Italy in July

Salve!!

We have been having a blast exploring Italy this summer! Not in person sadly, but learning and reading and yes, eating Italian food together. Every few months we study a country where our family has roots, as part of an intro to geography type thing, and Italy has been so much fun.

If I started at the beginning, I would have to say it was with watching Luca. I love that movie, it is so good! I love how it is such a movie of friendship and acceptance. And even in cartoon form, Italy is gorgeous.

Then, our actual studies began – I wanted to keep it fun and sort of loose and unstructured, it is summer after all, so we are not working on it every day, and we have lots of books and videos and art projects instead of straight learning facts and worksheets. And I want to create a love for learning about other countries and cultures – geography was always a favorite of mine is school, and I really want to pass that on.

We started off easy, reading about Italy in general, making an herb flag of Italy, a pasta map out of macaroni noodles, and learning some basic words and phrases. I did buy a few resources online to help me out – the main one we are using is from Savy Activities, a maker I have never used before but will again in the future. I just love how they have the information presented and their activities are so fun!

From here, we zoomed in for a closer look. Last year we built an Eiffel Tower from wafer cookies. This year, we built the Colosseum.

Wyatt did great, although he did want to eat our building materials. He kept snacking on our walls! We did have it for dessert that night though. Lol.

And we had a Strega Nona day! I love Strega Nona. They are such classic picture books and remind me of my childhood. We read the book Strega Nona, did some story sequencing, and did a little craft of Strega and her magic pasta pot. For dinner, we had spaghetti, but I was careful not to flood the streets of our city with it. ( I can’t find the link to the materials I used for this although I believe it was from Scholastic. If I locate it I will update this post)

This week has been my favorite so far though. Monday was Pisa, Pizza, and Pizelles day. The kids learned about the Leaning Tower of Pisa, made their own personal pizzas, and tried pizelles.

Our tower crafts were not our best ever, so thank goodness we had the pizza and pizelles to follow it up. And seriously, that pizza was delicious. These picky eaters both ate all of it!

Wednesday was – are you ready – Michaelangelato day. Sometimes I crack myself up. The kids learned about Michaelangelo, did their own version of how he painted the Sistine Chapel, then we all had a gelato taste test! I bought five different flavors and we tasted them all, recording whether we liked it, didn’t like it, or were not quite sure. I bought Talenti Gelato in the flavors of Coconut, Mint, Peanut Butter Cup, Confetti Cookie, and Strawberry Cheesecake. The winner of best tasting gelato was hands down the Mediterranean Mint. It was the favorite of 3 out of 4 of us. I was the only one who placed the confetti cookie ahead of it. Wyatt was the only one of us to like the coconut, but he refused the strawberry. It was a lot fun.

Next week we are moving on to frescoes and music, and then we are finishing up in Venice!

This has been a fantastically fun month so far. We have a few other things planned, including a field trip and Billy and I have been conducting a local pizza survey as well, that I will write about later.

Until next time everyone, ciao!

Kindergarten Graduation, Oceans, and Mermaids

These two wild and crazy kindergartners graduated last week! Next year, first grade! We had a small little family gathering, pizza, cake, and gifts for these hard workers. They have learned and grown so much this past year! In addition to their normal curriculum, we have studied over 28 animals, five different plants, three countries, one state, had a Nordic Christmas, and learned about some fascinating people, like Edgar Allen Poe, Jane Goodall, and Martin Luther King Jr. I also made these little memory books and t-shirts for the kids.

But this doesn’t mean our learning is over! Homeschooling, the summer edition, has commenced. We finished up our oceans study with a fun day devoted to mermaids!

We started with some blue hair. The kids were excited, even though Wyatt looks sort of not happy in this photo. Lol. My mom and I added some to our hair too, but you couldn’t see it in mine unfortunately. My niece decided we were all different types of mermaids – I was a moon mermaid, Wyatt a river mermaid, Dino Girl was an arctic mermaid, and my mom a lake mermaid. I think these were perfect choices for us.

Once we were ready for the sea with our blue hair, we switched on Luca, and started with our art project. It was extremely messy but very fun, and I love the way they turned out!

One little mermaid got so covered in paint that he had to borrow his mermaid cousin’s clothing until the paint dried on his own. (She had spare clothes at my mom’s house where we were – apparently I did not think of this) It was worth all the mess though, I think they look so cool! It was actually pretty easy too. I cut out a free template that I printed out of a mermaid and taped it to watercolor paper. Then the kids used finger paint to swirl the paint like water over the entire thing. We used five different shades of blue and green! Once the paintings dried almost to completion I peeled the mermaid template off. I didn’t want the paint completely dry since I had to cover up the area where the tape was, and I used the still sort of wet paint to fill in those blank spots. Next time I will roll the tape and put it underneath. You can see where the kids were overzealous and got paint under the mermaid template, but I think that is ok. It keeps them unique! I also had picked up some ocean art kits from Michael’s Craft store and let the kids play with those while they just created and watched the movie.

