Posts Tagged With: Math

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

Insect Thematic Unit

A few weeks ago I shared a lap book activity we did as part of our Insect Thematic Unit.  Since the creepy crawly bugs were a big hit at our house and the activity was at least noticed online 😉 I thought I’d post the whole thing.

Insect thematic unit—activities and printables {}

We started by learning what makes a bug– three body parts, six legs, antenna.  And since no theme unit in our home is complete without making something out of play dough, we went ahead and got that part over with had lots of fun making bugs!

Insect thematic unit—activities and printables {}

Our Insect unit was full of science, so it was nice to add some dramatic play for social studies.  The kiddos acted out a butterfly life cycle, starting as a bunched-up ball to represent the egg, then crawling on the floor like caterpillars, hanging upside down and being a chrysalis, and finally emerging and being butterflies.

Insect thematic unit—activities and printables {}

After emerging and allowing our wings to dry, butterflies of course, must find food!  So we had a drink of flower nectar with our long, straw-like tounges!

Insect thematic unit—activities and printables {}

(That’s lemonade in cups with a construction paper flower laid over the top.  I made holes in the middle of the flowers and gave them our smoothie straws for sipping!)

Insect thematic unit—activities and printables {}

And because all lessons are learned better with food, we also learned how bees, butterflies and other insects pollinate flowers.  First the kids cut and glued petals to the outside of a brown paper lunch bag.  Then I filled them with (a small serving of baked) Cheetos.  They ate the snack and wiped their fingers on the front of the bags as if it were pollen– what’s not to love?!

Insect thematic unit—activities and printables {}

For art we painted a paper plate red, allowed it to dry, then cut it up the middle and attached the two pieces together with a brad.  Then they both glued a head and dots to their ladybug.  Naturally Brett added a face like the grouchy ladybug in the book.  While Anna worked on her gluing technique, Brett wrote down different ways to represent the dots on his ladybug.  He wrote a six first, then made an addition problem by adding the dots from each side of the body (3+3=6), then wrote a fraction showing how many of the bugs were on the left wing (3/6).

We added a few more things to our lap book.  There was the Grouchy Ladybug clock activity from the first post.Insect thematic unit—activities and printables {}

Grouchy Ladybug 1   Grouchy Ladybug cards 1   Grouchy Ladybug cards 2

And then we had fun with a life cycle circle with Velcro pieces that can be put together over and over and over again!

Life cycle 1   Life cycle circle

Insect thematic unit—activities and printables {}

We collected pictures from magazines and printed some from online and then sorted insects from non-insects.  Watch the pictures you choose, cutesy ladybugs don’t always have six legs or three body parts!  We taped these Bug Sorting pockets into our lap book and used them for storing our pieces.

Brett was interested (for a few minutes anyway) in watching YouTube videos of bees “dance” to show the other bees where the flowers are.  He had more fun gluing his own dancing bees into patterns on the back of his lap book.

Insect thematic unit—activities and printables {}

And the Body Part activity on the top half of the folder was a funny way to teach “head,” “thorax,” and “abdomen.”  Making sure each body part touched the edges of the paper we took turns drawing insects.  Then we lifted the flaps to create funny, mix-matched bugs!  Anna wasn’t much help drawing, but she laughed uproariously each time we made a silly creature!

Naturally, books are the most important part of any unit!  Our library had lots of non-fiction books about butterflies, bees, ladybugs etc., for all reading levels and but our favorites were The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Grouchy Ladybug, both by Eric Carle and several Magic School Bus books.  Oh!  Try Nexflixing Sid the Science Kid Bug Club too.  Enjoy!

Categories: Homeschool, Thematic Unit | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Grouchy Ladybug Insect Activity or Lapbook

The Grouchy Ladybug lapbook or center activity {}

If I ask you what bugs eat you might say “leaves!”  In which case you would be partly right.  Many bugs eat leaves; tree leaves, soybean leaves, corn plant leaves.  These types of bugs can be a problem at times.  There are other bugs, however, that can be a farmer’s best friend.  One of these is the ladybug, which is why we had to include “The Grouchy Ladybug” by Eric Carle in our recent insect lessons!

The Grouch Ladybug lapbook or center activities {}

Eric Carle dedicates the book with an explanation of how ladybugs eat aphids, a rather destructive little critter.

