Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Angry Birds

I did not get the advance planning done that I had hoped to over Christmas break, so I am still working on putting together some upcoming units that I really want to do well.  In the meantime, I knew I had some Angry Birds printables in a folder here and both boys love Angry Birds, so it seemed like a fun thing to jump in on for a week where we are still transitioning back into full swing from the holidays.  There are several out of the ordinary events this week, one of which was spending the day today at the immigration office, so I don't know how much we'll actually get done this week, but I put together a sensory bin to start off the week, so I thought I'd share a few of the photos from yesterday with that.  

I used garbanzo beans for the base (didn't end up being as deep as I would have liked with the amount I had around, but it still worked).  Added in some pom poms and craft sticks (both of which I brought with me).  Isaiah got a little Angry Birds toy set that I pulled the sling shot to use.  There is a small plastic star in there, and I put some yarn pieces I had left over from a project to make a little nest for a homemade shaker egg I found that we have.
 Ezekiel really wanted to open the shaker egg and see what was inside.
 This picture pretty much captures how Ezekiel decided to play with the sensory bin--fast and furious!
 Isaiah was really excited about the bin and thought it was great fun to shoot the pom poms using the sling shot.
 Ezekiel really likes to put on his backpack these days and just wear it around.

We'll see how the week goes to see what else we get done, but they enjoyed starting off our theme with this.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


We don't get snow here, but it is cold at night (and always cold indoors!), so I thought we'd go with it and do a little winter theme for awhile and imagine ourselves to have the components of a winter wonderland.

A HUGE hit with both boys was making a snowman.  Now, as I said, we don't get snow here, but Isaiah had been really wanting to make a snowman, so when I saw this Life Cycle of a Snowman from The Frugal Teacher, I thought this was about as close as we could get.  She gives details instructions and a recording sheet, which I simplified a bit for our use (since hers is written for 2nd grade), but the basics are that I filled up three balloons with water and froze them and then used a little salt to help them adhere to each other.

We put some felt pieces on to decorate our snowman.

Meet "Cheekory"--our snowman!

 We measured the depth of the water in the tub throughout the day, and Isaiah was actually really excited about the measuring.  In hindsight, I would have tried to use a container that was not as wide but deeper to make the change in water level easier to observe.  I also realized as we started that all of our rulers have a gap before the numbers start, so just putting in the ruler didn't work.  We got out a drinking straw and marked the water level on that and then just put it up against the ruler, and Isaiah recorded on his sheet.

 I saw something on Pinterest about Katy and the Big Snow by Virgina Lee Burton.  Ezekiel loves all things with motors right now, so I decided to buy the Kindle version.  The Kindle version was a little wonky with the way it ended up displayed, but it was a fun book.  Isaiah actually ended up being more into the story than Ezekiel.
We got out some salt after one of our readings of the story and drew some shapes and letters in it.
Then, we made "Salt City Maps" by drawing a map with glue and sprinkling salt on it.  

 I had brought along a small packet of fake snow that you add water to in order to make it turn into this wet, fluffy snow-like stuff, so we had some sensory play with that.  It started off with construction vehicles, but Isaiah wanted to play with dinosaurs in his snow because of having watched an episode of Dinosaur Train about the Artic.
Somehow, the dinosaurs and vehicles all ended up in one big snowy adventure together!

 Ezekiel just loves doing what he thinks big kids do, so he always wants the papers and supplies I give Isaiah!  

We made snowman number stacks by gluing cotton balls above the numbers.  Ezekiel just explored a bit, but Isaiah enjoyed counting out and lining up his cotton balls.

 One of the favorite things that I just sort of stumbled on one of the first days was a "snowball fight"!  I had several bags of cotton balls ready to use for various activities, and for some reason, I just looked at them and spontaneously decided to let the boys dump them all over the floor and have a snowball fight with them.  They begged to do it again every day!

 We used the eBook Let's Explore the Arctic and Antarctic from 1+1+1=1 and read sections of it on a few of the days.  (We actually found a book on wegivebooks.org with a lot of the same information and greater detail that we pulled up several of the days as well.)
On the day that we read the pages about animals in the Arctic and Antarctic, I gathered our animals for some play.  We were heavy on the penguins, as you can see!
On the day we read about life for people in the Arctic, I decided to use one of the big moving boxes we still have in our house to turn into a dogsled!  Isaiah LOVED it!  I let him use my measuring tape as his whip as he shouted, "Mush!"  Obviously, I was the dog, and I am quite certain that we reinforced all certainty to our neighbors that these foreigners are a crazy bunch while I pulled him around the grassy area in the middle of our colony!
This configuration was funny but less than successful in actually moving very far!

My aunt Linda had just sent Isaiah The Hat by Jan Brett for Christmas, so I was thrilled to find some printables from 1+1+1=1 to go with it!  There was a beginning sound wheel and some story prop pictures and words.  The first day, I put up the pictures and words.  The second day, Isaiah put up the pictures, and I helped Isaiah find the words.  The third day, I let Isaiah put up both, and he did a pretty good job!

After reading the story with the props the first day, as we were talking about funny hats, he asked to get his stocking down and then hopped down with it on his head, pretending to be Hedgie and wanted me to be Lisa and chase him.  He then asked to play "the Hedgie game" every day after that!

