Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Disneyland-Themed Birthday Party

Our family is NUTS about Disneyland. I was taken by my parents as an infant and every year until I was 14. When my husband and I were dating in 2002, we visited the park together, but when our son was born in 2005, we couldn't stop going. Mostly it's the joy on his face, our camaraderie as a family, the screaming on roller coasters and that euphoric high we share that brings us back year after year.

We have a trip planned in January, along with a Tinker Bell Half-Marathon for me, and so Aidyn requested a Disneyland-themed party for his eighth birthday. The day was busybusybusy, and I wish I would have taken more pictures.

Birthday boy by the food table

Snow White's "Poisonous" Apples, with my friend, Amanda, in the background. She carved the skulls. : )

Disneyland train hauling a rainbow of fruit: red strawberries and cherry tomatoes, orange cantaloupe and Cuties, yellow bananas and pineapples, green grapes, blueberries, and purple grapes.

Jungle Cruise Wild Animal Crackers

Winnie-the-Pooh Snack Mix (honey Teddy Grahams, honey-roasted peanuts, M&Ms, and mini-marshmallows)

Finding Nemo Submarine Fish (colorful Goldfish crackers)

Space Mountain Asteroids with an X-Wing soaring above

Mickey Mouse Pizza

Rainbow fruit tray

Yoda Soda (Mt. Dew) and Vader-Ade (Kool-Aid) and Drink Me flavored water

My friend, Amanda, made us the Disneyland train and painted an 8 on the front. : )

Toy Story Midway Mania Carnival Corn Dogs

Our school white board looks much better without math problems. At least for today.

Mickey Mouse Cupcakes

He concentrated so hard on his wish. Wonder what he wished for...

Though the kids were too busy running and playing outside to watch, we showed vintage Disneyland videos such as The Disney Storycoverage from opening day~ July 17th, 1955, and vintage Disneyland shorts

I gleaned inspiration for my own Disneyland nuttiness and the following websites, which prove that I am not the only crazy one out there! 




Saturday, December 28, 2013

Winter Crafts~ Homemade Snow and Salt-Dough Ornaments

Despite the busy time of year, we were able to squeeze in some fun winter crafts.

Homemade Snow~

Homemade Snow was inspired by Earth Mama's World and was super easy to make. All we did was mix some corn starch with shaving cream to make snow. Here in California, we "go to the snow," so if we can't make a getaway to the mountains, second-best is making snow at home!


Aidyn and his cousin, Danielle, both said the mixture had a funny texture but that it really did feel like snow!


Danielle <3 nbsp="" p="">



Aidyn's immediate idea was to make a snow-beard. In his attempt to look like Santa Claus, I think he came closer to resembling Leonardo da Vinci.





Love that shocked expression.

Making homemade snow turned out to be fun, messy and memorable. No doubt about it, we will make snow again soon.

Salt-Dough Ornaments~

We made salt-dough ornaments last year when I found a handprint-Santa ornament idea on Pinterest. This year, we made the same dough but used Christmas cookie cutters to make new shapes.

We mixed:
 1/2 cup of plain white flour
1/2 cup of salt
1/4 cup of water


Afterward we kneaded it, and Aidyn gave it a few hundred slams on the dining room table.


We rolled it out with a rolling pin and used cookie cutters to make a tree, a snowman, a wreath, and a star. I baked it in the over at 200 degrees for three hours. After they baked and cooled, Aidyn painted them.





He gifted his ornaments to his grandparents and made one for himself.


At his art class on campus, he made a snowman glass ornament that now has a favored spot on our Christmas tree.


If you liked reading about this, you might like hearing what we did with Katy and the Big Snow last year.
Thank you for reading and check back to see what else we're doing! We have some fun and unique unit studies around the corner...

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Fall Catch-All

It would be an understatement to say I have been extremely busy these last few months. Along with homeschooling, I finished my Bachelor's degree, we moved to a new home, and I have been training for a half-marathon. Whew! The first couple of weeks my camera disappeared and half the time I forgot to take pictures.

So here is my Fall Catch-All post about everything (mostly) that we've been up to this season (things are beginning to calm down now, so I'll be posting more regularly)

Fall/Cranberry Thanksgiving Unit Study

Fall words~


Fall books~


Beyond Turkey by Debbie Herman and Ann Koffsky illustrated a fair depiction of the Mayflower's journey to North America, the Pilgrims' settlement and their feast with the Wampanoag Indians.


Thanksgiving wouldn't be complete without reading Wende and Harry Devlin's beautiful book, Cranberry Thanksgiving.


We love the Magic Tree House series, and Thanksgiving on Thursday did not disappoint. The book is filled with Mary Pope Osbourne's research of the Pilgrims' settlement, lifestyle and clothing. It also fairly represents their relationship with the Wampanoag Indians, making no hesitation to admit Squanto's enslavement prior to the first Thanksgiving.

Fall Fun~

Reenacting the first Thanksgiving and building a Pilgrim house

Playing the "Sailing on the Mayflower" game


We also watched a Charlie Brown cartoon: The Mayflower Voyagers Netflix streaming. Here's a slip on Youtube:

 


Autumnal Apple Treats (Honeycrisp apples doused with lemon juice, slathered with peanut butter and topped with autumn granola mix and cinnamon. 

Field Trip Friday (the Fire Station!)~


We toured the local fire station with about 70 children and parents from Aidyn's home-based charter school. My camera wasn't cooperating with the lack of light in the building so I only have a few photos. The kids checked out the fire engines and fire truck and opened each and every compartment. They toured the living quarters (kitchen, bedrooms, living room, etc.) and peeked down the firefighter pole door. Aidyn said his favorite part was looking at how far down the drop was and wished he could have slid down.


