“A New Coat for Anna”

Before all the craziness of vacations and nosebleeds and babies this summer, we did one last week of summer “school.”  I don’t remember this in as good detail as I usually do, but it was such a fun one that I didn’t want to skip it!

We were reading “A New Coat for Anna” by Harriet Ziefert which is about a girl in post-war Europe who needs a new winter coat.  Her mother trades all sorts of household goods in order to get what she needs to get that coat and in the process, makes new friends and learns what goes into making a coat.

On the first day of the week, we went to visit a good friend’s farm to see her sheep.  We got to meet all sorts of animals (goats, chickens, cows and sheep) and learn about everything that goes into taking care of them.

As close as the sheep would let us get.

As close as the sheep would let us get.

Notice Bo sneaking up on them in the background. He was practicing his pounce.

Notice Bo sneaking up on them in the background. He was practicing his pounce.

We learned about the things they eat and what sorts of products we get from sheep (milk, cheese, meat, wool) and we discussed all the fun parts of taking care of animals. Then we played some before we left the farm.  Thanks, Krissy for letting us bug you for a day!

We were digging sand out of their clothes all day.

We were digging sand out of their clothes all day.

The second day, we learned about World War II (on a very basic level).  We talked about the Axis countries and the Allies.  They made a chart by cutting out country names and putting them on the right side.  This gave them practice with cutting and gluing.  Then they took a world map and colored the Axis countries red and the Allies yellow.  Finally, they colored a German flag and we talked about famous German composers like Beethoven and Bach.  Bo was excited because he remembered Bach from music class.


Even Joe got in on the coloring fun. So enthusiastic, this one.

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On the third day, we all got up early and went fishing!  This was daddy’s favorite day.  We tried to catch fish so we could measure them like Anna was measured by the tailor for her new coat.  We also wanted to practice making observations and recording data, because I’m a science teacher, so you know I can’t resist that.  Unfortunately, we only caught one tiny little fish, but we had a beautiful day on the lake relaxing and had lunch in a very cute diner nearby.  A bust in terms of learning, but a great day of spending time together.  And we measured lots of other things besides fish.

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For the next day, we got to spend the day with our resident fiber/wool expert, Nana.  The kids were excited to have a teacher besides mommy and they got a big day full of adventures.

First, she showed them unprocessed wool and asked them to describe what it looked like and what it felt like.  They didn’t like the greasy feeling of the lanolin in the wool.


Then she showed them how to use very hot water and Dawn dish soap to clean the wool.

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After letting it dry for a while, we then learned how to card the wool using brushes with tiny metal teeth.  At every step, my mom asked the kids to observe how it looked and felt differently than it did the step before.


Then, she showed them how to spin using her spinning wheel.  Maggie was extra excited about this because she knew spinning wheels from Sleeping Beauty.


She showed them that yarn can then be knit into clothing by showing them a sweater she was working on and that it can be woven into fabric by showing them her loom.  In the book, there is a weaver that makes the wool into fabric, so this was interesting for them.

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The final step was dying the wool.  The kids chose a bright red color (motivated by Bo who is obsessed with red).


Of course after this, we had to wait for the yarn to dry before we could do anything with it and then Nana promised to knit Bo a sweater with the red yarn.  Maggie asked for a pink shawl and Joe claimed some very soft blue yarn for his sweater.  Just recently, my mom finished all these projects and my kids are loving it.  I just wish I had pictures of all of them.

Maggie shawl

Maggie wearing the perfect pink shawl Nana made her.

The last day was all about appreciating what we have and what goes into making it.  We talked about not taking things for granted and being thankful for what we have.  We prayed together as a family after listing some things we were thankful for.  This was a very simple day, but I think it reminded my kids to think about the work that goes into things.  Maggie went for a week thanking me for all the work I put into making dinner, which was super sweet.

We’ll see how cooperative they’ll be next summer with this whole school at home thing!



During the week of June 15th to the 19th we explored the world of Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans. This was in the plan for last year but I kept putting it off because I wanted to figure out some more interactive ways to teach some of the concepts.


Day one was spent talking about the human body. My kids are very curious about this kind of thing and are always asking questions about it. I am a science teacher and enjoy watching surgical shows on television, so we have talked about it A LOT before.

We used my five-year-old’s anatomy coloring book (a Christmas present) to discuss the structure of the digestive system in particular because Madeline gets her appendix removed. We traced the flow of food through the system and then we ate lunch and talked about what the food was doing as we swallowed it.


We followed this up with a question/answer session on surgery. They learned the difference between laproscopic surgery, which they would use today to remove an appendix and the more invasive procedure Madeline had done. We actually watched some clips of a laproscopic gastric bypass so they could see how it works and how it minimizes the scarring. (I do this with my children because they are able to handle it – not all children could!)

We looked through a children’s book on anatomy called The 3D Body and talked briefly about the other systems. Bo had lots of questions about the nervous system and how the brain works.

After Maggie went down for her nap, Bo, his father and I had a talk about mental illness and how it is different from other illnesses. We made a big deal about telling him that people with issues like anxiety, depression and the like feel a great deal of shame but they are diseases like a cold or sore throat.

