Friday, September 30, 2011

Attentiveness and Concentration

Konos Unit: Attentiveness
Theme: Concentration

Nicholas loves reading in his new Bible. He read the Bible story about Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42). In these passages, Jesus goes to visit Mary and Martha at their house. Martha starts scurrying around cleaning up and preparing food and drink for their guest. Mary, however, chooses to sit at the feet of Jesus and learn from what He has to say.


Nicholas and I talked about what this story was about. We talked about the story specifically in that Jesus wants us to concentrate on Him before anything else even though we may be distracted by all the other things we need or want to do. We also talked about paying attention to what is important in life and concentrating when someone is speaking to you.

I showed Nicholas how to use a Bible Concordance to look up other Bible verses that used the word Attention. He thought this was pretty cool.


We did some Reading and worked on Spelling then later in the day we talked some more about Attentiveness and how concentration can help with being attentive.

Then we played a game of Concentration. We spread out cards face down on the table and took turns turning over two cards to try to match the number and color of the suit. It was a bit challenging and Nicholas did manage to beat me!


We also discussed the scientific definition of Concentration, as in the strength of a solution. Check out my guest post at Quirky Momma to see what we did!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Seeing Sound Waves

Konos Unit: Attentiveness
Theme: Sound

It's hard to explain to kids about sound waves because they think in such concrete terms that they just can't understand it if it isn't something they can see or touch.

However, there are ways to "show" them sound waves.

I tied some twine to a clothes hanger and then attached some Rice Krispies to the other end of the twine. Have you ever tried tying a not around a small lightweight thing like a Rice Kripsie? It took a lot of time and a lot of patience! I hung the hanger from the light fixture over the kitchen table so they would be still and not disturbed.


I then tried to show sound waves to Nicholas by having him snap a rubber band to make a sound next to the Rice Krispies so that he could see them move. However, this experiment is flawed because there is air being pushed by the movement of the rubber band so it isn't showing just the sound waves.

Stuart had a much better idea. He got out his phone and played some music right next to the Rice Krispies. It was amazing to see them bounce around to the music!


Check this out!



The Rice Krispies really were still until the music started. There is nothing touching them. They are moving because they are being hit by sound waves. Cool demonstration, huh? Thanks, Hubby!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Homeschooling in Texas - our History and Freedom

I just wanted to share this great video compilation about early homeschooling in Texas. I'm proud to live in a state that recognizes my rights as a parent.

My favorite quote from this video:

"Every child has the right to public education but public education does not have the right to every child." - Rick Perry, Texas Governor

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Guidecraft Hideaway Country Kitchen Review



When I learned that I would have the opportunity to review a Guidecraft product I was super excited. But I was even more excited to learn that it would be the Hideaway Country Kitchen! This kitchen collapses so you can move it out of the way to make room for the rest of the things you need space for in your life. I love just about all of the Guidecraft products for children so I may have possibly fell in love with this kitchen before I ever even saw it in person.

However, when my little girl heard that the giant box at the front door was a play kitchen for her, she squealed with delight and jumped up and down for joy!


Her seven year old brother was pretty excited about the kitchen too so the too of them hounded me until I finally agreed to assemble it.


I was a little worried at first but felt much more relaxed when I realized that all of the pieces were clearly labeled and the instructions were easy to understand. I'm a lightweight when it comes to assembly and my sweet husband offered to put it together but I wanted to prove that I could do it all by myself.


All of the holes are predrilled and the hardware is included. You could easily put this together with a regular screwdriver but, again, I'm a lightweight and wimped out for the electric type of screwdriver.


I did end up putting most of it together by myself but there were a few parts when I needed my husband to help me.

It's a really cute kitchen and my children just love it.


I love it too because of the "hideaway" feature. This kitchen stands at 38" h x 15.25" w x 30" l.


However, when we need that floor space for my son and his friends to play air hockey, it's no trouble to collapse the kitchen, move the air hockey table from under the train table, slide the kitchen into hiding under the train table and set up the air hockey table where the kitchen once stood.


It's so easy to hide it away that even my 7 year old son can do it.

There is a little spot on the front where you use an allen wrench to release the stove top from the base on one side.


The stove top is hinged in the back so just lift if up and it will remain in the open position against the back wall of the kitchen. The base is also hinged in the back so next you will lift if up.


Unlock the two folding side panels.


And collapse the kitchen.


It's easy to move around once it is in its collapsed form.


Ahh, the juggling acts you must perform when living in a small home.

