Wednesday, January 18, 2012

It's SNOW wonder we love homeschooling!

 I know, I know, it's a cheesy title for this post, but you can always count on me to lay on the cheese!  Today was packed, and we got a lot done, which always feels good after I put Mags to bed and I reflect on the day.    She read her second book today and when I saw how good she has gotten at using her scissors, I thought, 'She's not a baby anymore.'  She truly is growing right before my eyes.  What a wonderful gift to experience it every day.

Now, on with the snow ... er, show!

Continuing from yesterday's post, we had prepared cubes of frozen salt water and fresh water.  Today, we took those out of the freezer and put two of each in separate bowls, labeling our salt cubes with 'SALTY,' and watched throughout the day to see which would melt first.
Within a few hours, we had our answer!  The salty cubes melted more quickly than the fresh water cubes!
We also took our penguin toy that we froze in a cup yesterday, removed him from the same, placed him in a bowl, and started the clock to see how long it would take him to melt.  (Yesterday, we timed how long it took him to freeze.)  As of yet, he's still holding onto some ice!
 Then, after some reading, we set to work making some good, old-fashioned white paper snow flakes!  Here, Mags is cutting notches into her paper.
Unfolding ...
So satisfying!  When we were done making a few, we taped them to her bathroom mirror to enjoy for a few days.
Then, it was time for some glitter fun!  I came across this 'Snow Swabs' snowflakes idea in Family Fun magazine, December/January 2012, page 16, and knew we had to do it.  For the same, you need white cotton swabs, tacky glue, glitter, and a piece of cardboard and saran wrap for your work area.
 First, cover your cardboard in the saran wrap, like I did, below.  (The left piece is the back and the right piece shows the front.)
 Then, using 18 of your swabs, lay them out on your covered cardboard, like you see here.
 Add your tacky glue to every spot where the swabs meet.  (This is trickier than it sounds because they like to move!)
 Then, add glitter to your glue spots, like Mags is doing here.
 Let dry overnight, then carefully peel your flakes from the plastic.  Hang with string.
 This is a photo of the article.  As you can see from this picture, and the one above, the size of your flakes is deceiving.  (They end up being quite big!)  Because of that, Mags wanted some smaller ones to work with, so we simply brought six swabs together at one point.  (See picture to follow this article photo.)
 Our six-swab flakes, getting decorated ...
 We'll let them dry, too, then hang them as well.  
 We then set out to do another Family Fun snowflake suggestion, the 'Glittery Window Clings,' from their website at, using a cookie sheet, wax paper, fabric paint, and a snowflake design.  (Their site has templates, or you can use your own.)
 Lay a sheet of your wax paper over your cookie sheet, placing your templates under the paper, like below.
 Using your fabric paint, trace the templates, being sure your paper doesn't move.
 Once done, let dry overnight before carefully peeling off and applying to your windows.  (Ours will probably also make it to Maggie's bathroom mirror with her paper flakes, as she likes to keep it decorated!)
 And, yet another Family Fun idea (from their December/January 2010 issue, page 20), we made the snowflake 'Retro Ornaments' using only toilet paper tubes, pipe cleaners, scissors, a hole punch, a ruler, and a pencil.  (One flakes uses two tubes and three pipe cleaners.)
 First, flatten one of your toilet paper tubes, and using your ruler and scissors, mark and cut into 3/4-inch rings.  You need 10 rings to make one ornament.  (Each tube will give you five rings.)
 Next, on each flattened ring, mark dots 3/4 of an inch in from each folded edge, then punch out with your hole punch.  (See ours below.)
 All of our rings, punched and ready to go!
 Thread all of your rings onto one pipe cleaner.  Twist the remaining two pipe cleaners together to make one long one, and thread that through the remaining holes of your rings.  
 Pull your smaller pipe cleaner into a circle so that all the points of your rings are touching, then twist and snip off the edges of the same.  Repeat with the outer circle.  Hang your snowflake with some pretty ribbon!
 (We hung ours from our dining room light, with our other decorative flakes!)
 Then, later, we began our Geography study of the day, focusing on the seven continents, four oceans, and compass roses. After plenty of reading on the same, we made our own compass rose (below), which we will laminate, so she can refer to it in the future when we are using our maps.
For our next project, we decided to make the 'Earth Day Scissor Skills Craft' as seen at (a mosaic craft, really).  Using the template they provided, the only other things we needed were strips of blue and green paper, scissors, and glue sticks.
 She set right to work cutting our paper strips into smaller pieces to place on our Earth picture.  
 Placing her pieces ...
 It turned out great!  She was very proud and this may be one of the first things I put in her Geography notebook we're starting!
After our mosaic Earth was complete, we decided to also make the 'Planet Earth Coffee Filter Craft' as seen at  For the same, you need coffee filters, washable markers in blue and green, and a spray bottle with water in it.
 First, color your filters to resemble the Earth, with continents and large bodies of water, being sure to not cover the white of the filter entirely, so your colors will have room to bleed into each other. 
 Once colored, spray them liberally with water.  The colors will soon blend.  Let dry completely before carefully lifting off your work surface and hanging. 
And, finally, we finished up our review of the letter Kk with this Kangaroo craft, as suggested in our Alphabet and Counting workbook.
Happy crafting!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Science of Snow (Part I) and Maps Galore!

Today, we did an extensive study of maps, as well as a study on 'The Science of Snow,' complete with ice experiments and an investigative look at snowflakes.  Our experiments will continue through tomorrow (hence the 'Part I' in the title of this post), and we'll be wrapping up our Winter curriculum by the end of the week, but not before a few more great crafts!  So, on with today's ideas, but first, two excellent books for teaching about maps:

This one is great for Maggie's age, and since it's written in first person, and written simply, she could relate to it and follow it easier.  It starts mapping from the child's bedroom and grows to the globe, then back again, giving some review on the beginning half of the book.  I loved it!
And this one is written in rhyme (as are all The Cat in the Hat's Learning Library books) which made it fun to listen to, but because it was so information-packed, it was a lot for her to learn at her age.  She did enjoy the read, though!  And I love that I can use it for years!
After more reading, we got out all of our maps and globe and examined the same, finding the legends and the scales on each, our location on some, and landmarks.  We also learned our directional terms (North, South, East, and West).  We then discussed the lines of latitude and longitude, including the Equator and Prime Meridian.  Using those as guides, she was able to tell me which hemisphere we are in and which direction we are in in relation to other countries I pointed out.  
 We then set to work making our own map -- of her room!
 Here, she's adding her kitten, Emmett.
All done!  Looks great, Mags!  :)
For today's journal entry, I asked her, 'If it snowed today, what would be the first thing you would do?'  She answered, 'Snowboarding!' then drew this picture of herself on a red snowboard.  :)
 After some reading on snow and ice, we started with our science experiments (with the help of my 501 Science Experiments book).  For our first experiment, we set out to time how long it would take for a cup of ice to freeze.  For the same you will need a small cup, water, and a small plastic toy.  (The toy makes it more fun and gives them a center point for their ice.)  
 Place your toy in the cup and pour water over it, being sure not to make the water level too high.  (Water expands when it freezes.)  We then placed it in our freezer and set a timer for 30 minutes.  After that 30 minutes' time, we checked on our cup to see if there were any changes, recording the same.  We continued this until our ice had completely frozen, more than three hours!  (Tomorrow, we'll be doing the second part of this experiment.)
 We also started another experiment to see if salt water melts from a frozen state faster or slower than fresh water.  To test the same, you need regular ice cubes, and salt water cubes, which Mags is making here.  (We will test out our theories tomorrow after both have completely frozen.)
 Later, we found images online of real snowflakes, noting that each snowflake has six real points.
 We then drew our own snowflakes, using white chalk on blue construction paper, being sure each had six real points.
Concentration.  :)
When Mags announced it was time for a snack, I decided to continue with our snowflake theme since that's what we were in the midst of.  I popped some bread in the toaster, and once done, used a cookie cutter to cut out this snowflake shape, then buttered and sprinkled it with cinnamon sugar and powdered sugar.  I also gave her some cocoa with marshmallows on the side.  
 Counting the snowflakes' points ... six!
And for our final ice experiment for today, we poured salt on ice to see if it would melt faster than an ice cube with no salt on it would.  It did!
 Then, of course, what's better than playtime?  We don't have real snow here, but this is just as fun and less cold -- that fake, nontoxic 'snow' in a tube.  Just add water and play!  (She could do this forever if I let her.)
And, to finish up the day's work, we did some review of the letter Kk.  Here, we made Kk with ketchup!  (She requested corndogs for dinner, so I just popped the plate in the fridge for dipping into later!)
Tomorrow?  Some more fun with snowflakes and a couple of Earth crafts!  Come back!