One of our bigger art projects this week (in addition to the Marauder’s Map) was an acrylic on canvas piece for the fence in our backyard. We’re in the process of creating a magical picnic area in part of the yard for the kiddos, one of whimsy and fancy, a nesting place for them to alight in the midst of busy play. I thought an art piece would help bring a pop of unexpected color to the place.

To give some of the painting a bit of texture, we chose to thicken some, but not all, of the paints we used. As we did for last year’s Van Gogh project, we thickened about half of the paints with cornstarch. We reviewed warm and cool colors, and we reviewed what we know about the ways in which Van Gogh uses his paints.

Artist at work

Katie made a landscape of flowers, grass, and sky.

We hung it up in the backyard (pictured behind Mr. E and Miss K).

The kiddos share a moment

We were heavily into art this week. One of our morning trays involved sponge painting. I cut some cheap, thin sponges into astronomy themed shapes: planets, moon, sun, star, comet. We used our tempura paints for this, and Katie made several sheets of prints. A fun way to start the day…even Eric got involved. When Katie was finished with her prints, she showed Eric how to do it. He learned how to dip the sponges into the paint, and by the end, he was pressing them down onto the paper. Very sweet.

Sponge printing

Katie always loves to make concoctions, or potions, as she calls them. In a week themed with connections to our Harry Potter reading, we were able to tie in this activity (as well as the astronomy prints) to the classes that Hogwarts students take. Katie used her plastic measuring spoons to make her concoction from the twelve different ingredients in her muffin tray. She is now able to identify the tablespoon, half tablespoon, teaspoon, and half teaspoon measures very easily. We cook together all the time, so this is a natural language for her—and we are building a solid base on which to construct our teaching of fractions when the time comes.

For math, we are progressing into addition. Katie worked on a simple addition worksheet this week. She can count only up to 13 (and then jumps several numbers and finishes, “18, 19, 20!” with flourish), so we keep our addition sums under the number ten. We use these wooden disks (they are actually part of my checker/chess set) as manipulatives to help her work out the sum. She now knows the vocabulary of addition, and can translate”+” and “=” into English. She worked these sums fairly easily: I have her pull out the first set of wooden disks and then add whatever number comes next in the problem. Then she counts them all up to arrive at the sum.

We are still working on writing the numerals 1-10. We have focused mostly on teaching her to write her letters, and I am aware that we need to practice our numbers, as well. She loves our Kumon tracing cards (dry erase), and we’ve worked on that this week, too. For the above worksheet, I would write the sum she figured, and then she traced it with her pen.

Katie also received her very own Hermione Granger inspired “Time Turner.” In The Prisoner of Azkaban, Hermione uses the magic Time Turner to travel back in time (which allows her to attend multiple classes held at the same hour). Our Time Turner was easy to make: take an hour glass from a board game, and tie yarn around it to make a necklace. Two seconds later: a Time Turner of our own! We are going to use this as an entry next week for some time-telling work.

I found these worksheets online, created and shared for free be The Enchanted Homeschooling Mom. I actually wasn’t looking for a Harry Potter activity when I stumbled upon this, as ironic as that may be. I was searching for something else and scrolling through her blog when, whoa, these perfect worksheets appeared serendipitously. For the first worksheet, Katie had to write in the letter that begins each character’s name. She had an easy time with that.

Then there was a pattern completion worksheet using Harry Potter characters. Katie has been working on pattern completions for over a year (age 2.5 or so), and she found this very simple. Still, it is a great skill to practice—and a fine tie-in to our literature this week.

Another art-themed Montessori tray: Katie woke up one morning to the task of uncovering a hidden message. It is just a simple crayon resist project, actually. I used a white crayon to write a message to her on white paper, and then she used her watercolors to reveal it. We talked about how wax resists, or pushes away, water to reveal the message.

Some of our science this week involved one of our FAVORITE outside activities: turning over rocks to see the bugs living underneath. We found some neat ones!

Eric points to some ants. Eric has noticed ants over the past couple of weeks and finds them fascinating. He likes to show them to us and watch them.

Finally, we brought out one of our treasures this week. When my mom was just in middle school, she made an “All by Yourself” book for a home economics project. It is a book designed to teach young children how to button, snap, zip, use a hook-and-eye,  tell time, and tie shoes. She was designing Montessori products before she even knew what those were! Cool! This red felt book is probably around 44 years old, and I love that on the front my mom has her name “Becky Yoder” written in Sharpie. I love that my kiddos are using it, when she made it way before she even knew her own children would exist.

Eric is also fascinated with faces, especially family faces, this week. We have many, many family pictures framed in our house to begin with, but this week I made an extended-family viewing area of more framed pictures. I remember Katie LOVING to look at pictures at around the same age. We identify every person, and then ask things like, “Where’s Uncle Chet? Which one is Aunt Ashley?” I am still working on adding as many people as I can to his viewing gallery. We have a big black and white themed gallery of our ancestors upstairs, including great-greats and a  great-great-great. I just don’t think I could ever have too much family all around us, you know?

Happy homeschooling to all!