Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Happy "Ballet"ine's Day! (Happy Valentine's Day!)

We recently attended a ballet Valentine's Day party!  This is a picture of the card I created for Miss A to hand out.

She helped me attach the ponytail holders to the hugs ("O") part, and she decided to add some chocolate kisses to the kiss ("X") places as well.

Other ways to use these versatile cards:

*Color in the "XOX" and pass them out just as they are.

*Add a ponytail holder to the "O" part and pass out (see picture for example of this).

*Add a ponytail holder to the "O" part and chocolate kisses to the "X" part (see picture for example of this).

*Add a chocolate hug to the middle of the "O" and chocolate kisses on top of the "X" portions of the card.

Find the card here!

Interested in other ballet inspired cards?  Here is another post showcasing a card I made last year (that file also contains one that can be used as a party favor for birthdays).

Happy Valentine's Day!  :)


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

100th Day of School!

I know, I know.  I said I wasn't planning on posting much the next few months as I attempt to rest and hopefully better recover from an ongoing health issue.  However, it was the 100th DAY OF SCHOOL, ya know?!  I couldn't just let that go by without a peep, right?  I'll make it quick though - promise.

Our theme was "Snow excited for the 100th DAY OF SCHOOL!"  Yes, you read that correctly - I decided to incorporate winter into our fun day mix (it is January after all).  

The picture above shows the sign that greeted my kids that morning (I also hung some snowflakes above the table).


Hunting in the "snow" (flour and salt mix which I later turned into play dough) for 100 cents!

Once they found all one hundred, I traded the pennies for a dollar bill (actually, I gave each one a dollar because that's just sooooo much more impressive than splitting the cents and each only getting $0.50).

Our themed shirts.  :)  Several days beforehand, the kids and I stamped one hundred snowflakes and snow dots on these.

This picture also shows one of the crafts they made - a snowball necklace with one hundred snowballs (beads in groups of ten).  The groups of ten are separated by some snowman face beads (just wooden beads I painted to look that way).

I was inspired by this post to make a surprise snowy breakfast.  I also made a "100" out of a sausage link (the number one) and pancakes (the zeros).


This was a craft where the kids glued one hundred snowballs (cotton) and one hundred snowflakes to a mural depicting a snowy day.


A game where the kids had to wear a snowman nose and try to keep a balloon (snowball) in the air until we counted to one hundred by tens.


Yum!  The kids helped me count to one hundred as we made a snowy snack mix for our 100th day (we would switch snack pieces after every group of ten we dropped in - ex. 1-10 macadamia nuts, 11-20 yogurt raisins, 21-30 bunny crackers, etc.).

We ended the day on a sweet note by making igloos with one hundred mini marshmallows (using white frosting as glue).  Let me just say, this wasn't as easy as I first thought it would be - but it was tasty!  :)

(Not shown but noteworthy - I issued a snowball challenge to my kids and husband.  I told them that if they could design/create a catapult that shot a snowball one hundred inches or further, they would all get a prize.  I am happy to report that they rose to said challenge and earned their prizes!)

If you are celebrating your 100th day milestone now or soon -  a huge CONGRATULATIONS to you and your kids!  Hope it is "snow" wonderful as you make new memories together! ;)


Saturday, January 3, 2015

December in Review and Looking Ahead...

December was a bit of a rough month for us as we all came down with something over Thanksgiving, and it just seemed to hang on for weeks afterward.  :(  However, we still managed to slip some fun in  after everyone began feeling better.

We enjoyed a life-size game of Candy Land (sort of) with a friend who came over.  In order to move ahead to the spot listed on the card they picked up, the kids would have to answer a review question (depending on the child it could have been a math fact, historical question, sight word, etc.).  This worked well for catering it to the different age levels.

(By the way, the target on the door is what my son uses for his bow and arrow practice and is not related to the Candy Land game.)

In an effort to have the kids encourage each other, I made it clear that they could not enter the "Land of Sweets" (our own little twist since we were also having a Nutcracker movie day) at the end of the rainbow walk until everyone had arrived.  Once the kids made it there, they were allowed to enter through the candied door and then headed to the kitchen where a small (but delightful) tasty spread had been laid out for them.


They feasted on cupcakes, nuts, and warm peppermint milk while watching a movie to end our fun day together.

We also managed to sneak in Gingerbread Day before Christmas!


After breakfasting on a gingerbread puffed pancake, the kids visited "The Little Gingerbread Store" where they practiced some math in a fun setting.   They enjoyed buying all sorts of items for decorating their paper gingerbread figures...

And had fun putting it all together!

Later in the day, we cut out gingerbread cookies and the kids decorated them.