I think it’s very important for my children to understand that if they start to feel those things, they will still be loved and supported by their parents. Lots of talking on Day One. Definitely needed more interactive activities.

Day Two was a mishmash of a couple of days because we had a day full of errands and doctors appointments on Monday and we were a day behind. We talked about health and doctors first.

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I found a book called ABC Doctor which was a simple way to talk about things to expect at a doctor’s office. We didn’t really read it, but we went through the letters (like O is for otoscope and U is for urine sample) and talked about them. I also brought the awesome play doctor kit my mom made for Maggie for Christmas which included quite a bit of real doctor tools – a working otoscope, a stethoscope, a sphygmomanometer (blood pressure cuff) and a variety of other things. As we learned about these tools, we practiced using them and talking about whether or not they hurt. We measured our temperatures using a thermometer and talked about medicines. Even Joe was paying rapt attention to this. He was mad when we stopped taking temperatures though.

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Finally, we talked about how we can stay healthy. I had Bo write on the board a list of three important things to stay healthy. (Wash your hands. Get good sleep. Eat healthy foods.) We practiced proper hand washing technique by singing our ABC’s as we washed. We talked about when we should wash our hands. Then we discussed healthy and unhealthy foods. They are more conscious now of what veggies and fruits we eat – they even asked for a vegetable with their pizza for dinner.

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After that, we practiced dividing things into equal halves. In the story, the 12 little girls were in two straight lines, so I gave them a random even number of Lego blocks and asked them to put them into two equal halves. Maggie got frustrated with this pretty easily because she thought she shouldn’t be able to do this, but when she wasn’t trying so hard, she could do it very easily. We practiced this with other objects throughout the day too.


Doesn’t she just look thrilled?


Day Three was all about Paris. We looked at tons of pictures of famous Paris landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe. We identified some of those in the book itself because many of the pages have those landmarks on them. We colored some French flags too.


Maggie’s flag was a little small, but she said she didn’t want to make it big.


I speak a little French, so I taught them some everyday phrases and colors. They asked how to say “I love you” and ran around the house telling everyone “je t’aime!”

For lunch we had some good stinky French brie, grapes, a subpar grocery store baguette and some madeleines. We talked about how France has really important food traditions and are famous for pastries, cheese and wine. We learned some French food words. I wish I had found some good macarons.


I had gotten these sticker passports at the dollar store, so I let them put the stickers on the pages in their passports and we talked about traveling.

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Day Four, we did some monochromatic painting like the illustrations in the book.  I only had a little bit of time on this day, so we didn’t do anything besides this, but the kids really liked learning about watercolors and how to change the shade of color by changing the amount of water.

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On the last day, we talked about compassion. What is it and what does it look like? We wrote letters and drew pictures for some ladies in our church who had surgery or are very sick. We talked about visiting people at the hospital and taking care of people who are sick or sad. We also talked about being sure we thank God that we are healthy like it says at the end of Madeline.

Next week is A New Coat for Anna by Harriet Ziefert.

The Lazy Lion

There has been quite a lot going on and I have a half a dozen blog posts bumping around in my brain, but nothing worth publishing just yet.  I actually wrote this post two weeks ago and haven’t been able to post it since, so this is our summer “school” summary for the week of June 8th to the 12th.

Ready to read and learn!

Ready to read and learn!

BUT it is officially summer in the Korn house and we have started our summer “school.” We took a week off after school ended to get used to a different schedule and then this week we started with <em>Lazy Lion</em> by Mwenye Hadithi.

The lazy lion

This was a book that my father in law had brought back for the kids from a missions trip in Africa and the kids really love it. It wasn’t part of my original plans for summer “school” but they requested it and I was happy to see them actively searching for books we can use for school.

On Monday we started by talking about goals. What are goals and what will our goals for the summer be? I felt much more equipped this summer after having the kids in actual school for a year, so I could determine what they can be expected to do and what things they need to concentrate on for next year because their teachers were so willing to help me out with that.

Reading about various African animals.

Reading about various African animals.

Bo’s goals as a upcoming first grader are to improve on reading skills (attacking difficult words, understanding what he’s reading and basic phonics skills) and writing skills (especially writing in lowercase). Maggie’s goals as a soon to be four-year-old are to work on writing letters and refine her fine motor skills. Joe (18 months) gets to have fun, be creative, learn to focus on a task and work on holding a writing utensil.

Maggie very intensely coloring her African animals.

Maggie very intensely coloring her African animals.

Monday’s topic was African animals. They brought their African stuffed animals to the school room with them. We used the Smithsonian’s Little Explorer series <em>African Animals</em> to look at the crazy diversity of animals in Africa. This was nice because it wasn’t just the big cats and grazers you see in most books about African animals. We also talked about reptiles and amphibians and talked about words like herbivores and scavengers. Made my biologist heart proud.

Love those cheeks.

Love those cheeks.

Maggie and Joe colored pages of African animals like cheetah, giraffe and baboons. Bo practiced writing the names of a variety of animals to make a booklet. He got a little frustrated whenever I had to remind him to write in lowercase or if he wrote a letter backwards. I will admit there were some tears, but he needs to work on pushing through that frustration.

Working hard!

Working hard!

