Saturday, October 23, 2010

The French Flag and More

We had a little extra time yesterday so I thought I'd have the kids make a French flag out of construction paper and then we could print out pictures of the French explorers we've studied this week and glue them to the flag.  Sort of a way to help them associate the explorers to their home country. 
Well we got carried away and they ended up making flags or coloring in printouts for England, Spain and Portugal too.  Portugal was a toughy.  My youngest made the green and red field out of construction paper but the coat of arms proved to be more complicated.  At first neither of them wanted to try and draw it out but ds quickly changed his mind and I'm proud of him for trying it.  He did a great job. We finished them out today by adding the flag of Norway for Leif Ericsson and the Italian flag for Columbus.
Next week we'll be reviewing all the explorers we've studied so I will print out labeled photos (or a name alone in the case of explorers with no pics) and have the kids play a game of it, matching the explorer to his home country.  Once they've pinned the explorer on the flag, they'll have to tell me what he "discovered."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Egyptian Cake?

DD and her co-op mate started on Egypt last week.  For snack they didn't have any appropriate foods so they decided to make a cake.  Yum - has nothing to do with their unit but who cares.  Snack does not always have to tie in with the unit.  I'm ok with that.  Besides, they did frost a blue sripe down the middle to represent the Nile River. :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Our Mexican Co-op

Now that the new world has been "discovered" we need move on to exploration of this new land. Er, I mean the conquering of it because that is in fact what Los Conquisadores did while they explored and went searching for gold.  We started by studying the Spanish explorers and how the two cultures came together to create the Mexican food we know and love.  Our table was adorned with Spanish rice, fried plantains, Mexican bean and cheese dip with tortilla chips and bread with salmorejo.  Here are all the kids smiling still because they haven't tried any of the jalepeno peppers yet.

Everything was yummy and it was fun to try a few new things.  Some we were familiar with and were delighted to eat them again but the salmorejo was a new recipe for us and I had never tried the fried plantains. 

OK - we love food at co-op but it isn't ALL about food.  We did have lots of discussion and mapwork before heading into the kitchen to eat.

I think at this point they were mapping the route of de Soto.  Or perhaps they were looking for the Mississippi River.

Point is, we do more than eat at co-op and I have pictures to prove it.

Even the cat is learning something.  Actually he kept trying to get on the map to show the kids where the route was but they just scooted him off as if he didn't know anything. 

Oh well, the day was finished out with a pinata brought by one of our families and perfect for today.

It was raining out so we had to do it inside.  There's one of the pinata builders right there getting ready to swing.  It's hanging kind of high because a previous hitter knocked it down and the string came out but it didn't break open so it had to be rehung  by wrapping the string around it.  Made the string a little shorter but the kids were still able to reach it because it did eventually get beaten down and candy went flying everywhere.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Papel Picado

Last week we focused on Los Conquistadores and for our art class we made a papel picado banner to hang across the kitchen for our KONOS fiesta.  It came out beautifully and the entire family got to take part. 

Papel picado literally means perforated paper or punched paper.  Some form of this paper cutting has taken place in Mexico since the Aztec empire.  It has changed over the years as different influences and materials have come into the land.  Originally it was called amatl by the Aztecs who made the paper cuttings of their gods out of a heavy paper made from the bark of mulberry and fig trees. Once Cortes conquered the Aztecs this practice began to change due to Christian beliefs and when China began trading in the region they brought with them fine paper that came into use for the cuttings.  Now papel picado is still in use on holidays and as an art form with each color representing something specific.

Traditional papel picado is made with many layers of thin paper such as tissue paper, stacked on top of a sheet of lead.  A design is laid out and stenciled onto the paper and then cut out using special tools that are hammered down into the paper.  Similar to punching a hole into something with an awl.  Care must be taken to punch out just the right spots and the design itself can not be one that would cause the paper to become seperated from itself so that when all the design is cut out, the paper will still hold its full rectangular shape.  Each sheet is about the size of regular copy paper, 8 1/2 by 11.  Although we do not possess the array of tools needed for this art we could make our own variation using scissors. 

For our purposes we didn't worry about what each color represented we just chose bright colors that were available to us on short notice.  We cut the tissue paper down to 8 1/2 by 11 pieces and then began folding the sheets in a fan fold fashion along the short side of the paper.  Each piece was then individually snipped with scissors to create a design down each side of the folded paper, leaving about an inch or so at one end for folding over the string later.  Once unfolded you have a unique design on your tissue paper and you are ready to move on to he next.  We just kept doing a few sheets every day so the kids wouldn't get exhausted from it before we had enough for a banner.  I wanted this to be a fun project and it remained that way.  My son especially enjoyed this craft because he loves making snowflakes.

After all the sheets were made (or we ran out of time just before co-op was about to begin) my daughter glued them all onto a sring to be hung.  We just used regular Elmer's glue.  It held the sheets well and with the tissue paper being so light we didn't have to wait for it to dry before hanging it.  We managed to get the final end of the sring taped to the ceiling about five minutes before the first family arrived for co-op!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Day to Day

I love a good article about someone's daily goings on don't you?  Any time I chance upon one in a magazine I stop to read it.  Doesn't matter who it is.  I do the same thing online when I'm cruising my favorite homeschool blogs.  I mean we all do don't we?  Why else would so many people be blogging, twittering and myspacing if we weren't curious about what other people do with their time?

Sometimes it's all uplifting and I see things that inspire me to be a better homeschooler or a better mom or a better Christian.  And sometimes it's just funny to be able to laugh with another person halfway around the world over the silly things that happen in ordinary life.  But quite often I see things that remind me that we are all human, nobody's perfect and science experiments sometimes go wrong.

That's why today, I am bringing you a link to a day-to-day blog article from Deb.  Take a look inside the daily life of a homeschooling family at Dandelion House Homeschool.  You might find it even better than Facebook.

Monday, October 11, 2010

My T Button is Messed Up!

For the last few weeks, maybe a month now, my letter T key on my laptop has not been working properly.  I thought I had been doing pretty good about going back and checking to make sure it typed in (and that has been a royal pain!) but given the look of some of my blog posts, I'm not doing so well after all. 

So there.  Now you all know why I have so many typos.  Boy they are a nuisance.  And no, I don't think this topic is blogworthy but that has never stopped me from babbling before.

The Carnival is Up!

Check out the Hands On Homeschool Blog Carnival over at Jimmie's Collage!  It looks like it is loaded up this month!  I'm going now to read through it myself...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Don't Say No...

...when they want to make a mess.  Because really it is not their intention to make a mess.  But sometimes creativity can be messy business.

I had been holding aside an egg carton for my friend that I buy eggs from and my 6yodd found it and asked if she could use it to make a craft.  I almost said, "No, I'm saving that for Mrs. ..." but then I caught my words before they came.  Nex I was going to say, "No, I don't want you making a big mess.  I'm tired this afternoon."  Don't give me a hard time folks, I know I'm not the only one who has said these things.  But I caught those words before they came out too.  (Isn't this shaping up to be a good mommy moment?)  What I did say was, "Sure!"  And then I promptly laid myself down on the couch for a nap.  Now, you may be thinking this was lazy of me BUT it is the best thing I could have done for my kids.

When my son saw that his sister was doing something crafty he found an empty ketchup bottle and asked if he could make something too.  So here they are, the two of them in the play/school room/office creaing their little hearts out with whatever they can find.  When I ask what they will make, they answer "ships!"  Dare I ask?  Yes, I do...:"Are they Columbus' ships?"  (We had just read about him that day!)  "Yes," they answer.  (Oh it is too good to be true.)  They even named them the Santa Maria and the Nina.
Who knew ordinary paper table napkins could become the great sails of a magnificent ship of long ago? 
 DS never used the kethup bottle but he filled it with water and it made a nice table decoration for him while he worked.  hey were so proud of what they came up with and Mom didn't mess with them a bit.  I know the moment would never have come out so wonderful if I had been in there putting my two cents in.

Just the Highlights - Leif the Lucky

I think the kids enjoyed our week on Eric the Red and Leif the Lucky.  We asked them to come to KONOS co-op dressed as vikings and be prepared to say one or two things about themselves as if they were Leif Ericson.

One of our moms came with a little something extra.  Her mom had found a pantemime skit for the kids to do.  It was a grat last minute add-on to our day and although sometimes we have nary a spare moment at co-op, God's plans always work out because on this day we had the time to squeeze in an extra activity. 

So off the kids went in their fabulous Viking costumes to their Viking ship to sail across the icy northern seas.  Leif's wife was kind enough to sit outside the boat and narrate.  This was vitally important since the actors couldn't speak.
As I said, the waters were icy on that voyage and a storm blew up tossing the massive ship like a cork.  It was all the men could do to just hang on.

When they finally made it to land two judges were waiting for them.  They had been waiting to hear their case but I'm not sure what the crime was.  Something dire I suppose given the evidence.  I think it had something to do with the Natives of Vinland.

The judges settled the matter fairly and everyone became friends before heading off for snack, Marco Polo style. 

Well actually we combined the spices of Asia with the squash of America.  It was a feast to be remembered.  Crunchy bok choy with veggies stir fried with lots of fresh ginger and garlic, hot pumpkin soup with warm sweet potato bread and honey butter, gingerbread made from scratch and baked in a cast iron dutch oven, homemade pumpkin pie with whipped heavy cream sweetened just a touch and sugary sweet apple crisp. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Random Photos

I just downloaded the pics off my camera.  There were quite a few since I have neglected doing it for about two weeks.  So here are the highlights.  (a.k.a. "my favs")

I told the kids I would pay them to rake the leaves.

DH took DD out for the day.  I think they had fun.  The pics I find on the camera when someone else has been behind it are such nice surprises. 

Why is it that the best photos are always blurry?  I love this one of my husband.  I'd like to know what he and my dd were talking about that got him giggling so.

This is my Mom and Dad.  We were trying to get some good picures of them together but they wouldn't behave.  I don't think they were the only ones laughing given the lack of clarity in this shot.  So what if I don't take fabulous, clear, gorgeous photos?  I'm keeping them anyway.  This is real life and I want my kids to remember it this way.