Friday, September 20, 2013

Week 4: Middle School Study Of The United States

As I mentioned in my last post, we added a few extra days to our United States study making it 2 1/2 weeks instead of 2. We wrapped up the USA on Thursday and then took a field trip on Friday to kick off our study of Mexico (but I'll save that for next week). My daughter enjoyed learning about the states so much she asked "Do we have to go to Mexico next week? I like learning about the states." So I'll take that as a success! Once she got her passport & we headed south of the border she was ready to go. I told her she could still study the states when she wants to because we are still learning about North America for a few more weeks.


The biggest hit of the week for us were these state flash cards that I found at CurrClick as part of Discovering the Continents: Animals Of North America by Koumi Books - Flashcards for Canada, a North American Animal board game, notebooking pages, and lapbooking pages are also included.

I printed them on cardstock, punched a hole in the top left corner of each card, and put them on a ring - great for travel! They would be great laminated.

Guess The States

We also played a game with the cards (take them off the ring and shuffle) that we made up, kind of like "Guess Who". Each of us drew a random state card then took turns asking questions about the state the other person was holding. 

Example questions: 
  • What is your state animal? 
  • Is it on the east coast? 
  • Does your state have mountains? 
  • Name something your state is known for (industry, landmark, food). 
  • Does it border Canada? 

If all the clues are revealed and the state has not been guessed yet, you can cover the name and show them the picture. If the state is guessed correctly the person who guessed it gets the card (point). If the state isn't guessed the person holding the card keeps the card (point). Whoever has the most cards (points) at the end of the game wins. 

Another version we played was for one person to take a card and give hints until someone guessed which state. Take turns drawing cards and giving the clues.

Sand Painting

Lindsey selected sand painting for our art project this week. We looked at examples of Navajo sand painting and symbols online. We also read about the Navajo people in Windows on the World. I found colored sand on clearance at Michael's with the summer camp crafts :) We used this rather than dying our own sand like suggested. If you dye your own sand kudos to you, I wasn't feeling that ambitious.

It took longer than we thought it would for the glue outlines to dry between colors. Once or twice we thought they were dry, but when we painted with the next color some of the new color stuck to the previous color that we thought was dry. So if you are trying this I recommend extra drying time between colors. 

We used a cardboard box lid to catch the extra sand and it really wasn't that messy for us. Exception: Our cat wanted to leave his artistic impression and walked through some of our sand painting while it was still wet leaving small colored sandy footprints on out art. We were able to brush most of it off :)

Lindsey made two sand paintings, one using symbols and one of a horse she named Waves. I created one also using symbols, a circle like a sun with feathers for the rays. 

This was a fun art project and pretty easy to do. The fewer colors you use the easier it is, but as long as you allow enough drying time between colors you can use as many as you like. Also put them somewhere to dry where your pets won't walk across them (apparently not our project table).

Star Spangled Banner

On 9/11 we watched Nick News: "What Happened? The Story of September 11, 2001", colored the American Flag page, learned about Francis Scott Key and our national anthem. We talked about how Francis Scott Key must have felt watching as bombs attacked our country through the night then seeing in the first morning light that the flag was still there. We also discussed 9/11, mostly focusing on how our nation pulled together to help each other. We focused on the heroes rather than the terrorists. God Bless America.

America's Favorite Footwear 

Lindsey likes fashion, duct tape, and crafts. When she started making flip-flops from duct tape and cardboard Wednesday afternoon I was amused. When she finished them I was impressed. She wore them to church that night. I challenged her to look up the history of flip-flops in American fashion. To top it off, since she was working on writing paragraphs in Writing Strands so I told her she could write her paragraphs about flip-flops and turn it into a blog post. You can see the results of her writing and flip-flop craft here:

Flat Lindsey Visits Hawaii

The flip-flops also tie in with Flat Lindsey's Hawaiian adventure this week :) She had a great time surfing, racing in a canoe, and learning about the Aloha State! You can find the travel log from her journey here:


This week Lindsey asked her dad to help her build a brush-bot. She found them on and wanted to make one and earn a badge. It's a simple robot using a battery, the head of a toothbrush, and a vibrator (they took one out of an old cell phone). The result was a mini robot that entertained us and the cat, while being educational to build. You could experiment with different brushes and/or batteries. You could also decorate your brush-bot. If you make more than one you can battle them against each other. Watch the brush-bot in action below:


We added spelling this week. We are using - it's free and there are 1001 6th grade spelling words. They offer downloadable spelling lists, lessons, games, and tests. I downloaded the list and Lindsey played one or two games of her choice then took the online test. At the end of the week I gave her a written test. Since she was her 5th grade class spelling champion and most of the time she is better at spelling than I am, I'm hoping this will work well for us. The words seemed a bit easy for her, but since it was just the first lesson I hope they will challenge her more as we go along. Maybe the lessons will help improve my spelling too :) In the meantime, I'll keep asking Lindsey how to spell stuff.

We enjoyed our United States adventures and now we are off to Mexico!  Fiesta time!


Flat Lindsey Visits Hawaii


ALOHA!! Flat Lindsey arrived in Hawai’i after approximately traveling 5000 miles from the east coast of the United States, across the Pacific Ocean to the small island chain in the middle of the Pacific. The Hawaiian Islands are made up of eight islands. Flat Lindsey’s first stop was to the island of O’ahu. She was greeted by her host Karen, with a flower lei. Whenever visitors come to Hawai’i, it is custom to give the visitor a colorful, fragrant flower lei to wear around their neck. Flower lei are also given to those who are celebrating a birthday, win a competition, or as congratulations when a student graduates. Some graduates have so many lei’s around their neck you can barely see their eyes! When a visitor leaves Hawai’i to return home, they are supposed to throw their lei into the ocean. If the lei floats back to land, it is said that the visitor will return to Hawai’i.

The Hawai’i State flag

The Hawai’i State flag is made up of red, white and blue stripes, with the Union Jack in the corner. The people of Hawai’i are proud of their state flag and Flat Lindsey saw many flags being flown at people’s homes or stickers on their cars. The Union Jack was added to the state flag to honor Great Britain. Captain James Cook of Great Britain was the first European to discover the Hawaiian Islands, so to honor the discovery, Hawai’i has included a small replica of the British flag in its’ state flag. Here is a picture of Flat Lindsey with her flower lei in front of the Hawai’i State flag.

Outrigger Canoe Racing

Flat Lindsey was lucky enough to visit when her host was in the middle of long distance outrigger canoe paddling season. 

Outrigger canoe racing is very popular in Hawai’i and was brought to us by the Tahitians. Six people sit in an outrigger canoe and paddle distances of up to 50 miles. Flat Lindsey was able to fly with Karen to the Big Island of Hawai’i as she competed in the largest outrigger canoe race in the world. 

The Queen Lilioukalani Outrigger Canoe Race hosts 90 canoes race 18 miles down the Kona Coast. Flat Lindsey was able to sit in the boat with Karen during the race! I think Flat Lindsey was a good luck charm because Karen’s canoe came in second place! 

Here is a picture of Flat Lindsey with Karen near one of the outrigger canoes, and a photo of our canoe during the race.


What trip to Hawai’i is complete without a chance to go surfing! 

Flat Lindsey went to the beach with Karen and her friends to surf off the east coast of the island of O’ahu. 

Karen let Flat Lindsey use her favorite red surfboard. The break was perfect, and Flat Lindsey was able to catch enough waves to make her trip to Hawai’i one she’ll never forget. Here’s a picture of Flat Lindsey with Karen before going to “paddle out.”

Mahalo nui loa (“thank you very much” in Hawaiian) for letting Flat Lindsey spend some time in the land of Aloha!

Mahalo nui loa to Karen for hosting Flat Lindsey, taking such great photos, and sending us a travel log of her adventures!

Flat Lindsey is on her way to Central America next to visit Lindsey's kindergarten teacher who is serving on the mission field in Honduras. 

We love to read your comments! 
Where would you travel if you could fold yourself up and fit into an envelope? 
Hawaii definitely makes my wish list :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Week 3: Middle School Study Of The United States

We actually added a few extra days to weeks 3 & 4 as we studied the United States. With the Labor Day holiday, field trip, and doctor appointments we needed the extra time to fit everything in. We celebrated Labor Day with a trip to the water park then had our American Cookout complete with hotdogs and s'mores when we got home.