When he was done writing the names on the pages, he cut them out and then we worked on alphabetizing. He really had a lot of fun with that because he loves putting things in their places. Meanwhile, Maggie worked on her E’s using a worksheet. We will work on this all week because she tends to give up on those E’s and it’s a letter in her name.




Finally, we used a template to put together a lion and a cheetah craft. I wasn’t super particular about them putting it together as instructed and the kids had fun figuring out where the parts all went. I think their favorite part was hanging all of their work on the wall – even Joe enjoyed showing off his handiwork.


We finished the day by watching <em>The Lion King</em> before lunch and talking about how different the animals and trees in the movie are compared to home.

Because I decided to be less uptight about fitting school into our busy schedule this summer, we skipped school on Tuesday. (If the point is to give them something to do during they day, I shouldn’t be worried they are missing school to do something else, right?) So they spent Tuesday with their Nana picking strawberries and running errands.

Wednesday morning was spent at the lake, but when we came back, we learned all about Kenya. I’m not sure why I chose Kenya of all the countries in Africa but it was a lot of fun. We looked at photos in some library books of the country and the people there. We talked about how they are different and how they are the same as us. That led into a discussion on climate differences. Bo wrote sentences describing weather where we live with the weather in Kenya. Maggie wrote the word “hot” and drew a picture to go with it.

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Maggie colored the flag while Bo labeled and colored a map of Kenya. Maggie practiced her scissor-ing skills and cut out her flag to hang up. I was pretty impressed with her concentration while she was cutting. We talked about a few things like currency, religion and language.

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We read together a story called <em>Mama Panya’s Pancakes</em> by Mary and Rich Chamberlin, which describes life in a Kenyan village well. Also, they have Swahili phrases and vocabulary in it as well as various plants and wildlife and a recipe for pancakes. We learned some basic Swahili phrases, many of which the kids recognized from The Lion King and the kids asked to watch it again. (For example, simba means lion in Swahili.)

Before we watched the movie, though, we looked at a pottery bowl that someone had brought back for us from Africa. We made our own bowls out of clay and then made some beaded necklaces to practice our fine motor skills. In church on Sunday, the kids even recognized and pointed out to me the Kenyan flag.


I was surprised at how interested in sculpting Maggie was. She even decoratively pinched the edges and bottom of the bowl to “make it pretty.”


Our beaded necklaces

Our beaded necklaces

Thursday we went to the lake and had a blast. But Bo asked me why we weren’t having school. Yikes. He even started suggesting times when we could have done school in the day.

Friday Daddy taught us about a biblical view of laziness. We learned about terms like “sluggard” and “workmanship” and what it means to provide. We learned to learn from the ant and work diligently (Proverbs 6:6). Finally, we talked about what kind of work God has for us to do by looking at Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do.”


What? You don’t do school in diapers?

We ended the day by doing a summary sheet for the week. Bo wrote about what he learned this week and Maggie drew a picture of what she learned this week. The really interesting part was the discussion that occurred between the two of them about it.

There was so much more we could have done. I planned lessons on engineering (because the book is about a lion trying to get other animals to build him a house) and missions. We easily could have done an art lesson on watercolors or landscapes. There was a lot more we could have done.

Next week is <em>Madeline</em> by Ludwig Bemelmans

The Story About Ping

After taking a break for vacation Bible school, it was nice to be back to our schedule. The kids were extra excited about it and spent Monday morning reorganizing the basement school room so we could get started right away.

I chose to do the book “The Story About Ping,” which is about a duck on the Yangtze river who gets into trouble after he hides to avoid punishment for being the last duck on the boat. This book was written by Marjorie Flack and Kurt Wiese in 1933, but it’s a classic.


Bo is covering the S he accidentally drew backwards.

We started the week by talking about family. Ping lives on the boat with a very large extended family, so we started by talking about what family really means. We discussed adoption and marriage and talked about how people don’t have to be related to you to be family.

They drew pictures of their family. Bo wasn’t sure who to include at first. “Our small family or the big family?”


Maggie's picture included baby Joe and mommy.


Bo drew crosses to show the family members that have died.

Both of them started by drawing Baby Joe, which I thought was really cute. Then Bo said his paper wasn’t big enough and he insisted he had no room for bodies – just heads. Then he drew my brother Joe and my uncle Joe (who he calls his Gruncle Joe). He kept adding heads and then when he drew anyone who has died, he drew a cross next to them.

Maggie’s drawings are starting to take form, which is fun to watch. She loves to draw and she takes great pride in her art.

After they finished their drawings, we constructed a family tree/pedigree of our family. We started with my parents and Patrick’s parents, and did all of our siblings and nieces and nephews. Since my family is so large, we had to keep it limited to those three generations. Our chalkboard would only hold that much and I had to keep moving Patrick’s side of the family over to make room for mine.



I would zoom in more but there are some secret baby names on there.

Bo really loved trying to remember who everyone was and what their children’s names were. It reminded me very much of my grandmother Oa who really values family trees.

We reviewed family relationships and saw them visually on the family tree. We counted all the aunts, uncles and cousins on our tree.

Finally, we ended by thanking God for family. Maggie said, “Dear God, thank you for my family because I love it.” And Bo said, “Dear God, thank you for making my family. I think you did a beautiful job.” So sweet.

