Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!  I know we did. I am a little late in getting this post out, but as they say:  better late than never!

The week of Thanksgiving I knew we wouldn't really be doing "school" since we had family coming into town on Wednesday.  I wanted to take advantage of Monday and Tuesday though, and since we worked on letter T the week before I thought it would be a great time to talk about the "th" sound.  Little Guy came up with all the words he could think of that started with the "th" sound, and we did a couple of Thanksgiving projects.

We started off by making a turkey out of an old popcorn bottle.
"Uh, oh!"
We glued on some feathers, googly eyes, and a beak, and tada!  Our turkey!
We also played our "Save the Turkeys" game.....a LOT!  I made a game board similar to our Halloween game (which you can find HERE).  This time the objective was to help the turkeys escape the farm to the forest before Thanksgiving.  For the game pieces I opened paperclips to an "L" shape, hot glued a pompom onto them, then hot glued a "fan" of pipe cleaners to the back of the pompom for feathers.  Such fun, and great for working on Little Guy's sportsmanship.  Here's a pic of Little Guy playing the game with his Dad.
While browsing Pinterst, I came across the most adorable Oreo cookie turkeys and knew they would be the perfect project for Little Guy to help me make.  As it turned out, I ended up making them while Little Guy just gorged himself on the ingredients.  Now, the blog that the pinterst link too me too was great, but the directions for making the turkeys were pretty lacking.  I found a much better set of directions at The Idea Room.
I thought it was pretty hilarious that this one came out with a drip down its eye, like it was crying because it would be eaten!
And eaten it was!!


* I shyed away from discussing the story of Thanksgiving with my Little Guy this year.  We just talked about how Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on all that you are thankful for.  I didn't want to get into the whole Pilgrims and "Indians" thing, mainly because it's untrue.  Well, not entirely untrue, but definitely painted in a much different way than the actual events.  One of the main reasons we've decided to do homeschooling, is because I want my child to grow up to be a free, clear thinker.  Yes, it's cute to make an "indian" vest or a pilgrim hat, but I feel like it's an injustice to my child to teach him inaccuracies, or to turn a real part of history into a fictional cartoon-like event that portrays an image that is untrue.  Don't get me wrong, there are some great lessons about overcoming hardships, and getting along with people of other cultures, and being thankful for what you have in the Thanksgiving story; but in my opinion, the Pilgrims were not quite the heroes they are made out to be.  I do not feel that my son, at age four needs to know about the massacres and injustices of the Native American people; but I do feel that one day he does need to know about it.  So until then, we will leave the Pilgrims and "Indians" out of our Thanksgiving. 

If you are interested in reading a little about the story of Thanksgiving from the Native American perspective, this site has a summarized version.  The Real Story of Thanksgiving
(I guess you can see I have a soft spot for the Native American Peoples). 

This week we read:

"Franklin's Thanksgiving" by Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark

T is for Trucks


Little Guy was pretty excited when he heard that we were doing letter T this week because he knows that T is for trucks!!
We started off our week talking about the letter T and the sound it makes, and brainstorming some words that begin with T on our easel.  I write down all the words Little Guy comes up with and we add to it as the week goes on.  Here's a pic from the end of the week.  Little Guy was so proud he came up with a lot of T words!
I just love all the colors of autumn, and when I saw this tree at No Time For Flashcards, I knew we had to do it for letter T week!

You need Ronzoni Garden Delight noodles, a ziploc bag, paper, glue, and something to smash with (Little Guy used a hammer while I closely observed).

Smash up the noodles in the siploc bag.
Glue a brown rectangle at the bottom of your paper, and get started painting the area where the "leaves" will go. Add the noodles!  I just love the look of concentration in Little Guy's face.
Here's the finished product!
The next day, we decided to do a little experiment to see if there were more cars or trucks where we lived.  We went for a walk and I tallied while Little Guy observed and called out to me.  Little Guy decided SUVs are trucks, but we needed a new category for vans, because they were different.
We ended up coming across a squirrel that let Little Guy get really close!
When we got home, we made a graph to see who the winner was.  I was going to have Little Guy use stickers for each car, truck, or van; but the numbers ended up being so high that I felt it best to just let him color.
And what's letter T week without making a city of trucks to play with?
We also worked on our cutting skills a little this week.  Little Guy really wants to cut, but still needs work on holding the paper while he cuts, so I made these little strips that are much easier for his little hands to hold.
The best part about the week was that a friend with a little boy told us about a Touch a Truck event downtown!  It was so perfect!  Little Guy got to see and touch lots of different trucks.  The first hour was "horn free," which was great, because Little Guy has always been sensitive to loud noises.
(See Little Guy's face in the tiny window?)
Not too much longer after the horn free hour was over, both boys were ready to go.  It started getting pretty loud!  It was a really cool experience, and Little Guy totally loved it!!

