Week 5: Farm Fun (Day 1)

There are some mornings where I just want to wake up on my own terms without bouncing boys in my bed shattering my last moments of sleep. And then there are other mornings where I welcome their warm, cuddly bodies worming their way under my sheets, followed by their groggy kisses. On this morning, I was grateful for the latter because I was excited to reveal to them a new week’s theme. Before I even put pencil to paper (or fingers to keyboard, rather) planning out Mommy Summer School, I knew that we were going to do a farm week when I saw how enthusiastically Luke responded to a kindergarten field trip this past spring to Great Country Farm in Bluemont. The way he relayed every detail of the trip made me want to experience it for myself, so I promised him that we would go some time during the summer. He has not forgotten that promise, and, while he has been excited and totally into each week of MSS so far, I have heard him mention to Noah on a few occasions when he thought I wasn’t listening, “Just wait until farm week…I know Mommy is going to take us to Great Country Farm, and you will love it!” It might be silly, but the feeling I had this morning knowing that I could finally tell them that farm week had indeed arrived was reminiscent of Christmas morning!

Introduction: The clues given for this week’s new theme were… 1) The theme has to do with a place. 2) The place is outdoors but also has buildings that you can go inside. 3) The place can be dirty and stinky. First guess–in a very monotone, groggy voice–was the zoo which I figured would be one of the first ideas. I was lying there thinking to myself, “Wait for it, wait for it…” Bam! Luke shot up off the bed and yelled, “I think I know–” his voice trailing off as he bolted down the stairs to see the centerpiece reveal. Of course, little brother went following after, and I got to revel in their joy from the middle of my bed as I heard their exuberant voices wafting up the stairs: “It’s farm week! It’s farm week! I knew it! I knew it!” Great Country Farm better hold onto its straw hat because have they got something a-comin’ their way… Image

Morning Meeting: After an appropriate “farm-ish” breakfast of scrambled eggs and sausage, we headed down to the basement to check out the special sight words for the week…

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…and answer the Question of the Day: What do you know about farms? I let the boys take turns generating ideas while I listed them on paper. Then I read aloud a book called Farm by Elisha Cooper. (We had read Beach by the same author during our Wacky Water Week, so it was cool to read another book by her in her same unique style.) Before reading the book, I gave the boys a Reading Focus which was to find things about a farm in the book that we didn’t include on our lists. After reading, we added a third column to the paper and listed the ideas mentioned in the book.

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AM Activity: In addition to going to Great Country Farm later this week, I wanted to visit one of our favorite local farms, Frying Pan Farm in Herndon. On the way, I told the boys that we would be revisiting our Morning Meeting lists and comparing our lists with what we see at Frying Pan Farm. We had a fantastic day and couldn’t have asked for more beautiful weather!

We took a 25 minute wagon ride all around the farm learning about their history, their crops, their machinery, and other interesting facts about the different types of cows they have and other topics related to the farm. Luke loved the tractor pulling the wagon.

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We visited all of the animals several times over, especially the adorable baby pigs! Luke was all giggly watching the adult pigs wrestle and fight over the food, pushing each other out of the way with their snouts and kicking each other. We enjoyed a brief conversation while leaning on the fence to their pen talking about how sometimes people and animals aren’t all that different!

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Noah’s favorite part of the day was “driving” the miniature tractors. They really are adorable and were fully functioning back in the day, as I understand. In the past they have just had three tractors, but this time there was a fourth one with a little bench attached to the back. Luke had me sit on the bench like I was a visitor to the farm taking a wagon ride tour, and he drove the tractor narrating in his words what he had heard from Dennis, our wagon ride driver, earlier in the day. It was impressive to hear how much he remembered!

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We made time to climb a cool looking tree…

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…stop by and read all about the dairy building, the outhouse (The boys were SO fascinated by this. Males.), the cider press barn, and the smokehouse, grab a ride on the old-fashioned carousel…

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…and make a sweet purchase in the Country Store–always a favorite when we visit. Before we left the house, the boys had decided that they were going to bring their wallets with some loose change so they could buy themselves a few candy sticks from the vast selection of flavors they have at the farm. As they were saying, “Cheers!” to their candy sticks and Cow Tails, Mommy was saying, “Cheers!” to them paying for their own treats! It was cool watching Luke at the counter figuring out what coins he needed to hand over and even helping Noah make his purchase, too. I guess the money unit from kindergarten has really stuck with him. Nothing like real-life application of math skills!

