Math Monday: Dominos

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So on Friday when I posted Batman’s brilliant plan of writing with an oven mitt, this is what he was supposed to be doing.

I’m sure most of you are familiar with this, but it’s a great way to do simple addition.  Grab a domino and have the kids add up each side of the domino.  Back when I was teaching first grade we did this as a fun math game.  I put one domino at each desk, and the kids went from desk to desk when the timer went off writing out and solving math problems.  This time I very carefully selected the dominos they got.  Since we haven’t done any math problems adding up to more than 9 I took out quite a few.  We also haven’t really added with 0, so that took out all of those.  I was kind of surprised how few were left at that point.

So, that’s my quick tip for you.  I’m linking this up to Joyful Learner’s Math Monday, I’ll probably also link it up to ABC & 123 with their Show and Tell Tuesday.

Science Sunday: Roly Poly, bugs, and the like

So, I got our science book for the year, or however long it takes us (at the rate we’re going it will not be a year, we did not take 2 weeks on chapter 1, but I don’t think we’ll always go this fast).  I had intended to do one of their other experiments, but then my kids got ahold of the book, and were paying attention as I read, and they heard the “collect bugs and observe them” and they were off running.


So what happened?


Well, first I woke up, and grunted at the kids as they kept telling me they were going to get bugs.  I guess I didn’t take them seriously enough, because next thing I knew they had collected four roly polies (does anyone know the right spelling for this?), and had them in the butterfly pavilion which I had bought.


As a side note, can I just say my kids were so disappointed that the caterpillars did not magically appear as soon as they had put the envelope in the mail box.


036 Ummm, I fairly sure that is Superman in the picture opening the pavilion….. 

Hypothesis: Insects are cold-blooded, so if we get them cold they will move slower.


Procedure: Observe the insects in warm weather/ our house.  Then put them in the refrigerator for a while (in a well closed cage) and see if they move slower afterwards.


What actually happened:037

Yeah, that was definitely Superman.  Because I remember telling Batman several times that day to change his shirt around.


When we observed the roly polies after they’d been in the refrigerator, the kids all swore they were moving slower.  I’m not entirely convinced, I think a different bug would have been better to observer.  I want to repeat this experiment with crickets or something else that moves more.


In case you can’t tell, my kids are obsessed with roly polies, so we’ve looked at them a lot.  I think they would have been a lot more interested in the caves if we’d gotten the tour guide who told all about the roly polies that dropped down there.


Their next question was of course, what do they eat?  Followed up by, what eats them?  Can you tell my kids like food?  So, I had no idea, so we googled it.

Roly Poly

Basically, they eat plants, dead plants, whatever they can get.  They’re somewhat helpful to your soil, but there was a lot of debate.


To my kids’ minds, they’re the most incredibly awesome bugs ever.  You pick them up and they roll up into little balls.  They love them.  Seriously.


And, since it’s getting late, and I want to go to bed at a reasonable hour, I’ll leave you wondering what we did to see how an insect sees (and FYI, I”m not going to recommend what we did, but give you what I believe is a better alternative).

What have we been reading?

How is it that I know we’ve been reading like crazy, but now that I’m trying to remember it all I can’t remember the books?  The good news is this means I only remember the books they really liked or I really liked.

Jesus Storybook Bible– this has been all over the blogosphere for a while, and I’ve entered more giveaways for it than I can count, but never won it.  So I finally broke down and bought it, and I am SO glad I did.  I LOVE THIS!  Seriously, it’s so cool!

A Fairy in a Dairy– The little town is facing being bought up to be made into a toothpick factory, but can someone help them out so people start moving back?  Super cute, and one we had a lot of fun laughing at the illustrations.

Cinderella Penguin–  This was going to be an art project, but the boys all insisted they weren’t going to have any girl penguins, so it became a little harder to do that.  But all three of them laughed at this variation of Cinderella, so cute.

Saint George and the Dragon– So, Aunt Tara and I had both thought this was a little long for their concentration, but Batman has insisted on taking this to bed for the entire week, and has nearly destroyed our copy from reading it so much.

The Paper Bag Princess– Princess grudgingly took this to bed since she couldn’t have George and the Dragon.  I like this book because the Princess in it has a lot of gumption.

