Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Paper Leaf Project

When our curriculum called for making paper snowflakes a few months ago, I found a great web site where you can print out patterns for the snowflakes, making it super easy for kids (and adults!) They also have patterns for leaves, flowers and a few other things. For our Keepers at Home/Contenders for the Faith Club, we needed a craft to make as a gift to take to some nursing home residents. Instantly, this popped into mind! They were a hit with the kids, parents, and nursing home residents. Here's what they looked like: (See below for instructions!)

Paper Leaf Decoration Instructions
1. Go and follow the instructions on printing and cutting out the leaves, using colored paper in fall colors.
2. Spray leaves on both sides with spray glitter in complementary colors (gold, red, etc), let dry
3. Laminate each leaf either with an electric laminator or using instant laminating sheets
4. Cut out around each leaf, leaving at least 1/4" of plastic around the edges
5. Punch hole in each leaf and add ribbon or gold cording
It is hard to see the glitter in the pictures, but these turned out SO beautiful and sparkly!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

First Day of School

We are finally going to be starting our first day of school today for the 2010-2011 school year. I am hoping that starting the new studies will be inspiring for Sweet Potato, who isn't keen on school these days. On the other hand, Cupcake is always begging to have school! So watch for an update in the next or so on how our new year is starting out!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

We have been doing school kind of off and on for the past month or so, maybe getting 2-3 days per week in, and mostly just doing things like math, reading, and writing, so there hasn't been much interesting blog material to share! So, time for an update. We are plugging away in MFW 1st, with about 16 days of work to go. We are skipping a lot of the activities either because we've done similar ones in the past year or just to save time. Sweet Potato is really feeling unmotivated at this point, so I am hoping when we finish 1st and begin our new school "year," that he will have a renewed interest. He is excited to start Adventures in My Father's World and learn about the U.S.

We are finally back to using our basement school room, so I wanted to share some pictures. There are some areas that still need to be filled up and organized but here's a few:

Our old hutch, repurposed for school supplies. Lots of books, manuals and resources on top. The drawers hold many types of paper, pencils, markers, manipulatives, laminating supplies, books for next "year" and in one of the lower cabinets I keep a box of activities that the children are allowed to get out once their schoolwork is finished and put away for the day. This box holds things like small painting kits, play money, paper dolls, and other random educational things that I don't know what to do with! On the right, you can see where the children keep their backpacks.

Here is our BIG whiteboard. It is 4 feet tall and 6 feet wide. My dear husband insisted that we needed it for our school room! I have taped either to the top of the board or the duct work above it the following, from left to right: Books of the Bible chart, Months of the Year, Days of the Week, Jewish calendar, Bible Lands map, and the Reading chart. Our timeline, made on a tri-fold presentation board, sits on the marker tray of the board for now. Some close-ups:

Sweet Potato working on his Math World Problems book. I got this from the Dollar Tree, and I really like it. There is usually something to color and/or draw with each lesson.

Cupcake and her Sound Discrimination page from the MFW K program.

Sweet Potato's Bible Notebook, his summary and drawing of the story of Manna.

We recently read the section in Things Outdoors, our current science book, about Snow and Ice. One of the suggested activities was making snowflakes. I found a great site with printable snowflake patterns. There are some really amazing things on there! Here are two of the snowflakes we made from their patterns.

In other news, Cupcake's Keepers at Home group had disbanded, so Dear Husband and I decided to start our own new Keepers group as well as a Contenders for the Faith group (the boys' counterpart group). We just had our first meeting and it went great! So far we have 6 girls and 7 boys. To start out, we are keeping the two groups together. There are many skills that overlap, so it is no problem to find things that appeal to both genders. This month we are earning our First Aid badge. I am going to start a separate blog for the club, so watch for the link!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Faded Paper

Activity for Day 50, Sun activities: Faded Paper. You tape several objects to a black piece of paper and leave it out in the sun to see what happens. Well we started this yesteray, and it was cloudy. So we left them out overnight and it rained. BUT we still got a result. There was a little distortion also from where the tape was sticking to the paper.

Can you find the impressions of: a key, a coin, a crayon and a car-shaped Silly Band?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Ark and the Rainbow

Today we did 2 activities relating to the story of Noah and the ark. Since Daddy was home, he helped the children with the "Measure Noah's Ark" activity from Day 63. They learned how people measured things before they had rulers, which was with their arms! The length from your elbow to your finger tip is called a "cubit". Daddy measured everyone's cubit, then cut a piece of cardboard to 18" (the average cubit) and took the children outside to see how long the Ark was, which turned out to be about a block and a half here in our neighborhood. I wish I'd gotten pictures of them out there!

