Category Archives: Literature Units

Preschool Fun with the Three Bears

The Three Bears PreschoolThis week I planned Arianna and Nico’s preschool activities around the story of “The Three Bears.”  The kids have been going crazy with the library’s summer reading program, and among the huge stack of books Arianna picked out last week I found Paul Galdone’s version of this story. I remembered how much fun Ian had with this story a few years ago, so it seemed like an easy way to keep the little ones entertained.  We did a lot of different activities this time, so if you’re looking for ideas, be sure to check out that post as well.

In addition to reading The Three Bears, Arianna and Nico did several activities throughout the week.  One day we did a number 3 art idea I got from A Spoonful of Learning.  (First the used three colors to trace the 3.  Then they used triangles to fill in the other 3.)

3 Bears 3 worksheet
Another day they colored, sorted, cut and glued pictures from smallest to largest (using one page from some coloring and sorting activity sheets I found free on Teachers Pay Teachers).  For Nico it was enough just to work on coloring and gluing (I cut his out and let him glue them any way he wanted), but Arianna did the whole thing by herself the way it was intended.

3 Bears sort 1 3 Bears sort 2
 

Arianna also used another page from that set, coloring the picture and cutting out the words to make a sentence, which she was very proud to read herself.

3 Bears sentence
They both enjoyed playing with the Melissa & Doug Wooden Bear Family Dress-Up Puzzle.  This is one of those toys I keep out of reach most of the time to keep it special.  We pull it out to go with books (it’s great with Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?), or other special occasions, which makes it extra fun.

3 Bears puzzle
 

At the end of the week, I let the watch the James Marshall version of the story on a Storybook Treasures DVD.  We also watched the first Salsa Spanish video from Georgia Public Broadcasting, which has puppets acting out the story in Spanish. (I used this series with Ian through Kindergarten and into first grade, but it was new for my little ones.)  The vocabulary in this video went along great with what all the kids have been learning in a different curriculum, so I thought we’d kill two birds with one stone by reinforcing the Spanish lesson and going along with our preschool theme.

I’m really glad I’ve started doing this preschool time with Arianna and Nico.  It has helped them to have something productive to do in the mornings, and they are both so proud to be doing their own “school work.”

proud Nico

Preschool Week With Corduroy

Corduroy ActivitiesLast year my plan to do more with my preschoolers ended up being a flop, so as we started school this week I was determined to find time each day to be intentional with Arianna (4) and Nicholas (2).  This may look a little different from week to week, but right now that means going back to Before Five in a Row.

For our first book, I chose one of their favorites, Corduroy by Don Freeman.  I had a lot of activities in my file from when I rowed this book with the older boys a few years ago, so we pulled those out. (I don’t want to repeat myself, so check out that post for more ideas!)

Both kids really enjoyed playing with buttons all week.  I have a big jar full of all kinds of buttons, and I let them play with them in egg trays.  Nico just had fun moving them around and exploring, but Arianna chose to sort them by colors.

Corduroy button play  Corduroy button sort
I thought she might like a “sewing” activity since Lisa sews on Corduroy’s button, but I wanted to keep it simple.  I threaded an embroidery needle with string and let her string buttons onto it.  She worked on this for about half and hour and was very proud when she finished.  (I forgot to take a picture and of course the string ended up breaking later.  So we’ll get to do that again another day!)

Corduroy stringing buttons 2 Corduroy stringing buttons 1
As a reminder of our fun week with Corduroy, I cut out construction paper pieces using a pattern I found on Serving Pink Lemonade.  Then Arianna and Nico made their own bears and proudly hung them in their rooms.

Corduroy paper bears
They really loved Corduroy, so we also read A Pocket for Corduroy and Corduroy Lost and Found, and we’ll finish off tomorrow by watching the live action movie of the original story on DVD from the Scholastic Storybook Treasures 2 collection. (I guess this collection is no longer sold new, but the Corduroy DVD is also part of the 20 Animal Tales collection.)

