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July Ideas and Activities Around the Theme “Maps”

With kids’ school schedules, university classes being over, and activities like dance classes taking a break, July is and always will be the ultimate road trip month. Our theme for our home curriculum this month is “MAPS” – think places to go, atlases, globes, searching for treasure, and charts of imaginary lands. With 4th of July celebrations and their historical roots, what better time to explore this vast and rich country we live in? It is about putting on our explorer caps, blaring some road trip tunes, and charting out adventure.

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

Below is our comprehensive MAPS activities list. Choose a couple to do with your kids to enrich the month or try to accomplish the whole list! What would you add? I would love to hear your ideas and plans for the month.

July Dates to Take Note of:

July 4th – Independence Day

Local Greeley, CO events:

Concert under the Stars – July 8th at the UNCO Garden Theater

Neighborhood Nights in July (Movies/picnics at city parks in greeley) – Muppets Most Wanted, Big Hero 6, The Lego Movie

Greeley Arts Picnic – July 25 and 26

Taste of Windsor – July 16

 

HISTORY:

Tell the stories of Independence day on the 4th of July and of course enjoy fireworks

We will be heading on a family music/art tour to Wisconsin. On our way, we plan on visiting the Nebraska and Iowa state capitals – hoping to make this a family tradition as we visit new states. Is there a state capitol somewhere near that you could visit? Or at least talk about what state capitols are.

Learn about some of the great explorers – Magellan, Columbus, Lewis & Clark, etc.

Maybe this book would be a fun way to learn about these explorers?

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Also want to check out this one (its illustrations alone look incredible)
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Look at trains and modes of transportation (hot air balloons anyone?)
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Along with that, learn how to play Ticket to Ride, which I have heard is a great game.
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ART:

Do straw paintings of fireworks
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Paint a treasure map (Image from here) – I particularly like using parchment paper and burning the edges. Just makes it even more, you know, pirate-y. A link to a map we made a couple years ago: Here .
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Create a 3D map of our neighborhood like this sweet milk box one.

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Try making something like this great wall hanging interactive map from The Handmade Home

MUSIC:

Listen to our Road Trip playlist

Listen to our Stars and Stripes playlist

Sufjian stevens – Michigan and Illinois
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John Phillips Sousa

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Make a States playlist? What songs could you use for each of the 50 states?!

MOVIES:

Goonies, Pirates of the Caribbean, Cars (Route 66), Around the World in 80 Days
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READ:

Treasure Island – Robert Louise Stevenson
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SCIENCE:

Look at constellation maps (there is a great printable one here

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and make pin poke constellation maps

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Learn about Planets and maps of our solar system – maybe make a model
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Make maps of the human body

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PLAY:

 and go on an imaginary expedition

Play the old zelda – with map
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IN THE CAR:

Follow routes on a road atlas

Play the license plate game – or some of these other great car games

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Learn about distances

GEOGRAPHY:

Spend a lot of time looking at the Maps book by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Activity companion – it is really beautifully done.
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Do the State Map Puzzle we picked up at the Habitat Store (kind of like this one)

Also, cut up an old atlas and make these out of some of those freebie rectangle magnets you get from real estate agents…
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Play with Compasses and Map Keys
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Learn our state flower, bird, reptile, etc.

Look at elevation maps

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May Abacus: STRETCH

Giants and Pilgrims’ “Abacus” is a creative home curriculum centered on a monthly theme. This month’s theme is STRETCH! Think all things stretchy, the “final stretch”, and stretching your body.

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

Below is our comprehensive activities list. Choose a couple to do with your kids to enrich the month or try to accomplish the whole list! What would you add? I would love to hear your ideas and plans for the month.

Dates in May to take note of/celebrate:

May 1 = May Day
May 4 =Star Wars Day (May the 4th be with you)
May 5 = Teachers Day
May 5 = Cinco de Mayo
May 9 = Lost Sock Memorial Day (poor poor socks…)
May 9 = National Train Day (if you are in greeley, how about a trip to the Train Museum!) – We have an epic adventure planned on this one….
May 10 = Mother’s Day
May 14 = Dance Like a Chicken Day
May 15 = National bike to work day
May 25 = Memorial Day (we love to go to the Bolder Boulder – even if just to observe)

May is also National Bike Month and National Barbecue Month – both of which we plan on taking full advantage. For all the Graduations, print out our free Graduation card. Also, I just discovered it is national physical fitness and sports month – perfect for our “Stretch” theme!

 

Our List of “Stretch” Activities:

P.E.:

The number one thing I want to do this month is follow this weekly family workout calendar I made. May just seems to me like a get up and move kind of month.

Monday: Family Run – for us, this looks like one person running with the stroller. We shall see if it works or not…

Tuesday: Fitness Blender (a workout video website)
We will either do this stretching one (although it does cost 6.99) or this one that is free 🙂

Wednesday: Morning walk

Thursday: Bike Ride – still working on this one too since Harriet can’t quite ride by herself. Ideas?

Friday: Outside Workout – I think we will do this one.

Saturday: Morning Kids Yoga – our girls LOVE these yoga videos from Cosmic Kids Yoga.

Here is a quick printable reminder card:
May weekly workout

Head to an outdoor running track and play – races, pretend track meet events, etc.

