Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Tomb, Part I

Today was a good day.  We stayed in, got lots done, and have some neat projects to show for it (not to mention clean laundry, a clean kitchen, and a dinner in the works worth writing home about)!  During this sacred Lenten season, we have been busy studying the works and miracles of Jesus, leading up to his death and resurrection.  We have been using this great resource, The Beginner's Bible: Timeless Children's Stories, particularly, the stories from the New Testament, which are chock full of pictures and written in short form in easy words someone Maggie's age can understand.  We love this Bible!
After that, we got to work on our special Easter project, an ongoing one that we'll work on now, through Easter day, a model of the tomb of Jesus!  But first, an update on our 'Frog Life Cycle Station' ...

Here is one of our first graduates out of the tank!  Maggie and Al released about three the first go-round and they happily obliged the transition.  But, of course, my crew just couldn't come home with an empty jar.  (Why would I ever think such a thing?)
 They brought home a bigger one to show me what our graduates would soon look like.  (This picture is deceiving, as he was actually about three inches long.  See the next picture for a better image.)
Here he is, a bit nervous.  (They let him go again within minutes after checking him over.)
But, alas, there were more to come.  They later came back with three LARGE bull frog tadpoles.  (You can see the difference in their size from the ones we've been caring for, here.)
 They also brought home a pregnant fish!  [sigh]  (I have to admit, though, that she does seem quite content with her new digs!  I guess it's much better than the puddle from whence she came.)  
 So, here is the new crew, compliments of Al and Maggie, now taking up residence in my kitchen!  (I am grateful, though, for a husband willing and eager go pond-diving for the sake of our daughter's education!)
And also, before we get on to the start of our tomb project, for those of you who don't know, when we review our letters (the sounds they make and words that start with them, as well as the practice of writing each), we always make them with something that starts with that letter.  Maggie decided that this week, she wanted to make her Oos with olives!  So, here she is, in the process of the same.
 'Olives start with O!'  (They don't make a bad snack, either!)  :)
Then, it was on to our tomb project!  I got the idea from one of our local homeschooling groups, who made this project at the park together one day.  We weren't able to attend, as Mags was sick last week, but we recreated it at home and now, we can share it with you!  For the initial stage of the same, you will need a large clay saucer, a small clay pot, potting soil, shade grass seed, and small pebbles.  (You will also need on hand a bowl, a spoon, and some water.)
 First, lay your pot on its side in the saucer.  (This will be the tomb.)  Surround it with a layer of your pebbles, which will keep the 'tomb' from rolling around.  (Mags always has that tongue out when she's really in the thick of things!)  :)
 Next, prepare your seed mixture.  Pour a significant amount of soil into your bowl, followed by a handful of grass seed.  Mix well.
 Once well mixed, add about a cup of water to moisten your soil, but don't get it too wet or else it won't pack easily.
 Our soil, ready for the saucer.
 Next, carefully pack your soil mixture around and over your 'tomb,' creating a hill.  (Once your grass seed starts to grow, this hill will be a grassy one!)
 Here is the back of our 'hill.'  It should look great when the grass starts growing!
 Finally, to protect our shelf in our classroom window, we placed our saucer in a glass pie plate, and put that on top of a large piece of plastic.  (This will be helpful when we water it with our spray bottle as needed, probably daily.)  Place in a sunny window and let your seeds sprout!
 Throughout the week, we'll tend to our grass seed, watering it, and trimming it as needed to create the grassy hill over our 'tomb.'  Stay tuned for more additions to our project next Friday, Good Friday ...
Then, for a fun Spring project, we made painted cherry blossoms using a large piece of white paper, a brown poster paint marker (you could just use brown paint and a brush as well), pink paint, and an empty, clean 20-ounce soda bottle.  (We got this great idea from http://alphamom.com/family-fun/holidays/cherry-blossom-art-from-a-recycled-soda-bottle/.)
 First, using your brown paint, paint a branch across your paper, like ours below.
 Then, pour some of your pink paint into a shallow dish.  Using the underside of your empty soda bottle, use it to stamp into the pink paint, covering the bottom, like below.
 Stamp onto your paper, along the branches.
 (She loved this craft!)
 Looking good, Mags!  :)
 All done!  Beautiful!  And so easy!  :)
Happy crafting!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?"

