Monday, October 31, 2011


     Another year of Halloween fun.  Samuel and Abriel were a knight and a princess.  I had considered making them Apollo and Artemis, but thought they would have fun playing with these costumes all year round.

Anna was a Luna moth.  We were joined this year by my sister and her family.  Her son, Asher, is only three month older than the twins, and he and Samuel wore matching crusader costumes.  Her little one year old was a princess as well.  They all looked adorable, but we couldn't get them together long enough for a picture. 

The idea for Anna's wings came from those wonderful fairy wings that Sarah's Silks makes.  Anna's wings are made out of a re-purposed flannel sheet.  I thought since she was a moth, that a slightly fuzzy material would be appropriate.  Samuel's hood is a copy too.  I saw this neat chain mail hood at the The Wooden Wagon, and I thought, "I could make that!"  It's where the whole idea for their costumes came from. 
     People always ask me where my ideas come from.  Well, the truth is, I am very good at borrowing other people's ideas.  I love the internet!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Art Time

      Tuesday is art day here; or at least it's suppose to be.  Sometimes it ends up being just one thing too much, but I give a good effort.  It is also something that all the kids do together.  Yes, it would be so much easier to have Anna paint a picture while the twins nap, but they really love art time.  I am seeing some return on the fact that they have been working with messy art materials since they were able hold a crayon, as they aren't too terribly messy.

     If they do get their hand in it, they can at least clean themselves off now.  I have also learned that washable tempera is the best paint for toddlers.  Finger paints only frustrate if the child is really interested in painting a picture.  I also give them a limited pallet. Usually only two or three colors.

     Anna uses opaque water colors, but I think the next time I buy her paint I will get transparent, since I think she is ready for them.  She likes it if I give her a specific thing to paint when we are doing art.  This time it was a tree in fall foliage.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Our Island Story Lapbook- Part Two

      Here is the second page of the Our Island Story lapbook.  It has information on Henry I and Stephen, as well as stuff pertaining to that time period. 
     We had to do a little digging to find the names of Stephen's wife and children, as they were not mentioned in the book, but it is doing stuff like that, that makes it more interesting.  One question I have in the King's "fact sheet" is "Good or bad king?"  I have asked Anna to put down what she thinks, using her own judgement.  When it came to answering that question about Stephen, she said she thought he wasn't a bad man, but he ruled very badly, so that made him a bad king.  I thought that was very well put.
     Here are the mini books unfolded.  The code of chivalry mini book I got from Homeschoolshare, a great lapbooking resource. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Autumn Nature Table

     Our Autumn nature table got started a little late in the season, but it has only recently really started to look like fall with the leaves changing colors.  The little guys love the acorns, leaves, and the little tiny pumpkin that came from our garden. (We didn't exactly have a bumper crop) I think the sugar maple leaves are beautiful.  These came from the park, as we don't have any maples in our yard.  Every leaf is a beautiful shade of yellow or orange.  The whole tree just glows.
     I am learning to like Fall more as time goes by.  It used to be a sad season for me, as I dreaded winter so much, but if you take fall by it's self, I don't think there is a prettier time of year.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Two Peas in a Pod

     Lately the twins have been working together even more than their usual.  I think it has something to do with the fact that they can actually talk to each other now.  Sometimes it's cute, and other times it's scary, as two two year olds can do so much more mischief than one.  Like the time they filled a large cooler up with rocks, and hauled it up to the deck that has no railing,  (and therefore they are not allowed on) and then proceeded to throw the rocks towards are neighbors house. It puts a whole new spin on the terrible twos. 
     From the moment Samuel and Abriel were conceived they have done everything together.  It's no wonder they think alike.  I took these picture durring our nature time at the park today.  Can you tell they're twins?

        A down side to their closeness is that it sometimes leaves Anna out.  She was complaining today that they didn't want to play the same thing she wanted to, and said, "They only want to play their own little games, and I can't even understand what they're talking about."  That does seem to be the case most of the time.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Our Island Story Lapbook -part 1

     Seeing how well Anna retained the information she learned while working on a lapbook, I decided to start integrating them into more subjects.  Our core book for history is Our Island Story, and although I loved reading about ancient England and the Dark Ages last year, Anna was just not that into it.  I blamed it on the fact that our addition of the book has no pictures, and since what we were reading was all new to Anna, it didn't make much sense.  Reading about Julius Caesar conquering England with a fleet of galley ships is really interesting, unless you don't know anything about Julius Caesar, or Rome, and have no idea what a galley is.  Then it's a rather pointless story.  I tried to get pictures off the internet, but it just wasn't enough.  That is where lapbooks come in.  A lapbook can provide pictures, which she desperately needs to visualize the story, a reason to study the characters more in depth, and the opportunity to give simple written narrations. What I came up with isn't exactly a lapbook, since it goes in a three ring binder, but it is essentially the same thing.  I intend to one day post all my resources online so that others can take advantage of it, but for now, I thought I would show it as we go along.  This is the first page, with info on the first two Williams.
       So, has working on a lapbook for history helped?  I would say immensely.  Her narrations have gotten so much better, and she seems to really be forming a relationship with the people that we are reading about. She listens more attentively so that she will have stuff to write about. Most of all, she loves history now, where as before she didn't. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Viking Long Ship

     Due to learning about all things Medieval lately, I got inspired to make a Viking long ship.  Not a model, but a toy that the kids could play with and even (although this hasn't been tested out yet) put in water.  I had never made this complex of a wooden toy before, but once I had an idea of what I wanted, I had to see if it would turn out. 

     Anna named it "Dragon Head", so I carved that in runes on the side.  I love the way it turned out, and the heft and feel of it.  I absolutely love making toys, more than anything else, really. 

Paper Mache Motte and Bailey

     One of the history projects Anna wanted to do this year, is build a model castle.  Since we started out the year by reading about William the Conqueror, I thought that it would be fun to make a motte and bailey castle, and then do a stone keep style one later on.  Paper mache seemed to be the best way to form the "earth" mounds, and paper mache is of course very fun to work with.  I used a mixture that only contains flour, sugar, and water, since the twins would be "helping" and probably sampling it too.  Here's a link for the recipe.

     We used a paper plate as a mold for the bailey, and just wadded up news papers for the motte.  It took over a week for it to dry, probably due in part to our overly enthusiastic helpers, who were awfully heavy with the goop.
After it was finally dry, Anna painted it green, and then with much patience, glued on dozens of little sticks for the palisade. 
     Next, was to make the castle and the buildings to go inside the bailey, (which were made out of little cardboard boxes) and then FINALLY it was finished. 

     Ta Da!  The finished result!  Anna did most of the work herself, with only minimal help from me, and she is understandably very proud of it.  However... I have no idea where to put it.  This is when a school room would be really nice.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Medieval History

     I am really enjoying going through the history selections that Ambleside Online has for year 2.  Coordinating activities to go along with our study of the Middle Ages has been lots of fun too.  Last year Anna had trouble forming connection with what we were reading about, so this year I have been making a strong effort into doing fun "Medieval" activities as well as reading. 
      One of the things we did was celebrate Michaelmas.  We made a bread dragon, and then read Revelation 12.  Very simple; no fuss, but the kids had a blast.
     My original intention was to make a seven headed dragon, like the one in Revelation, but it ended up being a five headed dragon, as Samuel and Abriel refused to contribute their dough blobs. 
     The end result looked more like a bloated plesiosaurus than a ferocious dragon, but it tasted good!