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Luke’s Quiet Time:

  • Reading: Since Luke’s favorite animals at the farm were the pig family, we started our reading time with a read aloud of Pigs by Gail Gibbons, one of the books that my sister-in-law loaned me for our farm week. I have to say that I have had a lot of misconceptions about pigs, and I enjoyed learning along with Luke about our pudgy pink friends. Of course, in addition to read alouds, Luke is continuing with reading one or two Early Readers every day. We are still working our way through the Ds, and I am so proud of how many books he has read this summer! I am really starting to see his fluency pick up.
  • Writing: Luke seemed to enjoy doing Superhero ABCs back when it was superhero week, so I decided that enough time has passed that I could reintroduce that activity. It’s such a good one! This time I gave him a piece of the large paper that we’ve been using during Morning Meeting. He thought it was really cool that he was getting to write on that paper. I told him that I wanted him to do at least 5-6 letters a day, and it was up to him how he wanted to complete it. He could pick a random selection of letters each day or go in order of the alphabet. This kid is just as particular as his mother, so I knew he would pick the latter option. I’ll post his finished ABCs at the end of the week, but for today he wrote–apples for A, barn for B, cow for C, duck for D, eggs for E, and farm for F.
  • Math: I didn’t really come across any farm-themed math activities that struck me as amazing, so for today we just stuck with what is in the Summer Bridge Workbook. I’ll have to drum something up later this week for math.

 

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Week 4: Wacky Water Week Extension

For the grand finale of Wacky Water Week, we took to the tub. Who says that you can’t still have water fun inside when it’s raining outside? While the boys were putting their bathing suits on and filling up the big garden tub in the master bathroom, I gathered the materials we would need:

  • water marbles
  • Let’s Try It Out in the Water: Hands-On Early-Learning Science Activities by Seymour Simon and Nicole Fauteux
  • aluminum foil
  • a variety of small toys and items from around the house that can get wet
  • piece of paper taped to bathroom mirror (or wall) and a Sharpie
  • a few different sized containers or bottles (Rubbermaid or plastic food storage containers work well or empty recyclables)

Remember how the boys were begging me to let them take a bath with the water marbles? Well, I caved. Truth be told, I was a little desperate by this point in the week. The boys were both cranky, grouchy, and fighting while trying to both deal with nasty summer colds, I was exhausted and hadn’t put makeup on in two days which just makes ME cranky and grouchy, and we were supposed to be having friends over to our pool for dinner but the look of the sky wasn’t very pleasant. Did my give-in pay off? Yes and no. Yes in the sense that the boys had a blast sitting on, stirring up, squishing, and playing with the water marbles floating all around them. On the other hand, no because it took FOREVER to get them all out of the water. I tried a strainer, I made the boys get back in the water to start picking them out by hand…it was a mess. I thought that they would be easy to scoop out once all the water had drained out of the tub, but a bunch of them got lodged in the drain and clogged the tub which resulted in me getting in the tub with my clothes on and frantically digging them out with a pair of small scissors. I did get them all out, but it took about 45 minutes for the boys and I to retrieve them all, at which point I was soaking wet, the boys were getting slap-happy, and my bathroom floor was flooded. Yikes.

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But back to the FUN part… I had found the book mentioned above at the library and purposely held on to it in case we did have a rainy day because I knew that we could do all of the activities in the tub if needed, although I think that the best way probably would be in a small baby pool outside. I basically read through the book from start to finish while the boys listened from the tub (can’t say I’ve ever done a read-aloud to people in a bathtub before!), and we would pause whenever the book would walk through an activity. All of the activities are really basic and focus on concepts like capacity (which we had been doing earlier in the first Wacky Water Week–love when things connect like that!), floating and sinking, and estimation.

