Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Turtle Bread

Today we were going to study reptiles and then make some Turtle Bread. Well, we had a great day of school, but we never got around to studying reptiles. We did make some bread, though! This was a different recipe than the frog bread and we didn't like it as much. Although it was pretty good with lots of better while it was hot. Alexandra added green food dye to the egg we spread on it before baking. (Found at www.familyfun.com)

Now, I'm determined to make a good loaf of bread with yeast. Anyone have a good, easy recipe?

Monday, January 29, 2007

Free Month of ALEKS

I contacted ALEKS to make sure it was OK to share how I got a free month of ALEKS on-line math tutor. They said they'd be happy for me to share it, but to make sure people understood it was for first-time users only.

Anyway, here's the site: www.aleks.com/webform/c12


Alexandra took up a new sport a few weeks ago... karate! She earned her white belt last Monday. (I'll try to get a better photo)

SOTW Ch. 18 - Life in Early Crete

We missed doing a SOTW chapter last week, but we did chapter 18 today. There were 2 main subjects: bull-jumpers (very interesting!) and the story of King Minos and the Minotaur.

For our activity, we built a maze for our Minotaur. Again, we used some Littlest Pet Shop critters to act out the story and used Model Magic to build our maze. It was a lot of fun!

Sunday, January 28, 2007


I've been posting some of our favorite resources on my blog - both for others to use and so I don't have to hunt them down when I want to use them.

A few months ago, we had a lot of fun playing at www.edheads.org. There are 4 parts (and they also have some lesson plans): The Odd Machine (forces and simple machines), Virtual Hip Surgery, Weather, and Simple Machines.

Our favorite game was the Hip Replacement Surgery. Very cool! And, we've had a family member who's had the surgery, so it was something we could relate to - and even explain fairly well!

Funbrain Math Arcade

Alexandra had a lot of fun playing Funbrain's Math Arcade yesterday. It is a great arcade-typed game that reviews basic math facts. Some of the games go for speed, and some just for accuracy. And, you get to set what grade level you would like to play! (I even enjoyed it on my own!)

Geography On-line Games

Here are 2 fun and educational on-line geography games to help learn the names of the states and countries... and more!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Sir Cumference

We recently bought a set of 3 Sir Cumference books by Cindy Neuschwander. These are great picture books that teach about geometry. Alexandra is really enjoying them and they are a good introduction to math terms like circumference, diameter, and radius. (There are also 2 others in this series - the newest one is available from Scholastic and I'm planning on ordering it, too.)

amphibians and reptiles

Yesterday was a beautiful day! It has been cold & rainy most of the past 2 weeks, so we decided to take advantage of a warm (low 60's), sunny day.

After lunch, we had a scheduled docent tour at our museum. It was supposed to be on Texas Wildlife, but there were boxes piled up in the exhibit. So, they decided to give us a tour of the new Frogs exhibit instead - for free!

Since we'd studied frogs on Monday with our friends, I was happy to see that I'd covered the subject pretty well. We knew most of what the guide had to tell us, but we learned some new things, too. And, I loved seeing some live salamanders!

The frogs were amazing. Alexandra loved watching the tadpoles and everyone loved the poison dart frog exhibit. Alexandra even made a new friend.

After the tour, we went to the zoo. Besides looking at some other animals, we went to the amphibian and reptile building. We're going to study reptiles briefly this week, so I thought this would be a great place to start. Since Alexandra already knew the main types of amphibians, she had no problem figuring out which animals were the reptiles. And, of course, we discussed some of their differences. It's neat to be able to put what we're learning "to the test!"
By the way, all of the photos were taken at the zoo - I didn't take any at the exhibit. And, Alexandra took the picture of the crocodile (although I cropped it). Her's actually came out better than mine! And, I think I figured out that is best to take photos at an angle if you are taking them through glass, like I was for these animals. I'll test it some more next time.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

more fun with math

What a wonderful school day we had today!!! And, it all consisted of math! 2.5 hours of math! And, this from a girl who is usually complaining about math. Wow!

