Sunday, February 28, 2010

Seasons in Poetry

I have completed the Seasons in Poetry unit and it's being made into a pdf as we speak. Well, it's being made into a pdf at 9:05 pm on Sunday, February 28th. I don't know exactly when you have stopped by to read this post! Look for it to be live on the website tomorrow. I've also added (which you don't need a subscription for) links to download two of the graphic organizers used in this unit -- a Five Senses Chart and a Web -- and an entire unit I found online containing lesson plans for Vivaldi's The Four Seasons

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Make Your Own Yogurt

A few weeks ago I decided to learn to knit socks -- I did -- and now I have become determined to master a new household craft. That is yogurt making! We spend about twelve dollars a week on yogurt from the grocery store right now and I want to make my own at home to save some money.

Here are the helpful websites I have found so far:

First, I had two cans of condensed goat milk so I wanted to make goat milk yogurt. I used the directions from Fias Co Farm with no success. I was trying the "keep your oven light on" method but my oven just got cold and the yogurt didn't YO. The first night I turned the oven light on and stuck in the heated milk/culture mixture and the second night I first preheated the oven to 300 and then turned the heat off and put in the mixture but the oven didn't retain its heat. So that was a no-go. I am including the link, however, because her directions seem good and if I had a cooler, heating pad, or food dehydrator I would certainly have tried one of her other methods.

Then a friend told me that you can make yogurt using your crockpot! I DO have one of those, so tonight I will try this Crockpot Yogurt Recipe. Wish me luck!

Storybook Art

I am newly obsessed with the book Storybook Art: Hands-On Art for Children in the Styles of 100 Great Picture Book Illustratorsby MaryAnn Kohl and, as you all know, I love to put together booklists and make spreadsheets when I'm planning to do a unit on something. So I got myself all organized for this book and thought I'd pass my notes along. There are 100 picture books with corresponding activity ideas in the style of the book's illustrator. There are four categories: 25 books for Paint, 25 books for Draw, 25 books for Cut/Collage, 25 books for Craft/Construct.

I made a spreadsheet listing all 100 books and their authors, plus columns for organizing do I already own it, can I get it from the library, or do I wish to buy it? Then I made a webpage showing the covers of all the books with the name of the art activity listed under it. Check it out!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bio-Cube & Famous Mathematicians

Here's a great activity that has taken my classroom by storm. It's called the "Bio-Cube" and my students are sooo thrilled to be researching famous mathematicians from throughout history, reading their biographies, and preparing reports on them. They are acting like I've just been passing out tickets to Kings Dominion or free pony rides! Why? Because the Bio-Cube is a cool, fun, and unique kind of report.

Here's the deal. First, you need a biography. We are using stories from Mathematicians Are People, Too: Stories from the Lives of Great Mathematicians by Luetta and Wilbert Reimer. These are chatty anecdotes that include some of the world's famous mathematical discoveries. I introduced the project by reading the chapter about Thales of Miletus. I demonstrated how pyramids cast a shadow using a 3-D Geometric Solid. I also demonstrated how salt dissolves in water using a plain dish of table salt and pouring water into it from a pitcher, waiting a minute, and then pouring the water from the dish back into the pitcher and showing how much of the salt has dissolved.

Today, I showed my students the Bio-Cube Planning Page (which you can download as a pdf here) and we reviewed the story, filling in the 6 key facts about Thales. I then showed them how you transfer your notes from the planning sheet to each of the six squares on the cube template (download a cube template). This planning sheet helps make notetaking more manageable, by telling students six key facts to research, and keeps the report from becoming overwhelming. After writing the information on my cube, I cut it out and glued the flaps to assemble my report.

My students were FASCINATED and can't wait for their mathematicians to be assigned to them! The authors of this book also wrote a second one. The top Amazon review for volume 1lists every chapter for both volumes and what mathematician is covered -- it's very helpful!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ash Moon Anthology

Today I stumble upon the lovely Ash Moon Anthology: Poems on Aging in Modern English Tanka

Published by Modern English Tanka Press out of Baltimore MD, edited by Alexis Rotella and Denis M. Garrison, this book is available in print (ISBN 978-0-6151-9641-1) or it may be viewed in its 315 page entirety online ( Reading these evocative poems about aging, I am reminded how precious our time is.

in a reverie
at the long traffic light
it occurs to me
why would I want
to do more, faster

