Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Making Gnocchi

Last week's Wordless Wednesday featured a slice-of-life from my 8-year-old's perspective. This week my 12-year-old daughter's slice-of-life caught my eye—it's just a jumble of pots, pans, flour, and me rolling gnocchi, but that's a bit of an ordinary day (not that I make gnocchi every day, but I do make a mess in the kitchen every day!). For more "Wordless" Wednesday posts, visit Wordless Wednesday, Momspective, and Five Minutes for Mom.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Another Gloomy Day

Isn't that a dreadful title for a post? I am writing an entire post about the weather. But really, this has been the rainiest fall I can ever remember in my total 16 autumns in East Tennessee. I'm afraid that all the leaves will be washed off the trees before they even reach their glorious peak.

Of course I'm happy for the rain. I've heard we might have a cold, snowy winter this year. This Yankee girl would find that delightful, if just for a few weeks. And I look forward to how amazingly beautiful our spring flowers will be with all this rain.

Sunday and Monday were absolutely gorgeous, and I longed to get up into the mountains. Instead, we settled for our own backyard. Our trees are just beginning to turn, and the skies were that wonderful shade of blue that looks even bluer after days of gray. We took lots of pictures. You have to, on days like that.

I know, I know: the sun really will come out tomorrow, or the next day, or the next. In the meantime, we have warm sweaters, hot chocolate, and popcorn.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Weekly Wrap-Up

This week…

* I lost a stack of graded essays for the World Lit/Geography class I teach. I have turned this house upside down, and I cannot find them. Fortunately, they were graded and recorded. And, I must say, I was so exceedingly pleased with these essays. I have a fantastic class of high schoolers, and I think they are all brilliant. I just wish I could give them back their brilliant essays.

* I taught the Tenderfoot girls (1st-3rd graders) in American Heritage Girls about what to pack if they were going backpacking. Dr. H. gave me a quick lesson before our meeting because, quite honestly, I haven't been backpacking in over 20 years. But the girls were wonderful and we had a fantastic backpacking/marshmallow-carrying relay race at the end.

* My World Lit/Geography class almost unanimously despise the book we are currently reading, Things Fall Apart. I, however, love it.

* Last week I didn't get a chance to wrap-up the week, but we had a fantastic field trip to Stone's River National Battlefield and also visited Belmont University in Nashville, where my oldest hopes to attend next fall.

* My daughter went to the beach with a friend and her family and didn't get back until Tuesday, so we were still really on fall break until Wednesday. We are trying to get back into the swing of things before Thanksgiving hits. I'm not sure we did a very good job of it this week, however. We did a lot of reading (right now about the Chicago World's Fair), a little math, and some grammar.

* We were planning to go to a college friend's wedding today in upper East TN, but Dr. H. and I both went to bed sick, and I'm feeling dreadful today. I hate to miss it, but I feel like someone with a big fist punched me in the head.

* We have begun studying Michelangelo on our Wednesday art studies day, so I'll close with a photo of the kids (and a friend) painting the Sistine Chapel:

How was your week? Check out more wrap-ups at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

We Are That Family

There's a party going on at We Are That Family, and I'm playing along, because I can. I have stories about being "that" family. I did a brief survey of posts. I was really looking for one about Duncan and the toilet, but instead I found:

How To Stop a Nose Picker
Is This Normal?
In the Bathroom

They all made me laugh, but I like the Nose Picker one the best.

Do you have any stories, new or old, that make you "THAT" family? Hop over to We Are That Family and link up. You might win something.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Piano Fingers

(Sometimes my kids take the camera and just walk around taking pictures. I love to see the world from their perspective; they take pictures of ordinary things in our lives that I would never think to take. This is one that my 8-year-old took of his sister playing the piano. For more "Wordless" Wednesday posts, visit Wordless Wednesday, Momspective, and Five Minutes for Mom.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New Territory

So we entered new territory this past weekend: Jesse visited his first college, Belmont University in Nashville. He went over on Thursday and spent a couple of nights with a friend who attends there. This was the college's fall break, so most of the buildings were closed, but his friend took around as much as possible and introduced him to a few people.

On Saturday, Randy, Duncan and I picked Jesse up at his friend's apartment and then went to look at Belmont ourselves. The campus was absolutely gorgeous. I liked the small campus in the midst of a big city, and that's exactly what Jesse is looking for. He really, really likes it.

So now comes the paperwork. I have absolutely no recollection of filling out college applications myself 25 years ago, but surely I did (or at least had some part in it). Jesse is thinking about his essay questions, and we're figuring out letters of recommendation. The whole "class rank" thing threw me. How does a home-educated student figure out class rank? His adviser said to just get another letter of recommendation. It seems strange to me that class rank is one of the bases for a merit scholarship, but it seems to be like that generally for colleges.

Applications are due by December 1 to be considered for merit scholarships. How did this happen so suddenly? I don't mean Jesse growing up; I mean the rapidity of senior year requirements. Yikes!

And I keep thinking more and more now: this time next year, I'll just have two kids at home.

I'm happy for him.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Field Trip: Stones River National Battlefield

(Clicking on the pics makes them really big.)

We made a trip to Nashville this weekend to visit a college and swung by Stones River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro, Tennessee on our way home.

The Battle at Stones' River was fought over the course of three days, from December 31, 1862, to January 2, 1863, and was one of the bloodiest conflicts in the Civil War.

The battle produced important military and political gains for the North, and it changed forever the people who lived and fought here.

On the final day, more than 3,000 soldiers lay dead on the field, and 16,000 more were wounded. Some of these men spent a week on the battlefield before help could reach them. Together, the Union and the Confederate armies sustained nearly 24,000 casualties, which was almost one-third of the men engaged.

“I cannot remember now of ever seeing more dead men and horses and captured cannon all jumbled together, than that scene of blood and carnage … on the (Wilkinson) … Turnpike; the ground was literally covered with blue coats dead.”
~Sam Watkins of the First Tennessee Infantry, CS

Across the street from the battlefield is the Stones River Cemetery, which holds Union soldiers. Through the cemetery are signs featuring stanzas from a poem written by Confederate officer Theodore O'Hara.
The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last tattoo;
No more on life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On Fame's eternal camping-ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And Glory guards, with solemn round,
The bivouac of the dead.
You can read the whole poem, "Bivouac of the Dead," here.

It's always a somber experience for me to visit Civil War sites. Visiting Gettysburg was a fantastic experience, and we are only just beginning to tap into the amazing Civil War history here in Tennessee. The sheer amount of history we could be soaking in just amazes me, and with every trip we take, I'm determined to take more.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Things to Do On a Rainy Fall Break When You Can't Go Hiking In the Smoky Mountains

My apologies for the ridiculous number of posts today. I felt the uncontrollable need to clean up my sidebar, so I started with organizing the links to my homeschooling posts. (This is called p-r-o-c-r-a-s-t-i-n-a-t-i-o-n.)

So I've gone from dozens of links to just eight posts, each linking to well, a bunch of links. So now under Homeschooling on my sidebar, you can find:
Yep. Hope you find something useful! And now I really am going to stop procrastinating.

American History

American History, Year One
American History, Year Two
Revolutionary War lapbook
U.S. Geography
Slavery Unit
Lewis and Clark Unit
Visiting Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown
Visiting Gettsyburg
Visiting Stones River National Battlefield

Curriculum and Book Reviews

Curriculum Review: Usborne's I Can Draw Series
Curriculum Review: First Language Lessons
Favorite Family Games
Kingergarten: What To Do
My Favorite Curriculum
Top Secret Adventure and Which Way U.S.A
Studying Art

Tricks of the Trade: From Organization to Mystery Folders

Combating the January Blahs
Educational Freebie Sites
Favorite Family Games
Kindergarten: What To Do
Mystery Folders: Encouraging Independent Work
Our Allowance System
Organization, My Way
What to Do with the Little Ones While You're Homeschooling

Homeschooling Issues: Misconceptions, Labeling, and Pondering

Are Homeschoolers Difficult?
Boxing Them In
Let's Call a Truce!
Platitudes and Misconceptions: I'm a Better Mom Because…
Platitudes and MIsconceptions: Why Aren't You Using Your Degree?
Pondering the New Faces of Homeschooling and Otherness
What I've Learned from the Kids
To Test or Not to Test?
Doing a Good Job: Nobody Asked Me
The Magic Wand
Vision Statements
Kindergarten, In Other Words
Approaching Homeschooling: Advice from the Little Blue Engine
Letter to the Editor
Understood Betsy Understands Homeschooling

Nuts and Bolts of Homeschooling in Our Own SmallWorld

How We Got Started
Why We Homeschool: The Practical Version
Why We Homeschool: The Intangible Version
The Whole Shebang: How, Why, Where, and With What in SmallWorld
The Deliciousness of Homeschooling
Underachiever, or Keeping Up with the Homeschooling Joneses
Organization, My Way
To Test or Not to Test
Study Spots
What I've Learned from the Kids

Support Group Support

Support Group Leaders Need Your Support
Planning a Homeschooling 101
Have You Hugged Your Support Group Leader Today?
Our Support Group in the Local News
Yes, Some of Us Do Need Support Groups
Something Nice Happened Yesterday

Lapbooks and Lapbooking

Lapbooking Resources: Start here if you're new to lapbooking, and check out the comments for more links!
Lapbook Insanity
Revolutionary War

Unit Studies

Celebrating Autumn
Lewis and Clark
The Titanic
American History, Year One
American History, Year Two
U.S. Geography

(Be sure to check out the lapbooking link for more unit-study type posts)

Language Arts Helps: Grammar and Writing SOS

Click on the links below for suggestions, ideas, and rambling on various aspects of language arts!

Favorite Grammar Resources
More Grammar Resources
Making Good Writers
Teaching Creative Writing
The Five Paragraph Essay
Using Prepositions Correctly
Curriculum Review: First Language Lessons
Poetry for Children
Reading Poetry with Children
SmallWorld's WordSmithery (free creative writing lessons)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Three Beautiful Things: Friend, Candlelight, Sprouts

1. Old familiar friend: A friend from college drove the 2 hours from Upper East TN today to visit. I haven't seen her in probably 12 years. We had a wonderful, relaxing day together, catching up on our lives.

2. Candlelight: Everyone was gone this evening except my littlest guy, and we had a lovely dinner of fish sticks by candlelight. I sure do love that little guy.

3. Sprouts: My nephew came back from a trip to my brother's farm in New York with loads of apples, pears, and the most beautiful stalk of Brussels sprouts. I'm in fruit and vegetable heaven.

What beautiful things are in your world today?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: On My "To Be Conquered" List

(Yes, I know. The kitchen counter is not an office. For more Wordless Wednesdays, with or without a few words, visit Wordless Wednesday or 5 Minutes for Mom.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Studying Art

The first couple of years that we were homeschooling, we used to always have Fine Arts Fridays. Every Friday we'd learn about a different artist, do some artwork in that style, and listen to classical music while we dabbled.

For the next many years, my kids took art class from a wonderful teacher at our co-op; and I missed our Fine Arts Fridays. So this year only Duncan is taking art class, and we've reinstated our weekly art lessons, now on Wednesdays.

We've been using the book Focus on Artists, which I keep renewing from the library. It's not a fancy book. I have to print out samples of artists' work from my computer to go along with the book. But it has a one-page biography of artists (divided into time periods) and a main project for each artist as well as suggestions for other projects. Simplicity—that's what I need in my life. We have a pretty good shelf of art books to go along with the Focus on Artists book; I especially like the ones in the Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists series.

I've turned a closet door into the art wall. Having bio briefs and artwork displayed helps us stay organized and puts the various artists into perspective. We're still on the Renaissance and will be for quite awhile.

I found a fantastic picture book of Leonardo da Vinci on my shelf, The Genius of Leonardo by Guido Visconti (published by Barefoot Books). I loved the details in this book, which is told from the perspective of Giacomo, one of da Vinci's apprentices. Mona Lisa: The Secret of the Smile by Letizia Galli and Leonardo and the Flying Boy were also enjoyable, but not nearly as informative and engaging as The Genius of Leonardo.

We're finishing Albrecht Durer tomorrow, and then I'm excited to move on to Michaelangelo. I have a special affinity for Michaelangelo, having spent time in Italy when I was in high school. I am blessed to have parents who were extremely interested in seeing all the famous paintings and sculptures, as well as cathedrals and other museums and buildings. I've stared up at the Sistine Chapel, stood before the Pieta and David, and walked through the Forum. (We also spent a few days at the Louvre, and my kids think it's pretty awesome that I've really see the Mona Lisa, among other amazing works at the Louvre and in Paris!!)

Someday, I want to take them all across Europe. For now, we read and learn and dabble, thankful for and awestruck by these great artists.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday Memory: PMA

Once upon a time, I was a swimmer.

We were a magnificent bunch of swimmers on our girls' swim team, absolutely crazy about each other and about our coach. We were strong, thin, muscular, and full of laughter. Although we were in a sport that largely emphasized the individual's effort, we defined teamwork.

I have no idea if we won many meets in the six years ( two years on junior varsity and then 4 on varsity) I was on swim team . I remember we always lost against Victor and that Canandaigua's pool was always so warm that we couldn't help but slow down into a dream-like swim. But I don't think we ever really cared about winning meets. Our coach had instilled in us a strong determination to do our personal best and to have PMA: positive mental attitude. We were the Pink Panthers (our school mascot was the panther), and "PPs have PMA" became our mantra.

(We all had our nickname and a favorite saying on the back of our t-shirts.)

She was a great coach, who was also one of our school's guidance counselors. I don't know whatever became of her. She was kind and quiet and inspired that group of 25 or so girls to support each other, do our best, and have fun. She's one of those few teachers I'd like to find someday, just to say: You made a difference.

Hey, Nancy Read? Your PMA stuck.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

SmallWorld's WordSmithery Week 7: Writing About the Weather

SmallWorld's WordSmithery is back after an e-x-t-e-n-d-e-d summer vacation. Yes, I know it's October.

If you are brand new here, I recommend that you go back and start at the beginning. My goal with the WordSmithery is to make creative writing exciting for writers of all ages. Here's what we've covered so far:

Lesson #1: Introduction and Journals
Lesson #2:
Introduction to Creative Writing, Featuring Good Words
Lesson #3:
Using Powerful Words to Create More Interesting Writing
Lesson #4: Similes
Lesson #5: Metaphors and Strong Verbs
Lesson #6: Alliteration and Spring Flowers (or Fall Leaves)

I also have a place for you to share your kids' writing and read other kids' writing to your children: Share Your Writing! I encourage you to share there or link back to your own blog. My kids love to read what your kids have written!

And now for Lesson #7: Writing About the Weather. As always, this lesson is loosely scripted. You might eliminate some things or add others as you go.

As you know if you are a regular here, I try to put the "speaking" parts in regular type and the answers in italics. And remember: parents/teacher: you should be doing the assignments, too! Go back and read the first couple of lessons to find out why. Here we go!

Writing About the Weather (beginning poetry)

(Note: if you don't go through your journal assignments from the previous lesson on a regular basis, this is the time to share your journals! Remember: we only use encouraging words!)

In the past several lessons, we’ve talked about many different tools that writers can use, so we’re going to spend more time writing in the next few weeks. We’re going to start with some weather poems. Weather is great because people react in so many different ways to different kinds of weather. Weather is always with us! Listen to how much people talk about the weather. What are some different kinds of weather? (blizzards, hurricanes, tornadoes, monsoon, flood, earthquake, etc.) Note: You may want to read Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs at this point, if you have a copy or can get one from the library. This gets them thinking about all kinds of weather!