To top off our week, Little Guy had his end of the season party for T-ball (another T) during which he got a trophy!  Yay!  He had a blast playing with all of his T-ball friends!

The books we read this week are:



"Turtle's Adventure in Alphabet Town" by Janet McDonnell
(great into to all things T)

"Mighty Machines Trucks" by Mary Lindeen
(just basic truck info, but Little Guy loved it)

"Teddy Bears, Teddy Bears"
(a book that contains the rhyme and some pics of teddy bears doing the actions.  We read this one everyday and did the actions with it!)

"The Life Cycle of the Tiger" by Paula Z. Hogan
(nonfiction, not too much info to make it boring, but enough to learn something)

"Mouse T.V." by Matt Novak
(cute, about a mouse family who finds all the fun they can have when they turn off the t.v.)

"The Teeny Tiny Teacher" by Stephanie Calmenson
(remember the "where's myyyy boneee???" scary story from when you were younger?  This is it, but cute and kid friendly, and not remotely scary)

"Toad" by Ruth Brown
(eh.  Great vocab exposure, but.... eh.)

D is for Dinosaurs!

Last week we were working on the letter D, and the coolest letter D theme for a boy is Dinosaurs!  The problems with this in our house is that Little Guy already knows all about dinosaurs.  For his 3rd birthday we went to the Orlando Science Center where they have a dinosaur exhibit.  As soon as we entered the dinosaur room, he exclaimed, "Look Mom!! An edmontosaurus!!"  I had never even heard of an edmontosaurus, but I looked at the sign and he was absolutely right!  I wish I could take some credit, but it all goes to Nick Jr.'s "Dino Dan."  Little Guy used to watch it with his big brother every night while I made dinner.  Ok, back on topic. 

Letter of the week.

We sort of just used dinosaurs as a theme, and concentrated a lot on math and science this week. 

I bought one of those dinosaurs that grows when you put them in water ("poppin' bigs" we call them in our house) which we put in a jar on Monday.  We observed it all week to see how it would change.
Here's a pic of the dinosaur on day 3 - the halfway point:
Here's the result of 5 days in water.
Little Guy was dying to play with it, but I could barely get it out of the jar!  I hadn't anticipated the dinosaur growing bigger than the opening to the jar!  I eventually managed though.

Over the past couple of weeks, I've noticed that Little Guy has trouble with puzzles.  They are just not his forte.  With this in mind, I really wanted to start encorporating more puzzling in our lives.  While we have quite a few, most of them seem too difficult for Little Guy.  His big brother was a puzzle MACHINE when he was this age, so most of the puzzles we have are kind of advanced.  I got rid of all of our "baby" puzzles (the wooden puzzles where you fit the animal into the space etc) quite a while back because Little Guy was doing those pretty easily.  It seems I've been obvivious to the fact that there is a step between baby puzzles and jigsaw puzzles.   I've gotten a few inbetweenies, but I figured I could make some themed ones pretty easily.  This week we did a dinosaur puzzle using a coloring book page.
We also broke out the Moon Dough with the dinosaur mold, thinking Little Guy would create dinosaurs and a dinosaur environment.  Wrong.  We ended up becoming chefs and creating a very interesting "stew."  I will write a post about that experience next, but just know that it was pretty darn fun - and comical!
We did our some pages out of our workbooks (at Little Guy's request - as usual), and our Letter Tiles page:
I found a cute little wooden dinosaur at Michael's for Little Guy to paint.  He's in love with painting lately (as long as he doesn't get any on himself)!
We also played with our dinosaur sensory bin.  Filled with rocks from the Dollar Tree, foam leaves, tiny dinosaurs, some kiddie chopsticks from EPCOT, and a box for sorting.
We worked in our Brainquest book on the Dominos page, traced some diamonds, and did our usual "Find the D's and Letter D Writing Practice pages from Confessions of a homeschooler.  We also did some cutting and pasting work this week, as well as some shape and color matching games.

Books we read this week:




"Dinosaur's Adventure in Alphabet Town" by Doris Cook
(Great introduction to all things D)

"Sammy and the Dinosaurs" by Ian Whybrow
(ehh...it was alright.  Little Guy liked it because it had a part where I whispered, and he absolutely loves whispering lately)

"Tyrannosaurus Rex" by Helen Frost
(Nonfiction book about T-rexes - just enough words on a page to keep a 4 year old from being too bored)

"Brachiosaurus" by Carol L. Lindeen
(pretty much the same thing as the T-rex book)

"Harry and the Dinosaurs Say 'Rahh'!"  by Ian Whybrow
(About going to the dentist...just as mediocre as the other Whybrow book)

"How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight" by Jane Yolen
(cute, classic)

"Magic School Bus:  In the Time of the Dinosaurs" by Anna Cole and Bruce Deyer
(wayyyy too old for Little Guy!  I should have read throught it better at the library before I checked it out.  I made it work though, but skipping over a LOT of the text)


Stay tuned for a post about our Moon Dough "stew" and the day of concocting it led to! :)

Letter F fun!

