Growing Every Day

Posts tagged ‘activity’

Mystery Science

Science and I are getting along better these days.

Growing up, and far into adulthood, I never enjoyed science.  It was too…unpredictable.  And it never failed that what I expected to happen, did not in fact happen.  This frustrated me to all ends.  Now, I find myself having to teach it.  Lord have mercy, and He has.

My husband has a scientific mind.  The type that are never satisfied with the activity at hand, but has the innate ability to ask the inevitable, “What if we did…”.  This is also how Builder thinks and revels in getting to do science activities with Daddy.  However, doing science each week with Daddy doesn’t exactly work well into our schedule.  So though it works every now and then, we needed a different solution for a more consistent science experience.

So, I have pressed on and pressed into the Lord to help me in this area.  One of my realizations is that science truly sets you up to continue learning.  There is no failure in science, only an opportunity to learn more.  In the past, every time my outcome did not match my expectation I became frustrated at my “inability to do science”.  Now I realize when something doesn’t work out as expected, we get to figure out why.  This leads to a much deeper understanding of the topic at hand.

Now that I wasn’t scared of, or even angry with, science I was better equipped to decide how we wanted to approach it.  We did some individual units found here and there on the web.  However, I really felt like I was shooting in the dark when it came to a forward motion in science.  We were just kind of hit-and-missing.  Recently, I found MysteryScience.

mystery science screenshot

Builder was the main focus for this choice, however, Princess has jumped right in and joined us in science time.  MysterScience has many units to offer from Plants to Weather to Energy/Motion and beyond.  The material age range listed is from 5-12 years old.  This seems to be about right on the lower end since Princess is 5 and can join right in.  We don’t have experience at the upper level as of yet.

Each unit has a set of mysteries revolving around the theme.  We are currently working our way through Plant Adventures and are on Mystery 3 of 5.  Each Mystery has three parts:

Exploration

Each Mystery has a 20-45 min slideshow/video that is narrated and sets up the mystery at hand.  This section teaches all the information along the way that is needed for the upcoming activity.  The video pauses every now and again with a clarifying or critical thinking question to discuss with your student.

Activity

After each exploration, there is a hands-on activity.  From our experience, these have been very clear and the video leads you step-by-step through the instructions.  This has made it very easy to step into a facilitating role.  The activities we have completed have been anywhere from 25-35 min long.  Both Builder (7) and Princess (5) have loved them.

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The activity from Plant Adventures – Mystery 2: Do Plants Eat Dirt?       (Growing radish seeds)

Optional Extras

Each mystery has optional extras to add to and extend learning.  We have used some of these, but not all.  The total process done in one day pushes our boundaries of focus.  I have tried splitting the whole thing into a two to three day process, but the kids are so excited to do the activity once we get to it that I have not wanted to stop them from doing so.

Mystery Science has a free trial and also pricing for homeschoolers, as well as other school pricing.  We are still in our free trial until June 2017 and we will be purchasing the full version once our trial is over.  It has been so much fun and the work put into it by the creators is spot on.  If you have been searching for a good solid science curriculum, I encourage you to check out www.mysteryscience.com.  For me, it was well worth the exploration.

Your Turn to Play ~ What has been the most difficult subject for you to step into as teacher?

Water and Fire

Water

We are continuing to save toward our Water of Life project to help provide clean water to individuals/villages/schools.  The kids continue to save spare change here and there and are very excited about how their donation bowl is filling up.  Our final donation will be made at the end of our campaign on November 1, 2016.  We would like to invite you to join in our campaign to help those in need of access to safe water.  By clicking on the donation button below, you are able to donate straight to our campaign…be it $1, $5, $15, or more, the money you donate will go 100% toward clean water to those who need it.

donate-button

For those of you who may be discussing this with your children, I created this color sheet to show some more concrete facts about the need for clean water.  Feel free to print and use.

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Click Here to download

Fire

In late October, the four of us will have a chance to journey to Colorado for a family wedding.  One of our planned stops on the way is to eat lunch at a volcano!  Yep, Capulin Volcano National Monument in New Mexico.  It is a fairly young, extinct volcano.  After (or maybe before) lunch, we will walk a couple of the trails and explore lava flows, etc. With this in mind, it has given the perfect opportunity for us to begin a little earth science.

capulin

Capulin Volcano National Monument

There is a wonderful volcano lapbook/unit study at Homeschool Share (click here for volcano lapbook).  We have only just started these activities, but I really like the look and detail of the lapbook.  The templates and lesson plans are free to use.  Truly, I was overwhelmed at first with all of the detail provided, but then I realized we don’t have to be done with our study before we leave.  We can study volcanoes as long as we want!  I still sometimes forget this wonderful fact of homeschooling!  If you are interested in some great lapbook or unit study resources, I encourage you to check out the Homeschool Share website.  I haven’t completely figured out the navigation of the site, but it looks like there are some wonderful resources all around.

