Creative Writing Using Apps for Visual Prompts

 

Writing Prompts

Creative writing can sometimes be a struggle for students who can not visual a setting. I found my son could describe things better when he actually could see them.

I have been working on incorporating Apps into our homeschool. This week I purchased the Felt Board App by Software Smoothie.  Yes this app is designed for younger students but using it for creative writing as allowed me to expand the grade level of use. Check out the web site for examples of using it to create scenes of items that start with certain letters.

Creative Writing with Felt Board App:

I just loved making scenes that look like a felt board! I then handed it over to my son so he could create his own picture. Within minutes he was making choices on how his scene should look. It was easy for him to navigate the many choices provided.

Once the scene was completed, I propped up the iPad on the table and my son began brain storming about his pirate story.

Having the visual aid really helped to keep my son focused on what details needed to be included in his story. I could then ask him to describe how his pirate looked or where the pirate was standing on the boat. These prompts helped him write better descriptive sentences.

Having the scene for him to see helped to keep him from writing about something else. No need to write about the space scene when the topic sentence is about pirates.

He still has a final draft to go, but he is already talking about the sequel!

Since the App has a photo option we can take a picture of the scene and add it into his typed story.  I see a book in the making!

Even after this creative writing assignment was done, my son would create new scenes and orally told me stories.

You can even get it for android.

Fingerprint Activity

 

Fingerprint Activity

Using a fingerprint activity to help finish up our study of the Integumentary System. My kids have enjoyed their study of the human body and learning the importance of skin.

Now I did not have a fancy kit for crime scenes that would allow us to dust for fingerprints. Really I did not want to clean up the mess from dusting. I did not have a lot of time to plan either. So I came up with a fingerprint activity that I could do with the items in my house.

Fingerprint Activity: Crime Scene

  • ink pad for fingerprints
  • Nerf gun

I had everyone do two sets of their fingerprints. On one set I placed different dots so I would know whose set was whose but the kids would not. This is the set I used for the suspect line-up.

After allowing the kids time to study their unique prints I had them go outside and wait. This allowed me to time to stage the crime scene.

With the second set of fingerprints, I chose one child’s prints and cut out two fingers. I placed these two fingerprints on top of a Nerf gun. Then the kids had to figure out who did the crime. I did not give many details about the crime but they had no problems brainstorming ideas while they were studying the fingerprints.

I gave them the suspect line up so they could match up the fingerprints left on the Nerf gun. They had a blast trying to match them up. If we had more time we probably could have set up more crime scenes with our fingerprints.

Of course my kids wanted to write a story about the crime but that was getting us off topic! We saved the idea for creative writing later in the afternoon.

If you have time to plan you might enjoy these for your fingerprint activities.

Build Your Own Fort

 

Build Your Own Fort

My boys have a great amount of experience with building forts. Mainly our forts have been constructed out of blankets and other household materials. Today I chose a different medium to build your own fort, I thought it was time to get the boys in the kitchen.

We are studying the French and Indian War in All American History Jr. I thought it would be a great time to build a fort that resembled one that could have been constructed out of trees found in the New World.

Build Your Own Fort: Mashed Potatoes and Baby Carrots

  • cookie sheet covered with foil
  • mashed potatoes
  • baby carrots
  • peas (optional)

I thought it was a great time to teach the boys how to peal and dice potatoes. They loved the chance at being in the kitchen.

While the potatoes were cooking I read the lesson to them about the war. Then I covered a large cookie sheet with foil and flipped it upside to provide a base for the fort.

Once the potatoes were mashed, we built the perimeter for our fort. We constructed a thick layer of mashed potatoes in the shape of a rectangle.

Then taking baby carrots and placing them in the mashed potatoes we made the walls of our fort. If needed, we added extra mashed potatoes to help the carrots stand up. I am sure you could sharpen your carrots if you wanted a more authentic looking fort.

My boys could not wait for dinner! Yes, I was going to serve their fort with our baked chicken. I am sure you are wondering what happened to the peas that I had listed as optional. Well my husband came home and found this fort constructed out of food and he decided to cook some peas. He then attacked the fort with his form of cannon balls. The boys were up in arms over this.