We ended the day by putting together a gingerbread village kit the kids had chosen.  Let me just say, I had not anticipated the many steps involved where my help would be needed (call me naive).  My dear husband sweetly stepped in, so I could make dinner.  The evening might not have ended as well if he hadn't.  By this time, my son was showing signs of being "ginger breaded" out so my daughter ended up doing most of the decorating herself and did an amazing job!  :)

In addition to the above activities, we enjoyed days of making cookies, visiting family, and trying to stay on top of school work (talk about a juggling act).  I love Christmas, but it sure is a busy time of year.  

Speaking of year... the new year is upon us!  :)  After much, much, much deliberation it looks like I will be taking a several month blog break (although I might slip in a post or two).  Plagued by a major health issue,  I am hoping that a few months in low key mode will help my body get back to where it needs to be.  In the meantime, if you have not hooked up with "The Nature of Grace" Facebook page, you may want to do so as I sometimes post updates and other little tidbits there.  

Wishing you all a very happy homeschooling new year!






Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving!

Happy day-before-Thanksgiving!  :)  Here are a few pictures of things we did this month:
The little surprise my kids found on their desks the first school day in November.

I created a cranberry bog of sorts in my bathtub and the kids had a blast pretending to harvest cranberries.  Prior to this activity, they watched some short online videos about the process.

I made a featherless turkey and the kids had fun creating feathers for him out of pattern blocks.
We used the same turkey when I sent my son on a sight word hunt (inspired by this post).  His job was to collect the missing feathers, tell me the words, and add them to the turkey.
This was a picture my daughter drew by looking at a picture in a book.  We then glued goldfish to the paper showing how the Pilgrims learned about planting fish with their seeds (inspired by this post).
We also enjoyed hours of pretend play after reading about the Pilgrims.  Our Mayflower was made using two folding tables and a brown vinyl tablecloth.  The mast was a tall box wrapped in more brown vinyl and fitted with a makeshift PVC pipe frame to which we attached our white vinyl tablecloth sail.  We used a sound machine with "storm" and "ocean" sounds on it to make the journey seem more realistic as well.


Here is "Humility" mixing medicine made from real sage leaves, cornmeal, and lard (vegetable shortening was what we had on hand). 


This was our own little settlement complete with fence, fire, garden patch and house.  :)  Isn't it so fun looking?  If I had had more time, I probably would have tried to figure out how to add thatch to the roof.  Oh well.  The main thing is our little Pilgrims looooved playing in here with their babies, fixing leaks, hunting, etc.


I leave you now with a photo of the mini Thanksgiving feast that our kids and their little friend enjoyed together at their settlement.  Our homemade bread is spread with homemade butter!  Yes, I know there is controversy about popcorn and whether it was truly offered that first Thanksgiving - but we opted to have it.  :)

Side note:  Instead of plates, Pilgrims used trenchers.  I really wanted to find some trenchers but eventually had to settle for buying some mini cutting boards (see picture above) instead.

Happy Thanksgiving!








Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Pumpkins! Pumpkins! Pumpkins!

Happy November!  I am taking a break from building the Mayflower in our dining area.  :)  Actually, I think I can say it is ready to go for pretend play tomorrow - and it isn't that grand - just something rigged up with some plastic tablecloth and boxes, etc.  I have nothing to show you yet in that department via photos, but I DO have some things to share that we did in October this year.

By the way, I loooove October!  It is a "breathe"r month for me as we leave behind the craziness attached to the beginning of school and family events.  :)  Plus, fall is my favorite season so October gives us a chance to enjoy it before the holidays begin.

Here are some snippets from our month...

I apologize in advance for the poor quality of pictures - I am still having trouble figuring out our new computer.
 A pumpkin surprise on each child's desk to welcome the new month!   We carved these into mini jack-o-lanterns which the children kept on their desks until rot dictated otherwise.

Miss A practiced her square roots by building pumpkin patches with orange inch squares.


Then it was time for a real life application when I had the kids build their own pretend pumpkin patch.  Miss A practiced her problem-solving skills and area equation when planning how big we might want to make the patch if each pumpkin needed roughly one floor square to grow.


The green math problem post-it notes on the floor corresponded to "seeds" containing the answers.  To plant a seed, the kids would place the correct seed (answer) under the post-it note.  I tried to make sure there were age appropriate items for both Miss A and Mr. J during the week so each could enjoy preparing our patch.




At times I would have a math review involved with parts of the patch such as the seed activity and the one shown above where the kids had to remove the "weeds" (incorrect math problems) from the pumpkin sprouts (correct math problems).

Other times, they just had fun engaging in pretend play and using their wonderful imaginations!




