Showing posts with label homeschool ideas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label homeschool ideas. Show all posts

Friday, January 20, 2012

Studying Birds @ the Phoenix Zoo

We used our Phoenix Zoo membership to study birds this week and it turned into a fabulous unit study. On Tuesday we took school out of the house and over to the zoo with a small project that packed a big punch. We packed a picnic lunch, some water colors, worksheets and clip boards.

As our week was about birds, I had each child pick a bird to study and after completing a worksheet about habitat, diet etc. they used a blank sheet of paper to draw the bird.

I talked each child through the drawing process using geometric shapes (you can view a great tutorial on how to do this over at Fairy Dust Teaching). After their drawing was complete they used water colors to get just the right look.

Not only did they have a blast but their brains were deeply analyzing the details of every animal we looked at following the activity. This was such a great project I am thinking of working it into our regular routine.

On Wednesday we used play doe to make our own birds

and cut outs to build bird pictures (well mostly), my youngest was "board of birds" so he constructed "a mouse wearing a jet pack."

We also launched airplanes in the backyard (jet airplanes). @ 'high tea' we feasted on traditional bird food; nectar, bird seed pate' (I think that is what those forks are for), ants on a log, and carrot and cheese nests.

We also used cardboard and  Christmas lights to construct our own light up bird, an idea I found @ Roar.

We finished the study on Thursday with a reading and writing assignment guessed it, birds. Here is Chloe's short report.

January 19, 2012


Do you realize God created all animals including you? “You have given man dominion over…the birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea” (Psalm 8:8). My paper is especially about birds.

Birds are the only animals that have feathers.  We  saw a black swan  at the zoo and it was pretty. Quails are very very elegant. Bald eagles are very smart and their wing span is about 72 to 90 inches long. The hummingbird is a small bird that buzzes like a bee. I know that because I have watched them. They like nectar and also sugar and water colored red because we did that. Parrots are very colorful and they eat nuts, fruit and seeds. Pelicans live near the water, they have a pouch in their beak and they are big. They eat fish. The woodpecker uses it’s beak to drill a hole in a tree to make it’s nest. Seagulls have a plan to fight. One attacked my mom at Sea World. She dropped her food.

Habitats; some live in the jungle some live beside the sea some live in trees. Some live in swamps. Birds live all over the world and they are very very pretty. I love birds. They live all around you just look outside and see if you can see some, like a dove.


(1997).Exploring God’s World Grade 3. Abeka Book: USA


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cloudy w/ A Chance of Meatballs Unit Study

We put together our own unit study last week using the theme Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. First of all we love to do theme studies; our brains naturally organize information in themes not to mention everything kids do these days seems to have a theme. Our unit study focused on weather and sustainability.

I found an excellent printable weather unit study @ The Teacher's Guide. The study was complete including vocabulary, a very simple introduction to formula calculation (4th grade), explanation of Celsius and Fahrenheit conversion, a review of the boiling point of water, an introduction to the root words of clouds in Latin, a poetry lesson and a comprehensive study of clouds. Although the lesson plans sound advanced they were quite simple to understand by my 8 year old and my 5 year old learned quite a bit about the water cycle and different types of clouds.

We began the week reading about clouds in an Abeka 3rd Grade Science book. My son is in Kindergarten/1st grade and my daughter is in 4th/5th; since we are a one room school, I sometimes give basic lessons from the 3rd grade manual to keep every one's attention. I have also found that if I give my son coloring pages to work on during the lesson he is a better listener. I used coloring pages on the water cycle @ Kid Zone. On day one we also wrote poems about clouds per the lesson plans.

In regards to sustainability, we have been working on another project @ Considering frugal. We have been previewing several grocery stores to see what kind of organic merchandise is available. After a discussion about sustainability, we set out to the local supermarket, I gave my daughter a clipboard with a chart of the foods we stock most often and asked her to locate organic versions and mark the price. I am proud to say that by the end of the week both children could identify organic labels and had a better understanding of how factory produced foods effect the sustainable food supply. If you are interested in what we found, you can read the full report @ Considering frugal.

So Monday through Thursday we continued to work through the lesson and preview grocery stores for sustainability. On Friday I gave them an art project titled "Snowy with a Chance of Meatballs." I was inspired by a snowman project posted @ Fairy Dust Teaching, she has such great ideas. Anyway, I told them the title and then provided the "ingredients" with a list of what the picture must include.

We finished the day by making spaghetti and meatballs (we chose a vegan recipe in keeping with our  sustainable living theme) and homemade pizza and a movie viewing...can you guess what movie we watched? But you can read the book if you like.

Some variations I came across were themed cupcakes and play doe spaghetti and meatballs.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Affordable educational toys that teach science

According to Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development every positive step toward development begins with a crisis to be mastered. It is this same action that is thought to take place early in life when a child plays with an educational toy; as the child masters a complicated toy he or she develops a belief that they are competent. 

Educational or "dynamic" toys are toys that prompt a child to environmental interaction; when a child plays with an educational toy it will sway, spin, swing, tumble, walk, float,  rotate, roll or fly. Traditional educational toys in the simplest form are really the best toys for development and you would be surprised how long a child will play with them when they are offered. It is a fact that children learn through touch and play so if you provide them with the tools to learn all day, your work will be easy.
Play doe and Modeling Clay
Play doe and modeling clay are one of the best educational toys and very affordable. In fact many homeschoolers make there own play doe at home. Not only does play doe encourage hand muscle development it also offers a first introduction to science. You can even take this a step further with spin off does such as oatmeal doe, recycled paper doe and homemade silly putty. If you have a young boy who likes to get dirty, a variety of play does will keep you sane.
Building Blocks
Buy traditional building blocks. Although Lego's and mega blocks are good too, traditional wood building blocks that come in a multiple of shapes are also important. Traditional block play introduces your child to physics, geometry, and math. 

Water Play
Even with older children, bath toys are important educational additions. Bath toys float and will provide your child with a sense of volume, mass and even velocity. We have found some very advanced bath toys in the pool toy section of Walmart but a collection of rubber ducks and a small boat are just as much fun.
Toys that Roll and Race
Race tracks and toys with wheels are a must even if you are in a house with all girls, especially if you are in a house with all girls. If you want your daughters to learn science then you must provide science play. Barbie and Polly Pocket are great fun to race through the house and teach the principle of force and velocity at the same time.
Traditional Games

Traditional games like Uno, Domino's, Scrabble, Monopoly, Life and even puzzles are all a must to develop problem solving, strategies, spelling and math application skills.
Balls, Frisbees and Flying Things
Basketballs, kick balls, bad mitten, roller skates, skateboard ramps, Frisbee and other flying things like gliders and kites are all important for teaching beginning and advanced principles of physics.

Equip your child to learn about their environment through play and they will develop the self-esteem to apply what they learn later in life.

Abdulaeva, E. A., & Smirnova, E. O. (2011). The Role of Dynamic Toys in Child'sDevelopment. Psychological Science & Education, (2), 30-38 

Erikson, Erik H. (1987). A way of looking at things (Eds.). United States of America: W.W.Norton & Company Inc.  

Petersen, L., Stahlberg, D., & Dauenheimer, D. (2000). Effects of Self-Schema Elaboration onAffective and Cognitive Reactions to Self-Relevant Information. Genetic, Social & General Psychology Monographs, 126(1), 25.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Making word sandwiches in Arizona

When we are learning to read in Arizona...we make sandwiches, word sandwiches that is.

I cut the consonant's out of white poster board, you can use brown if you prefer wheat bread, and the vowels are different colors of felt to facilitate ham, tomato, cheese etc.

I place the "ingredients" out on plates as a station and give the kids a starter word to get them going. It has survived several years and is a very popular activity at our house.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Christmas homeschool studies

We took a two week Christmas break from the average school day to explore new territory. The North Pole, well Williams, Arizona that is, where they have a mock up of the North Pole. We took a train ride on the Polar Express and my kids saw snow for the first time. Snow is pretty educational when you have never seen it before. Building a snowman for the first time turned into science and the sledding was great!

A look out the window on a snow covered morning is captivating when you have only seen sun and rain.

We left a cookie and eggnog for Santa...

And he came and left us a few new things...

Just as a side note, we tell the story of St. Nick in our house, a Bishop from around 700 AD that did good deeds in secret. We play pretend that Santa stopped by and it is great for expanding the imagination and laying a foundation for faith.

We have now have fresh play doe to sculpt with.

And new dump trucks for the backyard.


We also completed our own unit study of Christmas Around the World. We researched Christmas traditions in different countries, identified them on the map and made a craft or Christmas food from each one. It was great fun and made for a wonderful holiday.

How I became Considering frugal

Fueled by the growing list of pollution related allergies my family suffered from each day, and inspired by my 97 year old grandmother who could recycle ANYTHING before recycling was cool, back in 2011, I decided (in the spirit of the Julie/Julia Project...) to embark on a journey to see just how much one family could do to change our planet. I didn't consult any other parties before I launched this idea. Thankfully my husband, daughter and son are usually my biggest supporters. Here is the catch; as I'm normally very thrifty (you can note from early blog posts), I was looking for ways that I could reduce our carbon footprint and make socially responsible purchases without increasing our spending. Mmmmmm. We succeed in changing some of our habits a bit and finding ways to reduce our footprint. There were lots of fun epic fails alone the way too! But the biggest change we have made over the course of the last six years, was to move from the mega city of Phoenix to Wyoming. You can read my full bio on my About Me page.

Legal Disclaimer

While it is true that I am working on a PHD in Psychology and very smart and frugal, I am not a medical doctor, criminal, personal or accident lawyer. I do not sell insurance nor am I an accountant or mortgage advisor. While some of my posts may offer good ideas on home, health and business solutions, I am not personally responsible nor is Considering frugal for any advice, ideas, recipes or menu plans that you decide to use. This blog is intended to be helpful and fun. Any products you purchase from my Amazon store or any other retailer advertised on my blog must be returned to them. I may sometimes endorse a product that I love. This is simply my opinion, you must try all products at your own risk. While I personally do not use tracking cookies or share information, my affiliates are third parties and they may do so. Please click, travel and purchase at your own risk.

frugal advice

"...for your Father knows what you need before you ask." Matthew 6:8