Sunday, July 29, 2012

FIAR: Grandfather’s Journey (Japan & Birds)

Geography: Japan

We found Japan on the globe and talked about how we would travel to get there – could we drive a car? IMG_3173Treyton was interested to know how long it would take for us to fly there. I looked it up, it would take us about 12-13 hours for a non-stop flight (wow!). We talked about how long it took Grandfather to get to the new world (3 weeks on a boat).  IMG_3175Sushi Take Out

One night, we enjoyed a Sushi dinner from one our favorite family restaurants in the area – and drank a traditional Japanese Soda which Aunt Toni just happened to bring us a couple of weeks ago (and we purposely saved for our Japan meal). IMG_3269The kids LOVE this soda (it’s bubble gum flavored) and you open it by “hammering” the glass ball that seals it – it’s good fun and taste good. 

Japan Lapjournal Pages

Alexa colored some traditional style Kimono clothing for her lapjournal pages as well as a Japan flag. IMG_3359She was proud to be putting together pages that looked a lot like Treyton’s school, but were her very own. IMG_3358

Play-Doh Sushi

I saw the idea on pinterest to make Play-doh Sushi, and I knew Alexa would love it. So a few days after our genuine sushi dinner, we made our play-doh version. IMG_3331Instead of using real seaweed however, which I knew Alexa would not work with after smelling it, we used wax paper. IMG_3336I of course explained that in real life they used seaweed, rice and whatever “stuff” you want in the middle. IMG_3337

Audrey was very excited about this activity, so she got in on the action too! IMG_3335

Craft: Japanese Cherry Tree IMG_3322After I drew the outline of the tree, both kids colored in the tree and then painted with pink paint and soda bottles, their own Japanese cherry trees.

IMG_3324 Treyton’s Japanese Cherry Tree

IMG_3326Alexa’s Japanese Cherry Tree

Science: Birds

Our science topic this week was birds, Treyton actually remembered a lot of information from our MFW co-op from earlier this year, so most of the stuff we did was review for him. Alexa however really learned a lot.

For Alexa I printed off some bird life sequencing cards to put in order from Scholasitc. IMG_3343

Originally I printed off this bird puzzle for Alexa to put together (which she did), but then I found these more simple animal puzzles from montessori-n-such that I LOVED (I created my own labels). IMG_3299So I cut those ones out from felt so that she could use them on her felt board (which she loves) and it works for her to do over and over. IMG_3300I will be using some of their other animal puzzles in a few of our other upcoming rows. I know I’ve said it before but I have to say it again – I LOVE our felt board!!IMG_3305I had Treyton go ahead and use the more complex bird puzzle.

Building a Nest

One of the kids favorite “non-school” activity to do is to build their own nests, honestly, I will find them all over the yard and they will come to me for different materials to try and create them out of. They use the Birds, Nest and Eggs book off our shelf for inspiration and correct design. IMG_3357This is one of their most recent nest creations – Treyton (the head designer) was trying to copy a robin’s nest. He did use elmer’s glue, which happened to glue it more to our front porch than anything else :) but he also added in the mud, strings, grass and sticks he could find.

We listened to a variety of different bird calls on this website. This was something that I had never really thought of, but that I think added a valuable perspective to our lesson. The many different sounds of the many different birds, what a creative Maker we serve!

Bird Houses

Treyton painted and assembled a bird house earlier this year at one of his VBS and we had yet to hang it. This week gave us the perfect opportunity. IMG_3347


Treyton had gotten a wooden bird house a while ago and we never got around to painting it. I pulled it out this week and had him and Lexie work on it together, and then hang it on a tree in the front yard. IMG_3320


Dad even let Treyton run the drill which I don’t think I need to tell you was a BIG deal for our little man. IMG_3350 


Bird Watching

We have two bird feeders in our yard. One right next to the window – we enjoy watching a lot of house sparrows and finches from this feeder. The other is out near our garden. On that one we will occasionally see a couple of cardinals, a blue jay and lots of black birds (which we are not fond of). While bird watching this week I asked Treyton to draw one of the birds from our yard in his nature journal as well as to write a sentence about it – he chose the cardinal.IMG_3345 Preening Experiment

While we were camping we did a bird preening experiment. We took two sheets of brown paper bag. IMG_3220We covered one with oil and left the other plain. We talked about preening and why we thought birds might preen, Treyton already knew so he explained the concept to us. IMG_3226We then took a bowl of water and added drops to both of our bags. We saw the oil covered bag repel the water (like it does for birds) and the non-oiled bag absorb the water.  

We then used a real feather we found outside and added drops of water to it to see what would happen. IMG_3227We talked about how important it is for the birds to have this ability, because without it they would more than likely freeze to death or become too wet to fly, making them unable to feed or protect themselves in certain weather. We talked about how wise God is to design them with this ability.

Bird Classification

Because we are focusing so much on classification in our REAL Life Science curriculum, we went ahead and did the classification experiment they included. We cut up an assortment of random bird pictures (fake birds, presumably) and I had Treyton classify them as though he were a scientist. IMG_3231At first I gave him no direction – after he got started, I did remind him that he should sort them only according to one primary characteristic (at a time). He had chosen to sort them according to their feet type – clawed, long toed or webbed. He did really great at this activity. He really enjoys “pretending” to be an expert. IMG_3232Miscellaneous Printables

Just for fun, I printed off a copy of some bird mazes for the kids because they both love doing them. It was a little too easy for Treyton, but he did it anyway :)

I also happened to run into this bird r-controlled vowel worksheet, which is what Treyton has been working on in spelling so I printed that for him to work on in his spare time.

Links and Ideas (some I didn’t get too)

Grandfather’s Journey on Homeschool Share

Grandfather’s Journey @ Delightful Learning

Grandfather’s Journey @ Our Homeschool Fun

Color the Japanese Flag (and other coloring pages) at

A very helpful list of Bird Units, particularly montessori inspired activities.

Week 3: Egyptian Poytheism and the Judgement of God

This week we finished our studies on Ancient Egypt. We focused on the Polytheism (worship of more than one god) of the Egyptians and God’s judgment on them, primarily the plagues. 

History Read-Alouds:

  • You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Pyramid Builder
  • Story of the World (Chapter 4)
  • Exodus Chapters 6-18
    • Partially in our Bible and partially in our Children’s Bible
  • Celebrate: A Book of Jewish Holidays (Passover)

Other Read-Alouds:

  • Grandfather’s Journey
    • We are in the process of rowing this book – we are spending more than a week on our rows to spread out our activities. We are focusing on the study of Japan (for our geography) and Birds (which connects with our science unit this week).


I had Treyton Draw & Caption each of the 10 plagues, as we learned them - 2 a day. IMG_3180He enjoys these but I definitely think we over did it this week – he was a little tired of doing them by the end. IMG_3181I also had him draw the pictures for his plague lapbook piece which was DEFINITELY overkill.  IMG_3187 I did apologize to him for the busy work, I felt bad, but we were already halfway through it before I realized it was too much. IMG_3233

   IMG_3234 We actually went camping starting Thursday last week, so some of our school we did in our camper while camping.   IMG_3191 We also finished up our Egypt Lapjournal pages this week. Assembling all of our pieces, and finishing the pieces we hadn’t yet. IMG_3365 

IMG_3360  IMG_3362


We learned about the Jewish Passover Holiday this week. I would really, really like to have a Christian passover meal as a family (and maybe invite my mom who started the Passover celebration for our family) but we will have to see when we have time. Possibly the first week in August (?).

Our last lapbook piece of for our Ancient Egyptian studies was a flora and fauna piece – I printed off a bunch of clipart and had Treyton cut out the ones he wanted to add to his book.


Treyton labeled a map of the Israelites route from Egypt to the promised land.


Language Arts

For Spelling this week we are on step 16, the sound of /ar/ spelled –ar. This list was easy for him – he flew right through it.

Treyton has continued working in his ETC book, but has actually struggled a little bit more on this lesson. He was working on the sounds of /al/ (ball) and is now working on /ol/ (as in old). He keeps on reading it /al/ for /ol/ so we are taking it a little slower this week and trying to learn the difference.

Extra Curricular Activities

Swim classes started this week, we have three weeks worth 4 days a week. Treyton is in Level 2 Alexa in Level 1A, both of them are doing GREAT!

Piano: Treyton has been doing private lessons once a week with his teacher for the past 2 weeks. Counting this week we have two more private lessons this summer – however, he is doing so much better in the private lessons we are considering switching him to private lessons instead of the class style.


We started to row Grandfather’s Journey this week which I will posting about separately, but I wanted to briefly point out that Alexa spent some of her school time focusing on that.

She continued through her singapore math book, now that we are up to number 10, she is doing a lot more counting worksheets, which she enjoys and can do several a day.  Math is not her favorite subject however, and she only likes to spend about 5-10 minutes before going on to something else.

She continues to practice her letters, getting better and better at her “tough letters” (like g, k, y, v and the letter 2). I am proud of her progress and her resolve to master them.

Her reading is going very well. We read the second story in her AAR reader.

In Explode the Code she finished two lessons – letter v and z.


For Alexa instead of focusing on the plagues we started learning about creation early (we will be learning about creation next week in TOG). She actually just learned about the 7 days of Creation in Sunday School so this was good review. We focused on the first 2 days of creation this week, I had her start a creation book using card stock. She really really enjoyed making them and I think they really helped her remember what was created on those days. My goal for her is that she can remember what was made on each day, but that might be asking a lot. But so far, so good, she was able to tell dad at dinner God made on those two days. I will post pictures of both her and Treyton creation books next week.

Creation Links (also used in Week 4)

Creation Felt Board I used for creation sequencing

Creation Timeline Pieces and Worksheet I also used for sequencing

Creation Mini Book from DLTK

Monday, July 16, 2012

Week 2: Pharoahs and Pyramids


We read chapters 1-5 in Exodus. I chose to read them out of our ESV Family Bible. We had lots of great discussion about the miracles of Moses and how the Egyptian magicians were able to copy some of the miracles he did and that ultimately God allowed it for a reason. We talked about what we thought those reasons might be.

