Our Homeschool Adventure Blog

Chronicling our adventures as a small homeschool family with mom and dad both as teachers

Archive for the category “Homeschool curriculum”

What about Saturday?

I hope you’ll forgive me for stepping away from homeschooling for just a minute before I jump into that update, but today has me thinking about faith. (Not too long of a side trip, I promise!)

Yesterday was Good Friday and tomorrow is Easter. This time of year we hear a lot about these two days. But I’ve been thinking; what about Saturday? We rarely hear anything about the Saturday between. Different denominations and faith traditions refer to this Saturday in a variety of ways-Holy Saturday, Silent Saturday, Easter Eve. But about the only thing that can be said about this day is that we really don’t know for sure what Jesus was doing on this day. Scripture doesn’t tell us exactly. The only thing we do know is that the followers of Jesus were afraid, worried, sad. Can you imagine what they were thinking, especially the 12 disciples? They had walked away from their lives to follow Christ for the previous three years. They had spent every moment with him, watching him, learning from him. And now he was gone. He was dead. The horrors of Good Friday were over but Easter wasn’t there yet, and they probably had some doubts that it would come. I bet that confusion, questions, and a sense of not knowing what to do next were all common among Christ’s followers on that day.

How many times do we feel that way? We’ve been following Christ. Watching him, learning from his life. Reading his word. We think we know what’s going on, how we’re supposed to be living our lives as his follower. And then Saturday comes. Christ seems very far away, and, suddenly, nothing seems clear anymore.

Maybe you’re feeling that way right now. I certainly know that I’ve been there before. Many times. Maybe you’re trying to decide what to do in a relationship. Maybe a job has just ended unexpectedly. Maybe you sense that God is calling you to do something different, but you just can’t figure out what. Maybe you’re saddened and confused over something that didn’t go the way you thought it would. I just want you to know that Jesus is still at work. Even when it doesn’t look the way we think it should, or when he seems far, he is still working in our lives. I’ve heard the saying about Good Friday “Friday’s here, but Sunday’s coming!” That’s certainly true; when things seem the most desperate, the darkest, there is still hope. But you know what, even during the “Saturdays” of our lives-when we might feel stuck, unsure, in between seasons in life-Sunday’s coming too! No matter which day we might find ourselves living through, Christ is still at work and, as Jeremiah 29:11 tells us, he has a plan for us, and it’s a great one!

Okay, now on to a school update! NDEW is definitely still enjoying his usual weekly work in math, history, literature, science, writing, and religion.  Now that the science fair is over (picture below!) NDEW and hubby have started working in depth with the Raspberry Pi he got from his Aunt Tye and Uncle Tim for Christmas.  NDEW already has big plans for this and seems to be learning quite a lot about computers in the process.  He’s also getting ready for his music recital coming up in May and planning to play Let It Go from Frozen as a solo on the recorder.  He went out and found the music himself, crazy kid. 🙂  He’s also getting really excited about the upcoming Aladdin auditions with Beanstalk Community Theatre.  He continues to study the brain and nervous system in science and even had the cool opportunity to see an actual brain cell under a microscope at the recent Science Festival at ASU.  I think he even impressed the college students there with what he knew about the brain and nerve structure.  (Always good to know that what he’s learning is sticking!)  We continue to enjoy using the big wide world as our favorite classroom and hope you enjoy some memories below from the past month or so. They include the science fair, participating in some community events, fun games, lots of reading, a trip to the NC Zoo, an ASU baseball game, and an impromptu amphibian lesson…Some of which even occurred outside of school hours! (Shocking, I know!)

Science Fair Zoo 1 Zoo 2 Reading NDEW and KD Lady Bug Amphibian Baseball Games

PS: Before you go, I invite you to head over to Managing Your Blessings and read my latest blog post over there, “The Dreaded “S” Word! Thanks and enjoy!

 

Science, Literature, Snow, Blogging….whew!

Happy Valentine’s day everyone!  I can’t believe February is half over!  I just wanted to share a quick update.  (Who am I kidding, I don’t usually write quick posts!)

Valentine

(I recently took a personality quiz that said I was a reliable realist that was faithful, consistent, well-balanced and sensible but that had little time for extravagances and flightiness.   It also said that I tend to show my closeness to people who are important to me by deeds, and that my partner “should rather not expect romantic declarations of love.”  So, in light of that, I thought this Valentine was appropriate!)