Listen to these poems about different kinds of weather:

by Carl Sandburg

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

(Ask questions, like: to what is the author comparing fog? what would fog look like if it were a cat?)
by Lilian Moore

All night
The wind
Through the trees,
Like a waterfall,
Tugged and Tore.
In the morning light
The stunned
Looked down on
Tattered leaves
Heaped in
Torn twigs
In barbed wired
Crossed like

Listen to the strong words that the author used in this poem: poured, roared, tugged (go through and read list). The author didn't just say, "There was a big hurricane last night." She chose very strong words to give you the feeling of a powerful storm coming through.

by Eve Merriam

Dot a dot dot dot a dot dot
Spotting the windowpane.
Spack a spack speck flick a flack fleck
Freckling the windowpane.
A spatter a scatter a wet cat a clatter
A splatter a rumble outside.
Umbrella umbrella umbrella umbrella
Bumbershoot barrel of rain.
Slosh a galosh slosh a galosh
Slither and slather a glide
A puddle a jump a puddle a jump
A puddle a jump puddle splosh
A juddle a pump a luddle a dump
A pudmuddle jump in and slide!

Does this poem remind you of rain? Do you hear how Eve Merriam carefully chose words that sound like rain: spick, spack, fleck, dot, etc. Can't you just hear the rain falling on a roof or on a window?

Let’s try writing a weather poem together. We are going to follow a certain formula. Writing a poem with a specific formula, or pattern, is one fun way to write. Here is the example:

Thunder comes in roaring
And rattles your bones
Like a heavy chain
Clanking across the sky
And then stalks back into the clouds,
Rumbling still.
Let's talk about this poem first. How does the thunder come in? (Roaring.) Does that make you think of an animal? What other strong words has the author used to help us really feel the thunder? (rattle, roaring, heavy, clanking, stalks, rumbling) Now let's brainstorm about different kinds of weather. (Write as they say types, such as: tornado, monsoon, earthquake, flood, tsunami, snow, blizzard, ice storm, etc.)

Now let's pick one type of weather and write a poem about it. Here is the formula we are going to follow. (As you go through each line, help them to come up with strong words that describe this kind of weather.)

Title: Form of Nature chosen

Line #1: Title plus how it arrives or begins as an animal would
Line #2: Tell what it does
Line #3: Tell how it does it
Line #4: Tell where it is
Line #5: Tell how it leaves (as an animal would leave)

After they write the poem, let them illustrate the weather.

Do one together and then give each child a form to do his or her own poem. Share these at a later time.


Below are this week's journal writings. We do one each day and then share them with each other.

Day 1

Think of at least 5 words that, when you say them, might make someone feel thirsty.

[For example: parched]

Day 2

In the spirit of “Jabberwocky,” create at least one original word and tell what it might mean.

[For example: magniflubescent: something that glows in the dark without fading.]

Day 3

Make up a tongue twister.

[For example: a box of mixed biscuits]

Day 4

Stretch this sentence by adding or changing words to make it more specific and more interesting: She ate breakfast.

[For example: After being sick for three days, my ravenous daughter ate three helpings of biscuits and gravy.]

Day 5

List all the words you can think of which are in any way related to trees.

[For example: willow, leaf, bark]

Hope you have a a cornucopia of creativity this week! If you enjoyed this lesson, let me know!

Missed the previous lessons? Click on the links below for the whole WordSmithery experience!
Lesson #1: Introduction and Journals
Lesson #2:
Introduction to Creative Writing, Featuring Good Words
Lesson #3:
Using Powerful Words to Create More Interesting Writing
Lesson #4: Similes
Lesson #5: Metaphors and Strong Verbs
Lesson #6: Alliteration and Spring Flowers/Fall Leaves

And don't forget to Share Your Writing! Also, I like link love. If you are using WordSmithery and have a blog, please take a minute copy the WordSmithery logo on my sidebar and point your readers to my blog!

All material on the page copyright 2009-10, Sarah Small.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Weekly Wrap-Up

* Some major events have happened around here this week. First, Jesse got his driver's license! I'm not quite used to having another driver in the house yet, but it's already been very handy. He took his test Tuesday and his insurance came through on Thursday, so he was able to drive to class himself Thursday morning. Boy Scouts was Thursday evening, and Randy said, "I'm so tired [after a day of work and Cub Scouts]. I wish I didn't have to go to Boy Scouts." Suddenly it dawned on us: he didn't actually have to go! Jesse could drive himself! We are in the process of trying to find a very cheap used car for Jesse now. He has lots of money saved, and we've been working on it, too, so hopefully the perfect $1000 car will appear in our driveway soon.

* The next milestone isn't quite so life-changing but it is flabbergasting to me: my 12-year-old daughter now has a bigger shoe size than I do. I really wasn't expecting that; she's so petite. But we went to get new running shoes today, and she actually had to get a half-size bigger than I did. Sigh. We only got to share shoes for about 4 months! I just assumed we'd always wear the same size, and I assumed she'd be my height, as well. Now I'm thinking that she may be taller than I am!

* Duncan is done with his Montessori classes, so we got quite a bit more "done" this week at home together. We finished reading a biography of George Washington Carver and watched Booker, a great movie about Booker T. Washington.

* I went through my file of free lapbooks I've downloaded from CurrClick and found The Great Inventors study guide from A Journey Through Learning. Perfect! We did George Washington Carver and Thomas Edison and will begin working on the Wright brothers, Henry Ford, and Alexander Graham Bell in the next few weeks. We may be inspired to go back and do Robert Fulton, George Eastman, and a couple of others—or we may just be happy with the later 19th century on!

