Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Easy Squirrel Crafts to Accompany Any Young Children's Unit Study

These crafts were started with free online printables. The squirrel template is here along with other free squirrel printables. I added paper fasteners(split brads) with the help of a hole punch for the articulating parts.

Vintage Squirrel paragraph and tracks are from old children's readers(early 1900's). Click on images below to enlarge and save. These were fun to make today with my daughter(age 5). It's difficult to see, but the picture collage has a branch hanger. Baby acorns and a leaf were added to the right side. My daughter has to add glitter to everything, so this nature craft got glitterized. A vintage leaf and acorn cut-out would have looked nice as well.

I made the squirrel say "please" before he got the nut. ;)

Free Downloads for Movie and Book: Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Review from Internet Archives:

As the third screen adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett's popular novel(click to free copy), it is an avalanche of sweetness and sentimentality only '30s Hollywood could pull off without having audiences run from theatres in search of insulin. One of the reasons why is this amazing cast of superb character actors (in order of appearance): Una O'Conner, Jessie Ralph, Guy Kibbee, Henry Stephenson, C. Aubrey Smith, Constance Collier, E.E. Clive, plus many more. The title role is played by Freddie Bartholomew, a child actor much loved by mothers and grandmothers, and thoroughly detested by us kids growing up on the lower west side of Manhattan. Delores Costello is his widowed, self-sacrificing mother. Mickey Rooney has a small but important role.

A nine-year-old Brooklyn boy living in genteel poverty, is told he's heir to a British earldom. This necessitates his move to England to live with the aristocratic grandfather he's never known. (Have the first hankie ready for Bartholomew's farewell scenes. Save the second hankie for moisture-inducing scenes to come.) A sudden turn of events puts everything in jeopardy. Nevertheless the plucky lad eventually triumphs. The large cast has no weak links. However the great (sir) C. Aubrey Smith turns in the outstanding performance as Bartholomew's misanthropic grandfather.

Excellent production values, thoroughly professional camera work and skillful direction designed to wring out every last drop of sentiment, results in industrial-strength schmaltz you will either love or hate. I love it.

See here for better quality movie download and viewing. Smaller sized download here. Free and in public domain.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Young Children's Squirrel Printables

The hurricane has brought a premature Autumn to our backyard - leaves and acorns litter the ground. My daughter(age five) has been collecting acorns and painting them, so I'm following behind with a squirrel mini-unit study. I'll add to this post as I find things that we are going to use.

Vintage how to draw a squirrel.

Squirrel "Ss" penmanship page.

Cut and paste squirrel

Squirrel maze

Sweet vintage woodland squirrel coloring page. A bit advanced, but fun to color together.

Squirrel dot-to-dot

Gussie the Ground Squirrel paper doll(vintage)

Cut and paste squirrel family(vintage)

I'm coloring this one for our school wall(printed in black and white).

Realistic coloring page with squirrels on tree, house in background

Squirrel tracks.

To print the following pages, right click on image of page(s). Free and in public domain. Entire book is free to download as well.

Handbook of Nature-study for Teachers and Parents, pages 233- 239.

Squirrel Finger Games and Story(2 pages)

For older children(for the older sibling who wants to join in): Fourth-sixth grades writing lesson, The Squirrel, pages 72-73. 1912 Lessons in English.

Vintage French cut out squirrel(stands up).

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Library Finds: Picture Books

Two favorites this week for young children:

Water Hole Waiting

Ages 4-8. The Kurtzes, brother and sister, describe a dawn-to-dusk day at a water hole on an African savannah, citing the activities of the many animals that inhabit the ecosystem. At dawn, as a troop of vervet monkeys forages for food, a youngster attempting to take a drink is stopped by Mama, who notices a herd of hippopotami arriving for a swim. At midday the young monkey tries again, only to be deterred by zebras and a lumbering crocodile. Later, a lion and a giraffe come for drinks, and a family of elephants rumbles down for a splash. Only after dark, when the larger animals have gone, does Mama deem it safe for her baby to quench his thirst. Vivid artwork complements the elegant text, often extending it with additional details: the close-up views of thundering zebra hooves and snapping crocodile jaws are particularly impressive. The story will work well on several levels: young listeners will understand the frustration in having to wait for a cool drink; older children will appreciate the diversity of savannah wildlife.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Box Turtle at Long Pond

