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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?)

Abacus “Spectrum” Round Up

And there it goes, March is ending already. Spring is here!

I have found doing these round-up posts really helpful for me. It’s funny how I will feel so behind and like we haven’t “done” anything. But then, as I start to compile images from the month, it amazes me just how much we managed to pack in. I’ve found it to be such a nice way of keeping track of our days. I highly recommend it 🙂 The theme for this month’s Abacus project was “Spectrum” (ABACUS is our creative home curriculum centered on a theme). I am excited to share where we have been going with it!  To see the whole list of projects we came up with (and resources) check out our original post, here.  It’s been a March full of color.

Lots of rainbow drawing and experiments with color (Hattie (3) jumped fully into being an artist herself this month, rather than just observing):
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Beatrice and I happened on a Marble factory with glass blowing demonstrations near Kansas City, called Moon Marble Company. We of course had to bring a few home with us. Each one is such a tiny world of light and color.
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We started seeds indoors – mini red bell peppers and more (all from the glorious Baker Creek Seed Company). They are enjoying the sunshine of our window seat. All of now come up!

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The city of Greeley is doing a whole lot of awesome lego themed events in anticipation of “Build Frontiers” coming to the Greeley history museum in June. We can’t wait! This week we went to a lego event at the library and also a whole art show of lego builds (Amazing rainbow lego tree house was made by the lovely Natalie Mash – part of the lego show at the Tointon Gallery).
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We had a very “iridescent” morning making black rainbow paper (super fun, just need clear nail polish and black paper!) and giant bubbles. Thank goodness for sunshiny days.
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Speaking of colors, we painted our very dark living room a lovely fresh shade of light blueish gray. “After” pictures still coming.
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And, of course, sorted all the “things” by color. (I found these spools at a thrift store, does anyone know what they are for?)
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We played with lots of colorful musical notes.
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We harnessed the power of the sun to create Inkodye animal t-shirts.  More of these coming soon! I “might” have gotten so excited about this amazing new product that I bought all the colors…I actually have some SA-WEET zippered pouches in the works to sale here.
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The girls watched Wizard of Oz for the first time ever, and of course loved it. There were lots of discussions about future halloween costumes and who gets to be which character. Apparently I am the witch. Hmmmm….
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We ate the color spectrum for lunch one day.
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We also made these “favorite color” freezer paper shirts.
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Artist Kelly Cook and I completed our Spectrum themed sketchbook for The Sketchbook Project
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Harriet and I had a marvelous time one day making homemade play dough (my mom’s special recipe – which I will post someday) which we used to make rainbow cupcakes
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We played with prisms and sunshine.
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And finally, we whipped up a batch of Rainbow foam and had a “bike car wash”

That’s all folks! April’s theme is coming on Thursday!

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.

“Spectrum” Favorite Color Shirts DIY

This project is part of our March Abacus “Spectrum” theme. We spent the last week in KS hanging out with grandparents and my sister and her family from Canada, she has 3 kids ages 6,3, and 1. I wanted to do a simple but fun project that all the kids could do together and that could be a little keepsake from the week as well. We came up with these freezer paper “Favorite Color” shirts inspired by paint swatches.

Supplies Needed:

Freezer paper – looks like this:
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Brush-able fabric paint (just not the puffy paint kind)
An Iron
Paint brushes
Water
Blank Shirts (or tote bags, hoodies, etc..)
An Exacto Knife
A scrap of cardboard slightly smaller than the shirt

1. Cut a simple stencil out of the freezer paper. You will need one for each shirt you are making. I traced my iphone case 3 times. Use the exacto to cut out the shapes.

2. Put a piece of cardboard inside the shirt to keep the paint from soaking through to the backside.

3. Iron the freezer paper stencil to the shirt (plastic side down so it adheres)
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4. Have kiddos pick out favorite colors. This is a great time to learn about color mixing too.
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5. Squeeze a small amount of paint onto a paper plate and paint in the rectangles. I folded the excess shirt under to keep stray paint off it (but we are also talking about 3 year olds here…). 
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6. Paint each rectangle a different color. I went in at the end and made sure they had each filled the whole shape. (don’t mind the shirtless-ness, just trying to keep the paint off their other clothes 🙂

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7. Let the paint fully dry. If you are impatient like we were, break out a hair dryer to speed things along.

8. Once the paint is fully dry, peel off the stencil! All done!

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9. Wait 24 hours before washing and then just wash as normal. Probably isn’t a bad idea to heat set the paint with a clothes iron too.

Note: I thought it would be cute to write their name/age + “favorite colors” at the bottom in small letters, but we didn’t.

This obviously does not have to be a kid only project. I kind of want one for myself too…

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Abacus: “Spectrum”

Giants and Pilgrim “Abacus” is a creative home curriculum centered on a monthly theme. This month’s theme is Spectrum!
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 thing!

Also, a few March Dates to keep in mind as you are scheming fun activities-

Pi Day = March 14th (3.14…)
St. Patricks Day = Mar. 17
First day of Spring = Mar. 20th

March: Spectrum

Listen:

Ludwig Von Drake – The Spectrum Song (disney)

Red Roses for Blue Lady by Jack Morgan

Our Spectrum playlist! (coming later this month…)

This podcast on Spiral dynamics (For adults – not kids)

Movies:

Any of these films with an intensely distinctive color palette: Amelie, any Wes Anderson film, Nanny McPhee, Hero
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For St. Patricks Day:
The Secret of Roan Inish, and The Book of Kells
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The Wizard of Oz (For its transition from black and white to color)

Science:

Play with prisms

Learn about plants and how they process light

Steve Spangler St. Patrick’s Day Science Kit (we bought this a few years back and now get it out every year. It was super fun. I would highly recommend it. We are needing a few refills, but mostly it lasts quite a while)

Bees, Ultra violet and other colors off our visual spectrum – we are hoping to take a field trip out to Illuman Apiary’s bee hives if it gets warm enough.

