Archive for the ‘stamp collecting’ Category

Every Friday starting on July 1st through the middle of August, there’s a Smart Summer Challenge going on at Pink and Green Mama,  Naturally Educational, and Teach Mama.  The goal is to do daily educational (yet fun) activities with your children. 

As the challenge says, “The learning activity can be as simple as reading a book, or doing a simple science experiment, or as involved as packing up the crew and visiting a museum or hiking your local park. It’s as involved as you want it to be, and our focus is to help parents realize the important role they play in helping their kids avoid the summer learning slump.”

They have daily suggestions for ideas if you need inspiration, and each ties into a weekly theme.  This week, the theme was “You are on the Map.” 

During the past week we did the following activities:
Sunday – Did 4-H projects for the county fair.  Both the girls finished their embroidery projects – Olivia made an embroidered pillowcase and wall hanging; and Sophia made an embroidered stuffed dog.
Olivia’s embroidered elephant.

Olivia embroidered the first letter of her name
as well as flowers, leaves, and vines.

At 8 and 10 years old respectively they’ve been doing embroidery for a few years now and enjoy it.

Today’s map location:  home (to do the project).  Embroidery, itself, though is believed to have originated in the Orient and Middle East at about the same time. Chinese embroidery dates back to at least 6,000 BC. (Source)

Monday – Olivia learned to do papercutting with an exacto knife for one of her 4-H projects.  This was a challenging project because the knife has to be held a certain way in order for it to cut properly.  After cutting the image of the horse, she layered black and blue paper behind the cut-out sections to create the picture.

This is the paper cutting that Olivia made. 
She cut the image out of white paper with a knife and
then punched holes with a paper punch along the top and bottom.
She put black paper behind the horse and
then blue paper behind the entire picture.

Sophia spent the majority of the day preparing food for her 4-H demonstration about using herbs in cooking/baking, medicines, and personal care products.

Sophia doing a 4-H demonstration about herbs.
She showed how to make cucumber-basil-ginger herbal water,
sage tea, and lavender spray. In addition to these items,
the club members and parents could sample
chocolate chip mint cookies and iced mint tea.
All the herbs used were from our garden.
Both the girls did a demonstration in front of about a dozen people on Monday night. 

Olivia loves to do puzzles, so she did a demonstration titled
“How to Eat a Puzzle.”
She showed the 4-H members and parents how to make
a puzzle sandwich, and then
invited them to eat their first puzzle piece. 
Puzzle sandwich that Olivia and I made together.

They will do the same demonstration at the County Fair on July 13th.

We also visited two farms where 4-H members live.  One had rabbits, horses, dogs, and cats.  The 4-H member focused on sharing information about her rabbits and showing them at the fair.

The girls listening to a presentation about rabbits.
Rabbits are on their list of animals they’d love to have.

The other place we visited was a dairy farm.  The girls both learned a lot about raising and showing dairy cows; and now want to do the dairy project. 

Olivia is taking a look at a three-year old cow.
They would start out with a spring calf to show next year (one that is born in March-May 2012; and show it in July 2012).
This is the size calf that the girls would work with:
about 100 or so pounds.  Not the huge 1,500+ pound ones.
Today’s map location:  three different rural towns in Minnesota (including home).  Olivia’s paper cutting projects has ties to China.  More information about paper cutting is HERE. 4-H began in 1902 in Clark County, Ohio.  More information about 4-H is HERE.
Tuesday – The girls enjoyed having two friends over.  They introduced them to Bailey and Hoss (the pony and miniature horse), played a game, climbed trees, had a picnic in the fort, and searched for and found lots of frogs and toads. 
In the afternoon and evening, we spent time reading.  One of the books we read was Arabian Nights: Three Tales by Deborah Nourse Lattimore.
Today’s map location:  Today was spent at home.  One of the stories we read takes place in ancient Cathay (known today as China). The other stories were set in fictional locations.
Wednesday – We picked strawberries at a nearby patch and learned about strawberries.

Sophia holding some strawberries that she picked.

We also went to a buffalo farm and were so excited to see lots of young ones in the pasture.

Buffalo in the pasture.

In the late afternoon, we had a backyard picnic while enjoying the sounds of nature.  The strawberries and picnic tied into our on-going nature study that we do (we try to do at least one nature study per week using the Handbook of Nature Study).

Having a picnic on the deck.

Today’s map location:  two small towns in Minnesota (one for the patch and picnic; and the other for the buffalo farm.

