Friday, 28 September 2012

Trophy time

Harry was very happy and proud to bring home an Enjoy-a-Ball trophy today. There are two trophies awarded each session for good trying, listening and joining in and we will keep it at home for a week before taking it back next time. Well done Harry!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Rainy day home ed

The weather has been atrocious so far this week - gale force winds and driving rain leading to some flooding. We didn't leave the house yesterday and I think we were definitely in the best place. Here is our rainy day!

We got out the 'making box', a collection of boxes, pots and lids saved especially for times like this! Harry decided to make buildings and mixed a brick colour before painting and glueing together a factory.

We scrumpled up a newspaper into balls and the boys used them to fill the play tent then tried to throw them into a box.

We played piggy in the middle with a ball and musical bumps (although this should actually be reclassified as dancing around the room until Peter understands the concept of the game!).

Harry did half an hour of reading eggs and some reading eggs printed sheets. They also watched a Mr Men alphabet DVD and I overheard Harry telling Peter how to write each letter, which was really sweet.

We rolled marbles down tubes, around sieves and carried them in trucks.

We read and re-read lots of favourite books - these are the ones we got through! I am so pleased they both love books so much. Reading to them is always one of the best parts of my day.

We had some fun with the face paints.

Surprisingly, we were all really tired, even though we hadn't had a physically energetic day. The grey skies probably didn't help. So we had an early tea, a long bath and both boys asleep before 7pm. 

Monday, 24 September 2012

How To Make An Apple Pie and See The World
An apple pie is easy to make...if the market is open. But if the market is closed, the world becomes your grocery store. This deliciously silly recipe for apple pie takes readers around the globe to gather ingredients. First hop a steamboat to Italy for the finest semolina wheat. Then hitch a ride to England and hijack a cow for the freshest possible milk. And, oh yes! Don't forget to go apple picking in Vermont! A simple recipe for apple pie is included. 

I love this book. There are so many different themes to create activities from and it is such a fun book that it doesn't even feel like work!

We are still collecting FIAR books so we had already rowed this back in March, when we focussed mainly on apples. This time we had fun with all the ingredients. I put the apple pie ingredients in bowls and blindfolded Harry, who then tried to guess them by touch and feel. He did really well - I was surprised that he got cinnamon straight away without smelling. I was also surprised that he couldn't guess egg, as it felt so different from all the others.

I didn't anticipate the next part but it turned out well! The boys tipped out the ingredients and mixed them together to create their own version of apple pie. Harry even topped it with vanilla ice cream as in the book.

We recreated the visit to the apple orchard in Vermont by using bricks to represent apples. Harry counted out 8 then fed 1 to the cow, 1 to the chicken and ate 1, to leave 5 for the pie. I asked him how he could halve his group of apples and he said 'cut it down the middle', so he then created 2 equal groups of 4.

 He changed this to 4 equal groups of 2 when I asked how he would quarter the group.

We had a look at the State flag of Vermont, as we were also exploring our culture swap packages at the same time and looking at other State flags. We talked about how flags represent things within the State, being wildlife, forests, agriculture and dairy industry in Vermont. We also watched the American National Anthem on YouTube, comparing it to ours in that we sing about the Queen, but the USA does not have a Queen so they sing about freedom and their flag.

I wrote out the ingredients and Harry read the word then wrote it too. He is getting better at forming the letters now and generally does them correctly.

I found a good book of first art projects at the library so we used that to create a jungle bird, that could live in the rainforest of Sri Lanka. We used feathers and pom poms for his tail feathers and handprints for his wings.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Culture swap - North Carolina and Oregon

We explored two more of our culture swap packages this week. I thought we would do them together as they were both from the US - from the states of North Carolina and Oregon. It has been a while since we looked at Mexico, but I wanted to make sure we did the packages justice by having a long time slot for it, as I know how long we spent putting ours together! These boxes have really given Harry a feel for the USA in terms of it being made up of different states.

Here was our package from North Carolina. There was a lot here to interest Harry! He loved the pirate connection and we played a few games pretending to be Blackbeard sheltering in the North Carolina inlets. The photos of crops growing were interesting, especially the peanuts as we have been using peanuts for Five in a Row recently. The cookie cutters are great and we can't wait to use them - there is a USA map shape and a foot shape to represent the 'tar heel' State. I will use the USA map shape every time we cover something US related :-)

I chose some of the State facts that I thought would interest Harry. We talked about the first airplane flights a lot (which took place in North Carolina), emerald mining and lighthouses.

Harry and Peter both loved the USA flag and it has even been taken out to the park to show a friend who is originally from the US. We talked about the stars representing the States. He said that he remembered seeing the flag on the Olympics!

Peter loves stickers at the moment and he enjoyed decorating his beloved penguins with some of the stickers.

We followed a recipe for sweet tea, which is popular in North Carolina. Here is the tea steeping.

And our finished article. Harry tasted it 3 times but couldn't be persuaded. Peter kept coming back for more! I wasn't sure I liked it at first but it grew on me.

We did some crayon rubbings of the shells.

We made a giant collage of North Carolina, including lighthouse pictures, the North Carolina State flag, stencils of airplanes with the stencils from the package and Harry's sponge paint version of the State flower. This is still on the wall in the playroom.

The flag in the Oregon package was very popular too (the State flag this time). The sweets were called salt water taffy. I really liked this but Harry was not keen! We looked it up on wikipedia and found it had quite an interesting beginning.

He enjoyed doing the Oregon jigsaw

We then matched up the pictures on the postcards to the landmarks shown on the jigsaw. He really liked Mount Hood and was amazed that it is always covered in snow. He actually built a soft play tower this week and called it Mount Hood!

The printables included in the package were good for Harry and Peter's ages and they enjoyed colouring and looking at the birds especially. We have talked a lot about the fact that US States are different and can almost be like different countries, even with their own laws. As they are represented by different flags, we have talked about what is shown in the flags and that images on flags are symbols to represent things characteristic of that area/State/Country.

The family included a book about the history of their town, which had been written by members of their family. There were some fabulous photos in here and Harry was really interested in the old farming photos showing the hop yards. We talked about hops and beer brewing.

These packages have been so interesting and have really given us an insight into North Carolina and Oregon. We have a package from New Zealand still to look at, which we will do soon.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Bessie Surtees House

We spent a couple of hours at Bessie Surtees house on the Quayside today and found lots of interesting things. We had read and acted out the story of Bessie Surtees before going. She eloped to Scotland in 1772 from a first floor window to marry John Scott (who later became Lord Chancellor of England) against her father's wishes. We found the actual window at the house, which is marked by a plaque outside. The 600 year old house is famous for this as well as for being located in an important area in the history of Newcastle.

The bellows on the object shelves were very popular. Harry used them for blowing dust away and pretending to blow the fire.

We also talked about the clogs to be worn over normal shoes to keep them clean in the dirty streets and the money box the servants would have held to encourage tips from guests.

We opened two trunks and looked at the type of food a poor family and a rich family would have eaten, together with the type of toys they would have played with and fabrics their clothes might have been made from.  

There were also some traditional toys to play with - spinning tops, quoits and cup & ball.

This will be a really good historical place to visit in coming years too as there is lots to engage older children, such as maps of the quayside, architectural examples and many more Tudor objects to explore.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Mini Great North Run

Harry took part in the Mini Great North Run today. We were really proud of him - he ran all the way (with Stuart) but also coped very well with the crowds and noise - there were plenty of children who weren't too happy along the way! It was a great day for it, bright and sunny and Harry was very pleased with his medal at the end and has said he will do it again next year. Stuart is running the main Great North Run tomorrow so let's hope he is as happy at the end of his!

Checking out the route before the start

Just after the start

Proud boy with his medal

Friday, 14 September 2012

The Story of Ferdinand
A true classic with a timeless message, The Story of Ferdinand has enchanted readers since it was first published in 1936. All the other bulls would run and jump and butt their heads together. But Ferdinand would rather sit and smell the flowers. So what will happen when our pacifist hero is picked for the bullfights in Madrid? 

This was actually our August row but I haven't had chance to blog the detail until now. We found a useful library book with lots of information about Spain, which we read alongside Ferdinand. We enjoyed the food element of looking at Spain. We made churros - tube shaped doughnuts with chocolate sauce and paella after Harry saw the picture in our library book and thought it looked tasty!

Harry also painted a Spanish flag which we stuck on the kitchen door for the week. We decided that we like the flag as it has bright, cheerful colours. We used some Spanish words, following on from looking at the Mexico culture box, including thank you, hello, goodnight, see you later and please. 

We used some story picture cards borrowed from a friend to act out scenes from the story. Harry was being Ferdinand quietly smelling the flowers.

Stuart joined in before leaving for work and was being one of the other bulls sticking his horns around. Peter found the whole thing quite bemusing!

We read about cork trees on wikipedia and I asked Harry if he could see any differences between the real cork trees and the pictures of the cork trees in the story. We agreed that the real cork comes from the bark of the tree but the story shows corks hanging from the tree in bunches. We completed a true/false fact sheet about cork.

We talked about what cork is used for and Harry played with some wine bottle corks - he said they felt light and foamy and thought they would float. He played with them and also with a corkscrew for a good half an hour in a tray of water, pushing them around and under the water.

Harry loves making up stories which he dictates for me to write so this fantasy story activity in the style of Ferdinand from Homeschool Share was perfect. Here is Harry's story about Flowery the Owl. 

Once upon a time in America, there was a little owl and his name was Flowery.

All the other little owls would hoot all day but not Flowery. He liked to sit in the tallest tree and eat raspberries and not make any sound at all.

Sometimes Flowery's mother would worry about him. She would say "why don't you come down from the tall tree and flap and hoot and twit-twoo?" But she saw that he was happy, so she understood, even though she was a bird.

As the years went by, Flowery grew and grew until he was big and strong and he still sat in his tall tree. One day Flowery decides to visit a different tree and he meets a black bird called Soary (because he can soar in the sky). Soary teaches Flowery to soar like him. The other owls see and are sad they have never heard Flowery's soft hotting. They teach Flowery how to hoot, so he can fly and read letters without his mother. 

The end part about reading letters is rather strange :-)