The boys enjoyed the floating and sinking guessing activity. We made predictions on what each item would do before the boys would drop it into the water. I recorded our predictions and the results on the white paper that I taped to the bathroom mirror:

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Probably the most fascinating thing to Luke was that some of the sinkers suddenly floated when placed on an aluminum foil boat. He could not believe that the items wouldn’t make the boat sink. The book does a good job talking about how the aluminum foil helps to spread out the weight which changes whether the item sinks or floats.

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After a little bit of playtime with the boat, I gave the boys a large glass Pyrex bowl that I had been storing the water marbles in all week. The boys were surprised that the bowl floated because it was so much heavier than all of the other objects they had been trying out. We did a little estimating of how many cups of water we would have to pour into the bowl before it would sink to the bottom of the tub then tried it out. The boys loved seeing the bowl suddenly reaching its capacity and just seemingly slamming down to the bottom. They repeated that for a while pretending that the bowl was a submarine taking its time submerging into the water with all of its sailors (ie–Spider Man, a variety of superhero Squinkies, a rubber frog, etc.).

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Although this required a lot of cleanup AND TOWELS when we were finished, it was worth it to hear the boys squeal with delight and tell me over and over, “That was so fun! Can we do that again sometime?” I reminded them that they have regular bath nights, but that didn’t seem to be the same thing to them…

We sure have had a lot of fun experimenting and playing with water for two weeks, but looking at the “battle remnants” in the tub and the one inch of standing water all over my bathroom floor solidified that it was time to move on to a new theme!

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I think I may have promised a book list in a previous post, but I had to return all of our library books yesterday before I had a chance to type up the list. Sorry about that! The good news is that there are TONS of fiction and even more nonfiction books that you can check out at your local library that really get into the science and fun behind water. Even Mommy learned a lot these two weeks!

Week 4: Wacky Water Week Extension!

As you can see from last week’s posts, the boys and I kept extremely busy while Andy was away in Kenya. It was actually one of the best times we’ve ever had with Daddy gone. Last week more than ever, I was so glad that I took the time to put all of this Mommy Summer School stuff together because it truly helped us persevere through the week and have fun while we’re at it! By the time we made it through the end of the week and the weekend, though, I was exhausted, and my creative juices were no longer flowing freely. I have been using Saturday and Sunday nights after the boys are in bed to get the next week of MSS all prepped and set up, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it this time around. I wanted to have the house all in order for Andy’s return on Monday, and the boys and I had plans to paint a banner and make some other “welcome home” art, so I threw myself into that. Looking over all of my water plans, I noted that there were several activities that the boys and I hadn’t gotten to, so I decided to just extend Wacky Water Week into this week. You know? The boys were so excited on Monday morning about Andy coming home that day that they didn’t even notice that there was no new centerpiece on the table or signs of a new theme anywhere around the house. Phew…glad I didn’t kill myself to get a new theme whipped up. It’s been good this week just helping Andy get transitioned back from Africa, and both boys ended up with nasty summer cold bugs, so they haven’t exactly been in the best frame of mind anyway. So while we didn’t let down completely this week, it’s been intentionally go-with-the-flow. Here’s a recap of the cool ways we spent our time together this week…

1. Water Marbles: I learned about these little blobs of joy from the I Am Momma blog. Check it out here. She even has a link on her blog straight to Amazon so you can order the marbles. I concur that this is one of the best $3 I ever spent on the boys. They look like this when they arrive:

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They are seriously eensy weensy teensy! Once we put them in water we did a Quick Think on our large paper:

ImageI absolutely LOVE giving kids a chance to make predictions about anything–a book, a movie, the way a game will turn out. It’s such a good critical thinking skill and one they will utilize a ton in school. Plus, it’s really rewarding to see them get all jazzed up when they nailed a prediction! (By the way, looking at our list, can you guess which prediction was contributed by the 3-year-old?) So back to the marbles…4 hours later, they looked like this:

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I love how Luke reacted when he first immersed his hands into a bowl, “Cool! They feel like eyeballs!” Such a boy. (But they kind of do…) At about this time, I needed to get lunch ready, so the boys had fun just playing with them, rolling them around, trying to squish them (WAY more difficult than you would think!), daring each other to lick them, and more. Later on I had Noah do some color sorting, and Luke and I used them as manipulatives for addition, subtraction, and counting by 2s and 5s. I put them in a large lidded bowl in the fridge with a little water, and they are still going strong days later. The boys broke out the Thomas and Friends tracks and trains the other day, made an enormous track with hills and bridges and such all over the main level of the house, then loaded up the water marbles in some open cargo cars that we have with our trains and pretended that they were transporting “goods”. I thought that was quite creative! I wish I had taken a picture of them. Eventually they ended up just having a good time rolling the water marbles down the hilly parts of the track and seeing how far they would go. The boys are begging me to let them get in a bath with the marbles next. Ummm…we’ll see…

2. Melt the Ice Game: This was super fun! I can see us actually playing this many times over. It would be a lot of fun to play outside with the neighbor kids on a hot day. It was gloomy and wet out the day we played, so we plopped ourselves down right in the middle of the kitchen floor. (I wasn’t sure if the game would potentially get too messy for the play room. It really wasn’t bad. Just have a towel handy.) The basic objective of the game is that each player gets an ice cube, and the first person to melt his/her ice cube is the winner. There are six different ways that you can attempt to make your cube melt–you just roll a die and follow the directions for the number you roll. You can find a nice PDF to print out for playing here. We don’t keep a printer at home, so I just drew a quick mock-up on a large piece of paper and hung it on the fridge for us to easily see while we were playing.

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Noah LOVED when he would roll a 2 and have to put the ice cube down his shirt:

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Before we even started playing, I had the boys make predictions on which method or methods they thought would work the best. Of course, they said holding it and floating it in water, but they also included blowing on it which they learned later on was not really that effective! Luke was blowing on his cube so hard that little water droplets were flying up into his eyes. Not so fun after you had sprinkled salt all over your cube…

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They realized very quickly that sprinkling salt on the cube is the most effective way to melt the ice, so they kept chanting, “Roll a 5! Roll a 5! Roll a 5!”

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Final results: Luke 1st place, Noah 2nd place with a teeny little sliver, and Mommy in last place. Hey, I kept getting a 4 which was to drop it. Hands down the WORST roll to get!

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3. What Dissolves in Water? Experiment: We had talked about certain substances dissolving in water last week when we made Jello and peach iced tea, but then I came across this activity online and thought this would be a lot of fun. What kid doesn’t love dumping random stuff in water and then stirring it up with a spoon? Such a simple pleasure. I chose the eight ingredients from our pantry myself and got it all set up for the boys while they were building Legos, but it could also be fun to let the kids ransack the pantry for substances that they would like to experiment with. Here’s what we worked with:

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I also drew up a quick chart for Luke to record his predictions and the results. Reading and using charts is another good kindergarten skill to review. Kids need to be able to read information that is collected in a different format other than prose. I put the chart on a clipboard and told Luke that he was an official “experimenter” now!

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Then the boys had at it! I let them take turns choosing what substance to experiment with. Luke would record a YES or NO on his chart based on whether or not he thought it would dissolve, then one boy would dump the substance in the water while the other one stirred. It was good teamwork! If you were doing this with more than two kids, it might be good to give each kid his/her own set of materials to avoid arguing and to really give each kid enough of a chance to interact with the experiment, otherwise they just get bored if they’re standing around watching someone else do it.

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In the end, Luke had predicted correctly on all of them except for flour and yeast. Not too bad!

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4. Capillary Action Demonstration: This is another activity that I pulled from I Am Momma, but she had pulled it from another source. Here is the link from the Momma blog. Once there, she includes a link for her original source. The boys helped set up the experiment…

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Then we, of course, made predictions about what might happen…

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Then we let it do its magic while we were doing the dissolving experiment, eating lunch and taking rests…

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When we came back to it a few hours later, this is what we found…

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At that point, we reviewed our list of predictions and made a list of what we learned from this experiment. (See picture above of our Quick Think paper.) Luke thought that I had put blue water in the middle glass while they were in rest time. I assured him that I did not by having him feel how the entire paper towel was wet and how the two colors were meeting in the middle of the paper towel so that he could understand that it really was the water that had traveled. Now even more time has passed since our final observation, and some of the blue water is starting to travel up the yellow paper towel, so there is a small section that is green. Very cool! You can obviously do this experiment without food coloring, but I think the food coloring really makes the demonstration come alive in a more obvious way. Finally, I wanted to make sure that I was explaining capillary action, the scientific process behind this, correctly, so here is a site that I used. I mostly referred to the What’s Happening? section at the bottom.

