Tag Archive | Michael Dahl

Australia… the Country/Island/Continent and Then Some

Our newest focus of interest for school is a new one… we have turned our learning to all things AUSTRALIAN! This was precipitated by having some wonderful penpals who live in Australia… add to that multiple facebook and egroup friends who ALSO come from this continent and we were ready to jump in with both feet.

I have to admit I came into this knowing a lot of the stereotypical things… Vegemite is a favourite food, Sydney has a wicked looking opera house, Aboriginal art is fantastic… But I have personally learned so much! Every day there is something new and the kids have been over the moon with their wish to share daily facts and nuggets of information.

I am going to share out resources a little differently with this one. We have our list of books which I will share, and some main websites… but a lot of our information came from friends and general web inquires. I don’t plan on sharing each and every site we used, but I will highlight some I found amazingly useful of course. I will also share out outline of topics covered. I tried to vary them as much as possible and give the kids a range of simple and complicated questions to answer with the intent that if they found something they loved learning about (ie. animals of Australia) we could always go a wee bit further with that.

Of course we had a laundry list of books and DVDs but I will try and share as many as I can… starting with books!

  • Ocean: A Visual Encyclopedia HERE
  • Countries of the World: Australia by Michael Dahl HERE
  • Life in the Australian Outback by Jann Einfeld HERE. This one was a great resource that we had to re-request, as apparently someone else figured that out as well!
  • You Wouldn’t Want to Be an 18th-Century British Convict! (A Trip to Australia You’d Rather Not Take) by Meredith Costain HERE. We love this series of books. A humorous and rather frank discussion about some sucky times in different places.
  • Australia and New Zealand (A True Book) by Elaine Landau HERE. I admit it, we got caught up in the joy that is learning about Australia and only gave New Zealand a nod. I think we will do a mini report on it in the summer.
  • Australia in Pictures by Ann Kerns HERE
  • Cultures of the World Australia by Vijeya Rajendra HERE
  • Ready to Dream by Donna Jo Napoli HERE, this is a book I would love to own myself. Gorgeous story about aboriginal art and how it is made in nature and often transient. LOVE THIS ONE, worth the read even if you are not doing an Austrlian focus.
  • It’s a Baby! – Koala and Tasmanian Devil. These are cute books, simple but a great resource. Both are by Katherine Hengel.
  • A Look at Australia by Helen Frost HERE
  • Countries of the World Australia by Kate Turner HERE this is a National Geographic publication.
  • The Koalas of Australia by Linda George HERE
  • Emu by Claire Saxby. It is both a story and an information book. Great illustrations HERE.
  • Sand Swimmers by Narelle Oliver. This covers life in “Australia’s Desert Wilderness” HERE.
  • Minmi and Other Dinosaurs of Australia by Dougal Dixon. This was our launching pad for our dinosaur research. Not an easy task since there are no full skeletons of dinosaurs from Australia! HERE.
  • Koala Hospital by . ADORABLE and so informative HERE.
  • Not-For-Parents Australia Everything You Ever Wanted to Know a wacky fact book HERE.
  • Australia by Ann Heinrichs (her name pops up in almost every country unit we do) HERE.
  • Australia by Katie Bagley HERE
  • Australia by Mary Berendes HERE
  • Sugar Gliders by Caroline Wightman HERE
  • Explore Australia and Oceania by Bobbie Kalman HERE
  • Early People by EyeWonder HERE
  • Bilby: Secrets of an Australian Marsupial by Edel Wignell HERE
  • Unusual Creatures by Michael Hearst HERE
  • Nocturne Creatures of the Night by Traer Scott HERE
  • Who Was Steve Irwin? by Dina Anastasio HERE
  • Great Barrier Reef by David Doubilet HERE

