Friday, October 18, 2013

Animal Notebook

This is an important post because we started two new things in our homeschooling curriculum that will carry us through the year (and into next).  For one, we started our very first list of spelling words!  This is a big deal!  I remember having my own weekly lists of spelling words as a kid, and practicing them in the car with my parents on the drive home from school every day.  I came up with my own little formula for teaching her these words throughout the week, in time for an end-of-the-week spelling test, which I'll share here.  Also, we started an Animal Notebook with detailed pages to classify each of the animals we study.  I have shared the pages I've made up for that, too. 
Our very first spelling words have the short a sound ... bag, can, cat, dad, gas, hand, ran, sand, and sat.  Each week, I will write the words on cards, like this.  Then, I will have her do the following over the course of the week ...
1. On the first day of our school week, I will have her (1) read the words from the cards, then (2) use each word in a sentence.
2.  On Day 2 of our school week, I will have her put the words in alphabetical order, like she is doing here.
3.  On Day 3 of each school week, I will have her circle the correct spelling of her words on a worksheet (which I make in advance).  This is what was written on this week's worksheet (to help her, I reminded her that we were focusing on the short a sound):
1)   run   ran   rin   ren   ron
2)   can   cen   kan  cun   kin
3)   kat   cut   cot   cat   cet
4)   sit   set   sat   sot   sut
5)   did   bad   dad   bud   bid
6)   bug   bag   big   beg   dag
7)   gas   gus   ges   gass   gos
8)   hanb   hand   hend   hind   han
9)   send   sanb   san   sind   sand
4.  On Day 4 of each school week, I will have her find the missing letters on a worksheet to complete her spelling words (again, which I prepare in advance).  By now, she will have, hopefully, committed her words to memory.  This week's worksheet looked like this:
1)  r___n
2)  ___an
3)  ___at
4)  s___t
5)  ___ad
6)   ___ag
7)  g___s
8)  han___
9)  s___nd
 5.  And finally, on the last day of our school week, we have our spelling test, when I call out the words to her, in no particular order, and she writes them on her paper.  I was thrilled with her very first spelling test, with a perfect score!  Great job, Mags!
 We also started our animal studies.  This will be explored for the next 25 weeks (with 20 work weeks and 5 break weeks) of the school year, so the introduction was important.  We settled into our reading chair with some books and a box of animal crackers (of course).
For the next 20 work weeks, we will be using this book a lot, Usborne World of Animals.
We also read What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? by Steve Jenkins ...
... followed by a viewing of "A Tale About Tails" episode from our The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! Tales About Tails DVD.
We then read Biggest, Strongest, Fastest by Steven Jenkins, and talked about animal records ...
 ... then enjoyed one of our favorites, Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing by Judi Barrett.
 Alas, it was time to introduce to her our Animal Notebook!  The purpose of this notebook is so she will have a greater understanding of the Animal Kingdom, as eventually, we will have enough animals studied to separate them into their correct animal classes.  Further, she will have her own notes to refer back to, so this will serve as a reference book later.  I was very excited to start it!
Each animal in our notebook will get three pages of information.  Here is page 1, which I put together on an old program (Hallmark's Greetings Workshop) that I have on my computer.
And here is Page 2!
 Page 3!
 Then, we got started, by reading about our first animal to go into our new notebook, the cow.  We read Thanks to Cows by Allan Fowler ...
... Cows by Peter Brady ...
... Cows Have Calves by Lynn M. Stone ...

... and Farm Animals: Cattle by Sharon Dalgleish.
After our reading, we worked on filling out our sheets, doing searches online for the information we needed that we couldn't find in the books.  (This is also an introduction for Maggie on how to do online searching.)  Here is our completed first page for the cow.
(Here is Maggie's drawing of a cow on Page 2.)
And finally, we have Page 3.  We were most fascinated by the cow's digestive system, so we made a color copy from one of the pages in the book to glue onto our sheet.  The Holsteins at the bottom are stickers we wanted to include.
The sheets got stapled together and placed in our Animal Notebook.  (We will now make a divider for the inside, labeled, "Mammals," to put in front of it.  Later, we will probably put each animal in alphabetical order behind its appropriate divider.)
 We also finished up our study of mountains.  We read Mountains by Anna O'Mara ..
... and At Home on the Mountain by Sharon Gordon.
 We then got out our large poster of Mount Everest (a pullout from an old National Geographic magazine) and our topographical globe to find Everest and other mountains around the world.
Here, she's locating the Appalachians, the mountains we would visit this past weekend.
And here, she's showing me this week's landform on our Geography Terms poster.
Next, we used our Scholastic Animal Habitats book (a GREAT resource, as I've said in past posts) to make a diorama of mountain animals.
So cute!  This is one side ...
... and the other! 
After our diorama was complete, we did a search for all of the mountain animals in our Usborne The Great Wildlife Search book.  (We love sitting together, finding all the critters on the pages of this book!)
And then, it was on to our Evan-Moor Beginning Geography workbook ...

... to distinguish hills from mountains ...
... and label the parts of both!
 And what a treat to take her to the actual mountains for a weekend away!  Here is a picture of the Blue Ridge Mountains from our cabin.
Enjoying some mountain air!
We also studied apples, since part of our weekend trip would be devoted to picking them (a first for all of us!), and because who doesn't love apples in the Fall?!  We started by reading One Red Apple by Harriet Ziefert ...
... Apples by Gail Gibbons ...
... From Seed to Apple by Anita Ganeri ...
... Secrets of the Apple Tree by Carron Brown (a really cool new Usborne book that works like an x-ray, requiring you to hold the pages up to light to see the hidden pictures) ...
... and The Apple Pie that Papa Baked by Lauren Thompson.
And this was my very favorite of our readings, Ten Apples Up On Top! by Dr. Seuss, because SHE READ IT TO ME!  Yay!  It was her very first reading of a Dr. Seuss book and boy, did we dance afterwards!  Happy day at our house!  :)
 I then used the idea found at to make a "Life Cycle of an Apple Craft."  I found some clipart online of an apple, and made four copies of the same.  Then, I printed their life cycle ovals and we cut them all out.
 Maggie laid out the apples, putting the ovals in order of their place in the apples' life cycle.  Then, she glued them on.
Finally, we glued the sides of each of the apples together, in order, so that it makes a 3-D apple that can stand on its own!
And this last set of pictures are pictures from our weekend, when we went apple picking!  Here is Maggie and her Daddy, at one of the orchards we visited.
Ready to pick!
"Got it!"
Everyone should have the chance to see their kid smiling from underneath an apple tree!  :)
My girl!
Picking some good ones!
Maggie's 1/2 peck!
Maggie and Daddy!
And snacking, too!  :)
It was a wonderful weekend and a great way to have her experience the things we've been learning about!  Homeschooling is the best.  See you soon!


  1. Good job Maggie and mom! What fun with the apples too :).

  2. I so enjoyed every aspect of your mountain trip and how you both tied it to the teachings!! Daddy looked like he was having fun too. I started picking apples back when I was about Maggie's age! Memories still as sweet all of the year's later, sweet as the apples!!

  3. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Beth! Thank you! :)

  4. Your blog is fantastic! I just stumbled upon it while looking for craft ideas for my four year old son and I am truly inspired. Thank you so much for sharing all of your wonderful ideas. :D

  5. Julie, that is so nice! I am tickled by your comment! Check back with us! Maggie has been sick this week, but I update the blog pretty often! Thank you for checking us out! :)