Week Four

Miles’ drawing of a vampire using lines and shapes.  The boys are excited about Halloween!


In the spirit of Halloween we tried some new spooky and silly songs from DLTK’s site, such as ‘In the Graveyard’ sung to ‘O My Darlin’ Clementine’.  Miles also read some Halloween riddles  too.

We learned more about Bach (our composer this month) by listening to Classics for Kids ‘About Johann Sebastian Bach’.

Miles draws an ornament (or two) on his paper Christmas tree for every time he practices his holiday concert piece.  He is playing Jingle Bells by J. Pierpont, Christmas Piano Adventures by Nancy and Randall Faber.

The tallies are adding up for our Coins for Practicing donation.  After reading Civil War on Sunday by Mary Pope Osborne (Magic Tree House series) we learned that Clara Barton, a notable Civil War nurse, started the Red Cross.  So the boys are considering donating their coins to the Red Cross, and this has been a good decision-making process.

The book also expanded our discussions about Historic Fort Snelling (a trip from last week) and American history. We also listened to some Civil War songs.  This gave us a sample of some lyrics and instruments used and helped us realize music’s important role in the Civil War.

Classical Music by Robert Ainsley has been a good reference book (not really a children’s book) for composers, styles of music, orchestral instruments, and interesting stories.

We continue our daily listening to the Suzuki book 1 and 2 discs which are wonderful recordings of all the songs that our kids are learning to/have learned to play.  Our ‘kid’s faves’ iTunes list gets played nearly daily too and includes some Pokemon songs, Cantina Band from Star Wars, and the Spiderman theme song.  Miles and Parker have good ‘ears’ and regularly go to the piano to figure out songs to play (for example the theme to Inspector Gadget or Spiderman or Backyardigans).

Language Arts

On one of our library runs (we went twice actually!), Miles worked on his juggling skills.  The boys chose many Magic Tree House, spider, and dinosaur book.  Miles also enjoys reading The Monster Fun Joke Book by Sean Connolly.

Miles popped another balloon (see last week) and learned how to create an Alliteration poem.  We also have been reading various seasonal poems at First Grade Poetry.

The Toothfairy visited our home this week after Miles’ second wiggly bottom tooth came out.   Throw Your Tooth on the Roof:  Tooth Traditions from Around the World by Selby Beeler, says that in Egypt (Miles has interest in pyramids and the Sphinx) kids wrap their tooth in cotton and take it outside, and then throw it towards the sun.  Miles has plans to get a gum ball with his Toothfairy money.  We talked about George Washington’s teeth and did some activities in celebration of  our own ‘Tooth Day’ that we found at Theme Day.

Math and Logic

We added some Halloween and Pumpkin math to the mix this week.  Miles created a spaghetti spiderweb.  It involved coating cooked spaghetti with glue (a bit messy) and then laying pieces on waxed paper that covers an orb web template.  Things get messier when Ruby climbed up to the table and began using the gluey spaghetti as hair extensions.  Then Parker woke up, having one of those ‘I need chocolate chip pancakes and a story in bed’ mornings.  We’ll try it another time (Miles didn’t get to let it dry and then peel it off the paper).

Health and Wellness

We continued daily bike rides and meeting our wonderful friends at the play park after school.  We also swam at Dowling and enjoyed their 80 degree water. Taking a morning and post-lunch ‘recess’ sometimes is a struggle for Parker and Ruby now that it is cooler out and requires wearing more layers. But we are rewarded with a refreshed feeling when we come back inside.

Both boys caught a cold this weekend and spent some time on the couch (a rarity).  They are hoping to be up-and-at-them for trick or treating.


In review of basic shapes, Miles created a paper jack-o-lantern using rectangles, triangles, crescents, circle, and squares.  He went above and beyond our activity (which is often the case) and made another with a lightening bolt.

Miles and Parker drew an alien, cyclops, vampire, and swamp monster using Drawing and Learning About Monsters:  Using Shapes and Lines by Amy Muehlenhardt.

Making tissue paper flowers was a good hands-on experience while learning about Dia de los Muertos.   I like Miles’ addition of the Lego skeleton.  Dia de los Muertos was a good resource for our curiosities with this custom.

Social Studies

In anticipation of trick or treating, Miles began creating a neighborhood map which will also show a proposed trick or treat route.  We biked the route to look at the street names and landscapes.  Then we looked at our street and neighborhood at google maps and went from there.

We talked about fire safety and this lead to discussions about firefighters and other community and neighbor helpers. One of our favorite silly stories about a community helper is Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann.


As part of our study about spiders and desert life, we made tarantula cookies using Clare Crespo’s recipe from The Secret Life of Food.  The desert tarantula and other spiders pictured in our National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Southwestern States served as conversation starters while we worked in the kitchen.

Hair-Shooting Tarantulas and Other Weird Spinders by Carmen Bredeson has vivid, zoomed-in pictures.  As we read it, the boys sometimes asked in a concerned question voice “Do we have these in Minnesota?”.  A couple faves were Bird-Dropping spider (no kidding!) and Happy Face spider.

Our fire safety experiment concluded two things. First, fire needs air and second, and second boy our dishwasher isn’t cleaning glasses as well as it use to (ewwwww).  Miles did some fire safety activities and continued to practice emergency contact numbers.  We made an escape plan in the event of a fire and decided to replace smoke detector batteries on Daylight Savings time.

Scholastic’s site was helpful in our study of fire safety and its connection to neighborhood helpers and Miles chose one to read about from Scholastic’s Listen and Read site.

Standardized Testing

Miles is taking the California Achievement Test that we ordered from Family Learning Organization.  A test is required by the State, and the results will show what areas Miles has mastered and what areas he could learn more about.  Here he is taking an art break.  Miles did a great job staying focused during the testing despite all the sibling-related distractions, and was so happy to be done!

Miles really liked the assemblies and awards given at school, so he set up some chairs and we conducted our own to honor all the hard work and achievements of the month.


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