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Homeschool

Why Didn’t I Think of that Sooner Homeschool Ideas

We start slowly into our homeschool year in August, but we’ve been in full swing for about a month now.  This is our fourth “official” year and for any of you struggling out there I just wanted to say, it’s finally coming together.  And since I’m banging my head wondering why I didn’t think of these ideas sooner, I thought I’d share what’s working for us in homeschooling.

Why Didn't I Think of That Sooner Homeschool Ideas

For clarification, I’ve got a 3rd grader, a K/1st grader, and a two year old with special needs.  I’ve recently started working from home, plus this blog, and a husband who works long, hard days.  We’ve got farm animals and community responsibilities and a house that doesn’t clean itself.  I know what busy looks like.  Actually, I’m quite familiar with crazy.

Previously our days were a hodgepodge of schoolwork and housework and disagreements and bribery with a fair amount of getting lost on Facebook and sneaking candy my kids didn’t know about.  We learned.  But it wasn’t what I wanted.

This year it’s finally going better.

This year when school starts I quit being mom, housewife, blogger and become teacher.  I’m focused, the way I want them to be.  Sure, sometimes I run a load of dishes.  But mostly I don’t.  No computer, no iPad, less phone.  I want them to know this is important to me.  That mind-set is making a difference.

Why Didn't I Think of That Sooner Homeschool Ideas

A couple of books I read this summer also helped me rearrange my living space.  I really thought about the square footage in our home compared to the use we get out of it.  For us that meant converting the home-business office into the school room and a massive overhaul of how we handle paperwork.  To help with the toddler/homeschool situation I had a garage sale and used the money to put bar-height tables where the office used to be.  I now love this whole paragraph.

I also took a look at the subjects we must cover (Missouri requires 600 hours in math, language arts, science and social studies) versus important extras (religion, PE, art, etc.).  I’m working to combine them in practical ways.  My favorite example is journals.  We were writing typical prompts– “what I did yesterday”, “what I like about fall”, etc..  Now we’re journaling everyday in response to our devotion.  Same time frame.  Same skills.  Whole new meaning, and it’s a core subject.

Why Didn't I Think of That Sooner Homeschool Ideas

One thing I thought was a concession has turned out to be a blessing.  I had never used a computer-based teaching programs because, well, I guess I thought homeschooling meant I should be doing the teaching.  But homeschooling is so much more than subjects.  By using Teaching Textbooks for math I have more energy to devote to phonics or to make a social studies project happen or to help them create their own cookbook just because they want to.

So it’s taken three years to reach a clicking point.  Naturally it’s still not perfect.  But it is good.  I mean, I’ve been a parent for eight and a half years and I’m still waiting to feel confident in that. 🙂

What made homeschool click for you?

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Categories: Homeschool | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Daddy’s Tractor Quiet Book Tutorial

Daddy's Tractor Quiet Book Tutorial

If you’ve never made a quiet book before, well, you’re smarter than me.  I’ve made six in the last few weeks.  My latest creations have two important characteristics that made me think I should share them on the blog.

1.) They are farm themed.

2.) They’ve gotten much better and MUCH simpler!

My Pinterest board started out with phenomenal projects (search Russian quiet books– or maybe don’t) and I jumped in with both feet.  Four weeks later, and I’m much wiser. 😉

First!  This tip helped me SO much.  Draw or print your pattern onto paper then trace the pieces onto freezer paper. Then roughly cut the shapes out of the freezer paper and iron them (medium high heat) onto the felt.

Daddy's Tractor quiet book tutorial

Felt stretches easily and can become misshaped– never work with just one layer!  After you’ve cut the felt the second thing you’ll do is join it up with another layer.  Some pieces will be sewn to the page, other shapes you’ll need two of.

Many directions have you cut two, let’s say trees, and sew them together, but again, stretching.  If you sew it to a plain piece of felt, like the tire and pick-up below, you can cut the finished shape when you’re done and it will look perfect every time!

Daddy's Tractor quiet book tutorial

Let’s get started!

Tractor Page

Obviously you’ll need a “Daddy’s Tractor” page first!  This one has changeable tires for button practice.

