Popcorn Month

I love using special days as a way to jump start an “interest study.” The month of October is Popcorn Month, and would make a perfect reason to study popcorn in a variety of ways.

History

PBS History of Popcorn

Small portion of fresh homemade Popcorn

 

 

 

 

 

 

Create a history of popcorn timeline along with loads of fun!

Geography

Take time to research which states are the top “corn producing” states in America. It’s great to know where your popcorn comes from!

Science

Exactly what is it that makes popcorn pop? Find out the science of popcorn.

Measure the popcorn prior to popping, after the corn has been popped, and calculate the difference in weight. What is missing?

Watch a video showing just how corn pops.

Video Showing How Pop Corn pops

Video on Popcorn from field to table.

Literature

As a creative writing exercise write an essay on the chronological story of popcorn from the field to your mouth!

 

Summer Learning CAN equal FUN!

Summer… I look forward to it all year. I know, I am supposed to  be the mature one around here. Yet, I think I look forward to the more relaxed lifestyle that we lead during the summer than the kids do. It is just a much needed break that really renews and invigorates me. If it wasn’t for a bit of time off in the summer, homeschooling in the fall would be impossible.

Even though I like to take a break in the summer, I still try to keep the kids learning. Their little minds are so active and really are constantly learning in some way. Why not maximize on their cognitive interests? I try to organize several websites that I want the children to visit over the summer break to catch up on math or vocabulary. To make it as simple as possible, I add them to my favorites bar so all the kids have to do is click on each site I want them to visit.  These sites range in interest from vocabulary games to math and science fun. The kids usually have a great time playing and taking a break from the heat… while I sit back with a contented smile knowing that they really are learning through all that laughter!

Science for Homeschooling

Over the past few years, I’ve tried quite a few different science programs. Some of these programs were amazing, so were not so much. In any case we have posted homeschool science reviews throughout our blog, so I thought I’d collect them all here.

Our recent review of Science4Us – our youngest homeschooler’s favorite way to spend science time!

Great ways to teach preschool and kindergarten science with ideas and tips for getting their attention.

Teaching homeschool Vocabulary Tips is a great post to help us realize that vocabulary instruction does so much more than just help with spelling skills. Homeschoolers can use vocabulary methods and skills to enrich science and history.

How to Homeschool Elementary Science is one of my favorite posts outlining some of the basic methods that we use to teach science in our home school.

One of our favorite subjects to study in science in astronomy. The post Making Homeschool Astronomy Easy outlines what we do for our astronomy studies.

Our post on Homeschool Science has a great array of interesting topics on how to homeschool varying ages and topics.

The Gender Gap in Education… an argumentable post about this so called idea and how it applies to homeschooling.

Review of Science4Us

online science curriculumThis week has already been absolutely crazy. Sometimes life just happens. In that case, how do you carry on? Does homeschooling get done? Well, sometimes at our house homeschooling gets a lick and a promise. If you don’t know what that means, it’s simple… we give it what attention we can and a promise to get back to it later. That’s exactly what happened this week. However, it also gave me a chance to really let my little ones explore a new science program that we’ve recently added to our curriculum. So, I’m going to let this post be a Review of the Science4Us curriculum.

The Science4Us curriculum was designed specifically to foster an interest and excitement in science learning for children in Kindergarten through third grade. Since most schools and even home schools have limited resources to spend on engaging students in science learning, this online curriculum can pique their interest and give them the foundations in science that they need.

The creators of Science4Us have this to say, “The major new development effort over the last three years has been STEM education. After some research, we decided that our contribution was to provide a curriculum to get students off to a good start in science. It strikes us as an ongoing disaster that two thirds of American students are already behind grade level in science by 4th grade and that they are not identifying themselves as interested or gifted in science.After decades of public consensus that a national priority is to make early science education into an investigative experience but with this goal remaining consistently out of reach, we decided to take a big initiative to try to make it happen. We launched development of Science4Us in 2010 with the goal of creating a 5E-based science curriculum which could realistically be implemented in all schools across the country without prohibitive costs or requirements for out-of-class teacher training.

