Archive for the ‘Hands on Activities’ Category

Teaching Character Using Poetry II

Monday, April 13th, 2015

Teaching Character Using Poetry II

Considering that April is National Poetry Month, it’s an ideal time to examine how you can incorporate poetry in valuable, meaningful ways. Continue reading throughout this month as we discuss poetry for all ages and various subjects!

This is a continuation from our last post about Teaching Character through Poetry. Today we’ll look at another example from Scripture:

Psalm 8

1 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
above the heavens.

2 From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.

3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,

4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?

5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.

6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:

7 all flocks and herds,
and the beasts of the field,

8 the birds of the air,
and the fish of the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.

9 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Important Character Concepts and Activities from Psalm 8

When we consider the glory of God and all He created, we should be in awe and amazed just as David was when he wrote this poetry! God’s majesty lies before us in all of creation and He never lets us forget His greatness.

  • Character conceptHumility…which us of could create an animal or put stars in the sky?
  •  Possible related activity: Take a nature walk and note every possible thing that could only be created by God. Discuss how we should be humbled that a God so awesome not only created us, but loves us above all of the rest of His creation. Have your students draw something observed from your walk, and include Psalm 8:9 as copywork under your drawing.
  • Character concept: God places man “a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.” With this glory and honor comes responsibility and stewardship. How do you think God expects us to treat His creation?
  • Possible related activity: Make a chart of the many parts of God’s creation from which man benefits. In one column, generally note the creation and then in a second column, specifically list benefits. For example:

Plants     /     medicine, herbs, food, art, cleaning the air

Ocean    /      medicine, food, beauty and leisure

Expanding your study

  • Memorize this Psalm or another one in honor of National Poetry Month!
  • Have your high school student choose another psalm and write “character concepts” and “possible activities” as we have in these last two posts.  Use that to teach a younger sibling or friend.

Which psalm is your favorite for teaching character? Would love to hear about it in the comments!

Editor’s note: This post was written in collaboration with Beth Hempton, formerly with Train up a Child Publishing. You can read more from Beth by going to her website at Classes by Beth or checking out her blog

How to Make Your Own Natural Easter Egg Dyes!

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Make Your Own Natural Easter Egg Dyes

Did you know that thousands of years ago the ancient Chinese were already dyeing fabric?

Or that the Maya in South America created red dye from ground insects?

Instead of buying those pre-packaged egg-dye kits this year, why not create your own natural dyes?

You have most of the ingredients in your refrigerator and pantry already. Experimenting with various vegetables and spices and turning out eggs that are one-of-a-kind is a great hands-on, multi-age project.

Here’s what you need:

create natural Easter egg dyes

Preparation

The items we used are pictured above. (We had to go to the store to get red cabbage to get a bluer-blue, so add that one.)  Here is a list of what we used this year and the color that each material yielded:

  • yellow onion skins: dark red
  • red onion skins: purplish-red
  • coffee: light to dark brown
  • tea: light tan/golden brown
  • spinach: light green
  • turmeric (spice): bright yellow
  • red cabbage: bright blue
  • raspberries: light pink

Gather items you can use to make dye, such as the ones above.  Try some other spices, grass, flower petals and other items you might have outside with one crucial caveat:

 Check and make sure that nothing is poisonous, please! 

You would not want to touch or have your children touch plant parts that are poisonous, and you certainly would not want to put anything poisonous in your cookware. If you do not have a thorough field guide to your local plant life, just stick to vegetables and spices.

You will need at least four small saucepans. (Smaller pans don’t require so much dye material.)

Depending upon how many eggs you would like to dye and how much material you have  –  I recommend at least 12-18 uncooked white eggs. It seems over the years that some eggs absorb dye better than others – I am not sure why that would be; does anyone know?

IMPORTANT NOTE: Authorities say eggs are not safe to eat if they have been out of the fridge more than two hours after cooking, so keep track of this unless you aren’t going to eat them.

 

Method

  1. Chop (veggies/skins) or mash (berries) each item that needs it and put a cup or more in each saucepan with the egg(s).  The typical four burner stove allows four saucepans/dye colors to be done at one time.
  2. Measure about two cups of water  – or just enough to cover the egg(s) – add one tablespoon of white vinegar for each cup of water. Stir it.
  3. Boil the eggs for 20 minutes and turn the heat off or remove pan from burner.
  4. Check the color of the eggs.  Leave them in the water longer/add more dying material if you would like a deeper value.
  5. You can even leave the eggs in the water overnight if you refrigerate the pan with the water and the eggs. (Cool before putting in your fridge.)

Leaving three eggs  in red cabbage/water overnight (in the fridge) resulted in the gorgeous blue pictured below!

Make Your Own Natural Easter Egg Dyes!

Other Method

 

Another method is to use the procedure above but without cooking the eggs until you have boiled the material for an hour and strained it.

Once the dyeing material has been boiled and removed by straining, use the water to boil the raw eggs  for 20 minutes.  This probably results in a more solid, uniform color, rather than the “textural” look of our eggs.

I have never tried this.

Perhaps I was too impatient to boil it for an hour….

While You are Waiting

While you are waiting for the eggs to cook/dye to take, you might read and talk about the history of dye creation. Here are a couple of links to get you* started:

General historical info about dyehttp://www.ehow.com/about_5422885_history-fabric-dyes.html (Science)

Dying silkhttp://www.advantour.com/silkroad/dyeing-of-silk-fabrics.htm (Science/history)

The famous “Silk Road” trading route: http://www.travelchinaguide.com/silk-road/ (History/geography)

*Please do not let your kids loose on links without first taking a thorough look – I did not read every word on every page connected to these.

The Results

When you are done cooking the eggs and you are happy with the color, remove them from the dye water, gently pat dry and refrigerate. The egg carton they came in is a perfect place to keep them. When they have cooled, shine them up with a little vegetable oil to bring out the color.  

Make Your Own Natural Easter Egg Dyes!

 

 

What About You?

Have you ever dyed your eggs using natural dyes?  How did they turn out? Do you have any dyeing material that you particularly like?

 

Dana Wilson at Train up a Child Publishing

What’s Labor Day all About?

Monday, August 25th, 2014

 

Child labor

“Addie Card, 12 years. Spinner in North Pormal [i.e., Pownal] Cotton Mill. Vt.” by Lewis Hine, 1912 – 1913

Picnics and barbecues. Parades. Weekend beach getaways. Last days by the pool. These are what most people think of when the words “Labor Day” come to mind. We enjoy time with friends and family as most people have that day off from work. However, Labor Day has a greater and richer meaning than that!

 

History

More than 100 years ago the labor force was completely different than it is today. Men, women, and even children of five and six labored ten to twelve hours a day for little pay, seven days a week. There were no weekends. No sick leave days. No vacation days. No over-time pay. Working conditions were often dangerous and unsanitary.

In 1872, a New York City carpenter by the name of Peter McGuire rallied over 100,000 workers to go on strike and march through the streets of the city. Many people have credited McGuire for the idea of Labor Day. McGuire fought for a decade to earn rights for workers.

Workers began organizing into labor unions to fight for higher pay, shorter days, and rights for children. They fought to set an age limit on the children who worked to prevent them from injuries. Finally, in 1882, McGuire had the idea to designate one day as a special holiday for workers.

On Tuesday, September 5, 1882, ten thousand workers once again joined together in the streets of New York City. However, this time it was for the first Labor Day parade. The Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York by also celebrating a “workingman’s holiday.”

Labor Days in the late 1800s typically consisted of street parades followed by festivals for workers and their families. Elected officials used the opportunity to speak, and picnics and celebrations abounded. Then, in 1894 Congress passed a federal law declaring the first Monday every September as Labor Day.

Labor Day is the day we are thankful for our country’s productivity and strength, and pay tribute to past and current American workers who are largely responsible.

 

Labor Day Ideas for Children

Preschool

  • Have children create an “Occupation Collage.” Provide magazines and newspapers for children to look through and find workers. Cut out pictures of various workers in our country. Glue and display the pictures onto colorful, patriotic paper.
  •  Thank You Cards. Show your children how to write/stamp the words “Thank You.” Allow them to stamp the words onto paper. The children can decorate cards then deliver them to community helpers (Library, Fire station, Bakery, Post Office, etc.).

Elementary

  • Have children choose an occupation. They can draw a picture of the specific worker then together brainstorm a list of the responsibilities or things a person must do for the job. See the link for a helpful worksheet.
  • Thank you cards are perfect for elementary students! Also consider the folks that pick up the trash and deliver the mail (but nothing inside the mailbox, please!)
  •  Interview. Children can select a few jobs that interest them or that they want to know more about. Schedule interviews with people in the community and allow the children to conduct the interview after first working together on listing appropriate questions.

 Middle School

  • Build a Resume.  Middle school students can research what skills and education are necessary to obtain  jobs they might be interested in. Have them create a “future” resume of what they would need to accomplish in order to be chosen for a job in that specific field.

 Secondary

  • Volunteer. Have your high school students choose a job that they would like to pursue. Have them arrange a day where they can volunteer or shadow someone in that profession to experience the responsibilities and commitments that are necessary for success.

 

Note: The little girl pictured above worked in a mill. She told the photographer she was twelve, although her coworkers all said she was ten. 

 

Five Steps to Start School with a Bang!

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

Five Steps to Start School with a Bang! Slow, lazy mornings. Days full of sun, fun and laughter. Visiting friends and family. Trips nearby or far away, seeing and doing new things. Freedom from the usual routines and responsibilities. If you and yours enjoy summer as much as we do, it is impossible to just jump back into school mode without some kind of transition. After all, grumpy kids are no fun! Here are five ways to help turn your summer-loving children back into excited, optimistic students.

1. Be enthusiastic.

This seems obvious, but the wistful, melancholy comment about summer being almost over will come back to haunt you.  YOU set the emotional tone in your home. Your excitement for the upcoming school year will be contagious. 

2. Show your children the new curriculum in advance.

Discuss the plan of what you will be covering this year. Share the book list and show any crafts or projects you will be making. Let them browse through the upcoming materials and get a sneak peak of what is to come. Talk about how awesome the upcoming year will be!

