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Friday’s Vintage Find:: The Story About Ping (and some Go-Alongs and an Art Activity, too)

The Story About Ping probably doesn’t need much of an introduction, but I wanted to share a few of the books we read and an activity we did in relation to this story.  For those who are unfamiliar with this classic tale, it’s Marjorie Flack’s story of a little duck named Ping who lives with his large family on “a boat with two wise eyes on the Yangtze River” in China.  The ducks all leave their home during the day to hunt for food, but once the sun begins to set, the Master of the boat calls them back.  It is unfortunate, though, to be the last duck to return; this duck always receives a spank on the back.  One day, Ping is running late, and rather than be the one to get the spank, he decides to not return at all that night.  What follows is a short little series of adventures which end up with Ping almost becoming a duck dinner.  He learns his lesson, though, and decides that home’s best, spank or no spank.  Marjorie Flack (who also wrote and illustrated the Angus stories) first published this book in 1933, so it’s a real classic.  Kurt Wiese‘s illustrations are colorful and depict the action in the story very convincingly for the preschool set.  (As a side note, Kurt Wiese spent some time in China and later in Australia as a prisoner of war of the Japanese.  This is where he discovered and honed his talent for illustrations.  Interesting, huh?)  The Story About Ping is really too good to miss, which is why it’s included in the first volume of Five in a Row.

We didn’t “row” this book fully, and I decided to dispense with the lapbooking this time.  As much as I want to, I just can’t always make myself love lapbooking.  It’s a love-hate relationship, I guess.  I think that if my children were older and had the motor skills necessary for lots of writing, etc., I might like it more.  I’m not crossing it off the list yet, but I think it will be something we do sometimes instead of all the time.  What we did, though, is share several other books set in China, as well as celebrate Chinese New Year with the reading of The Story About Ping
The book I liked the most that we read is Arlene Mosel’s Tikki Tikki Tembo, a book which certainly deserves its own Friday’s Vintage Find post.  Tikki Tikki Tembo is a book I remember from my own childhood–I loved it!  It takes some practice (or familiarity, at least) to read it well, but the effect is worth it.  Another more recent book we enjoyed is The Moon Lady by Amy Tan.  I was curious to read something by an author I previously knew only as an author of adult fiction, and neither I nor the girls was disappointed.  This book, as well as the books I highlighted here, were perfect to go along with the Chinese New Year festival.  We read a few more, including some nonfiction titles to provide some visual images of the Yangtze River and life in China, etc., but these two were the best picks.

In addition to doing a lot of reading, we also incorporated an art activity into our “study.”  Storybook Art by MaryAnn F. Kohl and Jean Potter is a resource I often turn to for suggestions of art activities to really focus on some of the techniques of famous children’s book illustrators.  It’s chock full of good ideas.  One hundred illustrators are highlighted in this book, so in all likelihood, if it’s a classic story, it’s included in Storybook Art.  This is where we got the idea to make a duck template and repeat the pattern.  (Please excuse the glare and the shadow of my head, etc., on the pictures.  I took these in the afternoon, and while the afternoon sun streaming through our schoolroom windows is lovely, it makes it difficult to take good pictures.)

This first picture includes the one I made.  Until baby brother arrives and is old enough to participate, I suppose Mama will always have to create art, too, to fill up our three frames!  🙂 


Louise once gain had her own idea about how this art activity should go.  Her boat does have “wise eyes,” though.

Lulu included not only the ducks, but also a fishing bird that appears in the story.  (I think the birds are actually cormorants.)  Do you see the “wise eyes” on her boat?

Last, no study of another country is complete without at least looking at a map!  I’ve still yet to get our map up on our school room wall, but I did pull it out so we could find China and the Yangtze River.  The girls loved this! 

I’m linking this post to this week’s stART at A Mommy’s Adventures.  This is a great meme to which bloggers link their children’s literature-related art activities.  Won’t you consider joining in?

Read Aloud Thursday

 It has been a crazily busy week here at the House of Hope, with a couple of doctor appointments and a day trip for Steady Eddie and me on my birthday.  (Bless him, he worked hard to rearrange his schedule so he wouldn’t have to spend the night out of town on my big day.  It was still a work trip for him, but I got to putter around and spend an inordinate amount of time browsing in a huge bookstore, so it was a good day, at least for me.  What a guy!)  I said all that to say that although we have lots of books from the library, we’ve had a hard time getting to them this week.  I’m pulling a couple of books that we enjoyed several weeks ago, instead, and sharing them this week.  Hopefully next week I’ll have more current read-alouds to share!

Easy Work!  An Old Tale is an adaptation by Eric A. Kimmel of an American folktale, and my girls thought it was hilarious.  I’m not sure, but I think it might be because Mr. McTeague dons his wife’s dress, bonnet, and apron, as you can see here on the book’s cover.  Andrew Glass did a marvelous job of visually translating this very funny story.  The story, in a nutshell, is this:  Mr. McTeague thinks his wife, in all her housewifely duties, has it made.  She sees a golden opportunity (and he thinks he does), so they agree to trade jobs for a day.  Well, predictably, things don’t go very well for Mr. McTeague.  His homekeeping catastrophes are really funny, especially as he devises ways to make the work easier for himself.  In the end, though, he learns his lesson:  he’d rather leave the homekeeping to his wife and return to his work with the oxen in the woods.  I see from Eric A. Kimmel’s website that he is a very prolific writer, especially when it comes to folktales from around the world.  I’ll definitely keep him in mind as I plan for next year’s schooling!

The other book I’m sharing today is one that I’ve wanted to share for a long time, but I’ve been waiting for the time to give it its own post.  I’ve since decided that that’s probably never going to happen (and the library is finally going to just give me the book since I’ve had it out for so long 😉 ) and that I might as well just give it a spot on today’s Read Aloud Thursday.  The book? Harold’s ABC  by Crockett Johnson.  I’ve mentioned my love and appreciation for Harold and the Purple Crayon before , and it turns out that there’s a whole series of Harold books.  This one is obviously an ABC book; the story takes Harold through the alphabet from A to Z, with him drawing with his ever-present crayon all the way.  Harold’s ABC is every bit as clever as the first Harold book, and it even inspired me to encourage my girls in a little bit of bookmaking of their own.   I suggested to the girls that they use this book as a model; Harold’s illustrations are based on each letter of the alphabet (i.e. “C is for cake” and voila, the letter C is a layer cake with a triangular slice cut out).  I realize now that this might be too abstract a concept for a five year old and a four year old, but they had fun working on their little books.  We used the “Book on a Stick” concept for our creations.  Lulu’s book is entitled “Lulu’s World of Adventures with ABCs.”

This is her G page.  This is a gorilla, and if you look closely (and think backwards 😉 ), you’ll see that the gorilla’s claws (nails?  what do gorillas have?) are shaped like g‘s. 

One more:  this is her J page, and naturally, these are “jumping j‘s” on a trampoline. 

Of course, Louise was included in this activity, too.  I’ve already mentioned that she loves making books, but as it turns out, she prefers a more open-ended exercise.  Her first page is of a lovely green caterpillar. 🙂

Now we just need to go back and add the text to our books, and we’ll be done.  Oh, and I need to have a  manicure ASAP.  😉

Now it’s your turn!  What have you been reading with your family this week?  Leave a link below to your blog post in which you discuss your read aloud selections, or simply leave a comment.

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Have a fantastic Read Aloud Thursday!

ETA:  I am linking up this Read Aloud Thursday post to a fun meme called stART over at A Mommy’s Adventures.  This meme is for posts which combine stories and art.  Check it out!

