## Saturday, February 28, 2009

### Quilting Webquest

A Webquest on Quilting and Geometry- a fun math diversion for our Betsy Ross students

The web quest task is to make a quilt square that has two or three shapes and has symmetry. R8 is so in to symmetry. She recently modified her poster for her 4-H talk to include checking your airplane for symmetry so it will fly well!
They got to play around with shapes and practice some symmetry

E10 planned his out according to the criteria.

I'm not sure how it was translated on to his final square...

R8 planned a border as well.

The final copy which she traced onto her paper. And of course, because blogger loves me, it turned the photo around.

This was a fun little assignment that was a great add-on for our studies. Are you all just crazy excited to do a Betsy Ross unit now or what??

### Revolutionary War Webquest

Along with the resources I mentioned in an earlier post, we are using a Revolutionary War Webquest as the framework of our study of the American Revolution. I actually found lots of webquests just by doing a Google search on webquests for the Revolutionary War. I was able to find some really neat sites to help with our research and I chose this one because it seemed to encompass what I wanted my kids to do. Use the link above to see the whole scenario. Below I pulled out a list of the tasks and some details on researching a person's contribution to the revolution.

1. Create a timeline of the events that took place during the Revolutionary War.

2. Create an A to Z booklet about different people, places, or things that were part of the war.

3. Research a person's contribution to the Revolutionary War. Prepare a portrait, mini timeline, written report and persuasive presentation about the person.

4. Complete the four chapter Guided Reading and other worksheets as assigned

I am particularly interested in the requirements for the biographical information.

 Biographical research
1. Select a person from the list below

1. Become an expert on your person by researching the person's background. Your research should focus on the following elements:

· You will need a portrait of your person.

· Dates and events for a mini time line of your person's life. .

· Your person's contribution to the Revolutionary War period of American history.

· Skills and education that contributed to your person's accomplishments.

· Other important accomplishments.

1. Create a nomination kit. The nomination kit needs to include:

a. Portrait of your person mounted on an 8 ½ x 11" paper. The frame area can contain symbols and objects unique to your person. Below the mounted picture should be a nameplate with the full name of person and the person's birth and death years.

b. Time-line suitable to be mounted under the portrait that will start at person’s birth date and end at their death date. The time line should include important accomplishments and events in your person's life.

c. One page report (4-5 paragraphs, plus works cited) describing the role your person played in the Revolutionary War. (12 point times new roman font, double spaced)

4. Prepare a 2 to 4 minute persuasive speech about your nominee and why he/she should be included in the Revolutionary War Hall of Fame. The speech should include:

a. birth and death dates.

b. where your person was born.

c. personal qualities, skills and education.

d. contribution to the Revolutionary War period of American history.

We should be finishing up the unit on Betsy Ross by the end of this coming week.

## Friday, February 27, 2009

### The Dangerous Book for Boys

The book that started it all. E10 has such a great time pouring through this book from time to time. Last year we even took the boys to a Dangerous Boys Club at the bookstore for a while. We actually pulled it out this week to read the Declaration of Independence as part of our study of Betsy Ross and The Hatmaker's Sign. The book has everything the authors deem important for a boy to know. Came in handy this week that is for sure. There is a companion book for girls called The Daring Book for Girls, but it only has the Bill of Rights not the Declaration of Independence. I just checked.

What a fun game! Girls can play too, but they have to say "Boys are fantastic. Girls are elastic." Three times before they can start.
You have to know the book pretty well- you might have to identify constellations, make knots, know signal flags. That sort of thing.
The authors have a website- I mean I guess we shouldn't expect anything less, right? What did we all do back in the day without a website to go along with our Smurfs, My Little Pony, and Cabbage Patch Kids (well if they'd had one at least I could have pretended I had one of those- couldn't resist Mom and Dad!). Oh yeah...I bet we just played with the toy. How about that.

### My Brother Sam is Dead

E10 read My Brother Sam is Dead as a part of his Betsy Ross studies. He devoured it in just two days. I found some great book report forms at Ed Helper so he could write about what he read. I really like these forms because they go beyond just reporting the facts. A certain amount of extrapolation of thought is needed to complete these well.

There are all kinds of book report forms at EdHelper. The forms I have shared here are on the free section of the site. If you want to customize any of the forms, you need to buy the membership. I may do that soon just because I'm anxious to see what else I have access to at the basic membership. This site looks good for 4th grade and up. I had him use the form for Historical Fiction to tell me what he knew about the book.

Page 1- I brought them over just in case you are person who doesn't follow links (I so know some of you don't bother!) because I don't want you to miss out.

Here's a link to a Biography Form Sample 1- This one is good for reporting on biographies. We are studying some famous people from the time of the American Revolution as well. There's another post coming on that one!

## Wednesday, February 25, 2009

### Streamlining a Little

Just wanted to let my readers know that I cleaned up my sidebar some this afternoon. I added labels to the posts that have more than one entry for a book. I made categories for them so when you look in the lefthand sidebar, you'll see just one link for each book title and I've got all the posts together for that book title.

So FYI, nothing is gone, you'll find it under the one book title link.

For the last two weeks or so we've been studying The Story About Ping. I-6 has had a really great time and today we will finish it up. We have a couple more facts about ducks and some pictures of different types of ducks to put in his notebook, but he has already begun some of the activities for his next book. I may add that last page for you here, but let's not get too anxious about it!

Once again- what is the deal with Blogger turning my pictures around?? This is page number one in the notebook.

One can never have too many maps of China in a notebook. I just had him do one more yesterday to pick China out from a map of Asia. I'm happy to report he did it!

He did a colored pencil drawing of Ping in the water- can you see how those lines make the duck "move"? He also did some copywork from Draw Write Now. You can check out HSS for a chart on what DWN lessons match FIAR stories for each volume. The other page shows a reflection of the sun in the water. We talked about how light will bounce back from smooth surfaces like mirrors and water. When I mentioned reflection he immediately told me about Paul Revere's Ride which we did a year ago.

We studied buoyancy and talked about density. These are the objects we tested.

The test- J3 asks for sink or float everyday now! R8 had to test her paper boats.

The data chart with pictures is from HSS. I made my own the first time a few years ago (and still have it carefully organized in my computer files- it's there in the middle) and aside from the pictures I prefer it because it has a column for a hypothesis. Every good scientist should have a prediction before they begin testing their theories.
Homeschool Share has many more items for a Ping notebook. I have a few more to try out for types of ducks and Ping's family. We thoroughly enjoyed this story and I must mention also that we had some Chinese take out the first weekend in honor of Ping and well kitchen wall papering!

## Tuesday, February 24, 2009

### A Closer Look at Germs

Last week, as part of our study of Betsy Ross, we took a closer look at the germs which can make us sick. It was a fabulous little lesson. I also used this link both found at Sheri's blog, The Shades of Pink.

We listed ways that bacteria are harmful and ways that they are helpful. This gave us a chance to talk about personal hygeine too- great little health lesson.

They colored pictures of the three most commonly shaped bacteria and we talked about how they are a one celled organism. We use our Usborne Encyclopedia of Science to get some facts on them and what their names are. Usually these books have great internet links managed by Usborne so they are up to date with good links. Sometimes they have video or just a great kid's page of information.

I have no idea why this picture won't load correctly...we also talked about viruses and how they are different from bacteria.

The lesson site also has an exercise where you rub nutmeg all over your hands after putting oil on them. Then you try to wash your hands with water only to find out the nutmeg does not come off without soap. Just a little illustration on why you need soap to wash away the bacteria. So clever.

## Monday, February 23, 2009

### Valentine Treats

I've been so busy with my MOPS work lately, that I'm missing out on some blogging moments. I'm not going to let this one go by!