On Tuesday, we reviewed the letter P. Maggie did her prewriting page and is doing so much better working independently on these. I had Bo try to draw the cover of the book and copy the title. He really liked that and even tried to make his letters fancy like they are on the book.


Then we reread the paragraph that counted Ping’s family members and we glued little pieces of paper to a chart to count them. I set Maggie on tearing up and then gluing 42 pieces of paper for his 42 cousins and Bo worked on the rest of the family. They loved using glue.



On Wednesday, Patrick taught them all about Jonah from the Bible. He narrated and drew pictures on the board. Bo was so intent and interested. He kept asking questions and predicting what was happening next.


Maggie thought the goggles looked great with her outfit.

Bo really loves whales, so we drew whales with Jonah in the belly. We also discussed how it could be a fish or a whale – that the Bible says fish but they didn’t differentiate between fish and whales when it was written.


Maggie wanted help drawing the whale, but then drew all kinds of things in the whale, including me.


Thursday was all about China. We used some YouTube videos to learn to count to ten in Mandarin. We looked at photos of the Great Wall, dragons and the Yangtze River which figures prominently in the story.

We practiced using chopsticks with trainers. I tried to teach them without the trainers, but they got very frustrated. Then we used them to put some pompoms in a baby food jar.



Then we made pretty simple paper lanterns so they could have some practice with using scissors. They were easy: fold a piece of paper in half, cut some straight lines starting at the fold and ending about an inch from the edge, unfold and roll up.



My super dramatic son pretending his needs his lantern to see in the dark.

Bo was really disappointed we didn’t do more with dragons, so we made dragons with paper bodies that come off the paper for some 3D flavor.


Maggie was happy with just this but Bo wanted more.


Bo added a tail and a head and wings.

The last thing we did was make a great feast of fried rice, spring rolls, fried tofu and fortune cookies.


Maggie's fortune is actually true!!

The kids helped me cut up water chestnuts and bamboo shoots for the fried rice.


And they really loved stealing veggies while I cooked. Maggie loves cucumbers and napa cabbage. And Bo was super excited about the tofu. Oh and the green tea with honey was a hit.


We also found China on the world map. The kids were so excited and kept saying it was the longest day of school ever.


Friday was our last day with Ping. We made it a water day. We discussed how ducks don’t get wet because they spread oil on their feathers. To illustrate this, we cut duck shapes out of a paper bag and coated one with vegetable oil. Then we sprinkled water on both. The water on the oiled duck beaded up and it soaked into the other duck.


Then we filled a bottle with three different liquids. We tested each of the three liquids first and tried to predict which one was the heaviest and would be on the bottom. The decided corn syrup would be on the bottom.


We added red food coloring to the water for fun.


The corn syrup and water mixed, so our final bottle only had two layers, which was disappointing. But the kids like to shake the bottle up. I asked them to predict what would happen if we let it sit after shaking it up and Bo said he thought it would separate into the layers again. He watched intently until it stated to happen and was so excited when he was right.

My kids already knew that eggs sink, so I asked them what we could do to make them float. We discussed density and and I suggested we add salt to the water to change its density. They were amazed when the egg floated in the salt water.


Stirring in the salt


And the floating egg!

We also related this back to the beach and the salt water there.

Then we wanted to test a set of other objects too see if they floated or sank. We predicted what would happen before each object and then placed them on a sheet according to their results.



Bo kept suggesting further tests. What happens when we fill the objects with water? What if we put all the objects in the bowl – will it still float? Love that scientific brain. Maggie was still better at predicting if an object will float though.

We ended the week by going out on the boat with the whole family and selling out some water birds to observe. We saw ducks, geese,  one cormorant and one great blue heron. It was a beautiful afternoon and we had a great time chasing birds.




Daddy is never happier than when his whole family is on the boat with him and a line is in the water.


This was the story I wanted to do last week with the Fourth of July, but it worked out better to do Blueberries for Sal instead. Fireboat by Maira Kalman is about the real life fireboat called the John J. Harvey from New York City. Built in the 1930’s and retired in the 90’s, the Harvey came out of retirement on 9/11 to help fight fires and save lives.

On Monday, we practiced with our letter F. We wrote them on the board and Maggie did a prewriting worksheet. Then we listed as many words as we could think of that started with F. (The word “fart” got a lot of giggles.) We finished the letter F activities with a F scavenger hunt.


She still needs some help.

Then we went back to our basement school room and talked about timelines. We constructed one on the board starting in 1930 and ending in 2020. We found 2014 and practiced how to say what year it is. This was difficult because big numbers like 90’s and 80’s are numbers we hadn’t really covered before.


Then I took suggestions from Maggie and Bo for dates to put on our timeline. Our birth years. When mommy and daddy got married. Even put grandparents’ birthdays and great grandmother Oa’s birthday on the timeline. Bo thought it was weird how everything was clustered in one area of the timeline.

Then we opened the book and found the major dates in the history of the Harvey and added those to our timeline too.

We made smaller timelines on paper for each of them starting with the year they were born and ending with 2014. Bo noticed that he had more events on his than Maggie did. Again, the years were hard because the numbers were big.


