Homeschool Reading Blog

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Unit 48: Christmas Around the World


GENERAL GOALS:

  • Make personal connections between Christmas traditions celebrated around the world & those celebrated in their homes.
  • Compare & contrast Christmas traditions from seven countries/continents around the world.
  • Identify geographic locations.
  • Create souvenirs for each location on their trip around the world to solidify & review.

BOOKS:

  • Twas the Night Before Christmas – Clement Clarke Moore
  • The Legend of the Poinsettia – Tomie DePaula
  • Christmas Around the World – Mary D. Lankford
  • Christmas In Brazil – World Book, Inc.
  • Christmas In Mexico – World Book, Inc.
  • Christmas In Germany – Jack Manning
  • Christmas Is… – Gail Gibbons
  • Cobweb Christmas – Shirley Climo
  • An African Christmas – Ifeoma Onyefulu
  • Christmas in Australia – John Williamson
  • Christmas In Many Cultures – Martha E. H. Rustad
  • Waiting For Christmas: A Story About the Advent Calendar – Kathleen Long Bostrom

ACTIVITIES:

  • Print out a passport for your child to fill out throughout the week as we travel around the seven continents. The teacher has a lesson plan for her classroom which you can use. If you would like nice printable pages for each country, join free at the site linked & she has them for you for free. If you want, for 11$ you can purchase her flippy books & power points for each country; very nice. I’ve simplified a plan for my own home use here:

Day 1 – America:

  • Make a suitcase out of construction paper or the bottom of a paper bag. Get as fancy or stay as simple as you want with this. (This teacher made a super cute one & has great ideas on a passport as well.)
  • Talk about how you are going to be traveling around the world this week & seeing how people celebrate Christmas. Get out a globe or world map & use a toy plane to “fly” each day.
  • Read Twas the Night Before Christmas. If your child likes to color, you can print the whole book out in coloring pages here. Talk about how your family celebrates Christmas. What traditions do you have? Discuss how others in your neighborhood, extended family, church, etc. celebrate differently. Maybe you can come up with a craft for the way your family celebrates to put in the suitcase.
  • If you would like to make an ornament representing the flag of each country, here is one for the USA that would be nice.

Day 2 – Mexico:

  • After reading The Legend of the Poinsettia, make a pinwheel poinsettia for your suitcase.
  • If you are doing the flag ornament for each country, you will probably need a cut out of the center for the Mexican flag. You can print one out here.

Day 3 – Brazil:

  • Each year in Rio de Janeiro, they light a 279 ft floating Christmas tree complete with fireworks! How cool is that? Here is the website for the tree & here is a video of the lighting a few years back.
  • Make a nice Brazilian ornament for the suitcase here.

Day 4 – Liberia:

  • Make a fireworks craft for the suitcase. There are several ways you can do this, found herehere, and here to get you started. Pick the one you like best.
  • Or a Liberian flag ornament could easily be made by clicking here.
  • Here is a site for more information. It bugs me when they lump all of Africa together, but if you scroll to the end, there is a paragraph on Liberia there. And another site is found here.

Day 5 – Antarctica/Australia:

  • Do some yoga poses to act out the Australian version of the Twelve Days of Christmas. If you can’t get the book (which I cannot at our library), this is a family reading/singing a version with many of the same animals in it. And this video shows a family singing through the actual book though not showing the pages.
  • You could make Christmas poppers or crackers. There are several ways to do it found herehere, & here for starters. Again, pick your favorite.
  • Here is a picture of an Australian flag ornament here. This one may be tricky, but with some creativity could be done.
  • Here is a link for more ideas.

Day 6 – Japan:

  • Here is a site with information about Christmas in Japan. Note: the video at the end isn’t fit for children to watch.
  • Make an origami Christmas tree together!

  • Decorate it if you like with star stickers or attaching sequins/little pompom balls on each green piece. Tape a star or angel for the top.
  • If you are doing the country flag ornaments, it doesn’t get any easier than with Japan!

Day 7 – Germany:

  • Here’s a video in German with English subtitles describing Christmas in Germany. It’s neat to hear the language.

  • Advent calendars started in Germany back in the 19th century. If you’ve never done one, here are a few fun ideas of ways you can count down to Christmas to get you started. The ideas are literally endless (more found here)! Find the way you like or try a different way each year. Let your child pick one this year perhaps. I’ve done a shortened version through the years with 12 days instead of 24. Make it fit your family. If you just want to print one out, here’s a cute one.
  • Have your child put their shoe outside their bedroom door & fill them with treats for when they wake up!
  • Again, if you are doing the country flag ornaments, Germany is super easy as well.
  • More information given here.
  • Another helpful site with German Christmas traditions.

LOOKING AHEAD:

  • Get books from the book list on Being Healthy for after Christmas from your library.
  • If you don’t have a bit of glitter and a jump rope, round those up to use in the next unit.

Remember the Windows XP operating system? You can work with it online at GeekPrank.com and trick your friends.

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Unit 47: Australia


This unit is an add-on to the Ocean Unit, not a replacement.

GENERAL GOALS:

  • Discover marsupials (koala, platypus, kangaroo).
  • Enjoy paired reading, with emphasis on phrasing.
  • Introduce your child to a few classic book series.

BOOKS:

  • Australia – Madeline Donaldson
  • About Marupials: A Guide for Children – Cathryn Still
  • Marsupial Sue – John Lithgow
  • This is Australia – Miroslav Sasek
  • The Australian Boomerang Bonanza (Flat Stanley) – Josh Greenhut
  • Dingos at Dinnertime (Magic Tree House) – Mary Pope Osborne
  • DVD: Babe

ACTIVITIES:

  • Read Marsupial Sue together (or get the version with book on CD). This is just a fun little story to enjoy together, but should help the word “marsupial” to stick with your child. : ) Use it to introduce the term & talk about what it means, look through the library books for other examples of marsupials, etc.
  • Hopefully, your child is taking an interest in a series at the library. If not, introduce them to a few of the fun ones for this age with the Australia theme: Flat Stanley & Magic Tree House. If they don’t seem interested, read these TO them or better yet get two copies of each book out so you can each have a copy while reading. You (& they) may be surprised at how much they end up liking these books series after enjoying them together. If you have a reluctant reader, or a genre your child doesn’t think they like, try this little “trick” & see what happens. You can do several things with two copies: have your child just follow along with their eyes, sometimes read a few lines then stop & have your child read the next sentence, etc. Suggestions: Don’t you read a paragraph or page at a time & then have your child read a paragraph or page. This allows your child to not follow along as well. Sporadicly alternating forces your child to stay “on their toes” & not get lazy/let you do all the reading. Reading a sentence at a time reinforces your child paying attention to punctuation as well. Also, if your child has not caught on to phrasing yet, you will be surprised at how this helps them. If you read a sentence or two & then they do, they generally copy your tone & phrasing naturally. Doing this regularly for a while will help support your child in learning how to phrase as well as anything. It really is fun to watch the changes when you do this! Just had to put that in there. : )
  • Sheep play a huge role in Australian life. If your child hasn’t seen Babe yet, watch that this week. Point out that the film is all in Australia. Enjoy watching it together.
  • Read/play this story about The Land Down Under.

LOOKING AHEAD:

  • Get those camping books from the library. You may not be doing camping next week, but sometime over the summer, it sure is a fun & memorable theme to do!
  • Put more fixings & hot dogs on your grocery list as well as firewood if you don’t have any. If you can’t build a bonfire in your backyard, start thinking about where you could have a family fire: local park, maybe a day trip to a state park, an extended family member’s house,etc.
  • Just a reminder: summer is almost here! If you haven’t taken inventory of your game shelf lately, this would be a good week to do that & order or put on your shopping list those games you don’t have, need to replace, or those two or three new games your child is now ready for now that another year has passed. A starter list of games this age loves: Yahtzee Jr., Memory, Candy Land, various 100-300 piece puzzles, Old Maid, Uno Moo or Uno Jr., War, Slap Jack, Bingo (our boy loves the colors & shapes edition). Some of these games (War, Slap Jack, Old Maid, Go Fish) can be played with a simple deck of regular cards, but you could get a special deck with your child’s favorite characters on it to make it extra fun. Bible Sequence is a wonderful game we introduced this year to our first grader & he loved it. There are several children’s versions of this game: Sequence for Children, Sequence Letters, Sequence States & Capitals, Sequence Numbers… Pick the one for your family.

