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!

Homeschool: Pine Trees and Porcu”pines”!

Last week we studied conifer trees and pine cones – and porcupines! We started off by going on a pine cone and conifer tree hunt – and found that there are not huge areas of evergreens near us! Most of our hikes are through woods filled with oaks and hickory and walnut trees, but hardly a conifer to be seen. We did find one place that had a bunch, so we were able to get a few different pine cones at least, but we were never really able to do a big walk and work on identification. But that is ok, we have years for that!

I chose to focus on more hands-on type work for this particular study. I believe when you are studying nature, you should feel it and smell it and experience it. Except for when we got to the porcupine portion of our week, we didn’t need to experience that firsthand..

We started with a fun scientific investigation of pine cones, where Wyatt chose a particular pine cone, and did some observations and an hypothesis or two. Then we put the pine cone in water to see if if would sink or float, and also to see what would happen to the open pine cone. We looked very closely at one to see if we could find any seeds left inside, and we found one little seed, then discussed the life cycle of a Christmas tree. We also talked about the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center and how that little owl was in it this year! Then we read a book about two cardinals in the same situation.

We discussed the parts of a pine cone, the parts of a pine tree, looked at features of different types of conifers, and then made our own little Christmas tree ornaments from twigs. They turned out so cute and individual! Wyatt’s is very patriotic, mine is traditional, and Billy’s is very fluffy. We also turned a few pine cones into peanut butter bird feeders, but the squirrels stole them immediately.

For our creature study this week, we did porcu”pines”! I think this turned out super cute! I cut out the template and had Wyatt snip the needles off the branches and glue them on. We talked about the similarities between the pine needles and a porcupine’s quills, and learned a few simple facts about porcupines. We also watched a video of a porcupine eating a pumpkin and it was super crazy! I will link it below. As always we do themed studies as a supplement to our regular curriculum.

This week we are exploring the world of The Nutcracker ballet- which I have learned from practically everyone in my family that they don’t like! Only Wyatt and I seem to like it. Lol. I figured Wyatt would, he loves music so much but I was shocked that it is not well liked in my family (mom, dad, husband, niece..) Oh well, some weeks turn out better than others!

Resource Round Up:

Life Cycle of a Christmas Tree – The Preschool Tool Box

Pine Cone Science – Playdough to Plato

Identifying Conifers and Flash Cards – Playful Learning

Books Read:

(Contains Amazon Affiliate links)

Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree (one of my holiday favorites) || Red and Lulu || Pick a Pine Tree

Videos:

Teddy the Porcupine Eating Halloween Feast

Rockefeller Center Owl

Homeschooling: Owls Week

I was so excited to start Owl Week! Our whole little family loves owls so this was fun for all of us. We actually did this last week, but I am behind on posting – this week we worked on one of our Heritage Studies, Scotland! I will share about that next week though. (We always do a special unit study in addition to our regular curriculum)

Many of our activities were based around reading, which is my kind of activity. I love book and activity tie in, and there are so many great owl picture books out there! I used some old favorites, and found a few new ones!

First we started with Owl Babies, one of the cutest little books out there. We read the book, and worked on the flip books I downloaded, which were super informative and fun. Then we created some Owl Babies inspired art! (always always Wyatt’s favorite part)

The next day we read Owl Moon, which if you haven’t read it is one of my favorite books ever, about a father and child on a cold silent winter night, looking for owls. We completed some work pages I found online, then created an owl moon artwork. I cut out the silhouette and he did the moon, face and glued it all together.

We spent the rest of the week reading, looking at different types of owls that live all over the world, having a poetry and book teatime with my mom and niece, crafting, and watching owl videos. We finished up our week with our very own owl prowl at the park! We met up with my cousin and his girls, my brother, SIL, and niece, and my friends and their two girls. We think we may have heard an owl straight away but other than that, nothing. It didn’t matter though, it was a beautiful night for a hike through the woods with with friends. And sadly, it was our last for a while as we all agreed to not hang out for a while, even masked and distanced outside, due to our surging COVID numbers. But, for the night we had fun and felt free under the dark canopy of trees, the kids playing, Wyatt hooting trying to call owls, and everyone seemed happy. So not a bad night to end social events on at all.

Resource Round-Up!

Owl Babies Free Printables – Homeschoolshare.com

Owl Moon Free Printables – Wildflower Ramblings

Owls of the World – Little Spark

Books Read:

Contains Amazon Affiliate links

Adopted by an Owl (too long for Wyatt but I loved it) || Little Owl’s Night || Owl Babies || Owl Moon || Tanna’s Owl || Otto the Owl Who Loved Poetry

Crafts and Other Resources:

Owl Babies Craft – I Heart Crafty Things

Owl Moon Craft – Liz’s Early Learning Spot

Molly of Denali – Bird in Hand Episode

Next week I will share our Scotland Studies week! It has been really fun.

Homeschooling: Bears!

This was a pretty good week! In addition to our regular curriculum, we added in a small bear study, and we had a lot of fun. Some weeks work out better than others, and this was a good one!

We started the week by reading We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, and learning about different types of bears. Wyatt’s favorite is the American Black Bear, and I am partial to the Moon Bear. My niece and mom were doing the same study and Dinogirl said her favorite bear is the Spirit Bear while my mom liked the pandas. We also went on a “bear hunt” around our house, playing hide and seek with a toy bear. We discussed the anatomy of a bear (the basics) and created our own bears out of playdough.

Midweek we talked about hibernation, read some books, and made a little bear in a den scene. It was also a gorgeous if a wee bit windy fall day so we took school on the road to the park, where we worked on science.

Today we are going to finish up with some fun stuff, like participating in Fat Bear Week by voting for our family favorite, and then if the clouds cooperate, looking for Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, the bears in the sky tonight!

Next week we are doing a mini-study based on ravens and Edgar Allen Poe… should be fun with kindergartners lol! But I found a few resources to make it more their speed- I just felt it would be fun for October! Or at least, appropriate. Lol.

Resource Round-Up:

Fiddlesticks Education – Bears of the World

Fiddlesticks Eductation – Bearly Awake Journal Pages

Join the Bear Hunt Activity Pages (designed to go with We’re Going on a Bear Hunt)

Books Read:

This section contains Amazon Affiliate links

Bear Make Den || Welcome Home, Bear || Sneeze, Big Bear, Sneeze || Bear Snores On || We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

Videos Watched:

Bear Snores On

Black Bear: Animal Facts for Kids

And I rented We’re Going on a Bear Hunt from Amazon

If you are interested in the National Parks Fat Bear Week, you can find it here! If you do check it out, let me know which bear you voted for! Update: This challenge is over but you can still check out the participants!

Homeschooling: Acorns and Squirrels!

I was super excited about this study! I am such a fall person and this felt very autumn to me. Plus, squirrels are cute, except when they eat my pumpkins that have been growing for months.

We did take things a little slower than usual this week, but Wyatt and I both seem to do better when our days have structure so we did do work, just more spread out throughout the day. We started the week with acorns and ended with squirrels, which was a fun progression. We learned about the parts of an acorn, the life cycle of an oak, and he made this cute little tissue acorn. Later we talked all about the different types of squirrels in our area, colored a picture of his favorite (the flying squirrel), learned about their habitats and diet and looked at their fluffy tails and pointy ears. My niece loved the red squirrels for their big ear tufts actually – they are pretty darn cute! My favorite were the fox squirrels though. We also took a short little hike through the woods, spotting squirrels and their nests. I found a little wood sprite too!

With Blossom and Root, we studied the letter I, read from Frog and Toad all year, and did some nature lessons around trees – and squirrels!

Billy always loves the evolution of the learning area through the week – it changes from start to finish and this week I tried to capture the different stages. In one you can see the game that we played this week too – one of my friend’s had given Wyatt this game when he came home from the hospital, and it fit so perfectly with our lesson plans this week!

So the resource roundup!

Resources and Printables

Squirrel Lap book and activities – Homeschoolshare.com

Acorn Anatomy – KinderPapery

Squirrel and Autumn Printables – Natural Beach Living

Fall Math and Literacy Packet – The Moffatt Girls

Books We Read

(This section contains Amazon Affiliate links)

Full disclosure: we only did a picture walk through the Chester Raccoon book, as it is about death and loss which I was not ready to discuss this week. However, if you need or are looking for a book on this topic for kids, this is a fantastic one.

Chester Raccoon and the Acorn Full of Memories || Little Acorn || Because of an Acorn

Extras

(This section contains Amazon Affiliate links)

Wooden Acorn Lacing Toy

Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game

Next week we move on to bears!

Homeschooling: September

It’s been a month. From starting homeschooling to Wyatt’s surgeries, it’s been busy. We are using the Blossom and Root curriculum, supplementing with Chickie and Roo’s Kinder Nature Beginnings, and I am also throwing in my own stuff as well. It’s a lot to sort and juggle, but it is worth it. We read Aesop’s Fables and Stone Soup this month so far in Blossom and Root, and did some fun activities to accompany the readings.

We started September by studying apples, then moved on to red foxes because I love them, then ended the month with a two week leaf study. We didn’t get to everything extra I had planned but that is ok.

And frankly, this month has been such a roller coaster I can’t recall most of the resources I used for the first two units of extra study. Our leaf study though at least is fresh in my mind!

We discussed the parts of a leaf, played with a leaf ID puzzle, traced and colored leaves, worked on leaf IDs, did a My Leaf report page, and painted an autumn tree. We made a leaf squirrel after being inspired by Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert, as we also read a bunch of books. My favorite was our leaf rubbing day, where we sat outside in the sun and read and created.

So, the resource round up!

