Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Spontaneous Field Trip

Anyone want to watch a pecan tree shake? Bob Barnhill, of Barnhill Orchards near Cabot, has invited us to watch their pecan harvest. John Isaac and I are going tomorrow (Wed) at 1:30. Email me if you're interested. luvmyhub AT gmail DOT com


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Arkansas Arborteum

We went for a family hike today in the Arkansas Arboretum. It was a flat paved trail (good for strollers).

To get to the arboretum, drive past Pinnacle Mountain and turn right at the first road. You'll see the sign on the right after about a mile.

We enjoyed identifying new (to us) trees, mostly by the bark - but a few still had leaves.

Bonus: several different kinds of fungus, too.

I can't wait to go again in the spring.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving resources for kids

National Geographic for kids has this article with photos on the first Thanksgiving. Here's a brief, more historical video; and an animated video on William Bradford in ten or so two-minute parts from the Discovery Channel, starting here.

Martha Stewart had cute pilgrim hats and a sail centerpiece for kids in this month's magazine--even some finger puppet favors, too. Here are the best Thanksgiving crafts from Disney's Family Fun magazine, too, in case you just had way too much time on your hands (or needed the kids to have a little less on theirs).

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fun test prep

One of my most successful homeschooling gadgets this semester was a hot dots pen, along with their accompanying hot and cold dots. Though there are available flashcards and interactive mats that are sold for the pen, we use it for test prep--and my son loves it.

To use, I find or create a multiple-choice worksheet, and place a "hot" dot on the correct answers--and "cold" dots on the others. When my son puts the pen on the correct answer, the pen lights up and tells him, "Correct!" or "Good job!" or some sound of success--and of course the opposite for a wrong answer.

I might use them to jazz up some flashcards next semester, too!

Grammar review--through reading

One of the ways we've reviewed grammar this semester is via what Beverly Cleary referred to as "DEAR" time in her Ramona Quimby books: Drop Everything And Read. I'll have my son read a book of his choosing for twenty minutes--DEAR time--for one of his workboxes (or for most people, an agenda item).

In the next workbox, I'll have a sheet of paper that asks him comprehension questions (What is the central problem the character is facing?)--really whatever we're working on for reading fundamentals that week--but I'll also incorporate grammar, having him write one noun, pronoun, adjective, etc. from what he just read.

I really like multi-disciplinary activities to sync activities together, and this is a great way to do it (another option: have him write a summary sentence about what he read--or answer an overarching comprehension question (i.e. Who are the main characters in this book? In what setting does this book take place?--then illustrate it).

Roots Memory

If you've ever played Memory or Concentration, it's a great way to review this semester's roots.

1) Take some index cards and make pairs: the Greek/Latin root on one card, the definition on the other.

2) Once you've got your pairs, mix them and arrange them face down in rows.

3) Play "Memory" by taking turns finding pairs of roots and their matching definition.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Janel and I swap homeschooling manipulatives. In this week's goodie bag from her were color coded popcicle sticks.

First my son sorted the colors. Each shape was created with different colors. (Janel wrote names and dots on one side and just dots on opposite side of the sticks. )

Then he made shapes.

Thanks, Janel!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Psalm 34:18 song

For this week's memory verse, our good ol' Seeds Family Worship has an mp3 song that my four-year-old adores. When he came home from K4 a few weeks ago, he exclaimed, "Mom, did you know that God is close to the brokenhearted?! That means sad!"

Prepositions: Grammar Rock

Kinda guessed there would be a Grammar Rock Prepositions video, huh?

Water Cycle Worksheets

From Comm. Central mom Hope Bucher:

There are several good water cycle worksheets on the web, but I really liked these.

Thanks, Hope!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Three quick younger-elementary activities using Microsoft Excel

1) Capital/lowercase Memory. Using a large and easily read font, make an Excel workbook page of the letters of the alphabet in lowercase and uppercase, with one letter in each cell. Make sure you make borders visible for easy cutting. Print out the letters onto cardstock, then cut them up for a Memory/Concentration game to identify and match uppercase and lowercase letters.

Tip: Start with a small number of letters (like 10) first, to avoid the game being overwhelming.

2) The Name Game. Using a large and easily read font, make an Excel workbook page of the letters of the names in your family and/or your last name, one letter in each cell. Make sure you make borders visible for easy cutting. Print out the letters onto cardstock, then cut the pieces up. Ask your child to use the letters to spell out your family's first names.

Tip: To teach name-spelling, try putting the names to the song B-I-N-G-O. My family used it for me, and now I use it for my kids! Trust me, if it works for Breitenstein, it works for anything.

3) Stairsteps. As a spinoff of a classic Montessori activity, print out an Excel workbook page with large-width columns and rows, borders visible (as an option, you can fill in the cells with color). You'll be cutting out a strip of one cell, then a strip of two connected cells, then of three cells, etc. Place the various sizes of connected cells in an envelope, and see what your child does with them (Montessori functions with minimal instruction, in my understanding). If your child needs assistance, see if they can arrange them from the smallest number of squares (or rectangles) to the most (or least to greatest, if you're trying to teach these terms).

