Saturday, December 27, 2008

Science Saturday: Hanukkah

This proved to be a bit difficult for me, but here are my thoughts:

- Using the scientific method, light a candle and make observations at 30-60 second intervals in the beginning and 10 minute intervals once it has been burning a bit. This will teach observation skills, allow the child to form a hypothesis, and open the door for a discussion of chemical changes versus physical changes.

- You could also discuss water and oil mixtures and even perform some experiments. Try mixing water and oil and observe what happens. Now add a little dish soap and try again, making an emulsion (vocab word)). You could also use a jar filled 3/4 with water and then top it with oil. now sprinkle some salt on top and watch as the salt draws the oil through the water. You can make it more fun by coloring the water and/or oil first.

I wish I had more for you. Feel free to share any ideas you may have.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Fun Friday: Hanukkah

Field Trip
-Find a local Hanukkah celebration and attend it.
-If you have any Jewish friends, express an interest in participating in part of their Hanukkah Celebration. Many will be willing to invite your family to come.

-Make a menorah. Martha Stewart made one from a tree branch or you can craft one out of clay or any other medium you think would work.

-Make Hanukkah cards for any Jewish friends you have. Here are directions for making cards with a 3-D menorah.

-Make candles either for use in a menorah or for everyday use. Martha Stewart has directions for making beeswax candles. These are probably the easiest and least messy taper candles for kids to make at home.

-Buy some chocolate coins (check the party supply area) and hand them out to the kids as gelt. has several Hanukkah-themed printable coloring pages, online jigsaw puzzles, and online sliding puzzles. also has several fun hanukkah-themed activities.

Think About It Thursday: Hanukkah

Hanukkah is the celebration of the miracle of one day's worth of oil lasting for 8 days. Have you ever experienced a miracle, even a small one? Write about it. If you can not remember any miracles in your life, write about one that happened to someone you know or write about one you would like to have happen.

Research another Jewish holiday and write a report about how and why the holiday is celebrated.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I just wanted to take this time to wish all of you a wonderful Christmas. If you do not celebrate Christmas, that's ok too, I still hope you have a great day!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Worldly Wednesday: Israel

While Israel is a hot spot for violence, I am going to stick with the more peaceful facts when teaching about it.

Flag: Shown at top of post. The star in the middle is known as the Star of David.

Location: Israel is located in Western Asia along the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It borders, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan, as well as The West Bank and The Gaza Strip.

People: The majoirty of the people living in Israel are Jewish (just over 75%). Israel is the only Jewish state in the world. Although it is a Jewish state, there are many people of other religions who live there as well.

Government: The Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, is the head of the government and the Knesset is the legislative body.

Capital: Jerusalem (Tel Aviv is another major city and the center of Israel's economy)

Official Languages: Hebrew and Arabic

Currency: Israeli New Shekel (ILS) (4.402 ILS = 1 US dollar)

Food: I found a page on North Carolina State University's website that lists 3 Israeli recipes: Falafel, Israeli Salad and Three Bean Salad

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Time Travel Tuesday: Hanukkah

While it is probably the best known Jewish holiday, Hanukkah is not the most important Jewish holiday. None-the-less it is still an important one.

Hanukkah is known as the festival of lights and is a celebration that stems from a group of Jewish fighters, known as the Maccabees. After their temple was defiled by the Hellenistic Syrians, the Maccabees were able to eventually "win" the temple back. When they went to find oil to light the temple candles, they only found enough for 1 night. Miraculously, the candles all burned for eight nights from that one little jar. The following year, the rabbis designated those days (starting on the 25th of Kislev (November/December)) as a holiday to celebrated with praise and thanksgiving.

This is a brief history, but you can find more at the following websites:

Monday, December 22, 2008

Math Monday: Hanukkah

I feel it is important to study other cultures and religions in order to better understand those who are different from us and to teach tolerance. Having said that, I want to state that I am not Jewish, but will only post information that I have either learned first-hand or researched about Hanukkah. If anything I post is incorrect, or you simply want to expound on it, please feel free to leave me a comment. ALso, if any of you have Hanukkah traditions or lesson ideas, please let me know and I will give you full credit if I post it.

Now, on to the math...

Probability (and/or simple addition/subtraction)
- Make, or buy (party supply stores often have them for a reasonable price), a dreidel. Older kids can use introductory probability when playing with the dreidel. (Directions for play can be found at Younger kids can practice addition and subtraction skills as they play the game.

Word Problems
- Traditionally, gifts are not exchanged for Hanukkah, however due to the proximity to Christmas, many American Jews have come to exchange gifts. Gelt, or money, is what is traditionally given to children at Hanukkah. If Jacob receives 10 bags of gelt, and each bag holds 8 pieces of gelt, how many pieces of gelt does Jacob have?

- Hanukkah is celebrated for eight nights. One part of the celebration is the lighting of the menorah. There are 9 candles on the menorah. The center candle is called the Shamash. Each night of Hanukkah, at sunset, the Shamash is lit and then, starting at the far right side of the menorah, the candles are lit. On the first night, one candle is lit; on the second night, two candles are lit; and so on. Only on the last night will all nine candles be burning. After the candles have been lit on the eighth night, how many candles will have been lit during Hanukkah? DO not forget to include the Shamash! (Answer: 2 the first night, plus 3, plus 4, +5, +6, +7, +8, +9 for the subsequent nights).

- Measure the candles on a menorah.

- Make Potato Latkes and/or Sufganiot (jelly filled doughnuts), traditional Hanukkah food.

Regarding Sunday postings

I have decided that I will not be regularly posting on Sundays any more. I believe it should be a day of rest and when I am unable to prepare the post ahead of time, I find myself stressing about it on Sunday. I will still post Scouting activities, but not every week. I appreciate your understanding. Stay tuned for today's post later this evening.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Science Saturday: Christmas

- Introduce chromatography and make a fun decoration at the same time with this fun activity that will show the colors in a black marker.

- Compare and contrast live Christmas trees versus artificial trees. Is there an environmental benefit to one over the other? What are some environmentally-friendly things you could do with a live tree after the holidays are over?

- While on the topic of the environment, find some environmentally-friendly ways to wrap gifts. You can also discuss ways to re-use the gift wrap and cards you receive this year.

- Make your own Christmas tree (or cut flower) preservative.

- Use a candy cane to stir a cup of hot chocolate. Observe what happens as you stir the drink. (Older kids can form a hypothesis first and do this in "official" scientific method format)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fun Friday: Christmas

There are so many activities for Christmas that I am only going to be able to list a small percentage of them, some will be religious in nature and others are not. Either way, I encourage all of you to have your children experience some of both the religious and secular activities to truly experience the entire Christmas experience. I know many Christians who really do not celebrate Christmas becasuse they know it is not really Christ's birthday and that the date was chosen to compete with a pagan holiday and I respect that. For me, I feel that Christmas is a way of celebrating and remembering Christ's birth, even if it is not the actual day, and it is also a cultural tradition. There are many non-Christians, both in the US and abroad, who enjoy the "secular" side of Christmas as well. I think getting together with family and giving gifts from the heart is a wonderful thing, no matter what you believe.

Field Trips
-Visit Santa, whether it be at the mall, some other retail establishment, breakfast with Santa, or any where else you may find him, and at this time of year, you are likely to find him just about anywhere.
-Find a local neighborhood that has several houses decorated and drive (or walk, weather permitting) around to see them all.
-Attend a community tree lighting.
-Stop at a local soup kitchen and serve Christmas dinner.
-Attend a Christmas Eve church service and/or a church's Christmas Pageant.
-Throw or attend a Christmas party

-String cranberries and popcorn on thread and hang on either your Christmas tree or an evergreen outside for the birds to enjoy.
-Make a star ornament by gluing 5 popsicle sticks in a star shape. Paint it yellow and sprinkle with glitter. Tie a string on it and hang from the tree. Alternatively, you could personalize it and use it as a gift tag.
-Use an old paperback book or Reader's Digest to make this cute Christmas tree.
-Thread pony beads onto pipe cleaner to make either a candy cane or a wreath.
-Make and decorate a gingerbread house. Alternatively, use icing to cover a (clean and empty) milk or juice carton with graham crackers and decorate that like a gingerbread house.
-Make a reindeer. Trace your child's socked foot on brownpaper to use for the face and trace their hands on lighter brown paper to use as antlers. Decorate as desired.

