Thursday, October 29, 2015

Candy Corn, Peanuts, Salted Nut Rolls, and a Venn Diagram

When I was in the grocery store checkout, buying candy corn for National Candy Corn Day (it's coming up this weekend, you know) and the woman behind me in line mentioned if you mix candy corn and peanuts together in a bowl to pop by handfuls at a time into your mouth, they taste exactly like Salted Nut Rolls, the first thing I thought was, "What a great opportunity for reviewing Venn diagrams!"

Okay, not really.  What I really thought is, "Well, now I need to buy some Salted Nut Rolls."

I really love Salted Nut Rolls.  If it weren't for their obscene amount of calories, they'd be my favorite snack.

But, after I mixed up a batch of candy corn and peanuts (which is not bad - in fact much better than a bowl of plain candy corn - but not exactly like Salted Nut Rolls), the children had a hard time agreeing in what ways it differed from the candy bars.


...we (meaning I) traced out a quick diagram... we (meaning they) could explore the ways the candy and nut treats were alike and different from the candy and nut bars.

In the end, while the ingredients of the two candies were, apart from sugar, corn syrup and artificial flavoring, significantly (or maybe that was slightly) different - and the textures and looks of the two were nothing alike...

...the taste might have been quite similar, if our candy bars, which were on the stale side (despite coming straight off the shelf) had been as fresh as our candy corn and peanuts.
For now, hoping to avoid sugar induced comas, we've tabled the discussion until next year when, if we can obtain a fresher sampling of the candy bars, we might take up the comparison again. 

Science and math are all about persistence and accuracy, after all.  Somebody has to take the fall, and eat the sugar.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Crochet Owl Pattern

I saw some owls similar to these while prowling around on Pinterest, last night, but with no link to a pattern.

They were so cute I really wanted to pull out my yarn and hook, and try to puzzle out the pattern right then.  It was late though, so I had to delay until morning, drifting off with owls and patterns on the brain, and waking up at 0'dark 30, tripping through, attempting to gather my supplies without waking the children - ready to crochet.

After a couple of attempts, I'm pretty satisfied with the outcome.  I'm not much of a pattern writer, but occasionally record my attempts here, so as not to lose them, should I ever want to make another.

I neglected once, to record a pattern for a double-finger puppet shark...

...and now have no idea how to make another - bummer!

Anyway, as to the owls...

Using a G hook, and worsted weight yarn, tie on, chain 2, and slip stitch through the first chain to make a loop.
Round 1: Sc 5 into the loop (5 sts)
Round 2: Dc into each of the 5 sc (10 sts)
Round 3: *Sc 1 into the first st and 2 into the next, to increase* repeat between ** four more times, around (15 sts)
Round 4: *Sc 1 into the first two sts and 2 into the next, to increase* repeat between ** four more times around (20 sts)
Round 5: *Sc 1 into the first 3 sts and 2 into the next, to increase* repeat between ** four more times around (25 sts)
Round 6: *Sc 1 into the first 4 sts and 2 into the next, to increase* repeat between ** four more times around (30 sts)
Rounds 7-8: Sc 1 into each st around (30 sts)
Round 9: *Sc in the first 4 sts and decrease 1* repeat between ** four more times around (25 sts)
Round 10:  *Sc in the first 3 sts and decrease 1* repeat between ** four more times around (20 sts)
Rounds 11-12: Sc in each st around (20 sts)
Stuff the ball portion, firmly, with poly-fil.
Round 13: *Sc in the first 2 sts and decrease 1* repeat between ** four more times around (15 sts)
Round 14: Sc in each st around (15 sts)
Round 15: *Sc one, decrease 1* repeat between ** four more times around (10 sts)
Round 16: Sc in each st around (10 sts)
Round 17: Decrease 1 each st around (5 sts)
Round 18: Sc 1, decrease 1, sc the last two sts (4 sts)
Round 19: Decrease 1, decrease 1 (2 sts)
Slip stitch the 2 together, tie off with a long tail.
Weave the crochet hook in from the bottom to pull the loose tail in, a couple of rows below the center (wherever it reaches when the tip is folded over), and back out the bottom.
Tie off securely, and tuck in.

Eyes (make 2):  With white, or even better - glow-in-the-dark yarn (for that little touch of spooky):

Tie on, chain 2, slip stitch through the first chain, to make a loop. 
Sc 4 (or 5 for slightly bigger eyes) into the loop.
Sc 2 into each stitch around (add another row of scs if you like) or
Sl through the next st, and tie off with a long tail to sew.
Sew the eyes, meeting under the beak.
Add a circle of black felt, a button, or black safety eye to the center of each eye for pupils, and you're done (with the first one, anyway).

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Pumpkin Gingerbread S'mores

On a rainy, autumn afternoon, with the help of a cozy fire...

...gingersnaps, pumpkin marshmallows, and a few mini chocolate bars...

...combined together into fall perfection.

Okay, to be honest, the pumpkin marshmallows were a little strange, and maybe too spicy to go with the gingersnaps, but the children liked them, and the s'mores smelled like Thanksgiving and Christmas combined - so near perfection, anyway.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Scripture Typer - A Free Memory Verse App

When T(age 18) was little, he was very good at memorizing and reciting verses.  That's him below, repeating part of John 14.

He was our oldest, so naturally we pushed him to succeed.  And, because he was oldest, sometimes we pushed too hard (a rookie parenting error).

When he started AWANA (a Wednesday night verse learning program for children) as a preschooler, we not only ordered the regular club book (with it's tiny little half verses) for him, but also the extra extended book, full of longer, more complicated passages.

As he grew a little older, we continued "encouraging" him to learn the passages, and earn every patch and trophy he could along the way.

I had always been good at memorizing, myself, and I have to admit my competitive, type-A personality might have kicked into overdrive, just a bit.

T, however, does not have a type-A personality, and by about the 5th grade he'd had enough pushing.  He dug in his heals, and refused to learn another verse.

Needless to say we learned our lesson, and backed off a good deal with the younger children - letting them set a slower pace if they liked, and ultimately switching over to a Wednesday program that combined more teaching and game time in with a single verse per week, learned by the whole group together.

Unfortunately, by the time we had learned our lesson, it was nearly too late for T (poor first child).  His determination to stop memorizing, gradually morphed into a belief that he couldn't memorize. A belief that is about to be tested, as he's enrolled in a Bible college class that requires the memorization of several passages - word for word, with proper punctuation.

Happily, he found Scripture Typer, a free Kindle app that makes memorization a snap, by walking you into it step by step.

1. Download a verse, or verses off the internet, from your favorite Bible translation.
2. Type the first letter of each word, as you read through, and familiarize yourself with the passage.
3. Memorize the passage by typing in the first letter of each word, filling in the blanks of words that have been dropped away (different words drop away each time through)
4. Master the passage by typing the first letter of each word onto a completely blank page, filling the words in as you go.  If you type the wrong letter, the word will be filled in for you in red, and your score will be marked down.
5. Repeat the Memorizing and Mastering steps over the course of several days, until you have the passage down pat.

Even T is willing to give it a try.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

I Can't Believe We Never Played with Cloud Dough!

I feel so cheated.  How could we have missed out on something so fun, so tactilely tantalizing, so messy?  And I suppose, I just answered my own question. 

Worn out from cleaning up all the other messy play experiences, and lulled into a sense of "it's just one more in a series of dough" kind of mentality, when my own children were toddlers and preschoolers, and I saw the recipes for cloud dough sweeping across the blogosphere, I decided to skip it.

My Sunday school lesson, for the preschool class, tomorrow, is on Elijah praying for rain though, and cloud dough seemed to make sense as a "creative play" go-along.

I found myself mixing up a test batch, tonight.  Most recipes call for 1 part baby oil to 8 parts flour (so 1/4 cup of oil for 2 cups of flour).  I substituted vegetable oil for the baby oil, because it's what we had on hand - and it seems to be working well.

It's a moldable dough, that holds together when squished, but falls back apart when crumbled or smashed.  Which is so much more enjoyable than it sounds - trust me!

I cut up a mold sheet from one of last year's advent calendars to press our dough into...

...C and E (ages 9 and 10) added a couple of paper cups...

...and we've been playing happily all evening.

Making up for lost time.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Columbus Day And Donuts on a String (Real World Math)

If you're just waking up to realize today is Columbus Day, don't worry, BrainPop has you covered.  Their feature (meaning free) film for the day is on Christopher Columbus, and strikes a nice balance between celebrating the accomplishments of his discoveries, and discussing the controversies of his actions.

We celebrated the day with a donuts on a string challenge for breakfast...

...which has less to do with Columbus Day (or Canadian Thanksgiving - which we'll be celebrating later in the day with a Peanuts inspired popcorn and pretzel lunch) so much as knocking another fall tradition off our leaf list.

But, here's a real world math problem for you from our morning to yours:

Given eight foot monkey bars, and children from four to six feet tall...