We – as parents, teachers, family members, and caregivers – often have to “go to bat” for our children to protect what they so richly deserve: a childhood. Although we can’t ourselves fully remember what it was like to be in that sacred state, we can see from the clarity of those further down the path that it is a time to treasure. I found this anthology of poetry to be reinvigorating, renewing, and inspiring. Instead of sadness, reflecting on the end of life, I found my deepest feeling was a fierce stirring inside me, a desire to SEE those little moments before they slip away, to keep life from passing quietly unnoticed.

a lifetime passes
how many years have gone by?
how many full moons?
twenty million years ago
the valley was filled with ice

the winter wind
swirls a light brown leaf
the color
of my mother’s shawl…
I can still feel its softness

sacks of leaves –
a tale for the grandchildren
about bonfires;
so much forgotten
with progress

sleep and snow falling –
before we leave, sage advice
from our children;
in this progression of life
when did we switch roles?

All the memories
I chose not to make
out of shyness
or afraid what someone
would think.

after teaching
my aunt photoshop
all her images
have become
ten years younger

Do you
remember all
the things we planned to do,
the places we would go some day?
Did you?

a Shakespeare volume
its woody pages
curling with age
I remember saving
my pocket money to buy it

warm, still day –
our daughter expecting
her first child,
love growing each month
inside each one of us

today there’s an hour
you want to catch
and linger over –
mulching the garden,
toes gripping the earth

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Waldorf Clearing House Newsletter

I always feel that the FREE information available online about Waldorf education isn't used as much as it should be and I want to direct particular attention to the back issues of the Waldorf Clearing House Newsletter. All of these issues contain amazing information about Waldorf education and they are full of suggestions from Waldorf teachers about what they are doing in their classrooms. It was a newsletter FROM and TO Waldorf teachers.

Here's a pdf that I put together that lists every issue and what is in it:
The Issues.pdf. It's free to download.

Then, if you decide you want to download and read one of the newsletters, simply go here and click on the one you want to see. They are also free to download.

Please please take advantage of this valuable resource!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Carbon Offset Lesson Plans

Just in case you happen to be doing a unit on Global Warming, I thought I'd pass along the link to the Carbon Offset Lesson Plans developed by Travelocity (at

These are free pdfs that you can download, organized by grade level, grade preK to grade 8. They put quite a lot of work into the plans -- they are about 30 pages long and contain background teacher information as well as a sample letter to go home to parents at the beginning of the unit. There are also lots of activities. If you are looking for some ideas to complement a global warming or climate change discussion, check these lesson plans out. The "Home Energy Survey" is a particularly good activity, giving the amount in costs per hour (in cents) to run common household appliances like computer, dishwasher, oven, ceiling fan, and so on. Then students estimate the average number of hours per day this appliance is used in their family, and multiply to find the cost per week, per month, and per year. This helps them get an idea of their overall annual energy consumption.

I am considering using the Grade 2 curriculum in my classroom in April around Earth Day.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Geometric Shapes

Today I came up with a fun new way to reinforce Geometric Shapes.

I made the Puff Pastry Valentine Cookies and was wondering what to do with my leftover odds and ends of dough. Then it occurred to me -- why not use the remaining puff pastry to cut out other shapes. If the cookies can be hearts, why not triangles, diamonds, rectangles, and so on? THEN I thought... What a fun way to practice Geometric Shapes!

Simply roll out the dough and have your child cut the shapes freehand. Then you brush them with some orange marmalade and bake them. Then your whole family -- including adults -- must ask for a cookie by its proper name in order to eat them. :-) "May I have a rhombus please?"

Montessori calls these Geometry Plane Shapes (as opposed to the Geometric Solids which are 3 dimensional) and there's a wonderful nomenclature material for learning them available online as a pdf for just $5.99 at Montessori for Everyone. I love the nomenclature idea although for some things it gets really tedious and repetitive (Dr. Montessori was huge on children learning the correct vocabulary for things -- and early!). However, for the geometric shapes, I would recommend this material to any homeschooling family.

The general idea behind nomenclature is that you have two sets of the material. They look identical except for one key difference: one set has the picture of the thing and the name under it; the other has the picture of thing but the name has been cut off and is stored separately. After presenting the names of the Geometric Plane Shapes (or whatever nomenclature material you are using), the child is allowed to use the nomenclature material for independent practice and reinforcement. You laminate it all -- or don't, if you are not in a classroom and the materials won't be receiving heavy use -- and give it to the child. The picture cards are together. The name cards are together. The uncut picture & name cards are together. The child then lays out the picture cards in an orderly way and carefully places the correct name card under each picture. The uncut cards which show the "answers" are used as a way for the child to check his/her work and are called a Control in Montessori terminology. A Control promotes independence on the part of the child.

ONE KEY DIFFERENCE between Waldorf and Montessori is that the Montessori method focuses on the interaction between the material and the child. The teacher only steps in every once in a while to assess and move the child on to a new material. But the best teacher (it is thought) is one who the child barely knows is there.

You don't have to agree with this philosophy to find the materials useful in your classroom. Montessori materials are beautifully made and very organized. As a homeschooler who is working with children of multiple ages, you could use nomenclature to have one child practice the names of the geometric shapes independently while you present a lesson to another. Or two children could work together to match the picture cards and name cards and then double-check their work using the control. Even a traditional classroom teacher could use it. Think of it as a worksheet that is hands-on, fun, easy to make, and which you don't have to grade!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Seeds for Your Dye Garden

I've just updated the Seeds for Your Dye Garden page for those folks about to begin the Preschool "Color" Unit.

Working on this webpage brought back a lot of memories for me. I did the Color unit with Natalie 5 years ago, right after Rebecca was born. (Those of you who have known me for the past five years through my curriculum writing, know that I wrote the Families unit to do with Natalie because I was pregnant with a new baby at the time.) Then, once the weather warmed up a bit, we moved on to a new topic. I picked planting a dye garden as the Nature topic for the Color unit because it fit so well with the idea of learning about Color and because I was interested in learning how to make natural dyes. I designed the Seeds for Your Dye Garden page because I myself was shopping for those seeds and wanted a list of vendors which carried them. I hope it's helpful to others who are now looking for that sort of thing, whether you have a preschool child or not!

There are now updated live links to vendors for all the dye plants listed in Rita Buchanan's excellent book A Dyer's Garden: From Plant to Pot: Growing Dyes for Natural Fibersand a link to an Excel spreadsheet which I created to keep all my information organized (which plants I ordered, when I started them, whether I like them and would buy them again, etc.)

Knitting, Spinning, Weaving, Yarn

I just found a Listmania! list on Amazon called Picture Books featuring Knitting, Spinning, Weaving, Yarn

It's fun to see the books she has listed. Here are some I'd like to add:

and, of course, the original Mother Goose version of the rhyme

The Six Swans by the Brothers Grimm

The Apple of Contentment by Howard Pyle

Also, the Fables, fairy tales and folklore about weaving and spinning list at

Anyone know of others?

Seasons in Poetry Booklist

As many of you know, the new unit I am writing for the website (and teaching currently to my students) is Seasons in Poetry. I have just put the booklist online -- find it here. I've also included live links to all the books on the list. We will be finishing this unit in February so I will post it to the website March 1st.

Flicka, Ricka, Dicka & Snipp, Snapp, Snurr

Natalie's birthday is coming up in March (she'll be 8!) and so I am looking around for presents. I know that what that child loves more than anything in the world is books, so I think it's time to hook her up with some Maj Lindman. They will be perfect for her to read to her little sisters. Plus, ever since I first saw these books in the library, I've been dying for an excuse to buy them.

UPDATE: I went searching for this blog post August 25, 2021... my youngest child is six and these books popped back into my head as being perfect. He loves Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka already. He doesn't even know about Snipp, Snapp, and Snurr! This will be so fun!

It looks like there were originally 10 books in each series. Some are out of print. They are now rare and very expensive. Your best bet is eBay.

Flicka, Ricka, Dicka and the Strawberries

Flicka, Ricka, Dicka and the New Dotted Dresses

Flicka, Ricka, Dicka and the Little Dog

Flicka, Ricka, Dicka and Their New Skates

Flicka, Ricka, Dicka and the Three Kittens

Flicka, Ricka, Dicka Go To Market

Flicka, Ricka, Dicka Bake a Cake

Flicka, Ricka, Dicka and the Big Red Hen

Flicka, Ricka, Dicka and Their New Friend

Flicka, Ricka, Dicka and the Girl Next Door

out of print

Snipp, Snapp, Snurr and the Gingerbread

Snipp, Snapp, Snurr and the Red Shoes

Snipp, Snapp, Snurr and the Yellow Sled

Snipp, Snapp, Snurr and the Buttered Bread

Snipp, Snapp, Snurr and the Big Surprise

Snipp, Snapp, Snurr and the Reindeer

Snipp, Snapp, Snurr Learn to Swim

Snipp, Snapp, Snurr and the Seven Dogs

out of print

Snipp, Snapp, Snurr and the Magic Horse

out of print

Snipp, Snapp, Snurr and the Big Farm

out of print

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