On Tuesday, we learned all about David and Goliath. In the book, the Harvey is retired and considered pretty useless, but ended up being needed on 9/11. So I had them tell me how the two stories were similar. Bo had a memorized answer to what the story of David and Goliath teaches us: “Nothing is impossible with God.” So we ran with it. I think Maggie was having a harder time with it, but eventually she said she wanted to be brave like David.

They drew pictures of David and Goliath and I had them repeat the story back to me using their pictures.


Bob's handiwork

Maggie noticed the size difference between David and Goliath, so we reviewed the big/small lesson from last week and sorted buttons according to size.


Also mentioned in the book was the word “hot-cha” which led too discussion on nonsense words, so we spent probably too much time coming up with words for things. Bo was very good at this. A great big storm is called a “wundow” and Baby Joe’s squirming can be described as “woogely-boogely.” Maggie took some prompting but when I asked her to come up with a word for how smart daddy is she said “sum art.” When I said that smart is already a word, sh said “No! Suuuuumart.”

Also, Bo noticed that there were a lot of lists in the book, sho we practiced making lists of things. We talked about grocery lists and wish lists and Christmas lists. Then we listed things we love. That was a full day and one where I let them take lead and explore.

On Wednesday, I let daddy teach them all about boats. I thought at first that he was teaching over their heads, but Bo was really into it and even Maggie has repeated things she learned that day.  We acted out rowing and steering and driving a boat. Maggie loved that.



He took them on a historical tour of the design of boats starting with canoes and moving on through lots of different boats. They learned terms like johnboat, runabout and center console. We also differentiated between displacement boats and planing boats.

Then we used a picture boat to identify some of the boats in Fireboat. Ocean liners. Tugboats. Things like that.


We took a field trip out to the garage and got in daddy’s runabout and learned boat vocab like bow and stern and all that. The kids really liked being in the boat and really seemed to be into learning the vocabulary.


On Thursday, we learned all about NYC. We looked at lots of photos of things like the Twin Towers, Times Square, the Empire State Building, Central Park and the George Washington Bridge. I will admit that I partially cheated by letting them watch “Enchanted” – a movie they love so they could identify the landmarks we went over.

We talked about the foods too (big deli sandwiches, big floppy pizzas, hot dogs and bagels) but Bo insisted that we have those foods too so it can’t be special about NYC.

Friday morning, we continued with NYC and talked about 9/11. They built skyscrapers with Legos. We looked at photos of 9/11 and talked about what would happen to a building if a plane ran into it. We prayed for people who died and who had family die that day. We talked about being trapped and that led into a discussion about heroes.


We moved pretty seamlessly into talking about public servants like doctors, fire fighters and police officers. We borrowed some dress up uniforms from a friend and they each dressed up as something. Then we talked about what they would do in case of a tragedy like 9/11. They loved this. We prayed again and thanked God for them.


Officer Korn



I had every intention of having them do some exploration of who their heroes were and stuff like that, but having had a rough week personally I felt like they had done enough.

This week we are taking the week off so we can reinforce their Vacation Bible School lessons instead. After that, we will be studying The Story About Ping.

Goodnight Moon

I chose this book because my girl Maggie just absolutely loves to read this.  It used to be a bedtime staple before we started going to the library and probably was responsible for my drive to make Maggie read OTHER books.  In the book, the author describes a room and then proceeds to say goodnight to everything in the room.

On Monday, we made it all about colors.  I made Bo a worksheet with the names of colors on it and he sounded out the words and colored them in accordingly.

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While he did that, Maggie drew me a picture of a “great green room” and a “red balloon” (and a whole bunch of other stuff that she wanted to draw like “Mommy, this is you with no face!”)  Then Bo did another worksheet where I wrote ROYGBIV down one side and he figured out which color went with each letter and then drew a straight line across the page with that color.  We talked about rainbows and the order of the colors and he drew a rainbow to hang up on the wall.

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Maggie had a worksheet with circles of different colors and she sorted beads into the right colors.

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She got very distracted at this point and insisted that she needed to draw princesses on the board. So we moved on to finger painting!  I gave each of them a glob of red, blue and yellow finger paint and told them that these were primary colors.  We then made other colors from these primary colors and we talked about the color combinations (red + yellow = orange, etc.).  Then I let them paint and make a mess of themselves.  Finger paints are not what they used to be!!!  They washed out of everything without a hitch.

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I may have gone a little overboard on Tuesday, but we had a lesson on the Moon and Solar System. We first talked about what a planet was and what it means to orbit something.  What planet do we live on?  Earth!  We looked at photos of the moon and talked about craters on the surface of the moon.  So they could understand this, I gave each of them a pile of flour on a plate and asked them to flatten it out as much as they could.  Then I gave them a marshmallow and had them (lightly) hit the surface of the flour to leave a crater behind.  We also threw the marshmallows at them to see how the craters looked different.

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Then we talked about how the moon looks different in the sky sometimes and we discussed the phases of the moon. We poured the flour from their plates on the table and drew the phases of the moon in the flour.

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We used a moon board like the one here to talk about how the sun always lights up half of the moon, but we can only see part of it depending on our location on earth.  The kids really loved this board and they continue to play with it still.  I’m not sure how practical it was for me to make it considering we are done using it, but I thought it was cool and they liked it.

