Friday, October 29, 2010

Lets Learn Letters: Printable Playdough Mats

If you've been following along with our Lets Learn Letters activities you'll remember that I have been creating Printable Playdough Mats for each letter as we work through them.

We love using these and the images on the playdough mats are used during some of our other letter activities so they all tie in together.

I will continue doing these as we go, but for now I have compiled the first six, which also coincides with the Explode The Code Primer Book A, into one download.

This should make it much easier for you to have everythng ready to do for your playdough mats,without having a huge download of all the letters together.

We are moving on to ETC Primer Book B, so get ready for more Lets Learn Letters activities in the coming weeks.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bambino Academy Basics: Dry Pouring

Dry Pouring is a favourite activity around here at the moment. This simple, yet effective work keeps him busy for a very long time....well a long time when you are only 2 that is!

It took me so long to find something that I could actually use to set this work up. Maybe I was just being picky I don't know but I literally spent months scouring second hand stores and came up trumps every time.

In the end I purchased these little tiny milk jugs from a kitchen supply store.

We are using larger items to pour with and always pouring on a try, as that means much less clean up and C can do the clean up himself, especially when we he can pick up the items, such as macaroni, kidney beans and sometimes popping corn (good pincer grip practice too), although that is getting slightly smaller. Eventually we'll progress to rice and sand before tackling wet pouring.

I am led to believe that I should also keep my eye out for pouring implements that have different sized spouts. Which I will do but since I had such a hard time finding these little gems I won't be holding my breath.

The tray is presented very simply, with the jugs ready for him to pour with his right hand into the left jug. I have shown him to swap them around after he has finished pouring to ensure he is always pouring from his right. Obviously the aim with this is build the coordination so that the child can pour effortlessly, wet or dry, independently. An important skill for practical every day life.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Way Back When: Charles Darwin, The Beagle & The Theory of Evolution

I wasn't sure if I should tackle this famous man just yet. However it just seemed to happen and felt very logical. As per the first part of the unit there were no real expectations (and in fact I think I will continue with those thoughts for our entire history cycle) just a bunch of books on the topic, a few internet searches and wait and see where it takes us.

I was very pleasantly surprised! Allowing myself the freedom to just choose a topic and too ditch any lesson plans or curriculum is freeing in more ways than one. Ok so maybe we don't end up covering something important, so what? What is the big deal? The kids are most certainly getting far more history than they ever would at any school anyway and they are still young enough that we will definitely revisit the topics at least once and in many cases twice before their 'school' years are over. So for now, whilst it seems to be working we will stick with it.

I had no idea what to expect when I ordered Who Was Charles Darwin from The Book Depository. It is a small book both in size and in length. I was drawn to it because there is a whole series of biographical books about famous people.

This narrative (written for children) covers Charles' life and the most important components of it. There is some kind of illustration on each page (black line sketches) that are all very pertinent to the reading. Whilst this wasn't an overly exciting read it certainly allowed us to get to know Charles alot better.

Charles Darwin and the Beagle Adventure is a fabulous book and one that you could look at again and again, each time finding something new within its cover. Lots of lift the flaps and pull out bits and bobs, showing many of the amazing things he experienced whilst on the Beagle.

It includes extracts from his diary records, maps and copies of many hand drawn images. This is a definite must to have on hand when learning about Mr Darwin.

This was another book that I had no idea what to expect, Animals Charles Darwin Saw is a bright lively account of his time on the Beagle. In essence it is really another biography as it covers most of what was covered in Who Was Charles Darwin, however this book takes a much closer look at the animals and the Beagle experience. So whilst we felt it doubled up a little it was worth adding to the study.

Once we had begun reading I thought that we should at least try and jot down some notes, however with a reluctant writer and a beginning writer any of the regular notebooking  pages I found just seemed to overwhelming. I didn't want them to feel that they had to fill the entire page with the written word.

So I set about to whip up a Famous Person Notebooking Page myself. This page covers  most of the important information without all of the writing. If there ever is a time that they feel the need to write more they can do so in the bottom text box area, entitled 'Other Biographical Points Of Interest'. This made the notebooking experience doable. As we read we always had the sheet there in front of us and added to it when we found out bits of information. We will definitely continue to use these with future studies.

B completed a copywork page about the Beagle, taken from the Who Was Charles Darwin book. The sketch he drew of the HMS Beagle is also featured within the same book.

He mapped the journey of the Beagle using this map I found here, we used our books (as they all contained maps) and this site to fill in the labels of the Beagle's journey.  We travelled the journey with the Beagle over at the Natural History Museum's site.

At that I was more than happy with what we had covered, the concepts that were discussed, natural selection (survival of the fittest) evolution and how that would affect the world (and how it still does today) and felt that we had come to a nice end with this general pre history topic.

Later I found B working on this. Completely of his own accord he began with the Galapos Islands and decided to add in the tortise. It's pretty darn impressive if I do say so myself (not that I'm a boasting mum or anything hehehe just very proud).

