Thursday, October 14, 2021

Bingo Bottles Craft and 6 Books for Veteran's Day

We are a proud military family and love supporting our troops and veterans!  Our kids have been to a dozen or more send offs and welcome homes and enough military funerals to know freedom isn't free. 

For this Veteran's Day we made a Bingo Bottle Poppy Craft to show our support and appreciation to Military Veterans.  I love arts and crafts, but with 6 kids the mess can sometimes be overwhelming.  That why I love painting with these Bingo Bottles (similar to Do-A-Dot Markers).  

If you are braver than I, you can easily do this craft with fingerprints as well.

The girls made five red dots in a circle and our older boys put a green dot in the middle to make the poppy flower.  We gave our 2 year old ample paper to make a "poppy field" on.  After reading Flander's Field we wrote a little poem on each of the cards.

"I have a little poppy,
As red as red can be,
To show that I remember
Those who fought to make me free."

You can drop these cards off at the local VFW, or canvas social media to find some Veteran's or local events.

To all of our Veteran's, Happy Veteran's Day!

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Saturday, October 9, 2021

Netherlands Unit Study

 After a 2 week break to study Business 101, we are back to traveling the world! "Dag" from the Netherlands. My first time traveling out of country (many, many years ago) by myself was actually to attend a swim camp and competition in the Netherlands. I have so many wonderful memories of touring the beautiful country, and was excited to pass along some of those memories and excitement to our child.

Of course, the three things I remembered the most were the tulips, windmills, and wooden shoes. We took turns reading "The Great Tulip Trade", which is an easy reader and great book for your younger readers. We then watched a few YouTube videos that toured some of the tulip fields and farms.

The main read aloud I chose for this unit study was "When the Dikes Broke". Based on the great flood of 1953, it is a heartwarming tale of a people coming together to help others in need. I could not find this book at our local library, so we listened to it on Audible. The kids were fascinated to learn that about 40 percent of the land is below sea level, and that there are 800 miles of dikes to hold back water from the seas. 

While we listened to the audiobook I handed out one of my favorite treats - Stroopwafel. I shared how each evening we would walk from our hotel to the local market to get one of these. I was pleasantly surprised when I found a gluten free version of my favorite treat on Amazon, and ordered a case for the children to share. They were a big hit among everyone. 

Windmills are used in the Netherlands to pump water into the canals off of the land reclaimed from the sea. The children each constructed a windmill design out of an assortment of materials that I spread on the table (spoons, knifes, popsicle sticks, feathers, egg cartons, and more!). 

Their assignment was to create a design that would lift a binder clip when a simulated wind (fan) blew. We had so much fun with this STEM project! Even our four year old got in on the fun. 

Some designs that they thought would work really well, they soon discovered did not work as planned. I actually love when this happens because it is such a richer learning experience (both emotional learning and intellectual learning). So, I welcomed these "failures" and we talked how we could turn them into "successes" with our attitude. Growth mindset is a powerful tool to teach!

While I was in the Netherlands, I also visited the Van Gogh museum. We did a virtual tour of the museum online (there are lots of activities to choose from on their website) and drew our own renditions of Starry Night.

Many famous artists have come from the Netherlands. We explored some of the works of Rembrandt, Jan Steen, Jan Vermeer, and others online. These artists painted with paint, but we explored the art of descriptive writing and painted with words. In my Writing Around the World series, I have tried to connect a literary activity to each country that we study. This series is made with homeschoolers in mind and includes activities for little learners all the way through middle schoolers (and even high schoolers could use this series). While thinking of their favorite place, the children answered a series of sensory questions, and then thought of similes, metaphors, and onomatopoeias to describe their place. Using these, they then wrote a descriptive writing piece. The littles had similar descriptive writing activities that required far less writing, but still encouraged them to use their senses and explore adjectives.

Speaking of senses - oh my, the Dutch Pear Baby we made was heavenly! It was a fun recipe because we were able to use pears we had collected from our pear tree, and it tasted, smelled, and looked "dreamy" just as the author of the recipe described it. It received a 10/10 from all of the children. 

The final book we read for the unit was "Boxes for Katje". We had studied the holocaust and WWII in depth last year, but this book was not on our reading list then so I wanted to be sure to revisit and and remind the children of some of the historical trials the people of the Netherlands had faced. It is an inspiring tale that will leave your children eager to make a difference.

Thank you for stopping by! Check out the Homeschool Tab at the top of the page for more of our learning adventures around the world, and give us a follow on Instagram @pocketful_of_treasures.

