Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Happy Birthday Canada!


I was going to save this craft for tomorrow's Canada Day, but we were stuck inside this morning by thunderstorms, so we plunged ahead.

I gave the children a pile of magazines, and ask them to cut out all the red, and white pictures they could find.

They glued them to two separate sheets of paper, to make white, and red collages.

Then, I gave them a cookie cutter to trace, and cut out a maple leaf from the red collage.

I trimmed off the leaf section, and folded the rest in half, so they could cut it into two red strips.

Finally, they glued all the pieces together, to make a Canadian flag (sort of).

If nothing else, after searching through the magazines for all the interesting bits of red, and white, I doubt they'll ever forget the colors of Canada's flag.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Oh, and for more geography and history related projects, check out the Geography/History blog hop, hosted by Debbie at Children Grow, Children Learn, Children Explore.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - The First Ripe Strawberry

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Linked with Wordless Wednesday at 5 Minutes For Mom.

Preschool Science - Giving The Air a Drink - Evaporation and Condensation

Inspired by Franklyn M. Branley's Down Comes The Rain, this morning, we performed a couple super simple evaporation, and condensation experiments.

First off, we sat out two bowls, one with a couple of tablespoons of water (which doesn't show up in the picture, but it was there), and one with a couple of tablespoons of soda pop. I got a kick out of the fact, that even though the children had watched their water balloon firework splatters, dry up, leaving behind the color, and corn starch "chalk", they didn't think the same thing would happen inside the house.

Since, the book also describes setting out an ice cold drink on a hot day, to watch the water vapor from the air condense into drops on the side, I thought maybe, that would convince them, that there is water vapor in the air inside, as well as outside. So, I sat a glass of ice water in the middle of the breakfast table...

...and one outside on the deck.

Then, after a few minutes, they were able to touch the glasses...

...and observe rings of water, building underneath them.

Still, without the sun beating, directly down on the water, they didn't think it would evaporate from the bowls on the counter. So, they were surprised, that by two o'clock in the afternoon, all of the water from the pop was gone, leaving behind only the coloring, sweeteners, and other chemicals.

And, by four o'clock, all of the water from our first dish was gone as well. It's a pretty simple concept, but I have to admit, even I was surprised, and relieved, at how quickly it worked.

As to Branley's book, it's a Stage 2, Let's-Read-And-Find-Out Science book, that does a pretty decent job of explaining about the water cycle, clouds, rain, and hail. Judging by my children, I'd say it's aimed at the five year old set. It was just a little too long for my four year old, and just a little too elementary for the older children. But, it does suggest quite a few simple, hands on activities, to prove the text, which apparently, even older children can enjoy.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Preschool Firework Painting

We had perfect, outside art, weather this morning, so I seized the opportunity to try some messy paint techniques I thought would work for firework paintings, with the little ones.

We started with blue construction paper for the evening sky.

Then, we glued on zigzagged pieces of black construction paper, to suggest a mountain silhouette (if you live in the city, you could make a blocky sort of building silhouette instead).

The girls added groups of star stickers...

...with glitter paint tails.

Then, we attempted to add some paint splatters in different colors, to look like exploding fireworks, by tapping paint laden brushes over our paper. I was very glad we were using washable paint, because the paint splattered up, more than down, so we ended up wearing quite a bit of it.

When some of our splatters ended up bigger than we wanted, I ran in to the kitchen to get straws, so the girls could blow on them, and splatter them out. It's a technique I saw demonstrated, just this morning, on Superheros and Princesses. And, while we didn't have much better luck with it, than they did, the girls loved spreading the paint with the straws.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Oreo Moon Phase Activity

Our snack tonight was inspired by the beautiful clear evenings we've been having, affording us some gorgeous views of the moon.

We watched a couple of short, online, videos for kids (here, and here), explaining moon phases, and then recreated the waxing and waning of the moon, with Oreo cookies, following a worksheet from the Lunar and Planetary Institute.

Full Moon.

Waning Gibbous.

Third Quarter.

Waning Crescent.

New Moon.

Waxing Crescent.

First Quarter.

Waxing Gibbous.

After the children enjoyed their "moon" cookies, I read parts (the non-big-bang parts) of Seymour Simon's The Moon. The text is a little wordy for younger children, and it is certainly not written from a Christian perspective, but it contains some excellent, and interesting pictures of the moon.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Sidewalk Water Balloon Firework Paint Splatters

We had a blast this morning making firework designs on our driveway, with water balloons full of homemade sidewalk paint (click here, if you're just interesting in plain old, homemade, sidewalk paint).

First off, I took normal water balloons, and using a cake decorating tip, as a funnel, spooned in about 1/4 teaspoon of corn starch for each balloon. I used a toothpick, to help move the corn starch into the balloons. Then I added a few drops of few coloring to each balloon, as well.

After that, I took them outside, and filled them with water as normal.

The kids, dressed in play clothes, threw them up into air, and then ran out of the way, as the balloons splatted down.

Pretty cool!

We did get some splatter on our clothes, which potentially could stain, but overall it was a pretty mess free project, considering.

As for the driveway, once the splatters dried, they faded to a very light, sidewalk chalk kind of look (light enough I couldn't get good pictures of them), which washed away with the hose. I would suggest using more corn starch, and food coloring, if you want them to show up well, and stick around for a little while longer after they dry. And, make plenty, because this is an "Again! Again!" sort of activity.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Easy Caprisun Icees

You may have already seen the Slurpee-in-a-bag idea around the blogosphere. We found it on John and Danita Thomas' Kid Concoctions DVD, but we simplified it by using a bagged Caprisun juice.

Just remove the straw from the juice bag, and place the unopened juice into a gallon size Ziploc type bag.

Add ice, to cover the juice bag, and sprinkle it with rock salt.

Seal the gallon size bag.

Take it outside, and shake it for 5 minutes, or so.

Remove the icy juice from the ice, and salt. Clip the corner.

Squeeze out the icy goodness.

And, enjoy a cool summer treat.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

The Highs and Lows of Unschooling Science

Science is one of the easiest, and hardest subjects to unschool. Easiest, because it's all around us, all the time.

Just yesterday, for instance, the older girls ask to go back, to see if the rabbits had eaten their carrot. After observing the trail of rabbit pellets, the missing carrot, and the seemingly empty hole, we stationed ourselves in a shady spot across from the hole, and waited...

...and watched, as one...



...four babies emerged...

...and started to feed...

...and then were joined by their larger, and more mature relatives from around the neighborhood, until we were surrounded by 20 rabbits. It was a real Jane Goodall kind of moment. But, it also leads me into the more difficult part of unschooling science - the research end of things.

Because you see, I don't actually know anything about rabbits (or hares, as I'm beginning to suspect they are). So, I'm presented with two choices. The first would be to let the girls happily spend the summer observing the animals, sketching pictures, and jotting notes about them in their handy pocket sized notebooks (thank you Blue's Clues for a lifelong obsession with small writing material).

Just in one day, they learned the rabbits (or hares), eat grass, move quickly, live in groups, freeze, and raise their ears when they perceive a potential threat, and warn each other of approaching danger.

The second choice I have, is to throw myself into research mode, so I can direct the girls into a deeper level of learning. I can spend my afternoon searching with them through the online Montana Field Guide, to see if we can determine what kind of animals they are, what they eat, what eats them, what their regional habitat is, and so on. I can help them to find books, and videos about rabbits, hares, and Montana wildlife in general. Which will inevitably lead to a study of lice, fleas, ticks, and the diseases they carry (I'm starting to itch already).

Being a type A personality, like many homeschool moms, I'll probably lean toward choice two. But, being a homeschool mom of six, I'll have to find a middle road. Because, while the older girls are now into rabbits:

  • their younger sisters spent the afternoon instant streaming Sid the Science Kid on Netflix

  • their younger brother lost a tooth

  • and their older brother got to stay up, and watch an early firework show, and observe a really cool moonrise.

All of which lead to new opportunities for scientific inquiry, and discovery. And, none of which have much to with the weather study, we had been engaged in all week. The trick then, is finding ways to take advantage of the science, that is all around us all the time, in some kind of way that is engaging, but still organized enough to make sense. So, if you'll excuse me, I have some serious reading to do.

But, as usual, you can find more science related thoughts, projects, and fun, at this week's Science Sunday blog hop, hosted by Adventures in Mommydom.

It's great (if sometimes exhausting) to be a homeschooler.