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?!

0505150958j

Two character that were very entertaining!

05051509580505150958m0505150958i0505150958f0505150958h050515105405051511080505150958d

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.

0316151013

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

0316151044

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.

0218151153

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:

0218151151_Burst01~2~2

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

0218151122

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)

021815112602181511300218151130_Burst010218151143

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!

0218151132

0218151150(1)

0218151134

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

IMG_20150117_145940_012

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!

IMG_20150121_102211_526IMG_20150121_084927_508

 

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.

IMG_20150108_110510_277

IMG_20150106_110630_412

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.

IMG_20150114_071718_110

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

IMG_20150114_071619_614

 

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!

IMG_20140729_120054_647

Our pans filled with water, and small mirrors.

Observed mirror and water reflection on the celing.

Observed mirror and water reflection on the ceiling.

IMG_20140729_120015_369

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!

IMG_20140729_121611_400IMG_20140729_121921_832

 

Moon and Stars- Natural Rhythms

This week we took a step back and read some Ancient Indian stories called creation accounts for our Social Studies lesson block. They explain how the world began, and how all beings once lived together. We took a look also at recent Scientific evidence and combined the two worlds together for some great discussions!

The first story was called “How Raven Helped the Ancient People” from Brown Paper School USKids History:Book of the American Indians. The boys both enjoyed the account as it was told, that the Raven is a black bird with feathers that were blackened by the smoke of a firebrand.  He was once an eagle who hated people so he kept guardian of the moon, stars and fresh water and fire; because of love for another he put them back, but was tarnished by the smoke while doing so.

As a craft to go along with the story, my oldest designed a bullroarer in his art book. It is a tribal toy from the Pacific Northwest Coast Tribe that was used to call the rain and sounded like the wind. He chose to draw lightening with a thunderbird on it!

IMG_20140714_101722_992 bullroar

moon bookToday, we all read The Moon Book together. They both enjoyed this one as well. We really studied the Phases of the Moon and how it follows a rhythmic pattern. The weekly, Monthly and Yearly cycles/Seasons.

This tied in perfectly with how the Ancient People also followed the Sun, Moon and Stars to calculate the seasons.  Native Americans used a Turtle shell as their first calendars following the pattern of the shell as well as a reminder to keep our hearts close to the Earth so we notice the natural rhythms mother nature shares with us.

turtle

Both boys really loved discovering this pattern that exists in the shell! They are both animal loves and in particular my youngest LOVES turtles! So, I went on pinterest this morning and found this great activity/blog for  the boys to do! On this blog there is also a little story on a the turtle to go along with the calendar.

Here is their own Turtle calendar and they are going to follow the moon pattern for the month to see the rhythm!

IMG_20140715_103142_581

Next, we created some paper stars as part of our newly introduced (what I call Waldorf Wonders) lesson block. I did not have any colored waxing paper, but I think the colorful recycled paper came out just as pretty!

IMG_20140715_112501_089

After a morning of all this creativity, we then concentrated on some workbooks- both did a math page and math activity,  as well as microscope work on Cells.

IMG_20140715_104955_006 I think we’ll relax and watch a movie with lunch next!

Measuring Dinosaurs!

Measuring Dinosaurs!

White board- Math Assoc. and Cumm. addition

White board- Math Assoc. and Cumm. addition

Ocean Treasures

This week was all about treasures in the ocean! The book, Flotsam was the basis of this week’s lessons for my youngest.

CM_flotsam We live in a coastal area, so we had a few opportunities to do some hands-on exploration around town. The boys explored some touch tanks filed with sea creatures just around the corner from us and rediscovered some treasures they had picked up last time we were at the shore.

 

I vowed to myself in starting this new year of school, that I would implement a “loose parts” play one day a week, based on Reggio Emilia.  The boys had a blast creating things just as I’d hoped! You’re never to old to just sit and be creative said my oldest ;).

IMG_20140707_095326_761IMG_20140707_095511_512

My youngest also worked on the letter F this week, both phonics and writing it. He’s been doing really well with recognizing and trying to spell words! Just last week we went to the zoo, when we came home he drew a picture of the zoo and spelled and wrote it all by himself! I was impressed, this was the first time I’ve seen him spell!

IMG_20140630_170641_988

For math we did some counting and graphing using the story to count the fish on each page. He has a new Star Wars math book he loves, and did about 5 pages in it each day too. We measured shells, and counted syllables in ocean words.

IMG_20140707_092323_734

My oldest has a similar theme as we read Mr. Popper’s Penguins together this week. They both are enjoying the story- this is what I love about homeschooling that they share activities and join in on each others topics!

My oldest keeps a sketch pad in which he does copywork and drawings. This week he copied a poem about penguins and drew a snowball fight.

IMG_20140709_122133_426

Together they both share the lessons of Artist and Musician/Intrument of the month. This month we are studying the works of Cezanne and The Beatles and the Violin. We listened to the sounds of the violin, read the biographies of both artists and talked about their work styles- still life and English rock and roll.

IMG_20140708_095045_599

His other studies were sentence types and reviewing multiplication and division. In science, we talked about Classifying living things and getting ready to dive into studying cells next week. The Mayan and Aztecs were part of our history studies and he worked on weaving “God’s Eye” as part of their culture study.

IMG_20140709_133713_683

He’s also gotten back into designing his own video games on 3DRad. He’s teaching himself about coding as he goes! I have no idea to attach it so you can view it?? 😦

 

Well, those are some of our highlights! We’re trying to get a routine down, but it’s hard in the summer with the heat! 😉 Looks like we’ll be focusing on Dinosaurs next week and my oldest wants to do some creative writing!

Camping Unit- Day 1,2, and 3

This week’s Unit study is themed “Camping.”

Language Arts:

Youngest: I focused on the letter “C” as in C is for Camping! I wrote out Camping and Canoe on the white board, and we came up with a verbal list of “C” words. Then it was his turn to practice writing “C” within the square shape. Day 2, we talked about rhyming words and learned the words to the “Moose Song” we found. Day 3, The boys came up with the idea to write a short skit about Owls in the forest.  They found costumes and put on face paint, rehearsed together and put on a little show!  Being the youngest at 4 yrs old.,  he worked on memorization skills!

IMG_20140623_085147_632

We then read ” Just Me and My Dad” by Mercer Mayer, a story about a boy and his Dad on a camping trip. (one we read often)

 

Oldest: My oldest has an art journal we use to combine spelling and art. He likes to draw/paint and the whole process of “writing” goes a lot smoother this way! First, he used watercolors to paint a camping scene as I read Camping Poems to him from “Toasting Marshmallows- Camping Poems” by Kristine O’Connell George.

Once he completed his art, he wrote in this weeks spelling words. We noticed his Bee poem from previously are re-read that poem as well.

IMG_20140623_113625IMG_20140623_113433_828-2

He also worked on Grammar, filling in a Mad-Lib story, titled: A Spooky Campfire.

Day2, He did copywork, copying a poem from the book.

Day 3, He chose to  do some creative writing and wrote/ directed a little skit about Owls in the forest! He did a great job with it, and helping out his little brother!

IMG_20140625_130816_839(1)

Math:

Youngest: I grabbed the bag of Geometry shapes I have and asked him to grab all the triangles (tent shape) and group them together.  He did, and noticed a Hexagon in the pile and then asked to use those pieces too. I said, Let’s stick to triangles for now and after you can use any shape you’d like. He started putting the triangles together and in his eyes, it became The Falcon Millennium! So, we went with it! I asked, how many triangles did it take to make “the falcon millennium?” Five, was the answer- So, I said.. How many total groups of Five did you make? Quickly he replied : “3!” I was impressed! 🙂  Guess I need to “up” his math!

IMG_20140623_092749_044

Day 2, We went to a near by swimming spot and dug holes together. I say this was his math, because he had to keep digging to find the right perimeter to fit himself inside the whole! This is what I consider Living Math at this age/stage!

Day, 3- I took out the package of marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers, and we worked on patterns together. Ex: chocolate, chocolate, graham cracker, marshmallow- repeat! We did this both horizontally and vertically.

Oldest: Going with the camping theme, I chose to focus on Geometry this week, concentrating on Angles. (tents) We have done Angles in the past, but I thought a review wasn’t going to hurt! We watched this great video called, Types of Angles, Suess Song on YouTube. Then we looked for Angles around the house!

Day 2, we took out the white board and drew and measured angles! He really enjoyed it and drew all different degrees to measure with his protractor.

Day 3, we worked in his new math workbook- Math for a Living Education and then watched Cyberchase, All the right Angles.

Social Studies:

Together; both boys looked at a map of the U.S. that had National Parks highlighted.  My youngest, loves maps and looked it over for a while. My oldest, I asked him to pick 20 of them and write down the Park and the State in which it is located in. They got a kick out of few of the names.. I think “Death Valley” was their favorite name..go figure!.

Day2, we all read the story The camping trip that changed America; Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir and our National Parks

CampingTrip

Science:

Together;

We viewed a short video titled, Should we control wildfires? Quick but, very informative! They loved it and learned a lot, now they know, fire can be helpful!

Day3, We took the Marshmallow Challenge! Can we sink a marshmallow??!!

It was very hard! They tried several different ways: poking holes in it, submerging it, tearing them up, and pounding on them! Just as it looked like we were not going to succeed, I read a hint (from Steve Spangler Science)  to break off a small piece and roll it in cornmeal….success! Two marshmallow’s  sunk! Great lesson in Density!

Art:

Youngest: First craft of the day was to mold a playdough canoe and see if we could get it to float in the tub. Next, not on the lesson plan, but, his idea; and it came out awesome was a diorama of a campsite with things from around the house!

IMG_20140623_094250_131IMG_20140623_122054_759

Oldest: Going along with National Parks..I showed him pictures of the Joshua trees, mostly because I think they’re so cool looking! Using tin foil I asked him to try and sculpt similar looking trees! He did a great job, they look neat.

IMG_20140623_113945

Music: We listened to the songs This land is your land, this land is my land! My youngest happened to pick it up a the library the other day- it went perfectly with our unit!