Monday, April 30, 2012

The Heaven's Tell God's Glory

Here we are wrapping up the third week of Easter! Can you believe it?! It seems like yesterday we were plowing through Lent and too much illness. Now, we are all healthy - for the most part - and the weather is looking more spring-like. In true Ohio fashion, we had snow showers Saturday morning, today it was a little too warm (in pants) at 80ish, and tonight it looks like we may be in for a storm or two. Fun! I foresee little stragglers cozying up in bed with me tonight.

Usually our garden party takes place on Sunday, but we had a busy weekend on the road. And for good reason. See the little cutie below? My nephew was baptized into the Church yesterday. Praise God!

We had a simple dinner tonight with this week's symbols. The kids loved it, and the food disappeared very quickly! I linked up over at Catholic Cuisine - be sure to check out some other great spreads over there!

The Heaven's Tell God's Glory
Symbols to use: wind, rain, hail, lightening, rainbow, cloud, sun

The Decor
Quite simple. We laid out our casual tablecloth and added some blue "sky" paper napkins. I had the very hungry kids draw lightening on the napkins for our decoration while they waited.

The Drink
Simplicity at its best - and perfect after a hot afternoon playing! Ice cold rain water with hail ice cubes.

The Meal
A carrot and hummus sun as an appetizer.

Windy hair pasta (tossed with some steamed broccoli, olive oil, and dried herbs). Both my husband and Skipper rolled their eyes on this one, but hey, they do not know about long hair and wind!

The Dessert

A fruit rainbow made of strawberries, tangerines, pineapple, kiwi, blueberries served with clouds of whipped cream. Soyatoo makes a whip cream from rice milk that is delicious, but since it is just me that should be dairy-free I opted out of it completely (I say should because I did indulge in a mint chocolate chip flurry this past weekend that I hadn't had for years and years... and well, now, I am paying the price with poor, little Miss Z fussing and fussing. I guess she does not like dairy herself!)

"The heavens declare the glory of God" ~ Psalm 19:2

Friday, April 27, 2012

Patriotic Alphabet Parade: e"X"ploration

This week's co-op was a fun one. The kids were slightly crazy (the usual kind of crazy though), and we were lucky to get outside a bit at the end despite a blustery day.

First the kids gathered round for the weekly line-up of the ABC song, the book "My X,Y,Z Sound Box" by Jane Belk Moncure, and a grab bag of the letter X items (actually quite a challenge!). Some ideas: xylophone, x-ray, or words that have "x" in it like box and fox.

Next up came the practice letter writing, which had a coloring page of a man on the moon - for space eXploration. You can find my pre-k worksheet here (traceable letters) and my kindergarten here (copy).

After, the kids created their very own treasure map for the letter X collage sheet. After all, "X" marks the spot. It was interesting to see what the kids put in their pictures. Critter wanted to copy my example. He did it upside down, but he started his path at a house, around a tree, by the flowers, and on to the x. Later he told me this was his favorite part of class.

Our last to-do was to create our very own exploration telescopes which we then used on an outdoor nature scavenger hunt. We decided not to team off, but kept everyone as a group. I was able to snag a shot of one of the girls using her scope to check something out (I was inside for most of the hunt with a fussy Miss Z!). In the end, the kids found everything on the list.

At home, Critter and I added on to his scrapbook by adding in some explorers from history. The Lewis and Clark expedition:

And, I found this fun game for the Oregon Trail. Critter wanted me to play over and over. Luckily they were short enough games that I could do so!

Next week comes the letter Y and it promises to be as much fun, if not more!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Zooming with Space Rocks

Today we wrapped up our lesson on space rocks from Exploring Creation with Astronomy by Jeannie Fulbright. After spending time reading all about space rocks and having the kids work on their lapbook/notebook, we were ready for some hands-on activities!

I must say, I initially had no idea what to do. The book's suggestion was to create a scale model of the solar system. That had nothing to do with space rocks (unless you added the asteroid belt to your model), and besides, we had already created our own version in sidewalk chalk during our first lesson of astronomy. After digging a little deeper, I was able to find some fun ideas.

A Meteorite Board Game - Originally I wanted to recreate this outside with some sidewalk chalk (for the giant game effect) but weather kept us indoors, and so I recreated it with scraps of paper with the numbers correlating to the board game I printed out on paper. 

To play, the boys first created their meteoroid out of a large piece of tinfoil.

Then I set up the table with the board game. Each colored paper represents a zone: meteoroid zone (in outer space), meteor zone (in Earth's atmosphere), and a meteorite zone (the Earth's surface). The goal was to take your meteoroid from outer space and land it on Antarctica, where it will be discovered and studied, answering questions along the way.

The boys naturally played some table "soccer" after the game.

Then we headed to the computer to read more about comets and to make our own virtual comets. The boys really enjoyed this and it was a nice way for the kids (and me!) to understand the parts of a comet and what they consist of. Plus, anything on the computer is just plain cool to do with my kids. The site link is here, but for the actual game, click on the title "comets."