So in honor of ladybugs, here is a free Grouchy Ladybug Insect Activity that works great as a center in your classroom or in a lapbook like we did for homeschool.

Grouchy Ladybug lapbook or center activity

The Grouchy Ladybug activity for centers or lapbook

Grouchy Ladybug 1

Grouchy Ladybug cards 1

Grouchy Ladybug cards 2

{Update!  To see an entire lesson plan for insects, click here!}

Insect thematic unit—activities and printables {}

Categories: Homeschool, Thematic Unit | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

St. Patrick’s Day, A Missionary’s Story Lesson Plan

I love St. Patrick’s Day.  I’m not really sure why.  But I do know that most of the St. Patrick’s Day celebration seems to revolve around things that are… not as “G” as I’d like them to be for my family.  So I did a little hop, skip, and jump when I read Teaching the Trinity for St. Patrick’s Day from I Have No Greater Joy.  That post and a few quick searches later and this is the St. Patrick’s Day lesson plan we’re working from!

St. Patrick's Day, a missionary's story

We checked out Patrick, Ireland’s Patron Saint from the library (even before I read the Trinity lesson plan!) and it was the perfect book for introducing the kids to Patrick the missionary.  Did you know Patrick was held as a slave in Ireland, escaped home, and later returned to share the gospel?

St. Patrick, a missionary's story lesson plan

Then we made shamrocks from bits of scrapbook paper by cutting three hearts and gluing them to a craft stick.  Its not in the photo, but we also added ribbons to them to make them pretty.

St. Patrick's Day, a missionary's story lesson plan

We talked about the shamrock shape and how St. Patrick might have taught the trinity with it.  Anna didn’t understand at all, but Brett was able to follow along enough that at least he understands there is such a confusing concept, even if he can’t yet grasp it!  We sang the song “God the Father” as posted in the Trinity lesson and that was a great hit.  It was so easy for them to learn!

At the end of the Patrick book is a short section on the legends of St. Patrick.  Brett enjoyed the story about the snakes (of course) and he loved the gross motor activity we created to go with it.  I had the kids take their shamrocks outside and chase pretend snakes out of the yard.  If there had been any real ones… well, they’d be gone too ;-).

St. Patrick's Day, a missionary's story lesson plan

The kids also enjoyed this video I found on Pinterest.

I bought some dot paints from Hobby Lobby last fall, and if you haven’t tried them, they’re great.  All the fun of painting (mostly!) without the fuss and mess.  When I saw this it seemed like a great idea for the preschool kids in my Homeschool Co-Op class.

St. Patrick's Day, a missionary story lesson plan

And then I used those same leftover bits of scrapbook paper to cut out shamrocks– two of each design.  One shamrock I glued to a paper and the other I left loose.  Tomorrow I’ll have the preschoolers match the paper’s designs, then Monday I’ll make it a math lesson for Brett by writing simple addition facts on the loose shamrocks and the answers on the glued down ones.  Hmm, or maybe capital letters with a lowercase match?  Might need more scraps…

St.Patrick's day, a missionary's story lesson plan

And this has nothing to do with missionaries, trinities, or Christ in anyway, but I couldn’t resist.  Remember that whole me just liking St. Patty’s thing?  Well, I also love Lucky Charms.


I just admitted it.


I love them.

When I taught kindergarten I always bought one box for my class to sort the shapes and then I ATE THE REST!

Once a year.

But I haven’t taught kindergarten in six years.  So its been a looooong time since I’ve eaten Lucky Charms.  And I couldn’t resist.  Today we sorted the shapes.

It was so educational.

And tasty.

St. Patrick's Day, a missionary's story lesson plan

And then I gave them each a missionary penny.

St. Patrick's Day, a missionary's story lesson plan

What is that?  Well, a missionary penny is one SENT.  All people are sent to spread the gospel, some in foreign countries and under heroic circumstances like Patrick, but all of us are called.  Funny enough, the penny is also considered “lucky,” but plainly states “In God We Trust.”  We discussed that it is not luck but God who gives us all good things– which was important to me in a St. Patty’s Day lesson!

If you have other ideas for making Christ a part of the St. Patrick’s Day celebration, leave them below!

