Sunday, November 17, 2013

Kiwi Crate for Lily

We got Lily a 3-month Kiwi Crate subscription as part of her birthday.  We got our first kit and have been working on it.  After trying it, I have to say I do like it a lot for her.  She is 6, so at the upper end of their recommended age range of 3-7.  Noah (8) did it with her actually and liked it also.  Eden at 3 was a bit too young IMHO.  We have the Modern art one this month.  It came with a toy, booklet about some modern artists with activities, painting and a mobile this month.  It was educational and fun for her.  We took about a week to do it, going over the artists presented and styles, then doing the activities provided and also suggested in the booklet.  It could easily have been expanded to a month-long study of modern art (or longer) very very easily.  The painting was a tad messy, but that is art.  So there is my opinion.  :)

In the photo, they are working on the painting.  As we have a kit for one, I added to the paint.  Every single thing needed for one child to do it came in the kit though, scissors, paintbrush, everything.  No need to hunt through the house for supplies.  In this one, they had a canvas, added the special tape (not too sticky), painted their created squares and removed the tape to create a modern color block.  It was loved by all for sure.  

I do have a referral link, but honestly you might want to consider waiting in case they have another Living Social or similar program deal to test it out.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Book review: Sky Jumpers

Those of you who know our family well know we are readers through and through.  I'm constantly on the lookout for good books for all of us, and especially for Zach.  He is 11, an avid reader.  He loves, loves sci-fi/fantasy/futuristic and always has.  Finding interesting, imaginative literature for him is much easier than it would have been when I was a kid, but can still be a challenge given the volume he reads.  I want to fire the imagination but stay away from more adult topics.  I love how the young adult genre has really taken off with sci-fi, but along with the range in stories they have also taken a turn towards much more adult topics younger IMHO versus what I experienced at his age.  So, prereading is more necessary.  But that is okay as I love a lot of the newer authors too!  :)

This book is a start of a new series (yippie for series!).  It is a creative, imaginative, post-world war/new world story with a daring feminine lead.  I really like post WWIII-type literature, when the remaining humans need to recreate their world, and this is a good one.  Jumpers in the title refers to jumping off into toxic air left post bombing in their new world, with different chemical and physical properties than air typically would have.  Fun "science" is brought into this book, adding to the interest.  The author of this one has a community of inventors and creative people, but even so our lead heroine is different from the others.  As in a lot of young adult literature, she needs to find the place where she fits into her community in a positive way, where she can be an individual and make a difference.  I love how that comes about.  I would happily recommend this to middle school readers, including my own sons.  It captures the imagination from the very first page.  I'll be looking for more in the series for my kids for sure.

This copy I received from netgalley for an honest review. 

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Onward to the rainforest

As I mentioned, Noah, Lily and I are working through Sassafras Science:  Zoology as their main science this semester.  The teacher's guide has added recommendations for living books, and today we got from the library one about the rainforest, which is the section we are just starting.  Our add-on book today was We're Roaming the Rainforest: 

I always like when one of our choices catches Eden's attention as well (age 3).  This one was a nice easy intro with a group of children walking through the rainforest and encountering a few animals and lyrical verse.  Each 2-page spread had great color illustrations for the youngest crowd (preschool-ish age).  It was probably a little young for Noah, but hey all of us love a good picture book now and again.  The back few pages though had some nice further information about the animals depicted, the rainforest as a whole, a nice map with simple detail level and brief words about a couple native tribes in the region and conservation concerns.  Those few pages were beyond Eden for sure but the right level for a simple intro to further topics for the others.  A great add-on choice as an intro for a unit on the rainforest for a multiple age grouping including preschool and grade school kids. 

Zach is serving morning mass this week.  My other grumpies make it not as possible each day to attend, so we wait in the van some days (like today).  We took along our Sassfras and read the rainforest book while waiting.  Eden then enjoyed paging through again to look at the great illustrations. 

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Curriculum Review: Classroom Activities for the Busy Teacher EV3

In our 4-family little co-op this year, I am pleased to be teaching our older kids (5 boys) about some Lego EV3 programming and building.  Two of those boys are also participating in our homeschool charter school's Lego team, so they are seeing the robots and programming at their weekly meeting and competitions as well.  The other 3 boys have no other outside experience with the EV3 or Lego programming.   This book by Damien Kee is a resource I saw on Amazon, and was immediately interested because as a busy mom I honestly wanted a structured framework for teaching EV3 but didn't want to create it myself.  I have a background in programming, but EV3 is new to me, to give you an idea of my background coming into this. 

Here are my impressions:  I'm using this resource in a homeschool co-op environment with 5 boys ages 9-11. Each lesson in the book is designed to utilize about 5 hours of time. We don't have that much each week, so I split the lessons between weeks, and have the boys work on the student pages and programming at home in between sessions. It is taking us about 2 weeks per "week" of lessons. The boys are learning a lot, and the format of the lessons is easy for me as a parent teacher to utilize, even with limited EV3 background. There is a nice mix of theory and practice in the book to discuss, giving a great foundation. The math is manageable for the kids at the level I'm teaching with a little help here and there for those who hadn't encountered circumference or pi yet.