Quick easy math review game

I’m sure you’ve all done things like this.  Previously we’ve rolled giant dice and added the numbers then run to the chalk number on the floor.

Now, we’re practicing counting for money (nickels, dimes, quarters) using a ball.

Just throw it in a circle and count whatever it is you’re practicing.  Here we’re counting quarters.  The kids much prefer to count pennies.

As a side note, this ball is actually from when I was teaching.  You’re supposed to solve the math problem that is closest to your right thumb.  Good for practicing left and right, and hand eye coordination as you’re throwing it around.  My second graders loved it.

I’ve got similar ones for elements of story.  Those ask all sorts of reading questions.  I need to get them out for my kids.

The Battle of the Alamo

Battle of the Alamo ScenarioWe did this a week or two ago, but I hadn’t downloaded the pictures and my friend I did this with has anxiously been watching for this to be posted, so here it is:
To start go to Junior General and look up their Alamo scenario.  From there you can print off their figures, or you can use the massive number of ones you have.  Or maybe that’s just me.  With 3 men in my house who love to act out battles, and one or two others in the house who have at least a cough cough mild cough cough interest………..  There’s a lot.

Battle of the Alamo defenders
In our version the Mexicans had about 65 soldiers divided into 7 groups.  Each group had a lieutenant who was in charge of moral (that determines if they can move forward).

The seventh group was held in reserve and didn’t have a cannon.  The first 6 groups did.
I won’t go into big detail about how each round went because the scenario did a good job of doing that on the site.  Our modifications:  Each figure could move 6 hexes if they were able to move, and there were 30 Texans at the Alamo (that is not the right proportions).
Battle of the Alamo Texans winning?

At first things looked good for the Texans.  They had several successful canon shots, and they were able to take down most of the Mexican lieutenants.  But, then both sides were out of canon fire, several of their canons had been destroyed and there was a breach in their walls.

Battle of the Alamo Texans losing?
But then, the Mexicans were able to start scaling the walls and the sheer numbers started to overwhelm the Texans.

If the enemies are able to fire 6 shots for every one you are able to fire it does not bode well for you.
(This shot is actually from earlier in the scenario, but it does have one of the kids playing the Mexicans looking mighty pleased with herself)

And then their heroes died.  Davy Crockett, Colonel William Travis, Jim Bowie.  One by one each of the heroes died to Mexican bullets.

The boys lost it.  They couldn’t handle the heroes they had fought with dying.  Which led to a great lesson.

We talked about how the Texans must have felt when they heard the Alamo had fallen and how only a few survivors escaped.  No quarter was given to wounded or sick.  This was a huge mistake on the part of Santanna because it becamse a rallying cry for all Texans.

At the final battle of the Texas the Texans yelled “Remember the Alamo!”  That cry led them to victory.  It’s amazing how much morale can be changed by a small thing.  Martyrs are a powerful thing.

War of 1812

One thing that amused me when we were studying the states on the East Coast were the number of books I was able to find set during this war, and they all had amusing stories that the “family swore was true.”

It’s an interesting war, not many people remember it, because it didn’t change a whole lot.  It didn’t end because we were such amazing tacticians.  It ended more because some of the causes ended.

1.  Impressement of American soldiers onto British ships.  This also was happening with French, but the British were also causing other problems.

2.  Blockade of American shipping.

3.  British encouraging Natives to attack Americans.

Many of these were the result of the Napoleonic Wars in Europe.

We fought many battles, both at land and on sea.  At sea the American ships often did better against bigger and better armed forces because the ships were more maneuverable.

We did end up winning many impressive battles, but it was mostly because Britain was engaged fighting off Napoleon in France.  Come 1815, after Napoleon had been defeated we knew we had to end the war.

A peace treaty was signed and agreed to, basically leaving things as they were before the war started.

A British fleet came to attack New Orleans, they vastly outnumbered and outgunned the small American army led by General Jackson.

General Jackson assessed the situation and told the governor he was pardoning Jean Laffitte, a notorious pirate in the area and drafting him for the battle.  Next he armed the freed blacks in the city and they joined the army, and finally he drafted all of the Natives who were not with the British into the army, and gained a miraculous victory.

Shortly afterwards the British general sent him a letter congratulating him on the war they had already won.  Jackson opted to continue to “monitor” the general until they remembered they were not in their own waters.

Well, I have now covered this battle and another post about it (tangentially) all the times I’m planning on covering it.  I wasn’t going to go into such detail again with the kids, but they really like acting out battles.

