Homeschool Creations

Monday, December 29, 2008

Peterson's Handwriting

Over the last few months I have been using Peterson's Directed Handwriting with Zachary (now 4 years old) as he has been learning letter formation and is in the beginning stages of writing. Both of our girls picked up handwriting rather easily, but there are some areas that Zachary really struggled with. In the past I haven't really used a formal curriculum to start off teaching any of our kids, so this was a little bit of a switch for me.

Peterson's Directed Handwriting is different from other handwriting curriculum because it focuses more on the physical skills (gross motor) that need to be in place before kids can even begin writing. They do not recommend tracing or copying letters because it results in non-fluent movement, rather than the child's writing being smooth and having a rhythm to it.

Rather than starting with tracing or copying, they recommend different approaches to learning the movements, such as airwriting or fingertracing and then eventually writing. This approach helps teach the process for letter building and also develop correct motor patterns.

We've been working with the Preschool/Kindergarten Homeschool Kit ($44.70) which includes the Teacher Handbook, Position Guides, ABC/123's Student Workbook, two special pencils, an animations CD ROM and also an audio CD with songs for learning writing strokes. Rand Peterson, the owner of Peterson's, is extremely helpful and available for advice when you are choosing or using the curriculum to help you find the best fit for your family.

I have been impressed with the materials that we've been using from Peterson's. It does, however, require more teacher involvement, especially more on the front-end, with reviewing the material and learning how to properly use the curriculum. You will need to be hands-on with the child (or children) you are using the program with because of the more detail-oriented aspect of the curriculum. The lesson plans are day-to-day specific and walk you through step by step in how to carry out the lessons, so there is little guess work involved in the plans.

There were several things that I really loved about the curriculum. I had never looked at the importance of the gross motor tie-in, proper body positioning and paper placement with any of our kids. The air writing and learning the letter formations has been extremely helpful in teaching Zachary his letters and helping him learn how to write. The worksheets that we have been using (above is a sample of the letter formations) are colorful and help him remember the different letter formations that we started out learning (tall down, small down, etc...). I love, love, love the workbook and how it is laid out. Because we learned the gross motor tie-in, I can say the cue, he can visualize the movements, and then writes them smaller scale.

There is an incredible amount of research related documents on Peterson's website if you would like to do a little more exploring on your own. Other members of the Homeschool Crew have also written reviews on different age levels of Peterson's if you would like to gather more information on this curriculum.

Although it may not be for everyone, I do think that this curriculum has been helpful to my family and I would definitely recommend it. It has helped me realize the importance of what happens early on in the writing process and how I can better help my children develop their writing skills.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tot School ::8::

**Kaleb is 25 months**

We didn't have any special time for Tot School set aside this week, since we are just enjoying the fact that Daddy is able to be at home, not working any overtime and just HERE!! Add Christmas into the mix...and it's all understandable.

But Kaleb is still keeping busy and picking up new things every day! And with Christmas having come and gone there were new toys to play with and fun things to do!

The girls had a lot of fun turning a box into a car for Kaleb and he LOVED the attention and the moving parts. Laurianna planned the whole thing out and even cut out a steering wheel for him and attached it with a brad so he could turn the wheel.

One of Kaleb's favorite new phrases is "I don't hab it! (I don't have it)" and he holds up his chubby little hands ever-so-cutely while saying it. That phrase gets a lot of giggles, so the other three love to ask him questions purposely just to have him answer cutely.

Even though we don't celebrate Santa (we do have books, etc... about him), Kaleb notices Santa everywhere! When we read "The Night Before Christmas" he kept jumping up and pointing to Santa's picture. The cutest was Christmas morning when he saw my parent's stockings that were red and white, ran up to one of the stockings and hugged it yelling, "SANTA!!"

And the favorite gift of everyone this week has been the kid's digital camera. Even Kaleb is trying to get in on the picture taking and walks around with the camera, saying "cheese" to anything and anyone.

Be sure to head over to Carissa's for some more Tot School posts.
Have a great New Year!