-DLTK has a bunch of coloring pages you can print off.
-Some other fun websites are and
-Track where Santa is and where he has already been on Christmas Eve with NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Think About It Thursday: Christmas

Christmas is a great opportunity for research projects. Yesterday, I suggested having your child research Christmas traditions around the world, but another opportunity lies in researching the history behind individual customs or why Christmas is celebrated on December 25th (it is NOT the date that is actually believed to be Christ's birthday). You could also research the history behind a favorite Christmas carol.

Other writing projects can include: Writing about what Christmas means to you, on a religious level (if Christian) and/or a cultural level; Writing about a favorite Christmas tradition either within your family or your community; Writing a letter to Santa; Addressing Christmas (or other holiday) cards; Writing a family newsletter to go inside of Christmas cards; Writing the Biblical Christmas story from a point of view of someone else, such as Mary, Joseph, one of the 3 Wise Men, the drummer boy, etc.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Worldly Wednesday: Christmas in Japan

My girls are being assigned a research project to choose one country and find out how they celebrate Christmas. They will compare and contrast the customs with the countries others have chosen as well as with US customs. I sent them to Santa's Net to get them started.

Here is my sample country of Japan:

A very small percentage of Japanese are Christians, yet in Japan it is common to find many homes and stores decorated at this time with evergreens and many people exchange gifts. It is believed that a Buddhist monk, named Hotei-Osho, will bring presents to the homes of all the kids. It is also believed that he has eyes in the back of his head. Kids who do not like the idea of Hotei-Osho, often believe in Santa who travels with his red-nosed reindeer. I also learned that in Japan, Christmas Eve is a time to be spent with a significant other and is often celebrated in ways similar to the US Valentine's Day. As for Christmas dinner, KFC has done a remarkable job of convincing the Japanese that fried chicken is what should be served and they are often very busy on Christmas Eve with people picking up their Christmas Chicken Dinners (often ordered ahead of time). Roast Teriyaki Chicken is a common alternative. Either way, the dinner is served with Christmas Cake, a round sponge cake topped with whipped cream fruit. To say "Merry Christmas" in Japan you would say, "Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto".

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Time Travel Tuesday: History of Christmas emblems

The Christmas tree: believed to have begun in Germany in the 16th century. Martin Luther is credited for starting the tradition on lighting a Christmas tree. He had been walking home one winter night and was enthralled by the sight of the stars twinkling among the evergreens. When he arrived home, he wired several lit candles through an evergreen to show his family how it looked. Candles have since been replaced with electric lights. German immigrants brought the Christmas tree to America in the 1830s.

Santa Claus: due to the long and varied history, I will simply provide a link to a child-friendly history of Santa: North Pole Santa Claus

Candy Canes: dates back to 1670 when a German choirmaster bent sugar-stick candy into a cane shape in an attempt to emulate a shepherd's hook. The first candy canes were all white and were given to the children to keep them quiet during the long church sermons. The first historical reference to candy canes in America is in 1847, when a German immigrant decorated his home with candy canes. It was around 1900 that stripes and peppermint and wintergreen flavors were added to the candy canes. While there is a lovely story relating the history of the candy cane to the Bible, there is actually no historical proof to back it up, quite the opposite in fact. Personally, if it helps remind someone of the reason why we celebrate Christmas, go ahead and tell it, just know that it is not the real story behind the candy cane.

Star or Angel on Tree Top: represents either the Star of Bethlehem from the Christmas story in the Bible or the angel that told the shepherd's of Christ's birth. The Christmas story can be found in the Bible in both the books of Matthew and Luke (Matthew 1:18-25; Matthew 2:1-12; Luke 1:26-38; Luke 2:1-20). The Christmas story that is usually told is a compilation of both of the accounts.

While there are many more emblems of Christmas, for this age, I am only going to teach these. There is also a deeper history behind Christmas itself, particularly why it is in December, but at this age, it is too deep a subject to cover.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Math Monday: Christmas

With Christmas fast approaching, I have decided to study Christmas this week. For non-Christians, this is a great opportunity to learn about why Christmas is celebrated and the history behind some of the customs. However, I also want to ensure you that other non-Christian holidays will also be studied in the future as we believe it is important to study all cultures in order to promote tolerance. For my Jewish readers, we will be studying Hannakuh next week, and I encourage you to add to, or correct, anything I post. Now, onto the math.

- Learn about symmetry by cutting out Christmas tree shapes. Fold piece of green paper in half and, cutting on the folded side, cut out half a Christmas tree. When unfolded, the tree is symmetrical on the vertical plane and asymmetrical on the horizontal plane. This is a great vocabulary lesson as well (symmetric, asymmetric, vertical, horizontal, plane)

- Cut strips out of red and green construction paper and make a chain with them using a pattern of your choosing (red/green/red/green or red/red/green/red/red/green, etc).

- Younger children can help count candy canes as they are hung on the tree.

- This is a little late for this yar, but in future years, Advent calendars are great for kids of all ages. You can make your own, such as this one that uses cotton balls to create Santa's beard as Christmas nears, or this one that you fill with treats and is made from egg cartons. There are also tons of different ones at the store, from simple ones with a chocolate treat each day to PlayMobil ones where you get a piece of a nativity set each day to ones that you use your own treats to fill.

- There are tons of recipes out there for different cookies and other holiday treats. Here are a few:
Grandma's Gingersnaps
Sugar Cookies
Spiced Pumpkin Fudge

- There are also lots of recipes out there for holiday crafts such as Gingerbread play dough and sawdust clay, both of which can be molded into ornaments and left to dry.

Word Problems

- Jenna's mom wanted to make up trays of cookies to bring to each holiday party she was going to this year. She is planning on attending 3 parties this year and wants to have 3 dozen cookies on each tray. How many cookies will she need to bake? (this is a bit advanced, but this is also a great time of year to introduce the concept of a dozen) (Younger kids can look at your calendar or gift list with you and determine how many cookie trays you will need)

- Kevin's family is shopping for a Christmas tree. They have room for a 7 foot tree in their living room. Kevin's dad found a tree they really like that is 7 feet 4 inches tall(for older kids give them the whole measurement in inches: 88 inches). How much of the trunk needs to be trimmed off in order for the tree to fit in their living room?

- Jaime is shopping for Christmas gifts for his family. He has $20. He buys a candle for his mom for $3 (for older kids use more realistic amounts such as $3.82), a wallet for his dad for $5, a book about dogs for his brother for $2, and a scarf for his sister for $3. He wants to give the remainder of his money to the Salvation Army. How much money will he donate? (Alternatively, you can use your child's own Christmas shopping budget for similar word problems)

- Aimee is concerned about how many calories Santa must eat in one night. She decides to add up the calories in what she normally offers Santa. The egg nog has 343 calories and the cookies have 176. What are the total number of calories? What are some healthier alternatives (I know, not math, but school related anyway) Here is a website where you can find out the calories in different foods.

- Here is a worksheet to determine how many "nice" kids are on Santa's list.

- The Sanchez family volunteers every Christmas Eve, serving dinner at the homeless shelter. Carmen will be serving rolls. Each person is to get 2 rolls. If they serve 230 people, how many rolls will they need? The rolls come in packages of 12. How many packages do they need?

