Friday, February 26, 2016

Water Cycle Science With A (healthy!) Snack!

As we were driving yesterday, Annabelle pointed out the clouds, and predicted that it was going to rain. I took advantage of this teachable moment, and asked her a series of questions:
Why do you think it's going to rain?
What do those clouds look like?
What's in those clouds?
What happens when it rains?
We talked about the different types of clouds, and how they formed.
Then I got to thinking. A few searches around the internet directed me to two fun science experiments to help better explain the water cycle.
The first experiment involved a jar, water, food coloring, medicine dropper, and some Barbasol shaving cream.
We filled the jar about 2/3 with water, and topped it with shaving cream.
It looked just like a puffy cumulus cloud!
Next, I filled a bowl with a little water and blue food coloring.
The girls had a great time squeezing and dripping the colored water onto the shaving cream cloud.
We did learn that I used too much shaving cream, as it took the colored water a long time to make its way down to the bottom of the cloud to "rain" into the jar.
Once I scraped a heap of shaving cream off the top of the jar, things started moving more quickly.
The girls were astonished when the shaving cream clouds filled with blue water, and began to "rain" down.
Next, we made a real cloud in a jar.
I explained that the sun warms the water on the ground, and it evaporates into the sky, where it's colder.
We filled this jar about 1/3 of the way with hot water. I also took advantage of this opportunity to make myself a cup of tea! Food coloring is optional here, but it makes it easier to see what's happening, and adds an element of fun for the kids.
A slightly larger bowl of ice was added to the top, and we waited and watched.
Talking about what we learned about the water cycle, I asked Annabelle what she thought would happen. What do you think will happen to the bottom of the bowl? She predicted that it would be wet, and she was right!
After some time, the water collected at the bottom of the bowl (condensation), and it rained down onto the table.
That moment. The moment when I could tell that Annabelle had truly learned something, about how clouds are formed. She made a cloud! And she made it rain!
After all that excitement, it was time for a snack.
Greek yogurt served as our cumulus clouds, and blueberries served as the rain drops.
We always love finding snacks that are fun AND healthy.
Both girls had a good time making (and eating) rain clouds.

Monday, August 31, 2015

First Day Of School

Annabelle eagerly began her school career this morning at home, with A Beka's K4 program. She is ready to learn. I'm so excited to begin this journey with her, as her teacher. The curriculum covers the basics: reading and writing; basic math skills; and Bible. In addition to that, we will have a rotating curriculum, beginning with science. When we are finished with the science unit, I hope to go over units on telling time, famous artists, dinosaurs, and whatever she wants to learn about.
Today was a fairly easy day, as the information I presented to her was review (and it will be for the first few weeks).
We began the day with the calendar, weather, and a preview of what we would be learning. Then we headed to the dining room for table work. I found a fun activity for her to do on the first day of school, to be repeated again at the end of the school year. I'm excited to see how her progress changes over the next several months.
We then took a short break for a snack, and a quick walk around the neighborhood before digging into our Bible curriculum. Annabelle learned about the first three days of Creation in Genesis 1:1-13.
She also learned about how the Bible was written, and how it is laid out.
Before long, the school day was over, and it was time for lunch!
Obligatory 1st day of school picture, complete with signs

1st Day of K-4

I'm just here for the stickers!

Our daily board. More on that in a later post

Hard at work

Reference board. More on that in a later post

Practicing scissor skills

Monday, August 24, 2015

Our Homeschooling Corner

All of our school supplies are neatly organized!

This year, Annabelle and I will go through A Beka's K4 program. At first, I was skeptical. I thought I was expecting too much from her, and that I should just keep doing what I'm doing, and take advantage of the teachable moments. But she has been asking about spelling, reading, and adding. She wants to know how to "make" numbers. She is beginning to sound out simple words with help. And once she learns a word in print, she commits it to memory. She recently opened a menu, found the word "pizza" in an unfamiliar font, and decided that's what she was going to eat for lunch that day. Annabelle has a thirst for knowledge, and craves teaching. To just take advantage of the teachable moments, in her case, would be to hold her back.

With just 9 days remaining until we officially begin our homeschooling journey, I finally got to work organizing a corner of the dining room for all of our homeschooling and art materials for the year. Even though I purchased the material in May, I never made the time to organize it until this weekend. Now that the curriculum guides are in labeled binders, books are stacked neatly, pencils are sharpened and nestled in bins, I feel ready.
But I may be buying a few baskets to replace the shoe boxes. I don't think I'll ever actually be done organizing. I'm just going to keep changing it up little by little until the end of the school year.
Enjoy these pictures, and I'd love to see everyone else's school/homework/craft areas!
Later this week (or maybe next week), I hope to share with you Annabelle's learning boards.
Be sure to check back, as I plan on posting updates on our homeschooling experience!
Extra crayons and some lite reading for myself
I bought the crayons back when Walmart was selling them for $.50!
Coloring supplies for free coloring:
New crayons and markers;
Melty crayons;
Colored pencils

Pencil box, workbooks, NIrV  Bible, game dice, music CD
(They are not used in the curriculum
for several more weeks)
Flash Cards and Small Visuals

Binders with all of our curriculum guides and larger visuals.
To the right, I have a notebook and daily planner for mysel

Bulletin board pieces
A Beka uses a lot of visuals,
which comes with a LOT of
tiny pieces!

