Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Worms Have Arrived!

There was much excitement today as we were about to head out to bring Ava to church school. Our much anticipated worms arrived! 

Checking out the package that was just delivered in the mail! 

Ava in her glory! A bag of 500 worms and she didn't even have to spend hours digging in the dirt to get them! ( I think she likes digging in the dirt too!)

Now that our worms had arrived we had no choice but to get our worm composting bin ready to go. After all, our new worms needed to eat! First step was to collect some dry leaves and a few cups of soil. 

Shredding paper for the bedding kept Ava and Dominic busy during that hard to fill hour before dinner! I had them use scissors so they could get some cutting practice in at the same time! 

Everybody joined in when it was time to assemble the bin. First we had to put the shredded paper. 

Next we had to add the leaves and dirt. 

The final step before adding the worms was to spray the bedding to make it moist. 

The kids were most excited about getting their hands on the worms. They were quite lively things despite there long journey to get to us! 

While we observed the worms, we looked for the worms' saddle (or ring as we call it) and tried to find the head and tail. 

Into the bin go our 500 worms.

It was fun to watch them in their new home. Their first meal was a banana peel and orange peel the kids made sure to save from their lunches. 

Now that our worms are here, we are ready for our W is for worm week! Next week I will be taking a break from blogging, but will be back after Easter with our W is for worm activities. Wishing everyone a very happy Easter! 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

V is for Volcanoes (and a lesson on St. Patrick too!)

Letter V week brought us some fun with volcanoes. It was a pretty low key week.  We spent two days on volcanoes and an hour or so today talking about St. Patrick's Day. With only W,X,Y, and Z left to cover in the alphabet we are starting to wind down for the year. But, since its only March, we are not in any big rush. We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our composting worms to go along with W is for worms week. Since they have not come in yet, we will have a review week next week and then spend the week before Easter exploring the Easter Story and having some Easter themed fun! 
Here are a few pictures from our week! 

Volcanoes By: Franklyn M. Branley
Volcanoes By: Seymour Simon
Patrick Patron Saint of Ireland By: Tomie dePola
St. Patrick's Day By: Brenda Haugen

The sensory table is usually the hit activity of the week and this week was no different. Over the course of the week Ava and Dominic have literately spent hours at this table. If they are really into something, I hate to stop them just to start a new activity. We didn't get everything accomplished I had planned this week. But, I'm okay with that! I made a batch of gooey gak (as we like to call it) and dyed it red to represent the hot lava of a volcano. I cut the bottom of two plastic cups and covered them with tinfoil to make volcanoes. I also added some plastic dinosaurs. Oh, and the kids love cutting the gak, so I added some scissors too.  

The recipe that I use for the gooey gak is one part glue to one part liquid starch. Keep it in an airtight container. I highly recommend wearing a smock or old shirt. It does stick
The kids were quite fascinated by the idea of erupting volcanoes. We tried out the classic volcano experiment with baking soda and vinegar. The kids built their volcano out of home made play dough that I made back in October and was ready to be cycled out anyway. I gave them small cups of baking soda and vinegar to add to the craters in their volcano. They took adding the ingredients very seriously.
Here they are adding the vinegar. 
Ava's face says it all. They thought the reaction created by the vinegar and the baking soda was cool. They wanted to keep trying. They experimented using different amounts of baking soda and vinegar to see if they could create more of an eruption. 

Here Ava is working on her weekly handwriting sheet. 

 I searched a long time for some volcano project ideas and finally found this idea on the blog Some of This and Some of That. I liked this idea because it was simple and provided the opportunity to work on cutting skills. I also liked that the erupting lava was the letter V.

Ava created a mini letter V book from First School.  

So, this was way off the Volcano topic. With St. Patrick's Day coming up, I wanted to incorporate the topic into the week..We read a couple books about St. Patrick's life and created a shamrock shaker. Since it has been said that St. Patrick taught the people of Ireland about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit being one using a clover, Ava labeled her clover. I am finding that the more opportunity for her to do her own writing, the more letters she is able to write without assistance or having to see me write it first. It is fun to watch things click! 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Learning About the Letter U and Under the Sea

We are still having fun talking about our recent trip to the Newport Aquarium. Introducing the letter U using the under the sea theme was a perfect extension to our fun day visiting the sharks and other great under the sea creatures! 

Books: What Do You See Under the Sea? By Bobbie Kalman 
It Could Still Be Coral By: Allan Fowler
Under the Sea By: Dr. Frank H Talbot
I Spy Under the Sea By: Edward Gibbs
Shells! Shells! Shells! By: Nancy Wallace 
Let's Look at Opposites By: Nicola Tuxworth 

To start off the week,we answered the question,"What lives under the sea?" Both Ava and Dominic had some great ideas and had fun remembering what we had seen at the aquarium.

This week we practiced using directional words such as near, beside, between, under, over, behind, etc..  I gave the kids sea creatures. They had to listen to the directional words and put them in the correct arrangement. We also spent some time reviewing opposites such as under/over, near/ far, sink/float, etc... 

The kids had fun creating their own under the sea habitats. They started by  finger painting to create the water. I showed them how to use their fingers to make waves in the paint.   
I printed out sea animal clipart. Ava colored and cut her own. She used beans for the sand/rocks and  Easter grass for the seaweed. 

Our sensory table this week was an ocean theme. I added plastic sea animals and gems (we pretended they were rocks and coral reef) to some water. This activity was a hit. It practically looked like the kids had gone swimming once they finished playing in it each day. I am glad the table is in the basement, because we would have had some really wet floors!  Even Lilly joined in the sensory activity for the first time and loved it! 

One of the math activities this week involved Ava counting bubbles and matching each numbered fish to the correct amount of bubbles. We worked on counting and recognizing numbers 1-20. 

Ava went deep sea fishing for rhymes. She had to fish for a picture, say its name, and find a picture on her rhyming mat that it rhymed with. 

We spent some time talking about the concept of sink and float. Before testing if the objects would sink or float, we made predictions about the outcome of each object. 

We tested our predictions.Our foam letter U floated just like we thought! But, we were surprised that our mega block sank to the bottom. 

This fun shark project idea came from the blog Almost Unschoolers. Dominic is making his scary shark face!  
Ava decided to make her shark differently and said her shark was nice. I liked how she made it her own creation! 

Ava practicing writing the letter U
Our language arts project for the week was scrapbooking our pictures from our visit to the aquarium. It's not completed yet, but coming a long and the kids are having fun with it. Ava has been working hard to label the pictures and decorate the pages. Dominic has been enjoying decorating the pages too! 
I found this free sea animal measuring activity at Peterson's Pad. Using foam cubes (found at the Dollar Tree), Ava had to determine the length of each sea animal. She then recorded her findings.  She took this activity very seriously and kept saying, "this is fun"! I have been wanting to do more with measuring with her. This activity was a good introduction.

We'll be moving onto the letter V next week. Plans are still in progress, but I do know the week will include building our own volcano!