Introducing Michelangelo to Kids



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Leading the Child

Our weekend was filled with exploration! 

It started with an announcement: “We are going to learn about the famous artist Michelangelo.”  

And then the questions:  “Michelangelo??”  “Ninja Turtles??”

I saw those questions coming.  Frankly, they were great opportunities to introduce key vocabulary like

  • Renaissance
  • sculptor
  • artists


We spent the morning watching kid friendly you tube videos about Michelangelo. I found some great biographies!

Letting the Child Lead

We also veered a tad to answer questions about the Renaissance period itself.  Christopher Columbus was mentioned. PJ has a wonderful pop-up book about Christopher Columbus that I read to him.  “The Voyage of Columbus In His Own Words” has quotes from the journal of Columbus.  It allowed PJ to see how people dressed and spoke during the period Michelangelo lived.

We searched for Michelangelo’s art work.  I focused on the works that most interested PJ.

  • Sistine Chapel
  • Pieta
  • David

Looking at various artwork by Michelangelo was extremely helpful in teaching PJ to recognize the famous artists artwork!!  This upcoming week we will most likely ‘play’ with pictures of Michelangelo’s artwork in a sensory bin, investigate pictures with a looking glass, or discover a tray filled with pictures of art…or maybe all three depending on how interested PJ is.

First, we talked about the various biblical paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  

On day two, we discussed the material (marble) the statue David was made of and how very difficult it was to carve out.  Day two was a Sunday so we recovered one of his favorite stories from the bible “David and Goliath” by pulling out his sticker book.

I told PJ how long it took Michelangelo to finish these three pieces.  PJ was very interested!

Since we are learning biblical stories for lent, I thought it would be a good idea to invite PJ to paint his own pretend chapel.

We learned that Michelangelo actually painted the Sistine Chapel standing up rather than lying on down.

To make a pretend Chapel, I used wrapping paper taped to our porch corner.  I made two walls and a ceiling for him to be under.  You could see the pattern right through the underside of the paper but he loved it!!



I also made this paint easel out of heavy card stock for him to authenticate the experience of what it must of been like to be Michelangelo!



Then I invited him to paint like Michelangelo!  




PJ painted the ceiling of his chapel with acrylic paints.  He painted clouds (heaven) and the sun.

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He was experiencing what it must of felt like for Michelangelo to paint above his head.  After 20 minutes  PJ started to paint the walls of his pretend chapel.

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PJ surprised me by painting stories of the bible like Michelangelo did without my leading him to!  He painted the crucifixion,  Jesus walking on water, and the birth of Jesus.  Now I know what to focus on during lent.

































Although PJ will be doing extensions of homework and working on academic goals after school,  I’m thinking of ways to include Michelangelo.  

  • Formulating and writing complete sentences – Facts about Michelangelo
  • Addition/Subtraction math facts- using a printable the has fun art graphics
  • Speech- matching and labeling artworks, 
  • Fashioning a puzzle from magazine clippings of Michelangelos work
  • Making a time line of  Michelangelo’s life
  • Using the fore mentioned ideas- Montessori artist tray, a sensory bin, ect.


Im very proud of my son!  He has already learned the definition of  many new vocabulary words like sculptor and artist. Though he can’t pronounce “Michelangelo” or “sculptor” well he does a great job of describing both!!  In just one weekend he has asked dozens of questions like “Does this look like God?”  and “Michelangelo wear shoes?”

Are you covering Michelangelo this month?  Let us know how in the comments below!


Thank you for reading,

Crystal 🙂




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Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy Book Craft


Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy Book Craft










Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy Book Craft for the Monthly Crafting Book Club.

I’m very excited to be a part of this months Crafting Book Clubs book series choice Ladybug Girl! The Ladybug Girl book series is one of PJs favorite set of books that he owns!!

Have you heard of the Ladybug Girl books?

Let me introduce you to our favorites!