I do love the kitchen for it's cuteness factor too. The clock has moving dials and there are little hooks below it to hold baby bibs or oven mitts.

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There is a removeable sink which makes it easier to clean when my little one manages to sneak real food (sticky food!) into her kitchen.

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The oven and stove have knobs that really turn and even make a cute clicking sound as they turn.

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The Guidecraft Hideaway Country Kitchen retails for $200.00. You can purchase it online at the Guidecraft website. It is receommended for ages 3 and up but I think this could be reduced to 2 years and up because my little 2 year old loves it.

While you are at their website, check out some of their other great products like Shimmering Water Blocks and Magneatos.

Note: I was sent this product from Guidecraft free of charge in order to write this review. I was not compensated for my time and my opinions here are all my own. Please check out what others on the TOS Homeschool Crew have to say about the great materials from Guidecraft.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Telephone Can

Konos Unit: Attentiveness
Theme: Sound

We have been learning about sound and how it travels. Although it isn't the most exciting experiment, we decided to make a telephone can just because we've never done that with Nicholas. How can children today not have at least tried a telephone can?

All you need is two cans (or two cups), string, and two buttons.


Punch a hole in the bottom of each can, thread the string through the whole and tie a knot through a button. The button is not necessary. It just helps to secure the knot and keeps it from slipping out of the hole. You could do without the button if you just made a bigger knot!


Although it is a simple experiment, it was fun and it helped to demonstrate sound.


When Daddy talked into his can, the bottom of the can vibrated from the sound waves. These sound waves (vibrations) traveled through the string and then caused Nicholas' can to vibrate and allowed him to hear what Daddy had said.





Thursday, September 22, 2011

Solve It! 3rd: Problem-Solving Strategies

Nicholas has been using various workbooks for his Logic curriculum. They are just mind-stretching problems that get his brain working to develop a solution. He loves this kind of thing because he is good at thinking outside of the box.

We were completely happy with the workbooks he had been using until we had the chance to try Solve It! 3rd: Problem-Solving Strategies by AIMS Education Foundation. It's a 3rd grade level book designed to introduce children to nine problem-solving strategies through hands-on activities.

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It is these hands-on activities that make this book better than the problem solving books we had been using. These activities use simple household items like paper clips so there is not a lot of prep time or running errands for some obscure supply. But most importantly, the hands-on activities make it so much more fun for Nicholas. We don't even talk about it as "schoolwork". I just tell him that we have a new game to play and he jumps right on board.

I feel strongly that hands-on activities helps to solidify learning in a way that no other teaching style can. This book even has a full page Chinese Proverb that states, "I Hear and I Forget, I See and I Remember, I Do and I Understand".

Here is one of the earlier activities that we did called Pumpkin Patches. For this activity, the child is given a certain number of paper clips and some pumpkin pieces. He has to form his paper clip fence into various shapes to see which one would allow enough space for the most pumpkins to be grown.


Another fun activity was Clue Me In which uses cards with clues to help the child figure out a particular surprise number. Some of the clues might be, "There is no 7 in the number" or "The sum of the digits in the tens and hundreds place is six". There is a worksheet where the student can mark out numbers that he knows are not in the surprise number as he figures out the clues.


These are great activities to help kids expand their minds and the way they look at things around them.

Solve It! 3rd: Problem-Solving Strategies integrates math and science in the lessons that teach children how to problem solve through 9 ways:
* Use Manipulatives
* Write a Number Sentence
* Draw Out The Problem
* Guess and Check
* Organize the Information
* Look for Patterns
* Use Logical Thinking
* Work Backwards
* Wish For An Easier Problem

The book also comes with a CD that contains all of the printables from the book that you might need. You are allowed to make up to 200 copies of each of the activity pages so it is a great option for Co-ops or families with several children.

Solve It! 3rd: Problem-Solving Strategies is 240 pages and contains 29 activities. It is available for $24.95 at the AIMS Education Foundation website store.

AIMS Education Foundation is a good resources for Math and Science materials. I'm currently looking at Electrical Connections and Primarily Magnets. Many of their books are not specific for homeschooling and could be used by parents whose children attend a regular school but need some review or supplemental learning. AIMS Education Foundation even has laboratory kits for sale on their site.

I received Solve It! 3rd: Problem-Solving Strategies from AIMS Education Foundation for review purposes. I was not compensated for my time and my opinions are all my own. Please check out what others on the TOS Homeschool Crew have to say about the great materials from AIMS Education Foundation.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Nana's Pacas

Our Cub Scout den had a field trip to Nana's Pacas in Flower Mound.


