Friday, February 28, 2014

Weeks 29 & 30: Russia & the Winter Olympics


We studied Russia out of turn so that we could include the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics during our study. It seemed to fit well after Germany anyway since Russia is partly in Europe and partly in Asia. We will continue with Asia and then go on to Africa. I love that we have the flexibility to mix things up :)

As if by design, we were even blessed with 7" of snow on the ground in our part of North Carolina during our study! God's timing is perfect.

Even though it wasn't Christmas, I got out our Russian nesting doll Santas... We also printed off some world flags and made a long banner to decorate with and help Lindsey learn the flags. Then we created our own Olympic Games: pom-pom curling, an archery biathlon, sock skating, and also included a Mario vs. Sonic Winter Olympic video game for the Wii that I bought used at Gamestop. I think I won a gold medal in the teacher/mommy category when I surprised my daughter with the video game and told her she had to play it for school. She was so excited! Not only was it fun for the whole family, it really helped her relate to the different events.

Science -

We took a break from our zoology to study the science of the Olympics. We learned about friction, drag, angular momentum, torque, acceleration, gravity and mass. Lindsey wrote the definitions on index cards. We looked at science of figure skating, skiing aerials, and bobsledding. We watched the Olympic science videos at and did some of the activities listed with them. Who doesn't want to spin in an office chair to learn about science?

We created a model bobsled to learn about the acceleration of gravity on objects of differing mass. We used the longest pvc pipe that I could bring home in my car (not the recommended 10 ft.) for the track, and travel bottles from the dollar store filled with different things for the bobsleds. We filled the bobsleds with beans, water, metal, sand art, and left one empty. Lindsey named each of the "teams" and we ran each one on the coarse 5 times and recorded their speed. Stuffed animal mascots (hare, polar bear, and tiger) cheered at the finish line. We dropped the highest & lowest time for each team and averaged their scores to determine the winners. Even though they have different masses, the sand art and the metal tied for the gold. The beans took the silver and water won the bronze. We covered boxes in white paper to create a medals podium & used stickers for medals.

Music -

We listened to some music by Peter Tchaikovsky and discussed Swan Lake & The Nutcracker. We have been to the ballet to see both of these and we also own the Barbie movies for both, so Lindsey was already familiar with them. She practiced some ballet positions too.

We borrowed the story of Peter and the Wolf from the library and listened to the music by Sergei Prokofiev. There is a leitmotif (melody associated with a person or place in the story) for each of the characters in Peter and the Wolf to help us understand them better. We discussed the music of the characters and compared them. We also watched the video for the Disney version below.

Art -

We watched this Treasures Of The World video about Fabergé Eggs & The Hope Diamond

We used resources found here: and images on Google for further study. Then we created our own faux FabergĂ© Eggs using a ceramic egg from the Dollar Store and some plastic Easter Eggs we had on hand. We painted them & let them dry (2 coats) then embellished them with stick on "jewels", a gold paint pen, and stickers. The ceramic egg was easiest to paint, but the plastic eggs turned out nice too.

We read about Marc Chagall and discussed several of his paintings. We both agreed that “I and the Village” was our favorite. Chagall was from Belarus.

Lindsey also learned to draw different Olympic sports figures in action and included them on her bulletin board project. Maps of Russia and the Olympic village, mascots,  and information about the games (including medal counts) were posted on the board also. We used the learn to draw printables from Activity Village found here. The instructions were easy to follow. She learned to draw figure skaters, bobsleds, and different types of skiers.

Winter Olympics -

We printed flags from and strung them on gold curling ribbon. The country names are on the fold over so you can study them and/or quiz your knowledge of the flags. We hung them alphabetically, but you could mix them up.

For our main study we used 2014 Winter Olympics Bundled Set from Brandenburg Studies that I purchased at CurrClick. I used other worksheets and resources in addition to the unit study. Many of the resources we used (and a few we didn't have time for) can be found on my 2014 Winter Olympics Pinterest board -

Books We Read -

The Giant Carrot by Jan Peck

Glory And The Games

The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco

The Blessing Cup by Patricia Polacco

Babushka : An Old Russian Folktale by Charles Mikolaycak

Freeze Frame : A Photographic History Of The Winter Olympics by Sue Macy

The Fool Of The World And The Flying Ship; A Russian Tale by Arthur Ransome

Peter And The Wolf : With Music By Sergei Prokofiev by Janet Schulman

Russian Girl : Life In An Old Russian Town by Russ Kendall

Silly Horse by Vadim Aleksandrovich Levin

Marc Chagall by Jude Welton

Letters From Rifka by Karen Hesse

Anastasia, The Last Grand Duchess by Carolyn Meyer

Russia by O. Torchinski

The Majestic Wild [DVD] : Exploring The Exotic Far East

Monday, February 3, 2014

Week 16 & 17: Germany


Welcome to our study of Germany!

We also learned about Austria & Switzerland. We especially enjoyed the Passport To Europe DVD our librarian found for us. We watched a section each day during lunchtime. We also watched The Sound Of Music and Grimm's Snow White.

We made homemade soft pretzels (with the help of our bread machine) and they were delicious! Lindsey selected a recipe for apple custard cake from German Cooking Made Easy and it was wonderful served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. We also discovered German Chocolate Bears at Aldi, we love trying chocolate from other countries for the sake of learning ;)

Science -

In ecosystems we studied lakes, ponds & rivers. The pond skaters and surface tension experiment was fun! It took some practice setting the paperclips on the surface of the water. Lindsey liked seeing how many she could float without breaking the tension.

Art - 

After reading about Gutenberg we used rubber stamps to print bookmarks. (I forgot to take a picture) We discussed how the printed image is reversed from the image on the stamp so letters are backwards on the stamps just like on Gutenberg's printing press. The letters and images on the rubber stamps are also raised like the letters used on the printing press. We also discussed how much time it would take to set each letter individually when preparing a page for print.

We skipped the beeswax & pressed flower projects. We didn't have the necessary supplies. We may try the pressed flowers in the spring.

Music -

We learned about Beethoven and Mozart. We listened to music from both and compared them. Lindsey preferred the more cheerful music of Mozart, but liked both.

Books We Read -

Rumpelstiltskin by Paul O. Zelinsky

From The Good Mountain : How Gutenberg Changed The World by James Rumford

Ludwig Van Beethoven by Noemi Vicini Marri

Play To The Angel by Maurine F. Dahlberg

Knut : How One Little Polar Bear Captivated The World by Isabella, Juliana, and Craig Hatkoff, & Gerald R. Uhlich ; with photographs by Zoo Berlin

The National Geographic Traveler : Germany by Michael Ivory

The Juniper Tree, And Other Tales From Grimm

If I Lived In Germany by Rosanne Knorr

Welcome To Germany by Meredith Costain

German Cooking Made Easy

Passport To Europe [DVD] : Germany, Switzerland & Austria

Chinese New Year: Year of the Horse


Happy Chinese New Year! - 2014 is the Year of the Horse

To celebrate Chinese New Year we went out to lunch at a Chinese restaurant. Chinese New Year is also known as Spring Festival. We also learned about Chinese New Year traditions and made a paper dragon puppet. You can find the paper dragon here:

We watched this video about Chinese New Year traditions -

We used worksheets from & watched a video about the legend of Nian -

Other resources we used include: