Monday, February 17, 2014

Letter of the Week: F

We wrapped up our F week, as usual I pulled together a variety of resources.  I include 2-3 letter of the week related activities in A's workboxes each school day, so approximately 3 out of 9 boxes.  Generally the activities cover a wide range of topics such as handwriting, fine motor skills, counting, art, math, and logic.

Handwriting page with coloring

 He said he colored the "f"s green because "f" is for frog and frogs are green

Letter cut from a preschool workbook and frog stickers

Cut and paste

More coloring, A loves to color!

Shape tracing while talking about the shapes names

Cute poem to read aloud

more handwriting practice

Counting fireflies 0-20. We turn over the number cards and A randomly picks one, then we count the correct number of fireflies. We don't do all of the numbers, once he begins to loose interest we move on. I include some type of counting activity almost everyday so I don't worry about always doing all of the numbers.

F pages from Cuisenaire Rods Alphabet Book. I got the book brand new and blocks at a garage sale for $5.00. Love them! Instead of writing in the book we discuss the answers together. There are prompts such as "build the letter using only two colors" and then it will ask what colors. Sometimes this takes some serious thought.

Fire truck counting/ordering puzzle. I generally offer to let him glue these ordering puzzles to paper once he has them in order. Sometimes he does and sometimes he doesn't. 

Farm animal matching with Learning Links. The matching is really easy for him but he loves playing with the learning links. 


Friday, February 14, 2014

Melted Valentines

I LOVE making melted crayon art with the boys.  We made these super fun fall leaves in September, and I thought it was high time to get out the crayons again. 

Cover your skillet with foil (you'll thank me later), and heat it to 200 - 250 degrees.  I remind the boys repeatedly that it's hot, and I make sure they have long sleeves on to protect their arms.

 Bring out your crayons, minus the wrappers.  I only provided red, pink, and white since those are the colors I wanted them to use.  A was a little miffed at first but he got over it.  Note: white didn't show up, though I want to try using white on colored paper...

I pre-cut a big stack of hearts in a variety of sizes.  I've found that lower weight paper works best as it allows the liquid to soak through and gives you a better stained glass effect.  Once everything is set up, have fun creating! 
Something about swooshing the melting crayons around on the paper is SO much fun!

 We'll be sending out a few to special valentines

 Some of mine

Love the texture of these, I can't wait to get them up 

Aren't they wonderful!?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

What We're Reading Wednesday

We've been enjoying a lot of read-alouds this week, and I've been getting plenty of my own reading time in.  The weather has been crummy and the boys have been sick, so it's the perfect time to curl up with a warm latte, plenty of blankies, and some sweet stories. 

King Arther and his Knights by Mabel L. Robinson.  I've inherited a few Landmark books from my sister over the years and they are perfect historical read alouds for kids.  The content is good, and the vocabulary isn't dumbed down, the text is larger which may appeal to younger readers and there are illustrations every few pages to keep A interested.  J seemed to have a hard time settling into it but has started asking questions about unknown words over the past couple of days so I know he's paying attention.  Even A has stopped me to ask for a few explanations as we've gone along.  Bonus: They have finally figured out that raising their hands and waiting until I give them my attention is far more effective than blurting out an interruption or continuously taping me on the arm while I'm reading.

The Complete Tales and Poems of Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
Everyone should read Winnie-the-Pooh, child or adult.  I love Milne's writing and the illustrations in this book are adorable.  J loves the stories even if he doesn't get all of the little jokes that are snuck into the text.

Particular favorites:
When Christopher Robin is reading a secret message that Pooh received in a bottle during a spring flood...
"But it's from Piglet!" cried Christopher Robin when he had read it.
"Isn't there anything about Pooh in it?" asked Bear, looking over his shoulder.
Christopher Robin read the message aloud.
"Oh, are those 'P's' Piglets? I thought they were Poohs."

and when they are off to rescue Piglet...
"Now then, Pooh," said Christopher Robin, "where's your boat?"
"I ought to say," explained Pooh as they walked down to the shore of the island, "that it isn't just an ordinary sort of boat. Sometimes it's a Boat, and sometimes it's more of an Accident. It all depends."
"Depends on what?"
"On whether I'm on the top of it or underneath it."

S. by J. J. Abrams and Doug Dorst
I won't go into too much detail yet because I'll write a post about it when I'm done, but I'm slightly obsessed with this book.  After seeing an interview with the creator, J.J. Abrams, on The Colbert Report, The Mister made sure this was under the christmas tree.  Briefly, J. J. Abrams had the idea to write a story within a story. S. contains what appears to be an old library book, The Ship of Theseus, in which two people begin to leave each other notes.  Between the pages are letters, pictures, post cards, and newspaper clippings that they have left for themselves and each other.  I'm still working on reading The Ship of Theseus before I go back and read through all of their notes.  It's hard to stay focused on the text and I keep sneaking peeks at the notes scrawled all over the margins.  The attention to detail is incredible!

Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland
I'm not giving up on this book, but I'm having a hard time staying into it.  The story revolves around a painting, Girl in Hyacinth Blue,  and begins with the most current owner.  It begins going back through time telling the story of how the painting ends up where, but it's a bit jumpy for me and it's been difficult to keep up with it when I'm sneaking in ten minutes at a time.