After, we took our previous tinfoil meteoroids and used them in an art activity. At first, I was going to do the Life Cycle of a Space Rock, but after the comet fun, we turned ours into comets. We added ice (cotton balls) to our rock nuclei, and then added a coma and tails (gas/ion and dust tails). I love how each had such individual projects. All we used was a large sheet of black construction paper, tinfoil, cotton balls, glue, glitter, and colored sugar leftover from cookie making a long while ago.

Miss Bear's - I put down the glue and she added the glitter and sugar.

Critter's - he wanted lots of tails to his comet. He named it after himself and gave it an orbit of 50 years.

Skipper's - he gave his three tails, named it after himself and gave it an orbit of just one year.

I did my own to give them an idea of what to do.
The final activity we have to wait for, and that is watching the Perseid meteor showers in August. We are already planning a campout at Grandma and Grandpa's (to avoid our city lights here). It should be a blast and I sure pray for a clear night!!!

Other ideas I found that we did not do but looked interesting:
  • Have a group of Earth rocks mixed in with a meteorite or two (you can purchase some here). Let the kids explore the rocks to determine which are the meteorites.
  • Build your own comet using dry ice and a few other common ingredients. I have not used dry ice before and am a little nervous, but I will most definitely be using it to wrap up astronomy to make some alien bubbles.
Happy star gazing! Next up... (after awhile anyway)... is Jupiter, the gas giant!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Welcome to the Lord's Table

Here it is, week two of the Garden of the Good Shepherd. This week's theme is all about the Lord welcoming us to His table. Can you imagine? What would it look like? What meal would we share? Would it even matter?

We ended up doubling up some days to do the readings because we had some odd moments of illness (yes, again...) and a fussy baby again. Yesterday we spent on the road to an old friend's wedding and enjoyed a hotel night - with a pool! This "meal" was perfect as a light dinner after the junkiness of a road trip. I also think this would make a perfect Sunday morning breakfast/brunch by moving a few foods around. For instance, topping a pancake with some fruit and honey and a dollop of whip cream (or a glass of milk).

Welcome to the Lord's Table
Symbols to use: table, chairs, milk, honey, bread, fruit, wine

The Decor

The boys are so not cut out for decorating but after some prompting, they helped put on a tablecloth, some candles, and our Garden of the Good Shepherd book.

The Drink
We had some sparkling apple cider I found post-Easter at the store on clearance. It was very tasty! The kids loved using our wine glasses, though they need some lessons on how to hold it!

My husband says this looks like our son had too much "wine" but really Skipper would not open his eyes for a picture.

The Meal

For the bread, there were some rolls leftover from last week, when I made the shepherd's staffs. Honey to top the roll and fruit on the side.

The Dessert

Ice-cream, of course for the milk! And... I completely forgot to snag a picture. The kids enjoyed it just the same!

Finally, once it's up and running, I will link my party up with others over at Catholic Cuisine! Until then, see you at the next party!

"I will send an angel before you, to a land flowing with milk and honey." ~ Exodus 33:2-3

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mission to Mars

We  read about Mars awhile ago (from the book Exploring Creation with Astronomy by Jeannie Fulbright), but the hands-on took longer to get to, with being sick, Easter, and really, not wanting to (on my part). But, we made it through and are now about to start our hands-on with space rocks so that will come shortly. The boys seemed to enjoy Mars. They think it is neat that it looks red (we have done a little sky viewing of course!), and they were mesmerized when we read and talked about moving to Mars. I heard many stories about what they would or would not take, what their house would like, and so on. Mars sure is great for the imagination, isn't it? 

Our activities, in no particular order on the fun scale:

Another Volcano

If you have done the whole baking soda/vinegar trick with kids (in volcano form or not), you know this never gets old. Again, that was proved with this hands-on activity. First, the kids created the solar system's largest volcano, Olympus Mons, which is found on the planet Mars. After it dried sufficiently, we added the secret ingredients and off they went with the experiment!

**Warning!** If you decide to do this activity, plan it for a nice day outside! Really, it was not too bad, but I would have preferred the grass and a hose. Lay a layer of nice fluffy flour on a jelly roll (I used cornstarch) and top it with cocoa powder to give it that Marsy look, and to "see" how the meteorites impact the surface. Use dried beans for the meteorites, warm up your arm, and away you go! The kids loved this - the splattering, the dustiness, the messiness, the throwing. You cannot go wrong with this one!

The kids liked this, but for me, it was a flop. Mostly because I had to do 99% of the work. It's not that I am lazy - I want the kids to get their hands-on and hearts in our projects. This did not do it for me. If you do decide to do it, make sure you have a long string to race on. As always, keep balloons away from little ones (they always make me nervous!).