Okay, back to school stuff:  NDEW’s been working really hard with his school work.  (Although he was super excited that I had scheduled a “day off” for today!  I guess every kid likes a break from school every now and then!)  In addition to math and grammar/writing (the two subjects that we take a more structured approach to), he’s been doing lots of cool science and literature work.  We take an almost unschooling approach to these topics and NDEW really guides a lot of what we do by his interests.  For literature he’s reading myths and legends from lots of different time periods and cultures and is really enjoying these rich stories.  I’m not surprised that he likes these stories though with as much as he loves Star Wars (movies, books, games, TV shows, etc. etc. etc. etc.), the Warrior book series, and the Redwall book series.  They definitely all have some similar themes.

In science NDEW is still learning lots about weather and meteorology. I had no idea that this would become such a science focus for this year!  He just keeps finding more and more that he’s interested in learning about it.  He’s currently going through the lessons included in the National Weather Service’s JetStream Online School for Weather and is getting a lot out of the content.  It’s fun to watch him apply it to what he experiences in real life.  I honestly think that part of why he likes learning about weather so much is that it gives him a sense of control.  Even though he knows he can’t control the weather, if he understands more about it, severe weather isn’t quite so scary.

We’re also learning more about electronics by working through the experiments that came with the Snap Circuits Kit he received for Christmas.  It is really, really fun (even for me and hubby!) and he’s learning lots of great principles through it.  On the life sciences front, NDEW has been learning about cells and their structure and then is starting to learn some human anatomy, starting with the brain and nervous system.  He said that he wants to learn about this body system first because he wants to know more about how his brain functions and how it relates to his prosopagnosia.  NDEW has really struggled with anxiety at points and we have definitely found that gaining knowledge is a way that he deals with his anxiety.  That’s why just learning about his prosopagnosia was such a big deal.  Being diagnosed didn’t cure him or really change anything at all in terms of his experience, but just knowing and understanding what was going on made a huge difference in the anxiety that he was experiencing.  I do think that some of his interests start with trying to cope with something that worries him, but then they blossom into a genuine interest as he learns about these subjects at deeper and deeper levels. Isn’t that just like God to take something that we fear or worry about and turn it into something positive!

In addition to these science and literature topics, NDEW’s still learning music and painting and you know there’s some history and social studies being thrown in there with hubby’s love for it!  NDEW’s also continuing his theology/Bible lessons and it’s leading to some awesome conversations around some really deep topics.  Love seeing him maturing and growing in his faith.  So all in all, lots of great learning going on!  Each day looks a little different but each day truly is awesome.  We’re committed to continuing to find and take advantage of the incredible learning opportunities that everyday life presents us.  If you were to walk into our house on any given day, you would definitely see something different than what you might see the day before or the day after.  We never know what awesome things each day might bring us!

Take yesterday for example:  We woke up to almost nine inches of snow-by far the most snow NDEW has ever seen.  He was so excited.  Luckily, it wasn’t terribly cold so we could get out and enjoy it a little.  There was lots of sledding, visiting with neighbors, learning about snow structure and how it forms (There’s that weather thing again!), even saving a little mole we found on our walk around the neighborhood!  Yes, we have set lessons and curriculum we work through, but the world is definitely our biggest and favorite classroom!

photo

photo (2)

In addition to all this great learnin’ going on, we’ve also seen some wonderful strides in NDEW in “growing up” type stuff and we’re super proud of him.  NDEW has always matured in spurts rather than in any continuous, smooth fashion.  Just when we think he’ll never “get it” it’s like someone flips a switch and he grows up overnight.  We’re so proud of him for taking the steps and facing the fears he has faced lately!

One last exciting update (I know, I know…this has been super long!  Thanks for hanging in there with me!); I shared in my last post that I was going to start writing for a wonderful homeschooling site called So You Call Yourself a Homeschooler?  Well, since then, this site has merged with another site, Managing Your Blessings.  Both sites were founded and managed by an incredible woman, Carlie Kercheval, and she had the vision to combine the sites for a variety of reasons.  I’m so excited to now be a part of the Managing Your Blessings writing team.  What an amazing group of ladies, from a variety of backgrounds, coming together to share their hearts and their faith!  My first post with MYB is up and I’d love for you to take a look at it.  You can find it here: Managing Your Blessings:  Yes, He is our only child.

That’s all from our world.  I’d love to hear what everyone else is up to.  Have you seen any big strides in your child’s development lately or come across a great resource?  I’d love to celebrate those with you and hear all about them!

How Technology is Changing How We Homeschool: Revisted

Back at the end of October I wrote about how we were starting to use some technology tools in our homeschool plan.  I thought I would revisit this topic and give you an update.

