Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Prep

If you haven't already, this week would be the perfect time to measure out the Mayflower in your street - like we did in August.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Boston Massacre for kids

Here are a few options this week:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Replicas of Nina and Pinta in Little Rock

Only until early Tuesday morning (Nov 8.) the Nina and Pinta will be in Little Rock.  See more details here.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thanksgiving Resources

I know we have covered Thanksgiving in our history already but it's such a great holiday that we are going to spending some time on it again over the next few weeks here at Loften Academy. Scholastic has a content rich site that includes virtual field trips. Enjoy!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Reformation Day & Costumes

Quick Quiz:
Q: What happened on this day (Oct. 31) in 1517?
{We gave extra candy to trick-or-treaters who correctly responded.  Only one got it right}
A: Martin Luther hammered his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenburg.

And, the mark of a Comm. Central kid - he's wearing the Declaration of Independence as his Halloween costume.

He had people sign the back -
The idea was original when he was in kindergarten.  But he was waaaay more excited about it this year.


James Watt for kids has this video demonstrating James Watt's steam engine, and this 02:44 video describes his contribution to the time period. Here's an animation of the engine, but there's no description. This is a clip of an actual antique engine by Watt; you can find a "high points" bio here. This 2:23 video briefly talks about the background and impact of the English Industrial Revolution.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

India photos

Here are a few user-generated photos from, as well as a photo gallery from the site and a video, Destination: India. Here, too, is an amazing photo of a street in modern-day Kolkata (Calcutta), and a photo of a rickshaw there. (Though National Geographic can sometimes have conflicting worldviews, you may want to check out their new beta site for educators,

Weekly Checklist

Something that helps my second grader feel in control of his day is this checklist.  I make one each week.  As he finishes his work, he checks off his work.  This way we both know what is expected of him.  The last  two years we used the workbox system and it worked well, too.

On the list are specific things, like reviewing the Weekly Wisdom.  Other things on the list work more as a reminder for me.  "Cinderella in 3-D this weekend" means to read different versions of Cinderella as well as use the Activity Guide from the Children's Theatre because we're going to see the play on Saturday.

The checklist works for me.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Can you help?

On a note of Comm. Central Creatively housekeeping--at the end of January, my family and I  (Janel)are going to be moving to Uganda, Africa as missionaries. We are excited (and a bit overwhelmed). Though we'll continue homeschooling there, as I focus on our family's adjustments, I will be stepping out of regular contributions to Comm. Central Creatively. (I reserve the right to come back and give you yet another corny song or weird project idea.)

Here's where I'm trusting that God will care for all of us. If you've been helped by the blog--or think you know what could make it more helpful!--would you prayerfully consider pitching in with your ideas on the blog?

Maybe one of you would be interested in researching activities and videos that help other moms flesh out the week's curriculum. Maybe you wouldn't mind using to construct a review crossword once a week. Maybe you're just brimming with creative ideas or internet savvy that could help the rest of us out. I hope to slowly transition out in the next month as our preparations to leave are ramping up.

If you're interested, would you please leave a comment on the blog? Someone will be in touch with you. Thanks for helping all of us.

Easy craft for this week: Jar O'Lanterns

My five-year-old had a lot of fun with this easy craft from Disney's Family Fun magazine, using orange tempera paint, masking tape, and a glass jar to make a jack-o-lantern candle holder.

History for this week: Robert Clive and the British East India Company

Here's an 8:06 documentary on our history fact this week; here's a more full version of the episode, starting with part one (10 min.) of six. BBC also has several videos regarding Robert Clive's life if you scroll down on this page. PBS also had a lesson plan complete with video resources.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Week 11 Declaration of Independence

Click here, and then click "download" in the bottom right corner.

Week 11 Review Crossword

Click here, and then on the "download" button in the bottom right-hand corner.

Best educational apps for kids

Someone recommended Math Ninja to me recently, and we tried it yesterday. My oldest LOVES it. As in, was shouting "Yeah!" in the middle of his math practice, and telling me twice he loves it. (Strangely, this is not a frequent reaction to math practic in my home.) So I did a little research today; hopefully it will be helpful for all you techies out there.

Here are some lists of the top apps.

 These are solely devoted to educational apps for kids.

May they lead to a few more shouts during your math (or whatever) practice. Help us out: What educational apps do your kids love?

Arkansas State Fair discounted admission/rides tomorrow

Friday, October 21, children ages 6 and under can ride the Kiddie Rides free from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.. Free gate admission 9 a.m. to Noon for adults bringing kids.
All children through 12th grade get $3 gate admission.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Science Review Crossword, week 11

Click here, and download using the button on the lower right.

American Revolution lapbook

I received notice about this page today from one of my FB groups. I am so excited! Baker enjoys lapbooks and I love ready-to-go projects!
American Revolution unit/lapbook

CurrClick - great site, great sale plus freebies!

I love CurrClick. If you haven't discovered this site yet, now is a great time to check it out. You can snag some great freebies and discover lots of great downloadable resources plus live classes and online learning clubs.
Trunk or Treat Sale

Monday, October 17, 2011

Acid/Base Neutralization

This video is not especially kid friendly (as most chemistry videos aren't), but your kids can see a base change to an acid with color change and a bunch of dry ice making it look cool :). Related videos will appear on the right of your screen.

You can also watch this  home video of a minilab experiment--a neutralization using the always-present vinegar and baking soda. Not earth-shattering, but a good demonstration of what we're memorizing this week.

History Review Crossword, Week 11

Here's a review of our history facts up to this week, created with If you can, only print the first page; the second page is blank.

Note: I've been having a few problems with Scribd lately, so I'm trying a new format. Click on the "download" button in the lower right-hand corner, and you should be good to go. Otherwise, feel free to leave a comment, and I'll fix it as soon as I'm able.

Nouns: Grammar House Rock video

Click here.

French and Indian War for kids

You can find a few videos on the French and Indian war this week as follows (I have not previewed these completely): also has a number of online activities for kids based on the war, along with Power Point presentations, etc.; it includes a link to teacher/student resources for "The War that Made America Battle in the Wilderness."

At the risk of reusing a song two weeks in a row, my house will be singing this week's history fact to "This Land is Your Land":

In seventeen fifty-four
the French and Indian War
which began in North Amer-ica
between Britain and France over
ownership of North American
was won by the English when they captured
(repeat last line of melody)  Quebec, and Mo-o-ontreal!

Help with Scripture memory

Desiring God's Fighter Verse Songs disc E, available from for $7 (and elsewhere), has the entire Sermon on the Mount put to music--not as catchy as Seeds at all, but good for easy memory (for moms and dads, too!). It helped us a lot with this weeks' memory verse.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Week 10 Review Crossword

So--for being an educator of young minds, it seems that I need help counting. Last week was week 9, not week 8, so that makes this week 10. Oops.

If you still trust me, click here for your week 10 review crossword.

(I've been having issues with Scribd, but if you have trouble printing this, try downloading the document using the button in the bottom right corner.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Handwriting Practice Ideas

You can use the Paragraph Worksheet Maker of the Amazing Handwriting Worksheet Maker for a number of fun ideas!

1) Put the names of some of their favorite characters or of some family members on the sheet, then print out clip art or photographs of the names, with a border around the image. Your child traces the name, reads the name, and cuts and pastes the appropriate photo on its name. This is great for reluctant writers; I used Lego Star Wars character names last week, and my son keeps asking me when we'll get to do it again! (You can find clip art pictures by Googling the character's name, then clicking on the "Images" tab of Google. Cut and past the image.)

2) Ask your child to make up a short story. Type it in and print out the worksheet so they can copy their story. They can illustrate the story on a separate page.

3) Write letters to grandparents or other relatives using the same method: Your child dictates their letter (I write "Dear Grandma and Grandpa", etc. as the title), you print it out, and they can trace their words.

