Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Ten Easy Ocean Diorama Crafts

Easy Ocean Diorama Crafts For Kids

This was another fabulous fun filled activity done with friends! We gathered over a three week period, each time for close to a full day and immersed ourselves in all things to do with Ocean Life!

As always each adult/family prepared activities and this time crafts to go along with our activities, covering a myriad of Ocean dwelling creatures. As we worked our way through the creatures, learning some pretty cool things along the way we captured them in the form of a simple craft.

The grand plan was to create a diorama to house them in. All of the kids also have a massive lapbook showing all of the cool stuff they learned but I wanted to show you inside our diorama's, they were so simple and tackling them this way made the task very doable.

The majority of the crafts are all very self explanatory, here a picture really does tell a thousand words. Our egg cup Jellyfish! The kids painted their egg cups, some added googly eyes and for tentacles we used ribbon tape, hot glued to the inside of the egg cup.

This little guy, our resident deep water Dragon Fish, was found via Google, although I can't find the link now that I want to share it with you. The original was made from a toilet paper roll, but that was simply too large for our project.

Here we cut a piece of card, rolled it to form a tube roughly 1cm in diameter and 4cms long. His tail and fins are tissue paper, crumpled for the tail and folded accordion style for the fins. Add some googly eyes (every ocean creature simply must have googly eyes) and a bead attached to a piece of craft wire for his little dangly thing.

Our cute little Green sea Turtle, once again an egg cup carton craft. His body is made of one single piece of craft foam. Far too fiddly gluing on seperate head and feet pieces. I simply drew the body shape by hand, using his 'shell' as a guide for sizing. Once I was happy with it, I traced the body several times for all of the kids.

Again, held together using a hot glue gun. This is a must for creating a project like this one. Makes the job so much easier and holds everything together nicely.

One of the mums had the cool idea of adding a whale to the background of the diorama. Here she searched google and found a simple colouring page template, they look very cool inside the finished piece.

The little egg cup crabs are delightful and each of the kids came up with their own spin on them as you can see in the images at the end of the post. Pipe cleaners, egg cartons, paint and of course googly eyes. Really couldn't be simpler.

Our Octopus, gave us a bit of challenge, when it came to attaching him to the box of the diorama. Until some one came up with the neat idea of hot gluing him straight to the top. He is simply a small styrofoam ball, painted, with pipe cleaner tentacles and don't forget the googly eyes lol!!

No ocean is complete without Sea Anemone's. Ours are a little on the largish size, you get giant one's way down below, don't you?! I was very concerned that this little craft was going to be a flop with the group, simply paints, fluffy pipe cleaners and half styrofoam balls, they loved it and thought it was a pretty cool looking anemone!

Whilst all the crafts are oh so easy, these are simply so simple that we nearly overlooked them. Twisted pipe cleaners on a pencil for seaweed or funky coloured coral. Glued to the base of the box with the trusty hot glue gun.

I grabbed a pack of cheap green kitchen scourers for this one, the kids cut them up to make another variation on seaweed.

Mr Lego Lover added this neat looking eel to the pool of ideas. Two pipe cleaners twisted together and the addition of eyes is all you need.

Whilst all of the diorama's had very similar creatures housed within they all have their own distinct style depending on who created them. Master 11 painted his ocean floor yellow and added glitter to it for an extra sparkle.

Master 5 brought his ocean floor right out to the edge (the lid is underneath) of the lid. Everything is glued in place though so he can still put the lid on the box for easy storage.

Miss 9 chose the authentic effect of raiding sand from the sand pit to complete her ocean floor.

This really was a fabulous exercise, it was quite involved and we spent a fair amount of time learning about and completing mini books on all of the animals, but working together with other families simply took any of the hard work out of it. I personally only prepared for 3 of the ocean animals yet the kids have an awesome looking diorama and a lapbook brimming with all of the fun info they covered!

This exercise really reminded me that we might be homeschooling but we certainly don't need to be doing this all on our own.

