COOL SUMMER CURRICULUM IDEA: FREE UNIT STUDY based on the Cars Film.


We homeschool throughout the summer.  It’s the time I use to experiment with ideas I have during the fall and spring sessions.  One of those ideas included a Cars Movie Unit Study.  I created this study last year and fumbled through it with the boys that summer.  My then 3 year old was and IS still obsessed with Lighning Mc Queen and the band of characters connected to the fictional town of Radiator Springs.  I admit I too love the movie and have watched it probably 1,000 times between both boys.  Although the 7 year old has out grown Lightning to some degree, we all embrace the joy it brings to the youngest of the house.  At any given time, you will catch us quoting lines from the movie to fit circumstances. It connects us in that annoying yet personal insider family way.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Cars film, check out the plot here.

“If I was you I’d quit yapping and start working”. – Doc

I watched how my kids quoted lines from the movie, retold and performed full scenes while playing, made connections to real life .  Light bulb moment = Unit Study.  There are so many rich moments in this movie.  It is full of opportunity for teaching from Math to Geography to Reading/ Writing to Character study.  I have compiled a PDF list of fun activities and resources to launch into a unit study of 11 subjects.

Think of the list as a buffet where you pick and choose what meets your child’s appetite.  It is a work in progress as I will add to the study over time (Ex. Worksheets) (make sure you check back for updates) but wanted to make it available to you creative mamas & papas looking for a relaxed, cool way to keep learning alive during the summer for your 3-8 year olds.  You are able to adjust the ideas to meet your child’s age and level of interest.  We were very laid back and more project focused with an emphasis on play. We worked on a subject 2x a week. Your child may be more of a reader, history buff or arts and craftsy.  Whatever their bent, It’s all in the study with enough ideas to fill an entire summer.

Let me know your thoughts and how your kids liked learning through CARS in a creative way.

Below I have included a link to the Free Download plus pictures of a couple of the activities we enjoyed:

  • HOMEMADE RACE TRACK
  • MODEL AND REENACTMENT OF LIGHTNING AND “THE TRAIN SCENE”. 
  • A LEGO MODEL OF RADIATOR SPRINGS
  • HOT WHEEL CROSS COUNTRY ROAD TRIP USING ROUTE 66 ON A MAP
  • SURPRISE VISIT TO CARS LAND IN CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE!!

CARS MOVIE FREE UNIT STUDY DOWNLOAD







What are your plans to keep learning alive this summer?

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The Kitchen Table: Farmhouse Dreams on an Apartment Budget

Bringing my farmhouse dreams on an apartment budget to life one DIY project at a time.

First up, the kitchen table.

OUT WITH THE OLD.  IN WITH THE OLD?

( I forgot to take an official “before” photo of the table, so I dug this up. The spiders at our home are unusually big but harmless.  They even pose for pictures.)

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We were given this kitchen table set for a wedding gift 8 years ago. Perfect then, not so much now.  The once desired espresso finish turned into a scratched up nightmare. The rich color no longer stood out against the dark brown flooring that was recently added and it all became a very undesirable blah!

Yes, I was itching for a brand new table.  However, budgetary constraints forced me to redefine new.  Isn’t it great how budgetary and space limitations force creative adjustments?  I would get my new table, by way of a DIY refinish job.   So I gathered my materials:

Citristrip Stripping Gel, goggles, gloves, industrial garbage bags, 4 aluminum foil pie  pans, paint brush, sponge brush, drop cloths, steel wool #0000, scrapers, sander with 220 grit sandpaper…

and went to work.

AM I DONE YET?

I had to apply several applications of the Citristrip.  Since using another chemical, like mineral spirits, to help remove the residue was not an option for me, I used the steel wool pads with soapy warm water mixture (dish detergent) to scrub down the excess stain before finally sanding.   I also experimented with vinegar, isopropyl alcohol and bleach on three separate occasions to test their success with removing residue. They made some progress but nothing worked better than the Citristrip, a steel wool pad and some muscle with the exception of sanding of course.  It was around this time that I discovered my table is not wood but actually laminate.  You know the stuff that most kitchen cabinets are made from.  I didn’t let the disappointment stop me.

It took me about a week to complete this project because it turns out there are also 4 legs with 4 sides each to them plus 4 apron sides to the table as well that needed the exact same attention as the top.  Let’s not talk about the chairs. Yeah…no return.  Remember to prepare yourself for some pretty long days applying, scraping and cleaning when you embark on your table and chair refinish project.

Although very messy and time consuming -all the nooks and crannies between the table and chairs left me worn out- it is very satisfying to have persevered and to get to see everyday the results I once imagined.

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I like the washed out look but need protection on a kitchen table where two boys grub out.
DELIBERATELY IMPERFECT

I thought I’d need to re-stain, well, paint the table (It’s laminate!) in order to get the rustic, worn look I wanted. But it turned out just fine after stripping and sanding.  Yay! (Plus I was tired.)

Finally, I used Minwax One Coat Clear Satin to finish off the job.

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Laminate kitchen table with mismatched seating.
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The beauty of a rustic look is it’s imperfections

Next on the list to farmhouse dreams on an apartment budget:  Simple bar stools and upholstered seating.

Thanks for reading,

altesa

My DIY Epiphany:  Don’t give up. Take a break. Get perspective,  but don’t give-up.

 

 

DIY Easy Peasy Twin Storage Bed and it’s Mini Me

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With 2 boys and limited space, I want bed frames that are both sturdy and functional plus easy to make and affordable.  So I decided to build a simple platform Twin and Toddler bed frame with open storage. This is my first DIY project and these were my internet inspirations. RED, BROWN

This project per bed took me @1 day to build, and @2-3 days to sand, stain and finish. I will detail the staining and finishing experience in another post. In the meantime…

Let’s get to the building materials and supplies needed in a nutshell.

TODDLER

2- 1/2 inch Plywood sheets, cut 29in wide x 52in long

1- 2x12x8  @29 inches long , cuts 3

Wood Screws- 2 1/2 – 3 inch long

Wood Glue- Your choice

TWIN

2- 1/2 inch Plywood sheets, cut 39 inches wide x 75 inches long

1- 2x12x16 @39 inches wide, cuts 4

Wood Screw- 2 1/2 -3 inch long

Wood Glue- Your choice

Now for those who like me, could use some explaining, below are details -with pictures!

Regarding the Lumber —  You will need to purchase 2 full sheets of at least 1/2 inch thick plywood for the top and bottom of each bed. 1 sheet is @48 inches wide and 96 inches long. Plenty of wood. I asked my local Lowe’s guy to cut the 2 sheets of plywood to the dimensions I needed. There will be wood left over.  If you’d like, save that extra for a smaller project.  I did! and will post soon.

 

You will also need to purchase 1- 8ft long block of common wood (Toddler) 16ft long(Twin) at 12 inches high and 2 inches thick of Green Douglas Fir (Lowe’s) or Pine(Home Depot). These will make up the sides and center of the bed (aka support). 8 ft will allow you to cut 3 pieces @29 inches each piece for the toddler and 16 ft will allow you to cut  4 pieces @39 inches each piece for twin. The 12 inch height allowed for a greater storage space but you may go for a lower height.  Again, my local Lowe’s guy did the cutting.  Thank you Adam!

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2x12x8 common wood
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12 inches high

Wood Screws —You will need to buy 2 1/2 inch  to 3 inch long wood screws.  In addition to the length, there are various size screws to consider as well.  It measures the thickness of screw and width or diameter of the screw head. 6, 8, 10, 12 even 14.  This was perplexing because no one mentioned this part in their blogs or videos. I mean no one. Not even Ana. Perhaps it is common knowledge.  But not for this sister.  I opted for size #10 in part, on the advice of another shopper dude in line with me at checkout.  He told me it didn’t matter what size I chose. The screws are there to keep everything together until the glue dries. Enough info for me.

Wood glue — I used Titebond II and Elmer’s Wood glue.  I switched to Elmer’s because it claimed stainability.

I forgot to mention a good, reliable crew is great to have as well. This is mine. They work for food.

Once we got the hang of drill bits and driving bits, torque, speed and pre-drilling, everything was easy peasy, for the most part. There was that time we googled ways to unscrew stripped screws. Below are pictures of the toddler bed project. The twin build has an identical process except it is bigger with an extra set of storage space.

Overall this was a very simple weekend project. I am very happy with the results. You may think, nice, but it looks like a table.  Once the kid grows out of the toddler, I plan to use it as such or a day bed, oooh the possibilities.  For now, I plan to place baskets underneath when I find or make the right ones.

Thank you for reading. I hope my experience here (at least) cuts in half your trips to the hardware store, saving you time and gas.  At most, may you be inspired to start what you’ve only thought about till now.

