Saturday, March 31, 2012

Homeschool State (Report) Fair

My girls were very excited when a friend of ours decided to organize a state fair. (Kudos to my friend for organizing and recommending the fair!) I keep calling it a "state (report) fair" because when I told people about this they kept thinking of an actual state fair replete with farm animals, a cutest baby contest, and awards for biggest pumpkin. But no, it wasn't that kind of state fair!

The idea was that the kids would create reports, presentations, etc., on a US state of their choosing and we'd all share at the State Fair. It was a great experience, and even my seven-year-old did a report. We checked out books, visited websites, sent away for tourist information - all the things kids typically do for a state report. The girls each created a written report on their states as well as backdrops with information and different handouts. My oldest created a travel brochure and a bookmark for other kids to take. My little three also created bookmarks, but my 3rd daughter worked very hard on a state handout. My youngest two also created clay states with all of the major rivers.

The most interesting part of the process for me was to see how "into" the state report the girls got. They each came up with their own ideas and actually enjoyed learning about their states. My youngest and I read several books about her state and I learned a lot about Rhode Island! It was interesting seeing what the other kids at the fair came up with. And my girls will tell you their favorite part was sampling all of the different food.

My girls loved sharing their work with other people - and they are badgering me to organize other such events. My eldest would love to have an "Events in History" fair where everyone showcases a different major event in world history. Sounds promising!

Here are some photos of their finished projects!

 My youngest daughter (age 7) with her report and project on Rhode Island. She really enjoyed herself with this and it was a great learning experience in that she hasn't had to do a research report yet. She didn't go as in-depth with her report as my oldest two, but I was actually impressed with the amount of research she was able to accomplish.  Although almost all of the recipes for Rhode Island involved clams or fish, my daughter found a recipe for Johnny Cakes in one of the RI books. We have a great recipe already, but we decided to follow the traditional one in the book (albeit veganized). It was good!


My oldest daughter (age 11) chose to research California.  She is enchanted with the state because my husband and I are originally from the Bay Area and some of our family still lives there - most notably my sister, "Auntie," whom the girls idolize.  My daughter created a power point and a travel brochure. Having grown up in CA, I was very familiar with the historical information, but I did learn more about the legislative branch. Interesting stuff!  I love the way the Golden Gate Bridge turned out on her backdrop! And of course, she insisted on guacamole for the food. :)


My second daughter (age 10) chose Texas. Ever since my husband went there on a business trip and brought her back the hat she's wearing in the photo, she has claimed that one day she will move to Texas (or California, depending on her mood). She actually did a very detailed report. She also read about a half dozen books - she is my nonfiction reading queen - including a biography.  Her backdrop depicts a space shuttle in honor of Mission Control (though both my husband and I thought it had to do with the Texas Rangers).  She and I prepared an excellent vegan chili for the food - she was concerned because every "authentic" Texan recipe involved ground beef, but we managed just fine without it.  I did find that transporting chili was trickier than I thought... next time I'll be on the lookout for something less saucy. :)


My third daughter (age 8) chose to research Arkansas because I told her that when I was in 5th grade I was assigned Arkansas for my state report and I had learned that Arkansas has diamond fields. I didn't remember much more than that from my report, but from her research and the reading we did I now think Arkansas has moved up on my list of states I'd like to visit. Not because of the diamonds, but because The Natural State is gorgeous! There are rivers, mountains, plateaus, forests - a backpacker's dream!  Plus, there are only about 2 million people living in the state - my kind of place. The only drawback? In looking for recipes everything - even the green beans - is made with animal products. We ditched the authentic recipes and went with a vegan rice pudding (Arkansas being the top US producer of rice). Delicious!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Spring Fling

For anyone interested in using Moving Beyond the Page, their annual spring sale begins today!

We have continued to use MBtP this year, though I do supplement and change things to my liking quite frequently.  This year they added a new level (11-13) which correlated to 7th grade (or gifted 6th graders). They have also updated the first level (5-7) with additional books and different activities.
I am not affiliated with MBtP in any way - just thought I'd pass along the sale information to anyone interested!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

African Animals

My two middle daughters have been doing all things African  - from a MBtP unit they read an Akimbo book as well as Africa for Kids (and made several projects out of the book), they've been learning the geography through books and websites - plus 10 Days in Africa, which my friend turned me onto. They also learned about the myriad of problems many African countries and the people living there face. We are now sponsors of a little girl in Mali - it is very exciting to be a part of someone's life - someone we've never met - who lives half a world away. We are all writing letters to our new 'sister' and can't wait to hear from her.  To show off their knowledge, they put together an amazing power point presentation - I wish I could figure out how to post it here.  In addition, the girls are fascinated by all of the different wildlife in Africa. They made these posters about endangered animals - each picked an animal and wrote about the species.