Your Turn ~ What is a favorite lapbook/unit study topic you have done?

 

Hieroglyphs

For our first 6 week block, we are studying Ancient Egypt.  It has been fun looking at the pyramids in Giza, the Sphinx (and discovering its mythological roots).  Of course for my code loving Builder, looking at and exploring ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs has been a blast.hieroglyphics-429863_1280

We have been using a lapbook, which is not my favorite, but we are adding some fun activities to enhance the straight-forward learning of facts.  Upon starting to look at the hieroglyphics on such pieces as the Rosetta stone and from pyramids and tombs, I wanted Builder to be able to try it out himself.  The trouble here is that writing is not his favorite and drawing pictures probably less.  That is why I went on the hunt for a website that would allow him to experience writing in hieroglyphs and what I found was so much fun, I wanted to share it with you.

Over at discoveringegypt.com, a great resource, they have a fun Qwerty style hieroglyph keyboard (click here to try it out).  If this is something you are studying (or even if you are not), you have to give it a try.  Builder and Princess, both spent at least 40 minutes experimenting with words, names, and generally having fun with the symbols.  It was actually quite beneficial, since they could each interact with the keyboard at their own level of word knowledge.

What will your name look like in hieroglyphs?

Soap and Shaving Cream

It is so nice when those days come that things actually work!

This, for me, is a lovely thing mainly in the realm of science and crafts.  I am learning that most of the time, simpler is better.  The simpler the experiment the more chance it will work as it should.  The simpler the craft the more chance it will actually look like the example!

I must say, I am also learning that those two things don’t matter as much as I thought they did.  So we have to modify a craft to make it work…ok.  So the science experiment doesn’t work as it should, or not at all…ok, we can still learn from it.

In this homeschool process, I am being molded and stretched as much if not more than my kiddos.

With M2 (my youngest, 3-year-old daughter), we have started doing an “unofficial” letter of the week focus.  Lately, she is getting “bored” more and more, so we needed to do a few more “structured” learning activities to help challenge her.  One of the success projects comes from this letter focus.

Some time back, I happened upon a free preschool letter of the week curriculum – Look What I Can Do! Preschool Curriculum.  It is in e-book format and in my opinion it is nothing fancy.  Personally, I wouldn’t pay $20 for it, but if you can nab it for free or at a discount, it is worth it.  It helps me to have a letter schedule to follow for each week.  I have learned that it is easier to change a curriculum than to start from scratch and come up with my own.  So, I have been following their letter schedule, but skipping some activities and adding others.

The first successful activity for the day involved soap “exploding” in the microwave.  The letter focus of the week was ‘S’ so we called it Soap Science.  This is one of the activities listed in the curriculum mentioned above.

Successful Activity #1:  Soap Science

materials needed: medium or large glass bowl, knife, bar of IVORY soap, microwave, sensory bin (optional)

Step 1:  take all paper off the bar of IVORY soap

Step 2:  cut bar of soap into 3 or 4 pieces and place in glass bowl

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Step 3:  place in microwave and heat for 1.5 – 2 minutes

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Step 4:  let your kids watch and be amazed

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The soap will be too hot to handle at first.  After the soap cools, it has a really neat crumbly texture so we added it to our sensory bin for the kids to explore.  We ended up doing three bars of soap and had a decent amount to play with in the bin.

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You can find this experiment on YouTube here.  Note:  On the YouTube video she uses a paper plate.  I found a glass bowl does much better at containing the expanding soap.

I will say that the only thing I would warn about is the strong smell of the soap in the sensory bin.  If you or your kiddos are smell sensitive, be ready for a strong aroma.

A great extension for this activity would be to use other brands of soap and observe/compare how much or how little the different soaps expand.  (Evidently, the soap expands due to the content of air in the bar.  The air heats up and expands, causing the soap to “grow”.)

Our other successful activity comes from M1’s (my oldest, 5-year-old son) science unit.  He is studying Jupiter and over at It’s A Boy’s Life,they made a fun paper Jupiter using liquid starch and food coloring.  I didn’t have any liquid starch on hand, so I used food coloring, shaving cream, and white cardstock.

