Animals Park Outing

Last week all of the boys and I met my mom at a wild animal park and took a safari bus ride through the hoofed animal area. My mom and I were concerned that Olympus might be bored but he had just as much fun as Yukon and North.  Sometimes it is easy to forget in a world of brand name clothes and electronics that no one can resist a giraffe’s soft nose eating out of your hand- teenagers are still human after all!  It was a wonderful somewhat spontaneous outing that ended up being age appropriate for everyone.  Savannah animals ended up being our focus for the week and it was a lot of fun to come up with some fun activities that went along with this.

Activities of the week:

Wild Animal Park Safari Bus Ride

Spotting the Giraffe and Striping the Zebra

Read: The New Alphabet of Animals by Christopher Wormell

            Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham and Paul Zelinsky

           Peek-A-Boo Jungle

Watched: Planet Earth: Deserts and Jungles

1. Wild Animal Park Safari Bus Ride
Science: Vocabulary
ImageWe had so much fun doing this and seeing the animals cemented what they were in Yukon’s mind.  Prior to this he would get confused between a zebra and a horse and a giraffe was not worth looking at, but now he talks about them all the time.  Experiences like this are the best kind of learning experience.  Not everyone has this kind of park available to him but there are lots of similar options available in most places. When Olympus was little we lived on the coast and he loved to go to an aquarium in a nearby city that had the tanks that you could reach in and touch everything in- he knew all the types of animals in there before he was three.

2. Spotting the Giraffe and Striping the Zebra
Art: Hand Control/ Colors; Science: Vocabulary
For this art project I drew an outline of a zebra and giraffe and Yukon filled them in with spots for the giraffe and stripes for the zebra. North colored in copies of these as well, he recognized the animals from our trip and had fun giving them some more exciting colors and patterns.  The PDF’s for this project are attached: Zebra and Giraffe Outline

3. Reading
Reading and Writing: Listening to stories, Letter awareness; Science: Vocabulary
The boys enjoyed the books for this week.  North liked the Peek-A-Boo Jungle book the best and Yukon thought Z is for Moose was hilarious and liked naming off the animals he knew in The New Alphabet of Animals.  I think it is important to expose the boys to lots of different books and text.  Research shows that learning letters happens best/ easiest when taught in an authentic manner (as in exposure in context).  Yukon is very interesting in letters right now so we will probably start spending more time on letter activities.


Why have kid’s books and DIY Rain Gutter Shelves


Shelves 1My White Knight despises clutter. So do I. Tragically, he considers books clutter. Me? Not so much. I used to have books on the floor, counters, bathroom, and pretty on much every open space. It was awesome. I always had choices of books to read wherever I went and was often in the middle of 10 to 15 books at a time. Olympus was always looking at books and having me read to him. My librarians’ soul was at peace. I might also mention that they were cataloged and alphabetized. There was a plan to placement (usually).

Enter White Knight. He’s a minimalist. He wanted me to downsize on BOOKS! Needless to say this has been a major complication to our romance over the last decade. Being the research loving book hoarder that I am, I did some research on the benefit of having a house full of books that has had a major impact on my marriage. As in he gave in with a condition. I just have to find a place for all of them; that does not include the floor, counters, or bathroom- which is not always easy as the library has expanded over time.

What was this research that quite possibly saved my marriage? It turns out that:

1. The single most significant factor influencing a child’s early educational success is an introduction to books and being read to at home prior to beginning school. National Commission on Reading, 1985
2. The only behavior measure that correlates significantly with reading scores is the number of books in the home. The Literacy Crisis: False Claims, Real Solutions, 1998.
3. Just 15 minutes a day of independent reading can expose students to more than a million words of text in a year. Anderson, Wilson, & Fielding, 1988
4. Children growing up in homes with many books get 3 years more schooling than children from bookless homes, independent of their parents’ education, occupation, and class. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 2010.
5. IF YOU WANT YOUR KID TO READ, GIVE THEM BOOKS! Me, At least once every six months.

In my quest to find solutions to book placement problem I have gotten quite creative. Since we moved six months ago I have put up shelves in several rooms but my favorite are in Yukon and North’s bedroom. They are rain gutter bookshelves and I love them for many reasons. First, I did it by myself. Second, it was east. Third, it was cheap. Fourth, the boys don’t dump every book on the floor looking for the one they want. Fifth, and most important, Yukon and North are looking at books at least twice as often independently.

In doing this project I found that the directions that I found on at least 6 websites were a little incomplete. Though my favorite was from this site:
Here is how I did it:
 1321. I used vinyl gutters instead of metal. They were prettier.
2. They came in 10 foot pieces. I made two five foot pieces by asking a person at the store to do it for me. They used some very heavy duty clippers and were done in about two minutes (they had some issues around a corner). Make sure to get right and left end pieces, (I used two of each) and at least two attachment pieces. If you are going to load up the books get three.
3. Put the hangers and end caps on the gutter before attaching to the wall. I say this because with the first one I didn’t and it took some effort to make them fit (as in I was worried about pulling the hangers out of the wall) and it was way easier the second time when I put them on before attaching.
4. Use a stud finder to find your studs (I smirk every time I think about this tool).
5. Measure from whichever is the closest, the floor or the ceiling, to the spot you will be hanging the shelf.
6. Line up the gutter to your marked spots and check to see if it is level. It would have helped to have had two people for this part. I drew a line across and then checked the line, but if you had two people this would be unnecessary.
7. Drill into the wall where you have marked that the studs were along the line where you want the shelf. Make sure you are drilling into the stud. I missed. Twelve times. I tried not to be mad.
8. If you miss, now or later, you can cover up the extra holes with some putty and paint. I chose to do this later.
9. The assembled shelf was very light weight and I could easily hold it up to the wall with one hand. Use screws to attach the shelf with the attachment pieces. Make sure you are lined up with the holes you already drilled into the stud.
10. Fill with your favorite books!

My total project time including the time it took to go to the hardware store was a little less than two hours.

Bingo Blotter Letters

Last year about this time I was reading different blogs and I came across this idea for using a bingo dotter for learning letters. I wish I could remember where I saw it because I’m sure this mom had other great ideas. I immediately filed the thought away that Yukon would probably love learning his letters this way in a few more months. Then school started up again for the spring semester and they never got made.

Two weeks ago I was trying to come up with new ways to teach Yukon letters, when the idea came back to me one night as I was rubbing cramps out of Yukon’s legs (does your toddler get leg cramps at night too?). The next week I spent working on them in my spare time. As it took several hours of my time, which was rather mindless and I stewed about how Yukon had better like doing these OR ELSE, I decided that no one should ever have to go through that again. So feel free to download and print these.

Monday, Yukon had a blast using the blotter. He went through the letters very quickly so I think I will come up with other bingo blotter activities for him.

Upper case letters for dotting