Bo takes this very seriously.

Bo takes this very seriously.

Maggie not so much...

Maggie not so much…

And any time I can purchase myself a treat in the name of schooling, I do.  So we used Oreo cookies to make the phases of the moon by removing some of the cream.  I was a little wary of using so many cookies to do a simple project, but my son (being smarter than me) let me know halfway through that we could have used half the cookies because when he cut the crescent moon out of the cream, it left behind a gibbous moon, so he didn’t need those extra cookies.  I swear I had not thought of that.

If you look at the bottom right, you can see that Maggie sampled the gibbous moon when I wasn't looking.

If you look at the bottom right, you can see that Maggie sampled the gibbous moon when I wasn’t looking.

Bo got some practice with his fine motor skills too.

Bo got some practice with his fine motor skills too.

Next, we did an activity that I found on this blog that she called Mystery Moons.  I took a piece of white paper and a white crayon and drew some moons on them, then the kids took watercolor paints and painted over the drawing to reveal the phase of the moon I had drawn. Bo kept getting frustrated and saying “My paint isn’t working on this part of the paper!!!” So I explained to him that was the whole point of the exercise.  The kids are so cute saying “gibbous.”

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And as if all that wasn’t enough for one day of school, we also talked about the planets.  We went through them in order from closest to the sun to the farthest from the sun.  We talked about one unique characteristic about each and did a couple of activities for some. Bo’s absolute favorite was the volcanoes we did for Venus.  We put a little bit of baking soda in a canister, added a few drops of food coloring for flair and poured in some vinegar so we could watch the eruption.  Of course, we had to do this a few times.

Maggie loved getting to pour her own vinegar.

Maggie loved getting to pour her own vinegar.

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We also talked about the winds on Neptune and used a straw to blow on the liquid left over from our eruption so we could see what the wind did to it.  Bo liked to blow on it from different angles to experiment and see how it would behave differently.

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The last thing we did was put together a Styrofoam solar system model I found on clearance at WalMart for $1.  We had to paint it and that took forever – I ended up painting most of it myself after the kids had gone to bed.  And Patrick put it together the next morning.  Bo and Maggie have proudly displayed it in their room.

Saturn and Mars are Bo's favorites.

Saturn and Mars are Bo’s favorites.  Maggie liked dwarf planet Pluto because we painted it pink.  Yes, the kit included it.  Maybe that’s why it was $1.

He really enjoyed mixing colors so that the yellow of the sun was different from the yellow of Jupiter.

He really enjoyed mixing colors so that the yellow of the sun was different from the yellow of Jupiter.

Wednesday was all about the letter M.  I know we had done this already, but I really wanted Maggie to get the M down since her name starts with it.  We started by using M&M’s to make M’s on a paper.  (I wrote the M’s first and they filled them in with candy.)

I promise I didn't let them eat ALL of those M&M's.

I promise I didn’t let them eat ALL of those M&M’s.

Then I had Maggie count and sort the M&M’s like we did with the colored goldfish at the beach.

It took a lot of prompting, but she did it!

It took a lot of prompting, but she did it!

Bo made a bar graph again like at the beach.

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He also did math with the M&M’s like we did at the beach. I gave him a worksheet with a plus sign and an equals sign.  I put M&M’s in two places and he had to fill in the third.  When we did this with goldfish at the beach, I lamented not moving the variable. (I always put the unknown after the equals sign.) But he did a great job with it when I moved the variable to a different place.  Off to algebra we go!!! 🙂

He was in the middle of this equation.  Clearly 1 + 2 does not equal 8.

He was in the middle of this equation. Clearly 1 + 2 does not equal 8.

Maggie practiced drawing M’s on the board and when she drew a particularly good one, Bo got so excited he jumped up and gave her a huge hug.  “I’m so proud of you!!!” he yelled.  So sweet.

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Bo drew some lowercase m’s on the board too.  He also did a worksheet practicing with the letter M.

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Next we practiced some preposition actions since the book talks about the cow jumping OVER the moon and three little bears sitting ON chairs.  So I would call out a preposition and they had to act it out.  They loved jumping over things.  But “through” was a harder thing to act out – but they tried!  The last thing they did was to go on an M scavenger hunt.  I gave them canisters and told them to bring me things that started with M in them.  Bo brought back “money” and Maggie (with help from Bo, I think) brought back “marbles.”

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Thursday was our Bible lesson.  Patrick read Genesis 1 to them and we talked about the seven days of creation. As he read, every time it said “good” he would play a note on the piano and the kids would shout “Uh….great?!” They really struggled with the whole “good” thing…

I wrote numbers 1-7 on the board and Patrick drew corresponding pictures to the days of creation.

Bo adding eyes to the bird on Day 5.

Bo adding eyes to the bird on Day 5.

Then we had the kids run through the days by looking at the pictures and I bribed Bo with M&M’s to do it without looking.  The boy got it on the first run.  In fact, he could also repeat it this morning – again, bribed by M&M’s.  Then we went outside to find all the things from creation that we had talked about.  The kids really needed to run around and scream about stuff.  CHICKENS ARE BIRDS!!! LEIA IS A DOG AND DOGS ARE LAND ANIMALS!!!