First, before I get into that though, I wanted to share some exciting news with you.  Starting in February, I will be a contributing writer over at the site So You Call Yourself a Homeschooler.  I’m so excited to be joining this great group as we travel our homeschool journey together and to have the opportunity to write about homeschooling an only child.  I’ll be sure to let you know when my first post is up over there, but head on over now to check out all the awesome stuff that’s already there!

Now, back to an update on our use of technology in NDEW’s homeschool experience.

First, we still LOVE his Kindle.  Like love it so much that he uses it at least a little every day.  It was so worth the money we spent on it.  Some of our favorite school apps right now are:

  • (Still) 5th grade learning games
  • (Still) Stack the States
  • (Still) Rhythm Cat
  • Jog Nog
  • Grammar Up
  • Arithmemouse
  • All the (free!) classic myths and legends books from around the world (I know it’s not an app, but we still use these a lot!)
  • Notebooks

I have to say a little more about Notebooks:  With this app you create virtual notebooks and can then write information in them.  You can make as many notebooks as you like, for as many subjects as you like.  You can write in each notebook as well as attach things like pictures and drawings.  Here’s the really cool part to me.  You can export the content of each notebook as a pdf (including attached drawings and pictures) and then save it or print it out.  NDEW has five notebooks currently.  They are Khan Science, Khan History, Myths and Legends, Electronics, and Weather.  After he works in one of these subjects he does a brief entry in his notebook describing what he did and what he learned-like a learning journal.  Then, at the end of the year, we’re going to keep the pdf of each as a part of our records for the year.  It’s a great little tool!

Back in October I also mentioned that we were beginning to use Asana as a record keeping and planning tool.  This is working out so well.  Every Sunday night I go into Asana and enter NDEW’s tasks for the upcoming week.  The tasks are organized by “project”.  For us, a project might be a subject or a source of material that NDEW uses.  Some of our projects include (not a full list):

  • Khan Academy Math, Science and History
  • Literature
  • Other Reading
  • Kindle Extras (like the apps I mentioned above)
  • Non-Kindle Extras (like music and karate practice, doing the Wii Fit, even, sometimes cleaning his bathroom!)
  • Other Science
  • Grammar
  • E-Learning for Kids (more about this in a minute)

I set all the due dates in Asana to the Friday of the week and then, each morning NDEW and hubby go online to Asana and select which of the tasks NDEW will do for the day.  At the end of the day, they go in and check of the completed tasks and I get an email showing me what he checked off for the day.  Getting this email helps so much with the “What did you do for school today?” question when I get home.  Even homeschool kids like to give the “some stuff” or “not much” type answers!  Now, I get home and I can say, “So I see you read __________ myth today.  Tell me what happened in the story?”  or “I saw you finished that project today.  Awesome job!  Show it to me!”  As I said before, I use Asana at work but I am SO glad we started using it for homeschooling too!  It’s made planning a lot easier for me!

Lastly, I wanted to share about an online e-learning source we’ve started using.  The website is E-Learning For Kids.  Their content is divided by subject matter and grade level and it’s very well done.  NDEW really enjoys it and it provides great review of concepts for him.  He works on it three times a week.  Best of all it’s FREE!  Yes, that’s right, free.  I seriously kept looking all over the site for some kind of hidden cost, and I haven’t found one yet.  They do ask for donations, but it’s definitely not required.  If you have a kid in preschool-middle school and are at all interested in some online learning content, go over and check it out.

IMG_6194

I would love to hear of any online or technology resources you use in your homeschooling plan, in a classroom, or with your kids.  What are your favorite resources?  Please share!

How Technology is Changing How We Homeschool

For a big birthday surprise, we recently purchased a Kindle Fire for our son who was turning 11. (For those who are interested in such things, it is a Kindle Fire HD 8.9” and the first tablet owned by anyone in our house!) We got it for him partly as a “WHOOHOO you survived!”-surprise; the last year of his life has been pretty challenging and he has worked through and overcome a ton. We also wanted to have this new tool for school.

I’m not sure why we didn’t do this sooner. Seriously.

Now before anyone starts picturing our kid sitting in front of a tablet screen all day with no interaction around his learning, that’s not what’s going on here. NDEW has three goal/task lists each week: Schoolwork with Dad, independent work on his Kindle, and independent work that’s not on the Kindle. And that doesn’t include his enrichment classes/activities away from home.
We are using content on NDEW’s Kindle as a way to review or preview material that he learns with Dad and works on in other ways and it is proving to be a fantastic way to engage him! So what content has NDEW enjoyed the most and gotten the most out of so far? Here are a few!

Stack the States: A great game to review US geography.