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Thursday, September 30, 2021

Business 101 for Kids

As I mentioned in my post "Diving into Another Homeschool Year", entrepreneurship and financial literacy are an important part of our homeschool learning experience. Children are never too young to learn how to make and manage money. Children are often excited about working and want to work, but we deny them the opportunities. I remember looking through the classifieds when I was about 12 years old and being crushed by the fact that I could not work. I begged my dad to walk me down the street to the neighbors with horses to see if they needed help mucking stalls (I was willing to do anything to be around horses). I was denied - too young they said. I also was never taught how to manage money, or at least not how to be responsible with money. So I learned my financial "wisdom" from credit card companies - swipe this enough times that you cannot afford to pay it off and remain a slave to the lender. A few years into marriage we found ourselves maxed out on all our credit cards and having way too many money fights. Thankfully, our sister-in-law introduced us to Dave Ramsey, and we determined then that we wanted to do better for our children. 

One snide comment we often receive is, "Haven't you heard of child labor laws?" Please, listen carefully. Child labor and exploitation is WRONG and we one hundred percent are against it. Child labor and exploitation by definition "deprives children of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regular school, and is mentally, physically, socially, and morally harmful." (Wikipedia) Teaching your child to think, create, and use their God-given abilities is just the opposite of this. We want to enrich their childhood, enhance and personalize their education, and lift them up mentally, physically, socially, and morally. We want to teach them problem solving, goal setting, creativity, financial literacy, delayed gratification, and so much more!

Our children have come up with several creative business ideas throughout the years, but when the opportunity presented itself for them to have a kid run booth at Quitman Fest, we decided to take a break from our usual study and dive into a two week Business intensive unit study. I could not find a workbook to use to guide us through our business study, so I created our own. My Business 101 for Kids workbook guided them through the why of having a business, how to do a SWOT analysis to come up with business ideas, marketing and promoting, setting prices, goal setting, and more. 

In the workbook they actually do a SWOT analysis three different times. A SWOT analysis has you identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Our older girls (6th and 7th grade) really enjoyed this part and found it helpful in coming up with some new business ideas for both the vendor event and future business endeavors. Based on their SWOT analysis, all of our school-aged children came up with a product idea to make and sell. Coming up with business ideas can be the most difficult part of starting a business, so here is a look at some of the ideas our children came up with. You can also check their Etsy page. Perhaps they will inspire your little ones.

Our first grader decided to make fire starters using recycled material. He has helped me make these in the past for our personal use, and he noticed that we had a good size pile of egg cartons, a bag of old candles, and a bucket of dyer lint collecting in the laundry room. 

Our second grader had recently received some paracord and a book on paracord projects for his birthday. He decided to practice some new knots and make some keychains and bracelets to sell.

Our fourth grader loves working with his hands. He had wanted to make some toys and birdhouses using some scrap wood, but my husband has been wanting to teach him leather making and encouraged him to make knife sheaths and gun holsters. He was hesitant at first, but once he got going he loved his new project and spending the extra time with his dad. The finished projects were gorgeous and he already invested his earnings into more leather to try to expand his skills and products.

Our sixth grader is our artist. We encouraged her several months ago to come up with ideas to turn her artwork into something useful. It was then that she started printing her drawings on notecards, and has been very successful with that. So her project was more on expanding her present business idea. She created a set of Birthday cards and is working on a set of Christmas cards.

Our seventh grader is our girly girl who loves to craft. We grew some loofah in our garden this year, so she decided to make some loofah soaps. She also made up some different bath salts and sewed scrunchies. She described her part of the vendor table as "everything you need for a perfect at home spa day."

Teaching entrepreneurship in your homeschool classroom certainly breaks the stigma that homeschoolers are unsocialized. In one day alone they were able to capture the attention of and speak with a couple hundred people. We teach them the FORM method of communicating with others. The FORM method is simply striking up a conversation with someone by asking them questions about their Family, Occupation, or Recreation and then using the information you gathered to deliver your Message. Our daughter once used this method to sell bath salts to a man for his wife that he did not yet have! 

If you would like to teach Business 101 to your children or students, the workbook is available for purchase on Teachers Pay Teachers. The workbook covers FORM Communication method, SWOT analysis, goal setting, basic business plans, cost analysis, and more. I cannot wait to see the business ideas your children come up with! Be sure to follow and tag us on Instagram @Pocketful_of_Treasures.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Bangladesh Geography and Culture Homeschool Unit Study

“Nomoskar” from Bangladesh. We begin all of our countries with a brief tour in our “Passport to the World” book and questions from Masterbook’s Elementary Geography and Cultures workbook.  