Ladybug Girl is an adventurous character who is very active and great at using her imagination!  In this book Bingo, Ladybug Girls dog goes camping with Ladybug Girl and her family.  As she explores their campsite with Bingo, she casts a spell on an old tree wizard, rides a giant turtle rock, and sips tea in a secret garden.  In the mists of their play with mermaids and fairies Ladybug Girl is called into action after Bingo gets lost.  Then, she herself is lost.  How will they find their way out of the enchanted forest?  You will have to read to find out!










Ladybug Girl and Bumble Bee Boy by David Soman and Jackie Davis is the book my son relates to best!  It’s a story about a visit to the park where Ladybug Girl meets up with a fellow classmate.  The two friends want to play together but can’t agree upon what to play .  A common super hero interest is discovered when Ladybug girl asks her friend if he wants to play Ladybug Girl.  Soon, the two are rescuing Bingo from a scary monster, stopping a mean robot from crushing the play ground and more! In this adventure there are 4 total super insect heroes each with their own imaginative powers!!


Monthly Crafting Book Craft

Now comes the fun part.  After reading Ladybug Girl and Bumble Bee Boy (Alot!),  PJ and I did this fun craft together.  

What you will need

  • Broken crayons (yellows, reds, blacks of sorts)
  • Aluminum foil covered baking sheet
  • Preheated oven set at 200 degrees

Thats all you need!

I wanted to build on one of the themes of the Ladybug Girl books and that is to Make the best of what you have.  I think it is important to lead children by example so we used supplies we already had at the house and a little imagination.  Just like Ladybug Girl!!









We gathered all shades of yellow, black, and red crayons.  It’s ok if they are broken.  









Peel the paper from the crayons.  This is great fine motor practice!









I covered a baking sheet in aluminum foil.







I helped PJ fold the foil into inch wide strips.  He made two of these strips.









We turned the foil strips on their sides and formed a ladybug shape out of one strip.  We made a simple oval for the bumblebee shape.  We trimmed the strips length down a bit, too.








We placed the insect shapes on the foil covered cooking sheet and filled them with shades of red or yellow.









The different shades of each color made the final craft so much more beautiful!!  I placed the cookie sheet in the oven at 200 degrees for just a few minutes to melt the crayons.  


We added gray stripes to the yellow bee and black dots to the ladybug last.  Then returned the crayon bits back to the oven to melt but not too long.  Otherwise the colors will run into to each other and not appear to be dots or stripes at all.









It does not take the NEW crayons long to cool.  PJ wanted to peel the foil off.  His craft insects were warm and brightly colored!










They are appealing to the senses..rough on one side from bubbling heat and smooth on the other.  Best of all they are so beautiful don’t you think!?














I REALLY hope we have inspired you to read a Ladybug Girl book soon!

Thank you for reading,

Crystal 🙂

Places I may share with and contribute to:




Practical Mom


Folkmoot Passports and International Celebration

PART 1: International Festival Day


Folkmoot Passports and Cultural Peace Festival





What is Folkmoot??


This is a 10 day celebration of International and Cultural PEACE.  We are so very lucky to have it in our neck of the woods!!  There is a Folkmoot Center and you can read more about that at

Folkmoot Friendship Center



Folkmoot is celebrated in 7 different counties here in the Western North Carolina Mountains..Appalachain Mountains and Great Smoky Mountain National Park.




This festival features international dance, song, and mountain crafts plus food vendors!  The festival is also valued for educating children about internationl cultures and you can read more on it’s Say Hello campaign here at


Our little family attended 2 day long events but the best event of the festival was the International Festival Day. 













There were over 200 international dancers and performers from all over the world!  They came from China, Finland, Poland, France, Peru, Japan, Romania, the Dominican Republic, Ghana, Mexico/US collaboration, and the Eastern Band of Cheerokee Indians!!

Footage of one of the many performing groups we saw dancing…




Thousands of crafts…

Hand crafted glass air plant homes.  PJ knows the value of  sunlit glass as seen in “Pollyanna”. He mused at them for the longest time.











Beautiful glass bottle bird feeders…










This chair.  We have a Reedwood hanging chair for PJ but I am tempted to replace it.

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And a ton of family fun traveling to 12 different hosting communities within the Great Smoky Mountains.