One last activity I had planned to do, but ended up dropping so we could move on, dealt with exploring Mars by building your own Pathfinder and simulating its landing on Mars. The supplies are pretty simple, and I am sure the kids would have loved it, but somehow gathering momentum for this one did not happen. If we had done it? My guess? Our eggs would have broken with the first drop, but maybe not...

Coming soon... Space Rocks!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

U.S. State Study: Nevada & Arizona

While Critter learned all about the letter W, Skipper was with other first and second graders for his state study class. He always comes home beaming, even if I never figure out what goes on, except for the papers he brings home. When asked his favorite part, he responds, "All of it!"


Postcard, state flag, state coin, state flower, map.

State bird, Grand Canyon, Arizona wildlife puzzle.


Room for a postcard, state flag, state coin, Hoover Dam, state map.

State bird, state flower, and a fun craft art of a cactus. I wasn't sure which state he did this for in class, but I figured it could go with either. He had pre-cut shapes to work with, tissue paper for the flowers, and bits of broken toothpicks for the spines. Skipper did say he liked doing this.

Again, I'm guessing this was done for Nevada so the cactus picture was probably for Arizona. Sparkly, metallic beads threaded on a silver pipe cleaner to make a bracelet. Skipper came out of class determined to give that to Miss Bear before he would even talk to me. She proudly wore it for him.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Patriotic Alphabet Parade: "W"ildlife

I still need to catch up on the rest of Critter's scrapbook, but we did finish this week's letter: W is for Wildlife (and the White House and the Wright Brothers).

After gathering together with all the classes for our our co-op for prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance, the pre-k and k's headed off to begin their W adventure. We started with My W Sound Box by Jane Belk Moncure. Usually that is followed by a grab bag of letter items, but I completely skipped over that! Some ideas are a whale, watch, wood, world, worm, wand, wheel and washcloth.

The kids then whisked themselves to the table for some coloring and handwriting practice, followed by a letter collage (in this case, drawing wriggly worms). By the way, I do mean whisked. They had the added incentive of playing on the playground if they finished their work well and on time! While they worked, they listened to some books - one about the Wright brothers and the other was Madeline at the White House.

You can access my handwriting pages: pre-k (tracing) and k (no tracing).

Here are the collage sheets.

Now for the craft! Handprint polar bear pictures (yes, some live in Alaska). We helped trace a hand, and then the child filled in the snow with white paint. Details were added at home once the paint dried. The kids really liked this!

Finally, the kids grabbed a pre-made paper airplane and decorated it with stickers. Originally I was going to have them make their own until my husband showed me the "real" - and much more complicated way of making them. It worked out perfectly. Once done, we had races to see who could fly the farthest. I think they would have liked to keep racing, but the lure of going outside prevailed.

We grabbed our W snack (watermelon of course), and went to play. A very excellent day!

At home Critter and I made up another scrapbook page full of The Wright Brothers (the same pictures I used for Skipper's when he did North Carolina).

Critter also "wrote" a story about a whale that he made out of a small blob on his paper. It was too cute!

We are almost through our alphabet! Next week we look forward to X is for eXploration!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Good Shepherd's Pasture

Last year, to help celebrate the 50 days of Easter, I had bought the sticker activity, Garden of the Good Shepherd, and had really wanted to do the parties that Jessica and Charlotte began a couple of years ago. But, we ended up going on a 3-week road trip the day after Easter, and that was pretty much it. So this year we are doing it! After all, the kids have to eat, right?!

The activity itself is simple enough in our household. Each day we read the Bible passage, find the sticker and have a quick talk about it, and how the symbol shows us a part of who Jesus is to us. The poster and stickers are not overly cute so I see this lasting awhile (assuming the stickers do!) and the kids love putting the stickers on. Today we had our first "party" based on the first week's theme of The Good Shepherd's Pasture. With a few simple items we turned a regular meal into a symbolic one. In our house, Sundays are always "Sweet Sundays" - a day that I make a special treat and the day we have our dessert. But this little "party" helped make the second Sunday of Easter even more special and the kids sure had fun figuring out what each item was from the sticker book.

For each party, I planned out the decor (simple, simple!) as well as a drink, a dessert, and the meal. All are based on the stickers and theme of the previous week - and all had to be relatively easy! Plus, everything is gluten and egg-free (and some dairy free). Here's what we had for this first week:

The Good Shepherd's Pasture
Symbols to use: shepherd, shepherd's crook, sheepfold, gate, ewe and ram, lamb, wolf

The Decor
**a shepherd and sheep from our Nativity set**

The Drink

The Meal

(using chicken broth for my mashed potatoes, and substituting gluten-free flour for the thickening agent)

**sheep popcorn in the sheepfold bowl**

**pretzel gates held together with pb**

**cottage cheese ewe and ram with cheese body pieces**

The Dessert
**wolf paw brownie**

I used this brownie recipe (minus the nuts and added the frosting and chocolate chips).

I linked up my party with many others over at Catholic Cuisine so go check out their parties too!

"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep." ~ John 10:11