Thursday, September 30, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up: China Week 3

image We’ve finished up our tour of China.  I have to admit I am rather sad that we are moving on ~ we have had so much fun learning about China! 

It was quite a busy week!  I had a bug of some sort on Tuesday and ended up calling our substitute teacher~ my Mom.  I  really am blessed that my family is supportive of my decision to homeschool and willing to help me out.

The Three Rs:

Nothing much to report ~ we are moving along with reading, writing, and arithmetic.   Emily really could have completed her math this week in two days or just skipped the lesson, which was a review of skip counting by 2s.


We reviewed the following weeks and the Asia geography song.  The kids pulled out our Asia continent box and talked about the Chinese abacus, money from China, animals from Asia, and Asian landmarks.    image

Family Reading:

Emily made a dragon hat, which is very cute, after we finished reading the Magic Tree House: Day of The Dragon King.  We found the instructions to make the dragon hat in the book Multicultural Art Activities. IMG_3870 

Chinese Shadow Puppets and a Theater:

We learned about the legend of how shadow puppets were created and then we made a theater and Chinese shadow puppets.  You can read more about it here.


Lapbook: Giant Pandas

I had no intention of doing a lapbook this week, but Emily asked if we could do one on Pandas after we finished reading Giant Pandas by Gail Gibbons.   How did Emily even know there was a Giant Pandas lapbook?  She loves to look over my shoulder when I’m reading Jolanthe’s blog, Homeschool Creations.  I was looking at her lessons plans for China and Emily commented on the lapbook, so I printed it from Homeschool Share, and we put the lapbook together in two days. IMG_4126 IMG_4129IMG_4131



To go along with our lapbook Emily learned how to draw a Giant Panda using Draw Write Now – we love these books! 


We finished our Giant Panda study by watching The Amazing Panda Adventure on Netflix and the kids ate popcorn with chopsticks.  


The entire family loved this movie.  It was about a young boy who goes to China to visit his father, who is helping to save pandas in their habitats.  While out on the preserve,  the father is separated from his son and a young girl who is their translator, when poachers attack and harm a mother panda.  The young boy and girl are left with the baby panda as they make their way through the wilderness to safety.

Our Book Basket:


Next week we are going to take a break from our geography studies so we can talk about fall ~ one of my favorite times of the year!

I hope everyone else had a good week!  To see what other homeschoolers have been doing this week, visit Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Chinese Shadow Puppets and Theater

We are having so much fun learning about China!  This week we learned about the Legend of how Chinese shadow puppets where created and made our own shadow puppets and theater.  


The Legend says….Once upon a time, a long time ago, in Han times, the favorite wife of the emperor became ill and died. Her husband, missed her so much that he lost interest in ruling after her death.  Everyone wanted to help the emperor, but nothing seemed to work.

One day, a priest in the palace passed some children playing with dolls. The dolls made shadows on the floor, shadows that seemed to dance as the children played. The dancing shadows gave the priest an idea. He hurried away to work on his idea. 

First, he made a puppet from cotton balls. He painted the puppet to look somewhat like the emperor's wife. When his puppet was ready, he invited the emperor to a special puppet show. 

The emperor appreciated all the things his court had done to cheer him up, but really, all the emperor wanted was to be left alone. He knew the priest would be insistent. The priest was a old friend. With a sigh, a very deep sigh, the emperor agreed to attend the show. 

That evening, the priest placed a light behind a curtain, along with himself and his puppet. As he moved the puppet behind the curtain, it cast a dancing shadow. The priest told stories of the emperor's wife. They were wonderful stories, wonderful memories. Even though the priest was there, and the puppet was there, it seemed as if the shadow was telling the story. 

The emperor was delighted. He clapped his hands in joy. Every night, after a busy day of taking care of the business of being emperor, the emperor looked forward to hearing "shadow stories" about his wife, and her day, and of their life together.  

And that, according to legend, is how shadow puppets were born.


We found instructions for making the puppet theater here.  The link also includes a very cute YouTube video ~ Jack and the Beanstalk Shadow Puppet Show.  My kids loved watching this!

What You Will Need to Create a Theater and Shadow Puppets:

  • Cereal box
  • Pen or marker
  • Scissors
  • Utility knife
  • Tape
  • Wax paper or thin white paper
  • Optional:  black construction paper or paper of your choice to decorate the front of the theater
  • Shadow Puppets Template (we reduced these and copied them on cardstock so they would fit our theater)
  • Makers and/or crayons
  • Totally optional: glitter, sequins
  • Craft sticks
  • Brads 
  • Desk lamp or some other lighting source

   What You Will Do:

  1. Tape up the ends of the box.
  2. Use a pen or marker to trace a line about 1 1/2 inches away from the edge on the front and back of the box.
  3. Cut out your openings with scissors or a utility knife.IMG_4079
  4. Tape a sheet of wax paper or thin white paper over one of the openings.
  5. Optional:  We decided to frame the front of our theater with black construction paper.      IMG_4104
  6. Color the shadow puppets and add glitter and sequins if you are daring!  (Yes, my kids had glitter EVERYWHERE!)                                     IMG_4082
  7. Cut out the puppets and join them together with brads, where ever you want the puppet to bend.  Tape remaining parts together.
  8. Tape craft sticks to the back of puppet.IMG_4099
  9. Add light behind your theater (we used a lamp without the shade) and have fun putting on a puppet show.        


This was a super easy craft ~ except for the glitter clean up!  The kids already have plans to cut some puppets out of black paper to go along with their favorite books!


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Guidecraft Review ~ MagNeatos!

As part of the Guidecraft Mom Blogger Team, I am very excited to have the opportunity to review some of their awesome products. Guidecraft offers a wide variety of educational toys.  The first products we were sent to review was the 36 piece Magneatos set and the curved Magneatos.   My kids have played with these EVERYDAY since they arrived!


Magneatos are a magnetic building set.  The brightly colored pieces are jumbo-sized so it is easy for little hands to build with them, but they are just as much fun for older kids.

Magneatos have definitely encouraged some creative playtime for my kids!

Here are just some of the fun things they have been doing with the Magneatos. 

They have been building towers, houses, IMG_4023

and a kitty jail playground. IMG_4047-1

Aiden put them on our iron railing and sang into them.


The kids bowled with them, IMG_4035-1

and used them to set up a miniature golf course.IMG_4065-1

            IMG_4062-1 IMG_4056-1

Magneatos can be purchased directly from Guidecraft or you can purchase them from Amazon.

Want to win a set?  Jolanthe at Homeschool Creations is hosting a giveaway for both sets ~ the 36-piece set of Magneatos and the curved MagNeatos

Don’t forget to attend the Guidecraft Back to School Twitter Party on Tuesday, September 28th from 8-9pm EST.


This product was given to me for review purposes, and I do not have to return the product to the vendor. I was not paid for this post. All opinions expressed in this post are mine.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Science Sunday: Silkworms

We have been leaning about China and some of the fascinating discoveries and inventions that originated from the country.  This week we talked about silkworms and how silk cloth is made.


Where Does Silk Come From?

Emily and Aiden looked at a piece of silk and pulled some of the loose threads.  IMG_4021

I asked them where silk came from?  I got an “umm?, umm?” from Aiden and “I don’t know” from Emily.

I showed them these cute little guys and explained that these were silkworms  at different stages of life.  Silk comes from the threads of the silkworms cocoon, which is weaved into cloth.


How In the World Did Someone Discover that Silk Can be Made from Silkworm Cocoons?

We listened the story of Lei Zu and the Silkworms on The Story of the World Volume 1: The Ancient Times Audiobook CD

The story is about Lie Zu who was outside under a mulberry tree enjoying a lovely cup of hot tea when a silkworm cocoon fell in her tea.  It began to unravel in the hot tea.  She pulled the thread and walked around the garden, trailing the tread behind her.  She continued to unravel more of the cocoons and winding them together until she had a piece of thread think enough to weave.  She took them to a dressmaker which created the first silk cloth.

The Life Cycle of a Silkworm

We read Life Cycle of A Silkworm (ugly caterpillars, aren’t they?)


and Emily worked on two worksheets I created, a Silkworm Question Sheet and the Silkworm Life Cycle


Click on the images to download

She used the Silkworm Life Cycle Figures for her drawings.


I also printed Silkworm Sequencing Cards (Eggs to Silk) from here and Emily put them in order. 


Some interesting facts we learned:

  • Other kinds of moths can fly to escape predators.  A domesticated silkworm has no predators, so it does not fly.
  • It takes 110 cocoons to make a silk tie and 640 cocoons to make a silk shirt.
  • A single thread of silk from a silkworm cocoon can be one mile long. 
  • A single thread of silk is stronger than the same size thread of some types of steel.

We finished up by looking at pictures of a Silk factory in Shanghai China.  The kids were very sad to learn that most of the silkworms are killed during the production process.

For more fun with science, check out Science Sunday at Adventures in Mommydom.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up: China

Weeks like this make me love homeschooling!  The complaining was minimal, we completed everything we had planned for the week, and Emily loved it all!

The Three Rs:

Emily amazed me this week with her reading!  I think it is all starting to click.   I have actually found her under the covers with a flashlight reading the past couple of nights.  Makes me so proud ~ the reading, not the staying up late!

She is moving along quickly with Math-U-See Beta.  I have noticed that we need to work some more on time and money. 

Geography Song:

Both of the kids learned the Asia Song from the CD, Geography Songs ~ which is fantastic!  My kids can learn anything if you put it to music.


We read Grandfather Tang’s Story:  A Tale Told With Tangrams.  Emily and I loved this story.  It is about Grandfather Tang who tells his granddaughter a tale about two shape-changing fox fairies.  The fox fairies try to outdo each other—becoming different animals chasing each other.  When the two chase each other right into danger, they finally have to set their competition aside and pull together.  

The book includes a pattern for the tangrams that I enlarged and printed for Emily


so she could make the animals as we read the book.


Lapbook:  The Empty Pot

We read the book The Empty Pot.  Love the moral of this story! 

Ping is a Chinese boy with an emerald green thumb; he can make anything grow "as if by magic." One day the Emperor announces that he needs a successor, someone who can carry on after he is gone with the ruling of the kingdom and the growing of the flowers. He gives each child one seed, and the one who grows the best flower will take over after him. Competition is fierce, and Ping is heartbroken that nothing comes up, despite his careful tending. On the day of the competition, he is the only child with an empty pot; all the others brings lush plants. But the Emperor has tricked everyone by distributing cooked seeds, unable to grow; and Ping, with his empty pot, is the only honest gardener--and the winner. Extraordinarily delicate Oriental landscapes in round frames show Chinese architecture, foliage, native birds and clothing in a delightful way. And the story contains an important lesson on the worth of individual strength and honesty.

I printed The Empty Pot Lapbook from Homeschool Share and Emily put together the entire thing together in one day.

     IMG_3968  IMG_3966 IMG_3970Art:

Emily used watercolor pencils to draw cherry blossoms and then blended them with water.  This is the first time we have used watercolor pencils and we are having fun playing with them.  That is her name written in Chinese on the side. 

    IMG_3939 IMG_3952


Emily really enjoyed watching this Ribbon Dance.  The little girl, Catherine Yang, is nine years old.

Of course Emily then had to perform her own ribbon dance.  It’s not as easy as it looks to get the ribbons to dance!


We also listen to some Chinese music.  We loved the beautiful pictures in this video and the soothing music.  Not sure why they decided to put a picture of Jackie Chan fighting in the video? 

Chinese Moon Festival:

Thursday we celebrated the Chinese Moon Festival.  You can read more about it here.

We made Chinese paper lanterns andIMG_3976 Chinese Moon Cakes.IMG_3987

As the sun was setting we enjoyed tea and Moon Cakes before we went outside to look at beautiful harvest moon.


Our Book Basket:

I hope everyone else had one of those “I love to homeschool” kind of weeks!  Visit Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers to see what other homeschoolers have been doing this week.


Schleich Animal Figurines

image As soon as the package arrived from Schleich my kids were right on my heels, begging to open the package!  We oohed and awhed as we pulled out each realistic looking figurine.  Our package included a Przewalskis Horse,  Dartmore Pony, Donkey,




Swabian Hall Piglet, Gnu, Gnu Calf,



Okapi, and an Asian Elephant Calf. 


The kids immediately grabbed up the animals and started playing with them.

        IMG_3701 IMG_3632

My Thoughts:

The animal figurines have provided hours of imaginative play for my kids.  The quality and attention to detail is amazing!  We often use animal figurines during our school time so these are a great addition to our collection.  We received a booklet of other products Schleich carries and my kids have tabbed and marked many of the pages ~ making a long list of things they want.

Why Choose Schleich?

  • Schleich has been around for over 75 years and has been manufacturing quality figurines since the 1950s. 
  • All of the figurines are perfectly made to the tiniest detail and lovingly painted by hand.
  • Piece of mind ~ the company is in compliance with all relevant safety regulations.
  • Quality ~ these products will hold up to rough play, which is a must in our household.

Schleich carries a large variety of figures: wild life, farm life, dinosaurs, knights, humans, domestic animals, and even Smurfs.

Prices for the figures vary.  You can see Schleich’s growing collection of figures and search for your nearest local retailer on the company’s web site here


Click on the Homeschool Crew banner to read other reviews about this product.

This product was given to me for review purposes, and I do not have to return the product to the vendor. I was not paid for this post. All opinions expressed in this post are mine.


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