Monday, April 15, 2019

Finishing Up Tall Tales & U.S. Geography

Coming to the end of this block, we spent time in the American Southwest and Northwest. Our complete list of tall characters included Captain Kidd, John Henry, Mike Fink and Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind Crockett, Johnny Appleseed, Paul Bunyan, Febold Feboldson, Kemp Morgan, Pecos Bill and Slewfoot Sue, and Finn MacCool. Which one was your child's favorite?

Monday, April 8

  • recall Febold Feboldson, read sections from Febold Feboldson: Tall Tales from the Great Plains compiled by Paul Beath

      mosquitoes, pp.17-18
      redwood trees, p.19
      Peruvian moulting goldfish, pp.27-28
      Kansas-Nebraska state line (Paul Bunyan), pp.28-29
      tornado, pp.34-35
      folding and unfolding house, pp.36-37
      fog, pp.38-40
      popcorn ball, pp.40-42
      rattlesnake cleft tongue, pp.44-45
      sea horses, pp.46-47
      Pecos Bill, p.51
      cactus (Arabella), pp.80-81

    The class so enjoyed Febold Feboldson -- especially the story about him hypnotizing the frogs -- and loved the dry Swedish sense of humor. It was a good contrast with some of our other tall tale heroes, where the storyteller drew a lot of attention to the exaggeration.

  • rough draft summary and illustration, add Febold Feboldson to MLB
  • use pp.15-16 of States and Capitals to take notes on the states and capitals of the Southwest Region (7 states)
  • read Kemp Morgan, the Hero of the Oil Fields: A Tale Told by the Oil Drillers of Oklahoma and Texas from Olive Beaupre Miller's book of Heroes, Outlaws & Funny Fellows of American Popular Tales

Tuesday, April 9

  • review Kemp Morgan, look at vintage photos of oil derricks and gushers, look at clips of film footage from Giant (1956 film with Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, and James Dean; rated G) of James Dean discovering oil and the fields full of oil pumpjacks moving in unison
  • rough draft summary and illustration, add Kemp Morgan to MLB
  • read Pecos Bill, the Cowboy: A Tall Tale of Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado as Told by American Cowboys from Olive Beaupre Miller's Heroes, Outlaws & Funny Fellows of American Popular Tales
  • listen to "Whoo-Pee Ti Yi Yo" from This Is The Way We Wash-a-Day by Mary Thienes-Schunemann, track #3

Thursday, April 11

Friday, April 12

  • recall Finn MacCool, read Finn MacCool, the Greatest of Civil Engineers: A Tale of the Grand Canyon of Arizona as Told by Irish Work Gangs and Civil Engineers from Olive Beaupre Miller's book of Heroes, Outlaws & Funny Fellows of American Popular Tales
  • rough draft summary and illustration, add Finn MacCool to MLB
  • use pp.15-16 of States and Capitals to take notes on the states and capitals of the Northwest Region (3 states)
  • read Paul Bunyan Goes West: A Tall Tale of North Dakota, Oregon, and Washington from Olive Beaupre Miller's book to finish the block

Monday, April 15

Today the children finished up their American Tall Tales main lesson books. This means that they numbered the pages, wrote the table of contents, and decorated the front and back covers of their books. They also had some additional time to work on completing ongoing U.S. Geography activities.

This post contains affiliate links to materials I truly use for homeschooling. Qualifying purchases provide me with revenue. Thank you for your support!

Crockpot Dyed Wool Instructions & Photos

Dyeing wool in a crockpot is one of my favorite dyeing activities. It is super kid-friendly, since they don't get too close to the heat. Since you want to use your crockpot again for food later, it doesn't use harsh chemicals. It uses materials you are likely to already have in your kitchen (like a crockpot, a knife, and a cutting board). It takes hardly any time to set up. And it is fun!