Daddy's Tractor quiet book tutorial

You’ll need:

  • One 9×9 piece of background felt
  • One sheet of tractor color felt (of course I recommend red-lol!)
  • One sheet black felt
  • One sheet white felt
  • Two large-ish buttons
  • Needle, thread, sewing machine, etc.

Trace a tractor outline, windows, and three grill vents onto freezer paper. Cut and sew these pieces onto the background felt.  Then trace and cut the tires.  Sew the white rims to the black felt, then do the double layer thing I described above with the black.  Add a button hole to the center of each tire.  Using the tires as guides, hand stitch the buttons in place.

Sheep Page

Curled ribbons make great sensory play!

Obviously the first thing any Daddy's Tractor quiet book will need is a tractor!  This one has changeable tires for button practice! 

You’ll need:

  • One 9×9 background felt
  • One sheet white felt
  • One sheet gray or black felt
  • Assortment of ribbon, I recommend grosgrain
  • Wooden dowels OR wooden pencils

Start by creating the curled ribbon. Preheat the oven to 225*.  Wrap the ribbon around a dowel rod (I used a pencil!) and hold in place with straight pins or clothes pins.  Bake the ribbon for 20 minutes and allow to cool completely before removing from the dowels!

Meanwhile, cut a fluffy sheep shape, head, legs, and fluffy head piece.  Start by sewing the feet, then body.  Here I added the curled ribbon by using an embroidery stitch to keep them in place.  Whatever you use you don’t want a child to be able to pull them off!  Next add the head, followed by the wool on top of the head, keeping ribbons out the the way with straight pins.

Baby Chick Page 

Lift the flaps, and then lift again! make this page lots of fun!

Daddy's Tractor quiet book tutorial

You’ll need:

  • One 9×9 background felt
  • Light brown felt
  • Redish-brown felt
  • White felt
  • Yellow felt
  • Orange felt

Start by sewing the body to the background, followed by the neck, beak, and comb.  Make a double layer of the wing and attach it to the body with a straight pin.  Then pin the wing back up and out of the way to arrange the eggs and chick.  Next, make a double layer of the cracked egg shell and sew about an inch of the top and bottom to allow the chick to show through.  I added eyes to the chick with a Sharpie and used fabric glue for its beak.

Hauling Hay Page

Use your pick-up to bring hay for the cows!

Daddy's Tractor quiet book tutorial

You’ll need:

  • One 9×9 background felt
  • Grosgrain ribbon
  • Cording
  • Eyelets with setting tools
  • Three colors felt for trucks
  • Brown felt for hay
  • Six small, black buttons

Cut, pin and sew ribbon into desired path.  Next, following the directions on the package, insert an eyelet into each end of the ribbon.  Then, cut truck shapes from each of the three colors.  Add two eyelets to each truck where you want them to set on the track.  Cut and sew a double layer of hay bales.  Before sewing a double layer of the trucks, slip a hay bale into the back of each pick-up bed.  Now sew on the button wheels, being careful not to sew through the space between the eyelets on the back of each truck.  Then, thread the cording through the eyelet in the ribbon, through the eyelets on the back of the truck, and through the last eyelet in the ribbon.  Add knots to the end of the cording and use an embroidery stitch to finish off the edges of the ribbon, making sure to catch the cording in the stitches.

(Cording and eyelets can be found in the notions section of a craft store.  Everything in the pictures I purchased at Hobby Lobby.)

Daddy's Tractor quiet book tutorial

 

Last I added a pocket for any extra pieces, made small button holes down each side and attached them with book binder rings through them.  Easy to slip in and out with new pages as your kiddo grows!

Categories: Family, Homeschool | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Logic of English– No Really

If you’d have asked me I would have said I was taught phonics as a kid.  I vividly remember being sent to the hallway to finish my paper because I couldn’t decide if I should circle “p” or “d”– was it a dog or a puppy!?

So when homeschool curriculum contained most of the phonics I remembered I never questioned it.  Then a friend shared her recent discovery of The Logic of English.  I’m pretty sure my first reaction was to laugh.  Like there is any logic in English!

Turns out I was wrong.

English follows many rules.  The problem was I just didn’t know them.

My review of the Logic of English curriculum.

He loves spelling now. Who loves spelling?

Immediately upon learning these rules, however, I knew it was exactly what my struggling reader needed. He thrives on logic.  Case in point, our second (or was it third?) curriculum I tried with him taught students to memorize “the,” pronounced as “thu”.  Months later he still struggled with “thu”.  But when The Logic of English taught him to pronounce it “thee” and gave him a rule for why, he was fluently reading the word within days.

My review of the Logic of English curriculum.

The company I buy the rest of my curriculum from has a simple program for reading that doesn’t include a kit with bells and whistles.  While it’s true that reading may come naturally to some, and buying all the extras might not be necessary for all families, I would recommend this program to anyone.  We use the teacher’s textbook which gives you word for word instructions, teaching tips, extra games, multi-sensory ideas, etc., and the workbook which is simple, colorful, and very, very doable.  We also purchased the phonogram cards and two sets of the game cards (one cursive, one print).  I use the doodle boards (see the first pic of Brett) from my usual company since they are much cleaner than dry erase markers! 😛

My review of the Logic of English curriculum.

There are also lots of little pieces, like the fluency word cards and game boards from the workbook, that I laminate and use over and over, so I bought this plastic box from Target to hold all of our stuff.  I love it.  I call out “time for Dragon book” (because now on our third, or is it fourth? curriculum my kids despise “phonics”) grab the box and we all gather on the carpet.  I did book A with both kids together (ages seven and four) but Brett is ready to move quickly now and Anna is, after all, only four, so I let her listen to book B and then review old lessons.

My review of the Logic of English curriculum.

Snuggling on the carpet with hands-on cards, boogie boards, laminated readers, and the occasional race is now a family favorite.  Handwriting and spelling are included in the curriculum so I get to check off three subjects from my daily planner.  LOE also offers the choice between print and cursive and as an added bonus we are also learning with better handwriting because, who knew, cursive is easier for kids, fine-motor wise.

I’m also amazed at all I’ve learned while teaching this curriculum.  I’m actually a better speller, and we haven’t finished the second book! (Admittedly it wouldn’t be that hard to make me a better speller…)

In fact, if you asked me now I’d say no.  I was never taught phonics as a child.

I’m so glad I can teach it to my kids.

 

(In fact I’m so glad I’m writing this post just because.  I received nothing from Logic of English.)

Categories: Homeschool | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

How We Begin Our Homeschool Year

If you’re thinking it’s a little early to be back in the classroom you might be right, but I wouldn’t change the way we start off our homeschooling year!

As a public school teacher there is something of a shock when you go from working in your classroom whenever you want to the day the students arrive and suddenly you’re on a SCHEDULE.  That shock times ten best describes my transition as a homeschool mom.

How we begin our homeschooling year.

Getting my kindergarten classroom ready for the year was one of my favorite things about teaching public school. I still love preparing a bright, clean room for learning at home!

I think the adjustment is harder for me and my kids because we’re at home.  (Hence homeschooling…)  Our environment hasn’t changed, our behavior has to.  And there is no one to oversee that but me.

How we begin our homeschool year.

Like most homeschool families we make do with what we have. My craft desk doubles as a teacher’s desk. Not every teacher has a sewing machine! 🙂

I also hear this as a common fear from parents who want to try teaching their kids at home.  “I’m just not sure I could make us get the work done.”

So here’s what I do.  We start the first full week in August, but we don’t jump in with both feet.  Today we’ll be doing calendar, our first phonics lesson in two months, attempting a short handwriting session, reading together as a family, and playing with some of the “toys” that come in our curriculum for critical and hands-on thinking.

How we begin our homeschooling year.

This is today’s workload. A light schedule helps all of us transition to a full day of school!

Next week we add history, since we had the most trouble finishing this subject by the end of the school year in first grade.  I’ll also throw in two of our “daily” workbooks, geography and word problems, which are 5 minute daily practice lessons.  The third week we’ll begin math, add the daily writing lessons, and begin our religion read-aloud.  By the last week of August we’ll add science (it has the fewest overall chapters) and specials like art, music, and PE.