  • Franklin, NC
  • Waynesville, NC
  • Asheville, NC
  • Hendersonville, NC
  • Lake Junaluska, NC


The sights of art, sounds of global music, and smells of tasty treats are just the beginning of our exploration this day.  

COMING UP, go around the world as we share crafts PJ did at the festival (and you can do at home!!) using a Passport.


You can also visit Living Montessori Now for more great activities using Little Passports. 


Thank you for reading,image


Crystal 🙂 






Arbor Day Exploration: Musings of Autism



Arbor Day/ International Day of Forests/ Agricultural Week



As we studied the rain forest trees this week, this cute craft from the past came to mind.   I thought it would be a good time to share it here with Arbor Day coming up this month.  This month is also Autism Awareness Month.  A month that will always be observed in my life and heart.  I love being able to use my blog as a sort of journal for all the things my son and I have done together!  For me, scrolling through this post will be a tearful reminder of how much he has overcome.


(Awaiting Feeding Therapy Team appointment with Occupation Therapist, Neurologist, SLP, and Nutritionist he no longer needs.)


Plus, it is wonderful to have this time to write it all out and share with you.  We have been through so much together but I’ve never had the time to write extensively about it less note taking on his progression.



Though I’ve been writing for a few short months, I have been providing support curriculum for my son going on 4 years now.  During that time PJ was diagnosed with “severe to moderate” autism.  He was 3 years old at a developmental level of  a 3 mo. old infant.



We spent much of our days working on basic skills like learning to sit in a chair (without falling), using whole words to communicate, over coming fears (water, sun light, tastes, textures, sounds ect.), pointing at things when asked a question, and generally tolerating others.

 He and I attended many different types of therapy sessions. Our days of learning were intensive.




Through it all I have tried to keep things as fun as possible.  This he knew as going to “listen”.  He had a blast during Integrated Listening Therapy!   




 Pet therapy for “gentle touch”

image image



Reading dog therapy….
Years of Speech…


Phenomenal Speech therapy I might add…Oh how we miss Phenomemal SLP as I called her!



There was no time left to do things like run a blog with a 40 plus hour 7 day a week learning program and several therapy sessions squeezed in between.  Let’s not over look the hours of meal planning for a special diet or home programs for building tolerance.  These programs are often not spoken about but the most difficult for individuals with autism.


“Going Shopping”    A program that started at 5 minutes of tolerance per trip.  The faithful backpack was a necessity that has since faded out of the trip. So has the shopping cart!

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“Hair Cutting”.   A program to build tolerance so that cutting his hair didn’t “hurt” his ears and head.  Our first cut with electric clippers and a salt tray graduated to a professional haircut.

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“Finger Nail Clipping”.   A program to build tolerance for clipping his nails which I previously could not even do successfully in his sleep.  Now he cuts his own nails!




Now that PJ is catching up to his peers (in the case of science he is ahead) there are very few days of data trials with cards (an additional aide for memory retention), I have more time on my hands.



 4 years old labeling parts of the brain image


Don’t get me wrong.  

Though he has lost a diagnosis of autism, we still have much learning to do.  There are social skills, speech, motor skills to strengthen, and academics in general to work on Afterschool.  But these days CAN be and are now be filled with much more musing over his beautiful personality than wondering what is wrong or what hurts when he isn’t “himself” because he can’t tell me.




 Now there are more moments where he is leading me than in the past during our learning together.   The following activity was one such musing of his curious exploration that led our learning.


Things you will need 

4 pieces of contact paper


washable paint

paint brush

Bottle caps (one for each color of paint your child will         use)



Tape 4 pieces of cardstock paper together at the corners.  Turn the new whole piece of paper over and paint a trunk with sprawling branches.  I helped him do this part but you can let your child complete the task if they are ready.

Arbor Day tree craft


He used bottle caps top side down and dipped in paint to create leaves for his tree.  I remember how much he enjoyed blending the colors of the leaves on the paper.

Arbor Day tree Craft




The finished master piece still hangs on our wall. This year we plan to make one for each season.  Next is summer!
Arbor Day Tree Craft




Now for the fun part!  While the tree craft is drying go outdoors and explore.



