Friday, May 22, 2009

Falling Apple Science

If you have not checked the Falling Apple Science site recently, there is some content on the site now. The mission statement is available and there is some explanation of inductive science. What I found most interesting is the 'products' page where the high school subjects are laid out. I can see that the physics is matched with the math expected in high school.

I do not see any biology or earth science. I assume that those topics, which do not require much math, will be presented in middle school. I also think that some beginning chemistry (talking historically) can be presented before high school as well.

And lucky people who live in Illinois might want to find out about the summer science camp.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I Love...

that my daughter ran into an old friend of hers from her private school. They both went to preschool together at the Montessori school. She took her daughter out to attend public kindergarten. She teaches English at the high school at my local school. Of course, as with all of us moms who were paying for the expensive private school, she was curious where Hanover was attending school. When Hanover said that she was homeschooling, I could see the mom's face tighten up into complete disapproval. She asked how it was going and I honestly told her that some things were going well and there were other things that I needed to spend more time on. Her disapproval was even more apparent.

We discovered that the two girls were both very active outside of school with dance, and other activities. After getting reacquainted a little more, I asked the daughter what her favorite books were. I'm always on the look out for other books for Hanover, whose appetite for reading is voracious. This other girl said that she doesn't get a chance to read very much. The last thing she read outside of assigned work was the fourth Harry Potter book, and she only got half-way through.

When we got back to the car, I asked my daughter what she thought about the girl not reading books. Hanover said, "I hope I always get to homeschool. I couldn't imagine not having enough time to read." Yippee. Hanover's first positive acknowledgement of homeschooling.

The Round Up

It's here! Find out what some of the Atlas Shrugged fuss is all about.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Some of My Favorites

I just reogranized the folders in my Google Reader (it's an RSS reader that picks up feeds from blogs and anything else using RSS and congregates it together so I only need to go to one place to read anything new). I added a new folder full of the blogs I go out of my way to read first and everytime I log on. I actually subscribe to over a hundred feeds. It sounds like a lot, but very few update daily. If I have not logged into Reader for a while, I could have upwards of 300 new posts to read. Of course, I cannot read all of them. There are so many great blogs, and these are the ones that I find most interesting right now for my current interests. So now I can go to my "Faves" folder and check out these blogs:

Homeschool and Education:

3 Ring Binder

Alasandra's Homeschool Blog Awards
At Home Science
D-Ed Reckoning
History at Our House

Homeschooled Twins
Joanne Jacobs
Kitchen Table Math
Rational Jenn
The Thinking Mother
A is A Academy

Sewing and Craft:

Diary of a Sewing Fanatic
Erica B.'s D.I.Y. Style
Gorgeous Things' Blog
Miss Celie's Pants
Sew, Mama, Sew
The Crafty Crow
The Sewing Divas

Science and Tech:


And More (including parenting and common philosophy):

Mike's Eyes (Spotted By)
One Reality
Principled Parent
Spark a Synapse
The Little Things
The New Clarion

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

History at Our House

Since I can't shut up about how much I like this program, here's the link:

It's a daily phone call (long distance--I use Vonage, others use Skype) where the kids teleconference with other class members and the teacher four days a week for a 1/2 hour lecture. Three of the those days are history presentations. The fourth day is an art appreciation lecture where the subject is historically related to the topic discussed during class. It also includes a weekly geography map to label, also generally related to the area studied during the year.

There are three tiers of attendance: full attendance (call in for every teleconference), once-a-week attendance (call in once during the week, preferably on a given day and listening to MP3s for the rest of the week's lectures), and listening to MP3s without actually calling in at all (no need for any long distance phone call). Each MP3 is about 24 MB. The highest price is for full attendance (which I love, though I find it expensive for my budget--but not expensive for what is offered). The lowest price is for MP3s only.

There are varied levels to match your students' age and aptitude. History at Our House offers a Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, Middle School, and High School levels. With the exception of High School, the cost is a single payment for each level. So two students in Upper Elementary pay just once.

Friday, May 15, 2009

I Love...

That Hanover asked me the other day whether the song lyric "There was a space between you and I" was wrong. She said it sounded wrong to her and she was right.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Girls' Club: Friendship Token

I have not posted much about girls' club. This project, though, was so cute, I wanted to share it. Our most recent American Girl that we are discussing is Kirsten. Kirsten is a Swedish immigrant in 1854 who heads to the American frontier. So we get to discuss Swedish immigrant culture and pioneering. In today's club we talked about "friendship tokens." According to the American Girl books, it was common for girls to give each other small hand-made gifts.