Check out Farmhouse Dreams On An Apartment Budget for more DIYing it.

Thanks for reading,

altesa.

P.S.

My DIY Epiphany:  Just start.  You’ll be glad you did.

Keep Calm, It’s First Grade: My First Attempt at a 1st Grade Curriculum

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What if this year I allowed my 6 year old son to  choose his own curriculum?  What would it look like? Well I asked him and this is what he said.

α  I would like to learn how to draw.

β  How to do cool moves on my bike.

γ  Learn to swim and go swimming.

δ  Build stuff with my tools like a little barn or using things around the house to build my    brother a toy car for his birthday.

ε  Do science experiments that will explode.

ζ  Visit the science center more often.

Now what if I incorporated reading, writing and arithmetic into his 6 year old interests?  It’s an idea experiment I am willing to try, I am looking forward to trying, I am actually excited and thrilled about trying—next year.

You see it didn’t occur to me to think of his interests when planning his 1st grade curriculum.  I thought only of what I must do based upon my own upbringing and experience in traditional school.  I forgot I was now a homeschooler and that I had options; crazy, cool, creative options to teach, explore, discover, wonder and learn with my sons.  I forgot that I didn’t have to follow the boiler plate grade-level workbooks my gracious mother in law sent to (help).  I forgot I am not trapped by standardized tests and common core.  I forgot I live in  America where making a living doing what you love is not only possible but proven.  I want to teach my children they can do what they love and make a living from it; They were born with gifts and talents that are meant to be their contribution to perhaps solving some world problem, however large or small instead of set aside as extra curricular, elective or 2nd fiddle to a “box education”.  I want to provide environments where they grow in their confidence, dismiss the status quo, and acknowledge and encourage others. Beginning with their interests in mind just may be the launch this mission needs.

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It didn’t occur to me to consider my son’s opinion.

Why would I?  I am the parent/ educator here.  It’s my husband and I job to adequately prepare and guide our sons. They’re kids-blank palates waiting for paint- which is rendered through the experiences and exposure we allow, in part, as parents. By nature, I am not that parent that allows my child to dictate his day and much more his education.  That’s hard for me to do which is why I called this interest-led  idea an experiment. By no means,  is it a new idea.  Many in the homeschool world use this approach for their schooling.  However, it’s an alternative approach I am definitely game to try especially after doing “school” my semi-formal way for 1st grade.   Below you will find a short description of what I planned for 1st grade.  

After much toiling, researching and soul searching,  I arrived at a 1st grade curriculum based on what I deemed as important for my son to learn. Hopefully you are inspired by it in the development of your own curriculum.  It’s just I felt like I was planning college courses, hence the title, “Keep calm, it’s just 1st grade”.  Just like all parents, I want the best for both my sons and homeschooling makes room for that in so many crazy, cool, creative ways.   Education can be customized. On the other hand, it can also become very consuming.

Would you like one choice to make or 1,000,000,000 choices to make?  Welcome to my brain.

There are non-negotiables in life like wearing a seat belt, maintaining good hygiene (depending on who you are), telling the truth (okay, depending on who you are, too). I agree that in education there are non-negotiables as well, such as reading, writing and math but how we arrive at those non-negotiables, I am learning,  are up for experimentation.  Outside of reading, writing and math, education is quite subjective. Since I am committed to carrying out these basics, I give myself permission to allow the subjective to actually come from the subject, himself…next year.

 

As you browse my 1st Grade Fall and Spring curriculum know this:  My son took to some parts and not so much to others.  Our schedule was flexible and not everything was tackled consistently, exactly as described nor perfectly.  Some of this list became more of a wish list. (Regardless, I believe in always writing down my plans whether I follow it to a T or not because things written live to see another day.) Tweet that.

Interestingly, our real challenge has been with the non-negotiables.

The more I think about it, it seems a natural strategy to use he and his 4 year old brother’s interests in these early stages as a stealth way to master the basics.  

We shall see— next year!

 

 

as of this year…

MY FIRST GRADE CURRICULUM

BIBLE STUDY:  I create my own lesson plans around the book of Genesis and Exodus. It’s a daily study that includes games, reading, writing, video, narration and suspense.

READING:  Early Learner Readers from the library are read daily, aloud with me -*after we completed Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons which he started in kindergarten.

MATH: Life of Fred: Elementary Series plus living math books from the local library with a focus on the history of counting, numbers, money, etc.