PreSchool-Grade 2-- A day in the life of a box turtle is rendered carefully in words and lifelike illustrations with a text that respects its subject, avoids any anthropomorphism, and is simple enough for very young listeners. It records the turtle's actions as, slowly but with perseverance, he drinks, searches for food, evades danger, and sleeps. The outstanding gouache paintings in borderless, horizontal two-page spreads are so realistic that one almost reaches out to feel the turtle's textured shell. Although at times the turtle seems to be camouflaged, blending into his surroundings, he stands out clearly once located. The animals he encounters are equally well illustrated--readers will almost hold their breath so as not to frighten the raccoon and chipmunk. The book's design is excellent; even the well-chosen type, superimposed on the illustrations so that there is no visual break from the scenes, is clear and easily read. This is superior nature study for young readers and listeners.

--Louise L. Sherman, Anna C. Scott School, Leonia, NJ
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Harvesting Squash

I am beginning to get more squash now. What really surprised me was finding spaghetti squash in my garden! I don't remember planting this, but it will be a much appreciated extra veggie to use with an Italian recipe. A lot of edibles have failed in my little garden plot over the years, but squash has been a winner this season. Next year I'll be planting more squash, cucumber, green pepper, and tomatoes. All of these vegetables do well for me with very little fuss. I did manage to get a few small carrots and radish early in the season; these I'll plant again too.

Although the bugs and slugs where not a problem this year, the weather was harsh for the garden with heavy rains followed by hot dry spells. My soaker hose sprung a leak, so I've been watering from above. It doesn't work as well, so garden yields have been a little sparse.

How to Plant a Victory Garden

Free download here. Better quality video at this location as well.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The War on Dust

Eight Strategies to Reduce Dust in the Home :

1. Keep closet floors clear for easy cleaning.
2. Upgrade your furnace filter
3. Rotate bedding weekly
4. Capture dust — don't just spread it around.
5. Beat and shake area rugs.
6. Take cushions out for a beating.
7. Clean the air while you clean house.
8. Match the vacuum to the flooring
See entire article here.

I've begun vacuuming the beds as well. When possible, I air out the house while cleaning. What do you do to fight dust in the home?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Free Resource for English & Language Arts

Ignite the Fire has a helpful page of free resources here. These are mostly for middle school and up. I like their writing resources and guides for middle school students.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dragonfly Printable Nature Study and Language Arts Resources

"...the dragon-flies remain not only entirely harmless to man, but in reality are his friends and allies in waging war against flies and mosquitoes; they are especially valuable in battling mosquitoes since the nymphs, or young, of the dragon-fly, take the wrigglers in the water, and the adults, on swiftest wings, take the mosquitoes while hovering over ponds laying their eggs." ~ Dragonflies and Damselflies By Anna (Botsford) Comstock.

The Insect World: A Reading Book of Entomology, 1902

The Butterfly Vivarium; or, Insect Home, 1858

"ALL you children who live in the country, or spend summers in the country, and some of you city children who do neither, must have seen dragon-flies. You may have called them "Devil's Darning Needles," or "Mosquito-hawks," and you may have heard very absurd stories of their sewing up people's ears! The stories are entirely false, for the beautiful dragon-flies have nothing with which to "sew up" ears or anything else!

I have seen them darting about the streets of New York, Boston, and Chicago, catching the mosquitoes on the wing. I have seen them in many smaller cities and towns, and in the country and by the sea, they abound.

Why do I tell you about them if they are so common? Because, like many common things, they are very interesting when one knows all about them,— or nearly all—and the flying about in the air and catching mosquitoes for breakfast, dinner, and supper, are not nearly all of the life of a dragon-fly." ~ Primary Education, Dragonflies, 1898(Switch to plain text if print too small - upper right button at link)

Fiction, The Fiddler Crab and the Dragonfly, 1901

Little Folks in Feathers and Fur, and Others in Neither, The Little Masker, 1880

The Insect Folk, Our Pretty Dragonflies, 1903.

Good Stories for Great Holidays, The Water Drop,1914

Harper's Fourth Grade Reader, The New Life, 1888

Stories of Woods and Fields, The Dragon Fly, 1902

More later....

Printing Tips: Right click on the image of the pages at the links, or download entire book. All are free and in public domain.


Nature craft dragonfly

Business card dragonfly plane

Friday, August 12, 2011

Abstract Art Project Tutorial

The tutorial is here, DIY abstract art painting. What a fun art project to do with family! We plan to try this with form core poster board, just one dollar at the dollar store. I might try to copy a Rothko painting with my daughter.