- Christmas lights use electricity. To find out how much more electricity your lights are using, do the following: 1) With the Christmas lights off, read your electricity meter and write down the number. 2) Go back 15 minutes later and read it again. 3) Turn on the Christmas lights. 4) Wait 15 minutes and go back and read the meter again. 5) Subtract the first number from the second number to see how much electricity your household uses in a "normal" 15 minutes. 6) Now subtract the second number from the third number to see how much electricity is used when the lights are on. 7) Subtract the "normal" amount of electricity from the amount with the lights on to see how much more electricity the lights use in 15 minutes. (You can multiply this number by 4 to see the difference used in an hour and then multiply that by the number of hours the lights are on. You can continue by multiplying it by the number of days the lights are on to get a seasonal total. You could also figure out the increased cost by finding out how much is paid per kilowatt and multiplying it by the increased nuber of kilowatts used.)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

My deepest apologies

I offer my deepest apologies for going MIA over the past month+. I was frazzled by the move and settling in and kind of mentally shut down for a bit. I missed you all terribly and hope you are still here with me. I will be getting back on track with a regular posting tomorrow and also have a few product reviews and giveaways coming up this week as well. I appreciate your patience and understanding with me.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Giveaway Winner!

First, thank you for all your wonderful feedback. Over the next few weeks I will begin to implement some changes, as well as continue trying to catch up. Now onto the winner.....Congratulations jamie lea! I will contact you within 24 hours and you will have 48 hours from then to get back to me. Congratulations and thank you again.

Giveaway: Free magazine subscription


As promised, I am hosting my first giveaway and I even have one prize for each of my 3 blogs (Homeschool Unit Studies, The Happy Wife, and Things I Love). The prize is the same for all 3 blogs: a one-year subscription to the magazine of your choice from Ladies Home Journal, Fitness, Siempre Mujer (written in Spanish) and Parents magazine. The contest will run from now until November 8th. I will use to choose a winner and the winner will be posted here. If contact information is provided or I can reach you through your blog/profile, I will also e-mail the winner. The winner will have 48 hours to contact me with their information or a new winner will be chosen at that time.
How to enter:
1)Leave me a comment with a piece of constructive criticism, positive or negative (I can take it, I promise) about this blog.
After doing #1, you may also enter by doing the following:
2)Blog about the giveaway and leave a new comment, separate from #1, that includes the URL to the blog posting. If you are not a blogger, tell your friends and when they enter, have them put your name down as the person who referred them here.
3)Subscribe to my feed and leave another separate comment telling me you did so.
4)TUESDAY BONUS ENTRY-go vote and come back and post that you did so. I will only accept entries on Tuesday for this bonus entry and it is being awarded on the honor code. If you say you voted, I will trust that you did. Please do not post who/how you voted, just that you did.

Good luck to all!!!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Think About It Thursday: Election

- Imagine you are running for President of the world. Write a paper describing the three issues you will spend the most time working on and what your ideas are for correcting these issues.

- Design a campaign slogan and poster for yourself for any public office.

- Write a letter of thanks to President George W. Bush for the work he has done the past 8 years. and/or Write a letter to President-elect Barack Obama congratulating him and telling him what your most important concerns are.

- Write an advertisement to encourage others to vote.

Worldly Wednesday: Barack Obama

We will study a little about our next president this week.

Barack Obama was born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961. After he graduated from college (Columbia University), he moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1985. In 1991, he graduated from Harvard Law School. While he was at Harvard, Barack Obama was the first African-American to serve as president of the Harvard Law Review.

He married his wife, Michelle (Robinson), in 1992 and they have 2 daughters together, Malia and Sasha. Until they move into the White House, they reside in south Chicago.

Prior to being elected as a US Senator for Illinois, Barack Obama has served as a leader in the Illinois state Senate, a community organizer and a civil rights attorney. He was elected to the US Senate in 2004 and served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Veterans Affairs Committee, Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Barack Obama was elected as the 44th US President on November 4, 2008 and will be sworn into office on January 20, 2009.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Time Travel Tuesday: Elections

I am so far behind this week and I apologize. Here is what I am doing for election history:

- Today, a presidential candidate (vocabulary word) chooses their vice-presidential running mate, but in the first four US elections (1789, 1792, 1796, and 1800), the president was the person who received the most votes and the vice-president was whoever received the second highest number of votes.

- The mainstream political parties today are Democrat and Republican. Past presidential political parties include Whig, Federalist, and Union. Learn about one of the politcal parties listed (Democrat, Republican, Whig, Federalist, or Union) and write a paragraph summarizing their political beliefs.

- 2 women have run for vice-president on a major political ticket. Geraldine Ferraro ran with Walter Mondale in 1984 on the Democratic ticket and Sarah Palin ran with John McCain in 2008 on the Republican ticket. 2008 was the first time a woman stood a real chance at being a presidential candidate on a major political ticket when Hillary Clinton campaigned in the Democratic primary.

- Barack Obama is the first African-American to run for preisdent on a major political ticket and the first to be elected president (2008).

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Math Monday (on Wednesday): The US Election Process

As yesterday was Election Day, I have chosen to study the election process this week.


- (Due to the personal nature of elections) Think of 2 or 3 people you would like to see run for president and then poll your friends and family to see which of them they would like to see as president. Make a pie graph showing your results.

- In 21 states, John McCain received the majority (vocabulary word) of the votes and Barack Obama received the majority of the votes in 27 states (as of right now, 2 states are still processing results). Make a bar graph showing these results.

Word Problems

- Barack Obama won the US presidential election with 63,858,695 votes. John McCain had 56,376,354 votes. How many more votes did President-elect (vocabulary word) Obama have?

- (If you are interested in teaching about the electoral college, these would be good lead ins.) John McCain received 163 electoral votes and Barack Obama received 349. How many more electoral votes did Barack Obama receive?

- It takes 270 electoral votes to win the US presidency. How many more electoral votes did John McCain need? How many "extra" electoral votes did Barack Obama receive?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Scouting Sunday (on Monday): Eat Right, Stay Healthy Brownine Girl Scout Try-It

I am still trying to both catch up and fight off an antibiotic-resistant double ear infection so posts may be delayed for a little while longer.

With all the candy and not-so-healthy foods available at Halloween, I decided to try to balance it a little with a badge for eating healthy. Here are the activities we will do.

1)The Foods We Eat: We will start this activity with a game about the USDA food pyramid. We will also discuss how ingredients are listed on food labels from the highest percentage to the lowest percentage and we will discuss the various names that are used for sugars (corn syrup, fructose, glucose, etc). We will look at various food labels and study the nutrients (vitamins, minerals) that are in the foods. Then we will put together everything we learned and choose from several food packages, which are the healthiest for us.

2)Smart Shopper: The kids will be directed to make up a list of foods that we eat through the week. We will then discuss the list and go shopping together. Each child will also be planning one entire meal for the family, based on the food pyramid, and will help prepare it. Here are some websites with kid-friendly recipes: Cooking with Kids,, and Family Fun. There are also several great kid-friendly cookbooks available as well: Everything Kids' Cookbook: From Mac ' N Cheese to Double Chocolate Chip Cookies-All You Need to Have Some Finger Lickin' Fun (Everything Kids Series), New Junior Cookbook (Better Homes & Gardens Test Kitchen), and Disney's Family Cookbook: Irresistible Recipes for You and Your Kids.

3)Dairy Foods: We will make a list of dairy foods and then gather together several of them (different cheeses, yogurt, ice cream, milk, etc) for an at-home taste test. We will also have a "yogurt making" day where we take plain yogurt and mix in a variety of different "toppings" (fruit, cereals, nuts, etc) and see which we like the best. There are milk alergies in our extended family and in at least one girl in our troop so we will not do the dairy taste test with the troop, but we will discuss the alternatives (tofu, rice milk, soy milk, other soy products, etc) and put together a taste test of these for the troop.

4)Food People: You really are "what you eat" and to reinforce this concept, we will make "people" out of pictures of the various foods we eat. The Brownie Try-It book says these pictures can be hand drawn or cut from magazines. we have an abundance of magazines, especially food-related ones, so that is where we will get our pictures from.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Science Saturday: Halloween

Since Halloween is over I will post some post-Halloween science ideas, but here is a whole bunch of fun science activities for next Halloween.

- Have the children sort and classify their candy. They can chose how to classify them or you can (chocolate/non-chocolate, by brand, wrapper color, candy color, etc).

