Saturday, October 31, 2015

Owl Week (with freebies!)

Full disclosure: this post is actually from last year, and due to glitches with one of my files, I never posted it.  Better late than never, I hope!

What better time than October to study owls?  They are such beautiful, fascinating birds and we had a blast learning more about them.

We read book about owls . . . .

Watched owl videos . . .

and of course we did owl-themed activities!

After reading and learning about owls and their carnivorous diet, Colby completed this cut-and-paste activity, gluing the prey animals in the owl's belly:

For a free copy of this activity, click here!

We listened to some owl calls,

and used this fun owl spinner to work on graphing, ten-frames, and addition.
Not all of the materials included in this activity are shown here - there's a lot more in the download!

(I bought this inexpensive pack of spinners: plastic game spinners, but you can also make your own with a paperclip!)

This activity includes addition and ten-frame worksheets, task cards with recording sheet, spinner, and graphing sheet.  Get your free copy here!

If you've never seen an owl eject a pellet, now is your chance!  We started Owl Pellet Day with this icky-but-interesting video:

Then, we broke out the actual pellets!

(We got our owl pellet kit right here.)

We examined,

we measured,

we dissected,

we identified,

we learned,

and we recorded our observations in this FANTASTIC free booklet by Renee Dooley.

You can download your own free copy at her TpT store; don't forget to leave feedback!

The boys really found the owl pellets fascinating!

We examined some of the teeny bones under the microscope, too,

and saved the bones to assemble another day.

Colby and I read Owl Moon by Jane Yolen:

and made good use of this book study by Little Red's Schoolhouse:

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen Story Study Lesson Plan

It's a fantastic packet for grades 1-3 and we strongly recommend it!

For lots more owl-themed ideas and freebies, try our Pinterest board:

Happy Halloween, everyone!


Thursday, August 27, 2015

"He Loves Also the Bow That Is Stable"

"You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, 
and He bends you with his might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable."

In the midst of the stress of planning the upcoming school year, I happened to read "The Prophet" for the first time.  I chose the book after reading about the effect it had on Johnny Cash, and discovered that I was already familiar with some of the content; it is quoted often.  This beautiful excerpt from Gibran's poetic essay on children and parenting has been both inspiration and encouragement to me as I prepare myself to educate and nurture my sons this year.  

It reminds me that I'm not passing my own thoughts and ideas on to my boys, but teaching them how to think for themselves.  There is a future ahead of them that belongs to them alone, and it's my job to prepare them to go on ahead without me.

My goal this year, and my prayer, is to be my children's stable bow.

Good luck to all of my fellow homeschoolers, classroom teachers, and parents this year!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Eat Like A Bear! (Freebies!)

It's Bear Week here at HHH!  Colby has had so much fun studying bears from around the world, and especially eating lots of "bear food"!

Inspired by First Grade Garden's fabulous bear chart, we focused on four types of bears this week: black bears, grizzly bears, polar bears, and panda bears.  My original intent was to copy her chart, but all of my large chart paper was lost in our recent classroom flood.  Instead, I adapted it for use with our large hanging pocket chart:

Please excuse the messy photo (and my husband's work boots at the bottom)!  Because of the flood, we've been unable to use the classroom and had to hang our chart in the living room on the stair railings.

You can write the students' answers on index cards or anything similar, but if you'd like the blank cards we used, you can download them here.

I also created a set of worksheets to go with it.  There is one for each type of bear, and they look like this:

The big, blank box at the top is space for the student to draw a picture of the bear in its habitat.  Then there is space for the child to choose three interesting facts, write them, and illustrate them.

On Monday, we started off with a great video from one of our favorite YouTube channels, Animal Atlas:

Then we read Eat Like a Bear by April Pulley Sayre, and illustrated by Steve Jenkins, one of our favorites!

What a great book!  It was a fantastic introduction to how a bear's diet changes through the year as different foods become available and others scarce.  It was also a great jumping off point to discuss how a black or brown bear's diet is actually pretty similar to a healthy human diet!  We're both omnivorous, and have lots of foods in common.  We decided to "eat like a bear!" all week and made sure we ate lots of foods that bears like:

Leafy greens
Roots & Tubers
Apples & other tree fruits

We also discussed how, like humans, bears have a natural sweet tooth.  If they have access to lots of honey or other sweet foods, they will eat more than they should.  Not only can this keep them from eating the healthier foods they need to store up quality fat for winter, it can cause cavities in their teeth, just like ours!  Bears with rotting teeth often die when they can no longer tear and chew the foods they need.

Colby had a blast stuffing himself with the bear foods from the list!  We eat venison regularly, but we'd never tried bison before.  We picked up a few pounds of bison burger from the local bison farm (check out Beech Hill Farm & Bison Ranch!) and immediately became huge fans.  It's actually quite similar to the beef from our Highland cattle.

Colby filled out this Venn diagram comparing bear food with the foods he eats:

Some of the foods that ended up in the "bears only" section were grubs, ants, etc.  We don't eat insects (at least, not on purpose!), but we discussed the fact that lots of people around the world do eat grubs and bugs regularly and though it seems gross to our family, they are actually nutritious foods for both bears and humans.

On Tuesday we read American Black Bears

After the book, we filled out the cards for the "black bear" column of our chart.  Then Colby completed the worksheet, choosing three facts about black bears to write down and illustrate.

The next day, we read Grizzly Bears by Gail Gibbons:

We filled out the "grizzly bears" column of our chart, and Colby completed his "Grizzly Bears" worksheet (finished product shown above).

On Thursday, we read Polar Bears by Gail Gibbons:

Then the chart, and the worksheet of course! ;)

And finally, Giant Pandas by Gail Gibbons:

Our chart was complete and looking fantastic, and all four worksheets are done!  We're going to make a cover for them and staple them into a book.

I hope our freebies can help you in your own bear unit!

For more great freebies and DIY homeschool ideas, check us out on Pinterest!
174 Boards and counting!

Monday, February 2, 2015

"The Matchlock Gun" Freebies

I'm still alive and homeschooling, I swear.

I've been missing in action for quite a while, for several reasons.  The most recent, and frustrating, reason is a broken water pipe that flooded our classroom and most of our ground level.  A good New England winter will visit a burst pipe on pretty much everyone eventually, and our number was up.

Luckily, there wasn't nearly as much damage as there could have been.  It has thrown a monkey wrench into our routine, though.  There hasn't been much time for blogging, but I'm tossing out a quickie!

As we studied the French and Indian War, Hunter read The Matchlock Gun by Walter D. Edmonds.  It's a good book based on true events, and I do recommend it.  Parents should be aware however, that the book was written in the 1940's, and some of the language used in reference to Native Americans and people of color are outdated; we addressed this with some good conversation and turned it into a positive lesson.

These cards can be used as discussion questions or writing prompts.  We found them very useful after Hunter had finished the book.  You can download the whole set for free right here.

I created this worksheet to help Hunter understand the setting and locations mentioned in the story.  You can find a free copy here.

I hope some of you can use these resources in your own studies!  Thanks for your patience as we try to get back on track.

For over 170 boards packed with freebies, check us out on Pinterest!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Freebies! Buttons, Pete the Cat, Math & Literacy

Over the summer, a friend of mine posted pictures of her son playing with his grandmother's jar of old buttons on Facebook.  My younger son can spend hours sorting and playing with beads, jewels, and other small manipulatives; I knew he'd love to paw through a pile of vintage buttons!  I called my mother, who had kept a box that belonged to her grandmother, and she generously went to dig it out of the attic for us.  After noticing this book online,

I decided to incorporate the buttons into our schoolwork.  We started by reading The Button Box, by Margaret S. Reid.  It's a cute story about a boy going through his grandmother's button box, sorting the buttons and imagining who they might have belonged to.  Colby loved it.

He was thrilled when I put this button box in front of him!
I gave him plenty of time to just enjoy it, and then I asked him to choose one particular button that he really liked.  He selected a matching pair of shiny gold ones, and I gave him this worksheet:

He drew a picture of the button in the center, and then came up with five adjectives to describe it.

I asked him to imagine who might have worn the buttons, and he thought they probably came from some sort of military uniform.  He drew a picture of a soldier wearing the button, and then wrote about it.  
(There are several versions for different ages and writing abilities, and each version comes in color or black-and-white.)

Next, I asked him to sort the buttons.  We talked about all the different ways we could sort them: by size, or shape, or what they were made of, or how old they were.  Then he wrote down some of these ideas on this worksheet:

Finally, we completed this pocket chart activity.  Colby matched the button cards with the appropriate numerals and number words.  He loves the way it looks so much that we're leaving it intact until we need the chart again!

Who else loves buttons?  Pete the Cat, of course!  We read  Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons, by Eric Litwin.   This is such a cute book!

We did some simple descriptive writing, with an illustration of course.  This page is from Team Sugar's Pete the Cat Journal Writing Prompts.  It's such a cute packet of writing pages, and so inexpensive!

This super fun Pete the Cat Subtraction Mat is a fabulous freebie from Learning With Mrs. Parker.  Check out her blog and snag a copy here!

We did some addition with these button ten frames and two d10 dice.

There are two different colored ten-frames for each number 1-10, so they can be used for adding doubles, or more complex addition.  (They're not all shown in the photo).  

We finished up with buttons and continued with Pete the Cat, moving on to Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin.  This is my favorite Pete book thus far!  No matter what he steps in, Pete keeps his characteristic positive outlook and loves his shoes.

Colby really enjoyed this cause and effect activity by Allison Palm.

It comes with these great pocket chart cards, which we chose to use on the floor,

and this follow-up sheet.  Colby got to choose his own cause-and-effect scenario for Pete and his beloved white shoes.  Pete stepped in purple paint, and ended up with purple shoes!  You can find these activities right here.  (Super inexpensive!)

The next day, we moved on from learning about cause and effect and focused a little more on color words.  This fun freebie from Made For 1st Grade is actually meant to be assembled into a class book, but it works just as well for a single student!  I knew it was coming eventually - poor Pete stepped in dog poop.  Colby chortled the whole time he practiced writing "brown".

We practiced AB, ABC, ABB, and AABB patterns with this awesome free worksheet from The Groovy Teacher.  Colby loves to color so this was perfect for him!

For lots more Pete the Cat freebies and DIY ideas, try this Pinterest board: