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Monday, September 28, 2009

Destination: Modern Art

I always admired Baby Einstein  for introducing little ones to the world of classical music and works of art.  I don't particularly agree with watching DVDs since "0" or 3 months like they advise, though.  But I love the idea of incorporating those two things in every day lives of children.  How cool is that when your toddler recognizes the paintings that most adults don't!  And you do know that all kinds of studies proved that classical music is just plain GOOD for all of us, I am sure.  It is relaxing and calming. Expecting women are recommended to listen to it because it benefits the healthy development of the fetus.  Also it has been proven that students who were listening to Mozart during their test did better than the ones who didn't.  It raises I.Q.  You just cannot go wrong with it!
Art is wonderful in any form - bottom line!
So on that note...
The other day Pumpkin and I were exploring the interactive MoMA site for kids. We both loved it!  An alien from a different planet lands in the heart of Manhattan and goes to the museum.  By clicking on the photos of the actual exhibits you not only learn facts about them and their creators but also play games, do activities and print out pages you can use later on!  After the tour around MoMA you go to P.S.1 art center which used to be a public school at one time and check out the art inside there.  The interactive tour is not too long but there is enough stuff at each exhibit that will keep you busy. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Johnny Appleseed and Apples

The end of September officially marks the fall's beginning and the celebration of harvest time. I mentioned in the previous post that last year we took part in Johnny Appleseed's birthday part at our public library. This year I decided to catch the opportunity by the tail and introduce my daughter to legendary Johnny Appleseed whose real name by the way is John Chapman and different types of apples. This topic is so versatile! There are so many links and resources that it'll be enough for years and years ahead without it getting boring.
What we did:
1. Read about Johnny Appleseed
here and here(they have a vocabulary list at this one which saved my time).
2. Watched this wonderful story about Johnny.

3. Watched Disney version of it.

4.We did a browning apple experiment. For this we cut an apple in quarters. 1st quarter we put on a plate and left it on the table; 2nd quarter we put in the refrigerator; 3rd quarter we sprayed with lemon juice and left out on the table; 4th quarter we sprayed with lemon juice and put it in the refrigerator. Every minute or so we would check on all of them writing down our observations: which one got brown first/last, how long it took it. Then, we discussed oxidation and how lemon juice helped preserving the apple halves better.
5.We played an apple memory game
here simultaneously learning about different types of apples.

6. We made a cool paper apple that my Pumpkin noticed could be a notebook as well.

For this project you will need:
red/orange/green/yellow construction paper
paper glue
hole puncher
pipe cleaner (to make an apple stem)
a drinking glass/soup can (to trace circles)
Take your colored construction paper and trace 16 circles. Cut them out and fold them in half. Squeeze some glue on that semi-circle, take another circle folded in half and put one half of a circle on top of the other. Now it should look like a full circle with a divider in the middle. This is the pattern you should follow till you use all of the folded circles. Then, take the first piece and the last and glue them together. Let your "apple" dry for a couple of hours. When it's dry take a hole puncher and make two holes in the first and the eights fold. Take your pipe cleaner and pull it through the holes pull the middle part and twist it making a loop that is going to be the future leaf. Twist the loose ends together as well - this is the stem. Cut out two identical leaf forms out of green construction paper. Glue them over the loop: one part on top, the other on the bottom.
Your apple is ready!
7. We did some word math problems that were apple related.
8. We snacked on apples and had apple cider for lunch. On September 26th we are planning on baking an apple pie for our Johnny Appleseed party.

There are other good resources that I would recommend to check out:
Teachers' Resources for K-Gr6(download files of activities, projects and coloring sheets)
Apple activities (book lists, songs, poems, games, worksheets)
Apple unit(lesson plan)

And some good apple recipes:
Betty Crocker
Easy Recipes for Kids
Healthy Apple Recipes
Everything from apples

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Apples And Apple Related Activities

Autumn is in the air. Mornings are cool and crisp and afternoons are sunny and filled up with the last warm breath of summer. Beautiful New England autumn...
The change of seasons, our Saturday farmers' markets and of course, reading blogs of my fellow-bloggers gave me an inspiration for this post.
September is an apple picking month and also, on September 26th we celebrate the birthday of Johnny Appleseed. Last year Pumpkin and I attended Johnny Appleseed's birthday party at our local public library. We listened to the story about him read by the librarians, tasted apple treats washing them down with apple cider and did apple related crafts. It was a great time and this year I decided to do something similar to that.
First, we read the book How Do Apples Grow? by Betsy Maestro that tells the story of an apple from a tiny bud to the final result - fruit.


I especially like the simplicity of the illustrations that deliver the concept of flower fertilization to even the youngest of botanists. Look at that!