We finished up our mermaid celebration with mermaid floats and story time! Just lemonade, sparkling flavored water, and a little rainbow sherbet to make these magical drinks! (the recipe is from The Fairy Food Cookbook – I just changed the name from Rainbow Float to Mermaid) The kids absolutely loved them. They loved the whole day really! It was a great time, and a fun way to end our unit on the ocean!

What a great way to start summer! Next month is all about Italy and I can’t wait.

Homeschooling: Ocean Week 1

We are in the last few weeks of Kindergarten! It’s hard to believe honestly. While we finish up our regular curriculum, we are also going to do a month long unit about the ocean! Last month my dad and stepmom went to Florida for a few weeks and brought my son and niece back a bunch of books, shells, posters, and sea glass to go along with their lessons. They have enjoyed exploring their discovery table this week!

We started Tuesday with an introduction to the ocean and ocean layers. We made an ocean layer jar – well I did while I explained to the kids, a little demo – and I had to improvise as I did not have Karo syrup. I subbed molasses which didn’t quite work and the bottom layers were a bit muddled. But the kids got the main point of what I wanted to illustrate, so I am calling it a win. My dad also brought the kids back stuffed animal sharks that I surprised them with on our kick off day.

We also started off with small creatures this week, crabs and jellyfish and seahorses. I have to admit, I was pretty fascinated by some of the facts we learned about jellyfish. I can’t say I had read anything about them ever before, so it was kind of all new to me as well. Two things I learned – that jellyfish sort of float out of their mother’s mouths when they are born, and that they don’t have a brain. Since it was a short week and we had a lot to fit in, our craft project this week was a simple one, but both kids enjoyed it. Paper plate jellyfish! Well, my niece had a paper plate one, I yet again had to improvise. I apparently did not have my materials together this week! This time though, my improvisations turned out. I don’t have a picture of Dino Girl’s but it was super cute.

Resource Round Up:

Ocean Animals Mega Unit from Crystal McGinnis

Ocean Zones Jar

Books We Read:

This section contains affiliate links

Night of the Moonjellies by Mark Shasha || Hello Ocean by Pam Munoz Ryan

I absolutely loved Night of the Moonjellies, and so did the kids and my mom. I think it is a new favorite for all of us. I couldn’t recommend it more!

And really this is it for this week! Next week is all about sea turtles (my favorite) and sharks!

Homeschool: Dino Week!

It’s been dino week around here! My little niece requested that we have a dinosaur theme, and very specifically asked for a dinosaur life cycle and craft. So, I of course obliged. I call her dino girl for a reason – at five, she already knows pretty much everything about dinosaurs. When I started to get resources together, I decided to focus on skills work with a dinosaur theme, rather than actually learning about dinosaurs themselves. I mean, we did do a little of that, but for the most part everything was more related to dinosaurs instead of about them. And it turned out to be a great week! Wyatt likes dinosaurs but he is not all in, so I did want him to know a little more about dinosaurs before we go to Jurassic Quest next month. We did lizards last week per his request, and I felt like the two, dinosaurs and lizards went hand in hand pretty nicely!

We do have quite a bit of dinosaurs and dinosaur things at our house, so it made it easy to set up an inviting area to introduce this week’s topic. I always like to set it up on Sunday night to surprise Wyatt with our weekly theme, and this was a fun one. When Billy saw it he asked “How will Wyatt survive school with all those dinosaurs?”

So – we did our regular curriculum from Blossom and Root and Math for a Living Education, then added in some fun extra stuff. A dinosaur memory game, and of course, a dinosaur life cycle. We divided dinosaurs into herbivores and carnivores, labeled a triceratops, and reviewed size sequencing. We read about different types of dinosaurs, as well as some fun little stories too. Then yesterday we went to my mom’s for craft time with my mom and Dino Girl.

We are going to keep the theme up for another week, then take a week off of school for a break. When we start back up it will be our last “official” month of school and kindergarten, so we are going out with a splash and doing a month long ocean unit. I am looking forward to it!

Resource Round Up:

Free dinosaur printables from Simple Every Day Mom

Free Dinosaur Printable Pack from Simple Living Creative Learning

Homeschool: Duck Week!

