Conjunction . . . junction

5 Conjunctions with clips

Conjunction junction what’s your function? I cannot get that school house rock song out of my head after arranging this activity for my second grader! Ahhhhh! Somebody help! Oh well.

The focus with this activity was obviously to teach about conjunctions found in sentences. Since I am trying to steer away from worksheets and busy bookwork in my approach to education, I make a constant effort to find and create as many “hands on” forms of learning as possible. This isn’t always so easy when it comes English and grammar.

Conjunctions however, proved not as difficult as I thought. I simply printed off 5 conjunctions on card stock paper and hole punched either side of the word. Then I looped colorful paper clips inside the holes. I then typed and printed out a slew of clauses for my little pupil to combine with these conjunctions using the paper clips as fasteners.

Conjunction Sentences

It’s an easy activity that can be done again and again. The time it took to construct the conjunctions was minimal and they can be used and reused. I may have my second grader write her own clauses as well to intensify the concept even more.

All in all I think it’s an activity that will have a lasting impact. Who wouldn’t enjoy and remember colorful paperclips? I know my girls are constantly stealing them out of my drawers to make necklaces and little inventions all the time of their own accord anyhow!

Snowflakes with Rulers

Blue Snow Bordered

Every August through September our local grocery store puts back-to-school items on major discount. This past year I came across a pile of wooden rulers for twenty five cents each. I racked my brain for a crafty use for such a cheap item. I’m ALWAYS on the look out for opportunities such as this, because crafts can be quite pricey and stressful if one is not careful enough.

I eventually came to SNOWFLAKES! Even though the end of summer is a little early to be thinking about blustery weather, I knew that I would thank myself in the blink of an eye for having prepared something ahead of time. So I purchased 16 rulers to stack on top of one another and make 4 snowflakes with. If you include the paint, hot glue, and buttons, this craft came to barely $10.00, which calculates to about $2.50 a snowflake. In my opinion that’s not bad. Especially considering the paint can be (and will be) saved for other projects in the future.

Construction for this project was a cinch. We simply painted on color and glitter, hot glued the layers together at the center once the paint was all dry, and then covered the center hole with a cute coordinating button. It was fun for the girls and fairly stress free for me.

Haikus Bordered

I don’t mind doing a craft for a crafts sake in our homeschooling, but I wanted to take advantage of our time together and teach . . . something. Since my girls already know about the basic wonders of snowflakes, I settled on haikus. We had read a few over this year, including the long one I wrote about cornucopias and I wanted to give them a chance to write their own. It proved to be a great exercise for language in practicing syllables. It was adorable to watch them test sentence after sentence on their little fingers to see if what they came up with would fit five and then seven beats. They did an excellent job in the end with very little help from me, which I’m happy for.

White Snow with Haiku Bordered

Both my five and seven year old wrote out their haikus (which is bonus practice for each of their writing skills) and we hung them from the bottom of their snowflakes with decorative yarn. To show off all of our creations, I attached them to the walls using poster putty. Since the rulers were so light, they stuck very well and to this moment haven’t budged. The snowflakes are right next to our Christmas tree and the glitter sparkles so beautifully in the evening glow of lights. It’s only too bad that these will eventually have to come down again and be stuffed into a baby box!

Snowflakes All Bordered

Thanksgiving Place Mats – Rewritable

Thanksgiving Placemats Title

Well I said there was a craft coming to correlate with my cornucopia history lesson and here it is! I thought it would be an excellent idea to make our own place mats to use on Thanksgiving Day and incorporating the cornucopia or “Horn of Plenty” was a cinch.

Thanksgiving Placemat Supplies

The supplies needed for this project were mostly basic for those who have scrap booking supplies handy. The only things I had to buy were contact paper and colored poster board.

To make the construction of this project more smooth and to save time, I precut all the rectangles, circles, and coloring pictures (including a large cornucopia) my girls would need to layer. They had their hands full enough with gluing and coloring to make for a creative experience. Besides, I doubt my five or two year old would have had the patience all that scissor handling would have required!

The goal was for the place mats to be constructed similarly to the above photo. I put my two year old’s together for her and just let her color away. This kept her involved while at the same time, gave my five and seven year old a visual guide.

Placemat Process

As a perfectionist I can tell you that it took ALL of my self control not to direct my older girl’s placements during gluing. The urge to take over and make sure everything was centered almost conquered the belief that my girls needed to be free to own the experience and practice those skills for themselves. But I kept my distance because I know the genuine work of my children’s hands are precious keepsakes and my involvement would have killed the innocence.

Once my girls were satisfied with their mats, I covered both the front and back with clear contact paper and trimmed it. I was forced to trim tightly to the edges because I had cut the poster board a little large. It’s ideal, however, to have a lip of contact paper all the way around so that liquid spills (which with my girls happens three times daily) do not seep through.

Thanksgiving Placemats Example

The last final touch, which I am so tickled to share, will explain why there are three blank rectangles to the right of the place mats. These are the spaces we created to write down things we are thankful for. Contact paper is compatible with dry erase markers which makes it possible for us to erase and rewrite a new set of “thanks” as often as we want! What child doesn’t like to write and erase? This feature far extended the life of and excitement for the project. Not only that, but many thanks were able to be encouraged and given to our Lord at the perfect time of year!

(See the category Kids Learn – Holiday – Cornucopia Haiku for a breif synopsis of the history of the cornucopia)

 

Caramel Experimentation

Image

I had an itch for caramel apples. I’ve never tried my hands at them before, but I wanted to make them with my girls this year. I bought all the goodies, the sticks, and the apples. Now, the only thing left was for me to find an excuse to use up home school time for this delicious venture. My clever husband was the one to find one. He suggested that we convert our cooking into a science experiment and test to see just how many caramels it takes to cover one apple. BRILLIANT!

Image

It wasn’t that long ago that I had introduced my kindergartener and my second grader to the 6 steps of an experiment. These are the problem, the materials, the hypothesis, the procedure, the conclusion, and the follow up. A simple posing question like, “How many caramels does it take to cover one apple?” was great for reiterating these steps. I seized the opportunity for both learning and messy sugary fun.

Image

I started by reviewing the six steps in an experiment with my girls and giving them the “Caramel Apple Experiment Worksheet” that I had personally composed. The plus side to a worksheet is the extra hand writing practice it requires. Once the problem and the materials were presented, it was next up to my girls to form a hypothesis. My five year old hypothesized that it would take 4 caramels to cover one apple and my seven year old hypothesized 3. We found out very quickly that neither of these amounts were sufficient. In fact throughout our “procedure” of melting caramel over the stove, we came to the conclusion that it takes roughly 10 caramels to cover one apple. This realization hit me hard, because I knew we had 8 more apples to cover and that meant 80 little square stubborn candies needed to be unwrapped. Whew! It’s a good thing sugar can be so motivating. For our follow up both my seven year old and I agreed that spending more money on caramels next time around would be worth it, since our off brand caramels hardened too quickly for us to stick goodies to. Next year I think I may even try to make my own caramel, but there’s little chance of me finding a way to convert that into a lesson plan!

Cuneiform Tablets

Cuneiform Collage

I am introducing my girls to World History this year and am learning so much personally! I had to give a lesson on the first civilization Sumer and the information was heavy and detailed for their level. I never fear offering too much however, because I know some is getting absorbed and the subject is sure to be repeated years later. I did want to engage them in a project to help them relate to the subject and hopefully commit some of what we learned to memory. One of the ways Sumer developed as a civilization was through their written language cuneiform. When I surveyed some examples of this writing and noted it’s simple lines and triangle shapes, I knew it was perfect thing to engage my girls with. I decided we would simply mimmic ancient scribes by molding tablets out of clay and pressing these shapes into them. I found the alphabet on the internet and what you see here is my girls attempts to write their names. The left is my second grader’s and the right is my kindergartener’s. Not bad huh?

Manna Makin’

Image

My second grader Keeley is studying Moses and the Israelites this fall for Bible. One of the projects in her curriculum was to make your own manna. How fun! This was a great opportunity to steal my dear daughter away from all those monotonous worksheets and enjoy some hands on learning.

Image

These are the ingredients we used. We basically threw them all into a giant bowl, stirred them up with a spatula until it came together, and then kneaded it slightly on a floured surface. I let Keeley get as messy as she darn well wanted. After all this wasn’t our family dinner. Once the dough was kneaded we separated it into uniform balls which we flattened out into disks. A few minutes in a 350 degree oven on a pizza stone and they were ready! This recipe gave quick return for your work, which is good when including eager impatient children.

Image

The Bible tells us that God’s “Rain from Heaven” tasted sweet like wafers with honey. Well I have to say that ours tasted sweet as well. The manna was very subtle and pleasing on the pallet. Our whole family gobbled them up in 5 minutes flat, including Daddy!

Latitude and Longitude with a Giant Sized Grid

Lat n Long

For geography it’s most important to teach a child their way around maps and globes. My goal for the week was to introduce the concept of latitude and longitude. I brainstormed for a time trying to invent a way to make this otherwise tedious subject more fun. Soon I came up with an idea that combined mason jars, clothes pins, string, and candy to accomplish just that.

Layout

I envisioned a giant sized outdoor grid for my girls to interact with. I decided that mason jars filled with water would be my anchoring points and yarn would act as my latitude and longitude lines. Good thing I was abundant in both! Before long I realized that it would be wise to sketch everything out before I wasted time and back strength laying everything out over and again. This was most helpful and made the actual arranging of the mason jars a breeze. Once I had all the jars lined up in their proper places and had filled them 3/4’s of the way full with water, I weaved my string carefully and strategically around to create my latitude and longitude lines.

Labels

Of course each line had to be labeled. I chose to hot glue the coordinates to simple wooden clothes pins and clipped them onto the jars. I also had to make clothes pins for my girls to use for the activity. I labeled these with their initials and numbers 1-4 to mark each of the points I would direct them to.

Candy

With the grid set up and everything labeled the only step left was to pull out some incentive  .  .  .  CANDY! My idea was to give my girls four sets of latitude and longitude coordinates that would mark out a square on the giant grid. They would clip each point with their handy labeled clothespins, and whatever candy lay inside the square was theirs to gobble up in victory. What little girl isn’t motivated by candy?

Lat n Long-5

I will admit that the preparation for this activity was very time consuming. But isn’t the sacrifice worth it to make learning fun and hopefully memorable? To make my efforts go farther we did this activity for two nights in a row, which was just as well because clipping four points for one piece of candy turned out to take time as well. My second grader did beautifully and by the end was able to call out her own latitude and longitude coordinates for the candy she had her eye on. My kindergartener struggled a bit with the high numbers, but understood grasped the concept immediately. With a little numerical help she able to obtain just as much sugar as her sister. I’m happy to say that this activity was a success and I would recommend it to any mom or teacher!