At night I would "help" our pumpkin patch along so it changed almost every day that week.


These were some jack-o-lantern faces made with pattern blocks (I believe one has an eye patch).

Note:  we've also done something similar in the past with black paper pattern blocks - I just traced pattern blocks onto black paper and cut them out.  This gave more of the illusion of a true jack-o-lantern face, but it is more time consuming to prepare.  


These pumpkin gems (acrylic?) frequently come in handy when we study pumpkins!  This year we used them to practice more patterns.


Bingo is a game my children really enjoy.  Here we incorporated it using math (youngest would place a "pumpkin" pom pom on the number that was called out while the eldest would find the matching math fact on her corrugated cardboard patch).

We also played bingo using words associated with pumpkins (not shown).  I drew pictures to go along with the words for my youngest so he could play along.


Mr. J practiced making sight word pumpkin patches.  We then placed those patches in a pumpkin story that he read aloud to different people.  :)


We created a pumpkin field collage complete with clothespin people and typed stories/poems to go along with their pictures.  Notice my four year old found particular enjoyment in experimenting with the "shift" key.  :)  I helped him a little bit with his story - especially reminding him to add spaces between words.  I think he did an awesome job!  And I LOVE my daughter's cute poem!  :)



We also integrated a little statistics into our morning routine by seeing what kind of pumpkin we'd come up with each day for our calendar.

And speaking of pumpkins, I hope you are enjoying the beautiful season as you watch your own little "pumpkins" learn and grow this year!  :)



Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Homeschool Theme: Apples!


September was apple month, and I started it off by leaving this little treat and note on each child's desk the first school day in September.   It is a tradition I hope to keep up - welcoming each month with a little something for the kids in the school room.  :)

In addition to those below, I had some other activities I wanted to take pictures of.  However, it quickly became apparent that if I waited too much longer, it might be November before the post was up.  Thus, I decided to just make do with the pictures I have.


Bobbing for apples!  I would call out a sight word and my youngest would find the word and "bob" for that apple.  He did not use his teeth but scooped the apples out with a utensil.  However, if you are feeling ambitious, your kids could use their teeth.  

My eldest also wanted a turn so I adapted the activity to one of her subjects.  I would call out an English word, and she had to "bob" for the apple with the matching Latin translation.

Additional possibilities for this game could be bobbing for apples containing certain letters, matching sounds, numbers, math facts, vocabulary (just call out a definition and the child finds the matching word apple), etc.  BTW - the apples are simply circles cut out of red craft foam.


I honestly can't remember where I found this handy green apple "thing" (ice cube tray?) - maybe Target last year?  I wrote numbers inside with a wet erase marker and my son had to place the correct number of "seeds" inside each apple (we used beans because I did not have apple seeds ready).


I saw this activity on a website years and years ago and thought it was cute.  I made it for my daughter when she was young and now my little man gets to enjoy it as well!  The green pipe cleaners are little worms that he had to match up with the holes on each apple.

We also practiced sorting good and bad apples.  My daughter would look under each "apple" for a spelling word.  Some words I spelled correctly and some incorrectly.  It was her job to sort each into  the appropriate pile based on the spelling of the word.


This was another sorting activity for pronouns (subject, possessive, object of).  My daughter would push the word worms through the correct apple hole.


Apple bingo is a great homeschool activity because children of different skill levels can all participate together.  For our family, I would call out a number and my youngest would find that number on his tree (covering it with a pom pom "apple"), while my eldest and her friend would find the math fact which matched the "answer" I called out and cover it on their trees.

We also used one of the same trees to practice making our sight word for the week!


Even if you don't live near an orchard, you can still pick apples!  I used a green vinyl tablecloth for the top of the tree (they run about $1 or $1.50 in the Walmart party section).  The trunk was made from wrinkled up packing paper and the apples were cheap red paper plates (I think they were about $1 as well - found in the Walmart party section).

This is another excellent activity for more than one age/skill level.   We used it for more math fact practice.  I would call out an "answer" (ex. 6), and my daughter and her friend would pick the apple with the matching math fact (ex. 4+2).  My youngest would find and pick that number (6) from his tree.


Who knew caramel apple cups could be educational?  These were a take-home treat the day we had homeschool friends over to celebrate an "apple" theme with activities, games, a craft, etc.  The kids each received one so they could make their own caramel apple at home while learning about liquids and solids, the different processes of changing one form to another (melting, cooling), etc.

Additional activities which I don't have pictures for:

- An artist study of some of Cezanne's paintings of apples (followed by an activity where the kids were given the opportunity to draw their own picture)

- An adorable 3-D apple (life cycle) book my friend purchased on TPT

- apple tasting (unusual kinds) and graphing