The Lizard Man of Crab Tree County– I first checked this out two years ago, and the kids didn’t get it at all.  They’re starting to get this one now.  The boy in it is complaining nothing ever happens at his town.  Then a rumor starts about a lizard man, so he spends the rest of the book trying to find it.  I seriously suggest getting it, you HAVE to see the illustrations of this book for it to make any sense, and for you to understand why Jeff and I loved it so much.

The Five Little Kittens– This was probably the kids pick of the week.  I think between Jeff and I we’ve read it a dozen times.  I think they like it so much because the story has so many kids, and they can always find a kitten to be themselves, and there’s a Mommy and a Daddy in the story.  So few books are like that.

When Dinosaurs Came With Everything– Almost forgot this book.  Had to go back and edit this in, because it’s been that popular.  A boy and his Mom go on errands, and he gets asked if he would like a dinosaur with their donuts, and slowly through the day he collects a bunch of pet dinosaurs.  So very very cute.  They even tried to sneak it into their suitcase a few weeks ago when we went up to Dallas.

Now, head on over to Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns to see what everyone else is reading.

We got to see a horse, up close and personal

Maybe a little too personal, because I have a ziploc bag full of horse hair my friend nicely gave to me.  I did say she could, but still……



What’s a trip to go see horses without first stopping and looking at the lizard?  Actually I think we ended up deciding it was a gecko, but still it’s not a horse, but we had to look at it for a while.





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014First we learned how to feed a horse.  You have to make sure your hand is flat so the horse doesn’t accidentally bite your hand.  Batman wanted to feed the horse hay also, so then started another round of feeding the horse so everyone got to feed him some hay.





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Then they each got to take turns cleaning the horse.  They got to curry him, and brush him, and help pick out his hooves.  They learned it is very important to keep a horse’s hooves clean because otherwise he could get thrush, which can make his hooves hurt.



Then she showed us how she shaves the horse’s bridle path so the bridle lays on her head easier.  And that’s how I ended up with a bag full of horse hair in my car.  I have ideas of what we can use it for.  Probably doll hair on a peg doll.


And what’s seeing a horse without riding one?  And riding it bareback, even better!

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Okay, I wanted a little different way to show off the pictures.  Don’t get too used to this, it takes a lot of time.

Our California studies


Or, at least that’s the ones we read as of when I started this post.  I realized later I need to go back and add in more, and show what all it looks like. Hmmmm, I’m not remembering Fire Race, so maybe not that one.
So, here’s what our lapbook looks like:

Gold coins- Superman’s narrative: “We had to find gold coins, but I couldn’t find them because it was hard.”  His memory of this activity.
One of the animals in California is the sea otter, so that was our animal printable.
Humphrey the Whale summary- “He turned under the little bridge and he got lost.  It got smaller and smaller.  The people banged pipes and Humphrey got mad and he splashed.  Then he got very angry and he said, “Stop banging pipes and let me see if I can duck under the bridge.”  At the end he got back to his friends.  And he got under the little bridge.”  Batman
“He went the wrong direction of his friends and he got lost.  He should go the right way to go back to the ocean.  He squeezed through the holes by lifting up one of his fins.”  Superman.
Read more about this true story and see a video here.
Symbols of California- printable from the California Museum (which also has some cool craft ideas) go here.

map with California colored in
postcards from Natalie over at Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns.  I have to wrestle postcards away from the kids to put these in the envelopes.  They LOVE getting mail!

Monarch butterfly craft we did- while it’s not the state insect, I totally associate it with California.
Gold Rush Unit Study for somewhat older than preschool
Orange Juice is a blog written by my friend Kristi who lives in California, this is linked to her field trips.
Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns has a couple of posts about San Francisco that are cool to read.
I think Joyful Learner is also in the California area, or she’s got a couple of posts there.

And that’s all I got for ya on California.
Now head on over to Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn to see other fun Geography posts.

An odd combination post

There was two questions I wanted to answer this week, but didn’t quite want to overwhelm you with lots and lots of posts, so I’m putting them both in the same post, even if they don’t really have much to do with each other.
Question 1:  What’s the craziest thing someone has said to you about your twins or asked you?

boys in crib I’d have to agree with most of the people who commented on the actual post: “Are they natural?”
No, I have robot babies.  I know what the intent behind the question was, but it was most often asked by people who I didn’t know.  Yes, grocery store clerk I’m really going to tell you my intimate life story.  But, since you did ask, yes they are natural I’m part of the 2% of the Caucasian population that spontaneously has twins.  And yes, that does mean I am more likely to have twins in the future.

