Thursday, February 26, 2015

Shel Writes Well

The Little Boy & The Old Man
Said the little boy, "Sometimes I drop my spoon."
Said the little old man, "I do that too."
The little boy whispered, "I wet my pants."
"I do that too," laughed the little old man.
Said the little boy, "I often cry."
The old man nodded, "So do I."
"But worst of all," said the little boy, "it seems
Grown-ups don't pay attention to me."
And he felt the warmth of a wrinkled old hand.
"I know what you mean," said the little old man.
~Shel Silverstein

Wilfred Gordon McDonald Patridge. Sweet story about a boy who learns what a memory is

Waxing & Waning Moon Phases

 O's Moon Phases

Modeling the magnificent Eric Carle, we attempted this art project as seen on Artsonia
It's based on Mr. Carle's book, 'Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me'.

We borrowed the book from our local library; a sweet little tale about a girl who wishes for the moon. Her father builds a ladder, steadies it on a mountain and realizes the full moon is far too big for him to gift his daughter. The moon promises that it will get smaller and at that time, the father can return and take it home.
Once home, his daughter love and plays with the moon, but it gets smaller still and eventually disappears.
It's a fantastic introduction to moon phases, written in a way for small children to understand.
Not to mention the amazing fold out flaps!
O was quick to tell me, "We better keep this one away from Baby C!", knowing how her sister loves to wreak havoc with fold out books;)

Full Moon Fold-Out

Eric Carle's lovely brushstrokes are evident in all his work, so we took that cue and O developed a watercolour background for her night sky. 
Then we sprinkled salt on the wet work, as it leaves starry impressions once dried. 
I cut out waxing and waning crescents and half moons, with a full moon to take center stage. 
To finish her piece, we cut a bamboo skewer to make a ladder and we intend to find a photo of her, so she can be seen climbing said ladder!

The Moon Phase Viewer. This project delves into the proper terminology of waxing, waning, full and new moons, as well as encourages your little scientist to observe and record the moon at night.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Parenting Picks: The Stonecutter

 The Stonecutter & The Prince

Occasionally, I come across a book that is calling to have some visuals created.
These books usually are favourites that will be read over and over again.
The Stonecutter falls beautifully into that category!

It's an old Chinese folktale about a Stonecutter who seeks to be more powerful and has his wishes granted. At every turn, he realizes that someone or thing is still more powerful than he. 
It's messages are plentiful and this version by Gerald McDermott with simple collage characters, encourage readers to examine the underlying story.
Demi Demi, who writes and creates brilliant illustrations for various Asian folktales, has also printed The Stonecutter
A version of the story can be read here, as written in Bejamin Hoff's, 'The Tao of Pooh'

 The Sun
Our visuals are made of felt and kept with the simple collage theme of McDermott's art.
By creating symbols for the characters and forces of nature, we can practice story-sequencing.
This supports O's ability to recall the story in order and it's far more fun than those old comprehension booklets we used to have in school!

 The Clouds

 The Mountains

The Stonecutter

Other book favourites that are enhanced by felt visuals...
(this is great for mapping skills and season themes)
(math, art, imagination!)
(Baby C loves looking for the hiding birdie that we clip all over the house!)

Charting Name Stars

Before using a grid to chart her name with stars, we decided to have O write out her name and cover the letters in star stickers.

She coordinated her stickers so each letter had it's own colour!

Then taking a page from E is for Explore, we charted her name with a grid of squares.
Graph paper would have really come in handy!
I got working on the hand-drawn grid while she did the above activity!

This was a great intro into using simple grids, with the additional lesson in letter and number recognition.
The alphabet ran horizontally and numbers vertically.
O had to find both and locate where they meet, before mapping out the star.
After she completed her name, she asked to get working on all of our names!
Note to self: buy some graph paper and more stickers!

