Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Free Felted Slipper Pattern

My 8 year old knitted and felted her own slippers.

Creating felted slippers is an excellent beginning knitting project because it is so simple. The trick is finding a pattern. Many books don't have slipper patterns, because they are so simple, but the Nic Nac Noo website does have an excellent pattern.

Anyone who has washed a wool sweater in the machine has learned the hard way that wool turns into felt naturally. These slippers take advantage of that natural phenomenon of wool. They are knit with large needles and before they are felted, look like they would be too large for a giant. After agitation in soapy water for 20 minutes or so, the can shrink to whatever size you need.

My daughter began with #10 needles and chunky wool yarn. She cast on 30 stitches and knit 28 rows in stockinette stitch. Then she added two stitches, joined the work into the round and continued to knit 22 rounds in stockinette stitch. Finally she decreased by knitting several rounds of knit 2 together four times in each round until there were only 2 stitches left. I didn't get any photos of my daughters pre-felted slippers, but there are plenty on the web link above along with detailed instructions with photos.

Next a buck was filled with warm water and a little soap.

The slippers were kneeded like bread.

Until they shrank to kid-sized slippers.

Then they were set by the heater to dry and left alone so they would retain the shape desired.

She finished this simple knitting/felting project in less than a week. I would recommend it for any beginning knitter.



Check out these great blogs full of educational activity ideas.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Wolves in Yellowstone

Evolution Unit Study

Lesson 11: We learned about the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park.

The children's book Once A Wolf: How Wildlife Biologists Fought to Bring Back the Gray Wolf tells the story about how wolves became extinct in the American West and were later reintroduced. Shockingly it was laws that commonly encouraged practices which led to extinction. In 1995 scientists and biologists decided to reintroduce the wolves to Yellowstone. The population has since boomed and led to numerous ecological changes as discussed in the short video below.


Since one focus of evolution concentrates on the interactions between various species, this was a super end to our evolution study. It really brought home the idea that evolution is an on going process which is still happening today.






* 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, October 21, 2015

Sideways Chunky Yarn Cable Knit Hat

Chunky yarn is a great way to knit hats really fast. This sideways cable knit hat was created using #10-16 circular needles. Inspired by the book One-Skein Wonders, I modified the pattern slightly to make a smaller hat.

It was a very different hat to knit as first a 20 inch long six inch wide rectangle was knit and then bound off. Next, 72 stitches were picked up and knit along the top edge of the hat. Instead of adding an additional 1.5 inches in height to the hat as the pattern suggested, I began decreasing right away. My hat was already 6 inches tall and another 1.5 inches would have made it way too big.

My decrease plan was as follows:
P1 (P8, P2 tog) 7x, P1
K1 (K2 tog, K7) 7x, k1
P1 (P6, P2 tog) 7x, P1
K1 (K2 tog, K5) 7x, k1
P1 (P4, P2 tog) 7x, P1
K1 (K2 tog, K3) 7x, k1
P1 (P2, P2 tog) 7x, P1
K1 (K1 tog, K7) 7x, k1
P1 ( P2 tog) 7x, P1


In addition, the pattern called for an additional 1 inch brim to be knitted by picking up stitches around the base of the hat. I skipped this part as well, as the hat was the perfect size.


Once the hat was sewn up the back it measured 20 inches around and 8 inches high. It is thick and warm.




* 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.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Last Great Ice Age - Evolution Unit Study

Evolution Unit Study

Lesson 10: The Last Great Ice Age


At the end of the last great ice age humans made an extraordinary journey which brought them to a new continent. Several theories explain how humans could have come to live in the Americas, but scientists and historians currently lack the evidence to know with certainty. Rather than explain how humans evolved, the video linked below describes how early humans lived. During the time when wooly mammoths roamed the planet, these early humans would have likely been the prey of saber toothed cats. 




Around the end of the last ice age an extinction event occurred which wiped out the mammoths, saber toothed cats and other ice age creatures. It devastated human populations, but didn't destroy human life. Many scientists believe an asteroid hit the United States in the area of Ohio, but since impact was atop of a glacier, there is no crater evidence.

 We kept our hands-on activities in connection with our evolution study very simple. When studying the ice age, we simply added pictures of extinct ice age creatures to our timeline.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Bike Tinkering - Handicrafts for Boys

Exposing children to a variety of handicrafts can help them to develop lifelong hobbies. In addition, these hobbies encourage learning. As their level and interests advance they are compelled to seek new resources. They research their hobbies on the internet, check-out books from the library and seek out experts with knowledge to help them grow.

Sewing, knitting, basket weaving and spinning wool into yarn have all been big hits to get my girls involved in a hobby. My mom is an expert in everything yarn and fabric related, and I'm not too bad myself, but my son has not been interested.

Around three years ago he became very interested in plants and seeds. He learned how everything grows and I mean everything. He figured out how to extract a pine seed from a cone which resulted in a baby tree, and learned that the skin has to be removed from citrus seeds in order for them to sprout.

From there, everything became related to chickens. Over the past two years he watched every Youtube video pertaining to raising chickens, coop building, breads, and more. In a few weeks we should be moving into our own house in the US, so in the spring he will finally be able to raise his own.

This year a new handicraft was added to his school to-do list and he loves it.

Bike Tinkering.

