Showing posts with label geography. Show all posts
Showing posts with label geography. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Story of the Arkansas State Flag

We travel enough inside of the United States that for for years now, our US geography study has consisted of a detailed exploration of whatever state we're planning to visit or have just visited. It always includes the following:
  • memorizing the state's details and symbols and notation of this information on a large US map (I recently tore down this map, since we're moving, and put together a smaller, portable version on a tri-fold dry erase board that Matt and I made)
  • reading the relevant book from the Discover America State by State series (I LOVE this series, and am slowly collecting all the volumes as I come across secondhand copies), and the completion of any activities that I especially like from the set's teacher's guides
  • reading any good living books about the state and, for Will, one of those larger non-fiction state books (I don't really have a favorite series, as they're all pretty dry)
  • cooking a recipe from the state--we still make Philly cheesesteak sandwiches a lot!
  • including notable places in our travel to that state--we've visited Gettysburg, the Crayola Experience, and Hershey's Chocolate World in Pennsylvania; the Yale Peabody Museum in Connecticut; the Trail of Tears and a set of gallows in Arkansas; redwoods and beaches in California; and of course EVERYTHING in Indiana!
As part of memorizing each state's symbols, I usually give the kids coloring pages, and then they research the correct way to color the state bird, say, or the flower, or the flag. Syd loves this coloring, and will often spend a ton of time making each page just gorgeous, but Will is a kid who is thirsty for facts, facts that even *I*, who also love facts, tend to see as dry, and she just soaks them up wherever they lie, and that's how I found that the simple request, "Tell me about your flag," led to a whole swath of information that I had no idea the kid had picked up in her research and retained. Obviously, I grabbed the camera and asked her to do it again!

 In lieu of studying every single state this way (it would take us to college and beyond!), my goal for us is to memorize all the US states and capitals during the course of our big road trip next month, and then to continue with our tradition of in-depth study of states that we're planning to visit.

I can't decide, though: memorize states in alphabetical order, by geographical location, or by order of statehood? Song, poem, or list? All of the above?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Homeschool Field Trip: Spiro Mounds in Oklahoma

Spiro Mounds weren't unbearably boring as I'd thought they were as a child, but the place was calm, quiet, and peaceful, so I can see how I'd thought so at the time. Straight from Cahokia Mounds with a mind full of context, however, and in the company of my own family, they were quite pleasant to hike:

We had a self-guided tour (a single photocopied pamphlet, borrowed from the front desk, with some faulty pagination--how many decades has it been so?), several informational signs along the way, and our own prior knowledge to help us understand what we were looking at, especially as many of these mounds are vastly smaller than the giant Cahokia Mounds that we were used to. Almost a game to try to see the humps in the meadow:

I believe that this was also our first long family hike through this particular type of terrain:

The kids had mixed feelings about plains-hiking. On the one hand, it's a change of pace, with a much different view--and no hills! On the other hand, there were zero of the shady trees that always lower the temperature as we hike, and, as Will often helpfully reminded us, it was hot!

Matt invented a game with her that I'm probably going to regret the next time we go anywhere: the gist is that everyone is on a field trip (Gee, where could they have gotten that idea?), and they're all whining at their teacher, only it has to be silly whines. So Will can now hike happily enough, as long as she's also whining, "Mrs. Templeton (that's my imaginary name in this game)! My water bottle is only half full!"

"Mrs. Templeton! That squirrel is climbing on the mound!"

"Mrs. Templteton! Where's the bathroom?"

"Mrs. Templeton!"

Yeah. Thanks, Matt.

Of course, in the South, the payoff to everything being blazingly hot outside is that the air conditioning hits you with a wall of bracing cold as soon as you go back inside, so everyone had a pleasant time cooling back off in the museum, looking at antiquities, watching a documentary, and, you know, grinding a little corn:

This museum doesn't have even a fraction of the budget of Cahokia (as a matter of fact, we almost couldn't pay the admission to get in, because they didn't have a credit card reader--yikes!), so I was frankly impressed that the place was as respectable as it was--outdoor historical sites require a LOT of maintenance! I still want to visit Serpent Mound, but with this trip, I think that these two kids of mine have absorbed just about as much information about the Mound Builders as they're going to be able to absorb for a while.

And since next weekend, we have our dinosaur dig orientation with the paleontologists and other families who'll also be at our dino dig in a month and a half, I think it's about time to move our geography and history studies out West!

P.S. I heard a lot about this scandal during our visit, and I requested this book from our university library as soon as we got home:
I'm prepared to be both enthralled and horrified by it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Cahokia Mounds Homeschool Field Trip

As a kid, I swear I was traumatized by the MOST BORING FIELD TRIP EVER to Spiro Mounds in Oklahoma (more on that later). It was hot and buggy, I don't remember actually knowing a bit of context for what I was looking at, it seemed as if all the kids had a bad attitude, including me, and I was so little impressed by the whole experience that 25 or so years later, studying the early Native American Mound Builders with the kids, I had absolutely zero personal information to contribute to our study.

I was a bit concerned, therefore, that our field trip to Cahokia Mounds in Illinois might suck a little, but I figured that at least there are hiking trails, and our kids like to hike, and if it sucked too much we just didn't have to stay very long.

Yeah, we stayed for a LONG time. Cahokia was so awesome that we basically stayed until we either had to get back on the road or resign ourselves to arriving in Arkansas at midnight--Central time!!!

The best part of Cahokia IS definitely the hiking, since you can't climb on any but one of the giant mounds, of course:

Still, it's very fun to hike around the flat meadows, discovering mounds and other natural beauties in clearings and around wooded curves in the paths:

We hiked for quite a while, and then explored the excellent museum:

I researched extensively for our Mound Builders study, and still I didn't come close to providing the context and enrichment and detailed information that we all got here in this museum. There were exhibits on the Mound Builders, on the lives of the Native Americans who lived in Cahokia, on the archaeological excavations of the place, and on the artifacts that were discovered. Syd even found some pottery!

And we're absolutely trying this recipe in the fall:

One thing that was an annoyance throughout our entire visit was the presence of two or three unruly groups of children too old to behave that way on a school field trip. Most of their annoyance wasn't malicious, of course, but simply their failure to realize that there might be any other humans also present, trying to enjoy the mounds, who weren't on their own personal field trip. They did a lot of talking and laughing loudly, covering the entire swath of walking paths in giant herds and not noticing the approach of other pedestrians also trying to use the path, and stopping in groups to have casual conversations while blocking exhibits.

I half-heartedly attempted to justify their behavior to the kids by explaining that maybe these children didn't get to go on adventures very often and were just too excited to remember their manners, but of course what the kids mostly took away from the encounters was my unconscious body language that shouted to the heavens, I'm sure, that I was completely over it. And so, later, as we loitered at the foot of Monks Mound, waiting for Will to catch up and for perhaps that other field trip to descend before we climbed up, ourselves (this biggest mound is the one you can climb on!), Syd happened to look to the path behind us, then suddenly screamed out, "FIELD TRIP COMING!!!", for all the world as if it were a horde of zombies lurching toward us, or an army of Huns bearing down.

We laughed, but we did get our butts in gear to beat them:

Can you see the Gateway Arch in the background?

I hadn't paid too much attention to what the kids packed for this trip, other than to tell them how much of what to bring (four outfits, including underpants; comfy clothes for the car and for sleeping in; Nook/ipad stocked with library books; math book and journal; colored pencils or crayons and pencil; toothbrush and hairbrush; six very small toys; water bottle), so I didn't really notice nor care that both kids had only brought their Crocs, but let me tell you that I will not make that mistake again! While Crocs are comfy, apparently, for day-to-day wear (I don't know--I've never worn them), they are completely unsuitable as active wear. Both kids suffered in them for the entire trip, and Will took to ditching them whenever she possibly could:

Cahokia also has a treehenge, although it was too overcast to cast a shadow:

I'm pretty sure we should build our own treehenge at our new house, though.

If you're planning a road trip that takes you anywhere near St. Louis, Cahokia is an absolute must-see, especially with even a brief unit study of early American history to preface it. There are no resources that even compare to a physical visit (and yes, you could say that about any place, but it really applies even more so here, since there are no digital or video resources that even approximate the experience), and visiting it adds crucial context to any Native American or American history study, context that you're just not going to find elsewhere.

Be that as it may, here are some of the resources that we enjoyed as we studied the Native American Mound Builders and Cahokia:

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Easy Icelandic Laufabraud Experience Using Pie Crust

As soon as the kids finished reading Foods of Iceland, they each immediately asked to make laufabraud (funny, they had no desire to make hardfiskur or hakarl...). Laufabraud (pronounce it "LOIF-uh-broith") is a traditional Christmas food in Iceland, made from bread rolled thin, with snowflake and other pretty designs cut into it, then deep-fried.

Fine, it DOES sound super yummy, but I ain't deep frying nothing for nobody!

Since we read that at Christmas time, bakeries often sell laufabraud bread dough all rolled out and ready to be baked, I decided that pie crust cookies would be a reasonable approximation for us. After all, all the kids really wanted were the experiences of cutting pretty designs and eating yummy baked goods, so no need to struggle for undesired authenticity.

Laufabraud is usually fairly large, but the kids wanted to hand samples out at their International Fair (there's lots of geographically-themed noshing going on at the International Fair, let me tell you), so I cut out small circles from the pie crust using my Pappaw's old biscuit cutter, then gave the kids a clean x-acto knife, clean awl, and plastic straw to make their decorations.

If we hadn't been baking these to pass out, the kids definitely would have preferred to make the larger size--cutting tiny designs into 30 small laufabraud cookies sure gets old!

When the kids were finished with the decorating, I sprinkled the cookies with cinnamon sugar and then baked them as you do any pie crust cookie (burning them a bit around the edges is my own personal specialty):

Even though they weren't deep-fried in sheep fat, they were happily nommed up by all the kids!

I was never in Iceland for Christmas, so I haven't tasted authentic laufabraud, either, but I did once bring home from Iceland a bottle of brennivin wrapped up in sweaters in my duffel bag. I technically brought it home as a souvenir for Matt, but after hearing my stories of how it actually tasted and how it made one feel the next day, both he and I were too chicken to break into it, and instead kept it as a knick-knack on a high kitchen shelf until one night it was spotted in the middle of a rowdy grad school party. This being grad school, there were other friends there who'd also been to Iceland (Old Norse is a grad school thing, y'all), and we were somehow persuaded to open it up so we could all dive in.

I think that the next morning, everyone not already in the know finally understood why I'd been so reluctant to open that now-empty bottle...

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Organizing Written and Oral Reports in Elementary School: The Iceland Project

My kids write reports and essays fairly often, but our homeschool group's frequent academic fairs are great opportunities for them to really dig in and up their skills--and show them off!

I tried a new organizational strategy this time, borrowed from Third Grade Thinkers, that worked out so perfectly that we're going to keep it for all time. Heck, I may start using this method!

After the kids had each read a couple of general resources on Iceland (Culture Grams and Britannica School gave the best results for this particular subject), they chose some narrower subjects on which to focus: Will wanted to write about Iceland's volcanoes, geysers, and glaciers, while Syd was most interested in Iceland's language, food, and horses.

I cut off a long section of butcher paper for each kid, then wrote their focus subjects, plus a section for the introduction and conclusion, as column heads across it. As the kids read and re-read all the print and online resources they collected, I asked them to find at least one general fact to help them write their introductions, at least one fact with "meaning" that would help them write their conclusions, and at least three facts relating to each focus subject:

I LOVED Third Grade Thinkers' use of sticky notes to write facts on, and for the exact same reasons: they're easily manipulated to reorganize the flow of logic, and their small size encouraged the kids to summarize instead of copying. Intellectual honesty begins young, folks--NO PLAGIARIZING!

The next challenge, of course, is to not let the kid just string the facts together to make each paragraph, but instead to contextualize, be it with example, personal observation, or a sense of meaningfulness. As you'll see in the reports, Syd had an easier time doing this in her oral presentation, simply because of the subjects that she chose to cover; she was able to do an audience participation activity when reporting on Iceland's language, and we made and brought in laufabraud (more on that another time, but yum!) to enrich her reporting of Icelandic food.

