Sunday, October 31, 2010
This year though, after enjoying a little pre-Columbus Day foray into the voyages of the Vikings. I'm hoping to cover more with the children, than the usual Plymouth fare.
I'm thinking conquistadors, and early Indian slave trade (Squanto couldn't have been the only one captured, and taken off to Europe), and some of the non-English colonies, early in the country's forming.
Finding good books for children, on this time period, has proved challenging. I have a few ordered in at the library, but for the most part, the choices were dismal, and disheartening. I did happen onto a radio interview of Tony Horwitz, on YouTube, discussing his book A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World. It is not written for children, but it does seem to cover exactly what I was looking for.
So, it's become our family read-aloud for the month. So far, we've made it through the prologue in which Mr. Horwitz promises to take us on a journey through some of the lesser studied parts of the American past, and the first two chapters, about the Vikings, and Columbus.
It's part travelogue, part history book, and written in a very accessible, conversational style, that so far, has kept the entire family engaged (as long as the little ones have coloring sheets). It is not written for children however, and the language from time to time, is colorful - but nothing that the careful reader can't sidestep. So, while it's not one I'd give to the children to read alone, it has made for some interesting, and entertaining evenings, together.
Find out what other families are reading, at this week's What My Child is Reading blog-hop, hosted by Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns.
It's great to be a homeschooler.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
It turns out to be a craft/science/toy project book - just the type we really love around here. So, I pulled it out today, when the little ones started begging for a craft. Admittedly, most of the 52 projects are aimed at the middle elementary school set. But, I saw one I thought we could modify a bit, to go along with a pre-naptime story, for my youngest two.
I gave the girls each a paper plate, and set them to painting the backsides orange, while I did a quick Internet search for a runaway pumpkin themed story. The older children had all headed off to the library, but reported back, that all the pumpkin books had been checked out. Happily, I found Kevin Lewis' The Runaway Pumpkin being read here, on teachertube.com.
I should mention, that this story takes place on Halloween, and does have children in costumes, and Jack-O-Lanerns, but it's really about the great big, runaway pumpkin, and what becomes of it, more than anything else.
I played it for the girls, while their plates dried, and then I hot glued a rock near the inside edge of one of the plates. The rock needs to be secured pretty well - even with hot glue, our rock eventually broke loose, and had to be re-glued.
Finally, I hot glued the plates together, to make our runaway pumpkin (the girls added a bit of tissue paper for a stem too, because they thought it looked too plain). The idea, is to roll the pumpkin (wheel-like), and watch its silly, runaway path, as it swerves, and curves, because of the weight of the rock.
Lopshire's book does not call for hot glue, but I was in a hurry, because nap time was approaching, and the girls were anxious to give it a try. So, I didn't want to wait for school glue to dry.
I rushed them out onto the driveway, pumpkin, and camera in hand, to try to capture a video, explanation of what it's meant to do. However, my camera only allows for about two minutes of video, before the memory is used up, and rolling glued together, paper plates proved to be a bit tricky for my four and five year old. Of course it didn't help, that while videoing, my communication skills sink to the level of the museum curator from Night at the Museu...(am I making myself clear?).
The girls did however, manage to get one good, runaway, roll in, before the camera stopped filming. So, for your viewing pleasure, I present - "A Runaway Pumpkin Craft, and a Tiny Slice of the Homeschool Life in Montana".
It's great to be a homeschooler.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
I hadn't actually planned on doing any "ghost" projects with the children this season, and I really hadn't intended on mentioning another book in this series, so soon. But, when it arrived in at the library, last night, and I flipped through the experiments in the back, I nearly nerded out with excitement to see a simple, "Pepper's ghost" in a box project.
I've been looking for a project like this - though I'd been searching for "holograms for kids", since we watched The Magic School Bus Gets a Bright Idea (you can find that episode, here, on gamequarium.org). Torrey not only has easy to follow instructions for making one, and a short Doyle and Fossey story to go with it, but a child-friendly history lesson about Professor John Henry Pepper, the 19th century scientist, who created the "holographic", stage ghost illusion, which is still known today as "Pepper's ghost".
All that we needed to build our own holographic machine, was an old (and somewhat decorated) cardboard box, a piece of Plexiglas (I have an one, taken from a poster picture frame, that I keep around for experiments), some black construction paper, a flash light, some scissors, and a couple toys (we used Lego men, and a sheep finger puppet).
I won't give you a step by step on building the project, because Torrey's instructions seem to be unique, but the idea behind the illusion is to reflect an lit image, not seen by the audience, through a piece of glass (or in our case Plexiglas)...
...to make it appear on stage, as a ghost.
The kids had a great time moving the toys around, and creating "ghostly" hands, grabbing at them.
And, in the process, they got a lesson in optics, history, and the theater. I am now officially in love with this series of books.
If you're looking for more fun with science, well, stick around. We usually have some experiment, or other coming down the pike. Or, if it's history, or even geography you're interestied in, then click on over to this week's History and Geography link-up, at Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Here's a very quick x-ray/skeleton craft we did last night, to go along with reading Ezekiel 37. You know the passage..."Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones." In fact, I couldn't resist playing the Wiggles singing that song for the children (you can find it here, on YouTube), before we read the passage.
Then, we made our craft...
...and watched The Magic School Bus Flexes Its Muscles, which you can find, here, on gamequarium.org.
I have to say thanks to Ticia at Adventures in Mommydom, for getting me thinking about skeletons, which led me to singing the song, which reminded me of the passage in Ezekiel, because it is a fun passage - prophecy, skeletons, analogy, and some really cool special effects!
If you want to show your children an actual x-ray image of a hand, we found a good one, here.
Or, for more Bible themed crafts, and fun, head over to this week's Bible Alive! Tuesday, hosted by The Fantastic Five.
It's great to be a homeschooler.
Monday, October 25, 2010
For the Math Monday link-up, hosted by Joyful Learner, we enjoyed some candy corn themed, math. Shocking, I know.
First, as a nod to Patricia Reilly Giff's The Candy Corn Contest (click here, to see our review of the book), we had an estimation contest of our own, last night.
A estimated there were 100 candy corn in the jar.
C guessed 5.
G guessed 200.
T guessed 300.
D guessed 50.
And, E guessed 200, causing G to register a complaint of cheating.
The actual number, was 221. I made the children count them, to be certain. Luckily, commercially manufactured candy corn are not nearly as tasty as the homemade kind, slowing down the sampling.
Then today, I dumped a bag of Harvest Mix, candy corn, and pumpkins, into a bowl for the younger girls to sort.
The Case of the Terrible T.rex, is the sixth book in the series, aimed at 7-11 year olds. You can find a video preview for it, as well as a nifty give away, of the two latest books in the series, and a set of test tubes, on the author's website.
The story, which is actually 4 short stories, revolves around the scientific, detecting adventures of two 5th graders. Each story has a corresponding experiment, for children to try themselves, as well as additional Internet links, and information on using the scientific method, and setting up your own laboratory.
The stories are quirky, and fun, if a little unrealistic. My children questioned some of the science the two detectives used, and whether the events depicted in the book could really happen. That was perfect though, because it sent us scampering for more information about fumaroles, trilobites, and radio waves - which I think is the point of the series.
My only caution is the story dealing with the dinosaur fossil is written entirely from an evolutionary standpoint. As young earth creationists, we took some exception there - but that is not unusual when dealing with dinosaur stories.
Also, I might suggest to the author, that the experiments at the back of the book could be made a little more accessible for families at home. One experiment, for instance, called for a evening gown sized dry cleaning bag, and a cold, but windless day. Another, required water from a creek. And, another needed a fish tank, and a bag of play sand. These are not things we generally have on hand, and so probably not experiments we will try.
However, the final experiment involved the Morse code, and included wonderful follow-up links, as well as a history lesson on ham radio, and Morse code.
So, we found fun stories, the children enjoyed reading, some science, some history, and enough questions to get us researching. Not too bad. I've already put several books, from the series, on hold at the library.
Now, just to be clear - I did receive a free copy of the book, but the opinions written here are mine. I'm sure, sooner or later, we would have bumped into this series at the library, and fallen in love with it, on our own.
It's great to be a homeschooler.