Thursday, March 7, 2013

Trains & Planes

In Social Studies, we have been learning about transportation.  This post covers two days, so don't be confused by the transportation-themed lunch, followed by the Irish-themed lunch!  (We don't eat that many midday meals around here!)  In our transportation study, we focused on "Trains & Planes."  Our reading on trains included a couple of classics:
The Little Train by Lois Lenski ...
... The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper ...
... Usborne: See Inside Trains by Emily Bone and Colin King (a GREAT book, which you can pick up at ...
... and something new, the November/December 2012 issue of Click magazine, All Aboard!  (It was a great resource for all things "train.")  
In this same issue, they talk about all types of trains, even roller coasters!  (This intrigued Maggie, because she's a real adrenaline junkie!)  They offered two experiments (pages 24-26) to show how roller coasters move, unlike traveling trains that use an engine.  First, using a marble and a bowl, we were able to see how coasters use stored energy to move, and how that energy lessens until it eventually runs out.
 Place your marble at the top rim of the bowl, like Maggie is doing here.  Then, let go, observing how the marble moves down to the bottom and back up again on the bowl's other side.  It will keep doing this until it stops, going a shorter distance with every roll than it did the last time, like a roller coaster loses energy as it coasts.
For the next experiment, you need a bucket and a toy.  (We used a ball.)
Place your toy into the bucket, then turn the bucket upside down.  The toy will fall out.
Replace your toy, and this time, use the bucket's handle to swing it in a circle, like Maggie's doing here.  The toy won't fall out this time!  The same thing happens on a roller coaster.  As the cars zip upside down in a loop, a force presses the passengers down, like the toy in the bottom of the bucket.
 Finally, we completed the activity in the back of the magazine, which allowed us to use little paper train cars to make a pull train by adding a string.  This would be easy to duplicate if you have your child draw some train cars onto square pieces of paper, one train the length of one paper on one end, then another, flipped, along the length of the same paper on the other end.  Leave a space at the bottom of each drawn train car, like I did here, and make a fold line for the middle.
For the next step, fold your papers in half along the solid line, with the drawings on the outside, so that there is a train car on each side when you flip your paper.  Also, fold in the space that you left under each train (under the dotted lines), so that when one space is placed on top of the other, your train can stand upright.  Tape together.
 Once all of the cars of your train are folded and standing, put them in the order you want them in for your completed train.
Cut a long piece of string and run it through each of your train cars, like big beads on a necklace.
 Once the cars are strung, be sure the string is longest in the front for pulling, then tape the string to the inside of each car so that they don't shift when the train is being pulled.  All done, and "ALL ABOARD!"  :)
 For lunch, I made the "All Aboard!" train sandwich out of my Funky Lunch: Happy Food for Happy Children book, pages 32-33, using bread, sandwich filling (we used ham and cheese), cucumber, and carrot.  (You could make a long line of train cars and attach them for more than one child!)  First, make a sandwich with your choice of sandwich filling.
Then, using a sharp knife, cut out the shape of a steam engine like I did here.
 Next, take one of the crusts that you cut off the top and lay it across the bottom of your sandwich, dark side up.  Carefully cut away and remove a space for your window, like my cheddar window, below.
 Cut three round cucumber slices and place them under your crust, at the bottom, for your train's wheels.  Using a peeler and paring knife, slice off, then cut some thin strips of cucumber skin to make lines in your train, at the wheels, on the body, and around the funnel.  Then, you can make a carrot slice dome, and some tears of bread for your "smoke stacks."  (This wasn't the best sandwich I've made, but good enough to get some smiles!) 
 Lunch is served!
In our study of airplanes, we read Disney's Let's Go to the Airport.
Then, we made this egg carton airplane as seen in our EcoArt! book by Laurie Carlson, page 110.  For the same, you need an egg carton (ours was clear), scissors, string, glue, a tack, and something for poking holes.  You can also use paint or stickers, like we did, to decorate your plane. 
Here is the illustration in the book, for the four parts you will need to cut for your plane.
 First, you need to cut two individual cup sections from your egg carton, trimming the rough edges.  (After seeing these pictures, I am regretting using a clear carton.  If you have any trouble seeing the images, click on them individually so you can see them larger.)
 Punch two holes in the top (or the sides, like I did here) of one of your sections and thread your string through them for suspending your finished plane.
 Then, cut your pieces from the flat piece (top) of the egg carton, as illustrated in the book.  (If your carton is clear like ours, you can just place the flat piece over the illustrations and trace them onto your plastic with a Sharpie.) 
Slide the tail fin into the tail at the slit.  (I then taped mine in place.)
Now, cut a slit down the side of the remaining egg section (the one without the string) and insert the tail into the same, like you see here.  Tape into place.
 (Here is a side view, if you can see it.)
 Then, glue the wing in between your two egg cups.
 Let dry.
 Push your tack through your propeller and stick it to the front of your plane, like we did here. 
Finally, decorate your plane (we decorated ours with stickers) and then let it fly on its string!  :)
All done!
(I apologize again for using a clear carton to make this craft!  I wasn't thinking about how it would photograph.)
 Here is Maggie's plane, flying high from her pottery shelf in her room!
Hoping to finish out our letter series for you that we didn't finish last year, we put together this X, copied from the Oriental Trading Company catalog, as seen at, using construction paper for the pieces instead of craft foam, like they put in their kits.
We also did a neat activity in our homeschooling co-op I thought we'd share.  Our awesome host and my friend, Amber, made us a delicious Irish lunch, then taught us all about how Christianity was brought to Ireland.  Here is her rainbow decoration, made of colored balloons!  (I love how she put the kids' take-home treats at the end of the rainbow.)
 Amber!  :)
More treats!  These Irish Potato Candies were awesome!  (I will see if I can get the recipe for you!)
An Irish feast: Irish stew, Irish soda bread, Irish potato candies, chocolate mint cookies, Pistachio Pudding Cookies, and Shamrock Punch!
Mags, and her buddy, Olivia, eating their lunch!  :)
Together, we read The Story of Saint Patrick by James A. Janda.
 Then we made this cute craft Amber put together for us.
First, you paint or color a rainbow onto a large piece of white paper, like Maggie is doing here.  Once painted, let dry.
Then, you trace both of your child's hands, palms up, pinky to pinky, onto a smaller piece of paper.  Color to match your child's flesh tone.
Next, using a small shamrock cut from green construction paper, write the three parts of the Trinity, one name on each leaf, like you see here.
 Glue the shamrock onto the center of your colored hands, then glue your hands down onto your painted paper.  Finally, write the words, "God is found in the smallest of places!" in an arc over your hands!
 Very cute!
Happy homeschooling!


  1. You always have such fun ideas! :) Thanks for the mention! Love ya!

  2. You do, too! If we ever hosted something together, we'd be unstoppable! Haha! Thank you again for all your hard work yesterday! Everything looked amazing and your food was so good! I appreciate all of your efforts! :)