Maybe it was not that easy for my 5 year old to grasp the idea of how apples grow from the first time but I am pretty sure that after a couple more times of reading it she'll be correcting me sequence of events.
To explore the apple core with its seeds we cut a couple of apples across to observe the star-shaped compartments. We took the seeds out, counted them and compared to the flower seeds we planted outside earlier this month. Then, we did the classic apple printing giving it our own abstract twist. You can see the star-shaped compartments of the apple core her and there.

Check out what you can do with apple printing and apples at The Wonder Years as well.

After that we could not skip the classic "apple" book Ten Apples Up On Top! by Theo LeSieg.

It is a good book for reading beginners and also it is a good one for those who are learning to count up to 10.
I had a Flipbook: Matching and sequencing by Learning Playground. It is suitable for kids from around 2,5-3 and up.

It was a bit easy for my Pumpkin(she didn't show any enthusiasm at all) but we did a sequence with apples anyway. Here it is.

We did a whole lot more ...and still doing it. Stay tuned. ;)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I Am Special: All About Me.

Another year of homeschooling is ahead of us. Even though Pumpkin has just turned 5 and was eligible to go to kindergarten, I decided to leave her at home for one more year. I don't think she is socially ready for it.
I want to go through the most topics that are discussed in kindergarten with her. The first one is All About Me or like we stated it I Am Special: All About Me. I wanted to make an emphasis on how people are different and how they are special in their own way.

This is a sketch of our lesson plan. (The reason I am not saying "plan" because we didn't follow it step by step and went with the flow adding some extras too.)

1. GettingAlign Center to know you.

learned how to introduce herself

recited her address

spelt her full name

2. My body and personal hygiene.

bath time hygiene (I took the activities from here)

video about brushing teeth

watched video about hand washing

learned some fascinating facts about bodies

read the poem Somersaults by Jack Prelutsky

read the story Big Feet Are Neat, Sometimes by Laura Hitchcock(all from Little People Big Book. All about Ourselves. (published by Time Life For Children))

3. Everyone is unique and special.

read the poem Me I Am by Jack Prelutsky

completed the funny questioner All About Me

read the story The Bear Who Wanted to Be a Bird by Adele and Chateau De Leeuw

played a silly game How Would It Feel to Be an Animal? (all from Little People Big Book. All About Ourselves.)

In addition, we found a number of books that we thought are suitable for this theme.

1. The Legend of Spookly the Square Pumpkin by Joe Troiano.

2. Something Special by David McPhail.

3. Leonore's Big Break by Susan Pearson.

4. Impatient Pamela Asks: Why Are My Feet So Huge? by Mary Koski.

5. I'm Gonna Like Me by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell.

6. It's Hard to Be Five by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell.

Pumpkin could really relate to this one since she turned 5 a couple of weeks ago. After reading it she completed a project which was called 5 Reasons I Like to Be 5. We went a little crazy with number 5. She traced her hands 6 times(5 for the pages + 1 for the cover) and cut them out to make a little booklet. On every page she gave a reason why she liked to be 5(opposed to 4 that made it less abstract which is still a pretty hard concept to grasp). Then, we punched a hole and tied the "hands" with a ribbon.

We discussed how the characters were different/special/unique. We made sure to mention that everybody is special just the way they are and it is important to accept them and yourself that way.

Also, Pumpkin is still working on another project: All About Me Book. I hate writing in books even if that's what they are for. I am talking here about My Book About Me by Me, Myself by Dr. Seuss and Roy Me Kie. We made something resembling it by stapling filler paper together and making a cover from recycled cardboard out of Cheerios box some colored construction paper and a ribbon. Pumpkin decorated it.

Finally, I want to let you know that of course it was not a 40 minute class. We've been working on this topic for about a week and are not finished yet.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Paper Rug

This is a good way to introduce your children to weaving. It is easy, fun and functional! We are using our paper rug as a coaster on top of which Pumpkin puts her desk lamp. You can make one to use as a place mat.

For this project we used:

  • 1 sheet of colored construction paper 5''x10''
  • assorted colored construction paper cut in 1''x 10''(for weaving)
  • glue

What we did:

We folded 5''x10'' piece of construction paper in half to make cutting easier. Like that.

Then make a number of cuts like this( up to u how wide or narrow you want to make them, ours were about 1'' each).

Next step. We unfolded the paper and started weaving in the strips of the colored construction paper creating a symmetrical design

When we finished weaving we glued two parallel strips on one side of the rug to hold the strips in place. Ready! Turn it to the other side and you can put your new rug to good use. This is the finished product.

You can change the sizes of both the base and the strips accordingly to come out with different rugs for different purposes.

MckLinky Blog Hop

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Color Matching Games For Toddlers

The other day I happened to be at a hardware store looking for some garden supplies. When I was passing paint swatches I thought of this activity I used to do with Pumpkin when she was a bit younger.
You need a number of paint swatches of different colors(totally up to you) in doubles. I couldn't resist Disney Color by BEHR at Home Depot. They are a real attention getter and very kiddie friendly.
This is what you do after you scoop them up from your store(they are absolutely free!).

