Friday, March 25, 2011

Jello Cells...Yum!

To begin our study of the human body, we are learning about cells, the building blocks of, well, everything. We're using:
The Kingfisher First Human Body Encyclopedia (Kingfisher First Reference)
and also Body systems and organs: Covering system, skeletal system, muscular system, circulatory system, respiratory system, digestive system, excretory system, ... system (Step-by-step science series) Really long title for a little paperback workbook!

 We studied pictures of cells and their labeled parts, then decided to make an edible cell. Cuz every lesson is better when you eat it at the end.
 After raiding the refrigerator and cabinets, we came up with stawberry nuclei, gumdrop mitochondria, ribosome sprinkles, and tootsie rolls flattened and curled to look like rough ER. I wouldn't recommend the tootsie rolls - they melted in the jello. We could still see bits of them in there. The ooze wasn't pretty, though.

KID 1 adds ribosome sprinkles

KID 2 drops in mitochondria gumdrops

Our cells are ready for cryofreezing...or cryofrigerating in our case.


We put a cell on a glass plate and held a light under, huh?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Phoenician Purple Dye - The Color of Kings

We're making purple dye this week as we study the Phoenicians (The Story of the World, Volume 1: Ancient Times), a continuation of our classical study of history. The Phoenicians were well-known for their purple dyes, extracted from a type of sea snail and boiled for over a week. Cloth dyed with this purple hue was so expensive, only the very wealthy could afford it, making purple the "color of kings."

I got some helpful tips from this site:

We'll need:

  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 8 cups water
  • large pot
  • blueberries (we used 4 cups)
  • water
  • colander/strainer
  • cotton t-shirts 
  • rubber bands, if tie-dying
Band your fabric if tie-dying. Simmer the fabric for one hour in the salt fixative: 1/2 cup salt dissolved in 8 cups cold water. Rinse and squeeze excess.

In the meantime, boil blueberries in water (water is double the amount of blueberries). Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer for one hour. Strain the liquid into a large pot.
Place fabric into dye bath and simmer until desired color is achieved.
KID 1 banded his own shirt (far left). I banded KID 2's shirt as per her instructions on placement (far right). We even made a shirt for Mommy...won't I just feel like royalty in my purple?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Loving Love & Logic

I've been reading this book

Parenting With Love And Logic (Updated and Expanded Edition)

and reminiscing about a favorite old tv sitcom: The Cosby Show. I loved it as a kid, but I seriously LOVE it as a parent! And now I know why! The Love & Logic philosophy really appeals to me. The idea that we are not here to swoop in and rescue our children from their poor decisions. We are here to support them and love them right through their not-so-great choices and the consequences that follow. Can't you just see that wise, knowing smile on Mrs. Huxtable's face as she discussed with her children the choices they had made or were making? Remember the humor that never failed to shine through? I want to be like that as a mom!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Paper Punching Push Pins...Perfect!

An old mousepad gives them a soft surface for pin punching

I found these really cool maple and oak leaf outlines over at under their "Montessori Materials" category and decided to let our little homeschoolers try their hands at pin punching. I learned somewhere that wooden puzzles with pegs are great for pre-writing development. I'm thinking the push pin gives them the same grasp, but requires even better hand/eye coordination as they punch their way around the shape.

Both kids, ages 4 and nearly 7, thoroughly enjoyed this challenge. They were both so proud of their beautiful leaves as I held them up to the sun to see them sparkle!

We will be using pin punching with KID 1 as he creates a map of the world with the seven continents, then he can go back and punch out each country as we study it. He loves to do very careful work, so I'm betting cartography will be right up his alley.

Have preschoolers at home?
You might be interested in this book:
Teaching Montessori in the Home: Pre-School Years: The Pre-School Years

Monday, March 8, 2010

Bunnies and Eggs...Spring is Springing Up on Me!

Found this robin's egg soap at Pottery Barn this weekend and thought it would go perfectly with this little bunny soap dish. Reminds me of The Golden Egg Book!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Write On!: Our New Writing Center

I just love finding ways to facilitate creativity in my kids. This weekend I reorganized our art and craft supplies and repurposed an old tv stand to hold everything the kids like to have free access to. I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out, since I didn't spend a penny on it and I think I have eliminated one of our clutter culprits. Tons of junk always landed on the top of this table. I had to sift through stacks of school papers, artwork, old mail, and random objects thoughtlessly laid atop this tv table, but it was worth it! I hate clutter!

Here are a bunch of pics of our new writing/creativity center:

I used the baskets we already had, so they don't all match, but they work for now!