I think we all enjoyed duck week around here! This was a request from Wyatt as this kid has loved ducks for just about his whole life. I also coordinate my niece’s homeschool right now, and my mom, niece, Wyatt, and I all had fun with this unit! There was just something so spring feeling about it, and let’s face it, ducklings are adorable!

We spent time talking about the anatomy of a duck, the life cycle of a duck, working on sequencing and patterns, then moved on to dabbling, diving, and domesticated ducks. I did not tell my niece that some ducks are raised for meat, she is super sensitive to that, so we just said that they lived on a farm. We played a duck matching game for vocabulary reinforcement, did a kindergarten “deep dive” on mallards, and discussed what ducks eat and their habitats. We also learned that ducks are waterproof due to an oil they spread out over their feathers – and then just when I thought Wyatt hadn’t been listening, he told his dad this fact. And we read lots of books and made a diorama!

Wyatt got a little overzealous at first with the nest building. Also, one of the eggs he put into the nest almost rolled into the pond area, which made me think of one of the books we read, I am a Duck.

And we all chose our favorite ducks! Wyatt liked the Cayuga and Red headed ducks, I liked the Khaki Campbells, my niece liked the fancy Wood ducks, and my mom liked the Mallards.

Overall this was a fun, easy, springtime unit! This weekend we are hoping to get to a farm to see domesticated ducks and a marsh to spot those wild ducks – so crazy they are, those wild ducks.

Resource Round-Up!

Duck Unit Study Guide by Stephanie Hathaway

Books That We Read:

(This section contains Amazon Affiliate Links)

Ducks by Gail Gibbons || Lucky Ducklings by Eva Moore || On Duck Pond by Jane Yolen || Ducks Don’t Get Wet by Augusta Goldin || Just Ducks by Nicola Davies || Duck, Duck, Dinosaur by Kalie George || I’m a Duck by Eve Bunting

Next week is a request from my niece, for flowers!

**Our theme units are always extra in addition to our regular curriculum from Blossom and Root**

Homeschool: Rainbows and Sheep!

This was our last week of school before our Easter break! I wanted to finish up our month with some fun themes, so I went with rainbows and sheep – because March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb. Plus, we had been talking about Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day last week and these tied in nicely. (I read that Ireland has more sheep than people! I am not sure if this statistic is correct but wow!) We always do extra themes in addition to our normal curriculum from Blossom and Root.

We didn’t have as many projects this week, it was just a rough week timewise for many reasons, but we did enjoy what we had time for. We started the week with rainbows, and followed up Tuesday with talking about colors and formation of colors and color mixing. Then we moved on to greener pastures and learned about sheep! Parts of a sheep, what a sheep eats, their life cycle, and the importance of shearing a sheep. I pulled out some of my wool roving as well, for Wyatt to handle and we discussed how it originated from a sheep! I am hoping to find somewhere to take him this weekend where we can see some sheep but so far I haven’t found anywhere to go.

Resource Round Up:

https://www.stephaniehathawaydesigns.com/freeprintables/primary-color-study

Simple Living Creative Learning – Sheep printables

Books We Read:

(This section contains Amazon Affiliate links)

The Sheepover || Brave Charlotte || Wally Does Not Want a Haircut || Farmer Brown Shears His Sheep || How the Crayons Saved the Rainbow || The Rainbow

I loved all of the books we read this week! Wyatt loved Wally Does Not Want a Haircut and Farmer Brown the best; I loved The SheepOver. However, for learning purposes The Rainbow and Farmer Brown were excellent! Farmer Brown Shears His Sheep is a fun fictional look at the process of where yarn and wool comes from, while The Rainbow breaks down the science behind rainbows in an easy to understand, entertaining way. However Farmer Brown might be hard to find in book form! All books mentioned are also available as read-alouds on YouTube.

I will leave you with Baarack the Sheep, who was covered in 80 pounds of wool!

Homeschool : Leprechauns, Clover, and Snakes, Oh My!

This week and next we are focusing on elements of Ireland – from farm animals to legends and folktales to clover, lucky or not. And some rainbows just for fun. This week we focused on a more St. Patrick’s Day theme for the week, learning about clover and leprechauns and of course, the kid version tale of St. Patrick’s Day.

We learned about the life cycle of a clover, planted a few seeds (ours have done nothing but the ones my mom and niece planted have sprouted already!), talked about the parts of a clover, and read and assembled a mini book about Ireland. We talked about vocabulary words relating to symbols of St. Patrick’s Day and Ireland, and played matching games for letters, these symbols, and also about the clover. Wyatt loves a good matching game so it was fun to be able to fit three in this week. I find it really increases his vocabulary to play these games, and I make him say the words too, so it is great for speech therapy as well.

