Monday, December 2, 2013

Christmas Tree Note Game

For those of you who have young ones learning to play the piano (or any musical instrument for that matter), here is a great game Maggie's piano teacher sent her for note practice.  It is a matching game, where you match the note on a staff on an ornament to the letter name of that note on a tree.  You can find the printables at this link,  I printed ours in colored paper, using green cardstock for pages 1-3 (for the tree), a yellow piece of cardstock for page 4 (the star), and three different colors for pages 5, 6, and 7 (for different colored ornaments).  (We did not print any of the pages past page 7.)  Maggie was thrilled with this game!  (Please forgive the blurriness of the photos.  I took these with my phone instead of my camera, which I am not used to doing.)
 Our "ornaments!"
(She's getting tired of me taking pictures here.  I think she just wanted to finish and she wanted me to leave her alone!)
 All done!  There are extra ornaments, so no game play is just alike!  This is a great way to learn those notes!
Thanks, Ms. Sandy!  :)

Cranberry Thanksgiving

Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin is one of my favorite books, mainly because the sweet little girl in the book is named Maggie, with long brown hair and brown eyes just like my Maggie.  I have always been fond of it.  So, when I realized that it was one of our FIAR reads, I was thrilled!  The story takes place in New England, near a cranberry bog at Thanksgiving.  Maggie invites a guest to Thanksgiving dinner with her and Grandmother, Mr. Whiskers, a bearded, odiferous clam digger who Grandmother disdains.  Grandmother invites a visitor in town, Mr. Horace, who is well dressed, smells nice, and has impeccable manners.  One of them steals her famous cranberry bread recipe, but it isn't who Grandmother would have suspected!  The thief is Mr. Horace, collared by the scruffy Mr. Whiskers!  Grandmother learns a big lesson about not judging a book by its cover.  This is a read you don't want to miss out on!
We started our study of this book by locating the states that make up New England on our globe and on maps. 
Then, using this worksheet I found at, we colored in the states on the U.S. map that are included in New England.
After our worksheet, we read this book, Surrounded by Sea: Life on a New England Fishing Island by Gail Gibbons, to learn more about the area.
And then we placed our story disk for this book onto the New England coast.
A turkey!
Once our story disk was placed, we set out to learn more about cranberries.  First, we read this book, Cranberries by William Jaspersohn (a great asset to this book study).
Then, we watched a couple of videos on how cranberries are harvested.
(Video #2)
After our videos, it was time for a craft.  We found a neat idea for a cranberry bog diorama at, so we set out to make our own.  Here, Maggie is gluing into her box pictures of flooded cranberries we printed from our online search.
Then, as per the site's instructions, we made some 3D cranberries.  The site suggested using a coffee filter, but all we had were brown filters, so we used white tissue paper instead.  First, we colored lines and swirls onto the tissue paper using different shades of red crayons.
Next, we used a washable red marker over that.
Once our marks were made, we placed our tissue paper onto some dry towels and spritzed it with some water from a spray bottle so the colors would blend.
Once dry, we tore off pieces and rolled each piece into a little ball.  Once rolled, we glued them into our diorama.
It turned out so cute!
Our cranberry bog!
Later, we talked about the art in this book, focusing on this "partial view" illustration of Maggie from the kitchen.
Then, we set out to make our own "partial view" pictures.
Here is Maggie's partial view picture of our cat, Emmett, peeking from behind the bedroom door.
The second picture from the book we focused on was this one of Maggie in silhouette. 
We decided to make our own silhouette picture of our Maggie by first casting her shadow on the wall using a lamp in a darkened room.
She held still as I traced her profile, and this is what the end result looked like.
Once traced onto black paper, we cut her image out, glued it onto a white piece, and her silhouette was done!  (She was very impressed with the finished result.  "It's me!" she said.)
It was time to delve into some math for this book.  First, I presented her with a bag of whole cranberries.  (During our study of cranberries, we learned that these whole berries are not wet harvested.  They are picked right off the bush.  Only juices and sauces use cranberries that are in the bog.)
Using different sizes of measuring cups, we experimented with our berries, filling a half cup, then seeing how two half cups held the same amount of berries as one whole cup, and so on.
Then, we bounced a couple of berries, noting that they did, indeed, bounce!  We also investigated why they might float.  We cut them open and observed the pockets of air inside.  Too neat.  (She was also thrilled to see the seeds.)
Then, what's a study of cranberries without simulating our own little bog?  Here, Mags is pouring water into our 11x15 glass pan to "flood the cranberries."
(This was her favorite activity.)
I also happened to have a bag of dried cranberries in the pantry, which we took out to observe.
Then, after much insistence on her part despite my warnings, she tasted a fresh cranberry ...
... and discovered that Mom is, really, sometimes right!  :)
After our experimenting, it was time to make Grandmother's Famous Cranberry Bread.  (The recipe is in the book.)
Here's Maggie, just out of bed the next morning, having a second piece for breakfast. 
With the cranberries that were left, we decided to make potpourri, like we saw at, using our cranberries, a sliced orange, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, whole cloves and water.
It smelled DIVINE!
Then, we finished up our math study of this book with this great coordinates worksheet I printed from Scholastic's Teaching Resources.
Finally, it was time for some science.  I thought it would be fun to learn about clams, since Mr. Whiskers was a clam digger.  First, we read Invertebrates: Snails, Clams, and Their Relatives by Beth Blaxland.
Then, we read Clam-I-Am! All About the Beach by Tish Rabe.
After we searched the images of clams we found online, we watched this video of a clam in motion ...
... and then this great video about clam digging!  (She enjoyed this one a lot!)
After the videos, we observed a few of our own clam shells and talked about bivalves.
Demonstrating how a bivalve opens ...
In the Gail Gibbons book we read, there was a boy who painted shells in the Winter months to sell at the Farmer's Market in the Summer months when tourists come to New England.  We decided it would be fun to paint our shells, too!
Looking good, Mags!
Later, we both thought it would be fun to add google eyes to our clam shells!
Too cute!
 We ended our lesson with some clam chowder for dinner ...
... and some cranberry juice to accompany it!
We love FIAR!