4) Write worksheets about their personal information: Their favorite color, birthday, phone number, address, etc.

As separate handwriting practice, we use a handful of fun, tactile options:

  • forming letters in a cookie tray of cornmeal or salt (I keep it in containers and reuse the cornmeal; if you can find a small rectangle container, it can serve as your HWT "slate")
  • Ziploc freezer bags full of hair gel (keeping them in the fridge is even better!); press the letters in to the bag
  • copying words from flashcards onto dry erase boards
  • Aqua Doodle mats
  • Magna Doodles
  • making letters in shaving cream or finger paint

Fill in the blank: Introduction to the Declaration

Click here.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Acids and bases activities to do at home

This blog post was very helpful--it showed how to create your own cabbage juice, make your own litmus paper, and communicate with M & M's how acids and bases become neutrals.

Peter the Czar for kids

At my house, we'll be singing our history fact to the tune of "This Land is Your Land":

In seventeen-twelve
Peter the Great, the
Czar of Russia
built his capital ci-ty
of Sa-int Petersburg
on the Baltic Sea in
an effort to obtain
a warm-water port
(repeat last line of melody:) giving Russia
a "Window to the West"!

Because my computer is malfunctioning this week I'm not able to access YouTube, but it seems there are a number of videos on Peter the Great; following the first YouTube video link will suggest a number of additional videos on the side panel.

The Story of the World Activity Book has a number of ideas for this week's history starting on page 104. Starting on page 52 of the Student Pages, there's a coloring page and other craft pages.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Critical Thinking Company book sale

On there is a sale on some great items from The Critical Thinking Company. Click on the referral link, sign up for free and check it out...

Monday, October 3, 2011

John Locke for kids

Links to help this week:
And...that's about all I got.


One homeschooling mom spent a week discovering gravity with her son.  The excellent post is here.  I'm thinking we will copy most, if not all, of it.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Week 8 Review Crossword

Click here.

Notebooking and Lapbooking Pages
I just found this site today that has notebooking pages to correspond to each chapter of Story of the World! And, best of all, it's free! I've printed a couple of notebooking pages already but one caveat, there is a header and footer so check your print preview. I'm still going to have to trim the page since there is a header that I can't remove but I'm o.k. with that. These can be mounted on cardstock and will look very nice.
Keep calm and homeschool on.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Until today I was a lapbook virgin.  This was my first time.

I was scared just thinking about how much work it would be.  But really it was quite fun.  I am not qualified to tell you how to make a lapbook.

I can show you how we made ours.  By the way, he really got into this and even asked if we could do this for next week's history fact.  Woah.
 We started by asking the 5W's and a H.
Then we printed a bunch of pictures from the Internet.

 The hand drawn picture on the blue page represents the financial decline of France when the Huguenots fled.  If you click on the images (from the blog) they will become larger.
 My reluctant writer wrote a lot today.  It made me very happy.
We both learned much about King Louis XIV, Versailles, and the Edict of Nantes.

Sister just sat at the table and drew.  Isn't she cute?  Well, I wish she just sat at the table and drew...this picture was too cute not to post for your viewing pleasure.

HT: Living and Learning does lapbooks.  Check out her blog for more great ideas.

A Chance to Win $500

Home School Legal Defense Association needs your input to help them better serve you and the homeschooling community! Click on this link to their short, six-question survey and you’ll be entered in a drawing to win a $500 Visa gift card.

Survey and drawing entries must be submitted by October 9. Winner will be drawn on Tuesday, October 11, 2011, and will be contacted by email. If we do not receive a response within 72 hours, a new winning name will be drawn. Must be age 18 or older to participate. By entering this contest, you agree to have your email address added to HSLDA’s email list. You may unsubscribe at any time.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Acids and bases for kids

NeoK12 has a number of videos on acids and bases, and here's a video presentation for kids by Here's an entire page of links for kids, flash player/interactive links, and links for teachers (scroll down here) including video clips, powerpoint presentations, and science games.