Over the summer we acquired three free bikes that work, but not well. Basically they have shifting and break issues probably from having been left out in the rain. He is determined to make them work. Since I don't know much about bike repair, he is working this one on his own. He's researched on the internet, replaced break and shifting lines, disassembled and cleaned the gear/chain mechanism, talked to repair men at the local shop, and learned about screw sizes and lengths. It has been a super growing experience for him which he has really enjoyed. - Perfect for tactile learners!





Once two more screws are installed, the bike should be ready to go. Next on his list is sprucing up the other two bikes.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Teaching Kids About Evolution - Human Evolution

Evolution Unit Study

Lesson 9: Human Evolution


Becoming Human
Six million years ago chimps and humans shared a common ancestor. In the years in between then and today, numerous different human-like creatures lived on the planet. "Lucy," the name given to a 3.2 million year old fossil found in Africa was the species Austrolopitheaus Afarensis. From the waist down she was like a human, but from the waist up, her features were more ape-like. Living in a tropical rain forest, it is believed that some ape like creatures developed legs that enabled walking thus giving them an advantage over certain other apes.

This video describes several species of early humans which evolved from Austrolopitheaus Afarensis. Some of which lived only to evolve into other species and others of which died out. The traits common and unique between species closely related are explained in detail.


Neanderthal were a species of early human which lived at the same time as Homo Sapiens, 35,000 years ago. They lived primarily in Europe and western Asia and were well adapted to survive in the cold climate of the period. 

Neanderthal: Episode 1 - Evolution History Documentary showed the species living their lives. Separated into small family groups of 7-20 people, they lived in caves and ate mostly meat. They were great hunters, cared about members of their clan and rarely lived to the age of 40. 
(Don't let the video preview image scare you away from this one.) It is worth watching.

Neanderthal: Episode 1 - Evolution History Documentary

The video From Ape to Man followed the discoveries of different human like species during the 1800s and 1900s. When Charles Darwin wrote about his evolution theory, the scientific world didn't pay much attention. Several years later his ideas gained popularity and anthropologists began searching for "the missing link." At first scientists believed they would discover one species which would be a transition between humans and apes, but after several different discoveries, their ideas changed. Then, discoveries of different species of human-like creatures were found which were thought to have coexisted. Different from the first video, the perspective of this video follows discoveries and is another one worth viewing.

 Ape to Man: Evolution Documentary History Channel 

Birth of Civilization was a video which served as a good transition between the human portion of the evolution study and ancient history unit studies as it explained how people began living together in groups.
Birth of Civilization 

Timeline

After learning about how humans evolved, the kids added pictures of ancient pre-historic species of human-like creatures to the timeline.


The were surprised to see how close to the top of the timeline the human-like creatures lived.

Adding them also made it clear that humans did not live at the same time as the dinosaurs, but did live at the same time as early three-toed horses, wooly mammoths and other early mammals.



Check out these great blogs full of educational activity ideas.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Antonio Gaudi Mosaics

We created Gaudi inspired mosaic pictures.

Antonio Gaudi, from Spain, was an architect who decorated his unique buildings with irregular shaped mosaic tiles. After reading about Gaudi on the internet, we followed this project from Art Escoela.



First a simple animal shape was drawn with a black marker.



Next, the animal was filled with colorful marker created tiles.







My oldest daughter hid a sun and a few houses in her mosaic. Can you see them?

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Cenozoic Era Creatures

Evolution Unit Study

Lesson 8: Cenozoic Era Creatures

The first mammals evolved during the Mesozic Era, but after the mass extinction event which wiped out the dinosaurs, those mammals began to develop individual features. Horses, elephant, and hundreds of other mammals developed unique characteristics which enabled them to thrive. As the mammals continued to evolve, so did the reptiles and fish. Unique creatures such as turtles, lizards, and crocodiles became abundant. Grasslands spread across the land and with them mammals such as cattle and deer became equipped to survive in their new environment.

Timeline

During the Cenozoic Era lesson, the kids learned to use the photo copier in order to create images for the timeline. This time they learned to use the internet and printer to accomplish the same thing.

First they searched the internet for images of creatures they wanted to place onto the timeline. Then they copied the images and pasted them into the program Inkscape. Inkscape is a graphic editing program which can be downloaded for free from the internet. In Inkscape, they resized their photos to fit onto one sheet of paper and then printed them out.

Although they didn't do much graphic editing within Inkscape, this simple exercise gave them exposure to the program and they learned how to find relevant graphics on the internet.

Cenozoic Era Videos


The Cenozoic Era also gave rise to human evolution which will be the subject of the next lesson. The last great ice age when the wooly mammoths and saber toothed cats ran wild was part of the Cenozoic Era as well as modern humans living today.

The following list of videos provide a good overview of how creatures evolved during the Cenozoic Era.

And the Mammals Laid Eggs
For much of history the continent of Australia was separated from the rest of the Earth's land mass. Therefore, the creatures which evolved in Australia are the most unique on the planet. Poison, pouches and combinations of features found now where else (platypus)....This video describes several Australian animals and their history of evolution.



The Evolution of Humans 
Each creature alive today has unique features which has enabled it to survive. Hammerhead sharks have heads unlike other animals. This video explores how the shape of various creatures has given them an advantage which has ensured their survival.

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