October Reading List

Yo, Vikings.

Ok, so I need to catch up on where we're at with What We're Reading. Well, let's just say for history we sailed thru the Vikings a few weeks ago and are now journeying onward thru knights and castles. For music we traveled around Europe with Mozart and Beethoven, and for art we made a similar journey with Rembrandt and Raphael.

For science we uncovered the mysteries of the heart and lungs, and the ahem, excretory system (pretty sure my 10yo had her fingers in her ear during that whole lesson..."don't say it, don't say it!" = "urine" = "ackkkkkkkk!" = oh the drama!)

So we really liked The Reluctant Dragon. Both girlies agreed it was less intense (read: gory) than St. George and the Dragon, which we also read. Ms. Frizzle's Medieval Castle Adventures had the girls giggling (and was quite informative), and we stumbled on a few pop up castle books that were kinda cool (especially the sections that explain their toilet system. Now why my girls can talk about medieval poop-shoots all day long but I can't say the word urine is, well, rich with irony).

Moving on...we're actually still working through a few of the books in this short stack, and Goya is up next in our art studies (and Chopin).

I read The Forgotten Garden for book club. It was meh. Intriguing, but 500 pages? Really? There's no way a 500 page book doesn't have some redundancy in it...no, 500 pages is a book screaming for editing.

I will go see the movie, though, if it comes to that.

(Secretly, of course, I was wracked with envy that I'm not clever enough to write such books *sigh)

Now some of these books are in pics twice...our stacks get rearranged daily. You understand. As you can see though, we're going to be on King Arthur and medieval knights for a bit longer. We're also going to start reading McCaughrean's version of The Canterbury Tales next week as we move into the time of the Crusades.

We enjoyed learning about Tchaikovsky and listening to his ballets on CD. I'm telling ya, some of these classical dudes were quite the divas. If you get a chance, flip thru Lives of the Musicians: Good Times, Bad Times, and What the Neighbors Thought. Pretty interesting stuff. It's not necessarily for kids, well, technically I suppose it is for kids, but more of the middle school variety. Humorous and interesting all the same. There's a similar book called Lives of the Artists. In fact, there's a whole series of them.

My older Gypsy gal read Love That Dog (said it was OK - which could mean just about anything with her), Younger Gypsy read The Water Horse (and gave it a thumbs up). We also watched the movie after finishing the book and both kids gave it a thumbs up. I, on the other hand, after shouting a host of PG rated obscenities to the TV, stomped my feet and stormed out with enough contempt to make a toddler swoon. Seriously, do movie producers even bother to read these books first? It seems "Based on" has come to simply mean, "Shares the same title as..." As that's about all I recognized. It may be a lovely movie, but on principle, I give a firm HMPH!

Speaking of hmph...We're two chapters away from finishing Harry Potter ("kill me now!" they say) (I swear, who are these kids?) Secretly, I think they're enjoying it. And we took a road trip recently and started on The Adventures of Tom Sawyer on CD in the car. They tried to hide the movie from me at the library the other day and I just threw my head back and laughed and said, "Oh, you silly girls, we haven't read the book first. One form of torture at a time!"

(Someday they'll thank me, right?)

And I think that just about gets us caught up. Whew! We've been working on medieval-inspired art and other various castle-y projects so be looking for an update on all that soon!

Fall Lapbooks

We finally completed our first lapbooks! Yes, I know, I'm such a nerd.

However, I think my girls actually enjoyed making these as well. At least they enjoyed making the cover art. OK, well, I know for sure the older girl enjoyed making the skull and crossbones.

That's good enough for me.

So the 10yo worked on the Halloween lapbook, and the almost 8yo worked on the Fall one.

Here's proof:

The Halloween lapbook looks like this when you first open it up. It has a skeleton printout labeling various bones in the body, a glitter-glue spider web, a drawing of her costume, a mini-book about Halloween symbolism, and a quote from Poe's, The Raven.

The yellow page pulls down and reveals a mini book on the history of Halloween, a spider mini-book, a Halloween coloring book, and a mini-book on bats.

Fun fun!

The younger gal colored and cut out leaves to glue on her fall tree, which is a tracing of her hand, for the cover of her lapbook. We added a mini-book about pumpkins to the front as well.

When you open the lapbook it reveals a mini-book on why leaves change color, parts of an apple mini-book, a little wheel about photosynthesis, a mini-book on squirrels, and a grocery bag list of fall produce. On the left side you see a mini-book on animals that migrate/hibernate, and a mini-book on products made from trees.

The green page lifts up to reveal another pumpkin mini/coloring book, a mini-book on recognizing leaves, and a copy page of a poem written by Emily Bronte

When we were finished with our lapbooks, we also spent a little time cutting out leaves and bat shapes out of construction paper to make a fall/spooky wreath.

We found the templates here and here.

What can I say, we're easily amused.
Happy Fall!

Fall Lapbook - free downloads and great mini-books here: http://dynamic2moms.webs.com/fallseason.htm
Fall Lapbook - more free ideas to print off here: http://www.homeschooled-kids.com/lapbooks/falllapbook.html
Enchanted Learning - we printed off coloring pages and worksheets for both lapbooks here: http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/halloween/
Halloween Lapbook - you can also find free mini-books here: http://www.homeschoolhelperonline.com/lapbooks/halloween.htm

Garden Update: October

I went out to the garden with the intention of pulling up all the old zucchini vines when I discovered this beauty (the squash, not the girlie).

The word ginormous comes to mind.

Seriously, it's the biggest squash.

A real snozzcumber!

And tasty, too!

Needless to say, I left the vines intact. They deserve a chance to produce for a few more months. I mean, it's only fair. 

these are still on the vines as well...this plant was for the man of the house...not sure what I would do with hot peppers. Hopefully he has a plan.

the okra, however, will soon be thrown into a hearty fall soup.

I also wanted desperately to pull this vine up but it seems intent on producing something. I'm going with pumpkin. It's in an area where the seeds got just a wee bit mixed up. I'm giving it a few more weeks and then will let the hens decide its fate.

whatever it is, it's a bit overgrown...hmpf!


wild Lantana mixing it up with the okra.

New Dawn rose

Morning Glories. I planted these seeds in early spring and they not only survived the awful Draught of 2011, but they're still happily spreading and taking over the garden fence..

...mixing and mingling with the pretty spinach vine

The sweet potato vines are also alive and well, and provide nice shade and shelter to the seedlings that went into the fall beds (kale, spinach, carrots, beans, cilantro, broccoli, and lettuce).

And the hens have been busy converting all the garden scraps into these lovelies...we have a few Easter Egg Layers (hence the green eggs), and we have a few Sussex (hence the double-yoker in front). They get very excited when I open the garden gate. Clucking and flapping. Oh, the yummy bugs they find. Not to mention the rich compost they make out of all the garden leftovers and trimmings, leaves, and scraps. Allowing us to grow more food, to attract more bugs, to get more eggs. It's a beautiful cycle.

Art Treasury

So we've been working on a few projects in this Usborne Art Treasury book, which is a fun project book if your kiddos are studying art history. It gives background information on various artists, then provides a project/painting idea to try yourself which relates to that artist's particular style. Most of the artists covered in the book are from the Impressionists up to Modern, with a few random others thrown in. Since we're still studying Renaissance painters we weren't able to make much use of it right now, but we still managed to find a few projects that relate to our current timeline. And will definitely pick it back up when we move into Impressionist history!

We did find a really neat project, however, that related to our history studies about the spread of Islam during the Middle Ages. We had discussed the use of decorative tiles for their mosques and temples and found in the Art Treasury book a project idea on tile tessellation.

So we did it.

First thing we did was create our two basic tile templates, which we cut out of 3 square pieces of scrap cardboard (see top picture). One is the shape of an X and the other is the shape of a 8-pointed star. When put together, these two templates fit like puzzle pieces, creating the tessellation. So, the girls traced these patterns onto their papers in rows and then proceeded to draw patterns and imagery into each 'tile'.  

I told them the more ornate or complicated the better. Somehow that translated as peace signs and mermaids.

Then they decorated the tiles filling in each one with bright colors (we used oil pastels so they could use their fingers to blend). Then they were supposed to wash over the completed piece with a glaze (a mix of glitter and water) but I didn't think our paper was thick enough (we had used basic drawing paper) so we skipped that step. The idea is to mimic the glaze that is put over tiles to seal in the artwork.

Either way, this was a way cool project we had lots of fun working on!

The next project we did from this Art Treasury book related to our discussions about boats/ships during our studies of the Vikings. We made miniature longboats and talked about navigation by stars and what it must have been like traveling by sea. Which led to discussions about fog and storms at sea. I wanted to somehow tie in our art project to these discussions, so I found this watercolor project idea involving a ship battling huge waves in a stormy sea. Since we hadn't done much watercolor this year I thought it might be a good introductory project.

The girls started off drawing in the basic shape of a ship in black crayon (on watercolor paper) (and they made their ships bigger to match the examples in the book, rather than like Viking ships).

The rest of the painting involved mixing different gradients of blue and black watercolors to make the swirling sea and the stormy sky look like they were tossing the boat around. Afterwards we used old toothbrushes to fleck on water spray, and sprinkled salt in the waves to soak up some of the paint (which left white 'seafoam' flecks after the salt was brushed off), adding more texture. Neat-o!

The last project we did recently actually came from a different book. It came from the Usborne Complete Book of Art Ideas, and it involves perspective. We'd been talking about perspective and how it changed the way Renaissance painters experienced art, so I thought maybe we would spend a few weeks learning different ways to show perspective in a painting/drawing (more of this in a separate blogpost). This particular project was another watercolor (the girls were anxious to do more watercolors).

I didn't think to snap pictures before we started so this above picture shows older gal's picture nearly completed. Basically, they started off painting the orange curtain on the left side, and the window seat at the bottom. Then they drew in pencil how they wanted their mountains to look in the background, and filled them in with watercolors (we used gradients of red and blue). They did lighter hues in the background, getting darker in the foreground (to show depth).

We then traced silhouettes of cats sitting in the window looking out and filled them in with black watercolor.

The last step was to use black to paint in the window frame, and use crayons to fill in the details on the curtains.

The girls were so excited about these paintings we mounted them on poster board and hung them up in their 'galleries' (ie their rooms). We'll definitely be doing more projects from this book! Fun fun!

And coming up: We moved on to castles and knights recently so be looking for a new blogpost on the castle we built out of tiny bricks, as well as more perspective paintings and triptychs! Wheeeee!