I had Alexandra take an assessment with ALEKS yesterday as she has been flying through her lessons. Well, she missed almost half of the new skills she'd learned, although 2 of them were really just because she'd made a mistake and not because she didn't understand how to do it. So, I decided she needed more review.

First of all, I printed out the worksheets they have available. What we love about them is that they're only 16 problems long and there is usually only 1 of each type of problem! We'll probably do these 2-3 times a week, but not every day.

Then, we worked on subtraction using a game from Peggy Kaye's Games for Math called "Largest and Smallest", I believe. We've been playing this quite a bit and it's really helping with borrowing. Then, we did some review with money - I just handed her 5-8 coins and she added them up.

Next, we played a rounding game I made up. We played it with a deck of cards, laid out a number, and then drew from a pile of cards that say things like "round to the nearest hundred." She has to round it and write the new number. I do the same and then whoever has the largest number wins that hand. I actually thought it was kind of difficult and was willing to quit, but she insisted on continuing. I think it really helped.

I'd also made up a simple game about writing long numbers. (For example, write seven million eight thousand). I just made lots of cards that said a number (like four hundred or sixty three or nine). We laid out three of these and the first card was your millions, the second your thousands, and the third your ones. You had to write the number out (like 7,800,000) and then the largest number won. Again, not a wonderful game, but it's helping.

We're also working on multiplication and I took 2 cards and labeled one "doubles" and the other "3's." During the day, she had to tell me her doubles (1+1=2, 2+2=4, etc) and her 3's (3, 6, 9, etc) each 5 times and she got a sticker on her card each time she said them. We're going to keep working on these 2 until they come easily and then go on to the 4's. (Or, maybe we'll move on to 1x2=2, 2x2=4, etc)

Well, that's our day! I was just amazed that she kept at it so long and that we had so much fun. I've found a few games online about money that we'll play tomorrow and next week. I'll let you all know if there are any winners!

ALEKS on-line math program

Someone posted a question on my blog asking what on-line math program my daughter is using. I've actually been meaning to write more about it, but haven't gotten around to it.

We signed up for a free month of ALEKS (www.aleks.com) last week. It is a math program that starts at 3rd grade and goes all the way to a college level.

They start by testing the student to see what they know and what they don't know. Then, they create a pie chart showing what they know/don't know for each section. For example, in the 3rd grade class there are sections on: place value, fractions & decimals, addition & subtraction, multiplication & division, and geometry & graphs.

For each section, the pie can "tell you" what your child is ready to learn next. So, one wonderful aspect of the program, is that the child (or the parent) can pick from the items available and decide what to learn next.

We are finding this a great break to RightStart. I'm also making up games to reinforce her new skills. You can also print out worksheets whenever you want and they are customed made to cover the things your child knows. And, you can have the program give your child a test at any time, which can add to or subtract from the pie.

Hope this helps and please let me know if anyone has any more questions.
- Dana

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Frogs & Bread

My friend, "S", and I started a mini co-op with just her 2 girls and my daughter. We are going to meet every other week and take turns teaching on different subjects. Yesterday was our first "class" and I was the teacher for "frogs." We had a wonderful time!
Usually, I just start reading things and teaching, but this time "S" & I discussed things ahead of time and came up with a plan of what we wanted the girls to learn. (Great idea, huh? I guess most people probably do that, but I've usually just jumped right in.) Anyway, we decided we wanted them to learn:
  • What's an amphibian?
  • What's the life cycle of a frog?
  • What's the difference between a frog and a toad?
I got some books from the library and spent quite a bit of time at the library. My favorite website was: www.allaboutfrogs.org. Favorite books: Amphibians by Bev Harvey and Frogs by Gail Gibbons.
From the All About Frogs site, we made some froggy bread! It was a lot of fun and turned out a little chewy, but good! And, we got to work in some math (if we need 6 cups of flour and there are 3 of you girls, how many cups should each girl add?). And, since we're studying microbes in our human body study, we talked about yeast and how it makes bread rise.

