Monday, June 27, 2011

### MathStart Books: Fun with Sorting

We had some fun today with blocks and exploring sorting things by various attributes.

You will need some things from around the house that can be easily sorted by various attributes.  (Color, Size, Shape, etc.)  Some ideas would be socks, buttons, books, or shoes.  For this activity we used mini unit blocks similar to these.

Activity 1:  One of these Things Doesn't Belong Here
We reviewed the concepts of "alike" and "different" by playing the game, "One of these things doesn't belong here."  I would line up four objects.  Three of these objects would be alike in some way.  One of the objects would be different in some way.   All of the objects would have something in common.   I had the kids pick out the different object.  I even sang the old sesame street song to the kids because I couldn't resist.
Acitvity 2:  Guess the rule
The next game we played was called "Guess The Rule".  I would start sorting the objects and the kids would try to guess what attribute I was sorting them by.  We did some talking by asking questions like:
1)  How are all of the objects alike?  (In our case Sophie said that they were all made of wood.)
2)  How are the items in the two groups different?

Activity 3:  Sorting objects on your own
I then had the kids try to think of as many ways as possible of sorting our blocks.  Firs they sorted by color.

Then they sorted by shape.

Activity 4:  MathStart Book
I love MathStart books by Stuart J. Murphy.  They are really a fantastic way to teach young children math.  Especially if your kids like to be read to.  I read the kids the book 3 Little Firefighters

In the book the three firefighters need to get dressed for the parade, and they need to look their best.   However they are missing their buttons and their belly buttons are showing.  (This always makes the kids giggle.) So they search the house high and low until they find an assortment of various buttons.

The firefighters each need four buttons on their jacket otherwise they won't stay shut.  Also, since they need to look their best, the buttons need to match in some way.  So the firefighters have to sort their buttons in various ways until they find a combination that works.

After we read the book, I printed out some copies of the firefighters from the books.  I then gave the kids a puzzle to work out that involved sorting their own "buttons".  (Except we pretended the blocks were buttons because I was too lazy to run upstairs and face by messy button box.)

The kids needed to find a combination that gave:
-Each Firefighter four buttons, and
-The buttons needed to match in some way on each jacket.

 First the kids tried sorting the "buttons" by color.  That didn't work because we didn't have four green buttons.
 Next the kids sorted the "buttons" by shape.  This worked!

Stuart J. Murphy's Main Site (He is the author of the MathStart series and his website has a ton of great ideas for using his books.)
Math Monday Blog Hop (tons of great math ideas)
Tot School (See how others are learning with their tots!)
Preschool Corner (See how others are learning with their preschoolers!)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

### And the Winner is....

Congratulations to Kim Iquina!!!  She is the winner of my recent giveaway for the book 500 Writing Prompts for Kids.

I also have another very generous offer for my readers from the author Bryan Cohen. Starting on Monday, anybody who contacts him at this email with proof of having purchased the book (copy of an online receipt, etc.), will receive a bonus: 50 additional prompts JUST for home school students!   Simply show Mr. Cohen that you have purchased the book 500 Writing Prompts for Kids and he'll turn it into "550 Prompts" in a heartbeat.  Here's the place to buy the book on Amazon if you want an electronic copy.   (Kindle for PC and Kindle for Mac let you view the book on your computer if you desire).  It is also available in paperback form if you like books the "old fashioned way" like me.  And finally, for all of your Nook users, you can buy the Nook Electronic edition here.

I would also like to congratulate Walt and Kelli!  They are the winners of the grand prize drawing for a \$50 gift card to Amazon.  They posted their comment on the blog Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn.  (One of 17 blogs in the grand prize drawing!)

Thanks to Everyone who participated.  And congratulations again to the winners!
Tuesday, June 21, 2011

### FIAR: Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

 Note:  I know that this post is rather lengthy.   However, instead of dividing it into separate posts, I wanted to put everything we did with this book in one place so it was easy for people to find at a later date.   My intent was not to overwhelm anyone with its length.  My hope is that you will find some ideas and inspiration here for your own Mike Mulligan journey.
This week we "rowed" the book Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton.
Introducing the Book:
One of my goals with Five in a Row is to help create some fun memories tied to great literature.  So to make things fun, I had them guess what book we were going to "row" this week.  As a hint I wrapped up a toy excavator in a box and had them open it.  This was something I picked up at the thrift store awhile back.
When they couldn't guess what the book was, I had them unwrap the book.  (I had the book wrapped up in newspaper like a present.)
I liked the anticipation this created for our week long theme with the book.  I am going to try to do this every week as time allows.
After we read the book for the first time, the kids spent some time trying to work the levers that control our own "steam shovel".  I know, I know it is not really a steam shovel.  But try to use your imagination!  :)  They used their steam shovel to scoop up their chipmunk toys and move them across the room.

Science-States of Matter and The Water Cycle:
You can't exactly read a book about a steam shovel if you don't understand what steam is.  So we spent a few days this week talking about the states of matter which led us to a nice discussion about the water cycle.

To learn the states of mater, we took an ice cube and talked about how it was a solid.  We then let the ice cube melt turning it to a liquid.  We then heated the water in a pan and watched it turn into a gas.  After that, we classified various things as a solid, liquid, or gas.   (I did this just by quizzing them while they were in the backseat and I was driving.  Remember, science doesn't have to be fancy!)

After that, we read the book  A Drop Goes Plop by Sam Godwin. This book does a wonderful job of explaining the water cycle in a way that even very young scientist can understand.  The book is also pretty funny.  I enjoyed reading the dialog between the mommy seal gull and the baby sea gull.

After reading this book, the kids watched The Magic School Bus Wet All Over.  (It is one of three shows on the The Magic School Bus: Catches a Wave DVD.   It is also available as a standalone VHS if you have a player.)   We learned some new vocabulary words including evaporate and condense.  I am a big fan of the Magic School Bus series.  I think it does a great job of explaining science topics in an entertaining way.

After we watched the movie, we did a couple of very simple science experiments to re-enforce what we learned.  The science experiments came from the The Usborne Book of Science Activities, Volume One, pages 10-11.   This is one of our books from Sonlight, and I have to say that this is a FANTASTIC science resource to have in your home.  The Usborne books are very nicely illustrated and do a great job of describing concepts to visual learners.  The experiments are also very clever and can usually be done with things that you have around the house.
 The Usborne Book of Science Activities is wonderfully illustrated and contains simple experiments that you can do at home.  These page explained the water cycle to the children.
Science-  The Power of Steam:
On another day, we started to talk a bit more about how steam can be used to power things.   To illustrate this in a way that a 3 or 4 year old could understand, I put the tea kettle on and we watched how the boiling water could actually turn a pin wheel.  We also talked a bit about how when water is heated it expands building pressure.

I also stumbled upon a GREAT resource for explaining steam power from our local library.  it is a short video called  The Way Things Work:  Steam Power.  It is an animated movie where some kids need to find a way to power the rides and attractions at their fair.  They turn to steam power and the book does a great job of illustrating the basics of steam engines.  I am not sure how much Marcus and Sophie got from this video.  (It is probably more geared toward older kids.)  However, I heard them explaining steam power to their dad one night...so obviously they got something from it.  If you have older kids, I highly recommend checking to see if your library owns a copy of this video.
History- The Role of Steam Power in our History

Social Studies- What is a furnace?  How is a house (or in our case a city hall) built?
It was during this discussion that I found out that the kids didn't know what a furnace was.  (I took it for granted that they knew what a furnace was.  So I was surprised when they asked about it.)    So we took a trip down to the basement (aka our "cellar", one of our vocabulary words this week) and we checked out our furnace.  We also went around the house looking at all of the vents and talking about where the hot air came from in the winter.
 Three year Old Sophie checks out the furnace
I also pulled out a book from our Sonlight curriculum called What Do People Do All Day by Richard Scary.
This is an awesome book to have on your shelves.  I find that I am always pulling it out to describe various things to kids.  On page 9 & 10 of this book there is a wonderful description of how a house is built which tied in nicely with our Mike Mulligan discussion.   It also does a wonderful job of explaining how a furnace works to heat and cool the house.

 What People Do All Day has a nice illustration and description showing what a furnace is
Social Studies- Character:  Stewardship
Good stewardship is taking care of the things we own and the resources we have to use.   We went to the picture of the book where all of the other steam shovels were being scraped for junk.  Then we discussed how Mike loved his steam shovel and took good care of it.  Because he cared for his steam shovel, she lasted for a long time.  While other steam shovels were being scrapped, Mary Anne could still dig "as much in one day as a 100 men could dig in a week."

Geography:  The Panama Canal
In the book, Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne and some others help dig the canals for the large boats to come through.  Canal became one of our vocabulary words for the week.  We also located one of the most famous canals (The Panama Canal) on the map and put a story disc from Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel on it.  I am not sure if the fictional Mary Anne actually was supposed to have dug this famous canal...however, I hoped it would help the kids remember what a canal was.

Language Arts- Vocabulary Words
We added the following vocabulary words to our word box.

• Evaporate-from our science experiment
• Condense-from our science experiment
• Expands-from our science experiment
• Furnace
• Canal
• Cellar

Language Arts-Personification
We also discussed what the literary technique of personification means.  While reading the book, Marcus and Sophie kept asking if the steam shovel "could talk".  (I think because the steam shovel had a face and even a mouth.)  So we discussed that the author used a technique known as personification where she gave human attributes to a thing.  (In this case, a steam shovel was given human features and a personality.) We spent some time flipping through the book and looking at how Virginia Lee Burton illustrated the different expressions on Mary Anne's face.
 Mary Anne is a very expressive steam shovel!  She is illustrated with many different facial expressions showing a wide range of human emotions.  She is also an excellent example of personification.

Art- Music
Alright, this is the one resource that I found that I was SO excited about.  There is a series called "Stories in Music" where they attempt to introduce children to music by composing music for the story while a narrator reads aloud the book.  Well...they have one of these for Mike Mulligan and it is awesome!  This CD tells the story of Mike Mulligan using an original composition of music played by the London Philharmonic Orchestra.  (Very similar to how the story Peter and the Wolf is told through music if you are familiar with that.)  I was surprised that I have never heard this CD mentioned on any of the FIAR message boards or blogs.

Sensory Play
I finally got around to cleaning out the kids sandbox and filling it with new sand.  I then put a couple of "steam shovels", bulldozers, backhoes, and other trucks in the sandbox hoping to encourage them to re-enact the story we read.   Marcus decided to do his own version of the story.  The sandbox became Egypt.  And from what I overheard, the trucks had uncovered some mummies and sand monsters.  A few moments later, he ran downstairs and got several toy dragons and they were added to his "Egypt".

Field Trip-The Science of Big Machines
Our local science museum had an exhibit this week called "The Science of Big Machines".  And to tell you the truth, this is one of the reasons I decided to row Mike Mulligan this week.  I thought it would make an awesome field trip to go along with the book.
 Marcus and Sophie on their Mike Mulligan Field Trip

When the kids arrived at the exhibit they were given yellow hard hats to wear.  They then got to walk around and experience some BIG construction machines up close and personal.
The best part of the field trip was when Marcus and Sophie got to operate a real diesel excavator.  (The modern day equivalent of a Steam Shovel.)   They used the excavator to dig a hole and then smooth down the dirt again.
 Here is a picture of Marcus running the excavator.
Another highlight was when Marcus was lifted off the ground by a giant crane.

 The crane was SO big that no matter how far I stood back I couldn't get it all in the frame of the camera!
 Here Marcus is being lifted off the ground by the crane.
The kids even got a chance to eat a box lunch "construction worker" style.

 We all had a great day together.
Making Memories- A Mike Mulligan Dinner Party:
On Friday, the kids helped me to throw a Mike Mulligan party.  It was going to be Father's day this weekend, and we are always looking for excuses to have a party.  We started the afternoon off by baking a chocolate cake for our party.
After the cake baked, we layered it with dirt (aka crushed Oreo cookies) and mud (aka Chocolate moose).   In the story, Mary Anne digs the cellar of the Popperville town hall with "four corners neat and square".  So the kids helped me cut out a square in the center of the cake to represent our cellar.
We also used Teddy Graham cookies to represent the people of Popperville who stayed to watch Mary Anne as she dug.  We put a little toy "steam shovel" in the bottom of our cellar (Mary Anne) and another bear that we said was Mike Mulligan in the cellar with her.  Now the cake is supposed to look like this cake.  However, Marcus reminded me that the citizens of Bangerville and Bopperville and Kipperville and Kopperville all came to watch Mary Anne dig too.  Therefore, he said, we were going to need A LOT more bear cookies on our cake.
So our version of the caked ended up looking like this:
 Perhaps not the prettiest Mike Mulligan cake on the web.  However, the kids enjoyed EVERY second of making this cake.
I also made "Dump Truck" Macaroni and Cheese.  (It was basically baked Macaroni and Cheese made with noodles shaped like wheels.  I also sprinkled it with a mixture of Italian bread crumbs and melted butter before baking to represent sand...and also to make it taste YUMMY!)  I served the dish in a pan in the back of a toy dump truck that we owned.
 Dump Truck Mac and Cheese
Our dinner was completed with some boulder kabobs (chicken kabobs made on the grill).
 Chicken "Boulder" Kabobs
The kids also helped me paint construction signs using a piece of poster board.  And we blew up some balloons that we had left over from a birthday party.
 Our painted construction signs