Coloring books and construction paper

Art supplies. By labeling the drawers,
I know I am more likely to keep everything organized!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Fizzy Paint

One of my favorite, simple activities to do with kids involves two simple ingredients: vinegar and baking soda. We have all made our volcanoes or film canister rocket ships (if anyone can help me find a few old fashion pop-top film canisters, I just might write about that too) in the kitchen when we were young. But that's not enough for the creative mind in our home.
Fizzy painting is just as simple, and possibly a little less messy than volcanoes and rocket ships. All you need is heavy duty paper (construction paper or poster board will work fine), glue, a little food coloring, paint brushes, and of course baking soda and vinegar.
Start by painting your design on the paper with glue, and sprinkle baking soda over the design (like you're making a glitter project).

Allow that to dry while you work on puzzles, squish play-dough, have a snack, or whatever other activities you need to fill up an hour of time.
Once the glue has dried, mix about a tablespoon of vinegar with a few drops of food coloring. I wanted a bold color, so I used about seven drops of purple food coloring.
Using your paint brushes, carefully drip little bits of your vinegar mixture onto the baking soda design.

...and watch the magic happen. If you are very quiet, and listen carefully, you can hear the baking soda and vinegar fizzing on the paper.
As always, be sure to protect your work surface, since food coloring will stain.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Messy Monday: Kool-Aid Play Doh

Excited to make "green booger play-doh"
Summer has officially begun, and as I lay in bed last night, I realized something.
I have no rainy-day plans for the girls!
My mind was so set on swimming every day before lunch and dinner, that I forgot about the rainy days. What are we going to do if the weather doesn't cooperate with out plans to swim all day, everyday?
Of course this morning, we woke up to dreary skies, and threats of rain.
Hazel hammin' it up for the camera
The girls ate breakfast, destroyed the living room, watched "Littlest Pet Shop", and had baths all before 11am. Now what? The sun kept poking in and out of the clouds. Teasing us with threats of rain, and promises of a beautiful day. I didn't want to get completely ready for the pool, just for the sky to open up, and slam us with a rain storm. Annabelle has also been complaining all morning of an earache. I shouldn't be too surprised, as she probably spent more time under water than out of the water in the past three days.
I took a quick donut break
I poked around the internet, and after deciding to make another batch of my Pumpkin Play Doh, I set out to collect my ingredients.
Then it caught my eye. Lemon-Lime Kool-Aid we purchased a while back, in attempt to dye Annabelle's hair green. I recalled seeing several links to Kool-Aid Play Doh recipes, and decided today would be a great day to try something new.
The process was very similar to the Pumpkin Play Doh we made in September.
Follow the directions here to make your own. Coconut oil was my oil of choice, and I used two Kool-Aid packets, instead of just one.
This Play Doh turned out very soft and smooth, and the color was way more vibrant than I had expected. However, I wasn't too crazy about the smell. Maybe it was just the variety of Kool-Aid I chose. The scent wasn't overpowering though, so it wasn't an issue.
Try this recipe yourself, using other varieties, and let me know what you think. You could mix & match different varieties, or even use three of four packets.

This is all you need

Annabelle made a baby


I just made a smiley face
If the paci is in the mouth, the play-doh won't be

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Family Day: Please Touch Museum

I recently found a Groupon deal for tickets to the Please Touch Museum. Admission for four, plus four carousel rides for just $48! I knew I had to jump on this deal. And I'm glad I did it. Both girls were able to enjoy themselves, and learn on their own levels. I was very impressed to see that there were staff members at every station, ready to interact with, and help visitors. Also, the entire museum was very accessible for visitors with special needs. There were wide open aisles and ramps to allow for easy access, as well as several quiet areas for visitors who may be easily overwhelmed by all that is going on. Children could burn off some energy by running in a human hamster wheel, or quietly color and play in a sensory bin full of rice. Visitors of all ages, ability levels, and needs were considered when planning the museum and its features.
The centers themselves ranged from transportation, to water play, physics, community, Alice In Wonderland, and others. Annabelle loved playing in the food truck in the transportation center, and we all loved launching rockets, learning about physics and air pressure. The only center Hazel struggled to enjoy was the water play. The tables were too high for her to reach, even though there was a shorter table in the middle for younger guests. In the future, we may request a milk crate or step stool to help her play with her peers. There were plenty of other areas that she could enjoy with little or no help.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

It's been one year...

I tried to start writing this several times. I honestly had about 6 or 7 decent starts, just to highlight, delete, and start over. How do I reflect on the past year in just one short blog post? It has been a year since we received Hazel's official diagnosis of achondroplasia. A year! We have been learned so much; we have gained so many friends; we have cried and cheered with Hazel. I cannot find the words, so I will just let the pictures do the talking.