From one of the new blogs on my sidebar, "A Room of My Own", I "stole" the idea of using 2 hola hoops to make a Venn Diagram. I labeled one as "frogs" and the other as "toads" and had the girls take turns putting my descriptions in the correct places. (This would, of course, cover the characteristics of an amphibian on the overlap.) They got 100% so it looks like they learned what I tried to teach! Yeah!

Rollin' in the Dough

We are having a great time with Aleks online math program right now. And, I'm really trying hard to make math fun for Alexandra, since it's been her biggest complaint. As we are coming across new topics, I'm trying to make and/or find games for her to play to reinforce the concept. So, today we played a game I "made up" (although it's probably out there somewhere) and I decided to name it "Rollin' in the Dough." I thought I'd try to name my games like Peggy Kaye as I think it makes them seem more like a game!

All you need for 2 players is some die, 20 pennies, 20 nickels, 20 dimes , and 2 dollar bills. (This week, we bought a pair of purple die for me and a pair of pink die for Alexandra, so we can both use our favorite colors. It really makes the games more fun!)

The game is very simple: you roll your 2 die and collect that much money. And, you must exchange for higher valued coins when you can (ex. when you get 5 pennies, you must trade them in for a nickel). The purpose is to be the first to earn a dollar. But, to get even more practice (and make the game more exciting), we figured out who was ahead after each round of turns. So, we had to calculate how much money we had after each round. We both had fun and it was a great review.

Dealing with Addition by Lynette Long

We read a fun math book the other night. It's called Dealing with Addition by Lynette Long, Ph.D. It starts out showing you a 2 and 2 aces. Then, it asks you to name 2 ways to make 2. Then, it shows you more cards & asks for 3 ways to make 3. It continues up to 10 ways to make 10 and shows the answers when you turn the page. We had a lot of fun with this, and it was a great math workout!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Book About Habitats

We read a great picture book tonight called The Magic School Bus Explores the World of Animals tonight. The book centers around an animal the school kids find and they don't know how to take care of it. Ms. Frizzle decides to have the kids visit 6 habitats and the children are supposed to observe the animals and see if they can determine which habitat best suits this animal.

I thought it was a great book and I'm thinking about doing a very quick study on habitats with it at some point. Maybe I could cover 1 habitat a week? I really tend to get "lost" when I try to create a huge study. How I do things is very teacher intensive.

Also, there is a CD-ROM that ties in to the book. It sounds like fun, but we have one MSB CD-ROM (MSB Explores the Ocean) and we've been very disappointed in it.

Warmer & Dryer... Ah, Nature!

We've had a cold, wet week including the ice we got on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. So, it was wonderful to have a day without rain and temperatures in the mid-60's. Alas, it won't last. We're supposed to be back in the 40's and rainy again by tomorrow.

But, while the temps were warm and we were relatively dry today, Alexandra and I decided to go on a Nature Walk in our backyard. Actually, she started while I was cleaning the kitchen. (And, earlier today, she spotted a bird at our thistle feeder - the first we've seen!)

She was excited to find some yellow flowers (weeds) that had survived the freeze. Then, she checked our milkweed for aphids - and found some. But, she also told me she found a monarch caterpillar! I was skeptical, but I put on my shoes and walked through the mud, I mean "grass",
to check it out. I was suprised to see a fairly big caterpillar on the leaves!
We decided to bring "Mandy" in to protect her from birds and other things. We have her set up with 3 wet leaves for today and will continue to feed her each day. (We took a photo of Mandy next to a Littlest Pet Shop so we can watch her change size relative to the puppy.)
As we were wrapping things up, we spotted a ladybug on the screen. Too bad we'd already taken our shoes off, or we would have showed him where he could find some nice aphids for dinner. We also saw a squirrel on our fence.