After three years, countless trials, millions of dollars, Science4Us, a K-2nd digitally-delivered science curriculum, was introduced at NSTA in San Antonio in April 2013. Science4Us is based on NGSS, the Next Generation Science Standards, developed by Achieve for the National Research Council.”

It really sounds like the Science4Us initiative started with a sincere desire to improve science education across America. Since this curriculum is relatively new, there aren’t alot of homeschoolers out there that have written reviews. It is with this in mind that I hope to give you our opinion of how this program stacks up in the homeschool arena.

In our homeschool we have a First grader and a Third grader. I am letting the third grader participate as well just to see what she thinks of the curriculum.

Science4Us reaches Kindergarten through Second grade. Each grade covers Physical Science, Inquiry, Life Science, and Earth Science including properties of matter. Each of these topics seemed to be covered specifically with grade appropriate lessons. The program itself is easy to navigate, it is bright and colorful, and very attractive to younger children. My seven year old was able to log in herself and begin lessons with minimal help from me.

The lessons were interesting, and had clear application to the science concept that was being taught. As a Christian, my only issue was the history of the earth section. However, it is easy to skip the lessons that you don’t want to do. I appreciated the mix of things to do online as well as offline activities. I think this is one of the best science for elementary school curriculums that I have seen in a long time.

To sum up, here are the pros:

1) Science4Us was developed by qualified and experienced teachers and curriculum designers. It is obvious by how the various aspects flow with ease.

2) The curriculum itself is easy to follow, easy to understand, and enjoying. The children like logging in and working through the fun and interesting science lessons.

3) The lessons are not long and drawn out, but are pretty concise with a song, video, or story that the kids can watch to reinforce the concept that is being taught.

4) It is simple to track your student’s progress. With one click you can view what they have been doing, when, and what their score is at the moment. Great for an easy homeschool science option.

Teaching Kindergarten Science

States of MatterFor most children, kindergarten is the introduction to school. It’s their first experience with what is expected and how they are required to function for most of the their school experience. It’s kindergarten that teaches the fundamentals… and that’s no different when it comes to learning about science at this fantastic age.

Before you jump in to learning and experiencing science, there is one huge thing that you must remember. The kindergartener learns by play! You can’t expect them to just sit there and read a book and learn everything they need to know. A kindergartener learns through experience via playing. So, as we teach this amazing child science we must remember this first and foremost. Science can be HUGELY fun, if they are allowed to experience the excitement of discovery first hand.

1) Make science fun, and to do this you need a good backbone. What in the world? Sure,  I am talking about your science backbone… your textbook. A really great text/or foundational science program can make a huge difference! We love using Apologia Science, and have recently started using the new Science4Us online program. Both offer very unique kindergarten homeschool science perspectives geared toward getting the young child very interested in science.

2) Use exciting ways to teach the facts. Don’t just assign your kiddos a page to read. Oh, I know not every homeschool parent is a science lover… but we’ve got to at least find a way to get across the facts in an exciting manner. If you have no clue how to teach a particular topic – relinquish it to the experts. You can show a science video for class one day – or watch a cool you tube science how-to, or even watch it yourself and then find a fun way to teach it to your kids.

3) Take that extra time to get prepared. I know… that takes some determination and planning but it will be well worth it in the end. Whenever I have taken the time to teach my kids science in an extraordinary way – they usually remember everything!!! I also love to use interesting and colorful printables for recording the science that we learn. Here’s a free science printable about the scientific method. You can use it to fill out inquiry about particular science projects/experiments that you are working on. Make your science experiments fun and amazing and you’ll have your kids begging for science every day!

How to Homeschool Elementary Science

homeschool scienceFirst of all, science is not simply a “subject” out of textbook. Life learning is the key to a successful science study. Sure, I love using interesting science texts but science learning is not all about the book.