This Cool Density “rainbow in a jar” experiment
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Take a trip to the Denver Natural History Museum – specifically to play with their infrared camera body scan
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Learn about eyes – Anatomy, Rods/Cones, etc

Adventure:

Make a Treasure Map  – Participate in our Isles of Green Adventure at the end of this month! (Here is last years)
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Books:

Adult Reads:

Red: The Red Tent by Anita Diamont

Orange: A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Yellow: The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Green: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Blue: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Purple: The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Kids:
Older kids –
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, The Giver by Louis Lowry
Younger –
Mix it Up by H. Tullet, Do You Know Colors by Katherine Howard, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See? by Eric Carle, The Day the Crayons Quit by Oliver Jeffres
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Art:

Freezer paper “Favorite Color” shirts
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Paint Color wheels/Learn about color mixing/Spin art
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Find some where to do a color coded Trash art installation like this –
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Make dip dyed cloth or paper (or tie dye!)
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Make layered paper jewelry

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Garden/Outside:

Make Garden cold frames (or as I like to call them, “mini-greenhouses”)

Seed Starts
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Visit the Wichita Botanical Gardens

Play with this:
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Kitchen:

Make homemade play dough – recipe coming soon 🙂

Eat the Rainbow – this could make a fun grocery store trip that maybe helps convince my kids to try eating a few vegetables.
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Make these edible rainbows –
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Play with rainbow foam
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Sort all the things by color (oh wait, I do that already…)

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ABACUS: “Letters” Project Round UP

(Above image is from a Greeley mural created by Wes Bruce.)

The theme for this month’s Abacus project is “Letters” (ABACUS is our creative home curriculum centered on a theme). I am excited to share where we have been going with it!  To see the whole list of projects we came up with (and resources!) check out our original post, here.  It’s been a lovely way to spend February.

The first thing we did was to get out all sorts of lettering sheets and make a poster for the month with all our ideas and plans. We had a fun time experimenting with different fonts and styles. I got pretty into this too and had a great time addressing all our valentine envelopes with different fonts. Ridiculous, I know. But so fun.

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Here are a couple of awesome vintage charts I found that you could print out and play with. Ah, the lost art of lovely handwriting.
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Lucy wrote a letter to her first pen-pal.
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We haven’t had a chance to set up letter writing stations around town yet, but we’re planning on doing it soon! We are also still hoping to take a visit to the local Post Office and have a tour (we did go and pick out some stamps on our last etsy mailing errand).

We started illustrating our own animal alphabet book. Its destined to be a classic.

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Tim took a brisk alphabet-photo-walk with Lucy where they found all the letters in the alphabet.
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Speaking of photos, I have been loving participating in the annual Atlas photo a day challenge on instagram.
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Lots of mail has been made and delivered around here, thanks to these cute little mailboxes we picked up for $3 at target and customized.

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Been listening to lots of this album, as well as our ABC playlist (still to come).

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We started a little stamp collection by printing out some of these pages – http://stamps.org/userfiles/file/albums/2014-Issues.pdf and putting them in a three ring binder. Any time we got a letter this month with stamps on it we add them to our stamp “album”. Hattie (who’s 3) in particular has loved this.

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Lucy has been enjoying playing these typing games on the computer.

Tim spent a morning teaching the girls about addresses. I later received this sweet, sweet letter. Keeping it forever 🙂

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A “letters” tie in that I had not anticipated has been my set-design work for Frontier Academy elementary school. One of my close friends asked me to design the set for their show called “Knights of Dawn” (its from one of the Magic Treehouse books). We did a literary theme by constructing the whole thing from oversize pages of the text and old books. Lots of “letters”! 🙂 The girls have loved it.
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Finally, we did a whole “Secret Spy” day that was pretty epic. It involved “lasers”, a spy course, and a top secret code. Read about the whole thing here.
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Share your projects on our facebook group!

– See more ideas at: https://s28969.p27.sites.pressdns.com/abacus-letters-a-creative-curriculum-list-for-february/#sthash.l90fvSMi.dpuf

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 Letters project suggestions and resources list, head over here.

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!

The Smell of Each Season

Betony and I have a strange tradition that we
haven’t yet shared here in the Almanac.

With the turn of each season we go and buy
scented candles.

For fall we will perhaps get an apple smell, pumpkin, or maybe cloves. Then for winter we almost always get one of those Christmas tree ones, and maybe a cinnamon/spice fragrance. Come spring we’ve found “cut grass” and various flowers while summer this year took us to “Margarita-vile”.

I know it seems superfluous and a bit silly, but we look forward to doing this each fall, winter, spring, and summer.

They say that the sense most connected with memory is that of smell. So it would make great sense that when the weather changes and we find ourselves in a new place in the year yet again, we would want to recall the past.

In doing so we bring to mind all the good we remember from the last year and let that color our coming days.

And by purchasing candles, sometimes revisiting the exact same smells, sometimes finding new perfumes to add change and variety,
we anchor our joy in taking on each new season.
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