5th grade Learning Games: NDEW especially likes the math games

Rhythm Cat: NDEW takes music/recorder lessons and really enjoys it. He struggles with rhythm though. He gets the concept of note value but has trouble “feeling” how they fit together into a rhythm. The Rhythm Cat game works on just this skill and he LOVES it.

Blendoku: This is a game that works with color blending and NDEW really, really enjoys it. I can see him using the skills he is picking up on through it in his art lessons and paintings.

Duolingo: This is a language-learning app and NDEW is learning some basic Spanish through it right now. It’s so fun to hear him throw Spanish words into conversation every now and then.

Viewer for Khan Academy: This app makes viewing all of the awesome videos on Khan Academy super easy!

There are lots of other apps we have downloaded and NDEW is just starting to use like Dragon Box, some memory/brain games, and several science-related apps, so I’m sure I’ll be adding to this favorites list. This doesn’t even get into all the great (sometimes even free!) books he can get on his Kindle too!

We have also started using technology in some other ways now that NDEW has his Kindle. Here are a few of those:
Skype: We use Skype at work to communicate all the time, and hubby and I have been known to use Skype every now and then during the day as well. We set up NDEW his own Skype account on his Kindle (with only his Dad and I as contacts) and he will now use it to check in with me during the day from time to time. It’s fun to see a message pop up from him every now and then and to have that touch point with what he’s working on. It’s a great way for me to feel a little more involved in his day-to-day learning since I’m the parent that works away from home.

Video Diaries: We are now having NDEW do a short video diary at the end of the day to review what he’s worked on. He has a few questions that he is to answer about what he’s learned and he’s encouraged to be as creative as he wants to be with his daily report. When I get home and ask the inevitable “So, what did you do today?” question, he excitedly breaks out his video diary for the day and it’s a great conversation starter. It’s also a fantastic way to keep a running record of what he’s learning.

Asana: Asana is yet another work tool turned homeschooling tool! We use Asana as a task management tool at work and we’ve decided to try it out for school too. Unfortunately, there isn’t a Kindle-compatible app for Asana yet (that would be AWESOME!) but NDEW can access it through the internet on his Kindle or on our desktop. Basically, NDEW, hubby, and I are set up as a “team” in Asana. Hubby and I can go into Asana and assign tasks to NDEW, including giving him instructions, links he’ll need, setting due dates, etc. When NDEW finishes a task, he goes in and checks it off in Asana. Hubby and I then get an email that he’s completed the task. It’s a great way to keep us all on the same page, especially since NDEW works on lots of independent projects that stretch out over several days or weeks. Asana also gives us a place to keep track of what materials NDEW is covering through his work. Of course, we review all of these projects and tasks with NDEW in person, but this gives him a place to go for reminders on what he is supposed to be working on during his independent work time each day.

We are really enjoying the technology tools we are currently using to enhance our homeschooling! What apps, programs or tools do you use?

photo (20)

NDEW excitedly checking out his new Kindle at his birthday party.

A (half) Year in Review and Looking Forward

Today was the last day of 4th grade at the Wallace Academy of Learning. We celebrated with a math scavenger hunt review game and a silly, slightly gross science lab! What an interesting, enjoyable, six months we’ve had. I cannot believe we’ve finished our first half school year as a homeschooling family. Craziness.

As we’ve been wrapping up this week I took a look back to see what all we’ve covered. I was amazed at how much we’ve done in these 103 days of school!
Math:
•Fractions
•Decimals
•Percent
•Area
•Perimeter
•Measurement
•2 and 3-digit multiplication
•Division, including long division
•Some fun math “extras” through the G is for Googol book
•Lots of everyday, real-life math
Science:
•The Universe
•Planets
•Space exploration with lots on different types of rockets, vehicles, etc.
•Meteorology, especially extreme weather
•Geology, especially types and formation of rocks, structure of the earth and earthquakes, volcanoes, and landslides
•Magnets
•Types of energy
•Electricity-especially using our “Electricity Playground” kit which was a huge hit and will be used well into the summer
•Reptiles, especially snakes
History:
•Jamestown Colony
•The French and Indian War
•The Great Awakening
•Biographies of the founding fathers
•The Constitution
•The Declaration of Independence
•The American Revolution
Geography
•Overall globe geography (hemispheres, lines of latitude and longitude, navigation, etc.)
•Categories of landforms
•The 50 states including capitals, natural resources, major landforms, etc.
•Lots of map practice

Add to these lots of reading, music class, PE class, many small “off topic” extra activities, lots of online games, and lots of TV documentaries, and we’ve covered a huge variety of topics.
Of course, we’ve also gained so much insight into how NDEW learns and how he interacts with the world that has been invaluable as well. In many ways, those are the biggest lessons learned in our family this spring!