I can't wait until "spring", which around here could only be 3-4 weeks away! Yeah!!!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Mozart (birthday - January 27th)

This year, we are trying the Children's Hour Booklist (found on Cay Gibson's blog and the yahoo group Literature Alive). This is a month-by-month list of picture books to share with your child. We have been enjoying them, but Alexandra absolutely loved the books about Mozart. 
  • Mozart by Catherine Brighton - her favorite - we read it every night for probably 5 nights in a row
  • Mozart Tonight by Julie Downing - we read this one 3 times
  • The Cat Who Loved Mozart by Austin & Sorenson - read 2 times
We've also enjoyed the Classical Kids CD of Mozart's Magnificent Voyage.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Salt/Ice Experiment Update

I thought I'd re-try the experiment about whether salt makes ice melt faster - both because we didn't watch the ice very closely last time, and we'd only used one ice cube for each. So, we used 4 bowls this time with one ice cube in each bowl. In 2 of the bowls we added lots of salt, and we left the other 2 without salt.

Results: The 2 with salt took approximately 1 hour & 25 minutes to melt while the 2 without salt took approximately 1 hour & 35 minutes.

Conclusion: The salt did make the ice melt a little faster. But, I still think they must put the salt on the ice just to make it less slippery. The unsalted ice was smooth and slippery the whole time, while the salted ice was full of wholes & bumps - it wouldn't have been slippery.

I'm glad we tried it again! (Actually, I tried it on my own, but told Alexandra about it.)

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Alexandra has never been big on building-type toys. Today, though, she pulled out her K'NEX which she's never really played with. We first built a castle, and then a large ferris wheel that works! We had a lot of fun.

I'm now looking into their other kits. They have both a "simple machines" kit and a "bridges" kit that look educational and fun - 2 great things that should go together!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Science Fair Books

We've enjoyed 2 great science fair books that are actually quite educational.
  • The Berenstain Bears' Science Fair - we read this book many times while we had it checked out from the library. It also explains some great science facts, like about energy and about the states of matter.
  • The Magic School Bus and the Science Fair Expedition - another wonderful book! In this book, the kids go back in time and visit many famous scientists and learn about their discoveries. They also talk about how one scientist builds on what another scientist has discovered.

Ice! & an Experiment

This is our 11th winter here in Texas and only the 2nd time we've seen ice! Alexandra and I had fun outside exploring, although it was pretty chilly. Most of the ice had melted by early afternoon.

We decided to do an experiment since we learned about the scientific method at the science fair workshop this weekend.

Problem: Will salt make ice melt faster?
Hypthosis: We think the salt will make the ice faster.
Procedure: We took 2 ice cubes and put each in a separate bowl. Alexandra sprinkled ice on one and left the other alone (the control). We watched the ice to see which one melted first.
Results: They both melted at about the same rate, although the ice cube with salt had wholes all over it.
Conclusion: Salt doesn't make ice melt faster.

We would, of course, really have to repeat this experiment again & again to be "real" science. And, my other thought is that maybe it doesn't make it melt faster, but it makes it less slippery!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Chosen Video - Moses & the Israelites

We watched a good video about Moses & the Israelites. It ties in nicely with where we're at in SOTW. It's the video called Chosen at www.kids4truth.com.

The Watchmaker video - Creation

Jeannine Fulbright, author of the Exploring Creation with... science series discussed an on-line video called The Watchmaker on her blog this week(http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/jeanniefulbright). She says that if you found a watch in the middle of the desert, you would know there must be a watchmaker. An eyeball is so much more complex, that in seeing one we should come to the conclusion that there is a Creator. Jeannine says it much more eloquently, and the video shows it well, too. It also talks about cells, so it was a great tie-in to our study of the body and cells.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Science Fair Workshop

Alexandra and I spent Saturday morning at a science fair workshop to prepare us for her first science fair! She is pretty excited about it, though we're still discussing what she'll do for the science fair. Actually, she has her mind made up, but she's still trying to convince me. :-)

While we were brainstorming at the workshop, I remembered how my 8th grade teacher took each of us back to her desk one at a time. She would ask us what we were interested in, just as we were asking our children. And, then she'd give us some ideas. I even remembered the yellow writing pad and her big, bubbly letters as she wrote down the things we discussed. What a great memory! A teacher taking the time to be with us, one-on-one, and figure out what WE liked. Isn't that just like homeschooling?