Click on any photo to enlarge it.  I hope my description makes you feel confident to try this.  Let me know the results of your own experimenting!

one crockpot per color
clean white wool
white vinegar
cutting board & knife
piece of clean cotton fabric (optional)

we started by carding our clean washed wool

then we made the labels for our crockpots
I wrote the words and the children added pictures

pencil grip before my correction

pencil grip after my correction

we chose to dye our wool with
Turmeric Root

Dandelion Blossoms

and Frozen Blueberries

put in a generous amount of the white wool into your crockpot
and put your dyestuff right on top of it

then add water until the crockpot is nearly full
and add a generous glug of white vinegar

making the labels was very fun!

so that we wouldn't get Blueberry skins in our wool,
I wrapped our berries in a piece of clean cotton cloth

I tied the bundle up very tight

I wish, in retrospect, that I had done this with the
Dandelion Blossoms as well, since they disintegrated

plug the crockpots in
turn them to Low for 10 or 12 hours
and then turn them off and leave them to cool overnight

you can also use powdered turmeric from your spice cabinet
but definitely wrap it in cloth to make a bundle or your
wool will be very gritty; the root was easier to deal with 

with Beetroot

Dandelion Blossoms
made an earthy green-brown

the Dandelion water was clear

Turmeric Root made a strong sunny golden yellow

the Turmeric water was also clear

Frozen Blueberries
made a deep rich purple

the Blueberry water was a surprising cherry red color
and we saw that the Blueberries dyed the cotton cloth purple as well

the berries have clearly lost some of their color to the wool


Pelle's New Suit Circle, Week 2

This was our second week working with this Circle composed by Nancy Blanning and inspired by Elsa Beskow's classic story, first published in 1890.

We continued with our Songs, Verses & Movement for classroom routines.

Circle Time Introduction


Today we dyed our lovely washed and carded wool from last week!

We loaded three crockpots with natural dyestuffs plus white wool batting, water, and a generous portion of white vinegar. The vinegar is a mordant, which helps the dye to stick to the wool. One crockpot had turmeric root, one had frozen blueberries (wrapped in a piece of cotton fabric tightly tied closed), and one had dandelion flowers. During outdoor playtime the children gathered additional dandelion blossoms to add to that pot. I "cooked" the wool and dyestuff on low for 12 hours, then turned off the crockpots and let the wool stay in the color as it cooled overnight.

The children carefully drew pictures on our signs identifying each dyestuff.

We also continued looking at plants as they grow... a topic of constant fascination in the Springtime. Unfortunately, Zac was too tempted by the sweet baby grasses in our Dish Gardens and kept pulling out shoots in the evenings, so we started an avocado seed in water and a sweet potato in water and placed them on the Nature table to see if they would sprout, and threw plenty of grass seed out onto bare places in the lawn so we could watch the grass grow unimpeded. Sowing grass seed was great fun!


The children were so excited to see the results of our wool dyeing experiments! Even the older children came to see the big reveal. We looked first at the wool the older group dyed in February, with beetroot, and then at the undyed wool to compare its color. Then we opened each crockpot lid and I pulled some of the wool out and placed it in a dish. You could definitely smell the vinegar ("It smells very like a pickle") but it wasn't unpleasant.

The dandelion flowers made an earthy green-brown.

The turmeric root made a strong sunny golden yellow.

The frozen blueberries made a deep rich purple.

The children have loved to continue to card wool, and they also watched me demonstrate how to use a drop spindle to spin wool roving. I showed them how to spin wool by hand by rubbing it back and forth on their legs to get some twist in the fibers, and they really enjoyed that! It is fun to pull and tug on the results and see how much stronger wool is when it has twist in it.


The children spun pieces of our crockpot dyed wool, which was now dry. We went outside to plant the tulips and hyacinths, which I had in pots, from previous stories & activities. After enjoying the digging, the planting, and the sunshine, the children found branches with nice forks in them and I warped them for Branch Weaving. One child, the oldest, really stuck with it. Zac was content to watch. They could use our naturally dyed wool spun into yarn, or any yarn they wanted from my baskets of colors.

Our story was The Lion and the Little Red Bird by Elisa Kleven, a beautiful tie-in with all of our dyeing work. For Easter we will continue our natural dyeing activities with some egg decorating projects.

Today we had mango, strawberries, and blackberries as our Fruit Salad contributions. I also made the Honey Ricotta recipe on page 192 of The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook by Toby Amidor to go alongside it. So yummy!

This post contains affiliate links to materials I truly use for homeschooling. Qualifying purchases provide me with revenue. Thank you for your support!