Literature Guide: The Drinking Gourd (Crew Review)

Progeny Press review
One of my favorite things about being a parent is reading great books with my children.  There are so many benefits to sharing quality literature, especially having the opportunity to point out biblical truth and engage my children in discussion.  Progeny Press makes this easy to do with their multitude of literature guides.  We recently had a chance to go through The Drinking Gourd E-Guide, which goes along with The Drinking Gourd by F.N. Monjo, a book about the Underground Railroad.

About this Progeny Press Literature Guide

I first discovered Progeny Press two years ago when I had a chance to review their literature guide for Frog and Toad Together.  I loved the experience of reading through a favorite book while also looking at biblical concepts we found in the story.  Since then, I’ve bought several of their other guides, both for younger elementary students, and for high school level books that my husband and I read together for fun.

The Drinking Gourd E-Guide is intended to be used with lower elementary students.  Monjo’s book could easily be read by most 2nd or 3rd graders, but it also works well as a read aloud.  The literature guide itself could be challenging for some students to read alone; strong readers could read the questions and write in their answers, but others could answer the questions with someone leading them through it.

DSCN1516
The 35-page literature guide features the following:

  • Synopsis of the story
  • Background information
  • About the author
  • Before-you-read Activities (books to read to better help understand the time period, learning the “Drinking Gourd” song, identifying the Big Dipper, a map activity, and research prompts about historical figures whose names appear in the story)
  • vocabulary worksheet
  • The main section, with questions for 1-3 chapters at a time.  Some of the questions help make sure the student understood what they read, and others help the student process what they read and consider the themes (such as bravery, honesty, and justice.)
  • A “hidden message” worksheet
  • After-you-read-Activities (Creative writing prompts, suggestions for learning more about constellations, instructions for making a drinking gourd)
  • Suggestions for Further Reading (other books by the author as well as more books about subject discussed in The Drinking Gourd)
  • Answer Key

Like many of the titles from Progeny Press, The Drinking Gourd Study Guide is available in print, CD-ROM, or instant download as an e-guide (what I received).  (Some are also Interactive, where the student can type the answers right into the document.)

Our Experience

Before diving into the book, we went through some of the pre-reading activities suggested in the E-Guide.  Then the boys and I took turns reading from The Drinking Gourd, but since my purpose was really just to enjoy the book together, I ended up taking over completely.  We kept our time short, just going through one or two chapters a day (six altogether), following up by discussing the questions in the literature guide.  I printed it out because I find it easier to use a hard copy, but we really only wrote on a few pages.  I wanted to have a good discussion, rather than making the boys labor over writing in as short an answer as they could come up with, so if the page just consisted of questions, I used it to lead our conversation rather than making them do it as a worksheet.  When they’re older and can work more independently on guides like this, I’ll probably have them write in their answers and THEN discuss.

I love the way Progeny Press study guides send readers to the Bible as they consider the themes in the literature they are reading.  For example, Tommy and his father break the law by helping Jim’s family escape.  His father talks to him about why he can’t obey a law that treats people as property.  The study guide has students look up the definitions for “just” and “justice,” then looks at the story of the Magi in Matthew 2 and talks about how they disobeyed Herod’s instructions.  “Was this the right thing to do?  Why?”  I’m so thankful for these literature guides that not only prompt our family to think more deeply about the story, but also look to God’s Word in processing right and wrong.

We enjoyed The Drinking Gourd and this study guide so much, we ended up spending several weeks Exploring the Underground Railroad.  Also, members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew went through several other Progeny Press guides, so click on the banner below to read their reviews.

Literature Study Guides from a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press Review}
Crew Disclaimer

A Day in Paris (without leaving home!)

Day in ParisThis past week we took a “Fall Break” to celebrate finishing our first 12-week term, but we did have some learning fun one day.  Out of the blue, Arianna asked to watch Madeline, and I told her I would only put on the video if we could read the book first.