What the Camera Didn't Capture:

~a beautiful and relaxed Thanksgiving holiday
~our Thanksgiving Tree we made with branches and fabric leaves (w/ words of gratitude we wrote on them)
~a beyond messy house
~a stressed out mother/wife/student/runner/worker

Storm in the Night/Weather Mini-Unit Study


We read the beautifully illustrated story, Storm in the Night by Mary Stolz (illustrations by Pat Cummings). This is the perfect cuddle-up-and-read book, especially during a storm.


We recorded the temperature from places all over the world. First, we would find them on the globe and then look them up on weather.com. 


After learning the basic water cycle, we made a cloud in a bottle!


Then rain in a bottle! (links at the bottom of post)



We read about rainbows and different types of clouds and painted our own with white paint and cotton balls.


We also worked on winter words, and Aidyn learned to spell some tricky words, including "icicle"! 

Wish I had more pictures to share!

Forecast for the Future~

I am in the middle of a huge undertaking, but we're only in the pre-planning/dreaming stages. We are heavily considering making a trip to Walt Disney World in January 2015 (we'll need a year to save for it!). This will be a first-time experience for the whole family and the furthest east any of us has ever traveled.

As we have done in the past for Disneyland, I am planning a long unit study on Walt Disney World, which includes four parks and many, many different learning opportunities. Of course, most of the unit study will have little to do with the actual parks and will touch on themes within the parks, but I would like to include some stuff about Walt Disney.

I asked Aidyn which park he wants to focus on first, giving him a quick rundown of what each entails. He chose Disney's Hollywood Studios, which will have us learning about:
  • the history of animation
  • the history of film
  • early Hollywood of the 1930s and 1940s
  • early film and television stars such as Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, Lucille Ball,
  • classic films such as The Wizard of Oz and Singing in the Rain
  • sci-fi flicks of the 1950s
  • stage shows
  • and more!
In the meantime, we will be playing a little catch-up, reading holiday books, and enjoying the winter break together.

We're weeks away from a family vacation, at the end of which I will be running a half-marathon in support of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (as a tribute to my late father). 

I am still actively fundraising for the charity, so if you are interested in donating, please visit my page: Paula's Donation Page.

Links for the unit studies above:

Both Cranberry Thanksgiving and Storm in the Night are FIAR books.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Stellaluna (Bats) Unit Study

I'm behind on my posts but trying to catch up!

Post-Halloween, Aidyn and I learned all about bats with a Stellaluna unit study.



Stellaluna (by Janell Cannon) is a sweet story about a baby bat who loses her mother and lands among a family of birds. Stellaluna learns to adapt to her new life as a "baby bird" by eating insects, doing her best to perch upright, and sleeping during the night. When Stellaluna reunites with her own kind, she learns how wonderful it really is to be a bat!

Aidyn loved this story and the touching illustrations of Stellaluna's vulnerable eyes and her wacky face when she tries flying like a bird.

Reading:

We snuggled on the couch every day and read this story. After the first reading, we learned new vocabulary words with a set of cards I printed from a Stellaluna unit study on homeschoolshare.com.


Aidyn acted out each word as I read the definition, and we read back to see how Cannon used the word in her story. Then we played Vocabulary Bingo to practice the words.



The next day, Aidyn reviewed the vocabulary cards and chose a favorite word (clutched) and wrote his own sentence with it.


During the rest of the week, we read other bat-themed books like Bats at the Library and Bats at the Ballgame (both by Brian Lies), Bats (a nonfiction book by Gail Gibbons), Baby Bat's Lullaby (by Jacquelyn Mitchard) and Little Lost Bat (a sad little story by Sandra Markle). Aidyn independently read an easy reader called Batbaby Finds a Home (by Robert M. Quakenbush).

Science:

We were fascinated by bats' keen sense of smell after watching some YouTube videos about bats. Inspired by Delightful Learning, I set Aidyn up for a Batbaby Scent Experiment. I scented about six or seven cotton balls with different aromas and showed him his "baby" and let him sniff the scent. I then blindfolded him and let him try to find his lost baby.


He carefully smelled each baby until he found his own!


This scent activity delighted him. We also talked about echolocation, and he impersonated a bat navigating the night sky using echolocation.

He also watched the cartoon version of Stellaluna on YouTube.


Fun Food:

On the first day, I made Aidyn a bat PB&J sandwich with fresh fruit.


Later in the week, I made  him a watermelon bat and an orange bat.


Writing:

Each day after reading vocabulary cards, Aidyn wrote sentences with his favorite words. We also brainstormed some bat facts, and he wrote about his favorite fact and illustrated it.



Pretend Play:

Prompted by his own imagination, Aidyn donned his Spider-Man bath towel and pretended to be a bat. He called himself a "bean bat," a species he made up apparently. He flew around the house and used echolocation and his sharp sense of smell to collect beans. Throughout the day, he provided me with bean bat stats--their diets of fruit and meat, their habitats, their personality and the fact that they shifted from nocturnal to diurnal creatures depending on if they stayed with humans or not. He also said they were gliders, not flyers, and demonstrated said ability all over the house.

We thoroughly enjoyed our little bat unit study! We're still reading Roald Dahl books, and just finished George's Marvelous Medicine. Aidyn is still honing his reading skills and loving math and ukulele practice.

Here's Aidyn playing the opening music of Super Mario Bros.

video

We have begun a fall/Cranberry Thanksgiving unit study. Last year we covered Cranberry Thanksgiving and had so much fun we want to do it again. Check back soon to see what we do!