As always I was just happy if K sits in on the readings and the discussions (afterall she is technically only in preschool/prep if she were attending school here), she decided that she wanted to complete a page to remember the study by also.  'Charles Darwin on the HMS Beagle'

Whilst out shopping recently I spotted this documentary, knowing how this subject had grabbed B's attention I thought for sure he would enjoy it and I was right. This is a double dvd documentary of nearly 3 hours in total viewing time. We planned to watch it over 2 consecutives days. Which we did, however the kids enjoyed it so much that they chose to watch each DVD twice in a row on the same day!

The footage on this is truly amazing and what an awe inspiring place this little set of islands are. We were enthralled every single minute of this documentary. It was great to see some the animals we had just read about and to wonder (and most cases try and figure out) exactly how big some of them are as the narrator gave details of the animals size. The tortise for example is roughly 1 tonne, that's one huge tortise to say the least.

It covers land and sea animals with both the same amount of depth and looks closely at how the Galapagos have evolved and changed over time and how they are continuing to do so. I am so glad I found this.

As always when we read or watch a documentary I lay out drawing tools, but there is never any expectation, although I have come to learn that generally something is produced and some times their hearts are more into it than others and that that is completely ok.

K produced this amazing piece of work and from where I was sitting I couldn't even tell what she was actually doing until she brought it up to show me. This is probably the most detailed drawing she has ever completed. I can't believe how quickly she is maturing and growing up. This inlcudes, Green Sea Turtles, Fur Seals, Blue Footed Boobies, a Flamingo and a couple of land Iguana's.

B also decided to do a montage of sorts that included various Galapagos animals set over a map, showing the islands in relation to South America and Australia. He is now progressing to Artist quality sketch pencils also with his work which he is loving.

I have one more short post to do on the last couple of books we are currently reading for our pre history unit and then we are done. ( we chose not to bother with dinosaurs as we completed a stand alone dinosaur unit about 18 months ago) This was a little over the place as we simply followed our interests, but the kids have learnt so much from this unit, by working this way. I am really looking forward to moving along with history. 

Here are a few links I found in my travels. We didn't use all of them as some are more suited to slightly older children but you may get some use out of them.

    I have started keeping my books found (but not always used) in themed lists, which should hopefully make things much easier later on when we come back to revisit topics. I'm not really sure they are of any use to anyone but I figured I was putting them together anyway so some one may find them useful. 

    The Pre-History Book list is 2 pages and no way an exhaustive list, however you can download it by clicking here.

      Please link up below your Secular Pre-History, Early Man and Evolutionary themed posts.

      Do you teach Secular History in your Homeschool?

      Please link up your Secular History Blog Posts here.We can begin to collectively share resources, activities and all of the fun we have studying history, with other secular homeschool bloggers.

      This is a blog hop, so whilst it isn't compulsory feel free to grab the hop code (just below all of the links that have been added above) and place it into your Secular History Blog Post. By doing this all links added (including future links) will show in your post as well as here.

      You just need to be sure you are linking up to the appropriately themed link list (this one is Pre-History, Early Man and Evolutionary themed posts)

      Have questions? Please don't hesitate to ask.

      Why not also grab our button code below and spread the word to other secular homeschool bloggers about this History Link Up. Simply copy the code and place it in the HTML of your blog post or your blog sidebar.

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      Monday, October 25, 2010

      Backyard Fun: Constructing a Cubby/Lean Too From Off Cuts

      We recently had a very large dead tree cut down in our backyard. The majority of the timber is now at my parents home waiting for winter. I have a feeling they will not be in need of timber for their fireplace for quite a long while.

      There was a substantial amount of bark and smaller branches left over, perfect for our own little bonfire, which I expect at some stage we will have. Probably once we hit Autumn again and the weather begins to cool down. (which is a fair while off)

      In the meantime however the kids and their dad built this little masterpiece.

      I really have no idea who came up with the idea and in fact I didn't even know it was happening until it was all finished. They were all happily in the backyard doing their thing, as they very often do on a Saturday afternoon (thoughtfully giving this mummy a few hours break ~ Thank You) and this is the end result of their time together.

      DH made up a little frame and found something in the shed suitable for a door, he attached the frame to the shed wall and as you can see they have built a significant structure from what was laying around.

      Whilst it isn't overly roomy inside they love it and will quite often retreat up there, take a blanket and some food and just hang out.

      Getting in and out isn't the simplest of activities for the larger member of the crew but none of them are bothered by that at all.

      The kids learnt a great deal about construction and design without even knowing it on this little project and considering that I personally have seen people living in less than this it has made them think about how blessed they really are to have a large beautiful home and sprawling backyard.

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      Friday, October 22, 2010

      Let's Learn Letters: Free Printables for Review Sounds F - B - M - K - T - R

      It's been Sound Review Week around here. We've been doing loads of different things to ensure we have the first six sounds covered, down pat.

      I put together this Sound Matching Activity which reviews all of the sounds in the first ETC Primer. The images used are the same images I have used in the other printable materials, playdough mats, sound chants and sound rhymes.

