Tuesday, February 28, 2006


We've been learning to graph using the following books:
  • Graphs (An All Aboard Math Reader) by Bonnie Bader - cute story about a boy doing his homework by making graphs at a family reunion
  • Lemonade for Sale by Stuart J. Murphy (we've read several times - pretty cute!)
  • The Great Graph Contest by Loreen Leedy - a new book by her - shows different kinds of graphs


While we were at a museum last week, we observed a cuttlefish. We were fascinated by it and so I looked it up when we got home. As I suspected, it is closely related to the octopus & squid. (They are all cephalpods.) So, we did a very quick study on these fascinating creatures!

We made an octopus out of a hot dog, but my camera batteries are low and I guess it didn't save the photo. Last night for dessert, we made these cute little ice cream octopi. (We made them just like we had made the insect & arachnid desserts, because they were so yummy!!!)

  • See How They Grow: Sea Animals - showed several animals, including a cuttlefish, from egg to adult
  • we read several short books at the library, but I didn't write them down
  • Giant Squid: Mystery of the Deep by Dussling - wow! the squids are amazing!
  • Tentacles! Tales of the Giant Squid (Step Into Reading) by Redmond - Alexandra thought this was a little scary at first - it shows giant squids grabbing boats & people, but THEN it tells you that it isn't true, since giant squids live very deep in the ocean - it would have helped if I'd warned her!
  • How Do Octopi Eat Pizza Pie? by Time-Life for Children - only the title and one part of this math book is about Octopi, but it's a great math book! - part of a series we love

Finishing Up Greece

We are now finishing up our study of Greece and the Olypmics. I made Alexandra a better tunic out of an old blue sheet. She has worn this several days as she plays she is a Goddess.
We also made little "ceramic" horse toys (out of clay pressed on to pipe cleaners shaped as a horse). Unfotunately, we'd bought 2 different types of clay - one you are supposed to cook, and one you are not supposed to cook. I put our poor horses in the oven, and they melted.

We also made a chariot - riding in it is baby Jesus, from our King Cake.

Lastly, we wrote our names in Greek. It's so much easier than writing in Chinese!
Additional resources we used:
  • Hercules Disnney movie
  • Trojan Horse - A Crayola Kids movie - Alexandra LOVED this and probably watched it 6 or 7 times. They have 2 more movies, but our library doesn't carry them. I'm thinking about buying all 3.
  • read some Aesop Fables from a few different books
  • Alexander the Great, a What's Their Story? book by Langley - just a good intro to this man, but I skipped over a few sentences about death, killing, etc.
  • Androcles and the Lion by Janet Stevens - one of the few myths that wasn't too scary to read!
  • Greek Myths at http://www.starfall.com/n/level-c/greek-myths/load.htm?f
  • Adventures in Ancient Greece (Good Times Travel Agency book) by Bailey - we love these books - fun & informative - just to let you know, this one has drawings of Olympic athletes without clothes (backside only)
  • The Librarian Who Measured the Earth by Kevin Hawkes (added April 2006) - great book about the man, Eratosthenes, who measured the earth pretty accurately more than 2000 years ago - a few pages got pretty technical with angles and degrees, but besides that it was very enjoyable even for a 5-year-old

Monday, February 27, 2006

Living Math

A few weeks ago we came across a Living Math book web group. We'd used some of them before, but didn't know them as "Living Math books." And, with the group, we've gotten access to long lists of math books! Alexandra & I are both loving these.

In the picture above, we were working on fractions after making some paper plate "pizzas."

Here are some of our favorite books from the past few weeks:
  • Mission Addition by Loreen Leedy (one of our favorite math authors!)
  • Math-terpieces by Greg Tang (another favorite math author!) - has art pictures by famous authors & then you have to group objects to make a certain number
  • Math for All Seasons by Greg Tang - practices "skip counting" in a cool way
  • The Go-Around Dollar by Adams - we both learned alot about our dollars
  • What's Faster than a Speeding Cheetah? by Robert E. Wells (another great author)
  • What's Smaller thana Pygmy Shrew? by Wells - talks about atoms, electrons, etc, in a fun way
  • How Do You Lift a Lion? by Wells - talks about simple machines
  • Can You Count to a Googol? by Wells
  • Is a Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is? by Wells - talks about the universe, solar system, etc.
  • Counting Time: From Seconds to Centuries by Joan Sweeney
  • How Do You Know What Time It Is? by Robert E. Wells
  • Safari Park by Stuart J. Murphy - addition to 20 & finding out how many more you need to make a certain number (i.e. 20) - Alex really enjoyed this one!