Categories: Homeschool, Thematic Unit | Tags: , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Pumpkin Theme Ideas for Pre-school and Kindergarten

Pumpkin puzzle for pumpkin theme ideas

You may have read about the visitors to our farm a few weeks ago.  You may not have the opportunity to ride on a combine during harvest, but almost anyone can visit and farm this time of year!  Pumpkin patches abound with great opportunities for everyone to see bits and pieces of farm life.  And since we just did a homeschool unit about fall for my preschooler and kindergartener, here are some pumpkin theme ideas for you to use– and hopefully you can visit a pumpkin patch as well!

Of course, cutting open a pumpkin and playing with the seeds are a must.  But instead of carving a face, try these math and science ideas instead.

Clean the seeds, layer them on a baking sheet, sprinkle lightly with salt, and roast at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  Eat and enjoy!

Pumpkin seeds, idea for pumpkin theme unit

OR put the seeds in a plastic tub and let the kiddos squeeze and squish the squash 😉

Make a pumpkin puzzle!  We tried a few different designs and the best puzzles were pumpkins cut in horizontal “slices.”  For older kids talk about how puzzle pieces lock together and have them help design the puzzle.  For little ones just cut simple waves around the pumpkin to be used like stacking rings.

Pumpkin puzzle, pumpkin theme ideas

Design a pumpkin patch of your own.  We made fall leaves with my cricut, added a variety of pretty pumpkins, painted pumpkin leaves and vines, added a plastic rake from our summer sand toys, and talked about the pumpkin life cycle.

Pumpkin patch, pumpkin theme ideas

And speaking of pumpkin life cycles, we designed our own pumpkin life cycle chart with a paper plate, a seed, and tissue paper flowers.

Throw bean bags into a pumpkin.

Make a pumpkin smoothie.

And then when you are done with the pumpkins, place pieces in a plastic tub (you’ll want a lid for this one!) and watch the pumpkin decompose.  We journaled about our observations in our science journal.

Observe pumpkin decay, pumpkin theme idea

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

Law of Supply and Demand Lesson Plan

harvesting wheat

Despite the wind and rain that kept us out of the wheat field in June, we have finished harvesting our crop!

harvesting wheat

But what happens after the combine cuts the wheat?  Great question  😉

The picture above show the combine unloading onto the cart.  We use the tractor and cart because of those huge wheels you see.  A semi drives on roads, but wheels on the tractor and cart can drive through fields  much better.  After the cart is full the tractor pulls it out to the road and unloads on the semi.  Then the semi drives back to the grain bins and unloads the grain into the bins.

And then what?

So glad you ask!  Then we sell the grain.  Have you ever clipped coupons or watched for sales on your favorite foods?  Have you ever purchased lots of something because it was a good price?  Well, grain prices change almost EVERY day and farmers are always watching for a good price!  Is it too cold in the states where wheat is growing?  Prices might go up because buyers believe the wheat will not grow well.  There will be less wheat and they want to be sure to get some!  If they really, REALLY want that wheat they will pay more to make sure they have it.

Is it sunny, warm, and just perfect in the states where wheat is growing?  Prices might go down.  People believe there will be lots of wheat.  Everyone will have wheat to sell and you can get wheat whenever you want it.  There is no need to pay a lot.

We call this the Law of Supply and Demand.  The amount of wheat we have is our “supply” of wheat.  “Demand” means how many people want it.  Lots of supply can mean low prices and not enough demand can do the same thing.  High prices come when there is a low supply and lots of demand.  American farmers help feed the world, so right now demand is pretty high.  Wheat prices often depend on weather– how well did wheat grow?  What is the supply?

When we can, farmers like to sell grain at high prices.  But we can’t always do this.  Sometimes prices stay low for long periods of time and farmers need money.  They have to sell their wheat for whatever price they can to pay for seeds for next year, diesel for the tractor, or to buy groceries for their families!

Sometimes farmers make choices to sell, thinking prices are good, but then prices go up the next day, week, or month.  It can be very difficult to predict the future!

Try this activity to see what its like to buy and sell grain like a farmer!  This website has a simple table so you can see what corn is selling for at three hog farms.  Pretend you have corn to sell.  Choose a time frame, such as two weeks, and check the website everyday to see what prices are.  Write them down in a notebook.  At some point during the two weeks pretend to sell your corn.  Make sure to continue recording until your time frame has ended.  Now, how did you do?  Did you sell at the best price?  Was it good?  Bad?  Did the Law of Supply and Demand affect prices?  Do you think this year’s drought will make prices go up or down?

