Science Sunday: Plants and seeds

Science Sunday
I was given a copy of Planting the Wild Garden by Blue Slip Media to review, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.


Because we’ve been planting a garden.  And before you ask, yes you NEED to dress as a pirate to plant your garden.

It’s a neccessity.

So, “Planting the Wild Garden,” is a story about how seeds are spread and it follows all of the different ways seeds are moved.

I loved the simplicity of this story and the pictures.  They reminded me of the Jan Brett style with pictures within pictures, but more calming.  It’s water color instead of acrylics, so the colors aren’t as bright.


Before reading it we had gone on our annual bluebonnet hike to find a good place to take pictures.  There’s not really any yet.  We need a good day of rain and then no rain for a while to get some.

So, we got a great chance to examine some flowers and try to look for their seeds.  We didn’t get to see the seeds yet, but we saw where the seeds would be.


After reading the book we talked about all the different ways seeds are strewn about, and I remembered this picture from an earlier walk.

It was a great talk about how seeds are grown.

So, all in all I think this book makes a great addition to anybody’s spring plant study.  I look forward to reading this book over and over again.

And, the kids and I are heading out of town to go visit my grandparents in Mississippi, so if you don’t hear from me much this week you’ll know why.  We’re off on a great adventure with my Mom.  Poor Jeff has to stay home and work with only Mac for company.

Oops, this was supposed to be scheduled for Sunday……..  So, it’s up a few days early.


Everyone who guessed Kansas was of course right.  And we couldn’t just “do math,” as my kids would say, with sunflowers.  We had to paint with them and more.


I found this super cool site with some sunflower ideas, and used their sunflower life cycle page as part of our Kansas study after reading.  First we read about how they grew from this book.  I have to say this is my favorite book about plants so far because it had great pictures, and did a great explanation. Widgets



The books we used……


Then I made this recipe from Pocketful of Posies, and she’s right it makes A LOT.  So, now I have a whole tub full of finger paint waiting to be turned into different colors.


At first I was very strict on the whole you must paint a sunflower.  That was their first index card (and let me just say I’m loving this whole index card art, it’s a great size for displaying and keeping in lapbooks and such, and it’s not overwhelming for when they don’t feel like painting).


After the first one they just had at it, and I added in a few more colors.  I’m looking forward to when we try this again.


Now head on over to:

A Mommy’s Adventures for more stART projects.

Red Ted Art for more kid art projects

and JDaniel 4’s Mom for more reading and general cool projects.

Shibley Smiles

Math Monday: Sunflower math

Our math lesson for this week was tally marks, and I knew that if I made them do it using the text book they’d get all freaked out, so instead we just did it using our homemade dry erase boards and using all sorts of things to count.

And then we read some books on sunflowers and I had a brilliant idea.  Ages ago I made a seed sorting kit for the kiddos, and so I ran upstairs and unearthed it.




Then, I gave each kid a small pot and had them sort out the sunflower seeds and count how many they had using tally marks.



After we’d practiced with just the sunflower seeds all week, on the final day they had to count up how many total with tally marks for each group.  That was quite a challenge, but it made an otherwise boring subject fun.


This was also part of our newest state study, let’s see if anyone can guess what state……..


Now head on over to Joyful Learner to see some more fun math ideas and later this week The Nurture Store is hosting a math playing thing.

Picking flowers

I’ve apparently had this sitting in my draft folder for about a month, since the pictures are from June.  But, here ya go.

I don’t know about your kids, but mine love picking flowers.  I’ve worked very hard on them understanding they can’t just pick any flowers.  They can only pick the flowers in our backyard and the flowers on the side of the road.

But, they kept picking them (“Mom, what’s Superman doing?”  “I think that’s you in the picture”) right below where the flower ends.


Do you know how hard it is to type with a five year old trying to climb into your lap like a kitten?  Okay, he’s been distracted by the remains of my breakfast shake.

So, I taught them how to cut flowers, and it was simple.  I had them grasp the flower in their fist, and then cut under their hand.  It’s still only about a 3 inch stem to put in a cup, but that’s about the perfect size for fitting in a coffee cup or a small tea cup.006

Or tucking in your hair.

Legend of the Indian Paintbrush, or painting with flowers is difficult

legend of the indian paintbrush
  The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush by Tomie dePaola is a cute book about a Native American who grows up marching to the beat of a different drummer.  He doesn’t want to be a warrior, but loves pictures and doing other things.  He has a spirit journey that tells him how he will someday paint a beautiful sunset, and he searches for ages and eventually paints using Indian Paintbrushes (a type of local flower here).