Story Books… or at least ones that are a large part story or fable or something…

  • Stories From the Billabong by James Vance Marshall. I should say RETOLD by… excellent collection of Aboriginal Dreamtime stories. HERE
  • Flat Stanley’s Worldwide Adventures #8 – The Australian Boomerang Bonanza by Jeff Brown HERE
  • How to Scratch a Wombat by Jackie French (a famous Australian author) HERE. Gavin used this one on his mini wombat report and enjoyed it greatly.
  • Fimding Serendipity. While not a book about Australia it is written by Angelica Banks – two Tasmanian authors. AMAZING book. Trinity and I read it chapter by chapter. HERE
  • Over in Australia: Amazing Animals Down Under by Marianne Berkes HERE
  • Dial-a-Croc by Mike Dumbleton HERE. This one made us all laugh. It is all about a girl making a deal with a crocodile to make money.
  • The 13-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths. This one made us all giggle… lots of fun pictures and crazy antics HERE.
  • My Uncle the Werewolf by Jackie French… we absolutely loved EVERYTHING we read by her! HERE
  • And then there were the Jackie French wombat books – Diary of a Wombat HERE, Christmas Wombat HERE, and Diary of a Baby Wombat HERE.

DVD’s

  • Rescuers Down Under (More for fun than anything else but the kids really enjoyed this classic) HERE
  • Kangaroo Mob HERE, a 2012 PBS video about the issue with encroaching kangaroo and city living.
  • Great Barrier Reef by BBC Earth HERE.
  • Destination Travel Guide Australia, this one was amazing one second and then… well I would suggest pre watching or at least watching with your kids. The woman sees AMAZING portions of Australia we did not see on other shows, books etc… BUT she also stops into a lingerie bar and talks to a madam at a brothel… yup mom is quick on the fast forward. We watched the first area on the DVD so I cannot vouch for the rest, but some of the locations she saw were BREATH TAKING and the opal mine with its underground living amazing as well. HERE

I do like to, even when we are not actually creating a lapbook per say, use the resources. I glue them onto flat pages and we still use the flapbooks etc for a bit of a change up from the written and typed reports. Homeschool Share has one HERE. The same group has a Coral Reef lapbook we found useful HERE. Not all helpful resources are free ones, though I did not spend much on this unit out of necessity. We paid 1.50 US for a Great Barrier Reef lapbook by Only Passionate Curiosity HERE. Iman’s Home-School has a helpful page with links that we used HERE, again lapbook. DIY Homeschooler has a unit study set up with links  to different resources HERE. Homeschool Creations has their own study set out HERE. Those are basically the links for the pages that could let you run an independent unit of varying sizes. We took bits and pieces out of all of these.

Of course we also enjoy art and crafts. Our book was Super Simple Australian Art by Alex Kuskowski. It is a great reference and most of the projects used things around the house. For more ideas we had some websites to check out… A sugar glider brown paperbag puppet HERE thanks to Beatrice the Biologist… Activity Village has a whole series of Australian Animal crafts HERE… The Craft Train had a fun frilled lizard out of toilet paper rolls we didn’t quite get right but enjoyed trying out HERE, there are 9 crafts to choose from on Suzie’s Home Education Ideas page

Of course we covered dinosaurs… Emanuel would not let that pass us by. I won’t hunt them all down for  you but the book I listed in the book list (Minmi) is our basis and we used these two links for report pages… one by Sammy Ironleggs HERE which is free and the other by Kelly Lynch also free HERE. Dinosaur Zoo Live has a great resource with a list of Australian dinosaurs and print outs. I picked and chose out of this one HERE. It is a download and save right off the bat. I did find the information at Walking With Dinosaurs HERE interesting though.

One of our best resources was For Teachers For Students HERE. It is a resource site for Australian education and educators. Look up the specific states and territories and each has a great series of fact sheets.

Ok now for topics… we did a rather broad overview but here is a list of some we touched on and loved.

  • Government
  • Food
  • Schooling
  • Outback
  • First Peoples/famous people/demographics
  • New Zealand and Tasmania
  • ANIMALS
  • Dinosaurs
  • Inventions
  • Tourist locations/locations of interest
  • Great Barrier Reef – we actually made ourselves a reef in our window. We drew our sourced out images that would work, coloured and cut them out and BAM hung in the window.20160729_143056
  • Mapping/natural resources
  • History
  • Culture/Art/Crafts
  • … the list goes on!