*Note: you can also try this activity using produce from your gorcery store.  Take your notebook with you and jot down prices.  Do they go up or down?  What factors affect price?

Categories: Science | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Planting in a Square Foot

Well, I hope you’ve finished your raised garden bed, because now its time to plant!  And, conviently, this planting will require a bit of math, science, and forethought.

gardening with kids in a raised bed math lesson

THE GENERAL IDEA: Planting in long rows with lots of space to hoe between is a great example of how farmers have grown crops for years.  It is not, however, a great way to garden.  Instead, plant your veggies in a more space-saving way.  (*Side note: you will also use a fraction of the seeds in a packet with this method.  Store in a cool, dray place and save the rest for next year!)

THE SCIENCE: Plants need a certian amount of space to grow.  Their roots need to spread out, their leaves need to catch the sunshine, the fruit needs room to develope.  But, if a plant needs six inches of space between it and its next neighbor in a garden row, it also only needs six inches of space all the way around.  And since you don’t need to walk in your raised bed you won’t need to leave any rows which must later be hoed!

THE MATH: Divide your raised bed into square feet increments.  You can do this a lot of ways; I used a small rope.  Use something that will be around all season.  Then, choose a plant for each square.

Find out how much space each plant requires.  You can consult the back of the seed packet, the information pick in the seedlings, or search the web.  Then do the math!  If a plant needs 3 inches in a row it needs 9 square inches in a raised bed.  How many square inches are in a foot?  How many times will 9 go into that number?  That is how many plants will fit into your square foot.  Now on to the next plant!  Do any plants take up a whole foot?  Two?  Which plant requires the most space?  The least?

Now plant, water, and enjoy!

Categories: Science | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Why Gardening Required Math

Gardening is great for teaching kids about farm life.  Did you also know it’s also full of math concepts?  Read all about the way I garden in this book: All New Square Foot Gardening.  garden with kids math lessonNot only is it an easy, enjoyable way to garden anywhere– even the balcony of an apartment, but it also involves lots of great math!   And since it’s about time to get plants in the ground I think we’d better get started!

To begin we’ll need to make the raised garden beds which are the biases for a Square Foot Garden (that’s SFG).  Some of these steps can be done by young children, some by teens, and a few by a grown-up.  Before you are ready to hack at boards with a saw, however, you must have a plan!

How big will your bed be?  Did you know the average person can reach in about 2 feet?  Kids can reach in about 1 1/2 feet.  Where will you put your bed?  Can you walk all the way around?  If it is against a wall of fence how wide should it be?  If you can reach in from both sides how big should it be?  How long do you want it?  Try using graph paper to design your bed.  (Create your own graph paper by printing a table made in word processing program.)

Then, measure!  You can have gardening with kids math lessonthe lumber yard or home improvement store cut your boards for you, but kids will love using a simple tape measure.  I used the plans from the book above to make new beds this year, but my original garden beds came from these instructions: Sunset Perfect Raised Beds.  The ones shown on Sunset are big, sturdy, and will last a lifetime.  The ones I’ll show you are cheaper and easier!

gardening with kids math lessonSecond, measure, pre-drill holes and use deck screws to add posts to the ends of two boards.  Kids can help line up the boards like you see on the bottom of this picture so the finished product looks like the boards on top!

gardening with kids math lesson

Next, line up your two boards with posts with two more boards.  Screw the new boards to the posts while kids help you hold it all in place.

To use this SFG on a deck or apartment balcony add plywood to the bottom.  Fill your finished bed with equal parts compost, peat moss, and top soil.  Check out next week’s lesson for more math as you plant your garden!gardening with kids math lesson

Categories: Science | Tags: , | 4 Comments

March Myths? Graphing March Weather

This month we have been exploring the ways weather matters to farmers.  Some of you have also been collecting data about the weather in your area.  We asked a few questions about March and now we can use this data to find the answers.  But just looking at a list of numbers may not be the easiest way to learn anything!

That is why we need a graph.  Graphs are a way to take data and make them into something like a picture.  This makes them easy to understand!

The first thing you need to do is decide what data to put in a graph.  I am choosing to put two kinds of data in my chart; lion days and lamb days.types of graphs
I used a program on my computer to draw this pie graph.  Its called a pie graph because you slice a circle into pieces to show data.  When I look at this graph I can see easily there were more lamb days than lion!



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