Printables:

Kidsparkz Fall

Leaf Investigation Freebie

Wildflower Ramblings Leaf ID

Parts of a Leaf from Twisty Noodle

Books:

(Contains Amazon Affiliate links)

Pooh’s Fall Harvest || Fletcher and the Falling Leaves || Leaves || The Gold Leaf || Leaf Man || Hello, Fall || Illustrated Stories From Aesop || Stone Soup

Hello, Fall was a big favorite here – so adorable. And we always love David Ezra Stein, and the Fletcher books too. Wyatt is a fan of Winnie the Pooh so that is always a winner for him, but his favorite this time was the Flip-Up Fairy Tale of Stone Soup, which had lift the flaps and a CD.

Extra Materials and Links

Crayon Rocks – perfect for leaf rubbing!

Wooden Leaf Puzzle

Stone Soup Board Game

Next week we are learning about acorns and squirrels – it should be a fun week!

Homeschool, Summer Ed: Space

This was a great unit – we covered a brief overview of Earth, the Moon, constellations, and space exploration, and it was really fun. This was our second to last week of our summer homeschool – we are going to have one more week then we will be off for a week before we start Wyatt’s first day of Kindergarten!

I think constellation day was our favorite. We started by looking at the Skyview App on my phone, laying on the floor of his darkened bedroom, seeing where the constellations were in the sky. We talked about how we couldn’t see them since it was daytime, and how when the sun went down then we would be able to see them. I dug out his Uncle Goose constellation blocks that we got him a million years ago, and he had a blast building tall towers with them after we looked at some of the constellations. We ended by playing a game of Night Sky dominoes. They weren’t really dominoes though, more like heavy cardboard shaped liked dominoes with illustrations on it. They were pretty cool.

Wyatt also made his own constellations – he chose a house and snail lol. I drew them out and he put the stars on.

We read about Vincent Van Gogh, and Wyatt painted his own version of Starry Night. He also painted a moon, using a foil ball as a stamp, and did an Earth lacing activity. It all looks so pretty hanging in our den. We have one project left, and we are waiting until tonight to do it as a family – an Oreo moon phase activity. Anything that involves Oreos, I am there for.

Resource Round-Up!

Solar System Lacing Cards – Little Spark Company

Moon Phases Unit Study – Stephanie Hathaway

Books We Read:

(contains Amazon Affiliate Links)

Vincent Can’t Sleep (such a gorgeous book!!) || What’s Out There? || The Usborne Big Book of Stars and Planets || What Are Stars? (Wyatt loved this one the best) || Moon (another gorgeous book) || Night Sky Dominoes (not a book)

Videos:

Caitie’s Classroom – Stars and Moon

Caitie’s Classroom – The Night Sky

Caitie’s Classroom – Let’s Pretend to be an Astronaut

Wyatt loves Caitie so we lucked out with so many videos this week!

Homeschool, Summer Edition: Birds and Fireflies

We have been focusing on life with wings the past two weeks, and have learned about birds and fireflies! Fireflies just feel so summer to me. I wait for them to start blinking their lights every year and when they finally do, I feel like ok, now it is summertime for real. We are doing a little less structured school for the summer, but still learning and creating and keeping up with skills so we avoid that summer slide – which is a real thing and with this year being so abbreviated at school, I felt like I would just keep going.

Last week was bird week! We talked about different nests and eggs, worked on number identification, patterns, letters, and also more nature study type things, like bird identification and listening to different bird songs and calls. Wyatt’s favorites are chickadees and woodpeckers – mine will always be owls of all sorts (in fact we are spending a whole week on owls this fall..) We also measured our “wingspans” and learned that Wyatt’s wingspan is similar to that of a barn owl while mine is close to an osprey.

Art is always a fun part of our week and for bird week we painted with feathers, made a feather branch out of construction paper and a branch (fine motor skills and cutting practice!), and made a bird kite that was more fun to make than fly. Wyatt’s painting though – I don’t think he intended to paint a bird but do you see it? I think I am going to frame it!

Then this week we learned about fireflies, or lightning bugs depending on who you are. Again it was a more unstructured, more nature study versus school kind of week, perfect for summer. We did continue to review skills, and read books and listened to Leo the Lightning Bug on CD a million times. We made a cute little lightning bug and then fun glow in the dark firefly jars. We ended the week with an ice cream dinner then watching for fireflies in the yard. It was a good very summertime feeling week.

Resource Round-Up:

HomeEd Printables Birds

N is for Nest Teaching Mama

Honeycomb Cabin Birds

Fireflies by Stephanie Hathaway

Firefly Activities – Teach With Me

Books and Extras:

(Contains affiliate links for Amazon and Usborne Books)

Montessori Bird Puzzle

Sibley Backyard Bird Matching Game

Fireflies by Julie Brinckloe || Firefly July || Leo the Lightning Bug by Eric Drachman || My Book of Life Cycles || Birdhouse

And that is it for our homeschool the last two weeks! Next week we are doing a very fun unit on the Great Smoky Mountains; pre-COVID we had a vacation planned to the Smoky Mountains and Dollywood which is now on hold until next year, unfortunately. So we will be visiting and learning about the the area virtually! It is a more play based week with an emphasis on art and music and geography and history – I am excited to see how it all goes for us!