Though we are still getting back into the groove of things post Christmas, this week was far better organized and definitely more successful than our South America week. My girls love dinosaurs, so on almost any given day they can be found playing in one of the two large boxes of dinosaurs we have in our house. Even Skylar really got into this unit since so many of the activities were hands on and involved playing with dinosaurs! I think it was really well placed in timing because we needed a fun unit to ease us back into school, though you could easily study dinosaurs at any point during the year. Though there are a lot of fun materials I have for the unit, the best activities were the science based ones, the dinosaur sight words game, and the dinosaur addition worksheets…and I’ll tell you why!
First of all, I found an amazing deal through Facebook one day for a dinosaur craft kit (BOGO), so I have had this craft kit for the longest time and was so excited to actually pull it out. It wasn’t as big of a hit as I would’ve hoped, but a lot was reusable and I could save for next year. I found a bunch of dinosaur egg hatching kits this year (one at the dollar store, one from a consignment sale, and one from our Sing, Spell, Read, and Write prize box. So, it was a blast to line up several glasses and watch dinosaurs hatch and grow from eggs and guess what types of dinosaurs they could be. Another big hit buy was a dinosaur card matching and lacing kit I bought from the Target dollar section (and I loved the dinosaur workbook I found at Target to practice copy work). We played with the cards in multiple ways during the week!
I can’t recommend enough the dinosaur sight word game that I used this week. Now that we are in the middle of the year, it was a great way to do a checkup and see where Aria is at in her sight word knowledge. My husband was super excited to see that she knew 63 of the sight words in the game (and I love being able to show him that we really are using our time wisely at home)! The math addition game was a great way to take a break from Math U See and do the same concepts we are learning but in a more fun way. Even if you have never done addition with your child before, I think it is a great first introduction to addition.
But by far the thing Aria loved most this unit was the science activities. Aria has recently decided her favorite thing in the world is to make up her own science experiments (you can see her working on some below). She could spend hours outside mixing different common kitchen ingredients and water to see what will happen. She is already asking for me to make a science club each week at home next year. I LOVE this, so I am all about adding more science when the unit permits. We had a blast making lava “explode” when talking about hypotheses for why dinosaurs went extinct. Aria loved digging dinosaurs out of hardened cornstarch in water like a paleontologist and making our own dinosaur bones out of salt dough to bury and dig out later. Dinosaur ice eggs are always a blast to melt, and coffee fossils are just far too easy not to try!
Needless to say, we had a busy but overall effective week. Perhaps she still doesn’t know as many dinosaur names as I would like, but we really got hands on this week and covering so much math, writing and reading in addition to our normal math and writing was really great for Aria and a really good gauge of where she is out right now. Plus, it was fun to see Skylar get really into the unit and it got me thinking some good ideas of what to do with her next year to make her first year super fun! Trust me, dinosaur unit doesn’t just have to be a silly, throw away unit- it is always one of my favorites each year and so worth a shot in your own home!
p.s. The tooth fairy made her first visit to our home this week, which was a huge surprise and completely unexpected! Can't believe Aria is already one tooth down (and she pulled it out herself)!
It is never easy getting back into the groove of things when you’ve taken a break from school, and even though we did our daily Elf on the Shelf activities all December long, we had so much fun that it felt like a massive break from school. Not just that, but we took a break during the month from doing much of our Math U See or Sing, Spell, Read, and Write curriculum, so needless to say, Aria wasn’t super excited about getting back on track. Choosing to do the continent of South America the week we got back from break was a big gamble, and I can’t say I would do it over again. I definitely enjoyed learning about South America along with Aria, as I don’t know as much about South America as I do other continents, but the whole week felt rushed and forced in a way other weeks haven’t been. Jungle was a success, but I definitely need to spend more time preparing and more than one week on South America in the future so that we actually have a chance of learning the information.
I planned to focus the week on learning just a few things: the continent and its shape, the names of several countries, some of the popular traditions and food, and the Amazon jungle. Our first day, we studied the shape of the continent and the countries, and we played several games that I felt were effective in learning a few names. We then spent the next two days learning about Brazil and the Amazon (since most of the Amazon is actually located in Brazil). We had a blast making a jungle on our kitchen table for co-op along with playing with jungle animals and jungle stamps, and making it with a friend was all the more fun! For Brazil we also made Brasiliero, which the kids loved and I thought was far too sweet and we also made a jungle jello kit. You can see that we had far too much sugar this week! We also did our activities from our Little Passports Brazil kit that arrived a few months ago (I collect and wait for the right unit to use them). We studied basic things like the flag and several of the traditions like carnival, but I just felt like we ran out of time on both Brazil and the jungle.