Louis XIV for kids has some helpful videos on Louis XIV to add to our history this week. Here's a photo of Versailles, his home.

You can try putting this week's memory work to the tune of the Hokey Pokey:
In sixteen eight-y five
The Sun King of France
Loui-is the four-teenth
revoked the e-edict of Nantes
causing the-e Fre-ench Huguenots
to flee the co-untry
beginning the finan-cial decline
(shout) of France!

"Give me Liberty" fill-in-the-blank

Here's a fill-in-the-blank with a few phrases from our Patrick Henry memory work.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Diet Coke & Mentos

This week's science fact caused my mind to jump to Diet Coke & Mentos.

The key is to get all the Mentos in the Diet Coke - quickly.

Because the eruption is quite spontaneous.

He wanted it to keep going, so when he found a Mentos on the ground he shoved it back in.

Over half the 2-liter spilled onto the concrete.  That's what I call bubbles!!

More fun: check out all the YouTube Mentos/Diet Coke experiments.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Endothermic and exothermic reactions that will get a reaction

Here's an interesting video for kids on an endothermic reaction being used in an Air Force lab to create fuel from aluminum and water!

If you're looking for an experiment this week, you can use the old baking-soda-and-vinegar experiment, but first, test the temperature of the vinegar first. Ask your kids to form a hypothesis of what they think will happen to the temperature when the baking soda is added, then measure the temp after. You can even do the experiment in a plastic bag and see if you can feel the temperature difference. (No, this is not my idea; credit belongs here.)

And this one offers definite "I love homeschooling" points: Use this experiment to make ice cream in a plastic bag and demonstrate an exothermic reaction! The reaction of the salt with the ice lowers the freezing point of the ice. Anyone else a fan of experiments you can eat? (Tip: They use milk in this experiment, but I've heard half-and-half recommended elsewhere.)

Here's one other exothermic reaction experiment using steel wool and vinegar.

Founding of Pennsylvania for kids has a photo gallery of Pennsylvania for kids. This site from has a landing page on William Penn with a lot of links: Did your kids know that Penn did hard time in the Tower of London? This site also had a lot of printables and information on Pennsylvania as a state, as did this page from apples4theteacher. Page 48 in the STOW Activity Book has a coloring page of William Penn's statue that stands on top of Philadelphia's City Hall; FYI, the city was founded by Quakers.

If your kids are interested in the Quakers, here's an article written to a late elementary level that would be good for research purposes.

Note: Here you'll find more than a week's worth of elementary-level lesson plans on colonial America.

Fun with Bleach

My neighbor asked me to take pictures of the process, so I decided to turn it into a tutorial.  For a birthday present, we bleached a t-shirt.  On purpose.  (How many have I ruined on accident with bleach?)

First, start with freezer paper.  It has plastic on one side, paper on the other.  We used the number 7 as our stencil, but you could use anything!
 Cut out a piece of freezer paper the size of your stencil.  Put them both on a lighted table.  What?  No lighted artist's table?  Me either.  I just held them up to a window to trace.
Cut out your stencil then iron it onto your fabric.  Dry heat for about 20 seconds, until the plastic is fused to the fabric.
Because the shirt was ringed, and I wanted the color to stay true around the neck and sleeves, I covered the rings with tape.  Then give a spray bottle of full-strength bleach to your child and let them squirt away.
Once the shirt is drenched with bleach, pull off the freezer paper.  Toss the shirt in the washer.
Last year for John Isaac's 6th birthday we made a bleached shirt.  A few years ago, I used freezer paper to make some art for John Isaac's room.  It's a fun, cheap way to decorate - or make a shirt.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Freely Educate

Thank Cheryl Wagaman for this tip: just posted a special from scholastic that is  a $1 special this week on ebooks, and freelyeducate has a coupon for $10 off. Lots of ebooks to choose from. Enjoy!