 

Practice the girls dances for their recital (and mine!)

WATCH:

Family inspirational Sports Movies that deal with the “Final Stretch”:

Cool Runnings
Sea Biscuit
Chariots of Fire
National Velvet
The Karate Kid
A League of Their Own
may movies

 

SCIENCE:

Make all the slimes! Bouncy balls, silly putty, slime, gak, and goopy stuff (learn about the properties of polymers)

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Get this make your own chewing gum kit
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IN THE KITCHEN:

Make Pizza dough
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Make homemade saltwater taffy

Make homemade mozzarella cheese

MUSIC:

Make different kids of rubber band instruments 

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Get some instruments into the kids hands to just get a feel for them – Trombone (Trombone Shorty, etc.), etc.

ART/CRAFT:

Visit the Denver Art museum (now free for kids) to see the Joan Miro exhibit with studio time (through June 28) – “stretching” your imagination
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Make balloon string balls

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Paint Stretch Wrap watercolor paintings

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READ:

Shel Silverstien – Twistable Turnable Man
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Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
Maniac Mcgee by Jerry Spinelli
Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand (for me)

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PLAY:

Fly a kite

Play Twister (I like this outside garden version!)
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Play with Slinkys 

BUILD:

A rubber band nail board (pre drill holes for fun hammering practice)

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Make a Sling Shot
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Some of these might be a bit of a “stretch”, but we are pretty excited to jump in and start May.

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Abacus “Grow” Round Up

April: Grow

I can’t believe it is April 28th already. Time does seem to fly by these days. But, we have been doing lots of “Grow”ing around here. The theme for this month’s Abacus project was “Grow” (ABACUS is our creative home curriculum centered on a theme). It was the perfect theme for a lovely sunshine and rain kind of April. To see the whole list of projects we came up with (and resources) check out our original post, here.

First of all, we had a lovely Easter celebration – both at home, and in Denver. (Tim is missing from this photo because he was in Denver running the Easter services there)
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Just look at these two silly bunnies (they INSISTED on wearing their bunny suits to the egg hunts).
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We ended the day with a spring dinner outside in our garden. It was lovely. (At which we made these very yummy biscuits)
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We visited Baby Animal Days at Centennial Village
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We have a whole set of CD case bean sprouts growing in our window right now. The roots are now visible. Harriet is our official water-er.

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The girls and I have been planting all kinds flowers out in our garden. On days like these, it’s pretty hard to be inside.
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We grew a baby pool full of water beads. We experimented with adding food coloring to make them colored – which worked great. The girls played with them for hours and then eventually smushed them into oblivion.
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Lucy and I are about half way through The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. She absolutely loves it. Harriet does not 🙂 But that is because she is 3. Lucy has all sorts of plans for making a secret garden of her own.
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Lucy started on a Garden quilt, but quickly lost interest. She maybe cut out 6 squares. But, we have the pieces tucked away for the next rainy day.IMG_3764

I started a homemade braided rug. I have been LOVING the process. Delightfully mindless but satisfying. I am about halfway through my fabric scraps. Its going to take longer than I thought to make it the size I was hoping, but I can’t wait.


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We have a large tree growing up our dining room wall. I posted the image I compiled to make the tree if you want to use it. I tiled it and then got cheap blueprint 24X24 copies made. The girls and I used pastels and watercolors to paint it.

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grow tree
We haven’t built the growth chart I wanted to make yet, but we have built frames for some paintings and a sweet little fairy house thanks to my dad’s wood working skills. We also bought all the lumber for our garden archway project, but haven’t made any progress on the actual build. My goal is to have it put together by the time my cucumber vines need somewhere to climb.

We grew our growing crystal tree and some funny grow fish my mom got for the girls.

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We listened to lots of spring music this month –
-Our April Showers playlist

-Our new Birdie Mix

-The Secret Garden Broadway Soundtrack (which Lucy has really enjoyed because it has bits of story element that she connects with the book we are reading)
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-And Elizabeth Mitchell’s Sunny Day CD – just the sweetest kids folk music ever made
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The girls emptied out their piggy banks, we spent some time talking about the different coins and what they are worth. Then, we went to the bank and cashed the change in (23 dollars!) – learning about how banks work. Finally, we went to Target where the girls each picked out and paid for a Lego set that was in their price range. Pretty great.
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Lucy did several pages of “homework” that involved lots of measuring practice.

We are not the kind of family that worries too much about our kids being “behind.” However when it comes to coordination and “sportsy” type activities, we are pretty lacking. Harriet still can’t figure out how to pedal a tricycle so we are working on it 🙂
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We picked wild asparagus  – although not very much.

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A couple of days ago I was hurrying to finish up a commissioned painting and Tim was signed up to be the helper at Harriet’s preschool. So, I set up an easel in the middle of our garden beds and told Lucy to paint what she saw. She dug in a created the most lovely garden masterpiece. Claude Monet would have been proud. It was a peaceful session of plein air painting for both of us.

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We still want to visit a Garden center, finish our garden arch and grow chart, and hopefully paint on some flower pots. But, my what a lovely April it has been.

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spy kit

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)

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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!

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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”

dreaming about mountains

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