BLACK HISTORY:  Read elementary age biographies of African American explorers, inventors and scientists weekly.

GEOGRAPHY: Explore the continent of Africa with a focus on North Africa and it’s countries through digital puzzles, art, video and hands-on map games.

DEVOTIONAL: I created an interactive devotional which involves physical activity, art exercises and journaling to introduce the design and purpose of God’s masterpiece—the human body.

SCIENCE:  A store bought science kit (which was given to me by a neighbor) with everything you need to conduct @20 experiments.

PIANO:  Weekly lessons.

CODING:  Hour of Code program plus various other apps such as Hopscotch, A.L.E.X. done weekly.

FILMMAKING:  Plan, shoot and edit his own movies using the iPhone and iPad. Involves storyboarding, voice over, sound and visual effects and filmmaking vernacular.

ENTREPRENEURIAL WORKSHOP:  Learn about kids who have started their own businesses via internet news.  Create entrepreneurial opportunities of our own. Every time he shows an interest in something, say, “Somebody came up with that idea” and proceed to research that person and thing.

COMMUNITY:  Connected to the entrepreneurial workshops, the goal is to expose him to the behind the scenes by touring local businesses in addition to other community places like firehouse, postoffice, police station, college campus,etc.

If you are interested in more information about any of the subjects above, let me know in comments and I will gladly create a post describing a more detailed account of our experience with each.

Also, I am working on making the bible study and devotional curriculums accessible to those who may be interested.  For a short time, all I would want in return is your feedback.

-altesa

 

 

 

THE CLOSET ACTRESS: Waiting to Exhale

THE BACKSTORY

You know how birthdays have a funny way of inciting reflection and possible depression.    Well, It’s about 2 weeks shy of my **th birthday and I had been reflecting and depressing, cleaning and shopping when I came across clothes in my closet l had not seen since before I had become a wife and mother to two– 8 years ago.  Naturally, I want to try them on. Of course to see if this aging lady has really changed.  Because if they still fit then that would mean, in my world,  I haven’t really aged or changed “physically” at all. (oh yeah!)  After praying and slowly slipping on the first dress, memories of a slimmer waistline flooded my mind.  If. I. could. just. hold. my. sto. mach. in… I could fit it.  (exhale). It worked.  I have to capture this moment.  Honey take a picture!

…and The Closet Actress Series was born.

I’m in the closet too. Me, the actress. Much like my forgotten but favorite digs, Me, the actress has been tucked away for so long for reasons I am not prepared to explore in this post. Perhaps the stills below would help to express the frustration behind that story. In any case, this series premiere of The Closet Actress is about rediscovering the forgotten.

It was my birthday and I needed a way to celebrate. Dinners and lunch with friends were on the list but I wanted something more. Purposefully more.  

THE WARDROBE

The clothes I am wearing in this episode of The Closet Actress are dresses and skirts I haven’t worn in 10 years.  I am proud to say they fit! not perfectly as in pre-kids perfectly but they never the less fit at least for an at-home birthday photo shoot with my husband.

I am glad to have created an occasion to take both the clothes and the gift out of the closet.

May you be inspired to rediscover what’s been tucked away and forgotten in your life.

Are you a closet actress, photographer, artist, writer, knitter? Do tell.IMG_5898

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Wardrobe in order of  appearance:

Green Circle Dress with Belt, MICA   

Floral Halter, Mario Balthazar   

Black Sleeveless, Rubi Rox  

Pleated Skirt, Mohji Kohji   

Film and Theater Inspirations:

The Birds, 1963  Imitation of Life, 1959

Raisin in the Sun, 1961  Grease, 1978

Summer equals Italian ice, lightning bugs, camp, late nights and cornbraids.

Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years.–LL COOL J

my hair was cornbraided every summer as a little girl until I begged for and got that first perm around 12 years old.  SMH! if i knew then what I know now…Full circle.

appreciation day

I used to have long thick natural hair and I miss it.
today,
i imagined a photo where i would showcase my hair as it is today. in recovery from heat damage 2 years ago, it has taken on a new texture, look and style that is not necessarily by choice. in the meantime, while it grows back, i take it in.  i told my husband what i wanted and he was johnny on the spot snapping away just minutes before he was to leave for work.  I love the results of this spontaneous photo shoot.  
Hair Style: Afro Blow out
Camera: Canon 7d /50mm