Monday, February 28, 2011

Katy and the Big Snow

I've been collecting books for this study for a while and watching the weather forecast in the hopes we could do it when it snowed. Unfortunately, the only snow we've had was during Christmas break. We've had spring-like weather the last couple weeks so I gave up on snow and decided to go ahead.

Here are some of the many snow books we read during the week.

In addtion to reading Snowflake Bentley, we watched this video about Wilson Bentley.
To go along with reading Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening, we watched this where you can hear Robert Frost recite the poem. For fun, we also watched this version from The Muppet Show.
The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter's Wonder by Mark Cassino was good in helping the kids understand about the different types of snow crystals, how they're formed, their size, and why each of them is different.
The kids really liked Snow Globe Family, which was a book we hadn't read before.

When you read about snow, you have to make coffee filter snowflakes. Molly said she thought this would be boring, but then it was fun. It didn't really hold Colin's interest though. He made one and left. The girls made a huge stack.

We also made crystal snowflakes. Here are the girls with their snowflakes made from pipe cleaners and string.

We put boiling water and borax in a jar and then added food coloring.

After mixing it all together, put the snowflake in the jar. The snowflake is hanging from a popsicle stick.

After a few hours, they looked like this.

We also made snow themed food.

Meatloaf and mashed potatoes snowman

Snowball cookies

Tortilla snowflakes

I made each of the kids 3 circle pancakes. Then they had mini M&Ms, marshmallows, chocolate chips, and sprinkles to decorate them.

We learned about responsibility, running a city, stop signs, snow, blizzards, and what makes snowflakes unique. The kids made their own snow similes to review from when they learned what similes were during our study of Owl Moon. I reviewed compound words with Caleigh. We also reviewed compass roses and directions.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Our Week: Turks, Comets, and Katy and the Big Snow

This week we started trying to get school started earlier. I am not a morning person and the girls sleep pretty late. Colin is always up earlier than we are. I want to get up earlier and get started with Colin. We've been getting much closer to my target time to start and it's making the day go much smoother. Now I just need to keep it up.


This week we learned about the Ottoman Empire. We read that some Turks would travel around entertaining with stories, songs, and dancing bears. So we made our own dancing bears.

We also learned how the Turks were able to defeat the people of Constantinople to take the city, which they renamed Istanbul. One of the things they did was to build a huge cannon.

This is the cannon Colin made following the directions in the SOTW activity guide.

Colin thought the cannon needed a little improvement so he built a Lego cover for it.

Here is the ball getting ready to be shot out of the cannon.
We also learned about Suleiman the Magnificent, who put together one set of laws for everyone to follow.


We learned all about comets this week. One of the things we learned is that comets are called dirty snowballs. We used cotton balls, glue, and sand to make a model of a comet's head.

We made a small ball with the cotton, put some drops of glue on it, and sprinkled it with sand to make the nucleus.

We put the nucleus inside a larger piece of cotton and rolled it into a ball. Then we put on the drops of glue and sprinkled sand again.

Model of comet's head

We read about the parts of a comet, a comet's orbit, and some famous comets. We also read Maria's Comet inspired by Maria Mitchell, America's first woman astronomer.

We also watched the coverage and the launch of space shuttle Discovery on Thursday.

Five in a Row Unit Study

Our Five in a Row book this week was Katy and the Big Snow. I've been planning it for a while waiting for some snow, but I finally decided the snow isn't coming so we went ahead and did it. We still studied snow, read lots of snow books, made paper snowflakes, had snow themed food, and made crystal snowflakes. We also did activities from the FIAR books, Snowflake Bentley and Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening. I'll have more details of what we did in a separate post soon.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Russia Unit Study

When I saw we were going to be studying Russia for history, I wanted to do the Five in a Row book, Another Celebrated Dancing Bear. I was disappointed to find that our library system doesn't have it. I was able to find a lot of other good books for our unit study though. The ones the kids enjoyed most were The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship, The Littlest Matryoshka, The Magic Nesting Doll, A Perfect Pork Stew, Babuska Baba Yaga, and Babuska's Doll.
We read a few non-fiction books to learn more about life in Russia and the history.
We read Peter and the Wolf, listened to some of it, and watched this cartoon.
We also read about Tchaikovsky's life and discussed the ballets he composed.

