Saturday, February 19, 2011

Weeks 17-20: Castles, Oceans, Grasslands, and SNOW!!

I've been dying to update this blog, but life has just gotten in the way. I can't even comprehend that we are past the halfway point of the year. I feel like we just started school yesterday! Nevertheless, the weeks march on. Here is a quick summary of what we have been up to this past month...

Germany and Rivers....

We ended our time in Europe with a focus on Germany; did you know that there are tens of thousands of castles in that country? I've been trying to give Harry more experience with using the Internet to do research, so he investigated a number of websites and chose his favorite German castle, pictured here. We have added it to our "things to see one day if we ever make it to Europe" list!

Burg Eltz Castle: I think Harry chose this because it looks like Hogwarts!

Harry also did a unit on rivers and lakes, which included building a model of a river and learning about surface tension in science. See if you can get a paper clip to float in a glass of water!

It's harder than it looks to do! Hint: the little unbent paper clip on the left was a big help!

As for the river model, he used salt dough to make a nice replica of a river bank; we attempted to flow water onto it and freeze it overnight outside to create a frozen river (the boys were so excited to have their Lego minifigures "skate" on the ice!), but alas, that idea did not work. Oh well!

Meanwhile, Ron was doing his own project on a body of water, focusing on the ocean. He painted the background for a mural on ocean creatures, then all the brothers helped out with their own contributions to fill it up. Another fun addition to our wall exhibit of school projects!

I have to admit, art projects are not my forte. But the kids love it so much when the paints come out. So, I'm going to try to be better about giving them more chances for creative expression when I can. This semester in our weekly homeschool co-op, neither of the older boys are taking art, so I feel I need to make more effort on my end!

Our continuing trip around the world has now taken us to the continent of Africa, in which we have focused on Kenya in particular, on the ecosystem of the grasslands, and on the related animal inhabitants. Speaking of wall art, the boys added to the previous ocean mural with a safari mural, again involving lots of paint and a group effort:

Harry and Ron also tried their hand at designing African face painting designs, which I tried my best to copy on their actual faces using a mixture of tempera paint and lotion as advised by the book Global Art which we have been using this year. How do you think I did?

I tried to get them to go to go to Costco with those faces but sadly, they declined. =(

Meanwhile, Ron is almost done with Singapore Earlybird math, and also nearly through the end of Ordinary Parents' Guide to Teaching Reading, which has really helped him improve this skill this year. Now he volunteers to read to his younger brother, which I love to see. And he's even started teaching Dobby some basic karate moves!

As for Dobby, I mainly keep him occupied with a rotation of Kumon books in tracing and pasting, and a BrainQuest book for preschoolers. He can handle scissors finally, and is getting closer to writing his own name. Two out of five letters so far!

And of course in the midst of these weeks, we had our very fun Chicago blizzard to enjoy. And enjoy the boys (and their dad!) did!

Thanks for visiting this very belated update! Hopefully I will be able to return and post again before another month goes by! Next week we travel to Asia! Stay tuned...


  1. I always love reading your reports, Helen! Even though I "follow" your blog, I don't get your updates on my blogger dashboard. :(

    Looks like you guys have been having a grand time with school projects! I especially like the ocean scene. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Carrie, thank you for visiting my blog so faithfully! I write this mostly for my own consumption and posterity, to remember these special times, but it's also so fun when others stop by, especially you! =) I wonder why our blog doesn't update on your dashboard. Wonder if I have to change a setting somewhere??? Love reading your updates as well....about to check yours out now! Thanks again for visiting!

  3. That was Sean's special creation. We traced his four fingers twice, added the head, then he cut it out and put the smile on it. =) Thanks for visiting, Angel!