Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Teaching the Calendar ~ A Unit Study for Little Ones

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A fresh and new year is approaching which marks the perfect "time" to teach your children the calendar and anything else that pertains to months and days. Below is a variety of activities, use what will work best for your classroom...

Bible/Art: Read the first chapter in Genesis to the children and explain that this is the first week that God created. Have them illustrate what was created on each day by making a "creation week" calendar. You may also download and print the illustration above for classroom decoration.

Basic Skills/Introduction: Read from the picture book, Me Counting Time: From Seconds to Centuries by Joan Sweeney (or anything else you may have or find regarding keeping a calendar). This book is a nice introduction into the concept of time that children will enjoy. Follow this book with a discussion in order to discern what your children know about the calender.

Spelling: Older children can be given a spelling list such as the days of the week or the months of the year depending on their individual levels.

Penmanship/Spelling: Print out our Kate Greenaway penmanship practice booklets. You may choose printing practice or cursive practice depending on the needs of your student. This is a fun addition to this study as your children can color the seasonal drawings as well!

Basic Skills: Beginning with the new year, give a calendar to each child (freebies or dollar store ones are good) or print out our calendar for each child (one month at a time style starting with January). Have your children fill out a square in the calendar daily. For example, January 5th is a Sunday, have your child draw a little symbol that will symbolize the Lord's Day or a day of church attendance. On the next calendar day, which is Monday, they can draw the weather. For instance, if it is cold they can draw clouds. If it is hot then the sun can be drawn in the appropriate square. You basically want them to fill in pertinent information each day so they can see the manner in which time moves. When a month is finished, time to turn the page to the next month and explain that they will begin the cycle with the next month. This will gently teach them how and when a month starts and that there are twelve months in a year and so forth.
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Language Arts: Read to your children the following poem ~

The Months

January brings the snow,
Makes our feet and fingers glow.
February brings the rain,
Thaws the frozen lake again.
March brings breezes loud and shrill,
Stirs the dancing daffodil.
April brings the primrose sweet,
Scatters daisies at our feet.
May brings flocks of pretty lambs,
Skipping by their fleecy dams.
June brings tulips, lilies, roses,
Fills the children's hand with posies.
Hot July brings cooling showers,
Apricots and gillyflowers.
August brings the sheaves of corn,
Then the harvest home is borne.
Warm September brings the fruit,
Sportsmen then begin to shoot.
Fresh October brings the pheasents,
Then to gather nuts is pleasent.
Dull November brings the blast,
Then the leaves are whirling fast.
Chill December brings the sleet,
Blazing fire, and Christmas treat.

By ~ Sara Coleridge

Art/Copywork: Have your children do an illustration page for each month from the poem. For instance, in January, have them draw a picture of themselves in a snowy climate. If they are old enough to write then they can label the page "January" and/or copy the verses pertaining to that month from the poem above. For "February" a rainy day page (per the poem above) would be in order and so on. Draw a page a day or a page a week depending on your schedule.

Or, simply print out our copywork booklet featuring this poem along with Kate Greenaway drawings that may be colored as well.

Science/Nature: Another fun and informative picture book is, The Year at Maple Hill Farm by Alice and Martin Provensen. Read this together with your children and see if they can draw a farm in all four seasons. Have them find and label the day each season starts on their calendars. Spring starts on March 20, 2013, summer starts on June 21, 2013, autumn starts on September 22, 2013 and winter starts on December 21, 2013.

Basic Skills/Poetry: Have your children memorize the following poem (older children may copy it for writing practice):

Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November.
All the rest have thirty-one;
February stands alone.
Twenty-eight days are his share,
With twenty-nine on each leap year.

Basic Math: After reading the above poem, have your children count the days in each month on their calendar and make sure it matches with the numbers given in the poem above so that they understand the concept. This way they will associate the information given in the poem with how it pertains to the actual calendar.

Happy New Year by Jenny Nystrom

Art Appreciation/Picture Study: The above painting by Jenny Nystrom is titled "Happy New Year". See what the children notice about the picture. Ask them the following questions:
  • What do they think the family is watching?
  • What season does it look like in the picture?
  • Does this painting look like it takes place in today's time?
  • What objects do they notice in the room?
  • Based on the clues in the painting, does this look like an American home?
  • Do they like the picture?

Language Arts: Read the following poem to your children.

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The Months

January cold desolate;
February all dripping wet;
March wind ranges;
April changes;
Birds sing in tune
To flowers of May,
And sunny June
Brings longest day;
In scorched July
The storm-clouds fly
August bears corn.
September fruit;
In rough October
Earth must disrobe her;
Stars fall and shoot
In keen November;
And night is long
And cold is strong
In bleak December.

By ~ Christina Rossetti

Basic Skills: Try a different activity for this poem. Explain that months are also given numbers as identification. January is 1, February is 2 and so forth… Read the poem again and see if the children understand the concept and can "number" each month as you read it in the sentence. Now, have them number each month on their calendar pages that they are working on. For instance, next to January write "1" and next to February write "2".

Basic Skills: Now that the children are more familiar with the calendar, have them find their birthdays and their family members birthdays and label them.

Movie Night: Younger children will enjoy watching Dinosaurs, Genesis & the Gospel, DVD. How does this pertain to the calendar?  The Bible teaches that God made everything "good" in the beginning and in seven days. This video will help to plant the seeds of biblical thinking about the age of the earth to your children.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Making Marshmallows ~ A Sweet Treat

I used to think that projects such as making marshmallows was rocket science. How wrong I was. They are so simple to make and only require a few ingredients, the oddball item being "gelatin". Here is how I learned to make them based on Carla Emory's recipe in the Encyclopedia of Country Living. She makes everything sound easy! The results, however, resemble a gourmet food item that anyone would be proud of. Though they are not exactly like the store bought marshmallows, they do have their own creamy charm and go just as well with hot chocolate.

  • 1 tbsp. gelatin (We use beef or vegetable versions.)
  •  1/4 c. cold water
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. hot water
  • dash of salt (We use sea salt.)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/8 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/8 c. cornstarch
Special Supplies:
  • A candy thermometer is handy though not necessary. In this recipe, you want to achieve a soft ball stage which can also be tested with this method.

Dissolve 1 tbsp. of gelatin into 1/4 cup of cold water. Break up any clumps and set aside.

Combine 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of hot water in a small sauce pan. Boil to the "soft ball stage" which can be tested with this method.

Or, place your candy thermometer inside and wait until it reaches approx. 235-245 degrees (f).

Remove sauce pan from heat and add the gelatin/water concoction, a dash of salt and 1 tsp. of vanilla to your syrup. Stir.

Beat your mixture until it becomes stiff which takes about 10-12 minutes. You must use an electric mixer for this.

Don't worry, as it whips it will become white! When it resembles a stiff, marshmallow cream, then it is ready.

Spread into a greased, small square pan and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, cut your chilled marshmallow mixture into desired shapes. I chose basic squares.

Roll each marshmallow in a mixture of 1/8 c. powdered sugar and 1/8 c. cornstarch. Make sure to cover all sides. This prevents them from sticking to everything. When you pull them out of the pan, you will understand :)

You will also want to tap off any excess powders when you are through. It begins to resemble a snowy day on your countertop.

Important Notes:

Due to the nature of the recipe, do not prepare on wet, rainy days.

You must store handmade marshmallows in a plastic bag or plastic wrap to prevent them from becoming hard. If they won't be eaten soon, I recommend storing them in the freezer.

You may also double the recipe and place finished mixture inside a greased, 9 by 13 inch pan.

These also make a sweet hostess gift when you apply some pretty paper decorations.

Print out our free printable onto white card-stock, cut along the bottom of the red striped line (scalloped scissors are fun to use). Fold in half over bag where the stripe starts. Place staple inside the black frames on each side of your clip art to secure your label. One recipe fills one quart sized bag. If you want to make smaller bags, then resize the clip art above to fit your needs.

You can even attach a gift tag (above) by hole punching the corner of each and tying together with a decorative ribbon.  Both are included on our printable. 

All the fine print. This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: The Art of Home-Making MondaysModest Mom Monday'sMonday's MusingsMake Your Home Sing MondayGood Morning Mondays,  The ScoopTitus 2 TuesdaysTuesdays with a TwistRaising HomemakersThe Homesteader HopWise Woman Link UpHomestead Blog Hop Wow Us Wednesdays,  Coffee and ConversationHomemaking ThursdaysHome Sweet HomeOur Simple HomesteadAwesome Life Friday Link UpFive Star Frou Frou Friday, and Shabbilicious Friday. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these. This post may contain affiliate links (which are merchant links that help to support this site at no additional cost to you if you purchase an item through them).

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Homesteading Vision for this Homemaker ~ Dream with Me

Now on our third year of homesteading, we have gotten a taste of the weather, the seasons, the land, produce and animals. It is the time for detailed goals and purposes. I wanted to share our dream vision with you... Perhaps yours is similar?

I would love to prepare our pantry solely from our harvested goods, to create our own apothecary featuring natural remedies from nature's bounty and use only the household products formulated with simple and safe ingredients. Like many of you, we desire less reliance on the stores and more on the land. Picture with me, if you will...

"PB Found Pharmacy Bottles" from Pottery Barn

Jars and containers filled with concoctions, procured from the earth, labeled and beautiful like the apothecary shops of old. To see them all lined up and ready for action...

{To learn how to make your own apothecary jars, visit here.}

Glass Bird Canisters from Pottery Barn

To display handmade soaps, bundled with twine in an attractive jar. Bath salts poured and measured with your own hands (sprinkled with scented flowers such as rose petals, perhaps?)...

"PB Glass Apothecary Jar" from Pottery Barn

Lavender and other fragrant herbs which you have dried, ready to use as a potpourri, relaxing tea or bath time soaks…

Homemade tonics and tinctures… Blends of sweet and savory spices collected from our kitchen gardens...

