December 13 – 24, 2010
I am just now getting a chance to sit down and write about our history and science days of last week. We officially started our Unit Study of Little House on the Prairie. On our official “history” day we will be reading from the book, discussing, doing activities to supplement and putting together our lapbook. For our “science” day we will be studying the forest as a compliment to this book and making our own field guides.
I have to admit, I was a bit hesitant on how they would take the Little House study. I am super passionate about these books and this time period so, of course, I was excited. But sometimes history sends Gabe straight into eyes-glaze-over mode. I thought Lily would like it, as most girls who read this book do in the elementary years. I wasn’t so sure if Gabe would enjoy the book or not. To my surprise, they both loved it. Gabe even did extra reading and volunteered (hear that cyber world….volunteered!!!) a narration on his reading to put into his lapbook. Even the two smaller ones, Luc and Lilah, wouln’t hear of being left out and made me print off lapbook pages for them to do as well. Our two hour schooling window expanded to a 5 hour window (with a break for lunch of course!) and I was amazed at the enthusiasm.
- Chapters 1-4 of Little House in the Big Woods (ending with the chapter appropriately titled “Christmas” yesterday!)
- Winter Days in the Big Woods (a My First Little House)
- Gabe read and narrated from Look Inside a Log Cabin by Mari Schuh
- All read from If You Were a Pioneer on the Prairie (which delightfully grossed the children out – especially outhouses and bed bugs!)
Activities ~ Making our own butter. At first everyone one was so excited and fighting over who got to shake the cream. By the end of 20 minutes they were all trying to shove it off on each other and no one wanted to finish. We got it to the butter just starting to seperate out from the buttermilk stage before they gave up all together and were no longer interested. Gabe said he sure was glad we could just buy butter from the store now!
Lapbooking ~ picked and colored cover pages and put together lapbook folders, hotglued popscicle sticks onto a log cabin (Luc and Lilah’s fave activity), made food preservation mini books, made a mini smokehouse replica (Gabe and Lil’s fave since it involved Liquid Smoke), wrote about our Christmas versus the Ingall’s, wrote about a favorite gift and used as copywork/penmanship, made mini books about making bullets and gun safety, made a mini book on the Ingall’s weekly chores
These past two weeks we also concentrated on reading. That pretty homeschool picture we all have in our head of snuggling on the couch and reading great books rarely happens around here. Mainly because mommy is always busy and interrupted with the needs of littler ones and we do a lot of our reading separately by subject. But since we have forgone stories at bedtime to replace with our Advent activities, I really didn’t want the Christmas season to go by without reading some of the classics! Plus, we needed to return some library books that were too good to not let the kids get a chance to hear read aloud! So our whole day of language arts this week just focused on reading great children’s literature. I let each of the kids pick a book and I took turns reading their selections (which they loved!!!) and then I would pick a selection and read. This took time, but it was nice time that we all desperately needed. And it fostered some great discussions. We talked about homophones (hair and hare), about hibernation and dens (science), about the real meaning of discipline and it’s oppositte meaning (dictionary skills and bible character training), and about what would truly satisfy you and make you happy on Christmas morning (Let’s just say my kids have a long ways to go! Apparently a tin cup and one peppermint stick or a new pair of mittens would not make them as excited as the Ingall’s girls. Who knew?)
Literature & Poetry Reading ~
- Bear Snores On by Wilson & Chapman (one of our winter faves…so lyrical and fun to read!)
- Forest Child by Marni McGee
- The Little Engine That Could and the Snowy, Blowy Christmas by Watty Piper
- Santa Comes to Little House by Laura Ingalls Wilder, illustrated by Rnee Graef (beautiful pictures and the book that inspired the conversation of materialism and happiness ~ also counted towards our history unit study)
- Christmas in the Big Woods (a My First Little House book)
- The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Krats
- Antler, Bear, Canoe: A Northwoods Alphabet Year by Betsy Bowen
- Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost
- A Charlie Brown Christmas (Hallmark interactive story – Lilah’s favorite!)
Spelling ~ Both Gabe and Lily worked on the Scripps spelling bee list for the upcoming spelling bee. They practiced alone, with each other and with mom. They picked out the words they needed to work on independently and worked on them at SpellingCity.com Lily and I talked about memorization tricks and visual learning (picturing letters as colors).
Phonics ~ Lily did several pages in her phonics workbooks concentrating on long vowel rules.
Grammar & Mechanics ~ Gabe and Lily both did a fun worksheet on alphabetizing Christmas words (Gabe’s was more intense). Lily did a Christmas worksheet on forming compound words.
Gabe ~ Math U See – all of chapter 9 and test (finding the area of triangles), all of chapter 10 and test (division by 4’s)
We did a lot of science reading too. Our favorites are Jim Arnosky’s books. I will be investing money in these this upcoming spring. Though Lily is pretty convinced that she doesn’t want to go back into the woods after all the precautionary talk we did, I assured her it’s a lovely place to explore but she is now hyper-worried about disease and poisonous plants!
- Creatures in the Woods (National Geographic book)
- Walking in Wild Places by Jim Arnosky
- Wild Tracks by Jim Arnosky (By far the most looked at book the past couple of weeks. We will be adding to our home library this spring. Includes fold out pages that have life-size tracks pictured. That impressed us all!)
- Whose Tracks Are These? (a fun book where you were given clues and then had to guess the animal who made the tracks – kids loved it)
Discussed: Ticks, Lyme disease, poisonous plants, bee stings, water pollution, reindeer (what kind of real deer they are), protective forest clothing and why.
Activities: All went out to the forest and prairie area and had a great time looking for animal scats and tracks before it snowed. The kids had great fun with this. We think we may even have found mountain lion tracks! And Luc was beyond thrilled to discover real deer poop! I also had kids look through several different types of field guides, plants and animals, to see real-life examples of how they are put together. They’ve looked at these a million times before (by far the most used books in the house) but were now looking with fresh eyes. Do they want to use real photos or sketch? If real, use a camera or pull off internet? If sketch, pencil or paint or colored pencil? What information to include? Bound or spiraled? Laminated or paper? I told them we will discuss their ideas after Christmas and each one would be unique to what that person wanted to do.
Gabe ~ made an illustration of a forest biome including the canopy, understory, brush, herb, and floor layers to include in his field guide; read his new National Geographic magazine
Lily ~ tried her hand at sketching a deer and also sketched some tracks (deer and mountain lion) to include in her field guide; read her new National Geographic magazine
Faith & Advent
- Read The Nativity by
- Read nightly out of The Jesse Tree by
- Made ornaments for our Jesse Tree.
- Practiced singing carols and learning words (The Cherry Tree Carol, The First Noel, and O Come Emmanuel)