Sunday, December 7, 2014

Our Jesse Tree - Day 7

For Day 7 of our Jesse Tree, we talked about the story of Abraham and Isaac, when Isaac was almost sacrificed as a test of Abraham's faith.  Instead, God provided a ram.  I decided we'd make a ram for today's ornament, and when I saw the adorable sheep ornament at, I had to copy it and add horns.  For the ornament, we used a large, white pom pom ball, some black felt cut into the shape of a face and ears, googly eyes, brown pipe cleaners, hot glue, and a hanger.  We put it all together and the result was the cutest little ram ever!
 God is good!
Happy Advent, everyone!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Our Jesse Tree - Day 6

On Day 6 of our Advent study, we talked about Isaac's birth.  The theme of this day's ornament was laughter, since Isaac's name means "laughter."  This posed a bit of a challenge.  How do you represent laughter without compromising the reverence of this project?  I finally came up with the idea of intersecting the two words, "Isaac," and "laughter" at the "A" and placing them in the shape of the cross, since Isaac is in Christ's lineage.  We took some adhesive letters for scrapbooking and placed them on a cross we cut out from gold poster board.
 Once they were placed, we decided to laminate our cross so that no letters would peel off.
 We cut out the cross from the remainder of the laminating paper, punched a hole at the top, and placed it on a hook!
 Then, Maggie found a great spot for it on our Jesse tree!
 We were happy with it!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Our Jesse Tree - Days 4 and 5

Here is another post of the ornaments we are making for our Jesse Tree!  For Day 4, we talked about Noah and the Ark.  For our ornament, I decided to cut an ark out of pieces of brown craft foam.  Here, Maggie is drawing in wooden planks and nails.
Then, once our ark was put together, we decided to make a rainbow from different colored pipe cleaners.
 Maggie insisted on putting the colors in order before we started hot gluing them to the back of our ark.
 Before we added a hook, we pushed a dove brad into the craft foam!  I think it turned out really cute, even though it is our biggest ornament!
For Day 5, we talked about the story of Abraham and his faithfulness and his obedience to God.  For that ornament, we decided to make an origami tent.  We followed the instructions in this video.
Once our tent was folded, we punched a hole in the top and added a hanger!
 This one might be my favorite!
More to come!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Our Jesse Tree - Day 3

Today, for Day 3 of our Jesse Tree, we made a "Sneaky Snake Ornament" (or so Maggie is calling it)!  We used a plastic apple from Hobby Lobby and hot glued onto it a thick, green piece of pipe cleaner for our snake.  We then added googly eyes, a small ribbon for the forked tongue, and a gold ribbon to the stem for hanging.  Maggie hooked it and our ornament was done!  Very easy.
 On our Jesse Tree!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Our Jesse Tree - Days 1 and 2

Happy Advent!  I have done an Advent calendar and devotional every year with Maggie the month leading up to Christmas, but this year, I wanted to do something even more meaningful with her, a Jesse Tree.  I didn't know how to go about it, but then I stumbled across this great book, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas by Ann Voskamp, and I started to get excited!  The book is so beautifully written and the illustrations are so colorful and bright.  It was a plus for me that the author homeschools, too!
To expand our understanding, we are also reading from The Jesse Tree, by Geraldine McCaughrean, which delivers the information as a story, from beginning to end.  Once we read from Voskamp's book, we read the corresponding part of the story out of this book and it's going well.
But, after our reading, it was time for the fun part -- putting together our Jesse Tree!  I picked up a little 4-foot, lit tree from Michael's for less than thirty bucks and told Maggie that we could put it in our dining room for our Jesse Tree ornaments.  Here she is, helping me put it together.
 Now, it's ready for ornaments!  Voskamp's book has an option to purchase paper ornaments to go with the devotionals, but I thought it would be more meaningful to come up with and make our own.
 Our first ornament from yesterday (December 1st) was the stump of Jesse.  For this ornament, I purchased a birch slice at the craft store (Hobby Lobby) and screwed in an eye screw at the top.  Then, we wrote the verse from the book (Isaiah 11:1) on the slice.  Next, we cut a bright green leaf from some felt, to represent Jesus, and hot glued it to a bright green pipe cleaner (the "shoot").  We then hot glued that right to the stump.  Lastly, we added a hook to the eye screw.
 It turned out so cute!
 For today, December 2nd, we learned about God's creation, then set out to make a globe for our ornament using a blue ball ornament and a green paint pen.  (We got this idea from  Once our "land" was added with the paint pen and it had dried, we strung some gold star ribbon through the ornament's loop to resemble the heavens.  
 We were both ticked with the end result!
 We are so excited about our Jesse Tree!
 Two ornaments down, and many left to go!
Tomorrow, our ornament will reflect the sin that entered the world.  Check back with us!