It means we’re doing a full workload about a week after most of Missouri’s public school are back in session, but we’ll have more total hours since we’ve been at it for three weeks already.

This is how we begin our homeschool year at my house.  What works for you?

Categories: Homeschool | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

A Quick and Easy Way to Link Your Kids to Agriculture

I only recently learned about this quick and easy way to link you kiddos to agriculture.  And when I say quick and easy, I mean really easy, which is my favorite kind. 🙂

All you need is a milk jug and Internet access.

Simple way to see where your milk is processed!

I’ve got Hiland and the Target brand in my fridge right now.

The website, www.whereismymilkfrom.com provides a space to enter the number printed on the milk jug, and viola! up pops the exact location your milk was processed!  This will work with other dairy products too, like sour cream or yogurt.  Anyone in your family picky about milk brands?  Try entering numbers from different brands.   You might be surprised at the results!  In my area milk from Hy-Vee, Walk-Mart, Cameron Mart and Target all come from the same place!

How to find out where your milk came from!

You’ll need the 4-5 digit number printed near the expiration date.

If your kids really get into this project try some less common milk products, like canned milk.  These can travel farther and fewer processors package them, so the results can pull up some fun, far off places– like Iowa! 🙂

Leave me a comment, where does your milk come from?

 

*For teachers: Common Core Standards Language Arts, CCS.ELA.RI.4.3: RI.4.4: RI4.5: RF.4.3 and Next Generation Science Standards: Earth Systems: 5-ESS3-1

Categories: Homeschool, Science | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

My Journey for the Perfect Homeschool Curriculum

Be still my beating heart- our homeschool curriculum for next year has arrived!  As a mom, foster parent, and former kindergarten teacher you can be sure I have opinions on education–  if you’re not homeschooling, hang in there, I have opinions on games and toys too. 🙂  My first year homeschooling I created my own stuff.  I have a degree in early childhood, I’d taught kindergarten, and I was pretty confident I could handle it.  Yes, you may all laugh.

My Journey to find the perfect homeschool curriculum.

Mommy wasn’t the only one with a happy smile when our order came!

We had a great kindergarten year, but honestly first grade needed structure.  But oh my, there is SO MUCH stuff!  You can school online, or just on the computer with CDs, or you can read aloud to your kids all day, or you can give them workbooks, or you can sit down and cry because of all the overwhelming decisions.

I don’t want to know how many countless hours I spent researching just the right program.  What I do know is after filling most of a notebook and downing three quarters of a bottle of tylenol over a two-month period I had pretty much decided to use a different company for each subject to get the critical thinking, phonics foundation, hands-on approach I was looking for.

And then I found Timberdoodle.

My Journey to find the perfect homeschool curriculum.

A friend reviewed their Block Builders set on her blog.  I clicked around for a while until I found their first-grade core curriculum.

It had everything I’d already picked out for my son.

My Journey to find the perfect homeschool curriculum.

It was tempting to bang my head against the desk in frustration of all the wasted hours, but I was too thrilled to be angry.  In addition to the math, reading, history, and science they also had fantastic extras.  The Block Builders, but also mazes for building fine motor skills and games for memory retention.  I ordered Thinking Putty for my kinesthetic learning to use while listening and beautiful books of illustrated history.  I added writing and geography, which I hadn’t planned but have been favorites all year.

I ordered Christmas presents, Easter gifts and birthday surprises for my kids, niece, and nephews.  We had a great first grade year and I can’t stop looking at the pile of stuff for second grade!  I even ordered most of the kindergarten kit for Anna.

I’m not on their blogging team and can’t be till I can secure 26 more followers (if you can help with that…), so this really is just my opinion.  I’m sharing because if you order a core curriculum before April 15th you get a free Boogie Board, which I never would have spent money on but here’s the pic of us about two seconds after we opened our box.

My Journey to find the perfect homeschool curriculum.

Boogie Boards were the first things to come out of the box and held the kids’ attention well enough I slipped the Easter gifts out and they never knew!

So I just wanted to share, in case anyone is questioning the millions of choices for the perfect homeschool curriculum.  Order from Timberdoodle.