Looking ahead…
We have decided to continue our homeschool adventure into 5th grade and are very much looking forward to having a full school year to work together. We have also decided to use a little more set curriculum. We will be using the Core Knowledge series. Many people know them by their What Your —– Grader Needs to Know books. We will be using their 5th grade materials and supplementing with materials from Kids Discover magazine, Intellego Unit Studies, Daily Grams Grammar Practice, and the Thames and Kosmos Physics Workshop. We chose these resources because we felt they gave us a backbone structure to work from and lots of great resources but also allowed us the flexibility in schedule and activities that we’ve loved this year.

Some of the topics on tap for us next year include:
World History:
•Inca, Aztec, and Maya Civilizations
•Feudal Japan
•Russian History
•The Renaissance
American History:
•Causes that led to the Civil War
•The Civil War
•Reconstruction
•Western Expansion
Science:
•Classification of living things
•Cells
•Human Anatomy
•Physics: Simple Machines
Math:
•Lots of Geometry

NDEW will continue taking a music class with our local homeschool group as well as start a weekly karate class with them. He will also be working with his counselor twice a month on facial recognition practice activities. We are looking toward lots of local “field trips” and planning a big trip to Washington, DC in the spring of 2014. I looks like it’s going to be an awesome 5th grade year! We plan to start 5th grade during the 3rd week of August. We figured that, even with holiday breaks thrown in, we’ll still end before Memorial Day next May.

Before we look too far forward into 5th grade though, we have 10 weeks of summer ahead of us. Woohoo!!! NDEW and hubby have some really fun stuff planned for this summer, in addition to hanging out and relaxing a lot. First, NDEW will continue his music class this summer and there is a homeschool group that will be having a weekly park day to get together and play. NDEW and hubby also plan to build their own light sabers, build some kind of outdoor tree house or play structure and plant a small garden. I’m sure there will be lots of library trips, bike rides, creek tubing, mountain exploring, movies, and computer games to go along with those projects as well.

We hope each of you have a wonderful, relaxing summer and we thank you for journeying along with us on our homeschool adventure!

Quote of the Year, from NDEW: “Not only am I the valedictorian of the Wallace Academy of Learning, but I was also voted best looking.”
(This kid certainly doesn’t have a lack of confidence! Oh my word….)

Honk if you love bikes!

NDEW Bike 1

One of the things I hope to do with this blog is to share some of the activities we are doing that cost little or no money. Homeschool curriculums can be expensive (although definitely worth it if you find just the right curriculum that matches your child) but you can also find lots of things to do and lots of materials to use that are inexpensive or free. One other activity like this that I’ve mentioned before is our use of the free state tourism guidebook magazines and the maps that often come with them as a part of our geography and math lessons. Another great resource is the website Teachers Pay Teachers (www.teacherspayteachers.com). While there are lots of resources that cost money on the site, there are lots of free ones too and their search feature works well.

Our latest free/inexpensive special school activity was a bike day. Last week, NDEW got a new bike so we decided to build a day’s lessons around this new bike, which NDEW was very excited about. Now, the new bike was definitely not free. Well, actually, I guess it kind of was! My parents sent me money for my birthday recently and I used it to buy us new bikes. You definitely wouldn’t have to get new bikes to do these lessons, however.

The day after we got the bikes, NDEW and hubby had to do a little adjusting on his so they used this opportunity of working on the bike to explore some questions. Here are a few examples:
•Talk about the different sizes of gears that the chain goes over. Why not the same size?
•Talk about what powers the front wheel.
•Have NDEW measure the circumference, radius, and diameter of his wheel. Have him calculate the circumference using the formula first (C= pi x diameter) and then actually measure it to see how close the formula is.
•Have NDEW figure out how many times his wheel would have to turn to ride a mile.
•Talk about metric and standard measurement using your tool set.
•Talk about how his brakes work (friction) and maybe even compare them to how the breaks on my bike work.
•Talk about why we use oil on certain parts of bikes.

Before they started working on the bikes, while hubby was getting his actual work-work done, we had NDEW read through some websites and watch some videos about bikes, bike history, and bike safety. Here are the links we used:
Websites:
http://physicsofbicycling.homestead.com/
http://www.exploratorium.edu/cycling/
http://www.popularmechanics.com/outdoors/sports/physics/cycling-science-7-fascinating-facts-about-bikes#slide-1
http://airandspace.si.edu/wrightbrothers/who/1893/index.cfm (Website about the Wright brothers….the five slides starting on this link talk about their bike building activities and how that translated to aircraft)

Some videos:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shPgLBlBABc (Couple minute video from Science Friday)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dStGTWZlZHY (Silly Bike Safety video-a little young for NDEW but just a couple of minutes long)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=162fCN9-qnY (A better, longer bike safety video)
http://www.sciencefriday.com/segment/04/15/2011/physics-of-the-riderless-bike.html (Another video from Science Friday about the physics of a rider-less bike)
http://www.open.edu/openlearn/science-maths-technology/engineering-and-technology/the-science-behind-the-bike (A series of videos about how science and technology have changed cycling)

Maybe this will inspire you to have a bike day of your own, our build a day of lessons around one of your child’s favorite activities. Have a great day!

I feel that I am entitled to my share of lightheartedness and there is nothing wrong with enjoying one’s self simply, like a boy. ~ Leo Tolstoy, In response to criticism for learning to ride a bicycle at age 67

NDEW Bike 2

Time for an update!-Geography Project

Hello friends! It’s been a while since I wrote! We’ve had a busy several weeks, part of which counted as our “spring break”. We spent about 10 days out of town while hubby and I worked at a conference for my job and NDEW had tons of fun exploring Orlando. Legoland and Animal Kingdom were BIG hits!

For this post I thought I would update how our geography project is progressing and has expanded. As far as postcards go we now have 109 cards from 43 states! It has been SO fun to see them all come in and then post them on our map. NDEW really has learned a lot of geography and lots of interesting facts about each place as well. People have written some really cool trivia and questions on their cards! We are still missing postcards from Nebraska, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maine, and Delaware, but we’re hoping that we might still get ones from those states before it’s all said and done.

As we’ve been receiving postcards we had the crazy idea to request the free travel guidebooks from each state as well. As all of these full-color, glossy magazines started arriving in our mailbox we started wondering what we had been thinking! They all contain gorgeous pictures and lots of great information, but the chances of NDEW sitting down and reading 50 of these things cover-to-cover was slim to none. After all, they also contain a lot of information that’s not really interesting or useful to a 10 year old….like lists of places to stay, page after page of attraction listings, etc.

So after some brainstorming, hubby and I came up with a way to use the guidebooks that would not only tie into geography but also into math, history, and even occasionally science. Score! When we get a new state guidebook in the mail, I go through it and write questions on sticky notes that I then stick to the pages of the guidebook, creating a type of “scavenger hunt” for hubby and NDEW to work through together.

photo (5)

The amount of questions for each guidebook varies widely, and I try to tie the questions into other subjects we’re studying, like fractions or types of rocks. Here some example questions for different subject matters:

Geography:
•What route would you take if you traveled from ____________ to ________________?
•What mountain ranges are highlighted from this state?
•What is unique about ______________River?
•What Native American tribes are found in this region?

Math:
•If you made 5 batches of ______________ recipe (recipe listed in guidebook), how much ___________ would you need total?
•How many miles would you travel if you went from ______________ to __________________ to __________________ and then back to ______________________.
•If you hiked 10 miles per day, how long would it take you to hike the ____________ trail?
•How many nights could you stay at ______________ hotel if you had $500?
•If you stayed at _______________ hotel for 5 nights, what would it cost?
•What fraction of the campgrounds listed on this page offer an on-site laundry?
•If you used the 30% off coupon listed on this page, how much would it cost you to get into _____________ museum?

History:
•What took place in ___________________?
•What famous person was born in ______________________?
•What was important about ___________________ (fort, battlefield, crossroads, etc.)?

Science:
•What is unique about the fossils found in ___________________ area?
•What types of rocks do you think are pictured here?
•What scientific discovery was made in ______________________?
•How do you think the rock formation found on this page was formed?

Other types of questions:
•What do you think the people in this picture are thinking right now?
•Go explore more about _________________ online.
•Go listen to and example of _________________ (type of music featured in article) online.
•Of all the points of interest listed on this page which two would you like to visit most and why?

We are still doing separate history, science, math and grammar lessons, but this has been a really fun way to learn a lot of geography and review some other things as well. Plus, you can’t beat free resources! Most states send along a detailed state map with the guidebook and several also send separate booklets and brochures on areas of special interest like national parks, flora and fauna, history, etc. A couple even sent along special kid-focused posters and booklets. All the money these state tourism boards are spending on these guidebooks is definitely worth it. I want to visit every single one after going through them!

On another note (because a few have asked me) I’ll share more in my next post about our journey to this point with NDEW and what we learned from his recent neuropsychology evaluation.

