Monday, February 28, 2011

Dinosaur Unit Study - Day 4

Day 4 of the Dinosaur Unit Study!

Today we read the book Can I Have a Stegosaurus, Mom?  Can I? Please?  What a fun book!  

Afterward, we made a sponge painted dinosaur egg that hid Jagger's favorite dinosaurs underneath.  

Merrick enjoyed painting with a sponge.

I asked Merrick who his favorite dinosaur was.  He answered with T-Rex AND Stegosaurus.  I made dotted lines for him to trace in the picture above.

Lift the egg and...

Easy day.  I think Merrick might be winding down in his desire to study out dinosaurs.  We'll see...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dinosaur Unit Study - Day 3

Today we took our first field trip!  Since we have been studying dinosaurs, we decided to go to the Texas Memorial Museum at the University of Texas in Austin (where Marcos and I went to school).  

Before we went, I printed up a mini-book from the TMM web site that Jagger could use to help navigate through the museum.  We're probably going to use this mini book in his dino lapbook.  There are actually lots of helpful printables on the TMM web site here under lessons and activities.

Here are a few pics from our time with the dinosaurs:

Of course, since this is Texas, a central piece of the exhibit was a fossil that closely resembled a giant armadillo (behind that really good looking mom with her son).

Lulu and DeeDee (my mom) found a meteorite!  I think it's pretty cool that my baby girl touched something that has been in outer space.

"I once caught a fish this big..."

This was Jagger's favorite part of the entire exhibit.  I could not tear him away from the microscope.

Dee Dee is about to lose it as Finn tries to climb over the glass walls to play with the dinos.

My favorite part of the museum.  This is the Texas Pterosaur.  With a wing span of almost 40 feet, he is the largest flying creature ever found on Earth.  Hu.Mung.Us.

I almost made a comment here about what would happen if the Pterosaur decided he needed to poop/pee, but I decided to refrain.  I'm gonna keep it classy.

What a cutie.  

Can't wait to continue learning and for our next field trip adventure!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dinosaur Unit Study - Day 2

Today, we kept it simple.  We focused our time on our little craft and used that activity to lead into some reading about dinosaurs.  

While at the library on Monday, we came across an awesome craft book called Crafts for Kids Who Are Wild About Dinosaurs by Kathy Ross.  There are other books by Kathy that are similar to this one for kids who are wild about insects, the ocean, space, etc.  We will definitely be using this line of books again in the future.  Her crafts are very simple and seem to use a lot of inexpensive or household items.  The craft today cost about $5.

We used this craft to learn about flying reptiles that existed during the time of the dinosaurs.  It's called the "Gliding Archaeopteryx" from Crafts for Kids.

First, we painted the pieces of a craft plane green (per Jagger's decision).  Next, we glued the pieces of the plane together.  While we waited for the glue to dry (or mostly dry), we sat down and read some in our dinosaur library books.

Next, we glued feathers onto the plane.  Jagger was incredibly picky about which feathers to use, which was very funny and very frustrating at the same time.  He would have taken all day to inspect all 200 feathers if I had allowed him.  But, I did not.  Eventually, I put on a timer and gave him 3 minutes to finish covering the plane.

Then, we took a pipe cleaner and wrapped it around the "neck" of the plane to create legs and claws.  

What a goof!  I don't know where he gets it?!?  

Lastly, we glued wobbly eyes onto the sides of the plane.  

Now, it's time to play!!!

Here, the archaeopteryx is about to eat Jagger for lunch.

Tomorrow, we are going to the Texas Memorial Museum to check out dinosaur fossils!  I can't wait to see how Jagger responds...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Diggin' for Dinosaurs!

Today is our first *unofficial* day homeschooling.  I say unofficial because Jagger is not yet 5 years old and it is not technically the beginning of his kindergarten year.  However, we are just r-e-a-d-y!  We have been home a lot because of the cold winter (in Texas, anything below 70* is cold) and have become bored, bored, bored.  So, I've decided to put together some unit studies and just have some fun reading and doing crafts.

I am off-the-charts excited.

I decided to start with dinosaurs.  Check out this post to see our game plan for the next two weeks.

We started the day off checking 1,037 dinosaur books out from the library.  When we got home, we read Digging Up Dinosaurs by Aliki (guess this person is the Cher or Madonna of the literary world).  We learned lots of new words like paleontologist, geologist, and carnivore.

Afterward, Jagger dug through sand in a pan to find dinosaur bones (craft sticks, toothpicks, macaroni, and tongue depressors).  

He LOVED this activity.

After he got all the "bones" out, he snuck some back in so he could keep playing in the sand.

Once I finally got him away from the sand, we laid the bones out on a piece of construction paper to form the body of a T-Rex.  I had to give him a few hints ("maybe the macaroni can be the tail"), but aside from that, he was able to make it on his own.  He laid the bones down and I glued them to the paper.

