Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Ready for Some Roadschooling!

We've been pretty busy lately. We had our last co-op day plus our end of the year party last week! It is sad that the kids won't be learning together anymore, but we'll still see each other for play dates and field trips with the larger homeschool group in the area.

I've been getting everything ready for S's new school year. He's so excited about it that he has already asked if we can start. We created an Everyday Learning binder like this one that I found on Pinterest from The Teacher Wife. S is most excited about his new science curriculum, his new Life of Fred: Butterflies book, and we are going to see how he likes History Odyssey: Ancients Level 1. For science we'll be testing out Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding as well as the free Life Science curriculum from Mr. Q. There is obviously more, but those are the 3 things he asks for specifically. I'm having him wait on the science and History until after our trip (I'll get to that in a moment), but I may let him start LOF this week since we'll be bringing it with us anyway.

S playing Let's Drive.
About our trip... we are going on a roadschooling adventure with another family. Well, the husbands can't go because they have work (and someone has to stay home to take care of the pets), but us crazy wives are taking the kids on the road for some fun and adventure! We'll be out and about for close to a month! We'll be camping in the great outdoors and exploring in GA, KY, OH, NY, NH, MA, PA, and we're stopping in Washington, D.C. as well. We'll be visiting aquariums, zoos, historical sites, hiking mountains, going on whale watches and just having a lot of fun! Of course, we'll be stopping in to visit relatives in one of the states as well as friends all over which will be nice too. S is bringing his LOF book, some reading books, and a couple workbooks that he wants to bring. He's also decided to journal about the trip every night so that when we get home he can show Daddy all the thing we did. Aside from that we have some fun History lessons planned, as well as state studies, postcard books, landforms and topography lessons, and general outdoor education lessons. We'll be bringing birding guides and a book or two on animal tracks just in case we spot any and want to identify them. S has had his backpack packed since we started planning and every day he adds something new to it. He is very excited!

We got a new game called Let's Drive that goes great with our upcoming trip! S has been playing it so much and loves learning all kinds of fun facts about the different states! I wrote a review of it on my other blog, if you are interested.

We recently had a water exploration day at our house. Quite a few people came by to swim, play, and just explore the different watery fun things we had set out. One of the boys' favorite things was the water beads. Once it was time to clean up they decided they wanted to keep them, so I decided it might be nice to turn them into calm down jars (bottles really). The boys helped add the water beads and some shiny stars and moons and they love them! They sat for the rest of the day with them right by their sides. It was almost comical. When the beads start to dehydrate all I have to do is add water to get them back to the right size. It's wonderful how simple things keep them happy!

Anyway, I will be on blog hiatus while we are on our adventure, but you can be sure I'll be posting about it once we return!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Around the World Unit Final Day!

Yesterday was our last day in our Around the World Unit! We had a lot of fun but S was especially sad that it was the last day. He had to make sure we'd still learn more at home even if we weren't doing anymore in co-op! Who could say no to that?!

The main focus this week was Asia and Australia. Specifically, we covered Japan, India, Korea, and Australia. In our whole group activity the kids learned how to count to 10 in Japanese, as well as how to say hello and to name the members of their families.

In Japan the kids got put together the flag puzzle while learning some fun facts about the country. They saw where Japan was on a map and learned basic cultural info. They learned about kokeshi and daruma dolls, made some origami animals and samurai hats, read some manga, and watched part of an anime too. It was Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki, just in case anyone was curious. I also brought some sushi sandwiches, pocky and some white rabbit candies for the kids to eat. The white rabbit candies are actually Chinese, but I grew up on them and they are tasty so I wanted to share with the kids!

In India the kids learned about the culture, watched some video clips, listened to some music, and got their faces painted. The girls looked very beautiful with their faces painted while wearing a sari. S chose a less than authentic face painting; He wanted to be a blue tiger! The kids also did a bit of yoga and had some yummy food. It was really cute to see them doing stretches! They also had the option to color some pictures of an Indian boy and girl.

In Korea they learned the culture and looked at a map to see where it is located. They also learned about and colored the flags for both North and South Korea. Korea also provided some music and video clips. They learned how to do some fan dancing too, which I am told was adorable but Z wouldn't perform for me! The kids had the option to color and make a paper doll as well. I think the snack was Hotteok (you can see it in the pictures), which is a very delicious pancake filled with a sweet syrup. In this case I think it was brown sugar and cinnamon or something equally good!

