    First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Level 4 Instructor Guide (First Language Lessons) By Jessie Wise, Sara Buffington
    by -Author-
  • Drawing With Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too
    Drawing With Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too
    by Mona Brookes
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Entries in activities (14)


Prehistoric Creature Creation

A couple of weeks ago (or maybe a month?) I typed up an eight page chart of some of the most common roots used in dinosaur names, their meanings, and their origins. I even printed it, then after all that work we didn't actually use the chart all that much; other than glancing at it from time to time it has spent most of its life tucked away in our history binder, and I hate wasting paper and resources.

Then today I had a flash of creativity and happened upon an idea for finally putting the chart to good use. Since many of the same roots were used in naming early Cenozoic animals we played a "creature creation" game where one of use would use the chart to make up an animal name while the other had to then draw the imagined animal and provide a short description.

I can be a craft person, but my imagination is sorely lacking at times. So are my drawing skills. Nonetheless, this was a really fun activity.


Journal entries—Activities activites

We've barely been home at all in the past week, and I'm obviously having trouble keeping up here. Three journal entries a week, but do I have time to post them here? I should. I've started posting them along with my own blog entries in the journal, but for those who visit only this page, here is some of what we've been up to.


Math–Coloring hundreds charts

I've balked a bit in the face of math. I've talked before about our general philosophy of learning, and while I really can't call us unschoolers, we lean heavily in that direction and only my need to quantify and commemorate keeps me from going entirely that route. Well, probably that and fear. Every part of me believes that children are capable of learning for themselves, but a lifetime of conditioning is difficult to shake, and I spent a year in UofM's school of education learning how difficult it really is to teach. Maybe, but it really isn't hard to learn. See, the person who needs to be un-schooled is me. So I fight a daily battle between following and leading the learning cycle, and sometimes striking what I hope is a good balance. For instance, I don't believe Calvin needs to be taught math. I honestly believe that it will be picked up at the right time and during or for the right activity, but if that's true, then exposure, as long as it isn't off-putting, is okay, right? Calvin actually gets a lot of math. We measure when we cook, he counts when he plays music, and he's entirely responsible for his dice play when we get out a board game. A few weeks ago, though, I saw someone playing games with a hundreds chart and thought, hey, that's not such a bad idea, so I printed one. It was pretty helpful when we were counting horse power by fives in Katy and the Big Snow, and again when counting car speeds by tens for The Two Cars, but that was pretty bland.

So now we're coloring by numbers. I plan a picture and guide him through the chart, having him find a number or pick a number and color it accordingly. And I have him move from one number to the next with directions for adding or subtracting so many, sometimes by tens. It's a fun game, actually. We most often take one with us to the library because when he can't help me sort, I can still call off numbers, clues, and colors while I do. 

He spends a lot of time trying to figure out what the picture will finally be. Sometimes, much to my chagrin, he's still trying to figure that out long after all the squares are colored in.


color-by-number 100s chart

It needs no more description than that, I think. To give Calvin a little more familiarity with numbers I printed a handful of hundreds charts and thought up a few blocky pictures to go on them, then every once in a while when we're bored I take one out and we play for a while. I call out a number, which he finds, and tell him what color it should be. Sometimes, as the game progresses, I'll add a little math (find 58, subtract 10, make that square blue). He thinks it's hilarious (mostly because my picture designs are from stellar) and he's becoming more and more comfortable playing around with numbers, which adds to and supports what he's getting from the other games we play.

We took a chart with us to the library today for him to do while I was sorting books. Not a particularly good idea, as it turns out, since in the end it took me twice as long to sort books and I told him wrong colors a couple of times, too. Plus he probably would have been just as happy helping me with the books, but there was only a handful today anyhow. And we brought home two great ones for our freebies (a thank you for helping), one was an Usborne book of knights and castles, and the other the Audubon field guide to North American animals.

We also spent some more time on our paintings today. I think we're close to being able to eat at our dinner table again. We'll see.


The Two Cars, add on

I realized that in my Two Cars post failed to include pictures of our finished road and of Calvin's journal entry from the auto show. This concerned him so I'm playing a little catch-up here.

Behold, the magic of cardboard and poster paint with a little Playmobil and Lego fun mixed in.

And the auto show in Calvin's own words:

"We went to the auto show in Detroit. We saw a hybrid. We saw an engine, and we saw many pistons. We rode the people mover."