28 October 2012

Farm and more farms

This is a picture-loaded post. We went to two farms in a row for our field trips. Farm One was more for fall fun and entertainment. So we did a duck race, the hay ride, three different mazes, pumpkin coloring, and having a picnic. It was alot of fun for the kids.
Coqui, Zoodle, and Chickie working at the pump to make little ducks race through the water
The boys ready for the hay ride
The weather was just perfect for our trip
Coqui and Peanut; but Munchkin and me were there as well.....

Being friends, and making friends.

Farm Two is a working farm, a real farm with animals and fields and, yes, a few fun exhibitions to attract visitors like us. It was fun and the kids actually really learned something. This time, we started with a real picnic and went on excursion then. We participated at another hay ride, a visual tour of the farm, a cow milking, animal exhibitions (snakes, turtles, ostriches, donkeys, crows, pigs, and many more), and flower exhibitions. We walked for quiet some time.....

26 October 2012

Lapbook about Health

We have been working on their health lapbooks for two weeks, one week before Columbus and then the week after. It was a lot of work and so the books are quiet big.

This time, we met at a playground, presented the lapbooks in the beautiful sunshine and let the kids play afterwards.

So the lapbook was so big because we wanted to cover a few things that are part of our curriculum and a bit of stuff that Beth wanted to cover. So on the front page you can see ALL the things we talked about, which included: posture, nutrition, exercise, sleep, right thoughts, hygiene, and kindness.

Making the lapbook was fun even though it was alot of work, but it was hands-on and practical and the kids really understood the things we discussed because they are doing them themselves. We had alot of fun with the posture and exercising because we practiced those in the house, counting how many times Coqui or Mami could jump on either leg without falling, etc....

I was looking forward to talk about nutrition as my son had decided a while ago that he doesn't like a lot of food anymore, especially vegetables. So it was good to talk about the food pyramid, or like the plate they are doing now. Beth came up with these two characters, Healthy Herold and Unhealthy Uzziah. SO he had to draw a plate with 'good' food for the boy who makes 'good' choices. And then a plate with the unhealthy choices for the other boy. He had way too much fun with the latter. We even talked about how it makes us feel when we make healthy choices and when we don't make those.

We also did some experiments for this, like counting the glasses of water he drinks per day - which is usually way too little but with this he was motivated to drink more - which has lasted until now.

He also really wanted to trace the different systems of the human body. So we got some tracing paper and a book from the library and went to work. I traced four bodies, you know, only the outer lines of a boy, and he then had to draw (aka copy from the picture) the different systems into the bodies. He did such a good job with that. In the picture, you can see the circulatory system.

Hygiene was one of those things that was good for him to hear. I think boys tend to care a little less how they look or smell or appear to others. It is important for them to know that they don't need to be just handsome but that cleanliness is important to feel good about themselves.
 So we talked about washing hands, and HOW. How to wash their bodies - less dirty to progressively more dirty areas. We talked about their teeth, how to brush them and the role of a dentist. Then we talked about germs - which was a cool topic for the kids. There was quite some laughing going on while working on the worksheets and at the presentation. I guess, for kids, this is funny and fascinating at the same time.

The last thing was talking about clean rooms, folding clothes, and other ways, HOW kids can HELP to live in a clean environment, like their home, the garden, and their community.

Overall, it was two intense weeks, but I think the kids got alot out of it. Which is what we are going for with these lapbooks.

All Three Kids with their Front Page
Coqui's, Chickie's, and Zoodle's Nutritional Plates

And their GERMS...

Homemade Mint Chocolate Ice Cream

I am not a very creative person, so I do need to point out that I came up with this recipe by myself (with an idea from my sister-in-law)! So drum roll please.....

I am introducing Annie's Mint Chocolate Ice Cream:
yes, it's not chocolate chip! So there is no mistake in leaving that out! You will see....

1 cup of regular cow milk
2 cups of heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar 
1 pinch of salt
1 table spoon vanilla extract
1/2 table spoon peppermint extract (or if you like it strong a full spoon)
a few drops of green food coloring
1 cup of Andes Baking chips (Creme de Menthe)

- measure 1 cup of the Andes Chips and put them in a bag into the freezer (preferably overnight)
- set the stove to a low heat
- in a saucepan, combine the milks, sugar, salt and extracts and bring just to a boil
- remove from the stove right away and let it cool down a bit
- transfer it to a container that can go into the refrigerator
- let it cool there for about 2 to 3 hours, until really cool (again, overnight is best)
- get your ice cream maker out and use as directed by the manufacturer
- I add the mixture to the bowl and let it churn for about 15 minutes
- add the mint chips right before you are ready to turn of the ice cream maker off
- when ready, transfer the ice cream into a container to place it in the freezer (for about 2 hours)
- it makes about a quart of ice cream that becomes more like a quart and a half with the chips!

Now, why the green food coloring? This is from my kids. The first time I made this ice cream, I used only the peppermint extract and chocolate chips. It was okay for me, but my kids refused to eat it because they told me that the store-bought mint choc chip ice cream is green! And because I want to please my children, I added the color for their eyes only! It doesn't change the taste or anything. so you can leave it out!
Peanut happens to love MY ice cream just as much as the store-bought kind - which makes this Mami very happy! (Coqui is still reluctant - he has no idea what he is missing!) And Munchkin eyeballs my bowl as if she knew what it is.... I would assume she'll devour it just as Mami and sister do!