Valentine's Day is a day I meet with some caution. I have had some not-so-lovely ones in my time. Let's see...1995 brought an emergency surgery- a big one. The upside is that I had been dating Dan for six weeks at the time. Three years later in 1998, we were expecting our first child and we had gone house hunting for the day. We returned home after a splendid day of looking at houses and having a romantic dinner to find that our condo had burned. As in there had been a fire. One that had broken out only moments after we'd left. There was an 8 x 8 hole in our living room floor and while we were gone everything in there had been thrown on to the front lawn and thrown back again. While we lost nothing to flames, we lost a lot to smoke and water damage. Thank goodness for renter's insurance! (note- that is a PSA...if you are a renter, get insurance!) We had been discussing when we'd put a contract on our favorite house. Dan wanted to wait and I wanted to do it right away. Guess who won? Having no place to live trumps any kind of hesitation when considering the timing of purchasing a home.

Thankfully, this Valentine's Day was uneventful. I like those kind!

We did treat bags for the kids. Each one received some chocolates and some coupons. They each get to go bowling and have pizza, they each get a "date" out with one of us on their own doing something they love, and the last is for something they enjoy doing at home with us. Now as soon as they all feel better after whatever is making them slog, we'll get to have some fun.

My gift speaks for itself. He spent the weekend scraping and papering the kitchen walls. I won't tell you how long I have waited for this! The paper is the kind that you can paint over and we did that together the next day. Let's just say that when we moved in here 9 years ago now, we bought a quintessential 1970s home in the year 2000. Honestly, it was the second time we'd bought a 1970s era green aluminum sided home from an elderly smoking couple. Yes. The second. Only this time I would say they hadn't done anything to the house since the early to mid- 80s! (the first house was a gem, but if I ever get to buy another one, I'll go with a newer home or at least one that comes in contractor white. period) This last bit of paper in the kitchen was like the original layer under about six other layers. Oh the stories I could tell. This handsome paper below was adhered directly to the drywall so Dan has just been so excited to rebuild everything he has to remove around here. The paper worked well though and hopefully next weekend we'll paint.

Dan got this really cute, puffy heart picture frame with a picture of us in it for his desk at work and I notice that it hasn't quite made it there yet. Ahem. His coupons included a desk cleaning (my attempt at making his computer space his own man cave area) and a chocolaty dessert- a total sacrifice considering I don't like chocolate too much myself.

I hope yours was a great day!

### Time for Some Good Science

Today marks the beginning of another semester of homeschool co-op for us. Our third go-round. I am actually teaching a class this semester. It's called Explorations in Science and I have a co-teacher so I think I'll only need about five lessons. Based on my brainstorming from yesterday (yes, yesterday...I had lots of ideas swirling around in my head for weeks though), I think it will work out really well. I'm going with a Bill Nye approach which mainly means I'm pulling my favorite things that work well and will be fun for kids. I won't be blowing anything up, but I have considered fire. I'll meet the kids today and see who I'm working with before I make that decision. My former science supervisor (where I taught, teachers have building administration to supervise them and a curriculum supervisor who takes care of all of a discipline's teachers at the county level), used to have a thing about whether or not you were doing "good science" when he came to observe you. His reputation precedes him and let's just say his discernment was not always right on target. Former colleagues if you are reading, give my regards! For the next 10 weeks it is all about good science friends!

I'm taxing Dan with pulling out my actual "school" materials. I'm going to make room for some of my former classroom things on this shelf pictured below- we're talking lesson plans with lab directions here. It's been 10 years since I taught so I want to check on a few details.

My science library... click if you want an up close view of those titles.

In addition to teaching the science class, I'm assisting in Pioneer Crafts which is going to be so fun! We're talking Little House immersion here folks! Little House craft books, Prairie Primer references, Laura and Mary antics, the works. Word on the street is we're gonna make hay sticks...R8 is in both of these classes with me (she got bumped from the Ben Franklin invention class. Rats. But I did order the book so we can do the cool stuff at home).

E10 is taking watercolors and coin collecting. I-6 is taking Stories and Cooking and Midget Math. J3 will be rockin' in the preschool room.

Co-op... it is ON!

## Sunday, February 22, 2009

So, we finally made a decision on what to do with all of the gift money we were given at Christmas time. Let me first say that there were several things on the table. Almost every one I know got a Wii for Christmas. So, I was Jonesin' for the Wii. Dan didn't like that idea. Another thought were these cool laser tag guns. I turned that one down. The kids would have liked either. Another idea was a new computer for the school area. The kids weren't as excited about this one, but it grew on them. Since it arrived they've been enjoying it. We ordered it through a sale at Dell, with the university's education discount, on February 4th. They said it wouldn't ship until February 19th. It came early, but seriously? Did they build it from scratch when we ordered?

Two new flat screens! One for our older computer (a gift from my parents- I love it when they upgrade) and of course the new one has one. Once we get a few connectors, both of these computers will be on the network. For now we have three out of the four computers we own on the network but one more can join when the connector ship comes in. All with internet and printer access.

Check out the yellow track ball for the kids' games. Up on the older tower is our Intel Play QX3 Digital Microscope. Love this thing and it doesn't run with Vista so it will stay on the XP machine.

The older computer tower will be transformed into a network server for back up. But tell me what I'm going to do with these two beastly monitors?

We are all set! Look out...webquests and research will never be the same! J3 is going to miss the machine that ran Linux, but no worries I'm pretty sure we have all that Linux stuff on disk (right Grandpa?) and we'll still be able to run it.

Thanks to all of our family members who contributed to our amazing gift. We have done our part to stimulate the economy. All done now.

## Friday, February 20, 2009

### Pulling It All Together

I've been answering some questions lately about how we do grammar at our house. My blog post on this topic seems to be very popular which is great. I'm happy it has turned out to be a great resource for other homeschoolers! I have some other ideas on what we've done more specifically with the grammar ideas in my hall of fame post list (at the top of the left hand side bar) under Thoughts on Grammar. If you've never read them make sure to check them out.

After answering an email on the topic today, I referenced this book and thought it was high time I blogged about it. So here we are!

Unit Studies Made Easy by Valerie Bendt
I love this book! It is easily one of my favorite homeschooling resources of all time. Why? Mrs. Bendt does a terrific job of explaining how a unit study works and how you can incorporate all the subjects around a theme- be it a book, a time in history, a topic- whatever. She describes how she has her children do writing and grammar with their current study and how to work with different ages in your family.

The book is actually a compilation of separate books she wrote on the topic of unit studies. It's tied together by a couple of extra sections.

• How to Create Your Own Unit Study- this has information on everything from the unit study approach to schedules and routines, getting started, using games, finding good literature, and how to use dictation and copying with your study. It also talks about choosing a unit of study and record-keeping for your study.
• The Unit Study Idea Book- In this one she shares subjects and topics you can base your unit study around. In the FIAR world we think of our studies based on a quality children's book. You can also based studies on topics in science, history/geography, fine arts, and general knowledge. This is where you get a glimpse at what Mrs. Bendt has done with her children over the years.
• For the Love of Reading- This is a fun survey of how to make reading an integral part of your of our children's lives. Topics include inventing stories, providing an atmosphere of learning, using narration, how to find good books, implementing a reader's journal, etc.
• Success with Unit Studies- This one focuses on research, reading, writing, and recording during a unit study.
At the end of the book, she includes graphic organizers and patterns for the units she outlines in the idea book.

Valerie Bendt is also the author of Reading Made Easy, Successful Puppet Making and Bible Story Puppets (the patterns I use for making our puppets), and Creating Books with Children (which probably deserves its own post).

## Tuesday, February 17, 2009

### Presidential Dollar Coins Anyone?

I may have posted on this before, but it's worth another visit!

Anyone else collecting the Presidential Dollar Coins? We are avid collectors and it gives me one reason to visit the bank in our tiny town four times a year. I pull up to the drive thru teller and request dollars for dollars. I don't know if anyone else in town collects them, but they always have them. On February 19th, William Henry Harrison will be released.

We started collecting from the very beginning as part of E10's then obession with US Presidents and I would say that he still loves reading about any president because if something is sitting around with a feature on a President, you'll find him reading about him. You may remember E10 was "reading through the Presidents". We still have that as a work on progress though it has slowed down.

You can visit the kid's site on the US Mint website for great activities. There are lesson plans for teachers on just about any of the recently minted series of coins. I just learned about the First Spouse coins too.