Asterisms. I found this project ages ago and was excited to gift it to a 4 year old we know who loves his planets. Sadly, it did not work as well as planned (the flashlight plus tiny holes do not reflect a strong pattern on the wall), but it's a fun look at the night's sky and can lead into other projects surrounding Asterisms (stories about stars, drawing activities etc.)
Another version here

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Geometric Bean Bag Toss

 No more bean bags? Use your dog!

As part of Circle Time, we try to incorporate song and movement.
We decided on a Geometric Bean Bag Toss, similar to the Shape River we did in Shanghai

 O creating a Rexagon

Several variations became of this game: tossing bean bags when the shape was called, jumping into the shape, describing the shape by number and length of sides. Both babes even used the bean bags as 'skates' helping them slide around the room!
O eventually wanted to incorporate her own homemade shape; 'The Rexagon', she claims is just a line;)

 No need for a caption here!

Eventually, Baby C tired of shapes and sat down with her Baby Colours book;)

Lavendar's Blue has some Montessori-style math activities for Circle Time.

Earth's Moon Crater Drop

Glass beads.
These supplies on their own could have kept O busy all afternoon.
She loves getting her hands into textures.

Our purpose was to make mock moon craters, courtesy of 'The Exploration Station'
By simply dropping smooth glass beads into smooth flour, it began to look like the moon's surface.
Marbles might have not only been more effective, but demonstrated comparison of crater size as well.

The Exploration Station sets up a second experiment, using cocoa powder on flour to demonstrate one of Jupiter's 39 moon's, Callisto's surface.

O was quite content to then hide the glass beads in flour and sift it through her fingers.

Earth's Orbit Model

Earth's Orbit Model

Last week, O started quizzing me on the sun and moon.
"Do the sun and moon get together?"

Though they don't really 'get together', they certainly work in harmony and play vital roles in our universe.
Among a million other incredible (and simple) space lessons, I came across this Orbit Model from 'More Time 2 Teach'
Not only does it demonstrate size and comparison in a mini math lesson, it's a creative tactile tool for showing how the moon orbits the earth and the earth orbits the sun (fitting snugly into our concepts of calendar and lunar years from last week).

Daily Doodle: Layers

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Vegan Bites: Lentil Cauliflower Soup

Smelling this soup, I did not have high hopes.

I love Oh She Glows recipes
It's never your typical vegan fare.
Most recipes could fool your whole-hearted carnivore.
I frequent the site and recently took Angela L's book out of the library.
But this soup did not smell good; onion and cauliflower don't get me excited.

However, it was absolutely fantastic.
I added a few snips of spinach to my bowl (though O & C avoid greens) but both babes ate up their greenless bowls too.
Bonus: it takes only a few minutes to prepare and less than half an hour before you can serve it!

Indian Lentil-Cauliflower Soup
~coconut oil
~1 onion, chopped
~1-2 cloves garlic
~1 T fresh ginger juice
~1t coriander
~1/2 t tumeric
~salt & pepper
~1/4 t cinnamon
~1 t cumin
Saute garlic, onion, ginger juice and spices.
~head of cauliflower (florets)
~1 cup red lentils
~6 cups broth
~2 potatoes,  cubed
Simmer until veggies are tender.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Of Mice & Mummies

What happens cut a cupcake into mice-sized slices?
They fly off the plate.

What happens when... you leave Daddy on duty and a roll of toilet paper is nearby?

The children turn into Mummies!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

CNY: Dragon Dances & Dumplings

 Recycled Dragon Puppet

Make way for the Dragon!
As we're celebrating a quiet Chinese New Years (our first fireworks-less CNY in 6 years..Booo Hooo!) we're reading about Dragon Dances, dumplings and sage advice from elders!
Tomorrow we'll dress our Dragon for the parade.
Tonight we're thinking about how Shanghai will wake up lazily to streets heaped with shreds of smokey red paper from last eve's events.

One of my favourite books, not surprisingly by Frog & Toad's author, Arnold Lobel.
A funny tale about a man and wife who cannot grow food or enjoy sunshine as they are living too close to the mountain and the advice they are given to move the mountain away.

O wants this book read over and over, likely due to some comical cackle given to the Funny Little Woman, or the Wicked Oni that are frightening in the best kind of ways!
Little images drawn in each corner, highlight the Little Woman's house as it changes through the seasons.
Another favourite!

A poor boy is the only wise one in town; he welcomes an old wandering man and treats him well, without knowing he is a powerful dragon who can save the city.

Chin Chiang is about a boy who is meant to dance the famed Dragon Dance with his grandfather, but fears he will be too clumsy and displease the gods. He gains courage from an elderly woman who once donned the Dragon herself, but believes she is too old to try again.

Butterfly Conservatory: Seeds in Disguise

February's Home School Day at the Butterfly Conservatory was titled, "Seeds in Disguise".
Once again, Kirsten did an amazing job of leading and facilitating a large group of children who range in age...and their parents (and baby siblings!)

 Mobile Display
When we entered the Seed Gallery, several mobile displays were scattered with selections of beans, pods and seeds to explore.

Kirsten began by splitting the children into groups before handing them a menu.
She asked that we look over the menu and choose our favourite food as well as the Daily Special.
When the children took turns announcing their choices, she pointed out that each of the foods selected, started as a seed.

 Wax Replica
She then showed us a replica of the Daily Special (which completely reminded me of China...and their restaurant windows! Check out how these wax replica's are made!
We picked apart the items (coffee, chocolate, corn, rice, tomatoes....) and learned how their 'life' began; as a seed (or bean).

Kirsten continued with the group work, by passing out a selection of fake fruits. She hinted that fruit is defined as containing it's seeds on the insides. Once the children had a chance to discuss their fruits and where to find their seeds (grapes, avocado, kiwi etc.) she patiently pieced back together the realistic grape that Baby C almost managed to eat!

We watched a short film on how seeds disperse (here is a similar version from Discovery Channel and then demonstrated how we can make our own helicopter seeds from paper and a paperclip.
This simple activity got big ratings from the crowd!
Try it yourself

Kirsten always includes a Storytime with some of the best childrens nature books I have yet to hear.
Today was no exception.
A Seed is Sleepy
Red Leaf Yellow Leaf

Everyone moved into the classroom, for more hands-on activities.
Each child was given a papertowel, clear plastic cup and two pea's, plus a recording chart.
We were instructed to add an inch of water once at home, observe and take notes over the next two weeks.

The remaining portion of the class ended with exploration in the conservatory.
O was the first to find a table filled with fish food and went straight to feeding!
Baby C was the first to pick up any fallen fish food and claim it for her own snack! YUCK!

When Baby C tired of collecting fish pellets, she found a little friend eating seeds under a tree.

She approached her with great care...

..before attempting to hug her...

..and when she started to walk away from said hug...

..Baby C went in after her!
(at this point, I had to put away the camera!)
I think she was just imitating her favourite book, 'Shhh, We have a plan!'

The butterflies themselves are strictly untouchables, but the conservatory clearly has experience with curious children, so they set out the Hands On table with bits and parts from cocoons to deceased butterfly bits.
O also had the opportunity to hold a baby caterpillar (live!), as the conservatory always brings out new insects for children to (gently) hug!

So very well done, every time!

Seasons Calendars

 Year of Me!

As we start the year and talk about the Chinese Lunar New Year, we're taking a look at calendar's and seasons. 
Our Shutterfly calendar's are a big hit with O & C; essentially loads of their first year pictures compiled into a big book of themselves throughout the seasons. 
It serves as a great keepsake (and as Grandparents annual Christmas gift too!) 

 The Soule Book

This is my go-to book for reminding me about seasonal activities, being in tune with nature and loving the day-to-day as a parent of young children. I frequent Amanda's website Soule Mama and read her monthly essays (one written by each her and her husband) followed by her 'To Make' and 'To Do' idea's in her book.

 Elsa Beskow

Where you will find Waldorf education, you will find Elsa Beskow art!
She was a Swedish author and illustrator of the Fairy World!
Her beautiful 2015 calendar helps us look at the different days and weeks that make up a month.