We read about the book of Exodus in “What the Bible is All About.” I think this will be an excellent resource for us throughout the year.

Alexa colored and painted a burning bush to remind her of the story of Moses.IMG_2792


We focused on Pharaohs, Pyramids and Mummies this week. Treyton loved it.

The only specific Pharaoh we really talked about was Pharaoh Tutankhamen, Treyton was very interested in this boy-Pharaoh. We placed him on our timeline.

Treyton was very interested in the process of mummification and the concept of mummies. I had purchased the Lift the Lid on Mummies kit, and Treyton and I did it together. It was really fun, though I was a little disappointed in the quality of some of the pieces (as in the Canopic Jars were paper), in the end I believe it is this activity that helped Treyton really grasp the concept and process of mummification. He was so proud of his finished project, too, he kept it out most of the week showing anyone who came over.




IMG_2785Treyton’s favorite activity of the week was building a pyramid out of legos. He insisted on adding in halls and passageways, not just one for the burial, but another one for the treasures (or jewels as he says). IMG_2766

I had a copy of the Ancient Egypt History Pocket, we completed the pyramid this week – Treyton loved the finished product.  IMG_2800Lapbook Pieces

We continued working on our Geography vocabulary lapbook piece as well as a mummy, Pharoah and pyramid book.



Misc. Read-Alouds:

Audio Books Treyton Listened to this Week:

Language Arts

A Reason for Handwriting Treyton learned to write the letter Uu and Bb this week. He is doing really, really well with learning cursive – I am so proud of his effort, handwriting is not the easiest of subjects for him, though he does enjoy being able to do it on his own.

All About Spelling we worked on level 15 this week – words with the ending –er.

TOG had Treyton write synonyms for the book “Tutankhamen’s Gift”, he didn’t know what a synonym was so this was a perfect exercise for us to work on together. I’m hoping synonyms will either come up again soon in TOG or that I will remember to do a little activity with him involving them, to help him master the concept. IMG_2765

He did a draw and caption page for pyramids and mummies. He really enjoys these pages, and is so proud of showing them off.


Science: Fish

Our first vertebrate classification was fish. We worked on our labs: measuring, watching and drawing our pet fish. I still really enjoy the REAL Life science, but wish I would do a better job at teaching it. I think we could get a lot more out of it, but often times it ends up as just a last minute add-on. This is NOT what I want for our science, so I really need to get motivated here. IMG_2761


Alexa and Audrey both worked on shape worksheets this week.  IMG_2776I found this worksheet on pinterest and they had the idea of tracing the shapes with stickers. I allowed Alexa to trace the shapes that she could name – she got them all but the hexagon. When I ask Alexa to name the shapes, she does really well, but anytime I say, what shape is this? She can rarely come up with the correct answer (she almost always says square). But at least we’re seeing a little progress in this area, and with a few more activities like these, I think she’ll get it. IMG_2778



Alexa worked on the letters y and v this week. Her handwriting continues to improve and for her age I think she does AMAZING work.


We worked on step 4 this week in All About Reading. Alexa read two bob books (book 1 and 2) as well as the first story in the AAR reader!!

We did a phonics bingo to practice some of the sounds that we’ve already been working with. IMG_2755Alexa continues to excel in her reading. For some reason she doesn’t do well with the fluency sheets, but she loves the flash cards and has no problem with her reader. The first story was called “Jam!” The first time she read it (and the several times since), she needed VERY LITTLE help. I am sooo proud. She wanted to read the entire reader, and was a little disappointed to learn that she couldn’t read it all at once. :) IMG_2756

The two sight words that we are working on in AAR are ‘the’ and ‘a’. She is really beginning to master them - ‘a’ she still says as a short sound if it’s all alone, but in the context of a story she usually says it correctly.



IMG_2793 Alexa received a letter in the mail from one of her friends this past week. She was so excited and wanted to write her friend back, so she painted her a picture and wrote (dictated) a letter for her friend. This was a very important part of her week this week, as she never let me forget that we were working on it, and that she needed to finish it :)


We had a great week this week. I think my biggest problem with TOG is that I still have in my heart this desire to do every good idea I come across on a certain topic, and Tapestry has so many good ideas, it just can’t be done. I need to learn moderation and that not doing everything is okay.

I also want to start focusing a little bit more on science/nature as I have really let those subjects fall by the wayside. These are two of our favorite subjects… I just struggle making time to add-in the extras that I like to, and then I just allow myself to slack and do the bare minimum. One idea I came up with is (at least while we’re still on the topics of animal classification) to row a book (Five in a Row) that deals with our science topic. For example for birds we are going to row the book “Grandfather’s Journey” and for amphibians “Salamandars Room” (I copied that book suggestion from Michelle at Delightful Learning). This helps keep me motivated to add in the science activities I crave so much, as well as a geography (or other topics we may not spend much time focusing on).  Of course the rows will be extra, so we may take 2 weeks for each row.