The children each made the country’s flag and located the country on the map.

On the back of each country’s flag I have the children draw something that reminds them of the country. Here, one of our girls decided to draw a rickshaw.

I chose three books to guide our study through Bangladesh. I knew that I wanted to incorporate a study on the Bengal tigers, so first up was Tiger Boy by Mitali Perkins. The book not only gives a lot of incidental information on tigers, the Sunderbans, geography, weather, and culture, but also encourages readers to always do the right thing. 

The Sunderban Tiger Reserve is a real place and has some excellent articles on the Sunderbans and tigers on their blog. We used Art for Kid's YouTube video to draw a Bengal Tiger Head.

One of the things that helped Neel, the main character of Tiger Boy, find the missing Tiger Cub was his ability to draw a map of the area and recall details of the island. We did a little test to see how much we could recall about our neighborhood by drawing a map of our area from memory.

The moral theme of integrity is woven strongly throughout the book. Neel's Father said, "Many things are worth more than money." Our older children used that line as the opening line to an essay, where they wrote about what in life is worth more than money. You can purchase my Writing Around the World worksheets for Bangladesh, which teaches how to write a five paragraph essay, from my Teachers Pay Teachers Store. It also includes alternate activities for little learners that may not be quite ready for writing an entire essay yet (or even writing at all!). 

Yasmin's Hammer by Ann Malaspina is a motivating tale on overcoming adversity and working towards a goal. It is set on the noisy streets of Dhaka and shows city life in Bangladesh. Yasmin longs to go to school and learn to read, but instead she must work to help provide for her family. She begins working extra hard at the brickyard and earns up enough extra coins to get a book. When she brings it home, the family realizes that none of them can read and the parents determine to work extra hard so their daughters can go to school. Her father takes on extra rickshaw routes and her mom weaves baskets, which brought us to our next project. After exploring some how to videos on YouTube, we attempted to weave a grass basket. The girls quickly realized what hard work this was and how hard is is on your hands.

Rickshaw Girl, another book by Mitali Perkins, captures the culture of Bangladesh and addresses gender inequalities. Naima's talent for drawning alpanas helps her save her mother's golden bangle and fix her father's rickshaw. We drew some alpana like designs on paper.

We then made a rice paste to attempt to draw some alpanas on the asphalt. This, we discovered, was quite difficult to do!

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Friday, September 3, 2021

Armenia Geography and Cultures Unit Study

We said “sayonara” to Japan and “parev” to Armenia. We started with our readings about Armenia from Children’s Atlas of God’s World and Passport to the World and answered the questions in MasterBooks’ Elementary Geography and Cultures workbook. We found Armenia on our map and each made an Armenian flag out of construction paper.

I found a free Google presentation on Teacher Pay Teachers that had embedded videos showing an overview of Armenian culture. From it we learned that all students in Armenia take Chess, so naturally we had to break out the chess boards and play some chess.

We also decided that we wanted to make some Lavash bread, or something as close to it as we could being that we are gluten free. A google search led me to Unicorns in the Kitchen's Easy Lavash Bread Recipe. I substituted Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1:1 Baking Flour, and even though it did not rise as much as regular flour, I think the recipe worked quite well. 

We then brushed the Lavash with some olive oil and garlic, added some cheese and tomatoes, and baked it for our own Armenian inspired pizza lunch. It was a huge hit with the kiddos.

We read two Armenian folktales with great lessons. Once There Was and Was Not is a great story warning against envy and encouraging sharing, hard work, and reaping what you sow. 

If your kiddos are complaining about why they have to do school, a Weave of Words holds the answer. It is a tale of a lazy prince that learns to read, write, and weave. In doing so he not only wins love but it also saves his life. 

Inspired by the illustrations in the book and other examples of classic Armenian illustrated letters, the children illustrated their initials.

I did not want to leave Armenia without studying the Armenian Genocide. As much as we would like to hide some of the monstrosities of the past, I believe it is important to study and discuss the past with our children. I chose the book Forgotten Fire by Adam Bagdasarian as a family read aloud to base our discussions of this time period off of. It is the story of Vahan Kenderian, a wealthy Armenian boy who grew up living a life of privilege until 1915 when everything is stripped from him. I often choose historical novels that are written through the eyes of a child, because I feel like it gives a more relatable experience. The Armenian genocide was a horrific time period. Adversity can either consume a person or make them stronger. Against all odds and with an incredible strength and will, Vahan survives and is stronger (like steel as he says). The recommended reading age for this book is 14-17, which is typically the age group I choose from when deciding on historical novels to read aloud to the entire family. However, you should know that this book is graphic and descriptive when describing the horrors Vahan and his family faced, so discretion is advised. There were some paragraphs that I chose to summarize as "she/he was assaulted" when reading it aloud to our children. I reminded our children as we read to "look for the helpers" (as Mr. Rogers would say) and to be mindful of the blessings. 