* We had a good math week. Duncan is doing great with memorizing math facts, something that I seriously slacked off on with Laurel. But Laurel is finally moving faster with her facts, and I think by the time she gets to algebra, she'll really, truly have everything memorized!

* For the first time in 10 years of homeschooling, I started a reading incentive chart for the kids. After reading 15 books, they get a prize. I know—that's very public school, accelerated-reading of me. But it's been effective especially for Duncan, who tended to begin a book and never finish it. Laurel's become a truly voracious reader this past year or two but she still enjoys the incentive.

* I gave my first exam last week in my World Lit/Geography class I teach for high schoolers, and I am sooooo happy at how well the kids did. Their essays were fantastic, and I'm happy to say that nearly all of them got close to 20/20 on their Middle East map quiz. This week we started reading and discussing Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, focusing, of course, on Africa.

* In the middle-school Literature Circle class I co-teach at our co-op, we finished talking about Lois Lowry's Number the Stars this week. We had the kids come up with their own book cover design using symbols from the book, and we had some fantastic designs. At our next class, we'll begin discussing Snow Treasure, looking at World War 2 from yet another perspective.

* We didn't get to creative writing this week, but we did get back to our Wednesday art studies. This week we are studying Albrecht Durer. There is all kinds of great stuff out there for studying art, but we've been using Focus on Artists. It provides a good survey but is quite uncomplicated. We didn't quite finish studying Durer, but the kids did begin a neat project. More on that next week.

* This week in American Heritage Girls, our middle- and high-school girls had to learn how to do lashing as part of their outdoor skills badge. Lashing? Yep, these girls were supposed to make a usable camping structure using sticks, rope, and tarp. I think they did a pretty good job—although I'm not sure I'd like to depend on one of these during a big rain ! (Click on the collage for a larger view.)

* Next week we'll take fall break on Thursday and Friday. I have a huge list of projects to tackle/finish during the week, and one of them I already did today. Below is a picture of what is really the playroom, but more aptly called "the room where we throw discarded furniture and all sorts of junk." It could also be called the living room to Jesse's bedroom, but he never really uses it.

Yes, we are disgusting. See, the thing is, this attic room is really, really hot in the summer. One day I started sorting through Jesse's old clothing and got too hot, so I never got back up there again to finish. I'm kinda bad about that. The first picture? Yeah, well, it's like the Island of Misfit Furniture.

But look!

I spent a couple of hours cleaning and sorting, and now I can cross my first project off the list! Yes, it's still the Island of Misfit Furniture and Assorted Items that We Don't Know What to Do With (and does that TV actually work? No one knows!), but at least it's clean and walkable.

Duncan was so excited that he's going to sleep up there tonight. (Shhh--don't tell him there is a scary doll from my childhood in the closet! I once had a nightmare about her, but that's another story.)

How was your week? Sort it out and write it at the Weekly Wrap-up. You probably did more than you think you did!

Apple Unit Study

I am hearing talk about apple orchards and wishing I were smelling some good New York apples, so this weekend seems the perfect time to repost my apple unit study. Take some time off with your little ones and enjoy the fall!

Apples speak “autumn” to me like nothing else. I was raised in a home where apples where as important as oxygen. My father is a fifth-generation orchardist, a retired fruit breeder and professor at Cornell University, a consultant, and partner of Cummins Nursery. Three of my four brothers have, in some manner, followed in my father’s footsteps. It’s only natural that we do an apple unit study every couple of falls. I have not written this out in my traditional unit study format but rather have listed activities, recipes, rhymes, books, and other resources. If you want a great apple read as a parent, I recommend Frank Browning's Apples. Admittedly, I'm partial to this book because my father is mentioned several times, but it is an excellent and lyrical book about apples.

Information and Activities
• Buy as many different varieties of apples as possible. We came up with a total of 14 varieties from 3 different produce markets. Make a chart with various information on each apple: color, number of seeds in each apple, taste, etc.. First count the seeds in each apple and then tasted one slice from each apple. Describe the apple and write down your reactions (sweet, sour, mushy, crispy, bland etc.). We each picked a favorite and recorded that as well.
Save a slice from each apple to see which will take the longest to brown. Be sure you label each apple slice (you can do this by putting the slice on a labeled piece of paper.
Save a couple of seeds from a few different apples. Take 1 seed from each apple and place inside of a damp paper towel piece. Label. With the other seed from each apple, place in slightly damp soil. Label. Discuss what might happen. Watch and record data over the next few weeks.
Look at the stickers from the apples. Where are most apples grown? Check here for more information about apple commerce.
Apple Facts
“An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away”
History of the Apple
• Read Robert Frost’s “After Apple picking": Write apple poems using various formulas (haiku, cinquain, couplets, etc.)
• Take a field trip to an apple orchard. Watch cider being made.

Apple Recipe Ideas
• Apple pie: Mix all kinds of varieties after your science projects.
• Applesauce: (Peel, core and quarter about 8 apples. Add 1/2-1 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of water and 2 tsp. of cinnamon. Cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes, mashing often with a potato masher. Cook until desired texture.)
• Fried Apples: (Cut apples into slices. Fry in butter with 1/2 cup of white sugar, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and 1 T. cinnamon. Serve with biscuits.)
• Mini Pies: (one refrigerator biscuit per child, apple slices, cinnamon, sugar Have each student press out their biscuit. Take one apple from the filling and place to one side. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over the apple. Fold in half. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over the top. Bake according to the biscuit package and enjoy.)
• Baked Apples: Cut apple in half and core. Fill core hole with a dab of butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Put in microwave for up to 1 minute.
• Dried apples: Slice apples into rings and hang to dry for a week or more.
• Lot of recipes from FamilyFun.