So all in all give Australia a good look. We enjoyed it extensively thanks to all of our Australian friends. Sorry this took so long to get up! I hope the resources are helpful!20170107_203827

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Year of the Monkey

Well, it is that time again… Chinese New Year and our yearly revisit to all things Chinese. This year I decided to go a slightly different route and combine a look at the country with light worksheets with a monkey theme. Instead of doing a notebook like last year (which was a blast HERE), the younger ones voted for a binder like they did for Christmas, and the twins continued their special event book they also began at Christmas. The centerpiece of our unit is a lovely large map of China that Ken created and printed out for us – 9 pieces of printer paper in all. With some star stickers I lucked out and found at the Dollar Tree last year we were well on our way.

We started with the Great Wall of China. I found a video documentary on youTube and some wonderful books. We really lucked out with a series of entertaining and educational books, for the Great Wall we used  For some other helpful books!

  • 20 Fun Facts About the Great Wall of China by Therese Shea HERE
  • Great Wall of China by Elizabeth Raum HERE
  • You Wouldn’t Want to Work on the Great Wall of China HERE

One of the activities I came up with for the kids to do was make postcards based on famous landmarks in China. I basically Googled those terms and let the kids scroll through the list and images at the top of the search engine. I love it when they have that freedom to make their own choices. Granted we vetoed The Forbidden City and The Great Wall since we were covering those as a family in detail.

  • Trinity chose the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. Their official site HERE is adorable. Trinity got her fact about the beginning point of this amazing place off Wiki HERE. It all began with 6 panda!
  • Emanuel chose Elephant Trunk Hill in Guilin. So called for its shape that mimics an elephant with its trunk in the water. We went to a travel site for amazing pictures and some great information HERE. Thanks to China Travel Guide.
  • Gavin chose Big Wild Goose Pagoda in Xian City. There is a lot about this Buddhist temple and some good history to cover, so he got picked to do a mini report on it as well. But for starters, we went back to the China Travel Guide HERE.
  • Zander chose Mount Sanqin in the Jiangxi Province. One of the top mountains for tourism it was chosen strictly on the amazing google search picture he found next to it HERE. We went back to our travel guide site for help with facts and numbers. Talk about and animal and plant rich mountain! HERE.

We do love our colouring pages and beyond the bounty that is Activity Village, we found some other gems… the twins love the stained glass style year of the monkey page at The Imagination Box HERE.

Sparklebox has some great stuff on their page, we specifically printed out the full list of animals and their Chinese characters HERE.

This year we spent a good week on the Forbidden City. There is so much to see and learn about, I think we could have spent a month. BUT here are the links we used:

We found two amazing books… You Wouldn’t Want to Be in the Forbidden City! by Jacqueline Morley HERE and In the Forbidden City HERE

Guangzhou is a relatively new topic for our family, but important all the same. This is the city that our dear friends and family came from. So this year I figured we needed to know more. And boy is there a lot to know! A massive place there was a wonderful official site to look through HERE. But we used so many more links, all to get a handle on the size… the lifestyle and the amazing uniqueness of a place that must be so different from anywhere we have visited ourselves.

  • Trip Advisor HERE
  • Kidz Search HERE
  • Top China Travel HERE
  • Travel China Guide HERE, HERE
  • Science Kids HERE
  • Wiki HERE
  • Connect the dots with Connect the Dots 101 HERE
  • Maps of World HERE

We covered a few cities in a relatively brief overview… Hong Kong was a rather complex concept with a few helpful links at Crayola.com for a colouring page with information of their flag HERE, Academic Exchange HERE, About Travel HERE, Travelling East HERE, Ducksters HERE, Kidz Search HERE.

One of the kids’ favourite activities this time round was to try out origami… especially once the twins figured out they could make THROWING STARS!

  • Kids Gen has videos HERE
  • Origami with Rachel Katz HERE

As something relatively new to our China unit we covered two people important to the shaping of China – Confucius and Chairman Mao. It was our first foray into this deep of a conversation for the twins and as interesting. Things like Communism and philosophy came up as did the concept of a rather brutal leadership. Here are some links!