...what is the average length of string needed, to loop through donuts and tie to the monkey bars... order to give each child a donut hanging at a challenging, but still reachable height... be eaten with no hands (given that the teenagers in the group will inevitably pull the donuts off and eat them by hand after the first few attempts at a bite)?

Happy Columbus Day!

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Playdough Lady and the Wordless Book - Sharing the Gospel with Preschoolers.

When my oldest children were preschoolers, we attended a largish church in Oregon.  They remember that church fondly, and some of their favorite memories revolve around the "Playdough Lady" - their name for their preschool Sunday school teacher, who set her classroom up with play dough for the early arrivals to play with, until it was time for Sunday school to start.

She would allow the children to free play, and always had a number of interesting cookie cutters or accessories.  As the children played, she listened, and sometimes talked, and generally got to know each of the little ones in her class, in a very special way.  They loved it.

It dawned on me the other day, as I was putting together the lesson for the week, that I could be our church's "Playdough Lady". Happily, the classroom I have, has been set up with play dough in mind, and has linoleum, instead of carpet, under the table.  The last church we were in was completely carpeted, and the janitor had posted "No PlayDoh" signs in every classroom.

Now, with freedom to play, I packed up several cans of dough as well as a few cookie cutters (from what I'm sure you know is a good sized collection) to take to class.  I tried to pick cutters that could lead us into review of the last few lessons - sheep for David, a small and large gingerbread man for David and Goliath, the bear that David had to protect the sheep from, and a few hearts as a lead in to our week's verse - God will always love me Psalm 107:1.

I had a hard time at first deciding on color choices, but I've worked it out now, and the colors I've chosen are not by accident, but rather follow the colors of the Wordless Book - a simple Gospel presentation for children...

...because as I've been thinking about teaching the preschool Sunday school class, I was reminded that it was a preschool Sunday school teacher who first told me I was headed to hell! 

Looking back I'm not sure if she was trying to share the good news of the Gospel with me, or just put the fear of God into me, so I'd sit still.  Either way, I headed straight home that day, very upset, to tell my mother what the teacher had said.  Mom explained, that it was true, not just for me, but for everyone.  We were all going to hell unless we asked Jesus to forgive us for our sins.

We used to talk more about hell, fire, and brimstone in church, than we do now, so it wasn't so much shocking, as it was enlightening.  Up to that point, all I'd heard about God in my three years of church going, was that He loved me - I had no idea I might not be acceptable as I was.  It was a relief to hear that no one could be good enough for God, and to find out that Jesus had already paid for my sins and all I had to do was admit I was a sinner - that I had done things I knew were wrong, and be forgiven. At least, that's how I understood it then.

As much as I'd like the children in my class to remember a teacher who listened, and talked to them, and had play dough to play with, what I really want them to remember is the truth of I Timothy 2: 3-6,

This is good and pleases God our Savior, for he longs for all to be saved and to understand this truth: That God is on one side and all the people on the other side, and Christ Jesus, himself man, is between them to bring them together,  by giving his life for all mankind.
This is the message that at the proper time God gave to the world. (TLB)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Mystery Puzzles - Excercises in Reading Comprehension

We worked on a number of puzzles, together as a family, during Grandma's visit. 

Our favorites by far were a couple from the Bepuzzled Mystery Puzzle series (non-affiliate link).  They turned out not only to be challenging puzzles (the picture on the box is not what the puzzle actually looks like),
but also a great reading comprehension activity for the entire family.  Each puzzle comes with a short mystery story.  After reading the set-up for the mystery, you are instructed to stop reading, and put the puzzle together.

There is no picture guide for the puzzle, as the completed picture contains clues to help you solve the mystery.

However, as details from the story are represented in the puzzle, the story also contains clues to help in piecing together the puzzle.  The more attention you pay while reading the story, the easier it will be to put the puzzle together. 

Once the puzzle is complete, you can scan the picture for clues to solve the mystery (you might need to reread the story, at this point to refresh your mind to any forgotten details), before reading the solution (printed upside down and backwards) to the story to see if your guess is correct.

There are a number of different puzzles in the series - even one based on a Sherlock Holmes mystery with the complete story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle included (I couldn't have been more thrilled).

We found the 1000 piece puzzles were more suited to the teens, than the younger children in the family, but everyone enjoyed the stories.  In fact, we had almost as much fun reading the story together, as we did in putting the puzzles together, and solving the mystery through the clues in the puzzle. 

I really can't think of a better introduction to the mystery genre, especially for teen readers, and puzzle lovers in the family.