Sunday, April 28, 2013

F is for Fabulous Fraction Kite Designs

I came across a fraction kite activity last year and bookmarked it until Alyssa would be ready to tackle the math concept. I was inspired by the class activity found on the blog called Bunting, Books, and Bainbridge. She offers the kite and cloud template for free on her website. April is almost over and spring is in the air so I felt it would be appropriate and fun to create a kite. Alyssa has a pretty good understanding of fractions now. I couldn't wait to show her the activity this week.

What We Did
We used a combination of resources listed below. Let me first explain the project. Since Alyssa is much younger (age 5), I always try to use some sort of math manipulative to make learning more hands-on and concrete. This activity helped her visualize the fractions better. First, I gave her one-inch color tiles to create a kite design on a 5 by 5 square template using the colors of her choice. We discussed the area and perimeter of the kite before moving on to the next part of the activity. Younger children can practice counting the total number of tiles in all or they can count the number of tiles for each color. When solving for the perimeter and area, she showed her work and wrote her answers on a mini whiteboard. Instead of counting all the tiles to find the area, she created a multiplication equation to solve the problem (5x5=25). Your child can skip count by 5 to figure out the answer if necessary. She wrote the equation 5+5+5+5=20 to find the perimeter. We did not include the tiled kite string when solving for the perimeter and area. It was actually temporarily removed before any math work was done.

Then, she lifted each tile to place a colored slash underneath the tile as a reminder of the colors utilized in her design.

She quickly colored the kite design with crayons.

Next, we discussed the fractional parts for each color. She listed the fractional parts with the name of each color on a cloud template. Alyssa may add cotton balls to the cloud but she is still thinking about it.

Alyssa also wrote a sentence including the fractional parts on writing paper. We used the kite writing page from Crazy for First Grade to write about her kite design. 

My daughter cut and pasted all parts onto a large piece of 12" X 18" manila paper. She carefully arranged the picture before gluing. I wish we had white paper, because her sun and flower drawings would show up better. She illustrated a background or scenery as seen at Step Into Second Grade. We glued down a piece of black yarn as the kite string. I helped her with this part of the project. After using a thin paintbrush to apply glue, she dabbed the excess glue off with a paper towel. The bow template from DLTK was used to complete her design. 

During the rest of the week, she explored other math manipulatives including tangrams, centimeter cubes, pattern blocks, unifix cubes, and attribute shapes. She created several kite designs with each manipulative. We also discussed and wrote fractional parts for each shape on a mini white board. You can find a pattern block kite template and other preschool kite activities for your little ones at Confessions of a Homeschooler if interested.

Check out Alyssa's finished kite project! She must have enjoyed the activity, because as soon as her father walked through the door . . . she dragged him downstairs to show and explain her work to him.

Fraction Kite Resources
Here are a few bloggers that completed the same fraction kite activity. Several bloggers presented variations for the activity. Take a look at a few of the blogs listed below.
Crazy for First Grade (Fraction Kite Writing Page)
Step Into Second Grade with Mrs. Lemons (Kite Drawings)
Me and My Third Grade Gang (Equivalent Fractions)
Motherhood on a Dime (Four Triangles)
Where Learning is Fun (Variety of Skills)
The Pinterest Diaries - Wrote fractions for each color on bows.
Adventures in Third Grade

Kite and Bow Templates
Adventures of First Grade
All Kids Network
Note: If you know of a great kite or bow template, then please let me know so that I can include it in the list.

I think next week, we'll read Let's Fly a Kite by Stuart J. Murphy and create a symmetrical kite design using one-inch color tiles or pattern blocks. The kite one-inch tile template can be found in the Go Fly a Kite Unit. What fun! 

We would love to see your kite designs if you try this activity.
Please include a link to your blog in the comment section below. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Random Five on Friday (April 26th)

1.) I saw an awesome recipe for Crock Pot Boneless Country-Style Ribs at Miranda's blog, The Pebble Pond. I decided to give it a try for my hubby. Jeff loves BBQ. I am glad that I tried the recipe, because it was seriously delicious! I used Original Masterpiece BBQ sauce, because that is what we had on hand. My family doesn't eat onions. After I cooked the meat in the onion for several hours, I removed them before adding the sauce. I also cut off all the fat and shredded the meat before adding the sauce. We ate it on wheat hamburger buns. Be careful not to cook too long after adding the sauce . . . it can burn. Jeffry called me saying he was going to come home an hour later than expected and I forgot to stir it. Some of the BBQ sauce stuck to the bottom and was overcooked. And that my dear . . . is how you overcook a crock pot meal. Hee Hee. 

2.) We went into town again last night to choose fireplace rock, entry lights, and accent paint colors. We still can't find rock that will look good with the color theme of the house. YIKES! We are also having a hard time finding an entry light that will work with the cedar beams. We didn't leave or look at paint colors. We finally made a decision about a dining room chandelier, the master bath mirrors, and front porch lights. My husband hopes to focus on the classroom next week. They were adding AC material on Wednesday. Jeffry plans on scrubbing down the bathroom floor and shower tile so hopefully I will have a few photographs to share with you all next week. He will finish up grouting the floors soon.

3.) We recently started reviewing two new products. My daughter is enjoying the one-on-one attention she gets during her Level 3 Scaredy Cat Reading System lessons. We also fell in love with a certain recipe from Simplified Dinners by Simplified Pantry. You must read my review next month to find out which outstanding recipe we will use repeatedly. My husband already asked me to make them again this week. Check out the list of meals that are included in this e-book when you visit the website.

4.) My Cinco de Mayo "Spotlight on the Crew" article will go live on May 2nd. Please check the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog on that day! Here is the direct link but it won't go live until the date mentioned above. I hope you will head over to read it. I am super excited! There will be several activities for you to do with your children. The Schoolhouse Review Crew has a special "Spotlight on the Crew" Pinterest board where you can read previous articles written by featured crew members.

5.) I am still dealing with emotional issues about my step father's death. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am very thankful for fellow crew members and friends who have offered their condolences and prayers. Many people have come forward providing a listening ear during the grieving process. I dealt with several different emotions and stages of the grieving process this week.

I will link this post up at Random 5 on Friday hosted by Miranda at The Pebble Pond. Please join the fun and link up your random five thoughts, facts, or occurrences. Thank you for visiting A Learning Journey. I would love to hear from my readers, so please feel free to leave a comment so I can visit your blog. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Bad Case of Stripes Writing

This month the Virtual Book Club for Kids will feature books written by David Shannon. The author's books were very popular in my second grade classroom during read aloud time so I am pretty familiar with his books. One of my daughter's favorite picture books is The Bad Case of Stripes.

The colorful eye-catching illustrations will draw in many readers of all ages. This is an outstanding book that teaches children about accepting themselves for who they truly are regardless of what others think and no matter how different they are from their friends. I absolutely adore this book! Would you like to hear it online? You can listen to a telling of this story at School Tube or at StoryLine Online. The story is read by Sean Astin. Enjoy!

Alyssa has been extremely interested in writing since our review for Essentials in Writing, therefore I knew that I wanted to do a writing assignment related to this book. Two specific writing assignments online caught my attention.

The first writing assignment which implemented the writing process was found at Owl Inspire You. First, my daughter brainstormed and wrote a bulleted list of her favorite foods inside a lima bean graphic organizer. Then, her task was to she choose one food to focus on in her paragraph. A planning sheet was utilized to help get her thoughts down on paper in an organized manner. I encouraged her to stay on topic as she wrote her sentences. The planning sheet gave me the opportunity to review a few concepts from her writing curricula including the definition of a paragraph, use of indentations, and how to write topic, body, and closing sentences. Alyssa likes to write a lot and the paper didn't provide enough room for her paragraphs. I drew extra lines for the rest of her paragraph. She is younger than the age intended so her handwriting tends to be a little larger as well. Next, she edited her work for correct spelling, spacing, indentation, capitalization, and punctuation. She wrote her final draft and drew an illustration to match the writing piece. I think she did pretty good for a five-year-old . . . this mom couldn't ask for anything more. I am proud of her writing accomplishments and I am thankful that she enjoys writing.

The second writing assignment we completed was found at Step Into Second Grade with Mrs. Lemons. After reading the book, I drew a large t-chart on our white board. Alyssa and I discussed the definitions for the terms "cause" and "effect." We worked together to create a chart revealing cause and effect examples. Then, she had the job of writing a summary paragraph for a cause and effect example from the book. Our chart was erased before she began this writing assignment, because I wanted it to be written in her words.
She colored the face first.
Then, she cut out all of the pieces and set them aside.
Finished Writing Project
I had to add my magnetic google eyes to her picture.
The green eyes were creepin' me out!
Alyssa saw this when walking by and started laughing.

Other Resources (This list may be updated.)
Mom On Timeout
Squish Preschool Ideas
A Bad Case of Stripes Student Webquest (Home Page)

I will link this post up at Virtual Book Club for Kids (April Edition)Montessori MondayShare it SaturdayThree Boys and a Dog: Homeschool on the Cheap123 Homeschool 4 Me TGIF Linky Party, Titus 2 Tuesdays, Read Explore Learn, and the The Children's Bookshelf.
Montessori Monday Teach Beside Me3 Boys and a Dog125 Titus 2 Tuesday Button

Sunday, April 21, 2013

E is for an Elmo Themed Birthday Party

Are you trying to figure out a theme for a young child's birthday party? Has your child seen the Sesame Street show? My daughter thought Elmo was an adorable creature. I knew from the beginning that Elmo (Sesame Street) would be the theme for Alyssa's first birthday. Please check out the photos of my daughter's birthday party. You may want to try the same theme or a few ideas! Happy browsing!

Sesame Street Pillowcase Dress Outfit
I love picking out a gift outfit or birthday attire every year. When Alyssa was little I could get away with it, but I believe she'll have an opinion of her own for her sixth birthday party. I usually have luck finding these outfits on Ebay. The hardest thing is taking measurements and hoping she doesn't grow much before the party. Her hair doesn't stand up like that all the time. The wind was blowing her hair in every direction. All of her special birthday outfits will go in her hope chest so that she can have them when she is older and married.

Elmo Party Bags
The party favor bags were extremely easy to create. I used a large orange pom pom, red bags, large google eyes, and black felt. I stuffed them with all kinds of Sesame Street gifts. I can't remember now because it was years ago. My daughter is five now.
Party Bags Ready for Each Little Guest
We placed alphabet letters on the table.
We removed the magnetic pieces on the back just in case.

Practice Cupcakes
I always make a practice cake and cupcakes before the prep begins for the party. I don't want disaster to hit the night before the party. I try out several ideas so that we can choose what works and looks best. We never waste the cake and cupcakes. We always find a way for it to be eaten. One year we drove from business to business visiting employees we loved and offered them a slice of cake while they worked. In the photo below, I didn't like that the eyes and frosting were so runny therefore I changed a few things before the party.

Loft Happy Birthday Banner

Sesame Street Balloons
These oversized balloons served as great photo opportunities. Parents were snapping pictures of their children in front of them. Here is a photo of Alyssa the day after her birthday sharing her treats with me. She played with these balloons for several days after the party (with supervision of course).
Aunt Jeanette Posing With Elmo Balloon

Elmo Guest Cake
My husband and I worked together to create the Elmo cake. Can you believe Elmo started out as 3D Bear made from pound cake? She smiled really big when she saw her cake!

Elmo Smash Cake
I wanted Alyssa to have her very own smash cake. It served as a great decoration piece until it was time to smash him. Of course what I didn't expect was Alyssa to be extremely gentle with Elmo's face. She picked small pieces off and barely ate any cake. My husband had to stick her hands in it and boyeeee was she mad at him.

Elmo Smash Cake Seasonal Mat and Bib
I let her father have the honor of smash cake privileges. The Elmo trick or treat containers were bought on sale after Halloween. I believe I used the containers as table centerpieces and filled them with Skittle goody bags for adults. They were also used to hold down the mat, because it was a very windy day. Yes, I did change her outfit because I didn't want to ruin the custom made outfit. She was still wearing Elmo attire. I wanted her to wear the outfit again (stain free). She ended up wanting nothing to do with the smash cake. Nope, no interest what-so-ever! Here I was thinking . . . I was going to get some AWESOME messy shots. She still to this day does not like to get her hands dirty. Some things never change.  
Here daddy! You can have it!

The "Real" Birthday Cupcakes
I made and decorated the cupcakes the night before the party. They turned out better using thick black frosting rather than some edible black pen junk. I also changed the frosting recipe and chose to make a thicker butter cream frosting. 

The children were really young so the games were limited and simple. We used numerous toys to keep them occupied. Choosing game was a hard decision for this age group. We did have several older guests so we needed something for them as well.

We had bubble containers for the adults to use with their children.

Elmo was the main character at the party if you couldn't already tell. Our pinatas always serve as decorations until it is time to use them. We try to make it one of the first events so that the candy doesn't melt.
Birthday Girl Goes First
(Mommy Assisted)

Oscar the Grouch Trash Can Toss
I never did get a good shot of this game. Our friend drew and painted a picture of Oscar the Grouch on wood. We purchased a brand new garbage can, because I didn't want children around an old, dirty, germ-infested trash can. I set out mini bean bags for them to throw inside the trash can. The colors and characters grabbed their attention.

Sesame Street Character Photo Prop
Parents had the option of photographing their children in front of the character scene. We couldn't find a good location to place it. It always ended up being in the shade. Oh well!
One of My Favorite Party Photos

Ball Pit
I found an inflatable pool on sale after summer ended. I filled it with colorful, plastic balls. The children had loads of fun gathering in and around the pool playing with the balls. Here is a photo of my beautiful niece visiting this play area. Throwing was a popular activity! Once one child threw a ball and laughed . . .  the contagious fun began. All of the children in the area started throwing balls at each other. It looked like a mini dodge ball game! No children were harmed for the duration of this party - I promise.

Slides and Other Outdoor Toys
We had several outdoor slides and gross motor activities for the children to utilize.

Elmo Movie
Our back up plan was to turn on an Elmo movie for the children to watch if they were restless or bored. However, the movie wasn't needed. They had fun running, crawling, climbing, jumping, sliding, giggling, throwing balls, and attempting to hit the pinata.

Note: Basically there were babies crawling around everywhere and a few older children participated in some events. Adults visited with each other and the children played "next to" each other. It was fun to watch the children interact with one another and with the toys. I believe I also had board books and other Sesame Street toys out that day.

Food and Beverages
We wanted the food to be easy. I made two different types of soup since it was always windy and cool outside in November. I made my chicken tortilla soup and chili. We served pinwheel rolls, sandwiches, veggies, fruits, nachos, and more. The parents had the choice of serving their children water or organic Elmo juice boxes (low sugar). We stocked the fridge with milk. Most children drank from containers with beverages brought by their parents.

Opening Gifts
I helped her open her gifts as she sat in her special birthday chair. It giggled when you pressed one of its hands.
I think she really wanted to open the next gift.
Check out that smile! She looks mischievous in this photo.  

She was teething horribly that week. Her last two baby teeth were cutting. I constantly found her sucking on Elmo's nose or giving him kisses. She LOVED Elmo! Check out the evidence below. These shots were taken the day after her party.

So what do you think? Did you find anything you could do at your child's first birthday party? 
I hope so! I love planning birthday parties for my daughter. It is the highlight of our year and the only party we throw. I would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below.

I am linking up this post at Blogging Through the Alphabet on Marcy's Ben and Me blog. We are writing about a Letter "E" topic. Sunday is the last day to join because we start Letter "F" on Monday. I will also link this post to Tip Junkie (Home Birthday Parties for Kids Linky Party). There are some cool birthday party ideas linked. Be careful you might get lost browsing for hours. Do you have a birthday party you could share with us all? Come join the fun!

Thank you for visiting!
God bless,