- Have the kids start an observation journal and have them write daily as to what is happening as their pumpkin rots.

- Have the kids add up the calories/fat grams/sugar grams of the candy they will eat in one day or all the candy they received total.

- This is a great time for a nutrition lesson and a lesson on moderation.

- Make stained glass cookies with the hard candies (crush them first). You can use your own sugar cookie recipe.

- Make a pumpkin pie with the jack-o-lantern (assuming it was cut recently) or try this Walnut Pumpkin Pie.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Fun Friday: Halloween

Field Trips
- The best field trips for Halloween would be Trick-or-Treating and/or Halloween parties.

- Haunted Houses

Other Fun Activities
- Carving pumpkins
- Creating the Halloween costume
- Online Halloween games
- Make a candy spider
- Make a handprint bat decoration

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Think About It Thursday: Halloween

- Think about ways to be safe on Halloween. Write up a list of safety rules for Trick or Treating.

- Finish this story: "You are out Trick or Treating and pass an old house that had been abandoned many years ago. You see a light on and hear music coming from the house. You walk up to the door and..."

- Write a letter to a loved one telling them all about your Halloween costume.

-Create a scrapbook of all your past Halloweens. Be sure to share your memories of the days. If you were too young to remember that Halloween, ask your family members to share any memories they may have of it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Worldly Wednesday: Dias de los Muertos

In Mexico, Halloween is part of a 3-day celebration in honor of deceased loved ones, called Los Dias de los Muertos (The Days of the Dead). It is celebrated from October 31-Novemeber 2, encompassing Halloween, All Saints' Day, and All Souls' Day. It is a fun and happy holiday marked with a parade, and lots of candy skulls (we will be making these on November 1st), skeletons and coffins. Families build "altars" in their homes with pictures of their deceased family members and flowers, candles, bread (called Pan de Muertos; we will also be making this), fruits, and candy. They go to the cemetary and clean up the graves of their loved ones and decorate them with fruit, breads, candles and flowers. Often, the family will spend the entire night at the grave. Handmade "skeletons", called calacas, shown ejoying an active afterlife are another common sight during Los Dias de los Muertos.

Time Travel Tuesday (a day late): History of Halloween

Since I am behind a bit (I have been fighting a double ear infection and a nasty cold), I am including links to a few websites that tell the history of Halloween. I am leaving it up to you as parents to decide what you want your children to know. Personally, at this age, we are leaving it as Halloween is also called All Hallow's Eve and November 1st is All Saints Day. Once they are older, we may delve more into the history of Halloween.

History Channel

The Holiday Spot

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Math Monday (a day late): Halloween

In honor of Halloween on Friday, we willbe studying Halloween this week.

There are free Halloween Math Drill Worksheets available at You can also find more free printable Halloween math worksheets at KidZone.

-What better way to learn and practice shapes than by carving a pumpkin using shapes. Think beyond the typical shapes used with jack-o-lanterns. How about a star nose or octagon eyes?

-What is the circumference of your pumpkin?

-Estimate how much your pumpkin weighs? Now weigh it and see how close you were.

-When you cut open your pumpkin, look inside and guess how many seeds there are. After you get them all out, count them. How close were you? Now, wash them up and make yummy toasted pumpkin seeds.

-Interview friends and family to determine what their favorite Halloween treat is and make a bar graph.

-Sort and then make a bar graph of all the Halloween candy you collect. Older kids can also figure out what percentage was chocolate.

Word Problems
-If if takes you 1 minute to Trick or Treat at each house, how long will it take you to go to 10 houses?

-If you are expecting 150 trick or treaters on Halloween, how many bags of 50 count candy bars would you need to buy?

-You arrive at a pumpkin patch and see 27 pumpkins. Each member of your family is going to choose one pumpkin each. How many pumpkins will be left?

-You open the door on Halloween and see several Trick or Treaters on your doorstep. There are 2 witches, 3 Hannah Montanas, 1 Incredible Hulk, 2 pirates and 1 ghost. How many Trick or Treaters are there in all?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Scouting Sunday: Colors and Shapes Brownie Girl Scout Try-It

Here are the activities we are working on for this badge.

1- Stencil Stampers: We will combine this activity with #5 and will do it with the science activity from yesterday. The activity calls for making stamps by cutting old sponges into any shape the child chooses. They will then use the stamp, and the paints from activity #5, to create wrapping paper for their cousin's birthday.

4- Weaving Color Patterns: I will be using a lesson plan from Blick Art Materials so the girls can create paper-woven placemats for use at home. We may try to laminate them and then they may create more for holiday gifts.

5- A Rainbow of Colors: We will discuss the difference between primary and secondary colors. The girls will be given paint in red, yellow, and blue. They will then combine the colors as they choose to creat new colors which they will then use for their stamping project in activity #1 and in any other painting they choose to do at the time.

6- Yarn Painting: This is a great way to use up bits of yarn and end pieces. The child draws a basic picture (not a lot of room for details) and then spreads glue over it, working a small area at a time. While the glue is still wet, they lay pieces of yarn in the glue according to the color they want on the picture. Once the picture dries, you can spray it with varnish to preserve it, or make your own "varnish" by mixing glue and water in a 4:1 ratio (4 parts glue to 1 part water).

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Science Saturday: Paint

I cannot come up with much for science with this topic, but did think about making homemade paint. The Can Teach website has a bunch of "recipes" for different types of paint including poster paint face paint, and finger paint. Making the paints will reinforce measuring skills. You can also discuss whether the changes are physical changes or chemical change. The kids can hypothesize about color mixing and then experiment to see the results.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fun Friday: Pablo Picasso

Field Trip
-any museum that has Picasso's work or reproductions at it

-find a local painter and arrange a field trip to their studio or invite them to come speak to your group

Fun Activities
-Mr. Picassohead allows you to use various face parts and shapes to create a Picasso-like image of your own.

-Have your child create a painting(s) in one of Picasso's styles. They could create a "sad" painting with blues and blue-greens, a "happy" painting with reds and oranges, or a Cubism-style painting with geometric shapes.

-Did you know Picasso was also a sculptor? Unlike other sculptors of his time, he did not start with soft clay, but instead used already fired pieces which he often deconstructed and then reassembled into something else. If you have chipped or broken ceramic pieces (without sharp edges of course), allow your child to use them to make new pieces of art.

-Here is an online memory-style game of Picasso artwork. All the pictures I saw where child-friendly.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Think About It Thursday: Pablo Picasso

-Choose your favorite Picasso painting and write a paragraph describing how the picture makes you feel.

-Think of something you would like to paint. Write a paragraph describing what your subject would be, the colors you would use, and the feeling you want others to get when they look at your work.

-Choose another famous painter and write a research paper on them.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Worldly Wednesday: France

Pablo Picasso began regularly traveling to Paris, France in 1900 and established permanent residence there is 1904. In 1946, he moved to the south of France and in 1961, he and his wife, Jacqueline Roque moved to Notre-Dame-de-Vie. It was in Mougins, France that Picasso died in 1973. It only seems natural that although Picasso was a Spanish-born artist, we will study France this week since that is where he spent most of his life.

- France is located in Western Europe and shares land borders with Germany, Luxemborg, Belgium, Italy, Monaco, Spain and Andorra.
- National language is French.
- Government is a Republic with a semi-presidential system. Their "Congress" is called Parliament. The current president of France is President Nicolas Sarkozy and he shares his power with the Prime Minister, whom the president appoints. The current Prime Minister is Francois Fillon.
- Currency is the Euro.
- Paris is the capital of France. Other well-known cities include Nice, Lyon, Marseille and Bordeaux.
- And now for the recipes:
French Onion Soup
Quiche Lorraine
Crepes Suzette

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Time Travel Tuesday: Pablo Picasso

Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Martyr Patricio Clito Ruíz y Picasso, Better known as just Pablo Picasso, was born on October 25, 1881 in Malaga, Spain. His father was also a painter and began formally training Pablo in art at the age of 7.

