Growing Every Day

Posts tagged ‘science’

Social Studies – Session 2

In anticipation for our home schooling adventure, I was the most concerned about social studies and science.  These were my least favorite subjects when I was in school and so I feel my background is pretty weak in these areas.  In preparation for this year, I did a lot of praying…A LOT!  And, this is why I had to chuckle when the Lord told me to focus my attention on science/social studies and that math/language arts would take care of themselves.

Well, wouldn’t you know it.  The Lord was right!

Though I still feel a little uncomfortable and stretchy in the science department, social studies has come along really well.  In our first six week session, we did a unit on US Symbols.  We covered the US flag, bald eagle, Liberty Bell, Mount Rushmore, and the Statue of Liberty.  It was a lot of fun, Mason and 3-year old Madison picked up more than I realized and they are ready to find and visit US landmarks.

Love it!

Our most recent social studies unit covered community helpers.  I knew I could use the mass of wealth on the web to pull together many activities for several different community jobs/helpers.  However, I was running out of steam!  A lot was going on in life, and I just needed to find something already made for me.  So the search began.  I’m telling you, there is so much out there!  Thankfully, after not much searching I found a great unit put together by Travis Hutchins for sale on his teacherspayteachers.com store.

community helper pic

Click Here to preview or purchase

I am extremely picky about what units/curriculum I pay for, and I highly recommend this Community Helpers unit.  It is very thorough, with just the right amount of information about 10 different community helpers.  Each community helper comes with good information, a great song, and wonderful cross-curricula activities.

For an example of the cross-curricula activities, when studying the veterinarian we sorted animals into three classifications – pet, zoo, farm.  This is a great science classifying activity and the kids loved it.

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Classifying Animals

While learning about the librarian, the activity to go along with it is to make a reading tree.  A leaf is added to the tree each time Mason reads a book to me, his little sister, his dad, grandparents, etc.  You notice that our tree’s leaves have started turning colors for fall, Mason’s idea.

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Our Reading Tree

There are mazes and learning sheets to fill out for each helper.  A large teacher book can be printed, as well as a smaller student book that can be colored and used to follow along.  A page poster of each helper with a teacher page that can be printed on the back is also included.  Again, this unit is very thorough and completely worth it.

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Teacher Posters

Then, as if that wasn’t enough, I found a great freebie over at Mama’s Learning Corner on building your own town!  So, I went out and purchased a cheap white shower curtain from the dollar store and Masonville was born.  Every time we studied a community helper, identified the building where that person would work, then he would color it and place it in his town.  This was a great motivator.  There were mornings that he spent an hour or more working on his town.

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Masonville

All in all, we had a great time with this unit.  We studied two to three helpers a week, and took approximately four weeks total to complete.  Field trips to police stations, fire stations, libraries, etc can easily be worked into this unit as well.  We did not do that this year, but I’m sure we will in years to come.

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Adding to 10

In the beginning of our homeschooling endeavor, the Lord told me to really focus in on Science and Social Studies and that Math and Language Arts would naturally happen.  I didn’t truly understand what that meant, but I have learned to trust the Lord when I have heard Him so clearly.

For our social studies focus, I put together a unit on US Symbols (click here).  Science was a four week study of Force and Motion, which I purchased from teacherspayteachers.comwith a two week focus at the end on gravity and magnets (click here).

Math was a little more interesting.

I have ended up simply teaching to the standards.  Mason has always been very good at addition and so we have been focusing on making the “adding to 10” facts second nature.  Instead of thinking about them and having to “add them up”, I want him to be able to see them and know them immediately.

The following are the steps we used to explore these combinations of 10.  I left them as steps so that you can combine them in whatever timing works best for you.  Steps typed in the same color are what we did on the same day.

Step 1:

  • Using a ten frame chart and double-sided counters, I asked Mason to find all the different combinations that added to 10.  I showed him one example (1 red, 9 yellow) so that he understood how to use the two colors to show the equation.
  • As he found the different combinations, we used our washable Dry Erase Markers to write them on our “white board” (a page protector with a piece of white cardstock).
    • I labeled the “white board” at the top with an R + Y = 10, just to throw some algebra connections in there.
    • As we got to the end, he really started using the recorded combinations to see what he might have missed.
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Ten Frame

Step 2:

  • Do a short mini-lesson on combinations that add to 10.  I used this fabulous “Rainbow to 10 lesson” found at A Cupcake for the Teacher.  It is a wonderful visual to help students remember all of the combinations that will add to 10.  We don’t have a large whiteboard or easel paper, so we used our Window Markers and back door!  We left the information on the door all week so he could refer back to it as needed.

