Thursday, September 18, 2014

Polish Pottery Poetry Tea Time - Free Verse Poetry

We wrote free verse poetry.

Last April Powol Packets hosted a poetry contest for kids. Throughout the month participating bloggers wrote articles about types of poems and literary elements in poetry. Although the contest is finished, the excellent poetry resources created are great inspiration for poetry tea time.

Not All Poems Rhyme - This article gives simple instructions and explains free verse poetry.

 Step 1 - Write about something that inspires you.

We completed this lesson after just returning from a trip to Boleslawiec, Poland, a town famous for its pottery.

We traveled by tour bus, but got a great tip on a hotel - The Blue Beetroot - should we ever decide to return on our own and stay the night.

I usually write along side the kids and then we all share what we've written. Here's my free verse poem.

Pottery Blue
Pottery Blue
Cups, platters and plates
Stacked to the ceiling
   One - Perfectly Made
   Five - Decoration Only
Customers crowding the shops

Geometric patterns
Perfected line art practiced for hand-writing prep
L's, S's and E's, diamonds and swirls

Peacock tail feather spots
A white circle with dot
A red dot, inside a green ring, inside a white circle, surrounded by blue

Five flower petals
Eight petals and leaves
All stamped in a regular ring around the middle
Hand-made in Poland - Boleslawiec

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Perspective Drawings from a Bird's Eye View

My daughter created bird's eye view perspective drawings.

Art is a subject that is actually very related to math. Mechanical drawing, a technique used to create engineering drawings in order to produce parts combines both skills. Looking at great works of art there are obviously mathematical relationships which govern which way lines must be drawn to fade away into the background. With geometric objects these rules are distinct and easily explained. Mastering the rules with simple objects like buildings leads to applying the same rules to irregular objects such as hills and trees. 

This four minute video explains the basics of bird's eye view perspective.

Unfortunately the camera shakes horribly in the video below, but we liked the way the buildings were drawn in many different shapes. It made for an interesting finished drawing.

After watching the above videos, my 12 year old daughter was able to build on her perspective drawing skills and create a bird's eye city view.

Here are links to our previous perspective drawing projects.

First Introduction to One-Point Perspective
Cityscape - One Point Perspective
Drawing People in Perspective
Creating Perspective Drawings from Photos

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Place Value Activities for Kids

We did two hands-on activities to gain a better understanding of place value.

While beginning the study of decimals, my son was asked to do some rounding. This proved very difficult for him mainly because he had difficulty understanding the meaning of place value on the right-hand side of the decimal point. So we took a step back from rounding and worked on place-value instead.

First I cut 1 cm x 1 cm units from a sheet of paper. I gave them to my son and asked him to write down how many there were. - No problem - 

So I took a fresh 1 cm x 1 cm unit, drew 10 lines and cut of a tenth and asked him to write down how much that one was. He was baffled.

So we got out some money. Money is a great starting point for the decimal system because pennies, dimes, dollars and ten dollar bills are pure examples of the place values.

He was given 1 dollar, 1 dime and 1 penny and asked to write the value. Here's what he wrote.

After reading this it became obvious that he was a bit confused.

After giving him some time to think, he wrote the above which showed his confusion.

Due to his confusion, he was asked to write how many pennies were in each piece of money.

 Then it was back to dollars.

After some thinking it happened. He was able to write the amounts in dollars.

So we went back to the original paper units. After he wrote down .1 for the one-tenth unit, a tenth was cut off from the tenth. The one-hundredth was very hard to see, but the pattern was becoming obvious.

Teaching math to a child who has a strong need to understand application and learns by figuring things out is extremely difficult. If you have suggestions for other place value activities or math activities which encourage kids to figure it out for themselves, please leave me a comment. I would love to hear from you.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Strata and Shield Volcanoes - Viscosity Activity for Kids

Earth Science Unit Study

Week 28: We tested several liquids to determine which was the most viscous.

The lava in strata volcanoes is very sticky or viscous and over time can plug the opening where magma escapes from the Earth. Strata volcanoes like those of Krakatoa and Mt. Saint Helens are often very explosive and have violent eruptions. In contrast, the lava in shield volcanoes, like those in Hawaii, is runny and flows easily away from the vent.

How the Earth was Made - Krakatoa and Anak Krakatou tells the story of this explosive strata volcano. Located in Indonesia, in 1883, Krakatoa blew itself off the map. Today, its child, Anak Krakatou, grows over 12 feet per year.

Because the lava in Krakatoa was very sticky it formed a plug. Over time, new magma rising to the surface increased the pressure on the plug. Just as Krakatoa blew up in the past, one day in the future, a major eruption of Anak Krakatau is expected.

How the Earth was Made - Hawaii tells a very different story. The Hawaiian Islands were formed from a volcanic hot spot under a tectonic plate. As the plate drifts, the hot spot just punches a new hole where lava flows out. The hot spot annually produces millions of cubic yards of lava which enable the big island to increase in size by over one mile every year.

To demonstrate how lavas flow, but at different rates, we measured the viscosity of several liquids found commonly in the house.

Viscosity Activity for Kids

The viscosity of several liquids was compared by measuring the time required for the liquid to spread over the surface of a plate.

Honey, molasses, shampoo, dish soap, ketchup and milk were tested.

A small amount of the test substance was spooned or poured onto the plate.

The timer was stopped when the liquid quit moving.

All of the liquids were retested after heating them in hot water.

Results - A simple table was created and the times were recorded. Heating all the liquids made them less viscous. Honey was the most viscous liquid and milk was the least.

Jamari's Drum is a fun picture book to read in conjunction with any volcano activity. It tells the story of how Jamari restores order in his African village after the volcano erupts. Perfect for ages 4-10.