Much of Picasso's artwork is categorized into different periods. The most commonly accepted periods are: the Blue Period (1901–1904), the Rose Period (1905–1907), the African-influenced Period (1908–1909), Analytic Cubism (1909–1912), and Synthetic Cubism (1912–1919). The Blue Period consisted of mainly paintings in blues and blue-greens and only occasionally a touch of other colors. The subject matter usually showed the poorest in society such as drunks and beggars. The Rose Period was a time of cheerful paintings of harlequins and clowns in pinks and orange colors. His African-influenced Period, sometimes called the Black Period, was largely influenced by African sculptors of the time. Analytic Cubism broke pictures down into basic geometric shapes and often had little or no color in the paintings. Synthetic Cubism is similar to collage and consists of more colors than analytic cubism and often used more than one art medium in the same piece.

Some of Picasso's most famous works include: Guernica and The Old Guitarist.

Pablo Picasso died in Mougins, France on April 8,1973.

*Note to parents*- Picasso lived a rather "colorful" life. He fathered 4 children with 3 women and had several lovers, including during times he was married. He also has several paintings that depict prostitutes and nudity. I only mention this as a warning, in case you wanted to allow your children to research Pablo Picasso on their own.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Math Monday: Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso's birthday is October 25th, so we wil be studying him this week.

-Pablo Picasso died in 1973, at the age of 91. How many years ago did he die?

-One of Picasso's art periods was "Cubism". Cubism often used basic geometric shapes to depict people and landscapes. I will use this time to review shapes and to introduce their 3-D equivalents such as spheres, cubes, cylinders, etc. We will then look for these shapes in nature.

-Find copies of several Picasso paintings and ask others which is their favorite. Graph the results. You can use a book like Pablo Picasso: Life and Workby HF Ullmann to find many examples of his work.

That is really all I can come up with regarding Picasso and math. I do want to share a website that was created by a Middle school math teacher and is designed for kids in grades 1-8. It is Hooda Math and is a free website with some cute games on it.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Scouting Sunday: Safety Sense Brownie Girl Scout Try-It

My oldest daughter earned this badge as a Daisy with her troop, but my younger daughter and I will be working on this badge. Here is what we plan to do:

1- Street Safety: We moved to our apartment about 1 year ago and actually will be moving again in about a month, but I think we may do this activity in both places since we will still visit often. For this activity, the girls are to make a map of their neighborhood and mark the important places such as the police station and firehouse. Alternatively, they can use an already created map and just mark the places on it.

3- Smoke Alarm: We will study smoke alarms and how they work. We will discuss the importance of having a working smoke alarm and how to test it to be sure it works. We will have a fire drill where we use the smoke alarm to alert them to the "fire".

4- Playground Safety: Our meeting place has a playground and safety has been an issue, so this will be done as a troop activity. We will discuss safe playground behavior and some safety rules for the playground. THe girls will then make a poster showing the safety rules.

5- First Aid: I will teach the girls the Heimlich Maneuver. We will also discuss what to do if they are choking themselves, so that others know they need help.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Science Saturday: Fire Safety

For this week's science lesson, we will look at what fire needs to burn and how to extinguish them.

Fire needs 3 things in order to continue burning: heat, oxygen, and some kind of fuel. In order to extinguish (vocabulary word) a fire, you need to remove one of those three things. Many commercial fire extinguishers work by either cooling the fire/fuel and/or by displacing the oxygen around the fire. How Stuff Works has a video showing how to use an extinguisher and gives a brief explanation of how the actual extinguisher works. It may not keep the attention of younger kids, but it is only a little over a minute so it shouldn't be too bad.

When your clothes are on fire, you are taught to stop, drop, and roll. This is done because it removes the oxygen from the fire. It is also why you are told to throw a blanket on a person whose clothes are on fire and then have them drop and roll. Running with your clothes on fire simply adds more oxygen to the fire, causing it to burn more.

Grease fires are a bit different to deal with simply due to the fact that water and grease repel(another great vocabulary word) each other. It is important to know that you cannot extinguish a grease fire with water. If the fire is in a pan or pot, slide a lid onto it to cut off the oxygen to the fire and turn off the heat source. Alternatively, throw baking soda on the fire (this also works for electrical fires) to smother the fire by removing the oxygen. This happens because the baking soda decomposes and releases CO2 which replaces the oxygen. If there is a fire in the oven, close the door and turn off the heat. This should extinguish the fire by removing the oxygen supply.

In any event, if the fire is too big to put out or you are unable to put it out quickly, get out of the house and call 911. It is also advisable to have fire extinguisher(s) on hand as they are easier and more effective than other methods.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fun Friday: Fire Safety

Field Trips

-A trip to the fire house or to an event put on by your local fire department. October is Fire Prevention month so it is common for fire houses to host events at this time.

-If you live near a fire museum, this would be a great time to visit.

-Visit your local Red Cross or invite someone to come speak to your local homeschool group about what services they provide when there is a fire.

Fun Activities

-I have a whole post on my other blog, The Happy Housewife, with ways to teach fire safety and practice escaping.

-Sparky the Fire Dog and the USFA websites also have lots of fun activities online.

-Fire drills and practicing "Stop, Drop, and Roll" are pretty enjoyable for the younger kids.

-DLTK has instructions for making a fire truck out of an egg carton and a simple cut-and-paste activity to make a 3-D fire dog.

-You can also make fire trucks out of empty boxes for the kids to play in.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Think About It Thursday: Fire Safety

-Interview a firefighter and find out what their job entails. It is often much more than just fighting fires. Create a poster or booklet to show what you learned.

-Draw up a map of your home and figure out two ways out from each room.

-Write up a list of fire prevention rules. For a quick tutorial on fire prevention rules, check out the USFA website (US Fire Administration for Kids website). Sparky the Fire Dog also has a Home Safety Checklist on his website.

-Make a book to teach others what to do in case of a fire. Visit NY Department of State webpage for a listing of safety rules to follow in case of a fire.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

World Wednesday: Chicago

This week's unit is fire safety. Yesterday's lesson (when I post it) is about the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. That is why today we are studying Chicago.


Chicago is located in Cook County, Illinois on the west shore of Lake Michigan. It is by far, the largest city in Illinois with 2,842,518 (2005) people. It is located in the Central Time zone.

Home to the Sears Tower, currently the tallest building in the US, standing 1454 feet high.

Nicknamed "The Windy City", but not because of its weather. It was given the nickname by an editor for the New York Sun who was tired of the long-winded politicians from Chicago who were often boasting about the World's Columbian Exposition that was being held in Chicago that year (1893).

Speaking of weather, Chicago experiences all four seasons. In the summer, they have relatively high humidity and temperatures that typically range anywhere from 78-92 degrees. Winter brings an average of 38 inches of snow, though some years there is much more and some years much less.

Deep dish pizza began in Chicago.


Navy Pier has something for everyone. There are lots of shops and restaurants, a large ferris wheel, boat tours, miniature golf, Chicago's Children's Museum, performance stages, bike and skate rentals to use on the pier, a movie theater and much more. This is a personal favorite of mine, especially in the early morning to just sit and enjoy the lake and/or to people watch.

The Museum Campus is home to The Field Musuem, Adler Planetarium, and Shedd Aquarium, the world's largest indoor aquarium.

Lincoln Park Zoo has free admission and is located on the north side of Chicago.

Harold Washington Library Center is the world's largest public library.

