Thursday, October 23, 2014

Scavenger Hunt with Elizabeth Enright

My daughter created her own clue scavenger hunt.

Elizabeth Enright's series of books is one of my favorites for pulling copywork. She was an author of children's books who painted pictures with her descriptive writing. Here are a few quotes from the Melendy Series of books.
He exerts a magnetic action which attracts soot, dust, egg stain, chalk marks, strawberry jam, and ink.

For breakfast today I was forced by circumstance to consume four eggs: two fried, two boiled.

The living room was full of things: tables, and lots of chairs, all with crocheted antimacassars; pictures and pennants and fans on the wall; a big meloeon at one end of the room with a very old sheet music on it; and in the wide doorway there were portieres all made of beads which rattled like rain on a tin roof when Mrs. Wheelwright brushed against them.

The Melendy series of four books follows a family of four children through life's adventures. We have enjoyed these books greatly and I can't recommend them loud enough.

The Saturdays (Melendy Quartet)
The Four-Story Mistake (Melendy Quartet)
Then There Were Five (Melendy Quartet)
Spiderweb for Two: A Melendy Maze (Melendy Quartet)

The main theme of the last book is a scavenger hunt. Two of the children decoded clues to figure out where the next clue was hidden. While reading this book my seven year old decided to create a scavenger hunt for her sister.

 On small slips of yellow paper she wrote clues to lead to the next clues and then hid them in the appropriate places. The above photos shows one of her clues hidden on the door handle.

Yeah! She decided to create this activity on her own. Not only did it involve some creativity and logical thinking, but it also involved lots of writing. It's such a great idea I wish I could claim it, but the honor goes to my 7 year old daughter.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fleece Animal Hats

We sewed animal hats from fleece fabric.

Sewing is a good skill to have but finding appropriate and interesting projects can be a challenge. These hats were simple enough for the kids to sew with only a little assistance, and great for learning since many steps were involved.

The Simplicity Misses and Childs Hats Sewing Pattern 1953, Size A (S - L / S - L) contains directions for creating five different animal hats. (frog, cat, monkey, owl and panda).

 First the patterns were cut. Next they were pinned to fleece and the fleece was cut.

Once all the pieces were available, the face was constructed and the hat was sewn into a circle. Pom-poms, braids, or tassels were created to hang from the hat.

The inner lining and outer hat were sewn together with the ears and tassels in place and then turned right-side out.

The hats were tested for size. The large version of the pattern was in fact very large. A small or medium would fit most people and a small is best for a child.

For more easy ideas to get kids started sewing, please see our Arts and Crafts Page.

* I did not receive any compensation for this recommendation. I'm just a homeschooling mom who has found many products that I like. If you're interested in the products I recommend on this blog I want to make it easy for you to find them. 
** I am an Amazon associate and receive a small portion of the sales on orders made after clicking in from this site, which I promptly spend on homeschooling books and supplies for my children.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Distance Units - Measuring Penny

Day 3: Distance Units
We learned the differences between different length measuring units.

Up until this point everything we measured was measured in inches. But the kids are well aware of the existence of other units. First they each created a list of other units used for measuring distance.
Next we read Measuring Penny. Measuring Penny is a picture book about a child completing a measuring homework assignment. While performing the assignment, standard and non-standard units are used to measure dog tails, how high dogs can jump, how much dogs weigh and more.

After the story the kids each spent a few more minutes writing down units used to measure distance. As they read their lists to me, I wrote them down in categories of English Units, Metric Units, and Non-Standard Units.

In the English system there are 1760 yards per mile, three feet per yard, and twelve inches per foot. My 12 year old daughter knows that there are 5280 feet per mile, but I always have to look that one up. Conversely, in the metric system, there are 1000 meters per kilometer, 100 centimeters per meter and 10 millimeters per centimeter. After explaining this to the kids I asked them a few math questions using the numbers. They quickly decided they prefer the metric system.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Erosion - Science Fair Project

Earth Science Unit Study
Week 33:  What kind of ground erodes the fastest?

Several types of soil were tested by pouring water on equal amounts of soil to determine which erodes the fastest. The following is my 10 year old son's science fair project.

One type of erosion is when ground gets broken off by a river or a stream. This is sometimes bad because it can change the rivers course by clogging it up. Sometimes erosion happens right under houses. If that happens you should pack up your belongings and leave. If you don’t have time, pack up your valuables and leave. Erosion is bad for farmers because it washes away their lose ground. Erosion happens fast or slow on different kinds of ground.

My hypothesis is sand will erode fastest because it is only little rocks. Mud and leaves will erode the least because the leaves will slow it down.

sand, mud and leaves, compost, shovel, watering can with water, scale

First I got a scale, then I got one cup of compost, sand, mud and leaves. I weight the compost, sand and mud. Then I got a watering can. After that I got a shovel for a hill. I poured water five seconds on each kind of soil then I waited for the soil to dry. After it dried I weighed it to see how much eroded away.


It turned out I was partially right. Sand eroded the most. Sand lost one hundred eighty grams. Mud and leaves lost seventy grams. Compost lost sixty two grams. I was surprised that mud and leaves eroded the second most. I thought mud and leaves would erode least. The little sticks in the compost must have slowed the erosion down more than the leaves.

The results could be different if the amount of erosion was calculated based on volume instead of weight. Other ground coverings may erode more or less than the tested materials. Maybe next time I could test clay, rock, smaller rocks, wood chips, dirt and grass, and plastic like the type at Donnelly Park.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Brunelleschi's Dome - Weight Distribution Activity for Kids

Renaissance History Unit - Week 3: We did a weight distribution, engineering activity in conjunction with a study on Brunelleschi's Dome.

Brunelleschi was a Renaissance artist and engineer from Florence, Italy. Although he lost the competition to design doors of bronze for the Florence Baptistery, he went on to design a fantastic dome.

Construction of the Santa Maria del Fiore was nearly complete, but there was no plan in place for the construction of the dome. Brunelleschi won the contract and his design from 1420 still rests atop the Cathedral. 

This video from the Khan Academy explains the double dome construction and the herringbone design on the outer shell.

Weight Distribution Project
Heavy Books or Weights

The challenge was to support as much weight as possible using four egg shells taped around the middle and broken in half.

The kids were given the eggs and free to arrange them how they thought would best support weight.

The kids discussed the foot print of their eggs.

The designs were tested by placing a clipboard atop the egg shells and putting weights on top until the shells cracked. 

In the most successful layouts the eggs were in a square pattern. This was a great project to learn about weight distribution. I'm encouraging my kids to repeat it to see how much additional weight can be supported using six egg shell domes with different layouts. In addition, since we have a seemingly endless supply of toilet paper rolls I'm encouraging them as a substitute for egg shells.

Check out these great blog hops. They are filled with activity ideas for kids.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

History After Story of the World

Many of us have enjoyed A Child's History of the World, or the Story of the World series of books to introduce children to world history, but once the series has been read, what's next?

These books lay the foundations for further in-depth history study. Mentally, world history timelines begin to form and major events become connected with geographical locations. The next logical step in a history study is to cover a geographical region's history in more detail. By systematically focusing on new regions and time periods, more of the timeline which began to form with the living history books gets filled in. But, there are so many countries and time periods to study that selecting a few can seem overwhelming. America, India, Australia, China, Greece and Rome, Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt, South America, Mexico, South Africa and so many more places have stories of their own. Basic knowledge gained by reading the stories can help in selecting a region. Personal interest and family history can focus studies.

The history stories of many regions begin with the people learning to farm and forming communities. The communities grow and eventually rulers such as Kings emerge. There are times of war with neighboring lands, conquering, periods of peace, civil wars, and golden ages. Further, there are periods when outsiders mix with natives and periods when great changes occur. There are many cycles which repeat themselves in different cultures and time periods. By selecting any one geographical region to study and following the study with new regions, empires and time periods, these cycles become evident. Knowledge of multiple historical time periods increases the predictions of how actions and events of our politicians will influence future outcomes.

Fortunately, the format of learning history through stories is not new. Though the Story of the World is very popular today, there are many other history story books which cover specific regions and/or time periods. Here is a list of books which can serve as history spines for covering one geographical region or time period. They are all written in a story format. I have read several of the books on this list, but not all of them. Many are on our future history read list.