 I saw an idea to make Edible Snowflakes out of tortillas.  Tortillas are quite expensive and hard to find here, so I thought we'd try it with just using sliced bread.  The sliced bread here is not terribly pliable, so it was hard to get very interesting shapes cut out of it.  I just had to try to cut some with a knife.  It was a fun project, and both boys were very proud of their efforts, but did not turn out so pretty!

  Isaiah did a snowflake matching activity from the Tot Pack at 1+1+1=1.  (Can you tell I love her stuff?)
I had intended to make it for Ezekiel, but I accidentally printed it out in black and white, which made it a bit more challenging and seemed a bit much for Zeke.  Isaiah did it very quickly, but he has always enjoyed matching activities, so he thought it was fun to do.

We made some white playdough with glitter in it to use throughout our winter theme, and a few of my kitchen tools (the first of which I have no idea what it is actually supposed to be used for!) found a new purpose!

We wrapped up today with Isaiah and I making a playdough snowman together, which he wanted to save in his room.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Candy Cane Party

It may not seem that worthy of an occasion to those living in the land of the ubiquitous holiday treat, but when a kind visitor from the States brings you candy canes here, you have a party!

My little kitchen helper decided to jump in on the prep for some treats.  He is, by the way, stirring an empty tea kettle, so don't worry!  My boys had cracked a couple of the candy canes, so I crushed up two of them and put them on top of oreos (which are surprisingly easy to find here) that I had dipped in white chocolate.  Ok, well, I had planned to dip them, but the chips seized (a new term I learned in the process), so I ended up sort of globbing it on top of the oreos instead.  They weren't pretty, but they still tasted good!

When our friends first arrived, I had the cards for this Merry Christmas Candy Cane ABC's from 1+1+1=1 spread out on the floor, and the kids were supposed to find the matching capital and lowercase letters with candy canes.  Isaiah usually loves matching games, but all the kids were so excited that none of them really ending up doing much with this.

My mom had bought us The Legend of the Candy Cane for our Kindle, so we read that together.  The video and audio links made the appearance of it a little wonky on the regular Kindle we have, but it is still a nice story.
The Legend of the Candy Cane (Enhanced Edition): The Inspirational Story of Our Favorite Christmas Candy

Then, the kids found the candy cane cards I had "hidden" around the room from Confession of a Homeschooler's Christmas Preschool Pack..  One of Isaiah's favorite things to do is find "hidden" things as part of an activity, so I put the candy cane picture cards around in various places.
As the kids found them, they brought them over to the table and found the numbers that matched and glued them on the pictures.

We played one of Mama Jenn's Candy Cane Grid Game.  We just used regular number dice and had two going at the same time so there was less wait time between turns so that the little ones didn't totally lose interest.  We just covered the spaces with cotton balls.

We also used the candy cane poem and coloring page from Confession of a Homeschooler's Christmas Preschool Pack.  The kids colored their own copies.
Then we had two options for quick art projects, and the kids could choose either or both.  I had white and red pipe cleaners that they could twist together and bend into a candy cane.  While it was really simple for the older ones, they all seemed to really like it, and my boys carried it around with them all day, confusing quite a few local friends as to what on earth they were carrying around.  
The other project was to draw a candy cane shape on white paper and use thumbprints of red paint to make the stripes on the candy cane.  These didn't work out to be quite as cute as I had envisioned, but they were still a simple and fun project.

At the end, the boys all headed outside to play with our gingerbread cloud dough, which was a HUGE hit, not only at this party but over and over and over again with my boys and with friends that came over to play, as I mentioned in a previous post.

We had a really fun time, and it was fun to make a big deal out of what would be a small treat back "home."

Friday, January 4, 2013

Gingerbread Fun

I recently decided it would be really fun to make gingerbread houses and invite some friends to join the fun.  It isn't something I grew up doing, but last year between making them with cousins at Grandma V's house, making one with my mom when she was visiting, and scoring a gingerbread train kit on sale, Isaiah ended up being totally submersed in gingerbread creations and loving it!  
At the time of making these, I had not yet been able to obtain the local ingredient chaaku that my friend had told me I could use to make molasses, so I was planning to just use some of the large cream crackers available here and piece those together for our houses.  But, my friend Laurel had molasses and is quite the expert baker, so she whipped up some real (and tasty) gingerbread for us to use to make our houses and some people to go along with them!  
One thing of note is that nearly all recipes for royal icing involve egg whites.  Eating raw eggs here is a very bad idea, and with little ones, even just the likelihood of licking fingers seemed high, so I searched and found a BBC recipe for eggless royal icing that uses glycerin, which is easy to get here.  Here is my little kitchen helper mixing up our icing:

I actually do have one plastic frosting thing I found locally with various tips, but with several of us trying to work at the same time, one of the girls suggested using ziploc baggies (the cheap ones we can get here) and cutting off a corner, which worked really well.

I set out various shapes and colors of candies I could find locally here.

The major lack of foresight on my part was regarding the assembly time.  The instructions I saw said to let the walls dry for at least an hour once assembled before trying to put on the roof.  I thought there was no way that was going to work with having a group of kids trying to do it.  I thought, well, we can just fudge that time a bit.  Um, seems that time was rather necessary!  So, in hindsight, I would probably assemble at least the walls of the house before having the group of kiddos jump in on the process!

                                      At one point, we tuned into the fact that all the kids had moved on from the project, and it was only us grown-ups still pluggin' away at it!  Ah, well, they enjoyed the part they did!

Isaiah decided it would be perfect to follow up this project with a round of Candyland!  

We learned for future projects, but it was great fun, and I will definitely try it again next year!