So began our “day in Paris.”  The illustrations in Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans show many wonderful landmarks of the city, and I wanted my children to be able to recognize them as real places rather than just pictures in books, so I set out to see how many ways I could expose them to Paris in one day.  Since it was a spur of the moment decision, I was limited to what we already had (or could access from home).

After reading Madeline I made the boys find Paris on the globe and drilled them on the country and continent in which they’d find it.  Then while they all watched the original “Madeline Special,” I printed out Paper City Paris on cardstock and started cutting out the pieces.  I wanted to keep the little blurbs about each piece, so I cut those out as well and glued them to the back of each one.

DSCN0374x
They were fascinated by something new to play with and enjoyed “driving” the little paper car through the Arc de Triomphe and under the Eiffel Tower.  The three older kids played with the set as we watched Travel With Kids: Paris.

DSCN0364x
Then at lunch we practiced using “S’il vous plaît” and “merci,” and watched Ben and Jessa’s “European Honeymoon” on 19 Kids and Counting.  (The BBC has a fun site to help them explore the language a little more.)

After naps, the kids flipped through other books we have about Paris, including more books about Madeline, another Five in a Row book, The Giraffe That Walked to Paris, and a book about Notre-Dame de Paris (good for the pictures).

Ian’s been begging me to to take him to Paris ever since we first “rowed” Madeline years ago.  I’m afraid our day didn’t lessen his desire, especially when he heard about the sewers.  Someday I’ll have to have him read Les Miserables. Then he’ll really be itching to go!

Resource Links At a Glance

Books

Madeline   Madeline's Rescue   Madeline and the Bad Hat   Product DetailsProduct Details

Videos

Product DetailsProduct DetailsProduct Details

Other

DSCN0363x  BBC Primary French

Looking to the Bible with Frog and Toad (Crew Review)

Progeny Press Review

When I was offered the chance to review a literature guide from Progeny Press, I didn’t know much about the company.  The list of available titles included many of my favorite children’s books, Progeny Press Reviewhowever, so I figured they were a company with which I should get acquainted.  I decided that Ian would probably enjoy Frog and Toad Together by Arthur Lobel (a Newbery Honor book), so we printed out the downloadable e- guide and got started.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the experience ended up being an absolute delight.

Progeny Press puts out study guides to go along with children’s literature for students ranging from lower elementary though high school.  In addition to exposing children to wonderful books, what makes these studies particularly worthwhile is their uniquely Christian perspective.  I remember enjoying the Frog and Toad books as a child, so I looked forward to sharing them with Ian.  When we first read through some of the books in the series, it didn’t occur to me to go any deeper than the simple meaning of each story.  However, this study guide turned a classic children’s storybook into a chance for Ian and I to spend time digging in the Bible together for God’s eternal truths regarding things we face in everyday life.  As we read through the simple stories in Frog and Toad Together, we experienced them on a deeper level as we looked at what the Bible has to say about the theme of each story.

P1020928

What’s in the Study Guide

The first few pages of the guide include a note to the instructor about how to use it, followed by a brief synopsis and a page about the author.  Then the study begins with a section of “Before-you-read Activities,” which consists of a discussion about friendship and what the Bible says about it.  Then it goes through the book chapter by chapter.

We went through a story at a time, first reading the chapter and then spending a day or two going through the study guide for that story.

P1020924

I won’t go through the entire book, but each chapter had some valuable lessons.  I loved the way we were pointed back to the Bible with each one.  We spent time looking at Scriptures on things like letting God direct our steps, how He cares for us, how to handle temptation, trusting God when we are afraid, and considering others above ourselves.

In addition to Bible study and thought-provoking questions, there were also suggestions for fun projects like planting seeds, baking cookies, and singing songs to memorize related Bible verses.

P1020935

At the end of the study there were pages to extend the lessons more with extras like creating a Venn diagram comparing the characters Frog and Toad with real frogs and toads and a word search.  There were also suggestions of other books to read, either by the same author or about similar subjects.

The Frog and Toad Together Study Guide is intended for children in grades K-2 and is available as a printed workbook, or digitally as a download or on CD.  (All formats are sold for $11.99.)  Much of the guide consists of questions with space to write down the answers, but I didn’t want Ian to be limited by his fine motor skills, so I let him tell me his answers and then I would write them down.

Both Ian and I really enjoyed going through this study together. He liked it so much he kept telling me to get the study guide for some of his friends in our homeschool group so they could do it too.  I definitely plan to purchase more of the study guides to use with other books we will be reading in the future.

Check out Progeny Press on their website or social media pages:

Facebook –  https://www.facebook.com/progenypress
Twitter –  https://twitter.com/progenypress
Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/progenypress/
YouTube –  https://www.youtube.com/user/ProgenyPress

 

Click to read Crew ReviewsCrew Disclaimer

Little Red Riding Hood

Little Red Riding Hood, Isabel Oakley Naftel (1862)

It’s been a while since we spent time focusing on a fairy tale, so we took a break from Five in a Row to have fun with Little Red Riding Hood.  (See posts we’ve done on other classics.)  I love this story, maybe because it has a redeeming ending.  The little girl makes mistakes and certainly suffers the consequences, but in the end things work out and she learns important lessons, like the importance of obedience and not talking to strangers.  Hopefully our children can benefit from her mistakes!

Part of the reason I chose to do the story now is because it corresponded with our Salsa Spanish lessons. We just started the second unit, which has six videos related to “Caperucita Roja,” so we were able to learn some vocabulary words to go along with our story.  (We use the Salsamaterials from the Wyoming Department of Education to get the most out of the videos.)

We looked at several versions:

We’ve talked before about how sometimes old stories like fairy tales are told differently by different people, so I asked Ian to find differences in two versions and we listed them.

RRH1

We watched a Super Why episode that features the story of Red Riding Hood (Season 1, Episode 9) and enjoyed a free Kindle Fire App. By this point Arianna was pretty familiar with the tale and had lots of fun wearing part of an old Red Hiding Hood costume I had as a child.

RRH8

We had a blast going through many of the activities in the FREE Little Red Riding Hood Pack from 123homeschool4me.com!  I loved that there were several pages simple enough for Arianna (2), but also several pages that challenged Ian (6).  I went crazy with my laminator and then we spent a whole morning playing with all the goodies in this pack.  (I also put some of the pages in sheet protectors in the boys’ notebooks.)  So much fun learning!

RRH21 RRH22 RRH23 RRH24 RRH9 RRH10 RRH11 RRH12 RRH13 RRH14 RRH15 RRH16 RRH17 RRH18 RRH19 RRH20

When I Was Young in the Mountains

Last week Five in a Row took us to Appalachia with When I was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant.  It’s a sweet story that sparked several questions from Ian and Elijah.  So in addition to the lessons we did from the Five in a Row (Vol.) 2 manual, we took a few rabbit trails, which led to lots of learning!

Every time we read the first page, about how the little girl’s grandfather would kiss her on the forehead because he was so dirty from working in the coal mines that only his lips were clean, Ian asked, “Why was he so dirty?”  Finally I went hunting for a video on coal mining.  The best thing I could find was an episode of the show Dirty Jobs, which was available to watch streaming on Amazon (free for Prime members).  Episode 30 features a segment about coal mining.  (PARENT ADVISORY: the first half of the episode is on a different job and contained some rough language.  It was really too bad, because I think my boys would both really enjoy this show, but with a few bad words thrown in occasionally, it’s just not suitable for children.  I did end up letting my boys watch the coal mining segment with me, but we talked about using pure words and not copying people who don’t. I know many parents would choose not to show it to their children, so definitely watch it first.  If you know of a better video to learn something about coal mining, please comment below!)

At one point in the story, the girl talks about hearing the call of a bobwhite.  The boys wondered what that was, and since I knew nothing beyond the fact that it was a bird, we did a little research together.  The boys enjoyed seeing pictures of bobwhites and especially listening to recordings of a bobwhite’s call.  After that, every time we read this part of the story, Ian would imitate the birdcall.