Author H.E. Marshall
Germany - The History of Germany
United Kingdom - Our Island Story
United Kingdom - Through Great Britain and Ireland with Cromwell
England - Our Empire Story
Scotland - Scotland's Story
Europe - The Story of Europe
America - This Country of Ours
France - The Story of Napoleon

Author Mary MacGregor
The Netherlands
Stories of the Vikings
The Story of France
The Story of Rome
The Story of Greece

Author Eva March Tappan
Middle Ages - European Hero Stories
Middle Ages - Heros of the Middle Ages
Greece, Rome and Persia - Old World Hero Stories
Greece - The Story of the Greek People
Middle Ages - When Knights were Bold

Author M.B. Synge
Europe, Reformation - The Awakening of Europe
Explorers from Babylon to the South Pole - Book of Discovery
From Romans to Spanish Conquest - Discovery of New Worlds
Europe - Middle Ages - Brave Men and Brave Deeds
England - Great Englishmen 
England - Great Englishwomen
England - Growth of the British Empire
Mediterranean Sea (Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, etc) - On the Shores of the Great Sea
European Colonization - The Struggle for Sea Power
England - The Reign of Queen Victoria
England - The Tutors and the Stuarts

Author Robert VanBergen
The Story of China
The Story of Japan
The Story of Russia

What have you done for history studies after Story of the World or A Child's History of the World? Have you read similar books not on this list? If you have recommendations for history story books especially those on Egypt, Australia, India, Aztecs, Incas, Mayans, South Africa, or Africa. Please leave me a comment.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Home Spun Knitted Hats

These home spun knitted hats were created from dyed merino wool near a worsted weight and knitted on size 10.5 needles.

Finding knitting projects simple enough for kids and entertaining enough to motivate them can be a challenge. This simple hat fits the bill. Although I spun the wool for the hat, purchased yarn would work just as well.

Spinning wool into yarn and knitting are two of my favorite hobbies. I learned to spin when living in Colorado after visiting a history event which had a spinning demonstration. It just so happened a lady who lived a few miles away was willing to teach my daughter who was five years old at the time.

We spent three 30 minute sessions with her learning to spin on a hand-held spindle, and then bought ourselves a wheel. It is a very rewarding and creative hobby.

Just as knitters have a natural tendency to knit loosely or pull the stitches very tightly, spinners have a tendency to spin thick yarn, or thin yarn. The yarn I make tends to be close to a worsted weight yarn and I knit loosely.

The yarn for these hats was created by spinning balls of solid colors (lavender, aqua, raspberry, gold and pink - magenta, purple, lavender and aqua) and then spinning the balls together into plied yarn which contained two strands of different colors.

The hat pattern:Cast on 60 stitches and join into the round
k1, p1 for 1 inch
knit 6.5 inches then decrease as follows
k8, k2tog - 54 stitches
k7, k2tog - 48 stitches
k6, k2tog - 42 stitches
k5, k2tog - 36 stitches
k4, k2tog - 30 stitches
k3, k2tog - 24 stitches
k2, k2tog - 18 stitches
k1, k2tog - 12 stitches
k2tog - 6 stitches
string the yarn through remaining loops and tie off hat

Hat 1:
Topper Loops:

To create the loops on top of the hat five 4" snakes were created. By casting on four stitches and pushing the stitches to the opposite end of the double pointed needle and knitting, instead of knitting back and forth, a small circular tube was created. Each of the tubes were sewn to the top of the hat in a loose pretzel shape securing both ends to the inside of the hat by tying the lead and cast-off yarn pieces together.

Hat 2:
Flower Pattern:
Cast on 6 stitches
*cast off 4 stitches, knit 2
*knit 2, cast on 4 stitches
Repeat two starred rows 15 times
sew the flower into a circle

Flower center
Cast on 3 stitches
knit 3 two rows
knit 3 with tail two rows
cast off and sew into a semi-sphere

Next, the flower was sewn onto the hat and center of the flower was added on top of the flower.

To find more simple knitting projects for kids and beginners, please see our Arts and Crafts page.

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