Make Your Own Pinata

The kids decided to make pinatas after reading The Pinata Maker.

The Pinata Maker by George Ancona is an entertaining biography about a man who makes Mexican pinatas the traditional way. I was surprised to learn he uses clay pots to create the cavity. The book details the steps he takes to create a swan and a star pinata.

When I brought home the book The Pinata Maker, the next day my oldest daughter was doing this.

A few hours later my youngest child was doing this.
That's just one thing I love about free time when the kids have time to pursue their own interests. This wasn't a mommy guided activity, but we have made pinatas in the past. This time the activity was entirely kid guided. I have trouble keeping up.

To make a pinata use a glue and water mixture to paste newspaper pieces onto a balloon, paper or cardboard frame. After the balloon is entirely covered wait for it to dry and add another layer. Repeat until there are two or three layers.

Next decorate the balloon with tissue paper or paint. Cut a small hole into the balloon and paper mache and fill the cavity with treats.

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Family Fun Friday
Do Something Crafty
Sun Scholars
Read, Explore, Learn
Real Family Fun
We Made That
Made it Monday
True Aim Education
Sew Can Do

* I did not receive any compensation for this recommendation. I'm just a homeschooling mom who has found many products that I like. If you're interested in the products I recommend on this blog I want to make it easy for you to find them. 
** I am an Amazon associate and receive a small portion of the sales on orders made after clicking in from this site, which I promptly spend on homeschooling books and supplies for my children.

Making Tomales with Kids

Before my third child was born I used to work as a mechanical engineer and the kids were taken care of by a wonderful woman from Mexico. She taught us how to make tamales, which the kids still love to make.

Cooking food from around the world is a great way to introduce other cultures.

The tamale dough is made from Masa flower.
2 lbs Masa
3 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp broth
2 cups corn oil

Mix together and add water until the dough has the consistency of peanut butter.

Spread the dough onto a corn husk and fill with anything that sounds good. We used cheese, hot peppers, corn and black beans.

Steam for two hours. The tomales should be standing upright and not touching the water.

They can also be made sweet using spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg, filling with nuts and fruit and adding honey and milk to the dough. We haven't tried sweet tomales yet, but plan to soon.

To see our other international cooking adventures please visit our Food page.

This post is linked to: 
Kids in the Kitchen
Family Fun Friday 
Saturday Dishes

Fabric Crayons

When I was a child we decorated the duvet covers on our beds with fabric crayons. It was so simple and fun. After coloring a picture onto regular paper the artwork was put face down on the fabric and ironed into place.

Now my kids are enjoying the same experience. I bought each of the kids two white pillowcases which they have been so busy customizing with unique designs.

(Synthetic fabric works best.)
Remove the Paper

This post is linked to:
True Aim Education
Family Fun Friday
One Artsy Mama
Do Something Crafty
Pin Me Party
123 Homeschool 4 Me
Sun Scholars
Share it Saturday
Share and Show Saturday
Saturday Show and Tell 
Sew Can Do
Montessori Monday
Relentlessly Fun
Chicken Chick 
Tuesday Tots
Tot School Tuesday

* I did not receive any compensation for this recommendation. I'm just a homeschooling mom who has found many products that I like. If you're interested in the products I recommend on this blog I want to make it easy for you to find them. 
** I am an Amazon associate and receive a small portion of the sales on orders made after clicking in from this site, which I promptly spend on homeschooling books and supplies for my children. 

Creating Tessellation Mathematical Artwork

We created interesting mathematical designs using tessellations.

Tessellation is the process of translating or rotating shapes so that they fit together perfectly. Any shapes that can be laid side-by-side without any space in between can be tessellated. This includes equilateral triangles, rectangles, squares and hexagons among others. Circles don't work because when they are placed side-by-side there are gaps between.

Beginning with an equilateral triangle, we fancied up the edges using a procedure that would allow our new shape to fit together. Tessellations are actually very mathematical. Learning about equilateral triangles, measuring angles, measuring edges, dividing, creating patterns, using rotation and translation, and symmetry are mathematical concepts covered through this creative artistic activity.

For art last year we looked at many different paintings in Come Look With Me: Exploring Landscape Art With Children (Come Look With Me Series). One of the paintings was by Escher, who made extensive use of tessellations. I never thought of trying the technique at home until I read Lucinda at Navigating by Joys' post about tessellations.

After a quick internet search I found this tutorial which clearly explained the technique.

Cardboard, cardboard food container or card stock

We began by creating an equilateral triangle.

Equilateral triangles have three sides the same length, and three 60 degree angles.

Then we replaced one edge with a new line.

The shape was cut out.

The new shape was traced onto the card stock paper.

Next, the creative edge was inverted onto an adjacent edge of the triangle. This was done by rotating the figure using one corner of creative edge's line of the triangle as a fixed point until the other corner of the creative edge's line matched up with other corner of the triangle. The creative edge was traced to replace the second straight edge of the triangle.

The new shape was cut out. In all, the shapes had to be cut out four times.
1. Triangle with 1 fancy edge
2. Triangle with initial fancy edge and inverted fancy edge transferred onto second edge.