Chinese New Year

When I read about the Chinese New Year contest that Jimmie‘s hosting, I thought this week would be the perfect time to take a break from the human body study we’ve been working on for the past three or four weeks (and which I hope to post about in the near future) and add another Five in a Row title to our list:  The Story About Ping.  The obvious connection here is the setting, since Ping is set in China.  However, I’ll save my thoughts and our activities pertaining to the prodigal duck for another post.  This post is about how we “celebrated” the Chinese New Year on Monday here at the House of Hope.  I thought a day spent in celebration would be a good way to introduce Ping, and, well, I can’t pass up a contest.  😉

For us, of course, it is all about the books.  I have very little knowledge about China and its customs myself, so I hied me to the library and brought home all the resources I could find.  I checked out the requisite nonfiction series titles about China, none of which are stand-outs.  However, I find that such books provide as much background information as we need (I pick and choose what to read), and they also often provide excellent pictures to provide a landscape for what we learn.

Two books, though, really did the job of “showing” us what a Chinese New Year celebration might look like.  The first one is an oldie–Moy Moy by Leo Politi, first published fifty years ago, in 1960.  Granted, this is a story set not in China, but in Chinatown, Los Angeles.  It’s the story of a little girl named Lily (called Moy Moy, or “Little Sister,” by everyone in her neighborhood) and her four brothers and the preparations and time period leading up to Chinese Near Year.  This story does a great job of putting a face on the celebration–namely, Moy Moy’s face.  This is perfect, since my own little girls are close in age to her.  We learned about many Chinese New Year traditions, but the ones that made the biggest impression on my girls are the lion and dragon parades.  This story is very engagingly told, and the illustrations are colorful (in that 1950’s way 😉 ) and interesting.  This is one that I think my girls would listen to over and over again. 

The other book is one I just used as a resource, but I wanted to mention it because it’s a good one.  Moonbeams, Dumplings, and Dragon Boats:  A Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities, and Recipes is a book written by Nina Simonds and Leslie Swartz with the help of The Children’s Museum of Boston.  It is just what it says it is:  a book which contains all kinds of fun things to read, do, and eat that center around Chinese festivals and holidays.  The only thing I actually used out of this book this week is the instructions on how to make a paper lantern, but if a study of China is something you plan for your children, I think this would be an almost indispensible aide.  The craft activities and recipes are interspersed among folktales, etc., so it’s a book that could be useful in many ways.

Okay, so what did we do, besides read?  🙂

First, we made paper lanterns.

After this, the girls were inspired to create their own illustrations based on the Chinese calendar.  I mistakenly told them that this new year is the Year of the Dragon (sorry, Jimmie!), hence Lulu’s dragon:

Louise’s started out to be a dragon, but she changed it mid-drawing into an octopus (“with ears”):

We spent a few moments looking at Jimmie’s own Happy New Year post.  Best of all, we had lunch from our favorite Chinese restaurant, thanks to Steady Eddie and yet another snow day that kept him home from work.  🙂

Thanks, Jimmie, for the inspiration to do this!  It was a lot of fun!

Friday Felicities

I started not to write a Friday Felicities post this week, but I missed it last week, and I really like to do these.  I think I’ll like to look back in the future and have a record of some of the good things that happened these dark, cold weeks of winter. 

So, onto the list:

  • We had a great trip last weekend to Atlanta, on which we visited the Georgia Aquarium, IKEA, the Wren’s Nest (link to my post about our visit), the original Chic-Fil-A Dwarf House (and lots of other restaurants, of course), and more bathrooms than I care to count.
  • It only took us one day, really, to recuperate from the trip.  Monday was a pretty hairy day for me, but by Tuesday I felt mostly back to normal.  🙂
  • Monday’s surprise snowstorm made the day a little more tolerable–it was exciting for the girls to go outside and try to build a snowman.    They DID manage to make a couple of snowangels, and even though the snow barely covered the asphalt on the street, I think the girls were bundled up well enough to avoid getting any scrapes.  😉  Within a couple of hours, all the snow was gone, but it was pretty while it lasted.
  • Lulu’s reading has really taken off this week.  She selected Madeline in London as her daily reading selection one day, and although we’re taking it slowly, I can see that she has a real interest in reading for herself now. 
  • Louise has had a grand time playing on an empty box that once held an IKEA bookcase (unassembled).  It’s usually a boat, but sometimes it’s other things (a slide?  something else?  I lose track.). 
  • Chic-Fil-A is once again including “Between the Lions” CDs as the prize in their kids’ meals.  (Looking at the website, I think this must be because they had leftovers or something.  I don’t think it’s the scheduled prize right now.)  Although they’re not different than the ones we got a couple of years ago, most of those have been worn out or lost.  I do have a couple of duplicates, though, so stay tuned–there might be a tiny little giveaway in the future.
  • Have I ever mentioned how much we like Chic-Fil-A?  Maybe I should’ve just called this post “Chic-Fil-A Felicities.”  🙂

I just want to stop and thank God for all the good things in my life.  They’re really too numerous to count.

For more Friday Felicities, head over to Becky’s blog!

Katy and the Big Snow::Lapbook and Related Activities


In this last installment of the Katy and the Big Snow series here at Hope Is the Word, I wanted to share a few pictures of the lapbooks we made and the artwork we did, all inspired by Katy.  Let me admit up front that I am NO lapbooking expert, as you will soon see.  😉  In fact, after a few attempts last year, I had all but sworn them off.  My girls didn’t seem to get it, or to care one way or another.  I didn’t really get it, either, in fact.  Now I see more value in them, especially after perusing such blogs as Jimmie’s Collage (see her lapbooking category, specifically, but don’t miss her living in China posts, either–some of them are very funny!).  Obviously, her student is much older than mine are, but now I see just what potential is contained in these little projects.  I also really like the fact that Jimmie employs the Charlotte Mason method in her homeschool.  I’m currently having a philosophical crisis as to which direction we should take next year in our homeschool, and there may or may not be a post about that in the future.  🙂

Anyway, back to lapbooking.  For Katy and the Big Snow, I almost exclusively used ideas and resources from Homeschool Share.  (The direct link for the Katy resources is here.)  Honestly, a hodgepodge of activities with no rhyme or reason behind them is not exactly how I like to do things, but for students as young as my girls, I think it’s probably okay.  (I admit that at this point in our home educating journey, I need some hand-holding.)  Besides, that’s how Five in  a Row works; it’s a collection of such varied titles that there really is no theme at all.  (As a side note, this issue is one reason I like Jimmie’s Collage so much–her lapbooks are used primarily for narration, etc., and I like that.  I can see the purpose in it–I just have to remind myself that her daughter is older than mine!)  I think the activities I chose for us to use for our Katy lapbook, though, were meaningful for my girls.

I had the girls draw a picture of Katy for the cover of their lapbooks.  Unfortunately, I chose manila-colored (is manila a color?) drawing paper, which made for a rather visually boring project (minus the girls’ drawings, of course).  The first one is Lulu’s, age 5.  Louise, age 4, liked her drawing of Katy so well that she didn’t want me to cut it, so we ended up putting her first drawing on the back and she made another picture for the front.  Thus, the next two pictures are her handiwork.

(This is a picture of the “bacry” (bakery) in Geoppolis.   That’s Katy drawn in pencil in the upper left-hand corner.)

Next is the inside of Lulu’s lapbook.  Louise’s looks the same, except for the fact that almost all of the activities required more fine motor skills (and patience!) than she currently possesses, so she was essentially along for the ride.  Her drawing skills, though, are par excellence!  🙂  The inside of lapbook itself is where things look a little rough from the teacher end.  (Why, oh why must I be a perfectionist?)  When I look at it, though, we covered a lot of territory:

  • math:  addition word problems made up from the story, counting by fives, and patterns
  • science:  a week-long weather log and compass/compass rose introduction (with daddy)
  • character development:  the meaning of the word responsibility and personal application
  • handwriting
  • vocbulary:  lots of discussion about horsepower and compass/compass rose

The little math worksheets are part/whole circles for addition.  We use RightStart Math, and this is one of the ways addition is introduced.  I was quite proud of myself for figuring out how to make those worksheets in Word, and then I promptly forgot to save the document.  Ah, well–at least I’ll get lots of practice in making them!  😉

We also spent some quality time with our watercolors in some Katy-inspired artwork.  I even got in on the action–that’s my picture (copied straight out of the book!) at the top of the post.  (In addition to being a novice at lapbooking, I am also quite unskilled as an artist.  But I do enjoy it!)  After we got started, I realized that watercolors were probably not the best medium for this type of project, but we were already too far in to turn back.  It’s difficult to read, but Lulu’s piece is a building (the highway department, maybe) with “Geoppolis” on the front. 

I feel like the whole idea of lapbooking and studying different topics based on a common story came together with this Katy and the Big Snow experience. Our study was punctuated by Lulu’s sickness, but I still think she got something out of it.  One thing that we didn’t include in our lapbook that related to this story was our Bible memory work.  Before Christmas we had been working on Psalm 34 , but that sort of fizzled out with all the Christmas activities, etc.  (I believe we got down to about verse 14 or 15.)  However, once we got back into our normal morning routine, I decided to go with something shorter.  Candace’s use of the hymn “Whiter Than Snow” in her snow unit inspired me to come up with a snow-related verse, so we learned Isaiah 1:18:

“Come now, let us reason together,”
       says the LORD. 
 “Though your sins are like scarlet,
       they shall be as white as snow;
       though they are red as crimson,
       they shall be like wool.”

This turned out to be the perfect short memory passage since we actually had a little bit of snow!

If you’re interested in backtracking and reading all of my Katy and the Big Snow related posts, here are the links:

Before I end this marathon of a post, I wanted to share a little piece of our schoolroom.  Back in September, Steady Eddie and I made a dash over to Atlanta to purchase some things for our room.  This marked our inaugural visit to IKEA (!!!), and I brought back these little red frames from there, among lots of other goodies.  These frames are sized 8.5″ x 11″, so they’re made for artwork. 

I hope to one day soon give you a tour of our schoolroom.  We use it every day, and we’re thoroughly enjoying having our own space.  I just need to tidy it up a bit (and keep it tidy long enough to photograph it!) and finish up a few little projects.  Stay tuned!  🙂

Messy Monday::Storm in the Night Art Activity

I’ve been working hard at incorporating more intentional art activities into our weeks. My girls go through phases of making things on their own, and they have used up reams of paper in their endeavors (and left little giblets all over the house, too). Art is very important to me, and I want it to be important to them, too, if they’re bent that way, so I keep at it. My goal is to include an art activity for every FIAR book we “row.” (For the uninitiated, Five in a Row books are rowed instead of read or studied, since the idea is to read them five days in a row.) Often, the art activity will be something actually suggested in Five in a Row, but I am finding that some of these activities are still a little too much for my kindergartener and preschooler. Thus, I go searching. I found this nifty little project linked over at The Crafty Crow and decided it would be a good fit for us in our rowing of Storm in the Night. Since we have read and enjoyed two of the suggested book selections already (including It Looked Like Spilt Milk which I reviewed here), I decided to introduce the girls to another one of Eric Carle’s wonderfully illustrated books, Little Cloud. In this story, the title character transforms itself into lots of shapes until called upon to perform his real job. This one seemed to me like the perfect choice for the project at hand. Eric Carle’s wonderful books are so accessible to the younger set, both in terms of text and illustrations.

Here’s a little peek into our art activity:


Cloud Book, sans any identifying information 😉

Lulu writing

Filling in a blank with a little help

Louise writing

My lefty, who currently LOVES to write

Lulu bear

Five year old handwriting

Louise bear

Three year old handwriting

Storm in the Night was a great book for our first kindergarten FIAR selection. I’m waffling a little bit right now on how much I want to do with these books. I see all the lapbooking possiblities out there for these wonderful books, and my mind goes into overdrive in planning mode, but I don’t think I’m a lapbooker at heart. However, rather than think that we’re slacking because we’re not “doing” anything with these books, I’m trying to go with the original intent of the Five in a Row philosophy. Heather at Blog, She Wrote, whom I think of as the FIAR Queen, really settled my mind on this matter with this recent post.

Rocket Phonics

PhotobucketWhen school started this year, I was both a little apprehensive and excited about the prospect of abandoning our old phonics program for a while and trying a little different approach with Lulu for her phonics instruction. As a part of TOS Homeschool Crew, I had received Rocket Phonics just in time to start the year out with it. Although Lulu already knew all of the sounds of the alphabet and could read short vowel, c-v-c words, we had not begun on digraphs and the like. To be honest, I was a little nervous about this because I remember very little about the learning-to-read process from my own childhood, and I have never taught anyone to read before now. We started out with Rocket Phonics, and Lulu has never once resisted a reading lesson. 🙂 While I certainly don’t expect everything we do for our learning time to be fun, it is a bonus when it is and it works, for sure!  Lulu buzzed through the first sections Rocket Phonics, which involved learning the phonemes and an associated picture used as a memory aide.  When we reached the digraphs, we slowed down a bit because this was new territory.  I am pleased to announce that right now, Lulu is well versed in the various combinations of vowels and the sounds they produce.  She is even reading words that use the various digraphs, and we are poised to begin the next section of the curriculum, which introduces thinking games and more complex phrases. 

The key to Rocket Phonics is the initial teaching alphabet, or the ITA.  This curriculum assigns a symbol to every phoneme in the English language, for a total of thirty-six discrete sounds/symbols to be learned.  Each of the sounds is associated with a picture, which helps the child remember the sound.  For example, the digraph oy is associated with a picture of toys.  Charts of the symbols are printed in the book (which is the teacher manual and student book, all in one) and on playing cards.  This simple memory aide has helped Lulu a lot–I can almost see the wheels turning in her brain as we’ve gone over the symbols as she works to recall the sounds they make.

IMG_3998Rocket Phonics uses games and repetition for the teaching of the ITA. This is just perfect for Lulu–she adores playing games, and it doesn’t seem like work at all to her. So far, we have enjoyed (and enjoyed, and enjoyed, and enjoyed) Bingo and a few rousing games of Go Fish!   Rocket Phonics introduces blending with very little difficulty or fanfare.  This curriculum includes a “peeker,” which is simply a piece of laminated cardstock in the shape of a rocket with a window in it.  It has been my experience that isolating the word on the page really helps the younger readers.

IMG_4000So far we really haven’t found any part of Rocket Phonics that hasn’t worked for us.  Occassionally, I have a little difficulty as the teacher because of our particular dialect (we’re from the South, y’all) and how it doesn’t translate to that generic, broadcast journalist pronunciation of words, but I work through that.  😉   This is actually a problem no matter the curriculum.  Louise, who is 3 3/4, has been tagging along a little behind Lulu, and she has recently begun blending those short vowel, c-v-c words herself.  I don’t know that Rocket Phonics is entirely responsible for this, but the enthusiasm that they bring to the learning table when this book comes out can’t have hurt.  We will be continuing with this curriculum over the next weeks, and I will post again in the future on what progress we have made.

The only part of Rocket Phonics that at first gave me pause is the cost.  $160 seemed a little steep to me for a phonics program.  However, when I consider the fact that we would not hesitate to pay that much (or more, possibly) for almost any other curriculum kit, I get over my hesitation.  I think the Rocket Phonics approach would actually appeal to a variety of learning styles due to the multi-faceted approach to learning (and a plethora of additional helps that are free upon purchase).  This is a curriculum that would be well worth the money if a child is resistant to phonics instruction or if it could be used with multiple children. 

If you’re interested in purchasing Rocket Phonics for your student(s), go here.  If you’d like to read more reviews about Rocket Phonics, click over to the TOS Homeschool Crew page

Be sure to check back in the future for Rocket Phonics updates here at Hope Is the Word!

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Caught Reading #3–A Sweet Surprise

IMG_4281Louise has shown a lot of  interest in learning to read since Lulu began kindergarten.  She surprised me that first week by blending sounds into words very well.  She is eager and willing to work with sounds and words wherever and whenever we are.  In fact, last weekend we were at Target, walking through the women’s clothing, and she was happily sounding out pat:   “Puh-ah-t!”  A fellow shopper overhead, noticed, and commented.  She asked me Louise’s age and noted that she herself used to teach kindergarten and had spent the last day in a phonics workshop or some such.  I am as surprised by Louise’s interest and ability as much as anybody, but I also realize that at almost four with a sister a scant eighteen months older, she is ahead of the game on instruction and motivation, too.   On Saturday, she surprised and delighted us by sitting down at the kitchen table with Margaret Wise Brown’s Big Red Barn and diligently working on it for several minutes.   I never dreamed this would happen so soon and (so far) so effortlessly after this, but I’ll take it.

Friday’s Vintage Find::The Dragons of Blueland by Ruth Stiles Gannett

I mentioned in my review of Elmer and the Dragon that all I needed to do to complete the series with my girls was to happen upon the third book, The Dragons of Blueland.  I did just that in some of my bookish ramblings the past few months, either at my library’s wonderful used bookstore or at a consignment sale, I’ve forgotten which.  After reading The Trumpet of the Swan (my thoughts here) aloud over a period of several weeks, I knew we needed a shorter read-aloud for a little break.  The girls were glad to revisit Elmer and his friend the baby dragon, whose name, we learn in The Dragons of Blueland, is Boris.  In this short, focused little fantastical children’s story, Boris returns to his home to learn that man has encroached on his usually well-hidden home on Blueland, and he turns to Elmer Elevator for help.  Elmer must help Boris liberate his whole family, including his thirteen siblings, from the cave where they are held hostage by men outside with a net, poised to capture them if they escape.  Elmer’s  normal McGyver-ish ingenuity enables him to help the poor dragons in a way that couldn’t fail to bring a smile to the faces of young readers or listeners.  In fact, my girls and I had a brief but delightful discussion of how his strategy reminded us of one we’d read beforeThe Dragons of Blueland, copyrighted in 1951 and written by Ruth Stiles Gannett, is a vintage find I’m so glad I happened upon.  This book, along with its prequels, My Father’s Dragon and Elmer and the Dragonis a perfect choice for reading aloud to the youngest listeners.

Egg Carton Math

egg carton math

I knew it would happen, so I should’ve been better prepared.  Louise is riding Lulu’s coattails this year.  The kindergarten curriculum, we have down.  It’s the three-almost-four-year-old-who-thinks-she’s-already-five that I’m not ready for yet.  We have always, always, always done everything together, and so we keep right on going.  I try to give them each my undivided attention in 5-15 minute intervals, alternatingly, while we work on phonics, handwriting, and a little bit of math.  The phonics and handwriting are easy–I’ve covered the phonics part before with Lulu (‘though I’m realizing it will look different each time, with each child), and Louise really doesn’t possess to motor skills to print properly yet, so we can get by with a little preschool workbook (Get Set for School).  However, the math always sets me scrambling. 

Like all good homeschooling mothers 😉 , I am saving everything I think might come in handy in the near future, empty egg cartons included.  I was struck with inspiration the other day and pulled out one of these ultra-useful items.  I numbered the inside of the egg wells (cups?  you know what I mean) left-to-right, putting number seven below the number one.  I then grabbed my handy jar o’ buttons and had Louise pick some yellow buttons out of a pile I scooped out for her.  I instructed her to put one button in each well, starting with one and finishing at twelve.  I did something similar to this with Lulu when she was younger, and I remember originally getting the egg carton idea from Slow and Steady Get Me Ready.  By my adding just a little to the original activity, Louise worked on sorting, left-to-right orientation (important for a leftie like Louise, especially), and ordering.  However, I’m sure that there is a lot more that can be done with the lowly egg carton that I’m missing.  I’ve pondered this before, but I’ll pose the question anyway:  what else educational or entertaining can be done with an empty egg carton?