Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Higgens Bend Song and Dance: Five in a Row

We've wrapped up our final few weeks of school here at School of Good Books. We finished our year off with another book about fish--this time a tale tale about a grumpy old man named Simon Henry and his quest to catch an elusive catfish named Oscar, Higgens Bend Song and Dance by Jacqueline B. Martin. The lessons for this book are in Five in a Row Volume 4. I wasn't sure if this book would appeal to my kids, but they loved it. They thought the characters were hilarious, and loved the phrase, "You're as sour as your socks!"

For art, we learned about cross-section paintings, and tried to make our own watercolor versions of Brad Sneed's artwork. We also compared and contrasted Sneed's artwork in this book with his illustrations in The Pumpkin Runner, which we read earlier this year.I thought all their paintings came out great!
by Ella (10)
Beatrix (6)
by Mabel (8)
by Gilead (4)

A few weeks ago, my husband was taking our dog out at night,when he heard a rustling in the yard. He thought it might be a squirrel or a cat, so he turned on the flashlight on his phone and shined it at the yard. There were dozens of nightcrawlers squirming and tunneling back underground. Apparently, our yard is a worm heaven. So, this seemed like a great time to learn about worms.We read two great books about worms:We Dig Worms by Kevin McCloskey, and Wiggling Worms at Work by Wendy Pfeffer. Then we went on a nature walk in our backyard and quickly found a worm under a rock. Then we noticed that there were dozens of little holes in the dirt. Beside each hole were piles of little dirt pellets: worm castings! Then later we saw a robin pull a worm out of the yard and eat it. 
We got out our nature journals to draw some worms. Mabel used her imagination to picture a worm's home underground. I love the worm making dinner!
Ella catalogued all kinds of worms, and insects we've seen lately.
Trixie found some old drawings of birds in her journal, and added worms!
For geography, we learned about rivers, and why they bend and form meanders. We tried a fun experiment from a library book called Geography for Fun. We filled a shallow tray with sand and then poured streams of water down it, making our own rivers. It was a great demonstration of how rivers branch and connect together. We also experimented with putting obstructions in the way to see what would happen. We really enjoyed the book River Discoveries by Ginger Wadsworth. The book showed the same river every hour through a day and night and highlighted the different animals that made their homes there. There were so many creatures to look and find in the illustrations.
On our last day of school, the kids had the idea to turn the book into a play. They put together some costumes and props. Gilead was Simon Henry, the grumpy fisherman. "Mom, I don't know if I can frown that long!"
 Mabel was Potato Kelly, owner of Potato Kelly's Bait and Chowder Shop and an enormous pair of glasses.
 Trixie played Oscar, the catfish.
 I read the book, and Ella was our photographer. 

Simon Henry's frustrating attempt to catch the catfish.
Potato Kelly bets him new boots and a new hat that he can't catch the catfish. Simon Henry says he'll come to her potluck and dance with his fishpole if he doesn't catch Oscar.
Simon Henry falls asleep in his boots, trying to find a bait that the catfish won't steal.

Simon Henry finally finds the perfect bait. His sour socks! Potato Kelly saves him from falling off the raft. A dogfish joins the catfish in the water.
Simon Henry loses the bet, but gains some new boots and a new friend. He does show up at that potluck and dance with his fishing pole, sing with a bullfrog, and even taste some sour socks soup.

For our final adventure, our science class took a field trip to the Robert E. Barrett Fishway at our local hydroelectric dam.
We learned about the Shad that migrate from the Atlantic ocean up to their birthplaces on the Connecticut River. After a short class with our tour guide, we got to see the fish in the observation tank, and the turbines that make electricity. Then we went out on the platform and saw them operate the fish elevators that take fish up over the dam, through the observation tank, and into the river above the dam. We even got to see some Great Blue Heron fishing in the river below the dam. Then we played a fun scent game to demonstrate how the fish find their way back to their river birthplaces. Three moms volunteered to be New England rivers. They were each given a bottle with a special scent inside. Each kid was then given a bottle of scent and they had to match up their scent with their home river. We had a great time and enjoyed a fun afternoon at the park afterward.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Night of the Moonjellies