Categories: Family, Homeschool | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Preschoolers and Pumpkins

I know October is almost over, but I had to share this pumpkin unit I did with the preschoolers at our homeschool cooperative yesterday.  Actually I plan to share all of the lessons I did with them, but this one is time-sensitive. 😉

We’ve been learning Nursery Rhyme, reading them over and over each week, but focusing on one in particular every Friday for the three hours I have them.  This week we did Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater of course!

Pumpkin puzzles are a favorite both in my house and here on the blog.  I tried making them several ways, but these horizontal rings are your best bet for holding together.

A nursery rhyme pumpkin theme!

Since everybody (who doesn’t have to clean it up) loves glue, the pumpkin mosaics were popular.  I could have cut pumpkin shapes out of cardstock or whatever, but I’m a believer in process over product when it comes to this sort of thing.  Time is money.  Less is more.  Whatever.  The kids loved this station best and that’s what I care about!

A nursery rhyme pumpkin theme!

We also used unifix cubes to measure pumpkins.  These kiddos range in age from almost three to five years old, so for some of the older ones I encouraged them to measure the pumpkin, then the stem, and add them together.  I also allowed free play with the cubes and we ended up with pens for some My Little Ponies.  Just think what they’re learning about area and diameter. 😉

A nursery rhyme pumpkin theme!

For art I cut these great little pumpkin shapes on my Cricut and left them at home.  So I quickly cut out some hand-drawn pumpkins and the kids ignored them almost entirely since the paint was such fun.  After all, it isn’t everyday someone lets you paint with straws!

A nursery rhyme pumpkin theme!

I helped them make a small mound of paint with regular water colors and then blow the paint across the page to make vines.  This little artist had the coolest vines which he choose to cover up with the only one of my hand-cut pumpkins to be used.  This is both the joy and the irony of working with children.  I thought about making my own so I could show you how cool this project can be, but if you do this with preschoolers, this is what theirs will look like, so why lie?  And unless you can figure out how to isolate the green in the water color pack they will also use all the colors.  Just being honest.

We also read the Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater poem from two different books and (who knows why) these kids were amazed at how different the artists’ renderings were.  We had an in-depth conversation about actually living in a pumpkin and if it could have a window box with flowers.

If you need more great ideas, check out the unit I did with my son for kindergarten last year.

Pumpkin thematic unit for preschool, kindergarten, and 1st grade. {DaddysTractor.com}

And leave me a comment if you’ve got some great pumpkin activity up your sleeve.  I’ll need it for next year!

Categories: Homeschool, Thematic Unit | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

My Favorite Homeschool Secrets

We did it!  We completed our first week of homeschool AND we did so with a new addition here on the farm (post to follow on this soon!).

Tips and Tricks that I love!  {DaddysTractor.com}

I know some people like to show you all around their homeschool classroom and list their curriculum for the year (Timberdoodle.com, if you didn’t read this post) but I think the most useful thing I learn from other home educators are just those random tricks that work wonders for your sanity.

My favorite was shared on a park bench after Co-op last spring.  At my house it looks like this:

Our secrets to a happy homeschool {DaddysTractor.com}

That’s a closet door with two of Mardel’s hanging file folder pocket charts.  Not that impressive, I get it!

But within these rather simple looking pocket charts lies the secret to happiness in dealing with my head-strong, strong-willed, stubborn, determined first grader.  Because this system allows him to choose, well, almost everything.

I have one of those homeschool, school-day planners in which I write down assignments for each subject and can plan out the yearly scope and sequence if I want and track all our expenses (again, if I want…), so I’m choosing all of the work.

My favorite homeschool secrets  {DaddysTractor.com}

But he gets to decide the way our day looks.  Each night I create a pile of the next day’s work and place it in the bottom pocket.  The next morning Brett pulls everything out and places it into the pockets in the order he wants to do them.  If two things go together, like working on the 100s chart and today’s math page, I just give him one item and pull the other out when we get there.  I also give him pieces of cardstock labeled “break,” “recess,” and “snack,” which he can also schedule as he likes.