Chasing our doggie Leia.

Chasing our doggie Leia.

We even took extra silly pictures of ourselves for the creation of man.

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Because I couldn't pick only one.

Because I couldn’t pick only one.

Then we brought back some of the color stuff from Monday’s lesson and tie-dyed a couple of shirts.  Patrick was the artistic master mind for that project.  I had found a tie-dye kit on sale at the store and thought it would be fun.  The kids really loved it and couldn’t wait to wear their shirts.

Bo really loved the gloves.  I think he's a scientist in the making.

Bo really loved the gloves. I think he’s a scientist in the making.

On our last day with the book, we talked about phone numbers.  (The first lines of the book are “In the great green room, there was a telephone…”) We talked about mommy and daddy’s phone numbers and then practiced dialing the numbers on mommy’s phone.  Modern cell phones are so much harder for a child to operate compared to a home phone.  They had to learn how to turn the phone on and unlock it.  Then they had to find the phone app and then dial the numbers.  It was pretty crazy, but they practiced calling daddy a few times and killed the battery on my phone. (And that is why there are no pictures for this day….sorry about that.)

Then we talked about 911 and how we use that only in emergencies.  We had to talk about what an emergency is and I might have freaked Bo out a little trying to give him examples.  He said he hoped he knew how to use the phone at school in case an emergency happens there. We wrote 911 on the board.

We read the story twice on Friday once in the beginning and again to identify the rhyming pairs.  Then we rhymed back and forth with random words like “blue” and “light.”  While we were doing that, Maggie said that “dark” rhymed with “light” and so we ended up talking about opposites.  We acted out opposites like big and small and old and young.  My favorite was silly and serious.  🙂  If only I had pictures…

The last thing we did was to practice fine motor skills by using scissors to cut out M’s from a piece of paper.  Bo did pretty well, but still needs some practice. Maggie kept wanting to hold the scissors horizontally.  Our tie dyed clothes were dry, so we wore them to a picnic lunch at the lake.

Our finished tie-dyed clothes.

Our finished tie-dyed clothes.

Now every picture is a silly picture.

Now every picture is a silly picture.

A lot of what we did this week was really basic, so we’ve found ourselves reviewing all week.  We had “mush” for breakfast like mentioned in the book on Saturday morning.  To make it special, I wanted to make mush different from our regular email so I made breakfast quinoa with bananas.  They were not big fans of this.

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They are always learning to look forward to next week’s lessons.  We’ll be doing “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” by Michael Rosen.  Lots of “bear-y” interesting stuff planned.  Okay, okay…I’m ashamed of myself. But still, it should be a fun week.

Mama, Do You Love Me?

This book by Barbara Joosse is a pretty classic story about a little girl pushing boundaries and seeing how much she can get away with. The mama’s response, without fail, is that she will always love her no matter what she does (even if she turns into a polar bear). The unique thing about the book is that the mom and daughter are Inuit, so there are lots of new creatures, vocabulary words and traditions for my kids to learn.

Day one was all about family and emotions. We talked about family relationships (parents, siblings, aunt, uncle, cousin, grandparents, etc.) and we looked through some photos of family members and identified the relationships. We counted all of the people in the immediate family and Bo practiced writing 5’s on the board. He had a hard time remembering how to write them and then couldn’t follow verbal instructions very well, but did well once I demonstrated it. Then I had each of them draw a member of the family on the chalkboard. Bo drew a picture of his daddy and Maggie said she drew our house…she can be so special, that girl. She said the house held our family.

His t-shirt says "Dad = My Hero" and he drew the same picture on the board.

His t-shirt says “Dad = My Hero” and he drew the same picture on the board.

Then we talked about what an emotion was and gave lots of examples. Maggie kept saying the same two: happy and sad. Bo was much more creative and even though he got distracted by rhyming words (sad, mad, glad, bad) he did really well. We made some masks to show emotions, which was another place where Maggie and Bo showed different levels of understanding. Maggie’s masks were more abstract but Bo’s had definite features.

Bo was desperately trying to hold Maggie still because Maggie doesn't like to stand still for pictures and this was the bajillionth time I took this picture.

Bo was desperately trying to hold Maggie still because Maggie doesn’t like to stand still for pictures and this was the bajillionth time I took this picture.

We finished day one by talking about unconditional love as demonstrated by the story we read. I asked them who loves them that way and they immediately said “You!” (That always feels good especially when you spend so much time scolding them.) Then they said daddy. And finally Bo says, “But God loves us even more than you do.” And we had a great talk about how God demonstrated his love for us by sending His Son to die for us on the cross.

On Tuesday, we immersed ourselves in Inuit culture. We started by talking about some of the hardships of living in a harsh winter climate. We had gone strawberry picking with my mother on Monday and we talked about the hunter/gatherer aspect of Inuit culture, using the strawberry picking as a picture of the hard work. It kind of backfired because Bo thought it was fun to pick strawberries. We looked at lots of historic photos. We emphasized storytelling and ancestors and talked about how important dogs and canoes and igloos are.

My girl making faces at the strawberry field

My girl making faces at the strawberry field

This was a photo we found online that Maggie really loved.