We spent a very fun week with Night of the Moonjellies by Mark Shasha. I scheduled this book to go along with our Swimming Creatures Science Co-op chapter on Cnidarians. While I read the chapter and some other books about jellyfish from the library, the older girls worked on making creatures out of clay for their ocean boxes, and the younger kids played with playdoh. Here's a photo of Mabel's box, which she's been adding to all year.
I didn't get a good photo of Ella's ocean box, but she did made a fun Jellyfish in a Bottle, which was very lifelike.
It was my turn to teach the pre-k/ kindergarten class at co-op. So, of course, I took along my copy of Night of the Moonjellies. We also made a jellyfish craft out of coffee-filters and yarn. Then we went outside to play with our giant jellyfish. I attached tentacles (old ties and pieces of finger-knitting) to our parachute. The kids had so much fun trying to run through the tentacles without getting caught. Parachutes are almost always a hit.
At home, we learned about family businesses and starting our own business. We watched a couple of episodes of Biz Kids, a free kids' show on Amazon Prime about managing, money, finances, and kids who start their own businesses. Then we had fun setting up our own restaurant, The Seaside Grill. We customized a menu using a free printable from Homeschool Share. We added prices and printed out some play money.
We also played some money math games, and played a fun Moonjellies review game also from Homeschool Share. For art, we experimented with oil pastels like Mark Shasha. The top picture is by Gilead (4) and the bottom is by Mabel (8).

Monday, May 15, 2017

Around the World: Italy

 For our final trip around the world this year, we traveled to Italy and Ancient Rome with the Five in a Row book Angelo by David Macaulay. This is the story of an elderly plasterer who discovers an injured pigeon while he is restoring the stucco on a church in Rome. He nurses the pigeon, Sylvia, back to health and they become good friends. As he grows older, he worries that Sylvia will not have a home, so he comes up with an inventive way to provide one for her. 

We began learning about Italy by watching an episode of Travel with Kids, where the family visits Rome. They see many of the ancient ruins including the colosseum where they train to be gladiators. They also visit many of the beautiful churches in Rome. We read more about Roman history in The Story of the World and and learned about Roman dress, houses, and food in our Evan Moor History Pocket for Ancient Rome. Then we discovered an amazing video made by David Macaulay called City. In it he takes the viewers through the ancient Roman City of Pompeii. The videos also included animated interludes with a story about the Romans conquering the Gauls and attempting to turn the French town into a Roman city. The older girls liked it so much that we watched another video in the series called Castle.

We decided to make an Italian meal and dress up like Romans (well, and one dragon.)
We had a yummy meal of spaghetti and garlic bread.
We learned more about the author David Macaulay by watching an author interview at Read Aloud Revival. It was fun to hear that his favorite book is Angelo, and to see how he injects humor in all of his very detailed architectural drawings. We had to pull out our copy of The Way Things Work and find all the wooly mammoths. We read through, and noticed all the funny details Macaulay had added to the story with his illustrations.Of course, this inspired us to draw. So we spent some time with art, learning how to draw 3-D shapes like cubes, spheres, pyramids, and cylinders. We turned those shapes into houses. Mabel found a neat way of drawing little cube rooms and filling them with tiny furniture.

For science, we found a Mystery Science lesson about food chains called Why would a Hawk move to the City? The lesson went perfectly with the book because the story even involved pigeons. The activity was a food chain card game called Eat or Be Eaten. The kids had so much fun playing this that they played it all afternoon and even had to play with Dad when he got home from work.

Then, there are some times when it seems like God just smiles down on your homeschool efforts and makes things work out just right. We are in the middle of selling our house, so we have to be out of our house a lot. I knew we would need to be out for a few hours, so I looked at the local museums for something to do. The Smith College Art Museum was having a special exhibit of Roman artifacts. The exhibit featured the archeological artifacts from a villa in a small village near Pompeii. They had recreated paintings and had models and videos of what the rooms would look like. It was so cool to see the ancient statues, jars, pottery, and even coins and jewelry that had been so well-preserved. While we were there we found out they were having a community day on Saturday with Roman activities. It was a bit crowded, but the kids were really excited to share the exhibit with their dad. They got to make jewelry, see some volcanic rocks, and visit the greenhouses as well.