Monday, October 31, 2016

"Leonardo's Horse" Discussion

We read the book, Leonardo's Horse by Jean Fritz and then sat down curled up under warm blankets to discuss it.  We used this great guide from Teachers Pay Teachers to get our discussion started. Loved hearing the girls' opinions on Leonardo's art and inventions and the final completion of the bronze horse.  And then started doing a little research into the Dark Ages and the Rennaisance, Leonardo's other artworks, Leonardo's many inventions and the actual making of Leonardo's bronze horse.  

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Friday, October 28, 2016


Sometimes when the day doesn't turn out as planned, the best thing to do is to settle in with a movie!  And with horses as this month's theme, Flicka seemed appropriate.  

The story was an extraordinarily touching one about a young girl who finds a wild horse and wants to keep and train her.  However her poor performance in school has convinced her father that discipline is what she needs, not a horse.  Behind her father's back, the girl befriends the horse and begins to train her.  When her father finds out the horse is sold to an abusive wild horse racing operation.  The strong willed girl and her loving brother devise a plan to get the horse back.  Flicka and the girls are both seriously injured after escaping the horse race and the father realizes what is really important... love.  

We all shed more than a few tears!

Aside from a beautiful story, the movie gave a great insight into horses.  There were a lot  of horse ranching activities in the movie scenes which provided a good understanding of what goes on at a modern day ranch and  sparked more than a few questions from my girls about the operations.  There interest was also peeked regarding the wild mustang breed and its history.

Highly recommend!

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Art Lesson ... Oil Pastel and Paint People

Another Carla Sonheim art lesson.  This one on making a oil pastel and paint people. I love how they came out!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Horses Online Scavenger Hunt

Here is what the girls needed to find this month.

  1. A picture of a horse with all the parts labeled.
  2. What is a diving horse?
  3. What do horses eat?
  4. How many breeds of horses are there?
  5. A map showing where different horse live or come from.
  6. Taxonomy chart for a horse.
  7. Pictures of 3 other mammals that are part of a horse’s family.
  8. What is the name of the Loan Ranger’s horse?
  9. What is a horse’s hoof made of?
  10. Do a horse crossword puzzle from
  11. A picture of a vaquero.
  12. Who was Joseph McCoy?
  13. A picture of a horseshoe.
  14. Who was the last winner of the Triple Crown?
  15. A list of 3 movies about horses.
  16. A picture of black beauty.
  17. A stick figure of a horse.
  18. How many teeth do horses have?
  19. What colors can horses come in?
  20. Name of the island of wild horses in Maryland.

Horse Brain Teasers and Puzzles

We have been stretching our brains each day with a puzzle or brain teaser or two from Horse Games and Puzzles.  In addition to giving the brain a general little problem solving workout, we have found that we need to do some research on horses to complete most of the puzzles so we are learning a few facts and figures and terms as well.  

Equine Science For Kids

We have a great equine center at Rutgers University and they have created an equine science website for kids to learn about horse health and nutrition, environmental impacts on horses and horse exercise.  It looked like it was going to be great but it is definitely for an older child as the site is not so much about horses as about biology, physics and earth science as it impacts horses!  A little bit of a reach for my kids but I think even they got some valuable insight into how horses are impacted by the world around them and their physical makeup.  

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BrainPop Horses

The girls learned a few new things about horses using BrainPop Horses. 

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Horses Unit Study ... A Virtual Horse Game

One of the fun things the girls have been doing during our Horses unit study is playing an online game about horses, A Virtual Horse.  It is a bit like SimCity for horses where you are responsible for your horses care and well being so that your horse can breed and compete and live a happy life.  You have to build food depots and wells and things to support your horses care.  To get the money for building such things you need to work at the stable or the vets office.  Seems like a fun way to learn about the resource cycle of horses!

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Horesback Ride on the Beach

While taking a trip to Florida we kept up with our exploration of horses by taking a beach ride with Tours on Horseback.  Our guide was great and spent a great deal of time talking to the girls about the horses personalities, where they came from and about how horses train to do trail rides, especially on the beach.  And the ride was just breathtaking.  So much fun to splash in the water on horseback!  This will be a must-do on every trip back to the area!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Horse Gait Flip Books

Today the girls made these horse gait flip books.  There is one for walk, trot and gallop.  After assembling the books and flipping them they observed the leg placement and body movement in each gait and identified the similarities and differences.  Then we talked about why one would be faster or better than another.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Hudson Highlands in Cold Spring, NY

After a thwarted attempt to hike Bear Mountain, we stumbled upon an easy and beautiful area of the Hudson Highlands for a Sunday hike.  