I was always surprised that this brought up follow-up questions from the grocery store clerk, are you going to have them by naturally, or will you have drugs?  Do you plan to have a C-section?  Will you breastfeed them?  Come on people, I don’t even know your name.

This was then later followed by the ever-popular, “better you than me,” or the “I don’ know if I have the patience for twins.”   I have gotten so many variations on that.  It became even more ridiculous when I was pregnant with Princess, and suddenly everyone felt the right to express opinions about my reproductive system.
And for those who are wondering, it’s Batman in blue, and Superman has the stripes.  Back then Batman always wore blue, and then the boys totally messed us up by Superman deciding that blue was his favorite color and 2.5.  Totally messed with everyone’s minds.

What’s my favorite subject to teach the kids?

026 This is a surprisingly hard question to answer…….  And here’s my kind of odd answer.  I don’t really have a favorite.  There are so many fun things to do with each of the different subject areas that I like all of them.  I’d have to say the mechanics of teaching to read are probably my least favorite, but I like the actual reading.  I love reading picture books to my kids, I love reading books myself, and I’m eagerly looking forward to my kids reading all sorts of books.

I was a history minor in college, which really doesn’t go with an elementary education degree, but I loved history and that gave me an excuse to take more classes.  So, I’m looking forward to teaching my kids history.

And as you can guess I love the hands on part of science and figuring out how things work.  I love all the different aspects of biology and astronomy and the like.  I think my senior year of high school I took 2 different science and 2 different history classes (if you count government and economics as history), and would have also taken psychology, but it wasn’t possible to fit it into my schedule.  So, instead I took the boring version of it and didn’t get college credit.  Darn.

And by the way, doesn’t she look precious studying the caterpillar on her puppy?

Thanks to Kylie over at Worldwide Classroom for hosting the favorite subject blog hop.
And thanks to Multiples and More for the question of the week.

Teaching your kids about giving

As a Christian there are some pretty clear things God tells us to do.  One of those is to care for those who are less fortunate than us, and being in the United States that makes us pretty much better off than the vast majority of the world.  I want my kids to grow up understanding because of the many gifts God has given us we should be generous as well.  This is not some version of “White Man’s burden,” but an acknowledgement of where I am in comparison to others.


All that to say we look for ways our kids can contribute, but most volunteer places want your kids to be at least five before you can bring them anywhere.  So, we get a lot of our opportunities through our church, and this time it was Children’s Hunger Fund.  Our job was to fill up a box with food to be delivered to a family who is in need.  And this wasn’t the usual fill up the box with stuff you don’t want from your pantry, but a very specific set of food.

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So, we went to the grocery store and happily perused the aisles looking for our bags of beans, pasta, spaghetti sauce and the like.  I was really amused at the list of items.  They’re not things you necessarily want to eat all the time, but if you were eating off this list you would get the basic nutrients you need.  It just wouldn’t be as much variety as you might prefer.  I’d say this box would give a family of 4 enough meals for dinner for 3 days for sure, maybe 4 if you measured portions.  It’s hard to tell because we’re so used to the huge unhealthy portions.

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Then we carefully went through and packed up all the boxes with their required ingredients.  The boys really loved doing this.  We just had to encourage them to be careful with the jars of spaghetti sauce, which I found out after we’d packed all the boxes were supposed to be cans.  And here I thought I was doing good buying this nice jar of sauce.  Oops.



One very carefully packed box.  I think it has almost all of the required stuff.  As you can see it’s a lot of staple foods, beans, rice, pasta.  And ones that if you pack them all just right will fit exactly into the box.  There was no room left over after all of the stuff had been added.




And poor Princess was all tuckered out from our busy schedule and she slept through most of it.

After six months it’s done……

Ages and ages ago I teased the people reading with this post and this one.  I got all of the sewing done and then the project languished for a very long time as I sat there and didn’t ask Jeff at any of the right times to help me with drilling the pipes.  But finally, six months, okay really nine months later it’s done.
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The kids all got to take turns drilling a hole.  This was of course super exciting, working with real live power tools.