PJ took lots samples of tree parts.  He even took samples of things that were growing around trees.

Tree exploration



We explored different types of bark and the insects that live under bark.  I explained vocabulary words, labeled parts, and introduced adjectives as he moved around from tree to tree.  We were at a huge mountain recreational park area.  Tons of variety there!

Tree exploration


He found sticky sap…





and a sapling!  

Finding the sapling that was planted inside an old cut down tree was the best.  It took his exploration on a side trail of internet searches for ways to help the environment by planting trees.  Really, it was the core of what I hoped he would learn about Arbor Day.  We still check on the growing sapling to this day.Tree exploraion




After collecting “tree” items PJ took them how to sort them by leaves, branches, bark, ect.




I left his art along with containers of tree materials out so that it would be accessible to him for a few weeks.  He talked about his tree exploration trips, labeled parts of trees, and matched parts to his craft.



Both PJ and my daughter love reading “The Giving Tree” as much as I do.  This 20 year old copy was one of the first books I bought for his sister.  It is a great book to read for learning about why we need trees and all they give us.  PJ used his craft and tree findings to retell parts of the story several times.  

Tree book and craft extension



I enjoyed watching PJ learn using all his senses for Arbor Day! We smelled the scent of pine and felt various textures.  He was very engaged and remembered lots of new vocabulary.   It was the start of  a new type of independent style of learning ..his way.


How will your child explore Arbor Day this year?    Please comment below.  I’d love to hear about your plans and experiences!


Places I share…

Christian Montessori Network

“>Learn and Play Link Up


Hip Homeschool Moms

“>Hip Homeschool Moms


Teaching Mama

“>Everything Early Childhood Link Up


Preschool and Kindergarten Community Weekly Link Up




Thank you for reading!


Crystal 🙂





Narratives: Making Connections With Text Through Characters


Connecting To Text With Characters….

Character connections dental Health Month



My son and I continued to study Narratives and all its components this Thanksgiving break from school.  


He has lost THREE teeth!! AND now he has a  fourth tooth loose:).  So, instead of learning about The First Thanksgiving ( we can always do that next week, RIGHT.!??),  he and I read this ADORABLE firster chapter-book!  It turned out to be one of our favorite books!  I only wish I had found it sooner for my now grown daughter to enjoy.


AMAZON.COM new or used available!!

     This book has 13 chapters that took us all of his break from school to read.  We took our time and were able to read the whole book two times from start to finish.  This is a great reading comprehension strategy BTW!



If you have been following you will remember I like to use anchor charts when we cover literature at home.   My son just loves the BIG visuals we draw and write out together!!  




     This particular book worked good with a VENN DIAGRAM to compare himself to Pearl, the main character in the book.  The second most important character of course was the TOOTH FAIRY!!


He loves to draw on wrapping paper and I love that he is using his whole body to think!



How are we the SAME?








He wrote new details to compare himself to Pearl after every few chapters.  We used the TABLE OF CONTENTS   to label every new chapter and find the page the chapter started on. 

How are we DIFFERENT?



When the diagram was all filled up we continued to talk about comparing his own tooth loss experiences to Pearls experiences.

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      In the book, Pearl makes a tooth collection box for herself.  (She wasn’t giving that old Tooth Fairy her tooth and that was the rising conflict in the story.)  My son just loved that part and made all kinds of ” Oooh Noo!!”  faces:)    So, we decided to make a paper tooth fairy pillow together to represent that he gave the tooth fairy his teeth.  Post the finished product later…


     He liked the book so much so that I even looked for TOOTH FAIRY PACKS to incorporate into his week off from school.  




3 Dinosaurs- FREE Tooth Fairy Pack ages 2-7

Enchanted Learning- FREE Tooth Fairy Pack


     This book itself has many LETTERS to and from the Tooth Fairy as they two characters were in a fued over a lost tooth.  I took advantage of the books content and we wrote a future letter asking the tooth fairy to keep his next tooth:)  


Here is the link for a letter responding to that request FROM THE TOOTH FAIRY HERSELF!!


