Oceans of the World

Author: Michele / Labels: , , , , ,

First a quick note about the picture. Yesterday was dry as a bone, about 93 degrees and you can see my kids in their special go-pick-up-sister outfits. The rain boots and knit cap cracked me up and I had to snap the pic.

Anyway, we started our official ocean unit last night. Until that point, Rachel and I had been working on some ocean-themed worksheets I printed out online from learning page. We looked at a map of the world, and identified the oceans. We discussed how much of the world's surface is actually water. Then the girls colored each ocean a different color to match the corresponding map key.

After they had done that, we did our first ocean water experiment. I took two mason jars, and filled both with water. To one I added about 1/2 salt. The kids tasted the water, observed the clarity of the water (salt water is very cloudy). We put the jars onthe mantle with no lids to observe the effects of evaporation.

More Oceans

Author: Michele / Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Please note, these three are all my own creations. Aside from some templates I borrowed from other resources, the ideas and executions were mine.

You can see Rainbow Ootopus. His body is made of blue felt. Just a large oval shape with a flat body. I added googly eyes, a pom-pom nose and a magic marker smile. Then I took and cut eight legs from various colors of felt. I found buttons in corresponding colors (except for the white leg- it has a black button) and sewed them on by hand in evenly spaced intervals. Then I cut a slit in each leg so I can be buttoned onto the body. This is a great fine motor skills game, as well as a way to teach colors and counting. Very hands on.

I made an Oceans of the World file folder game. I took a simple map of the Oceans of the World. This is in fact, the map we will be using for several of our activities. I printed out one copy with the ocean names, and another copy with the names erased (thank goodness for art pad huh?). I colored them identically and glued the labeled map to the top half of the file folder and the unlabled map to the bottom half. Then I took an index card and make small lables for the oceans. Rather than just having 5 labels and a zip-loc bag, I once more broke out the magnets and attatched a magnet in the correct positions as well as magnets on the back of the lables. It makes for a very sturdy game that is movable in its pieces, but strong enough to handle being shifted around. And if by some change we do lose a lable, they are very easy to replace.

The final game on this post is one I call How Fish Use Camouflage. I took a file folder (one of the long ones) and taped it open, then covered it with blue construction paper. I then took sea creatures and habitat features and cut them from different colors, patterns and textures of materials. I cut a starfish and two rocks from sandpaper, a manta ray and coral from craft foam, a killer whale and coral from a foam veggie tray, a shark and seaweed from bubble paper I colored blue, an eel and seaweed from a polka-dotted piece of tag board I had from who knows what and an octopus and coral from plastic canvas (very cheap and we will use it for another craft). I colored the octopus and coral purple. I then tacked the file folder to the wall and again, using magnets (I figured it would be easier to play with than having it flat and losing pieces) I put a magnet on the back of each sea creature and a magnet on the front of each piece of coral, rock and seaweed. This allows the kids to play with various textures of creature vs camo and they can see what works and what doesn't. It will also be a great tool when we study camouflage. Some of you might remember a smaller version of this I made for insects. It just highlights a very important survival technique for ocean animals.

While these games are a touch on the time-consuming side to make, they do provide a great hands-on opportunity for kids and I find them very well worth it.

Ocean Time

Author: Michele / Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

For summer school, we always try to do something fun, and relatively craft based. Last summer, we spent our time learning about life around the world. This summer, our topic is Oceans of the World. You can see the wall map I set up, so the kids can see the world's oceans; there is also a set of ocean-themed numbers (I have ABCs but dont have them quite finished yet; Julia is learning her colors so I have made a Rainbow Octopus and a set of color sea-life flashcards for her; there is also a magnet board full of sea creatures for play. There is also an ocean-themed board game. The pile of stuff I have amassed on my living room table is amazingly impressive. I will try to post all the information here as I had a very hard time finding enough stuff online and in my books to cover an entire summer of ocean fun. I had to make up a lot of the stuff myself, which is fine, but boy am I glad I got started with it now.

The World's Oceans is basically a map that I bought at Target for a dollar last summer, after having to draw my own world map on newsprint paper. I tacked it up on the wall and added my own bulletin board letters to spell out THE WORLD'S OCEANS. We will be learning the oceans of the world this summer, as well as looking at where different countries lie along the coasts. I wanted the girl's to have a concrete reference for this, as well as giving them the beginnings of map introduction.

