Saturday, February 2, 2013

Sewing Sheep puppets

Miss K is desperate to learn how to sew. She told me last week she needed to know so she can make up her own fashion designs. I was about to explain that it wasn't that simple, untill I realized that this was not what my Mum and Nana did. For my seventh birthday my Nana and Grandad gave me a sewing set full of real needles, thread & fabric - the works. That same week I made a dress for my sister. It wouldn't have lasted five minutes on her in public but I was proud of myself.

In the last week or so I have been thinking about that gift and realising that this is something I want my girls to have. Maybe not the sewing kit just yet, but I want to pass down the legacy of creativity my Nana and Mum gave to me. All I have to do now is figure out what form that will take.We all need to start somewhere so this week I started to teach Miss K some basic stitches. I am hoping that just by sitting next to us, watching and 'helping'  Mini Piwi will absorb some of the creativity like I did sitting next to my Mum cross stitch or hearing my Nana's sewing machine whirring in the sewing room.

Going with this week's Sheep theme ,we made a Lambie sock puppet. Thanks to Daddy for the old sock donation.
I decided it was best to be prepared and had previously cut out the Sheep ears, nose and tongue from pink and white felt. I didn't have large googly eyes in my supplies so I made those from Sticky backed felt.
Mini Piwi was in charge of the eyes and modelling the puppets while we worked out where Miss K was going to sew on the parts.
Miss K stitched the ears with a running stitch and I showed her how to do a satin stitch to outline the noses. Overall the lesson was a success, the Piwi's made a couple of very cute sock puppets! Apparently tomorrow we are moving onto Valentines day fashions for teddy bears....

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Attack of the Chicken Nugget Man: a review

We homeschool, but at some point in the near future our second grader will likely be taking some form of standardized test. We use the usual bland Test prep books and I was excited to check out an alternative called Attack of the Chicken Nugget Man: A National Test Prep Adventure. It is written by educator, Kamar Sathy.

'This laugh-out-loud children's book is aligned with the new Common Core State Standards. It covers 2nd - 5th grade English Language Arts and Mathematics. Attack of the Chicken Nugget Man: A National Test Prep Adventure is a hilarious story that teaches and references curriculum concepts that students in all states need to learn!'

My review of the book is in two parts –my opinion and that of our Second grader.

I thought the introduction for parents and educators was very helpful and I was excited to get to the rest of it. I enjoyed the first two chapters, especially  the reading comprehension questions at the end of each chapter. By the end of the fourth chapter I was starting to have my doubts about the storyline. I was unsure how a story about unbearably stinky bus rides and bullies are supposed to alleviate test anxiety. I understand the book is fiction. The story is supposed to hold the attention of students Grade 2-5 while they are practicing with the multiple choice questions and learning test strategies. The teachable moments are skillfully disguised in the story. The concept is good, it was the plot I took issue with.

I finished the book and  DD7, seeing the cartoon pictures, wanted to read it. I handed over my kindle. Half an hour later she was still reading and I asked her what she thought. She says ‘it’s fine' and goes back to reading’. Her usual chapter book genre is anything Animal, Unicorns and fairies, so I was surprised. Apparently the only thing she had to complain about was that there were no pictures of Chicken nugget man. So there we have it, DD implied I was overreacting and suggests I didn’t like it because ‘you’re not a kid’.

Overall, it is great to see an alternative to Test preparation workbooks. I have some reservations about the storyline but it is clearly not aimed towards the Mama demographic. As DD points out it is for kids. It would be great to see some other story lines in the future. DD suggests a female Super hero.

I was sent Attack of the Chicken Nugget man in exchange for an honest review. to be submitted to Student Solutions, Inc, via Netgalley. I will not receive any monetary compensation from the publisher or Netgalley. The links to amazon do contain affiliate links where I do receive a small commission for any purchases made through this link.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Eco-flash cards for learning Tagalog

Up until now I haven't posted a lot about our fairly informal Tagalog lessons. Last year I wrote about beginning Tagalog lessons if you would like more background.

We are learning Tagalog animal words this week. I was going to make up some flash cards myself but realized that it would be a fun project to do together. 

The cards were made from mostly re purposed paper and card. I had saved up some unused tot pack pictures, and used drawing papers. All we needed to print out was the Tagalog and English words.

Matching Tagalog words with English meaning for gluing onto the flashcards (sneaky memorization activity)

Mini Piwi was all about cutting out the words and pictures
Cutting up the boxes into cards

Some of our Tagalog flash cards
The recycling pile also supplied a flash card holder!
Wow, I'm am so pleased I didn't make the cards up myself. We had a lot of fun learning together. There were also some extra benefits I couldn't have predicted. The kids proudly showed the cards to Daddy and he naturally began working on their pronunciation. It was awesome to watch! Tonight, Miss K recalled the words for every single animal on the 10 cards we made yesterday!

Tagalog books on our bookshelf

Fluffy Sheep fun

This week in Piwi Pre K is all about S for Sheep. Our first book to explore was Russell the Sheep by Rob Scotton. Poor Russell can't fall asleep and he has tried every thing! After reading the story we looked at each illustration again and asked Mini Piwi how she thought things in the pictures would feel. Rob Scotton did a great job at making the Sheep look so soft and fluffy!

