Homeschool: Fairy Tales, Wolves, and China

I debated posting about our homeschool week this week, since we it was primarily a week of reading and information collecting, and not a ton of creating and doing. So basically, we did a lot but not really much to show. I will just have to tell instead!

Wyatt’s curriculum this year is based on folk and fairy tales, which I think provides more than one might initially think. We can explore the same tale from other countries, different versions, go down those rabbit trails that the books spark interest in, whether it is place setting, a particular animal, a theme. So many opportunities for learning! This week we read Lon Po Po, which is a Little Red Riding Hood story from China. It is fantastic honestly, without any violence toward humans if that is something that will bother your child. The wolf dies but it is sort of understated and not violent. Then we were supposed to create a wolf peg doll. I helped Wyatt with his and I have to be honest, it scares me. Lol. It turned out super creepy, which was not really the intention, as part of our week this week was about Wolf Awareness! Lon Po Po has a dedication thanking wolves for taking one for the team all the time, and being the “bad guy” in the story more times than not. Wolves are predators, they hunt, that is how they live, feed their offspring. And humans and wolves do butt heads at times as humans spread farther across our planet and use the land. It’s hard to share. And it’s hard to remember that they are not evil or malicious – and certainly will not gobble you up whole as they do in the original Little Red Riding Hood story!

We followed Lon Po Po up with the James Marshall version – I just love his illustrations and storytelling. This one does stick to the traditional story, and both granny and little red get gobbled right up, and the hunter slits the throat of the wolf. I have to admit, I did not read that line to Wyatt! I substituted the hunter rescued granny and red without going into detail. As we had been reading these tales and also learning about wolves all week long, we made a comparison chart between real wolves and the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood, which was a great way to talk about differences in fact and fiction.

China was also part of our lessons this week. As Lon Po Po is a Chinese folk tale, I thought I should probably introduce the country and culture to Wyatt. We skipped ahead in our Magic Tree House reading to Day of the Dragon King, to keep the theme similar. This week we sort of just talked about China, found it on the world map, watched Let’s Go Luna Beijing, and read our Magic Tree House book. Tonight Wyatt will be trying an assortment of Chinese foods, and then next week we will delve further into the topic.

This week worked out perfectly in sync with Wolf Awareness Week, which was totally unplanned. A happy accident. (I love Bob Ross..) We talked about how important wolves are to our ecosystem and planet, to the state of Michigan, and about wolves in general. The New York Wolf Conservation Center has educational resources online for older students but they are still neat to check out. I used them as a base for what we talked about. (A bucket list item for me is to visit the NY Wolf Conservation Center and camp there!) You can find their resources here.

So this week was more of an information gathering week! Next week we read about foxes, and continue to learn about China!

We use Blossom and Root First Grade for our curriculum, and math lessons for living education for math. I also don’t share the different phonics, math, etc we do generally.

Homeschool Update: Coyotes, Turtles, and a Failed Field Trip

This week was a doozy! I was super excited about it – we had so much material to cover that I absolutely loved and couldn’t wait to introduce to Wyatt. For the most part, it all worked out very nicely. Except for that field trip…

This week we took a mini-break from math to work on a special focus topic based on the book We are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom. It was so comprehensive, including bits of social studies and geography and science and nature. We read the book first, then “dove” right in. Wyatt learned about the importance of water (back to that whole idea of how all things are nature and all things are connected) – how it is important to all living things, to our planet, to every part of our bodies. About how the amount of fresh water compared to salt water is vastly different, and how we need to protect these resources, to be good stewards of our world. We talked about different bodies of water, and of course created a few art projects as well. We did not manage to get to it all, but I hope to include the rest next week. I am actually in love with both paintings Wyatt worked on this week – he did a mixed media watercolor of a pond, and then later in the week we did a similar project with coyotes. It also gave us the opportunity to talk about warm colors and cool colors!

For our coyote study, we covered their anatomy, diet, habitat, and listened to a few videos online of their yips and howls. We finished up with his research notebook page, and the other mixed media-esque painting. (Note – I drew and cut out the coyote silhouette for him, but that painted background is all him. As is the placement of the coyote. Also note- I am not an artist. Lol)

I was also excited because we read three Indigenous/Native American based books this week. It actually just worked out this way which was a cool coincidence. In language arts we read When Turtle Grew Feathers, which is the Choctaw tale of Rabbit and the Hare. I let Wyatt inspect and handle my turtle shell that I found a few years ago, as part of the lesson. We also imagined different animals wearing the shell, as turkey did in our story.