Nature Walk

The highlight of week 3 was our field trip to Weymouth Woods - Sandhills Nature Preserve; a state park preserving a longleaf pine forest with a museum and a discovery center. 

Most of the wildlife here is nocturnal. We learned about eastern fox squirrels, white-tailed deer, bobcats, red-cockaded woodpeckers, pine barrens tree frogs, skinks, six-lined racerunners, fence lizards, beavers, great horned owls, barred owls, screech owls, bats, raccoons, opossums, eagles and hawks that are native to the coniferous forest. We also learned about the growth cycle of the forest, why fire is important to the forest, and about the native plants.

We hiked about 5 miles on the forest trails and saw several butterflies, dragonflies, a fuzzy yellow caterpillar, a skink, a fence lizard, a golden eagle and an American kestrel. We also looked for animal tracks, studied the trees, and saw some wild flowers. 

This all fit in very well with our zoology study and Properties of Ecosystems. In zoology we had just finished learning about predators and prey - seeing some of the animals up close was neat. Since many of the animals are nocturnal they had an exhibit in the museum where you press a button and it played the sound the animal makes, then shown a light on them and gave information about the animal.

Art Project

Lindsey chose to make a bean and seed bracelet and learned about the beadwork of the Cayuga Iroquois. She soaked the beans overnight, then poked holes through them with a needle (and a thimble). After they dried she strung them on the thread to make a bracelet. Here is the result:

State Postcard Exchange and Flat Traveler

The state postcard exchange has been a fun addition to our study of the United States. Lindsey loves to check the mail everyday to see if there is another postcard to add to her collection. She is really close to getting all 50 states! I've posted about this before and you can read more here:

Flat Lindsey had a wonderful adventure in New Jersey, you can read about it here:  and is currently in Hawaii! We will post her Hawaiian adventure soon :)

Mountain Trail Mix

We made the mountain trail mix for our recipe. We used Annie's Bunny Grahams & Cheddar Bunnies instead of the cereal. We also included raisins, coconut, chocolate chips, mixed nuts, and pretzels to our mix. It was yummy & easy for Lindsey to make by herself. After measuring all the ingredients into our container, she sealed the lid tight & shook it really good to mix it all together. Shaking it up was her favorite part (next to eating it).


Lindsey is getting really good at latitude and longitude! She is ahead of schedule on the Exploring World Geography Worksheets even though some of them are challenging. She really liked finding places on our world map using just the coordinates. (I had to check the answer key on some to make sure they were right, they were of coarse).

We had fun with week 3! Would love to hear your comments - thanks for reading :)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

History of American Flip Flops and a Craft!


The History of Flip-Flops

Quoting CBS News, "The flip flop is one of the first types of footwear known to man." The first known flip flops were made of papyrus. Ancient Egyptians where the first people known to wear them. Today they are the world's most popular type of shoe. American flip flops were influenced by both politics and technology in the 20th century. 

After World War II, American soldiers brought back zōri (flip flops) from the Japanese people. Soon after that people started wearing flip flops everywhere. Mass production of rubber after the war made flip flops very cheap! Companies made them for fashion purposes and because they were cheap to make. They were named because of the noise they make when walking in them, "Flip, flop."

I learned about the history of flip flops at and - you can visit these to learn more.

How To Make Duct Tape Flip-Flops

You will need:

duct tape (as many kinds as you want)

scissors that can cut through cardboard


a pen or marker

flip flops to trace

1. Trace the flip flop bases or your feet onto the cardboard. If you want to make them thicker (more comfortable) do this again.

2. Start by cutting a strip of duct tape to fit horizontally across the cardboard shoe base. Repeat until one side is covered and then flip over and cover the other side. Do the same with the other base.

3. Poke a hole through each of the bases where you want the strap to be.

4. Cut two strips of duct tape twice the length of your flip flop and put the sticky side up then fold lengthwise to make the straps. Next fold the straps in half like you do to center a necklace.

5. Put the folded center of the strap through the hole and tape the bottom of the strap down.

6. Put your feet on the bases like normal flip flops and hold down the straps to where you want them on the bottom and tape the ends.

7. Now you have stylish new flip flops!