3. Gear up together!

Everyone enjoys new school supplies. I love walking into Target this time of year and seeing all the new notebooks, folders, and pens, don’t you? It gets my blood flowing! Take your kids to your favorite school supply store and allow them to help select the new supplies. Who doesn’t enjoy new highlighters or pencil boxes? There is just something exciting about opening a clean, brand-spanking new notebook. If you sometimes do ‘school on the go’, thrill your kids with new lunch boxes or backpacks.

4. Create a Routine or Schedule.

Kids thrive with daily, weekly and monthly routines. Discuss the school day and how it will look this fall. Display a daily schedule for the whole family. For your littles, this is quite simple. You can draw pictures on a chart that lays out their day for them. This can include learning time, snack time, nap time and play time. Talk about the different activities or the structure of their day. For your older kids, buy or make a planner. Your high school students should learn to schedule their own work within your parameters. Hang a monthly calendar as well so Dad will know when and where you will be once school starts. Make sure to plug in all your regular activities and any outside classes or co-ops as well as field trips, church events, and service projects.

5. Adjust your sleep schedule.

This is usually the hardest battle. I recommend starting the sleep routine at least a week before you intend to start school. Have your kids begin the school bedtime and wake times in advance. This goes for you as well. When you wait to change bedtimes until the night before you intend to start school, it will make for a rough start to your day. Ease back into it! Just remember, if the new school year excites you, it will excite them, too! Do you have any particular things your family does to hit the ground running every year? Tell me in the comments!

Waking up those Brain Cells with Geography Activities

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Wake up those Brain Cells with Geography Activities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you still enjoying a relaxing summer? Or with August just around the corner, are you already in the throes of preparing for the next school year?

Whether you are in relaxation mode or actively working on school prep, it doesn’t hurt to take advantage of learning opportunities to start waking up those sleepy brain cells!

Here are several easy-to-implement ideas to add geography study into your day from the comfort of your own home, or as you hit the road, board a plane or sail by sea:

 Maps

  • Start with the basic map facts like the title, compass rose and legend/key of a map.
  • Have your kids create a local map as you teach mapping basics. You can drive around your neighborhood or town as you teach. Kids can draw the streets and landmarks as you go.
  • Younger children can start with drawing a map of your home.
  • If traveling, have your students draw a map of your destination. Allow older kids to be the navigators.

 

State Studies

  • Check out some books from your local library on your state and create a state notebook.
  • Spend some time learning the state flag, flower, motto, and capital. Incorporate art into the lesson and allow the kids to draw or paint these items for your notebooks.
  • Spend some time researching your state’s history. Have your students dictate or write about what they have learned (and provide illustrations, of course).
  • Take a small road trip and visit your capital if you live close enough. Otherwise, find a local historical landmark to visit.

 

U.S. Geography

  • Simple and engaging for young elementary students, try the iTunes 99 cent app called “Stack the States,” available for iPhones and iPads.
  •  Allow your kids to familiarize themselves with the shape of each state and learn the capitals. Tracing and drawing states are especially great for young learners who need to work on fine motor skills.
  • Another hands on option is using the free online geography (and other) games at  sheppardsoftware.com.  In fact, you can learn world geography at this site as well!
  • Create your own United States puzzle by printing the map on cardstock. The kids can cut out the states, mix them up, and then put them back together again.

 

World Geography

  • For kids that love the movie Cars 2, take a large world map and lay it across the floor. Talk about the different countries each car is from and have the kids place the cars on the right spot on the map.
  • Kids can learn the continents and perhaps several different countries by just discussing your family tree. Do you have branches from England? Scotland? South Africa? China? Label them on a map: “Uncle George Born in Germany”
  • For the Lego lovers, build different monuments from around the world such as Stonehenge, Great Wall of China, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Eiffel Tower, or the Great Pyramid of Giza.
  • You can also visit restaurants from around the world in your home city then have your children find the country on the map.

 

Living Books

 You know this post would not be complete without a list of fantastic finds from the library or Amazon.com to resource your geographic explorations:

  • Children Just Like Me, Kindersley. With this book you can read each day about a new child then place a pin or thumb tack on the map where that child lives. This book is a great way to view what other children eat, what their homes look like, what types of toys they enjoy, and a little bit about their surroundings.
  • Maps and Globes. One of my favorite map/globe books for young children, this is a must-have. Enchantingly appealing illustrations show where to find the tallest mountain and the deepest ocean,  and covers the countries of the world as well as how to find your way around your own neighborhood.
  • DK First Atlas. Magnificent pictures entrance elementary readers while chock full of information about continents, countries, oceans, topography and more.
  • Geography Songs. This is out of print so check out your public library or grab this used on Amazon if you can. This is a fabulous memory aid to learning states and countries!
  • Ultimate Sticker Book: Flags of the World Especially helpful for your hands on learners, this is packed with 300 reusable stickers and has been updated as of 2012.

So are what are you up to at this point in your summer? Do you have everything together for the fall or are you lying on a beach? Or somewhere in between the two?  Tell me in the comments!