Books We Read:

(Contains Amazon affiliate links)

Coyote Sings to the Moon by Thomas King || Blast Off Readers Turtle or Tortoise || Blast Off Readers Coyotes || When Turtle Grew Feathers by Tim Tingle || We are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom

So… lets talk about that failed field trip! On Wednesday the plan was to head to the nature center at a local metropark early in the day to work on science and nature. The nature center has turtles and tortoises, a stuffed coyote to view, a river out back, a display about the local indigenous peoples who once lived there – we were going to cover all the bases! My mom was going to come too, as she hasn’t really been out out in a while and I thought it would be fun. And it still was, just not what we had planned! We got there to find out that school year hours are different than summer and weekend hours, and it was closed! We decided we would just take a little walk on the overlook, check out the river, then head back to the car. Which we did, and it was a grogeous view, and all the leaves – it was such a perfect fall morning. Until the mosquitoes found us! My poor boyo was covered in welty mosquito bites, he has such a bad allergic reaction to them. I felt horrible! I hadn’t put on insect repellent as we were literally out there five minutes, and that was really all we were going to be out there, so I didn’t even think about it. Plus, it is October! So we left as fast we could. Somehow in all our hurry, my license slipped out of my back pocket onto the trail, unbeknownst to me. We were about fifteen minutes away when one of the interpreters whom we have known for years texted me that my license had been turned in. So, I turned back around to get it. I got it from her, and on the way home drove thru McDonald’s for some much needed coffee and french fries! So all is well that ends well!

Next week is all about wolves and skunks, Little Red Riding Hood, Ninjas, and subtraction! It should be an interesting week!

Homeschooling: Pirates, Raccoons, Magical Fish!

First, can we talk about how big this kid looks these days? What is happening? Where is my baby? Lol.

We have been so busy the past two weeks! We have established a pretty good routine – we start with Language Arts and phonics, then move on to math in the mornings. Then in the afternoons we rotate between history and science, along with whatever extra unit study I have thrown in the mix. It seems to be working well!

This week in Language Arts we were supposed to read Magic Fish but being me, I remembered we had a similar book, The 1000 Star Hotel. Wyatt absolutely loves this story, written by the Okee Dokee Brothers, whom he also loves. And even better, there is an accompanying audio for it! We were able to read it together, and then listen to it (for the 1000th time maybe but he loves it so it was perfect), before getting to work on our copywork/journal/narration pages and projects. The “fun” project was decorating a magic fish, which was supposed to be made from a sock, but I didn’t have an extra so I sewed these little felt fish instead for him to decorate. They turned out pretty cute! We skipped the rabbit trail suggestion of studying a specific fish, Wyatt just wasn’t that thrilled with any fish suggestions and I figured we had enough to learn about so we moved on.

For our extra study unit, that I will probably refer to as our nature study, we started a month long unit about nocturnal animals. Our animal for this week was the raccoon. It was a cute little study – we read a few books about nocturnal animals and raccoons, played a matching game, and then matched shadow pictures to the animal. Wyatt also completed his journal page about raccoons which I am going to put together in a book at the end of the month. I also felt quite clever in finding this craft. We are talking about simple fractions in math, and I talked about halves and equal sides and all that while I was showing him how to cut hearts out of construction paper. We have to do this sort of thing hand over hand, so I did a few as demo and then cut a few together before he assembled it all. I think it turned out super cute!

We are using The Waldock Way’s Passport to Adventure for our history unit this year, although I am doing a rather poor job of connecting the historical parts to it in our lessons. It is turning into more of additional language arts right now – although, one of the GLCE goals for first grade is about maps, and we made a treasure map, so I guess I hit one goal. This curriculum is based on the Magic Tree House series and this week we were reading Pirates Past Noon. These books are super fast reads and pretty cute! We completed notebooking pages and journal pages based on the reading, talked about pirate treasure, what Wyatt would choose to put in a buried treasure (fruit snacks, a Mickey Mouse toy, and a book), made a map, crafted a cute pirate puppet, and painted a treasure chest, which I filled with “treasure”. This was Wyatt’s favorite thing we did. I find him going through this treasure chest all the time, and putting on all of the jewelry. I think today we are going to watch Peter Pan, eat Pirate Booty, and hide the treasure somewhere and make a map for Billy to find when he gets home. We also have to make time for our art project today as well.

We did other things as well, like sight words (which we call cake words) and word family activities, learning about the layers of the earth, make a felt model of the layers, fractions, telling time, and all the other things you learn in first grade.

I will post about our nocturnal animals study in a future post, with links and activities for anyone who is interested! I am going to combine that post into multiple weeks as well, so I will probably post that information next Friday.

Next week is all about coyotes, mountains, turtles, and the Choctaw Nation! And with that, I better get moving! I have a lot to get together before Monday!

Field Trip: Fossil Park, OH

One perk to homeschooling – being in charge of your own field trips. So if we felt like packing up early and driving to Ohio to check out a fossil park on a Monday morning, no big deal. Bonus – going at that time pretty much assured we would have the place to ourselves. Which we did.

I had been looking for some places to take Wyatt to introduce him to the idea of fossils and rocks- we are about to begin a whole rocks and minerals unit in science and when I can get him outside or hands on, I do. I found one north of us, about four hours away, and then my brother sent me the link to another, this one only an hour drive south. This is where we ended up going – Fossil Park, Ohio.

I will admit at first look it is a bit underwhelming. Like a place teens would go to have fires and beers or like a crumbling parking lot somewhere. I was like, well, regardless of how this turns out, Wyatt will have gotten out to play in an environment that is unlike any other he has been to before. There wasn’t too much to see, just gravelly ground, a large container of water, and a few little tables and benches. Pretty simple set up.

We were optimistic, as we generally are. I had read the website and printed out a few materials before we left, including an information sheet that had illustrations and descriptions of the types of fossils we could hope to find, which we had reviewed in the car on the drive. Fossil Park is the remains of a shallow sea bed from the Devonian Era, 375 million years ago. No dinosaurs. We had our milk jug with the top part cut off, also suggested per the website, to use to keep our treasures in. After a brief glance around, we plopped onto the ground and started searching.

I found a piece of a trilobite right away, and I felt very victorious. Giddy almost. Billy was systematically combing through the dirt, I was sort of attacking things a bit more energetically and also trying to teach Wyatt, who was busy stuffing his overalls full of rocks and fossils, neglecting the milk jug in his excitement. He was pretty proud of his collection.

Let me stop a second and talk to you about these overalls. This is not an ad or affiliate or anything, I just really love them. I bought them for him in the spring – as Wyatt scoots a lot right now while we work on walking, he literally goes through pants like crazy. Anything harder than grass just tears the seat right up – and eventually, him, if I don’t watch. These Key Apparel overalls are like the toughest purchase I have ever bought him. They have withheld an entire spring of playing outside, and now, a rock quarry. They are a little worn but still intact. I can’t stress enough how durable these overalls are! They are from a farm supply outfitter, so they are made for hard work, but if you have an active kid that goes through clothes like crazy, I highly recommend these overalls. I only wish he could wear them in the summer – but the very thing that makes them so durable would also make them too hot for the summer. So we will count our blessings and be happy that he can wear them at least in the spring and fall.

Back to the fossil hunt. We were busy at work, Wyatt and I near the top of the quarry, Billy near the bottom, sifting and examining. I was explaining different things to Wyatt, showing him different pieces. We were alone in the quarry for quite a while before a man came walking in, and after a few minutes he came up to us. It turned out that he was the Parks Project Manager and super nice! He told us about what we could find, and even dug with us for twenty minutes, giving us his finds and telling us what they were. It was really cool and like having a personalized guide. He was telling us as well, that they have big plans for the quarry and next year it will be built up more.

We stayed quite a bit longer than I anticipated, almost two hours. Wyatt had fun, and so did Billy and I. I felt sort of like a kid again, sitting in the dirt, just exploring and looking for neat things. I think Billy did too.

We came home with a nice collection in our milk jug! We found a bit of trilobite (top of the big rock), brachiopods (the shell looking piece), and then lots of crinoids, which are bits of sea lilies. I am holding a bit of stem (the long cylinder) and then bits of the stem, the flat washer looking cheerio thing.

If you plan to visit: Expect to get dusty! We were cracking up at how much dust we had on us. Also, when Wyatt’s overalls came off at home tons of small pebbles fell all over the floor, so expect that too. You can only take your collection jug/carton, and water on hot days, no eating or drinking is allowed in the quarry. You can take a brush to dust your specimens. As for being ADA accessible, I would say it is pretty accessible honestly. There is a wheelchair ramp leading down to the quarry, and while it would be a rocky ride inside it can be done. It would be trickier if using a walker or crutches, unless the person scooted like Wyatt. Alternatively, you can sit at the tables and benches and collect from the pile behind the tables as well. Also check the website – it is really informational, and has great printables available, including how to use your visit in your lesson plans.

Overall, we had a really good time! We would definitely go again.

Homeschooling: Our Curriculum

Here we are again, homeschooling! First grade this year! Last year we had so much fun learning together, that I am really excited to be homeschooling again. We are still working on our routine and rhythm, but I feel confident at least about our curriculum. It was an easy decision, as I went with the same curriculum we used last year for the most part. I like the basic scope of the curriculum, and its focus. It is also budget friendly compared to other curriculum out there.

If you are new here, Wyatt has been homeschooled since Kindergarten. He has cerebral palsy which creates the need for some creativity and accommodations with the lessons, which I feel is really well suited to homeschooling. I can keep working on things that we need to spend more time on and move on when we are comfortable, and go quickly through lessons that he picks up easily. I can tailor to his strengths at home, rather than try to make him fit into a system that may not work for him right now. I also found a Blossom and Root First Grade Cohort Group on Facebook! This group will move up together each year. It has been so helpful already!

For Language Arts, Science, Nature, and Integrated Art and Math, we are using Blossom and Root. Blossom and Root is all about wonder, discovery, creativity, books.. all things I value very highly and want for Wyatt in his learning. This year I had a choice of two different language arts programs through Blossom and Root, and it was a tough decision! The first choice was based on more nature based stories that were a little more old fashioned, and then more modern picture books as the second option. I went back and forth a few times before finally deciding on the more modern version. The scope is based on values and morals, like appreciating what you have, working together, and other character building traits for the first half of the year, while the second half focuses in on fairy tales and folk tales from different countries, introducing new cultures and geography into the lessons.

The Science curriculum covers so much about Earth and Earth science this year! I am super excited to dive into it. There are also extra “Book Seeds” that cover different topical events as well, such as climate change. The past two weeks we have spent discussing the rotation of the Earth, and how it effects seasons and daytime and nighttime, and we are moving on soon to layers of the Earth. The Nature part of the curriculum is more about observing and interacting with our natural world. Things like building insect sanctuaries, painting the weather, making nature necklaces, etc and then keeping a nature journal.

The Integrated Math and and Art … is more art I guess than math, so we supplement math with a more traditional curriculum but still do the lessons from Blossom and Root, more as art with some math involved. We are learning about Kandinsky right now, which is a lesson for me too, since I never learned about Kandinsky in school.

For history, we are using Passport to Adventures from Waldock Way this year. I didn’t see the need for a super intense history program this year, and I felt like this would introduce history in a fun way to Wyatt, which was important to me. I feel like kids get off on the wrong foot with history sometimes, thinking it is boring and I wanted to try to cultivate a sense of excitement about it. This curriculum is completely based on the Magic Tree House books, and we have started off slowly, doing only a few of the activities a week to start. So far so good!

For math, we are using Math Lessons for a Living Education. I feel like this is well paced for Wyatt, and he enjoys the stories and hands on activities that are a part of these math lessons. I also like that this keeps up to pace with the public school as well, just in case we decide sending him back to school would be more beneficial, although that is not where we are right now. For now, everything is going well with homeschooling.

I have to be honest though. These first two weeks felt a little off to me. Like we had lost our zest and magic. And I realized I was trying too hard to be “school” and leaving out what made us, us. I plan to shake things up next week, and add in those extras that made our school special.

Stay tuned to see where our year takes us!

Homeschooling: A Look Back As We Move Forward

In just two weeks we will be starting our second year of homeschooling. I can hardly believe it. We started as emergency homeschoolers with COVID, but to be honest, I always wanted to homeschool. The pandemic just gave me a good excuse to do it.

It was definitely a year of learning, for both of us. I had made the decision early on that I was going to homeschool – probably in April of 2020 I decided I needed to make a decision for fall, since I wanted to be ready if I was going to choose to go it alone. Except, I had no idea at all about where to begin. I talked to a few people online, attended a few online conferences, and read a few books. I had belonged to a couple of different groups on Facebook as well, so I felt like I was pulling information from all over. I had also worked as a para in the public schools for like 15 years and while that did not prepare me to be a teacher, I was at least somewhat familiar with what was being taught.