Traveling Book Club

You may have seen from my old posts that we were part of a Book Club that met once a month.  There were three of us moms who took turns hosting each month so each of us only hosted four times a year.  Boy, was it fun!  We made pasta together, went on a treasure hunt, made leaf critters, had a cheese tasting, had a cat luau ... we did it all!  So you can imagine how sad we were to learn that one of us would be moving.  What would happen to our precious Book Club?  None of us wanted it to end, so I came up with a way to make our reading fun travel and our Traveling Book Club was born.  We have done this successfully for over a year now, so I thought it was time to share it with you.  Here is how we do it.

Just as with our physical Book Club, we rotate "hostings," meaning each month or so, we take turns setting up a book study that can travel.  Each family completes the book study, journals it as instructed by the host, and passes it via snail mail to the next family.  We keep all of our work in a big binder so that everyone can enjoy each other's work.  (Here is Maggie, showing it off for you.)
We thought we'd give our Traveling Book Club a couple of months' try and all worked out so well!  The kids were loving it and couldn't wait to get the notebook in to see what they were doing next.  Here, to inspire you on your own traveling quest, are the ideas for our first nine books.  I give credit to each host for each book, but I only scanned in my and Maggie's work for you to see so not to share too much of our friends' entries.  (This is a sort of journal, after all!)  Enjoy!
For Book #1, I chose Runny Babbit by Shel Silverstein.  I chose it because we had not yet done a book of poetry, and I thought it might take each family a while to read.  (Have you ever read this book?  It is HARD!)
As they read, I instructed the children to notice the spoonerisms in the book and how Silverstein had reversed the first letter in groups of words to make the language unfamiliar and fun.  I also had them note the illustrations he drew, all in black and white.  Once they finished reading his poetry, I had them look at some more examples of spoonerisms with this list, below.  (If you want to see any picture in this post better, simply click on it.)  Then, I challenged them in the next list to make spoonerisms of the pairs of words.  For example, "Pink Lemonade" would then become "Link Pemonade."
 Then, it was time to make our own!  I had each child (and mom) think of an animal and then a name for that animal.  For example, I used "Happy Dog."  Then, I asked them to flip the first two letters in their word pair to make a spoonerism, making mine "Dappy Hog."  (The ones they came up with were great, like "Berpy Twird" instead of "Twerpy Bird" and "Pinning Grumpkin" instead of "Grinning Pumpkin.")  I then asked them to draw their critter, using only pencil to simulate Silverstein's drawings (no color).
Here is Maggie's.  "Mitten Cat" became "Citten Mat."
Once their animal was made into a spoonerism, I challenged them to come up with a funny poem or sentence about their animal.  Once the poem or sentence was written, I told them to swap a couple of first consonants throughout to make spoonerisms.  Lastly, I had them illustrate their writing.  Here was my example: 

Once there was a little Hog named dappy,
Who liked to row-wow a little bappy;
He'd start in early, and nowl through the hight, 
All the time, his gail toing tip-tappy!

 And here was Maggie's:

Once there was a Mat named citten.  He liked wicken and chet food.  He riked lats.

 For Book #2, Hannah chose Nightsong by Ari Berk and Loren Long.  I think she wanted to use this book to have the kids explore sensory perception and have fun with the dark illustrations.
Before we read the story, she instructed us to complete part of this chart, the "My Bat KWL," that is, what we Know about bats, what we Wonder about bats, and what we Learned about bats.  We completed the "K" and "W" columns before our reading and the "L" column after.
Then, we tuned into our sense of hearing with this activity, closing our eyes in a dark room and just listening.  After we made our observations with sound, we completed this worksheet Hannah provided.  This was mine.
And this was Maggie's.  I had to giggle at the worksheets Anna's family completed because they all heard someone's stomach rumbling in the room.
Once our sensory activity was done, Hannah challenged us to make some dark art to match the illustrations in the book, using white crayon or colored pencil on black paper.  Here was mine.
Here was Maggie's.
For Book #3, Anna chose Camille Saint-Saens's The Carnival of the Animals, with poetry by Jack Prelutsky.  This was a real treat, because it came with a CD of Saint-Seans's music, fun poetry (Jack Prelutsky is such a neat poet), and really colorful illustrations.
Anna challenged us to come up with our own stanza of poetry about an animal.  Once it was written on a rough draft form, we transferred it to one of these sheets she made up.  Next, we illustrated our poems with oil pastels, which were intended to make our art as bright as the illustrations in the book.  I think they turned out great!  Here is mine.
And here is Maggie's!  (I also loved the picture Leah drew on her poetry sheet, a bunch of colorful reindeer.)
For Book #4, it was my turn again,  I chose Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig, a favorite of ours.
After we read the book, I gave the children two activities.  For the first activity, I had them complete the writing prompt, "If I had found Sylvester's magic pebble, I would __________."  I then asked them to illustrate their thoughts.  Here is mine.
Here is Maggie's,
Then, for the second activity, I had them find and decorate their own "magic" pebbles.  Once decorated, I had them snap a photo of them for everyone to see and then write on one of these sheets what their magic pebble did.  Here is mine, decorated in green glitter.  (I wish there really was a pebble that magically did laundry!  It was funny that each of us moms had pebbles that lightened the housework!)
And here is Maggie's magic pebble, capable of instantly growing pretty flowers!
For Book #5, Hannah chose Fireflies! by Julie Brinckloe.  This was right around the time when we were anticipating Summer and would be seeing fireflies soon.
During the reading, we noted the many metaphors and similes in the writing.  For her activity, she challenged us to make our own metaphors and similes about common things, then illustrate it.  Here was mine, about pencils.
Maggie chose to write about a Furby.
Next, we completed some Scripture copy work about Jesus being the Light in a dark world.  I loved this add-on!
For Anna's next book, Book #6, she chose The Great Smoky Mountain Salamander Ball by Lisa Horstman, a family favorite of theirs.  It was quite cute!
After we read it, she challenged us to come up with an acrostic poem, using the word "SALAMANDER."  She provided this brainstorming page for us to come up with words to describe salamanders, starting with the same letters in the word "salamander."  This was a lot of fun.
Once our brainstorming was complete, we picked one word from each letter from "salamander" and created our poems.  Then, using black cardstock cut into the shapes of lizards (Thanks, Anna, for cutting these out for us ahead of time!), a crafting knife, tissue paper, glue, and googly eyes, we decorated our own salamanders to go with our poem.  Here is my salamander, "Tailless Tony," with his poem: Slick Amphibians, Lounging And Missing Appendages, Not Distressing over Every single Regeneration.
Maggie wanted a red bow tie on hers!  Hers read: Speedy Acrobat Leaps At Midnight And Noses Down Every Rock.  These were so much fun!
For Book #7, I chose John Philip Duck by Patricia Polacco, mainly, because Maggie was begging me to do a book about ducks.  (She loves mallards.)  We also love Patricia Polacco.
In the book, the mallard ducks were trained to get into the fountain of the Peabody Hotel every day, as fixtures of the hotel lobby.  I then challenged the children to complete and illustrate this writing prompt: If I could train any animal to do something, it would be a(n) ____________ and I would train it to ________________.  Here is my example, with a frilled lizard as my trained animal.
Maggie chose to train a wolf.
Anticipating the cooler weather, Hannah chose The Big Snuggle-Up by Brian Patten and Nicola Bayley for Book #8.  She also said she really likes the illustrations.
Once our reading was complete, she challenged us to complete these "My 'COZY QUESTIONNAIRE'" worksheets she made up.  Here is mine.
And here is Maggie's.  (We all got a kick out of Liam's answer to number 5: When it's cold, I like to keep warm by getting in the hamper.  Hannah assured us this never happens, but he was insistent on writing that!)
Then, she challenged us to illustrate our ideal cozy place and write about it.  Here is mine.
This one's Maggie's.  (This kid loves wolves!)
Finally, Anna hosted Book #9 and chose Owl Moon by Jane Yolen.  (We like to pick books to go with the seasons, I think!)
Once the book was read, she had us focus on some of the metaphors and similes throughout.  Then, providing us with dark blue cardstock and oil pastels again (the kids love using the pastels), she challenged us to draw our own owl pictures.  Here is mine.
And here is Maggie's!  (Those pastels look so great on dark paper!)
Once our pictures were complete, Anna had us write two metaphors and two similes about the owl we created.  Here is mine.
Here is Mags'!
So, that wraps up our first nine book entries in our Traveling Book Club notebook!  I will make another post in the future about the other entries we add, as the book is still making its way around.  Thanks for checking in and I hope this inspired you to share learning with some friends you may have that live farther away than you'd like!