Math Mammoth: Light Blue Series

Math Mammoth produces various math workbooks and curriculums at affordable prices for homeschooling families. They offer a wide range of worktexts for grades 1 through 8. The workbooks are very thorough and there are four different series to choose from (click on the picture for a larger view):

Prices vary on the workbooks, depending on what series you choose to work with, or if you purchase individual workbooks ($3.50/each or a full series). The series we received, the Light Blue series for 1st and 2nd grade, is a complete curriculum for the school year. We received the e-book version and each grade level would be $27 for the full year's curriculum (e-books can be purchased through The Old Schoolhouse store). There is also the option to purchase the full printed curriculum through

The Light Blue series are set up into major topics, allowing you to focus on a few topics at time and really make sure that your child has a complete grasp on the topic being studied. Generally curriculums introduce a new lesson topic and then move onto another topic quickly with little review of past topics.

Math Mammoth focuses on a few topics per grade so that the concepts are mastered and understood fully. There is little teacher-prep needed, other than printing off pages if you purchase the e-book version of the text. From the Math Mammoth site:

When you use these books as your only or main mathematics curriculum, they can be like a "framework", but you still have liberty in planning your child's studies. While addition, subtraction, and place value topics are best studied in the order they are presented, or ... in a different order.

Laurianna and McKenna had a little difficulty adjusting to the curriculum mainly due to the wording and the way the problems were set up. The layout/format is different from the curriculum that we had been using, so it took almost 3 weeks for them to get to the point that they weren't complaining about having to do the worksheets (mainly McKenna :). Overall, that was our biggest struggle with the curriculum.

This will be something that I will continue to use when the girls need extra practice on concepts they are struggling with. Having the curriculum in e-book format is convenient because I can print off the lessons that need to be covered and find the topic quickly and easily. And because I can decide what to print off, that helps save money in the long run and I don't need to waste paper and throw away unused worksheets.

You can also subscribe to the Math Mammoth monthly email newsletter here and receive a gift of over 250 math worksheets and also sample pages from the various workbooks. If you'd like to check out other reviews for different grade levels of Math Mammoth, visit the Homeschool Crew blog.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Antarctica: Learning about Shackleton

I'd love to say that I single-handedly came up with the lesson plans for our final week in Antarctica, but since I found some that were amazing, I have to share them!

We found the movie Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure through Netflix and we watched it several times. I even cried watching it! The story is absolutely amazing, and if you haven't heard about it, this is one that you should really check out! You can see a trailer of the film here.

The lesson plans that I found go along with the movie and provide a HUGE resource for teachers and students to follow along and learn more about Shackleton. You can access the full set of plans here and there is also a family movie guide too.

Using the guide, here's how our week looked:

Monday - We watched the movie together after working on some of our general schoolwork. We also spent a little time on the NOVA online site looking at virtual 360 pictures of various places in Antarctica.

Tuesday - We tracked Shackleton's expedition using latitude and longitude and the timeline that was provided. We followed along mapping where he first started out, where his ship got stuck and crushed, where the crew was stranded, and eventually where the crew was rescued.

I have to say that McKenna absolutely amazed me during this activity. She was mapping points so quickly and accurately! Have to say that I was rather impressed. :)

Wednesday - We did another journaling activity called "In Your Own Words". First, we read through different journal entries from Shackleton and his crew. When we were done reading through those entries, we created some of our own entries journaling our day.

Thursday - We did an activity called "What's on Your Plate?" comparing the things that we ate during our day and what a typical day for Shackleton's crew might have been. We figured up caloric values and also talked about the differences between carbohydrates, proteins, and/or fat.

Here are some other great resources on Shackleton also:

Hope these resouces help you all out! Can't tell you how much we've enjoyed spending time in Antarctica!

Labels: ,

Monday, December 22, 2008

Motherboard Books: Let's Make a Web Page

Even though I love to fiddle around on the computer with my blog's html, I am by NO means an expert in the area. I am fortunate to remember to save my current html...otherwise I'd have caused myself some serious harm on more than one occassion.

And while I can figure things out and it all makes sense in my head, trying to explain it to others can be a little bit of a problem. Because you probably don't want to hear, "Click on that little thingy and then blah, blah, blah." That would about sum up my technical instruction. And if I had to teach computer science to my kids? That could be seriously comical.