Famous people from Chicago
(a very small sampling)

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Jesse Jackson
Barack Obama
Sammy Sosa
Mike Ditka
Bo Diddley
Walt Disney
Steve Carell
Harrison Ford
Oprah Winfrey
Jane Addams (first female American to win Nobel Peace Prize)
Al Capone

Admin: my absence and subscribing

First, I would like to explain my absence. It is actually something really stupid, and because it is so stupid, I need to vent about it. Someone, apparently a neighbor, has decided that it is bad parenting to allow my older two children (ages 6 and 7 years) to play outside. They decided to call Child Protective Services and tell them, "Mom and dad allow (daughter #1) and (daughter #2), ages 6 and 7, to play outside, unsupervised, every day for 1-2 hours a day." While, the "charge" is grossly exaggerated, even if it wasn't, I fail to see what is wrong with doing that. They play in the front yard, where I have 3 large windows that I can see out of. We are in a quiet, safe, suburban neighborhood and the yard is fenced on 3 sides. The girls are always appropriately dressed and do not play outside in inclement weather. They are no where near the road and have sustained no injuries, nor gotten into any mischief while playing outside "unsupervised". I am right inside the apartment and can hear everything that is going on. Further more, they have only played outside without an adult, maybe 10 times since we moved in and usually for 30-45 minutes. Fortunately, the case workers who were assigned to us (3 total) saw nothing wrong with the charge and it appears the case is going to be closed as unfounded. However, it threw off my entire weekend. It started Saturday morning when the first case worker showed up. The call was apparently made on Friday, and by NY law, they have to investigate within 24 hours. Well, the 2 girls were at Girl Scout camp and so another worker had to come out because all the kids need to be seen within 24 hours of the first visit. Then yesterday, a "regular" case worker was finally assigned and she had to come out to the apartment as well. It made for quite a stressful weekend that kept us busy cleaning everything (I admit I am no Martha Stewart, plus there are currently 6 of us in a 2 bedroom, and we are getting ready to move next month). Now that it appears to be over, we are getting back to our "normal" life. The irritating part is that even the case workers do not understand why it even had to be investigated. It is not like they said I was leaving the babies outside unsupervised. My children have proven to be responsible and I allow them to play outside during times I cannot because of it. I was told by all three case workers, I could continue to do so. So, to my nosy neighbor: I appreciate that you are concerned for the welfare of my children so let me say some things to you: 1) Fresh air is GOOD for children. 2) Would you rather I let them play inside on video games all day? 3) While my older, responsible children are outside playing, I am inside tending to the needs of the children who NEED me at that moment. 4) If you feel my children are really in danger, let me know your concerns. 5) I hope you never have to go through what you put us through.

Now, on to better things.

On Friday, I realized I had a button for people to subscribe to my blog, but did not realize that I actually had to do something to set it up (I am still fairly new to blogging). I finally fixed the problem and you should be able to subscribe now. So if you tried in the past and it did not work, I apologize. Please try now.

I will be posting the articles I had planned for Saturday-Tuesday over the next few days, but in an effort to not fall further behind, I am going to start with today's post and then go from there. Also, keep an eye out for a giveaway I will be doing within the next few days.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Temporary Leave

As you have noticed, I have not been on since Friday. We are dealing with a personal situation which I will explain later. I will get back on here as soon as possible and post "catch up" posts, an fuller explanation, and a contest/giveaway of my own. I am hoping to be back by tomorrow, possibly sooner, possibly later. Thanks for understanding.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fun Friday: Columbus/a change

I have decided to change Fridays from just field trips to Fun Friday, encompassing field trips as well as art, songs, and any other fun activities that do not readily fall into one of the "covered" academic areas.

Field Trips

-Tour a ship in your area.
-If you live near an American Indian reservation and they have any tourist-type activities, this would be a good time to visit. We have a group near us that puts on a celebration every year at this time.

Fun Activities

-To remember when Columbus first sailed to the Americas, remember this rhyme: "In 14 hundred and 92, Columbus sailed the ocean blue." I am unsure of the author of this. If you know please share. The complete poem and a fun Columbus Day song can be found here.
-There is a fill-in-the-blanks word puzzle about Columbus located here
-Here is a Columbus-themed crossword puzzle and word search.
-Using large boxes, poster board (for sails), miscellaneous craft materials and your imaginations, build ships in the backyard/basement.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Think About It Thursday: Christopher Columbus

-Write a story telling about the day Columbus first arrived in the New World. Write from the perspective of the crew, Columbus himself, or one of the Natives living on the island.

-Write a letter to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella from Columbus sharing the news of what you have found.

-Imagine you are an explorer. Write a story telling about a new land, inhabitated or uninhabitated, you have found.

-Begin an adventurer's log (similar to a captain's log) and journal your daily adventure's in it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Worldly Wednesday: Spain

Since Columbus sailed in the name of Spain, we will be studying Spain today.

-capital is Madrid; other major cities include Barcelona, Valencia, and Seville

-located on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe (vocabulary word: peninsula; use a compass rose to find southwest)

-used the peseta for currency until 2002 when they switched over to the euro

-Spain is a constitutional monarchy. King Juan Carlos I is the Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the miitary and President Jose Luis Rodrigues Zapatero is the President of the Government.

-Spanish is the only nationally recognized official language in Spain.

-Flamenco dancing is Spanish dance and music form. You can see a very talented 15 year old demonstrate Flamenco dancing here. The instruments in her hands are called castanets and belong in the percussion family.

-Another common Spanish custom is bullfighting and the running of the bulls.

-No lesson would be complete without food from the region. Here are some recipes:



Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Time Travel Tuesday: Christopher Columbus

Above is a painting of Christopher Columbus by Ridolfo Ghirlandaio

Here are some facts surrounding Christopher Columbus and his voyage to the Americas.

-Christopher Columbus was born in Italy in 1451.

-In 1492, after many years of trying to persuade them, Columbus was given permission, and some of the financing, to find a shorter trade route to India by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain.

-Columbus set out from Spain on August 3, 1492 with 90 crewmen and 3 ships: The Nina (officially named the Santa Clara, Nina was a nickname), the Pinta, and the Santa Maria.

-Land was spotted on October 12, 1492 and the ships landed on San Salvador Island in the Bahamas. During this first voyage, Columbus and his men also explored parts of Cuba and Hispaniola, as well as Haiti. The Santa Maria ran aground in Hispaniola on Christmas Day 1492 and had to be abandoned.

-Columbus left behind 39 men in a settlement he founded in Haiti, called La Navidad.

-Columbus returned to Spanish soil on March 15, 1493 and word of his discovery spread through Europe quickly. He was not the first to discover the Americas, but is credited with opening Europe's "eyes" to the "New World".

-Columbus made 3 more trips to the Americas (leaving Spain in September 1493, May 1498, and May 1502). He died in Spain in 1506 at the age of 55.

-Contrary to popular belief, Columbus never actually stepped on what is now North America or South America. In his 4 voyages to the Americas, he explored many of the Carribean Islands (Jamaica, Hispaniola, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Haiti) and some of the Central American shore (Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica).

Some books about Christopher Columbus:
-Christopher Columbus (Step Into Reading) by Stephen Krensky
-Follow the Dream: The Story of Christopher Columbus by Peter Sis
-Meet Christopher Columbus by James T. DeKay and John Edens

Monday, October 6, 2008

Math Monday: Christopher Columbus

In honr of Columbus Day, we will be studying Christopher Columbus this week.

Christopher Columbus left Palos, Spain on August 3, 1492 and arrived on San Salvador Island on October 12, 1492. How many days did it take them to travel from Spain to the New World? How many weeks is that?

How many years ago did Columbus first land on San Salvador Island (in 1492)?

Word Problems
Columbus had a crew of 90 men. If he decided to divide them evenly among the three ships, how many men were on each ship?

Make sailor hats from newspaper.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Scouting Sunday: People of the World Brownie Girl Scout Try-It

Here are the activities we are doing for the People of the World Brownie Girl Scout Try-It.

3: World Stories= We will use our imaginations to create a story about a girl, of 6 or 7 years of age, who lives in a Latin (the requirement for the Try-It is any country, but since we were studying Latin countries that is what we have chosen) country of my daughters' choosing. They will later present the stories to their Girl Scout troop.

4: World Reporter= My girls are planning to interview their Mexican grandmother to find out in what ways life is the same and in what ways life is different in the US and in Mexico. They will also learn about how holidays are celebrated in Mexico. They are planning to put together a traditional Dias De los Muertos celebration for friends and family as a way to share some of what they have learned.