Activity #1: Color Matching

1. Sort out the swatches dividing them in two piles so that each pile had 1 of each color.
2. Mix them all up not to make it easy for your child.
3.Take one set of colors and line them up in front of you little one. The older the child is the more colors he/she can handle at once.
4. Give the other set to your kiddo and ask to match the colors naming each one.

Activity #2: Shades of green, shades of blue

1. You will need several paint swatches of different shades of the same color. Just one set.

2. Mix them all up and ask your child to line them up a) from the darkest to the lightest or b)from the lightest to the darkest.

Activity #3: Memory Game

1. Pick out 6 pairs( or more if your child is a little older).

2. Mix them all up and put them face down 3x4.

3.Take turns drawing cards and trying to find a match like in any other memory game.

Have fun!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Birthday-Themed Books for 3-6 Year Old

We were getting ready for Pumpkin's birthday in all kinds of different ways. Reading birthday-themed books was on top of the list. Before every holiday or event I am trying to read books to her about it.
Call me paranoid but with whole swine flu thing I am trying to keep her away from public places as much as I can. We didn't get a chance to visit our public library for a more extensive list but we had some good ones at home already.

Here are the books I'd like to recommend to you.

1. A Birthday for Frances by Russell Hoban

Great old classic! Sounds like a conversation from your living-room making children comfortable with the characters that come alive from the pages of the book and sound just like your kids' peers.
2. Make a Wish, Honey Bear! by Marcus Pfister

This one is for younger preschoolers but older ones enjoy it equally. I am speaking from the experience. Pumpkin loved it! Sweet and kind. Full of bright cute illustrations. Lovely !!
3. Alice and the Birthday Giant by John F. Green

Preschool fantasy. The Giant is not stereotypical at all. He is kind and friendly. Captivating plot, whimsical illustrations. This book would be more appropriate for older preschoolers.
4. Lyle and the Birthday Party by Bernard Waber

Love , love, love books by Waber. We read I think all the books about Lyle and most of the rest. I like the vocabulary in his books. In this particular book Lyle gets a little jealous. The feeling of jealousy bothers the crocodile and towards the end of the book he learns how to cope with it. Good lesson!

5. This Is Actually My Party by Lauren Child

We've been fascinated with Charlie and Lola series since Pumpkin was about 2. They were not as popular back then as they are now. We started off with the book-based cartoon series about brother and sister who live in the UK and their everyday discoveries and adventures. Very polite and logical, well behaved and well read they'll win your child's heart in no time. In this particular book 4-year -old Lola is trying to take over her older brother's birthday party. Read it and see how it turns out . ;)
6. Birthday Presents by Cynthia Rylant.

This is another wonderful book that is well worth having in your home library. This is a journey of one little girl from birth to 7 told her by her parents. This book gives you a feeling of looking through the pages of somebody else's album. Both younger and older preschoolers will enjoy it.
I hope you will enjoy reading books from my list.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Pumpkin's 5th Birthday!

I cannot believe how fast time flies...

It seems like I was pregnant not too long ago.

It seems like just yesterday I was in the hospital with the new crying baby and changing a diaper for the first time trying desperately to figure out where the front was. I was that clueless!

It seems like we were celebrating the first steps and the first birthday with a lonely candle sticking out in the middle of a chocolate cake.

It seems like Pumpkin started saying her first words and then, first coherent sentences. She was "talking" way before that! She was talking Pumpkin(the Pumpkin language as we called it).

It all seems like it happened in one day...

Now I look at this little girl and ask myself:"Where is my baby?".

After last year's craziness with her little friends we decided to have a quiet celebration and also I wanted to make a surprise party for her. Little did I know! As soon as she opened the door to the room where we sent up a table, put up the decorations and saw a chocolate cake she asked for she freaked out completely. It would not be a big deal if we didn't record the "surprise!" entrance... Every single shot and angle indicated how miserable she was. But the balloons and bright colorful wrappings of the gifts did the job they were supposed to do. Of course. In no time she was playing with new toys and tossing the balloons. After that we took her to a secret destination which was a new Children's Museum she's never been before. She had a blast there!

5 years old...

But I still refer to her as "my baby". In conversations with other moms I slip sometimes:" You know, my baby had an upset stomach the other day." And they usually reply the usual mommy stuff:"How old is your baby?" Hmm...5. New moms give me that look usually but women with older kids sigh understandingly.

5 years old...

Even though she wriggles and squeals I still cuddle and squeeze my Pumpkin to death and catch those fast "baby" feet to kiss them. And sometimes I even try to carry her putting her on my hip. This trick doesn't work any more - her legs get tangled in mine. Well, maybe I won't carry her any longer but she'll always be my baby!

Happy 5th, Pumpkin!