Time for an Update! (With lots of pictures!)

Wow! How quickly time flies! I didn’t realize that it had been three weeks since I posted an update. Things are still going really, really well. Every day we grow even more thankful that we made the decision to homeschool. We knew that it would impact NDEW’s education, but we didn’t realize the impact it would have on our entire family. Our family is so much calmer. I cannot tell you how much I don’t miss the race to get out the door in the morning. We also have so much more time together as a family. I know that sounds like a “duh” kind of statement, but it’s true. We can do things together in the evenings, and not worry about fitting homework in or if bedtime is a little later. Our daily conversations don’t revolve as much around schedules, due dates, keeping up with paperwork and assignments, what money is due when for which event at school… Now we actually talk about what Nathaniel’s learning, leading to some great discussions. We see him extending his learning, especially math, into everyday life situations. Most importantly to us, we see NDEW’s natural curiosity coming back and his ability to handle stress and anxiety increasing. I don’t think we’ve regretted this decision once in the past two months.
In the past few weeks since I posted, we traveled to Pinehurst, NC for NDEW to be evaluated by a pediatric neuropsychologist. We have been working with this doctor for a couple of months now but he has been wonderful in sending us assessments that NDEW could do at home via mail or online. The last bit of the evaluation had to be done face-to-face, so we spent two days in Pinehurst finishing that up. The evaluation went really well, but we won’t have Dr. Franklin’s report for another week or so. I’ll be sure to share what we learn and a little more about what made us decide to seek the evaluation (and homeschool) when we have the report in hand, so stay tuned for that. One especially fun part of this trip was the stop we made on the way home at the Natural Science Center in Greensboro, NC. Here’s a picture from our adventure!

Science Museum
As for what we are learning: We still haven’t settled on a set curriculum and, honestly, I don’t think we will, at least for the remainder of this year. We’re still learning lots though! NDEW is still studying Colonial America but has gotten more into what day-to-day life was like then. In science we have moved on from astronomy and are now studying meteorology. We’re focusing mostly on extreme weather right now but starting to explore other topics as well. We’re approaching math in a couple of different ways. First, we are using the book G is for Googol and NDEW and hubby are going through it a few pages/topics a week. It’s been a really fun way to explore some new math topics. For instance, they made and learned how to use an abacus a couple of weeks ago. Here’s a picture!

photo (6)
We’re also studying fractions, decimals, percentages and how they all are related to one another. One thing NDEW did was an activity where he had to put clothespins with different decimals on them in order. Here’s a picture of that activity.

clothespin math
In geography we are studying US geography and, as I mentioned in my last post, receiving postcards from all over the country. This is such a fun project and NDEW is learning so much! I think we have around 75 postcards so far from over 30 states!

photo (4)

In addition, NDEW has been doing tons of reading. We are soooo lucky to have the ASU library as a resource here in our community. We go weekly and NDEW has already read several good books he got there, not to mention all the great nonfiction resources to use!

photo (5)      photo (13)

Add in homeschool association music class, ASU homeschool PE class, skiing lessons, and Wednesday night church activities and there is lots of fun learning going on around here! Not to mention that we don’t have to take snow days…..Poor kids in public school around here are going to be going to school until mid-June, are looking at some Saturday classes, and are looking at losing a couple of days from their spring break. Yikes! Yet another homeschooling benefit for our family!

Geography, Valentine’s Day, and a Quick Story

US GEOGRAPHY

We have started a US geography/50 States unit, and I wanted to share a couple of ideas/resources with you.  First of all, as an introduction this past week I found this video.

NDEW absolutely loves it!  He walks around singing the parts of it that he’s learned, and watches it frequently.  Before too long, he’ll know all the state capitals if he keeps watching it!  We discovered that this song is part of an album called Brain Beats that has some great other songs on it too.  It’s available on iTunes and we’ve downloaded several songs from it.  Such fun music and, for a kid like NDEW who’s most definitely an auditory learner, a great way for him to learn some new information across several subjects!

As a part of this unit we have also asked people to send NDEW postcards from where they live.  We have friends who live all over the country and we put the appeal out on Facebook asking people to send the postcards.  We already have several state represented.  The fun thing is that NDEW doesn’t know this is happening, so it’s going to be a total surprise when all these postcards start showing up in the mail!  We’re going to have him chart where the cards come from on a US map and then include them in a couple of other project he’s working on.  If anyone reading this wants to participate, just let me know!