In addition, we can add Brittany, France (where the garden strawberry was first bred) to the places we “visited” this week.  The garden strawberry is a cross between two varieties – one from North America and the othe from Chili.  The former is noted for its flavor while the latter was noted for its larger size.

For the American bison (also known as the American buffalo), the location is North America.  At one time, their range was roughly a triangle between the Great Bear Lake in Canada’s far northwest, south to the Mexican states of Durango and Nuevo León, and east along the western boundary of the Appalachian Mountains. Due to commercial hunting and slaughter in the 19th century, the bison nearly went extinct. Today, buffalo can be found in reserves, on farms, and a few national parks.

Thursday – Sophia had a harp lesson in the morning; we went to the library to return some books and check out more books; and learned about Vietnam a bit in the afternoon.  We are finishing up our multi-year around-the-world geography study. 

Some of the postage stamps from Vietnam that
Sophia has in her geography book.

We skipped ahead from U to W back when Prince William and Princess Catherine were married (since Prince William’s mother was from Wales)…and then continued on with X, Y, and Z (Mexico – since no countries in the world start with the letter X; Yemen; and Zambia). 

Realized we didn’t do V…so we began learning about Vietnam today. 

Today’s map location:  two cities and one rural town in Minnesota for the harp lesson, library, and at-home study.  We also learned about Vietnam today…so we “traveled” back to the east.

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For the past few years, the girls have been learning about different countries around the world. I wanted to give some order to studying world geography, so I chose to do it alphabetically. 

So far, we have learned about: Australia, Brazil, China, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, Korea (South and North), Laos, Madagascar, Netherlands, Oman, Peru, Qatar, Russia, Spain, Turkey, and now we’re on Ukraine.

For each country, I have the girls color the flag and map of the country:

They include some postage stamps from the country they are studying. 

Something that I haven’t done before, but thought it would be fun is to make a cookie map of Ukraine.  We rolled out the dough and then placed a paper outline of Ukraine on top of the dough.  Using a knife, Sophia cut out the shape and placed it on a cookie sheet to bake. 

After the cookie cooled, the girls had fun decorating it with frosting and sprinkles.

We read several books (non-fiction and fiction) about the country.  For Ukraine, we read and/or looked at Nations in Transition – Ukraine by Steven Otfinoski.

In Nations in Transition – Ukraine there was section about a couple rather sobering events that took place in Ukraine.  The first was the Chernobyl disaster that occurred on April 26, 1986, at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine (then in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, part of the Soviet Union).  It was considered the worst nuclear power plant accident in history. 

We looked at some photographs on the internet of the towns near the power plant (which has since closed) that have now become ghost towns.  I remember this disaster because I was almost 20 years old at the time, so we talked about this for awhile.

The other thing we read about (not in great detail…just so the girls are aware that it happened) is Holodomor – the famine in 1932-33 that claimed the lives of over four million people. Holodomor literally means “killing by hunger;” and only within the past eight years has it been legally acknowledged as genocide against the Ukrainian people.  More can be read about it HERE and HERE.

In addition to the non-fiction books, I read two different versions of The Mitten which is a Ukranian folktale.  The first version, written by Alvin Tresselt, has simple illustrations and is an older book.  The second version is written by Jan Brett and has beautiful illustrations and some different animals than the other book.  The girls enjoyed discovering the differences between the books.

During March, the girls will be doing a paper quilt from the book Easy Literature-Based Quilts Around the Year by Mariann Cigrand and Phyllis Howard.  The design and activity ties in The Mitten by Jan Brett. 

An important part of each unit study is trying new recipes from the country.  One of the recipes we made that the girls liked a lot was Chicken Kiev.  We made Chicken Kiev when we were studying about Russia as well, but the filling is a bit different in this version. 

Sophia dipping the chicken in flour before
putting it in eggs and covering it with breadcrumbs.
Finished Chicken Kiev.
The girls eating Chicken Kiev with vegetables and a salad.

We also made Kovbasa and Kapusta (Ukrainian Sausage and Sauerkraut). Olivia made the toasted rye bread and Sophia made the sauerkraut and sausages.  The recipes said to cut up the sausage and put them in the sauerkraut.  Since I figured the girls wouldn’t care for the sauerkraut, I didn’t have them do this step.  Instead, they ate the sausage and sauerkraut separately.

I remember growing up and having sauerkraut at dinners at my Grandma’s home. It wasn’t my favorite dish that my Grandma made (and she was an amazing cook/baker).  This sauerkraut recipe had more flavor with caraway seeds and onions.

Kovbasa and Kapusta (Ukrainian Sausage and Sauerkraut)

We’re looking forward to making Holubtsi (Stuffed Cabbage) as well as several types of breads.

Pysanky design that Olivia colored.
We’ll be making decorating real eggs
with dye and the wax-resist method soon.

Studying about Ukraine at this time of the year is wonderful because many of the activities that we will be doing tie into Easter: making Babka and Pashka (two types of breads); and pysanky (eggs which have been decorated with a wax-resist method).

Ukrainian Easter Basket

What the girls found interesting is that Ukrainians bring Easter baskets to church where they are blessed.  Each basket is packed with symbolic foods, candles, and pysanky; and covered with a white linen cloth that signifies Christ’s shroud.

After church, people carry their baskets home and feast on the contents for breakfast. A typical Ukrainian Easter basket contains an array of symbolic foods, including paska (a large, round bread symbolizing the joy of new life); boiled eggs (which symbolize rebirth); and kielbasa (a spicy garlic sausage which represents generosity).

In another picture of a typical Ukrainian Easter basket, bacon and ham are included.  I recently found a recipe for home-cured bacon.  The girls thought it would be interesting to learn how to make their own bacon.  So, that will be one of the activities that is part of this unit study.

Sophia and Olivia also learned about Ukrainian textiles, and the importance of embroidered decorative towels.  The towels mark special events and times in a person’s life.  More can be read about how towels are used HERE.  We also looked at some of the designs in the book Ukrainian Embroidery by Ann Kmit.

And…because the girls are at an age where they’re interested in hair…they learned about Prime Minister Tymoshenko and how she used to braid her hair in a traditional Ukrainian style (her hair was braided and then wrapped in a circle around the back of her head – almost like a crown).  

We were curious to see if Sophia’s hair is long enough to do a similar style. Here’s the result:

The Ukrainian Gift Shop is located at 2782 Fairview Avenue North in Roseville.  It’s near Rosedale Mall.  The phone number is 651-638-9700.  They have a wide variety of supplies to make pysanky eggs as well as other items from Ukraine.  They also have an online shop.  We received a copy of their catalog today, and both the girls want to visit the shop to see the pysanky eggs and the holders. 

We’ll be continuing to study Ukraine until March 1st when we learn about Wales.  (We’re skipping ahead since March 1st marks St. David’s Day in Wales and makes a logical introduction to that country.)  After that, we go back to Vietnam, and then move forward with Mexico (since no country begins with an X), Yemen, and Zambia. 

By the end of the 2010-2011 school year, the girls will have learned about 26 different countries.  At that point, we’ll shift to learning about each of the different states in the United States. 

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{this moment}

{this moment} – A Friday ritual (inspired by soulemama). A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments.

Wishing everyone a lovely weekend!

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Sophia, Olivia, and I collect stamps from around the world. Stamp collecting is a wonderful way for kids to learn about geography, history, visual arts, and different themes they want to learn more about (e.g., horses, wild animals, birds).

These are some of the bird stamps from my collection. Entered this in the county fair and received a blue ribbon for it (the top part of the display includes the information that follows).

Throughout the world there are over 28,000 stamps with birds on them (including overprints and surcharges).

On the stamps, there are over 3,500 species of birds depicted (including extinct and prehistoric bird species).

There are 174 countries that have more than 50 bird stamps. Of those, Gambia has the most stamps (470).

Two of the countries featured in this collection are in the top 15 countries having more than 50 bird stamps: United States (321) and Australia (303). The most popular bird featured on stamps is the bald eagle (270).

This collection features 32 different bird species with stamps from different 16 countries.

The birds featured include: barn owl, barn swallow, black-necked stork, blue duck, brolga, brown kiwi, comb-crested jacana, condor, crane, dove, crimson rosella, Eurasian Bullfinch, European robin, great gray owl, gray-headed woodpecker, gray partridge, gyrfalcon, laughing kookaburra, little kingfisher, pheasant, red-breasted merganser, ring-necked pheasant, rock wren, saker falcon, saw-whet owl, snowy egret, stork-billed kingfisher, sulphur-crested cockatoo, variegated fairy wren, white tailed kingfisher, willow tit, and wood duck.

The countries include: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Finland, France, Great Britain, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, and United States.

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