Inventors Unit

Grace asked for a sketchbook so she could draw and write down her inventions. Of course I found one immediately and she got to work. Here is my favorite that she came up with, a flying house. She spent a very long time explaining to me how it works.

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This led me to a unit on inventors. In hindsight, it may not have been the best idea because she stopped coming up with her own inventions once she started learning about inventions that already exist. But I have a feeling she’ll come back to the journal and start inventing again in no time.

I started off by asking them what was God-made and what was man-made, or nature vs. inventions that someone came up with. We played with Tinker Toys quite a bit during this unit, and of course watched the movie Mr. Peabody and Sherman. (One of their favorites!)

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And no unit on inventors is complete without a box of random recyclables, odds and ends to turn into treasures.

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Grace wanted the inventor box all to herself, so Joy got to build with marshmallows and toothpicks. Most of the marshmallows ended up in her belly.

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We worked in a little bit of hands-on math, and some spelling / fine motor / math combination work.

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Oh, and we had a day of snow!

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Grace also decided she wanted to sort her perler beads by color. This project is still going on. Why do we own so many perler beads? Sigh. (She actually said to me, “this is the best craft project we’ve done in a long time!” She likes to be organized.)

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Grace and I also got to see Wild Kratts Live with some friends! Oh this was great! (And sort of ties into our inventor unit, since they come up with creature discs. Right?!) We didn’t know about the show until tickets had been on sale a while, so our seats were literally in the very top row! That didn’t stop Grace from shouting out answers as loud as possible. If Wild Kratts come near you and you’re a fan, I would definitely recommend going.

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What phonics time looks like around here – me in a chair with two people on my lap while the oldest one reads.

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I really prefer our Spielgaben set for math (it’s so hands-on, and they learn practical uses for things as we go) but this Khan Academy app was free and has TONS of lessons on it, so I thought we’d give it a try. Grace asks to play her “math game” all the time – it keeps track of progress, and you can earn points and badges as you go. It isn’t our primary math curriculum, but it’s good practice when she wants to “play” on the iPad. I’m not about to tell her it’s homework.

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We also had some fun with our Snap Circuit Jr. set! Grace loves building with this and watching things work.

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My husband, the civil engineer (in his plaid pajama pants) got in on the fun and had Grace find things around the house to see what was a conductor – spoon, aluminum foil, check. PVC pipe and a shoe, nope! She loved this.

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One of our favorite activities is playing with Magna-Tiles on our (sad little) light box. Grace got this out all on her own, and Joy played some too but I don’t think I snapped many pics of this.

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And back to the Snap Circuits – these really are great!

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We also taught the kids a very modified way to play Yahtzee. Grace kept score. They loved this also and we have played quite a few times in the last couple of weeks.

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And of course we utilized the library. Here are the books we borrowed – some of them were just too big for the girls, but we still enjoyed looking at the pictures. I’m putting a star next to our favorites, and two stars next our VERY favorites, which were probably read five times a day over these two weeks.

Book list:

Ben Franklin and the Magic Squares by Frank Murphy
Electrical Wizard by Elizabeth Rusch
Who Were the Wright Brothers?
George Washington Carver by Gene Adair
Ferris Wheel! by Dani Sneed
Thomas Edison: National Geographic Kids
Who Was Leonardo da Vinci? by Roberta Edwards
Always Inventing by Frank Murphy
What Makes the Light Bright, Thomas Edison by Melvin and Gilda Berger
*Marvelous Mattie by Emily Arnold McCully
*Balloons over Broadway by Melissa Sweet
The Boy who Loved Math by Deborah Heiligman
If I Built a House by Chris van Dusen
**The Boy and the Airplane by Mark Pett
**Violet the Pilot by Steve Breen
Always Inventing by Tom L. Matthews
**How to Bicycle to the Moon to Plant Sunflowers by Mordicai Gerstein
On a Beam of Light by Jennifer Berne
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
What’s the Big Idea? by Helaine Becker
How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning by Rosalyn Schanzer
Girls Think of Everything by Catherine Thimmesh
*Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
**Papa’s Mechanical Fish by Candace Fleming
Now & Ben by Gene Barretta
The Wright Brothers by Russell Freedman
First to Fly by Peter Busby

And now we’re on to penguins and Antarctica!

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