      I knew that it could be frustrating with lots of little cards moving around everywhere and not staying where they were supposed to so I thought a file folder would be perfect for this activity. I've simply used velcro dots to hold everything in place, after laminating all of the pieces.

      I printed and laminated the appropriate Word Wheels from Alphabet Avenue.  This site suggests placing a sticker on the back for each correct picture so that the child can self check. However I chose to write the letters on pegs for each Word Wheel.

      Firstly K needed to sort all of her pegs, she then could easily see how many pegs were to be used on each wheel.

      Overall she did very well at this. Kayak tripped her up nearly everytime, a couple of the images aren't as obvious to all children as they probably are to us.

      I wanted a quick simple way to assess where she was at with the letters, whilst still keeping the activity fun. This is a simple Letter Recognition sheet that we used with Dot Markers. I asked her to place an orange dot on a little k for example. I simply had to make sure I could see what she was doing and kept a mental note if she happened to go wrong anywhere.

      This one was for beginning sounds. Once again I used the familiar images for this to aid in recognition. I simply printed in black and white though as the bingo markers  were the star attraction here. This time she had complete freedom with colours, I simply asked her to dot something that started with 'f' for instance.

      We practiced our sound chants over and over and over again. Sorry that photo is really bad I know and I am too lazy to take another one and upload it.

      We also looked over our growing Alphabet Folder, full of all of those sensory letters (I downloaded the letters from here) we've been working on and the Alphabet Rhyme pages we have done.

      We also made a start on a Letter Tree. I have seen a myriad of these around the blogosphere but I got the idea to use handprints from this blog

      Granted it looks a little odd at the moment but we will continue to add to it over the coming weeks. K painted and cut out the trunk. We traced her hands together and she painted the letters on to each hand.

      All in all I am very happy with how she is progressing. Considering that even earlier this year she wanted nothing to do with 'doing school'. She is improving, responding and working independently (where appropriate) and overall succeeding.

      We are away for most of next week so there will be a week or so break before any more Lets Learn Letters Activities are posted.

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      Thursday, October 21, 2010

      Happy 9th Birthday

      My first born, 9, already! Ok ok I know we mothers spend our entire lives doing this, don't we? Every year when the birthday's roll around we just can't believe how the time flies.

      All of the, I remember this time 9 years ago chit chat starts happening and the bringing back of fond memories begins.

      I actually remember these moments all too well as a child. My mum and my aunts would have the same conversations every birthday, about each subsequent child and my sister and I would just roll our eyes, ok here they go again!! (Sorry mummy hehehe) So I do try to keep most of my thoughts, when birthdays roll around, to myself.

      My babies are all growing up, this is his last year of single digits, how quickly does childhood pass you by?!

      This little guy is so totally adorable, loveable, kind, caring, empathetic, funny, cuddly, innocent, sometimes shy sometimes not, always a true friend and above else a beautiful person. He is a joy to be around and we are blessed to have him as part of our family.

      I just hope the next 9 years don't go as quickly as these last ones have. I can see him packing his bags and moving out of home right before my eyes and I don't ever want that day to come.

      So anyway, enough of this mum's blubbering and on to the festivities of the day. We kept to our plans for a simple affair, as we did with everyone's birthday's this year. Oh it was lovely! Sometimes it is nice to have a grand bash and go all out but simple is also great too. Simple with no pressure :-)

      B was allowed to invite two friends, which was very hard, he has a bunch of mates that are all quite close and get along very well so having to choose only two wasn't easy. Add in family and our (just about family) close friends and we still had 12 children and several adults. The numbers add up really quickly don't they.

      There had to be swimming. With a pool in the backyard now, a pool party was definitely the order of the day.

      However we've had quite a lot of rain of late and very little sunshine so the pool really wasn't ready to be open for swimming. Whilst the weather for the day turned out to be glorious, it was only mild, somewhere around 23 degrees, certainly not swimming weather, by a long shot. But swim they did. By hook or by crook they were having a swimming party and a swimming party they had!

      Obviously they froze and their little bodies were covered in goosebumps but they were all smiles in the pool, even if it didn't last that long.

      Of course I couldn't not include a picture of this grogeous little guy. He was squealing it was so cold but was giggling the entire time he was in the water, albeit only on the step because no adult was braving that water lol!! (yes daddy is right there, that's his hand just next to him to make sure he stayed close to the step and he did very well at that too)

      Of course there was cake. Now this little cake involved a 40 minute trip to purchase. Yes that's right 40 minutes and that was only one way!! Dad found a nice little boutique patisserie and suggested to B that he might find a super scrummy cake there, so off they headed (the day before his birthday) on a little jaunt to purchase his cake.

      I have to admit it was yummy, very rich, chocolate cake, with custard cream between one layer and chocolate mousse cream between another, add in the ganache and the truffles on top and oh boy, my tummy was near exploding.

      Of course there's never really a birthday without gifts. He was blessed with some lovely thoughtful items. Gee they get difficult to buy for as they get older don't they?!

      And we can't forget all of the lovely people, well these photo's don't actually show all of them, but you know what I mean LOL!

      Well, that's our birthdays over with for another year, time to start thinking about Christmas.

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