Archive for the ‘education’ Category

Castanet’s Sketch Kit

April 29, 2009

my sketch kit

Originally uploaded by Castanet

I’ve shared before Castanet’s Field Bag. Now it’s time to share her Sketch Kit, a must have collection of necessities for the traveling artists and all naturalists. Click on the image and it will take you to her Flickr page where she has added notes of all the contents in her sketch kit. Then follow her link to her blog to read more about her adventures with her kids.


Periodic Table of Elements

March 7, 2009

Lisa over at 5 Orange Potatoes (great blog!) recently blogged about exploring the Periodic Table of Elements with her two young girls (ages 5 & 7).  She recommends the book, The Periodic Table- Elements with Style by Basher & Dingle for this subject and gives creative ideas on how to make this study fun.  Two ideas she writes about is a PTOE scavenger hunt and fun riddles about the PTOE for her girls to solve. She authored the riddles and has graciously made them available on her blog.  

Each week she’ll focus on one element with her girls and post their study on her blog, I wanted to share the link to her PTOE post HERE for other families interested in making the study of chemistry fun with their kids.  Read her post, see her photos, check out her suggested resources, and you too will be inspired!  Here’s what I posted in her comment box:

I’m so glad you shared this Lisa! I never took chemistry in HS or college. I’ve recently gone back to school for my MS (in nutrition), and I had to take 4 semesters of chemistry for my prereq (2 more to go)! I was terrified the math would overcome me, but I rocked (straight A’s)! – Along the way I shared the chart and info with my daughter, and I think my excitement got her excited too. This resource you’ve posted has our names written all over it! We are so checking this out and working with the curriculum. I can’t thank you enough for posting it!!!!

The Making of an Environmental Activist

February 15, 2009

When I Grow Up ...

Booh came home with this homework sheet, “What would be your dream job when you are an adult?” for vocational week at her school. Her answer, “I want to be an environmental activist.”

Right now she wants to save the ants that are coming back with the winter thaw at her school  She’s rallied her classmates and teachers together to support her “cause'” and for the second year in a row she and her classmates have  created posters saying, “Dot step on the awntss!  Woch awcht! ” (Read: “Don’t step on the ants!  Watch out!)  They’ve posted these signs throughout the school  This desire to protect the ants comes from her love of insects.  She use to want to be a Bug Doctor.  Makes sense that now she wants to be an environmental activist.

How does she know about environmental activism? She knows from stories I’ve shared about work I’ve done as a young environmental activist participating in non-violent civil disobedience.  And I’ve read stories to her about other non-violent peace, social and environmental activists, including Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. and  Julia Butterfly Hill.  After learning about Julia Butterfly Hill, she did a sit-in in one of the trees in our front yard to protect it from being cut down.  I had to reassure her that we had no plans on clear-cutting our front yard!

Winter Tree Study

February 9, 2009

Every morning at 6:30, Booh and I snuggle up on the couch and watch the morning winter sky light up as the sun slowly rises above the hills.  We’ve been recording the morning temperature, time, phases of the moon, weather conditions and any nature observations we can make from the window.  The coldest temperature we’ve recorded this year was negative 12-degrees … 24-degrees below freezing!  On that day our nature observation was steam coming off of the river!

This was the same day that Booh noticed patterns the branches of the deciduous trees made and how the morning sky made patches of negative space in between.  I decided to do a winter tree study with her and I came up with two projects I wanted to share.

Winter Tree Study Collage


The first one was a collage project.  After painting watercolor paper the color of the sky, we used strips of brown and black construction paper and glued them to our canvas of blue.  The idea was to glue one tree together first, followed by a second tree of a different color, and so on, creating the illusion of depth.  As you can see above (collage on left), Booh had her own methodology. I wanted to add more to mine but ran out of time.  – When we glued the strips of construction paper onto our dried blue canvas, we allowed the strips to project off of the page, and when we are done I trimmed the strips to make a smooth edge

Tree Study with BeeswaxBEESWAX

Continuing with our Winter Tree Study, we used Stockmar modelling beeswax and made little sculptures of our deciduous tree observations.  This time we added the river with its snowy bank and ice floating by.  

These medallions make a great addition to our winter nature table.  I’d like to make one for spring, summer and autumn with her too to add to our nature table as the seasons change.

Discovering Maternal Lineage Through Matryoshka Dolls

January 16, 2009

Matryoshka Dolls-1.JPG

“Mommy, where did I come from?”

By the time Booh asked me this question, she was four and I had been preparing for a couple of years by collecting Russian nesting dolls. I had been picking them up at tag sales and white elephant sales and they’ve become one of my favorite tools for addressing this simple yet complex question. I start with the big doll, her Great Great Grandmother, open her up and pull out her Great Grandmother, open her up and pull out her Grandmother, open her up and pull out her mother, open her up and pull out, well, her. It has proven to be an effective illustration.

“The name [Matryoshka] wasn’t chosen by accident… Matryona (lovingly Matryosha, Matryoshenka) was a very popular and common Russian name for a woman. Also, the word was derived from the Latin “mater” (mother) which was perfectly suited for the toy. “* The first time I demonstrated the concept of maternal lineage to my daughter she stared at the dolls, the little gears turning inside her head… “How did I get in there?” I then did it backwards, replacing the dolls, working back in lineage: this is you, you came from me, I came from Gram, and so on. It was the backwards method that got her engine going and put the concept of lineage into form, and gave me some more time to figure out how to answer THAT question.

Featured Video: Food Fight

July 27, 2008

I love discovering the history of food and nutritional anthropolgy. I think it’s a great way to explore history and other cultures, especially with kids. I recently came across the video, Food Fight, a short film by Stefan Nadelman. I found myself completly engrossed (not to mention grossed-out). The film is an “abridged history of American-centric war, from World War II to present day, told through the foods of the countries in conflict … as traditional comestibles slug it out for world domination [through] chronologically re-enacted smorgasbord of aggression. (1)”

“Smorgagsbord of aggression” is a great way to describe the cinematography of the film. As I mentioned, I found myself engrossed as Nadelman recounted different American military conflicts, and at the same time I was taken aback by the hostilities, as represented by the decimation of food. Signs of a good film maker!

I don’t feel the film is appropriate for my 6-year old, but older students exploring World and American History might benefit from watching this short film (parents should screen first before allowing their children to watch to determine if age appropriate). Conflicts represented include World War II, the Arab-Israeli War, the Korean War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Viet Nam, the Cold War, the Intifada, the Gulf War, 9/11, Afghanistan, and Gulf War II.

Can you guess which countries the following foods in the film represent?:

  • pretzel & bratwurst
  • matzah (matzoh, matzo)
  • croissant
  • fish ‘n’ chips
  • burger ‘n’ fries
  • sushi
  • beef stroganoff
  • kebabs (kebobs)
  • bagel (w/cream cheese & lox)
  • kimchi (kimchee)
  • dumpling & egg roll
  • Cuban sandwich
  • spring roll
  • falafel
  • chicken nuggets
  • fried chicken sandwich

I first watched the film without knowing which conflicts were being played out nor which countries each food group represented. Families might find it more useful from a home-study stand point to first review which country the food represents before viewing. A cheat sheet can be found HERE.

Life Cycles: Ages 1 to 100

February 6, 2008

Life Cycles: Ages 1 to 100

In three minutes watch as people from the ages of 1 to 100 share their age and beat a drum. If your kids are studying life cycles this is a interesting film for them to see.

Teaching aids from Jan Brett

December 27, 2006

Jan Brett offers on-line educational resources.

(c) Jan BrettMA author Jan Brett has a collection of nearly 4,000 teaching aids as free downloads on her website. These teaching aids and activities include beautifully drawn posters, worksheet, coloring pages, visual aids and other projects. Her site is definitely worth your perusal. Teachers, home-schooling families and parents alike will find a wealth of resources to supplement the education of their children. Grade school students are the primary target of this abundant resources; however, older children with learning disabilities will benefit greatly with her beautiful pictures illustrating each resource.

(c) Jan BrettIn addition to free downloadable teaching aids Jan Brett’s website ( also has a nice collection of on-line video tutorials to teach drawing to children, book character games that include flash cards and sight word lists, a murals to download for a classroom to color.

She also offers a free newsletter that sends out an email letter whenever new activities and projects are added to her site.

Fruit Flies & Fireflies

November 1, 2006


At Booh’s preschool they have two classes, the Morning Glory Class and Firefly Class. Morning Glories are the younger kids (2.9 -4) and Fireflies are the older kids (4-5). Last year Booh was a Morning Glory, graduating this summer to a Firefly.

This fall the Firefly class made apple dolls. They used “prickles” (cloves) for the eyes and poked popsicle sticks in them. When I arrived to bring her home she protested our departure and I insisted. Said exclaimed she wanted to “eat someone’s head off!” I suggested her apple doll’s head as her snack. Much to my dismay it became her snack indeed.

Last year the Morning Glory class made Dried Apple Shrunken Heads. Whole apples were studded with clove faces and left to shrivel up and dry. By the end of the week they were covered with a swarm of fruit flies. We were infested with fruit flies that fall and I swore it was from the apple art she made at school that was grimacingly displayed on our kitchen counter.

I was happy this year to have apple art she could actually eat, and to bring home a little Firefly rather than fruit flies!