DIY Fabric Wall Art

I've done this project before, and the results are really professional looking. See here for a tutorial. It's just a matter of stretching fabric over a frame, and stapling it to the back. We used a staple gun.

I love her choice of fabric(Moda). Here is a favorite fabric collection for a children's room. I may try one of these in my daughter's room.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Rustic Homemade DIY Twin Platform Bed

We made this twin bed platform today in about two hours. Using the measurements of the twin bed mattress, we took these to find wood at a big box store. Three 2x12x8 rough pine lumber boards for about $7.00 each worked, and with two feet in length to spare for a shelf. We were going to add sections of one foot tall rough pine posts for the legs, getting the cuts at the store, but I spied some lumber in the trash bin at the end of the lumber aisle. They were thick packing pieces, very roughly cut with a bit of the tree bark still attached. All except one were even cuts of 18 inches. I thought we could work with this, so we chose the free lumber in lieu of the post. We also picked up a small box of drywall screws.

We pieced the bed together, three feet across and eight feet long. The middle support leg(pictured) has not been attached. The power drill ran out of juice, so we'll add middle support legs(double thick) later, probably hidden ones, further under the bed. I had some felt adhesive dots, left over from another project, that I added to the bottom of the legs so that they would not scrape the floors.
This was so inexpensive and easy! I like that we didn't need to do any cuts and got free wood for the legs. This could still have been done inexpensively with the purchase of two thick posts from the lumber section. The big box store would have done the cuts for us free of charge.

This bed would have made a nice couch as well. All it needs is some foam, fabric, cushions, and oversized pillows, or even easier, a twin bed mattress. A back support would be easy to screw into the back.

Add longer legs and you've got a table! I'd add an apron of wood and possibly a trestle for stability though.

It's very sturdy. I sat on this bed while reading a story to my young daughter, and it held nicely. There is plenty of room underneath for storage, or for a little play cave area. It was easy to sweep/vacuum under as well.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Vintage Curriculum Guide, Baby to Early Childhood

Excerpt from The Mothercraft Manual By Mary Lillian Read, 1922(downloadable and free):

For the child under six years, and possibly under ten, the most educative environment, in every sense, is in the country with hills, valleys, woods, water, plants and trees, wild and domestic animals, other young children, the freedom of the kitchen, the necessity for personal physical care, and elders who enter sympathetically into his life, not obtrusively but intelligently, ready to give assistance when it is needed. With good library facilities, wholesome neighborhood recreations, and occasional trips to a city for its opportunities of art galleries, great music, wholesome plays, industrial activities, the simple home life and rural surroundings, even with mediocre teaching in a rural school, provide through early adolescence the environment most favorable for developing richness of life, greatness of personality, social efficiency.

Intellectual and Play Interests. 2 to 6 years.

Sensory and motor stage: Range of active sensory experiences, — tasting, touching, hearing, seeing

Interest in color, sound, tasting, strongest at 4 to 6 years

Constant sensory experimentation and exploration

Experimental science; taking apart; finding source of motion or noise Nature interest; animals, birds, insects, flowers; watching actions, noting striking characteristics of appearance

Interest in experimenting with material (2 to 4 years); in making for use (4 to 6 years)

All work crude; materials large, coarse, utilizing fundamental muscles; periods short, to avoid strain of eyes or nerves


(a) Building, digging, sand play (from one year)
(b) Carpentry, drawing, painting, modeling (from two years)
(c) Cutting, pasting, heavy paper construction (from 4 years)
(d) Coarse weaving, cardboard construction (from 5 years)

See entire curriculum here, baby to early childhood. Some ideas are obviously outdated, but others are still relevant.

"Knowledge has little or no intrinsic value in and of itself. Like light, knowledge is good not to see but to see by. . . . Ignorance is doubtless better than knowledge that does not make us better."
— G. Stanley Hall.

"Where children are fed only on book knowledge, one fact is as good as any other." . —John Dewey.

"If we seek the kingdom of heaven, educationally, all other things shall be added unto us — which, being interpreted, is that if we identify ourselves with the real instincts and needs of childhood, and ask only after its fullest assertion and growth, the discipline and information and culture of adult life shall all come in their due season." — Ibid.

...developing character, — the ideals and the realization of noble living, — which has its roots deep in the feelings and the soul, and depends upon these far more than upon mere thought, knowledge, and reasoning.