Recently I received an e-book from Motherboard Books called Let's Make a Web Page and it is specifically geared toward teaching 8-12 year olds how to design their own web page. Phyllis Wheeler has written several computer science ebooks for homeschoolers and they are simple enough that kids (older than 10) can work through the steps on their own, with little help from parents.

Let's Make a Web Page ($19.99) is a 60 page e-book that gives step-by-step instructions on how to put together a website of an interview (or any other topic). It explains html, adding pictures to pages, animations and more - all in simple and easy to follow steps. The table of contents will give you a great idea on the lessons and what they cover:

Introduction for Parents
Lesson 1: An Interview
Lesson 2: Download and Set Up the Program
Lesson 3: Add Text
Lesson 4: Make a Table
Lesson 5: Add Photo
Lesson 6: From the Internet, Add Animations
Lesson 7: Browser Check, Backgrounds, Photos
Lesson 8: Sound
Lesson 9: Links
Lesson 10: Post Your Work
Appendix: How to Upload to the Internet

You do need to download a free trial version of Coffee Cup html editor (for Windows) to use the e-book exactly following her instructions, so be sure to read through steps first before downloading and starting, since it is only a 30 day trial of the software.

Motherboard Books also is offering a free internet scavenger hunt if you sign up to join their newsletter. It is a mini internet lesson that introduces your child to the internet. Let's Make a Web Page is usually $29.99 but is currently discounted to $19.99 as a special. Motherboard Books also offers a 30 day money back guarantee, so you can't go wrong with this purchase!

If you would like to read some other reviews on Motherboard Books, head over to the Homeschool Crew blog.

Labels: , ,

Puppetools: Advancing the Language of Play

We all realize that play is important in our children's learning but sometimes being creative is difficult. Truthfully, there are days that I struggle to get through our day, and if my kids want to do a little more creatively, I shy away from the extra effort. I am always looking for little ways that I can inject fun and creativity into our school day and make learning fun, enjoyable and something our kids look forward to each day.

Jeff Peyton, the owner of Puppetools is enthusiastic in his love for puppets in learning and helping others latch onto that same enthusiasm. He has created a website that puts together over 30 years of his research and development in play-based communication.

"A playful quality of mind will help your child self-start, be self-expressive, creative-minded, and self-confident. A child nurtured through play is more receptive to learning and more able to absorb the jolts and challenges of factory education."

The Puppetools site has templates that can be downloaded as well as puppet images, patterns and ideas for using puppets in your classroom/homeschool time. Their goal is to help learning come alive for kids and help make any image come to life for you and your kids.

There are two different membership options: a $20 trial membership that is good for 60 days and a $99 full year membership that can have up to 30 users (for a homeschool co-op or maybe a children's church program). A Puppetools membership includes the following:

* Time to train and master Puppetools - the "Language of Play"
* Puppetools' online Educator Work Area
* Puppetools' exclusive practitioner video library
* Extensive research on play and education
* Hundreds of puppet images, concepts, and patterns
* Community forums - learn with teachers around the world
* Fast, flexible puppet design and construction--in just minutes
* Single paper hinge - a great resource for puppets
* Know-how and techniques without acting, scripts, or theater
* Ideas to effectively harness play and spark motivation, participation, and receptivity
* Ways to discover the deep impact of play on students and teachers

If you struggle with creativity in your school time, this might be something for you. Personally, the $20 trial option would be the better choice if you were looking for yourself, because you should be able to manuever the site in a few days and get the information that you need, save yourself some money...and spending $99 for puppets (to me) is a little much.

You can browse the Puppetools site to find out more. You can also see other reviews on Puppetools at the Homeschool Crew blog.

Labels: ,

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Preschool Corner: Letter M

Last week we had so much fun with our lapbook, that we decided to another one this week. This week I'll be sharing about our preschool fun studying the letter "M" and at the end of the post you will find Mr. Linky so that you can participate too in the fun by sharing what you've been doing during your preschool time.

I pulled out several books this week that we were going to read and asked Zachary which one he wanted to focus on, and he chose If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. I pulled together resources from several different sites and we had fun making another lapbook together based on that book.

We did do a few activities that weren't related to the book, but it's all listed below, so enjoy looking around. I've provided links to the various activities and sites that we used, whenever possible.