For the International Fair, the kids had the final challenge of translating their written reports into engaging oral presentations. We did this in a couple of different ways. When the kids wanted to insert something unscripted--such as the Icelandic greetings that they memorized, or Syd's Icelandic naming activity--into their report for the oral presentation, I had them write what they wanted to do centered and in caps in the appropriate spot of their report, so that they would see it as they were reading and remember to pause their report and complete the unscripted portion. This worked okay, although I had to help Syd get her Icelandic naming activity both started and stopped; I'll have to think more on how to help her work through that independently next time. I also wanted Will to look at her report less and at the audience more, so I narrowed the margins on her written report way down, printed it, and then had her cut the paragraphs apart and glue them to index cards. In rehearsals, she did an excellent job referring to the cards but speaking to the audience, but during her actual presentation, I don't think she looked up from those index cards once! At least she remembered to speak loudly and clearly.

Don't feel as if you have to watch this video of their presentations; for one, I'm ashamed of how shaky my camera work is (I don't think I was actually looking at it as I filmed, because I was so focused on the kids), and there's also an embarrassing part in which both Matt and I rush to chastise Will as she's interrupting/correcting Syd mid-presentation, because we're both super traumatized by the time the kids fought on TV and I, at least, wouldn't have been surprised if Syd had leaped onto Will pro wrestler-style and began to roll around with her in a cloud of dust.

Fortunately, everyone emerged from their presentations unscathed, and the little hellions were able to later pose in triumph:

After the presentations, as everyone's milling around and looking at displays and eating geographically-themed snacks, these two totally random people literally just wandered into our conference room and began to look at all the displays. And it wasn't just walk around, glance at stuff, and wander out again--these people were INVESTED! They stopped at one particular kid's Ancient Egypt display, and admittedly, this kid had done a seriously tremendous job--she's too young to be a fully literate reader, I *think*, but she stood there and recited, from memory, just a giant amount of information about Ancient Egypt--but this couple stood there for something like forever, reading all the captions and actually translating the title of her presentation and her name from the Egyptian hieroglyphics in which she'd written them. Matt was pretty sure that they were going to kidnap the kid to be their language officer at the Stargate, but I sort of imagined them as very clueless and naive tourists from some random country, coming to the United States to see all the sights, and then seeing on the library calendar that, "Oh, Guthrun, look! An International Fair! I remember reading about World Fairs in our history books as a child! We MUST attend!"

And since this kid is definitely still in town and hasn't been indentured to the Stargate, clearly my theory is the correct one.

Here's a partial list of the resources that the kids used to study Iceland:

Of course, there are many more than these, and we didn't even begin to cover Norse myths or the sagas or do any of the activities collected in my Iceland pinboard (and how I dearly wanted to help the kids make a set of runes!). Ah, well...

Gotta save something for next time!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Geocaching on the B-Line Trail

Geocaching is one of the skills that Will has taught herself since she began to free school. Using the Geocacher Girl Scout badge as inspiration, she figured out the concept, then how to use to find geocaches, then how (with my ample help and lots of frustrated noises, because that thing is NOT intuitive!) to use our GPS receiver (it's an older model of Garmin eTrex) to program and track those geocaches.

I pointed her towards resources, I read the dang GPS receiver manual from cover to cover and then hit the user boards to troubleshoot when Will couldn't get the receiver to do what she wanted it to do (FINALLY I figured out that's default GPS coordinates are listed in degrees, minutes and decimals, while our GPS receiver uses degrees, minutes, and seconds, although neither actually say that this is what they use nor mention that other conversions exist--ARGH!), and I planned outings to enable us to get to the geocaches that are further away from us than the park across the street, but mostly I just got out of her way and let her explore, work hard, and learn.

On a nice day last week, Will programmed the GPS receiver, we packed lunches and schoolwork and art supplies and reading material, and we biked over to our inter-city walking and biking trail, where several geocaches are hidden.

This trail, the B-Line, is a major foot, bike, and skate thoroughfare, and it's also got places to play--

--art to look at--

--and comfy green spots for two kids to do their math and grammar:

But most importantly, it has geocaches! Will took charge of the GPS receiver, and using it was an excellent hands-on lesson in estimating and measuring distances. It points the way to the next geocache, and states the distance either in miles to the hundredth place or in feet, and over the course of the couple of geocaches that we found, Will got much better at figuring out if we should get on our bikes or walk them, how far we should go before checking the GPS again, and when we were close enough for the kids to put down their bikes and start searching in earnest. 

It was my mistake not to look over the geocache listings as Will entered them into her receiver, since the receiver's accuracy ranges, but is often something like 20 or so feet; to really be able to find the actual geocache within that perimeter, you must figure out the clue, which none of us had read. It's a good thing, then, that Matt didn't have a photo shoot or meeting with a printer or a presentation that afternoon, since I called him at work, talked him through getting onto the geocaching site and finding the listings for our geocaches, and then made him read me the clue for each one. 

Thank goodness for those clues, too! Using the clue for one particular geocache, I led the girls to a big map on the trail, but then I, too, was stymied. It was Will who figured out that the map board had a hidden recess underneath, felt inside it, and found the geocache:

Here's me lying on my back in the dirt to show you what the geocache looks like. So cool, right?
 Fortunately, our second cache was easier to find--it was on the back of this sign:

One of the many nice things about our town is that it's so accessible to those without cars; after our geocaching adventures, we biked over to the hands-on science museum, and when that closed we biked to the library. I *did* have Matt pick us and our bikes up from the library on his way home from work, however, because biking home from the library with the kids is a special kind of hell in which I'm pretty sure they're going to die every second (does biking in traffic with kids make everyone break into a panic sweat? Gawd, it's terrifying!), but overall it was a fabulous day of bikes and picnics and sun and treasure hunting.

Perfect day, basically.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Work Plans for the Week of March 10, 2014: Sydney School

Just as we finally hashed out in our Family Meeting on Sunday, this week I only wrote lesson plans for Syd. Will has a math packet with a full five days of math, and she is welcome to join in with whatever lessons Syd and I are doing, but otherwise she has no requirements beyond our everyday outside activities and chores.

Will has always regularly protested her schoolwork, no matter how much I change my methods to suit her. And considering that this is a kid who reads nearly constantly, who watches documentaries for fun, who, for computer time, usually chooses something from my Educational Links page, and who is a precocious, quick learner, I'm willing to try out letting her manage her own education, to an extent. Syd, on the other hand, has no limit to her capacity for soaking in my attention, and thrives with my lessons and hands-on activities.

If this week is a success, I would like to put a little more structure into Will's studies, such as giving her book lists on specific subjects, having her write summaries of the books that she reads, guiding her to regularly write those research reports that I'm so fond of, and to complete the odd project. I also expect her to join in with most of the lessons that I do with Syd, knowing that quite a bit of her pig-headedness Independent Thinker with Leadership Potential-ness has to do with her automatic rejection of anything that anyone in authority would like her to do, and being invited and welcomed is a whole different animal from being required.

So with that preface, here's what Syd and I (and sometimes Will) are up to this week:

MONDAY: This is Birthday Week for the Girl Scouts, with Wednesday marking the organization's 102nd anniversary. Every day includes a special activity that a girl can complete in order to earn the Birthday Week patch. In our council, most of these activities this year focus on computers and animation--an odd focus, if you ask me, but we've got to sneak in those STEM skills, I guess! Yesterday, both Syd and Will worked for over an hour on that day's activity, that of creating a Google Doodle for the Doodle4Google contest. I can't help but add that Will was focused on her work and thoughtful with her design, simply after being invited to work with me and Syd. If I'd required it, there's the strong chance that she would have thrown a fit, then put in the minimum amount of effort required to meet my most minimal standards.