So, yesterday was eventful.  For those of you who don't know, Al is off on Mondays, so while most of the population is starting another week of work, we are starting our weekend.  I usually work on prepping the upcoming homeschooling week, while Al and Mags pal around at one of our local parks, getting dirty and making memories.  Well, yesterday was just one of those days.  First, it started with them bursting through the door, requesting an empty jar.  Nothing new.  Then I saw that they had a long, fuzzy caterpillar hanging out in Mags' bug box.  Again, nothing new.
They left a second time, then came back again, with two more caterpillars wriggling up Al's arm.  Awesome.
After they got the caterpillars homed, they requested another jar before heading back out.  Great.  I gave them another, then again, they quickly left, leaving me with three confused caterpillars sitting in my kitchen.  It wasn't long before they came bursting through the door a third time.  "We need another jar!  Maybe two!"  Really?  I came around the corner to find the second jar full of tadpoles; 'Toads,' Al said.  Fabulous.  This was becoming a circus!  Then, yet again, they left.  I was getting really nervous at this point, but started to pull out our 'frog materials' I was planning on covering next month in honor of Frog Month.
Then, they came again.  With.  More.  Tadpoles.  Bigger ones.  'Frogs this time,' Al said.  Yeah, why not?
I finally told Al that we had enough critters come in for one day.  (So convenient he would be going back to work the next day for the entire week, leaving me with the job of caring for them all!)  I started an impromptu lesson with Maggie, using the frog life cycle toys I picked up a few weeks ago at the teacher store ($2) ...
... and the poster I had been saving for next month's lesson.
Well, OF COURSE, Maggie and Al had bigger plans, namely, getting our new friends an aquarium so they would be cushier than in the ol' pickle jars Mom had provided.  So, what followed was a jaunty trip to Walmart to purchase a proper pad for these pond swimmers.  Complete with a Spongebob pineapple house.  And that is how our frog learning station was born.
Livin' large ...
She is in frog heaven, though, which makes a mom secretly smile.  (I can't let them know, though!) :)
More crafts to come soon!

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Wee Pot of Gold!

I know we've been 'MIA' for a bit.  Al had taken a few days off and we just made it an extended Spring Break.  We'll be back next week, though, with lots of projects, but I still wanted to make this post about Maggie's St. Patrick's Day snack in time for you to make tomorrow ... what we called a "Wee Pot of Gold.'

This snack is simply made with yellow-colored jello (we used pineapple, but lemon is another option), a small, circular-shaped cookie cutter, and a little plastic pot.  (I usually buy the cheap, 12-pack sleeve of little black plastic cauldrons at Halloween and use them for St. Patrick's Day, too).
 To make the jigglers, pour 1 1/4 cups of boiling water into two boxes (3 oz. each) gelatin.  Pour into a dish so that the gelatin sits at about 1/2-inch thick.  (My 8x8-inch square glass pan worked great!)  Cool for at least three hours until set.
 Once set, cut your gelatin into coin-shapes using your cookie cutter.
 Fill your cauldron with your 'gold' and add a green ribbon.
It made for a happy snacker!  :)
And, of course, we read this great read tonight before bed, The Night Before St. Patrick's Day by Natasha Wing.  (We love her books!)
Happy St. Patrick's Day to everyone!  We'll see you Tuesday!  :)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

"If a man who cannot count finds a four-leaf clover, is he lucky?" -- Stanislaw J. Lec

Happy Tuesday!  We took it a bit easy today, as we had Toddler Time at the museum this morning, followed by grocery shopping, housecleaning and Bible study, but we did do a few things I thought I'd share:

For snack today, we made the 'Shamrock Chips' as seen at http://lisastorms.typepad.com/lisa-storms/2011/03/st-patricks-day-continued.html.  For the same, you will need spinach wraps, cooking spray, a shamrock-shaped cookie cutter, and salt.  (You may recall we did this once for Valentine's day, using a heart-shaped cookie cutter.)  First, simply cut shamrocks from your wraps, using your cookie cutter.
 Then, spray a cookie sheet with your cooking spray, add your shamrocks, and spray again.  Salt lightly and bake in a 350 degree oven for 5-7 minutes, watching them frequently so they don't get too dark.
 Here are our chips, ready to snack on!
For a drink to accompany our chips, I made these little fun limeade drinks, simply using lime concentrate (follow the package instructions), colored with just 1 drop of green food coloring, and decorated with a fun, green curly straw and a lime slice.
A St. Patrick's Day snack!
As you know, we have been reviewing our letters.  Maggie knows them well, and is now reading first readers, but I still think it's important to refresh her on the different sounds each letter makes while she's practicing phonics.  I think these books by Jane Belk Moncure are great, and I use them for every letter!  (They are at all of our local libraries, so check yours out, too!)
Then, in our review of letter Oo, we made the 'O Ostrich' as seen at http://totallytots.blogspot.com/2010/03/now-i-know-my-abcs-o-is-for-ostrich.html, using pink and black construction paper.  Very cute!
 Finally, for today's journal entry, I asked her, 'What's your favorite O word?'  She answered, 'Orange.'
See you tomorrow!

Friday, March 2, 2012

"Say! I like green eggs and ham! I do! I like them, Sam-I-am!"

Happy Dr. Seuss Day to everyone!  I was especially excited about today because I LOVE Dr. Seuss books, and always have, and I was eager to reveal all the surprises I had planned for Maggie!  I wanted to make this post early in case any of you were still looking for some ideas for this afternoon, so here it is.  Of course, of the things we did, we certainly got a few Dr. Seuss books in, including ...