I’ve got two more tricks up my sleeve, so stay tuned…

Week 3: Wacky Water Week (Day 4)

Morning Meeting and AM Activity: Since Mommy Summer School was not in operation mode on Day 3, we doubled-up on discussion and activities today. The whole focus of the entire morning was different things that water can do. We covered so much in a few hours that I think it would be easiest for this post if I just write in list format in the order in which we covered the basics of water science.

1. I explained that water can be in three different forms, or what scientists call properties. Next I told the boys that I was going to read them a book about the three properties of water, and I wanted them to be able to tell me what they are when I finished reading it. I then read aloud It Could Still be Water by Allan Fowler, a Rookie Read-About Science book. Luke was able to easily remember liquid and solid as two of the three properties, but he couldn’t remember gas as the third property. Actually, the book didn’t use the term “gas” but talked about vapor, fog, mist, and steam as examples of the third property. As Luke reviewed what he had learned from the book and where we see water in those three properties in or around our house, I recorded a brief account of his ideas on our large paper. Obviously along with our conversation, I introduced the concepts of melting, freezing, evaporation, and condensation.

2. We headed into the kitchen for a little demonstration of the three properties of water. We started by putting two ice cubes in a pot on the stove with the heat on medium. I asked the boys if they could predict what would happen to the solid water. They guessed right away that it would melt into liquid water. Luke wanted to then make estimations on how long it would take for the solid to turn into liquid. We each shared our estimate, then hit start on the stopwatch on my iPhone. This was actually a brilliant idea of Luke’s because I think the boys would have gotten a little bored staring at the stove waiting for the different phases to take place. As you can see from the pic below, Noah wanted Luke to protect him from the heat radiating out from the stove. Awww, I love when these brothers are sweet to one another:

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Once the ice cubes melted, I kicked the heat up to high to demonstrate boiling. While the water was heating to a boil, I took the opportunity to explain the concept of evaporation and, of course, liquid water turning into its third property. Once again, we estimated how long it would take for all of the liquid water in the pot to evaporate. As the steam started to rise from the pot, I had the boys hold their hands over the steam long enough to feel their hands get slightly damp to reinforce the idea that the steam is still water. Luke was particularly fascinated by this and just kept expressing his incredulity at the fact that the water doesn’t just disappear from the pot but that it still exists as water, just in a different form.

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3. Luke wanted to “make vapor” again, so I kept the high heat on the burner and gave him a glass full of water to pour in knowing that it immediately would make that awesome popping and puffing that comes from putting a bunch of cold water on something really hot. Before he poured it in, I asked him to estimate how long it would take for the liquid water to evaporate this time. As I could have guessed, his response was, “Well, the same as last time, right?” It was fun to watch his face and hear his cry of, “Whoa!” when the water didn’t remain in the pot and pretty much instantly turned into steam. As the steam billowed up, I showed Luke how he could hold the glass over the pot and “catch” the steam in the glass. That gave me the opportunity to talk about condensation. Lastly, I gave Noah a glass, too, and showed them how they could catch vapor from their breath in the glasses to also create condensation. Such a simple, simple thing, but they just thought this was so amazing! Reflecting on this later, I remembered how enamored I was with my elementary school teachers when they would do these simple scientific demonstrations or basic experiments. I’m pretty sure that I thought they had magical powers or something! This train of thinking reminded me that I needed to follow up with the boys on how our kitchen water play is just another of a gazillion examples of how creative and intentional Our Creator God was when he made the world we live in.

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4. We moved into another cool thing that water can do–it can dissolve certain substances. I wrote the word DISSOLVE on a piece of our large paper and asked the boys to explain what it means. Luke instantly pointed out that it sounds like “solve” and he drew a circle with his finger around the latter part of the word, so his guess was that it has something to do with figuring out a problem. Even though he was wrong, obviously, I was impressed with his wordsmithing! I kept our definition very simple: when water breaks down a substance put into it and the substance becomes part of the water. The easiest way I could think of to demonstrate this was to make a powdered drink mix. I happened to have some Crystal Lite Peach Iced Tea mix on hand which my boys both actually like, although I don’t give it to them very often.