On my living room walls, we normally have posters with the letters and numbers, as well as weather charts etc. For the summer, I have taken them all down, to give my living room, which also serves as our school room, the best possible chance of being turned into an underwater showcase. I also wanted the kids to have something new and different to look at this summer. I wanted to find ocean themed alphabets and numbers to put up, again for reference and because we always do a lot with letters and numbers (tis the age at my house). It took my a goo dbit of searching, but finally I found a site called Sparklebox, which had the numbers you see featured and a set of lower case letters which follow the same theme (I will get them up on here once they are up in my house :) ). Rather than making a static chart, what I wanted was to make something the kids could actually shift around, so I put magnets on the backs of them. I buy magnetic strips for less than a dollar a package in the craft section of Wal-Mart. My front door is metal, we have one window covered in sheet metal (you will see it covered in magnetic sea creatures) and Jason also made the girls a large magnetic board. It is our solution to a flannel board. When we are done with a unit, the pieces go to the refridgerator door where they provide another countless set of hours of entertainment.

Anyway, magnets are great at my house because even Julia loves to play with them and rearrange them. I plan to make the alphabet magnetic as well. You can also see a picture of magnetic sea creatures. I still need to add seaweed and coral to the mix, but basically its a large version of those magnetic books you can take in the car. It will allow sorting, putting in order of size, and just general play. It is also a good way to expose the girls to the general creatures under the sea. We have already begun the "what is this called" game, which leads to the "what does it eat, where does it live etc" game.

I made Julia a set of color cards. She has recently become fascinated with learning the names for everything. Among her recent loves in this regard are counting (she can count to 11 believe it or not) and colors. I just took a set of game cards from one of my books, although any small ocean clip art would work and colored them the basic primary colors as well as brown, grey, white, pink and black. Then I took a binder ring and punched holes in the top corner of each card, threaded them on the ring and viola! A set of flashcards she can't lose the pieces too. Another color game I made her I will put up in the next post- Rainbow Octopus.

Finally, I found a free board game maker online and made the girls a board game. The site allows you the option of putting in your own text, so mine includes things like bonuses for using camouflage and penalties for getting caught in whirlpool. Then of course, since I don't have color ink in my printer, it was time to break out the markers and color the board. This is a great activity for the kids to do together, and in fact one the whole family can be involved in.

Bug Cake and Our Final Insect Hoo-rah!

Author: Michele / Labels: , , , , ,

Well all, I am back to finally finish the bug unit I started and to post our summer fun of Oceans. As you know, Elizabeth's school has become the bane of my existence these days, and the last couple of weeks have been no exception. They have been very needy, sending home lists of things for her to bring to school. Just last week she ended up taking 4 bottled drinks, 2 packaged snacks, 1 "birthday cake", 1 pkg of paper plates, one jug of kool-aid, 1 pkg of napkins, and one bag of silverware for three days of activities. I am still not entirely sure why they even bother with school the last two weeks, as they are just play days pretty much.

Anyway, the photo above is the cake I made. I won't bore you with details, just suffice to say that it was one of those cases of everything I tried to do I didn't have the ingredients, and yet God came through for me in a big way. The crumbs on top were chocolate cookies I made, then there were two chocolate cakes and chocolate (powdered sugar-less) frosting. One of the richest cakes I have ever tried but very tasty. And even though the recipes were all ones I had never tried before the cakes turned out perfectly.

I also managed, on a very tight budget, to find plates, drinks etc very cheaply! YAY! Anyway, with the rest of our insect unit, we spent one afternoon at the park catching bugs and drawing pictures of the ones we caught.

Over the past weekend, it rained here pretty hard. The girls went into the backyard to play, on a clear part of Saturday and made an awesome discovery. There, near a fire ant mound, were tiny, fuzzy bright red bugs that looked like spiders. Well, it took a while to figure out what they were, but come to find out they were Velvet Spider Mites. Apparently they only come out here after a hard rain (which is not that common) and they eat all manner of pesky bugs. Jason tried to get pictures of them both with a cell phone and with my camera, but all the pictures were too blurry to use. However, we were very pleased to have gotten to see this rather rare occurrance. And what a fun end to our Insect Unit!


