Friday, September 21, 2012

Theme Thursdays - Pigs

In our homeschooling adventures this year, I am seeking to break free of traditional school methods and curriculum.  As a classically-trained teacher, just the thought of shying away from the familiar and the "normal" frightens me.
But we are doing it.
And the more we venture out of MY comfort zone, the more relaxed and more excited I become.  THIS, I realize, is exactly why - the intangible reason why - I wanted my kids home with me in the first place.
As part of our new adventures, we are doing a theme day once a week in which we abandon our regular activities, take up a theme, and focus all of our activities on the theme.  I plan the day in advance to be sure we will get in mathematics and reading and all the important subjects (all in theme of course).  I also plan a kitchen activity and an art project as well. 
Here on Temporary Insanity, I will be posting Theme Thursdays each week to share what activities we did and what resources we used on our special day.  All of the instructions and links will be right here so please feel free to use them.  I am including lots of extra ideas as well - no need to do them all, of course!  Keep in mind that my activities are tailored to two kindergarteners and one second-grader;  you can adjust them to fit your family.
This week, the theme is pigs. 
      One of my favorite things about theme days is the amount of books we delve into together.  Here's what we read:
1.  Pink Pigs APlenty by Sandy Nightingale (a counting book - great for practicing math skills)
2.  Piggies in the Kitchen by Michelle Meadows 
3.  Pigs in the Mud in the Middle of the Rud by Lynne Plourde (lots of onamatopoeia and silly words - fun for new readers!)
4.  If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff
And here are some other book ideas:
5.  Any of the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems.  My daughter LOVES reading these books aloud to her brothers, and her brothers think Piggie is hilarious.
6.  Perfect Piggies by Sandra Boynton
7.  Any of the Mercy Watson books by Kate DiCamillo (great for early readers!)
8.  ABC - I Like Me by Nancy Carlson (super cute alphabet book)
9.  Charlotte's Web by E.B. White (just read a few excerpts from this longer book - can't miss with this classic)
10.  Do Not Open This Book by Michaela Muntean
     Of course, we read books #1-4 together.  After reading Pink Pigs APlenty, we talked about the letter P and the sound it makes.  The kids helped come up with a list of twenty words that started with P, and the Drama Queen practiced her writing (and spelling!) by putting them up on the white board.  The Drama Queen got to read If You Give a Pig a Pancake  aloud to all of us.  We talked about actions and consequences, and then made up our own "If you...then" story. 
     The boys are still working on counting and identifying numbers.  So, I told them the story of the three pigs.  Then we made houses out of "sticks" (toothpicks) and counted them, practicing writing the numbers on the paper next to the houses.  The Drama Queen worked on her "skip-counting" with the same project.  I had her focus on counting by twos, fives, and tens. 
     We decided to make Perfect Piggie Eggs to learn kitchen skills and make a snack.  Making perfect hard-boiled eggs is a great kitchen skill to learn.  I taught the kids to put the eggs into the pot first before covering them with cold water and a dash of vinegar.  When the water came to a full boil, we removed the pot from the hot burner and covered it for fifteen minutes.  (Science lesson here:  If the eggs cook too long, the iron in the egg yolk and the sulfur in the egg white react to form a grayish-green color.)  After fifteen minutes, the kids helped me move the eggs immediately into ice water to stop the eggs from cooking any further.  Peeling the eggs proved to be too stressful a task for the boys; so I did that myself before we got to the fun part.  We deviled the yolks with a simple mix of mayo, yellow mustard, and salt.  I cut the carrots into ears and nostrils while the Drama Queen cut string cheese into pig snouts.  We put the peas, carrots, cheese snouts, and deviled yolk mixture on the table, and everyone got to creating their pigs.  And eating them. 
Some other kitchen activities to go with a pig theme:
1.  Pigs in a Blanket
2.  Piggie Cupcakes
3.  Pig Cookies
     I like to keep art projects simple, especially for the Beast.  He gets easily frustrated with complicated projects.  These paper bag pig puppets were super easy to make.  The kids practiced cutting and gluing skills to make these, and then they had the opportunity to demonstrate their drama skills to their baby sister.
Some other pig art projects you might consider:
1.  Piggy Bottle Bank
2.  Egg Carton Pigs
3.  Balloon Piggy
     We borrowed National Geographic's Really Wild Farm Animals dvd from the library and watched it during lunch.  The kids learned that farm pigs have relatives in the wild (warthogs) and a host of other pig facts that even I didn't know.
Other science activities in a pig theme:
1.  Fun Pig Fact Website
2.  Experiments based on The Three Little Pigs

The kids loved it.  They can't wait for Theme Day every week!  I usually tell them on Monday what the theme is so they can look forward to it all week. :)

Next week is Apples! 

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