24 October 2012

Columbus, Columbus, sailed across the sea....

..... And found a very special land
That belongs to you and me.

Columbus,Columbus,we celebrate your day,
In fourteen hundred and ninety-two
When you sailed our way.

(you have to sing this to the tune of "sailing, sailing"!)

Well, on a certain Monday a few weeks ago (yes, I am very behind with my blog posts!), we celebrated a special day in honor of a special man. So we took the opportunity to get some history lesson into our curriculum. Our themed week was all about Christopher Columbus.

We went to the library but couldn't find many (or any) books on him - either they didn't have any or they were all gone by the time we got there. So we had to do without a major story. But the internet is a wonderful place for resources, we did without it.

On Friday, we got together and the kids had to present their lapbooks to each other. It is always such a 'battle' to fight who presents first.... Coqui got to go first.....

I am always surprised how much Coqui retains in his little brain. He still has trouble reading some of the stuff, but he is getting better at it. And most of all, we have fun doing it.

20 October 2012

Skeletons and spiders

Last year, we were part of a local co-op that stopped during the summer. The mom that ran it was not planning on restarting it for this semester, very much to our disappointment. So we did without...... (It was sad because my kids always had so much fun there. Coqui had a (boy) friend there, and Peanut opened up so much there, just by watching everyone else.

Because we wanted to stay friends with her and her kids, occasional play dates took place over the summer, and on one of those a few weeks ago, she invited us back to her house. So for the past two weeks, we are back at our co-op - and we are very happy about that.

Due to the fact that 'some' families celebrate Halloween, our themes have been skeletons and spiders. First week, we talked about the different parts of the human skeleton and its functions. We read a book and did a craft.

Coqui's skeleton made out of different kinds of noodles
Peanut's skeleton
For our second week, we started ASL with the kids - which they really liked. They learned the entire alphabet in sign language. Even Miss Peanut stayed focused enough to learn a few letters herself.
Then we read a story. That was followed by several art and science projects. At the end, we did Spanish.
Make a spider out of cotton swabs and Styrofoam ball
Make a spider web out of rubber bands, and then out of strong and straws, and in the back yard out of some fabric material. They had lots of fun doing it.

I can not tell you how happy I am to be back at her house and do fun learning together with our friends. Her and her husband are great teachers. Her kids love my kids, they get along very well (most of the time). And we always include recess, and if we can't go outside, we do music with dancing inside. It's so wonderful to be back there. 

16 October 2012

Chores Or No Chores

Who likes chores? Well, I am not a big fan, but I understand that they need to get done. Now the question is HOW much do I want my kids to be involved with them.

Coqui is my big helper - he always has been. When it was just him, it happened automatically that we included him in all our activities, from washing the car in the driveway to planting a tree in the backyard. He is handyman material: he can swing a hammer, hold a drill, and does part of the lawn mowing with the Hubby. 

He is doing it all by choice and by free will.

I have mixed feelings about chores.

As a child, I hated them. As far as I remember, I never had a choice and was forced to do them. I made who I am today. So try to 'make me do something' - good luck with that. Because I like my free will and being 'forced' to do something just doesn't feel right to me...


... I do want my kids to learn that sometimes, we do NOT have a choice. The dishes in our house are not cleaning themselves, the laundry is not folding itself, and the groceries are not flying in by the front door. These are all things that need to be done - on a daily basis.

I want my kids to learn that lesson.

But how can I do it without forcing them?

I have heard of families that have these chore charts, or life-size calendars with everyone's jobs, done either by day or by month. I have never felt the necessity of having one. Coqui has never had to 'work on' helping, he always volunteered (partly because he is my obedient child).

Now that I have three, and at least one of them that is so much LESS willing to listen and obey, I might have to reconsider it? Coqui is my oldest, and being the person he is, I just don't want him to get labeled as the 'good cleaner-upper', who cleans up for everyone else. His sister needs to learn that lessons as well, as being part of our family. She needs to do HER part, too. But I really don't want to do chore charts.......

Also, I am against making different chores for boys and girls. I grew up in a family where my brother and I were treated equally. I learned how to hang up a picture (using a hammer and/or drill), and my brother had to dry dishes or hang up wet clothes. I can bring out the garbage myself, I do not need a man to do it for me. And the Hubby is a much better cook than I am. So I think it is important for both sexes to learn to take care of themselves.

So far, it worked to just let them do what they wanted to help with. Cleaning toys is a job that the children need to get done! When we struggled with that in the past, a threat that I would throw away any toy that is not cleaned up, has done it's magic! (I never had to throw away a toy!)
And when my kids WANT to help, I let them. Coqui is the only one in this house who washes my floors in the kitchen and dining room - I don't do it (because he literally begs me to do it for me!). Peanut is eager to help me with hanging up the wet clothes, so I let her. When I told her the other day that I could not play with her because I needed to fold their clean and dry clothes, she was eager to do it all by herself. So I did sit back and only helped when needed. So from now on, I told them, I would like them to put away their own clothes..... and so far, they are willing to do it!

So for now, I think, I just have to come up with new ways HOW they can help, instead of 'forcing' them to help with chore charts.

How do you folks do it at home?