Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Crafting

Just popping in to share a few Thanksgiving crafts we've been working on the past few days, along with links....

Super easy - we used a glue gun to attach everything and stuck a magnet on the back to decorate the fridge.

These took more doing; we worked on them a bit at a time in between doing other things. I look forward to putting these little guys out on my mantel each year.

My boys didn't want to make these, so it was just the girls and I yesterday morning. We followed the tutorial exactly and I love how they came out. We used regular markers (not washable) and the rubber gloves recommended in the tutorial definitely came in handy (though my fingers still got a bit dyed).

I love how they look with the sun shining through the window!

This morning we made these cute little gumdrop turkeys from the November issue of Family Fun. Basically you just take big gumdrops, small gumdrops, and mini chocolate chips and make turkeys out of them. A bit of frosting comes in handy if the gumdrops won't stick. We cut pieces of gumdrops to make wattles, feet, wings, etc. Cute and inexpensive.

I'm off now to make the cranberry bread from Cranberry Thanksgiving with Rose. She was quite insistent that we have it for Thanksgiving, so we decided it would make a lovely breakfast.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Rowing Another Celebrated Dancing Bear {FIAR}

Rose and I rowed Another Celebrated Dancing Bear the week before last. This is a cozy, sweet tale that is just right for November. It's about two bears and the lovely friendship they share, even in the face of jealousy.  Max is a famous dancer, while Boris works at an animal hospital. When Boris expresses dissatisfaction with his job, Max encourages him to try dancing...and the title gives away the ending! This story is set in Russia, and we had lots of fun with that.

Here's what we did!

*Social Studies*

  • We used the notes in the manual to discuss the geography and culture of Russia. 
  • She found Russia and the cities mentioned in the story on our globe.
  • There is an illustration of nesting dolls in the book.

So we spent some time playing with Grace's set of nesting dolls, which I bought for her when she was little (her set came from HearthSong). I may get Rose her own set for Christmas, because she really enjoyed these. 



  • We discussed occupations, since Boris is unhappy with his. Rose wants to be a gymnastics teacher when she grows up. Boris is a doctor, but wishes he was a dancer like Max. 
  • We listened to some Tchaikovsky, specifically the Nutcracker Overture. She was pleased that she recognized the music; it is part of our regular Christmas CD rotation. Kind of a preview of what's to come!

*Language Arts*
  • We went over the vocabulary from the manual.
  • She acted out some of the action words from the story, like kicking, leaping, and pouring tea...and Daddy taught her how to waltz a bit. 
  • We talked about the title and how it foreshadows the ending ... Another Celebrated Dancing Bear.


  • We discussed etching...there is a wonderful note in the book itself about how the illustrations are done, so we read that together. Then she tried her hand at etching (or scratch art, in this case!). To do this, she covered a sheet of white cardstock with bright crayon, then painted black acrylic paint over it all. Once the paint was dry, she used a toothpick to scratch in her design. Fun! I forgot to take a photo of the finished scratch art though.

  • Using the manual, we discussed the warmth of the book...most of the illustrations are done in a burnt umber tone, with highlights of brighter colors.

  • I pointed out the onion domes in one of the illustrations. The FIAR manual had a reproducible sheet of onion domes to color and turn into a Russian skyline, but she wasn't interested, so we skipped that.

  • We spend a lot of time just noticing all the interesting little details in the illustrations...the carved handles on the umbrellas, the shapes and animals carved into stonework, the initial on the doorknocker...there are lots and lots of little things to notice and appreciate.

*Math & Science*

  • We reviewed the hours on the clock and briefly discussed the boiling and freezing points of water.

*More Fun*

  • To wrap up this row we had a wonderful Russian tea. Our FIAR manual included a list of typical foods that might be served. We had cherry tomatoes, radishes, pickles, ham, salami, cheese, and Russian buns and tea cakes from the FIAR cookbook. And of course, we had tea. It was quite a spread! I did end up doing much of the baking myself because Rose lost interest partway through, but that was okay.

And speaking of wrapping things up, we are wrapping up our row of Cranberry Thanksgiving this week, so I'll share that soon.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Monday Musings

For the week of November 23rd....

Thinking about
My father-in-law, who passed away last week. We had one of those sad/happy weeks last week: good memories to talk about, good times seeing lots of people we don't see very much of, but also certainly some sadness for what won't be anymore. Just the way life is.

Some plans for this week

Working on that Thanksgiving plan. Some more Christmas planning and getting going on some early shopping (I hope). We do not shop on Black Friday though - I just can't bring myself to do it, unless it's online. Planning and making our own Thanksgiving feast at home, two days after Thanksgiving. Putting up the first Christmas decorations the first Sunday of Advent...this coming Sunday! And hopefully kicking the terrible colds most of us developed over the weekend.