Crafts / Handiwork Ideas and Tutorials

Friday, August 16, 2013

Backyard Fairy Homes

I can take absolutely no credit for these whatsoever. They are completely 100% a project that was initiated by the kids, worked on by them for hours and across days. There was so much focus and co operation with these that I couldn't bare to drag them inside to do book work. Isn't that the stuff childhood is made of!

No one came inside to ask for bits and bobs, they simply found random items in the backyard and the nature strip behind our place. 

So without further adore I invite you to explore our backyard Fairy Village.

This is Little Surfer Dudes, he's recently turned 5. He chose a small bush to build his home against so the fairy would have more space to explore.

His offerings, a small rock table covered with moss and a gorgeous mini fairy bowl, that I believe his big brother assisted him with. This looks like the perfect fairy gathering place to sit around together and enjoy a meal.

On a slightly larger scale is Fairy Princess' (9) home. This home has two distinct areas, the open outdoors retreat offers a comfy place to relax with an abundance of flowers,leaves and mossy carpet. The fairies even have delicious cherry tomatoes, picked fresh from the garden, to feast upon.

The second area of the home has a solar insulated roof to ensure those little fairy bodies are kept warm at night. But get this, they even have a swimming pool, yes a swimming pool, purely for their leisure. We just won't discuss the fact that it is one of my tuppeware containers now will we ;-)

This is Lego Lover's creation, his includes a small side cave with an incredibly steep slide. Oh what fun the fairies must have on that each night!

This home has quite a high drop off, so he has made sure to fence the edge so no one falls over. Once again plenty of offerings for the wee fairies.

These creations all happened on a regular school day. In fact I was inside getting organised for the day ahead, whilst they were all outside building and creating. I simply could not tear them away from their dedication of the task, they literally spent hours out there creating, making modifications, adding bits and pieces.

A day well spent in the life of a child!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Swan Nesting

This is such an exciting piece of nature study for us!

Seriously I have never seen anything quite like it. We are so blessed, not only have we been able to witness the nesting of a pair of Black Swans, we've also met a lovely new to homeschooling family to study them with! And even better still their children are nearly the same ages as our younger two, don't you love that :-)

Anyway, back to the swans. Here they in full public view having built their nest at the far side of a large pond situated at the back of a park and playground area. So it certainly isn't a quiet spot for them that's for sure!

Everyone was mesmerized for quite some time just watching the swan protecting those eggs like her life depended on it. We were all quite surprised as to how close we were allowed to get to the nest. And the size of the nest, did you see it, it's huge!

They appear to have ripped up several clumping grass/reeds, as you can see in the background of this image and used those to build up the nest. Adding pieces of newspaper and other odds and ends as they find them no doubt.

On this particular day we only caught a very brief glimpse of the eggs, but just the other day our friends saw them in all their glory and there are a total of six. Let's hope that all six hatch and thrive.

We will be checking on these gorgeous creatures regularly and are itching to see some babies, hopefully very soon.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Community Gardens

I've been trying to make a conscious effort to get out and about and explore what our amazing community has to offer. Many of things available have been around for awhile, but we've just never made it along to them.

Our local Community Gardens is one such place. I have watched this area transform over the past few years and every time we drive past I make a mental note to stop by there and have a look.

It took meeting a new homeschooling mum that attends the garden activities regularly to give me that nudge I needed :-) 

The volunteers that participate here have been really putting in huge amounts of effort over the years. The gardens are flourishing and brimming with a wide variety of produce.

Gardening for Kids
When we visited, the regular kids fun time was happening. This week, they helped to transplant seedlings to be sold at an upcoming community fair, they mulched a newly planted garden bed and helped to dig out another new garden bed.

They even got the opportunity to do a little harvesting and tasting. This Kohlrabi, new to all of us, was most definitely enjoyed though. For me it's a cross between an apple and a radish.

We are all looking forward to our next visit to the Community Gardens. If you are nearby, stop by and have a look!

Do you participate in your local community garden area? Let me know if you do, I'd love to hear more about it.

Friday, July 26, 2013

C is for China (Ancient)

Ancient China Activities For Kids

So we've found ourselves at the point in history with SOTW at Ancient China. We thought it might be a nice idea to try and spend a little more time on this period and so joined forces with a few others to accomplish this.