And then……. drum roll please……  We set it up.  Pause for dramatic unveil.
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Now I just need to thread some good heavy duty, but small rope, through the holes so it quite sliding down.  The kids happily and very quickly threw us out of their fort.

I feel so unloved…..  Maybe I should go to the garden and eat worms.  But, that’d be gross, so I don’t think I will.  And, I don’t want to sew one of those again, it was no fun.  Too much yardage to lug around my machine.

Science Sunday: How to get a corn kernel out of your ear

This has been a week of learning about medical procedures galore.  I learned that when you get a strep rash, that is what Scarlet Fever is.  My kids got to learn all about going to the dentist, which we had been slow to get going.  Actually, we had an appointment about a year and a half ago, but that’s when Superman ended up needing hernia surgery, and so we cancelled all scheduled things because we weren’t sure when we’d be able to get in to the specialist.  So, back to what I was saying.

Then we had the fun of Superman coming in while I was getting ready to start cooking dinner announcing that he had a seed stuck in his ear.  As the story came out over the next couple of days the kids had been showing each other how they could put popcorn seeds in their ears and then they’d fall out.  Each of them later on admitted to putting a seed in their ear.  When I asked Superman why he did this, he said, “Well Batman did it, and it fell out.”  GREAAAAT.  Yeah, that makes sense.

So, he got to spend a couple of hours at the local Urgent Care as we waited for them to get it out.  Jeff reported it took four different tools, and a lot of water to get it out.

I thought I’d drive the point home of why we don’t put these things in their ears, so I set up the experiment.

Supplies: popcorn kernel, small jar, various tools to try and get out the kernel (I gave them bamboo skewers, straws, and a fondue fork, and told them they could get whatever else they wanted to use).

Rules: you have to get the popcorn kernels out without picking up the jar.
Princess’ attempts:

She mainly tried the bamboo skewers, but occasionally would try the fondue fork.  I suggested trying to suck up the kernels with her straw, but she never really tried it.
The picture on the bottom right will be explained when we get to Jeff’s help.


Batman’s attempts:

Batman mainly tried with the fondue fork chasing the kernels around his jar.  He finally employed Jeff’s version and successfully got them all out, but it took quite a few tries.

Superman’s attempts:
Superman having heard my suggestion to Princess was the only one to successfully get the kernel out with the straw.  Then the kernel got stuck in the straw.
I reminded him of how they got it out of his ear, so he started trying that.  He was also the most persistent.


He tried to get it out by pouring water in.  That’s how they finally got the kernel out of his ear, with some focused water, but they had to also use forceps.  We discovered this doesn’t work because popcorn kernels don’t float.


Then he decided it might come out if we did like the volcano.  So, we poured some baking soda in, and then some vinegar, and it made a satisfying mess, but no kernels out of the jar.  He was very disappointed with that.

Jeff’s attempts:
You can tell you’ve got an interesting idea for an experiment when your husband wants to get in on the act.
His first idea was a variation on the straw, using a turkey baster to suck it up.  He wanted a medical syringe, but we couldn’t find any of the ones that came with the kids’ medicine.
Next, came the 030successful idea, which everyone ended up using.  Putting tape on the end of the bamboo skewer so that the sticky side was out and grabbing the popcorn kernels with that.  An excellent way to practice fine motor skills (that’s the picture earlier on with Princess).
We were also curious to see if the kernel would float in oil, oil having a higher density than water.  That didn’t work, but it was worth a try.

And then what’s an experiment without a follow-up activity.  Which of course I had nothing to do with, but since when has my involvement stopped my kids?
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Lunch was rather uninteresting to them, so they were “experimenting” to see what would happen to the water if they poured it into the soup.  Superman’s “pothesis was the water would get darker.”  And it apparently did, then he spent quite a while before I caught him sucking up the soup with the turkey baster and putting it into his cup.  I need to wash that tablecloth now.  Note to self, remember to do that.

And, I’m super excited because we started reading our new science book for the year, we got book one in the Apologia Zoology, Flying Creatures.  We’ve read through chapter 1, and will probably be sharing our first few experiments about that.  I’m thinking we might skip ahead to insects and get our own grow your own butterfly kit…..

I can’t wait to see what everyone else did this week!