Arts and Crafts
• Apple Mural/Acrostic: Make mural using apples to paint with. We just made a big sheet like wrapping paper with all kinds of apple prints. When dry, write A P P L E vertically down middle. Write words or phrases that describe apples by each one.
A—autumn, aromatic
P—pretty pink petals
P—pie, Pink Lady
E—exciting, edible, excellent

• Enchanted Learning has all kinds of apple activities, from crafts to apple books, for all age levels.
• Carve apple heads. Soak in lemon juice and water for 1 hour. Hang to dry for 2-4 weeks.
• More apple craft ideas.

Books about Apples
Aliki. The Story of Johnny Appleseed
Anderson, LaVere. The Story of Johnny Appleseed
Asch, Frank. Oats and Wild Apples
Bennett, Denise. The Color Tree
Berger, Melvin. An Apple A Day
Blocksma. Apple Tree! Apple Tree!
Bourgeois. The Amazing Apple Book
Butler, Stephen. The Mouse and the Apple
Caseley. An Apple Pie and Onions
Cowley, Joy. The Apple
Curran, Eileen. Look At A Tree
Davies, Kay. My Apple
Demuth, Patricia. Johnny Appleseed
Dodd, Lynley. The Apple Tree
Eberle. Apple Orchard
Gibbons, Gail. The Seasons of Arnold's Apple Tree
Gleitner, Jan. Johnny Appleseed
Greenaway. Apple Pie
Greene. John Chapman: The Man Who Was Johnny Appleseed
Hale, Richard and Nicky Wilbur. Worm
Hall, Zoe. The Apple Pie Tree
Heuck. Who Stole the Apples?
Hodges, Margaret. The True Tale of Johnny Appleseed
Hogrogian, N. Apples
Hunt, Mabel. Better Known as Johnny Appleseed
Johnson, Hannah Lyons. From Appleseeds to Applesauce
Johnson, Sylvia. Apple Trees
Kellogg, Steven. Johnny Appleseed: A Tall Tale
Kozjak, Sarai. The Apple Tree That Would Not Let Go of Its Apples
Kurtz, Shirley. Applesauce
LeSeig, Theo. Ten Apples Up On Top
Lindbergh, Reeve. Johnny Appleseed
Little, J and Devries, M. Once Upon A Golden Apple
McMillan, Bruce. Apples: How They Grow
Maestro. How Do Apples Grow?
Marzollo, Jean. I Am an Apple
Micucci, Charles. The Life and Times of the Apple
Moon, Cliff and Bernice. Look At An Apple
Noble, Trinka Hakes. Apple Tree
Norman, Gertrude. Johnny Appleseed
Nottridge, Rhoda. Apples
Parnall, Peter. Apple Tree
Patent, Dorothy. An Apple a Day
Priceman, Marjorie. How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World
Rockwell, Ann. Apples and Pumpkins
Saunders Smith, Gail. Apple Trees
Scheer, Julian. Rain Makes Applesauce
Schneiper, Claudia. An Apple Tree Through the Year
Selsam. The Apple and Other Fruit
Silverstein, Shel. The Giving Tree
Slawson, Michele Benoit. Apple Picking
Thomas, Ulrich. Applemouse
Tryon, Leslie. Albert's Field Trip
Watson, Tom. Fox and the Apple Pie
Watts, Barrie. Apple Tree

Teacher Resources for Apples and Growing
Charles Micucci. The Life and Times of the Apple (Creative Teaching Press Apples)
Apples (Teacher Created Materials)
Paulette Bourgeois. The Amazing Apple Book

Finger Plays and Rhymes

Apple On A Stick
Apple on a stick, apple on a stick
I can lick it all day and not get sick.
Apple in a cup, apple in a cup
I can drink it all day and not fill up.
Apple in a crunch, apple in a crunch
I can eat it all day, it is so good to munch
Apple in a cake, apple in a cake
I can eat it all day with no tummy ache
Apple in a pie, apple in a pie
I can eat it all day and never cry.
Apple in a dish, apple in a dish
I can eat it all day, it's so delish!

Red Apple
A little red apple
Hung high in a tree
I looked up at it
And it looked down at me
"Come down, please" I called
And what do you suppose---
That little red apple
Dropped right on my nose!

Five Red Apples
Five red apples in a grocery store
Bobby bought one & then there were 4
Four red apples on an apple tree
Susie ate one & then there were 3
Three red apples. What did Alice do?
Why she ate one & then there were 2
Two red apples ripening in the sun
Tommy ate one, & now there was 1
One red apple & now we are done
I ate the last one & now there are none!

Five Little Apples Sitting On A Gate
Five little apples sitting on a gate.
The first one says, "Oh, my it's getting late.
The second one says, "Fall is in the air."
The third one says, "Don't worry my dear."
The fourth one says, "Let's run and run and run."
The fifth one says, "I'm ready for some fun."
Oooh, went the wind and out went the light
and the five little apples rolled out of sight!