  • Kids Philosophy Slam HERE, A China Family Adventure HERE, Biography.com HERE, My Interesting Facts HERE, Ask.com HERE,

General China sites that were helpful:

  • Science Kids HERE
  • Take a peek at language differences though I warn you there is a missing resource with Discovery Education HERE. We contacted our friends who are the true pure resource for this one.
  • Kai-Lan’s official printables thanks to Nick Jr. HERE

Of course we had to look at inventions. This was an exercise in the twins actually choosing inventions and searching for them themselves online to find out things like who, when, where… so I will just link the main ones used.

  • China Whisper had a list of top 20 HERE
  • Wiki has their own list HERE
  • Did you know toilet paper was first used by the Chinese??? Today I Found Out explains HERE

And Chinese New Year itself:

  • Asian Holidays by Faith Winchester HERE
  • Happy Chinese New Year, Kai-Lan! HERE

Videos:

  • Stone Soup… and other stories from the Asian Tradition HERE
  • Beijing Travel Guide DVD 2002/2004
  • Food With Friends! (Dora) HERE

Additional Books:

  • A Gift by Yong Chen HERE
  • China by Michael Dahl HERE
  • Beijing and Shanghai HERE
  • China by Christine Juarez HERE
  • China a Question and Answer Book by Nathan Olson HERE
  • Ancient Civilizations China by Valerie Bodden HERE
  • China phrasebook by Lonely Planet HERE
  • The Magical East HERE
  • D is For Dragon Dance by Ying Chang Compestine HERE
  • Wonders of the World by Colin Dibben HERE
  • Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas by Natasha Yim HERE
  • Celebrate Chinese New Year by Carolyn Otto HERE
  • Chinese New Year by Alice K. Flanagan HERE
  • The Runaway Ricecake by Ying Chang Compestine HERE

Two books I am dying to add to our collection:

  • Little Leap Forward: A Boy in Beijing by Guo Yue HERE
  • And a family favourite… The Runaway Wok by Ying Chang Compestine HERE

To add to our unit we focused on monkeys that live in China. I won’t link all the pages we used, but I had the kids check out the list on Wiki and then we did our research online. We had the Slow Loris, Golden Snub Nosed, Black Crested Gibbon and. It is always fun to add an animal connection to a unit.

I am sure I could continue on with more and more links. We really went ALL OUT on this unit this year. But I figure I will just add those to the random resource post I plan on adding to the site later in May. I would suggest, if you have not looked into China as a homeschool or personal research project, do so! The culture, the people and the country itself is AMAZING! We are so blessed to have friends who are family who are directly from there. They have opened our eyes and our hearts to an amazing new world! 

Our Special Snack Platter with the newest addition to our decorations..  lucky orange tree!

Our Special Snack Platter with the newest addition to our decorations.. lucky orange tree!

Penguin Resources

So from platypuses to penguins… we are truly into the “P” critters!! So of course it is time for a resource blog!

Free lapbooks!

Worksheets

Helpful Websites

Books

Crafts

  • Paper Loop Penguins at Crafty-Crafted.com
  • Enjoy a colour wheel with Art Projects for Kids. This is not so much a craft but a simple printable set up with all the colours, complementary, cold and warm… great illustration of it.
  • Penguin finger puppets at Fantastic Find
Games

Of course there is always a video to supplement. If you want the cliff notes version of Captain Cook (the explorer our first penguin is named after)? Check out Crash Course World History on youTube.

We did have a video to watch:

No video to embed, but if you go to Amazon… Dirty Jobs included looking after Penguins at a zoo in an episode HERE. As there is a misunderstanding as to WHAT Captain Cook is early in the book, there is a small section on the dodo… I decided to do a little searching for some resources…

We had two videos we watched, TED only is relevant to the process of a Mythbusters host creating his own skeleton but some amazing shots of it and his reference.

And a museum short from Manchester

Some of the penguins were named after obvious famous people. We watched videos about some of the more interesting (to our boys) characters… First Columbus.

Ferdinand Magellan

And two about Robert Falcon Scott

Chapter 13 deals with music AND training animals. So there is the music link for The Merry Widow Waltz HERE. And then Schubert’s Military March on youTube.

For trained animals we chose to take a peek at the trained cormorants in China. There is a list on the lapbook file of other options but this one seemed to scream our kids’ interest.

Mr. Popper starts his travels with the penguins in Seattle. So of course we had to check out a tourist video..

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