More future tooth fairy ideas(:


Mom & Munchkins

FREE PRINTABLE CHECK in case you don’t have the money on hand…

Mom 4 Real


Living 2 Learn

I’m sure I will be reading more books about the tooth fairy real soon, but if you have more ideas to add to this tooth fairy unit feel free to comment!! Love to here from you!


Thank you for reading!

Crystal 🙂





30 Plus Spider Activities for Learning!…Even in Speech

30 Plus Spider Theme Activities….AND How We Used Them!!!



 Wow Wee!!  We have studied spiders in just about every way possible for a first grader to do so!

 AND my son has enjoyed learning with a spider theme so much, that I thought I would share with you all the possible ways to use spiders for a theme study.  So…if you were looking to cover spiders…



     Everyday Afterschool my son has first grade spelling words to memorize.  We practice writing his spelling words in a mock test but also do a hands on activity.  I ended up making my own Spelling Spider Web Art….


Before or I found this hands on activity from….

 A Mom With A Lesson Plan: It’s A Spider Web Spelling Word Search!!!!  


We wouldn’t get very far if we didn’t include reading in his spider theme.  He loves, loves, loves, books! And after a search for reading practice at home I found..

We have made lots of printable books together in the past.  

Even if your children aren’t ready to read chapter books they may still enjoy listening to the classic “Charlotte’s Web”.  My son is still enjoying our study in this book (2 weeks later!) with the many activities I found here:

  • One Extra Degree has a Charollet’s Web Unit Study and FREEbie!
  •  I loved using This Reading Mama’s homeschool experience about FACT or FICTION with Charollet’s Web.  We also used these books below (plus tons of others!) to label fiction from nonfiction, compare and contrast spiders with a Venn diagram, fill in a Can/Are/Have chart and an Know/Want to know/Learned chart..
****NO NEED to see disclosure. There are no affiliate links here but I’m working on it;)



     My son is covering addition and subtraction of  double digits.  We also reviewed more/ less than for mathematic language.  Gotta learn those word problem terms!

  •    You can try my activity for Addition/subtraction with spiders HERE.  It also has a more/less than activity version.
  • I included The Imagination Tree Incy Wincy SPider Counting Activity Resource Pack  in this round up because it was a good resource for Firsters in beginning levels of math.
  • Tiny Tots Adventures has a hands on craft to Practice Number Words.
  • 3 Dinosaurs Printable Packs!!  This needs a category all it’s own!
Warming up with the most adorable spider web number sequencing 11-20 Puzzle! 3 Dinosaurs
Using 3Dinosaurs packet to write facts from the nonfiction spider books we read.
Using 3Dinosaurs packet to write sentences about the fictional spider books we shared reading. 3Dinosaurs
More sentence practice about spiders and fictional books.
More sentence practice about spiders and non fiction books. 3 Dinosaurs
He really enjoyed using the addition printable!
He really enjoyed using the addition printable!
Thumbs up! He used this addition practice printable so many times that he had it he last problem memorized. Hence Thumbs Up!!:)
Thumbs up! He used this addition practice printable so many times that he had the last problem memorized. Hence, he did not have to count it out and we gave each other the thumbs up:) 3Dinosaurs (the numbers are taken from previous The Afterschool House activity and used to help with writing reversals)

  If you haven’t tried her printable packs you are missing out on some of the CUTEST graphics and best all around learning out there!!  We used her FREE Bat & Spider Pack over and over again!!  As you can see above, my son had no problem maintaining attention to tasks in almost every subject.  And the best part about the packs are you can choose your child’s level and practice subject!  (Yes, there are printable s for writing, math, reading, shapes, letters, you name it!) She has each printable labeled so that you can pick and choose BEFORE you download!!


   My son likes science almost as much as he likes books..almost.  He particularly likes life science: ants,bugs,life cycles, ecosystems, plants, water, eggs, babies, and the like.  The best place to explore all these things are outdoors.  So we hunted for spider webs on walks and tried to collect one that turned out too dainty for the task.  Maybe you will have better luck at finding a hardy web with the link below..

  • We worked for several days on this FREE Spider Lap Book from Preschool Powol Packets.  