Step 3:

  • Continuing with the “Rainbow to 10 lesson” materials, Mason colored and filled out the blank Rainbow to 10 worksheet.  This was great to begin to solidify these math facts, moving from concrete manipulatives to number representation.
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Rainbow to 10

Step 4:

  • Using the Combinations of 10 worksheet I created, Mason used dot markers to show all the facts that add to 10 (as well as a bonus question to begin thinking of the number 20).
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Combinations of 10

Step 5:

  • We played a fun Ten Frame game over at Mrs. Ricca’s Kindergarten blog.  Again we used the dot markers, but crayons/markers/colored pencils work just as well.  I printed two or three sheets and he had a blast.
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Ten Frame Toss

Step 6:

Step 7:

  • We ended with a set of flashcards.  I developed this set specifically to be both a practice tool as well as an informal assessment.  I wanted to see how familiar and second nature these facts of 10 had become, so I created the flashcards with half “add to 10” facts and half other simple addition facts.
  • As an assessment tool, I held up the cards so that I could monitor the speed and fluency at which he knew the “add to 10” facts.

I listed steps that can all be done separately or combined to create longer lessons.  Every learner is different and will be able to accomplish a different amount of learning in one setting.  Feel free to use each step as needed.

Questions?  Feel free to comment below or email at thelearningleaf.mail@gmail.com

 

Science Session 1

Science…not my favorite.

That may be an unfair statement. As a child, I was never really interested in science class, but I was always asking my Dad questions about the world, be it nature, mathematics, computers, etc.  Looking back this is more science than I realized.  The ability to formulate questions,  test those questions, and find answers is science – from there you have scientific topics.  However, they are all based on asking questions, testing, and finding answers about the world around us.  Therefore, I believe we are all “into” science at some point – whether it be physical science, life science, or social science.  We are all constantly observing that which is around us in the world and trying to make sense of it and the intricate interactions that happen every second of every day.

Now, curriculum…

As mentioned in the previous post, Dream and Provision, I am not always the most frugal.  However, I also understand that finding those freebie gems and discounted goodies is a wonderful thing.  And so, my first science unit came from a discounted science bundle (I believe through educents.com).  It was a bundle that came with four or five separate science units.  One of which is a Kindergarten/1st grade level unit on Force and Motion by Christina DeCarbo.

Forces and Motion snap

Click the Pic to Preview

I have organized our lessons into a weekly focus and then also into lessons for the day.  This way I can follow the days in succession even if we get a little “flowy” with the week schedule.  We are planning on three days of science a week.  The following list is an abbreviated version of what we are doing throughout the week. If you are interested in the daily, more detailed notes comment on this post or email me at thelearningleaf.mail@gmail.com.  I have not gone into detail on some of the activities in order to honor copyright of the unit purchased.  All I can say, is that I believe it is a very worthwhile investment.

Week One – Motion, Force, Push/Pull, Directions

  • define motion, force, push/pull, direction (spread out throughout the week)
  • Play “Red Light, Green Light”, but use the wording “At Rest, In Motion”
  • Push/Pull several objects around the house, observe and record what happens with each object
  • Go to the playground to see what equipment requires pushing or pulling
  • Go outside and have students exhibit different directions an object can move (i.e. zig-zag, diagonal, circular, straight, etc)

Week Two – Energy, Work, Friction, Roll/Slide

  • Experiment with several household items, (hot wheels, paper clips, a small box, etc), to see which items roll and which items slide.
  • Ramp Fun to focus on the subject of energy.  Build ramps (using books and a ruler or something the like) and experiment with different height ramps to see the differences in how far the object goes.
  • Define friction, use ramps with different surfaces to explore the concept of friction (wood ruler, sandpaper covered ramp, towel over the ramp, etc)

Week Three – Motion/Forces Review

  • “Motion Mania Mission” – an activity from the Froces and Motions unit mentioned above – several small quick activities to revisit the concepts of motion, force, push/pull, direction, energy, work, friction, roll/slide
  • Motion Memory – cards with pictures representing these concepts, cards are placed face down and the standard “concentration game” is played to find matches.
  • Push/Pull website – click here to view
  • Balloon Rockets – a fun activity to experience the “pushing force” of thrust.