My favorite homeschool secrets!  {DaddysTractor.com}

Besides allowing him to make his own choices, this as also been a great motivator for him since he can visually see the amount of work we’re doing.  School has a beginning and an end and he chooses all of it.  (Well, almost all of it.  I do insist on prayer, calendar and reading to begin the day!)

The friend who shared this idea with me uses the cardboard mailboxes common in public school classrooms and organizes her children’s work for them to purposefully create independent learning time for one while she works with another.  Her children enjoy working for the snack and break rewards placed in their boxes.  I tried this with Brett and found he needed a little more than raisins (or even suckers.  Yes.  I did that.) to work for.  Like I said, he’s… determined.

My other great idea came from Pinterest.  (Actually, aren’t we all just amazed that something DIDN’T come from there?!)  Its a chart with picture cues for “cool down” ideas.  When my determined child has absolutely had enough– or I have– either of us can call for an automatic time-out by choosing something from the cool down chart.  He can shake a jar filled with colored water and glitter and watch it settle out.  He can get a drink of water, climb under his covers, hide in the closet (he came up with that one– and he loves it.) or color a picture.

My favorite homeschool secrets!  {DaddysTractor.com}

So there you have it.  My two favorite way to make it through the day.

I’d love to hear yours!

Categories: Family, Homeschool | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

6 Steps to Consider If You’ve Ever Wondered How to Begin Homeschooling

It can be totally overwhelming.  Public school is mostly straight forward.  You sign the kid up, they assign you a bus number, your gargantuan task is getting them out the door on time.  But if you’ve ever wondered how to begin homeschooling your child you may be at a complete loss.

Well, there is good news and bad news.  The bad news is that you will need to make seemingly thousands of major decisions about your child’s life-long education by yourself.  The good news is you can watch the bus pick up the neighborhood kids while yours are still in their pajamas.

So, if you’ve wondered, here are a 6 steps to begin your homeschool journey.

6 Steps to consider if you've ever wondered about homeschooling  {DaddysTractor.com}

1.) Google your state’s laws regarding homeschooling.  I can easily find mine by typing “Missouri Homeschool laws.”  Look for a resource provided by your state– with a (dot)gov address probably.  At some point I highly recommend paying for a membership to HSLDA, (Home School Legal Defense Association).  They have a page for each state and all the laws and lots of other resources available to members.

2.) Find a friend.  Seek out homeschoolers either in real life or here in the virtual world.  I belong to a few Facebook groups and we love nothing more than to help with questions from those who are thinking about teaching at home.  The local cooperative we attend on Fridays is my most valuable resource.

3.) Decide on a budget.  Almost any homeschool materials are a fraction of the price of private school, but you can spend as little as the cost of a library card on up.

4.) Choose your curriculum.

I think your best bet is to purchase a curriculum set– meaning a box comes with pretty much everything you need to teach a certain grade level.  EVERY homeschool mom will have her own opinion on what to use, but since this is my blog, I’m telling you Timberdoodle.com is the best.  Its reasonably priced and gives you FANTASTIC resources; more than just a math workbook or a science text.

For the first-time homeschooler I’d unequivocally recommend just buying their “complete curriculum package”.  As a former teacher I drove myself batty (no comments please) trying to choose from more than 50 math companies.  Which one was perfect for my son?  In the end everything I bought is offered by Timeberdoodle.  Someone there must already be batty…

Also, if you need to bounce around a little (my son does 2nd grade science, 1st grade math, and K phonics) you can buy the pieces you want.  Tailoring the learning to your child’s specific needs is the best part of homeschooling.  I’d already started teaching Brett D’Nealian handwriting (pre-cursive), so we chose another book for that study.

5.) Organize. Create a binder.  Figure out your weekly schedule.  (Some core curriculum packages come with one.) Choose a space in your house and design a storage solution.  Most importantly here, decide how you will be complying with your state laws regarding record keeping.

6.) Make it your own!  Homeschooling doesn’t need to look like a classroom to be productive.  Work outside.  Read aloud after dinner.  Arrange lessons so you can be gone all day on Thursdays.  Make karate your PE class.  Do what’s best for You.  Your kids.  Your family.

Veteran moms– any other advise?