We were at a table of K-2nd graders and we were talking about science fairs and asking who had done a science fair before with their children. I answered that I hadn't done one with my daughter before, but I'd done a project each year of junior high. Another lady said she'd never done a science fair project. Her daughter asked her why she had to do one. And, the mom answered, "Because you're going to get a better education than I did." (I threw in, "And it's so much fun!") That's one of the main reasons I homeschool - to give my daughter a great education... even better than mine!

Scholastic News

This year, I signed my daughter up for the 3rd grade Scholastic News magazine. It is a weekly, 4-page magazine which usually has 3-4 articles and then questions on the last page. The questions often include figuring out what the main idea is, vocabulary, reading a graph, and other questions. They also cover such things as supporting sentences, synonyms, and antonyms. This is the first magazine we've subscribed to that my daughter actually reads eagerly, cover-to-cover. We're really enjoying it (and learning too!), so I thought I'd pass that along. You can order it at www.scholastic.com.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


For the human body this week, we are continuing to look at cells. (We just didn't spend much time on it last week, and we'd gotten a new digital microscope for Christmas that we spent a lot of time with and never got it to work.)
We looked at books with pictures of cells and then we got out our microscope. We read the book Greg's Microscope and then tried to follow his experiments (looking at salt, sugar, cheek cells, etc). We actually didn't see a lot except the salt and the sugar. The light on our microscope isn't working very well. I hope to get our digital microscope replaced quickly and maybe we'll be able to see a lot more with it!
Anyway, we still had fun and plan on looking at some other things under the microscope, too. We had some prepared slides that probably have cells - I'll have to go back through them and look.
Either tomorrow or next week, we'll move to our next topic - germs!

Math Games

I decided to take at least 2 days off from our math curriculum and play games. Today, we played 2 games I'd found in Games for Math by Peggy Kaye (I recommend all of her books!). T
The first game was a multiplication game called Star Count. Each person throws the die and draws that many circles. Then, you through it again and draw that many stars in each circle. (We changed it to dots & then dashes as they're quicker.) You then write a problem (ex. 3 (circles) X 4 (stars)) and figure out the answer - we used our skip counting to find the answers! This was a hit!
For the 2nd game, we created a big game board (see photo). Alexandra made the title and decorated it while I filled in the spaces. Then, I had written a bunch of addition and subtraction problems (under 10's) and you moved according to the answer. Great review and she loved it!!! We played it twice and she wants to play it again & again. Yeah!!! :-)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Our Current Spring Schedule

We've been back at school for 1.5 weeks now :-), so I thought I'd share our schedule (which is, as always, a work in progress):
  • Bible (consists of our Bible Study, BSF (studying Romans) and about 15 minutes of reading through the first 5 books of the Bible for Keepers - we should finish Genesis tomorrow)
  • Math (RightStart C) - this is currently our biggest challenge - we're about 2/3rds through, and I think we're going to "camp out" for awhile and play games while Alexandra deepens her understanding and recall of some of the new things we've been working on, like multiplication and subtraction "with carrying"
  • recess - 15 minutes OUTSIDE when possible - being very active - a reward for getting through math! :-)
  • Language Arts - we started Learning Language Arts Through Literature and are enjoying it so far - it replaces our spelling program, contains grammar, and also teaches cursive
  • Handwriting - short lessons from an Evan Moor book
  • Piano or Typing - about 15 minutes
  • Creative Thinking - Alexandra gets to choose from a basket of workbooks & we do these for about 15 minutes - one of her favorite parts of school!
  • SOTW (history) or Science (Human Body) - we are switching and doing SOTW the 1st 2 days of the week and the human body the 2nd 2 days - the 5th day is up for grabs! (this is her very favorite part! She loves history & science.)
Well, that's basically the order of our day. We are trying to start by 8:30 and be done by 11:30 or 12:00. Today we started at 9:00 and weren't finished until 2:45. Alexandra was really enjoying our history lesson, or we would have been done about an hour earlier. Also, we cooked lunch instead of dinner today, so that took extra time, too.

SOTW Ch. 16 - The Assyrians

Today we read chapter 16 of SOTW about the Assyrians. We decided to act out these 2 stories using Model Magic and Littlest Pet Shop critters.

Ashurbanipal & the Assyrians (cats) attack a walled city (dogs) with a ramp, siege tower, and bows & arrows.

Ashurbanipal (bulldog) is in Nineveh with its beautiful gardens. His assistant (Panda) is showing him a tablet he found about Hammurabi and Ashurbanipal decides to create the first library.

"One Wintry Night" by Ruth Bell Graham

We just finished a wonderful book called One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham. It is a Christmas story, but also a whole lot more.

The story is about a little boy who gets hurt and lost on a winter's night in a snowstorm. He finds a house where a lady lives and the lady ends up telling him the true story of Christmas - about a Savior who was born, and why we needed a Savior.

The story then goes back to the time of Adam & Eve and "The Fall." At that point, man needed a Savior and God had a perfect plan.

The story just wraps up the whole need for a Savior so nicely and tells so many wonderful "Bible Stories" that are so much more than stories.

I highly recommend this incredible book and not just for the kids!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

You are Unique

We started our science "unit" for the spring - the human body. We began today with "you are unique." This whole study is a mixture of about 3 studies I've looked at along with my own add-ins and books.
We read some Bible verses about God creating man and saying that His creation was "very good." We also discussed some of the awesome-ness of the human body. And, we talked about how each person is unique - how even identical twins have different fingerprints, and of course we made prints and looked at them.
We also filled out a short page about "Me" - when were you born? what color are your eyes? what's your favorite food? and that kind of thing.

The most fun we had was discussing how some people are born with the ability to roll their tongues and some aren't. I showed Alexandra how I can roll my tongue and was amazed - because she can't! :-) We giggled & giggled as she tried to roll hers. Since this is an inherited trait, I asked my husband if he can roll his, and he can't either! (And, yes, this is the worst photo I've ever published - it was taken in a mirror, but it captures the fun we were having!)
We skated with some friends today - a mom & 2 daughters. So, we had them try - they could all roll theirs. Then, the mom showed us how she can flip her tongue over. One of her daughters could and the other couldn't. Neither Alexandra nor I could, but it was sure fun to try!

Anyway, it was just a great start to the "Human Body."

Setting PeeWee & Heidi Free

After returning from our holiday travels, we decided to set PeeWee & Heidi free. We put them both outside by the moss rock where we found them. It took them only a few minutes to find the safety underneath this large rock.

We had them almost 2 months and were amazed at how cute they were and how easy they were to care for. We'll miss them, but we hope they enjoy their freedom!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

SOTW Ch. 15 - The Phoenicians

We started back to school yesterday and covered Ch. 15 of SOTW about the Phoenicians. The first part of the story talked about how the Phoenicians invented glass blowing. We watched a video of a glass blower at:

I'd also bought a "glass art" kit from Scholastic recently and we played with it. It's more like stained glass then glass blowing. I made a Hello Kitty face and Alexandra made a balloon, a bear, and a bluebird.

I also thought I had some plastic bubbles, but we couldn't find them. With plastic bubbles, you place some of the bubble-material on the end of a small "pipe" and blow a bubble. We weren't able to do it, but she remembered them so it was a great way to explain glass blowing.

Today, we read about Princess Dido (pronounced "Dee Dough") of Tyre and the ox skin. She fled from her brother and went to Carthage. She wanted to purchase some land and the local ruler told her she could purchase as much land as she could enclose with an ox skin. She cut the skin into hundreds of tiny strips and was able to purchase a large piece of land.

For a demonstration, I cut out a "skin" from a piece of paper & we acted out the story. I'm so glad we did as I found out my daughter had misunderstood the story! As I cut out the strips, she laid them side by side instead of end to end. Anyway, we were able to show how one small "skin" could cover a large area! It was a neat, spur-of-the-moment idea!
Related Posts with Thumbnails