Thursday, July 26, 2012

South America week

This week we chose to learn about two countries in South America: Chile and Brazil. We learned about all of the interesting climates in Chile, the longest country in South America. We printed out some animal flashcards with the name in Spanish, and Eva colored the animals in. We made a tasty snack food from Chile that we learned from our friends, Francisco and Tamara. It is called the completo: a hot dog on a bun with various toppings. We made the "Completo Italiano", which is comprised of mashed avocado, diced tomatoes and mayonnaise layered on top of the hot dog. It doesn't have anything to do with Italy except for the colors! We also had plans to call Francisco and Tamara, who live in Chile, but sadly I had laryngitis for the whole week and couldn't speak!

Animal flashcards in Spanish and the flag of Chile

"completo italiano" and tater tots

For Brazil, we learned about the rainforest and the Amazon river, the (just barely) longest river in the world! Eva made a very cool rainforest diorama, demonstrating the 4 basic layers of the rainforest: the forest floor, understory layer, canopy layer and emergent layer. Then, we cut out photos of rainforest animals, and Eva put them in the appropriate level of the rainforest. We even bought a cool carnivorous plant for the diorama, but then chose to just let it live outside.
First, Eva painted the inside of a cardboard box green

Eva adding some finishing touches.  We used wrapping paper rolls for trees.  The leaves are made out of real leaves, crepe paper and craft leaves.

Emma is not so sure about the work in progress!

Eva giving her best jungle predator impression while showing off her masterpiece!

We also made some rainforest animals flashcards and did some basic lap book exercises. We made a variation of a Brazilian drink, the caipirinha, using sprite along with fresh squeezed orange, lime and lemon juice, and garnished with a mint. We learned a few basic words in Portuguese and ate a coconut, which Eva was allergic to :(  We also learned the song "5 little monkeys", and made crocodile and monkey puppets to go along with it.  I simply printed out some clip art monkeys from Microsoft Word, which Eva cut out and pasted to sticks.  The crocodile is made out of a wooden clothespin painted green with some googly eyes.

Modified caipirinha

Rainforest Flashcards
5 little monkeys and one hungry crocodile

Here is a puzzle Eva already had, which fits nicely with our theme

We also made a cool rain stick by putting nails into a sturdy cardboard tube (we used one that  aluminum foil is rolled around).  Next, we added some red lentils and then sealed each end with some felt hot glued on.  When you turn the stick, the lentils get slowed down by the nails, and it makes a tinkling sound like rain.  Finally, Eva decorated the stick with various colored paper scraps.

Red lentils for the "rain"

Here is how the inside looks after Eva hammered all of the nails in

The finished rain stick

A very cool place we went that has the rainforest theme is the Tierpark Papillorama, which is about 20 minutes away by car. It is composed of 3 large "bio domes" which are all tropical habitats. One houses a large variety of butterflies, one is a nocturnal habitat and one is a replica of a hectare of a Central American rainforest, including plants and animals. Aside from that, there is also a nice outdoor petting zoo, playground, marsh observation area and an outdoor butterfly garden. We always have a great time when we go here and I highly recommend it for people To see if they are in Bern!
Here is Eva in the Jungle Trek dome looking at a spoonbill

Little cutie in the jungle!
Learning is fun!

Eva playing in the Jungle playscape

Here is a photo I took of the nocturama.

From Papillorama website:  Inside of butterfly enclosure

From Papillorama website:  Inside of nocturama

From Papillorama website:  Inside of nocturama

From Papillorama website

From Papillorama website:  Inside of butterfly enclosure

Here is an insect hotel, with many little habitats for insects to live in.  We plan to make one someday soon!

Here are some of the butterflies found in the outdoor exhibit.  We also saw a lizard!
Here is Eva observing the marsh
Eva liked the donkeys at the petting zoo!
The goats were not interested in us

The books we used for this unit were: Licht an: Leben im Dschungel and Der Dschungel. We also revisited our Kinder dieser Welt book, focusing on the page on the Amazon.  I couldn't read them to Eva since I had laryngitis, but they are nice picture books that she could explore on her own. She also used the Tierlexicon with her Tiptoi pen, which has many interactive games and songs as well. Overall, it was a quiet week since I was very sick, but we still had a fun time!

Our books for the week

I'm having a blast now that I know how to roll over!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Medieval Times Week!

Woohoo!  Finally, it is Medieval Times week.  I have been looking forward to this one for quite some time, and Eva was excited too.  She loves Shrek, so when she heard we were going to be learning about knights and castles, she was totally on board.  The first order of business was to get Eva knighted.  Therefore, she needed to choose her symbols for her coat of arms.  We looked through a variety of symbols online, and she came up with a dragon and a cross as her favorite designs.  She decided she wanted her colors to be pink and black.  We first made her helmet out of metallic poster board, using a great pattern and tutorial found here.  We added some dragon emblems and the plume she chose (a peacock feather) and the helmet was done!  It was a good thing I used the pattern to do a "practice run", since as you can see I messed up the nose piece! 

Our supplies.  I think this stapler is from the 70s.

Our pattern laid out.  This was a very mommy work-intensive project.  Eva was more of an overseer and commentator
Oops!  Put the nose on the wrong way!

That's better!

Side view

Next, Eva needed a tunic.  I had some leftover pink fabric from another project, so I just measured it to her size, cut out a hole for her head, and used some transfer paper to put a dragon emblem on the front. 

Then, we made some nice bracers (to protect the arms during sword fights) using the basic pattern found here.  Eva used some fabric paint to make her own designs.

 Finally, we made her a shield where she could proudly display her emblems.  We used pink and black poster board and the tutorial found here.  Eva used a sword (which belonged to her Papa when he was a little boy) to complete her outfit.
Fantasy Hero Pose

Since it was Medieval times, we needed to have a feast!  This website gives all of the steps to having a Medieval feast, including etiquette and recipes!  We ate pig knuckles and chicken legs, and Eva was thrilled to be able to eat with her hands.  I did not go so far as to let her throw the bones on the floor though!  We used the recipe for non-alcoholic spiced wine, which Eva really enjoyed.  When Daniel came home, she told him all about the wine she drank!  Of course, she needed a fancy way to drink the wine, so Eva made goblets out of disposable wine glasses and foam stickers.  We each got our own!  We also tried aspic, which is meat suspended in gelatin.  Eva didn't like it, but I thought it was ok.
Spiced "wine"

Meat suspended in tasteless gelatin, with some pickles for flair.

Yay!  Eating a chicken leg with our hands!

This is a hunk of pig's leg.  It was delicious, and very Medieval looking.

We made some serious siege weaponry, making a catapult that sends cotton balls soaring through the air!  Eva was so inspired by the easy way the popsicle sticks fit together that she also designed her own door hanger.  I only spelled her name out for her, she did all the rest.  I was impressed!

We read several books this week to learn more about the middle ages.  The first was Die Ritterburg, which is a nice simplistic book with plastic pages that turn to reveal the inner workings of the castle.  The Meyers books are one of my favorite "information" books for Eva because they are nicely targeted to her age group and contain good information.  Another book we looked at was Globi entdeckt das Mittelalter, which focuses on Middle ages in different parts of Switzerland. Next was the Forscherhandbuch Ritter which is geared at a little bit older age group, but still good for reading some basic facts.  Finally, we also looked at Mein großes Wimmel- und Wörterbuch, Band 5: Ritter und Burgen.
 We also played a cute game called the "Hazelnut Knights" about some poor squirrels trying to hide all of their hazelnuts in a cache before the predators of the forest scare them, causing them to lose their nuts.

That's all for now!