1) Use life, specifically nature to study the world around you. My children take every opportunity to do this even if it “interrupts” what they were doing. For example, a battle against a rather large spider was waged in our schoolroom the other day.  My children, being the victors, proceeded to dissect their spoils. They discovered how hairy the specimen was, and how the legs connected to the body. All very interesting, and all pure science!

2) Remember that your children are just that – children. As I’ve mentioned before in many of my posts about learning… children learn through play. Their play is learning, and their learning (to be most advantageous should be) play! Encourage scientific pursuits while the children are playing… ie… the spider dissection.

3) Let learning flow naturally from their inquisitive minds. Scientific method stems from “questioning.” How natural is it for our children to question the world around them? Don’t we often tire of hearing the word “Why?” Sure, but that is natural scientific investigation that your kiddos are hardwired to do… all we have to do is fan that flame!

4)I suggest investing in many “guide books.” These can be anything and everything from guide books to books that show how things work. Here are a few that we have: Look inside the Human Body, The Kingfisher I Wonder Why Encyclopedia, Birds of Georgia, The Usbourne Science Encyclopedia, and Stephen Biesty’s Inicredible Cross Sections. All of these are super books which encourage that natural investigator in your child.

5) Use a text book or online science program as your guideline if you feel like you need it. Really most of  science in elementary could be done without one. However, many people want to be sure they cover all the topics that prepare children for a more formal science study in Middle School.

Making Homeschool Astronomy Easy!

I just love studying space… you know… the final frontier! The place where no man has gone before… It’s so beautiful, quiet, and peaceful looking. I find the stars and planets and galaxies so amazing! Like how, in the world can you explain a black hole? So, it follows then that one of my favorite subjects to teach is astronomy. The cool thing is that now that we have so many awesome resources at our fingertips, we can pull to gether a homeschool course in this subject for FREE!

Here is just a sampling of the treasures that I found in the internet universe. (no pun intended 😉

I like to start with a study of the earth, and Google earth is awesome for that!  A good understanding of our earth and its relationship to the other planets is a great jumping off point. Viewing the amazing galaxies and star clusters and other space phenomena is what makes astronomy so interesting.  Over at worldwide telescope you’ll find everything you need to view these amazing things!
This isn’t the end of the cool stuff, because at Galaxsee you can form your own Galaxy, and if you prefer studying from a text book here’s a free astronomy hypertext, NASA’s free offering is an Astronomy 101 class that you can browse, and to put icing on the cake here are some really great astronomical images and animations that will keep you wow-ed! You can study the spelling of your planets with free spelling flashcards or teacher resources, and I have also just recently discovered a super duper app for the ipad called skyview! This you have to try! You take your ipad outside and look up at the sky and it overlays a map of the constellations and planets. You can highlight the different items you view and it will give you information about them. That’s even better than a planetarium!
Well, I hope you have a blast with these super fun resources… don’t forget to comment and let me know what you found interesting!

Summer fun = summer forgetfulness??

 

To me, summer is the best time of the year. Lazy days, pretty flowers (especially magnolias), and beautiful southern sunsets. ( can you tell we live in the South?) OK, we won’t go into the humidity at 8 am., the chiggers, fire ants, and soaring afternoon temperatures – that’s just beside the point!  But seriously, summer is great especially at our house because we take a break from school!

Yet, lately I have been second guessing that decision. I am concerned about how much “knowledge” my children lose during those lazy days of summer. What about all of the multiplication tables I’ve been cramming into the heads of my 9 yr. old twins? I KNOW those will be the first to go!! In fact, according to the Ebbinhaus Theory- after 2 weeks you only remember 35% of what you were originally taught.

So, after thinking about this for the last few weeks, I decided to have the children continue doing “modified” schoolwork throughout the summer. They will be using their online school curriculum. This isn’t so bad… and they haven’t said that I am a horrible monster… at least not yet!  Their online schoolwork is really quite fun, and they enjoy it almost as much as any computer game they have played. 

Well… I am looking forward to see how Fall goes… and the start of a new school year. Will it be easier for them since they have kept their brains going all summer?  Not sure, but we will see!

Free Homeschool Resources and Tools

I know that I have been posting lots of lists of homeschool resources.  I have found so many that are very beneficial and are FREE – I just have to share them with you!  The various resources that I will mention today cross subjects and so can be integrated throughout a homeschool curriculum.

Do your kids have trouble remembering the various vocabulary words – such as homophones, antonyms, synonyms, prefixes, suffixes, and root words?  Try this Free Vocabulary site that has all levels from Kindergarten through Twelfth grade. This is fun and educational – your children will love it!!

Lesson Pathways also offers free lesson plans that are cross curriculum and organized by grade.

Education bug is a great site to begin when looking for anything homeschool. They are a forum based site with information on almost everything that has to do with homeschooling.  If you need it – this site will help you find it!

If you are a homeschooling parent who like to be organized you can find all kinds of great organization tools here.  Check out the planner …. I love it!

Are you needing a report card to be able to “show off” your child’s progress this year?  Here is one that may help…  remember there are lots of places that will give your children free things in return for a good report card.

Do you want legal help in protecting your right to homeschool your children? Check out the Homeschool Legal Defense Association – this is also a great place for other homeschool resources – and to find out what is going on in your state.

Are you looking for a place to connect with other homeschooling parents?  Try a parent forum or a Homeschool forum.  You will enjoy the camraderie and encouragement.

Are you into notebooking or lapbooking?  We do it with science and history, and love it! It really connects the material for the student.  Try these free notebooking pages in your next project!

I am sure I will stumble across more wonderful resources…. don’t worry I will make sure I share them with you!!

Until next time…

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Homeschool Science

It seems like everyday we hear of some new technology or scientifically based discovery. It is so amazing, but also makes educating our homeschooled children in this subject all the more important.  A good science curriculum is very hard to come by.  In the last few years, I have found a few favorites that really meet my expectations. However, I will try to make a comprehensive list of the quality homeschool science curriculum that is available.

As I have mentioned before Abeka and Bob Jones are probably the oldest curriculum out there. They do have a good track record and definitely get the job done.  Abeka is available as a basic parent/teacher led curriculum or as a DVD/internet based lesson. Either way the curriculum is top notch. Bob Jones is of similar quality, and they have a satellite program available to homeschool students that puts the student in touch with the teacher and classroom. However, when you have many children to teach science to each day – Abeka and Bob Jones can be very time consuming. 

 This is what prompted me to “shop around” the last few years.  I was literally pulling my hair out trying to teach 4 grades of science and history at once. I went on a hunt for a science curriculum that I could teach to all four of  my grade levels at one time, that made allowances for their achievement levels, and that presented the information in an easy to understand yet challenging way. It wasn’t long before I stumbled upon Apologia Science. I had finally found what I had been looking for. We have used this science for 2 years now. We notebook this subject and the children enjoy it immensely.

We also use a supplemental science curriculum that is internet based called Time4Learning. It has interactive games and activities that teach the lesson and let the children practice what they have learned. 

 Another computer based curriculum is Alpha Omega’s new program, Monarch. They say it is well designed and computer integrated in a way that engages the learner. I have not used it, but I do know that behind Bob Jones and Abeka, Alpha Omega has been around almost as long. Alpha Omega also presents several other types of homeschool curriculum from Lifepacs to Switched on Schoolhouse.

A program that I recently discovered is Exploration Education’s Homeschool Science Curriculum. As I previewed it, I was impressed by the hands – on aspect of learning that it incorporated as well as the many testimonials on their website.

A few free science resources include: Lesson Pathways – this program started out as a paid subscription, but is now free, Core Knowledge, PBS teacher source, Hotchalk Lesson plans page, and a great educational search engine to find more free lessons online.

A few free science review games resources include: Free interactive educational games, Nobel Prize based games, Edheads activate your mind,  and Gamequarium.

Other related posts may include:

Language Arts Curriculum

Math Curriculum

Bible Curriculum