The same procedure was used for the third edge, except the line was divided in half to create two parts. One half of the line was fancied and the line was inverted onto the other half of the edge.

3. Triangle with 2 fancy edges and one half of the third edge fancied up.
4. Final shape with the one-half fancied edge inverted onto the other half.
Once the final shape was created it was traced onto a blank piece of paper, then rotated and retraced fitting the edges together.

Then the designs were colored.

Here's the one I created. I saw an old man yelling in my tessellation.

My daughter thought her's looked like a duck.

My son saw a dinosaur eating in his.

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Cooking Crepes with Kids

Both times we visited France we have enjoyed crepes from a roadside stand. The kids wanted to see if we could make them at home. We followed a recipe from Rodale's Basic Natural Foods Cookbook, which is an awesome, large book full of natural recipes.

One big trick to making crepes is the planning. The batter needs sit for two hours before it's ready to cook.

They fry up in less than five minutes, but making 20 takes a long time..... 5 min x 20 crepes = 1 hour 40 minutes. Next time I will use two frying pans.

The crepes we ate in France were filled with ham, cheese and/or egg. So that's what we filled ours with.

The egg was cooked on top of the frying crepe after it was flipped over.

They turned out good and I was surprised that my six year old ate two and my nine year old ate four. I thought we were going to have lots of leftovers, but we didn't.

Creating Custom Bookmarks

Silvia at Homeschooling in a bilingual home sent the kids a few bookmarks. She made them by decorating a piece of thin cardboard with pages from old books, maps and greeting cards. I thought they were very creative. My five year old immediately created another one after receiving the gift. Her's is the one covered in pink paper and decorated with stars.

That wasn't the end to the bookmark creating. My eleven year old used some junk mail from the stamp dealers to create these awesome bookmarks. Both my daughter and Silvia said the key is to use a glue stick. That way the paper is nice and smooth.

This post is linked to: 
HomeAcre Hop
Montessori Monday
Trivium Tuesdays

Learning Through Stamps

We received free stamps from the Postal History Foundation and used them to learn by creating a beautiful scrapbook stamp album.

The Postal History Foundation offers stamp packets for educators - (home school, private school, public school and other educators). On the website there are spaces to indicate how the stamps will be used and how many students are involved. The stamps are free, but they accept donations and appreciate money for shipping expenses. After reading about this awesome free resource on The Traveling Sisterhood I immediately requested some stamps for my children.

Since my daughter loves myths and legends I requested a packet of Mythology stamps. I thought the Aqua duct packet would go well with our Ancient Roman studies and I requested plants and leaves because my son is currently very interested in plants.

My daughter already has a stamp collection of her own and an inherited one. In the past she spent a great deal of time sorting them by country and then pasting them on appropriate pages in a great big book. For American stamps she sorted them by date and placed them in a different album.

Although this provided many hours of amusement, she soon grew tired of the activity. With an infinite number of stamps available this task was never complete. It was easy to identify which country some stamps came from, but not so for others. By mounting stamps on a country page their beauty could be appreciated, but often, little was known about what was on the stamps. Needless to say, she lost interest and the stamps sat untouched for a year.

When we received the new packets of stamps I suggested a new way to organize them which was more like scrapbooking. I suggested she select a few stamps (2-10) that she was interested in and focus on them. By looking up information the stamps would have more meaning. She loved the idea and spent the entire weekend working on her stamp collection and has more work planned.

I'm so excited that she liked this idea and hope her interest continues. Researching, writing, history, art, reading, science and music (for particular stamps) are all covered. She can spend her summer educating me and herself.

Here's a close-up of the aqua duct stamps. She wrote:

"This aqua duct was originally constructed as a wall in the Byzantine Empire from 1530-1536. In later periods until 1911 it brought water to the city."

"This aqua duct was constructed to bring water to a city named Akko (sometimes called Acreu). Akko is located in Israel orn the coast of the Mediterranean."

"Mr. Johan Sebastian Bach came from a very musical family. Over 70 of his relatives made their livings as musicians. He was a German composer and during his life he made extra money by repairing organs. One time he worked for a prince until he felt the prince was getting too bossy and decided to leave. When the prince found his plans out, he had Bach thrown into jail until he finally let him go. Bach died in 1750."

Finding Patterns

Let's go on a pattern hunt. Educators often do pattern activities with young children such as lining up paper circles - red, blue, red, blue, red...... Finding patterns while out and about can be a fun extension activity. Shoe treads, churches, tire tracks, fences, wall paper, clothing - Patterns are everywhere!

Church in Verona, Italy

Notre Dame Cathedral in Luxembourg

Driveway of a neighbor

 Door decorated with sea shells at the Residenz Palace in Munich, Germany

Decal above a doorway at the Residenz Palace in Munich, Germany

Notre Dame Cathedral in Salzburg, Austria

Ceiling pattern at Hohensalzburg Castle which dates to the middle ages in Salzburg, Austria

 Peacock feathers

 Stained glass windows at The Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey

Wall/ceiling patterns at The Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey

What patterns have you found?

This post is linked to: 
True Aim Education
Manic Monday
Reading Confetti
It's Playtime
Hearts for Home
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