Above and Below the Pond

We decided to head out to investigate at a local nature center today! It’s finally warm out and we’ve been reading about pond ecosystems above and below the water. So, what better way to spend the morning than seeing and exploring what we’ve been reading about!

These are some of the books we’ve been taking a look at:

0505151236We were able to see turtles, wild flowers, fish, skate bugs, owls and geese.0505150956

Luke wondered if this was a vanilla bean flower?!

Luke wondered if this was a vanilla bean flower?!

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Two character that were very entertaining!

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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!

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

 

African Adventures

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African Elephant Chalk Drawing

This week we are exploring the animals of Africa as requested by my youngest.  We are reading and viewing a couple of animals a day to learn more about the animals and their behaviours and the geography of Africa.

Today the boys began their day setting up some new and old race tracks and did some video recordings of a car being chased by a boulder. They worked together for a few hours, getting new angles filmed and action scenes were reconstructed as ideas were thought of!

IMG_20150121_083116_963IMG_20150121_090339_228 This was an activity with no end! They are still at it 3 hours later!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_20150121_084656_246After reading about Lions and Cheetahs today. We viewed some pictures of Ndebele house paintings. The people of southern Africa are famous for colorful, geometric designs painted on their houses. Traditionally they used homemade fingerpaints to decorate and believed this type of painting created a connection between the past, present and future.

Using card stock , permanent markers and pastels, the boys each designed their own painted houses! The book Amazing African projects seen here is a great resource!

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Creating Creative Thinkers

It’s been awhile since I have made an entry on our homeschooling days, mostly because I wanted my focus to be in the moment and not behind the camera and due to the fact that our computer was temperamental for a while!
Anyway, when I started this year of schooling my goal was to get some creativity going! I started to read a lot about Waldorf and was drawn to the creative side of this method. I love having a MLB- main lesson book, where the children draw out images from the main lesson being taught at the time. I directed this for a while to get the habit and thoughts rolling, and this week it finally took off and the boys asked me, yup, they asked me to draw from the story we are reading, which is The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.

I went out and got them each a daily journal to write in or doodle in each afternoon as we close out the “school” day, they have embraced it and I’m mostly implementing this because I want them to be free thinking, creative, and most importantly seeing and observing from their entries and illustrations what they are internalizing and taking away from each lesson personally. Fingers crossed this is our new path and it will continue to grow from here. I also love that they are naturally incorporating writing, spelling, math and fine motor development as well as critical thinking skills!
Here are some documentations they made this week:
IMG_20150108_095717_354In chapter 3 and 4 Milo, the main character visits Dictionopolis and ends up in a word marketplace, where one can buy words or letters that are for sale.

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My oldest loves Tock, the dog and created a drawing of the character from the cover of the book.

IMG_20150113_142511We are also studying Ancient Greece this week and did a Waldorf inspired watercolor painting, First we drew pencil lines for a guide in creating the depth and then worked counter clock wise adding in the rainbow of colors only using primary colors and let/used the water “mingle” and blend and create the secondary and tertiary colors.

Journal entries after watching a Minecraft video set in an Ancient Greece mod on Youtube. They each wrote the three minecraft tools they like the most and why.

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Map of Ancient Greece and an animal drawn using detail by my youngest 😉

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Microscope Invention- sunlight, mirrors and beautiful reflections!

Our Science Unit Block is currently the Invention of the Microscope and it’s uses. We began our study reading a few pages in our book titled, Inventions That Shaped the World ;The Microscope by Christine Peterson.

It took many generations and a lot of trial and error to build the first microscope! They first had to understand how light, vision and magnification worked together.  Philosophers such as Pythagoras looked for the source of light. Is is a particle or a piece of solid material or is it a kind of moving energy? Aristotle suggested light moves in waves, suggesting that light waves flow in straight lines until something blocks their path.

So, let’s have some fun experimenting with light and movement and colors!

We headed out to our porch, luckily there was a little area of sun shining on it! We set down several containers filled them with water and then added small round mirrors, just like a microscope. We figured this must have been part of an earlier trial by scientists, as they discovered how light reflecting on a mirror doesn’t exactly show you bacteria, cells and organisms, however before the microscope could be built, one would have to experiment with light and water movement/ distortion- all important information!

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Our pans filled with water, and small mirrors.

Observed mirror and water reflection on the celing.

Observed mirror and water reflection on the ceiling.

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What happens when we add distortion?

Now lets play with light and color!

Can you see the distortion more clearly and how the water settles back down?

(This was our favorite part! So pretty!!) The boys added food coloring to the water and made up their own combinations. One great observation we made was, that in the green pan only the mirror showed that the water was purple and the rest looked brown?! 😉 (wink, wink)

Let's add colors!

Let’s add colors!

Beautiful Blue!

Beautiful Blue!

Orange!

Orange! Look at the rays!

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