Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Oh, Peaches!

This week the peaches turned color ~ luscious, beautiful red and yellow! They are still small, but no longer green.

Some little birds are starting to take nips out of them. I'm wondering if they need to be picked? Or do I let them ripen on the tree?

Growing upside down? I never knew they did that :)

So cute together

We definitely lost a ton of peaches due to a late freeze. There are much fewer peaches on the tree after the frozen blooms fell off. At least the little tree is growing with lots of pretty foliage :)

Everyday Madeline and Sophie have been checking on the peach tree. It's fun to count the peaches, measure their size, and see how the final crop will turn out!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Project Mummification {Ancient Egypt Unit}

We've officially started our more relaxed summer homeschooling routine, and that means Ancient Egypt! Up first, mummification. I scored this Lift the Lid on Mummies kit by Jacqueline Dineen at Half Price Books for a lot less than the suggested $20 retail price.

That's not an error, the price is $6.49. It's a steal!

Upon opening the kit, half of the items seemed to be missing. After much inspection, my blind eyes finally spotted this little notch at the bottom:

Hmm...what's that?

Voila! Discovery of all our missing pieces.

A short pamplet is included with directions and a bit of history. When making the canopic jars, there was no picture of which head corresponded to which jar. Only the name of the god was printed on the inside of the template.

Canopic jar template

Madeline quickly remembered that Ms. Frizzle's Adventures Ancient Egypt had a whole section on mummification. And a picture of the canopic jars. Go, Maddy!

So much easier to figure out which head went on which jar :)  We did eventually find that info in the directions, but Madeline had a great time using the Mrs. Frizzle book. The illustrations were a bit more kid-friendly and who doesn't love Ms. Frizzle?

All the organs were separated and then put into the appropriate canopic jar. She couldn't believe the brain was discarded!

Itty bitty lungs

After preparing the canopic jars, Madeline wrapped the figure in linen. I offered to let her salt the body, but she decided against it since there was nothing to decompose. Protective amulets were inserted into the linen wrapping just like in Egypt. Last was the headdress, which she really liked!

The kit's final component is a 3D paper cat. It's a total HOT MESS. No painstaking amount of work could fold it properly. Glue wasn't holding it together like the directions stated either.

Madeline got completely frustrated with the cat. Even I had trouble folding all the parts, the tabs were so small. Many tabs were smaller than an eraser head. If a degreed Fine Artist can't follow the directions {that would be me}, it's a miracle if any child can.

Undeterred, I whipped out the scotch tape. Take that glue, you're outta here! 

Didn't the mummy come out awesome?

Despite some of the heads looking creepy in the photo -- especially the baboon one on the top right -- they're super cute in person. Not sure if they are supposed to be cute, but they are ;)

Madeline completed everything herself except the cat. Because we obviously didn't follow the cat directions, the stand didn't work with the cat. But at least we got it folded.

Her verdict on the kit? Amazingly awesome! Yes, those were her exact words. Even with the frustrating cat.

For the $6.49 paid, it was an INCREDIBLE value. I could never replicate the overall quality for such a price. A fantastic, lucky find!

The canopic jars have a paper bottom and a resin/plastic head top that is very durable and weighty. The figure is well made, also of resin or plastic. A bit like a Barbie but without hair and clothes. The "linen" is a gauge-like strip of fabric. All the amulets and the headress are made of paper.

Madeline is reading through her Ancient Egypt books like crazy and keeps bugging me about more activities. I've got to pace this child! We are going to have so much fun this summer...

Sunday, June 1, 2014

End of Year Curriculum Review: Science

We love our science book!

Science:  McGraw Hill 

This year we skipped a science workbook and used McGraw Hill Science Grade 2. Our first year using a textbook was a resounding success!

Madeline is a science sponge. She LOVES science and will literally read her textbook like a chapter book. It's not uncommon for her to keep reading until she's finished a whole unit ;)

Life Science/ Plants and Animals
Life Science/ Homes for Plants and Animals
Earth Science/ Changes on Earth
Earth Science/ The Sun and Its Family
Physical Science/ Matter and Energy
Physcial Science/ Watch It Move {Forces and Machines, Forces and Magnets}

Full-color pictures make for a stunning book that makes science come to life! All the photographs and illustrations make the topics easy to understand. It's easy to read with age-appropriate text. Students can easily read and comprehend the book on their own.

This book is well organized, making it easy to plan and incorporate enrichment activities. Each chapter starts with a critical thinking skill, a list of vocabulary, and an experiment or exploration activity.

Units are comprised of 6-8 lessons, depending on the unit. At the end of each lesson, 2 to 3 comprehension questions follow. A test for each unit is also included.

I wish there was more about the Kuiper belt and smaller dwarf planets. Of course, astronomy seems to change every few years so we read lots of library books and online articles about space.

While this book is primarily for reading, adding more activities would be beneficial. We supplemented with Enchanted Learning online. They have tons of science booklets and activities for the lower grades. You can see our planet printables here.

Absolutely, yes! We love the McGraw Hill texbooks the most of any we've tried. Grade 3 is purchased and ready to go.