Since we recently had a girl leave the club, we used this meeting to make our own friendship token to give to her. I cut 5"squares from quilting fabric and then marked 1/2" seam from each edge. That will give me a 4" square when everything is sewn together. For a 16" pillow, I needed 16 squares (a 4 square by 4 square grid). I also cut a plain white back 17 inches square (16" after subtracting a 1/2" seam allowance from each edge).

This meeting was particularly fun because we had a picnic. We set up a sheet outside and each of the girls brought a basket which we filled with grapes, some cheese slices, and bread. Without insulated lunch bags, that is how pioneer girls would carry their food. Apple juice for a drink and we also had bread pudding with chocolate chips brought by one of the moms. Yum!

The girls each decorated a square. The idea was to have each of the girls then sew the squares together to make the top. Instead, after working diligently for 40 minutes, it was obvious that they were ready for some downtime. So I took the decorated squares and sewed them together and then finished the pillow. The kids got to blow off steam, fool around, and have friend time.

Even though girls' club officially ends at a certain time, we often have company for a couple of hours afterward. It's a great time for the kids and me. The kids get to play together and I get to chat with other moms. I cannot say enough about what a nice group of moms and girls we have. It is a great relief that there are no odd personality conflicts and we all seem to mesh well. Which is interesting since they are all Christian and even follow Christian curriculums, and I'm atheist. That they are still in girls' club at all after learning that is a good sign.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I Love...

Root words. After learning 'exo' means 'outside' and some of the associated words, Hanover happily shared with me that she was able to answer a question about turtle shells correctly because she knew 'exoskeleton' meant an 'outside skeleton.'

Monday, May 11, 2009

Answer to Two-Minute Mystery

I posted a "Two-Minute Mystery" example in this post.

Here's the answer given in the book:
Tim Brown could not have made a "beautifully clear shot" of the Big Dipper with his lens open an hour. The camera would have moved, due to the rotation of the Earth, causing the stars on the photograph to appear as lines!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

For Mother's Day

A mother is not a person to lean on but a person to make leaning unnecessary.
- Dorothy C. Fisher (1879-1958)

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Used Book Bargains

You know I love used books. Better World Books helps sell used books (usually library books). Right now, they are having a bargain center deal where you can get five bargain books for $15 and have them shipped for free. Here is my favorite author for kid's science (though not all of his politics are great)--I'm checking if I can find some more of the "How Did We Find Out..." series. I have ordered from Better World books in the past and have not had any issues with service. I do not endorse all of the site's particular policies though they the best collection of older books I've come across, have great used-book prices and an easy ordering system.

Friday, May 08, 2009

More Mental Exercises

I picked up a book called "Still More Two-Minute Mysteries" at a library sale last year. Hanover is a huge fan of Nancy Drew so I thought she would enjoy another type of mystery to solve. She was emphatically not interested last year. After helping me reorganize the bookshelves she was more intriqued when she came across it. I remember reading this series as a kid.

These are set up as old-school murder mysteries with a Sherlock twist. A murder case is discussed in about a page and there is a little clue given to help the reader determine whether the suspect is guilty or innocent. The reader can think about it as long as the wish. The solution is printed upside-down at the bottom of the page.

An example:

The Case of the Big Dipper

"Curtis Brown was shot to death between ten and eleven o'clock last night," Inspector Winters told Dr. Haledjian.

"The body was found at midnight in the kitchen of his home by his mother. She telephoned headquarters at once.

"Brown was a wealthy bachelor. His estate will be divided evenly between his mother and Tim Brown, a nephew. That automatically make Tim suspect number one."

"Has he an alibi?" inquired Haledjian.

"He claims he never left the roof of his house from nine last night till [sic] four this morning," replied the inspector. "Tim's recently become a camera fiend. He says he spent the night photographing the stars."

The inspector handed Haledjian a folder thick with large photographs of the heavens.

"Tim says he was taking these pictures at the time of the murder," the inspector went on. "His house is a two-hour drive from his uncle's."

The inspector tapped a photograph marked "one-hour exposure."

"He insists he took this picture between nine-thirty and ten-thirty last night."

Haledjian studied the photograph--a beautifully clear shot of the Big Dipper.

The inspector said, "If Tim really clicked his lens on at nine-thirty and off at ten-thirty, he couldn't have traveled two hours and killed his uncle between ten and eleven."

"I'm not an astrologist," replied Haledjian. "But from reading the stars in this photograph, I predict a cloudy future for Mr. Tim Brown!"


