November 29, 2010

Other Bird Ideas

We have, quite reluctantly, come to the end of the bird section of animal classification. I'll be posting about fish on here pretty soon but before I do, I thought I'd share a few other bird ideas. Of course, if you type in "bird craft" in google, you get a gazillion ideas. Whatever floats your children's boats.

Idea One: Make a Bird Feeder.

I found instructions for the simplest bird feeder possible online. Then Timothy made it with the children. They loved it.

Disregard the bowl: Emeline was just licking it for any remnants of yummy stuff. It has nothing to do with birds and a lot to do with candy apple pie.
I just think she's pretty.
Pouring in the birdseed.
The steps include saving a juice/milk bottle of some sort. Sticking some sort of perch through the bottom, cutting holes for the birds to reach through for bird seed, filling it with bird seed, and hanging it outside. Simple, simple. Perfect for the youngest academics.
Idea Two: Send your child outside with a camera to try and take pics of local birds.

I know the top picture doesn't contain a bird, but I think it is a pretty great picture nonetheless. Besides, getting a bird in a picture was much harder than I would have guessed. When I tried I failed miserably. Miriam at least got the bird pictured below and a few great pics out of it.

Idea Three: Paper Plate Birds in a Nest Craft for Kids.

Go to this site: It has some really great bird crafts. My favorite is the Paper Plate Birds in a Nest. We didn't do this craft because it was beyond my crafting ability, but I think it looks like a lot of fun. If you aren't craft-handicapped, you might really like this site.

And that is it for birds. Hope you're having fun!

November 25, 2010

becky here...

twas the night before thanksgiving,
and all through the house,
not a creature was stirring,
not even their dad...
for all their eyes were glued
to the tv so bright.
so, i took out my craft paper
and laid it out flat,
and drew is some basics
of thanksgiving facts
and then i called everyone over
and said, "this is it"...
"no everyone tell me the story
of thanksgiving,
and don't miss a detail..."
and before i knew it,
they were all in a tizzy,
to fill in the word clues
and draw dead fish.
so, i sat back and laughed
and knew this is could count
for our school today.
and while i watched my children
draw and play and learn,
and heard all their tiny voices
telling me their "thankful fors"...
i realized that my gratitude
flows over and all around,
at the blessing of freedom
and creativity that abound.
so, i hope i have enough strength
to keep this crazy life up,
because my children learn more,
when i plan enough stuff.
so, go out and try it,
and tell me what you think...
about thanksgiving blessings and how
they make your heart sing.
as for me and mine, this is all i have to say...
i love our books and our learning,
or brains so nimble and quick,
but most of all i love,
the savior and father,
and holy ghost so bright,
for leading us through this life
with such clarity and delight
okay, i just wanted you to know
that i'm thankful for
homeschooling and family
and holidays.

now tell me what you did,
to celebrate...

November 24, 2010

Service Project Idea for Fall 2011
mark your calendars
(hello, it's me, becky)


this year we participated in the Samaritan's Purse,
Operation Christmas Child.

essentially, you pack a shoe box full of hygiene products,
toys, paper, candy, socks, etc.

pay for the $7 international shipping
and drop off the box

if you pay online
and include the bar coded slip,

your child will then be able to track
where the box ends up.

samaritan's purse sends to over 130 countries,
so there's a good chance
a geography lesson can be imagined up as well.

check out our full experience over at my blog,

November 23, 2010

Animal Classification--Other Bird Books We Liked

For poetry our favorite was Today at the Bluebird Cafe: A Branchful of Birds by Deborah Ruddell. Very cute, very clever, perfect for the early elementary age group.
For older students (this was not as well received by my four year old) we liked Wild Wings: Poems for Young People by Jane Yolen. My older children loved it because of the photographs. They prefer seeing real birds to drawings of birds.

For general bird information we really liked How and Why Birds Use Their Beaks by Elaine Pascoe. We even quizzed ourselves using the vocabulary words in the back and the quiz found in the back. Perfect because it doesn't have as much text as some of the other books but what is there is interesting and the pictures are nice.

We also greatly enjoyed Eggs and Chicks by Fiona Patchett. It was about eggs and chicks. The text was relatively minimal and it had great illustrations. All my children enjoyed it.