Our next war to cover in a week or so: The Mexican American War, can you guess who fought in it and when?  True trivia here……..  And the Battle of the Alamo!
Don’t forget to enter my giveaway of Mom Connection!
I’m gonna link up to these fun parties:
learning laboratory at mama smiles

Colonial games and pasttimes

We got together a few weeks ago and played some of the games that colonists played, but since I had a migraine and the other Mom had two million things going on that day our GRAND AND OVERARCHING PLANS failed……

Instead we did two easy to reenact games, especially if you’re a former teacher who did the old “marble in the jar trick” for every time you caught someone being good.  Seriously I have a big huge box of marbles……..
We discovered that it was super easy on our paved concrete driveway with a slight tilt downhill to get marbles out of the circle.  Not so easy on the not completely level and bumpy mud that the colonists probably played on.  The kids all agreed they did not like playing it like this.


They all enjoyed playing hopscotch, which we couldn’t agree on what the rules are, which led to a discussion on variations on rules in different areas.

Then I challenged them to come up with a game of their own involving chalk and marbles.

The first group with a lot of eye rolling and “Do we have to’s” came up with a sort of pictionary with marbles.

The second group came up with a combination of hopscotch and marbles.  You rolled the marble and got that many points for the number your marble stopped in.

American History: Lexington and Concord

The militias had been warned in time, and were ready and waiting for the approaching British soldiers.
The British soldiers approached eagerly.  They were sure the colonists would surrender at the first sign of a soldier, no shots would be fired and their victory was assured.

Meanwhile, the colonists had been joined by a medieval knight, who was armed with a crossbow and was twice as tall as everyone else.
The soldiers kept approaching and the colonists realized this was a moment that would make history, but they were ordered not to fire, maybe it could be talked out if everyone remained calm.
But someone didn’t listen.  No one knows for sure who fired the first shot, but shots were fired and there was casualties on both sides.  The British and Americans left the battle with no clear winner, but obviously at war.
The British troops continued on to Concord, this time the Colonists were aided by a zombie spearman.  He is formidable in battle.
Again the hope was for no shots to be exchanged, and again hopes were dashed as colonists and soldiers exchanged shots.

I was really impressed at how well my kids remembered all of this lesson, some of it was from reading it, but most of it was from watching Liberty Kids.  If you haven’t seen the show, it’s currently available on Netflix streaming or you can buy the DVDs (which we have done).  It gives a very accurate and unbiased (there is a main character who represents the British side) view of the whole thing from the Boston Tea Party all the way to the signing of Constitution.

Jeff and I have watched pretty much all of them with the kids and have gotten into arguments about whether it was accurate, and then looked it up and discovered they were right and we were wrong.
So, I’m gonna link up to: All Things Beautiful, and Journey to Excellence.
Favorite Resource This Week

Our further adventures in Texas

So with the memorial service and all we didn’t really do super a lot last week.  I made attempts, but there was lots of interruptions, and I wasn’t really up for super much.  So, here’s one of two educational activities that I did last week.  Okay, I did a little more, but this is one of two that I actually am going to bother to write a post about.
pecos bill
First we read Pecos Bill (click on the picture to get to the Amazon page) by Steven Kellog, and I both liked and disliked it.  On the one hand it had some great details that I didn’t remember from other stories, but on the other hand it ends with a happy ending.  In the traditional version he doesn’t get Sluefoot Sue back……  However my kids loved this book.  That’s our kind of sort of stART activity for the week.  But, before I get to that.
After reading the book we watched the movie:

After watching that I had the kids tell me what was different from the movie and the book.  Mainly they were disappointed that in the movie he didn’t make a lasso out of a snake.  Then I had Superman retell the story for me.  I’m going to start working on them retelling the story with as little prompting as possible.  My plan is for each kid to retell one story a week.

He fell out of the horsey. He got ______ by coyotes. Then he got wrapped up by a rattlesnake. Then he got all the bad stuff out of the rattlesnake. Then he was attacked by a big monster, and he wrestled it. And then he had a snake for his lasso and then he had a monster for his horsey.
He found a horse named Bolt. He ride him. And then he died.
He met a girl. I don’t know her name. The girl wanted to love him. He loved the girl. She wanted to ride his horsey he was riding. Her bounced a lot. Too many. She bounced to the moon. She bounced a million how she stayed.
Bill tried to catch her too. He didn’t catch her cause her went to the moon.