We parked near the Breakneck Ridge trailhead but instead of heading up into the trails at the parking lot, we headed across the street towards the Hudson River across the Metro North tracks into an area that turned out to be lots of manageable rocks for the kids to climb up, a trail right on the beach and a tree filled valley.   


Friday, October 14, 2016

Weekly Writing Prompts... 2016

One of the kids loves to write and we decided that a weekly writing prompt would be a fun idea.  I won't be editing or critiquing, I just want her to write!  

I'll keep a list of her writing here...

Imagine You Won a Trip to Any City in the World (10/14)

 Imagine you found an old treasure map.  Where does it lead and what do you find? (10/20)

You are a leaf. Describe fall. (10/27) I LOVE THIS ONE!

Pretend you are carried away by a bunch of balloons. (11/3)

Pick up the book you are currently reading and turn to page 37. Start your writing with the first sentence on the page. (12/1)

Write about your favorite quote (12/8)

Horses Curriculum

Our Horses Unit Study consists of ....

Write a short story about a horse.  

Research Scavenger Hunt
Complete an online scavenger hunt.

Reading List
Wild Horse Scientists
Galloping Through History
The Horse Road
A Hundred Horses
That's Not Hay In My Hair
Everything Horse
Horse Facts

Reading and Writing
Read articles from Horse Science News and identify the main point and the supporting details.

Read an article on the history of horses and discuss how horses impacted the development of migration, communication and warfare.  Discuss what moments in history might have been different if horses were not around.

Read "Leonardo's Horse" and have a book club style discussion.

Math, Logic and Problem Solving
Make a stick horse.

Complete some horse themed brain teasers.

Play A Virtual Horse.

Science and Technology
Make a horse gait flip book.

Experiment with building the strongest horse pen.  

Study horses on BrainPop.

Play Equine Science games and then create a quiz for your sister.

History and Culture
Watch a documentary on wild horses and then create a quiz for me!

Watch a documentary on cowboys and have a cowboy-themed culture day.

Play A Virtual Horse.

Watch Flicka.

Field Trips
Go to the DaVinci Science Museum (home of the DaVinci horse sculpture).

Go to the stables.

Go on a trail ride.  And another trail ride.

Listen to country music.

Final Quiz

Art Lesson ... Night Sky

Another Carla Sonheim art lesson.  This one on making a wax resist night sky.  Don't love the result but the technique might come in handy for something else!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Out in Nature ... Little Silver Trails

Found a great set of short but beautiful trails in Little Silver, NJ.  Today's hike included meeting a family of deer!


Cooking Lesson .... Apple Cinnamon Bites

The girls tackled another recipe today, Apple Cinnamon Bites.

Apple Cinnamon Bites

1 cup dried apples
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup oats
1 Tb maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp allspice
2 Tb water

Add all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until a paste that sticks together.  Scoop out tablespoons of the paste and roll into balls.  Store in the fridge.

Art Lesson ... Picasso Animals

Did this fun Picasso-inspired art lesson by Carla Sonheim!  We made cats instead of dogs but the result was adorable and really enjoyed learning what the cubist style was all about.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Making Puppet Shows

After turning a children's book into a script, the girls needed performers to act it out.  The clear choice? Puppets!  

They used Make Your Own Puppets to explore some ideas.  One decided on a marionette style puppet made of toilet paper tubes and the other finger puppets made of paper and clay.   Great project that involved following and modifying instructions, planning and organization and creativity.

Then there needed to be a show included a show including sets, props and a dress rehearsal.  And an awful lot of problem solving.

And then they figured out how to use Google's WeVideo app to edit the performances.

Here is one of the shows ... Ella the Elephant

Making Theater Props

As part of creating a musical, one of the girls wanted to make a prop.  The Noisy Cricket from Men In Black, the movie she is turning into a musical.  At first she wanted to weld it out of metal.  Luckily, I convinced her to check out the internet on how to make a prop gun and she found this great video explaining how to make one out of basically cardboard and tape.  She did a pretty good job using cardboard, masking tape, wire and paint!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Conflict, Climax and Resolution in Broadway Musicals

A little twist on reading comprehension.  We used musicals instead of books and each identified the main character, what they wanted, what the problem was, how the problem was solved and the resolution to the story.  We did Les Mis, School of Rock, Tuck Everlasting, Newsies, Wicked, Matilda and Aladdin.  This was one of the mst fun things we have done yet.  Loved hearing their insights into the stories!