5: The Ocean is Stormy-A Game From Denmark= Since this is about learning of people in the world and not just the Latin world, we are including the learning of a game from Denmark. They are actually going to learn how to play this as a troop when they go camping next weekend.

6: Flags of Many Countries= They will study the flags in the Try-It manual and be able to identify each of the countries the flag represents (USA, Russia, Germany, Mexico, United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, United Nations) and they will locate the countries on the globe. They will then choose one flag and learn why it looks like it does (why certain colors were used, what pictures on it represent, etc). They will then make a replica of the flag by coloring it or by using construction paper and will attach it to a pencil (as a flagpole). This is much more than the requirements call for, but my children have a strong interest in global geography and flags so I am going with it.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Science Saturday: Hispanic Heritage

-Make guacamole and save the avocado seed. Wash the seed and use it to sprout a houseplant. Take the seed and insert several toothpicks about halfway up (the top is the pointy end, and the bottom is the broader end) and all around the seed. Suspend the seed over a glass of water with the bottom quarter of the seed in the water. Within a few weeks, the seed should sprout. Make sure to periodically add water to maintain the original water level. If it does not sprout within 2-3 months, discard the seed and try again with a new one. When the roots are 2-3 inches long re-pot it in a 6-8 inch pot with potting soil.

-Study a Hispanic scientist. A list can be found here.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Field Trip Friday: Hispanic Heritage Month

As with any cultural themes, the best field trips would be ones that actually take you to experience the culture. However, unless you have lots of money to travel to a Latin country, you will need to find other ways to experience the cultures.

-Many cities have cultural (Puerto Rican Festival, Cuban Festival, etc) festivals each year. If there is one near you, try to attend at least one day.

-Check your local museums for Hispanic Heritage displays.

-Look for activities in your area celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month (continues until October 15th)

-You can also choose a Latin country to research and then have a day/night celebrating that culture. Cook recipes from that country, create a replica of the flag and any traditional costumes, learn a traditional song and/or dance, etc. If you are part of a larger homeschooling group (or have a large family), each person/family could choose a different country and you could have a Hispanic Heritage Festival of your own.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Think About It Thursday: Hispanic Heritage

-Write a report on a famous Hispanic. Some possibilities: Cesar Chavez, Jennifer Lopez, Selena, Alex Rodriguez, Oscar de la Renta, Desi Arnaz, Jessica Alba, America Ferrera, Dolores Huerta, Jose Canseco, Lorena Ochoa, plus many others.

-Write a letter to a friend (real or imaginary) in another country and tell them about what you have learned this week.

-Read a book about a Hispanic country and write a book report on it. Some possible countries: The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Cuba, Mexico, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Guatamala, or any other middle or South American country.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

World Wednesday: Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States and is officially known as The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Being a territory means that Puerto Rico functions similarly to a US state, but there are some major differences. People born in Puerto Rico are US citizens, but do not pay federal income taxes (they do pay taxes to Puerto Rico and US payroll taxes; they also receive much less federal money from the US). They can vote in primary elections for US government, but have no electoral votes in general elections and have no representation in Congress.

Some facts on Puerto Rico:

-Made up of the main island and several smaller islands (vocabulary word: archipelago)

-Spanish is the primary language and English is taught as a second language in the schools

-San Juan is the capital

-Currency is the US dollar

More information from a reader, andrea (Thanks so much!):
Puerto Rico also has it's own national identity (national flag, anthem, culture...etc).
Puerto Rico has it's own national olympic team as well. Other fact is that Ms. Puerto Rico has won the Ms. Universe pageant 5 times.
Puerto Rico has voted 3 times (1967,1993,1998)to remain a Self governing commonwealth associated voluntarily with the US, rejecting annexation as a US statehood or becoming a complete independent republic.

National Anthem and Flag

Official Puerto Rico government website (site is in Spanish)

Puerto Rico Tourism official website

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Time Travel Tuesday: 8 US states that once were part of Mexico

Many people know that California and Texas have large Mexican-American populations. In fact, one county is Texas is 97% Hispanic. Did you know that California, Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and parts of Colorado and Wyoming used to belong to the Viceroyalty of New Spain, later to become part of the Mexican Republic? The Spaniards lived among, and even integrated with, the Native Americans who were already living there. The Mexican-American War led to the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo in 1848 and The Gadsden Purchase in 1853 which gave the United States control over what is now the states listed above. The Hispanics living in those areas were given the choice of moving to the Mexican Republic or staying and becomming full US citizens. Most of them chose to stay in the US.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Math Monday: Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month started on September 15th and goes through until October 15th. The reason it starts mid-month is because Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua all celebrate their independence on September 15th; Mexico declared their independence on September 16th, and Chile on September 18th. This week we will study Hispanic Heritage.

-This is a great website for Hispanic American "numbers". Which can then be used for graphing or other math problems.

-Learn to count in Spanish (cero, uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete, ocho, nueve, diez are the numbers 0-10). Older students can do math problems in Spanish (y means and, menos means subtract)

-Cooking is also a fun way to incorprate math. Here are some yummy Hispanic recipes to try:
Corn tortillas
Mango Shake
Fresh salsa

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Scouting Sunday: Plants Brownie Girl Scout Try-It

As with many of the other badges, we have done some of the requirements already during this weeks activities. Here is what we are doing to earn this Try-It:

1-Seed Race: We will plant 6 different types of seeds in half an egg carton (1 type per egg section). The kids will make daily observations, including measurements of plant, about what is happening in each section. Once the plants are large enough, we will transplant them into small pots.

2-Plant Rubbings: Using crayons and paper, we will make rubbings of the bark and leaves of various trees. We will then look at and compare any patterns we see.

4-Leaf Hunt: This involoves finding leaves and writing about one of them. The child then describes the leaf to a friend and sees if they can identify which leaf is
being described.

5-Simple Plants: This activity involves making mold. Start by dampening a folded paper towel. Take a slice of bread and wave it through the air and sprinkle it with dust. Place the bread on the paper towel and wrap it all in foil. Put the packet in a dark spot. Every day, look at the bread with a magnifying glass and then rewrap it. Be sure to not touch the bread without latex gloves on or using a "tool" (toothpicks work fine) and wash with soap and water afterwards. Draw pictures of what you observed. Write down any colors you see and desribe the smell.

Science Saturday: Fall/Autumn

This is a great time to teach the difference between deciduous and evergreen trees. Basically, deciduous trees lose all their leaves for part of the year and evergreens are green all year long. This is not to say evergreens do not ever lose their "leaves", they just don't lose all of them at once.

Changing leaves also make great objects to practice classifying. Leaves can be classified according to shape, size, color, etc. You can also have one child write a description of a leaf and see if others can identify which leaf it is based just on their description. Afterwards, make leaf rubbings and use them to identify the main parts of the leaf: vein, blade, apex, base.

This is also a good time to discuss why leaves are green and why they change colors in the fall. Chlorophyll is made by leaves for energy. It is a naturally green substance and it gives leaves their green color. As the weather gets colder, the leaves stop making chlorophyll and the yellow and orange pigments are able to be seen.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Science Saturday: Postponed until tomorrow

Unfortunately, I am once again postponing a lesson this week. We had an unexpected car problem today and just returned home (at 11:30PM) after leaving the house at 9:45AM. I will post two lessons tomorrow.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Field Trip Friday: Fall/Autumn

This is a great subject for frugal field trips.

-Take a nature hike and observe the changing leaves, the squirrels foraging for nuts, and other signs of fall.

-Go apple and/or pumpkin picking. See if the farm offers tours. We had a great lesson a few years ago on the benefits of bees to apple farms. We also learned the best way to pick apples without harming the bud.

-Go on a hay ride.

-Visit a farm that owns a cider press and learn how cider is made.

-Rake leaves for an elderly family member or neighbor.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Think About It Thursday: Autumn

-Animals begin preparing for winter during this time of year. Imagine you were going to be unable to leave your house for anything during the entire winter. Write about how you would prepare for the upcming winter. OR Write a story about a squirrel as he is preparing for winter.