    We rainbow colored the parts of the spider then drew lines to the matching label/name of the part . A variation from Preschool Powol Packets.
  • To match the parts of the spider to each name of the parts he and I studied and talked about it using these SPIDERS at  This is a fantastic step by step way to label spider body parts!image
  • He wasn’t quite ready for all the printable s in the lap book so I added this life cycle of a spider in addition to the one that comes with the lap book.  We cut The Life Cycle of a Wolf Spider from into puzzle pieces and practiced putting it together several times.  Then we glued it into place on the back of the Lap Book.


  • We studied 4 unique spiders: 2 poisonous spiders the black widow and brown recluse, a wolf spider, and the orb spider family.  This link was one he was uber fascinated by.  It’s a posting of a mama wolf spider caring her babies on her back! EEK!!
  • My son is a super visual thinker!  We utilize you tube for learning extensions in all subjects.  Videos also help bring it home so to speak by repeating what we have already learned in reading or listening to books.  Many times I read a book then find the video reading of the same book and read it again.  I didn’t share a link to those we used for his spider study: There were too many!  


LOTS AND LOTS of writing was done after reading, you tube videos, and  before we started the spider study.  I made a couple of charts using the back of wrapping paper to compare and contrast spiders with him.  I did the same for a K/W/l chart before we started diving into books.  He wrote sentences (above) about facts he learned.  I asked him to recall stories from ficiotional books using a story map.  We wrote spelling words on Spider themed paper and paused videos to jot down key points about spiders..I used different types of paper to keep things interesting. 

3 Dinosaurs  Bat Spider Pack was perfect for sentence practice! (See above)


School Time Snippets has a FREE Spider Verb Noun Sort that we have been working on repeatedly.   NOTE****  If your child uses picture cards or PECS try this with your cards!


  • Speech Peeps is still keeping us busy with an introduction to Synonyms WHICH HE IS JUST LOVING!!!! This Synonyms Spider Craft And Activity is oodles of fun!  This doubles or maybe  triples! for Speech, sentence practice, and language arts!!
  • Playing With Words 365 has an ‘Sp’ prodution at the word level GAME.  We aren’t working on Sp articulation but if you have a spider theme going on you can sub your own sounds at different places in words, phrases, or even reading within text.  

We will be having this kinda spider speech fun from SLP Mommy Of Apraxia well into November!

MORE HANDS ON ACTIVITY FUN…..In between the other fun spider learning of course!

  • Oh, he had a very hard time containing the hardy laughs (he can have a deep voice), YEAH’s!, and general ants in the pants when we played this with our neighbors!!! Thanks Frugal Fun For Boys for your  Back Yard Games Spider Launch.  NOTE****we used this to practice spelling words as well.  Neighbors are also classmates. No pictures. Things were going little boy fast!
  • 123Homeschool4me has a totally “Fly”Glow In The Dark Spider Web! Did you like what I did there;)  Here we are trying our hand at it. Our web is still drying….

    “Fly” Glowing Spider Web
  • If you looking for more Spider Crafts Coffee Cups And Crayons is a good place start.  We are using some for Halloween decor. 


We have done done various color wheels but we have yet to use glue and glitter to make a color wheel.  Artsy Momma has a beautiful design for that HERE.

There you have it!! Tons of stuff to have a memorable time learning about spiders like we did!!!!



Thank you for reading!

Crystal 🙂







Spelling Spider Web Art

Spider Spelling Art


     This week my son has been studying SPIDERS.  All week I will be posting fun activities that we have used and will be doing afterschool!  


    The first of each week he has a new spelling list sent home from school.  I’m always on the hunt for new ways to practice spelling and occasionally I come up with an idea of my own.  See here what we did?!

To do this spelling craft you will need..

  • A large piece of poster board
  • Several sizes of circular containers ( I used 2 glasses, a plate, and a medium Tupperware bowl)
  • washable finger paint
  • pencil or gray maker for the color of the web
  • juice bottle lids
  • googly eyes for the spider optional
  • paint brush is instead of marker for the spider legs is optional but can add fine motor practice!!
  • paint for the spider bodies

Make a simple spider web design on the poster board by drawing a cross in the center.  Second, draw an “X” to make a pizza cutting pattern.  I used a pencil just in case I needed to erase then went over it with gray marker. 

Sample from Spider Web Math AND 3 Ways To use It!

Start tracing the outer edge of your smallest container first.  Draw a portion of a circle from one of the pizza cut design lines to the next.image

Keep drawing the curves using the container and at an angle so that your web continues to circle around.  You will reach a point when you need to use a larger container to trace because the smaller one no longer touches from one line to the next. 


When you have finished circling the web like a spider does! use  your juice bottle cap to make circles randomly around the web.  Make a circle for each letter of every spelling word  your child needs to spell. To give you an idea of how may circles will fit on the web: I made 20 or so spider circles and a few extra for mistakes.

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Now the FUN part!!  Let your child use juice bottle caps dipped in paint to spell their spelling words!  My son first wrote the words (like he would for a spelling test) then he stamp painted them.

Practicing those words.


We talked about types of spiders here. He mimicked the look of the Brown Recluse, Black Widow, and Rainbow Orbb spide. LOVE the way he blended the colors!!
We talked about types of spiders here. He mimicked the look of the Brown Recluse, Black Widow, and Rainbow Orbb spider.  LOVE the way he blended the colors!!

After the spiders dried a bit, I showed him how to paint legs.  You can use a marker for another look like we did here.  He also used a paint brush.  Sneeking in fine motor work where I can. 

His finished masterpiece!!

If you need a few more sensory centered spelling activities here is my goto list for the week:

Check back for more SPIDER activities later this week here at The Afterschool House!


Thank You for Reading!

Crystal 🙂


Leaf Word Families Activity

Leaf Word Family Activity updated…


LEAF Word Family Activies




This post was originally wrote last Fall, but it was such a fun and simple activity I decided to use it again this year.  It’s a wonderful activity to do as a word families or book study extension! 





      At this point into our owl/leaves study we have already completed a few Owl activities and have done a few owl related RED TED ART crafts.  So this is why you see a picture of the owl bird feeder also from Red Ted Art in the above collage.

 My son continues to study word families at school.  There are a lot of word families and this means I have to offer a variety of word family activities every week for everyday practice.  This particular word family activity is super easy to make, offers sensorial learning, and is just in time for fall!!

LEAZf Word Families Activity

 I started with a 1 dollar arrangement of leaves from a dollar store, cut off each individual leaf.  Then I cut each leaf in half (as shown in second picture).

image image

 Just one more step!  Using a dry erase maker, I  wrote his word family for that week on one half of a leaf and simple consonant beginnings on several other halves of leaves.  

Then, he practiced trying different letter sound beginnings for his “it” word family leaf.


 We had been reviewing word families all summer long so he really breezed through the “it” word family reading new words in a matter of a few minutes.   I wrote his previous word family spelling words from school on some other halves of the leaves.  


LEAF Word Family Activity

He practiced blending different beginning sounds with several other word families for review, too.

The  _an word family…

LEAF Word Family Activity

The  _at word family…



This little activity was a good extension of our leaves studies and took less than 5 minutes to prep!  We used the leaves I made all week for spelling practice and sounding out words.  I hope you and your kids enjoy it as much as we did!



Thank you for reading!


Crystal 🙂

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Positive and Negative Leaf Art


Positive/Negative Leaf Art



It occurred to me that my son has yet to do a LEAF RUBBING!  WOW. He is 6 years old. How did we miss that?  Now that he has learned about Leaves and Why Leaves Change Color he was ready to move on to something else to discover.  That something else happened to be a battery powered plastic bottle car ( coming soon!).  While searching for What’s Inside A Battery we both learned a little about positive and negative charges.  Every parent knows when you type in a search phrase ANYTHING remotely related to whatever you are searching for can pop up!  Positive/Negative Art for kids was one of the hits that took us to this activity…

We began with simply sorting our leaf colors according to matching colored construction paper. 

Leaf color sorting.
Leaf color sorting.

Folded each piece of paper in half and cut them where the fold was.


He then chose a leaf for each half piece of paper to make a rubbing of and used his crayons to rub over the leaves..

