Tag Archives: vocabulary

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.

Orphs of the Woodlands – a TOS review

Have you ever wished that your child’s favorite thing could be used to teach them their least favorite things? Well, get a taste of it with Orphs of the Woodlands. This is an online education resource and game that combines reading with experiencing hundreds of tidbits of knowledge.
Star Toaster introduced their first book in the Orphs of the Woodlands series not too long ago. It is titled The Treasure of HighTower and our family was thrilled to get the chance to review it.

TOS review

The Treasure of HighTower did not disappoint. Star Toaster has created a story line about a squirrel, whom your child gets to name, that becomes a spy and helps to rescue orphaned forest creatures. The story is so exciting, so full of adventure, that the girls had a hard time not reading all the way through it in pretty quick succession. They wanted to just keep reading. But, if they did that, they were going to miss an important and exciting part of the program.

As the story goes along, Spy (what we’ll call the squirrel for the time being) runs into orphans, or orphs, that need help. If Spy doesn’t learn what is put before him in his day to day life, he won’t have the money to provide the help these orphs need. So, Spy must learn and pay attention and do the jobs in order to earn money and rescue the orphs. The more NID (New Information Daily) that is learned, the better Spy does on his jobs and the more money he has to rescue and provide for the orphs.

experiencing lessons

 

Now, don’t misunderstand. These are fun jobs! I mean, who wouldn’t want to be in charge of creating the exact color of paint needed for the HighTower Highbrow Museum of Art? Or what about being a number namer for the bank? Letter Linguist? Synonym Specialist? Maybe you want to bake something for the Badger Bakery? Whatever you want to try out, there is a job for you!

How do you get these jobs? Begin reading the book at the beginning. After each chapter is completed, there are new jobs that you can work. Each job completed correctly will pay gold stars, with which you can take care of the orphs. Do a good job and more orphs will come to be taken care of. The girls loved seeing how many orphs appeared at the end of each chapter.

discovering moreI want to share a couple of thoughts about the product. I am impressed with this product. It has done a wonderful job of exposing the girls to about 240 different aspects of learning. (This is how many jobs were completed by E when she had finished the book.) Some of the jobs reappear with a bit more difficult learning tucked in there but I don’t consider the girls to have gotten significant instruction on most of these topics. They were definitely exposed to them and it opened up a world of ideas to the girls, which is fantastic. (We took several “rabbit trails” to explore some of these worlds of ideas based on the information presented.) This does in no way diminish the quality or worth of this program. The more exposure the girls have with more difficult concepts in a familiar context, the easier those concepts are for them to learn.

Reading is the bridge for this program. You definitely need to have a good reader with good comprehension for this program. The range for this program is suggested 4th – 7th grades. I think this is a good range but it could easily stretch younger or older. My 3rd grader was easily able to read it but she loves to read. There are lots of words she didn’t know but there are rollovers embedded in the story that give the part of speech and several synonyms in varying degrees of difficulty for the word. There are also rollovers for quotes and ideas that are shared as part of the story, exposing the reader to thoughts of great thinkers from all walks of life.

quote and vocabulary

Because this is an online program you will need to purchase a subscription for the book and you will need a computer to read and complete the jobs. I hope everyone has easy access to a computer because this was worth the time and effort. The girls learned so much and I have a much better idea about some of the curriculum choices we need to make for them because I saw how much they enjoyed learning that was embedded in reading a story.

As I close this review, I want to share one more thing that we absolutely loved about Orphs. Throughout the book, there are videos. Prof. Forp is the instructor and he is hilarious! He cracks jokes that help them remember information and repeats things in such a way that they are remembered AND make sense. You can see an example of his video on the Star Toaster home page. The girls, E especially, really enjoyed the Professor.  And I loved the jokes. This is one I can wholeheartedly say “Go check out.”

free trial

We are waiting anxiously for the next book to come out in the Orphs of the Woodlands series by Star Toaster. If this sounds interesting to you, they have a free trial that you should check out. (Psst – this would also be a fantastic addition to a summer reading program.)

At Home.

 

Connect with Star Toaster on Social Media.

PINTEREST: https://www.pinterest.com/startoaster/
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/startoaster4kids
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/StarToaster

 

Star Toaster ReviewCrew Disclaimer

A Review – LearningPalette.com

LearningPalette title

Are you familiar with Learning Wrap ups? This is a company that created a unique product years ago to help students learn concepts in any area, from math facts to vocabulary words to music theory to Spanish and more. The product is a plastic card, shaped somewhat like a key with a string attached to it. The student uses the string to connect two things that match or the problem to the answer. The student can then turn it over and self-check the answers. This is a fantastic product and we use a number of these in our home.

Learning Wrap-Ups Review

So, when it was announced that Learning Wrap Ups had created a new product, the Learning Palette, and they would be offering an online version so we could have access to all levels of it, we were really excited. We were selected to review LearningPalette.com and the girls were very excited. Jumping up and down excited.

LearningPalette.com is marketed for users in kindergarten up through 5th grade, though the younger end of this group (especially non-readers) will need a significant amount of adult help since there is no audio for instructions. It is a full online family subscription for all levels of reading and math palettes, for up to 5 users, for a full year. The cost of this subscription is $59.99 for the year.

LearningPalette.com works like this. Go to their website and login. The student then chooses if they are going to work on math or reading. From there, the student chooses the level they are going to work on and the card that comes next in their series. Then, click load! and off they go.

The student matches the problem or question from the center of the palette to the correct color marker. The student then moves that color marker to the corresponding answer. For example, using the picture below, the student would determine that 8+7=15 and that problem has a solid red circle next to it. The student would then locate the solid red circle on the left, click it to move it and click it again in the circle next to 15 to drop it there.

palette example

This was easy for the oldest giggly girl, at age 10, to understand and use. It was much more difficult however for the middle giggly girl, at age 8, to use. The youngest giggly girl, at age 5, could not do it without a parent sitting right there helping her know which problem she was working on and helping her check which marker she was using for which answer. Additionally, the instructions are often difficult for the student to see and understand so a parent will need to be close by to help the student know what she is supposed to do on each card.

using palette

The girls were really excited to use LearningPalette.com at the beginning. In fact, I was going to ask not to be put on the review until the oldest giggly girl saw the sample. When she saw it, she got very excited and worked with the sample for a long time, just for fun. All three of the girls were excited to use it for a while. However, the enjoyment of it quickly wore off, especially if it was not a review card they were working on. If the card contained information that was not simple for them, it was not an enjoyable activity for anyone. By the end, the product was one that no one wanted to use anymore.

The concept for LearningPalette.com is a good one, in my opinion. I think what is missing is the ease of use. It takes work, even for me as an adult, to make sure that I am choosing the correct marker for the correct problem and putting it in the correct answer. That work is not “do I have the right answer?” or “do I know how to do this problem?” The work is simply “do I have the right color?” , “is it supposed to be solid or have a hole in the middle?”, and “did I put it in the right place?” That makes it not so much fun.

Another frustration that we encountered over and over was the program marking the answer wrong when it was right. This happened on a number of cards in both the math and reading sections of the program. When the card was redone, with the same answers, it might mark it correct that time. There was no way of knowing if you were going to get marked one way or another and the girls began asking if everything was actually right, even when there were checks on each of the problems to indicate it was correct.

This is a program that might work better for us if we focused on using it only for “fun time” and “reinforcement”.  In my opinion, it does not work as an instructional program but rather as a practice program. We will continue to use it sporadically as a game and something fun to use to do review on concepts the giggly girls already know.

If you are looking for an online program, I encourage you to head over to LearningPalette.com and sign up for their demo. See if it is a good fit for your family. Learning Wrap ups is currently offering a coupon code for 20% off of the full price of $59.99 if you use the code HOMESCHOOL when you sign up for a year. That is a fantastic deal!

At Home.

 

Others on the Review Crew were given physical products to use and review. You can find reviews for the physical products, as well as others who used LearningPalette.com, by clicking on the banner below and visiting the Review Crew blog.

 

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Crew Disclaimer

Fruit of the Spirit – Kindness

Kindness title

We started this day’s study with a felt activity we borrowed from the church workroom. This was a fun, no-right-no-wrong-way-to-do-it activity. I just handed them the package and let them go at it. They played. They worked together (showing kindness – yea) and put it together several different ways. They have even pulled it out a few times since then. It is by Little Folk Visuals and is called Felt Wonders – Fruit of the Spirit. It is bright, colorful, durable, and lots of fun.

After they had free time with it for a while, I did step in and direct a little bit. We used the small words (love and joy) as reading practice and some phonics work with J, who is beginning to read a bit. We also did some sequencing with the older girls. Of course, we sang the song and they took turns pointing to the words and putting them in order. The set also comes with different words for some of the fruit since different translations of the Bible use alternate words. So, there was a short built in vocabulary lesson. Additionally, we talked about the part of speech for each of the words.

P1080438P1080439

After they had played for a while, we did put it away and moved on with the written part of the lesson. The rest follows the same format as the previous parts of the Fruit of the Spirit study, except there is not a printable coloring sheet or activity sheet this time.

Kindness – what does the Bible say

Kindness – handwriting practice cursive

Kindness – handwriting practice print

Kindness – handwriting practice copy prinit

Here’s hoping you are able to find some use for these ideas and that they will bless your students. At Home.

Previous posts in this series:
Love
Joy
Peace
Patience

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