Successful Activity #2:  Shaving Cream Jupiter

Materials needed:  pie pan (or something to contain the shaving cream), shaving cream, food color (we used brown, red, yellow, for Jupiter colors), white cardstock cut into a circle, ruler, parchment paper or cookie sheet (something to scrape shaving cream onto), pencil or something to stir with

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materials needeed

Step 1:  fill pie pan with shaving cream and level off

Step 2:  put a few drops of each food coloring onto shaving cream

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shaving cream with food color

Step 3:  stir the colors to make a fun pattern (we use this time to talk about how Jupiter is a windy planet, and they can pretend to be the wind)

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a windy planet

Step 4:  press firmly (but not too hard) the cardstock circle onto the colored shaving cream.  I like to rub my fingers over the paper to make sure the color is adhering to every part of the paper.

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forgot to take a picture of the circle being pressed into the shaving cream, we used the scrap pieces as well

Step 5:  lift cardstock circle off the shaving cream

Step 6:  place the cardstock circle on the parchment paper and use ruler to scrape off shaving cream

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scrape off shaving cream

And now you have your Jupiter!

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M1’s Jupiter

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M2’s Jupiter

The color adheres immediately and will not smudge or smear.  Here is a YouTube video that can also help…click here.

These were really great activities that captured the kids (and my) imagination and creativity.  Not everyday is like this in our little homeschool, however, when it happens it is a marvelous thing.

 

 

Phases

During the past few months, we have been spending our time learning our style and rhythm of school.  Discovering who I am as a teacher to my kids, and how my kids learn the best has been intriguing as well as challenging.  I spent a decade learning how to know my 6th grade students, but we didn’t have to deal with whether they focused better in the morning, afternoon, or evening.  Or whether they needed playtime in between each activity or if they could do several activities all together.  The day was scheduled and I had my students for an hour.

Period.

I am glad to announce that we are learning!  We are learning both content and more about who we are as people and learners.  In that light, I am not sure where this blog is headed, or what it will morph into; however, for the time being, my goal is to post fun and valuable lessons we have completed, or are working on.  I am thinking of it almost as a journal, something we can look back on to track our journey together.  I invite you to come along with us.

So, let’s get started…

Currently we are taking a trip through the Solar System using Lapbooking through the Solar System by Paige Hudson.  It is a great resource.  I grabbed it as a freebie, but I believe it is worth the $4.50.  It has provided a great structure for our space exploration.

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We spend two to three days learning about each planet and complete a fun activity to go with it.  Once you get into the planet portion of the lapbook, it tends to become a little repetitive.  So, I have been making sure to add one or two of my own (or found) activities to beef up the fun factor for a K-1st grader.  The information for this lapbook comes from whatever books you may have on hand or can find at the library.  So before starting, I would recommend finding two or three books to cover the solar system and/or each planet.  The lapbook gives suggestions for several books.  Since I didn’t have the books recommended, nor did my public library, I used what I (and a friend) had on hand: The Solar System by Rosalind Mist, and planets by Gail Tuchman.

Today, we finished up the section on the moon.  The lapbook has a Phases of the Moon Diary page where you observe the moon for 27 nights and record a picture of the moon as well as the phase that it is in that night.  I found this really cute Phases of the Moon book over at teachinginbroncocountry.blogspot.com.  Mason had a lot of fun putting it together.

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Tonight will be our first night to observe the moon.  So, we will head outside with binoculars in hand and Mason will be able to refer to his Phases of the Moon book and fill in his moon diary.  He is very excited and I love that.

Freezing Fun

Thanksgiving was a wonderful time of family and fun.  We took a break from “formal” activities and focused more on preparing to be with family.

A few days before Thanksgiving, we had a bout of cold weather.  Since seasons are a hot topic with us right now, I thought it would be fun to add to our weather knowledge.  So, we did a science experiment.

Icicles

One morning I checked the outside temperature and it read 31 degrees Fahrenheit.  Mason loves to check the temperature outside so he knew this was on the cold side.  I then asked the baiting question…

Do you know what happens to water below 32 degrees Fahrenheit?

This, as planned, sparked his curiosity.  I put roughly an inch of water in a plastic bowl and set it outside on our porch.  I told Mason that water turns to ice when the temperature is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.  (In hindsight I would have let him discover this on his own rather than telling him.)  His eyes grew wide and a huge smile crossed his face.  He wanted me to put the bowl where he could see it and keep an eye on it.  After two hours I brought the bowl inside and the top had frozen, but there was still liquid underneath.  He thought that was neat.  We put it outside for another hour and brought it in to observe it once again.  This time all of the water was frozen.

This brought on more curiosities, and he asked if he could take it out.  He spent a good deal of time feeling it, turning it over, and yes, even licking it!  We talked about why it was beginning to melt since we brought it inside and he was touching it.  He decided he wanted to wrap it in some towels to see what would happen.  Once we did, it took a longer time to melt since it was now insulated.

All in all, this was a great teachable science moment

– both for seasonal changes and for a liquid turning to a solid.  I had such fun watching him observe and experiment and investigate.  He was soaking up knowledge and I was soaking in the moment.  (of course I was so into this, I didn’t even think to take pictures)

Here are a few activities we did over the last two weeks…

Week-in-Review

Handwriting:

Assess Writing Uppercase Letters

  • I was curious to know where Mason was in free writing his uppercase letters A-Z.  I knew he was improving on tracing dashed letters, but I wanted to know if he could produce them correctly without the aid of tracing.  To assess this, I had him write the letters on a chalkboard as I named them.  I was looking for if he knew how to form the letters as opposed to neatness, so the chalkboard and large chalk did just fine for us.  > He did great. =)

Reading:

Sight Word Sundaes

  • This is a cute printable that gives another fun way to practice sight words.  This week, Madison (2 yrs) would build the sundae and Mason would read the words as we put the pieces away.

Word Sundae pic

(click here for Sight Word Sundae download)

Geography:

Identify Oklahoma

  • I found a very nice printable map of the United States at mrprintables.com (click here).  I had been looking for a map that I could print on cardstock to keep around as a reference, and/or cut apart as a puzzle – though we haven’t gotten to that stage yet.
  • I wanted to assess if Mason could recognize the state of Oklahoma (our home state).  He did and was also able to identify two other states.  A+ for that assessment!

map image

Science:

Season Recognition

  • We did the water experiment as described above.
  • We also found an activity that consisted of 12 pictures representing all four seasons and Mason had to sort the pictures into the correct season.  (I would give recognition of where I found this activity, but I cannot remember where I found it!)

Season sorting

Icicle image courtesy of Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Moving On

This week was much better for us.  

I started the week with a freshly organized desk and some work prepared for the week.  I thought out those things I would like Mason to accomplish and had them ready Sunday evening.  This worked out well for me, so I may begin to try Sunday evenings as my planning time.

As a part of math this week, we worked on identifying and naming 3-dimensional objects.  I found a good set of printable 3-D flashcards at mrprintables.com.  I introduced these cards a few weeks back.  This week Mason took each card and went around the house to find objects to match the shape.

3d hunt copy

We fudged a little on the pyramid item (pizza slice).  It turned out really difficult to find a true pyramid!

After collecting all the different objects, Mason then went on to build a “sculpture”.  This was great because after completing his creation, he told me about it by identifying the names of each of the elements.  For example, instead of saying here is the paint bottle, he said – here is the cylinder, cube, etc.  This was a very fun way to practice naming 3-dimensional objects.  It was also challenging to find items from around the house.  I had fun helping with this.

Week-in-Review

Math:

3-Dimensional Shape Naming & Identifying

  • This is the activity described above.  Review 3-D flashcards and then find objects in the house that are those 3-D shapes.
  • Add some fun by then taking the 3-D items and make a “sculpture” from them.  Then name each item in the sculpture using the 3-D shape name.

Handwriting:

Fall Tracing

  • Page 11 & 18, in the All About Fall pack from servingjoyfully.com, are two cute trace and color sheets.  Madison enjoyed the sheets as well!

Fall Tracing copy

Calendar Tracing

  • The preschool calendar notebook pages from RoyalBaloo.com are a great set of printables.  We are not good at tracing the date each day.  Mason tends to enjoy doing them more than one at a time.  He went back to them this week, finishing the numbers for all of September and most of October.

August calendar

(September, October, and November are currently available here.)

Reading:

Story Sequencing

  • Using a set of Blue’s Clues story sequencing cards, four cards are given and must be placed in correct story sequence by looking at the scene on the card.  This is helpful not only to see if a child can recognize a storytelling sequence, but also to see if left to right reading is occurring.

sequencing

CVC Jump

  • For this activity, letters are written in chalk on the driveway.  I chose letters that pertained to three or four word families we had been working on, as well as letters for Mason’s name and a few other sight words.
  • Then I give a word and Mason jumps on the letters to spell that word.  After a while, Mason likes to choose the words and spell them.

CVC jump

Sight Word Sundaes

  • This is a cute printable that gives another fun way to practice sight words.  Normally, Mason would build his own Sight Word Sundae and say the words as we take it apart.  Lately Mason hasn’t wanted to build a sundae, but if I build one he will read the words from mine.  Works for me!

Word Sundae pic

(click here for Sight Word Sundae download)

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