Saturday, September 24, 2016

Five in a Row Flashback: How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World

This week we started rowing How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman. This was the first book we ever rowed with Five in a Row when Ella was in kindergarten. She was five, and my other kids were three, 19 months, and 3 months. She was so excited to rerow this book as a fourth grader. My younger kids don't remember much from the book, so for them it will be like the first time. I thought it would be fun to do Then and Now posts so you can see the differences between rowing for the first time and rowing with an experienced teacher and student. This is the original text from my old blog and I've added my modern commentary in parentheses. Next week, I'll post what we did on our second go around.
We read "How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World" by Marjorie Price. In the book a girl goes around the world to find ingredients to make an apple pie. The girls loved these passport and tickets from Living Life Intentionally and mapping out all the journey to different countries on the map. We tried making some maps and flags from this free lapbook on Homeschool Share, but it was a bit much for us.
(I like many new homeschoolers was dazzled by all the free printables and cool activities that I found on pinterest and blogs. This was my first and only foray into lapbooks for a very long time. When I say "a bit much for us." I meant that I printed out way too many tiny books that I had to cut out and point to the countries for them to color. Also let me remind you that my kids were 5, 3, 1 and 3 months old. Ironically enough, my current 5 and 4 year-olds adore cut and paste and would happily make tiny books for days. If something like lapbooks don't work for your child, or your energy level as a teacher, feel free to scrap it and find something that does work like lots of play, for example.)
They also really liked making a paper bag village from free printables in the lapbook from Homeschool Share. We also made paper bag apple trees and set up a Fall Village for the girls to play with. I added in some around the world figurines I had ordered from Oriental Trading.
(This was more fun, though I'm sure I still did a lot of cutting and pasting. Those apple trees were pure pinterest and I'm sure way above my kids heads!)

We also did a science experiment with evaporating salt from salt water.
(I don't remember doing this at all, though I'm sure we did.)

I made this apple pie sensory bin inspired by Delightful Learning. It has wheat berries in it for scooping, and lots of apple pie ingredients from our play food. It's fun to see them integrating all the stuff they're learning when they're playing.
(During my first year, I realized that if I was going to do any learning while my toddler was awake, it had to be something she would enjoy! Look at that gleeful destructive grin. I made the rookie homeschool mistake of trying to set up a classroom in our house. I labored over finding the perfect rug and mourned that the ABC rug sold out and I had to buy the animal rug. I hung one of those calendar charts on the wall with little pockets for numbers. I had one of those rainbow bins for construction paper. Guess what my one-year-old's favorite game was? Ripping out the calendar cards and emptying every drawer of construction paper. I wised up in our second year and moved us downstairs closer to the toys and snacks. We didn't learn many months of the year, but my daughter is still reviewing those in fourth grade so I guess we're okay. For those of you who homeschool with babies, don't feel bad about what you can't do. Read books and play! It will get easier in a few years. Also sensory bins are fun if you have the energy to gather all the supplies and clean up afterward. But you know what else is a great sensory experience? Letting your kids play in a sandbox outside or run in the grass.. Letting them help you bake occasionally or giving them some yogurt in a high chair and letting them feed themselves. Simple is good.)

We also made apple pie play dough from this recipe. It has cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves and it smelled lovely!


We also had a special guest teacher, Julia Child. We watched an episode on apple desserts. She made La Tarte Tatin. We learned a really important lesson from Julia. When she tried to unmold her tarte from the skillet, it totally flopped. She said, "It doesn't matter if you make mistakes when cooking, you can always fix your mistakes." She sprinkled some powdered sugar on top and displayed her flawed tarte tatin right along with the perfect one she had made earlier.  Ella was totally engrossed. She noticed all the things Julia did differently from our baking. I loved her commentary. "Did Julia just brush her flour in the floor?!" "She's making an upside-down pie?" At the end, they showed a film of Julia shopping at a French market. I had pointed out to Ella that Julia is really tall. She said, "Julia is really tall. She's taller than anyone in France!" As soon as it was finished, she said "Another!!" Seems like she has her Daddy's love for Julia!
We finished up our "How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World" week by making a pie, of course! I've never made a pie before with a regular pie crust so it was a bit of an adventure with a bit of rerolling and a lot of patching. But it did actually turn into a pie. I thought we would use this little apple cookie cutter to cut the vents in the top, but somehow we ended up with two apple-shaped holes and one elephant-shaped hole. But the girls did have fun! And we learned lots of math and geography while cooking.
(One of the best parts of homeschooling is when you can learn something right along with your children. I got to learn how to make a pie! When you are interested in learning something, it's so inspiring to your kids. There's nothing like homeschooling to make you into a lifelong learner.)