It appears that you do not have to purchase anything to take advantage of the offer.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Week 6 review crossword #2

Week 6 review crossword #2

Chemical reactions

If your kids are hungry for more chemical reactions, this page from TLC has a list of chemical reaction science experiments for families. This brief video also demonstrates an exothermic chemical reaction, as in one that actually creates heat--a fire!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Elephant Toothpaste

I show you this experiment with a bit of a warning. If you choose to do it, be sure to have enough supplies on hand to do it again. If you choose not to have enough supplies on hand to do it twice, your kid will be severely disappointed and pester you until you get more.  Don't say I didn't warn you. (Yes, this is a home school blog and I just used a double negative.)

It's a really fun experiment that exhibits this week's science fact, particularly exothermal reactions.
Start with an empty water bottle, add a big squeeze of dish soap, a few lot drops of food coloring (we should have used more color).  Then pour 1/2 cup or so of hydrogen peroxide.
In a smaller container mix about 1teaspoon or more yeast to about 2 tablespoons of water.  Then pour the water/yeast into the hydrogen peroxide.
Observe.  Kid is saying, "cool!!!"

Oh yeah baby.  Mom is scoring points.
all you need now is an elephant - to brush its teeth.
He was happy until he realized we were out of peroxide.  Boo.  At this point be sure to feel the bottle.  It is warm.  Exothermal reactions at work.

Related and a couple of fun videos within - It's a Boy's Life: Chemistry and Lines.  This video in particular is worth watching.


Norman Rockwell Exhibit

Tours of the exhibition In Search of Norman Rockwell's America will be held Tuesday - Sunday at 1:30 p.m., until Sunday, September 18 at the Arkansas Art Center.  However, it is perfectly fine to view the art without the tour.  Sometimes I am hesitant to go downtown because of fear of the unknown.  Let me reassure you that it was easy to access and parking was also easy.

We went today and listened to the docent. Of course all docents have something different to say, ours was average at best.  The (free) exhibit was definitely worth the trip downtown.  In the gift shop you can buy the book that inspired the exhibit.  I think it would be a great gift for a Norman Rockwell lover.  I was really tempted to buy it for my dad; I still might.

 These pictures were taken with my phone (and were totally against the rules)...but below you can see an example of the art exhibit. On the left is a modern day photograph of a mother sending her daughters to school.  On the right is a Rockwell painting of a boy coming home from camp.  Kevin Rivoli's photojournalism was captured spur of the moment, none were staged.  Whereas Rockwell often staged his portraits, then painted from a picture.  Some of the images were quite patriotic and moving.

Rockwell wanted to preserve images of "every day America" and Rivoli wanted to prove that Americans are still very much the same.  I noticed though, the modern mother was not wearing a dress, apron, or a wedding ring (left hand not shown).

 As you may be well aware, Rockwell was commissioned for several pieces for the Saturday Evening Post.  The below picture was considered "too scandalous" for print.  The son expected his father to curse after hitting the golf ball so he was covering his ears.  My how times have changed.  :)  The accompanying photographs were of little boys golfing.  I was impressed at the detail of expression on both figures' faces.
 If memory serves me rightly, this exhibit will be traveling around America for ten years.

The children's favorite part?  The waterfall outside.


Friday, September 9, 2011


I was very graciously told this morning that I am a week ahead on our memory work. Which, you know, is good, because here at home I was behind on being ahead. :) If I have led you astray, enjoy a week off a week late!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

One more explanation of the English Civil War

This video with pictures and text was a good explanation of the causes of the English Civil War, and certainly helped my student's teacher understand.

Memory work help: English Civil War

This week's history fact may be helped with the tune of O Christmas Tree:

In 164-2
the English Civil Wa-ar
was fought be-tween
King Charles the First
and Pa-a-arliame-ent
ending with the execution of
the king and es-tablishment of
the Commonwealth led by
Oli-ve-er Crom-well.

Monday, September 5, 2011

English Civil War for Kids

YouTube has this two-part video series (about 9 minutes each) on the English Civil War,some selected portions of the movie Oliver Cromwell put together, and also a four-part compilation of David Starkey's documentary on the British monarchy, focusing on Oliver Cromwell and the Civil War (more well-done, in my opinion, than the two-part series above, but only slightly more interesting). Here's a page by the BBC to explore various aspects of the war.