The Windows update prank can easily trick someone when opened in full screen. It looks and acts like a real install page.

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Unit 46: Zoo Animals/Africa


GENERAL GOALS:

  • Understand that Africa consists of many countries & to review the other continents.
  • Observe the difference between African & Asian elephants.
  • Define onomatopoeia.

BOOKS:

  • Africa – Madeline Donaldson
  • Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain – Verna Aardema
  • We All Went On Safari – Laurie Krebs
  • Africa Is Not a Country – Margy Burns Knight
  • African Critters – Robert Haas
  • Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears – Verna Aardema
  • DVD: Lion King

ACTIVITIES:

LOOKING AHEAD:

  • If you haven’t lined up a musical field trip yet, or you can’t find a live performance going on around you, ask a friend, neighbor, relative to put on a personal performance for you with an instrument.
  • Look over the choices of instruments to make for next week & make sure you have the needed supplies for your instruments of choice.
  • Get books for the music theme ordered & picked up for next week.
  • There’s still time to pick up an ant farm if you want to do that in a few weeks. Hobby Lobby usually has one, but sometimes it can be hard to find this time of year. You still have time to order one, too. If you’re sure you have ant hills outside at your house, I wouldn’t bother ordering a fake one to keep inside. Just my two cents!
  • While you are at Hobby Lobby for the ant farm, you may want to buy some colored sand for sand crafting during the Ocean Theme in a few weeks. If you choose to do kits instead, this week would be a good week to order them. Here & here are a few choices.
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Unit 45: Recycling


GENERAL GOALS:

  • Understand ways to conserve resources by recycling, reusing, and reducing consumption of natural resources.
  • Identify recyclable items.
  • Sort items into needed categories (paper, aluminum, glass, etc) to take to local drop off or curbside recycling.
  • Enjoy fun poetry together.

BOOKS:

  • Recycled Paper: From Start to Finish – Samuel G. Woods
  • Joseph Had a Little Overcoat – Simms Taback
  • What Can You Do With An Old Red Shoe? – Anna Alter
  • The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle – Alison Inches
  • The Adventures of an Aluminum Can – Alison Inches
  • Where Does the Garbage Go? – Paul Showers
  • Recycle – Gail Gibbons
  • One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia – Miranda Paul
  • Recycle Every Day – Nancy Wallace
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends – Shel Silverstein

ACTIVITIES:

  • Read Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout together, the classic trash poem. This makes a fun introduction to the unit. Talk about how we are going to reduce the amount of trash this week by recycling or reusing items. After you’re done reading that poem, peruse the rest of the book. A fun way to pick poems I’ve done with our family is take turns calling out a number from one to whatever the last page is & read the poem on that page number called. The kids have loved this activity with all the Shel Silverstein books through the years.
  • If your child is into this, you could make a little magnifying glass to use this week to spy out recyclable or reusable items. (Your child may be too old for that at this point, but maybe not.) Make it out of recycled items. Some ideas can be found hereherehere, & here.
  • If you made one, use your spy glass to go around the house & find recyclable items. Gather them, then sort them together. Talk about the little symbols on plastics. This site helps understand the different plastics. Check your local recycling drop off to see how you need to sort yours. Google “recycling guide” & then your town & state. It should bring up the information you need.
  • Play a few of the many recycling &/or energy saving games on line: Gabriela Cleans UpEekohouseBrain Pop’s RRRSort Your Waste, or Light It Right.
  • Here is a cute coloring book to get recycling discussion going. You may not want to use all the pages (batteries or tires are irrelevant to your child right now) but there are plenty of other “wanted poster” style pages. The Recycle Guys in NC also have nice an activity booklet you can print out with some fun pages. Pick the ones you want to use for discussion on recycling at your house. They also have a bingo game you can print out & play. I’m not quite into those little cartoon guys enough to do that, but maybe your child will love it. Just remember to recycle all those worksheets, coloring pages, & bingo cards when you’re done. : )
  • Take a virtual field trip to a recycling plant if you can’t find one locally.

  • Or you could enjoy this Reading Rainbow short on recycling:

LOOKING AHEAD:

  • Earth Day is April 22 so check your are to see if there are any fun recycling or planting activities you can join. Next week is a gardening/seeds theme so check for anything like a tree planting type thing, or group park clean up activity, or a recycled art display, etc.
  • Take your child to the store before next week & pick out a few fun seed packets to plant together. Be sure and get a packet of green beans. Other fun ones to compare: sunflowers, zinnias, peas, corn, and pumpkin.
  • It’s fun for little ones to have their own garden tools when working in the garden. If they don’t have child-sized garden gloves & a trowel, think about purchasing these at the store for them next week while you get the seeds.
  • Pick up some gummy worms, Oreos, whipped cream, & chocolate pudding for a fun snack next week. : ]
  • Make sure you have some peanuts on hand, either in shells or not depending on how much you want your child to get involved in making peanut butter next week if you choose. If nothing else, you will want to eat peanuts while reading about George Washington Carver next week.
  • Order & pick up next week’s books of gardens from your library.

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Unit 44: South America


GENERAL GOALS:

  • Explore migration; why animals travel & realize birds and butterflies specifically can travel great distances. (osprey, monarch butterfly, cliff swallow)
  • Review the seven continents focusing in on South America this week.
  • Understand the difference between a tropical rainforest and deciduous forests.
  • Be exposed to the various layers in a rainforest: herb, immature, understory, canopy, and emergent layers.
  • Study the paintings of Henri Rousseau.

BOOKS:

  • The Rainforest Grew All Around – Susan K. Mitchell
  • How Do Birds Find Their Way? – Roma Gans
  • Two Little Birds – Mary Newell DePalma
  • Henri Rousseau’s Jungle Book – Doris Kutschbach
  • South America – Madeline Donaldson
  • What Lives In the Rain Forest? – Oona Gaarder-Juntti
  • Giant Anteaters – Chadwick Gillenwater
  • “Slowly, Slowly, Slowly,” Said the Sloth – Eric Carle
  • Toucans and Other Birds – Julie Guidone
  • Anaconda – Anita Ganeri
  • Piranha – Anita Ganeri
  • Poison Dart Frog – Anita Ganeri
  • Macaw – Anita Ganeri
  • Jaguar – Anita Ganeri
  • Lemur – Anita Ganeri
  • DVD: Tarzan

ACTIVITIES:

  • Explain & discuss migration by looking at the map of the Osprey’s migration patterns from Massachusetts to South America here or watch this video showing it:

  • Watch this video on monarch butterfly migration:

  • Locate the Amazon Rainforest area in South America with these mapsThis site has TONS of information & PDFs about the Amazon Rainforest specifically made for homeschoolers. Pick & choose what you want to use there.
  • This site has at least one wonderful game about the various layers of the rainforest. Children have to click and drag various animals to their layer in the game Jewels of the Earth. I found it by going to the treehouse & clicking the book or notebook.
  • To reiterate the layers, make a shoebox diorama for each layer. This family used plastic animals (from one of those tubes I suppose?) but you could do the same thing with paper animals like these or these.

  • Look at jungle paintings by Henri Rousseau. Your child can play with creating his or her own Rousseau type art hereThis video has a great idea for stamping with leaves, but depending on the time of year & where you live, magnolia leaves probably won’t be available.
  • Pick a few fun rainforest animals your child might enjoy learning more about & get a few books from the library on them. Here are a few to get you started: anteater, toucan, macaw, sloth, tree frogs, piranhas, anacondas.
  • Just for fun, Diego has a rainforest game with minimal educational value but I know my boy would like it so I pass it on.