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As Noah was mixing up the iced tea, I realized that we could use a portion of it to demonstrate how a liquid turns into a solid by making peach iced tea popsicles. The boys can’t WAIT to eat them! I’m wondering if they will really taste that great… (By the way, Julie Falke, if you are reading this post, I got these popsicle molds at one of your swaps. We have used them SO many times!)

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While I was digging in the pantry for the iced tea mix, I spotted about a dozen boxes of Jello mix that I had bought back in February to make Jello jigglers for Luke’s class snack. A trip to New Jersey while Daddy was in Kenya resulted in us getting stuck in New Jersey longer than expected when I came down with a nasty stomach bug, and I sent my mom to the store for a few boxes of fruit roll-ups in place of the jigglers. But hey, I love when I find uses for things in my house later on, so it wasn’t money completely wasted. The boys were totally stoked about making Jello, and I was excited about another opportunity to demonstrate dissolving. Of course, each boy just HAD to make his own bowl of Jello which is a bit more than we really need to have in the fridge at one time, so they have been feasting off it with practically every meal and snack since making it. I happened to get a little gob on my finger at one point while rinsing off dishes, and I have to admit, cherry lemonade Jello isn’t half bad! Wow, Jello flavors have become so much more exotic since I was a kid.

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5. To continue our experimentation with dissolving, we did an art project featured on my favorite Mommy blog: I Am Momma, Hear Me Roar. Here’s the link for these simple polka dot dissolving pictures. I will refer back to this project later on with the boys when we touch on a third cool thing that water does–it moves (capillary action).

 

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Weekly Outing: I planned an afternoon at Volcano Island Water Park at Algonkian Regional Park in Sterling. We have been to a few of the Fairfax County regional park water parks but had never been to this one. I didn’t tell the boys where we were going, but I again gave them some clues. I told them that part of the name of the place was an island, that they needed to wear bathing suits, and that we should bring sunscreen and a water jug. Luke was convinced that we were going on some sort of rugged adventure! When I pulled up to the park, they both started screaming with elation, “It’s a water park! It’s a water park!” I had only planned on us staying for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, but 5 hours later the boys were still going strong and were having an absolute blast. It was quite the relaxing day for me, too, since Noah was able to be completely independent in all of the areas of the park that he was allowed in by his height. And with the way the park was set up, I could sit in a chair by Noah and still keep an eye on Luke on the bigger slides. I am loving that we are at the point where I can get in the water BY CHOICE!!!

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It was also really fun to see the boys spending so much time playing together. I have noticed such a difference this summer with Noah being one year older. The gap is closing in terms of their interests and what they are and aren’t able to do together. Luke truly seems to enjoy being with Noah and looking out for him (he was an outstanding big brother ALL DAY!), and Noah is enough of a little beast to be able to hang with Luke but also not afraid to tell Luke that he’s had enough and needs to take a break.

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The biggest hit of the park was the giant 500-gallon dumping bucket that would fill up in the water playground area every few minutes. The bell would start clanging, and Luke and Noah–along with every other kid in that part of the park–would come barreling through the water to get right underneath the bucket. When the boys said that the bucket was the last thing they wanted to do, I decided that I would jump in there with them but not tell them that I was going to do that. They were laughing hysterically when I ran out and got drenched, sunglasses and all!

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As we said “Adios” to Volcano Island…

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…and ventured back home all wrinkly like raisins from our fun in the water, I knew it had been another victory for Mommy Summer School.

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Week 3: Wacky Water Week (Day 3)

Mommy Summer School was officially closed for Wednesday, July 24 due to “THE MOST EPIC PLAY DATE EVER!” (quote by Luke Gingrich; all caps provided to emphasize the way he yelled it ecstatically) at the Falkes’ house. See adorable pictures of their fun on Facebook.

Week 3: Wacky Water Week (Day 2)

Morning Meeting: Calendar Talk, of course (making Luke work a little harder this week to spell out the month and the day of the week), then we reviewed the previous day’s discussion about what water is used for and the ideas that Luke had learned from the video about water. Then on the same piece of paper where we had generated ideas about the uses of water, I drew a T-chart and labeled the two sides NEED and WASTE. I asked the boys to explain/define the two words and give general examples of each. I explained to them that there are basically two ways that we use water: 1) survival/meeting needs and 2) fun/entertainment. I then read aloud a short story to the boys called “Are You Water Wise?” which is part of Every Drop Counts, a water conservation activity book for grades K-6 published by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.  This link will take you to the site where you can find gobs of water discussions and activities for whatever age your kids are. While reading the story about Wally Waterwaster, I paused after every paragraph for the boys to point out examples of water conservation and water wasting. Next, I asked the boys to evaluate the way we use water in our home and to give us a rating on whether we are “water wise” or “water wasters”. We tried to identify some ways that we could do a better job conserving water–like not letting the water run while brushing teeth or using the soap during hand-washing. The boys were kind of getting antsy at this point, so I didn’t take the time to list out the ideas on paper. Nothing to show you there…sorry. Lastly, we went back through each item on Day 1’s list of ways water is used and labeled each idea as N for a need or a W for waste. I think they did a great job at evaluating their list!

I also taught the kids a cute water song to the tune of “Old McDonald” from this kindergarten water lesson plan. Here are the song lyrics, although they are also mentioned on the lesson plan:

We need water to survive

It keeps us alive

And if you drink it every day

You can run and play

It’s in our food

It’s in the air

You’ll find water everywhere

We need water to survive

It keeps us alive

The entire lesson plan looks fantastic. I might work in some more of the activities later on this week. I particularly find the activity interesting that teaches kids how much of the human body is made up of water and the way we can experience water with our five senses.

AM Activity: We went to the library to check out books about water. The boys were so serious about using the library right–from our behavioral expectations conversation in the car, to learning how to use the computer card catalog, using the self-scanner to check out books, and carrying everything in their library tote bags. They were both so good hanging in the children’s area, just browsing and looking at books at the tables while I searched for our huge list of water reads. We ended up checking out close to 30 books, both fiction and nonfiction, about everything water–from the water cycle to the three properties of water to poems and stories related to the ocean, snowflakes, water animals, and more! I will post a complete book list from this week later on. When we got home from the library, we had just a little bit of time to kill before heading back out the door for Luke’s swim lesson. So I set a timer for 10 minutes, spread all the books out on the floor, and asked the boys to do a Book Look which entails them browsing through as many books as they can in that time to generate interest in later actually reading and discussing the books. The only “rule” is that they don’t just sit and flip pages quickly in an attempt to “win”–it’s not a race. But I do want them to try to get through a decent selection so that they can get lots of ideas and see lots of pictures that will get them excited to learn.

Luke’s Quiet Time: We are continuing with him reading at least one Early Reader each day, then if he wants me to do a read aloud or two with him, we’ll do that. The Book Look paid off because he flew through the Early Reader of his choice to get to the new library books as quickly as possible! I had planned to talk to Luke about the four seasons today and how water is used or shows up in each season. I also had found an online book on Tumblebooks about the seasons that has several specific mentions about water, and I had a writing follow-up activity to go along, but I’ve been teaching Luke to play Monopoly this summer (per his request when he spotted Daddy’s Transformers Monopoly game in the storage room), so we decided to blow off writing and continue our game that we’ve had going on for several days now. I am still loving that I have the freedom to rearrange original plans to just enjoy special bonding moments with my boys! Later on in the afternoon, I took the boys to see “Turbo” at the theater. Adorable and funny flick!

Week 3: Wacky Water Week (Day 1)

If you have been reading the blog from the beginning, you will remember that I had originally scheduled a pirate theme for this week, but some of the activities I had planned for that entailed the help of Daddy. I didn’t really want to give up the “cool factor” of some of those possible activities, so I decided to shift the weeks around and focus on water, water, water this week. Works out quite nicely because we had one play date scheduled today that involved water play and another one on Friday–outings already built in. Easy planning for Mommy.