World Book's Animals of the World: Penguins and Other Flightless Birds was one of our very favorites. There was no cover picture available. Although this is a longish book for my children's ages, none of my children got bored or left or started trying to flip the pages (does that bug anyone else when their children do it???). We read it in the morning, and that night at supper my children were full of flightless bird facts to share with their dad. Awesome.

For deciding what kind of birds flock to eat the berries from our burning bush every fall, we found World Book's Science and Nature Guides: Birds very helpful. It organized the birds by habitat so we stuck mainly to the "City and Suburbs" section when we looked at it together. Miriam, however, discovered how to use the index and became an expert at looking up birds in the Nature Guide while we read other bird books. For example, while we read Wild Wings by Jane Yolen, Miriam had the Nature Guide handy and decided from the photograph where each bird's most likely habitat was and looked up that section in the Nature Guide to see if the bird was included. The first photo/poem is about an egret in a river so Miriam quickly flipped to the "Seashores and Marshes" section to see if she could find "egret." She was thrilled when she was successful in finding a bird. I was thrilled that she could navigate a non-fiction reference book so handily. Yeah for an unexpected language arts lesson created entirely by my 7 year old daughter. (No picture was available.)

All these books are available from the Davis County Library System. Go reserve your copy.

PS Does anyone else think of taking their children to the library as worse than cleaning the bathroom? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? I pretty much do all of my library "shopping" online. Reserve all the books in advance, then flip through them when they arrive to do a quick "appropriate for age group" check while at the library, then peruse them more thoroughly when I get them home. I love my librarians. They never complain about the extensive work I create for them. Maybe they're glad I don't bring Eli--Mr. Pull Every Book Off the Shelf in Thirty Seconds himself. Or maybe they are glad I don't take Cowen--Mr. Yell As Loud as Possible at Eli for Pulling Books Off the Shelf.

While it would be perfectly legitimate for them to be grateful that I don't take my children to the library, I don't think that is why they are so sweet to me. I also don't think it is just because it is their job. Since the librarians ask me what we're studying, and what we'll be studying next, and if I had all the resources I needed for that last unit--I think they are just nice. All-round nice people.

Bless librarians everywhere. Especially the ones at the North Branch.

November 22, 2010

We interrupt animal classification to bring you a song

Wavin' Flag from Andrea Young on Vimeo.

Here are my children, myself, and some homeschooling friends singing at a rest home. I have singing time with my children every morning. We learn new songs, dance a lot, beat Emeline's drum, that sort of thing. Then every few months we sing the songs we've learned at a local rest home and an assisted living center.

They know us there. In fact, after we sang, the activities coordinator gushed about just how much Eli's grown. We've been singing there since I was pregnant with the little man, and this is the first time he hasn't clung to me in the hostile environment of strangers. He was really, really, really shy for a long time. This time he danced around and waved his flag, and even sang some of the words. Sniff, sniff. Yes, I'm having a small heart attack that baby is getting so big.

Whoa, sorry to get distracted. The point is that our family has a nice symbiotic relationship with the care centers and we really like to sing for the residents. We really like to sing.

Waltzing Matilda from Andrea Young on Vimeo.

I think "Waltzing Matilda" is my children's favorite song we've ever learned. I was surprised by just how much my children have loved learning folk songs this year. They resonate--maybe that is why we still sing them after all this time.

Our program:

Shortnin' Bread

Waltzing Matilda

Scarborough Fair

Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree (as a round)

She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain

Vocal solo

Piano solo by Miriam

Another piano solo

Wavin' Flag.

It was a nice length of program for the ages of my children. If you've never taken your children to a care center, I highly recommend it. My children are fairly comfortable with the elderly now and that makes me glad. I think singing at the rest home has had a lot to do with it.

Now that this program is over, we can move full throttle into Christmas music. At Christmas we sing at the rest home with all my family. That means a whole lot of really young children. It is a little crazy and a lot of fun. This year we're learning "Christmas in Killarney," "Silver Bells," "I Want a Hippo for Christmas," and "The Nativity Song" in the primary children's songbook. We're singing more than that, but we know all the other songs. I'm excited about our line up.

Do you carol at Christmas? Have any favorite Christmas songs you think my children would like to learn? I would love to hear what they are. You can never know too many Christmas songs.

Happy holidays!!

