Our Homeschool Adventure Blog

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

Archive for the category “Homeschool Projects”

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!

 

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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!

Our Weekend Projects

Hi everyone!  I just wanted to share a couple of projects from this weekend.

First, I did end up putting together some activity kits for NDEW.  Here they are!

Activity Kits

There are 11 different kits:
A solar system model
Wax paper stained glass pictures
A knitting Nancy
Lego stamp pictures
Make a robot collage
Doodle on the Moon (big moon poster put up on NDEW’s wall that he gets to decorate however he wishes.)
Platonic Solid models to decorate and put together
Designing and building a balloon powered Lego car
Drinking Straw Pan Flute
Rain Bottle
Paint chip city art project

You can find the inspiration or instructions for each of these projects on our “Activity Kits” Pinterest Board.

For our second project we made a giant geoboard.  I found it, where else, on Pinterest!  You can find the instructions here:

http://www.playcreateexplore.com/2011/01/homemade-geoboard.html

Here are some pictures of ours!  It was super easy to make and we’ve already had a lot of fun making designs on it.  We’ll use it for all sorts of math lessons (and fun!) in the future too!

Geoboard 1

Geoboard 2

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