When I signed his name at the bottom, he made me add "the Discoverer" to his name.  :)

While I made lunch, I gave him a couple of worksheets so that he could practice writing the word "dinosaur."  I also gave him a coloring page/fact sheet on the T-Rex.  Did you know the T-Rex had teeth that were up to 6 inches long?

What an incredible first day of (not official) school! 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Texas / Rodeo Unit Study

Rodeo Austin Star of Texas

Cowboy/Rodeo Printables - more than 50 printables from abcteach

Cowboy Unit  - lots and lots of ideas plus more links

K-Crew's Texas Unit

Homeschool Share - this is an entire Texas unit based on the book, Armadillo Rodeo.  Super resource.

Homeschool Share - another lapbook based on the book The Legend of Lightening Larry.

Enchanted Learning - Texas facts and some printables

Rodeo activities - a couple of good ideas for preschool age

  • Invite neighbors/friends over for a Cowboy Breakfast and then go to the Rodeo together.  Have each family bring a snack that can be made into trail mix (raisens, m&ms, pretzels, etc) to be eaten at the rodeo later that day.

Unit Studies Plan

Feb 21 - March 4 : Dinosaurs

March 7 - 11: Space (with Mars Needs Moms)

March 14 - 25: Texas/Rodeo (coincides with the Texas Rodeo)

March 28 - April  1: Zoo

April 4 - April 15: Dr. Suess

April 18 - April 22 (24th - Easter): Easter

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Space Unit Resources

Space Lesson Objectives:
  • Learn the name, order, and features of the planets in our solar system
  • Learn about the sun
    • the sun provides the light and heat necessary to maintain the temp on Earth
  • Phases of the moon
  • Contellations
  • Famous astronauts
    • Neil Armstrong 
  • God created our solar system
Vocabulary Words:
  • orbit
Enchanted Learning - a couple of good activities/crafts including a paper plate sun and glitter galaxy.

Classroom Jr. - a cool mini book to print on each of the eight planets.  Great for a lapbook or on its own.

Space Vehicles Coloring Pages

Great Printable - just one page

Lapbook resources:

Phases of the moon

Simple Sun Fold

Facts about comets

Simple planet and facts

The Starry Night - child draws his own version of a starry night

Really good lapbook printables for Kinder

The Magic School Bus Space Explores Lapbook - based on the book.  Asks tons of questions and you get to write in/discover the answers.

Craft Ideas:

Planet Puzzle - You can make a planetary puzzle by taking a picture of something with an astronomy theme and cutting it up into smaller pieces. Test your knowledge by trying to put the pieces back together again. Make the puzzle sturdier by gluing the picture to a piece of heavy cardboard before you make it into pieces.

How to remember the order of the planets:
My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas.

Field Trips:
- Planetarium 
- Movie: Mars Needs Mothers

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Dinosaur Plan

Here's the plan for the next two weeks:


  • Activity - Explore tubs of sand to find "dinosaur bones" (tongue depressors, popsicle sticks, toothpick, etc.) and other artifacts.  Then they may piece them together in a skeleton shape and glue to a piece of construction paper.           
  • Go to the library and check out 1,317 books on dinosaurs.
  • Dinosaur flashcards - print and cut out flashcards.  Talk about the different dinosaurs - their different shapes, sizes, etc.  
  • Tyrannosaurus fact sheet 


  • Activity - 
    Can I Have a Stegosaurus, Mom?  Can I?  Please? by Lois G. Grambling
    Students use their marble-painted egg shapes (from the art center) to complete their response to this story.  They will glue the prompt: "Can I have a _______, Mom?  Please?" on the egg, filling in the name of their favorite dinosaur on the blank.  Then they will glue only the top of the egg to a piece of manilla paper (to create a flap).  Under the egg-flap, students will 
    draw the kind of dinosaur they would like to have.


  • Read - If the Dinosaurs Came Back - by Bernard Most
  • Activity - Make a journal page.  *Discuss what would happen if the dinosaurs really came back...    Would you keep one as a pet?  Would you put him to 
    work?  Would you run away?   Students illustrate/respond to the prompt:
    "If the dinosaurs came back, _____________."
  • Dot-to-dot
  • Carnivores and Herbivores


  • Activity - Make a journal page:
    • My favorite's dinosaur's name is ______________.
    • Its name means ______________.
    • My dinosaur lived  on the land or in the water.
    • My dinosaur was  __________ long  and ___________ tall.
    • It weighed __________.
    • It ate _____________.
    • It walked on  2 feet or 4 feet.
    • My dinosaur was special because  ____________________________________.
    • More interesting facts about my dinosaur:
  • Dinosaur maze
  • Funsheets (preschool)