Renaissance for kids

No need to recreate the wheel; here's A-Z Home's Cool Homeschooling page on the Renaissance for Kids, a linked page from Social Studies for kids, Yahooligans' cool links including an animated trip through the Renaissance, and a good written (but not too detailed) general overview from KidsPast.

As for activities, check out this truly extensive page from ProTeacher, more cool ideas from eHow (like making your own candles), a looong page on links to the Middle Ages in general, another thoroughly reviewed and choosy set of links from Surfnetkids.com, and a fun (washable) stained-glass activity that pre-K and up will love, I think.

Not really related to the Renaissance but a cool video just the same: How to Draw from Mission: Renaissance.

Leonardo da Vinci for kids

There are lots of great resources for us on our current artist, and I want to be sure and highlight such a notable man in history for my kids. Here's a six-page pdf with links and activity ideas; a link on painting birds as he did; a History channel video on The Last Supper; an online portrait-maker in the vein of da Vinci's portraiture; a great collection for teachers and students of the best sites on da Vinci; a Mona Lisa art activity; the BBC's Leonardo page; the first of 18 BBC videos on the man (no, I have not watched them).

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Water Cycle: Magic School Bus

The Magic School Bus has another video for us--on the water cycle, plus two science experiments! At the bottom of the experiment page, you can also view this video on the water cycle, complete with a quiz and vocabulary lesson.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Water Cycle for kids

This page has quizzes, videos, and more! It's got pretty much everything you'll need (or want) this week! But if you want to see more, scroll down on this page to the heading "for kids"--even more videos, an interactive diagram, etc. This page has a Bill Nye the Science Guy clip.

This page has coloring and activity pages, along with helpful photos. Be aware that one of the first sentences speaks of evolution (sigh).

Here's a simple experiment, too, to demonstrate condensation--and you can take your pick on experiments from this page.

And guess what tune you can sing the fact to? Ah, yes. It's Farmer in the Dell.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mansa Musa

This page will be interesting for kids to look at with all of its facts in an interesting layout, and two short videos (the second is about Africa, not Mansa Musa). This video, at four minutes, is a more extensive version of the first video. Access National Geographic's videos on Mali here.

Here's a link to the first few informative pages of an e-book for kids with a magazine layout (you need a membership to view the entire book). This is a succinct summary of his life from an article in World Book Kids, and another with a comprehension question at the end. For older kids or research projects, here's a more lengthy explanation, along with cultural notes on the Kingdom of Mali.

I'm not aware of how lessons for older children are structured at Comm. Central, but here's a thorough lesson plan and student page for older students.

Battling burnout

In case anyone else is finding themselves eyeing the Two and a Half Weeks 'Til School's Over for a Month Countdown, I decided I'd take the leap to share my own recent battle with burnout. This particular post doesn't mention my homeschooling efforts, but I think you're probably aware of its contributions to exhaustion!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Treasure Trove of History Resources for this week

I apologize for the delay of this post. I (Amy) have been ill all week and we are a bit behind on our history for this week. I found this site using the Usborne World History, Internet-Linked Encyclopedia so if you have this book, go explore the links for this week. There are a lot of great ones. This particular site was packed with great, kid-friendly things and no registration is required. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Since the weather forecast looks crummy we're going to postpone the Two Rivers park day, scheduled for Wednesday.

Homeschool Ice Skating

The first Tuesday of the month is Homeschool Ice Skating Day at the Arkansas Skatium.  Details here.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Crossword puzzle review

I utilized www.theteacherscorner.net to make this review crossword puzzle of a very small handful (11 questions) of first semester memory work.

Weather printables

If you'll be following the weather trail created by our science facts this week and next, here are a few printables for writing and drawing. Since I'm all for incorporating other skills, here's some tips on drawing weather, and a drawing weather worksheet for Pre-K to K.

Air temperature and pressure

This page has your pick of experiments on air pressure! This page attempts to explain pressure and temperature's relationship: good for older kids, but younger kids will have an easier time with just our science fact.

This Magic School Bus Kicks Up a Storm video helps connect the dots between temperature, pressure, and weather, and Scholastic is nice enough to give us an experiment and printable to go with it, demonstrating a wind spiral using the heat from a lightbulb.

The good ol' "Farmer in the Dell" tune is there once again to help us memorize the memory work itself.

Marco Polo

From biography.com, here's a two-minute video; and from National Geographic, some of their always-stunning photos depicting with captions his journey to China. If your child is just nutty about Marco Polo, there's a PBS documentary (1 hour, 25 minutes...) on two adventurers who follow his journey from Venice to China and back--which I have not watched. And for the rest of you who I'm sure can't get enough of him, there's an animated video to buy designed to build character in kids. The two-minute trailer might be enjoyable to your kids!

Here's an interactive map of his journeys, complete with sound. If you're looking for more resources, click here.

Comm. Central Swap

I must attribute one of the most beneficial ideas yet this year to co-blogger Julie. At the beginning of the year, she and I began swapping homeschooling materials: games, manipulatives, books, puzzles--you name it. It's been wonderful to have some fresh tools to stimulate my kids' imagination, and often on things I haven't thought of.

So in the words of many a schoolteacher: Grab a buddy.