Introduction: The pre-bed clues last night in anticipation of this week’s theme were…1) It is something that is in the sky. 2) It is something that is in the ground. 3) It is something that is in our bodies. 4) It is something that people and animals need to stay alive. Luke’s first guess was blood. Makes sense for clues 3 and 4, but I don’t even want to think of that being true for clue 2!!!! Both kids were REALLY stumped on this one. I repeated the clues for them when they woke up this morning, and neither one guessed it yet again. In fact, I even had to help them do some thinking when they came down to see the “centerpiece reveal”.

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When I asked them to think through what all the items on the table (and the chandelier!) have in common, they were stuck on “the beach” or “swimming” for a little while, then they eventually landed at, “Oh, they are all in or around water!” As Gru would say on Despicable Me in his epic, sing-song accent, “Light-bulb.”

Morning Meeting: After Calendar Talk I immediately posed the Question of the Day–“What is water used for?” As they took turns generating ideas, I listed them on large white paper.

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I was VERY impressed with their list. Of course, they didn’t always explain things exactly as they are written here, but we worked through it, and I “translated”. At that point, I had planned on being done, but Noah noticed that I had changed the sight words on the memo board (YES!), and he wanted to know immediately what they were. Luke recognized a few of the words right away: water, gas, melt, freeze, ice. We did a very brief run through of sounding out the others.

AM Activity: We had planned to meet one of our favorite families, the Verwys clan, at the Fairfax Corner Interactive Fountains for some morning snacks and water play. The fountains are scheduled to come on at 9:00 every morning. At 9:45, they still were not on, and we were having a terrible time actually reaching a person with the property management who seemed to know what was going on or would answer her phone. Finally, we received word that the fountains would be shut down for the morning due to some bricks needing to be replaced. The kids were SO disappointed, and we Mommys were equally annoyed that they hadn’t posted any sign by the fountains, or roped it off, or put notifications on their website. Ugh. Nothing like dragging seven kids in bathing suits to a dry splash pad first thing in the morning. Just glad it wasn’t a wicked hot day like last week. Fortunately, the Verwyses were “go with the flow” and came back to our pool in the afternoon for over two hours of splish-splash. So we got our water outing in after all!!! (By the way, Andrea, if you are reading this, during our nightly Family Sharing over dinner, BOTH boys said that the best part of their day was playing with your kids at the pool “like…for a really, REALLY long time!” Sweet.)

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Luke’s Quiet Time:

  • Reading–We started out with some Early Readers. Luke only has a few more level Cs to go, and I added some Ds to the Tub of Knowledge last night, so I asked him to pick one C and one D. He was a rock star with the level D! And it was an adorable book that had us both chuckling: Hot Dog by Molly Coxe (a Getting Started Road to Reading book by Golden Books). The level C book that he picked out was The Ants Are Marching by Maria Fleming (a Scholastic book). The timing of the book was great because the book involves counting by 2s, and he had just worked on even numbers and counting by 2s in his Summer Bridge Workbook. We are a little light on books about water in the Tub of Knowledge, so we just stuck with Early Readers. We plan on hitting the library tomorrow to load up. Lastly, we revisited the special sight words for the week, and I asked him to explain what each word was after he read it/sounded it out. He actually had a pretty good base knowledge of the three properties of water, even gas and the concept of steam. I was impressed! That will help us both later on in the week.
  • Writing–I had Luke watch a video on Tumblebooks called “Why Care About Water?” It is a 2 1/2 minute video done by National Geographic that covers how less than 1% of Earth’s water is actually drinkable/usable, the clean water crisis in so many parts of the world, and the way that we overuse and abuse water, particularly in America. I told Luke before he watched the video that he was going to have to write three facts that he learned about water which helped to give him a focus. Because the video was so short, I had him watch it twice. Then I gave him the large paper, and this is what he came up with:Image
  • Math: I came across a fabulous site put together by a kindergarten teacher when I was researching math concept activities that involve water. Check it out here. I know that Luke’s teacher did an entire unit on measurement and capacity this past year, so I was thrilled that we could review something other than basic addition and subtraction. The teacher behind this site spells out each part of the activity as she administered it over the course of five days. Perfect. She even included her introductory PowerPoint as a free download. I exactly followed her Day 1 plan, and we had a lot of fun with it together.