Tag Archives: creative writing

The Giving Tree – book unit

Giving Tree titleWe had so much fun with The Giving Tree. It is such a rich, deep book and there are so many opportunities to extend learning. Without further ado, here is the unit that we enjoyed.

Questions/Discussion of Ideas:

  • What is the main idea? Give examples and support your response.
  • Discuss the idea of giving all you can and all you have to one you love. What might this look like for a human? Is it good or bad? What are the implications of this?
  • God’s perspective: He gave all! Why? What did that look like? What did that do for us?
  • Our perspective: What do we give to God? What do we give to others?

vocabulary

Writing:

  • Write a tree poem.
  • Write a shape poem using a tree form.
  • For older students, write a persuasive essay about why you should or should not give all you have to one you love.
  • Rewrite the story or a scene from the story from the tree’s perspective.
  • Utilize vocabulary from the book or learn vocabulary relating to trees and plants. We did the later using worksheets from Super Teacher Worksheets. (See our review of them here.)
  • Write sentences. You could use vocabulary you choose from the book or write sentences using vocabulary related to trees. We did the later and J used a cutting page from Super Teacher Worksheets relating to plants and trees and their growth.

J working on sentences

Science:

  • A tree unit is a natural outgrowth of from this book.part of a tree
  • Learn the parts of a tree. We used a printable we found online. (The site it was from is no longer a valid address, evidently, so I can’t share that with you.) We glued it to magnet pieces and cut it out. (We used old refrigerator magnets from companies that we get in the mail. I save them for things like this. They are thin and easy to cut with scissors.) Then J matched up the parts of a tree on the white board.
  • Learn about the uses of trees. We researched and discussed the many different ways trees can be used – building, furniture, fuel, recreation, hobbies, etc.
  • Learn about the growth of trees.
  • Visit a museum about trees or your local Forest Service station. We visited a museum that had a small exhibit about trees. If your museum had a large tree section with the rings visible and marked, it is really interesting.
  • Talk about the season and how the season affect trees and their growth.
  • Learn about different types of trees and leaves. We used a set of posters from the Forest Service to study various trees and leaves, as well as animals that live among the forest trees.life of a tree
  • Learn about managing growing things and resources. Learn more about how the forests are managed.
  • Discuss wildfires and forest fires. Discuss their impacts on not only the forest and the animals that live there, but the people, their property, and the larger environmental changes that happen because of forest fires. We viewed pictures of forest fires, including the Little Bear Fire that affected a place near and dear to us a couple of years ago. We have talked about changes because of that fire and what the effects of that were.

History:

  • If you visit a museum that has a huge tree ring, you could study the events marked through the rings.
  • Study the history of the Forest Service.
  • Research one of the National Parks or Monuments. Find out about why someone chose that particular section of natural resources and forests to preserve.

Giving Tree drawings

Art:

  • Use water color crayons to create a picture of a tree.
  • Use colored pencils to draw a tree showing the various parts. I found this post from The Inspired Classroom which was super helpful.
  • Make a canvas set that shows the various seasons of the year and how they impact a tree. See our project here.

Art Tree

Bible:

  • Memorize Psalm 1. We memorized this passage a while back but we went back and reviewed it several times during this study.
  • Matthew 12:33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.” – Discuss this and how this is seen in real life. Apply this to the lives of the students. Have students create motions and movement to help them memorize this verse. Apply this verse to the Giving Tree and have students give concrete examples of why they chose which kind of tree the Giving Tree was.

Giving Tree retelling

Extensions:

  • Create a paper tree with the different parts of the story. Attach magnets to the back and use it for retelling the story. You can make your own or print a copy of this one that I made for J.
    Giving Tree play pieces page 1
    Giving Tree play pieces page 2
  • Watch a video of this book. There is one we found on YouTube of Shel Silverstein telling it. It was interesting for the girls to see the author and to hear his voice. It was nothing like we expected. Just do a search on YouTube and it should come up without any trouble.
  • Watch a video of the book being told in sign language. Two of the girls are studying sign language so that was a fun thing for us to see. We also watched a video of a young boy and girl with their mother retelling the story. The girls learned a lot of signs from watching these two youngsters. There are many versions of the story on YouTube so find something fun that will appeal to your students.
  • Take a field trip to visit a museum that has a big tree section with rings that go back hundreds of years. Or go to a tree farm. Or just go to a forest and walk around, observing all that you can about the trees.

I tried to keep this one shorter so if I did too short of a job on the description for something you want to know more about, leave me a comment and I’ll try to give you more information. Most of all, though, the Giving Tree was a fantastic unit that just kept growing and growing from the interest the girls had in it. Enjoy!

At Home.

Creative Writing – A Day In the Life of a Worm

The two older giggly girls are working on units in a book from The Critical Thinking Co. titled Surfing the Net Science by Jennifer Katherine Brooks. A review will be posted on the blog in early November. (You can now see that review here.) In the meantime, I wanted to share part of one of our 9 year old’s assignments. She was to choose a producer, a consumer, or a decomposer and write about a day in the life of that organism. We were laughing so hard that I just had to share it with you. So, with her permission, here is:

A Day In the Life of a Worm

There was once a little worm. He lived in a garden. It was a fairly big one, so he had lots of room to wiggle around, find the best places to eat, sleep, and play. He was very glad that he lived in a garden and not out in the woods where wild animals lived. He considered himself to be very civilized. Besides, animals out there ATE worms like himself, which he thought was unacceptable, because worms were a big part of making plants grow and bunnies would eat the plants and foxes would eat the bunnies and bears would sometimes eat the foxes and just the thought of helping feed the bears made him puff up with pride! Of course, there was down sides to being a garden worm. There were humans – little ones – children – that were constantly coming to try and capture the worms – sticking them in jars and calling them pets! The larger humans called them Annabelle, Henry, Fiona, and Thomas. The worm called them pests. The thought made him want to curl up. But he didn’t. He just crawled out of bed, (you may think crawling was a sign of him not feeling good but it was normal for him because he was a worm and couldn’t move any other way) and started eating, or as scientists call it: decomposing – eating the good stuff and leaving the bad. He worked his way up to the surface and then he ate quickly a few bites up there then dove back down because it was almost time for the robins and sparrows to get up – and the sparrows were especially fast! He quickly retreated back to his own hole, back to the safety of the underground. The End.

 

At Home.

Writing A Letter for Young Ones

Dear Sofia 3I have a fun thing for you guys today. We stumbled across a way for your little girls, or your bigger girls, or whoever enjoys Sofia The First to be able to write a letter to her. It was in the September 2015 issue of Family Fun that came yesterday. The fine print says that if you include your return address on the envelope, Sofia will write your child back. There is the disclaimer on it that says not every letter can be guaranteed a reply should any errors occur with the mailing process and letters should be received by 12/31/15. But, still, its worth a chance, right?

Dear Sofia
J cut it out right away and wrote the letter. It is finished and she’ll be mailing it off at the first chance.

Dear Sofia 2

Here’s the address:
Dear Sofia
244 Madison Avenue Box #411
New York, NY  10016

Any chance to get them writing that they are excited about has me excited too. Do you have anyone in your home who is going to want to write to Sofia?

At Home.

**Disclaimer: The name Sofia the First and all of these images are not mine. I copied them directly off the pages from the magazine so that you all would know that this was not a random thing I dreamed up. The name Sofia the First is, of course, a Disney name and so copyrighted, protected, and all that other legal stuff. Family Fun is also, I am sure, copyrighted and protected and trade marked.

Listen and Write

Listen and writeIf you follow At Home on Facebook, then you may have seen this video that I shared there. We got some sleet and snow last night and I thought today was a good day to use this video for a creative writing exercise.

Edit update: https://www.facebook.com/LakeSuperiorPhoto/videos/932630820094088/

I played the video for the girls but they were not allowed to see it. They could only listen. It is short, only about a minute. So I played it twice. In between, I told them how many adjectives they had to use to describe the sound in their journal. E had to use six; L had to use 4-5; J had to use 3.

After listening the second time, they went and sat with their journals and wrote about what they think they heard. They also had to draw a picture of what they think they heard. Here is their work:

listen and write L listen and write J

L – age 8                                                  J – age 6    listen and write E                                       E – age 10

Having completed the writing and drawing about what they think they heard, we talked about what they thought it was. I then showed them the video with sound. We discussed how the sounds were similar or how they were different, now that they knew what they were hearing. We talked about how sight can affect hearing and vice versa.

The final part of the exercise was writing another page about what it actually was they heard and how they reacted when they found out what it was. This is fun and fits right in with our weather discussions going on with Katy and the Big Snow, our current FIAR selection. We looked up pancake ice and found some additional videos and photos of it. We used it in our discussion about the states of matter and how it differs from snow and water.

Here are the reflections from E and L.

listen and write L reflection listen and write E reflection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was a fun writing activity using a sound prompt. Using something different for a prompt helps them think outside the box. What interesting prompts have you used? I am always looking for ideas.

At Home.

Talking about Mammoths, part 2

mammoths part 2

We did a few things relating to the mammoths this week. (See the post on our field trip.) But, I was not in a terribly creative mood, I guess, because I had some real trouble thinking up some ideas. So, after we had used the files from the Waco Mammoth Site, I went with a bit broader category: fossils.

The Waco Mammoth Site has a lot of educational printables for various age groups. I went through and picked out a few for each of the girls that I felt would appropriately challenge or review materials. Here are the ones the girls did.

mammoth L mammoths E mammoths J

 

On E and L’s scientific name worksheet, it had them create their own animal using scientific names and draw it. After they had done that, I had them brainstorm ideas about what happened to their animal and more specific details about their animal. They had to come up with a lot of words about their animals. Once we had a white board full, each girl was asked to create a story or a poem or a written account of their animal. I don’t have copies of those finished products but the girls enjoyed that writing assignment.

On another day, we explored fossils. We got down all of the fossils that we have tucked away. E and L got down on the floor (so that dropped fossils would be less likely to break and the floor would be less likely to be damaged) and touched, examined, talked about, felt, and explored the fossils we have. We have various real fossils and then we have a few that were made by pressing a shell or other natural object into plaster of paris or air dry clay. The girls spent probably 45 minutes discussing and talking about all of the fossils.

mammoths shark teeth mammoths fossils

After their chatter began dying down, I handed them a worksheet I had created and asked them to each choose one fossil to complete the worksheet on. This included a measuring activity in both inches and centimeters. There was a box to describe, factually, what the fossil was like. They were encouraged to describe it with as many of their senses as they could, as well as anything specific they could observe about it. There was place for them to draw their fossil. One box had them describing where their fossil might have been found. And a final box had them describing what the fossil might be from and why. They were also asked to color-code their page: blue for facts and yellow for opinion/theory/hypothesis.

mammoths fossil sheet

It surprised me that the girls were excited to complete these. E actually asked to complete two of these, so I let her. They also choose to sit down together and share their findings.

mammoths sharing

After these were completed, we got out our posters on poetry styles. We reviewed poetry styles, including limericks, lyrical poems, cinquain, and more. They each chose one style of poetry to use and wrote a poem about their fossil. L’s favorite style is always lyrical; she loves rhymes and descriptive phrases and long, flowy sentences. E’s favorite style is almost always cinquain. Here is their poetry.

mammoths E poems mammoths L poem
I am linking below to the information page the girls filled out. You are welcome to use this and share it but please link back to this post when you are sharing it.

Fossil worksheet

Our mammoth and fossil study has been fun. I have a couple of other ideas that I would like to do but we’ll see if they happen or not! Please share with me if you study mammoths or fossils or something related. I’d love to know what you do. At Home.

 

E is for Experiments

E is for title

I know when you read the word experiments you are probably thinking science. But, for this post, you need to think taste! You see, the giggly girls like to experiment with making up their own recipes. While this is good practice for thinking through different aspects of the recipe, it is kind of frightening for mom and dad because you know who gets the responsibility of tasting all of these experiments, right?

Thankfully, most of them are pretty reasonable, though we have had a couple of doozies! I thought I would share the most recent one as an example of the types of recipe experiments we try around here.

This is by J, our youngest giggly girl at the exciting age of 5. (It was written down by her 8 year old sister for her.)

E - J recipe pg 1 E - J recipe pg 2

I don’t have any pictures of the finished product but, as you can probably tell by the ingredient list, this one isn’t too bad. At least we didn’t have to have something strange like rice in our ice cream today. Perhaps on another day, we’ll be sharing another experiment in the kitchen. For today, we’ll be eating Increadable Ice Cream. At Home.

 

I am linking up with ABC Blogging over at Ben and Me today.

 

Ben and Me

C is for Convention, Curriculum, and Companions

C title

This last weekend, I was really blessed. The three giggly girls stayed with their aunt and grandparents for Friday and Saturday so that my husband and I could go to the Arlington Bookfair. It was a fantastic weekend away.

We found a cute little bed and breakfast in Duncanville (Alla’s Bed and Breakfast). I wish I had taken my camera with me! It is a small house that used to be home to some of the founding family of Duncanville. They had furnished the home with lots of period pieces. Rick, Alla’s husband, must enjoying tinkering with old electronics because they had lots of period lamps and light bulbs, an 80 year old refrigerator that works, a black-and-white TV from the very early stages of the invention, a color TV from when they were brand new, and a gigantic console radio from the period. The home was furnished with lovely antiques and it was really comfortable. Of course, we got a very good idea of what L will be like when she grows up if her talking habits don’t change – Alla did not stop talking once. Seriously! She had so many stories to tell and lots to talk about. It was lots of fun!

At the convention, we heard some great speakers. I won’t try to name them because I will certainly misname someone or mislabel their topic. I do pretty well taking information in but not so good at spitting it back out with something like this. I got some much needed encouragement and some great intellectual challenges. I am following it up with some pretty in-depth study. That may all come out later as a blog post but for now, lots of reading and thinking and Bible checking.

At the convention, we also found some good curriculum pieces to add to their girls’ school work when needed.

C history We bought Mystery of History book 1, though I was kind of surprised at a couple of things when we got home. I’ll have to preread it (which I don’t mind doing – it is very well written and I love history!) so that nothing catches us by surprise with the Bible part of this history. We also found some blank timelines that the girls will fill in as we work through the history.

 

 

 

C art

 

We bought Artistic Pursuits for L and J to share.

 

 

 

C cds

 

We got more of the Maestro Classics, which I am really excited about. We’ll do quite a bit with these over the summer – fun learning but keeping the brain intact and not turning to mush!

C writing

 

 

We also bought WriteShop Level D. E had really wanted to be selected for the team on the Review Crew to do this one but we weren’t. So, we bought it and we’ll probably start it before too long because she is so excited about it. (We already have a level of it for L to work on.)

 

 

 

The rest of our purchases were research based. Some of it the girls will end up using but a lot of it was for Joe and I. Creationism vs evolution is quite a big discussion point right now. The girls totally understand that God created the world so that isn’t something we have to deal with. However, as they get older, they are coming across the details in science that conflict with that and we are gearing our brains up to be able to help them understand it all clearly within the science realm of it all. Also, sometimes, you just want something new to read.

C answers books 

C readingC dinosaursC dad booksC books to read

One of the highlights of my weekend – getting to meet Gwen, a fellow Review Crew member. This is the first lady from the crew I have gotten to meet in real life. It is nice to meet someone in person that you are getting to know from your time online. It was fun meeting her and some of her children. (They were so polite and kind and a joy to talk to.) The more Gwen and I talked, the more we found we had in common. It was really a pleasure and a treat to get to meet up with her.C with Gwen

 

So with convention, curriculum, and companions – C – I am happy, geared up, and ready to go again.

At Home.

Ben and Me
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