Five Apples Sat on a Gate (Tune: Farmer in the Dell)
Five apples sat on a gate, five apples sat on a gate.
Heigh dee ho, dee high dee ho, Five apples sat on a gate.
The first apple said, "Hello", the first apple said, "Hello"...
Heigh dee ho, dee high dee ho, Five apples sat on a gate....
(continue counting apples down to one).

Climbing Up the Apple Tree
Climbing up the apple tree, (climb in place)
Swinging on a limb! (Raise arms above head, sway left and right)
If I hear a robin, I may (cup hand near ear)
Sing along with him! (sing tra la la)
And Robin, if you fly away, (Put hands over eyes)
Here's what I think I'll do: (Point with index finger)
I'll wish a pair of sparrow wings (gently flap arms at side and move around)
And fly away with you!"

Ten Red Apples
Here I have five apples. (hold up five fingers on right hand)
And here are five again. (hold up both hands)
How many apples altogether?
Why, five and five makes ten.

Eat an Apple
Eat an apple; (Bring right hand to mouth)
Save the core. (Close right hand in fist)
Plant the seeds. (Bend down touch hand to ground)
And grow some more. (Extend both arms out)

Picking Apples (Tune: Frere Jacques)
-use when picking up legos, blocks, etc.
Picking apples Picking apples
One by one
One by one
Put them in a basket
Put them in a basket
Oh, what fun! Oh, what fun!

All Around The Apple Tree
sung to the tune of Mulberry Bush
Here we go round the apple tree, the apple tree, the apple tree
Here we go around the apple tree
On a frosty morning.
This is the way we climb the ladder -pick the apples -wash the apples -peel the apples -cook the apples -eat the apples
On a frosty morning!

Here Is An Apple
Here is an apple(make circle with thumb and pointer)
and here is an apple(make circle with other thumb and pointer)
and a great big apple I see(Make circle with arms)
Now let's count the apples we've made (repeat above actions)
1- 2 - 3 !

Ten Red Apples
Ten red apples grow on a tree (Both hands high)
Five for you and five for me. (Dangle one hand & then the other)
Let us shake the tree just so (Shake body)
And ten red apples will fall below (Hands fall)
1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10. (Count each finger)

Worms In The Apple Tree
(Tune: Kookaburra)
Look at all the worms in the apple tree,
Eating all the apples they do see,
CRUNCH, when they eat their lunch,
There will be no apples left for me.
Look at all the birdies, they do call,
Eating all the worms up, one and all,
SLURP, little birdies burp,
Guess there will be apples after all.

Apple Tree Rhyme
Way up high in an apple tree (hold arms over head)
2 little apple smiled at me (hold up 2 fingers to cheeks)
I shook that tree as hard as I could (pretend to shake tree)
Down came 2 apples. Mmmm, they were good! ( rub stomach and smile)

Apple Poem
Apples big,
Apples small.
Guess what?
I like them all.

A Little Apple Seed
(Tune: Eensy, Weensy Spider)
Once a little appleseed was planted in the ground
Down came the raindrops, falling all around.
Out came the big sun, bright as bright could be
And that little apple seed grew to be an apple tree!

Tiny Apple Seed
(Tune: Insey Weensy Spider)
The tiny little apple seed was planted in the ground,
down came the rain, falling all around,
out came the sun, as bright as bright can be,
and the tiny little appleseed became an apple tree!

Use a flannelboard with this. Make a small brown seed, about 10 blue raindrops, a big yellow sun and the tree with red apples on it.

Apples Are Falling
(Tune: Are You Sleeping?)
Apples are falling, apples are falling
From the tree, from the tree.
Pick up all the apples, pick up all the apples,
One. two, three; one, two,. three.
(Use appropriate motions for actions)

Two Little Apples
Two little apples hanging on a tree
Two little apples smiling at me
I shook that tree as hard as I could
Down came the apples
Mmmm were they good!

Apple Surprise
Way up high in the apple tree,
A little brown worm smiled at me.
I winked my eye, And what do you suppose?
A shiny, red apple dropped on my nose!

Five Red Apples
Five red apples hanging in a tree (Hold up five fingers)
The juiciest apples you ever did see.
The wind came by and gave an angry frown (Fingers flutter downward)
And one little apple came tumbling down (One finger falls)
Four red apples, hanging in a tree, etc.

Four Little Apples
Four little apples dancing in a tree, (Let four fingers dance)
They danced so long that they set themselves free. (Fingers fall)
They continued to dance as they fell to the ground
And there by some children these apples were found. "Oh!
Look at the rosy one! (Hold up one finger)
"It almost bounced!" "I'll take the red one!" (Hold up second finger)
Another announced.
The third child laughed as he chose the yellow one. (Hold up third finger)
"I'll take it to Mother, ‘cause she lets me have fun."
The fourth child put the last one on a tray (Put fourth finger in palm of left hand)
And carefully carried the green apple away.

Apple Tree
( Tune: Twinkle Twinkle)
Apple, apple tree so tall,
I can hardly wait till fall!
When your apples I can pick,
Fill my basket, eat them quick.
Apple, apple tree so tall, I can hardly wait till fall!
Apple ,apple tree so fair,
What do I see growing there!
Green and round and plump and sweet,
Soon they will be good to eat.
Apple, apple tree so fair,
What do I see growing there!