We also studied the country of Peru, and I really lucked out in finding a free, large packet of information and activities on Peru. I highly recommend you download it if you do this unit. I was so overwhelmed in trying to pick through South America activities that it saved me loads of time and energy! I think she actually learned a lot about Peru through the packet, so ill definitely do the activities we didn’t get to next year.
Doing this unit for the first time this year gave me lots of ideas for how to grow and do it better next year. It made me think about what direction I want to go in for next year, especially with Skylar starting Pre-K 3 in the fall. Do I want to divide the entire year up into different continents so that we can get a deeper study and start doing World History? Do I want to focus on America and American history for a year? Even though the unit wasn’t as effective as I would have wished, I’m glad to get ideas for next year and the push to start mentally organizing for K/1!
For New Year’s Eve this year, we decided to try Jessica’s New Year’s Eve countdown from a few years ago. I did hourly bags that started at 4 in the afternoon until we finished at 9 and rang in the New Year a little early so the kiddos could go to bed. Definitely worth the effort, though I recommend doing what I did and making the bags before Christmas, especially if you plan to travel and think you might come home exhausted (as we did). It was really wonderful to have it all set ahead of time so that my husband and I could really just focus on celebrating with the girls. I think that ordering food was a really smart idea, because we didn’t have a lot of extra time for me to cook in between activities, but you could easily do an “around the world” meal, especially if you had friends over to help divvy up the work! We will definitely make these bags a new tradition (laminating is key if you want to be able to reuse as much as possible the following year) and cant wait to see how the girls’ interviews and answers change for the questionnaires as they get older! Hopefully this fun start to the year really sets the tone for 2019!
Dinner: Chinese and we have fortune cookies for dessert to see what 2019 might hold for us
Countdown to “New Year’s” (9:00 in our house) bags. Clocks on each bag and Aria has to tell me the time before we open it (https://www.madewithhappy.com/new-years-countdown-clock/)
Rip off 2018/19 sign that we change at midnight
Netflix kids countdown of choice (do the countdown at 9:00)- there are about 10 different options if you just search “New Year’s Eve countdown”
Fun fizz countdown each hour (http://inspiredbyfamilymag.com/2012/12/27/new-years-eve-countdown-activity-for-kids/)
Make our own balloon drop with a sheet and tape on ceiling fan
Make kids dress in something white, something polka dots, and pick out colorful underwear (for cultural hour, see below)
4:00- Turn the Christmas tree into a wishing tree with our wishes for the coming year
AND New year’s treasure hunt (http://www.sohosonnet.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Picture-190.png) AND fun new year mad libs (https://lalymom.com/new-years-eve-ideas-kids-3-printable-activities/)
5:00- Paper plate hour- make a New Year’s eve paper plate countdown ball (http://jdaniel4smom.com/2014/12/new-years-eve-countdown-activity-kids.html)
AND Paper plate new year’s hat (http://www.busybeekidscrafts.com/Paper-Plate-Party-Hat.html)
6:00- Cultural bag (and dinner hour): https://takelessons.com/blog/new-years-eve-traditions-z03 and read out the different traditions, then do some
7:00: Sparklers and salt art fireworks (https://www.muminthemadhouse.com/salt-art-fireworks/)
New year’s eve sound maker (http://domesticcharm.blogspot.com/2011/12/new-years-eve-sound-makers.html)
8:00: Do a video interview of the girls and what they want to happen in 2019 and their favorite 2018 memories (here are some easy interview questions- http://www.sohosonnet.com/crafts-and-diy/diy-holiday/new-years-eve-countdown-activities-for-kids/)
AND New year’s time capsule (https://kellicrowe.typepad.com/kellicrowe/2010/12/kid-craft-time-capsule.html) and time capsule freebies (https://www.adabofgluewilldo.com/new-years-time-capsule/)
9:00: Last bag: fake champagne and plastic glasses to cheers the new year. Eat sparkling jello jigglers, pull the balloons down, and use Netflix countdown to finish out the night.
Jessica and Ana
Our Homeschooling Mission Statement: We will strive to be patient, godly examples to our children, integrating biblical principles and morality into every subject. Learning should be fun. We will foster an attitude of lifelong curiosity and play while providing the best possible education we can through books, art, technology, food, tactile activities, and cultural experiences. Learning will not be dictated by hours on a clock but will be a way of life for our families.