Author: Michele / Labels: , , , , ,

We learned about dragonflies one day over the weekend. Actually it was really cool, because Jason sat down with the girls to do this craft and mini-book (both pulled from http://www.lapbooklessons.com/FreeLapbooks.html. He took the girls online while their crafts were drying to learn important dragonfly facts like how a dragonfly's eye works, where they live, what they eat and how fast they can fly. Then, they made their books and assembled their books. He does not do school with them very often, so I try to encourage it on the weekends.

The crafts were simple, just a printed template and a popcicle stick, colored and decorated with glitter. The book was a mini-book from the lapbook on dragonflies on the site above. It was part the success of this simple little activity that made me decide to try my hand at helping the girls lapbook this summer.

Tissue Butterfly

Author: Michele / Labels: , , , , ,

The butterfly we made from tissue paper was a very simple craft to make. I just took a simple butterfly outline template from one of my fine motor skills books, and the girls put down glue with paint-brushes, then pressed pre-cut (I cut them ahead of time) squares of tissue paper over the glue. I wrote their names on the butterfly bodies, as they both love to watch you write their names. Even Julia is getting able to recognize letters in her name and she will promt you when you say them outloud as you write.

Ladybug Paper Plate

Author: Michele / Labels: , , , ,

We took a paper plate and painted it red with tempera paint, then the girls took a cotton ball dipped in black paint to add spots. We accordian-style folded six legs(which imo gives it a spidery look- lol) and then added google eyes. With drying time, it took us the better part of an afternoon.


Author: Michele /

Hey all. Sorry. We have been busy with schoolwork, but I have not had much time to post. So once more I am playing catch-up. In addition to regular schoolwork, I have begun starting to gather things together for at least a month or two of our summer work, so I am not trying to pull it together right before/after the baby is born. I will posting pictures of our summer unit as I get them done. Then, we also plan to try our hand at lapbooking this summer. I think Liz will really enjoy it. The set-up is pretty neat. For now, I am using a series of lapbooks I found free online at http://www.homeschoolshare.com/animal_studies.php. Check out the ocean ones in particular, as I think we will spend our summer diving under the sea. I had thought to just do animals, but its too broad for us. So, we will be concentrating it down. Then we will pick up other animal groups as time allows. We will however, be spending time learning animal classification, etc... Honestly, take a look at the lapbooking site. I am very excited about it. Of course, we will do much of the same things we always do: games, art, math, reading etc. Also, if anyone can think of kids movies featuring ocean life please let me know. We have Little Mermaid, The Reef, and Finding Nemo and that cartoon where Will Smith is the fish's voice (can't remember the name off the bat).

Been Kinda Lazy Lately

Author: Michele /

Well, as anyone who checks here often can tell, I havent been posting as much as before. Its not that we havent been doing school its that I have been lazy. I need to get our dragon fly stuff up here, our ladybug stuff and our ants we made yesterday. We also got our painted lady butterflies in the mail. At Christmas, more than anything else, Elizabeth wanted a butterfly house, so that is what she got. The cool thing is that you can send away for the caterpillars to raise. We are really excited about them. I will see if I can get some pictures of them today. It might be hard since they are essentially in a plastic cup. It has been so hot here, and it is supposed to be 101 today and 103 tomorrow. On top of that, I have been back in my old sleep patterns of insomnia and horrific nightmares. I am sooo tired!

Anyway, I will get our pictures up in the next day or so. We had a great playdate the other day with a super nice mom and her three little girls! I am really excited about that and hope that we can continue to get together with her. We have also recently found a church (fingers crossed), and God answered the what are we eating today question. Hopefully things are back on an upswing for us. It seems like every time we get a little ahead or even caught up, something happens. But we have to start getting things ready for this baby.

She is coming in two months, give or take and there wont be any stopping this one. She already reminds me of her oldest sister. Heaven help us all. LOL.

BTW the picture at the top is what happens when Rachel and a bottle of glitter collide. Poor thing, she poofed the glitter container and had glitter everywhere. This is the after-effects many hours later and you can still see how she shines- as if she needed any help at all there.

Insect Book

Author: Michele /

Rachel made a book full of insects. The book has fact files with insect information. It was a family project, as Rachel gets tired of coloring. She delights in showing everyone the pictures they colored.

Grasshopper Crafts

Author: Michele /

Grasshopper Crafts: We painted clothespins and thanks to my husband figured out how to add legs. We also made a wheel of the life cycle of a grasshopper.