It is certainly an exercise for a younger kid to understand what the photo shows. I'll post the answer tomorrow in case you have not had the advantage of attending my husband's astronomy class to figure this out.

A Photo Essay of an Artist Breaking Boundaries

You may note the varied media the artist enjoys using in his creative endeavors. Though he usually prefers pencils and crayons because of their ease of use and prevalence, he does the unexpected occasionally. The last photo shows his competency with Sharpie. Good taste in the color--orange is my new favorite. His flexibility as an artist is also evident when he leaves his prefered canvas of the painted wall and moves onto doors, drawer bottoms, and potty seats. Overall, we can expect a prolific career with even more surprises and risks in store.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

When Is a Simple Policy Not So Simple?

I think this sums it up quite well. Nice job, LB!

Teaching Following Directions

I think one of the reasons I was good at taking tests was because I knew how to follow written directions. It seems like it would be really easy to follow directions, right? Except that when you've been in school for a really long time it is easy to assume you know what the directions are asking (haven't you solved similar problems a hundred times?) so you jump into the problem without reading every last word. Another problem with following directions is comprehension. Some problems from puzzle books (in this last post) are excellent following direction primers. If you don't follow the directions to a T, the solution won't work. And because they are puzzle books for fun (especially for kids), the solution usually includes a saying or picture the kids are likely to know so when it is wrong, it is obvious. I love anything that helps with self-correction!

Round Up


Monday, May 04, 2009

The Joy of Solving

One of the most important joys I would like to impart to my child is the joy of solving. I mean that I want my kids to feel adequate at solving problems and accomplished when they get the answer. I looked at algebra like a puzzle--knowing that I was given the tools during instruction, it was just a matter of figuring out how to use them. I can't say for sure why I have a joy of working on a problem. Why I might want to keep trying until I get the right answer.

I think one of the main reasons why I enjoyed it so much was because I was fairly certain I could actually solve it. When it came to math, the problems were based on that day's lesson, but not the exact same as the ones presented in class. At that time, in school, I hated being given problems that I hadn't been taught. It seemed pointless to flounder without knowing if there was a hope of finding the solution. My older daughter is the same way. She hated Spelling Power because she felt it was unfair to be tested on words before she knew them. (Spelling Power has an option for a pre-test or diagnostic test so children do not need to study words they already know how to spell. I could not make this differentiation to my daughter.) I would not give my children a math problem that they hadn't been given the tools to solve.

Another reason I think I enjoy the 'thrill of the hunt' when solving problems is puzzle books. I remember my mom spending a lot of time on those variety puzzle books and buying me my own copies. I still pick up books when I make my way to a book store or the magazine stand in the drugstore. These books are great for 7th or 8th graders and up. The reason why I wouldn't recommend them for most younger kids is because they assume a significant amount of prior knowledge and context, and many puzzles start at a high level. I would especially concentrate on logic problems--and by logic problems, I mean all of the many different types of problems that appear in the logic problem variety books. Those types of problems have less to do with generic information (unlike crossword puzzles) and more about the puzzling out of the answer. Some of the problems in the regular books would be OK for younger kids, but certainly not all. And keeping my experience above in mind, I would edit the content presented to the kids and assure that they have the basic skills necessary.

There are a number of fun puzzle books for available for younger kids. I found some cute puzzle books that were just the thing, though a little easy, for my 7 year-old. They're called My First Puzzles and there's a number of them. They are mini-books, about 3" square with a number of different activities. The front of the book recommends them for three and four year-olds, but I think that they are great for a beginning reader level. There are some easy crosswords, mazes, connect-the-dots and some other interesting puzzles. Another book I got for my older daughter (10) has a nice flip-book format, but only includes sudoku, word searches, and word finds. The sudoku is nice logic practice and word finds are good for spatial development.

So I'm trying to help my kids understand the joy of solving a problem for fun and I hope they bring that joy to solving other problems they come across in their schoolwork.

Friday, May 01, 2009

I Love...

That Flurpee asked me the other night if numbers ever end. I was so thrilled by that little insight that I had to share it with my husband right away.

Homeschooling Tip

Get yourself out of the house without the kids preferably doing something only for yourself--grocery shopping only counts marginally. I have a hair appointment (which also only counts marginally since it is a requirement for me at this stage instead of a straight-up indulgence) and a book club meeting. Book club is wonderful. I am part of a real-world book club with a number of lovely ladies and a virtual book club. Both offer a wonderful nudge to do something which I can share with smart women whose opinions I love learning and where I get a chance to exercise my own brain on something other than lesson planning and choosing curriculum.