 

 

Anatomy of the Eye with Cake Balls

Anatomy of the Eye with Cake balls

 Anatomy of the Eye: Parts to Learn

  • Pupil
  • Iris
  • Sclera
  • Optic Nerve

Anatomy of the Eye: Ingredients Needed

  • Cake balls
  • Icing, white
  • Jr. Mints
  • Blue Gel Icing
  • Fruit Roll Up

I had a group of kids assemble these while we reviewed the parts of the eye. I had already cooked the cake balls. Each student got one cake ball, one Jr. Mint, one fruit roll-up, and access to a bowl of white icing and tube of blue gel.

We started with a chocolate cake ball, I had the kids cover them with white icing while we discussed the sclera and tear ducts.

Then the Jr Mint was added, followed by the blue decorating gel. This led to discussions about the pupil, iris and cornea.

The Fruit Roll Up provided an extra delight while representing how muscle attaches to the eye to help it move and in the back to represent the optic nerve.

Anatomy of the Eye

After the eyes were assembled, they were chilled in the fridge for about 20 minutes while we worked on some other projects.

Before eating, I had each student recall the anatomy of the eye using their cake ball as a visual reminder.

Class ended with the announcement “You can now go eat your eyes!”

Review of Soldering Through History, Revolutionary War

Soldiers

I picked up a copy of Soldiering Through History, Revolutionary War last year at a homeschool convention. Just this week we finally arrived at that time period in history.

After watching the DVD it felt like we had just been on a field trip to a battlefield and spent the morning talking with a soldier.

Sgt. Sam and his brothers demonstrated different marching techniques and battle formations.  My boys loved watching all the different moves and the explanations of why the moves were needed.

I love that Sgt. Sam part way through the DVD talked about gun safety, and even through the guns were not shooting real bullets, it is still important to practice gun safety when reenacting with them.

The DVD ends with Sgt. Sam and his brothers reenacting the Battle of Trenton.  I have to say my boys “cheered” when the DVD announced the battle.

After the DVD my boys were highly motivated to reenact what they had just seen.  My daughter did like the information given in the DVD but has chosen not to reenact with her brothers.

The study guide that was included with the DVD gave a nice overview of the time period. My boys’ favorite was the uniform quiz; they enjoyed learning the names of the items carried by the soldiers.

This is a great supplement to any study on American History, the only down side is the price, $34.99. I generally like to spend $20 or less on a DVD. Here is there website if you would like a copy of your own, onthefieldofbattle.com

Or other copies of the series,Soldering Through History: Lexington and Concord or Soldering Through History: WWII Marines

Learning the Lobes of the Brain

Learning the Lobes of the Brain

My kids and friends gathered together for a day on learning about the nervous system and how the brain works. I wanted to have some hands-on ways to remember the lobes of the brain. This lesson goes well with Christian Kids Explore Biology learning about the human body.

Learning the Lobes by Playing “Brain Says”

The “Brain Says” game, much like “Simon Says” each student takes a turn playing the brain. The Brain can have the other students touch the different lobes of the brain, but if the Brain doesn’t say to touch it the student is out. For an extra challenge the Brain can describe what happens in the lobe and the students can touch the lobe for an answer. See the photo above for where hands go to identify the different lobes of the brain.

Learning the Lobes with Brain Cupcakes

First bake a batch of cupcakes. Then using some homemade buttercream icing and round tip #7, do two big lines down the middle and then random swirl lines on each side.

Using address labels and toothpicks, each student can label the parts of the brain. We chose to label the right and left hemispheres. Then we labeled the 4 different lobes of the brain.

If you are looking for some great ideas on the nervous system check out Spelloutloud Blog.

Try some of these other learning tools for learning the lobes of the brain.

 

Revolutionary War Battles with Green Army Men

Green Army Men
We are gearing up for quarter 3 in All American History Jr. on the Revolutionary War. My youngest son loves to set up battles with green army men. On our last field trip to a battle field my son discovered in the gift store themed army men. He does not forget these kind of finds.

I knew I was going to need to come up with game plan to change the look of the green army men. A quick trip to the Dollar Store landed me a pack of light green army men and a pack of dark green army men.

A quick decision was made for the pack of dark green army men to become the minutemen.

Now the pack of the light green army men really needed to be red to represent the red coats. Hmm how to make this work….

