Sunday, January 22, 2012

Animal Tracks and Wildlife Signs Science Unit-Part Two

We have been using Crinkleroot's Animal Tracks and Wildlife Signs as a science spine for the Littles for the past few weeks.  I blogged about the first part of the book here.  We're finally done so the book can be returned to the library. I really do need to invest in them for our own shelves.  Here's the remaining activities:

We met Owl next.  As I began reading about Owl, I asked each child what they already knew about owls.  I was pleased that they knew so much already!  They learned nothing new from this section, but did enjoy doing a virtual owl pellet dissection.  If I had planned ahead, I would have ordered a pellet kit.  They are inexpensive and a fun, hands-on activity that they would have enjoyed.  We did an owl coloring page and talked about owl characters in books we've read.  There are many!

We read about Snowshoe Rabbit and Bobcat on the same day, since they are a common prey/predator pair.  The Lambies enjoyed learning about the way the Lord camouflages the hare during the different seasons.  They were also amazed at the size of his feet!  I used this amazing video (even though it has a lynx rather than a bobcat) to show how agile he can be.  Be sure to preview this one if you have sensitive littles.

We watched several videos of bobcats winning the race and enjoying their meal afterward.  We also enjoyed the "Bobcat Kittens" videos.  This is the coloring page we used.  We discussed how wild animals are not pets, of course, and how, now matter how very cute they are, we mustn't touch any wild animal we may see in the forest. I have at least one child who wants to be a wildlife rehabilitator when they grow up.

We live close enough to take a trip to CatHaven and I plan to take all the children there this spring or summer. They even have a 'Track and Trail' class they can take!

Red Fox came next.  We have some foxes around here and saw one once, running across the road.  None of the Littles remembered it, though.  We watched a video or three and looked at this page.  We're not in Virginia, but I appreciated the big pictures and simple summaries. Note, too, the links at the bottom to useful videos and a coloring page.  (Can you NOT mention Redd Foxx during this lesson?)

Last but not least was the Grouse.  What a pretty bird!  We used this site to learn a bit more about this handsome fellow.  There are tabs for additional info, including the interesting sounds a male makes with his wings and a video, too. I printed off this coloring page.

So, that's all for this Crinkleroot book.  I let the children color a picture of Crinkleroot himself, too, so they could remember this fun unit and all we did.  I hope you find it in your library and share it with your children, too!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Elementary Christian Reading

My dear nearly-non-blogging friend Twiggy wanted me to do a post about Christian reading for kids.  I have to admit that I don't seek out many specifically Christian series or books.  I mostly keep the reading to classic things that don't go against our beliefs.  That being said, there are some that are in our library and come to mind.

First and foremost, the Narnia series by C. S. Lewis.  Every one of my children who are able have read these.  Most have listened to at least one read aloud.  I really love these books.  The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe was read to me, and the rest of the class, in the third grade by my favorite teacher, Mr. C.  I'm so glad that he introduced me to Narnia!

Another from my childhood was "In Grandma's Attic" by Arleta Richardson. My parents bought me the first while we were driving from Northern Oregon to Northern Washington. I began to read and read until the book was finished. I looked up and we were at the ferry boat, ready to end our drive!  Those were the fastest hours ever.  I received many of the remaining books as I grew, buying the last few that I didn't have as an adult.  I have a complete series now and enjoy sharing them with my girls.

Brian Wildsmith's Jesus, Joseph, Exodus and The Easter Story are beautifully illustrated, fairly simple stories.  I was put off by a rather clear drawing of Joseph's hiney in his story.

Paul Maier's excellent, beautiful books are a great addition to our library.  He has done a great job relating the stories of Genesis, Exodus, Easter, Christ's birth, Martin Luther and The First Christians.  I put these out often and the children pore over the beautiful paintings.

I have The Sugar Creek Gang series and The Kingdom Series by Chuck Black, but have not read them through so I can't review them.  Do any of you have something to share?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Learning Bursts

My daughter, Missy, is developmentally delayed.  She learns differently than all of my others, even her twin brother.  Over the years, I've discovered that she learns in fits and starts.  She'll learn new things, whether academic or physical, and be "open" to learning for a while.  Then she'll plateau for weeks at a time, not able to learn anything new, even struggling to remember what she had so recently learned.  Then, seemingly without reason, it's like a switch turns and she's back to learning.  I have begun calling these her "learning bursts".

During her academic plateau times, we simply review the basic things she knows.  We cement them into her brain. She reads the same phonics stories and does the same type of math over and over, and gets enough wrong, or needs enough help, that I know her brain is "off".  I continue in these times to read aloud rich literature and have her narrate.  She continues copy work and other hands on projects.  I continue having her sit in on lessons with siblings, even if she doesn't seem to be absorbing the information.  Then, suddenly, she starts getting pages done super fast, without help and reads her stories easily.  I know it's time to introduce new things.

During her most recent learning burst, I had her begin to do her math without the assistance of blocks.  It had taken her over half of a school year to master the use of blocks.  The last time I asked her to attempt problems without blocks she was unable to complete even the simplest of problems.  It was simply to much for her brain to take in.  This time, however, she easily accomplished it.  She did page after page, (asking for more!), and scored 100%.

Today I introduced subtraction.  I explained it and had her try without blocks.  Best to skip a step, right?  Well, that was too much, at least at first.  So she completed her page using blocks and got 100%!  We'll see what tomorrow brings.  I love learning bursts!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Animal Tracks and Wildlife Signs Science Unit

I've been using this Crinkleroot book for science for the Littles.  We love Crinkleroot!

The first animal mentioned is Beaver.  We read the section here, then went through Getting To Know Nature's Children: Beavers.  We did a coloring page and watched some videos on YouTube.

Otters are next.  The kids had fun sliding down the back of the bathtub like an otter slides down a muddy bank.  I showed them pictures we had taken when we saw the otter exhibit at Monterey Bay Aquarium a few years back.  Of course we also watched some videos, including the MBA Otter-Cam and colored a page.

Raccoon is the next one we met.  In addition to videos, we did a coloring page and read Jim Arnosky's Raccoons and Ripe Corn.  We discussed why raccoons are considered pests in some places and how dexterous they are.  We looked at the anatomy of their hands and how they have functional (but not opposable) thumbs.  I taped down the children's thumbs to show them how hard life would be without thumbs!

I found a great video showing Beaver and Otter together during wintertime.  I now can ask a Little is he or she is acting like Beaver or Otter and they will have a character trait to identify.

Whitetail Deer was next.  We saw a doe and her two fawns last summer when we were camping and the children have a great memory of it.  We learned about how bucks grow their antlers and why.  We learned how they shed them every year.  The Lambies spoke of trying to find some next time we are in the forest before the mice nibble them away.  I let them feel some faux-velvet so they knew the texture of the velvet on the antlers as they grow. We read Deer At The Brook and watched a clip or two of the graceful creatures.

I'll continue blogging our activities for the second part of the book when we are finished with them!