Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tangerine and Kiwi

Have you read any of the books from the Tangerine and Kiwi series?  Our first introduction to the series was Tangerine and Kiwi Visit the Sugar Bush by Laila Heloua.  Tangerine and Kiwi are siblings who go on family outings and learn more about where their food comes from.

In this book, Tangerine, Kiwi, and their parents go snowshoeing at a sugar bush and learn how to make maple syrup.  When they return home, they make pancakes and top them with some of the syrup they purchased at the sugar bush.  C and R both like the characters and find the book enjoyable.  They are already talking about pouring hot maple syrup over snow to make taffy like Tangerine and Kiwi; I think we will have to wait a while before we can do that!

There is a page at the end of the book that explains the steps to make maple syrup, and there is also a pancake recipe.  We can't resist trying recipes that follow fun stories!  Everyone prefers our usual pancake recipe, but we still had fun making these together.

We hope to read more Tangerine and Kiwi books soon!

*I received this book free from Owlkids Books in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Mathematical Reasoning Review

I received Mathematical Reasoning Level B for Grade 1 from Timberdoodle in exchange for an honest review.

C is a big fan of workbooks.  Often, he will look in the cabinet for a workbook and entertain himself by solving problems for quite a while.  Since we are not full time homeschoolers, this workbook served as a supplement to the math C is learning in school.  Some of the pages were very easy for him, but that is probably because we started using this book halfway through first grade.  I encouraged him to look through the book and find pages that were interesting and challenging.  His favorite sections were counting coins and telling time.  He also enjoyed the dot to dots - they are different from other dot to dots in that you have to solve math problems first to find out which numbers to connect based on the order of the answers. 

I like the way the book is set up.  I think it progresses nicely and I love that different skills are addressed in each section.  I found the table of contents to be very useful and organized too.

If you are not familiar with Timberdoodle, check out their site.  They have fantastic math curriculum resources including games, manipulatives, and more.  You can also request a free homeschool catalog to see more of Timberdoodle's educational resources.

*As a member of Timberdoodle's Blogger Review Team I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a frank and unbiased review.

Cookbooks for Kids - Part Two

We have decided to work our way through some cookbooks for kids.  There are really no rules, except that we will choose cookbooks written with children in mind and make at least one recipe from each cookbook.  This is just for fun, and to give us an excuse to work together in the kitchen.

The second cookbook we chose is Mermaid Cookbook by Barbara Beery.  We happen to own this cookbook, but this is the first time we have used it.  There are a lot of recipes that sound interesting, so we will have to make more of an effort to use this cookbook!  The book has thirty recipes with fun names like "Mermaid Bay Baked Bananas," "Treasure Island Trail Mix," "Sea Queen Kabobs,"  and "Rainbow Fish Fudge".

The recipe we chose to make is called "Swirling Mermaid Smoothies".  To make the drink, you mix two different smoothies (cherry and orange) and then swirl them together in a glass.  R and I both enjoyed this!  We did use regular milk instead of soy milk because we are not fans of soy; I would love to try this with coconut milk too.  Yum!  The one change I will make next time is to freeze the banana.  We usually have bananas in the freezer to use in smoothies, but we didn't this day.  I prefer frozen fruit in my smoothies because it makes the smoothies thicker and frostier.  It's much better (taste-wise) to use frozen fruit than to add ice.  This recipe did not call for ice or frozen fruit (we did use frozen cherries though) so the final product is like a thin milkshake.

Overall, I think this is a great cookbook for kids.  There are plenty of healthy recipes, the ingredients are common, and the directions are simple.

To read all of our cookbook reviews, click here.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Future Paleontologist

We are having a lot of fun with our dinosaur theme for our South Dakota state study.  So far, we have made dinosaur teeth and dinosaur fossils.  We also used a Smithsonian kit to excavate a T- Rex skeleton.  The kit came with a sand brick that had a T-Rex skeleton replica in it for excavating with a mallet and dowel.  The kit also came with goggles, but according to the directions, the goggles were for play, not for protection (?????).  My kids still insisted on wearing the goggles.

R worked on the kit for about fifteen minutes and left the rest for C to finish.  I think R was a little frustrated that she didn't find any of the bones, but even after C started to find them, R never had any interest in going back to the excavating.  C, on the other hand, worked on this for hours!  He has since decided that he wants to be a paleontologist. 

After the excavation was complete, C assembled the plastic dinosaur.  I have to admit that I expected better quality.  The dinosaur doesn't really stay together and it barely stands up.  C was pretty happy with it though.  As a matter of fact, he said that this kit is one of his favorite activities of all time; he really enjoyed the process.

We followed this with the book The Field Mouse and the Dinosaur Named Sue by Jan Wahl.

A tiny field mouse lives in a burrow beneath an old bone in South Dakota until his life is turned upside down by fossil hunters.  The mouse ends up in a box that is taken to the Field Museum in Chicago where he finds the dinosaur named Sue.  We all enjoyed the book.

Thank you to Almost Unschoolers for recommending this book, and hop over to Adventures in Mommydom for Science Sunday!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Birthday and Cookie Dough Cupcakes

I don't usually write much about T on this blog because he is a teenager and I think he deserves some privacy, but today is his birthday and I refuse to let that go unmentioned.

Instead of a cake, T decided he wanted chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes for his fourteenth birthday.  I found the recipe from Hoosier Homemade.  The cupcakes have a white cake base with chocolate chips in them, and then I filled them with chocolate chip cookie dough (egg free) and topped them with buttercream frosting.  He was very happy with the final result, so I'm sure I will be making these again.

Here are the cupcakes before I frosted them.
These cupcakes will not last long in our house!

Happy Birthday T!  I'll spare you the mushy, sentimental stuff.

Favorite Books of the Week

You may remember, from a previous post, that while I loved the book, Madlenka by Peter Sis, C and R did not care for it.

Well, this week we read Madlenka Soccer Star and they both liked the book a lot!  In this book, Madlenka has a new soccer ball, but no one to play with, so she has to use her imagination.  At the end of the book, there is a page devoted to the history of soccer and a page that gives the translation for the word "soccer" around the world.  If you have any soccer fans in your house, check out this book!  We will be reading Madlenka's Dog over the next few days (I just picked it up from the library), so I will let you know what we think of that book next week.

Earlier this week, R and I were at the library and she picked the book Baby Dear by Esther Wilkin off the shelf.  Immediately, my heart melted because I am a very sentimental person and I remember having this book as a child.  It is very appropriate for us to read right now because the little girl in the book receives a new baby doll on the day that her Mommy and Daddy bring her new baby sister home from the hospital.  The girl takes care of her new baby doll just like Mommy takes care of the new baby - feeding, changing, bathing, and caring for her.  At the end of the book, the little girl has a chance to hold her baby sister.  This is a very sweet book - made sweeter by the fact that R is looking forward to having a baby sister in a few months.

Another favorite in the house this week is What's New Scooby Doo? by Jamie Elder.  This is a seek and find or I Spy type book featuring Scooby and his friends.  C is a big fan of Scooby Doo, and both of my children really enjoy seek and find books.

One of C's independent readers this week is Henry and Mudge and the Careful Cousin by Cynthia Rylant.  He has been reading a lot of Henry and Mudge books lately, and he really enjoys the series.  In this book, Henry's cousin Annie comes to visit and they seem to have nothing in common until Henry introduces Annie to the game of Frisbee. 

Check out more great books at What My Child is Reading, hosted by Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Cookbooks for Kids Part 1

We have decided to work our way through some cookbooks for kids.  There are really no rules, except that we will choose cookbooks written with children in mind and make at least one recipe from each cookbook.  This is just for fun, and to give us an excuse to work together in the kitchen. 

The first cookbook we chose is A Pirate Cookbook by Sarah L. Schuette.  There are seven recipes in this cookbook and they have cool names like "Scurvy Soup,"  "Peg-Leg Pickles," and "Sea Swords".  I love the idea of a pirate cookbook, but if I am going to purchase a cookbook, it has to have more than seven recipes.  It was fun to borrow the book from the library though, and some of the recipes would be fun for a pirate themed birthday party.

C chose a recipe called "Chocolate Gunpowder".  It is basically chocolate pudding, whipped cream, and crushed chocolate cookies.  He loved it!  R doesn't have much of a sweet tooth, so she gave her portion to C - he was thrilled!

If you have a favorite cookbook for kids, let me know in a comment.  

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Preschool Graduation

R had a wonderful graduation.  I love her preschool, the teachers, and her classmates.  Everything about today was fantastic! 

R with big brother C.
R with big brother T.
The class performed "Down on Grampa's Farm"

After receiving their diplomas, each child presented his or her mother with a rose.  R was walking over to give me this rose.  This was the part of the ceremony that made me a little teary eyed, but I managed to maintain my composure!

Kindergarten, here we come!  R cannot wait to get there.

Goodbye Preschool

I am struggling with the fact that R is done with preschool today.  How did she get so old?  Today is actually her graduation, and I am sure that I will have pictures to post later.  As sad as I am that she is growing up so fast, I am very excited for her today.  She has been practicing for graduation and, according to her teachers, she could be the director of the play.  R knows all of the lines for all of the children and also knows exactly where the children should be standing on stage; she has been very helpful to her classmates and teachers.  She is so ready for Kindergarten - she is, I am not.  I will be though; there may be lots of tears between preschool graduation, Kindergarten orientation, and the first day of school, but I am going to do my best to smile because I am so proud of R.  I'm not sure how often people say this about their five year old children, but I want to be more like R.  She is nurturing, loving, friendly, outgoing, adventurous, funny, thoughtful, and just so sweet.  Oh, I love this little girl!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Salt Dough Dinosaur Fossils - South Dakota

Earlier in the week, I saw salt dough creations at Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns and it reminded me that salt dough has been on my to do list for a long time.  Then, I happened to see salt dough dinosaur fossils at Miller Moments and knew we had to make some of our own since South Dakota has been a hot spot for dinosaur fossils and we are currently studying South Dakota.

This is the recipe we used (from Miller Moments):

1 cup of salt
2 cups of flour
1 cup of warm water

Mix thoroughly until dough consistency. Roll out and create dinosaur footprints by stomping toy dinosaurs in the dough!

To dry, place on greased cookie sheet and bake at 200 degrees until dry. Or just leave out for several days until dry.

While C and R worked on making their fossils, we listened to various artists singing original songs about the T. rex named Sue on a CD we borrowed from the library.

Overall, the CD was pretty good in that it told the whole story of how Sue was found and how she eventually made it to the Field Museum in Chicago.  I don't really care for most of the music, but the lyrics are very educational.  My favorite song from the collection is How Do You Get to South Dakota?  C and R like all of the songs.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A New Friend for C

Recently, a new boy joined C's first grade class.  This boy is from China and is just learning to speak English.  C is very excited about his new friend and about the opportunity to learn a little about China.

The class has learned a few Chinese words and they even practiced drawing/writing a few of the words.

We are going to look for a few good books about China, but since many of my blogland friends have studied other countries, I thought I would begin by asking for book suggestions.  If you have read any good books about China, please leave me a comment and feel free to leave a link to a post if you have one with books about China!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Banana Cake

We celebrated a birthday yesterday, and C and R helped to make one of our favorite birthday cakes.  It's a banana cake with cream cheese frosting, and it is delicious.  If you like banana bread, you will love this cake.  The recipe comes from The One-Armed Cook by Cynthia Stevens Graubart and Catherine Fliegel.  I have posted the recipe before; you can find it by clicking here.  If you are looking for a cookbook with easy recipes, The One-Armed Cook is worth buying.  The recipes are all geared towards moms who may have a baby on one hip and only one arm to cook with, but they are also great recipes for busy families.

I had fun making this cake with C and R.  Sometimes, working with both of them ends up with me getting angry because they are fighting over who gets to do what, but yesterday they were both very good and worked well together.

We decided to make the cake extra special and turn it into a banana split cake by adding fresh strawberries and pineapple on top and ice cream from our favorite creamery on the side.  It was delicious!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Balancing Act by Ellen Stoll Walsh

We really, really enjoy books by Ellen Stoll Walsh.  In Balancing Act, the little mice make a teeter-totter (we call it a seesaw) and have fun balancing.  More and more friends come along and they all have to figure out how to balance on the teeter-totter.  As usual, we love the cut paper illustrations; someday we have to do an art project in that style to go along with her books.

This book was a great excuse to pull out our Learning Resources Primary Bucket Balance and our Monkey Math game.

We have a set of ten weighted numbers that we often use with the bucket balance, but we also use liquids or little toys in the buckets and make guesses about how much or what we can add to make them balance.  In the above photo, R is trying to balance Squinkies toys - do your kids have those?  R loves them, but seriously, why do kids love little pieces of plastic junk so much?

Monkey Math is a fun game with a monkey scale and banana numbers.  To get the scale to balance, you have to use simple addition when placing the bananas on the monkey's arms.  If the scale does not balance, the monkey's eyes look silly - C and R think this is pretty funny.  This game is also great for teaching greater than and less than.

I think I was originally inspired to do this by a post at Joyful Learner, but it seems to have disappeared, or at least I can't find it!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Favorite Books of the Week

R's favorite book of the week is The Best Birthday Party Ever by Jennifer LaRue Huget.  It begins with a young girl saying that her birthday is five months, three weeks, two days, and eight hours away and she is starting to plan her party.  She has very grand ideas, including nine thousand pink balloons, a seventeen layer cake, magicians, ponies, camels, elephants, a ferris wheel, and more.  R loves everything about this book, and I think it is a pretty accurate representation of the imaginative party planning of young children.

C enjoyed reading If You Were a Minute and If You Were a Plus Sign (for some reason I can't get the right cover to appear in this text, I think that is an Amazon problem) - both by Trisha Speed Shaskan.  Both books are great for getting kids to think about how minutes and plus signs factor into our everyday lives.

We also enjoyed A Balloon for Isabel by Deborah Underwood.  Isabel wants a balloon more than anything else in the world.  The problem is that Isabel is a porcupine and balloons and porcupines just don't mix.  Isabel is determined to come up with a solution to the problem so that she can get a balloon for graduation, just like everyone else.

I also want to mention Madlenka by Peter Sis.  I think this book is fantastic, but C and R didn't really care for it.  A girl named Madlenka lives in New York City and she is friends with everyone on the block.  When she discovers that her tooth is loose, she has to tell all of her friends - the French baker, the Indian news vendor, the Italian ice cream man, the German lady who knows a lot of stories, the Latin American greengrocer, and the Asian shopkeeper.  As Madlenka tells each of them about her tooth, we get a little information about what each person sells and a little information about where he or she is from.  It's like a trip around the world in a book.

Check out more great reads at What My Child is Reading hosted by Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns.