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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Can't Live Without It!

I'm joining Fun in Room 4B for her "Can't Live Without It" linky party! I wanted to tell you about an organizational product I couldn't live without as a teacher, and can't live without as a homeschooling parent.-------> Neat-Oh! Zipbins

I love nothing more than an organized room and Neat-Oh! Zipbins are perfect for organizing toys and collections. They come in all different sizes, themes, shapes, and colors.

The beautiful thing about them is that they are great storage bins, and when it's time to use what you've stored inside of them they unzip and turn into great play mats. When it's time to clean up, the play mat then zips back into a storage box!

It all started with the medium sized dinosaur themed zipbin about three years ago. It's held up nicely and stores quite the collection now. (This design also available in the mini size for on-the-go play!)
Dinosaur Zipbin
We eventually bought some other themes for building blocks and other toys. Although they were created with toys in mind, we have found many other uses for them.

In the classroom I loved using them for manipulatives, and at home we have used them for our curriculum supplies and crafts. Here are a few more examples of some of the themes and sizes that are offered. The possibilities are endless.

Lego City Fire Zipbin

StarWars Battle Bridge Zipbin

Barbie Malibu House Zipbin
Full Throttle Road & Rail Zipbin

Princess Pony Rainbow Park Zipbin

Neat Oh! Zipbins are one of my favorite organizational items because they become part of the activity, make for easy clean up, and look nice on the shelf. They also double as great gifts!

Don't forget to visit Fun in Room 4B for the linky party!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Native American Activities in November

This month we spent some time learning about Native Americans, and their role in the first Thanksgiving. I let my sons interest steer the studies throughout the month too.

First we learned about the Mayflower, as it was fitting to explain who was here in the New World when the Pilgrims and Puritans arrived. We used this great virtual field trip at Scholastic to learn about the ship.

Afterwards we created sails out of construction paper. We discussed and wrote some important facts on the sails. We then glued them to craft sticks, and painted an empty butter container brown. Lastly, we took a handful of clay and placed it into the boat, stuck the craft sticks into it, and the ship was complete! 

We then proceeded to a learning activity that was sparked by my sons interest. He had previously seen teepe's at a local Native American festival,  and was interested in learning more about how they were built and used. The book Look Inside a Tepee provided a great overview, and helped him to understand that it was the Plain's Indians who used teepes. After reading the book we created our own teepe's with craft sticks, construction paper and washi tape.

We revisited the story of the first Thanksgiving by completing this story bracelet. I found the free printable over at Inspired by Kindergarten.
We were missing a couple of colors for the beads, but we substituted, and the activity was a hit! Our son was able to repeat the story and tell others what each bead represented. 

 After the activity our son was still interested in learning more about how the Native Americans lived prior to the Pilgrims arriving.  Even though the book America's REAL First Thanksgiving is admittedly for more advanced readers, and disputes the first Thanksgiving we had been learning about, we decided to use it to gain some more insight into the Native American community of the Timucua. 

Our reading sparked my son's interest in canoes and how the Native Americans designed them. We did some extended reading about their use of canoes at the website

This sparked his interest even more, so we decided to do a trial and error canoe building activity. We actually completed this activity with a group of kids I teach at a co-op. We gathered a ton of random materials (paper towel tubes, straws, craft sticks, duct tape, aluminum foil, saran wrap, rubber bands, brads, paperclips, pipe cleaners, etc.) and they went to work to create a "canoe" that would float without taking on water for at least 3 minutes. He did a great job- and so did the others!

We had read about the diet of Native Americans and then proceeded to read Corn is Maize: The Gift of the Indians. We learned all about glorious corn, and how vital it was to Native Americans and their quality of life.
For an activity to follow our reading I took some of the most important facts about Native Americans and corn found in the text, and typed them up. We then read and discussed each one. He colored them and then cut and glued them onto corn stalks that we cut out of construction paper. We used "Indian Corn" colors as described in the book. 

Lastly we used a brown paper bag to create this Thankful Turkey. We talked about what we thought the Native Americans would have been thankful for at the first Thanksgiving. We then made a list of the things we are thankful for.  Our son wrote his on the paper bag turkeys feathers. We glued them onto the turkey for an awesome thankful display. 

 We are planning on continuing our learning by completing more activities over the holiday week from the book American Indian Crafts Kids Can Do!

 Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!! 

I am joining other fantastic bloggers for this Adventure Story Book Club blog series.
We'll be doing a post similar to this one each month.
Our Amazing Participating Bloggers:
Kersandra from Our Adventure Story Blog: Facebook
Christa from Little Cottage School Blog: Facebook
Christina from Classroom to Homeroom  Blog: Facebook
Jennifer from Faith & Good Works  Blog: Facebook
For more Book, Craft, & Activity ideas check out Adventure Story Book Club’s Around the World Pinterest Board.

Monday, November 3, 2014

"Stick Man" Book and Craft

We had one of our bi-weekly visits to the public library and came home with this gem of a book. Stick Man by Julia Donaldson
As soon as we finished this book I knew it was a new favorite! My son immediately wanted to turn back  in the book and review some of the scenes. We talked all about Stick Man and his adventures. It was a beautiful day outside, so I suggested that maybe we should go out and search for a stick to create our own Stick Man. Needless to say, TC was beyond enthusiastic! So off we went to search the yard!
No doubt there was a bit of imaginative play along the way! 
Then we found the perfect tree limb laying at the back of our property line.
 We rushed to the garage to shorten the limb and create our Stick Man. TC decided we needed to create Stick Man's wife, Stick Lady Love, as well. So I got out the saw and cut these two pieces. 
We used this page at the beginning of the book for our inspiration, and gathered the materials we had on hand to help make Stick Man and his Stick Lady Love. We used a hot glue gun, pipe cleaners, and googly eyes.

 Then we put our heads together and decided how to create the characters and make them as close to the book as possible. We pieced them together and TC decided that instead of making the top of their "heads" with leaves that we should give them "hats." He then ran outside and came back with two acorn tops! I thought it was such a smart and cute addition! 
Here are the final results.
The fun didn't end there. TC and I re-read the book and he used his Stick Man to act out each and every scene. Afterwards we each played a character and continued the story. We made up the conversation that Stick Man and Stick Lady Love would have had after his adventures. 
Lots of laughs followed, and then my husband got in on the story stretching too! 
 I'm sure TC and I will be reading this book repeatedly throughout the holiday season. 
**This book does refer to Christmas and popular Christmas symbols.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Halloween Candy - Experiments & Operation Shoebox

My son (aka Superman) had a blast collecting candy on Halloween night. It was his first time trick or treating and he was ready to collect a lot of treats! I knew I didn't want him to eat it all, so after he picked out a few favorites, we decided to use some for some science fun!

I hit the Pinterest boards and came across some fun ideas. I wanted to complete a sink or float candy bar activity, and loved this data collection sheet that was featured over at Reading Confetti, so I re-created it. We had a different selection of candy bars, so we worked with what we had. Our son made his predictions and then completed the activity. He was having a difficult time because he thought that since his predictions differed from his results, he was completing the activity all "wrong." We talked about predictions and why it's OK if they don't match the results. I made sure to remind him about the weather forecasters. ;)  It was a great lesson on Science Inquiry. We kept the wrappers and stapled them onto the organizer.  Afterward he was sure to touch the candy bars and see how they felt after being in the water. Fun exploration.

After this fun activity, we headed back to the pile of candy and decided to experiment with Skittles! First we placed them on a microwave safe plate and cooked them on high for 1 minute. The results were messy, and smelly. He was not a fan of the smell.
 We cooked them much too long and this was the result. Within seconds of coming out of the microwave this mess turned very hard and was almost impossible to scrape off of the plate.
We decided to try again, this time for 30 seconds.
 We used fewer Skittles, and the results were as seen below. They opened up like little clams and the insides melted. Again, the smell was more than our boy could handle. There was a lot of nose holding.

After that we decided to see if we could get the "S" to float off of the Skittles using warm water. It didn't go quite as planned but we did see them break into mini pieces and float above the skittles, although they did not remain in the form of an "S."

After these two activities with Skittles, our five year old vowed he would never eat them again. Science + a vow to eat less candy = Win for Mom! 

We have plenty of candy left and more experiments in the works!  If Science and playing with candy isn't your thing- try donating your child's leftover candy to the troops! 

Mail your candy donation to:
Operation Shoebox
8360 East Highway 25
Belleview. Fl. 34420