 Mini Piwi made her own fluffy Russell with a Paper plate and cotton balls. Apparently it looked suitable fluffy to Perry the cat, because I caught him licking it -ew!

To practice letter tracing we made up another Paper plate sheep complete with an S. The S is covered with several layers of invisible tape to make it raised and to protect it from some of the things we plan to put on the plate this week. 

First up was rice. Here Mini Piwi is searching for the letter and then tracing it. She was super excited to play with the rice and made piles with it before scooping it back onto the plate.
It would be really neat if the Piwi's could visit a farm with some baby lambs in the Spring but I'm not sure there are many Sheep around here. Miss K visited a sheep farm in Auckland, New Zealand during our last trip home but Mini Piwi hasn't see them yet. If the Piwi's grew up in New Zealand Sheep would not be such a novelty.


 Fun fact: The population of New Zealand is approx. 4.43 Million (source), we have 31.1 Million Sheep (source) That's about 7.5 sheep per person.You don't need to travel too far to see a sheep -or a thousand. Still. for me, there is nothing cuter than lambs frolicking in the green spring paddocks (that's a British/Kiwi word for a field). 

French Unit study

Free Clipart Images

Miss K worked hard on her French unit last week. The unit was based around a literature link from the Learning through Literature curriculum. It focused on Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans.  During the literature study we were surprised to learn that this story was first published in 1939 and that it even had an official web site and fan club

The 3D notebooking pages included:

Geography mini books are from homeschool share. Nat Geo Kids is our go to for research. The photos and videos on there are great! 

Intro to French: After an introduction to Spanish last year Miss K enjoyed hearing french spoken and recorded the common greetings (printables also from Homeschool share). It also prompted a comparison to the Tagalog (Filipino) she hears Daddy speak and we are slowly learning.

Fashion Design: After reading a kids fashion design book I was reviewing this week Miss K was even inspired to create what she called 'french fashion'. She also wanted me to point out that the model in the design below is carrying a poodle dog carrier and not just an ordinary handbag ;-)

The Monet Art study was one of the favorites things we did this week. The mini books we made ourselves. I posted all the fun here

Another popular part of our 'tour' of France was sampling some French foods. Miss K made Pain au chocolat all by herself. She wrapped up some chocolate chips in crescent roll dough (from Immaculate Baking). They looked pretty close to the real thing! They disappeared pretty fast too!

the brand of rolls we used..

Monday, January 28, 2013

Dinosaur Countdown: book review & Pre K Dino roundup

Dinosaur Countdown by Nicholas Oldman (Kids can Press, August, 2012)
The Piwi’s are pretty big on dinosaurs thanks to Dinosaur train and several visits to see the amazing Paleontology Hall at Houston’sMuseum of Nature and Science. When I was offered the chance to review Dinosaur countdown, by Nicholas Oldman, we were pretty excited. I read through it first and was impressed; it includes some of the less well known dinosaurs as well as the favorites like T-rex.  The dinosaurs are painted in bright fall themed colors which look good against the white background. Mini Piwi is 3 and really into counting books and Dinos so I thought she would want to read it over and over. Unfortunately she just wasn’t that into it. Big sis, 7 (who isn’t really the target audience) liked that she learnt a few new Dinosaurs and liked the illustrations. I can imagine there will be many Pre-K dino fans out there that will love this book, I would have picked it up as a gift for my nephew if he was still that age (he probably wouldn’t appreciate it now that he is 12).
Earlier this year we had a week of D is for Dinosaurs. Here are some of the resources we used.
  • Dino number  stomp from Pre K pages -'Stomp' with a stamp or dot marker the number of times shown on the dinosaur.

I was sent Dinosaur countdown in exchange for an honest review. to be submitted to Kids can press via I will not receive any monetary compensation from the publisher or Netgalley. The links to amazon do contain affiliate links where I do receive a small commission for any purchases made through this link.

Pre 'writing' with a brush

A few weeks ago Mini Piwi didn't seem to me having much fun with the printables we had been using. It may have just been a grumpy week but it made me think more about other ways she could practice pre-writing skills. Last year was all about cutting, glue and glitter. At the moment we are going through paint like anything so I figured we should start with that! This week we did some paint and pigment 'writing'. Here are two fun ways we used to introduce letter formation to Mini Piwi.

Oil & water 'writing'

To begin with I demonstrated painting lines and swirls with water colors and then Mini Piwi had a go...

For the Oil and water activity the letter R was in Oil Pastel. Mini Piwi traced it with her brush. Because of the fun effect water colors have on pastels she was really trying hard to paint right on the lines!

Disappearing letters.

Mini Piwi made lines and swirls onto coffee filters, with markers. I added a few letter Rs.
Next we laid out all the decorated filters on the Kitchen counter.

Mini Piwi then used a little squeeze bottle of water (a recycled trial size shampoo bottle) and traced the outline of the letters with the stream of water. Here she is wondering what happened to the letter R!
Her favorite effect was from a bright pink and red marker.

We made a lot...
 Big sis has claimed them for a project next week.