So, that’s the story.  Now, can you guess what we did?
054Yep, we painted sunsets with flowers.  And, let me tell you it is not easy to paint with a flower.  The stems keep breaking and you can’t get any detail work done.  Now, I guess Indian Paintbrushes might work a little better because they are from the lupus family and are shaped rather like….. paintbrushes, you know the ones for fine details.
And all too quickly my kids got tired of painting a sunset and just decided to make brown blobs.  They had very detailed descriptions of their pictures, which of course I no longer remember…..
056This would be right before I decided to take her shirt off.  Her new thing is to put handprints on everything.
063   057
And then Batman……  That picture above is an early stage……
071And then about halfway through Princess started singing.  I tried to get a video of her singing, but then she stopped and the boys started yelling about painting their hair.  So I made an executive decision it was time for a bath!

For more great story related ideas head over to A Mommy’s Adventures.

Our Preschool Week in Review: Leaf

We didn’t really achieve as much as I wanted to with this theme. We had guests coming for the weekend, and the weather was just too hot to really do much outside. More on that when we get to science.



You may have notice there was no nursery rhyme post last week. Well, here’s what happened, I got them all set up to make it. We’d started and created the the trunks of our trees using our handprints. I went away to make copies of the bear I’d just sketched out, and I returned to this:


So, it became free art…… This is a lesson, make sure you have all supplies before you start painting. So, they got to have lots of fun painting while I did this:

Unloaded the dishwasher, not anywhere near as much fun. Oh well.

We also made leaf men from the book The Leaf Men



Such a lazy catch all term for anything vaguely reading associated. We worked on finding words based off their first letters using our poem of the week from My Very Own Poetry Collection.


We made our letter of the week out of blocks and picked the letter L out of the alphabet.

And of course we read lots of books.

Oh, and my proudest moment of the week was when their grandparents came down and Superman wrote his name in chalk on the sidewalk all by himself, with no help or prompting whatsoever. This also led to a bit of an epiphany for me that the handwriting pages I’ve been using for the boys are too small for their skills right now, so I’m just going to use the Handwriting Without Tears workbook, which has big huge letters, and really is more up their alley than the My Father’s World workbook.


We’re still going on with our calendar time. I’m thinking of adding back in having them make a number of the day. It’s kind of silly if they can rote count up to 15 to 20 but have a hard time with saying how many something is. I’m still working on what we’ll do with this. That, and maybe some games to add in.


Leaf-so we talked a lot about how trees need leaves to help them make their food. We talked about how trees get their food. We observed the plants growing in our yards.

Here’s where it got difficult. Right now the Austin area is under a drought, so that means most of the plants in this area do not have enough water, and those that do are at Botanical gardens or other such places that really don’t want you picking leaves. We made one field trip to look for some leaves and look at them. But, it was really rather depressing to see what is usually a perfectly wonderful park that has a gorgeous pond, but now the pond’s water level has dropped about 10 feet and the creek is all dried up.

So, we mostly got leaves off the ground and a few off this bush.

Here’s activities you can do with leaves:

make a leaf rubbing- get a non-dehydrated leaf and put paper on top, rub over it with crayons.
Classify leaves- sort them by shape and type. I suppose I could have printed off some leaf pictures to do that, should of that of that earlier.
Make a sun catcher- get contact paper and put your leaves on them, put crayon shavings and glitter on it. Then put another piece of contact paper on top and then punch a hole, put ribbon on it, and you have a marvelous leaf catcher. You could also do this with wax paper, and then iron it. That looks even cooler because the crayons melt.
Make a reverse picture of the leaf- put the leaf on a piece of paper and paint around it. When you’re done peel it up.
Study the parts of a leaf- Look at the veins and talk about how that’s how the trees get their water to the leaves through the veins.

Field Trips

With grandparents in town to celebrate their birthdays we went on lots of field trips:

We went to

We went to the Bob Bullock museum.

We went to the duck park.

Oh and of course they cleaned a lot.

Because that’s what you do when the in-laws are coming.

To see what other people did for preschool this week go to Homeschool Creations
To see what other people did in school this week go to Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

All of our wonderful apple and leaf books

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See my fancy new widget? We’ll see how long before I break it….. I decided to go ahead and combine my book posts for the next two weeks, because I didn’t quite have enough for either one to have a full carousel, but this way I do.

Leaf Men– the real hit of the week. I read this at least 5 times, probably more. This insipred this activity.

Apples– this has lots of great facts and the kids had lots of fun following along, but they never really wanted to read it again.

From Seed to Plant– this did a great job of showing how the plants grow, and has inspired the usual grow a seed in a plastic bag experiment that we will be starting later today.

Little Apple Goat– a very cute story about a goat who loves apples and fruit, and spits the seeds over the fence. Can you guess what happens to the seeds? My guys liked it okay, but never really latched onto it.

Leaf– honestly, I thought this one was a little weird. It’s a wordless book, which I never really like all that much, and then I spent the entire book thinking the main character was a girl, only to figure out at the end that it’s a guy. So we never read that one again.

From Apples to Applesauce– great job of following an apple from start to finish. It was really interesting to see the machine that takes the peel off (kind of gross though).

Plants!- another great information book about plants. Love the pictures!

The Magic Leaf– you notice it’s not on the carousel, because apparently amazon doesn’t carry it or something. However, it’s a cute little Asian fairy tale about a foolish man who thinks a leaf will turn him invisible and the problems he has when it doesn’t.

How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World– I used this back when I was teaching as part of our unit on nutrition. We also used it as a geography lesson. Which is what my kids are going to do this afternoon. We’re going to follow her around the world on our map and make a pie. This is the cutest book!

Apple Farmer Annie– right after we read this book, the kids insisted we had to make apple cake and applesauce, because she did in the book. Then we had to go to the store to buy a LOT of apples. We have done lots of great activities off this book.

To see more great posts about the wonderful books people are reading this week go over to Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns.

stART- Leaf Men

Leaf Men– This is a super cute book about an old woman who is sick, and how the bugs in her garden are worried. They summon Leaf Men (who are a lot like elves) to help them save the day.

After we read this the kids all wanted leaf men. So we made some. I based the craft off of the The Felt Wee Folk book I checked out from the library last fall.

To make this you need a sheet of felt, 2 pipe cleaners, a small wooden bead, and some glue.

Oh, and markers.

Twist the 2 pipe cleaners into roughly a human shape.

Cut out a leaf shape from the felt, and then cut out pants.

Sew on the pants real fast, and then sew the leaf man on.

While you do this let your kid happily color the woden bead and draw a face, or something approximating a face. Sorry this is the only photo of the in-process. The kids were a litle eager to get their guys.

Once all the clothes are on, put on your head. If you can pry it away from the kids long enough glue the head on (our heads didn’t get glued on until that night, because they wanted to play with it NOW!). This meant I had to put the heads back on a lot.

And if you’re Princess decide that your Leaf Man needs a feather. It’s much cuter that way.

Batman’s, the only one that had a discernable face. Notice the stick sword. We had to make a special trip to the park to find that one.

In theory this is a picture of Superman’s, but Batman wanted to show off his naked Leaf Man.

The kids had a blast helping me make these. We’ll probably make more as the inspiration hit us. They’re fun and cute.

For more great stART go to A Mommy’s Adventures.

And for more We Made It Friday’s go to Ramblings of a Crazy Woman.

Linking this up to Kiddos Create over at Mama Jenn.

Trees, or the drive of a million questions

They’re all really into questions right now, here’s how our drive down to the Children’s Museum went:

What makes the road Mommy?
What makes the trees?
What makes the houses?
What makes the clouds?
What do clouds do?

As you can see it was a nonstop supply of questions, and some of them were repeated after being answered another couple of times. They really latched onto my answer for trees though.

I explained that God made the trees, but trees need water, dirt and sun to grow. Then I said we’d learn more about it when we got home (as I frantically thought, now what will I do).

Luckily the answer came in the e-mail. I’ve been chosen to be a tester for Teacher Bookbags, and they’re new August book bag was available for preview. I opened it up and the first theme was trees! SCORE! So, I printed off the sheet that perfectly fit what I needed.

So, what I really loved about these activities, they were already set up for different cutting skills. The boys had a vaguely oval shape around the tree to cut out, and Wendy had a square. Perfect for their skill levels. We had lots of fun talking about what trees look like for different seasons. The only problem (and this is in anything showing a winter scene), we don’t have snow, but it led to a whole different discussion about snow.

Now, back to that whole who do trees grow thing. There was a paper for that too!

According to Princess rain goes up. She was quite insistent that her rain cloud went on the ground and pointed up. Fine, that works.

My addition to the project was to have them glue dirt on the bottom of the page. I was very impressed with the boys very carefully putting glue only on the line that had been drawn on the page to represent dirt. I think they’re skills have improved a lot recently. It used to be these were just big blogs of glue.

look at that skill

I’m looking forward to using the rest of the August theme, but I don’t know if it’ll make August activities, the ideas perfectly compliment themes for later in the year. All in all, I’d have to say it’s a great buy for about $3, and there’s that whole instant gratification thing of the download.

*I have not been compensated for raving about this in any way, I was lucky enough to be chosen to get the freebie, and I’m perfectly happy to tell about products I love. That, and I now have some cool new books to add to my book list.

As a side note, I’ll be doing more with trees in a month or so because our theme in a few weeks is “leaf.” I just happened to do this activity now, and thought it was really cool.