We attempted to make blini, but it didn't turn out very well. I first tried to use my griddle, but the batter was so thin that it just spread too much. When I tried a pan, they burned or fell apart when I tried to flip them. We ended up getting enough for a taste test. Colin first said they weren't good, but then he continued eating and decided it was okay. Caleigh only touched it to her tongue, but she decided they bad.

My husband went to a Russian market for me to look for plain nesting dolls that I found online after it was too late to order for this week. They said they only have them around Christmas so we didn't get any, but he did bring back this box of candy he found there.

So far they've only tried this one piece that looks like a little cone, but they all liked it and are looking forward to trying the rest.

Since we weren't able to get the other nesting dolls, we made these from cardstock. The templates came from here.
Colin's nesting dolls

Caleigh's nesting dolls

This is Molly's. She was feeling a little lazy that day so she only wanted to color the biggest doll.

This is what they look like when they're all nested inside the largest one.

Here are their notebook pages. They did books for a map to locate Russia, the flag, landmarks, Matryoshka dolls, a wheel to show things Russia is known for, the religion, and onion shaped domes.

For our books and other ideas, I used the following:
Russia Lapbook
The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship Unit Study
Another Celebrated Dancing Bear lapbook pieces

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Pottery Painting

A few weeks ago, I wrote in my weekly wrap-up that my sister and I took the kids to a paint your own pottery place for the first time. I forgot to post after we got the finished products.

The kids all chose banks. Molly got an elephant. Caleigh picked a turtle. Colin got a hockey puck with a stick. They had a good time painting. Molly does have a shorter attention span so needing to paint the same thing three times was a little much for her and we had to give her a little help. Colin and Caleigh did fine with it though.

Everyone hard at work

Colin adding the Carolina Hurricanes symbol

Caleigh drying between paint coats

Molly adding dots

Finished banks

This is the back of Colin's

The kids were amazed by how shiny they were once we picked them up.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Our Week: Russia, Mars, and Playing Outside

I'm really late getting this week's report written. It's been a busy couple days.

Monday was Valentine's Day so we read the books we didn't get to last week and did some fun things in addition to regular school. It was so nice that we sat outside to do some of our reading. I already posted about what we did here.

Three Rs

Everyone is moving along well in all subjects and there's nothing too exciting to report. In cursive, Caleigh got to z this week so she's learned all the lowercase letters. Now we'll work more on connecting them before going on to capital letters. In reading, Molly learned about silent e words even though she told me she already knew it from asking me about the word, home, once. So I guess I can say we practiced reading silent e words.


We read about the Rus warriors' attempt to conquer Constantinople and why they were unsuccessful. We also learned about Ivan the Great and Ivan the Terrible.
We expanded on this subject by doing a whole unit study on Russia, which I'll be posting about soon.


We read some additonal books about Mars.
Colin made Mars rovers like the ones we read about from Legos.

Caleigh built a volcano from salt dough to represent Olympus Mons, the biggest known volcano in our solar system.

Then we erupted it.

The weather was great this week and the kids have been able to play outside some every day.

We met Colin's robot club group at a park Tuesday afternoon. Right now we're having them work one week and then play the next week, which has really helped to cut down on them asking to play while they're supposed to be programming. I'm sure it doesn't hurt that the stuff they're doing is more fun than when they were preparing for competition.

On Friday, we went to our homeschool group's park day. We ended up staying for 3 1/2 hours. It was the warmest day of the week and the kids had a great time playing. Unfortunately, I'm out of practice and forgot sunscreen. The kids all came home with pink cheeks. Luckily, it wasn't too bad and it's already starting to fade. I can't say the same for my arms, which got the worst of the sunburn.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Banana Muffins

Top: heart person PB sandwich
Left: bear PB&J
Right: Cheese tortilla love bug

Heart sucker made from candy canes

The kids decorated cupcakes one day

Cookies we made to share with friends at the park

Colin and Caleigh with their gift bags

Molly with gifts from her bag

One of our traditions is a nice dinner where everyone dresses up. We dim the lights and light candles. Colin dresses as a waiter and serves us. He thinks it's so fun and takes it very seriously.

Girls dressed up

Colin the waiter with the paper moustache he made
Colin serving drinks. He insists that we get juice that looks like it's in a wine bottle.