Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Weather - Sun and Rain

Last week we focused on weather, but more specifically on Sun and Rain.  We will also do Windy, Snowy, etc. but for now I chose Sun and Rain since those are what we are experiencing in our current forecast.  Grace already has a familiarity with both concepts from experience, previous conversations and Sid the Science Kid episodes.

We added a more difficult chart to our Learning Board - the What's the Weather? Chart.  There are many out there for printing so I just chose my favorite.  We simply focus on if it is Sunny or if it is Raining and will add in the other options later.  (Most of the time Lil' Hoot says it is raining even if it's not simply because she loves the rain. Last week she was asking me to make it rain just so she could use an umbrella.)

Here is our guide for the week: Teaching Guide

We had lots of fun with this one.  On Monday we were lucky to have puddles left over from Sunday on our trail so we had a little puddle-finding expedition.

Rain Puddle 1

On Wednesday the weather got a little cloudy with a few sprinkles so we took the chance to learn about how to dress for the rain.


I'm learning about the types of music that engage Lil' Hoots.  Basically, if it doesn't have actions then she hasn't any interest.  So we did more "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and "This Little Light of Mine" than any other songs.  I had a book from the library to go along with "All Things Bright and Beautiful" which also worked out well.

By Friday Lil' Hoot asked me for "School Time" and even pulled out the books and began 'reading' them on her own before I could even get in the room.  As a result that's almost all we did that day, she wanted to read book after book that day so of course I obliged!  Her absolute favorite book from this week was the What's the Weather? Fun Flap Book from Scholastic.  It was simple and interactive - perfect for keeping her attention.  Though she also enjoyed reading all the fiction books that included rain and looking at the pictures in the Sunshine books.

Art Projects for the Week




Friday, September 23, 2011

Lil Hoot's New Room - The Quilt

Remember back a year and a half ago when I started painting Lil' Hoot's new room? No? Really? Well, about a year after I finished painting the room she finally moved in. I got a bright idea that I should make the quilt for her bed. Yep, my first whole quilt and I decided to make it a twin-size quilt. (Seriously, what was I thinking?!) I took months trying to decide on a fabric and really have my friends to thank for picking Central Park by Kate Spain. I fell in love with the fabric and then found that certain blues matched perfectly with the walls - yeah!


Of course, I couldn't find a pattern that I liked so I complicated things even further by designing my own. I was inspired by this quilt back that I found on Flickr. I ordered a layer cake and got started. It was a simple top to piece together, but don't look too close. I'm not a perfectionist. :-)
Quilt Top under construction

Quilt Top pieced 1

I did my best to quilt it by stitch-in-ditch but without a walking foot it was a challenge, so don't look too close there either.


I pieced the back with some of the squares from my May Moms quilt bee. (Thanks ladies!)

I also added a little dedication for my girl. I hope the quilt becomes an heirloom for her.

Her whole room was then built around this fabric and this quilt. I used the same fabric for dressing the window. And I'm slowly but surely working on pillows.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Healthy Bodies

A few months back my husband and I started discussing the idea of home school for Grace.  We have yet to decide about it for long term but we did decide that adding a bit of structure to our days would be a good thing.  As it was we had 100% free play time with bits of "teaching" stuck in whenever the opportunity arose, not a bad way of doing things but I could see the willingness and the need to go ahead and start short, informal but structured lessons.  So I got to searching (and thank you Pinterest) and put some things together.  I think it will also help to have some ideas at-the-ready once the new baby comes.

I have the added benefit of having teachers for parents.  Particularly that my mom is an elementary educator with tons of knowledge and even some fun items to pass along, including our calendar.

calendar and learning board

At the suggestion of my mom (and my own memories) we start with the calendar.  Lil' Hoot loves to tack the date up each date then we talk about the day and count the apples.  She already knows about charts from watching the Sid the Science Kid and tells me about them whenever she sees one.

I developed our lessons based on the inspiration I found at Our Preschool Homeschool.  I altered it significantly to fit my daughter, her learning style and knowledge base, which is one of the great things about teaching at home.  I developed our themes based around what outings we have each week so that life conveniently intertwines with teaching.

Our first week's theme was Healthy Bodies, to include body parts, fitness, nutrition and doctor visits.  I chose to explore four different aspects because Lil' Hoot is familiar with all these concepts and I don't plan to delve deeply into them.  I developed what I am calling a "Teaching Guide" - it has all the ideas I have for each day listed in one place.  Some days we don't get to everything, other days she has a long attention span and I have to come up with more.

Teaching Guide - Week one - Healthy Bodies

Biggest hit of the week - tracing our bodies and labeling body parts.


We practiced laying still and tracing our bodies with sidewalk chalk over the weekend with Daddy so Lil' Hoot would understand what I needed her to do on Monday for our first lesson.  She has since requested to do this over and over, each time she tells me about the body parts shown.

Her attention span varied from day to day (as expected) but overall I was surprised by her level of interest.  I used transition songs from Sid the Science Kid since she loves that show and is familiar with the songs.  (Example, we sing "School Time" rather than "Rug Time" and she now gets excited and sings along as we head to our school space.) 

As for books, I am not purchasing books for our lessons.  I simply search our local library system for books that fit our topic.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Quick Gift - Pup Tent

Inspired by the pup tent pattern in Weekend Sewing by Heather Bailey, I whipped up a pup tent as a gift as a birthday gift for a friend's son.  I used a spare twin sheet then added loops of coordinating bias tape as suggested in the pattern.  I bought tent "stakes" at Lowe's - galvanized barn nails.  They're cheaper than knitting needles and they won't rust.  (For obvious reasons I didn't put those in the bag.  I gave those to his parents.)


I used an old curtains package to hold the tent and rope. Then typed up some simple instructions and made the "label". A fun, homemade gift that didn't break the bank and encourages imaginative play - that's an all around great gift in my book.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Quilting Bee Blocks

I got a smidge behind on blocks for the quilting bee while I was focused on getting Lil Hoot's new room ready for her move back in July.  (Series to come on that soon.)  I am not quite caught up and not quite complete with making blocks for our Virtual Quilting Bee.  I can't believe we have been doing this since last year!  We have all grown so much in both skills and confidence.  I can't wait to see the end results.

Flying Geese Bee Block

The Flying Geese Block.

Never would I have ever contemplated making this block. I mean, I think it's really cool, really cool, but I would not consider it within my abilities to make. Yet, here it is. It isn't perfect and I read the directions wrong so it's backwards from how it "should" be (geese flying clockwise) but my Queen Bee decided she liked them flying 'backwards'. It was interesting and I am so glad I learned to use freezer paper for piecing but I won't be making a quilt of them any time soon!

Dresden Plate Quilt Block - July
The Dresden Plate Block.

This block is intended for a quilt representing the 12 months of the year.  My month was July (in honor of my birthday).  I chose the Dresden plate design because it reminded me of both the sun and of fireworks.  I love the fabrics chosen by the Queen Bee and each one represents something different to me about July - greens for the lush grass, flowers for flowers and fireworks, the punch of yellow and orange inside pink for the sun and fireworks, blue for cool water and lazy days beside the pool/ocean, and the red is patriotic to me - celebrating Independence Day.  Oh yes, all those things are a bit deep for 'just a quilt block' but spending hours contemplating, cutting, sewing and creating...I thought about it all.

As for the design itself...I was pleasantly surprised at how easy the circle of points was to sew together, but attaching it to the background was a different story.  I used the instructions from the Sew Mama Sew Sew-Along when I made my practice block.  I didn't like their method for the middle circle, it looked too layered to me, so I just cut a circle and then ironed it on using Steam a Seam.  For attaching it to the background I simply placed, pinned and starting sewing with a small zig zag stitch.  It did not work well.  The pins let the whole thing shift around too easily and I ended up with a crinkle at the end.  It's not overly apparent but it was annoying.  In the future I will probably try some kind of temporary adhesive or a bit of Steam a Seam.