Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Autumnal Cookies, Science Experiment, and Whole Books

As promised, Aidyn and I made cookies this breezy afternoon. Wild oatmeal cookies were on the agenda originally, but I lacked an essential ingredient. Thus, we made a batch of cookie dough, rolled it out, and, with the help of themed cookie cutters, made Halloween cookies. Aidyn, involved in every part of the process, helped stir, mix, crack the egg, roll the dough, press cookie cutters in, and enjoy his culinary skills. We made a lovely assortment of witches, ghosts, jack o' lanterns, pumpkins, crescent moons, and witch hats. While we worked together, we went over ingredient names, measurements, and units of time (as we waited for the dough to get solid and cold).

During the wait, Aidyn and I conducted a little side experiment unrelated to our unit study but fun nonetheless. I fished a handful of pennies out of my change jar and placed them in a bowl. Over the bathroom sink, Aidyn and I washed the coins with soap, water, and two old toothbrushes. We analyzed the results; then I added vinegar and salt to the coin water. We watched as the tarnish faded away and we were left with shiny pennies. We also compared these pennies to ones that were not washed and noted the differences. This experiment gave us the opportunity to learn about methods of cleaning, how different ingredients have varying effects, and about the President that graces the penny. He then narrated the experiment to his grandmother and father afterward.

Additionally during the wait, Aidyn and I took in two amazing whole books about horses. The first was called Horses in Dreamland, and we marveled at the beautiful illustrations and rhythmic poetry. The other was entitled With the Wind and the end inspired goosebumps in me and an opportunity to discuss an important topic with Aidyn. Both books are worth a second checkout.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Jack O' Lantern Fruit Salad: Holiday Fun Food

Today, after our excursion to the library, I made Aidyn a jack o' lantern fruit salad to observe the upcoming holiday in a fun, healthy way.

First, I took a tangelo (only because oranges at the grocery store looked a bit bad), and cut the top piece off similar to how one would take the top off a pumpkin. Using a knife, I loosened the pulp and with a spoon scraped it into a bowl. Carefully, I carved two triangle eyes, a nose, and a one-toothed grin through the skin of the tangelo. Once it had its face on, I filled the cavity with sliced red grapes and strawberries. After drizzling the tangelo juice over the fruit salad, Aidyn capped the creature with the top of the tangelo (which, funny enough, has a somewhat pointed top!). Then, spoon in hand, he scalped it and ate the jack o' lantern's "brains."

Fun, festive activity!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Grape Festival/Horse Ride

As a real-world introductory to our next unit study, the family spent the day at the local Grape Festival and Aidyn, particularly, rode on a horse. Following suit of the first unit where we interacted with firefighters previous to our study, we wanted Aidyn to physically connect with the unit before diving in. However, this experience was not our sole reason for attending, but thought it could serve as quality family time, exposure to new things and events, further enjoyment of “rides and thrills,” and as a break from the day-to-day routine. First off, we visited the Reptile Exhibit, and looked at all sorts of snakes, frogs, lizards, and other creatures. Aidyn pet a tortoise, spied a chameleon, stood three feet from an uncaged alligator, and talked with a red parrot. Then, Aidyn and his daddy rode a turbulent (for the average three-year-old) boat ride which Aidyn loved. Later, we took in a zany circus show by the Swan Bros. Afterward, a clown made Aidyn a dragon-balloon-animal, per his request. Fortuitously, Aidyn wanted nothing more but to ride a horse, so we took him over to the area and watched him ride and pose in a cowboy hat. After some arm painting, music-making, and gallery-viewing, the family called it a day.

This jaunt on the horse will launch our next unit study: horses and horse-drawn carriages.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


During the whole of studying along Main Street, we are listening to turn-of-the-century ragtime music. Aidyn and I just made up our own silly dances and remarked on the quirky sounds of the music. Had we not begun this venture, we probably never would have experimented with ragtime music!

Fire House, Main Street U.S.A.

For the past week and a half, we have been focused on a unit about fire engines and firefighters based off the Fire House attraction along Main Street.

On our first day, we checked out firefighter-related books and media from our local library. Along the route home, we spied a fire engine. Waving, we watched as the bright red engine full of smiling firefighters pulled over to say, "hello." The fire captain waved and spoke with Aidyn and offered him a sticker. Out from the back of the engine, a firefighter dropped down and met with us. He gave Aidyn a fire badge sticker and a hearty handshake. While Aidyn and I walked back home, Aidyn exclaimed, "I wanna be one of them!"

What a way to start a unit! I felt like we struck homeschool gold!

Not surprisingly thereafter, Aidyn was so excited to read all his picture books and watch his video about fire engines and fire safety. He has tugged us all to the couch during the past week to watch his video. Putting on his own pretend firefighter helmet, he imagines that he is "Engineer John" and often requests to water the lawn on jet-setting like a firefighter puts out a fire.

Additionally, I have been in contact with a local fire chief who has offered us the opportunity to further expose Aidyn to life as a firefighter. I will be answering the invitation soon and provide Aidyn with a real world chance to learn about real-life heroes.

New Beginnings, Fresh Start

During the past couple of weeks, I have been introducing a new curriculum that will culminate at one of our favorite destinations: Disneyland. Although we've given Aidyn the opportunity to visit numerous times, we have actually never devoted a homeschool curriculum to the venture. That is our new agenda. I worked diligently on crafting a multi-functional lesson plan that weaved key attractions and concepts from the park in an educational manner. Of course, there is certainly room for pure fun and excitement! Basically, I divided the parks into their distinct lands and then singled out the attractions. For each attraction, I constructed a general to specific lesson plan that suits the average preschooler's zone of proximal development.

Throughout our journey, I will document agendas, accomplished tasks, and random reflections until we see it through to its apex.