Thursday, January 27, 2011

Winter and Penguin Activities

If you cant beat'em join'em as the saying goes right! We are embracing this VERY snowy winter and put together some fun winter activities! (we just got another foot of snow last night!)
 I made a winter wonderland! I layed out white batting that I had on the floor for snow/ice. I put out a basket labeled winter clothes for dress-up, made an ice fishing kit: small white bucket, ice holes cut out of felt, rods made from wooden spoons and ribbon, and some golden felt fish to catch.  In the bucket I put a blue play silk for water to keep their fish in that they catch. I also made snow balls with white nylons and batting, this made for some fun snow ball fights inthe house!

 We colored ice and froze it so we could watch the colors melt together.... this was not as fun as we thought it was going to be and they lost interest in it pretty quick, and it turned their hands black with food coloring! My friend Janelle suggested using the colored ice to paint with and it will look like water colors!
 I put this box together for the pin punching.
 During a swap I received this wonderful cork board from Honey, for some reason Mason thought it would look good if he decorated it? Oh the box is the cork board, paper, shapes for tracing and a test tube with a pencil and a push pin in it.

 Lots of penguin books from the library, some penguins and a wooded egg for practicing holding the egg on their feet like a daddy penguin.
 I found this activities on one of these great blogs, but can not find it now..the activity is to paint a tree then use "snow paint" to add snow to the trees. To make snow paint you need, white paint, white glue and shaving cream.
I found it I got it from
Snow dough:
2c flour
2c water
1/3 c salt
2Tbls olive oil
Tbls cream of tartar
cook in pot over med/high heat , KEEP STIRRING until done
make balls and put glitter inside, as the children play with them the glitter comes out!
insta snow this stuff is so cool and it feels like real snow! We added some penguins and fake ice to the bin.

 Another swap item from honey was this diagram of the life cycle of a penguin, also in this tray are animal research cards I got from free download.
 Honey again gave these ice crystals and wooden penguin, James enjoys using the tongs and putting them into the ice cube tray and making patterns.
 These are glass pieces (used for a fish tank) that work great as ice for counting and playing
 I made this tray: blue felt on the bottom, white felt from ice burgs, glass ice, Toob animals, penguins, polar bear, moose, dear, white wolf, seal and fish.
Lots of winter, snow books, The Snowy Day is a great book. 
That adorable polar bear was made by Honey at

Monday, January 24, 2011

The New Schoolroom

It has been a VERY busy week around here!  The new room is almost done!  I am having an issue with shelving...I can be impatient and I want to run to Walmart or Ikea and just buy some shelves so I can finish the I can get myself to actually do that because I try to make conscience decisions on where I buy from, especially big ticket items.  Money wise it would make sense to buy from a big box store, cause you get more for your money, get what you pay for.  We took a ride to look at book shelves at The Mill Store.  They make all pine furniture, and my husband had a hard time spending twice as much money for one we came home with nothing.  I think I am going to have to be patient and get the wood and build them myself...this would be the most satisfying choice, if I can get myself to hang on while I find time to do this!
I also tried Craigslist and Freecycle with no luck.....
Well anyway here are some pictures of getting the room ready.  The boys helped me stir the paint and they got to paint one wall! 

 This is the room just about done...minus some shelves! It is a long and narrow room.  I am standing in the door way.  We had to keep James old bed in there, but I figured out a great way to use it! The far end is James area and closer to me is Mason's area.

 So this is how I used the bed! It has drawers under it that slide back, so I filled them with Science, Geography, Math, Practical Life and toddler toys and pushed it way under, leaving room in front for baskets and bigger materials.  On the top, I took off the mattress and put the wooden cubes across the back. James can use a stool to sit up there and pick and do his work. Two cozy pillows make it comfy cozy up there!

The 2 school desk were given to us from another home school family, but they no longer go with what I want in the room, so as soon as I get those shelves made, they will be finding a new home. There will be shelves to the right of where I am standing as well (hopefully soon) I will repost when it is complete with more details of what is on the shelves.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

New Schoolroom!

For the past 4 years that we have lived in the new house, I have dreamed of turning one of the rooms upstairs into a schoolroom.  With some inspiration from other home school families and thier quest to have new school rooms I have decided that this was the time!  In order for that to happen the boys will have to share a room.  I asked Mason if he wanted James in his room over the summer, then I was considering this before school started and he said "I don't want him to wake me up in the middle of the night"  So I didn't do it. 
Well I just cant wait any longer!  I am hoping with him big brother in the room with him, he will not feel the need to call me in with him during the night.  Hopefully the comfort of knowing Mason is in the room with him will help him to sleep better.  So far after 1 night it worked! He woke up at 5am and Mason said to him "James its to early go back to sleep" .James did, but Mason lay awake until 6.

So yesterday began the HUGE job of rearranging the boys know how this goes, its like a domino effect.....the closet needed rearranging to fit James clothes on a shelf, the Den needed cleaning to fit the couch in there that was in Mason's room, the hall way needed clearing to get the couch down it, the floors needed cleaning as I moved furniture, my closet needed cleaning to fit the small burrow in it from James room, toys needed put into a donation box to make room, toys needed sorted and put away.......

Now that their room is just about done, except for a new book shelf to hold ALL their books! Its time to paint the New Schoolroom!  We happen to have a gallon of paint left over from painting the house 4 years ago that are going to use, waist not want not! We are getting a snow storm tomorrow....sounds like a good day for painting!  Warren (hubby) bought shelving at Lowe's last year from the Clarence rack for .69each! He made me a shelf that we have been using in the living room and now he is going to make another one. 

I think that having a room will help US focus on school better.  I find it is much to easy to give him something to do and then go get distracted my laundry or dishes...or the computer....

I will gladly take any suggestions on what I could put in the room.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Apple Cranberry Muffins

I just made these yummy muffins...we woke up this morning with no heat? So I decided to bake to heat up the house! I exchanged the white flour for wheat and they were very yummy.  The cranberries (saved in my frezer from cranberry season here in MA) give it a tart taste so I recommend adding the sprinkle of powdered sugar on the top for a little added sweetness! I love the If You Care baking 100% unbleached baking cups. Enjoy!

Apple Cranberry Muffins
Makes 12
4 Tbs Butter or Margarine
1 egg
1/2 C Sugar
graded rind of one lg orange
1 C flour (white or wheat)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tes ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1-2 apples
1 C cranberries
1/2 C walnuts, chopped
confectioner's sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  1. Grease a 12 cup muffin pan or use paper liners
  2. Melt the butter or margarine over gentle heat. Set aside to cool.
  3. Place the egg in a mixing bowl and whisk lightly.  Add melted butter and whisk to combine.
  4. Add the sugar, orange rind, and juice. Whisk to blend, then set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, sift togerther the flour,baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and salt. Set aside.
  6. Quarter, core and peel the apples (I use an Apple Peeler ), chop in a coarse dice to obtain 1 1/4 cups.
  7. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the egg mixture.  With a spoon, stir until just blended.
  8. Add the apples, cranberries, and walnuts and stir to blend.
  9. Fill cups three-quarters full and bake until tops spring back when touched lightly, 25-30 mins.  Transfer to a rack to cool.
  10. Dust with confectioner's sugar, if desired.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Tax Break for Homeschooler?

Click on the link below to read the article about weather a Federal tax break for homeschoolers has its Cons!
parent at the helm

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Cummins School House October week 5

Our history lesson was Stopwatch Popcorn! We used a stopwatch to time how long it took the popcorn to pop! This showed a way of "Keeping track of time". We happened to have "real" popcorn on the cob from a pumpkin hayride last year that they spent 1/2 hour scraping and picking the kernels off the cob. We put them in a pot with popcorn oil on medium heat and sat and listened for the popping!
Golden bead Addition, Intro
 OK so this part really tested my ability to keep my mouth shut and let him work at his own pace!  It took him 45 mins to lay this all out! He would spend some time just laying there, or would get distracted by something.  What I wanted to say was "Keep working, or "try to stay focused" I was getting impatient! I didn't want this to be an all day event. He eventually finished the lay out and we moved on to actually adding up some numbers! 

Mason layed out the bead materials we have , one thousand cubes, hundreds cubes, 10's bars and unit beads.
(we do not have all of it, but enough to make do).

He layed out the large number set and 2 small number sets.

Practical Life; Carrying a Tray
Both  James and Mason worked on carrying a tray. We put different objects to make it more difficult. They enjoyed the challenge! I enjoyed watching them control their bodies! 

Physical Science:
I happen to have these exercise elastics that have different stretch tension. We guested which one would stretch farther, and pulled them, marked the paper and observed which one stretched further.

Robin's nest that fell out of our tree

Practical Life;

Mason was tracing shapes.

I made these to be like the insets.  I used foam and cut out a circle, square and triangle for James to trace the inside of.

I have a big bin that I have always used for sensory play, I put popcorn kennels, cups and pouring items for a Fall/Thanksgiving theme.

As you can see they both enjoy the popcorn.
James is playing with homemade apple scented play dough.

Making apple pie!

Smells good!

Mapping a shelf

The Cummins School House October 2010

I am going to try to keep track of what we are doing for school by the month if I can, This is what we did in October:
Mason Writes words in his word book, that starts with the letter "Mm"

This is the "Squirrel Game" I made for James! He LOVES this game. I found thesee jars at the Christmas Tree Shop, they are numbered 1-10. In the number 1 jar I put one squirrel.  To play the game the little squirrel stands on the cork cover and asks for 1 acorn. I pick one from the bowl of acorns and give it to the squirrel and he hides it in the "tree"/jar, we continue asking for 1 acorn until they are all gone.

Autumn Small, Medium and Large matching cards.
I got these from montessoriprintshop 

Autumn Matching cards
also from montessoriprintshop (I think)

James is practicing walking around the rugs, I gave him a pull toy use while he did this.

Mason is working on invertebrate 3 part cards. He also takes a class called Save the Bay where  he is learning about invertebrates all year.
I got these from  montessoriforeveryone

James is working on snapping and zipping, with the dressing frames I made. This was easy, I bought  wooden picture frames cheap at the dollar store, took out the glass, stapled material to fit around it and then added snaps or zipper.

Nature tray

Home school group field trip to Ward's Berry farm for a pumpkin patch hayride.