If you're wanting to renact the warring sides with army men or, well, your kids, here's some basic info to help as well as a fun word find and some maps.

Scripture memory songs

Do Not Worry - Matthew 6:25, 26 & 34aThere are a number of mp3s that may help with our memory work: From Steve Green's Hide 'Em in Your Heart Vol. 2, there's Matthew 6:19-21 and 6:25,26,34a. Seeds Family Worship also has Matthew 6:20-21 ("Treasure" from Seeds of Purpose) and 6:31-34 ("Seek first," also from Seeds of Purpose). If I'm doing my math correctly, that doesn't leave many verses left without music! Nice.

More helpful resources

Periodic Table Shower Curtain - EVA vinyl
Amazon has a few periodic table placemats that may be helpful for the memory work coming our way. The Periodic Table of Elements Activity Placemat
I haven't tried the board game Periodic Quest, but it seems to have high reviews. Of course, you can always get the Periodic Table shower curtain on Amazon. Nothing says "I'm a homeschooler" like a Periodic Table shower curtain, now, does it?

America: The Story of UsThe Boston Tea Party (Pilot, Part One)Also, for Netflix subscribers, I'd personally recommend America: The Story of Us produced by the History Channel and Liberty's Kids: The Complete Series, both available to Watch Instantly. The former is a twelve-episode live-action reenactment of American History (PG level violence, for the most part). Liberty's Kids (rated TV Y7) is an animated cartoon that used to air on FOX and tells, through 40 24-minute episodes, the story of the Revolution. My kids love it, and have never role played American history so frequently!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Silence by Endo (Japanese Historical Fiction)

SilenceThinking about Japan this week caused my mind to venture back about four years ago when I was in a book club.  We read Silence by Shusaku Endo.  It was a book that really made me think - on many levels - intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally.

To keep from reinventing the wheel, here's an exerpt from Amazon's webpage (that says it's from Wikipedia).  I've bolded the main part.

Silence (沈黙, Chinmoku?) is a 1966 novel of historical fiction by Japanese author Shusaku Endo. It is the story of a Jesuit missionary sent to seventeenth century Japan, who endured persecution in the time of Kakure Kirishitan ("Hidden Christians") that followed the defeat of the Shimabara Rebellion. The recipient of the 1966 Tanizaki Prize, it has been called "Endo’s supreme achievement" and "one of the twentieth century’s finest novels". Written partly in the form of a letter by its central character, the theme of a silent God who accompanies a believer in adversity was greatly influenced by the Catholic Endo's experience of religious discrimination in Japan, racism in France and debilitating tuberculosis.


Seeds Family Worship aides

Totally Tots has quite a few printables to go along with the Seeds Family Worship CDs. I haven't compared what she has with the CC memory work but thought it would be a wonderful resource no matter what.

In September

At the library:

The first and third Mondays at Thompson: Chess Club for ages 5-18 from 4-5pm (race home from Comm. Central.  :)

Starting this Tuesday, Sept., 6 at 2:30 at Terry - just for homeschooled elementary students - Book a Trip with Dewey.  They ask that you register to reserve your spot.

Arkansas Skatium homeschool skate day:
Starting THIS Tuesday, Sept., 6 from 2-5pm.  Ice skating from 2-3:30 then roller skating until 5. It's the first Tuesday of the month, through May.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Week 5 review crossword

Week 5 Crossword

K4 and K5: Big Bird in Japan

Younger students may enjoy the breadth of Japanese culture they find in Big Bird in Japan (it's a YouTube video, so plan accordingly :).

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Entertaining Baby

We used this contraption on a recent car trip to entertain Baby. It continues to be a great toy, especially during school hours.

It's a Parmesan cheese shaker and milk jug tops. She also loves putting them in and pulling them out of the gallon bag.