-Using adjectives (words that describe something), write a letter to a friend expressing your favorite things about fall. Be sure to include all 5 senses.

-Create an advertisement offering your services for raking lawns. With parent, permission, you may even post these and earn some extra money this fall.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Worldly Wednesday: The seasons

There are two main activities I was able to come up with regarding fall and social studies. First, study why we have different seasons and how the northern and southern hemispheres experience opposite seasons at the same time. Second, study the Greek myth about why we have seasonal changes.

hemisphere: half of the Earth; can be north/south or east/west
Equator: an imaginary circle around the "middle" of the Earth, an equal distance from both the North and South Poles

-Here is a lesson plan to show how the seasons change.

Greek Mythology
Hades, the god of the underworld, fell in love with Persephone, the daughter of Demeter, the goddess of the harvest. Hades carried Persphone off to the underworld to be his wife. Demeter searched everywhere for her daughter before Zeus, king of the gods, finally told her where Persephone was. It was finally decided that Persephone would spend half the year living with Hades and half the year living with her mother. During the time that she was living with Hades, Demeter was so miserable, all the plants withered and died, but when Persphone was with her mother, Demeter rejoiced and the the plants could thrive again.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Time Travel Tuesday: Johnny Appleseed

Ripe, juicy apples are a sure sign of fall in our area (western NY). What better person to study than Johnny Appleseed?

-A great website for an abridged biography of John Chapman (AKA Johny Appleseed) is here. Another one is here.

-Some great books about Johhny Appleseed are:
Johnny Appleseed by Reeve Lindbergh
Johnny Appleseed by Carol Ottolenghi
Who Was Johnny Appleseed? by Joan Holub
Johnny Appleseed: My Story by David L. Harrison (This is a level-3 reader book)

-After reading the story of Johnny Appleseed, give your child a blank US map and have them draw in rivers, mountains and other natural barriers (or just look at a relief map of the US and locate them). Discuss how they impeded westward expansion and how Johnny Appleseed and others may have gotten past them. Have the kids map out a route (or more than one route) that may have been taken by Johnny Appleseed from Massachusetts to Ohio.

-Here is a coloring page/seek and find picture of Johnny Appleseed that can either be printed out or "colored" on-line.

-A good DVD to watch about Johnny Appleseed is the Disney movie from 1948. Currently, I believe it can only be bought on the American LegendsDVD which also has the stories of Casey Jones, Paul Bunyan and John Henry.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Math Monday: Fall/Autmn

Since today is the first day of fall/autumn, that will be our topic this week.

-Divide up an apple into wedges
-Make and divide up and pumpkin pie

-Make a bar graph (older kids can make a pie chart) showing everyone's favorite type of pie
-Collect a bunch of leaves and graph them by color and/or leaf type (maple, oak, etc)

-Rake (BONUS for parents, combining yard work with schoolwork!)up a pile of leaves and estimate how many there are. Count them. How close were you?
-Look at a peck(new vocabulary word) of apples and estimate how many are in a peck. Count them and see how close you were.

-Using a string, measure the circumference (new vocabulary word) of an apple and/or a pumpkin. You can also estimate the circumference before hand.
-Weigh a pumpkin on a scale. Again, you can practice estimating first. This can also be expanded by challenging the kids to find other items that weigh about the same and then have them weight those items as well.

Money-Compare the price of "raw" pumpkin and canned pumpkin. Figure out the cost to make a pumpkin pie (either with raw or fresh pumpkin) and compare that to the cost of a pre-made pumpkin pie (either "fresh" and/or frozen).

Early arithmetic
-Use acorns to display basic arithmetic problems.

Word Problems
-If it takes you 30 minutes to rake the front yard and 45 minutes to rake the backyard, how long does it take you to rake the entire yard?
-You and 3 friends go apple picking. You each pick one dozen apples. how many apples did you pick in all?
-John Chapman, also known as Johnny Appleseed, was born Septmeber 26, 1774 and died February 18, 1845. How old was he when he died? (70 years, 4 months, 22 days)

Scouting Sunday: Space Explorer Brownie Try-It

For this badge, we will do the following activities:

1) The Night Sky: This activity will be performed during our field trip to the planetarium to use their telescope. The activity calls for night sky watching and identifying and locating constellations.

2) The Moon: We did this activity Saturday when exploring the different phases of the moon and through the month, when we drew the "shape" of the moon each week.

3) Ready, Set, Jet: We will do this activity in conjunction with designing a lunar life station. The activity calls for designing an outfit to be worn to a Girl Scout center on the moon. The girls should take into account how they will move in space and how they should dress.

5) Star Maker: We will do this activity prior to visiting the planetarium to view constellations. In this activity, we will make star makers, by drawing our favorite constellation on the bottom of an oatmeal container (the cylinder-shaped ones, not a box) and then poking a pin or needle through the "stars". The girls can then use their star makers in a dark room by sliding the container over a flashlight and shining it on a blank wall.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Scouting Sunday postponed

Due to an awful migraine, Scouting Sunday will be postponed until tomorrow. I will still be posting Math Monday for the new unit as well.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Science Saturday: The Moon

Here are a bunch of different ideas related to the moon and space rockets:

Make a paper rocket.

Learn about the four phases of the moon (new moon, 1st quarter, full moon, last quarter). Have the kids draw the moon every Friday (or whatever night works for you) night for one month so they can see the different phases.

Demonstrate why the moon appears to change shape. Use a flashlight to represent the sun, a baseball to represent the moon, and a soccer ball to represent the earth. Turn on the flashlight and turn off the other lights in the room. Shine the "sun" right at the "moon" (which someone is holding). Have someone hold the "earth" in between the sun and the moon. Keeping the sun and earth stationary, have the moon "orbit" around the earth. Have the kids make note of the light and shadows on the moon to show how the moon "changes" shape.

Make a solar eclipse with a flashlight, a grape, and a grapefruit (these same objects would probably work in the previous activity as well).

Design a lunar settlement. This may be a little advanced for younger students, but could lead to a good discussion of the problems faced with designing a lunar settlement.

Dehydrate foods and/or sample dehydrated and/or rehydrated foods (Tang was invented originally for astronauts). Some examples are pudding mix, Jell-O mix, dried fruit, jerky, Ramen noodles, and any powdered drink mix.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Field Trip Friday: The Moon

There are several space centers around the country that allow visitors and/or offer tours. Here are a few that I found:

NASA Ames Exploration Center in California, south of San Francisco Bay

Goddard Space Flight Center, just east of Washington D.C. in Greenbelt, MD

Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, FL, east of Orlando

Marshall Space Flight Center, a musuem and home of Space Camp, in Huntsville, AL

Wallops Flight Facility, in Wallops Island, VA

Johnson Space Center, in Houston, TX (currently closed due to Hurricane Ike, but will be re-opening when they get power back on)

Another field trip idea is to visit your local planetarium or observatory and use their telescope to view the moon. You could also do this at home, but the telescopes at planetariums and observatories tend to allow for more detailed viewing.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Think About It Thursday: The Moon

Imagine you have the opportunity to interview Neil A. Armstrong. What are some things you would ask him. Read a biography written about him and see if any of your questions are answered.

Imagine you can take a trip to the moon. Write about your preparations, what you will do on the trip and what you will see.

Read a non-fiction book about what the moon is like.

Spanish for moon is la luna.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Worldly Wednesday: Russia

It was a Russian cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, that was the first human to enter outer space. To honor that, we will take a quick look into Russia this week.

cosmonaut= a Russian astronaut
-Russia is the largest country in the world today, covering 1/8 of the land on Earth. It makes up the entire northern part of Asia and 40% of Europe.
-Current President is Dmitry Medvedev, pictured below.

-Moscow is the capital of Russia and the money is called rubles. One US dollar is equal to a little less than 3 Russian rubles.
-We will also do a little Russian cooking including: Borscht,
Pirozhki, and Stroganoff.