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October’s Adventures in Homeschooling

This year we began homeschooling Lucy (7) and Hattie (5). We’re including this on our Giants & Pilgrims blog as all our family adventures seem to impact our art & music so much! Also, we just like sharing the stories. So we’ll be sharing posts on the themes we’ve been covering each month and calling the adventure “ABACUS”! Our hope is that these posts will help spark creative direction and inspiration for your family as well as giving us somewhere to be document and record our experiences.

READING AND LITERATURE:

Here were our reading books for the month:

We read Kate DiCamillo’s The Tale of Despereaux (one of Tim and my all time favorites), The Boxcar Children (which Harriet LOVED and has been watching the Netflix movie of over and over again), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (the new beautifully illustrated version), and a really cool pop-up version of The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe (which also led to the Calvin & Hobbs Monster Drooling Poem based on The Raven, and the Simpson’s Halloween episode of The Raven – both SOO funny and good).

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We are still loving our morning reading out-loud tea time on the front porch. Although it is starting to get chilly!!

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For our History books we read these two – (we are going through Beautiful Feet History’s Early American series in order). We really enjoyed both books.

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As part of our history study (and since we finished the Columbus book last month) I thought it would be fun to carve soap boats on Columbus Day. I usually set out our morning activity the night before. On this particular morning, the girls got up without waking me up (like they usually do) , and happily carved through all 8 bars of soap on their own, and this is the scene I woke up to. Soap everywhere, but no one was bleeding and they were thoroughly pleased with themselves. Pretty hilarious.

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Geography/Culture: Mexico

One of the things we are doing this year is our Passport idea for Geography/World Cultures. We are “visiting” a different country every month – exploring the food, culture, dress, arts, and music through themed activities. This month, Harriet and Lucy chose Mexico as our country to visit.

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I have been using the book “Give Your Child the World” as a reference for books. I think the High Plains librarians are starting to hate me because of how many books I put on hold each month. Oh Well. Sorry guys.

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As recommended in Give Your Child the World, here were the Mexico themed picture books we read through from the library.

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Elena’s Serenade and The Legend of the Poinsettia were probably our favorites.

One of the major reasons we picked Mexico was because we wanted to do a Day of the Dead celebration. The girls fully planned, prepped, and decorated for this themselves!

Getting Lucy started on Adobe Photoshop early 🙂

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Like the invitation says, we decorated with Papel Picado and marigolds, painted faces, watched Book of Life, Colored skeleton faces, ate Mexican food and authentic Mexican candies from our local Mexican grocery store, and made skull rocks. This will definitely be one for the books and I can see it becoming a yearly tradition :).

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Nature Study

We have been using this ebook as a guide for our Nature Study. And it is SO beautifully done.
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It has a simple activity each corresponding with the season, paired with a recommended book list, an art piece to enjoy, a poem, and art ideas.

Nature Outings:

We have designated Monday as our outdoor adventure days. It’s our day off together as a family, and we just love it. This month we visited a local cemetery where we did some grave rubbings.

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Took a family bike ride on the Poudre River Trail to look at the changing leaves –

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Went on a nature outing to our beloved Homestead Park to search out our favorite trees and do a little Pond Study.

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(Harriet studying a sample of pond water we brought home with us)

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And of course October wouldn’t be complete without an outing to a pumpkin patch!!

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Along with our weekly nature outings, we finished up our Nature Pal Exchange box (and received one back in the mail from North Carolina!). It was such a fun project. I am already looking forward to the next time we do it.
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Harriet’s “Leaf Lady”
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The contents of the box we put together:

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Music

All of the kids are really enjoying their music classes through the Union Colony Children’s Music Academy here in Greeley. It uses the musikgarten approach which I am loving more and more all the time – especially as I see how it grows and expands with the kids.

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Math

We needed to switch up how we were doing math. No one was enjoying it. So this month we used the book Bedtime Math (which is so fun).

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We added some more tactile/playable elements to our routine (counting bears, a shape rubber band board, an abacus, etc…)

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Science

We have really enjoyed various Steve Spangler Science videos. We broke out the cornstarch one morning and recreated his cornstarch slime experiments.


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We also enjoyed some Magic School Bus “Inside the Human Body” and this really cool Human Body model from Target.
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Which led to drawing white skeletons on black paper of course.

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Art/Handicrafts

Since we read Hansel & Gretel (candy house and witches…), we made Hansel & Gretel dolls to play with. My friend Lindsay had given me this amazing tea towel that has a beautifully illustrated pattern already printed onto it. The pattern is from Sarah Young’s etsy shop. Now that I have made them, I think we are going to need the little red riding hood one too 🙂

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A cotton snow storm –

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We used a fun little kit to make these Halloween luminaries.

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We did some major papier mache magic with tape and cardboard to make Lucy’s “Spooky Tree” halloween costume.

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We played with our freshly organized rubber stamps to give our letter writing days a boost.

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Since we are reading the Tale of Despereaux, the girls sewed these very simple little felt mice from this pattern.

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And of course what would October be without a night of carving all those wonderful pumpkins with hot chocolate and popcorn of course and a spooky playlist.

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And, finally, I will leave you with a very spooky (and hilarious horror film by Lucy)


Happy October friends! Thanks for following along!!!

September Ideas and Activities around the Theme “Animalia”

For this entire year I’ve been doing an at home curriculum with the family (Lucy 6, Hattie 3, Beatrice 10 months). Tim and I call the project “Abacus” and we’re sharing it each month for the fun, challenge, and community of it. Each month we choose a theme and then come up with a bunch of activities around that theme.
Read all about how to use this list and our heart behind this project here.
Explore past months themes here.

 

Growing up we had this book as a kid by Graeme Base called Animalia. It’s the basic idea of an ABC book taken to the next level – as many things that start with a letter as possible entertwined together on one page with catchy alliteration poetry. My dad and I would play a game where we would see how many things we could find that started with the letter on each page. It would be in the hundreds per page. Inspired by that book, this month’s theme is “ANIMALIA” – think the animal kingdom, animal alphabets, zoology, fables and more

 

September Dates to Take Note of:

September 7th –Labor Day
September 13th –Grandparents Day
September 19th –Talk Like a Pirate Day
September 21st – International Peace Day
(We also have two little cuties who have September birthdays)

Local: Greeley, CO events:

September 12th –Chalk-a-Lot at UNC (a fun family art event – they will be trying to break the world record for longest continuous chalk drawing)
September 12th –Potato Day at Centennial Village (one of my favorites)
September 19th – Poudre River Trail-a-Thon – we haven’t ever been to this, but it sounds great!

List of Ideas and Inspiration for ANIMALIA:

FILMS:

There are so many good family movie nights here…

Dr. Doolittle (I prefer the old one of course)
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Milo and Otis
We Bought a Zoo
Babe
Homeward Bound (Old version is called the Incredible Journey)
Gorillas in the Mist

BOOKS:

Animalia by Graeme Base
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Animalium by Katie Scott & Jenny Broom
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All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
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…and oh so many other great books from the perspective of animals (Redwall, Wildwood, Charlottes Web, etc…)

SCIENCE & NATURE:

Learn about animal taxonomy (remember “Kings Play Cards On Fat Green Stools”?)
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Animal tracks – maybe make plaster casts of them
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Learn about endangered and extinct animals – could make little clay models of them
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ART:

Funny animal combinations
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Painting and drawing animals – there are some great books on this. Learning how to simplify to basic shapes is a great lesson.
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Help the girls Sew little felt animals
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OUTINGS:

Take a trip to the Zoo (or wild animal sanctuary)

LITERATURE:

Read animal fairy tales – three little pigs, billy goats gruff, etc.
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Learn about Aasops Fables
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MUSIC:

Listen to and talk through the Carnival of Animals by Saint-Saëns – also this Ap might be a fun add on too

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DRAMA:

Play Animal charades
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Put on a play of one of Aasops Fables or a Nursery Rhyme
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Make animal hand shadow puppets

June Ideas and Activities Around the Theme “Collection”

Giants and Pilgrims’ “Abacus” is a creative home curriculum centered on a monthly theme. This month’s theme is Collection! All the bits and pieces that make up a whole, taxonomy, pressed flowers, and collected works of literature, poetry, and music. We wanted a theme that lent itself to playing outside, picking flowers, and long evening walks.

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 June to take note of/celebrate:

 June 14 = Flag Day
June 21 = Summer Solstice & Father’s Day

Our List of “Collection” Activities:

SCIENCE:

Learn about Scientific Naming and taxonomy.
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A perfect way to go about that seems to be to make a little collection of pressed flowers


Learn about Curiosity Cabinets and make one – I will probably pick up some old drawers from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore and we will use the magic of hot glue to put it together.
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Looking at curiosity cabinets ties in nicely with the art of Joseph Cornell and his shadow boxes
 

GEOGRAPHY:

In celebration of Flag day, look at all the different flags from around the world, and sew our own flags to put on the treehouse (or summer club house of sorts).
(For slightly older kids, the book Swallows & Amazons, is great)

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Speaking of the treehouse, we want to have our second annual sleep over out there – enjoying the sounds of the night, the stars, and the summer air.
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Take lots of lovely summer evening walks – and find little treasures.
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I used some old letterpress trays I had laying around to make our “Collection” themed wall. My plan is to fill up the wall with all sorts of found treasures over the course of the month.

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HISTORY:

Have mom share some of her love of button collecting with the girls. So many tidbits of history and folklore. The buttons have so many stories to tell. Check out her fun etsy shop here. She is also about to release a new site called “House of Button” that should be pretty neat.
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Visit the Build Frontiers exhibit at the Greeley History Museum (and of course play with legos)
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ART/CRAFT:

Draw lots of collections of tiny items (hopefully we will be making these into a calendar that will be available here!)

Visit the Denver Art museum (now free for kids) to see the collected works of Joan Miro exhibit with studio time (through June 28) (we didn’t make it last month, so I thought I would roll it over 🙂
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Last month at Denver Union Station I saw a little collection of hand cut paper silhouettes. I think I am going to start my own collection of them. Isn’t this fabulous!
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For that matter, I also want to continue adding to my collection of tiny art – I love this because they are small, I can afford originals of some of my favorite artists. Note to my artist friends, I would really love to curate our own version of the “Enormous Tiny Art Show” if anyone is interested 🙂
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Revisit the Collection a Day blog that Lisa Congdon did in 2010 – this is just lovely to browse through and get inspiration from.

Documenting:

Jump back into our Journaling – specifically using my sister Katie’s awesome tiny squares method. She just adds one each day, or to capture a little moment she wants to remember. #documenteachday
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PLAY:

Have a tea party with using my teacup collection – probably for Lucy’s 6 year old woodland fairy birthday!
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MUSIC:

Listen to Ars Moriendi by The Collection
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The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra – Moonrise Kingdom
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Curate a Curiosity Cabinet Playlist

WATCH:

Indiana Jones
We Bought a Zoo

READ:

I want to read tons and tons. That is what summer is about for me. Lazy days filled with quiet reading.
We will definitely be participating in our libraries summer reading program. Their theme this year is “Super Heros”.

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For Grown Ups:
Collected famous stories – I am really interested in trying out some of this curated list from Powell Books.
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This list also has some I would love to read –
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For Kids:

Read Collections of Nursery Rhymes, short stories, and poems

Read the Borrowers by Mary Norton (they collect all the tiny things we don’t use)

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Read lots of books from Jan Brett’s extensive collection and then go to her show at the Fort Collins Contemporary Art Museum.banner_Brett-2015

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
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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.

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.