Monday, September 30, 2013

Let's Invent!

I love our science class this year.  We are studying the history of inventions and some famous inventors. This involves covering some basic physics along the way, especially simple machines.  I'm excited. It's not something I know a lot about, so I look forward to learning along side the kids.

To compliment our studies we have been reading

I like it so far.  To help make our reading more interesting, I bought a Lit. unit guide to go along with it.  You can check it out here.  I also bought the little kite kit that goes along with it. I'm sure you'll see our post about that in the future.

The lit guide is a good one if you're focus is on the literary value of this book.  But unfortunately, it's not so great as a science companion.  However, I've managed to pull a few activities out of the lit guide that correspond nicely with our class.

For example, today we did an activity on inventing.  I pulled out a big 5 gallon bucket and filled it with random objects from the garage.

I asked the kids to work as a group to use at least two of the objects to create something new! The new item needed to have a name, and it needed to have a purpose.  Well, because my kids ALWAYS get along with each other, they quickly figured out that they'd rather do their own thing and make their own inventions.  So much for group effort.

Their inventions were somewhat imaginative, to say the least. (They weren't practical in other words.) But I could see the creative juices flowing and that was worth something.

Here's what they came up with:
 This is a model roasting stove.  I think.    I can't really explain to you how it's supposed to work.  But the inventor could explain it to you in great, great detail.
 This is a device for spreading grass seed.  The seed is dispensed via the holes in the "flipper"  as you scoot along the yard.  Many other uses for this invention were also note worthy.

This inventor didn't have a name or a purpose for his creation.  But it was quite a work of art and he enjoyed the process.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Story of the World Vol. 3 Chapter 1

So, we've almost finished our first whole month of the school year. The kids are very glad to be back in a routine, surprisingly! And they especially are glad to be back to their beloved history lessons. They really do love using this curriculum. 

We're scheduled to have our first History Club review session tomorrow, but since most of the kids in the class have colds, we're trying to reschedule.  So for now I'll just post a fun activity we did as a family while studying the first chapter together.

We learned about the Spanish raid of precious metals in the Americas.  They exploited the natives to work in their mines. We explored the concept of mines and mine shafts and tried our hand at building a flour mine shaft. 

We dug tunnels to the bottom of a bucket of flour trying to discover the 3 plastic coins I had buried there.  It was tough to keep the flour from collapsing on itself.

So we built some shafts using craft sticks, paper and tape. We had several prototypes.  You'll see one of them pictured below.  Mostly we just had fun digging in the flour!

The not so fun part?  Finding plastic coins in my pizza dough mix a few days later!!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9/11 Memorial at Our House

Every year in the past, I've always felt like I wasn't doing my part to remember this important day in history.  So this year, I decided to be proactive.  I organized  a small 9/11 memorial with a few other homeschooling families so we could teach our kids what this day is all about.  None of us have children old enough to remember what happened on that day.  So as one of my friends put it, we're making sure that the next generation doesn't forget.  

We began with a prayer and a pledge.  Then the other moms and I took turns telling the kids what we were doing on that day when we heard the news of the attacks.  I knew I was going to cry. And I did!  I will say that I felt very supported by the other moms as I listened to their experiences. It's the first time that I've actually been able to share stories about 9/11 with other adults and it was healing for me to hear that their emotions and experiences were not so different from mine.

We moved to the couch to watch a  5 minute video on Youtube. Of course, I cried all through that as well.   Here's the link.
  I hope the point came across that even though it was a horrific event, a lot of good came from it. I think our humanity was strengthened.  We felt united.  I can't think of a time before or after (in my lifetime) when the country was more closely knit than on that day and the days shortly after. 

Then we dug into our 9/11 lapbook. I used the one from  In the Hands of the Child. We only had a total of 2 hours, so I had done a LOT of legwork ahead of time to get the lapbooks all folded, and all the components cut out and ready to be glued into the books.  I had also assigned 5 of the older kids topics to research and report on to the group so that I wouldn't have to do all the talking.  

Of course, we didn't have time to do it all. I had already picked out the most important points I wanted to cover, and even then we didn't get to all of it.  It was time consuming for the younger kids to write down the information on their various entries. To facilitate things more, I had used a white board at the front of the room to take notes as the kids gave their presentations.  These notes were then copied by the kids into their lapbooks so they wouldn't have to spend much time asking, "What do I write?"  or "How do I spell..."

Since I was busy teaching, I tasked my 10yo with being photographer of the day.  She did a fair job!  Here's another shot she took: 

And below you can see she took a picture of her lapbook as it was coming together. :)

I was so impressed with our 3 little girls that kept themselves very busy and quiet with puzzles, doll houses, kitchens and playdough!

My own little one became so tuckered out that she curled up with a blanket and took a nap behind the droning fan.  It was a very warm day here!

By attending the 9/11 memorial and doing the lapbook, the kids should be able to earn their Frontier Girls/Quest club badge for this event, which may in turn help them remember this day even more.  

I felt like I didn't really get  a chance to fully impress the significance of this day on their little minds. So much I wanted to say.  But then there's always next year  I suppose.  It becomes increasingly apparent to me that teaching the next generation to remember and conserve values and important events is a very daunting task. Over time, there are more and more important things to remember!  And I wonder how our war veterans and historic patriots feel when they see younger generations trampling on memories, events, and causes that are so dearly significant to them.   Do they feel their efforts were in vane? Lives lost for no cause when history does not perpetuate their memory in honor?  Maybe so.  But not if I can help it.