Tag Archives: activity

Last Week of Summer Break

This week is our last week of summer break. On the 15th, when the schools in our area begin their first day, we’ll start off on our first “official” day too. While I had great intentions on finishing up my lesson plans early in the season, we are now just a week away, and I still have to make those plans. I have almost all of the books we’re going to use — just not the plans to go with them.

But, I reassured myself, that’s okay — I still have this week to pull everything together.But, like many plans, mine is in need of some revisions, as it’s  turning out to be a week busy with activities.

Monday: A few necessary errands in the morning.  In the afternoon, my daughter Cassie will join a homeschool middle school volleyball team for practice, her first team sport since she was  eight years old. After I drop her off, I’ll then take my oldest son John to his first piano lesson — as the teacher! He’ll be working with two young students who haven’t played much before. Maybe I can do some planning in the evening.

Tuesday: Planning in the morning; violin lessons for the girls around noon; community service for John in the afternoon.

Wednesday: Monthly visit to the nursing home in the morning; piano lessons for John and Luke in the afternoon; Lesson planning?

Thursday: Meeting with friends in the morning – afternoon at a state park to swim and picnic; Lesson planning…?

Friday: Last opportunity to use our tickets from the library reading program for a local water park. The park is about an hour away, so we want to make a day of it. Hmmm….lesson planning…

I have to admit, I am not a homeschooling mom who has it all together. As I look at this schedule, I’m really glad to have at least some time on Monday and Tuesday to put our first few weeks of school in writing.

But while homeschooling works well for those who are organized, structured, and totally prepared, it also works well for those of us who aren’t.  Even if I don’t have the whole year planned, I can still mix my teaching style with my children’s learning styles and create an educational atmosphere where they continue to grow. And isn’t that one of the reasons we homeschool in the first place?


Photo by mensatic

Hanging Japanese Koi Craft

fishThis week, our Five in a Row class read the book A Pair of Red Clogs by Masako Matsuno. The story follows a little girl in Japan who receives a new pair of wooden clogs covered in beautiful red lacquer. After only a few days of wearing her new shoes, she decides to play a game with them with her friends, and one of her clogs cracks. Since her shoes are no longer pretty, she has to figure out a way to get her mother to buy her a new pair.

To go along with the story, we slightly improvised a craft found on EnchantedLearning.com. Though it took some preparation on my part, it was fun for the kids and easy to put together.

Hanging Japanese Koi Craft

On May 5, the people of Japan celebrate Children’s Day with the koinobori, or fish kites. These are actually windsocks shaped like a koi or carp. When the wind catches them, they appear to be swimming. For this craft, the children made their own fish kites.

What you’ll need:

  • Construction paper or colored cardstock
  • Glue sticks
  • Stapler
  • Circles cut from magazines or decorative scrapbook paper
  • Markers or crayons
  • Foil
  • Crepe paper or streamers
  • String or yarn
  • Hole Punch

For our class of five and six year olds, I did the following before class:

Draw the shape of a fish on one piece of construction paper and cut it out. Use this shape as a template and draw and cut out two fish per child.  Older children could do this step by themselves.

Cut smaller circles from another type of paper — at least 10 per child. Enchanted Learning recommended using old magazines, but we had a lot of extra scrapbooking paper on hand, so I used that instead. I also cut a few from aluminum foil for a shiny addition. If you’re working with older children, they could do this by themselves as well.

Provide the students with two fish each. Have them glue the two pieces together. Staple the edges to hold it together.  Draw an eye on each side and color in the fins and tail with crayons or makers.

Next, choose some circles to use as scales. Glue the circles to both sides of the fish.

Punch a hole at the fish’s mouth and string the yarn though it. Tie it off at the fish’s mouth.

Finally, add the streamers to the tail by stapling them in place.

Enjoy your Japanese Koi Kite!

Planning, Preparation, and Improvisation

bear 2This past weekend, my husband and son were out of town on a scout camping trip, so I planned out the projects to be done while they were gone. One of them was preparing for co-op on Monday. Besides the story and activity, I needed to have a snack ready — preferably one that related to Another Celebrated Dancing Bear.

Time slipped away, though, as it always does, and by Sunday afternoon all I had was the book and a plan. My plan was to have the children make their own snack: yeast roll teddy bears. I was going to try a test-run with the rolls Sunday evening — not the best time, but still, enough time.

Or so I thought. It turned out we had purchased the wrong kind of dough (already baked), and I didn’t have the ingredients to make dough from scratch. So Sunday evening at 7:00 p.m., I headed to the store where I developed a new plan. I would prepare the dough for Russian teacakes (cookies), then have the children help me bake them. While we were waiting, I’d bring out some bear-shaped sugar cookies for them to decorate.

I arrived home and went to work. The sugar cookies didn’t turn out at all — they ended up as huge blobs without any bear qualities. Some of them broke, and I didn’t have enough for the class.

I decided just to make the teacakes myself and serve them as a snack and come up with a separate craft. I thought we could make our own dancing bears from paper plates, and I found a good template online for the arms and legs. I’d leave the house early for co-op and make copies of the pattern, as our printer was out of ink. Another plan…

That didn’t quite work. I woke up early and made the teacakes. As I was carrying them in two small containers out the door, the doorknob caught the sleeve of my jacket, and I stumbled over the outside mat. Both containers flew from my hands, one opening and spilling some of the teacakes onto the ground.

I gathered up the rest and headed back to the house. It didn’t look like it would be enough of a snack anymore, so I filled one of the containers with the non-bear sugar cookies and pieces. FINALLY in the car with everyone and everything loaded up, we started down the road. Until…

I realized I had forgotten my purse!  We turned around, now running out of time to make the copies. John and I ran inside to get extra paper and a marker — I’d have him trace the templates in the car. On our way again…

But I still had no purse!  We went home again, and John ran in to grab it. We got as far as the end of the driveway, when we realized he had forgotten a map he had drawn for class!  We went back one last time, then started on our way. We arrived…

Just in time. And class went well — the children made their dancing bears, and they liked the teacakes. Besides, I don’t think they noticed I was so flustered that I couldn’t locate Russia on the map!

Gumdrops and the Renaissance

candyIn my son Luke’s K-5/First Grade co-op class, we’ve been using the Five In A Row curriculum. Because our co-op meets once a week, we choose a book for the week and center the class activities around it. This week, our book was The Clown of God by Tomie dePaola.

The story takes place in Renaissance Italy, so we talked about the Renaissance and the types of clothing people wore. We discussed Renaissance architecture, such as the buildings and bridges, as recommended in Five In a Row. Children this age really enjoy hands-on activities, though, so I wanted to find a craft they could all work at and have fun with. So we decided on building our own “Renaissance” structures — using just gumdrops and toothpicks!

Here’s how we did it:

Supplies (for 10 children):

  • Gumdrops (we used three small bags from the grocery store)
  • Toothpicks (we used two boxes with 250 toothpicks in each)
  • Sturdy paper plates

To start, we gave each child a paper plate on which to build his or her structure. We then placed the gumdrops on plates and set them in the middle of the table where everyone could reach them. We gave each child a handful of toothpicks to start with. I then showed them how to push a toothpick into a gumdrop and then connect it to another gumdrop by pushing in the other end.

The children caught on quickly, and were soon designing their own structures by forming squares and triangles. One even resembled a pyramid. Some of the children built their structures two- and three-“stories” high; when the buildings began to tip over (still held together with toothpicks), they turned into even more interesting shapes. It was fun to see how many different designs they came up with.

All in all, it was a good day for the Renaissance. I’m sure most (if not all) of the students will forget the word “Renaissance” before the end of the day (it’s a big one, after all), but they won’t soon forget building their gumdrop structures. Especially since they took them home to display. 🙂