Transplanting peas & beans

We've had some pretty nice days and our peas & beans had sprouted and were ready to be transplanted. We took them outside & planted them in our "see-through grower." We also planted a few little seeds I'd gotten her for Valentine's Day that we hadn't gotten around to planting yet - Forget-Me-Knots and Burning Love.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Fox and the Crow

While studying Greece, I learned that Aesop was supposed to have been from Greece. So, we are going to read some of Aesop fables. Last night, I read "The Fox and the Crow." Alexandra said she knew that story as she has it on a story tape. She wanted to tell me the story, so I said, "Let me type it!"

Here is Alexandra's version of "The Fox & the Crow"

Once upon a time, there was a lovely young crow & a big, mean, mouth-watering fox.

Once they were sitting. The crow had a piece of cheese in her beak. She was sitting by a tree and a fox was right by her.

Right when she saw him, she flew up! And, then, out came the fox’s words. They were, “Oh, young little crow, I would like you to sing your most beautiful note. I’ve seen many crows before and none have came up to so black feathers and shiny black eyes.” And, then, he finally asked her, “Please, oh please won’t you sing me one beautiful note!”

The crow was so startled with these words that she opened her beak to sing & two things horrible happened. The cheese fell out of her mouth right by the fox & she made a loud “squawk!” It was horrible.

Then the fox said, “Thank you little crow. I knew that something beautiful and something I loved would come out of your mouth.” And in one gulp he swallowed the piece of cheese.

And then the young crow lied down and thought how silly she was.

The End

Monday, February 20, 2006

A Day of Crafts, Grecian Style

What a fun day we had today! We were busy learning about Greece, and doing crafts to help make it "stick."

We started out making the Parthenon. Inside is a statue of Athena. The pieces to this model were attached to a book called "History in Stone: Ancient Greec." I bought it at a discount book store.

Next, we built a model of the Trojan Horse and read a story about it. This was from a kit called "Ancient Greece" by Treasure Chests. You were suppposed to glue it together, but after we both had made a big mess, we ended up using tape & it worked much better.

We then had a lot of fun making Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian columns. We used toilet paper rolls & hot pink (Alexandra's choice) Model Magic. We found this idea on-line at a lesson plan called "We Built this City: Ancient Architecture in Greece and Rome" by Barbara Moody.

Next, I made this amphora. I followed the directions in "Spend the Day in Ancient Greece." The book explains that this jar could hold about 10 gallons of olive oil and it could take two men to carry it. "To win one was such an honor that some athletes were buried with the amphoras they had won." They also made small ones, like the one I made, which were possibly used to hold perfume.

Lastly, Alexandra made this owl, also from the book "Spend the Day in Ancient Greece." The goddess Athena was often shown with an owl that represented wisdom.

On most days, we can't spend so much time doing crafts, but it sure was fun today! And, we still got some housework, errands, and other subjects done. And, "Daddy" got home early and took us out to dinner. It's been a great day!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Venus Flytrap

Last week we bought a Venus Flytrap at Lowe's. Alexandra has been interested in carnivorous plants since the first time we saw them at Lowe's about half a year ago. On this trip, I decided to let her buy one.

This coming Friday, we are supposed to go on our 2nd Nature Day with our homeschool group, although there is currently rain forcasted for that day. On this trip, we are going to be looking at carnivorous plants! We are first planning on finding some pitcher plants, and then seeing if we have time to go look for some others.

The photo above is of our new plant named "Venus." (It's a boy according to Alexandra) Today, I actually caught our first fly (it was very small and lethargic) and used tweezers to feed the fly to Venus! The leaf closest to us is the leaf that is "eating!" We are also excited to see 2 new baby leaves.

Two good books we've read about carnivorous plants are:
  • Hungry Plants by Batten - fairly long book that discusses the different types of carnivorous plants - it is good, though (it took us 3 evenings to read)
  • Fly Traps! Plants That Bite Back by Jenkins - shorter, funny book about a boy who likes carnivorous plants, but it is very educational, too

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Planting Seeds

One of the things my sister & her family gave Alexandra for Christmas was a planter where you can see the roots of the plants. Yesterday, we started the seeds - some peas & some beans - to be transplanted after they sprout. I hope we find more time to study Botany as Alex loves it and we've only been getting to it about once a week. Maybe these little seeds will be inspiration for me!

Planting Flowers

We have decided to plant a vegetable garden this year to go along with our study of Botany. Alex especially wants to plant tomatoes (which neither of us like, but maybe we will if we grow our own!). While it's a little early to plant the veggies, we did get a start today by planting some flowers. Alex used her pink Barbie gardening tools she got for Valetine's Day. We potted some airplane plants that had been dug up from our yard and also planted a geranium and some begonias. While planting, we had fun discovering a snail in one of the pots!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Greece & the Olympics, Part 1

Last week we started a study of Ancient Greece and the Olympics. This is kind of a dark picture, but this is Alexandra dressed up in a Disney Princess Greek tunic. I think we'll have to try this again - maybe buy a cheap, solid sheet that we can actually cut up.

Resources we've liked:
  • Hour of the Olympics, a Magic Tree House book
  • Ancient Greece and the Olympics, a Magic Tree House Research Guide
  • Count Your Way Through Greece by Porter
Unfortunately, so far we haven't found any Greek mythology books we've liked. We've tried 3 different books - one was a collection of myths and the other two were just single stories (one on the Trojan Horse & one about Medusa). I had forgotten how scary these stories are and am still hoping to find some myths that are more kid-friendly.

We have lots of things planned for Greece, so I hope I continue with more excitement than I did with China!

Also, Alexandra watched the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics and has been watching the events every night. She is loving them!

Friday, February 03, 2006

George Washington Carver

(The photo is of Alexandra and "George Washington Carver" after the play.)

The reason we started studying George Washington Carver was because we had a chance to go see a play about him at a place called Interactive Theater. As the title suggests, it is an interactive play with the children getting to answer questions (Alex answered "soil" to what do we need to put in a cup before planting seeds!) and a few kids got to go on stage. We both really enjoyed it and we will definitely go back. About half of their plays are educational.

Here are the books we've been reading about George Washington Carver. What a wonderful man he was! I'm just amazed at his thirst for knowledge! I wish we all had such a passion!
  • Smart About... George Washington Carver: The Peanut Wizard by Driscoll - cute book, and informative, too, written as a book report by a student (we like this and will try more "Smart About..." books)
  • George Washington Carver What Do You See? by Benge ("Another Great Achiever" series) - this was a long book, but very good
  • A Picture Bok of George Washington Carver by Adler (one of our favoriet series)
Note: The 2nd two of these books mention a lynching which I skipped over while reading.

China, Part 2

The photo (below) is some of Alexandra's Chinese calligraphy. These characters were painted with Chinese bamboo brushes using the book, At the Beach, listed below. We were amazed to learn that the Chinese have to learn thousands of characters!

Here are more books & movies (mainly fiction) that we've been enjoying while studying China:
  • Sagwa: The Chinese Siamese Cat movies
  • Ma Jiang and the Orange Ants by Porte - wonderful story about a little girl whose father & brother leave to help build the Great Wall. While they're gone, she discovers a way to help improve their family business.
  • Tikki Tikki Tembo by Mosel - we've loved this for years!
  • The Story About Ping by Flack - another we've loved for years!
  • Pi-shu: the Little Panda by Butler
  • The Seven Chinese Sisters by Tucker - cute story about 7 sisters who each have a special "talent" - they work together to save the littlest sister
  • The Five Chinese Brothers by Bishop - we've read this book before - very funny book & Alex likes me to read it over & over
  • A to Z: China by Fontes -we like this series
  • At the Beach by Huy Voun Lee - This book shows you how to write Chinese characters. There are also other books by this author, but I felt like this particular book had the easiest characters to copy.
  • Following Jade! Let's Visit Chinese Kindergarten (video) - this is a cute video that teaches you a few Chinese words (for example, "hello" and numbers to 10)
  • Count Your Way Through China by Haskins - we always enjoy these books
  • The Emeperor's New Clothes: a Tale Set in China by Demi - this might have been Alexandra's favorite book while studying China - we read it many times
  • Giant Panda's: Gifts from China by Fowler
  • Ruby's Wish by Bridges - true story about the author's grandmother and how she was one of the first Chinese women to be admitted to a particular university
  • Chinese New Year Crafts by Bledsoe - this is a great book of Chinese crafts that you could use any time while studying China, not just for New Year's. I don't know why, but I just haven't gotten back into crafts the past few weeks, so although there were lots of good ideas for China, we didn't do very much.
  • Chinese New Year (videorecording by Schlessinger) - highly recommended
  • Chinese Fables at http://www.starfall.com/n/level-c/chinese-fables/load.htm?f
  • The Ballad of Mulan by Zhang - the Chinese story of Mulan - it shows the Chinese characters in the margin - the back of the book says Mulan may have been based on some truth
  • Mulan & Mulan 2 - Disney movies - demonstrates Chinese culture & it's very entertaining

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Marco Polo

We're studying Marco Polo to correspond with our study of China. As usual when we study about individuals, Alex is fascinated and asking for more!

Here is what we've enjoyed:
  • Marco Polo (Nest Entertainment video)
  • Marco Polo by Graves - this book is 96 pages, so it's long for a biography for us, but we are both enjoying it - it does have a picture on about every fourth page
  • The Adventures of Marco Polo by Smalley - a cartoon book - cute, but not as much information
I have been disappointed not to find activities except for older kids.
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