It was his first leaf rubbing so he had to learn to use the crayon another way.
It was his first leaf rubbing so he had to learn to use the crayon another way.
Easy peasy!
Easy peasy!

So now that he was familiar with leaf rubbings I brought out 2 black pieces of construction paper and a white crayon for him to try the process again.  I taped these two pieces together on the back side and helped him hold the whole thing in place.



In his words “Wow!” The finished art work is hanging on my living room wall.  It is a beautiful piece!!



During this activity, I talked to him telling him just like there is a positive and negative charge for a battery there is also positive/negative art work technique.  We took a picture of his rubbing and used an app to turn it into a negative photograph.

He and I searched a few web sites afterwards about Japanese art.  Here are some we shared reading.

  • Art is Basic has a wonderful example of NOTAN art.
  • Art For Small Hands showed us both how to use Layered scissor pattern for a different type positive/negative art.

He learned through reading with me that different artists became famous using positive/negative art techniques.  

    I plan to sneak in some First Grade writing with these inspirational activities from Buggy and Buddy.

Confessions Of A Homeschooler has made a good lap book if you are interested in learning about Matisse.

Hodge Podge has a FREE printable to use for her activity using pastels, too.  Did you know that the FedEx logo is also an example of Positive/Negative art?? Just look for the arrow! 


Our Own Owl Pinecone Craft

Our Own Owl Babies Pinecone Craft…..

We love RED TED ART!! My son likes to scroll through their gorgeous art projects to find the ones he would like to try.  A week or so ago he and I were doing just that when he came upon their Pinecone Owl Craft.  He chose this one and a new theme was born here at The Afterschool House!  It’s been Owls with every first grade subject for almost 2 weeks now, even in speech!

This is the littlest owl he made. My son fell asleep with it the evening he and I made it.
This is the littlest owl he made. My son fell asleep with it the evening he and I made them.

My son has had a wonderful time these past days learning about owls with his Afterschool work.  So, I thought I’d share how we incorporated the owl theme.

We started of course with the book “Owl Babies” but we didn’t own the book.  Instead he and I watched readings    of this book and many other “cute” owl books geared for his reading compression level.  Here are a few he enjoyed….

This one is more a first reader : “Owl At Home” by Arnold Lobel

After he had his fill of story books we moved on to making the Owl Babies pine cones like this…

The pine cones in this area are very thin, not fat like Fir trees.  We compensated for the three thin cones by attaching them with glue to card stock that I cut out in the shape of  a regular fat pinecone.



Next, my son stuffed all three cones with cotton balls by gluing small pieces of cotton inside and around the cones.  He added two whole squarish looking cotton balls to the tops of the paper to form each owls head.


While the glued cones dried a bit, I traced a dime and cut out yellow eyes using zig-zag craft scissors.


All there was left to do was color in the BIG pupils of the Baby owls. 


Aren’t they CUTE!!!?


We didn’t stop there.  First graders are also expected to be able to write about what they read.  So, we headed to the library to find owl books to read and write about.  Over the summer I created several simple story maps for reading/writing retell  practice, but now he needed a smaller lined owl themed notebook paper. First Graders will learn how to write  nonfiction detail sentences.  While at the library, I printed some Owl themed notebook paper from The Note Booking Fairy.  He then practiced writing and formulating sentences about key details from the books we read together.  The round up of books I’ll save for another post because WE’VE READ ALOT OF OWL BOOKS!!

The Note Booking Fairy's owl pages were perfect for spelling practice prep as well.
The Note Booking Fairy’s owl pages were perfect for spelling practice prep as well.

He also used a few last minute pages I made using his Ipad for even MORE writing practice.  These we used to write about “What Owl’s EAT” and even to make up his own fictional story about “The Tired Old Owl..”imageimage

These activities were originally intended to be wrote nearly two weeks ago (we have been busy owl’s!).  Since then, I’ve discovered my sons interest in owls is going to be a long standing one.  Hence, the next blog “Owl’s For Every 1st Grade subject!”…..Even Speech! You won’t want to miss this one!  Hope to see you there.