Monday, July 16, 2012


It has been almost four years ago to the day that I started this blog.  Back then it was it's not.  I mean, I'm sure it could still be fun, but I am in a bit more challenging season of life.  Right now it is just a million times easier and faster to upload a gazillion pictures to Facebook than to sit down, pick pictures, write about them, etc.  I have met some awesome people through blogging and for that, I am very, very thankful, but for now, I am ending this blog.  I will keep this blog open in case I have a change of heart or an occasional post that I want to write about.  Thanks for reading about our lives for the past four years!!!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Little House in the Big Woods: Chapter 1 (part 2)

Last week and this week, we worked on chapter one of Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Click here to see part one.  Several times this week, I overheard the girls playing "Mary and Laura" and Arin thought it was funny to call me Ma and her daddy Pa.  We still were not able to get to all the activities that I had planned to go along with this chapter, but I feel like we did enough to move on.  Arin has been wondering what will happen in the next chapter, so I think she is ready to move on as well.
In chapter one, the family is preparing their food for winter.  We did a page in Arin's Evan Moor science book about things that people eat.
Are you wondering what her drawing is all about?  That is an apple, cut into small pieces (Arin's bottom teeth are loose, so she always wants her apples cut into small chunks) and the other picture is a glass of apple juice with water being added to it (yes, I still dilute her juice).

The story tells of a garden growing outside the family's house.  It also talks about the different vegetables that have been stored away in the attic.  The vegetables mentioned in the story are: pumpkins, squash, red peppers, cabbage, beets, carrots, turnips, onions and potatoes. 
We bought seeds for all of the vegetables mentioned, except potatoes, and we made a chart so that we could compare and contrast the seeds.  We were amazed at how tiny some of the seeds are!

On Sunday, I let the girls plant these vegetables (except potatoes).

To be honest, I didn't have a lot of faith that these would amount to much of anything.  I figured it was the wrong time of the year for most of these to be planted.   But, in just a couple of days, some of the plants had started to sprout!  By Friday, we had:
butternut squash



mystery vegetable - maybe cabbage???  Apparently, I am not the world's brightest gardener.  I wrote the names of all the vegetables on popsicles sticks, but I see that I did not use permanent ink, so the rain has washed away all of the writing.  Oops!
Now the dilemma - what are we going to do with these seedlings?  The pots are too small to sustain them long term and we live in a rental where digging into the ground isn't really an option.  Hmm???

Another food that the Ingalls' family stored away was cheese.  It doesn't say what type of cheese, other than "yellow".  We took this opportunity to do a cheese taste test.  The girls tried sharp cheddar, medium cheddar, mild cheddar and colby cheeses.  They liked the mild cheddar and the colby the best.

In the story, Pa goes to Lake Pepin and catches a wagon load of white fish.  He fishes with a net.  A couple of weeks ago, Andrew and his brother had taken Arin and Ella with them when they went cast net fishing at a nearby lake.  Kaelyn and I did not join them on this adventure, so I do not have any pictures of it.  Instead, Arin told me about their experience.

I love fish.  Fish are my favorite animals.  Fish love me!  My daddy went to catch fish one time and we went with him.  Uncle Todd carried Ella because she hurt her finger.  She cut it on grass. 
I was wearing flip flops, so I walked into the water.  Daddy went far into the water, away from the shore.  He was fishing with a big net that was too heavy for me.  He caught four tilapia.
First, he caught a big catfish, then two or three tilapia, then a little minnow!  Before he caught the catfish, he thought there was nothing out there, just nothing, no fish!
After he caught the fish, we walked over to the car.  While we were waiting to get in the car, Ella and I collected pinecones.
We got home and daddy cut open the tilapia.  When he opened it, there was no blood, but it looked so gross!

Arin learned a little bit about fish in her Evan Moor science book.  She learned that all fish have gills.  Fresh water fish drink water in through their gills, while salt water fish drink water in through their mouths and filter the salt out through their gills.

After Pa caught all the fish, Ma made a big white fish dinner and the rest of the meat was salted and stored in barrels for the winter.  Other meat was also preserved for the winter (deer and pig).  We worked on a food preserving experiment.  We cut an apple into 12 chunks.  We placed 2 chunks of apple into each jar (6 jars total).  One jar was labeled "control".  The other five jars were filled and labeled.  We added the following to the jars: salt, sugar, water, vinegar, and baking soda. 

This experiment takes about a week to complete.  We started on on Thursday, so we have not yet learned which substance will preserve the best.  We've been observing the jars everyday.  After just 24 hours, the apple in vinegar turned brown (well actually sooner, but that is when I took these pictures) and the sugar had started to break down into a syrup.
Pa smoked the deer meat with hickory chips.  We bought hickory chips for the girls to smell. They were not fresh cut, like they were in the story, so they did not have much smell to them.  We haven't tried grilling with them yet, but we went out to a barbeque restaurant where the girls tried smoked chicken.

Laura and Mary loved it when their Pa butchered the pig.  He blew up the pig's bladder and tied the end shut, making a small white balloon for the girls to play with.  Gross, right??  Arin and Ella had fun playing with a white balloon.

As long as they were playing with balloons anyway, I decided to toss in a couple of science lessons.  In Arin's science workbook, she learned about solids, liquids, and gases.

In the evenings, after Pa was done with his chores, he would play the fiddle.  We enjoyed looking at several YouTube videos of people playing the fiddle.  The girls especially liked the videos of little kids their ages playing the fiddle/violin.

Pa would also tell stories to the girls in the evenings.  Ella heard this and was excited to make up a story to tell me.  This was her story:

There was a beautiful family.  Kaelyn was still in mommy's tummy.  Uncle Todd came to our house.  A little girl named Flowery came to our house.  We had some cupcakes for Mother's Day.  Flowery had a cupcake.  And then, Kaelyn came out of mommy's tummy.  And I built a puzzle.  Flowery helped me make my puzzle.  And mommy had another baby in her tummy!  The End
(Just to be clear - mommy does not have another baby in her tummy).

While Pa was telling his story, Laura interrupted.  She was scolded for interrupting.  I pulled out our character cards and the girls memorized it this week.

"I am ATTENTIVE.  I watch and listen carefully.  I am not forgetful, distracted or distracting and I do not ignore or interrupt."

Chapter One summary (In Arin's words)

This story was about Laura, Mary, Carrie, Pa and Ma.  Mary and Laura have dolls.  One is made out of a corncob and the other our of rags.  The girls slept in a trundle bed.  They lived in a house made of logs and had a dog named Jack.  When Pa killed a pig, he let Mary and Laura play with the pig's bladder, which was like a balloon.  They ate deer meat which is called venison.  This story happened in the fall.

Chapter One reading comprehension questions.

I found these reading comprehension questions to go along with each chapter. Arin did chapter one's questions this week.
Arin was unsure of answer #7.  I took the picture before we reread the chapter and she finished the worksheet.


We will also be putting together a lapbook while reading this book.  I will not be using the traditional lapbook format, but we will be using the templates including in two free lapbooks that I found.  One can be found here and the other here.  Instead of using file folders, I will use cardstock placed in sheet protectors and added to Arin's Little House binder.  She worked on the activties that went along with chapter one.

Three things we didn't get to do:

1. I wanted the girls to try venison, maybe in jerky form, but was unable to locate any locally. Andrew does have friends that hunt, so we may be able to try some deer meat in the future.

2. Laura and Mary roasted a pig's tail over fire in their coal burning stove. We did look up coal burning stoves on the internet and we did talk about how they were different than our stove. I wanted the girls to roast hotdogs over an open flame, but that did not happen this week.

3. In the story, Mary had a rag doll and Laura had a corn cob wrapped in a handkerchief for a doll. I really wanted to recreate these for the girls, but we ran out of time.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

B is for Birds

Letter B's unit study has been slow going.  We have been dealing with a lot of sickness around here, plus we took a week long trip to my parents' house after starting this lesson.  However, we have finally finished it and are ready to move on to the next letter...Mm.

Ella worked in her Get Ready for the Code book. We allow this book to dictate the letter order we are going in.

I also flipped through Ella's other preschool workbooks and pulled out any bird themed pages in them for her to work on.  This gives a fun variety to her worksheets.

When we were at my parents' house, we sat on their back porch and did a little bird watching.

This little guy goes to my parents' house every day to be fed.  He LOVES raw turkey bacon.  The girls enjoyed feeding him.

While we were at my parents' house, the girls made the classic pinecone bird feeders.
They enjoyed this messy project A LOT!

We didn't remember to bring string for this project, so we took the bird feeders outside and laid them on the back porch.  We had intended to hang them up once my mom got home, but we never got a chance to do that.  I regret not having my camera more handy.  Little brown birds came by the dozens and ate all the seeds off of these pinecones.  We were happy that we had laid them on the ground where they were easily accessible.  It was awesome to watch, but I am sad I didn't get any pictures.

Once we got back to our own home, we made Cheerios bird feeders (an idea I got from Melissa several years ago.  Thanks!)  They are made simply by threading Cheerios onto pipe cleaners, twisting closed the pipe cleaners and hanging them on a tree.  I think Arin enjoyed this project the most and Ella enjoyed snacking on the cereal.  She wanted to make it into a cereal necklace for herself :)

I pulled out some of the activities that I used with the girls a few years ago when Arin was working on the letter Bb.  Some of these were repeats that Ella had done before and some were new to her because they were things that Arin had worked on in the past.  Ella worked on upper- and lower-case recognition.

Ella and I played a bird themed memory game, while Little Bit watched from the sidelines :)

For our final bird themed learning activity, Ella worked on her counting skills and number recognition.