Week Four – Assessment and Gravity

  • Push/Pull assessment – pretty informal to see what has been retained (included in unit)
  • Introduction to Gravity – video of astronaut Chris Hadfield – this video is of making a peanut butter sandwich in space.  If you go to YouTube and search for “Canadian astronaut”, you will find many different fun videos of Chris in space.
  • Gravity Art – a fun marble and canvas art with a focus on gravity in as much as the marble rolls down because it is always being pulled to the earth.
  • Gravity Art II – Ramp Racing Art , again focusing on the force that is pulling the cars toward the earth
  • Play with water balloons throwing them and watching for the point that the force of gravity begins to overcome the pushing force from your arm.

Week Five – Magnets

  •  Defying Gravity Shoe Box trick – (showing that gravity is a force that can be worked against by other forces)
  • Sensory bin – I am using a rubbermaid box filled with rice and objects that are both magnetic and non-magnetic, they will record that which is magnetic.
  • “House Hunting” – will explore the house with magnets to see what is magnetic (staying away from computers, phones, tablets, etc).  I will actually give the kids a camera to take pics of the magnetic and non-magnetic objects to place on this magnet mobile.
  • explore magnets attracting and repelling
  • use a Filing Viewer to observe the difference in the magnetic field when magnets attract and when they repel.

Week Six – Magnets

  • Magnet races – using magnets on top of table controlled by magnet under table to complete a course.
  • Magnet art – I will probably use a thin cardboard box, unless I can find some plexiglass in the garage!
  • Inspector Magnet – from the Magnet Mini Unit by Casey Dawson
  • Magnet Mini Book – which I will create closer to time and then post a link here!

 Extra Resources:

  • Motion/Force Children’s Books –
  1. Motion: Push and Pull, Fast and Slow
  2. Push and Pull (Rookie Read-About Science)
  3. Move It!: Motion, Forces, and You (Primary Physical Science)
  4. What is Friction (Rookie Read-About Science)
  5. And Everyone Shouted, “Pull” : A First Look at Forces and Motion
  • Gravity/Magnet Children’s Books –
  1. Gravity is a Mystery
  2. Magnets:  Pulling Together, Pushing Apart (Amazing Science)
  3. What Magnets Can Do (Rookie Read-About Science)

And now, Social Studies…

 

A Path of Grace

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The closer July 7th, the more excited I am becoming.  At first, I was simply overwhelmed with all that “needed” to be done to be ready for the fist session of school.  Then with some leading from the Lord in how to take it step-by-step, it got better.

In the past few weeks, the difficulty has been lies from the devil along the lines of…

“You have to get this perfect.  If you make a mistake

you are ruining your child and his education.”

This is a nasty, yucky lie that pulls on the very core of my emotions.  After all, I want to get it right.  I want it to be exactly what it needs to be.  With all the lies, emotions, anxieties swimming around in my head and heart, I cried out to the Lord for some encouragement.  Sometimes in life you just need to be encouraged.  A physical or spiritual pat on the back.  This came from a beautiful friend who I respect very much when it comes to early childhood education.  She read my last post and left the following comment:

You can do this!!!  God has your curriculum covered in His grace.

Of course!  God’s grace!  This revelation and reminder shattered through the fog swirling in and around me.  I had been caught up in the lies and forgotten about God’s grace!!!  These beautiful words from the Lord through my friend have come to me time and time again as I continue to decide upon curriculum.  Truly I can settle on a curriculum because the Lord will lead us through it and show us how to step out of the plans, when His plans supersede the “planned curriculum”.

Bottom line – I hear from the Lord and the Lord moves in and with me and my children.  Period.  So you know what, I think we got this.

Onto Science Session One…

Curriculum Connections

After deciding on our school calendar, as mentioned in On Our Way, it was time to tackle curriculum.  This is an area in which I can easily get carried away…

or lost

This is also an area in which I had some extensive conversations with the Lord.  My experience in planning curriculum is ten years of 6th grade math.  Within my ten years we changed curriculum only once, so creating curriculum from scratch is not really in my comfort zone.  Also, the thought of planning kindergarten lessons in all the subjects made me quiver a little (maybe more than a little).

In the midst of the anxiety that was threatening to overtake me, I decided to lay it all down, and wait for an answer from the Lord.  After all, he knows us and the best path for our curriculum.  His answer –

make science and social studies the main focus

This made me laugh.  Oh how our Father knows each one of us.  The inside joke is that the two subjects I like the least, you guessed it, are science and social studies!  So, obviously in making these the main focus, I have no opportunity to slack on them or procrastinate.  Also, math and the language arts will easily fold into the science and social studies units.

ID-100191625So, I started with science.  In our school calendar we have six sessions.  Taking the Oklahoma Science Standards into consideration for some topic ideas and sequencing, here are the broad topics for each six week session:

Science Focus Areas:

  • Session 1:  Force and Motion
  • Session 2:  Energy
  • Session 3:  Plants & Animals
  • Session 4:  Weather & Climate
  • Session 5:  Natural Resources/Habitat
  • Session 6:  Learner’s Choice

Each of these large areas of focus will be broken down into grade level appropriate (student appropriate) activities to learn specific topics as well as including many opportunities to incorporate scientific skills, reasoning, and methods.

Each six week session will be planned in progression, so I will not have the whole year of curriculum on my shoulders all at once.  Posts containing more specific information about lessons, activities, and resources will come as they are developed.

And now for specifics…

 

Image courtesy of cooldesign / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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

Organization

It has become blatantly obvious to me that I need to make a conscious effort in the area of organization.  We are 5 months into our learning at home journey and I can begin to feel a shift from “something we are trying out” to “let’s do this thing”!

Our learning year is from June to June, and I can feel that when Mason turns 5 years old (in June) that we will begin to move things to a new/next level.  A few more structured activities, a few more activities during the week, as well as a few more activities that Mason does more independently.  All of these things are wonderful and I am whole-heartedly looking forward to them.  What I am seeing now is the need to find our path of organization.

To be honest, it’s a little overwhelming.

When teaching public school, I had a whole classroom in which to organize work, manipulatives, supplies, etc.  Granted, I had many more students, but still.  We do not have any extra rooms, or much extra space in our home to use as a “school room”, not that I would be likely to do that anyway.  I know it will work.  I know there is a way.  I need to remember that I am creative, and that this can be done.  I also want to do this without spending an outrageous amount of funding on organizational items.  I will keep you posted (quite literally!) on how we obtain our organizational haven.

If you have walked this path and have ideas to offer – please feel free to comment below!

Week-in-Review

Math:

Lego Take Away

  • Several weeks ago, the concept of “take away” was introduced through Freddy the Front Loader, a learning activity found in the Lego Pack from walkingbytheway.com.  This introduced the concept of subtraction, so this week I decided to move into connecting the symbolic numbers with the concept.
  • I wrote a subtraction problem and we did the first two or three together.  Toward the end, Mason starting making his own problems.  This, as it always does, leads to the discussion of what happens when a larger number is taken away from a smaller number.
  • I refuse to tell students “this can’t be done”.  We had a conversation that if we take a larger number from a smaller number we don’t have enough!  In the coming years, this gives a foundation on which to build the concept of negative numbers.

Lego Take Away copy

Graphing:

  • While sitting at my desk, Mason found one of the die from the Fourth of July pack at 3 Dinosaurs.  He asked if he could do it.  I didn’t feel like finding it on my computer, printing it out, etc.  So, I quickly sketched pictures at the bottom to match the pics on the die and Mason set to rolling and graphing.  Gotta’ love the impromptu practice!

impromptu graph copy

Science:

Season Characteristics – Fall – Informal Assessment

  • Page 9, in the All About Fall pack from servingjoyfully.com, is a cut-and-paste Fall tree.  My plan was to use this activity as an informal assessment on what Mason knew about the Fall season characteristics.  While he was creating his tree, I asked him what he knew about the season of Fall.  I made sure to not give him any prompts besides, “What else?”.  I wanted to know what he had truly internalized about Autumn, not what I could trigger in his memory.

Fall Tree copy

  • After creating the tree, we used Page 10 in the pack to graph the different color of leaves that had fallen from the tree.  A great activity to blend science, informal assessment, math, arts-and-crafts, and cut-and-paste for fine motor skills.  Another big thumbs up on this 20 minute activity!

Extras:

Canvas Painting

  • We did a little acrylic paints on canvas boards and threw in some extra tools such as forks to experiment with texture.  Mason put tape on his canvas before painting so that it would create a fun design after the paint dried and we peeled off the tape.  Madison was simply more interested in getting as much color on her canvas as possible.  She also decided that playing with the bottles of paint was just as fun!

Canvas painting copy

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