Thursday, January 24, 2013

Unit Theme: Winter/Polar Animals

These past few weeks have been an adjustment for sure!  The "groove" that we had been in for school, schedule-wise, definitely called for some change these past weeks as we adjusted to having sweet Norah with us and our house being on the market (showings during the day that required us to hit the road) and Nana visiting us for a few days (yay!!).  Typically, I "prep" for the days during the evening hours after the kids go to bed. But lately, during those evening hours, my hands & arms are filled with a little bundle named Norah who wants to snuggle.

Sweet Norah during our evening snuggle time.
Needless to say, adjustments all around.

I've found a LOT of freedom in realizing that IT'S OKAY if things look a little differently than what I might have envisioned!  One of the great aspects of homeschooling is of course the flexibility - if something doesn't get done during our typical school hours, we can just do it another time!  And honestly, if something just doesn't get done at all, we are all going to be just fine.

One morning, we headed to the library to do some work, since someone was looking at our house.

I have also learned that it's not so easy to help a 2 year old paint while also helping a newborn fall asleep.  But it is pretty easy to do Phonics or Math with someone while breastfeeding the littlest one. Oh, and I've come to terms with the fact that it is perfectly acceptable to tell everyone to "just play for a bit while Mom ____________ (insert 'feeds the baby', 'folds the laundry', 'checks my email', etc....)"!

Anyway, these past 3 weeks, we have been learning about Winter, and polar animals.  Here's a bit of what we have done...under "normal" circumstances (whatever those are), we could have gotten all of this done in 2 weeks, but alas, it's taken us 3....oh well.  We didn't even manage to do anything penguin-related.  Except watch part of Happy Feet one afternoon.  That counts, right?

Theme Verse

 Polar Animal Books

The Penguin Lady by Carole Cole, Baby Polar by Yannick Murphy, A Penguin Story by Antoinette Portis, Penguins by Gail Gibbons, The Emperor's Egg by Martin Jenkins, Polar Bear Night by Lauren Thompson, Cuddly Dudley by Jez Alborough, Walruses of the Arctic by Sara Swan Miller, Polar Bears by Mark Newman, The Polar Bears are Hungry by Carol Carrick
Craft & Writing: Snowmen
(paint, felt, buttons, cotton balls)

Meredith's - My snowman is 10 inches tall.  He has a yellow hat.  His scarf is purple.  His nose is orange.  He has 13 buttons.  My snowman is named Snowwhite.
Caleb's - My snowman is 10 inches tall.  He has a red hat.  His scarf is blue.  His nose is a triangle.  He has 9 buttons.  My snowman is named Caleb.
Snowmen At Night

This is a cute story about what snowmen do during the nighttime hours, while everyone else is asleep!  The kids thought this was a really funny story.

After reading the story, the kids wrote about what they might do if they were snowmen....

Caleb wrote: "If I were a snowman, I will go sled doon (down) the hill.  I will go on a sled."
Meredith dictated to me: "If I were a snowman, me and Uncle Warren will make a big hill and it will be fun to sled.  When me and Uncle Warren are snowmen.
The Mitten
A classic.

Caleb & Meredith did a simple sequencing activity.  They glued the white mittens on the construction paper in numerical order, and then we went through the story to recall the order in which the animals all squeezed inside the mitten, and they glued their animals on in that order.

 Just as the boy in the story wants mittens that are "white as snow", we talked about our own mittens and what colors they are.

Meredith; "My mitten is as purple as my toenails." (Grandma took her for a mani/pedi yesterday, and her toenails are indeed purple!)
Caleb: "My mitten is as black as storm clouds." (Technically, his mittens are black & white - hence, the picture he colored - but he went with black).
Snow Blocks (Sugar Cubes) Building

I had originally planned to have this be more of a structured project, with the kids following directions of some kind to create something.  But, in the end, I just gave them sugar cubes and glue and let them be creative.  We did talk about igloos, and looked at some online pictures of igloos, but I just let them build what they wanted.  Caleb built a house, complete with a fireplace and some sort of device that ejects you from the house once you are inside (instead of using a door), among other things.  Meredith built a city.  Shane just built/played with the glue (he loooves glue) and the cubes until he got bored.  

I just love that I caught his expression once he figured out that the glue would hold the cubes together!

Caleb loved this activity (no surprise there, since he loves to build things).  He kept saying things like "thanks so much, Mom, for letting us do this" and "I could do this all day"!  Oh, and Caleb had a pretty bad cold - in case you are wondering about the red/chapped blotches on his face.
Meredith's City
Caleb's House
Animal Sort

I created & printed off some animal cards, and the kids had to sort them into 2 categories - Polar Animals and Not Polar Animals.

Venn Diagram: Compare/Contrast Walrus & Polar Bear

We learned some walrus facts and some polar bear facts and then compared/contrasted the 2 animals using a Venn diagram.  We used the books pictured below as resources, mostly for the pictures.

 Crafts: Polar Bear & Walrus

Inspired by this polar bear craft and this walrus one, we made our own (modified) textured polar bears and paper plate walruses.  And yes, I do realize that our walruses tusks look more like beaver teeth than tusks.....oh well, the kids know that they are "tusks", which is what matters, right? =)

 Shane's (with Mommy's help on some of the details):




Of course, we had to read Polar Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?  The kids love this book (as do I).  Even Shane (who isn't typically known to enjoy sitting through an entire book) loves to listen to me read this one.

Blubber Experiment

Using a big Ziplock packed with ice, and another big Ziplock packed with Crisco, the kids got a hands-on understanding of how blubber keeps animals like polar bears and walruses warm in the cold climate!  (I saw this idea somewhere, but can't remember where....)

Feeling (and pounding, because why not?) the fat and squishy blubber...

Feeling the cold ice...brrrr!

Feeling the cold ice again, but now through a layer of "blubber"....not so cold!

Sitting on ice....brrr!

 Sitting on ice that is beneath the blubber...thumbs up!


Water Cycle

When I first asked the kids if they knew what made it rain, Caleb said "God!"  And of course, he is right.  Yes indeed, God is in control of the weather.  I taught them about the water cycle system that God created.  And, we had fun acting it out as well.

 Then they colored these pages and pieced them together.


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