The Life Changing Lessons of JK Rowling by Willian Wyatt
This came across on one of my free eBook lists so I figured it was worth a try.  Nothing earth shattering yet, but it does have some interesting background info on JK Rowling's life for those that are interested.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Reading Challenge: Gone to Green

Title: Gone to Green
Author: Judy Christie 

Gone to Green is a fun easy to read story about a corporate journalist turned small town paper owner.  After the death of a friend leaves Lois the owner of a struggling small town newspaper she packs up her belongings and relocates to Green, Louisiana where the people are friendly, the weather is sweltering, and there seems to be something fishy going on with "The Big Boys."  Lois agrees to run the paper for a year before putting it up for sale and moving on, but in the end the differences she's made in the small town, and the friends she's learned to cherish, just might be enough to keep her from packing up and heading back to the corporate world.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Reading Challenge: Bingo Night At The Fire Hall

Title: Bingo Night at the Fire Hall: Rediscovering Life in an American Village
Author: Barbara Holland

This was a quick and fun read.  Barbara Holland inherits her mother's cabin in the Northern Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia where she spent summers growing up, and leaves her life in the city.  Along the way she fights the natural fauna, winters that bring enough snow to cover her door, loneliness, and lack of "necessities".  What she discovers is the hospitality and family that comes with living in a backwoods small farming community where everyone knows your name, life moves at a slower pace, and neighbors watch out for each other.  She struggles each spring with the decision to move on or stay to fight another winter.  Despite the hardships, Holland realizes that small towns are a dying breed and that should would rather stay and fight than return to the exhaustively busy hubbub of city life.
 "And after all my house is still here, and maybe I'm meant to stay in it. Maybe I"m supposed to watch what's happening; take notes. End my days as an eccentric holdout from forgotten times, the crazy old witch on the haunted mountain with a pet pig, a shotgun across my knees, and a plug of Red Man in my cheek, reminding strangers of something they don't remember. Maybe I will."

Parts I particularly loved:
"Last summer, a man in one of the villages up the road sold the house in which he'd been born and lived for eighty-one years, and bought and moved into the house next door.  A friend of mine asked him why. The fellow said, poker-faced, 'I reckon it's just the gypsy in me.'"

"Men and women are different. Men are stronger. No matter how many weights I lift, any man still actually warm and breathing will always be stronger than I am. When my car is axle deep in mud or snow, a man can lean his shoulder on the stranded bulk and make it move. Or, if it won't move, he probably knows how to take it apart and reassemble it out on the blacktop."

On local crime:
"It's considered almost as unseemly for a woman to live along on the mountain all year round as it is for her to sit on a barstool, but for her to live alone without a dog is simply preposterous. Workmen and deliverymen remind me, when they call for directions, to tie up my dogs before they arrive. When they do arrive and find no visible dog, they're shocked.
I have cats, I offer, and they look perplexed: What do cats have to do with it? Cats are for the barn, to keep down mice. Dogs are for the house, to keep down burglars."

"Last summer a tractor, complete with mower blade, was stolen overnight from a field, which seems like conspicuous loot. Did no late traveler wonder, swooping around the tractor on the highway as the miscreant made his getaway at eight miles an hour, what agricultural business it was pursuing after midnight? Apparently not."

and on local history:
"If, like me, you grew up and went to school among northerners, you think - when you think of it at all - that the Civil War was all about slavery and happened a long time ago. Then if, like me, you move to Virginia, you learn that it was all about Northern aggression and happened day before yesterday."

Reading Challenges:
State By State

Monday, January 27, 2014

Reading Challenge: A Trail of Fire

Title: A Trail of Fire
Author: Diana Gabaldon

I have long been a fan of Diana Gabaldon.  Her Outlander series has graced my bookshelves for more ten years and I have read (and reread) the adventures of Jamie and Clair many times.  Her stories weave tales of love, loss, history and time travel.  Her characters are memorable, their stories intertwining over centuries and continents.  A Trail Of Fire is a collection of short stories that weave in and out of the Outlander and Lord John Grey series.  While the stories could be read on their own, it would be difficult to follow the various characters without some background of Gabaldon's stories.  The book provides a chronological list of all of Gabaldon's stories which would be really helpful for someone just digging into this wonderful author, as well as a sneak peek at her newest novel expected to be released this summer (I already have a copy on order and I'm counting down the days!) 

Starz is premiering the Outlander series this summer, check out the trailer here.
A list of the Outlander series can be here on Gabaldon's official website, here.

Reading Challenges:

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Reading Challenges: The Secret History of the Pink Carnation

Title: The Secret History of the Pink Carnation
Author: Lauren Willig

Eloise Kelly leaves the safe haven of Harvard and travels to England in the hopes of finding out the secret identity of the Pink Carnation in order to write her dissertation.  She thinks she has it all figured out when she tracks down Mrs. Selwick-Alderly who says that she has information and agrees to help Eloise.  What Mrs. Selwick-Alderly has, is in fact a trunk full of family papers including the diary of Amy Balcourt dated 1803.  The story of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation goes back and forth between Amy's diary and Eloise's search that lasts only two days before she finds a shocking twist that discounts everything she had previously believed.

I love historical fiction so it was easy to get lost in this book.  While the story is supposedly from the diary of Amy Balcourt, it is not written as actual diary entries.  There is little to learn about Eloise as the majority of the story focuses on Amy and her story, and while you do learn the end of Amy's tale, you never do find out what happens to Eloise or Mrs. Selwick-Alderly's nephew, Colin. I was curious if there was a sequal to the story and found out that there are in fact eleven books in the Pink Carnation series.  

Figures...I read one book on my to be read pile, and added ten more to my list!  The sorrows of a reader...

If you're interested, here is a link to Lauren Willig's site with all of the books listed

Reading Challenges: