Saturday, March 30, 2013

Carrot Patch Snack

Today was our annual Easter Egg Hunt at church, and I decided to make the carrot snack I have been seeing all over Pinterest ... you know ... the one with the orange snack in the pastry bags, then tied with green ribbons to look like a carrot?  Here's mine.  (I used Annie's Organic Cheddar Bunnies.) 
Well, I wanted to display them in a neat way, so I came up with the idea of making a carrot patch, where the kids could pull up their "carrots" out of "dirt."  Here is my finished product, with instructions to follow.
First, I took a cardboard box (deep enough for the carrots to got into without bending) and traced some circles onto the bottom for my carrots.  (I got 20 circles on this box.)
 Then, I cut an opening into each circle, like you see below.
 Once all the circles were cut, I was ready to cover my box with paper.
 I covered the circles and holes with brown construction paper (to cover the writing on the box) and then wrapped the box in 12 X 12 pieces of green scrapbooking paper, being sure they were flush with the bottom so that the top of the box had some green overhang, like below.  Then, I trimmed the top of the green paper so it looked more natural, less straight. 
 Then, I took some scissors and trimmed the green overhang, in strips, to look like grass, bending the strips as I went.
 Here is what it looked like when the papering process was complete.
Next, I made this sign, using cardboard, scrapbooking paper, scissors, and crayons (as well as my printer to print out the words and carrots).  If you notice, I cut the paper and used crayons to make striations on it so that it would resemble a wooden plank sign.
 Then, I adhered my sign onto the back of my "garden plot."
 Finally, after assembling enough "carrots," I punched through the brown paper to push my carrots through the holes underneath, being sure they were in there snugly.  Here is my completed garden plot of carrots!
 I was pretty proud of how it looked in the end!
 And here it is (with extras), on the Easter snacks table at church!
 Here's my Mags, eating some snacks (including a carrot) at the Easter Egg Hunt event!
Happy Easter, everyone!  Praise God that Christ has risen! 

Monday, March 18, 2013

In Memory

At the start of this school year, I had our schedule planned, typed out, and awaiting its commencement.  I was excited that I had everything outlined so well and was expecting a smooth year.  Well, what was I thinking?  You may remember that my father-in-law's illness and death in November threw a wrench into things.  The blog suffered and my posts thinned out for a bit.  It's only natural.  There are very many things more important than a schedule.  But, I vowed to get things back on track quickly.  And it turns out, when things were finally getting back to normal from his passing, and things on the schedule and the blog were finally coming together again, we hit another unexpected detour -- the tragic death of my dear Aunt Wendy. 
Let me tell you a little bit about my aunt, this wonderful person who left our lives too soon.  She was amazing.  She was smart, beautiful, sunny, hard working, and loved her family and the Florida Gators.  She was silly, kind, and loved children, especially her own.  She loved the color yellow, she loved sunflowers, and Winnie the Pooh.  She was a loving mother, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend.  And more pertinent to you ... she was an awesome teacher. 
I am only eight years younger than my Aunt Wendy, and I recall at about thirteen, the days when she would take me along to her college classes and let me help her on some of her projects.  We'd spend hours together, talking, laughing, and cutting out shapes for bulletin boards.  I cherished those times with her and I can't help but think it helped me on this journey I'm on with Maggie.
This is a photo of Wendy and I, when I was her Maid of Honor.  (I was tickled that she asked me to wear her prom dress for the occasion.)
Wendy was enthusiastic about her work and did it well.  Her fellow teachers loved her and her students loved her.  She was an inspiration to everyone she met.  I remember when I decided to start homeschooling Maggie, I felt a lot insecure about what Wendy would think about that.  I worried she'd note that I was missing some important steps, or have thoughts on how I could be doing things better.  I knew Wendy could blow me out of the water when it came to educating a child, but I was determined to do my best for Maggie.  And I think I've done well so far.  I think Wendy would definitely approve of all the hands-on things we do in our studies.  (I have her notes from some of her science classes, and she was a big advocate of utilizing gummy bears, graham crackers, and licorice whips to make a lesson more meaningful.)  There is a Chinese Proverb that says, "Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand."  I think of Wendy when I read that.
This past weekend, we all came together as a family to remember our dear, sweet Wendy.  She was so important to each one of us, and had something special with each one of us, something that was just ours with her.  I think she must have made each of her students feel that way, too.  There were more people in attendance at her service than I have ever seen at any other service, very many of them teachers and students, all mourning her passing.  Henry Adams once said, "A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops."  I believe this will be the case for Wendy's influence.  She is so incredibly missed by everyone. 
I was never Wendy's student, but as her niece, she taught me many things over the course of my time with her on this Earth.  She is still teaching me some of life's greatest lessons, like the importance of family.  Through her passing, our family has a renewed sense of closeness and we all give Wendy that credit.  We all feel like she orchestrated the same, and we are so grateful to her.
My sweet Aunt Linda framed a lovely picture of Wendy for me, which I put above my desk.  I know that she is looking down on me from Heaven, and so I thought it appropriate to place her beautiful face on my top shelf in our classroom.  I know she will inspire me and encourage me through this homeschooling journey with Mags.  I hope to make her proud. 
I love you, Wendy.  I can't wait until we are together again. 

Father in Heaven, please keep our Wendy in Your loving arms until we can get Home to her.  Amen.

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!