Nature’s Gift…

When nature hands us the gift of opportunity, we take advantage and go exploring.  Yesterday, we pulled out the balls and had an impromptu lesson on lunar eclipses.


Natural learning opportunities abound everywhere.  With the help of the internet and a few balls, we were able to prepare for our ‘quasi’ early rise the next morning.


With hubby tucked warmly in bed and keeping Greta company, the boys and I ventured outdoors early this morning to take in what we could of the eclipse.

Learning in Layers

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how learning occurs in layers.  As each layer is placed down, it enriches and enables the next layer to be added.

Layers is the whole reason why we embarked this summer on our study of world geography.  As we studied Native Americans and frontiersmen this last spring, I noticed that Xander was finding it difficult to relate to maps, regions and the concept of travel.  So we decided to lay down a layer of world geography and map awareness.  It’s been awesome.

Another layer that we’ve been exploring is our own bodies!  In an impromptu kind of way!

The boys received this puzzle as a gift. 

It is 5 puzzles in one, that is put together… in layers!  Of course, this makes it too complicated for Treyton (2.5) to figure out.   But Keegan (4) and Xander (6) are loving it and we’ve been able to talk about the different layers in our bodies!  There is a girl version of this puzzle too!  It looks like they used my niece as the model! 🙂  I also love the implicit pro-life message in the ‘Mother Body’ puzzle. 

We loved the book, Me on the Map, and were inspired to make our own map books.  She’s written a whole series of books like this.  Including this one on the human body.  There are so many wonderful directions you could go after reading this book.  We could trace our body outline on butcher paper and then draw in organs, muscles, bones…  I have fond memories of the anatomy apron I did as a kid.  For now, I think we’ll just settle for the book and our puzzle!  Keeping it simple…

Germ Prevention

As you may have guessed from my recent post, we have been working towards keeping sickness at a minimum this year.  The teacher/unit study enthusiast within me, jumped at the chance to use this as an opportunity to teach the boys about germs and how to prevent their spread.

I find it ironic that just as I’m getting ready to wrap this little study up, we get waylaid with sickness.  Poor Treyton came down with a stomach bug the night I posted last…  And then 4 days later, Xander came down with the ‘spits.’ I guess it provided an excellent opportunity to review all we had learned about germs and put into practice what the boys have learned about stopping the spread of germs.

Xander has been walking around today telling anyone who would listen that his white blood cells were ‘eating’ the germs and he was feeling better!

Here is a rundown of some of our activities:

Aside from using proper techniques when using our new homemade hanky’s, we also tried to make the presence of germs a little more concrete and hands-on for them we resorted to the tried and true cinnamon wash.

To do this:

  • rub little hands with a bit of vegetable oil
  • sprinkle with cinnamon ‘germs’.  This works best with a thin dusting of cinnamon.  (As you can see in the picture at the top, it got sort of clumpy on Keegan and didn’t work quite as well.) Be sure to warn them not to touch their nose or eyes while the cinnamon is on their hands. 
  • have child try washing hands with only water and watch for the frustration to build as they can’t get the ‘germs’ off.
  • Here is your ‘teaching moment’.  “Wow, your hands are still pretty icky.  Why don’t we try adding some soap and warm water?”
  • follow-up with adding soap.  Explain that the soap helps to dislodge the germs so that you can wash them down the drain.

Remind them that real germs are so small we can’t see them, but like the cinnamon ‘germs’, they won’t come off unless we wash with BOTH soap and water.

We’ve been working with them on washing their hands frequently and thouroughly.  It has been helpful to have them sing a song while they are scrubbing to ensure that they are washing them long enough to dislodge the germs. 

After a week of barf buckets, I think they are ready to apply proper technique!

They have loved reading the following books:

Wash Your Hands ~ This is a great entry level book about the importance of washing your hands and when to wash them.  The boys didn’t seem to mind that the central character was a princess and they laughed about the various situations where she needed to wash her hands.  It doesn’t get into the facts on germs, but makes them out to be fanciful, yet fearful unseen monsters called – germs and nasties.

Felicity Floo Visits the Zoo ~ This charming book about the (make-believe) ‘origins’ of the flu talks about how germs are spread.  The boys loved finding the gooey handprints Felicity Floo left all over the zoo.  This book blends really well with the cinnamon wash as a way to communicate how germs can be passed along.

Germs Make Me Sick ~ The boys loved this factual introduction to the world of germs.  It explains the difference between bacteria and virus’, precautions we can take to keep germs out and how the body is equipped to fight off germs once they get in.  It was in a very easy to understand format and Xander loved it!

Achoo: The Most Interesting Book You’ll Ever Read About Germs ~ this book is definitely for an older crowd, but the boys enjoyed it in small doses and Dad really enjoyed reading it to them!