"PB Classic Glass Canister" from Pottery Barn

We can make self reliance into a sweet haven in our home! At the end of a hard working day, there will be rest for our weary bodies...

Tucker Wall Unit from Pottery Barn

And finally, a nice apothecary cabinet to store all our homemade treasures. Nothing too fancy, just something *simple* (wink)… I hope to share some of our creations with you this upcoming year as we attempt to utilize what we have from the land. We could all dream, can't we?

"Where there is no vision, the people perish…"
~ Proverbs 29:18a

Friday, November 30, 2012

Pretending to be Pioneers ~ Precious Playtime

"All alone in the wild Big Woods, and the snow, and the cold,
the little log house was warm and snug and cosy.
Pa and Ma and Mary and Laura and Baby Carrie
were comfortable and happy there, especially at night."
Little House in the Big Woods

Little children love to dress up and pretend. A few books can inspire a pioneering spirit in your home. It will implement the good values and hard, honest work that are being lost in today's "gimme" society.  A childhood with these simple amusements will yield beautiful fruit (Galatians 6:7 ).

"And then, Pa told stories.
When Laura and Mary begged him for a story,
he would take them on his knees and
tickle their faces with his long whiskers until they laughed aloud.
His eyes were blue and merry."

Read to your children… Books are the best way to open up a hobby in the home. When reading a book like Little House in the Big Woods, you will be surprised at how quickly they create a pioneer playtime themselves. We began reading chapter books at the age of four (this one is appropriate for that age) and have had great success. They are learning about history and do not even realize they are being educated. I suggest reading a chapter a day together and then offering them the use of the My First Little House Series books for further pictorial inspiration. These will really inspire both boys and girls toward healthy and historical fun, the old fashioned way...

Summertime in the Big Woods (My First Little House)

County Fair (My First Little House)

Going West (My First Little House)

Winter Days in the Big Woods (My First Little House Books)

Winter on the Farm (My First Little House)

Sugar Snow (My First Little House)

Going to Town (My First Little House)

Prairie Day (My First Little House)

Dance at Grandpa's (My First Little House)

The Deer in the Wood (Little House)

Cook with your children… Choose some recipes to cook together from the Little House Cookbook and make a pioneer style meal together. Or, some biscuits and gravy recipes from your own collection would work out just as well!

Another fun kitchen activity would be to make some butter out of cream. All you need is a jar with heavy cream and some little, helping hands.

Playact with your children… Enjoy an evening together with only candlelight like Laura's family…

Make a simple coonskin style hat for your son to wear (or you can find one here)...

Make a simple bonnet for your daughters to wear (or you can find one here)...

Encourage a working lifestyle... If you live in the city, visit a working farm where your children may be allowed to milk a cow, feed animals and do farm chores. Children in the city can also pull weeds,  be responsible for pets and do other daily outdoor work (which would be just as valuable). If you live on a homestead, I do hope you involve your young ones with jobs such as feeding the chickens or taking care of the smaller animals. Good old fashioned work is what they need to encourage future industry. We don't grow up and instantly become hard workers, we need to nurture that now (in proper doses) so that it is a natural part of life for our children (Genesis 3:19).

"Father and Almanzo tramped through the falling snow in the woods, looking for straight, small oaks. When they found one, Father chopped it down. He chopped off all the limbs, and Almanzo piled them up neatly."

Have children collect and stack firewood for the "winter". Little children can collect piles of sticks for kindling.

Color with your children… Here are some pioneer inspired pictures that can be printed out.

"After the day's work was done,
Ma sometimes cut paper dolls for them.
She cut the dolls out of stiff white paper,
and drew the faces with a pencil.
Then from bits of colored paper she cut dresses and hats,
ribbons and laces, so that Laura and Mary
could dress their dolls beautifully."

Craft with your children… Make your own paper dolls like Ma (instructions above) or you can print out these paper dolls for free. You may also like to create a corncob doll wrapped in a handkerchief like Laura had.

Enjoy music with your children... There are some fun, historical songs from Laura Ingalls Wilder books that have been recorded for our listening pleasure. It really enhances the stories to hear these!

Enjoy this precious time with your little pioneers! Everything is new to your children so read to them and expose them to all the good things in life…

All the fine print. This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: The Art of Home-Making MondaysModest Mom Monday'sMonday's MusingsMake Your Home Sing MondayGood Morning Mondays,  The ScoopTitus 2 TuesdaysTuesdays with a TwistRaising HomemakersWise Woman Link UpHomestead Blog Hop Wow Us Wednesdays,  Coffee and ConversationHomemaking ThursdaysHome Sweet HomeOur Simple HomesteadAwesome Life Friday Link UpFive Star Frou Frou Friday, and Shabbilicious Friday. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these. This post may contain affiliate links (which are merchant links that help to support this site at no additional cost to you if you purchase an item through them). All the black and white illustrations are by Garth Williams.