Homeschool notes

We are on break this week, but I plan on finishing up A Murder for Her Majesty, because we are so close to done. Rose and I need to finish rowing Cranberry Thanksgiving and reading through If You Were at the First Thanksgiving. Other than that, I plan to catch up on some correcting and read my copy of Evaluating Writing .

Out of doors

The temperatures look like they will be all over the place this week. The leaves are finally off just about all of the trees, and I think we may be officially done with leaf blowing and raking for the year. It is certainly not perfect, but in a few weeks the snow will probably cover it all, so it's good enough!

In the kitchen lately

Not much went on in the kitchen last week, and I missed our normal routine. I find so much comfort in routine lately...things like cooking dinner, tidying up, and even cleaning start to look so good and normal after several days of things being topsy-turvy. 

Watching, reading, crafting

I am reading The Night Sister, a suspenseful read just right for being sick! I have also been reading lots of Christmas magazines while I sit on the couch. While I certainly would not choose to be sick,  there is something nice about having that excuse to just sit for hours on end without any guilt. I have been doing a lot of knitting too, and some cross-stitch. And I have discovered Pinterest (I know, I am slow), and I really, really love it. I could spend hours on there, so I have to limit myself. With the kids, we watched A LEGO Brickumentary, which my boys especially loved - they are huge Lego fans. Without the kids, we watched The Theory of Everything, which I definitely recommend.

Hope you have a wonderful week!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Rowing Very Last First Time {FIAR}

Rose and I recently rowed Very Last First Time. We don't currently own this book, but I am considering buying a copy, just because I am afraid it may go out of print! It is a wonderful, adventurous story about a young girl going to collect mussels in a most unusual way....underneath the frozen sea!

Here's what we did!

*Social Studies*

  • We learned the correct way to pronounce the setting of the book, Ungava Bay.
  • She found the Arctic and Atlantic oceans on the globe.
  • We used the notes in the manual to talk about northern Canadaand we looked carefully at the illustrations in the book to learn a bit about the culture, how people might dress differently, etc. Of course, there are also plenty of similarities to our own culture, as this peek at Eva's kitchen shows!

  • We watched a BBC video about mussel collecting. It is very scary what those brave folks do to get those mussels! The video is short, a bit tense, but wasn't too scary for Rose.

*Language Arts*

  • We discussed the title "Very Last First Time" and what it means, using notes in the manual.
  • We spend some time going over vocabulary words from the manual and having her act out such things as lighting a candle, scrambling through the hole, dropping mussels in a pan, and more.


  • We discussed the contrast in the illustrations: the brightness of day before Eva descends through the sea ice,  and the world underneath the ice. I love the illustrations in this book!


    • The illustrations have some elements of pointillism in them (made up of tiny dots), so Rose tried her hand at that technique with acrylic paint and Q-tips. She did an underwater scene. 

      • We looked for the shadow wolf, bear, and seal sea monster hidden in the under-the-ice pictures.   


      • We used notes in the manual to discuss crisis thinking and safety. Eva keeps her head when her candle goes out, so she is able to light another and make her way safely out to meet her mother - with her mussels! We also discussed the importance of dressing for the weather.

      • We talked about tides and tide-pools, but she has already learned quite a bit about those, so we kept it brief.

      • We tried the suggestion in the manual to fill a jar with hot water and salt to see if it smelled like the ocean. It didn't really.

      *More Fun*
      • For our cooking project, we made fry bread tacos. These were heavy, but so good! We eat a lot of tacos, but had not tried them this way before. We will be making them again, for sure.  

      My next FIAR post will be about the row we finished last week: Another Celebrated Dancing Bear.

      Sunday, November 15, 2015

      Homeschool Highlights

      A few highlights from our last week or so of homeschooling...

      Artistic Pursuits K-3 lesson

      Another Artistic Pursuits lesson - Rose experimented with pastels

      Science experiment - Rose asked everyone which container had the most water (they all have the same)

      Christopher's grammar test - he is doing well, and looking forward to finishing for the year soon

      Rose's book "The Year": several weeks of copywork assigned in First Language Lessons 2, then bound together

      A peek inside. I love how it came out! There is a page for each month.
      James plugging away in spelling

      We are all plugging away (or will come be Monday!) with one more week of regular "school" before our Thanksgiving break. I also have some Thanksgiving activities planned, some of which we will do this week and some the week of Thanksgiving.