So I made my choices for our curriculum, got it all ready, and it was go time. I had to acquire supplies and manipulatives, books, games, you name it, I felt like I needed to buy it. And most of the time, it was a gamble. I didn’t know what would work best for Wyatt, what would click most for my kiddo. The fact that he has additional challenges caused me to stress a little more as well; I didn’t want to fail him. However, I began to feel more confident in my choices the longer we homeschooled. I learned how he learned; I saw him making progress in areas I had always been made to feel he may never achieve. I feel like Wyatt really benefited from the one on one teaching; unlike a classroom, my attention was all on him. We worked at his pace, and if something wasn’t working we changed it or moved on, in the case of place value. He just wasn’t ready for that last year, so we will try again this year.

I’m not going to kid anyone, it was a lot of work. For him and me both. It was not just read a little bit in the morning do an art project and then call it quits. Although that would be fun, and some days we actually did do just that. But most of the time we had our plans and while I did not have a set schedule or routine, we had a rhythm to our days and our weeks.

So what worked and what didn’t for us?

I’ll start with what did work. Books for one. Wyatt responded really well to learning through books and stories. However, he really remembered lessons best where he could use his hands or his body, like incorporating little body movements like we did when we learned the life cycle of a butterfly, or when we use all his math manipulatives. Songs work really well for Wyatt too – especially Jack Hartman videos on YouTube. I put Jack on while I am making lunch and it is a good transition from “school” to lunch.

What didn’t work is a bit more hard to express. I had a lot of trial and error on teaching certain topics. As I mentioned before place value was tough for him and for me. I bought a million different things to teach this, and I think that he just wasn’t ready for this concept yet. Going into this year, I also am realizing I don’t need to buy all the things. Last year I felt like I had to purchase everything. This was partially due to our library being sort of inaccessible for a lot of the year, and also because I didn’t have a clear idea of what was going to work. I already have the books checked out from the library that we need for the first few weeks of school for reading/history/science that are not part of the “spine” we are working from. For instance we are going to use Julia Rothman’s Nature Anatomy book all year long, so I bought it, but books we are reading once or twice I am utilizing the library. Which I love to do anyway so it works.

While I bought a bunch of unnecessary stuff last year, there were a few purchases that worked really well for us! (the following do contain affiliate links. I never share anything here that i don’t love and believe in though!)

This math board was a hit with Wyatt. I found it very helpful in teaching him addition and subtraction, and being able to have something tangible resonated with him during the process. I think math can seem so abstract at times unless kids can see it and this really aids in allowing kids to “see” math. Wyatt likes this so much, that he will take it out of his math basket and make equations just whenever. We were on a zoom with my mom last night, and he pulled it out and was making math problems and showing her. I found a board for reading and spelling and I plan on buying it before the beginning of the year since this math board worked so well.

I had also struggled with finding the right set up for our morning time, going over the calendar, time, etc and I struck gold with this one. It is cute and nature themed so a perfect fit for our family, it doesn’t have a bunch of pieces I have to worry about losing, and it is easy to use. Another thing that Wyatt likes to get out and play with, and it totally helped teach him how to read the days of the week.

This ABC picture board from Melissa and Doug was also handy when we were learning letters! Wyatt loves anything hands on like this, and this made learning to recognize the letters a bit more fun for him.

I think one thing that has helped Wyatt a lot as well are flash cards. I know that seems odd, everyone seems to think ugh flash cards, but Wyatt at least loves to get them out of the basket and go through them himself. I don’t hold them up and have him tell me, he likes to get them out, and go through the stack naming everything. I think this was also very beneficial for his speech this year! I also am thinking about getting him something similar for sentence building. With Wyatt’s challenges in speech and fine motor skills, having words he can read and move around or point to help us both out. I can assess whether he knows something and he can communicate it to me in a way that is not frustrating. We work on saying the words and writing them, but being able to manipulate objects as well makes learning for Wyatt a bit easier at times. Two things on my “wish list” for this year are this sight words flash cards set that includes hand motions as part of the lesson, and this sentence building kit.

I have had to get creative at times. I have had to learn to be flexible. I have learned that sometimes it is ok to take a break and come back to something at a different time. I have learned that you run out of colored construction paper unevenly and that food coloring is hard to get at different times of the year. I have also learned that Dawn dish soap removes kinetic sand from a child’s hair and that there is such a thing as an electric hole punch. I have learned so much this year homeschooling Wyatt and I am really looking forward to our new school year – with my big time first grader!

What are some educational games, products, books that you have loved?

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