  • Activity - Baby Dinosaur Eggs - Use one small dino toy, ballon, old newspaper, flour, water, paint.  Place one small dino toy inside each ballon, blow the ballon up and tie it.  Have the students paper mache the ballon and let it dry.  Then have him paint it.  The "egg" can be cut open when dry and a "baby dinosaur" is inside.
  • Dinosaur Maze - count by 1's (great maze for counting to 100!)
  • Color by Number


  • Activity - Footprint Stegosaurus - Have the student step on a piece of construction paper and trace his foot.  Cut it out and paste it on a different piece of paper.  The foot becomes the Stegosaurus's body.  The heel is the head and the toes become the bumps on the back.  Let the student use a marker to draw a tail.  Have the student cut about 10 triangles and paste them to the back.  Discuss why the stegosaurus had these plates on their back (either for defense or to retain heat).
  • Coloring Page 
  • Funsheets (math preschool)


  • Activity - Dinosaur Math - discover just how big these dinosaurs were.  Place a flag on the playground and start walking.  Measure, using one small step for every foot.  Put a flag at the end to show the measured length.
    • Tyrannosaurus Rex - 45 feet
    • Triceratops - 30 feet
    • Brachiosaurus - 90 feet
    • Apatosaurus - 70 feet
    • Stegosaurus - 20 feet
  • Coloring Page
  • Math worksheet - count the dinosaurs and circle the number



Materials Needed:
  1. Print worksheets
  2. tongue depressors
  3. popsicle sticks
  4. toothpicks
  5. sand
  6. Construction paper, markers, glue, etc.
  7. Laminate lacing cards
  8. Shoelace for lacing
  9. Ballon
  10. Dino toy
  11. Newspaper
  12. Dry pasta
- Keep a 3 ringed notebook with journal pages.

Whoo-hoo!  Our first unit study complete!

Dinosaur Unit Study

Here are some ideas for building a theme unit on dinosaurs:

K-Crew's Dinosaur Unit Study

Alphabet Soup - great activities (and lots of them!) and great coloring pages

Busy Teacher Cafe - lots of great activities and ideas for a dinosaur unit plus lots of resourceful links

Activity Village - a few good printables including a lacing card and notebook pages for each dinosaur

Print Activities - loads of great printables, including dot-to-dots and mazes

Learning Page - awesome, awesome dinosaur learning pages including math & writing

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Curriculum Ideas

I've been doing a lot of research and getting pretty overwhelmed by all the curriculum choices.  Initially, I thought I would just make Merrick's kindergarten year about reading, math, and writing, and then do some unit studies for some fun learning.  Now, the more I learn about what other people are doing, I feel concerned that Merrick has the potential (and probably the desire) to learn much more. 

Here are some of the curriculum options I really like for kindergarten through first grade:

Math - Sinapore Math - this is an activity based math program.  I like the idea of using an Asian math program since every single one of my math TA's in college were Asian. 

Right Start Math - another option to check out.

Science - R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey - meant for 1st - 4th graders.  Also hands-on projects to learn science.  The 3 books (which provide studies for a year) are Life, Earth & Science, and Chemistry.

Reading - Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons - we already started this but have not gotten very far.  We haven't been consistent because Merrick gets easily distracted when we go through a lesson.  It bores him a little, I think, because we started at the beginning and he is already beyond that level of reading.  I'm going to give a little while longer to see if he gets more into it as it gets more challenging.  I really like this book because all you have to do is read through the lessons with your child.  It's all right in front of you. 

The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading - this is my backup plan.  Written by Jessie Wise, who is considered the mother of classical education.

Explode the Code - another option to check out.

Handwriting - Handwriting Without Tears

Spelling - All About Spelling - something to check out.  Apparently, it's good to start working on spelling as soon as you start learning to read.

History - The Story of the World, CC timeline?

Art - Artistic Pursuits - this book looks really cool!

Bible - TBD - I want to have a daily bible study with Merrick, preferrably first thing in the morning.  The book I just bought him might be a good option for now (it has a short bible story and even an activity to do with each lesson).  Eventually, however, I'd like to make sure I'm not just teaching him good things from the Bible, but teaching him to memorize the order of the books, the storylines, etc.

Geography - TBD...Gotta look up more resources on this.  If we went the Classical Conversations route, this would be included.  I'd like Merrick to be able to write out the names of all 50 states on a blank map, as well as the major countries in Europe, etc.

I feel like I've made some headway these past couple of days in deciding what direction we should take.  It still feels a little overwhelming and confusing, however.  I've prayed that God would make the direction we take clear, and I feel like I'm waiting for a big gong to go off once I stumble across the answer.

I'd like to be able to make a decision soon so that I can have a schedule and lesson plans in order way before we begin.  I don't want to be deciding what to do the day before and running out to the store to buy supplies. 

Despite the confusion and being slightly overwhelmed, this is all extremely exciting.  I am so grateful and thrilled that I have the option to teach my own child.