Monday, November 21

Shine on Harvest Moon (Rosemary Clooney)

On a unusually empty Saturday, as we bumbled around town looking for something to do...a garage sale to crash....something to pass the time....we came across this storage box and began a new project.  If we'd been thinking clearly, we'd have taken some decent 'before' photos...but alas.
The box was made of real wood and had great bones, but someone had painted it this terrible chartreuse color...that's not a color anyone needs in their kitchen.  Or pantry.  It also had hinges that were rusted in place and needed a thorough scrubbing.  Completely do-able in a weekend.
The boys helped to break it apart into all of it's little pieces, and give it a nice coat of off-white paint.  We cleaned it well beforehand.  While the paint was drying, we soaked the hinges in WD-40 to loosen them.
A bit of bright red paint for the covers brought life to our piece and gave it a vintage feel.  We also stapled wire mesh to them, instead of the thick plastic, to open them up and let the food inside breathe.  For the top of the box, we pulled out our old Tupperware stencils and livened it up with the boys' vision of a pastoral scene. 

And voila!  A root box to hold potatoes, carrots, beets, apples, and the rest of your fall harvest.

A few Potato Recipes...

Friday, November 18

Feet on the Ground (Ruby Velle)

Do you have children who seem to notice and respond to every sight and sound around them, including those that you had not noticed? Do your children have a hard time getting homework or chores done because they seem to lose track of what they are doing?

Some children are highly distractible, noticing every sight and sound around them. When working on a task, they are often side-tracked and have a difficult time focusing. On the positive side, this trait also refers to children’s perceptiveness. Highly distractible children are keen observers of the world around them.

I'm not applying labels here....ADD, ADHD...who needs them?  We all have our own issues, and distractibility is sometimes a blessing in disguise...once you get pass the classroom setting.

As a distractible child myself, I have also been blessed with a distractible child.  My mother is amused....  

Distractible children have no filter, so we need to help them limit their distractions.
Use movement to activate learning.  Mindless and repetitive movement will help to keep the body occupied and allow the mind to center and focus on learning.

Movement ideas while learning alone :
  • Skip rope while doing times tables.
  • Hop while doing chants, like Song School Latin.
  • Walk on a treadmill while reading.  I learned to study while using an elliptical trainer, and found that I retained considerably more information.  Research shows that exercising while learning activates different areas of the brain.
Movement ideas while listening to a story or other teaching in a group :
  • Play with silly putty
  • Make a pattern with Legos
  • Organize toy cars by size / color
  • Braid a doll's hair
Understand that they may have to move.
  • "Normal" people stop and pay attention to listen.  Distractible children are no longer listening if they're stopping and 'paying attention.'  I had a professor who finally understood this, and allowed me to doodle all the way through class.  She knew that if I was looking at her, I was zoned out and gone.
  • Give them something to do with their hands, if they need to be still and listen for a while.
Have them take responsibility for their learning.
  • If they don't understand, they have to say so, rather than pretending that they do.
  • They have to try to learn, and try a different method if the first way doesn't work.
  • Ask every so often if they are understanding.
Try different learning styles.
  • Some kids need movement-centered learning (see above) and hands-on (kinesthetic) activities.
  • Others are very musical, and can learn anything put to music.  Try chants and ditties that they can sing and dance along with, such as the ones on Ditty Bugs.
  • Some kids can learn anything from a movie (audio/visual) - most distractible children are going to need to move around while watching a movie.
  • Find what works best for your child.  (You probably already know, just from observation!)
Teach them to develop focus.
  • You may have to remind them to refocus several times a day, but try to do so without anger or condescension.  This isn't a character flaw, and they don't need to be disciplined.  They just need a gentle reminder.
  • Break large tasks into smaller bits, and recognize the completion of these smaller tasks.  Even if your child is a pre-teen, they need to learn to break things down into manageable bits.
  • Use charts to help keep them focused on the tasks at hand.  We use these elementary and middle school daily charts to help remind the kids of what is left to be tackled.
Further Exploration

Wednesday, November 16

Rocky Top (Osborne Brothers)

I dare you to read this post without humming along to Rocky Top at some point.....  *giggle*

One of the coolest parts about our trip through the Rocky Mountains was all of the different geological structures we discovered!  Our son was working on his Geology Merit Badge during this trip, and so we went a little more in-depth than a typical unit study.  It was a lot of fun!  In the photos above, we are looking at a sedimentary structure and the tree line.
Having spent most of our lives at or near sea-level, the plant life zones of Colorado were fascinating to our entire family.  Seeing the timber line, seeing snow in the summer...these were new to us!  This visual helped us as we looked out to the mountains themselves.
At one of the local rock shops, the boys spent well over an hour discussing various geological samples from the local terrain.  We learned about feldspar, quart, and selenite.  The selenite towers were their favorite - as there were some that looked like magic wands!
Another neat thing about this particular store was how they provided written materials to go along with each piece they sold, and the approximate date of the rock itself.  What a cool, hands-on lesson in geology!

Geology Unit Study

Related Trips


Classroom Resources


Hands-On Resources