LOOKING AHEAD:

  • Buy a few seeds you’d like to plant with your child for garden week coming up soon. You may want to think about perhaps choosing a few that attract butterflies. Here is a good site to help you choose, depending on where you live & where you are planting. Some of my favorites: Coreopsis, Shasta Daisy, Cosmos (easy!), Phlox, Sweet Allysum, Blanket Flower, Snap Dragons, & Black-Eyed Susans. One caution: Yarrow is easy to grow but will NEVER go away – spreads like wildfire. Purchase (or don’t) with that in mind.
  • Make sure you have a good trowel & gardening gloves for your child in a couple weeks.
  • Pick up books on recycling (see list) for next week.
  • You may want to see if you can get a field trip to your local recycling center organized. If not, there are virtual ones on line & I will give you the links. To get the hands on tour, this is the week to schedule.
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Unit 43: Europe


GENERAL GOALS:

  • Review the seven continents.
  • Talk about St. Patrick & Ireland.
  • Enjoy introducing castles and knights while highlighting Europe.
  • Point out that Europe consists of several countries including England, Ireland, Spain, Italy, and France. Read a picture book from each of these countries & locate on a map of Europe.

BOOKS:

  • Europe – Madeline Donaldson
  • The Story of Ferdinand – Munro Leaf (for Spain)
  • Madeline – Ludwig Bemelmens (for France)
  • Olivia Goes to Venice – Ian Falconer (for Italy)
  • Stephen Biesty’s Cross-Section Castles – Richard Platt
  • A Year in a Castle – Rachel Coombs
  • Castles of England, Scotland, and Wales – Paul Johnson
    or other photograph coffee table type books on castles your library has on hand.
  • Beatix Potter DVDs
  • Leonardo Da Vinci DVD by Nest Entertainment

ACTIVITIES:

Highlight a different European country briefly each day this week:

MONDAY: Old Europe

  • Look through some books on castles and knights together.
  • Talk about how these castles were homes for kings a long time ago. Tomorrow we will talk about someone who lived between the time when Jesus was alive & when kings lived in castles starting in the 900’s (St. Patrick = the 400’s AD). Maybe make a crude timeline to explain these four events: a cross at 30 AD on the far left, a clover for St. Patrick at around 500AD, a small castle pic for around 1000AD, then at far right put 2015 & explain that is now.

TUESDAY: Ireland

  • See Saint Patrick’s Day activities under the Holiday section.
  • Eat green foods today (peas, green beans, pickles, kiwi, lime jello, add blue food coloring to scrambled eggs, add green coloring to pancake mix or ginger ale, etc.).
  • Be sure to wear green clothes today.
  • Read St. Patrick’s Day books together.
  • Listen to Irish music & watch some Irish dancers:

  • Let your youngster dance a jig of their own with some Irish music from Pandora, etc. (You could tape or hot glue gun quarters to their shoes & let them dance on the driveway or basement to get that tippity tap sound to “kick it up a notch”.)

WEDNESDAY: Spain

  • Read The Story of Ferdinand.
  • Watch matadors in the ring:

THURSDAY: France

  • Read Madeline.
  • Teach your child a little French with the song Frere Jacque

  • Perhaps build the Eiffel tower with Legos.
  • Find a mime on Youtube and watch together.

FRIDAY: Italy

  • Read Olivia Goes to Venice.
  • Eat spaghetti or lasagna or pizza for dinner.
  • Watch Nest’s Leonardo Da Vinci:

LOOKING AHEAD:

  • Order weather books at the library for next week’s unit.
  • Consider ordering a few sticker books & coloring books for birds & butterflies for the coming weeks. Bird stickers: here & here. Bird coloring book: here. Butterfly stickers: here. Butterfly coloring book: here. AND, while you are at it & thinking ahead, you may as well order the butterfly eggs if you want to do that during the butterfly week. (I throw that all at you at once so you can hopefully take advantage of the super saver shipping offer.)

The online jsBeautifier is a free online program that is worth bookmarking.

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Unit 42: Asia


This unit is an add-on to the Chinese New Year ideas in the holiday section.

GENERAL GOALS:

  • To review the seven continents, highlighting Asia this week.
  • To compare and contrast several animals of the same family but different species.
  • To begin to understand that Asia comprises a wide variety of cultures, & are not just “people who use chopsticks”.