You can print coloring pages of the coins and learn about the coin's unique features. For example, this is the first coin with edge lettering. This is where you'll find items traditionally on the front of a coin like the minting date, E Pluribus Unim, and In God We Trust.

Did you know that there will be four new cent designs this year to honor Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday?

The first has a log cabin on the reverse of the coin.

The traditional image of Lincoln is on the obverse of the coin.

You can read about the Lincoln Birthplace Coin at the US Mint for kids site called H.I.P. Pocket Change.

I'm sure I'll be able to update you on coins once E10 our fact prince starts his coin collecting class at homeschool co-op on Monday next week. I'm looking forward to all kinds of new information about coins!

## Sunday, February 15, 2009

### Amber on the Mountain

We spent a week and a half recently doing Amber on the Mountain with I-6. The Five in a Row fold and learn totally made the book for us. Don't hesitate to purchase it! The best part is I found this book at a consignment shop for .75. We had a great time with this one from volume 3.

Vocabulary and similes

art and math lessons

Of course we talked about mountains. Just so you know, a lot of times in the notebook I will have I-6 trace my letters once he dictates his sentences or lists to me. Or I will simply copy what he narrates to me. He does his writing with his reading and since he can tell me much more than he can write at his age, he narrates to me and I write it down. Sometimes I use his narrations for copywork on the StartWrite paper and we put that in the notebook.

## Saturday, February 14, 2009

### A Great Public Speaker Is Born

R8 chose to participate in the 4-H Public Presentation event this past week. She did a demonstration on how to make a cool paper airplane (from her brother's Klutz Paper Airplane book). She did a fabulous job. R8 loves to do oral reports and when she knows her topic, she is fantastic!

On Wednesday night, she performed excellently and took home the gold sticker! She gets to proceed to the county level which will take place on March 14th.

She went step by step and this girl is not afraid of a little silence. She kept her poise and threw in extemporaneous information that she had not practiced. Yes...she definitely came alive in front of an audience. It was a pleasure to watch. She fielded questions and the judge told her Martha Stewart needs to be afraid!

She made a Nakamura Lock plane

R8 told everyone she is a paper folder- so true! She has lots of books on paper folding and loves to paper craft. A lot. In fact, so much so that I actually have a county recycling bin in our school room to take up the leftover mess. Don't worry it's clean and new and doesn't really spend any time outside. I just transfer the paper to an outside bin for recycling day- usually. Otherwise, I just run out and rescue the bin as soon as the truck comes. What parents won't do...

Paper airplane book

One of her paper folding books
We bought this one with the special paper included

More paper crafting projects

Afterward, we took everyone out to Friendly's to celebrate. It was a fun family night out. I told Dan that it looks like we are a 4-H family. I was a scout. Dan dabbled in Rangers. The kids love participating in the fair so much and are both officers this year. I'm still getting to know what 4-H is all about, but one of my favorite things is that it's unifying for our family. Boys and girls are together so that is a real plus when it comes to keeping things manageable with four kids.

So, who knows? Maybe she's state fair bound! I'll keep you posted.

## Friday, February 13, 2009

### Evidence of Molecules or Why Does Hot Air Rise?

We did an experiment to show the evidence of molecules and to illustrate how hot air rises. When Betsy goes to buy her ice skates in July, the black smith has to find them in the loft where it is super hot. So, why does hot air rise?

First you put a wet nickel on the top of a bottle and put your hands around it to warm up the air.

Then you wait to see when the nickel jumps! See it moved aside.

We illustrated what the molecules are doing in the bottle. The kids were able to tell me what cold molecules are doing compared to the hot ones. Yeah...a big chunk of prior knowledge on their part. With two science oriented parents, you should hear our dinner conversations some nights...and yes my science teacher self still loves an old fashioned chalkboard. I really, really miss the old black slate board I had in my classroom. Smooth- Mmmmm....

The kids made their own three panel paper.

They enjoyed it. The best part was J3 sitting down to dinner and telling Dan that you put the nickel on top and it moves because of air pressure after your hands warm the air in the bottle. Love that!