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Weekly Wrap-up ~ Penguins, Ants, and Trees

This week was a designated "unit only" week, which means that it was one of the original weeks we had planned to take off this year with our previous schedule. I intended for it to be an easier week. But, goodness gracious, we were busy!

We did find ourselves having a difficult time getting started in the mornings because of our most recent distraction ...

It thrills me so much that my kids love The Brady Bunch that I haven't even freaked on those days when we haven't started school until 11:00 a.m. or so. The kids watch an episode we have DVR'd while they eat breakfast. But sometimes that leads into two or three episodes. Or, like today, a total of 4 ... well, we had to see if the Bradys got out of jail in the ghost town and whether Bobby and Cindy ever got rescued at the Grand Canyon!

~ Penguins ~

Our unit study this week was "Penguins". My kids absolutely love penguins, so it was definitely an interest-led week. We used a video that we are currently reviewing for the Schoolhouse Review Crew. And then I found an absolute gem provided by Sea World! They have some amazing lesson plans about marine animals. It was most definitely our Favorite Resource this Week. Splendid!

A fun activity was Body Geography where the kids put their hands on their hips and pretended that their waist was the equator. Then they touched parts of their bodies to demonstrate where certain species of penguins live in relation to the equator. We learned about the food chain and prepared a Food Web with printables from the SeaWorld lesson plan.

The kids made penguins. Meet Rag and Raspberry. (The stuffed penguins they bought at the St. Louis Zoo this summer were named Tag and Blueberry.)

We did Penguin P.E. one day by mimicking the movements and motions of various species of penguins. Then they practiced carrying an pillow egg between their ankles all the way across the room and back. That was not easy. Let's just say we had scrambled penguin eggs.

There were penguin spelling lessons, writing assignments, and science experiments. We didn't have time to do the oil spill experiment, and I think it would have been a good one! (We had done a similar experiment when studying about Ducks last week, so we just discussed that experiment and how it applies to penguins.)

We had lots of fun doing Penguin math by measuring ourselves against the average height of an Emperor Penguin and then doing mathematical comparisons. Then we completed word problems about penguins, eggs, and predators.

The final activity was to answer the questions in a Treasure Hunt and then submit the answers to the website creator to try to get added to the Explorer's Hall of Fame. Eli and Brynne are hoping to be the first ones admitted from Missouri.

And, of course, we also read every book that our little local library had on penguins.

~ Nature ~

Our Fridays are designated as primarily nature days. My intentions are two-fold: I want us to do one of the challenges from Barb's monthly Handbook of Nature Study newsletter. Then I want us to explore at our local park (which is fabulous) and either do a specific study or to do wildcrafting and choose something interesting to study. That makes for an extremely full day!

Yesterday morning we focused our study on Ants. It was very fun! I will be posting more on our study on Monday.

Then in the afternoon we headed to the park. We had a great impromptu moment with Ants that really drove home our morning study! But then we spent our time collecting leaves and specimens from 5 of the 15 trees we chose and photographed a couple of weeks ago. (One of my nature goals this year is for us to dig deep into identifying the local flora and fauna!) We took home our specimens so that we could spend some time identifying the trees.

I had the kids choose one tree to sketch in their journals.

They chose a Cypress to sketch.

Then we just spent some time doing some good 'ol playing and exploring. We brought Crusoe along with us, and he had fun on the merry-go-round.

A storm was moving in, so we cut our exploring time short.

After we got home, we taped our leaves and tree specimens into our nature journals and identified the trees by using Identifying Trees: An All-Season Guide to Eastern North America by Michael D. Williams (This was a really great book! I highly recommend it!). Then, surprisingly, the kids had tons of fun learning about the difference between Coniferous and Deciduous trees and labeling each of their 5 trees as one or the other. (I think I'll make that into a physical game for us to play with the trees next week at the park.)

It was another fantastic week. And I am so looking forward to doing a little vegging this weekend. The temps have dropped dramatically (it is supposed to be in the 40's tonight), so we are going to enjoy the cooler weather!

The next two weeks we are doing a Backwards Planning unit on Fairy Houses and Forts. It's going to be fun!

Here's what you might have missed this week at Journey to Excellence:
Our James Whistler artist study
Some CUTE homeschool t-shirts (you can win some, too!)
More details about our Penguin resources

I am linking up with:
Weekly Wrap-up @ Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers
Favorite Resource This Week @ Learning All the Time
Collage Friday @ Homegrown Learners


  1. Definitely a GREAT week, Nicole! The kids are look like they have a blast! Those penguins are adorable!

  2. Grace loves The Brady Bunch too. For a while we were watching a bunch of episodes through netflix but haven't watched any in a couple of months. I remember as a child coming home from school and watching The Brady Bunch on TBS. Fond memories. I love how you are implementing nature into your week like we read about in the book club.

  3. Another awesome week, and an awesome unit Nicole! I love that your dog went on the Merry Go Round too. Oh, and I love the Brady Bunch - I need to find out when it is on so Nolan can watch it.

  4. Fun learning going on here! The Brady Bunch is still my absolute favorite. Thank you for sharing.

  5. I got tired just reading your post! :-)

    I like the idea of a unit study week...

  6. We like to do unit-only weeks, too. I'll plan them for holidays, when the public school in our area is on break, and during the whole month of December. They are fun but can still be very busy and filled with learning! It really looks like you had a wonderful one. We did a penguin unit last year (Mr. Popper's Penguins from Homeschool Share) and loved it.

    I love your nature Fridays!

  7. Oh the Brady Bunch! I need to remember that for when we are looking for something new to watch...what fun!

    It looks like a FULL week :) The penguin unit sounds great, and the Sea World resources seem like a super find. Thanks for linking up at Favorite Resources.

  8. The penguin unit study sounds like so much fun! We also LOVE the Brady Bunch and DVR all the episodes! It still is fun to watch after all these years! :-)

  9. Love Eli's "thumbs up" on the food web!!!


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