And that is Pecos Bill as retold by Superman, he got most of the details right.  It’s really rather amusing.
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Oh, and so I know who is who in the future: Batman, Superman, Princess (she’s kind of obvious.
We made lassoes.  Huh, so you do spell the plural with an “e.”  In retrospect, this may not have been the best of plans…..  Because this is what the boys eventually did.  And then they spent the next several days going around lassoing each other and anything they could try to get caught.
Now, the other book I had planned to read to them is “Hecor’s First Flight,” which is apparently so rare that Amazon hasn’t heard of it, or I’m totally not remembering the name of the book, but it has heard of the sequel.   Hmmm, it doesn’t even have the book listed with the other books by the author, so maybe it’s just not in print anymore.

Back to the point.  This book is about the “Mexican Free-Tailed Bat,” which is one of the symbols of Texas, along with the armadillo, longhorn, monarch butterfly, and a whole slew of others.  I’m kind of wondering if every state creates this many symbols.  Well, I never found my copy of the book.  I’m beginning to think there’s a book eating monster in my house that eats the books just as I want to use them.  I distinctly remember seeing it upstairs on a table a week before I planned to use it and thinking I should grab it, but I didn’t for some reason.

Since I didn’t have the book, instead I printed off all of the different symbols of Texas and let them happily color the pictures.  If you’d like to use the same images I did go here.  It’s a link to the Texas Parks and Wildlife department, and it has some great pictures to color.  I shrunk them down so I could use a little bit of everybody’s pictures for our lapbook.

Now, if you want a much cooler project, head over to Superheroes and Princesses, where she did texture and put A LOT more thought into her armadillo project.

And if you want teaching guides for any of the __ is for books head to this link.

For more great geography ideas head over to Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn.  And hopefully I’ll remember to get the graphic for her linky.

For more great stART ideas head over to A Mommy’s Adventures.   Cool, I finally actually figured out how to make it automatically hyperlink stuff.  AWESOME!

Science Sunday: Invisible Ink

My button makes me so happy. Yes, I know it’s silly.

So, as I mentioned yesterday we read Invisible Inc Mystery of the Missing Dog. In the book they write secret messages to each other using invisible ink from lemon juice, and they used all sorts of things to reveal the ink. They used the steam from a hot dog to reveal it and I forget what all else, so that got me curious if this would really work.

Materials needed: lemon juice, paint brush or q-tip, matches, candle, hair dryer, burner from your stove.

Here’s the theory: if you draw with the juice when it is exposed to heat it will turn brown and reveal your secret message. We’re going to see which way works best.

Oh, and all documentary pictures taken for this experiment were taken by my kids today. So, they’re sometimes interesting…..



1. Cut your lemons in half and squeeze all the juice out of them into a bowl. Honestly we could have done this with one lemon, but each kid wanted their own lemon.



2. Take some pictures of your head. While you’re at it why not take pictures of the light and the wall?



3. Paint your picture. While you’re at it make sure to completely saturate the paper. I’m sure it’s a better message if the paper is completely soaked.



4. First we tried it over the candle. Sorry for the blurry photo. It worked somewhat. I’m beginning to think it might have worked better if the papers were slightly dryer. It would reveal the ink for the area directly over the flame, but that’s all.


5. Next we tried it over the burner on our stove. Very important, make sure the adult is doing this. I’m sure that goes without saying, but the flame is very hot, and the other important thing is to make sure the flame is on low. You have to hold it over for a little bit and it does get hot very quickly. This worked best.

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6. On the last ones we tried the hair dryer. According to National Treasure (and I tried to find a clip of this from the movie, but no luck) if you blow a hair dryer over it then the picture will be revealed. Well, maybe I don’t have a hot enough hair dryer because all it did was dry out the ink. Again, I’m wondering if the paper was less saturated if that would work better.

science,science experiment,science sunday,invisible ink,lemon

Here’s Batman’s picture. Can you tell it’s a space guy with a gun fighting a monster? Good, I could too.

science,science experiment,science sunday,invisible ink,lemon

This is either Superman’s or Princess’, I’m not sure which. They both went for the cover the page approach on most of theirs. Though I was amused as Superman sat there explaining that his lemon juice was rain that was coming down……

For a scientific explanation and for some other invisible inks go here.  I really wanted to find a video, but it just wasn’t happening.

For more about Science Sunday and participating go here.