ABC Book: Mouse and a Cookie

The alphabet book page for the letter "M" was a little grey mouse and his cookie. Zachary cut his pieces out after I traced them for him and then added dots to his cookie - because that's what mice eat, right?

Alphabet Activities: Upper and Lowercase Matching

I found some cards that have upper and lowercase letter matching on them on this site. The cards are a jpeg/gif image so you can make them whatever size you would like. I pulled all the images together from her site and made a document. I would be happy to email you the full document if you would like. Just leave a comment requesting it or email me and I'll get it to you!

Fun Activities: Shadow Matching and Monster Cookies

I found a fun game that uses similar images to the ones in the book and then has a shadow image of it to put match. I cut apart all the images and we used one side of the lapbook to glue the game pieces and I stapled a baggie to the side to store the game pieces. You can find the shadow match game here (it is also in the document that I put together).

Since we read all about cookies we had to make some to eat too, so we made Monster Cookies.

Lapbook: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

The majority of the lapbook pieces that I printed off were from Homeschool Share and their mini books for If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. I used a full size folder for this lapbook and glued some of the game pieces directly onto the folder so that we could open it up and play it. On the back of the lapbook I glued our math game (only three sides) so that the pieces to the game can slide down in between the game board and the lapbook cover. You can see in one of the pictures above if you can't visualize it.

Here are the pieces that we worked on:

I Spy: While we read through the book, we played "I Spy" and tried to find anything that was shaped like a circle in the book and then wrote it down in our mini book.

Mouse Anatomy: Since we're talking about mice we also did a mini book that shows different parts of a mouse: tail, hairless ears, clawed feet and whiskers.

Shadow Matching: This game wasn't from Homeschool Share, but I cut the board pieces apart and glued them onto one of the inside pieces of the lapbook. You can find the shadow game here or email me and I'll send you the document I made that includes it.

If You Give a Boy a Cookie: This was a mini book that gives a story prompt. I asked Zachary to finish the sentence and this was his response:

"If you give a boy a cookie he would just eat it and go outside and play. If he put a magical hat on it to come alive he could take it outside to play."

Storywheel: This is a wheel that helps retell the story using pictures. I printed it off on cardstock to make it a little more sturdy.

Letter Sheet/Collage

Click thumbnail to download


We used a cookie counting game that tied into If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and glued it to the back of our lapbook so we could keep it handy. The game has numbers from 1-20 and you can fill in the blank that tells you how many cookies to put on the plate.

Stories and Books

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

If You Give a Moose a Muffin


Little Mouse and the Big Red Apple

Mary Had a Little Jam and Other Silly Rhymes

The Preschool Corner is a place for us to share the ideas we are using during our "preschool time" with our kids. You can join in the fun and record what you are doing in your house. Publish a post on your blog and link directly here. Then be sure to link to the blog carnival on this post so other bloggers can stop by to visit you.

The guidelines can be found here if you need them.

Share what you've been doing in your house this week! (Clementia, can you either email me directly or let me know how to get ahold of you? I can't find a way to comment on your blog. Thanks!).

Labels: , ,

Kid's Winter Reading Challenge

Winter starts tomorrow and so our fall reading challenge with the kids is wrapping up today. The kids still think they have 5 more books to read so they are scrambling around reading to each other.

Truthfully, they have probably read more than enough books and it's probably due to my lack of recording their reading - but I'm not complaining! They've been cuddling up on the couch with each other and reading books to anyone who will listen.

They asked what the winter reading chart is going to look like, so I pulled one together last night and it's posted below in case you are interested in using it with your kids.


You can find reading challenge charts for all of the seasons on my website.


Jolanthe Signature affiliate button

Labels: ,

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Core Learning and Crayola Art Studio

If your kids love the computer as much as mine do (begging would be an appropriate word to insert here) and they happen to be a little crazy about art, then you might want to look into purchasing Core Learning's new Crayola Art Studio ($24.95). It was just released in November and is a wonderful program for kids to create their own works of art. The program is based on the beginner levels of the corefx digital art software.

My overall impression of this product that it is AMAZING (and fun to boot)! Once I installed it on our computer, I had very little to do to show the girls how to use it. There is a quick video tour and the girls (ages 6 & 7) and even Zachary (with the girl's help) are having far too much fun using it. You can download a free trial of the software to try out for yourself, but here are few of the features of the program:

  • realistic art tools to use - crayons, markers, paint, watercolors, chalk, oils...all available in a variety of colors and strokes.
  • color palettes that allow you to mix your own colors or choose from a pre-set range of colors
  • undo and mirror image features (rather handy for the kids!)
  • hundreds of art images that can be edited and manipulated while kids are learning how to edit pictures
  • ability to import your own pictures to edit and have fun with

If you have older children, the Corefx program ($59.95) allows you to do even more with graphics and drawing and even animation. Corefx includes many more graphics and art mediums and also has three skill levels.

In addition to art, Core Learning also offers programs for math, health, language, and critical thinking. We've been using the Health for Kids Series ($29.95) and our girls are having a lot of fun exploring the insides of the human body. The program makes it extremely fun for kids to learn about different parts of the human body through animation: the tongue, larynx, airways, mouth, epiglottis and more.

Core Learning also has a special page that lists current promotions available. Be sure to check out the Homeschool Crew blog for more on Core Learning!

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, December 15, 2008

Antarctica ::Week 2::

We continued on our journey to the bottom of the Earth this past week - all of us absorbing MUCH more information and having a great time exploring a continent that we didn't think would be all that exciting! Just today (Sunday) I found some more great links and asked the girls what they would like to do next week and had a very loud: MORE SHACKLETON!! So we'll be spending a few more days in Antarctica it seems and then moving on to a unit study on penguins for the oldest three.

I will be sharing a ton of the great links that we've been using this last week at the end of the post, so be sure to check them out. It is by no means a complete collection, but there are guaranteed to be some great helps for you in the list.

Here's a look into how our week worked out:


  • Reviewed some of our studies from last week (Antarctica is the 5th largest continent, 99% ice, coldest and windiest continent)

  • Continued on our virtual field trip...which led us off on several fun bunny trails

  • Started learning about Shackleton, an explorer to Antarctica

  • Watched some fun clips on the Southern lights and talked about what causes them. This was our favorite clip.

  • played "name that hemisphere" and talked about what hemispheres that Antarctica is in: south, east and west


  • Learned more about the animals in Antarctica and watched a movie from National Geographic (which ended up being more of a "snooze-fest" for a certain younger student)


  • Learned about different types of plant life in Antarctica: lichen, moss and alga

  • Talked about why so few plants grow in Antarctica

  • Learned why plants around Antarctica grow better in the ocean than on Antarctica


  • Talked about the different men that have attempted to explore and have succeeded in first exploring Antarctica: Amundsen, Scott and Shackleton.

  • Traced the routes of Amundsen and Scott and compared their different journeys to the South Pole (who was successful, who wasn't, how they compared to each other)

  • Wrote fictional journal entries from the point of view of Amundsen (the first to reach the South Pole). These were hysterical!!

Here is Laurianna's fictional journal entry:

"I won the race! I can't wait to return home. I hope Scott found the tent and the letter. We had to kill a lot of the dogs for our trip back home."

And McKenna's entry (apparently left at the tent for Scott to find when he arrived behind Amundsen - spelling is her's):

"I won the race! I'm very happy that I did. You were vary nise. I saw a pengwin today."

Here are some of the wonderful links that we used this week in our studies:

Our trip will continue next week, so be sure to check back to see more about our studies on Shackleton. We are having so much fun with this study. If you would like more info on Antarctica and links, be sure to check out my first post of our studies, To the Bottom of the Earth: Antarctica for Kids ::Week 1::.

Labels: ,

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Time 4 Learning: Online Homeschool Curriculum

Over the last 2 months, Laurianna and McKenna have been using a site called Time 4 Learning. We did try it with Zachary for a bit, but he is still new to computers (and a bit too curious) so we decided to have only the girls use it at this point.

Time 4 Learning is an online PreK - 8th grade curriculum that can be used a supplement to your current curriculum or even as your entire curriculum for language arts, math, science and social studies. The curriculum is tailored to each of your children's educational needs and levels and includes animated lessons, interactive activities, unit assessments, and printable worksheets for reinforcement (and it is ad-free!). Lessons are also correlated to standards in all 50 states. The Pre-K curriculum is thematic and has seasonal activities focused on learning shapes, colors, counting, weather, and much more.

Children work through the lessons and the lessons are visually checked off when they finish them. After a certain amount of "learning time" (and parents can adjust this time for each of their children), kids are sent to the "playground" to play fun, educational games before returning to their "lesson time".

Parents have the ability to log in and print automated progress reports for record keeping or portfolios. You can also see how your children are doing in all the areas that they are using, and see what areas they need to focus more attention/time on. There are lesson plans and a scope and sequence also available for parents to access at any time.

Time 4 Learning offers a free 14 day trial of the site, lesson demos, a scope and sequence of their lesson plans, and also a parents forum for those that are using the site. If you'd like a quick video demo of the site you can click here.

The cost for Time 4 Learning:

The girls have loved using the Time 4 Learning, especially after we have finished our planned school time each day. It is very interactive and the best part is, the kids don't realize that they are still "learning". The activities are fun and the kids can work through them with little help from me. When they are done, I can log on with my infomation and print off reports, see what they have been doing during their time on the site, and adjust it accordingly for the next time they are online.

If you would like to read other reviews about Time 4 Learning and see how others homeschoolers have incorporated it into their day, you can read more at The Homeschool Crew blog.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Preschool Corner: Letter L

This week I'll be sharing about our preschool fun studying the letter "L" and at the end of the post you will find Mr. Linky so that you can participate too in the fun by sharing what you've been doing during your preschool time.

We focused a lot of our letter activities on ladybugs this week, enough that we put together a little lapbook for Zachary, his first, so he was VERY excited! He wanted me to write his name a special title on it, so that I did: Zachary's little, tiny lapbook.

ABC Page

The alphabet book page for the letter "L" was a Ladybug. I took the easy way out and cut the pieces out of construction paper instead of adding paint to the mix this week. I figured we had enough going on and red paint + Zachary might = a big mess.

Ladybug Thumbprints

These little ladybugs turn out so cute! I used one of my scrapbooking inkpads and let Zachary use his thumb/fingerprint to make the little ladybugs all over the paper. Then we used a pen to put dots on our ladybugs along with antennaes and legs.

Fun Activities: Ladybug Lapbook

We put our ladybug learning onto paper and added the pieces to our lapbook. We made a wheel on the lifecycle of a ladybug, played an alphabet matching game using uppercase and lowercase letters, and learned the parts of a ladybug.

To make the lapbook, I cut a red manila file folder in half and then glued in the mini-books when we were done, just to keep it as simple as possible. Since we didn't have enough room inside our book for all of the books, we put our "following directions" mini-book on the front cover. Here are the links to the mini-books that we used:

Math: Lollipop patterns, Lines, and More

First we had a little fun drawing lines: curvy, straight, up/down, left/right. Then we worked on following directions and added this part to our ladybug lapbook. We counted how many ladybugs there were, added spots, antennae and colored the ladybugs by following the directions.

Since lollipop also starts with the letter "L", I made up some little lollipop cards, cut them out and we used them to make different patterns. I would start the pattern and Zachary would finish it until we ran out of cards. He really enjoys figuring out patterns, so this isn't much of "work" for him. :)

Here are the pattern cards that I made ~ click on the thumbnail to download the pdf file

totally tots

Letter Sheet Collage
L Worksheet


Matthew 5:16- "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.." After all the trouble we had learning the 5 words in the verse, wouldn't it figure that he can almost completely quote this verse? Go figure.


We practiced our letter writing this week using Peterson Directed handwriting. It's a handwriting curriculum that we're trying out with just Zachary right now (stay tuned because I'll keep you posted on how it's working for us).


Lazy Mary Will You Get Up?

Little Bo Peep

Little Boy Blue

Little Jack Horner

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Lollipop Pattern Cards

Here are some fun pattern cards to use ~ who doesn't love lollipops?

{Click on the thumbnail to print off the document}.

We used them this week as an activity for the letter L. See how many patterns you can come up with!


Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

To the Bottom of the Earth: Antarctica for Kids ::Week 1::

When I initially set out our yearly plan, I "budgeted" time for the various countries and continents that we were going to be studying, Antarctica included. I figured that we could get everything done for the North and the South Pole in 2 weeks.