BOOKS:

  • See book list under Chinese New Year in Holiday section.
  • Asia – Madeline Donaldson
  • Books on pandas, Asian elephants, camels, &/or tigers. Ask your librarian or do a search in your library for these. Your library will have their own nonfiction version for most of these animals.
  • One Grain of Rice – Demi
  • The Blind Men and the Elephant – Karen Backstein

ACTIVITIES:

  • Sagwa games are fun & educational.
  • If your child hasn’t seen The Jungle Book yet, this would be a good week to show it.
  • Talk about the differences between Asian and African elephants. Use this and this site to help you out. Discuss why these differences might be: scroll down to the ears section here for info on how ears help cool them.
  • Talk about the differences in camels; some have one hump & some have two. Some are shaggy & others aren’t. Discuss why these differences might be. Camels aren’t as “cut and dry, Africa vs. Asia” as elephants are, but you can still talk about how one hump is generally found in Africa & India where two humps are found in the middle of Asia.
  • Pandas
  • Tigers

LOOKING AHEAD:

  • Pick some things from the Presidents & Patriotic units that you didn’t cover last year & get those books for next week. For example, if your child learned the pledge last year, but didn’t hear the national anthem, be sure you have them hear it this year. There are many, many presidents to choose from so pick a favorite from last yr to review, but be sure & introduce a few new ones to your child this year. There were probably several activities you didn’t have time for last year as well. Think back, then think ahead to what materials & books you will need to do those activities for next week.
  • If you don’t keep real maple syrup around, get a bottle this weekend at the store. If you know a place to get those maple leaf candies or maple cotton candy for a special treat, get ’em! You can order them on line at places like here or here. Not necessary & a bit pricey, but a fun splurge for next week’s unit. : ]
  • Start looking for a 3d pop up castle book to order. We will be talking about castles in about a month & this age is the perfect time for hands on imaginative play like this. It seems there is always a castle book out there, but they change it up every year or so, so if you want to get one for your child, you’ll need to google “3d castle book” & see what comes up this year. I picked up this one a few years ago & spent less than 20$ for it new. Well worth it. And if I want to sell it, it’s going for $100 used these days! But my boys are enjoying it way too much. I plan on saving it for my grands. : )
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Unit 41: Dinosaurs


GENERAL GOALS:

  • Discover the difference between herbivore, carnivore, & omnivore.
  • Become familiar with various names of dinosaurs.
  • Classify dinosaurs in various ways (things they ate, number of legs they walked on, their habitats (water, air, or land), etc.

BOOKS:

  • Michael Dahl series – Stiff Armor, Double Bones, Boney Back, Long Arm, Three Horn.
  • Don Lessem’s “Meet the Dinosaurs” series – Duck-billed Dinosaurs, Giant Meat Eating Dinosaurs, Giant Plant Eating Dinosaurs, etc.
  • Harry and His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs also known as Sammy and the Dinosaurs – Ian Whybrow
  • Dinosaur Dinners – Lee Davis
  • How to Raise a Dinosaur – Natasha Wing
  • Danny and the Dinosaur – Syd Hoff
  • You may want to introduce your first grader to the Magic Tree House series this week if you haven’t already. The first in the series is Dinosaurs Before Dark – Mary Pope Osborne

ACTIVITIES:

  • Watch “Dr. Scott” explain herbivores here:

  • and carnivores here:

  • Play this online game from Dinosaur Train about herbavores. Or this game about various dino facts. Another good one can be found here, Dinomight Appetite. You would probably want to sit with your child & read to them on this one as it doesn’t read it for them & the dinosaur names are quite large. But it’s a good one for looking at clues to each dinosaur to see if it is plant or meat eater (teeth, muscles, how many legs it walked on, etc). That site has several games for fun your child may want to play with found here. One lets you make your own dinosaur while another helps your child remember each dinosaur name by matching silhouettes (although you would again need ot sit by your child & read for them most likely to get the benefit). They also have a few dino memory games found there as well. Nice site!
  • Another game your child may like to play just for dino fun is Diego’s Dinosaur Adventure.
  • There are lots of free dinosaur printables on line if your child likes those for this week. This site has many to chose from for each grade. Choose what works for your child. This one lets your child cut out & place several dinosaurs on the carnivore side or the herbivore side of a page. This site has several decent coloring pages if your child would like to color some dinosaurs this week.
  • Make a fun pop-up t-rex card by following the instructions on the link here.
  • Let your child have as much fun as they desire with pretend play this week but if they are “too old” for that or uninterested, let it go. You could make feet together, or print out some masks. Get as involved as this with making a full costumethis hilarious pterodactyl get up, or a simple dino-fied hoodie. Add some claws like these for extra fun.
  • If you don’t have those little plastic dinosaurs, try to borrow some from a friend for your child to play with this week or pick a bag up at the dollar store. You can use them for all kinds of things: sorting & classifying, math problems (Five dinos were on green “grass” paper & nine more joined them. How many total?), measure them, group into tens, use them as game markers this week, make “fossil imprints” with them in play dough, etc.
  • If you have dinosaur counters, you can play a game my children love. We line them all up by color & type into a giant square (kind of like the memory game). Then one person closes their eyes while the other person switches a few of either the colors or type around & (to make it more challenging for them now that they are in first grade) keep one secretly in their hand. The closed eye one then has to put it all back the way it was & figure out which color & type was taken, describing both the color & what kind of dino it is that is gone. This game is quite the surprise hit at this age. You may remember, this is the same game used back in the shapes theme only now you use the dino manipulatives on the table or floor instead of felt shapes on a board. As your child gets better at it, you can mix up as many or remove as many pieces as you want. Also, take turns closing eyes. Your child will want to mix up & remove, as well as guess! I should take pictures or video us playing it, but until I do, these two pictures will have to do in helping to explain:

  • Pull out a balance scale & half a dozen plastic Easter eggs to do this activity. What a great “weigh” to incorporate this week’s theme with basic math skills! I would take it a step further & have my child put the dino eggs in order from heaviest to lightest. Label each egg as well with either a permanent marker or sticker dot labels. Label them anything: A, B, C, etc, to T-rex, Triceratops, Pterodactyl, Stegosaurus, etc.

LOOKING AHEAD:

  • Get books from the library for next week’s unit on Feelings (Unit 19) & Valentine’s Day (see Holidays section for book list).

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Unit 40: Antarctica


This unit is an add-on to the Snow Unit, not a replacement.

GENERAL GOALS:

  • Review habitats & why various animals are more/less suited to live in their habitats.
  • Use informational text to be able to write some facts found as a report.
  • Review the seven continents.

BOOKS:

  • Antarctica – Madeline Donaldson
  • Penguins! Strange and Wonderful – Laurence Pringle
  • Penguins! – Gail Gibbons
  • Little Penguin: the Emperor of Antarctica – Jonathan London
  • Any of the Tacky books by Helen Lester (perhaps you read Tacky and the Emperor when we did the Emperor’s New Clothes?)
  • The Emperor’s Cool Clothes – Lee Harper
  • Consider reading Mr. Popper’s Penguins this week to your child. (I DO NOT recommend getting the movie, though.)
  • DVDs:
    • Happy Feet
    • March of the Penguins
    • The Emperor’s Egg

ACTIVITIES:

  • Do a page or two of matching animals to their habitats. There are several on line herehere, & here.
  • There are some cute, silly online games with penguins. Let your child play a few this week for fun. (And of course, if your child hasn’t found Club Penguin yet, you can introduce them. Beware: your child or you may get hooked!).
  • Compare & contrast a handful of your favorite penguins. Here is a quick guide to make it easier to get the quick facts on a bunch of them. Here is another site with some useful information. Use a set of worksheets linked or make your own, but do some kind of “report” on the information your child is reading & collecting. Here is a freebie set of worksheets on 6 different penguins. And here is a nice set of penguin pages for you to use to make a little penguin report after studying up on what they eat, where they live, etc.
  • Teach your child how to paint a penguin scene, complete with icy Antarctic background.
  • After talking about how the Emperor Penguin daddy keeps his egg warm for two months, you can have your child play a fun game with a playground sized ball. Have them try waddling around with the ball on their feet, or just pretend the ball is their “egg” & try standing even for a few moments to “keep it warm’. For more fun on penguin movement, watch this clip from Mary Poppins for more inspiration:

And this has nothing to do with anything educational really, but as I was working on this unit, this video commercial came along & was so cute I had to share.

