Wood Frog Class!

Now that all the snow has been gone for about a week and a half, the wood frogs nature class was finally a go!

These are some really neat frogs! They dwell in the northern most climates and can shut down their bodies for the winter months and then “bring themselves back to life” in the spring.

At our class today we all headed down to the vernal pool and though the frogs were quiet, we did get to see eggs and some spring growth happening. Liam had learned in the forestry class a few weeks ago that if you count a sprig of pines, you will then be able to name the type of pine tree it came from. Meaning 5 pine needles= a 5 letter word= WHITE- white pine.

counting pine needles

counting pine needles

spring growth- the shape of them caught our eye

spring growth- the shape of them caught our eye

Looking for frogs

Looking for frogs

Observing eggs! About 500 in this picture

Observing eggs! About 500 in this picture

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eggs floating on the surface of the pool

eggs floating on the surface of the pool

Search and you shall Find- free resources!

As I searched around for some new materials on Math, Science and History (The Industrial Revolution) and Sign Language.  I came across some great sites and free downloads!

I was most excited about this science find! We started using them yesterday and will continue using them until we finished along with our nature studies.

They are free download-able textbooks, read and write workbooks with lab books!

McGraw Hill

Middle School Science Texts:

Holt Science & Math textbooks & workbooks PDF

A great history resource find called Digital History entails history from 1942 through 2010, a digital timeline with history for each era; lesson plan ideas, film, music, events and people and virtual exhibits…a a whole lot more!

Other resources I found:

Math: We played on this site yesterday, Geometry and anglesBBC Questionaut it also has English and Science topics.

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Kid- Friendly Inventions for my youngest who says he wants to be an engineer.

Illuminations– great site for math- lessons and interactives- grades: Prek- 12

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Sign Language– We’ve decided to ditch Spanish and learn sign language. This is a great place to begin with videos and games. I know our library also holds many of her DVD’s. It is geared for preschool, but we used it for learning to sign the alphabet and then played the matching game.

Sign Language- Kidcourses

This is an ABC min course- each letter of the alphabet with a rhyme, video and handouts.

Just thought I’d share, enjoy browsing!

I understand this song- Right Brain learning!

What a morning filled with beautiful bird songs(Bird Biology) and a super math suprise gem(Right Brain Math)!

Learning and memorizing multiplication facts has been an ongoing struggle or perhaps a topic of boredom for my oldest. He would rather do fractions and decimals or measurements and graphs- Ahh, all of these are much more “visual” concepts… Now I’m starting to see why this topic was a broken record!

In researching yet another way to get him to memorize and get these down pat in a flash, I discovered:

MisterNumbers Pattern Play Math

A visual and structural approach to multiplication for Right Brained learners! I watched a couple of his videos and thought, WOW! this is so awseome. I signed up for the 3 free worksheets and had him watch the videos and do the sheets along with the video. He looked over at me half way through the video wide-eyed and said- this guy is a genius!

This is what one of the worksheets looks like, but if you’re at all interested watch the video to see the patterns of 3,6,9 times and the 7’s. It’s a simple tic, tac, toe pattern that incorporates all three tables.

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We’ll be purchasing the workbook, it’s not expensive at all! Pattern Play Math-…… You’re playing our song!

Speaking of Songs; Bird Biology was the other highlight of our day! We headed over to The CornellLab of Orinthology to learn all about Birdsong! This was an interactive lesson with 7 steps.

What is a Songbird?

Songbirds learn too

Their reperetoires include songs and calls

Songbirds have local dialects

Songbirds are vocal gymnasts

They sing at dawn

Some sing two notes at once

Birds sing to defend and impress

Here a bird singing? It’s probably a male

After reading through these facts and hearing the Songbirds, we then played Songbirds in action and trained for Bird Song Hero!

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Double sided voice box

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Listen and match the visual

Then before heading outside we did a little watercolor fun art with singing birds!

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Luke’s -Titled “The Bell Song”

Web of Life- Our Homeschool Class today

We headed out to our National Wildlife Refuge for our homeschool program this morning. The topic was called Web of Life an ecology lesson on how everything is connected to each other and is dependent upon one another!

In short, the class topics: (it was a 2 hour class)

The Ranger started with asking the children to color various animals and plants he handed out and then to gather in a circle with their cards.

0224151157_Burst01The sun card went in the middle of the circle, then each child who had a plant went next as they are directly effected by the sun, (string was given to child from sun to plant) then they were to yell out if they had a plant eater,then an animal that would eat the plant eater and so on, as they built and connected the string- it was the visual connection, building the Web of Life!

The Ranger then showed various skulls, taking a close look at the placement of the eyes. Giving the rhyme of “Eyes to the side, like to hide” -( prey ) it gives them a wider field of vision to see predators. They need to be able to see forewards, sidewards, backwards and upwards incase a predator attacks.

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 The children then observed the three ducks, the names of each- The Golden Eye, The Wood Duck and the Merganser.  Then had a lengthy discussion on the shapes and sizes of the bills and why they are built in such a way, especially the Merganser who has a saw like teeth for catching his prey.

0224151149After the classroom session was done we headed out to watch the frogs being fed and did a scavenger hunt in the visitor center. They had a blast, learned a lot and can’t wait for the next classes! Liam loved it so much and walked over to the Ranger and shook his hand, thanked him for such a great time! Before, leaving Luke brought his money and wanted to buy a bird he saw last time. He was so excited and built him a nest to live in once we got home.

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0224151300 Once home each of them did some math on Khan Academy- Luke earned “Geek of the Week” , High Five in Math and Making Progress badges. Liam earned Finger or Toes in Math, Five is Alive and Challenge Accepted! badges;)

One more STEM class this afternoon at the library to go!

Birds of North America- Art & Nature Science project today!

John James Audubon was an American ornithologist, artist and naturalist known for his studies, drawings and paintings of North American birds.

We have been studying his book, The Birds of America, which has over 400 reproductions in it.

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After viewing many of the birds and listening to a biography of Audubon, we started an art project; transparency bird prints!

We used our own Birds of the Northeast book, chose a bird, using transparency sheets, lay it on top of the chosen bird, color with water-based markers and made prints on to white construction paper!

Supplies- bird book, markers, transparency sheets, damp sponge (not very wet at all or maker will bleed!) construction or printer paper

Here’s the steps and the prints:

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Choose a photo of the bird and trace and color in with markers on the clear sheet-

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Try blending as many colors together as possible, when you’re done- dampen the white sheet of paper and press down the transparency sheet (marker side down)

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Carefully lift off and view your print! We did touch up a few areas with the marker to make the image sharper afterwards, but they came out beautifully!

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The never ending Math battle!

Math…..Why is it such a challenge?!

So far this year our choice in math curriculum is going fairly well, The Key to.. series is working out very well for my oldest. He’s enjoying it and it works like a unit study, one topic at a time in depth. However, after being part of a  threaded conversation yesterday, I got to thinking (dangerous, I know) many comments were all about going back to the basics when you see your student starting to struggle.  BTW, it seems MATH is disrupting the harmony in many homes!! Though I don’t see a struggle on his current topic of decimals, I got to thinking – how sound are his basics? how much has he retained on topics we haven’t visited in a while? This was quickly answered when I showed him a few flashbacks and asked if he remembered doing these types of problems. *crickets*

Okay, just as I feared, let’s pause for the next month and do a month of reviews! And, honestly I think I may start doing this every 3 months or so- just a month to review and retain what we know so far.  It’s easy to just move on and follow a curriculum, excited to keep learning new things, but let’s not forget the past! I’m thinking each year I may be putting a review unit into our rotation: Feb., May, Aug., Nov.

Both boys have workbooks, they also work on math concepts on KhanAcademy.org and I try to incorporate manipulatives and games as well.

My plan for the next month is to set up a weekly review schedule on each topic, something like this:

Oldest (5th)- Monday: Multiplication and Graphing, Tuesday: Division and Area/Perimeter Wednesday: Measurements and Rounding Thursday: Fractions

Youngest(prek/k)-Monday: Graphing, Adding/Subtracting Tuesday: Picture Multiplying and Dividing Wednesday: Numberline work and number stories Thursday: Counting to 50

 

The Mystery of Chocolate!

This morning we were up and ready to go on a Chocolate Factory tour with our local homeschool group we just recently became members of. Before heading out I asked the kids if they knew where chocolate came from, and how the process works.

 

They were pretty much familiar with it all, but I had them view this video anyway and I’m glad I did as it turned out- even though we were going as a group, it was self-guided. It was a small room off of the shop that had examples and some machinery to look at and the process from the bean to the bar along the wall to read as we walked up the ramp to the viewing area of the factory. (Not what any of us were picturing) we were thinking a walk through the factory, but it was fun just as well. And, free samples to taste- no complaints! They had many flavors I had never heard of, we took some more home to try- we will be going back to try more soon!

The Hauser Chocolatier

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