When they came back, we did the "Paper Rainbow" activity from Day 65. It turned out totally different from what I had envisioned! The children were pleasantly surprised as well, and took their rainbows straight upstairs to decorate their rooms! Unfortunately, I could not find my stapler, so we had to tape the ends together and they are not very sturdy, but as soon as I find that stapler, we will fix them! I highly recommend using a paper cutter also to cut the strips, especially when you're making 3 sets like I did.
One end taped together
The final product!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Birds and Boats

Well, the baby birds flew the nest! I kept meaning to get another picture of them before they got too big, but when we looked in on them yesterday, they were gone. The kids were amazed. "How could they get so big so fast?" I said, "Now you know how I feel about you!"

Yesterday we did our boat activity from Day 63 of MFW 1st grade. The kids did really well figuring out how to make a boat out of aluminum foil without instructions! I did make one of my own, but they didn't really copy mine. We tested our boats in the swimming pool. You are supposed to see how many pennies your boat will hold, but I couldn't find a quantity of pennies, so we used beans. I put a handful of beans in one boat and it held up just fine, so I figured the boats were sturdy enough! We didn't count the beans because I realized that if the boat sank we would have soggy beans in our pool! The kids wanted to float Legos and other things in the boats, but I said no to that also. It didn't help that the pool was full of algae too! So maybe when the pool is clean, if we can find the pennies, and we have time, we will re-do the boat activity!

My boat and Sweet Potato's boat

The tiny one is Cupcake's boat, but it held a lot of beans!

Monday, June 28, 2010


We are not taking a summer break from school this year since we are so far behind, but we are still having a good time! This week we had our Awards Picnic for Cub Scouts and Keepers at Home.

Sweet Potato earned about 2/3 of what he needs for his Tiger Cub badge, so we will continue working on those requirements through the summer. He also earned his Chess belt loop and Conservation patch. Here he is with Daddy after receiving his awards.

Cupcake earned Keepers silver pins for Rubber Stamping, Soapmaking, Embroidery and Horses. Here we are with our leader and her daughter (the only other girl in the group!)

We have been perservering with our MFW curriculum, though not doing as many of the projects and additional stuff like art and drawing. This week during school we kept hearing a loud noise - like birds chirping but it sounded like it was in the house! Well of course with this heat we have our windows open, and here is what we found under the awning outside our laundry room window:

Yep, a nest full of hungry baby birds! The kids were so excited. They have been "checking" on them every day, watching for the mother bird to come and feed them. Sweet Potato came to me the other day and said, "Mom, do you know what I saw? The mama bird took a worm and bit it up into little pieces for the baby birds! Can you believe that?" No, I couldn't! I mean, I was amazed that he was actually able to witness that. I will try to get some more pictures before they are big enough to leave the nest. Isn't wonderful how our kids learn sometimes without us doing a single thing?

Monday, June 14, 2010


One of the things we do in MFW 1st Grade is memorize a Proverb each week. The Proverbs are already scheduled for you but of course you are free to use your own memory verse if you choose. What I do is use a Print Shop program to make a one-page poster with the Proverb and a cute border (applicable to the verse, if possible) and hang it up so we can see it each day. This goes on our display board. I keep the current and previous ones up and when we move on to a new Proverb, I move the oldest one to an unused door in the schoolroom. They look nice all hanging up there and it makes it easy to review them!

Here are some videos of the children reciting some Proverbs that they have learned. They are really good at memorizing the words, but are still having trouble remembering the references.

This last one is a hoot!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A different kind of learning

This week we went on vacation, so a we took a big break from our school curriculum, but the learning did not stop.  We visited our friends in Michigan who keep lots of animals.  The children got to get up close and personal with goats, rabbits, sheep, chickens, and even a llama!  There were even baby bunnies, chicks and a baby goat for them to cuddle and hold.  But it wasn't all fun and games.  Sweet Potato went out each morning to hunt for eggs for breakfast.  They learned that you have to keep the baby chicks warm with a heat lamp.  They noticed that the llama and sheep were very good friends.  And they saw a goat drinking it's own urine like a water fountain.  Now that's education :-P

We also visited Tawas Point State Park, which is home of Tawas Point Lighthouse.  Unfortunately, the lighthouse was closed, so we couldn't go inside, but the children enjoyed walking barefoot on the beach of Lake Huron instead, even though it was about 45 degrees with a lot of wind.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

First letter

Sweet Potato is not fond of writing.  He dreads doing his phonics workbook and copywork each day.  So when I saw that his assignment the other day was to write a letter, I thought, "Oh boy, this won't go over well."  Much to my surprise, he thought it was a great idea and not only wrote the letter, but wrote 3 or 4 more over the course of the evening!  We addressed them all, stamped them, and put them in the mail.  So I am thinking now we will make letter-writing a regular assignment.  Here is his first one:

Monday, April 26, 2010

Hebrew Alphabet & Bible Notebook

Last week for Day 36 of MFW 1st Grade, we took a look at the Hebrew and Greek alphabets so that the children could see the languages the Bible was originally written in.  For dinner, we had macaroni and cheese made with these:

I used the recipe on the back of the package (modified the types of cheese, though, to what I had on hand) and it was really good! 

