Friday, December 18, 2009

Just Like That, She's Multiplying

So Pepper, who cried all morning (and for the last 3 months, for that matter) showed her multiplication pictures to her dad.  And because explaining something to someone else is the surest way to know it yourself, she now KNOWS all the facts for which we drew pictures.

From the kitchen, where they are rolling truffles, she calls to me, "Mom?  What's 8 x 8?"

"You know that one!"

"Oh, 64!  I made 66 mint truffles!"

And she's cracking up because I caught her KNOWING her multiplication facts.
Just like that, she's multiplying AND using it in real life.

Finished the Civil War

We finished the Civil War a bit ago.  The girls made lapbooks from History Pockets: Civil War.  I shrunk the printables from this book to make smaller-sized booklets to use in their lapbooks.

Our favorite Civil War resources?

Across Five Aprils

We listened to this book on audio, rather than me read it. I have a hard time reading dialect aloud. It is available from iTunes or  This book is the (roughly) true story of the author's grandfather who was a boy of 12 or 14 when the Civil War began.  He remained on the farm while his older brothers went off to war and the story chronicles the war through all five Aprils, 1861-1865.  It's a wonderful, moving story that captures you and gives a fabulous overview of the war through the eyes of Jethro and his family.

We also listened to Bull Run on audio (also purchased from iTunes). LOVE this book! I prefer the audio version of this book because of the format of the story. It consists of about 15 characters, each speaking in his own chapter. The characters vary between male & female, North & South, slave & free, rich and poor, soldier and civilian. All meet in some way at the battle of Bull Run and through their collective perspective, you experience that battle. LOVE this book!

Besides listening to the audio version, which offers a different voice for each character, we also make a chart of the characters' names, their affiliation (north or south), a few words about their story (who they are) and their role at Bull Run.  This book can be a little confusing because of the number of characters, but the audio and the chart help us to keep it straight.

We read Lincoln: A Photobiography and a few Cornerstones of American History books.

To celebrate the end of our Civil War unit, we took a day-trip to Springfield, IL to visit the Lincoln Museum and his home there.

Lincoln's Home is a national park site and is a free tour.

The Lincoln Museum is part of his presidential library.  If you are within driving distance of this museum, I encourage you to go there!  It is a wonderful, interactive museum that traces Lincoln's life from his early log cabin days through his time in Springfield, the White House and to his death.  There are two really great holographic movies, lots of realistic wax (I think they are silicon nowadays) figures, a coverage of slavery and the Civil War, and actual items that belonged to the Lincolns.  The cost is $10 for adults and $6 for kids, but it seemed worth it to us.

We had actually visited this museum on our vacation to St. Louis two years ago and the kids were STILL talking about going here.  Since they had such fond memories of it, I thought it would be fun to revisit it now that that period in history was "explained" in their minds.  They liked it just as well the second time.

Also in Springfield are Lincoln's tomb, where he and his family are buried and the village of New Salem where Lincoln lived and worked before he became an esteemed lawyer.  We didn't visit those two places on this trip.  (We saw his tomb 2 years ago)  If you can't visit the tomb in person, you can take this photo tour.

Friday Art

Catching up on some Friday Art.

This project was to color something in a surprising way. The girls really had fun with this one and it was actually HARD to choose the colors you weren't "supposed to."

This next project took us about 2 months. The girls began the paintings way back in September, I think, with a cool watercolor wash and a warm wash (not pictured) They had to dry, which put us all off track. The next step was to print leaves of the opposite temperature (warm on cool and cool on warm) onto the background.

By the time we were ready to print the leaves, there was snow on the ground. Luckily I had purchased some foam leaves in a bin one time. Four different leaves each in three sizes makes for a nice printing activity!  In the first two photographs, if you look carefully, you can see the foam leaves lying on the picture in the position the girls have planned out.  They are in the process of painting (or touching up) the first leaf.

Here is the finished product

At this point in the book, Daisy got annoyed with art and quit. So Pepper sponged this "cool" snowman and got to mix her paints, to boot.

The next exercise was to paint this "cool" tree. To be honest, I drew the tree (she wouldn't), but she colored it (after I demonstrated) and she painted it. When she was finished, it made her cry because her tree (which was supposed to resist the watercolor due to the crayon) had turned all blue and she hated it. For the record, Rose Bud thought it was awesome!

So, there you have it.  This fall's Friday Art!

My Little Musicians

Daisy has been giving Banana Boy piano lessons.  She even puts a book on the back of his hand to keep his hand still and make his fingers do all the work.

Banana Boy got a microphone and guitar for his birthday.  There have been LOTS of shows  and concerts ever since.  One night, there was even a church service complete with worship band and children's sermon.

Daisy and BB spend a lot of time composing and choreographing things.  They make a good team and both can play by ear.  I can't even list for you the number of songs they can play on the piano that each has picked out by ear.  Banana Boy, especially, is gifted at this and for him, it's a necessary skill since he can't read music.

In addition to the piano, they are both constantly messing with: the recorder, the guitar (I caught Daisy "borrowing" her brother's new guitar and the Teach Yourself book that came with it), hand bells, accordian (we have a toy one that plays surprisingly nice music), and various rhythm instruments.

Here is a little treat for you from today.

Conquering Multiplication Without Any Effort

In new developments, Pepper has been spending her days shedding tears over math.

Wait! That's not new. That's the same thing she does everyday!

In new developments, I was a GOOD mom/teacher today and took steps to help her learn in the way she does best (ie: not with a workbook or anything that requires any effort at all)

I reminded myself that the reason I homeschool is so that I can meet the unique learning challenges of each child. I tend to focus on how much work that is (times 4 kids!) and just resort to workbooks.

So anyway, while stuck on her "times eights" I quickly sketched out a funny picture for her.

Try not to focus on how smelly the party looks. It's supposed to be confetti.

Seeing how delighted she was with this idea (read: she stopped wailing and only sobbed quietly) I sketched out some more.

This one I actually borrowed from my very favorite multiplication games site.

I used the 8x8 that is featured on the cover of the book.

If you would rather not think of your own mnemonics, then I encourage you to visit this site and buy one of their books. They offer two different books, both of which use a picture/story and offer lessons plans etc. I've not purchased either book, so I can only tell you what I've read on the website. Also on this website are tons of resources to use in making your own unit on the multiplication tables, such as worksheets and drill tests.

Another similar resource is Times Tales

If all you need is work on a few of the facts, you could just make your own little stories. Pepper has times through the fours down pat. Fives she'll master quickly if she thinks about it a little bit. Sixes she knows from the 100 Sheep Skip Counting CD. Nines she's using a nine trick. So it's just sevens and eights she is really stuck on, and then, only the uppers.

Here are the rest that I made today.

Right away when I told her it was dirty food, she said, "Oh, 32!!" Yay! Pepper!
In case you can't tell from my prize-winning drawing, the eights are crabby and dirty and the ham and peas (you DID know that was ham and peas, right?) have dirt on them.

Maybe you'll want to buy the books!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Best new educational toy ever

For St. Nick, which is really our Christmas present time, Daisy & Pepper got a SnapCircuits kit.  I love it, they love it!

We've been working through the Tops Electricity book and we're about halfway.  We do one lesson a week.  Daisy is pretty independent, at 11, and can complete most of the lesson herself.  Pepper has become more independent as we've moved through the book and only needs minimal assistance.

They've learned about positive and negative, circuits, resistance, series & parallel, and switches.

As a fun addition to that study, I thought they'd enjoy the Snap Circuits set.  Again, Daisy is almost completely independent with it.  Pepper, at almost 9, is doing the beginning projects herself after some instruction from Daisy.

Banana Boy, who is too young for the Tops book, enjoyed making a couple of projects from the Snap Circuits set with Dad yesterday.

Daisy & Saffron work on their first project

Daisy shows Pepper the flying fan project

Come on, fan!

Whoo! There it goes!

Electric Cat