"Play is the highest phase of child-development — of human development at this period (childhood); for it is self-active representation of the inner, from inner necessity and impulse."

"The plays of childhood are the germinal leaves of all later life; for the whole man is developed and shown in these."

"Come, let us live with our children."

— F. Froebel

Friday, August 05, 2011

August Grasshoppers

We got beaned by these today on a nature hike through some wetlands . They were everywhere along the path, and I dared not open my mouth until we got to the forest at the other side of the wetlands.

An interesting and very detailed book on grasshoppers which I found free and in public domain at Google Books:

Grasshopper Land by Margaret Morely, 1909. There is an interesting section on Eastern Locusts with Biblical references to locusts - locusts of the Old Testament.

Low Calorie Baking Substitutes

From Baking Your Way to a Slimmer You:

1). Cut the butter – ...replace about half of the butter in cookies, biscuits and pie crusts with reduced fat cream cheese. Light cream cheese (also known as Neufachtel) has a similar texture to butter, reacts similarly in baking, but has a fraction of the fat and calories.

2). Utilize egg whites – When baking cakes, custards and cookies, replace some of the whole eggs with egg whites or Egg Beaters. Every egg yolk contains about 5 grams of fat and 213 mg. of cholesterol. By replacing some of the yolks with additional egg whites, you can cut down on the fat in many desserts.

3) Add orange juice – Relying on fruit juice to provide some of the sweetness in a recipe, rather than just using sugar, is a great way to cut back on the empty calories you often find in desserts.

4). Substitute sugar with a natural sweetener - ...use Truvia® natural sweetener, made from the Stevia plant. It is a natural, zero-calorie sweetener... a good rule of thumb is to replace ¼ cup of sugar in a recipe with 1/8 cup Truvia.

5). Replace the oil – ... oil gives the cake a nice texture, moist crumb, and about 900 extra calories per ½ cup! Thankfully fat free, or reduced fat, plain Greek style yogurt does the same trick with only about 85 calories per ½ cup. I replace 2/3 of the oil in my cake recipes with reduced fat Greek style yogurt..

I use apple sauce to replace oil. This past week I used mashed squash in some sweet bread with great results. I'm going to try the orange juice or other sweet juice as a sugar substitute.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Recent Children's Academic Library Book Selections

Someone(Eva) asked if I wouldn't mind sharing a list of our academic readings. Listed below are a few summer favorites from our public library. Mostly, I browse the stacks and pull books that look interesting, books that are a good review of topics covered(studied) in past years. My son is going into the eighth grade, and some of these books are below his reading level, but were selected for their coverage of a particular area.

Son(age 13):
Ten Kings: And The Worlds They Rule by Wilton Melzer.
Inventions that Made History by David C. Cooke
Cradle of Civilization Series(broad coverage): The Assyrians (The Cradle of Civilization),
The Sumerians (The Cradle of Civilization), and The Babylonians (The Cradle of Civilization) by Elaine Landau
Ten Saints by Eleanor Farjeon
1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up by Julia Eccleshare. HT to Untrodden Paths(Eva).

Daughter(age 5), Picture Books:
Peter the Cruise Ship by Hans Mateboer(geography, cooperation, manners, social studies)
Daisy and the Egg by Jane Simmons(nature science, family)
A House for Hermit Crab (World of Eric Carle) by Eric Carle (nature science, months)
Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes (directional words, a bit of science, sequence)
Old Shell, New Shell: Coral by Helen Ward (nature science)
Where the Forest Meets the Sea by Jeannie Baker (ecology, geography, family)
Caribbean Dream by Rachel Isadora (geography, family, poetry)
The Little Island by Margaret Wise Brown (nature science, the seasons, faith)

Chocolate Squash Cake

I used the below recipe, slightly altered, tonight with super results! I also made one with homemade apple sauce and one with pumpkin. I used an almond, vanilla, cinnamon icing made with powered sugar, and a little white and brown sugar. My daughter(age 5) helped make these cakes and drizzled the icing over the hot cakes.

I had no chocolate chips, so used a bit of chocolate milk mix and extra cocoa powder instead. I deleted the butter for the recipe, adding apple sauce instead.

See recipe here.

1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c. sifted flour
1/2 to 1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. buttermilk (or regular milk with 1 1/2 tsp. vinegar)
1/4 c. cocoa
1 3/4 c. shredded zucchini(or other squash), drained

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