Today, for Day 41, we started our Bible Notebooks.  I felt this was something that Cupcake and Snickerdoodle could do also, so I gave them each one of those 6" x 9" writing tablets (plain pages) and had them decorate the cover similar to Sweet Potato's.  They were all very proud of their work!

Little Monkey plays in the playpen during school

Now that we are back in our school room (after being back at the dining room table temporarily) here is a picture of the big board we use each day.
On here we have our mini white-board for the date and Number of the Day, our Menu for the "Sunshine Cafe" plus receipts, 100 chart, Jewish Calendar (I had to replace the one that came with the curriculum), ABC chart, Days of the Week, Months of the Year, Calendar, Reading Chart, Proverb of the Week (2 weeks' worth), and Books of the Bible chart.  It was really handy when we schooled in the dining room because it can be folded up and stashed behind a cabinet, but now it's propped up on our 4' x 6' white board.  I got this idea from someone else online (sorry, I don't remember who it was or I'd give the credit.)  We will probably do a new one once we start Adventures in the fall.  I am also thinking of getting a second one to use for our timeline.  Anyone have any good ideas for timelines?  The walls in our school room are concrete and it's hard to tape things to them.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pattern Blocks

Sweet Potato is getting a little burned out on formal schoolwork these days, so today in addition to our regular math, we worked with Pattern Blocks and the book "Pattern Animals".  After he completes his worksheet, he (and the others) is allowed to play with the blocks in any way they want.  They really come up with some creative stuff!

Sweet Potato's worksheet for today

Sweet Potato and Snickerdoodle

Cupcake and some of her creations


A few weeks ago, Cupcake and her Keepers group visited a horse farm to complete their Horse badge.  They did a modified requirement, so instead of really riding a horse, they learned about the saddle, how to mount and dismount, as well as make the horse go and stop, all while the horse was being led by the trainer.  My other kids and Grandma went along too.  This was especially exciting for the boys who have been really into cowboy stuff lately, and came all decked out in the new cowboy boots Nana bought them for Easter.  Sweet Potato got to "ride" the horse and the littlest boys got to sit on a different horse.  There were lots of dogs and cats at the farm, too, which kept their attention, as well as a large stone pile.  The blacksmith happened to be there that day so the kids got to see the horses getting their hooves trimmed and even brought home some of the horse "toenails", YUCK!  I can't believe how city-fied my kids are.  We really need to move to the country!

Cupcake riding

Snickerdoodle gets to sit on the horse

Sweet Potato's turn

Cupcake and one of the boarded horses


Our Keepers at Home group made soap Monday night.  I "taught" since I had experience making and selling soap at the homeschool craft show a few years ago.  We did the basic melt and pour method, making 3 different types, as required in the Keepers handbook (Fragranced & Colored, Moisturizing, Body Scrub). There are many good websites out there for beginning soap makers if you're interested.  Here are the 3 "recipes" we used:

Some of the soap we made

Basic Soap with Fragrance and Color  (The frog and turtle-shaped soaps)

4 oz. White glycerin soap base
Green soap dye
Eucalyptus Mint soap fragrance 

Conditioning Soap (The pink soaps)

8 oz Olive Oil glycerin soap base
Wine soap dye
Vanilla Pomegranate Essential Oil

Honey Oatmeal Body Scrub  (The square floral soaps)

8 oz. Goats Milk glycerin soap base
2 Tbs. Honey
1/4 C. finely ground Oatmeal
Vanilla soap fragrance
Gold soap dye

In our hour-and-a-half meeting, we had just enough time to do the lesson, make three trays of soap, cool them (quickly in the freezer) and package them.  The girls enjoyed themselves and the soaps came out looking and smelling really nice!  We left one of each soap along with a note as a goodwill gesture to the church where we meet.

With this project finished, the girls completed their Soapmaking badge and will receive those at the awards ceremony in June.  So far, Cupcake has completed the silver level badges for Soapmaking, Horses, and Rubber Stamping.  She is in the process of earning badges for Embroidery, Baking, Cake Decorating, and Cooking. 

Cupcake working on her Embroidery project