Friday, November 5, 2010

Australia, insects, and golden beads

I'm really loving how "school" is flowing around here these days. We don't have sit-down time; instead, the materials are out for us to pick up at any time and I have a few topics in mind that I try to emphasize throughout our day. Some days we do nothing, some days we do a lot. But it's so much easier and more enjoyable than what I was trying to do before.

We're slowly moving along the math progression. I put the golden bead material out a few weeks ago, and we worked on terminology for a while. She mixed up "hundred" and "thousand" quite a bit, but when she seemed to have them straight, I brought out the 1, 10, 100, and 1000 number cards. We've worked with those for a few days, but now she's mixing up "hundred" and "thousand" again. So we're going to slow down and I'm going to try to come up with ways to bring those terms up a lot more.

We've spent a couple days on each of a number of insects -- butterflies, ants, and ladybugs. My choices have been driven by what life cycle models I have. :) Nugget LOVES the life cycle models. Sometimes she'll choose one to take to the store with her. I have a pile of library books about different insects, and when we've hit a lull, I just pull out the next one that seems interesting. I'm thinking about maybe going with bees next.... or maybe I'll wait until we can get to the local farmer's market and taste samples from the local honey producer!

Our main focus has been on Australia. Once Nugget was able to name all of the continents on the continents puzzle, I let her choose which one to learn about first. Her choice of Australia was a surprise to no one.

I've been worried about doing continent studies because I don't have many items or materials. But we just jumped into it and I started making things to stay one day ahead of her. Over the last 2 weeks or so, we've covered a lot and accumulated quite a collection.

This is our continent/science/language shelf. The top shelf is Australia, the bottom has sandpaper letters and Progressive Phonics readers (we're not doing much language these days) and insect books and life cycle models.

The Australia shelf. The "artwork" is our versions of Aboriginal dot paintings (there's an outline of a wombat somewhere under Nugget's) and coloring book pages of Australian kids. I put out some of Nugget's stuffed animals from Australia, a couple of our MANY Australia books (the rest are with the rest of our books), and figures from the Coral Reef and Australian animal Safari Toobs.

This is a felt map of Australia that I cut out. The pictures are of Australian landmarks; they're attached with velcro, so next year she can remove them and figure out where they go.

Nugget's obsession, as always, is with the animals. So that's where we've done most of our focus. And Australia has some of the most interesting animals, ones that my husband and I have always been fascinated with!

Her main interest is the Safari Toob animals. She talks about them and carries them everywhere, which provides opportunity for all sorts of interesting discussions. Like when she's burrowing under blankets with her wombat, my husband can talk to her about how wombats dig their burrows and what they're like.

I've made some activities for with the animals. I printed out pictures of habitats and food, so that she can match the figures to the appropriate picture (answers are on the back).

I also made cards for her to sort by how the animals have their babies (egg, pouch, or live).

In the past few days we've also listened to didgeridoo music and decorated a paper towel tube like one. Today we started to touch on the Great Barrier Reef.

This has been really interesting and fun for both of us. I've learned a lot, too!

I am a bit worried about the other continents.... Australia is so easy because continent == country. Those continents that are so much more diverse -- like Africa, which she expressed interest in doing next -- are going to be much more difficult.


  1. Great activities to go with the animals! I love them. Would you be able to share the habitat and food cards? You could just email me the files if you were okay with that. The girlwhopaintedtrees at gmail dot com.

    Africa has lots of fun animals too. We sorted our African animals into carnivores and herbivores.
    I also have African animal three part cards to download here:

  2. I love your aboriginal dot paintings! Great use for our do-a-dot markers.

  3. Love the pouch, egg, baby sort work, the aboriginal art, the felt map, and the habitat and food cards. We will have to do some of these works when we study Australia and when we do, I will be sure to link to you.
    Great job with your study of the the Land Down Under. Thanks for sharing your creative ideas.
    Hope that you and your crew have a happy Thanksgiving.

  4. I LOVE the animal habitat/food and the egg/pouch/baby cards. What a great idea. ... and I LOVE your felt Australia. I might just have to reduce the size of some of my landmark cards and add velcro to mine, to make something similar!


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