Changing Green Army Men Into Red Coats:

  • First we covered the table with paper.
  • Using a bottle of red finger nail polish we painted the coats of each soldier.

I allowed him to paint each one. He was happy to have both sides of the armies ready to reenact battles from the Revolutionary War. I can’t wait to see my son use these soldiers to display the battle tactics of each army.

Next week we are going to look at a new DVD series, Soldiering Through History: Revolutionary War.

A great collection of army men.

Design Your Own Colony

Design Your Own Colony

A creative writing wrap-up to our colonial studies using All American History Jr  vol. 1

Design Your Own Colony Supplies:

  • Map of 13 colonies
  • Notebook paper for answering questions
  • Blank white paper for designing a flag
  • Crayons or markers for designing the flag

We talked about what we learned or remembered about Jamestown, Plymouth, and Massachusetts Bay Colonies. I gave the boys a list of questions for them to answer about their colony.

Questions to Answer to Design Your Own Colony:

1. What will you name your colony?

2. Will your colony be founded for money or religious freedom?

3. Where will you build your colony?

4. How will you handle relations with the local Native Americans?

5. What type of government will you have? A democracy? A monarchy?

6. How will you get people to settle in your colony?

7. Write 10 laws that colonist should follow in living in your colony.

My boys were excited to share their choices with everyone. Now picking names required a little extra brainstorming, but soon we had names and locations decided.

The real laughs came from the laws written for their colonies.

Here are the ones that made us laugh:

1. All stores will close at 6pm.  Why? Well Ben Franklin said, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a men healthy, wealthy and wise.” So stores need to close so people can go to bed.

2. There will be no adultery. Do you know what that word means? “No, but it says in the bible not to do it.”

3. There will be no guns in town limits. Why? I don’t want my brother to shoot me.

After answering questions the boys went on to design a flag for their colonies.  Now we are ready to move onto the Revolutionary War, I am sure the boys will love my next hands-on idea. It will include army men and red fingernail polish.

 

Sea Glass U.S.A. Map

 

Sea Glass

Years and years have gone into the making of this project. Of course most of the years the glass was rolling around in the ocean. About a few times a year I take my kids to our special beach where you can hear the waves “clink” from the glass rolling in them. After looking on Pinterest and seeing a few mosaics done in sea glass we got excited to do one on the United States.

Sea Glass Map Materials:

  • Bags of different color sea glass (mad-made sea glass can be purchased at craft stores)
  • Super glue
  • Map of the U.S.A
  • Floating picture frame 16 x 12

Sea Glass Directions:

  • Place picture frame on top of the map, this allows the map to be a guide for glass placement.
  • Select pieces of sea glass to fill the size of each state. Some states need more then one piece.
  • Once the pieces have been placed begin gluing them.

I have a small window over my kitchen sink that receives the afternoon light; I placed the completed sea glass map leaning up against the window.

Sea glass mosaic

Now what to make with the rest of our sea glass…..I bet I can find some more ideas on Pinterest!

Decorating with WonderMaps

 

Map Photos

Todays’ project: Decorating with Wonder Maps.

Our family is currently supporting different missionaries in far off lands. I wanted to be able to provide a visual of where they are serving for my kids. I did not want to just hang paper maps on the wall but have them blend in nicely with my decor. While picking up supplies at the craft store I decided to add an extra board for pray requests from our missionaries.

Materials Needed for Wonder Maps Wall Art:

  • WonderMaps I printed out maps of China, Turkey, India and Delaware. Some might argue that Delaware is not a far off land, but I think our first mission field is our home.
  • I purchased some 5X7 pieces of wood and an 8X10 piece of wood from the craft section.
  • Silver craft paint
  • Various Stickers
  • Mod Podge CS11302 Original 16-Ounce Glue, Matte Finish

I painted the the 5X7 boards silver. Red and silver are the main colors in my kitchen.

Then I cropped the maps and mod podged them to the 5X7 wood frames.

I added some stickers for more visual appeal and then another layer of Mod Podge.

I painted the 8X10 wood frame with chalk board paint. This is the one I will use to write down current prayer requests. Then I hung on 4 boards on my kitchen wall.

What about you? How will you use maps this year?

Decorative Maps