Do You Know the Apple Man?
(Tune: Muffin Man)
Do you know the Apple Man,
The Apple Man, the Apple Man,
Do you know the Apple Man,
Who likes to play with me?
Oh, he has a great big smile,
A great big smile, a great big smile,
Oh, he has a great big smile,
And likes to play with me.
Oh, he has a bright red face,
A bright red face, a bright red face,
Oh, he has a bright red face,
And likes to play with me.
Oh, he has a star inside, A star inside, a star inside,
Oh, he has a star inside, And likes to play with me.

Apple Roll Chant
5 little apples in the bowl
1 fell out and started to roll
It bumped the table and hit my feet!
How many apples left to eat?
4 little apples in the bowl...
3, 2, 1 little apple in the bowl.

Five Little Apples
Five little apples,not any more.(Count on fingers)
I give one to________(Child's name)
And now there are four.
Four little apples are what I see I give one to _____________,
And now there are three.
Three little apples for me and you.
I give one to_____________, And now there are two.
Two little apples: oh,what fun! I give one to ___________,
And now there is one. One little apple,only one.
I give one to _________, And now there are none.

Johnny Appleseed
Thank You Johnny Appleseed
We owe you quite a lot
For the apples that you planted
With a walking stick and cooking pot.
Your seeds were planted far and wide
Across our frontier land
A friendly word you had for all
You gave a helping hand.
Thank You Johnny Appleseed
We owe you quite a lot
For lovely trees and apples
And the lessons that you taught!

Climbing Up the Apple Tree
Climbing up the apple tree, (climb in place)
Swinging on a limb! (Raise arms above head, sway left and right)
If I hear a robin, I may (cup hand near ear)
Sing along with him! (sing tra la la)
"And Robin, if you fly away, (Put hands over eyes)
Here's what I think I'll do: (Point with index finger)
I'll wish a pair of sparrow wings (gently flap arms at side and move around)
And fly away with you!"

Criss-cross applesauce (make an X on the child's back)
Spiders crawling up your spine (finger walk up child's spine)
Cool breeze (blow on child's neck)
Tight squeeze (gently squeeze the child's shoulders)
Now you've got the chillies! (You get a funny feeling like goosebumps)

Apple Surprise
10 shiny apples, hanging on a tree.
"Whish" went the wind And they all fell on me.
I picked up one and started to laugh,
When I found a surprise after I cut it in half.

Apples in the Fall
Apples, apples in the fall
Some are big, and some are small,
I wish I could eat them all,
Apples, apples in the fall.

Picking Apples
(Tune: Paw-Paw Patch)
Pick the apples, put them in your basket,
Pick the apples, put them in your basket,
Pick the apples, put them in your basket,
Way down yonder in the apple orchard.

Apple Song (Tune: Rock a bye Baby)
This is the tree (tree picture)
With leaves so green (leaves for the tree)
Here are the apples (some apples to hang on tree)
That hang in between
When the wind blows The apples will fall (drop down the apple pictures)
And here is the basket to gather them all. (basket picture)

Apple Rhyme
Apples, apples, good to eat.
Apples, apples, juicy and sweet.
Pick them off a tree, buy them at a store,
Apples, apples, WE WANT MORE!

Apple Magic
In every single apple lies
A truly magical surprise.
Instead of slicing down, slice through
And watch the star appear for you!

5 Red Apples
5 red apples sweet to the core.
1 fell down and then there were four.
4 red apples sitting in a tree.
1 fell down and then there were three.
3 red apples one for you, and you, and you.
1 fell down and then there were two.
2 red apples shining in the sun,
1 fell down and then there were one.
1 red apple left all alone
1 fell down and then there were none.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Cowboy

(Click to enlarge. My cowboy is wearing my Dad's outfit from when he and his grandmother and cousin took the train from southern Illinois to Texas, close to 75 years ago. She bought my dad and his cousin these cowboy outfits. For more Wordless Wednesday photos or to participate yourself, go to Wordless Wednesday or 5 Minutes for Mom.)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sunday Miscellany

* What a wild weekend this turned out to be. Friday evening Randy and Jesse went to help with the Decemberadio that was organized by Feed Your Faith, a ministry run by our friends Mike and Rick. While they were there, Laurel went to a Survivor-themed birthday party. Yes, girls were actually voted off the "island." Laurel was nervous about the party, anticipating being one of the first voted off, if for no reason than that probably all the girls were anxious about that. (She actually turned out to be the Sole Survivor.) Duncan and I ate at Marble Slab Ice Creamery for supper, because, well, why not? Everyone else was partying. When we finally got home there was a message on the machine from my mother-in-law, saying they'd be in to visit the next afternoon.

* Randy had an all-day Cub Scout training session on Saturday, so after I did lesson plans for a couple of hours, I cleaned. And cleaned and cleaned etc. My house is so spotless now. I love it.

* We had a great visit with my mother-in-law and her husband. I always wish that she could be around more for the kids but their house in Indiana just isn't selling.

* But it's lovely to have my parents right down the road. This evening I went to World Communion Sunday with them at a church in Knoxville. It was really fantastic to be with believers from a variety of congregations and to be there with my parents. I don't get to do much with them without the kids. Funny how I forget that I'm 43-years-old when I'm with my parents and I feel 15 again. They are precious to me.

* I came home to a delicious dinner of Dr. H's famous fettuccine alfredo and Laurel's warm brownies for dessert. Now the rain is falling, my lesson plans are done for tomorrow, and bed is calling.

* A very, very long week looms ahead and ends in a weekend camping trip with 15 middle-and-high school-aged girls. I am planning to go to Aruba when this is all over.