None other than The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss (How could we not?); 
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss (Of course!); and 
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, in preparation for our viewing of the new movie on Monday when Daddy's off from work!
We started the day with a breakfast of none other than green eggs and ham, plus another surprise (a 'Strawberry Shortcake & Milk Cat in the Hat Treat') that I found at http://thehokeypokeykitchen.com/fruit/the-cat-in-the-hat-by-dr-seuss.html, though I made mine just slightly different.  First I used this small decorative cappuccino mug that I found at the Dollar Tree, and some black electric tape, scissors, and though it's not in this picture, my hole punch, to prepare my glass.
 Using my scissors, I cut eyebrows and whiskers from the tape and placed them on the glass.  I used the hole punch to make the eyes and nose and adhered those as well.  Cute!  And the bonus is, when we're done, I can just peel the features off and use the glass again for a St. Patty's Day project we have next week.
 Then, it was time to make the hat, which I made from large strawberries, a long wooden skewer, and whipped cream in a can.
After cleaning the strawberries, cut off the tops and bottoms and stick onto your skewer, leaving gaps, like below, for your whipped cream.  (The whipped cream is the very last thing you want to do, as it tends to ooze after a few minutes of sitting on the skewer.  When you're ready, simply carefully spray the cream around the skewer in the gaps between the strawberries.)
 Then, using some strawberry Fruit by the Foot, I fashioned a tie around the neck of the glass.  Cute!  He's ready for his milk!
 Here is Mags' Dr. Seuss breakfast ... green eggs and ham, with her 'Strawberries & Cream Cat in the Hat!'
 She was tickled by him!  :)
Then, after we watched a couple of Dr. Seuss videos, it was time for a craft.  We got our next idea, 'Cat in the Hat Hats' at http://stuff-by-ash.blogspot.com/2011/03/cat-in-hat-hats-from-tp-rolls.html, but unfortunately, the site's template is not big enough to make using toilet paper rolls like the host did, so I printed the available template anyway and used a straw, tape, and red and white paper to fashion the same things, just smaller, and sans toilet paper.  
First, we cut our red paper into fat strips and adhered them onto our white paper, to resemble the Cat's hat.  
 Once our strips were all in place, we then rolled our paper, red stripes out, into a tube, and secured at the back with tape, like below.
Then, it was time to make the brim of our hat so that it would stay in place.  We cut out a large circle from our white paper, the cut a smaller hole out of the center of our circle, like below.  We then cut four notches coming off the smaller circle to use as tabs to secure our base to our tube.
 Here is a picture of the underside of that same circle, with two tabs taped against the inside of our tube, holding it in place.
 Our hat.  Then it was time for the inside surprise.
Mags colored the template for the inside of our hat with colored pencils.
 After she was done coloring the same, I cut it out and we adhered our straw to the back of it with some more tape.
 Here it is from the front.  (I was quite impressed with her coloring job!)  :)
 For the final step, we slipped our drawing down through the top of our hat and we were done!  Now, she can surprise Daddy with the Cat coming out of the top of the hat!  Cute.
Later, for her journal entry, I asked her, 'What is your favorite Dr. Seuss book and why?'  She answered, 'Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose because I like all the pests in it.'  (That's my favorite one, too!)  :)
Here, Mags is using the book to draw her own picture of Thidwick.
 It turned out really cute, with all the 'pests' in his antlers!  :)
Then, it was time for our 'Truffula Tree Craft' as found at http://blogs.babble.com/the-new-home-ec/2012/02/14/the-lorax-truffula-tree-craft/.  For the same, we used a bright piece of paper (we chose bright green), sparkly pom poms, paper trunks (I simply scribbled on some yellow paper with some black marker and then cut little slivers out of the same), a small picture of the Lorax (we found ours off a children's IHOP menu), and glue.
 Glue your Lorax at the bottom of your page, then glue on your Truffula's 'trunks.'
 For the final step, glue on your pom poms at the top of each trunk -- super simple!
 So cute!
And, for our final Dr. Seuss snack of the day, I made the 'Dr. Seuss Hat Pops' as seen at http://kitchenfunwithmy3sons.blogspot.com/2012/02/dr-seuss-hat-pops.html?m=1.  For the same, I used 4 large marshmallows, a wooden skewer, strawberry Fruit by the Foot, and kitchen shears.
 I squashed one of the marshmallows with the palm of my hand and skewered it first onto the top of my skewer, pointy side up.  I followed that with the three other marshmallows (not squashed) to make the shape of my hat.  I then snipped off the pointy end of the skewer for safety.
 Then, using my shears again, I trimmed my Fruit by the Foot to wrap once around my marshmallows (a small overlap will ensure that they will stay in place, as the Fruit by the Foot is sticky enough), and to the width I desired.  When placing my strips on my 'hat,' I was sure to cover the lines created by the space between each marshmallow.  (See below.)
 It was a hit!  :)
So, that wraps up our at-home Dr. Seuss projects for today.  Later, we plan to attend the Make-it Take-it event at Michael's craft store where we'll be making a Cat in the Hat can holder (check out this site to see if that event is happening near you --  http://www.michaels.com/Store-Events/store-events,default,pg.html), and we'll also be perusing this great site thanks to a tip from our fellow homeschooling friend, Nikki,  http://www.seussville.com/#/home.  (Thanks, Nikki!)  Again, Happy Dr. Seuss Day and we'll see you again soon!  Happy crafting!