PS--And no, Timothy did NOT make all the flags for us. I made the Canada flag and Ireland--thank you very much. Timothy made the rest. Well, the children did what they could and then Timothy did the rest. You aren't supposed to mock me for my glaring inadequacies. You are supposed to praise my good judgement in marrying Timothy.

November 19, 2010

Animal Classification--Birds, Part Three

This activity could go along with any number of the bird books we read. Anything to do with nests and/or chicks would work well.

We made edible nests.

And we liked it.

I didn't take pics of us actually making the cookies or shaping them into nests because I was too busy monitoring the children, but you can probably figure out the process.

You might, if you do this project, want to wait until your cookies cool off a little before shaping them. They would probably stick together better. However, we don't have that kind of patience at our house, so we munged along. It worked.
This was a good project in that all ages could participate. Eli sometimes gets a little frustrated, or we put him down for a nap before we do things. But even an almost 2 year old can fill a nest with eggs.

Step One: Make cookies. We used this recipe for no-bake cookies (known as chocolate drops around here:

3 cups rolled oats
2 TBLS cocoa
1 cup coconut

Mix first three ingredients very well in a largish mixing bowl.

On top of stove mix the remaining ingredients. Heat, but do not boil.

2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup milk

When very warm but not boiling add to dry ingredients. Combine thoroughly. Spoon on wax paper. Chill.

Step Two: Do not freak out when your children manage to get cocoa from one end of the kitchen to the other.

Step Three: Be grateful that your kitchen is only two inches by two inches and therefore easy to clean.

Step Four: Put wax paper or tinfoil in front of each child. Spoon out a portion of the cookies onto each person's wax paper. Show them how to form a nest. Older kids can figure it out on their own and babies will just eat it. It's all good.

Step Five: Put the nests onto a cookie sheet and chill in the fridge.

Step Six: After supper that night, give everyone a cookie nest and handful of jellybean eggs. Let everyone fill their nests with eggs and then eat the whole thing. Yum.

November 18, 2010

Science, simplified.

hello, it's becky from here.
we've started a new "science" book
and i thought i'd give it a review for you'all.

here it is:


here is our first experiment:


basically, we watched fruit rot
so as to learn about the role of "skin"
and the effect the air has on the fruit.


1. allow kids to peel and cut banana into pieces
(i cut up the apple)
2. allow kids to pound the vit. C tablet to powder
(and kids love a big metal meat tenderizer)
3. rub one apple piece with vit. C and one with orange juice
4. plate banana and oranges


and remember to observe periodically
throughout the day
excessive enthusiasm isn't necessary.

here is my review:

so, we love this book. in that i struggle to get away from the basics of math/reading/writing/art...this was such a perfect simple way to incoorporate science into our day. every lesson is simple, easy to prepare for and easy to accomplish with the kids. and they liked it.

now, i just have to figure out how to teach geography and history. more on that later.

November 17, 2010

Animal Classification--Birds, Part Two

Day Two: Read a great book about birds of prey in general or falcons or eagles specifically. We liked Raptors: Falcons by Julie K. Lundgren. While no cover picture was available online, the book is available from the Davis County Library System.

Then watch a few youtube videos about falconry. Fascinating. We watched several and didn't run across anything inappropriate, so it is a pretty safe topic to search. My son is in love with bald eagles, so we watched some videos about those as well as some videos about peregrine falcons--specifically about how fast peregrine falcons fly. They are the fastest animals on earth. I didn't know that before. Watching them dive is . . . breath taking. My children and I were all entranced.

Then move to the table to create a paper bag bald eagle. I used the idea posted here.
First you paint the flap of the paper bag. Then you color the other parts.
Then you cut and glue.

Miriam is holding up the one she made and the one I made. Yes, I made one! I'm amazed too. Hers ended up with two wings--I'm not sure where the other one was when I took this pic.

Miriam didn't have a painted flap because she dawdled too long while doing her chore and came to the table late. She was bummed.
Emeline was bummed in this pic because she thought she'd lost her eagle's eye. I found it when she stood up. She'd been sitting on it. We glued it on and Emeline perked right back up.
The children wanted to immediately make paper bag mice to use as "prey" and they played with their puppets constantly for the next three days, until every single body part had fallen off every single puppet and all that remained were the bags. Then I threw them away when no one was looking.

They were well-loved while they lasted.

PS--We didn't make mice that day, so my children compensated by having the "giant man-eating eagles" eat their schleik knights and princesses. Children are ever adaptive.

November 16, 2010

kinder math skillz...

well, we're a bunch of oral learners.
we can quiz each other all the day long and be happy as clams.
we can count forwards and backwards (getting there)
and sing about counting by tens,
and twos and fives...
but push comes to shove,
we need to really know what our numbers really look like.


so, when i saw this game on the clearance aisle at target, i had to jump on it.
(normaly $5, which seems pricey for a puzzle game)


first, i had the kids count and piece the two halves of each puzzle together.
they chose to attack this part as a team, each taking a job
which is good for the little one, in that she gets left behind a lot in the flow of a lesson.


and when they were done, i had them put them in order.
i was pleasantly surprised that they pretty much knew all their numbers by sight.
which is a shocker, considering how lazy i've been with them lately.
and luke only forgot "15" twice throughout the whole lesson.
this is good, in that luke and "15" seem to have a weird aversion to each other.

okay, all in all, i can see us using this once a week or so for review
and to encourage teamwork.
would i spend $5 on it?
probably not,
considering you can make this with a stack of index cards and stickers.
but if you ever see it on clearance and you have a some littles of your own to teach,
go ahead and scoop them up.
you'll enjoy it.

well, i should run.
my kids have decided to continue our science experiment this morning and are currently pulling all the condiments out of the fridge and mixing them together in massive bowl of water.
i know, dumb mommy.
but they left me alone for five minutes.
so there!

bye, have a good one.
enjoy what you do for your children,
and be blessed doing it.

November 15, 2010

Animal Classification--Birds, Part One

I know, I know, you are expecting something terribly creative. However, the first day of "birds," I was more interested in laying the foundation than exploring our creativity.

So while it is not the most exciting day of our bird studies, it was most useful and was enjoyed by all of us.

Day One
: Read through some great books about birds. We liked Wildlife Watchers: Birds by Terry Jennings.

We also liked: Usborne Discovery: Birds by Gillian Doherty.

Then, fill out the "bird" section on your chart with all the information you learned.
I know, I know. Not that exciting. However, laying the foundation is a good idea because on the other days we could refer back and reinforce our new knowledge as we talked more about birds. Miriam refers regularly to the chart. I love wall charts.

Both books are available from the Davis County Library system. Just go here.

November 13, 2010


I was on youtube the other day, looking for a particular Uchtdorf message that my sister had my husband put on a dvd for her ward's Young Women in Excellence program.

I didn't find it, but I did find this:

I'm sure some of you remember this talk. It struck me then. And it struck me again when I watched the MormonMessage version.

It caused me to reflect on how much I love to create.

I love to create happiness in my marriage.
I love to create yummy, healthy, homemade food.
I love to create YA fantasy novels and historical nonfiction for children. I love to write.
I love to create beautiful babies.
I love to create music. I love to create memories. I love to create memories through music. (My children and friends performing for my children's great-grandparents.)
I love to create opportunities for my children to explore nature.
I love to create libraries. And readers.
I love to create Christmas stockings.
I love to create colorful spaces.
I love to create cakes.
Especially cakes that involve a shark eating an out-of-place knight.
I love to create curriculum.
I love to create/inspire happiness in my children.
There are so many, many opportunities for me to create and I am grateful for each one.

It is sad that I sometimes forget that my children also love to create.

Notice that I do NOT like creating art. Of any form. I do not like to color. I do not like to cut. I do not like to paste. I do not like to scrapbook. I do not like to draw or paint or anything like unto it. I also do not enjoy cooking with children, as it creates huge messes and I am, in general, opposed to huge messes.

It is not surprising that I sometimes forget how much my children enjoy all those things. And even worse, I forget to incorporate those things into our school curriculum. I'm imposing my limitations on my limitless children. I am curtailing their creative expression.

After pondering this for several days, I decided I needed to reevaluate my upcoming curriculum. My animal classification bird unit was totally revamped, making creating a central feature. I'll be posting about it in the upcoming days. My children have loved ever single creative thing we have done. And so have I. Truly--when I remember President Uchtdorf's message, I can color with a smile. In motherhood, and in homeschooling, we sometimes need to stretch ourselves for the good of our children. I'm trying.

Now, go create something.

(Miriam: the day she came to me and explained that she'd created a "band in a drum." She's a creative soul.)