Friday, October 28, 2011

Pumpkin Head

When we dropped Eli off at school on Wednesday there was a "Pumpkin Head" on the table with which the children could play.  A "Pumpkin Head" is this:

But it's a pumpkin instead of a potato.  Genius, huh?

I also found this picture during my "Mr. Potato Head" Google Image search.  It simply must be included here.

Darth Tater.  Genius again.

Ok, back to Pumpkin Head.  Eli's very creative teachers had drilled holes, using a screwdriver, in a pumpkin and had the Mr. Potato Head pieces out for play.  What a fantastic idea!  We had to do it too.

Abby and I picked up some "Funkins" on sale at Joann's.  Eli's teachers had used real pumpkins, but I liked the idea of being able to save ours until next year.  I am not sure I made the right choice...more on that later.  Using our Mr. Potato Head as I guide, I started poking holes.

I did not put a hole on top of the pumpkin, as the hats sat nicely right on top of the stem.  Getting holes into the pumpkin proved to be a harder task then I had originally thought.  I would have been better off to use a real drill.  Also, this produced some dusty stuff, as you can see on the cookie sheet.  I guess a "Funkin" has it's own kind of pumpkin guts.

My Pumpkin Head injury.  I had to push hard to get those holes in. 

I do think the pain was worth it, however, to see all of these happy faces...on Children Heads and Pumpkin Heads alike.

My picture of the final products.  Sorry Green Hat Pumpkin Guy...your other pink ear seems to be missing in action.

And...Abby wanted to take a picture of the final products too.  I think her picture is much more artistic than mine.  She must have her Daddy's photography genes.

My thoughts on using a real pumpkin versus the fake pumpkin:  My first inclination toward the fake pumpkins had been my desire to keep them until next year and I didn't want to get pumpkin guts on our Mr. Potato Head pieces.  BUT, the fake pumpkins have been leaving behind some dust, fake pumpkin guts, if you will.  There is dusty stuff on our Mr. Potato Head pieces and I will have to wash them anyways.  That said, I think I would rather have done this with real pumpkins. 

What great fun!  
Thanks to Eli's wonderful teachers for another fantastic idea in their LONG, LONG line of fantastic ideas.  We are so thankful for amazing teachers in the life of our son.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

P Pumpkin Painting

On Monday, a firetruck and some firemen came to visit Eli's preschool.  While this type of event would bring joy to the hearts of most little boys, Eli is not fond of firetruck and firemen for undetermined reasons.  I think it has something to do with the mask, which does cause complications as we near October 31st.  Anyways, to avoid Eli having to seek therapy 20 years from now because his parents forced him to go to school on the firetruck day, we kept him home.  Upon learning that he was going to stay home, Eli told me, "Since I am not going to school, we should do some homeschool."  You got it, buddy.  Since "P" was the letter of the day at school, it became our letter of the day at home.

I had some leftover canned pumpkin in the fridge and my vision was to use that pumpkin to "paint" the letter P. 

We started by putting the "P" printout on a cookie sheet and then covered it with plastic wrap.  Abby is pretty curious at this point.

We got out the pumpkin and started making some observations...



And tasting.  That would be the appropriate face after tasting pumpkin.  It's amazing what some sugar and spices can do to that stuff.

When the observations were complete, we started our "painting."

I had envisioned that we would paint on the pumpkin in the shape of the P.  It was hard to get it to spread, even with the plastic wrap.  We decided to take the plastic wrap off to see if it would work better.

No plastic wrap covering and still kind of a rough go for spreading.  We did eventually use our hands a bit, but just for a bit.  Neither of my kids like to have messy stuff on their hands.  Weird.  I imagine that if they were into being messy, this would have been loads more fun.  However, the 30 seconds of using their hands did seem to be super fun for them....just a fast super fun.

Our end products.  Not quite what I had pictured, but fun nonetheless.  Abby's was more the idea of what I was going for...painting INSIDE the P outline...but she did have a bit of help from me.

Our conclusion:  
Pumpkin probably works better in baked goods than for painting, but I still think we would do this again. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Growing Critical Readers

I like to ask my kids questions while we're reading books.  At many times they may be thinking, "Good gracious, woman, just read the book."  After hearing the questions enough, however, I hope that my kids will internalize the questioning process as part of being a critical reader.  For better or worse, here are some questions I like to ask while reading, especially when sitting down to read a book we have never seen before.  For the sake of discussion, here's a book we read for the first time last week and we really liked it!

Before Reading the Book:
  • Let's look at the picture on the cover.  What do you see?  What do the pictures make you think this book is about?
  • Can you predict who some of the characters might be?
  • (After discussing the pictures on the cover...) The title of this book is "The Very Best Pumpkin."  What does the title make you think the book is about?
  • What do you predict will happen in this book?
  • Are you curious about what will happen in this book?  What are you curious about?

While Reading the Book:
  • Hey...I remember seeing that red shoe you remember where we saw that?  That's right;  on the cover!
  • Peter sure seems to love the pumpkin he is growing.  Can you predict what he is going to do with it? 
  • I see something on this page that rhymes with "house."  Can you find it?  And the ever popular nonsense words...can you find something that rhymes with "mumpkin?"
  • How many pumpkins are in the picture?  Let's count.
  • Wow!  Peter just gave his pumpkin to his friend.  Do you think he made a good decision?  Would you have done anything different with the pumpkin if it had been yours?

After Reading the Book:
  • What happened in the book?  What was the plot?
  • Was our prediction about what would happen in the book correct?
  • Who were the characters in the book?
  • We predicted that the mouse on the cover would be a character in the book.  Were we right?
  • Where did the story take place?  What season was it?  What time of the day?  We just talked about the SETTING of the story.
  • Do you think that "The Very Best Pumpkin" was a good title for this book?  Would you have given this book a different title?  To this question, Eli told me he would have named the book "The Very Best Apple."  Hmmmm.  We were then able to talk about how for the book to have that title, the setting would have to change to an apple orchard instead of a pumpkin patch.
  • Did you like the book?  What did you like or not like about it?
And that is why it takes me twelve years to read a book to my children.  We definitely don't do this all the time, but reading a new book from the library is a great chance to practice being a critical reader. 

Have fun reading!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pumpkin Math (Loosely)

I am a bit behind on blogging.  A COUPLE WEEKS AGO, on the way home from school, Eli said to me, "Can we work on my math today?"  Music to my ears.  Seriously.  Here's what we came up with:

I decided to have the kids investigate the different ways that we can combine numbers to make a total of 6.  I had both of these papers set up at the table, exactly like you see above, and invited the kids to explore.

We started, of course, by eating the candy pumpkin.  The six candy corns were used as the counters for the activity.  I had a bag of candy corn and pumpkins in the pantry that had been purchased to top some cupcakes.  We opened the bag a bit early.

For Eli's paper, he would count out the candy corn needed for the sum.  So, he would put 2 candy corns under the 2 (in the 2 + 4) and then 4 candy corns under the 4.  We could then count the total and find that 2 + 4 was indeed 6.  We worked our way around the paper, marveling at the many ways you could get a total of 6.  It's true;  we marveled.

On Abby's paper, there were boxes drawn in which she would place the candy corns.  With her, this was more of an exercise of practicing one-to-one correspondence:  one candy corn goes in one square.  Many times, she would try to put two candy corns in one square.  As with Eli, we would count the total number of candy corns once they were in the squares to find a total of 6. Again, for Abby, it was great practice of counting with one-to-one correspondence as she does like to count the same candy twice.  2 + 4 is definitely not 7.

Counting and adding away.
Some fun extensions:
  • Investigate what happens when you do 2 + 4 and 4 + 2.  Does the same thing happen for 5 + 1 and 1 + 5?  YAY!!  You just taught your kid the Commutative Property of Addition.
  • How about some Algebra?  I have 2 candy many more do I need to make 6?  Essentially, you just solved the equation 2 + x = 6 and found that x = 4.
  • And now the fun part...SUBTRACTION.  Once all of the addition has been completed, start eating!  I have 6 candy corns and I just ate one.  How many are left?
  • Here's a tricky one:  I have three candy corns left.  Can I eat 6 of them?  NO WAY.  3 - 6 and 6 - 3 are not the same thing.  You just taught your kid that subtraction is NOT commutative.
I titled this "Pumpkin Math (Loosely)" because that is what it is.  The pumpkin in the center of the paper is meaningless, it could just as easily be an apple or a Thanksgiving turkey or a Christmas tree or completely blank.  You could also investigate ANY number.  I chose 6 simply because it seemed like a good amount of candy to eat...enough to feel like you were eating a decent treat, but not enough to make kids crazy.   All that to say, the pumpkin was festive for fall and we got to eat 6 pieces of candy.  Ok, really, we got to eat 6 + 1 pieces of candy, including the pumpkin.

Doing math while eating candy with my sweet kids...that was a fun day.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A is for Autumn

Here's an easy "A" project that we did this week.  I don't have any pictures of us doing it, since I decided to just enjoy the moment and not wield my camera.  It was kind of nice.

So, I guess we will go backwards by starting with Eli's final product.

We started this by project by painting the letter outlines with glue.  You can find the letter pages here.  The kids thought it was pretty crazy to PAINT with a PAINTBRUSH using GLUE.  Fun times.  We then took our papers outside, covered them with leaves, and finally shook the extra leaves off.  To finish, we thought of "A" words, with me making sure that "autumn" was one of the final words chosen.

And Abby's Art.  
She was much more meticulous than Eli, putting her leaves on one at a time.

We also did this with a picture of a tree.  As I have mentioned before, I can't draw, so I did a Google Image search using "tree outline" and found a nice leafless tree.  Oh the woes of the those limited to stick figure drawings.

All in all, this was a fun autumn art project. was perfect for a boy, specifically MY boy, as it lasted about 60 seconds.