Saturday, September 04, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up.....South of the Border

For the past 2 weeks we've been learning about deserts, Mexico, the countries of Central America, and the Caribbean islands. Here are our highlights:

Desert Sunset Art

  1.  First, we did a google image search for desert sunsets. We talked about the different colors seen in the skies and the usual order of the colors in the skies. We talked about how the horizon landscapes were all silhoutted against the skies and we looked at the variety of vegetation and rock formations.
  2. Each child picked a piece of colored construction paper. (Surprisingly, they both went with pink.)
  3. I got out my art pastels. (The soft chalk kind, not oil pastels.) I love using pastels for art projects. At just $15 for a box of 64, they are totally worth it.
  4. The kids used the pastels to cover their construction paper with their favorite sunset colors. Sweetling softly smeared her color bands with her fingers. Toa did not.
  5. I gave each child a piece of black construction paper and a white crey pas (like white chalk, a white crayon would work to.) They each drew a horizon line on the black paper, then cut it out and glued it to their sunset. 
  6. I recommended they each draw an additional element to complete their horizon, such a rock formation, a mesa, a cactus, or other vegetation. They both drew a cactus and cut it out and glued it on their sunset.
  7. Voila! Lovely sunsets.

Mexican Yarn Paintings

  1.  We read a little about the history of the craft and did a google image search to look at lots of real samples. We talked about the vibrant colors used and the shapes and forms.
  2. I got out the card stock and each child picked a color and then, in theory, used some large simple shapes to form their design. (Toa had trouble with this. He naturally draws small, detailed art, so drawing something big and simple that could be filled in with yarn was a real challenge for him.) In the end, Sweetling drew Pacman and Toa drew a beach pail filled with shells, rocks, and a feather. 
  3. We started filling in the design with yarn. Sweetling did Pacman's eye first and the white dots second. For each of these she started in the center and coiled her yarn outward (I think). Then, for the large pacman, she started by outlining him in yellow and coiling her yarn inward. 
  4. CAUTION: Toa found the whole yarn part extremely frustrating. He couldn't get it to lay on the intricate lines he had drawn for his shells and things. This is definitely not his favorite art medium.

Turtle Temperature

We had just read about some of the ways animals dealt with the desert heat. As part of that reading, we were discussing cold blooded animals. Sweetling's Webkinz, Andy the Turtle, very kindly agreed to help demonstrate the temperature difference between sun and shade. First, we put Andy in the shade with a thermometer on his back. Five minutes later we came back and took his temperature. Then we found a nice sunny rock for Andy to sit on, again carrying the thermometer on his back. We took his temperature after another five minutes and compared the two readings. Simple, but hands-on for the Toa.


This followed a reading about oases in the desert. Did you know that the air temperature in an oasis is actually ten to twenty degrees lower than the surrounding air temperature? This is do in part to the shade provided by the vegetation, but also due to transpiration. So, we learned what transpiration was, and then moved to a hands-on demonstration. (Anything that's hands on is a win for my boy.) I gave each child a small ziploc bag and sent them outside to pick a few leaves to place in their bag. We left a good bit of air in each bag, and sealed them up. We placed them in a sunny spot, securing one corner with a rock to keep them from being blown away, and went back inside. An hour later, we went back out to check them. Even I was blown away at the amount of condensation on the inside of the baggies. You could barely see the leaves do to all the water drops along the plastic. We verified that the water was definitely on the inside of the bags, but not the outside. The  Jedi says we should have had a control of one empty bag. We probably should have, but I didn't think of it at the time.

Chi Chi Bird

This Jamaican song was on our Wee Sing Music CD. We had a great time improvising our own verses. Well, two of us had a great time improvising our own verses, and one of us tried to reign in the silliness of the other two. The song had a caller, and then a repeated refrain. The chorus goes like this--
Chi chi bud, o!
Some o' dem a holler some a bawl!
Chi chi bud, o!
Some o' dem a holler some a bawl!
And then the verses are a little more improvisational, with the caller adding in colors or types of birds, or other adjectives of birds, like this--
Some a sea gull!
Some o' dem a holler some a bawl!
Some a yellow bird!
Some o' dem a holler some a bawl!

So, after we had sung it with the CD, we decided, meaning I decided, that we would improvise our own verses. Originally, I thought we would each take a turn being the caller. But neither of the kids wanted to be a caller, so it was all me. We sang the chorus, and then we went to our first verse. It went like this--

Some a zummies!
Mommy! Those aren't even birds!
But dey got wings!
Mommy! That does NOT make them birds!
Chi chi bud o!
Some o' dem a holler some a bawl!
Chi chi bud o!
Some o' dem a holler some a bawl!
Dey aren't squirrelsies!
Some o' dem (giggle giggle) a bawl!
But dey live in trees!
Mommy! (giggle giggle)
Dey go cheepie chirp!
(giggle giggle)
Dey wake me uppie up!
(giggle giggle giggle)

We wrapped up this highly educational activity by watching a short you tube video about steel drums.

Griddle Corn Cakes

These were supposed to be corn tortillas, but I didn't read the recipe carefully and used corn meal instead of corn flour. Big difference between corn meal and corn flour. We did this activity on Friday night as a nice wrap up to our unit. We read The Tortilla Factory and the the kids measured and mixed the ingredients for corn tortillas. Because we used corn meal, they couldn't actually be rolled like tortillas, so I added eggs and a little flour and honey, patted them into small griddle cakes, and fried them. I made ground beef with taco seasoning, refried beans, and spanish rice. We put the corn cakes as a base on our plates and layered the other ingredients, plus cheese, on the top. (Sweetling had a taco salad on a bed of spinach leaves and then ate her corn cake on the side with butter and honey.)

Cool Runnings

We, meaning I again, had planned on having movie and popcorn at the end of our week. Since the Jamaican music lesson had been such a rousing success, I thought watching Cool Runnings would be an excellent choice. But Friday afternoon was sunny and in the seventies, instead of rainy like I thought it might be, so we went to a park instead of staying inside with a movie. There will be plenty of cold, wet, miserable Friday afternoons in the winter and we might watch the movie some other time.

Be sure to read what other homeschoolers did this week on Weird, Unsocialized, Homeschoolers.


Tina Hollenbeck said...

Hi! I love your post - we are finishing up North America this next week so I get a taste from your posts of what we'll come to next. :^)

Also: I've given you a Sunshine Award...which you can read about here: :^)

Loving Our Homeschool said...

LOVE the sunset pictures! We have used oil pastels, but I know my girls would love to do this type of project also. Guess I'll have to add chalk pastels to our art supplies!

Super S said...

They still aren't birds.