Seems there’s a book called Monty’s Christmas & loads of other items you can buy to go along with it. Ah, commercialism.

LOOKING AHEAD:

    #BBD0E0 »
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Unit 39: Planes/Trains


GENERAL GOALS:

  • Review simple machines (wheel & axle, inclined planes).
  • Introduce homonyms.
  • Review the seven continents.
  • Discuss “then & now” for historical context of changes in transportation & how these changes have effected the way we live today.

BOOKS:

  • Cars and Trucks and Things That Go – Richard Scarry
  • How Much Can A Bare Bear Bear? – Brian P. Cleary
  • Inclined Planes – Anne Welsbacher
  • Wheels and Axles – Anne Welsbacher
  • Duck on a Bike – David Shannon
  • Amazing Vehicles – James Harrison
  • Watch Me Go – Rebecca Young
  • Everything Goes: On Land – Brian Biggs
  • Everything Goes: In Air – Brian Biggs
  • Going on a Plane – Anne Civardi
  • Five Trucks – Brian Floca
  • It’s Funny Where Ben’s Train Takes Him – Robert Burleigh
  • Freight Train – Donald Crews
  • Inside Freight Train – Donald Crews
  • Travel Then And Now – Bobbie Kalman
  • Food and Farming Then And Now – Bobbie Kalman
  • School Days Then And Now – Bobbie Kalman
  • Steam, Smoke, And Steel: Back in Time With Trains – Patrick O’Brien
  • The Little Red Caboose – Marian Potter
  • Polar Express – Chris Van Allsburg

ACTIVITIES:

  • Review the wheel & axle. Talk about inclined planes & explain the same word (plane) is also short for airplane. No connection.
  • Read How Much Can a Bare Bear Bear? together. Discuss other words that are spelled & said the same way, but mean different things; homonyms. Example of homonyms: bark, bank, bow, club, duck, match, park, right, trip.
  • Watch the Wright Brothers Nest video this week. Libraries often have a copy of these wonderful cartoon versions of historical people.

  • If you have boys & a matchbox collection, use them to do math problems this week. (ex. – 10 cars take away 3 cars equals what? If I have 6 cars & Joe gives me 2 more, how many do I have now?, etc.)
  • Use a little paper or toy airplane to “fly” to each continent & review what each is named this week. If you do the “Christmas Around the World” unit in the next few weeks, get them thinking about how people live differently in different places around the world. Start to whet their imaginations & excitement for this unit coming up.
  • Read the Then and Now books together & discuss how things were before & how they are now. Discuss the importance of each new transportation method & how it changed our world. (Trains connected our large country for the first time & made buying & selling easier than boats, airplanes changed how far people travel & live, etc.)
  • Teach your child a few fun train songs:

or

  • Watch John Henry &/or Casey Jones together to show how important trains were in building our nation.

John Henry:

Casey Jones:

  • Read Polar Expresss, then Watch Polar Express together. You can get as fancy as you like: set chairs up for the family to read/watch as if they were in a train, make paper tickets to hole punch, definitely make hot chocolate!, perhaps buy a little bell (or make one) for each of your children to wear during the book reading/movie, etc. The idea is to have fun & use imagination.
  • The Charlie Brown history series is excellent. Here are clips on trains & planes:

LOOKING AHEAD:

  • Get library books from book list on Christmas Around the World (Unit 48).
  • The biggest thing you’ll need next week is construction paper. Make sure you have enough of various colors to make the crafts for next week. The other need would be some toilet paper tubes & either wrapping or tissue paper for making crackers/poppers when talking about Australia. For Japan, if you can find origami like paper in green, that would be wonderful. If not, try to find computer paper in green and one other color (for the bottom of the tree).

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