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Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Japan Geography and Cultures

We dove into another homeschool year in early August with a unit study of Japan. We are using Masterbook's Elementary Geography and Cultures curriculum as our backbone for study. It uses the Children's Atlas of God's World and Passport to the World as the main textbooks. Because we operate our homeschool as a one room schoolhouse with all of our children between preschool and 7th grade studying the same subject matter for history and science, I added more hands on crafts and learning activities. One of the things I love about homeschooling the flexibility to be able to make each curriculum your own. Our plan is to study each country for two weeks and to include a country celebration at least one of those weekends during our family night. Considering that the Tokyo Olympics were being aired when we started, we decided that we would switch up the order and study Japan first. We did a brief heritage study of Japan a couple of years ago in American Heritage Girls, so we revisited some of those activities and added more.

For every country we study this year we will be locating it on both our map and our globe, and crafting the country's flag out of construction paper.

The first day we read the All About Japan booklet, a free resource from 123 Homeschool 4 Me. I love that this resource also doubled as a coloring book that the children could busy themselves with while I helped another child on a project.

I also assigned the older girls with the tasks of researching other facts on Japan and presenting them in a Kawaii style comic book. Kawaii simply refers to the culture of cuteness in Japan (think Hello Kitty or Shopkins). 

We watched several YouTube videos on Feudal Japan and read the books "The Sign of the Chrysanthemum" and "Shipwrecked!: The True Adventures of a Japanese Boy" for a better understanding of Feudal Japan. 

We also braided Kumihimo cords, which is the Japanese Art of Cord Braiding. The Samari once used Kumihimo cords as laces for their armor. You can find many tutorials on YouTube, but we liked this one by a middle school art teacher.

The tutorial was easy to follow and once the kids got the hang of it, they spent many hours braiding (bringing it in the car and to their beds for quiet hour). 

Our next activity explored Japanese writing. I printed out several pages of Kanji, a Japanese writing system where symbols represent words. The kids then chose a Kanji symbol they liked and wrote a Haiku about it. They then drew their Kanji and a picture onto a cardboard fan and wrote their Haiku on it.

Remember, a Haiku is a three line poem written with a 5/7/5 syllable pattern that is non-rhyming. Here are some of their Haiku's:

Flying in the cage
Holds four beautiful budgies
They are so pretty

The cold white snow falls
Falling down upon my head
Makes me so happy

Dinosaur running
Running quickly after me
Please do not catch me

The second week, we focused mostly on the Ring of Fire and the many natural disasters that impact Japan. For this, YouTube was my teaching assistant. I had originally planned on more books, but did not make it to the library on time. Thankfully the internet provides a wealth of resources! 

I also wanted to add in another craft for the second week. We have made homemade volcanos many times, so in researching something different to do I came across water marbling (or Suminagashi in Japan). Thanks to Amazon (for which I am an affiliate and I so appreciate your support as it helps me continue to fund our homeschool), I had a Water Marbling kit at my door the following day! This was a big hit with the kids! We also watched some YouTube videos of professional Suminagashi. Quite impressive!

Then it was time to party!!! The children decorated the house with fish drawings and origami. We put a mattress in the middle of the floor which we covered to use as a "table" so we could sit on the floor and each Japanese style. I reminded them of the Japanese table manners which we previously studied. I served Matcha lattes and Cucumber Sushi with some homemade Yum Yum Sauce

For dessert we made Matcha Pound Cake

We ate the leftover rice the following day with some potstickers and practiced using our chopsticks.

We concluded the night with playing our new favorite game, Go Sushi Go Party! You can play with up to eight players, so our whole family was even to play. Even our four year old (even though he did not grasp the strategy of the game) was able to put down cards and be a part of family night. (If you find the directions confusing, which I did at first, watch a YouTube tutorial on game play. It is really quite a simple game once you understand how to play). 

Thank you so much for stopping by! Be sure to follow our Instagram @pocketful_of_treasure for our latest homeschool fun and tag us in your adventures.

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