Categories: Family, Homeschool | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Plant Thematic Unit

Plant Thematic unit with activities, lapbooks, centers, and printables  {DaddysTractor.com}

Many of you said last month’s Insect Unit was oodles of fun, so today I’m sharing the Plant Thematic Unit we’ve been exploring .   It was perfect for homeschool since we are spending lots of time in the garden anyway, but its also the fun kind of unit I would have used as a kindergarten teacher to get us through the end of the school year or for summer school!

Plant Thematic unit with activities, lapbooks, centers, and printables  {DaddysTractor.com}

After reading about what plants need, this experiment was to observe what happens when you take something away.  I bought a four-pack of flowers, cut them apart and Brett labeled them.  Plant 1 was our control, Plant 2 we took away sunlight by placing it in a shoebox, Plant 3 we took away carbon dioxide (we called it “air”) by zipping it in a plastic bag, Plant 4 we took away water.  Then we used these pages Plant Need Experiment Plants Need Experiment 2 to record.  It worked pretty well, but the only thing that died in the ziplock bag was the flower part, so make sure your plant has one 😉

Plant Thematic unit with activities, lapbooks, centers, and printables  {DaddysTractor.com}

Of course we used play dough to learn plant parts!  In addition to leaves, Brett also added a stigma and stamen after I took this picture, which could enrich this idea for older children, depending on how complex they made their models.

Plant Thematic unit with activities, lapbooks, centers, and printables  {DaddysTractor.com}

Understanding plant parts led us to a project learning about the parts of the plant we eat.  I divided a paper plate into six sections.  Next we cut out the center circle from Plant Parts We Eat and attached it with a brad. Then we cut pictures from garden magazines. (For free catalogs try Gurney’s, Jung’s, Burpee, or Johnny’s.  They do take a few weeks to arrive.  You could also print the picture of food from the Who Grew My Soup post.)  The kiddos matched up the food to the plant part and glued.  This became a center activity because the brad allowed the circle to spin and become a puzzle over and over!

Make your own root viewer {DaddysTractor.com}

We found this root viewer at Wal-Mart, but after opening it I think you could make one of your own by filling a quart jar with potting soil, placing seeds 1/4 of an inch from the edge of the jar, and covering outside of the jar with black construction paper and a rubber band (they need dark to grow).  Simple and cheaper!

Plant Thematic unit with activities, lapbooks, centers, and printables  {DaddysTractor.com}

Since lap books are our new favorite thing I created a foldable book to review plant parts and what plants need.  Print this Plants Have Plants Need chart and glue it onto construction paper if you like.  These Plants Have Plants Need labels can be cut out and glued into place on the flaps.

Plant Thematic unit with activities, lapbooks, centers, and printables  {DaddysTractor.com}

Also for the lap book (or center) we made a flower petal math game.  I used an advertisement refrigerator magnets to make the circle for the center and covered it with contact paper.  Then I cut flower petals from cardstock and added snips of magnets.  Anna made patterns or used a wipe-off marker to write the number of petals I put on her flower.  Brett got two colors of petals and had to write addition problems with the marker.

Plant Thematic unit with activities, lapbooks, centers, and printables  {DaddysTractor.com}

To observe how seeds begin to grow we traced bean seeds and then allowed them to soak in water for a few hours.  When we came back we could clearly see how the seeds had swelled and the outer paper-y layer was peeling back!

And since I was unexpectedly promoted to Sunday School teacher during this unit, here’s a bonus activity I did for church.  My poor kids had way too much “plant” that week, but it was last minute!

Sunday School lesson comparing faith to a seed {DaddysTractor.com}

We compared faith to a seed, planted in our hearts.  Just like seeds need sunlight, air, and water our faith needs things to grow.  We brainstormed ideas and they drew three they like on the rain drops; things like praying, obeying parents, going to church, reading Scriptures.  Or you could just make the mobile with no pics at all :-).

And last but not least, no unit is complete without snacks!

Plant Thematic unit snack idea {DaddysTractor.com}

This is “dirt” pudding; chocolate pudding mixed with crushed Oreos and layered with a few gummy worms.  Sooooooo educational!

Categories: Homeschool, Thematic Unit | Tags: , , , , , | 11 Comments

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