We read books and made a few crafts as well! I kind of love the snake he made – and the leprechaun turned out pretty cute too! He did want me to draw the face, I guess he didn’t want to do that part. But it was good practice for his cutting skills, something that is really hard for Wyatt with his cerebral palsy. And actually really hard for me to show him too, since he is a lefty and I am not. I end up sitting behind him and helping guide his hand that way, with my left hand. It is a wonder anything gets actually cut! It’s definitely a group effort. We also had quite a few fun worksheets this week, that included graphing, sorting, sequencing, and then a few lacing cards too.

Resource Round-Up!

The Life Cycle of a Clover Unit Study – The Masterpiece Studio

St. Patrick’s Day Early Years Set – Of Bee and Bear Shop

Books We Read:

(this section contains Amazon Affiliate Links)

Pete the Cat : The Great Leprechaun Chase || How to Catch a Leprechaun || There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Clover || How to Trap a Leprechaun

Art and Videos:

Snake pictured above

Paper Tube Leprechaun

Fiona’s Luck Read Aloud

St. Patrick’s Day

The Secret of the Kells

Next week we we are going to talk about rainbows, the color wheel, and sheep! I thought the sheep would be fun to end the month with, since March is supposed to come in like a lion, and out like a lamb!

Homeschool: Snow!

In addition to Wyatt’s regular curriculum, every month we focus on a different theme (or themes). This month is all about snow! I feel sort of like I dared Mother Nature with this one, as we have gotten more snow this month than we have all winter.

I haven’t blogged yet this month about our snow studies and I feel like we have done so much! We started the month by talking about well, snow. How it forms, different types of snowflakes, the life cycle of a snowflake, the basics of snow really.

We also did some great art projects. Wyatt loves painting and books so I tried to focus a lot this month on incorporating more of those into our month.

An online friend gifted Wyatt with the book Sneezy the Snowman for Christmas and he loved it so much that I wanted to use it this month as part of our studies. We read the book, discussed melting and freezing, worked on sequencing, and then followed it up with this great activity. This was Wyatt’s favorite thing we have done so far this month.

My little painter. He also painted two pictures, inspired by the books Snow Falls Karen Gardner and The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. (I did help him with painting Peter though, full disclosure in light of the whole North West controversy) We also did some extra studies with The Snowy Day, including sequencing just like we did with Sneezy the Snowman.

Then yesterday we read The Snow Globe Family and Snow Globe Wishes, which were both adorable. We followed up the readings with a little writing assignment, answering the question what would Wyatt do if he lived in a snow globe (answer: paint), and then he wanted to see an actual snow globe. How I don’t have one, I don’t know. So we made this spur of the moment, slapdash, what we had around the house version of one, using a jam jar, a small toy fox, some crystal beads, and then me, wielding a hot glue gun. The beads are too heavy so I need to add some glitter in there, but kiddo loves it, and that is all that matters.

I am going to do a huge resource round-up of printables next Saturday, after we finish up the month’s activities, so stay tuned for that! I will share the books we have read and videos we have watched though.

Books We Have Read So Far:

(This section contains Amazon Affiliate links)

Snow Globe Wishes || The Snow Globe Family || The Snowy Day || The Tea Party in the Woods || Sneezy the Snowman || Snow Falls || Snow || The Snow Rabbit

Videos:

Wild Kratts How a Snowflake is Formed

Caitie’s Classroom Snow

Maddie Moate Snow

We have one more week left of our snow study, then in March we are mixing it up! Our own March Madness I guess.

Homeschool: The Arctic Weeks 3 & 4

We are saying farewell to the Arctic today, finishing up a few last fun activities (a snow morphing arctic adventure and arctic animal track scavenger hunt) before moving on next week, and I think I am going to be sad. We had such a good time with this theme this month! It was a great way to start the year.

The past two weeks we learned about arctic foxes (my favorite), harp seals, beluga whales, walruses, and arctic wolves, which I timed to learn about on the night of the full wolf moon. We had quite a bit of fun with the art projects – the little salt dough clay seal turned out as cute as the narwhal did, the walrus was a fun thrown together project, and the fox was fun but sort of messy, which everyone hated. My mom and my niece do the same theme with us every month, which makes it more fun honestly. We have video chats once a week where the kids can show off their projects and work to each other and it is just a nice end to the week. Then they digress into showing off their toys and then being silly, but that is ok – they miss playing with each other!