The top view: I used an old serving tray to define the mail center. The cake stand is for new mail.

We now have a "Cards and Envelopes" basket, "Sticky Notes and Small Note Paper," and an old utensil caddy that holds freshly sharpened pencils, hole punchers, scissors, tape, pens, and a variety of paper pads. A pretty clipboard holds a stack of kindergarten lined paper.

The middle section (where the dvd player used to be) holds Ikea boxes of markers, crayons, and other essentials for writing and drawing. The lime green basket is for stickers. I put a sheet of "make your own" blank stickers in there in addition to tons of little chart stickers and round tag sale stickers.

The picture labels make it easy for our 3-year-old to find what she needs, but also has the words for our 6-year-old to practice reading. These little boxes are from Ikea and are the perfect size for our art supplies.

The bottom drawers hold stencils, colored construction paper, and a basket of sight words.

The kids know exactly where to put the mail when they bring it in. When they need a stamp on their envelope, it goes in the green pot for me to stamp it. I gave them some return address labels that we got for free in the mail...they love these! The basket in the back is our "Bird Watching" basket with binoculars, sketch pad, bird book, and colored pencils, ready to be carried outside on an expedition.

So far, this writing center has inspired lots of writing and creativity! Hopefully it continues to be a good clutter-buster, too!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Felt Story Fun

Caps for Sale Board Book: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business (Reading Rainbow Books)This is one I grew up with, so when I had to decide which books I wanted to make into felt story sets for our 3-year-old, Caps for Sale was a definite choice.

 A peddler, who carries his wares on his head, goes for a walk in the country and naps under a nice, big tree. When he wakes up, his caps are missing - all but his own checked cap! He soon discovers the culprits: a tree full of monkeys, all wearing his caps! How will he get his caps back?

Another favorite:
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Book & CD set

These felt sets, along with the gilt-framed felt board, were our little bookworm's big Christmas gift from Mommy and Daddy. A rainbow stack of felt from Michael's, some wiggly-jiggly eyes, and a hot glue gun were all I needed to create these pieces.
KID 2 loves her storyboard! I'm working on adding more stories and poems for her to play with. Do you use a felt board at home?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The January Banner is Done!

I made our "Banner of the Month" for the mantle this week using snowflakes from the dollar store (packs of 6/$1) and felt. January is snow themed in our house, since this month lacks any great holiday decor. As soon as the Christmas aisle is cleared out, they bring out Valentine's Day decorations! We're not ready for that yet!

We brought the snowmen down out of the attic when we put away our Christmas decorations and I got a can of spray snow at Walgreen's 50% off after Christmas (paid $.99). Our windows are nice and frosty now here in Central Florida!

I'm beginning to lose touch with how hokey my "theme months" are, which is just fine with the kids...they love it!

Note: The quilted piece behind the banner is up on my mantle. It was created by my sweet friend, Kay, over at I love it!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Our Listening Station is "Ripped!"

Can you believe I still have most of my books on tape from my own childhood? Our kids love having a box full of books on tape to sit and "read" all by themselves. Granted, some are quite dated (remember the "Wuzzles"...or how about the "Little People" series by Fisher Price?), while others are classic. Goldilocks, the Wild Things, the Gingerbread Boy, and Little Red are all in the box.

Finding a cd player with a tape deck wasn't easy, but we have a good one that will hopefully last a long time. I've instructed the kids on how to use it properly, so they can listen to their books independently (KID 2 struggles with getting the tapes into the deck, but she's getting better).

We've been slowly adding to our listening library as the kids' birthdays roll around, and sometimes new books come with a "bonus" CD recording. Our large board book copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar came with a CD recording of the book read by Eric Carle himself. That one is pretty cool! Gwyneth Paltrow did the recording of Brown Bear, Brown Bear; and James Earl Jones recorded the most recent addition to our library, The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey.

But with the advent of the CD, books on tape are not as easy to find. Most are on CD, which is great for listening in the car, but when you let your kids handle their own audio books, CD's get damaged VERY easily. So, I don't know how legal it is, but I've just finished ripping our entire CD audio book collection onto the computer. This way we can burn a new copy if (WHEN) their CDs get scratched and won't play anymore. I feel much better about letting them handle their own books on CD now that we have a way to replace them without having to repurchase the recordings.

The listening library in no way replaces our reading time together, but in a house with no TV, it's nice to have things they can fill their time with independently and still have the benefit of reading!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Homemade Advent Calendar

This is the Advent calendar I made over the weekend using dollar store finds. I think it turned out pretty cute!

Find out more over at MotleyMoms!