Since it's Fall, it seemed like the perfect time to introduce the letter F.  We started out the week discussing the sound it makes and trying to come up with some words that begin with f.  Little Guy got familiar with the shape and sound by gluing some feathers on a big letter F.
I usually have him paint glue on because if I just hand him the bottle we end up with a huge mess.  Plus, it's good practice for his grip.
It's little projects like these that I really love, because I get to see how differently Little Guy thinks than I do.  I had a pile of feathers out for him to use, thinking he would fill up the space with as many feathers as possible.  Turns out he's a much more practical kind of guy.  Just enough feathers to make an F were all he used.
We also did a couple of pages from the Kumon mazes book (at Little Guy's request).  Here's an example of the pages in the book.
We also did some prewriting practice pages from Over the Big Moon
During our week filled with letter F activities, we also had a Fire Safety Day, which you can read about HERE!  We discussed the importance of Fire Safety and acted out what we do in certain fire related situations.

Here's a pic of Little Guy crawling to stay low under the "smoke."
We also read a book about frogs, found a workbook page about thier life cycle, and made a cute frog puppet that I found at No Time for Flashcards
No Time for Flashcards is also where I found this adorable paper football.
He especially loved showing Dad when he got home from work!
As usual, we did our Find the F's story page, and Letter F writing practice sheet from Confessions of a Homeschooler
Little Guy is starting to get really good at his letter tiles page each week!  I guess I'm going to have to start using bigger words!
We finished our letter F week with a Fall wreath.  You can see how we made it and the adventure that it sparked HERE,   but here's a pic of the finished product.


The books we read this week were:




"Fox's Adventure in Alphabet Town,"  by Janet McDonnell
(Perfect.  The whole book is filled with words that begin with F)

"If I were a Firefighter," by Thomas Kingsley Troupe
(Got a round of applause from Little Guy at the end)

"Frogs," by Laura Driscoll
(Informative without being too boring)

"Kick the Football, Charlie Brown," adapted by Judy Katshce
(we read this because Little Guy has been into Peanuts lately, but boy, was this book terrible!)

"The Fall Festival," by Mercer Mayer
(We love the Little Critter books, but this was an I Can Read book, so there were a lot of short, choppy  sentences.  Little Guy still liked it though.)

Fire Safety Day!

Since we are spending this week talking about the letter F, I thought this would be a great time to cover fire safety. 

Little Guy and I went over when and how to call 911.  When I was younger, it was so much easier.  You just pick up the phone, dial 911, and wait for the dispatcher.  Now, with cell phones, it's very important that your little one knows how to call from your phone.  This is one of the main reasons I stuck with a blackberry instead of a touch screen phone.  I want to know that in an emergency, Little Guy can press 9-1-1-and the send button.  We call it "9-1-1-green."  If you happen to have a touch screen phone, make sure your little one knows how to find the dial pad and make the call.  We also went over our address again, and how we need to stay calm and LISTEN to the operator's questions so that we can give them the answers they need.

We also talked about what to do if you catch on fire. Everyone was taught "stop, drop, and roll" growing up, but if you were like me, you were never taught quite how serious it was.  I remember we would all have a turn and we would get down on the ground and roll once and "Hooray!"  Our turn was over.
I wanted Little Guy to know that if you catch on fire, you stop, drop, and roll UNTIL YOU PUT OUT THE FIRE.  We talked about how running makes the fire bigger, so when you stop, drop, and roll you are working on putting it out.  Key word: work.  You have to keep trying and rolling until it goes out.  To help drive this point home, I cut out some flames from construction paper and used 1 piece of tape to stick the flames to our backs.  We stopped, dropped, and rolled until the flame came off. 




I put a blanket down to make our drops and rolls a little softer. 

We also talked about the smoke and how we need to get down low so we can breathe better.  To illustrate this point we pretended Little Guy woke up and the room was filled with smoke.  He had to crawl under the smoke (a sheet) to escape.


We also discussed how to get out of our house, and where to wait once outside. 

I saw a cute idea for a fire station made of milk cartons at www.notimeforflashcards.com, but we didn't have enough milk cartons so we used a Cheerio box covered in brown paper.  We had a great time sticking the flame in places around the house and then going to put the fire out with our fleet of trucks!



We read a book between each activity today.

"If I Were a Firefighter" by Thomas Kingsley Troupe
(Got a round of applause at the end from Little Guy)

"Felix the Fire Engine" (No Author Listed)
(Had some great safety tips at the end)

"Clifford the Firehouse Dog" by Norman Bridwell
(Honestly, aren't some of the Clifford books horrible?  No flow, almost like the pictures were drawn and someone just put a caption at the bottom.) 

Today was a paper free day!  There were no worksheets, coloring pages, or any use of a pencil.  It's really great to see how much kids can learn by doing rather than sitting.

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