Monday, October 25, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up.....Monkeying Around

Hooray, after four weeks, we are finished with our three week unit on South America, Brazil, and rain forests. Why did it take three weeks instead of four? Because, in true Mrs. Random fashion, we took a lot of extra field trips, outings, and mini-vacations to get out and about while the weather was nice.

Here are our "curriculum" highlights

Monkeys Please

Toa of Boy loves monkeys, so a monkey craft had to be a part of any rainforest study.

We followed these directions to make this awesome monkey climbing up a tree to get to some bananas. We didn't have the green craft foam that the directions called for, but we used green construction paper instead and achieved the same result. (I did have to help Toa roll the leaf sheet up tight enough to fit into the top of the tree trunk, and I helped him fold the leaves down so that they didn't rip in the process of being turned downward.)

We also found some directions online to make cute origami monkeys, one is a simple monkey face, and the other isn't really origami, just paper around a toilet paper tube. I'd post some pictures of our finished product, but the finished products became part of a monkey game and aren't quite in photo-perfect condition anymore.


This one wasn't planned. We were at the Museum Center in the Nature's Trading Post, and they happened to have a pet chinchilla. We were the only family there, so we got a lot of interaction time with the chinchilla and the museum volunteer.  I know that our local pet store often has a chinchilla, and if I had realized how soft they were, I would have asked the worker to take one out so we could touch it. Definitely worth a short field trip as part of a South American study. (Chinchilla fur is considered the softest in the world and have the highest fur density of any land mammal---more than 20,000 hairs per square cm.)

Magic School Bus

Oh, to have the field trip power of the Friz! This started as just a read aloud to Toa of Boy, but soon there was a Sweetling on the couch with us. I really loved this Magic School Bus book. It reviewed everything Toa of Boy has been learning about in science...pollination, layers of the rain forest, eco-web thingies (yeah, its 3am when I'm typing this. Eco web thingies is as technical as your going to get. I'm not coming back to edit this later. I'll just wait for Sweetling to read it and post a comment as 'Super S' with the correction.)

List of Good Intentions

Somehow we never got around to all the cool hands-on projects we had planned. See our list of other stuff to see why. But, for those readers who might be tooling for ideas for studying South America and/or the rain forest, here are the lesson plans that never got actuated.
  • flower dissections to find the petals, stamen, pistels, anthers, style, ovule, sepal.
  • pollen under the microscope
  • macrame/ yarn hangings
  • Brazilian dancers out of pipe cleaners
  • a small terrarium
  • making petit fours (it was in a "Cooking the South American Way" recipe book
  • making chocolate truffles (was in the Brazil section of "A Trip around the World" under a different name)
  • take our sketch book to the Krohn Conservatory to draw rain forest trees and plants
Marble Math

Nothing to do with South America, but I'm proud of myself for coming up with this, so I'm sharing it. Toa of Boy is doing multiplication and division with two's and three's. (Yeah, its not factors of two's and three's....and saying products of two's and three's makes it sound like he's just multiplying those two numbers together. It's 3am here, remember? You all know I'm talking about his two times table and his three times table.)

On this particular day, my mama, who lives with us, was off work. Also on this particular day, by 11am, I hadn't gotten a shower yet and was still in my pjs. (That might be because we all slept in and then had a VeggieTale marathon of new Veggie videos brought home from the library the night before. Maybe that had happened in my house. Maybe.)

So, being the responsible adult which I obviously am, at the end of our Veggie Marathon, I sent the kids off to get dressed and get their morning list done, while I hoped in the shower. I got out of the shower and heard that Toa of Boy had talked Mama into playing a game of Aggravation with him. I knew this because I heard the marbles rolling around in the box  and Mama saying, "Ok, we can start this, but when Mommy is ready for you to do school, we'll have to pause the game so you can do school."

In a stroke of brilliance, I yelled from the bathroom, "Wait, are you about to play aggravation? Don't start yet!" (See, it was a stroke of brilliance.) Following that profound statement, I came running out, wet and towel wrapped, to fetch two different dice from my dice bag.

Still towel-wrapped, I went into the kitchen and plopped a three-sided die (its just a normal six-sided dice, but with the numbers 1-3 each appearing twice) and a twelve-sided die on the aggravation board. (You can buy dice with unusual number of faces in specialty game stores--stores that carry all sorts of different board games, card games, strategy games, and role-playing games. We got ours at Sci-Fi City at Northgate Mall. Yada Quest on Hamilton Ave also has these sort of dice. You can buy them in a set of seven to nine different dice for about $9 a set, or, some stores have them in big jars sorted by number of sides for about 80 cents per dice. Since I get them out for math and school and then, um, lose them, the second option is the cheaper route to go. For 80 cents a pop, its a great math resource.)

Here were the new rules with the strange new dice.
  1. On their turn, each player rolled both dice, and then multiplied the number to find how many spaces they could move. OR, if the product of the two dice was more than ten, they could choose to get a marble out on the path instead of moving.
  2. When they rounded the last corner before they reached home, they could choose to divide the numbers to find their movement IF the two numbers were evenly divisible.
  3. As usual, you had to get a marble home on an exact roll, and you couldn't split your movement between two or more marbles.
  4. As usual, if you couldn't move any marble the number of spaces indicated by your dice roll, you were stuck, and the play passed to the next person.
  5. As usual, the first player with all 4 marbles home, won.
  6. A variation of the game would be to roll the two dice and let one dice be your movement, and let the other dice indicate the number you have to count by on your move. This makes it more feasible to practice five times, six times, seven times, etc. Otherwise each player would be flying aroud the board (So if you rolled a four and a could chose to move four spaces, counting by six--6, 12, 18, 24--or you could chose to move six spaces counting by four--4,8,12,16, 20, 24.) In this variation, you would have to set a different condition for getting out. (Maybe you could get out when both dice showed the same number OR when one of the two dice showed a 10.)
Toa of Boy and Mama loved it and thought they should play Aggravation that way all the time. Of course, next time they play I'll put out a four-sided dice and a ten-sided dice and say you can get out on a roll of ten on one die, or when the product of the two dice is more than twenty. Mommy loved it, cause I got to check math off our to-do list that day AND I got to finish drying me, drying my hair, and getting dressed at a more leisurely pace.

Other Things We Did (or why we didn't get other hands-on projects done for this unit)
And now, dear friends, it is 4am. The cold meds have kicked in and I can breathe again. Even though I want to include some pics in this post, I shall come back to that perhaps tomorrow night. (Which is really tonight, since its technically already today and not at all tomorrow.) For now, I shall say good night to the tissue box and head to bed.

To read what other homeschoolers did this week, check out Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers (or, this week, See Jamie Blog is the place to be).

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