This was a photo we found online that Maggie really loved.

We saw some photos of double thumbed mittens (apparently, with two thumbs, they could get one side wet and turn it around instead of using new mittens) and made a set out of paper. Bo got a little frustrated “sewing” the mittens with yarn, but he did a great job and could even put his mitten on.

Pardon Bo's bed-head, but he was so proud of his "sewing."

Pardon Bo’s bed-head, but he was so proud of his “sewing.”

Then we took a field trip to the kitchen and engineered igloos out of marshmallows and frosting. Maggie was more interested in eating them, but Bo was determined to make it work. He even got his daddy to help. I think it would have worked better with a mold and with mini-marshmallows instead. I let each of them have five marshmallows when we were done.

Bo and Daddy trying to get the marshmallow igloo to stay up.

Bo and Daddy trying to get the marshmallow igloo to stay up.

We looked at some pictures of Inuit sculptures and took out some clay to sculpt some arctic creatures. Bo made a polar bear, I sculpted a seal and Maggie made a purple worm. We baked them so we could “keep them forever.” Bo really loved this process and had been showing off his bear sculpture to everyone who comes to visit.

Maggie's purple worm on the left, my seal in the middle and Bo's polar bear on the right.

Maggie’s purple worm on the left, my seal in the middle and Bo’s polar bear on the right.

Bo is so passionate about his art. ;)

Bo is so passionate about his art. 😉

We ended the night by taking the canoe – excuse me, the UMIAK – out on the lake. Maggie was a little afraid to sit by herself in the umiak and I sat on the shore with baby Joe, but they really did have lots of fun. Then for dinner we ate some Alaskan cod that Bo liked so much he had seconds! He said he really thought he’d like to go to Alaska one day.

Out on the umiak!

Out on the umiak!

On Wednesday we had our Bible lesson. Daddy taught us about God’s commandment to love your neighbor as yourself. Maggie proudly exclaimed that she loved herself a lot and Bo tried to say it was bad to love yourself. Great discussion about love and what it means to put other people ahead of yourself. We sang “Jesus Loves Me” about a hundred times both with and without hand motions.

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Bo went to the board and sounded out the word “love” and we talked about the silent e. I asked Maggie what symbol we use for love and she immediately identified the heart and made a heart with her hands. Then we practiced drawing hearts on the board. Finally we made paper hearts and wrote the names of people we love inside them and hung them from the ceiling. I told them they had a top secret mission to love someone in the family in a special way today but I think that was over their heads. They weren’t extra nice to anyone, but they are usually pretty good anyway.

"Dis my heart, mommy."

“Dis my heart, mommy.”

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Day Four was a shorter day. We sang “Jesus Loves Me” again and then practiced writing M’s on the board. Maggie can write this letter since her name starts with it, but she was feeling extra defiant and refused to do anything. It was a rough day with Maggie. I had plans to talk about If/Then statements and stuff, but she was stuck on not following directions and I had to address that before we could do anything else. While she was in trouble in the corner, I had Bo doing some basic addition and subtraction with Legos. He built towers with the number of blocks I told him and then with the number of blocks on a card (so he had to identify the number in written form). Then he did some simple math operations with them. He kept wanting to call the six an eight so we did a worksheet on 6. He really loved this.

"I can use Legos at school?!"

“I can use Legos at school?!”

I want Maggie to love learning but I have to balance the obedience thing with the fun thing. It was so hard. She doesn’t have to know how to draw an M or how to write her name. She does have to listen to me and not cross her arms and pout when I ask her to pick up a pencil, you know? Wonder where she gets that defiance from…

Our last day with Mama, Do You Love Me? was this morning. I haven’t been feeling well these last couple of days, so I wanted to keep it simple. We looked at photos of the arctic animals mentioned in the book (polar bear, humpback whale, walrus, musk ox, salmon, puffin, lemming, ermine, ptarmigan) and watched some National Geographic and BBC videos of them. Bo absolutely adored this. He really loved the video of the whales and listening to their songs. We talked a lot about how to identify a mammal (hair/fur, external ears and if the mommies make milk) and discussed their diets. Maggie was so interested in what they ate and drew pictures of fish all over the coloring pages I gave them. I was pretty proud of the logic that Bo was demonstrating. For example, I asked where puffins live and he says, “They have to live near the water if they eat fish! But not in the water.”

Multimedia education.

Multimedia education.

We also discussed things like camouflage (why are polar bears white?) and what it means to be wild (are polar bear cubs dangerous even if they are cute?). Maggie really liked coloring the pictures and talking about them. She wasn’t so interested in the videos and photos. Bo loved the whales, polar bears and puffins best. He got mad when someone in a video called walruses ugly.

Maggie's walrus

Maggie’s walrus

We had a great time this week and I love that they are still excited for school. Bo follows me down the stairs every morning and says he’s on the bus. He loves it so much that he has requested that we do school next week even though we will be on vacation in North Carolina.

Maggie with her drawing of a heart.

Maggie with her drawing of a heart.

So next week, we’ll have some guests (Bo, Maggie and Joe’s cousins) and we’ll be doing Night of the Moonjellies by Mark Shasha.