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Five in a Row: Gramma's Walk

Occasionally you will come across an idea that transforms your thinking about how you educate your children. For me, that was the moment I realized that schooling didn't have to happen on the same schedule as public schools, and it didn't have to look the same in every season. Even my homeschooler friends look at me a little skeptically when I say we're back to school in July, but to me it means we can stay inside in the A/C when it's too hot and get ahead on our schooling, so when's it beautiful in Fall, we have time to play! 

A few years ago, I read this excellent post from Jamie Martin at Simple Homeschool: The Case for a Seasonal Education.  It made so much sense to me that the outdoor months are perfect for nature study, while the winter months are perfect for reading aloud by the fire. Spring is perfect for gardening, while Fall is a perfect for time for jumping into new subjects with energy.

Later, I learned about the idea of Tidal Homeschooling from Melissa Wiley, and I loved her idea that there are tides to homeschooling. During high tide, Mom is captaining the boat and using curricula and charting a course and during low tide, you might follow more student-led approaches. She describes it well here: What is Tidal Homeschooling? 

So after a very tough summer, August has been all about low-tide homeschooling and seasonal fun. Appropriately, we went on a road-trip to our favorite seashell beach. We discovered this beach a few years ago on a quest to find the closest Rita's water ice stand. It happened to be in West Haven, CT, and across the street was this small beach that no one seemed to use for swimming or anything really. As a result, there were thousands of shells. You could literally scoop them up with a shovel if you wanted to.

We limited ourselves to one bucket this year.

Most people see seashells as beautiful, interesting things. Teacher moms see them as math and science manipulatives.
So we sorted and counted all of our shells, which was great for all ages.We tried to identify them. (Well, that was mostly me, but I was interested, for sure.) I printed out this gorgeous free coloring sheet from Jan Brett to compare to our shells. We had some that matched including: jingle shells, periwinkles, boat shells, quahog, and knobbed whelk.

Then my nine-year-old and I graphed our results. We made our graph using Microsoft Word. We went to the Insert Graph function and explored the different kinds of graphs and settled on a bar graph. When we selected our graph, a spreadsheet popped up and we inserted our information. We collected the most Jingle Shells (75) and the least crab shells (1) though our crab did have a lot of legs.

We read Gramma's Walk by Anna Grossnickle Hines. This is a lovely Five in a Row book that I have had trouble tracking down until this year. Recently Purple House Press reprinted it, and I am so grateful for the work they do to reprint Five in a Row books. It's a very gentle story about a boy and his grandmother who is wheel-chair bound taking an imaginary walk on the seashore. My daughter asked if we could take an imaginary journey too. My son decided we should walk through the jungle. So we closed our eyes and took turns taking a walk through the jungle and talking about what we saw, smelled, and heard.

My kids also loved the language arts lesson about the ribbon roll plot. Basically the story unrolls like a ribbon, they see a lighthouse, build a sandcastle, find shells, see an otter, etc. and then they walk back past all of these things. The plot is set up much like the story We're Going on a Bear Hunt. So we made a long ribbon of paper and drew pictures of each object they passed and then rolled the ribbon back up as we walked by, saying goodbye to each object. It was a great demonstration of this style of plot.

The kids were so inspired that they decided to make ribbon roll art as well.
Mabel, of course, picked her favorite theme: pigs. She drew out the life-cycle of a pig. Ella made hers into a puppet theater and wrapped the moveable background around the back of a chair and made little sea life puppets to tell the story.

The kids were also inspired to make a craft from a craft book from the library. They made miniature hermit crab aquariums for dolls. A few months ago, I taught the older girls how to insert clip-art in Microsoft word. There is a searchable database of clip-art inside Microsoft Word, and you can find so many pictures. It seems much safer than google images. They have been writing stories and books of facts and inserting clip-art to go with it. Originally, they were going to make a hermit crab out of a shell, but we didn't have all of the right materials, so they printed one out instead and laminated and added sandpaper, and blue and green paper for food and water. We used a plastic apple box to cut out the aquariums.
We're excited that we're going to be able to join some friends from our church in a science class on underwater creatures this year, so this book was a lovely introduction.