In Australia the kids got to do some more map work. There were also fun animal fact cards for them to do with a Tag reader pen, and several books full of great illustrations and facts about different places in Australia. The kids got to taste another yummy snack, played a didgeridoo, and used stencils to paint a kangaroo picture. It was all very fun stuff, especially playing the didgeridoo! They also made koala masks, which were very cute! Both boys loved pretending to be Koalas once they got home.

Overall, this was a great unit and all of the kids had a lot of fun learning about all of the different countries that we covered. I think the only downside to this unit is that now S thinks I know how to speak in way more languages than I actually can! For the last few weeks he has asked me how to say whatever he can think of in any of the languages he has been introduced to during the unit. We may have to plan for some Rosetta Stone style family time! I'll just add that to my ever-growing to-do list.

Next week is going to be super busy, including our end of the year party! I also have to find time to take pictures of all the kids and get down to business finishing up the yearbook for this co-op year. I just hope it turns out as well as, if not better than, the one I created last year! Wish me luck!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Around the World: Africa & Egypt

This past week, the co-op ventured into Africa and Egypt in our Around the World Unit. The three stops were South Africa, Nigeria, and Egypt. I didn't have a country this week because I had to leave early so I was on photographer and baby duty!

South Africa
In South Africa the kids watched some videos, listened to music, and read some books about South Africa. Then they could complete an animal puzzle and make a beaded necklace. They also got a snack of beef jerky and some dried fruit.
In Egypt the kids learned some fun facts, listened to music, and did some map work with the Tag reader pen. After that they built a pyramid out of rice crispy treats! There was another food item that they could try, which was delicious! Unfortunately, I don't remember what it was called so here is a picture so you can see how good it was!

Nigeria held some fun times for the kids too. They learned the basics about the flag, map, and animals in the region. Then they were able to watch an African drumming video as well as playing some music of their own. They also learned about how cowrie shells were used for currency, which S thought was great! Then they got to enjoy some baked bananas. I didn't hear any objections to this treat!
Drumming to his own beat.

Never one to complain about food!
This week was also the week that the littles completed their lowercase alphabet letters! They made some Z zebras, which I think turned out adorable! Since Z really liked making all of the lowercase letters I think in the upcoming school year he'll be making the uppercase versions.

Our last week with this co-op is coming up fast! Next week we'll be venturing into Asia and Australia. I'll be covering Japan, while the other moms cover India, Korea, and Australia. I know someone is probably wondering why China wasn't included but that's because we did a 2 week Chinese New Year/ Culture Unit last year and covered a lot! Anyway, we're looking forward to it and S got his books from the library to show his friends some manga. He's pretty excited about it.

Since this will be out last week, we'll be having an end of the year party soon. S and Z are going to miss learning with these friends, but life always throws new paths for people to follow. We'll still see everyone at play dates and field trips, just no weekly meet-ups. In the coming year we'll be joining a new group of friends to learn with and I am looking forward to seeing where this new path leads us on our homeschooling journey.

Our next few weeks are packed full of fun stuff, including playdates, field trips, science explorations, and a spelling bee. S is very excited about all of it and I'm sure Z will be once we're in the moment. It's always a full schedule here!

Friday, June 1, 2012


We went on our Legoland field trip this week and it was a lot of fun! S was in awe of all of the Lego creations. I'll admit they were pretty amazing! This was a perfect way to end out Lego Unit and I'm glad we went.

Before going on Coastersaurus
Jr. Driving School
 S really loved that he got to go on a bunch of rides. His favorites were the Dragon Coaster in the LEGO Kingdoms area, and the Coastersaurus in the Land of Adventure area. He loved the Jr Driving School because he got to drive a car around a mini track all by himself. He also liked watching all of the little things moving in Miniland USA.
Z was pretty limited for rides, as they are definitely strict on height requirements. I found that very disappointing since Z can ride things at Sea World and Disney that are on the same level as the Legoland rides. Needless to say, he was a very unhappy boy when he wasn't able to participate. He did enjoy DUPLO Village, Miniland USA, and the carousel in Fun Town though so it wasn't a completely bad day for him.

They're the same size!
DUPLO Village is a couple playgrounds for the little kids to play in so it was a good spot for Z to get out any energy he had from not being able to do much else. Miniland USA was probably one of my favorite areas just because there was so much to see. The buildings, ships, people, cars, and everything for the different areas were great, and there were buttons randomly placed around the areas that could make different things happen. The boys both loved the pirate ships the best, and S really liked the Daytona race track. One other place we all loved was Cypress Gardens. I love that Legoland kept some of the Gardens when they built everything. Banyan trees are just so amazing!
Banyan tree planted in 1939!