Nana's Pacas is actually at a residence in Flower Mound. It is owned by a couple, Ellen and Tom Floyd, who fell in love with alpacas. They care for them like children. They breed and sell alpacas but also sell the fibers from their wool.

The taller alpaca is Rosemary. She was the first female alpaca that the owners bought. Goldie is the other alpaca in this picture and she is one of Rosemary's daughters.


This is Sky Dancer. He is a beautiful alpaca and quite a stud (literally!)


We learned that the alpacas with white fur and blue eyes tend to be deaf.


Alpacas are very friendly animals. I was amazed that Rachel wasn't afraid of them but she did really well the whole time.


She even fed several of them by hand! I was so proud of her!


Nicholas fed several of them too but he may be more skiddish than Rachel because if the alpaca even barely tickled his hand he would giggle and spill the food from his hand.


The alpacas are cute but some are definitely "wilder" looking than others. This little guy was nice to us but I heard that he doesn't get along well with the other male alpacas.


Rachel forgot all about the alpacas for a while when the dog came over to visit her.


The kids and alpacas wandered around in some of the same areas together. The alpacas are larger than the boys but they are easily frightened so they simply run away from the loud, fast-moving boys.


In South America, they eat alpacas and make things with the alpaca pelts. This is a beautiful and very soft Mickey Mouse blanket made in South America from alpaca pelts. They different colors of fur each have different textures and different levels of softness.


We also looked at several items made from wool sheared from alpacas including some that the owner had made herself.


Nana's Pacas are located at 6504 Orchard Drive in Flower Mound. Their phone number is 817-490-8899. This weekend is National Alpaca Farm Days. The farm will be open to the public Saturday, September 25, 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM and Sunday, September 26, 12:00 PM - 4:00 PM. Stop by and tell Ellen and Tom "Hi!" for us.










Monday, September 19, 2011

Talk Like A Pirate Day

September 19th is the official Talk Like A Pirate Day - AARRGGHHH!

What? You landlubbers never heard of Talk Like A Pirate Day? Walk the plank!

Stuart first told me about this cool day and I found a website that explained the whole story. There are some great pirate activities for kids on here as well as some fun pirate things for adults too.

Today we've talked like a pirate and we've worn pirate costumes. We even played some pirate games.

But I think the kids most enjoyed my Talk Like A Pirate Sensory Bin!


A sensory bin is a great resource for preschoolers. It can have a base of rice or dried beans or really just about anything that is fun to run your hands through, scoop, and pour. Nicholas had a rice box and a bean box when he was at Montessori for preschool and it was his favorite thing to work on. There may also be things added to the box that have different textures, weights, sizes, etc just to add some different things for little hands to dig for, grasp, and play with.

I decided to make a blue rice to be the ocean and then add a pirate theme to the other things in the box.

To make colored rice, you will need rice (the whiter the better), rubbing alcohol, and food coloring. I used liquid food coloring but paste food coloring will work too.


Mix 2 teaspoons of rubbing alcohol with about 10 drops of food coloring. Add more food coloring if you want a darker, richer color. Then pour the liquid into a cup of rice and mix.


The rice will quickly absorb the colorant but it will need to dry out overnight. If you are impatient or wait until the last minute like me and don't want to wait overnight, you can spread the rice out in a thin layer on a cookie sheet and warm it in an oven at 200 degrees for about 15 minutes.


Let the rice cool then pour it in your bin.

I found some "Toobs" that had little plastic ocean animals and pirates. I got these at Michael's so I could use their regular 40% off coupon!


I buried some of the sea creatures deep into the blue rice. Sneaky Mama!


Then I covered them with rice and the pirate characters as well as some fake gold coins and large rocks for islands.


Both of my kids went crazy for their pirate bin!


I spread out a tablecloth on the floor and put the rice box in the middle of it. I told the kids that they had to keep the rice in the box at all times and the toys had to stay on the tablecloth. Somehow we still got a few grains of blue rice sneak their way around the room but overall it wasn't a very messy activity.


And it was good practice for Rachel to scoop and pour the rice.


But you really can't leave a two year old alone with a box of rice for even a few minutes or else they will feel compelled to squeeze their little bodies into said box and sit right down in it!


I plan to do more of these themed sensory bins throughout the year. They are great for Rachel to work on her fine motor skills but they are also just plain fun!