Because, really. It's just a snowy landmass, right?

We started studying Antarctica this last week and it's looking like this could be a much longer study that I originally thought. The girls (and I) are learning so much...and having a lot of fun with it in the process, so we are only going to study Antarctica for now and then do a unit study/lapbook on penguins.

We found a GREAT video clip showing a penguin being chased by a pod of orcas. The video clip is below. It's about 5 minutes long but really rather funny.

I found a copy of Antarctica by Evan Moor at a book sale and it has been a huge help in our studies. The more I dig and search on the internet, I also find some other great sites, which I'll share a little later. Here's a look at our week (just the geography/Antarctica related things):


  • Locate Antarctica on our map and globe

  • Use Children's World Atlas to learn more about the geography features and other information about Antarctica

  • Talk about the meaning of the name Antarctica (opposite of the Arctic)

  • Looked at the differences between a flat map and a globe and how that changes the look of a continent (especially Antarctica)

  • Talked about the differences between the hemispheres (North/South and East/West) - which hemispheres is Antarctica in?

  • Tuesday

  • Talked about the climate/weather on Antarctica

  • Looked a little more at the geography of Antarctica and what is under all that ice

  • Talked about the oceans that surround Antarctica

  • Wednesday

  • Touched a little bit on the first explorers to Antarctica: Scott and Amundsen (we will be doing more study on them next week)

  • Found some sites online that show some of the research centers in Antarctica

  • Started our "internet field trip" to explore and learn more

  • Thursday

  • Talked about krill and why there is an abundance of it at the South Pole

  • Drew a picture of krill and journaled a little about krill

  • Looked at the Antarctic Peninsula and the climate changes throughout the year

  • Here are some of the websites that we used this week:

  • Cool Antarctica - this site has the most amazing pictures, facts, history. A very comprehensive site

  • Tramline - an internet field trip that has teaching resources and one we've had fun using. There are some dead links as you click through the links, so you just need to go on to the next link.

  • Antarctica! - A collection of material that was originally started as part of a university field-trip course, but has been updated recently. Also has some video and picture links.

  • Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears - an online K-5 magazine for teachers. They have a unit designed specifically for Mapping the Polar Regions, comparing the North and South Poles.

  • Ducksters - Map of Antarctica and other Antarctica facts

  • Popular Mechanics - a look at the Amundsen-Scott Research Center

  • And a few of the books that we used in our studies:

    Next week we will be studying more about the animals and plants in the Antarctic and also look more at the expeditions to the South Pole in the early 1900's.

    Labels: ,

    Sunday, December 7, 2008

    Tot School ::7::

    We have a few new toys floating around this house since Kaleb just celebrated his second birthday (and we made sure to have the grandparents get things that could be used in our tot time). I do have to say, that my little bug is blowing me away with the things that he has been learning and doing these last few weeks - things are really beginning to click together in that little brain of his. Speech is growing in leaps and bounds with new words every day.

    And hearing that sweet little voice and the pronunciations just melts my heart.

    Since the new toys are such a hit, we played with those a LOT - and Kaleb has already mastered one of his new puzzles (sigh). This is a puzzle by Melissa & Doug where the front of the vehicle needs to be matched to the back. Kaleb has been hysterical with it. He puts the puzzle pieces in the wrong spot, looks at me with a silly smile and says, "heeya?" (here?). Then giggles and puts it in the right spot.

    He's naming almost all the animals now and we used our farm puzzle to work on their names and their sounds as well as our Little People barn.

    Every vehicle is currently a "tractor" but it's still fun to play and make the noises together!

    Lately, he has also enjoyed sitting for long periods of time to color along with his older siblings. Some days this week it's been coloring an advent picture for devotions or just having fun scribbling and repeating the color names.

    When we decorated our tree this week, Kaleb suprised me when he would hand me an ornament, point up to the top of the tree and say "high!". It just never ceases to amaze me how quickly kids pick up things and absorb when you don't even realize it - and you would think with him as my fourth, it wouldn't be such a shocker!

    That's about it for this week. Be sure to head over to Carissa's at 1+1+1=1 to view some more Tot School posts.

    Labels: ,