Life at the Pond definitely seems to go in cycles. We are back to studying space- this time in connection with our Ancient Greek History/Mythology unit. Astronomy ties in so well with those two themes, between the mythos in the stars and ancient astronomers who shaped modern astronomy so long ago. This Mama Frog has been meaning to pick the blog back up, but there is always something going on, or something we are in the middle of. I figured this would be the perfect time to start again, at the beginning of this unit. The Froglets were busy today! They did planet fact sheets, constellations, name rockets, made astronaut puppets and even played with kinetic sand. My kitchen is full of suns and space pages we painted that are drying (finished projects are coming!). This unit will also give the Froglets the chance to learn how space exploration helped create an entire literary genre, in addition to the ancient myths. Tomorrow we will begin our Greek history/mythology portion of the unit. It has certainly been a hit so far, as the Froglets were begging to keep doing school at 5:00 this evening.
When we got them, they were still quite young. I am still not sure if they are littermates, but they love each other.
Ignore the Mountain o’Laundry. Sometimes it piles up.
The pigs are great with the Froglets, even down to Tiny Tadpole. Their care is relatively simple and they love to munch up any leftover fruits and veggies. They stay in our kitchen, on top of the dryer and have learned to “wheek” when the fridge opens in hopes of a treat. Do you have a homeschool mascot?
“You can’t kill me, I am in creative.” These are the words this Mama Frog heard on Saturday. They are not particularly shocking words, as anyone who plays Minecraft knows. What was interesting is that at the time, this Frog family was in the car, headed off to pick up our new deep freezer. Now, one thing you should know about us Frogs is that we don’t have loads of electronic devices- no Nintendo DS, no iPads, only a couple of inexpensive tablets for schoolwork and Mama Frog’s laptop, along with a couple of desktops and an XBOX 360 (for Papa Frog). Papa Frog and I play World of Warcraft -usually in the fall and winter , and Facebook games happen here more than I care to admit, but we are not the kind of family who is constantly plugged in. It is okay if you are, we just aren’t. So what was going on the backseat, you might be asking?
First of all, you need to understand that Minecraft is huge here on the Pond. It was something the Froglets were introduced to after our friends came to visit last summer, and it has settled in with a vengeance. They enjoy playing Minecraft in their computer time and watching Diamond Mine Cart videos during their free TV time. They even enjoy listening to the Minecraft parodies of songs they have never heard. In fact, I wager, if I let them, they would eat, sleep and breathe Minecraft.
Even if I was inclined to let them self-regulate their computer time, I couldn’t logistically make it work, since they use the computers to play. Instead, I let them play in 30 minute blocks. The blocks come after chores. Generally they come after school work, although some days I give them Minecraft tasks to do as part of their school work. (It’s amazing how versatile this game is). However, what I have noticed is that if they play too much, they get very um, shall we say resistant to turning it off.
Hey, this Mama Frog gets it. Papa Frog and I love our games too. In fact, playing games together has been part of our relationship since the beginning. Whether those games are electronic or not, there is a lot of intrinsic value in playing them together. And the Froglets play together too. Usually they play 2 by 2. But I also understand what it means to make poor choices regarding how much time you are plugged in. The computer can become not just an escape but your life. I want the Froglets to learn some balance.
I know there is a lot of back and forth about Froglets not playing outside enough. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard someone say, “When I was a young frog..” Well, yes, Grandpa Frog, when you were a kid, but times have changed. Froglets aren’t outside all the time, unless they are. But its not the norm in most families, and while we spend our fair share of outdoor time, there are days we are stuck inside. But my point is this- If they are encouraged, Froglets are still engaging in imaginative play. It may not be the “Cowboys and Indians” version from OUR childhoods, but they are still playing. You just have to watch.
That brings me back to that strange conversation overheard in the car. See, what I found out (by just asking) was that my Froglets WERE in the backseat playing Minecraft. Their version of Minecraft, in which they were Steve, or Creepers, or just trying to think how they could build new things on their “crafting table”. Yesterday they played “Minecraft Kitchen” which is their take on Cuthroat Kitchen, in which they use found yard things to “craft” Minecraft food. So I say, let them play. At my house, that means shaking them loose from the computers every so often, but encouraging their interests so that they can explore the world around them by playing what they love. That is what this ol’ Mama Frog thinks anyway.
The weather here on the Pond has been ghastly. First it was snow, snow, snow. Now it is rain, rain, rain. As a result, the Froglets are going stir crazy and so am I. Today we decided to do something fun and mostly non-school related (although polymers are a lot of fun). We had tossed around the idea of play-doh- but this Mama Frog is being stingy with her flour. So instead, we got out school glue, the liquid starch and the food coloring. I added essential oils because the smell of slime make me want to barf (real barf and no that of the harpy variety).
The recipe for slime is incredibly simple. 1 part starch to 2 parts glue and coloring and oils (if using) to taste (well you know what I mean- get the right color and cover up that smell).
What happens when you add the starch to the glue is the fun part. The science of it can be found here (fantastic educational resource based for kids). But basically it goes all gooey and wonky and looks liker you have ruined the whole thing and should toss it all in the bin.
Yep you read that right…You get Unicorn Boogers, Harpy Puke, Mermaid Mucus and Troll Snot. Carry on.
Deliberate thankfulness. Now there is a term. It invovles the act of consciously acknowledging the things in your life that you are thankful for. Sometimes its not just the good that we can be thankful for, but the bad as well. Today the Froglets got to practice their deliberate thankfulness with thankful trees. These go on the walls for Thanksgiving. They even pitched in and helped figure out what Tiny Tadpole was thankful for. To make your own Thankful trees you will need a trunk template, construction paper, tiny hands and a pencil, along with some glue. Cut your trunk template from brown paper or cardstock.
Next, trace your tiny hands 6 times on different colored paper and cut out.
Glue the leaves on your trunk.
Sometimes, in close quarters of spending most of our time together it is nice to find something the Froglets can do together. Now, doing things together might seem easy. But the Froglets run the age gamit from 11 to 1. There are not a lot of activities that everyone can do together without someone getting their feelings upset or the activity getting destroyed by one Big Tiny Tadpole. Don’t get me wrong. The Froglets do tons together. Just usually in smaller groups of 3-4. THEN…oh then…I found a game for them. I have been working with 3 of them on their critical thinking skills. Probably I am the last Mama Frog to come across this game but “I have…Who has…” is awesome. The edition I printed out was the Halloween edition, but I would think you could make your own even if you couldn’t find a printable. On each card is the answer to a clue and another clue (ex. I have cauldron. Who has the month that Halloween falls in?) The person who starts will read their card and then the person who has the answer to the clue will go. (I have October. Who has an animal that is black and flies at night.) You take turns until everyone runs out of cards. Even the littles were able to play (with some reading help) and it was not long before everyone was in giggles as sometimes one of them would have the answer to their own puzzles. We played 5 times the first day we played. “Can we play again PLEEEEAAAASE?” And it has become a regular favorite. I find it also works well to shake everyone out of bad mood funk. I will be putting together my own November edition of this game for sure!
I splurged this Halloween on a brain mold. I have been wanting one for a few years, but have never committed. I came across a link for “5 BRAIN ACTIVITIES USING A BRAIN MOLD“. Her blog post was called something snazzy and fun, but my own brain went “BRAIN MOLD!!” and so I ordered one- because it’s not just for food, its for school! I did make brain Jell-o first. It turned out well considering I bought the wrong color Jell-o and I used half and half instead of evaporated milk.
Then, I broke out the vinegar! Using a little red coloring, I tinted it and put it in the brain mold, in the freezer overnight.
WHOO-EEE the vinegar smell about knocked me over when I opened the freezer this morning. I ran it under some warm water and it popped out nice and easy onto my plate. Then I prepared the science lab. 2 cups of baking soda down in a roasting pan to contain the mess and a tray full of surgical equipment (AKA spoons and stuff).
The brain was ready for dissection.
The brain did not melt terribly quickly in its blanket of baking of baking soda, so he experimented with dropping some water on the top to melt the vinegar and start the chain reaction. Then, The Boy got bored. Sometimes, he likes to come back to things over and over, however the icy brain was not really a keeping kind of project. I sat down to feed Tiny Tadpole and I heard giggling and laughter and talking in the dining room. When I walked in, a new team of brain surgeons was on the job (ALL the other Froglets were scraping and scooping and making a horrifically wonderful mess.
One of the things I love most about homeschooling is this flexibility. The Big Froglets had so much fun playing with an activity I had set up for the Littles. The Littles didn’t really want to play with it. I honestly would never have thought it would hold the interest of an 11 year old, an 8 year old, a 7 year old, and a 5 year old for 45 minutes. But it did. They were very impressed with their goopy melted zombie brains. It is so nice not to be held to an idea of what is “appropriate” in an activity for the Froglets. It also opened the door for conversations about chemical reactions and why we use buttermilk (or vinegar) in our pancakes and scones along with the baking powder and baking soda to create air bubbles (fluffiness).