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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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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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April Abacus: Grow

April: Grow

Giants and Pilgrims’ “Abacus” is a creative home curriculum centered on a monthly theme. This month’s theme is GROW!
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 April to take note of/celebrate:

April 3rd = Good Friday
April 5th = Easter
April 15th = Tax Day
April 15th = Holocaust Remembrance Day
April 22 = Earth Day
April 24th = Arbor Day

Greeley Calendar (if you are local):

Baby Animal Days at Centennial Village
April 3-12, from 9 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m.
Admission: $2.50/person for ages 3+

City of Greeley Easter Egg Hunt at Lincoln Park
Saturday, April 4th, 10 am, Ages 0-12

Northern Colorado Children’s Festival, Saturday April 11th
Island Grove Event Center, 10am-3pm

Our List of “Grow” Activities:

Garden:

Grow CD case sprouts
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Let the girls each pick out a seed packet of flowers to grow in their garden (last year we made them a small raised bed of their own.)
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Plant all our garden seeds, clear out beds and planters, and tend them well.
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Play:

Grow a baby pool full of water beads. We have played with these before and they are Oh so fun.
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Read:

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
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And color and play with this “Secret Garden” book by Johanna Basford

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Check out a stack of garden books from the library

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Home:

Sew a little garden quilt (Lucy has been begging me to teach her how to sew her own quilt.) We will make a very simple checkerboard one. Hopefully the perfect size for a picnic in the grass. Something like this: (although knowing Lucy it will be pink pink pink with a dash of purple).
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Start a homemade braided rug – first involves making lots of scrap balls. I am going to use the directions from a Handmade Home by Amanda Soule. I’m thinking this will be a great way to manage my fabric scraps that have been building up. I will definitely sort by color in some way…
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Make a paper Tree to put on our wall to decorate and add to.

Build:

Make our own artistic rendering of a Grow chart. There are all sorts of DIY for simple ruler ones on the internet, but I particularly like this one from Brooklyn Limestone.

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Make this garden archway for the entrance to our garden:
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Science:

Grow bacteria cultures and maybe a bread mold lab
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And since I’m starting a science lab, what about using cultures to make my own cheese? Or maybe keep it simple and try this one

Learn more about the Human body – how hair grows, cell growth, etc.
Lucy has been loving Magic school bus (this episode about the body in particular)
Any other book recommendations for kids about the body?
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Make our growing crystal tree (only 2.99 here) I picked up at Moon Marble Mayhem.

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Microwave Ivory Soap (if you haven’t tried this already, it’s fabulous and GROWS like crazy.) Then, what to do with it…. hmmmm…snowman-soap-experiment-step-2

Listen to:

Ravel’s Bolero (he takes one theme and grows it)
Our April Showers playlist
The Secret Garden Broadway Soundtrack

Math:

Learn about money and how accounts can “grow”
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Learn about measuring and rulers

History:

Visit the Greeley History Museum and learn about how towns grow

Outside:

Dig for worms and learn about animal regeneration

Work on a new outdoor activity skill (Lucy riding without training wheels, Hattie pedaling, me running)

Visit a Garden center (in greeley, we love Eaton Gardens and Happy Life Gardens)

Pick wild asparagus – we went out last week and found some, but it wasn’t quite big enough. But it is there! If you aren’t in CO, what grows native in your area that you can forage for?

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Watch:

Peter Pan (never grow up)
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Art:

Paint on terra cotta pots

Introduce the kids to plein air painting (maybe on a nature trail somewhere, or at a garden center?)

Complete Set of Almanac Booklets Now Available!

The Coons family spent good time creating these all last year, enjoying the curating of everything creative we put in there.

The 12 booklets are full of provision and navigation for your season. They read like a “Life Almanac” and include recipes, playlists, songs, paintings, Instagram games, suggested adventures, free downloads and more. Pick up a set for yourself here and enjoy a deeper sense of the seasons with friends and family!

We only have 6 collections left, so invest quickly!

 

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“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)

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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

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“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