Syd worked on her keyboard lessons, we spent a furiously busy two hours at our weekly volunteer gig (some of the other volunteers didn't show up, so I was run off my feet--yay for good healthy activity!), there was a multiplication game and a Latin unit, and just like that, fuss-free, the kids were able to spend the rest of the day in play, and the day was actually nice enough that we could all head to the park after dinner, the kids to run around like maniacs (the wall that partly fell on Will yesterday, crushing her thumb, was now completely fallen down. I felt sick when I saw it, and wished that I'd had Matt pull it down in the first place; it could DEFINITELY have killed a kid) and Matt and I to unashamedly play bad basketball on the courts.

TUESDAY: We're eating apple pie oatmeal and leftover quiche right now, listening to "Morning Edition" while Will plays Minecraft on the computer, but in exactly three minutes, Syd and I are going to work through her Math Mammoth packet, read Pippi Longstocking out loud together, complete her next grammar unit, and get ready for a season full of bird watching (I plan to use my salary from last month for Indiana and US guidebooks for plants and animals--we're going to be naturalists this year!). I bet the kids will get into a big fight while learning how to play Pong together, but it's also another gorgeous day for playing outside, and later this afternoon Matt is taking them and a couple of their friends to something called a Girl Scout Songfest.

WEDNESDAY: I'm already worried about this horseback riding class that can't be rescheduled--Will's thumb is still awfully gory and swollen--but that's something that her instructors are just going to have to figure out. We're also going to watch a children's theatre production of Pippi Longstocking, and Syd's going to read Stage Fright on a Summer Night--all by herself!--so that both kids can attend Magic Tree House Club that afternoon.

We are also, although I haven't told the children this on account of I do not want them hysterical with excitement all freakin' day, going to make cake and ice cream from scratch in order to celebrate the 102nd anniversary of the Girl Scouts.

THURSDAY: I'd like to go on a nature walk and find animal tracks to make our plaster of Paris casts from, but it's supposed to snow again on Wednesday, so if all else fails, there's always clay and cats and seashells. There's an excellent, kid-friendly pottery book that we're going to look through together as part of Syd's Potter badge, and then there's an interesting nanosecond project to complete.

And if it *doesn't* snow, maybe our homeschool group will be able to have our first Park Day of the year. I will be SO happy to get out of that dang gymnasium!

Friday: We'll be doing some natural history of Indiana, before we starting learning about the Native Americans. There's a great video to watch, and those guidebooks that I'm going to purchase, and we'll have the whole weekend for our nice, long nature hike.

I finally decided that we'll listen to the Bible chapter of SOTW, and do the mapwork, and color in a Bible coloring book to get a little better of a handle on the stories. I've also made a mental note to introduce some interesting stories from other religions at a later time.

The kids' drawing skills have been improving just a ton lately, so I'm excited for us to do the next lesson in Drawing With Children, and a word ladder should quickly finish up the day with a little logical thinking.

SATURDAY/SUNDAY: I think I will send the kids to that drop-in pottery class this weekend--Syd's Potter badge isn't going to earn itself!--and we have a giant, three-movie Toy Story marathon to enjoy to round off Girl Scout Birthday Week. We might go rock climbing. We might take another hike. We need to build a better gate into the chicken yard. We need to have a Family Meeting to figure out if we're going to buy those couple of Easter Egger chicks that Will wants.

AND, speaking of Family Meetings, we'll need to see if Will's school week went well, or if it's back to the drawing board for that.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Work Plans for the Week of March 3: Latin and Libraries

I'm pretty well over the way that the Box widget that embeds my work plans always insists on scrolling immediately to them when my blog loads, and the way that Box has completely ignored my question about this, so at some point I'm going to have to make the time to research other document embedding systems, sigh. Until then, however...

MONDAY: While the local schoolchildren are suffering through yet another snow day here, it's business as usual for us--it looks like even our local volunteer gig will be open today, so add "De-ice the car" to my to-do list! Syd's working on her factor chart (I got the idea from an old elementary Montessori manual--I'll tell you about it another time, if it turns out well) right now, while Will, who's finished part of her reading work, is heating up some French bread for our breakfast.