Our themed country days have been working really well so we simply took the same guidelines and used them for our Ancient China Day. Each family brings along an activity to cover with the group. We decided on one day only, even though we could've easily spent a great deal longer on this. I for one learned an amazing amount about this period in time, so was very pleased with the outcome.

As a group our main goal is for exposure, I don't have my kids memorise lists of names, places and dates, the more we read, talk and do activities on these topics the more they naturally memorise them anyway, because they are making the connections.

Ancient China Lapbooks

From the Great Wall, to Silk, The Mongols, a myriad of inventions, the Terracotta Warriors and the amazing people themselves there is such a vast amount of information you could cover with this topic.

All of this was one big group effort, many hands really do make light work and I love how easy it is to pull together a great unit for the group when you only need to focus on one component of it.

I chose the topic of Silk, we, of course talked a little about silk worms, we read a couple of the Silk Legends  and talked briefly about the early beginnings of silk trade. The kids loved this Mythtory clip I found on You Tube.

Ancient China Books For Kids

I always try to do more reading on the topic both prior and after group days like these. I thought I'd share the books we used in addition to SOTW and the chapters covering Ancient China. I also thought I'd show you inside some of them, I know I love to see a page or two inside a book before I commit. Can never judge a book by its cover.

This was a second hand book sale purchase so for $1 definitely a great buy!

It covers all major areas of day to day life in Ancient China, such as birthdays, dinner time, getting dressed, inside a home, live in the country/city,

travel and transport, going to school, festivals and ceremonies and getting married. My kids were very wide eyed with the ages of marriage in Ancient China, boys were 20 and girls were a mere 15 years old! They really couldn't contain themselves when we discussed the topic of arranged marriages.

A lovely Chinese folk tale, filled with gorgeous illustrations. "When the Emperor is taken prisoner, only his tiniest daughter's courage and a little help from her kite can save him."

We all enjoyed this story, we felt tremendous sadness for the Djeow, whom no one thought of ever, but it wraps up nicely with Djeow taking her rightful place within the family. A shame that she had to do something heroic so her father would love her though.

From the book cover, With lavish illustrations and a highly informative text, The Silk Route traces the early history of the silk trade. From Mulberry groves of China to the marketplace of Byzantium and explores how two of the worlds greatest empires were brought together, forever opening the channels of commerce between East and West.

This is quite in depth for a 'picture book' but is perfect for a middle primary school aged child.

Ok so the Story of Silk is actually set in Thailand, it does reference early China and in fact the first couple of pages are devoted to that.

This is a very thorough account of silk, the silk worm and silk production, with some stunning photographs.

From the book cover, The Emperor's Silent Army features more than forty full colour photo's that showcase the terracotta troops. A vivid and engaging text tells all about the army as well as the extraordinary story of the man who commanded its creation, the ruthless and tyrannical first emperor of China.

There is so much to learn in this book and the photographs are amazing. The next best thing before seeing the soldiers for real.

This book I grabbed a couple of years ago in a book store throw out sale because the cover was damaged. However that was the only damage. I truly love these bargains this is fabulous book with a large amount of information

A large pop up image on each page and a few other small pop ups as well. The kids have spent a considerable amount of time pouring over this book.

Turning the pages, talking about the images and wondering what life would've been like in Ancient China. I've struggled to find much online about this book, all I can really tell you is that it is published by Hinkler Books and the author is Peter Riley.

This day was a fabulous jumping off point for Ancient China, we truly could've spent a great deal more time on this era, however we decided to move on. I know we will revisit Ancient China again in the future where we will have the opportunity to build upon everything we covered during this time.

Useful Links

My Pinterest Board for Ancient China

Early Silk Trading in cartoon format. This short you tube clip is great for the kids

Crash Course History: The Silk Road and Ancient Trade. Slightly longer clip and probably more suited to the older child.

Ancient Lapbook on Homeschool Share

Ancient China Lapbook Dynamic 2 Moms

Squidoo Lens on Ancient China

Powerpoint Presentations and More

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