I will say though, that we won't be going back until both boys are older, and I won't go again without another adult present. Many of the rides are not friendly to parents who are outnumbered by their children, especially if those children are under the height required to be able to ride alone. When there was a ride that S wanted to go on but Z couldn't I had to rely on some friends (who were absolutely wonderful!) to either watch Z while I went on with S or to go with S in my place. Also, most of the rides are 2 seaters so that was a tad annoying when figuring out what we could and could not go on. It just wasn't as little kid friendly as I had hoped it would be so it looks like we'll be sticking to Sea World and Disney for a while. Not that I mind that, of course! One other thing that our group noticed was that there weren't that many indoor eateries, which would have been wonderful on a hot day. We chose the place that sold panini, which were very good, and it was nice to sit in the shade but AC would have been lovely after all the walking around we did!


Overall, the park was great but definitely geared more toward children who are at least 4 and up (or a tall 3). S had nothing but great things to say about our field trip because everything was made of Legos, and I'm very glad he enjoyed the day.

Here is the link to LEGOLAND Florida if anyone is interested in visiting.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Lego Unit and Lapbook Fun!

Building his car
S just spent 4 days delving into the world of Legos! We'll be going on a Legoland field trip next week so he was very excited to learn as much as he could about Legos. We used this lapbook from Walking by the Way and adapted it as needed to fit S's learning style.

He started the unit by learning all about Denmark, discovering who invented Legos and a little about his life, and then built the Danish flag using his Legos. His first building challenge was to make a taxi cab based on the Lego website's tutorial, however, that was a bit too intricate for him right now so he just build his rendition of a yellow car. He was quite pleased with himself.
His finished car

On Day 2 he read all about the Lego Company's mission and vision statements, watched several videos on how the Lego bricks are made. The building challenge this day was to make a ship with no instructions. Again, this was a bit over his head, so he pulled out the little book that came with his Lego kit and used the picture of a boat in there to build one (no actual instructions, but he had a visual to go on).
His boat

Making his mosaic
Finished mosaic
Day 3 had him learning all about how and why Lego bricks stick together. I have to say he found it quite fun to retell me about interference fit and friction. I think he just liked saying interference fit! Then he got to watch some videos and visit websites to see the amazing Lego creations of Sean Kenney and Nathan Sawaya. Needless to say, S was amazed! After seeing their work, S couldn't stop talking about how there are Lego sculptures at Legoland and that he's going to see all of them! This building challenge focused more on the artistic side of Lego building. He was to make a mosaic. He watched a few more videos of Lego mosaics that other people had made and then told me he wanted to make something that was way more intricate than we had Lego bricks for. Somehow I managed to get him to think simpler and he chose a flower... and we still didn't have enough single Legos to make it look quite right. Thank goodness more Legos are on their way, otherwise we might not survive another mosaic attempt!

Bar graph
On the final day of the unit the focus was Lego math. He did some graphing, estimation work (which he was so proud of, and so was I), addition and subtraction, made a graph on the computer, and he tried the multiplication book that came with the unit study. Surprisingly, he got it long enough to complete the little book. A little multiplication seed has been planted in his head, but I'm not expecting it to flower until after he has double digit addition and subtraction under control. He read some more fun facts about Legos and then moved on to the most difficult building challenge yet. His was to become a digital designer using the Lego program. He needed more of my help on this than any of the other challenges, and I can't say I blame him. There is a lot that can be done on that program! He ended up telling me what to build, helping me pick pieces he thought looked cool, and making sure I put them in the places he wanted. In the end it looked like some sort of weird futuristic car with a crazy driver. He was pleased!

Digital Design
 Now, on to the completed lapbook!

This is the cover. It has pictures of all of his building challenges, the Lego logo, and the Danish flag. 

 When you open the lapbook you see the vocabulary words for each day. Inside each one he wrote their part of speech and a definition that fit them best, at least as far as Legos are concerned. The yellow page and the right flap have some pictures and little books where he wrote all the information he learned.

When you open the yellow page you get to see another yellow page where he found Denmark on a map, and then pictures of the 2 ways he tried to build the flag. On the left you can see some of his math work plus a picture from when he turned his boat into a boatcar "for when it crashes on land."

Once you turn the middle yellow page it opens the book up to the rest of the math work, pictures of his final 2 challenges, plus a pocket where he stored his copywork and the LEGO Fun Facts. I just have to say that this lapbook got pretty intricate!

All in all, S had a great time learning about Legos and creating his lapbook. He is really looking forward to visiting Legoland next week and so am I!

 I'd love to hear stories about other kids learning about and creating with Legos, so feel free to share in the comments!