The House on the Volcano is a short chapter book to read along with a volcano unit study. Set on a Hawaiian Island, two children disagree over whether Madame Pele is responsible for the volcanic eruption, or whether there is a scientific explanation. Written in the 1960's a few parts would likely be rewritten today.

Mount St. Helens Volcano: Violent Eruption (American Disasters) is a non-fiction book that tells the story of the Mount St. Helens eruption. It gives us a glimpse into what people were doing, how they survived, and how the eruption effected the region. 

* 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.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Middle Ages Song

We created a song to help remember the events and people of the middle ages.

This is the last post of our Middle Ages Unit Study which lasted 25 weeks. Each week we added another verse to the song which is to the tune of The Farmer and the Dell. Posts detailing the activities and resources used during each week can be found on our History Page. The song is covered by copyright under this blog, but please have fun learning the words for personal use.


The Roman Empire Fell
Invaders attacked
The Dark Ages began in Europe
in 500 AD

Justinian ruled the east
at Constantinople
Byzantine, Hagia Sophia
it thrived 1000 years

Moors came to Spain
Across the Straits of Gibraltar
New fruits and water technology
Geometric designed mosques

Charlemagne united Europe
He built roads and schools
Converted to Christianity
Crowned by the Pope

Vikings attacked Brittian
Vikings attacked France
They burned and killed and plundered
Then settled in Normandie

Alfred the Great of England
Fought off the Vikings
Hid in the woods, translated texts
And created new coins

William the Conqueror of France
Descended from the Vikings
Fought the Battle of Hastings
And became the English King

Crusades were wars
Over money and religion
Christians took Jerusalem on the Third Crusade
Saladin took it back

Venetians escaped the Huns
Ruled by the Doge
Laid siege to Constantinople
During the Fourth Crusade

Early Christian, Byzantine
Romanesque and Gothic
Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo
Cathedrals of Europe

Manuscripts were books
Written on vellum and parchment
Miniatures, words, boarder decorations
Illuminated with gold

Pan flute, lute and harp
Hurdy gurdy and zither
Maypole dance and egg dance
Celebrating the Middle Ages

King Arthur and his knights
Sat at the round table
They lived in Camelot
Pulled the sword from the stone

Robin Hood stole from the rich
Arnold Winkleried threw himself into battle
William Tell shot an apple off his son's head
Chaucer wrote tales

Boys were pages from seven to fourteen
Squires from fourteen to twenty-one
Then they became knights
And were ready to fight

Tournaments and jousts
Blind-Man's Bluff and marbles
People slept together on beds of hay
Chamber pots dumped in the street

Book of Heurs from the Limbourgs
Triptychs from VanEych
Halos and angels from Angelico
Botticelli painted in the round

Thomas A Becket of Cantebury
Thought the church should be in charge
He quarreled with King Henry II
Murdered and became a Saint

Richard the Lionhart went on crusade
Bad King John was in control
He signed the Megna Carta
Kings had to follow the laws too

Two years of bad weather
Caused widespread famine across Europe
People learned food preservation skills
Hansel and Gretel were born

Edward III of England
Wouldn't pay taxes to the French
So the had a war for 100 years
And Joan of Arc became a Saint

Descendents of King Edward III
Fought for the crown
The War of the Roses lasted 30 years
Then red rose married white

Henrys and Beauforts wore red roses
Edwards and Richards of York work white
The Plantagenet line died out
Henry Tudor ended the war

Johannes Gutenberg of Mainz
Invented the printing press
First Bibles, then science and literature works
Brought the Middle Ages to an end

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Alliteration in Stories - Activity for Kids

We brainstormed alliteration ideas to add to stories we were working on.

When walloping weights of words in a sentence begin with the same sound, that's alliteration. Ok - so maybe my example with w's was a little hokey, but the idea is clear. Each week we sit down together for around one hour at Tuesday tea time which is focused on writing literary elements and poetry. Although I planned this activity, the concept was inspired by Brave Writer.

During this session, after each child shared a random poem, we read two books filled with alliteration. While listening to The Duchess Bakes a Cake by Virginia Kahl, the kids wrote down some of the alliteration in the story;
  • A Duchess a Duke and their family of daughters
  • tired of talk
  • lovely light luscious delectable cake
  • king of their country
  • She pushed it and pummeled it, punched it and pat on it. She poked at it, punched it and finally sat on it.
In addition to the lovely alliteration in the story, we found one example of consonance. (That's when the alliteration happens in the middle of words); improper proportion. Those two words contain four p sounds.

In The Berenstains' B Book almost every word in the story begins with the letter B. This was one of my favorite childhood books and my daughter volunteered to read it.

After learning about alliteration and reading stories that contained alliteration, we spent 15 minutes brainstorming alliteration phrases to add to current stories we are working on. Here are some of the results.

  • lazily lapping up cat milk
  • eating meat
  • Fairy's flowery flowing gown
  • stinky, smelly, socks
  • perfectly plump woodcutter's wife who was swiftly stirring a gigantic pot of pretty peppery stew

* 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.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Reflection Symmetry Form Drawing

We created reflection symmetry drawings.

The picture book Seeing Symmetry explains symmetry with lots of drawings of cultural art and design. The Waldorf method of education incorporates lots of form drawing. During the early elementary years there is a significant emphasis on symmetry. In this activity a center line was drawn, then a line was sketched on one side of the center line and reflected to the other side.

We began with scrap paper and several lines to be reflected. As we progressed, the kids created figures for me to reflect.

Next a figure was chosen to reflect across a center line to create an artistic finished symmetry picture. Scratch paper was used for practice, then the reflection symmetry was drawn nicely with wax crayon.

* 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.
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