VALENTINES DAY

This week includes Valentine’s Day, so we decided to put our normal plan aside for the day and do something a little different.  We’ll still be hitting our normal subjects for the day (math, science, history, geography, writing), but all the activities will have a Valentine’s Theme.

Math:

  • Charting activity with several boxes of conversation heart candies.
  • Answering math review questions as a way to “earn” a few little Valentines surprises.

History

  • Reading the history of Valentine’s Day and the symbols we associate with it.

Geography

  • Color on a world map the countries that celebrate Valentine’s Day

Writing

  • Writing a Valentine’s Day poem

Science:

  • Do a “dancing hearts” science experiment:  Instructions found here: http://inspirationlaboratories.com/valentine-candy-science-dancing-hearts/
  • Science Valentines:  Inspired by a couple of examples I found online, I decided to make up some Famous Scientists Valentines for NDEW.  Hubby and I had way too much fun thinking these up!  NDEW’s assignment will be to figure out why the wording on each valentine fits with the scientist, hopefully learning a little about their work in the process!  If you want to see the valentines, you can download them here:  Science valentines  Before any of my science friends make a comment about the difference between monkeys and chimps on the Jane Goodall card, I know, I know…I couldn’t make chimp work on the card and I’ll make sure NDEW knows there is a difference!  🙂 Scientist Sample Valentine

ONE QUICK STORY

As I’ve mentioned before, hubby is the primary educator for NDEW.  NDEW started a homeschoolers PE class at Appalachian State University this week and he’s really enjoying it.  On Thursday evening, I asked hubby about class.  After sharing about what NDEW’s group was doing during class, he said “So it was just me and the moms watching.”  He said he’s the only guy there among the parents.  He said that the first question the moms asked him was “So, do you and your wife switch off teaching your son?”  When hubby said that he did all the teaching, they had lots and lots of questions for him about that worked.  LOL  He said “I’m not sure they quite knew what to do with me.  They kept saying, ‘So you really do all the teaching?’”  Glad my hubby is very secure in who he is!

Update and Lots of Science

Since I hadn’t written in a couple of weeks I thought I’d share a little update, including lots of science!

So what are we studying….

History: We’re still camped out in the US colonial period although I think we’ll be moving on from that pretty soon.  NDEW is doing a PowerPoint presentation on the 13 colonies and I have a feeling that, once he finishes that up, we’ll be ready to move on.

Math: We’ve been talking about least common multiples, mixed numbers, improper fractions, ordering fractions, and adding fractions.

Geography: We’ve finished up US landforms and now we’re moving on to an overview of the 50 states.

Science:  We’ve always thought of NDEW as being a history kind of kid, which he definitely does like, but we’re discovering that he likes science more than we realized.  That does this science-major-and-former-science-teacher mom’s heart good! We’re continuing to study astronomy covering subjects like comets, black holes and Mars.  NDEW has also been studying space travel and space exploration.  There are so many excellent space resources available online!  This has been a really fun unit of study so far, and NDEW’s definitely still enjoying the Kerbal Space Program challenges too! (See last post.)

Writing: We’re still doing some creative writing and keyboarding practice and have started reviewing/studying parts of speech.  NDEW also now has an email pen pal (the daughter of a college friend who lives in Kentucky), so writing her is going to be part of NDEW’s writing every week too!

Extras:  We’ve had a couple of crazy weeks of weather…everything from spring-like temps in the mid-60s to flooding rains, to a good amount of snow and ice and sub-zero wind chills.  Road conditions have been a big topic of conversation around here, which has led to conversations about how the roads are treated.  NDEW and hubby did a fun science experiment about how salt affects the melting rate of ice and NDEW even got to use the microscope he received for Christmas! You can download the instructions we used here: Ice Experiment

In another experiment, just for the fun of it, we explored how dish soap works and made some beautiful, albeit temporary, art in the process.  You can find the instructions for the experiment as well as the science behind it here:  http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/experiment/milk-color-explosion  Here are some pictures from our experiment!  NDEW’s reaction was priceless.   Click on the picture to make it bigger if you’d like ti see it better.

experiment picture

NDEW also participated in a live, interactive virtual field trip about fish of the Pacific Ocean.  He really enjoyed it!  He took part in it through this website:  http://www.lifesize.com/en/social/sea-extravaganza  They do one once a month I think.

In “away from home” extras, NDEW started his homeschool music/recorder class and is really enjoying it!  The PE class at ASU starts this week and he’s definitely looking forward to that as well.  We also had a fun night of dinner and volleyball with friends at church last night, and are looking forward to going to a Super Bowl party tomorrow night.  Wintery weather definitely doesn’t keep people locked up at home here in the High Country!

Post Navigation