Abacus: Top Secret Spy Assignment

Lucy woke up yesterday telling me all about a dream she had where she was a spy. She then sat and stared at the cover of “Spy Kids” on netflix for about 20 minutes, talking about how much she wanted to be a real spy. I sent her upstairs to assemble a “spy” kit (what she came up with is pictured above) and told her not to come down until I was ready. While she and Hattie were working on their bags, I set up a spy training course. I saw this idea on pinterest a while back –

laser-obstacle
So I quickly strung yarn “lasers”, set up a row of chairs over “hot lava”, and ended the course with a ride down a roller coaster. We also listened to a mix Tim and I made a while back called “This Album Will Self Destruct.” It was pretty fun (Ironically, I had woken up grouchy and tired and had zero desire to do anything fun or engaging with the kids. What I really wanted to do was to sit and drink my coffee and look at my phone.) I wanted to find a way to tie the whole thing into “Letters”, so in the afternoon, Lucy received this message in the mail:

spy code

 

Code Key

Since this month is all about Letters, we thought it would be fun to pass it on to you as well. Print it out, and, if your kiddos are into it, follow the instructions and they too will get a package from us in the mail with some fun trinkets and “spy” gear.
Signed,

Crocodile, Spider X, and Scary Bear (our spy names the girls came up with)

Abacus: “Letters” – A Creative Curriculum List for February

Giants and Pilgrims Abacus is a creative home curriculum centered on a monthly theme. This month’s theme is “Letters”!
Read all about how to use this list and our heart behind this project here.


A couple of February Dates to keep in mind as you are scheming fun activities-

Groundhog Day = Feb. 2
Valentines Day = feb. 14th
Mardi Gras = Feb. 17th
Ash Wednesday = Feb. 18th
The Chinese New Year = feb. 19th

And if you are in the Greeley area, the Stampede troupe is putting on Treasure Island feb. 27 & 28

 

Letters:

Language/Writing:

Experiment with tracing paper – cool letters, etc.

Learn/practice cursive and calligraphy – I am excited to revisit this myself (later in the month I will post some really cool charts for this)

Penpal exchange for the month (anyone want in on this?)

Keeping Adventure Logs/Diaries

Adventure:

Set up letter writing stations around town

Visit the local Post Office (do they do tours?)

 

Art:

Make Sewn Letter mobiles 

Mod podge a set of Alphabet rocks

Illustrate our own animal alphabet book

Take an alphabet photo walk – #almanacalphabetseverywhere (put them together, spell names, etc.)

 

Building:

Construct valentine mailboxes – this one is particularly adorable

Table mailboxes

 

Reading: 

(Various age appropriateness here)
The Jolly Postman
by Allan Ahlberg
Letters from Rifka by Karen Hesse
Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Griffin and Sabine by Nick Bantock
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Vocab – “Epistolary”


Movies

Tommy Tricker and the Stamp Traveller (awesomely bad 90’s movie)

Spellbound – spelling bee documentary

Word Wars – Scrabble documentary 

For the Romantics:
You’ve got Mail
P.S. I Love You

 

Music:

The Postal Service

Abc playlist -We will post ours on Giants & Pilgrims this month

 

History:

Illuminated manuscripts – I used to make these with my art class using parchment paper, that we would burn the edges of and metallic ink or gold leaf to embellish the drop caps with.

Stamp collecting – I am printing out some of these pages – http://stamps.org/userfiles/file/albums/2014-Issues.pdf and any time we get a letter this month with stamps on it, we will save them and add them to our stamp “album”. The pdf has some nice history stories behind each stamp.

 

Technology:

Typing games on the computer (suggestions anyone?)

Play with the typewriter


Kitchen:

Alphabet pasta/soup

 

Math:

Roman numerals

Learn about addresses

 

Games:

Scrabble
Boggle
Spelling Bee
In the Car – the alphabet game (could be a race), letter finding game, etc.

 

What would you add to this list?
Share your projects on our facebook group!

“Mountain” January Projects Round Up

I don’t know about you, but we have been loving having a theme this month for our Abacus project. All sorts of “mountain” projects have been created around here. To see the whole list of projects we came up with (and resources!) check out our original post, here. Below is a summary of what we have been up to so far this January.

We have done quite a few mountain painting projects. I suppose that’s what you get when you have an artist for a mom 🙂

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This second set we used torn paper edges as a stencil which was a fun variation. (The idea came from the book “Make your Mark” by Margaret Poet)

IMG_1483 IMG_1479stencil mountains

We have been listening to lots of these two albums – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty soundtrack (we haven’t actually watched the movie yet) and the Mountain Goats “The Sunset Tree” album (I especially love “This Year”)
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Tim came up with an awesome treasure map activity where he hid a box with trinkets in it and Lucy had to learn how to read a compass to find where it was located. (Isn’t this the coolest compass you have ever seen?!)IMG_1528

 

It took about a week to finish it, but we all watched and LOVED the Sound of Music (Lucy says her favorite part was the puppet show)

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Had a whole week where “In the Hall of the Mountain King” was stuck in all of our heads because we watched several videos of it, Tim told the girls the story of it, and we marked it out on the piano so Lucy could learn how to play the melody.

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We have been loving our “Adventure Logs” (We bought some basic sketchbooks that we decorated to use throughout the course of this whole Abacus year).
We wrote mountain shaped poems in them one peaceful morning.

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I have been enjoying a guilty pleasure of my own as well: a jigsaw puzzle. Miraculously, I have had it set up in our dining room and my kids have not decimated it! They seem to have forgotten about it. I have no idea how that happened, but I’m holding my breath that I “might” actually finish this one!

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One of the COOLEST Christmas presents we got this year was from my ever science-minded father. He got us a dissecting scope! It is seriously awesome. We looked at salt, sugar, glitter, snow, leaves, and rocks. Pretty cool. Can’t wait to look at some pond scum in the spring.

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We sewed mountain shaped pillows.

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We erupted an awesome plaster volcano we made from a kit and watched a video of a seriously cool lava expedition.
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I have almost made my way through “Born to Run” (Ironic since I preach about how much I hate running). But, even I will have to admit it’s a fascinating read and it does have me itching to get out and give running a fresh start.dsc_0138

I found some geodes at Hobby Lobby. Which were a short but sweet discovery change-up after a long afternoon.

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Phew, that seems like a lot when I list it all out like this! In reality, I have been loving these quiet days with this sweet family of mine. Still have 10 days in January for a few more. Hoping to head to the library today for some books, on the 29th we have a family climbing night scheduled at “The Rock” which we are all super excited about, a couple films still (Heidi, Unsinkable Molly Brown), and I’m still hoping to take a drive up to the actual mountains – since we do live so close to such a beautiful wonder. Happy Mountaineering to you and yours – Betony

If you want more info about this whole Abacus project, start here.

To jump in and connect with other families and share what you are working on, join our Abacus facebook group.

Or, to connect see our whole list of mountain project suggestions and resources list, head over here.

 

Update 2/17/15 – Here are our egg geodes – We used this tutorial

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And here are some pics from our awesome family climbing night at “The Rock” – We did the pizza and family climbing night here.

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Introducing Giants & Pilgrims ABACUS: a creative home curriculum centered on a monthly theme!

I’m so excited to introduce one of Giants & Pilgrims new projects for 2015: ABACUS
Creative home curriculum centered on a monthly theme.

Isn’t that a fun word? Abacus. One of the things I have wanted to do for a while is to come up with a list of themed activities to center our home study/projects around. As a stay at home mom, I feel like our lives and days can get so scattered. Just this morning, in the course of 10 minutes I was asked 53 different questions. I seriously started counting. Can I have chocolate milk? Can I have two cereals? I want a cup! Can you pick me up? It’s amazing how much of an energy-drain parenting can be at times. Sometimes just getting everyone dressed and fed uses up all the energy I have. Trying to come up with creative engaging activities in addition to the normal chaos of life can feel like too much.

But, we want to live “the good life”. I want to tell a better story with our days. For me, ABACUS will be about focusing our projects and days into a cohesive journey. It’s about tying all the little bits and pieces together to create something beautiful.

The second inspiration for this project was my sister, Katie. She and her beautiful family, who we love so much, live in Canada- way too far away to visit as often as we would like. She is homeschooling her kids (Luca 5, Rose 3, and Remi 1). We wanted to find a way to connect as families and sisters by sharing our activity experiences. So, the idea of Abacus was born.

Essentially, the plan is this. Each month we will pick a theme and then create a whole list of activities that correspond to it – which will also coordinate with our Almanac theme. This first month’s theme is “Mountain.”

As we brainstorm our whole list of activities that correspond to the theme – hopefully you’ll add ideas as well on our new facebook page. We will publish a whole list for you to use however you see fit. For our family, we will be hanging a poster of the list with check marks in our family room. As we need activities to focus our days, we will choose projects off the list. No need to try to do everything, and they do not need to be completed in any particular order. Essentially, these are meant to be project “sparks.”

Finally, as an explorer of the world. I want to come along side my kids. I want to get excited about what we are working on and playing with together. So, within this list are some items and things that are for me (and parents). I’ve included books like “Into Thin Air” and “Born to Run” on our Mountain curriculum for myself, which have been on my reading list for a while. I plan on reading these during the month as my own little “Mountain” study.

Another piece that as a teacher I believe is very important is the journal. We’re calling these Adventure Logs! Starting this month, we bought simple blank sketchbooks for the kids. I keep these separate from the rest of their collection of notebooks and papers, because they are special. Any time we do something off the list, I try to incorporate a journal activity or reflection. So far its looked like sketches of mountains, Lucy’s visual interpretation of “the hall of the mountain king”, and a sketch of her pattern for a mountain pillow. Harriet’s has a page of practicing drawing “J’s” for “January. We make sure to date each entry. My hope is that these will be great pieces to come back to and remember our adventures by.

Oh, and one last thing. I made a sweet pinterest board to keep track of some of the fun, Mountain-themed projects I have come across in my research.


Ready to get started? Here is the first list –  
January 2015 “Mountain”

Abacus: Mountain – Creative Curriculum List for January

Read all about how to use this list and our heart behind this project here.

And, here is a sweet pinterest board I put together with lots of project ideas and inspiration

Mountain list_small

“Mountain”

Movies:

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

The Sound of Music

The Unsinkable Molly Brown

Mountains from Planet Earth

 

Music:

In the Hall of the Mountain King by Edvard Grieg

Rocky Mountain High by John Denver

America the Beautiful

Crescendos

Yodeling

 

Sciences:

Rock Collecting/ identifying rock-types

Making Egg Geodes

Breaking Geodes

Volcano Making

Elevation Maps

Examining rocks under a microscope- sugar vs salt, etc.

 

Art & Craft:

Plastic wrap and tape mountain paintings

Build Mountain Shelves

Mountain Pillow Sewing

Painting mountains

Torn Paper mountain Range Stencils

Carving rock stamps

 

In the Kitchen:

Haystack cookies (we’ll call them Mountain cookies!)

Books:

Heidi by Johanna Spyri

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

Online:

Listen to our Mountain spotify mix

Download our January desktop wallpaper

Writing:

Mountain Shaped Poems

Journal Keeping/Adventure Logs

 

Here is a printable pdf of our little chart we made for ourselves: 

Mountain list