Friday, May 14, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up: Paddling Away

First I need to sing a little freedom song. I'm so happy to no longer feel constrained to our old curriculum. We're still using it for Sweetling's history, literature, and vocabulary, but we've come out from under what had gotten to be a burden.

So last week and this week and the week before that, since I haven't updated in a while, we started reading Paddle-to-the-Sea together. I'm really pleased with the lessons and activities we're doing with it. Here is what we've done so far. I especially like the hands-on activities, that's been really good for Toa of Boy, and the family involvement has started to engage Sweetling again too :)

Last Thursday (remember, haven't updated for a while) was the end-of-the-year picnic for our co-op. My sister came along and helped me run an egg drop, which was a big success. Here are the rules I wrote for the contest. I think it went really smoothly, organizationally, but it did take a little longer than anticipated. We started inside-- after the kids had signed up by grade level, I had all the participants sit at one long table in the cafeteria with their projects. Smurf and I went through and checked each project. We had a few that didn't quite fall in the guidelines, so we agreed that those projects could participate, but would receive a slightly lowered prize category. So after we checked in projects, we headed outside for the drop.

The kids loved it. We did the first drop at about four feet or so. We used the top of a chain link fence as our height marker. The kids all lined up, everyone held their project at the same height as the fence, and took a step or two back. We all dropped together on the count of three. Then each project had to be opened, and the egg checked, its status marked, and the egg replaced (substituting any cracked eggs for new eggs.) This part of the drop took a little longer than I anticipated (and the start of the drop didn't happen as early as I was hoping, since we didn't get started on cleaning the rooms right at ten either.) Still, it went pretty smoothly, since I had already arranged the sign up by grades and had columns for each drop category and symbols for the condition of the egg.
(I have to add, at the bottom of each page I had Legend: 0=intact; /=cracked; X=broken. Underneath my word "Legend", Sweetling came along and wrote "of Zelda" in pencil.)

We then went on to drop from the first set of windows, which are about 1 1/2 stories high, and then, after eggs had been checked, from the second set of windows, about 2 1/2 stories high. We had 5 out of 14 projects that had followed all the guidelines and survived the highest drop.

Sadly, since Smurf and I were running the event, I didn't get any pictures. I should have given my camera to another mom to snap photos for me, but I didn't think of it. Boo hoo :(

Also last Friday, we found a new park not too far from us with a really cool nature trail. Pinkie joined us for a nature walk there. She showed Sweetling how to pull apart a honeysuckle blossom for a tiny taste of its nectar. Since either side of the nature trail was heavily lined with honeysuckle bushes, this was an activity often repeated on our excursion. We found two snake skins and glimpsed two frogs (well, the kids glimpsed one frog, and Pinkie nearly stepped on a second frog). We also saw an interesting, as yet unidentified bird that had the strangest call. It sounded like the chirping of a car being remotely locked or unlocked. And no, I didn't have the presence of mind to photograph it so we could figure out what it was. I didn't have my camera. I took photos of the kids on my cell phone though :)

This Monday, check it out, I'm in the current week now! This Monday I went to my first ever used curriculum sale. I showed great restraint in my purchases, only spending $20 dollars...and $10 of that was even something that was on my list! Be amazed with me. I found Sweetling's science textbook with a test and solutions guide for ten dollars, as opposed to the $65 its listed for on amazon. Toa of Boy went with me, and at his request, we got several books for him....cause anytime Toa gets excited over a book, I'm excited too! For himself and by himself, he found A Treasury of Beatrix Potter, The Adventures of Frog and Toad, My Nature Journal, and Reading to Learn about Animals...which I can't find a link for. It's a workbook from Bryan House Publishers of basic reading comprehension and some phonics exercises themed around animals and animal facts. Toa picked it out and said he wanted to do it. So, we have it.

But his favorite find of all was this amazing building set. I've never seen them before. They are like a cross between legos and erector sets called Universal by FischerTechnic. These things are incredible. If you don't follow any of the other book links, follow this simple amazon link to check these out. Or read this review I just found. Here is Toa with his first construction. It's a large fan turned by a crank attached to several gears and gear shaft assembly. (Toa has also attached a blue chair to the top of the fan's tower. I don't know why or who is going to sit near the spinning blades of death, but there you go.)

This Thursday, see I'm already on yesterdays stuff! This Thursday was our first week without co-op for the summer. I declared it a "get ready for birthday parties day", since both Toa and Sweetling have their parties next weekend. We started building Toa's pinata yesterday morning. Which means that for the next several days, the only dining table we have is covered with pinata in progress. I'll post directions on how to build your own pinata after the parties, in about two weeks. In the meantime, this is the state of my kitchen table.

Don't these photos want to make you just jump right in on making your own pinata?

Check out what others have been up to in more Weekly Wrap-Ups.


Kelly said...

Ohhh, what park????

Giggly Girls said...

Lots of fun stuff going on at your house and nothing is better than shopping for curriculum.

Ellen said...

Aren't used curriculum sales the best?! We loved _Paddle to the Sea_ here at our house, too. You've had a lot going on!

joelle said...

Sounds like lost happening. My oldest loves Paddle to the Sea, he listened to the audiobook reading along I do not know how many times. I am going to check your activities out.

Melissa said...

what a fun week and you go girl at the used curriculum sale! That's hard for me too! And the pinata...uhm no,lol. But I'm sure my kids would!

Cheryl said...

I'm so glad you're free from a burdensome curriculum. I know what it's like to be stuck in one and it's no fun. I love the homemade pinata idea :)

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