We did a small “research” project, kindergarten style, at the end of the month, where each kid picked their favorite animal that we had studied and did a special paper on that animal, to kind of check what they remembered, etc. My niece chose the harp seal as her favorite, and Wyatt picked the narwhal, our very first animal that we did. He loved the arctic animal yoga we did this month too – I have to admit I liked the arctic hare pose and the beluga whale breathing as well. Lol. He will randomly and spontaneously do the narwhal pose, and it is so cute to hear him say it. Dinogirl’s favorite switched throughout the month, from narwhal to fox to seal, before settling on seal- Wyatt was pretty sold on either narwhal or polar bears the entire month. It was also a good month for speech for us, with a few really great breakthroughs.

We read quite a few books, but both kids loved the book Arctic White, and I agree it is a wonderful one. In the book, the girl and her grandfather live in an igloo, so we discussed how an igloo is a traditional home that is not really a home type anymore, that the Indigenous People of the arctic live in permanent, modern housing like Molly of Denali does. We did talk about igloos and their construction which was interesting, I learned a new word, catenary, which is the curve that an igloo forms – not a half circle shape. The kids thought a house made of snow was really cool, no pun intended. We tried our hand at building igloos out of sugar cubes. Wyatt and I were not successful, despite much trying…

My mom and niece were better engineers – my mom figured out a support system. She is much better at that sort of thing than I am.

We were planning on finishing up our unit by taking a field trip to the zoo to see the polar bears and wolves and the arctic fox but coincidentally, arctic air moved into the area and it is so cold! I didn’t feel comfortable taking Wyatt out into it, so I made new reservations for Valentines Day. We are also supposed to get a snowstorm tonight – the perfect entrance for our month long unit on snow and snowmen and all things winter!

Resource Round-Up!

Note: If printables include penguins, save those for a separate unit, as they live in the South Pole, not North

Little Spark Arctic Animals

Preschool Mom Arctic Animals

Arctic Animal Fun Pack

Arctic Animals Like Cold book

Arctic Animals Learning Pack

Books:

(Contains Amazon Affiliate Links)

In Arctic Waters || Baby Beluga || Arctic White

Videos, Art, Experiments and Extras:

Build animal dens out of mini marshmallows

Build igloo from sugar cubes

Paper Plate Arctic Fox

Wild Kratt’s episodes: Horn and Tusk Power, Baby Tooth

Kids Teaching Kids Harp Seal

Wild Explorers Arctic Fox

Arctic Animals Who’s That

Welcome to the Ice House Read Aloud

Canadian Encyclopedia “Igloos”

How to Build an Igloo

Homeschool: The Arctic Week 2

Our Arctic Exploration, week 2 is coming to an end. Good thing we have two more weeks; we are having a ton of fun. This week was all about polar bears!

We started off by learning the basics of a polar bear – their anatomy, about their little ears which are little to protect them from frostbite, about camouflage, about how their skin under their fur is black (and why), that their fur doesn’t actually have white pigment, it is hollow, and how some arctic animals stay warm.

We had a fun week of activities and art..but it was also a very messy week!

This art project is one of my favorites that we have done. I think it looks so pretty! You can read about how to do it here. Wyatt used his fingers for most of it but then also wanted a brush. He hates having stuff on his hands (me too) so I try to have him do some like that, but then let him use a brush as well. Although, if you can see in the first photo he also decided to paint the table too..

He also made a paper plate and cotton ball polar bear. Who would have thought some glue and cotton balls could make a mess? But they did. My mom told me that she and my niece also made a giant mess with both of these are projects. Maybe we are just a messy family? Regardless, it was a lot of fun.

We also did a few activities! One about camouflage, the other about blubber! At least the camo activity was tidy, because the blubber one was super gross. Lol. I think Wyatt felt a little betrayed by that one. He had to put his hand in cold water, then also in crisco. It was pretty interesting though! I tried it and it actually did keep my hand warmer! I think I will just stick to wearing gloves though.

Before things got messy…

Our resource round- up is a bit of the same for some:

Note: If printables include penguins, save those for a separate unit, as they live in the South Pole, not North

Little Spark Arctic Animals

Preschool Mom Arctic Animals

Arctic Animal Fun Pack

Arctic Animals Like Cold book

Arctic Animals Learning Pack

Books That We Read:

(I have links to Amazon Affiliate links, but most of these can be found at the library or even as read alouds on YouTube)

The Bear Report by Thyra Heder || Little Polar Bear by Hans de Beer || Over in the Arctic by Marianne Berkes

Activities and Extras

How do animals stay warm?

Why are polar bears white?

Polar Bear Cotton Ball Picture

Polar Bear in the Snow Process Art

And we also watched a few Wild Kratts cartoons on PBS (we have the PBS Kids app through Amazon), Polar Bears Don’t Dance and Snowy Owl Invasion

Next up: Arctic Foxes and Walruses!