We've got chapter 19 of Song School Latin today (more body parts), instrument lessons--and I am REALLY going to have to kick their butts on these, because it's been a while since they've really focused on regular practice--and we'll be able to spend a few weeks doing some regular creative writing, since our local PBS station finally got their butts in gear about the PBS Kids Writers Contest.

TUESDAY: The kids have both Math Mammoth and First Language Lessons today, which I always appreciate during lesson planning since they're so blessedly easy to schedule. A playdate and baking a king cake to celebrate Mardi Gras will use up most of the rest of the day, but we'll also be working on the kids' Girl Scout service project. They need to provide a bookshelf as part of this project, and at first I thought that we might get it donated, but the dimensions required are pretty specific to fit into a limited space, AND Will has expressed so much interest in woodworking lately, that I've finally decided that we'll just make the bookshelf. It's still a little cold for woodwork outdoors, so we may find ourselves with lumber, the portable work bench, and the circular saw in the living room, but I think it's going to be a great beginning woodworking project for the kids, and one that they're guaranteed to see in use every week at our regular volunteer gig.

WEDNESDAY: Will's big Spring Ice Show performance is this night--wish her luck!

THURSDAY: We've still got a couple of chemistry experiments centered on acids and bases to perform, but I didn't get around to getting all the materials for those yet, so I'm moving us on to the paleontology that we'll be studying off and on as we lead up to our dinosaur dig this summer. I imagine that we'll be interspersing this paleontology study with seasonal studies, like botany and animal biology, and kid-led interests, but for now, I'll be grounding the kids' understanding, and sneaking in a little more Latin!

I think the kids are also ready to start interspersing Drawing With Children lessons with other types of hands-on art, so we'll be trying out this copy of The Color Book that I was sent to review (ooh, I just saw that it hasn't been officially released yet--how fun to have it in our paint-covered little hands!)--it's focused on exploring color through a variety of activities, so it should be a fun integration into our week.

FRIDAY: We're soundly into our Indiana study, but I wasn't quite prepared to move into the next chapter of The Story of the World (nor am I quite sure, yet, how I'm going to handle that chapter, since it highlights one of the book's few flaws, Bible stories treated as history--we may end up just listening to the chapter one week and then moving on, but first I need a little more time to decide if there's anything really historically relevant there), so fortunately, there's ALWAYS something more to do with Ancient Egypt!

The kids get in moods in which they seem to forget about formerly favorite pastimes, sometimes, so this week's logic is a board game of each kid's choice, to remind them that they like to play board games! That, combined with a library program, should round out our school week on a VERY fun note.

SATURDAY/SUNDAY: We might go to the Indianapolis Museum of Art as a family, or we might send the kids to a pottery class and claim some grown-up time. We might go hiking, if the weather warms, or we might drag the bikes out and get them ready for a season of riding. We *might* order a couple more chicks from a local hatchery, although every time you ask me that one, my answer changes.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

DIY Montessori Pin Flag Storage

As you probably guessed during my tutorial for setting up Montessori pin flags of all the Olympic nations, at some point or other Will and I have constructed ALL the pin flags.

Every flag.

Every nation.

Every state.

Every province.

Every continent.

It was a ton of work, spread out over many days, and I did not want to risk misplacing or flat-out losing any of these pin flags that we worked so hard on, so I created this manically organized storage system for them:

I store the pin flags in a three-ring binder, pinned into pieces of felt that I've cut to 8.5"x11" and hole punched to fit in the binder. The flags are alphabetized by continent and country, and before each set I've included a key, with each flag's name listed in order. The key is printed on cardstock, to give some structure for the felt pages.

Behind each key the flags are pinned in the same order, and this makes it easy to remove some for a special project, such as a pin flag map of the Olympic nations:

I can easily see which flags are missing, and see where they belong when it's time to put them back.

After each project, I tediously reorganize the flags back into their felt places, repairing any that were damaged, and then double-checking that all were returned and remaking any that are lost forever. It's not a super fun activity, but I do appreciate the order the next time I need to prepare another pin flag project.

Which will be next week. The Olympic nations are going away, and I think I'll set the United States up.

This post was shared with Keep Calm Craft on over at Frontier Dreams.


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