Thursday, March 13, 2014

Chasing Vermeer Activities {FREE Printable Links}

Time flies when you're having fun. And yesterday, book club just flew by! Madeline's selection was Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliet.

A member surprised us with pentominoes!

Vocabulary Bingo

Examples of vocabulary bingo cards

I used Print-Bingo to create vocabulary bingo cards. The caller's cards were cut from our vocabulary definitions printed on cardstock.

Print your own vocabulary list and definitions from Scholastic's Chasing Vermeer Teacher's Guide.

To make the bingo cards reusable, I slid them into plastic sheet protectors. The kids circled or drew a line through the called words with a dry erase marker. After there was a winner, they just wiped their cards clean :)

Next book club, it might be fun to add places in the book as well as characters to the bingo cards. I'm always looking to change it up!

Pentomino Rectangle Activity
A book club member surprised us by bringing pentomino sets! The kids tried to make as many rectangles as they could. If they completed a rectangle, they had the option of helping another student or making more rectangles. Most chose to help other students, which I thought was really cool!

Madeline is obsessed with pentominoes thanks to this book. The plastic pentominoes were so addictive, I ordered a set for her. My toddler will probably love working with them too, albeit at her own ability level.

Looking for free pentomino printables? Scholastic has this printable set. The sturdier the pentomino, the easier they are to manipulate. You might want to print on cardstock or construction paper, or possibly even laminate them.

Puzzling Pentominoes games and scavenger hunt
Pentomino Puzzles for math/geometry

Character Name Acrostic Poem
We discussed how to write acrostic poems and viewed examples. Then students picked a character name from one of the 12:

  • Petra Andalee
  • Frank Andalee
  • Norma Andalee
  • Calder Pillay
  • Walter Pillay
  • Yvette Pillay
  • Isabel Hussey
  • Louise Sharpe
  • Tommy Segovia
  • Zelda Segovia
  • Vincent Watch
  • Xavier Glitts {a.k.a. Fred Steadman}

Using a character name, they created their own poem describing that character. They could choose to write a descriptive word for each letter or a descriptive phrase. Then each homeschooler read their poem aloud.

Chasing Vermeer Literature Unit 
To save time, I purchased a premade literature unit. It was awesome and totally worth the $10 price for a whopping 98 pages!

I will definitely purchase more units. This was my first time doing so, and I was so impressed by the quality. There is no way I could reproduce this print-ready unit without hours and hours of work.

Some of the activities included was a vocabulary list {students add their definitions}, chapter discussion questions, an art comparison activity {real Vermeer v. fake}, tons of writing prompts, pentomino activities, and more ideas for activities than I could ever imagine.

Here's a complete list of the unit components:
  • Short Answer Comprehension Questions
  • Short Answer TEST
  • 12 Project Challenges
  • Cover Analysis (2 cover options)
  • Bookmark for writing story elements (2 cover options)
  • Art Evaluation and Two Voice Poetry Sheets (2)
  • Painting Evaluations and Questions (3)
  • Real and Fake Vermeer Evaluation
  • Compare/Contrast Two Paintings
  • Vermeer Signature Evaluation
  • Puzzling Pentomino Worksheets
  • Creative Pentomino Project
  • Chapter Title Connection Chart
  • Character Motivation/Role/Impact Chart
  • #12 Coincidences Chart
  • Artifact Analysis- for Quill Feather
  • Book Quotes Analysis (6)
  • Figurative Language Sheets (10)
  • RAFT Writing Prompts (10)
  • Two Cover Comparison with Questions
  • Vocabulary Packet, 54 words and blank sheets
  • Frog Beanbag Project
  • Frog Report Writing Sheets

There is no way we could ever finish all the activities in this unit during a book club meeting. But I will definitely incorporate these into our homeschool curriculum!

Enjoy all the activities and happy reading :)

Monday, March 10, 2014

What Makes a Great Park for Homeschoolers {Plus St. Patrick's Day Party}

Our homeschool group celebrated St. Patty's Day a little early on Friday. Most parks in our area cater to little kids, not school-age children. But Kidd Springs is great for homeschoolers!

Ginormous play area for big kids!

You can't see it from the picture, but this playground is in a U-shape. It's awesome, fun, and big. Everyone loves it. Especially me since it's so close to my house ;)

My Criteria for a Great Homeschool Park
-- Have equipment for big kids
-- Open space for field games like soccer, football, tag, etc.
-- Clean restrooms {usually from a rec center or pavilion nearby}
-- Ample picnic areas or tables
-- Have little kid play areas for younger siblings
-- Trails for nature exploration
-- Drive up parking away from a busy street

Kidd Springs has everything on this list! There is a playground for big kids plus a cable web and large rock boulder for climbing. It has soccer and baseball fields. The newly renovated recreation center houses clean bathrooms. Picnic tables and trash receptacles are available in ample amounts. And a nature trail circles a geese/duck-filled pond!

But the little ones aren't left out. They have a playground too.

Little kids can enjoy slides, a faux rock climb, ladders,
car wheels, a tower, and steps

Paved paths beg you to draw an alphabet or number hopscotch. Or just make chalk art!

Madeline drawing an alphabet hopscotch for little sister

As homeschoolers, my kids don't celebrate holidays with their 'class'. I think it's really important to be part of a group for our kids to socialize with their peers and get their party on! 

Big smiles at the park

The day began chilly, hence the coat. But the sun came out and warmed us up! And pizza + cake makes everything better, right?

Madeline helped bake a vanilla cake with cream cheese frosting. Because as she says, a party isn't a party without cake! So yummy and delicious.

Pictures of the party table proved difficult, so there aren't any. With the wind, everything flew like frisbees!

Hope you are having the opportunity to get outside and have some fun, too :)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Reading Chasing Vermeer by Blue Baillet

Oops! Madeline and I got so caught up reading Flood and Fire that we need to play catch up on our homeschool book club selection.

Time to remedy that! So we switched gears and are halfway through Chasing Vermeer by Blue Baillet.

I must say, it was really hard putting Flood and Fire to the side. But we'll pick up where we left off once Chasing Vermeer is finished.

Luckily, it's only 21 chapters. Which seems short compared to Flood and Fire's 41 chapters!

At first, Madeline kept telling me that it wasn't as exciting as Flood and Fire. Now she's keeping a notebook to jot down clues to help her solve the mystery. So cute!

But I have noticed she's not dying to read the next chapter like other books. Not sure if we will continue with this series. Guess that is dependent on the ending. Which I've already read...but it really matters what Madeline thinks of the ending.

Homeschool book club is next week, so stay tuned for all our activities and fun!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Science/Horticulture: Yikes! Frozen Seedlings, Week 2

Even though all our plants were coming out of dormancy, a late freeze hit! Madeline freaked out and wondered if her little seedlings would survive. Actually, she downright panicked. So we covered them with lots of leftover fall leaves in an effort to insulate them.

Poor marigolds, I saved the flowers for the seeds.
Then I piled up more leaves to protect our little seedlings.

In the span of two days, the temperature dropped from nearly 80 degrees to 21 degrees. A 60 degree difference. How's that for crazy Texas weather?

Two days later, there was still evidence of the freeze on the ground and in our pots.

Small bits of frozen ice in the camilla pot. The big buds
seem to be fine and are still opening into their flowers as if
the freeze never happened. 

We carefully removed our layers of leaves to see if the sprouts were survivors. Just a couple had a tiny bit of leaf burn, but no damage to the stems. And most were absolutely perfect!

Minor leaf burn on just a handful of sprouts.
No damage to stems and secondary leaves are sprouting.

Most seedlings are just perfect. Whew!

Wondering if the leaves that had damage are a different plant than
the rest? We'll find out soon enough.

All the flowers and new growth on my peach tree and hummingbird plant died. Madeline and I don't know how or if our peach yield will be affected. This is our first spring with the peach tree, so I hope we get more flowers and don't lose fruit!

This led to a wonderful discussion on farming and weather. Madeline was shocked that framers could lose an entire crop {and their monetary profits} due to late freezes or extreme weather. She decided we should definitely not be farmers and only grow crops for fun! 

She even remembered about farmer Fitzgibbon from Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH and how he had to try to predict the last frost so he could plant his crops. We talked about what would happen to the crops if he planted too early or too late. She definitely has a whole new appreciation for farmers!

I'm tempted to keep a few leaves in case another late freeze comes our way :)  How are your seedlings faring? Any close calls? Tips for saving them?