The children’s lives in this story are very different from ours in many ways.  After we had read through the story a few times, I had Ian point out differences.  We talked about how the girl was poor and yet she seemed very content with her life.  I wanted to find a video that brought the Appalachian world alive for the boys, so we watched the pilot episode from the old television series Christy.  It’s about a young woman who goes to teach in a one-room schoolhouse (which doubles as a church, like in When I Was Young in the Mountains) in a small community tucked back in the hills of Tennessee.  Elijah lost interest after a while, but Ian enjoyed watching it with me.

For our last activity, Ian wrote his own story in a style like Cynthia Rylant.  I asked him to share about things remembers from when we lived with Grandma and Grandpa in their house in the hills.  I typed out his memories and then he illustrated the first one.

Mountains1

Such fun memories!

 

Truman’s Aunt Farm

Last week we had fun with Truman’s Aunt Farm by Jama Kim Rattigan.  It’s the story of a little boy who hopes to get ants for an ant farm for his birthday but ends up getting aunts instead.  It’s a cute story that easily lends itself to several lessons.  Ian especially liked it because a friend gave us an ant farm a while back, though our ants haven’t built any spectacular tunnels.  (I think it was older and the gel had hardened a little too much for the ants to dig easily.)  Still, our children have all enjoyed getting to observe the ants up close.

Truman 2

We expanded on the activities in the Five in a Row (Vol. 3) manual a bit.  The most obvious lesson to go along with this book is teaching homophones, words that sound alike but have different meanings.  (The manual refers to them as homonyms, but I was taught that homonyms are also spelled the same, whereas homophones are spelled differently.  In trying to verify which term was correct, I looked both words up in several dictionaries.  Some agreed with my memory.  Others said either term could describe words spelled differently.  I chose to go with what I was taught.)

homophonesI introduced this concept before we even read the book for the first time, pointing out the spelling of “ant” and “aunt” so that Ian could understand the mix-up and why it made the story funny.  Afterword I went through a homophone worksheet with him, helping him choose the correct word for each situation.  Since we are just starting to work on spelling, it was a good introduction to the idea that two different spelling combinations can be used to make the same sounds.  Later that day we also watched several videos on YouTube that featured the idea of homophones: a segment from Between the Lions, “homophone monkey,” and a clip from VeggieTales.  As a follow up on another day we read The King Who Rained by Fred Gwynne.  (Other fun books that feature wordplay with homophones/homonyms are A Chocolate Moose for Dinner by Fred Gwynne, Dear Deer: A Book of Homophones by Gene Barretta, and How Much Can a Bare Bear Bear? by Brian P. Cleary.)

I decided this was also a good time to introduce letter writing.  I told Ian that Truman wrote to his aunt, but he could write to anyone he chose.  He immediately decided to write to his cousins.  I gave him a basic “form” to copy for writing a friendly letter and then let him write the body of it on his own.  His mind started thinking faster than he could write down the words, so he left out several letters.  I just wrote in the complete words above so his cousins would be able to read it, and then we put it in an envelope, addressed it together, put on a stamp and got it off in the mail.

Truman

This tied in with the lesson from the manual about stamps.  I chose to expand on that by showing the boys our family’s stamp collections.  (Both my husband and I were philatelists in our younger days.)  I’d forgotten how fascinating it could be looking through the pages of old stamps.  This hobby taught me so much about history as a child.  I wasn’t sure the boys would appreciate them yet, but they really enjoyed looking at the variety of stamps, especially several that were over a hundred years old.

Truman3

Finally we had fun singing “The Ants Go Marching.”  (I thought it was funny that Ian recognized the song as being a spoof on “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again.”  I remember thinking it was the other way around when I was a kid.)  There are several videos of the song on YouTube, but here was my favorite.  If we row this book again when my other kids are older, I think it would be fun to have the whole family help illustrate the song substituting “aunts” in the lyrics but that seemed overly ambitious this time around.

Another fun week with Five in a Row!

To see what other FIAR books we’ve rowed, see my “Index of FIAR Posts.”  Also, a great place to see what other people have done with FIAR books is the FIAR Blog Roll at Delightful Learning.

Owl Moon

We recently spent a little over a week rowing Owl Moon by Jane Yolen.  This was another one of those books unknown to me before Five in a Row (FIAR) introduced us.  All my kids seem to have a fascination with owls, so we enjoyed our time with this book.  The main character is a brave child (probably a girl, but it’s never stated, and Ian preferred to think it was a boy), and the discussion of bravery fit in well with our current Bible story of David and Goliath (post coming soon).

We did several of the activities in the Five in a Row manual (Vol. 2).  I briefly discussed the Caldecott award with Ian, pointing out the “medal” on the front cover, and ever since he has been calling my attention to other books he find in our library that were awarded either the gold Caldecott medal or the silver Caldecott honor.  When we talked about similes, I first read Ian Quick as a Cricket by Audrey Wood to help him understand the concept.  He wasn’t able to pick them out of Owl Moon by himself, but he was starting to understand when I pointed them out.  It was a good introduction anyway.

We also spent time on a few additional activities:

Literacy

I haven’t worked with Ian a lot on spelling because I don’t want it to be something separate from the rest of what we’re learning.  However I do like to try incorporating spelling lessons into other things we’re working on.  ow wordsThis seemed like a good opportunity to talk about the short “ow” sound (as in “owl”).  I found a couple fun videos about the sound (one from the old TV show Electric Company on YouTube, and one from FirstStepReading.com) that had both boys giggling and reading along. Then Ian did a “word sort” of words spelled ow/ou from All Sorts of Sorts by Sheron Brown.  (When we do these, I have him sort the words independently and then I check them before he glues them down.  After that’s done I have him read through all the words.)

Science

After spending the first part of the year using Exploring Creation With Astronomy, Ian enjoyed learning more about the phases of the moon.  We enjoyed a visual simulation that helped demonstrate what causes the moon to look the Owl4way it does.  Then everyone enjoyed using Joe-Joes (like Oreos) to show the different phases using a guide I’d found back when we rowed Goodnight Moon.  I had planned on using a free set of phases of the moon cards, but I didn’t get them made ahead of time so it never happened.  Neither did the “mystery moons” activity I had thought sounded fun.  Oh well, maybe next time!

As I mentioned before, all my kids are intrigued by owls, so I wanted to spend some time studying them more in depth.  We found a National Geographic special called “The Silent Hunters” on YouTube.  Gail Gibbons’ book Owls is full of beautiful pictures and great information, like the two families of owls: typical owls (Strigidae) and barn owls (Tytonidae).  That knowledge helped our understanding when we had a family movie night watching Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole.  (We really enjoyed the movie.  I hope to read through the Guardians of Ga’hoole book series by Kathryn Lasky as well at some point.)  We talked about what (and how) owls eat and dissected owl pellets. (I bought a Young Scientists kit that contained other activities we can do another time.)  Elijah wasn’t so sure about it at first, but eventually he was fascinated enough to want his own turn studying the bones we found.  If you’re not up to the real thing, there’s a “virtual dissection” available online at KidWings.

 Owl1     Owl2

Owl3

owl5Extras

We had a great time with Owl Moon.  One day we watched the story on DVD in the Scholastic Storybook Treasures (Collection 2).  We also enjoyed the story Owl Babies by Martin Waddell (both the book and a video on YouTube).  Ian’s been really into drawing, so I took him through the steps of “How to Draw an Owl” from Art Projects for Kids.  All in all, I’d say it was a successful row!  The day I was finishing this post, we went to a local children’s museum, and in the room with all kinds of wild animals (a tribute to taxidermy) Ian was quick to find an owl.  “Hey!  We studied that!”  Why, yes, we did.

 Owl6

To see what other FIAR books we’ve rowed, see my “Index of FIAR Posts.”  Also, a great place to see what other people have done with FIAR books is the FIAR Blog Roll at Delightful Learning.

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

While the “polar vortex” froze most of the country, here in southern California we were relying on our imaginations and immersing ourselves in snowy stories to feel like it was truly winter.  Our first Five in a Row book of 2014 was Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening, a picture book of the poem by Robert Frost illustrated by Susan Jeffers. (The most recent edition has updated illustrations, but we have the original version, pictured above.)  It’s a lighter unit than most of rows (intended as a review week), so it was the perfect choice to ease our way back into school.  We did a few of the lessons from the FIAR (Vol. 1) manual, as well as a number of activities about snowflakes and crystals.  We also watched several videos related to snow, including Bill Nye the Science Guy (both Earth’s Seasons and Climates) and Reading Rainbow: Snowy Day Poems

We read two books that went along well with our “snowflake” theme.  The first, The Tiny Snowflake by Art Ginolfi was one I came across as I was looking for Christmas book suggestions, but since it had nothing to do with Christ’s birth, I decided to save it for January, and this was the perfect time to pull it out.  It’s about a little snowflake who learns that God made all snowflakes unique.  We have the board book format, and Arianna has asked for the story repeatedly, so it was fun to be able to include her in our school time.  This book also prompted our morning Bible reading.  I loved reading through Psalm 139 with Ian every day throughout the week and talking about what it means to be “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

We also read Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin (which we will hopefully cover in more depth someday using FIAR Vol. 4).  It tells the story of William Bentley, who is famous for his work photographing snowflakes.  You can find many of his photographs online, and we enjoyed looking at the variety of the snow crystals.  After seeing how amazing real snowflakes are, we decided to make some of our own.

The boys really enjoyed making paper snowflakes.  We used coffee filters, which made it easy to get to the fun part.  I love that even the simple cuts the Elijah was able to do made beautiful art.  They had a lot of fun playing with them and watching them float through the air.  Then we hung them on the kids’ bedroom windows for a winter decoration.

snowflakes1   snowflakes2    snowflakes 3

Making the snowflakes led to a discussion of how crystals have six sides.  I got out my geode collection and let the kids examine the crystals, which fascinated them.

crystals2   crystals

Finally, we made our own “crystal snowflakes” using pipe cleaners and borax solution.  I wasn’t very good at following the directions because I wanted to make a whole bunch at one time.  So I didn’t measure either the water or the borax; as it dissolved I just kept adding more powder, vaguely recalling something from high school chemistry about making a super-saturated solution.

borax1   borax2

Evidently that wasn’t quite what we were going for, because our crystals looked like they were on steroids compared to all the pictures I’ve seen from people who’ve done this activity.  Luckily it still worked, and the kids were thrilled with how they turned out.

borax3   borax4

borax5

(We also had a lovely crystal garden on the bottom of the pan which broke into pieces as I tried to get it out of the pan, and the kids thought the chunks were wonderful treasures to share with their friends.)

Last but not least, we ate snowflakes made from tortillas.  I preheated the oven to 400, warmed up the tortillas in the microwave so they would fold easily, cut the patterns, sprayed both sides with coconut oil and popped them in the oven for 5 minutes.  (The kids were all occupied and I wanted to surprise them.  They’d had a hard enough time cutting the paper, I didn’t feel it necessary to include them in this step.)  Then I sprinkled them with powdered sugar and they were quickly devoured!

P1020524small

All in all it was a great week of playing with snow!  Since we live in a place where we never get the real thing, we’ve had to make a special effort to expose our kids to it.  In the past we’ve taken a day trip up into the mountains for some snow play.  This year it’s been so warm I doubt there’s much up there, so books and movies are the only way we’re going to have any snow fun.  If you’re in the same boat and looking for more fun ideas to go along with snowy stories, check out my posts on The Snowy Day, Katy and the Big Snow, and Very Last First Time.

To see what other FIAR books we’ve rowed, see my “Index of FIAR Posts.”  Also, a great place to see what other people have done with FIAR books is the FIAR Blog Roll at Delightful Learning.

« Older Entries