We’re currently in our third week of homeschool, doing our literature-based program similar to Five in a Row, and I have to say it seems much less stressful than the letter-a-week program I started last year. Don’t get me wrong - I had a lot of fun and managed to incorporate a lot of elements into our alphabet weeks, but I feel this is a bit more rounded and makes for less preparation and printables that eat up my time on the internet and using up ink and computer paper.
Night of the Moonjellies is based on the story of a little boy who helps his grandparents run a New England diner called Mar-Gra’s. The neat thing is that Mar-Gra’s was an actual restaurant, located in Connecticut!
Almost every time we discuss a geographic location, I get out the globe and have the kiddos find our country and then try to zero in on the state or area we’re discussing. Thanks to all the wonderful FIAR resources on Homeschool Share, we located the New England states and then pointed out CT – which, as an added point of interest to our kiddos, is where we go camping all the time.
We talked about life near the sea – the sights, sounds, smells, wildlife and so forth. Josiah did a bit of coloring and Gwen traced some letters for sea creatures.
Since the boy in the story is responsible for a number of tasks at the diner, we talked about responsibility and what that means – both around the house and running a restaurant (which is basically what a mom does, right?). In Gwen’s journal we made a list of different types of responsibility, and I pointed out how it takes the help of everyone to make things work smoothly.
We came up with all sorts of vocabulary words from the story, which was rich with description. I made four different lists – words that Gwen didn’t recognize, seaside words (e.g. moonjelly, lobster, seaglass), food words (e.g. chowder, shakes, lobster sauce) and sound words (e.g. crackled, sizzled, blared). It was especially fun discussing the sound words since the words are the sounds!
Interestingly enough, moonjellies aren’t even real jellyfish, as the back of the book points out, so it was neat discussing the differences and then learning about actual jellyfish. We read Jellies – The Life of Jellyfish, which has beautiful jellyfish pictures and simple text.
It’s come as somewhat of a surprise how much the kids enjoy the art portion of the week. In the past Gwen hasn’t had much patience for painting or coloring and it threw me for a loop because I thought kids were supposed to love crayons and coloring in general.
Since the story is about jellyfish, we did an egg carton jellyfish craft, though I hot glued the ribbon since it dries sooner than traditional glue and we didn’t bother with the eyes.
The story is illustrated with bright, beautiful, what look like pastel pictures, so the kiddos picked a picture from the book to copy. They both liked the beach scene with sand and water and boats, so away they went. The bright oil pastels are fun for them to work with and I’d really like to get a set of chalk pastels that more easily blend together.
One of the best ways to learn math in a practical way is in the kitchen, making something delicious. I loved Delightful Learning’s Night of the Moonjellies week, especially her idea for beach sand “pails” with chocolate seashells. The kiddos helped me make homemade butterscotch pudding, which we topped with graham cracker crumbs and chocolate shells.
The kids absolutely loved our sink or float science experiment and stayed at the kitchen table for most of the morning. Part of it was the same file folder game we used during our S is for Sail week, with a few extra elements thrown in from the Usborne Book of Science “Fun with Boats.”
They had to guess whether one of a number of items would sink or float, then we would test a theory and discuss the results. Next we used different containers as “boats,” loading them slowly with marbles to see how many they would hold before they tipped and sank. It was interesting to see which ones held up the most!
Math & Phonics
In addition to some of our workbooks I used some of the printables from our F is for Fish and O is for Ocean weeks – clip counting cards, fish counting mat and scrabble tile spelling sheets. They also matched up a jar of seashells with picture cards. Josiah still loves using his play hammer to put together the foam puzzle.
Since New England is known for its seafood – and they served it at Mar-Gra’s – we made chowder for dinner one night. The kiddos and I aren’t big on the chewy pieces of clam, but Daddy loves it.
One day for lunch the kiddos and I pretended we were cooking for customers in a restaurant. We filled out Mar-Gra receipts and made lunch to order, then pretended to sit by the water with the boats, at a picnic table with an umbrella. The kids got such a kick out of this and kept describing the passing boats.
For a special treat, we went to a local diner and had burgers, fries and chocolate shakes (actually cabinets). I could get used to this!