Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The One and Only Ivan/ FREEBIE Activities

Looking for The One and Only Ivan activities?  Here are two I created for our homeschool book club. Download the free printables! Also read my book review.

ACTIVITY  #1/ WHAT IS A GOOD PLACE FOR A WILD ANIMAL? Children ponder Stella's thoughts about a "good zoo". The next step is to write about a good zoo habitat for either a gorilla or elephant. And lastly, students illustrate their habitat and label each important part of their "wild cage".

The One and Only Ivan Creative Writing & Illustration Activity via
Creative Writing and Illustration/ The One and Only Ivan Activity

Julia and George had a conversation about principles, or doing what you know is right. Students choose a character who stood by their principles, citing examples and consequences.

The One and Only Ivan Writing Activity via
Living by Principles/ The One and Only Ivan Activity

If you enjoy these activities, please drop me a note! I'd love to hear about all the fun you and your child had ;)

Fascinating Gorilla Facts via The Smithsonian National Zoological Park
Gorilla Doctors:  Saving Endangered Great Apes, a Scientists in the Field book 

Ivan in his mall enclosure (via Urban Gorilla)
Ivan in his habitat at the Atlanta Zoo

Monday, September 22, 2014

Book Review/ The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Book Cover - The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate - Book Review by

The One and Only Ivan is an inspiring fiction novel based on a real life gorilla. Though it delves into some pretty heavy subjects, the author does an amazing job of balancing sadness with humor and hope. The story follows Ivan (a male gorilla) as he lives in captivity with a menagerie of other animals in a shopping mall. Yes, in a shopping mall.

Despite Ivan's dull and boring existence, he fosters friendships with Stella (an elephant), Bob (a stray dog), and Julia (the mall janitor's daughter). The arrival of a new baby elephant named Ruby brings about anxiety and worry rather than joy. Ivan and his friends are saddened by the type of life she will lead while in captivity at the mall.

It's only when Ruby arrives that Ivan faces his feelings about being taken captive from the wild. And with Stella unable to help Ruby find a better home, Ivan promises to change Ruby's fate.

Katherine Applegate does a phenomenal job imbuing fictional Ivan with human characteristics (anthropomorphism). The book is told from his point of view and you can't help being drawn into his story.

[Enjoy my FREEBIE printable activities for this book!]

The One and Only Ivan will leave children thinking about several issues:
-- How we obtain animals in captivity
-- How humans choose to treat and house wild animals
-- Facing your fears in both the present and the past
-- Standing by your principles despite potential consequences

The only caution for this book is that it pulls no punches when describing human cruelty. Children will be shocked midway through the book when discovering what happened to Ivan's parents (see **Spoilers/Cautions** below).

However, there are just as many examples of AWESOME human behavior! Proof that every individual can aspire and choose to be the type of person they want to be.

Our family couldn't stop talking about this book! By the last page, you will be inspired by both humans and animals. Because everyone deserves to forge a happy, healthy life -- human and wild animal alike, right?

The One and Only Ivan is definitely a thinking book you won't forget. Neither will your children. 

Madeline's Rating (age 8):  5 stars
Mom's Rating:  5 stars

The two main areas that could be disturbing are the description of Stella's training/abuse in the circus ring and the death of Ivan's family. Stella suffers a permanent injury due to being chained. Ivan's mother is shot while he and his sister cling to her. His father is shot next, and then the parents are dismembered. Ivan's sister dies in their shared transport container (to captivity).

Monday, September 15, 2014

Homeschool Lesson: Using a Globe, Atlas, and Timeline to Discover Ancient Egypt

Back to learning about Ancient Egypt! Because of our summer break, I thought it would be wonderful to start back at the beginning.

Where was Ancient Egypt? How can we find it?

First stop, our little globe. 

Ancient Egypt Lesson via
Modern day Egypt on the Northeast portion of Africa

As luck would have it, we had just recently discussed the continents. After practicing finding them on the globe, Madeline easily located Egypt on the continent of Africa.

Next stop, our trusty World Altas.

A total bargain at Half Price Books for only $10 (retail $25).
Brand spanking new.

What I love about this atlas is the amount of information it has on the various geographical areas. There is always a map to pinpoint a location in a broader context, then an enlarged detail.

Egypt detail from Atlas of the World

Next we constructed an Ancient Egypt timeline. Ours came from Evan Moor's History Pockets Ancient Egypt. Of course, you can always make your own timeline from books and online research.

After pasting together the parts of the timeline, the difference between A.D. and B.C. was discussed. We played a short game where she would compare two dates on the timeline and pick which one was closest to our current date (2014). It was fun!

Finally, Madeline colored in her timeline illustrations with pencils. I love how she pulled out an art book about Egypt to inspire her color choices ;)

Nefertiti illustration from Ralph Masiello's Ancient Egypt Drawing Book contrasted
with Madeline's timeline illustrations

Full width timeline illustration,
Ralph Masiello's Ancient Egypt book in the background

So many resources, so much fun

Here's this lesson's list of resources. Leave me a comment if you use them and tell me what you think!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Trying to get kids excited about Science? Lego robotics!

First FLL Meeting : Building an EV3 Robot via
Our newly built EV3 robot, built at our very first First Lego League team meeting!

During the summer, one of my homeschooling friends had the fantastic idea to field a First Lego League (FLL) team with children in our homeschool group. I had never even heard of FLL.

There was so much interest that we were able to form 2 teams! Madeline's team has 6 members (ages 8-11) and this week was our very first meeting. Of course, I volunteered to be the robotics coach because I'm absolutely crazy ;)

Two team members built a basic robot from instructions. It isn't the final version of our robot. But to practice the programming tutorials a robot is necessary. Can you believe they built this in less than an hour?

Side View of EV3 via
Lego EV3 Robot Side View

The robot will need to interact with various components called mission modules. While one team was building the robot, the other two pairings built mission modules.

FLL :  Scale Mission Module 2014 via
Scale Mission Module : 2014 World Class Challenge

FLL Mission Module via
Mission Module in Progress : 2014 World Class Challenge

FLL Cloud Mission Module : 2014 World Class via
Cloud Mission Module : 2014 World Class Challenge

Cloud Mission Module : 2014 World Class via
Alternate view of Cloud Mission Module : 2014 World Class Challenge

With over 10 mission modules total, we still have quite a bit more to build. All the kids LOVE constructing the mission modules. And working on the robot. And playing with the robot.

Did I mention they like the robot?

The robot building duo even finished with enough extra time to start a mission module as well. What can I say? Except that my heart is bursting with pride for these talented and driven homeschoolers...

This weekend, my husband has volunteered to guide me through the robot software tutorials. I can't wait!