Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Random Ravenclaw student and Dark Water Fairy (who is a princess when the wings are off).

Friday, October 29, 2010

Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding

After looking here and there and everywhere for a science curriculum. I have found it!

This curriculum works for me on several levels:

The Threads
The threads are broken into four areas; (A) Nature of Matter, (B) Life Science, (C) Physical Science, (D) Earth and Space Science. Lessons are outlined not in sequential order, but by these four threads. This has led to some confusion as to what order the lessons should be completed. There is a very informative yahoo group   (you will need to sign in and go to K5Science/) that is frequented by the author. My question was answered by the author the same day. Anyway, in the files section there is a wonderful sequence written by a member. I am using this for our sequence of study.
Lessons build on each other, but are not sequential if that makes sense. At the files section of the yahoo group someone has thoughtfully laid out the materials you will need by lesson. This is very helpful for pre-planning.

Ease of Use
The lessons in this curriculum are very easy to implement and simple to understand. Science is not really my thing, so I need clear instruction. Each lessons has about twelve sections: Overview, Time Required, Objectives, Required Background, Materials, Teachable Moments, Methods and Procedures, Questions/Discussion/Activities to Review..., To Parents and Others Providing Support, Connections to Other Topics and Follow-up to Higher Levels, National Science Education Standards, and lastly Books for Correlated Reading. Don't freak out this is still light reading.

For Lesson A-3 : Air Is a Substance, there are three parts to the Methods and Procedures section. Part 1 is Introductory Discussion, Part 2 is Does Air Occupy Space?, and Part 3 is Does Air Have Weight? You are encouraged to pick and choose which parts of the Methods and Procedures you will use for each given lesson. You are also advised to vary the parts you complete. For example, completing parts 1 and 3 for Lesson A-3 and parts 2 and 3 for Lesson B-7.

Activities and Experiments
There are plenty of "teachable moments", activities, and experiments in each of the lessons. You can definitely use this as a one stop shop for science. I have found that the library and various websites can be used easily to supplement to the lessons if I feel the need.

Further Study
Dr. Nebel has the next volume out soon, so you won't have to change curriculum/approaches again for a few years.

You will need the book, Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding. Amazon has this for about $23.00. I was able to find mine used at Abebooks. You probably need very little "fancy" equipment to complete the experiments in the book. A minimally stocked science shelf and a kitchen "junk drawer", you should already of everything you need.

A possible drawback to the curriculum would be that there are no workbooks or worksheets to go with the curriculum. Every once in a while I feel that Optimus really "must" have a worksheet for a lesson. I find that I can easily whip one up in a Word document. Something like this worksheet I made for Air is a Substance.

All in all, I really like this curriculum. I would say that most of it could also be used for kids older than K-2. It would certainly be a great idea to give them a firm foundation for future science exploration!

take care

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Current Curriculum : November

(the picture is here because it is COOL)

Optimus' (age 7)  

Math-U-See Gamma
Read-Alouds from the library
1st Language Lessons (we are on the last of year 2)
Spelling Workout
Handwriting - Cursive copywork, cursive dry erase book, and McGuffey Reader reading selection
Typing - Sue Patrick's typing system (free with workbox order), return email
Computer lessons - Head of the Class lessons
Scouts - go to Cub Scouts, complete scout homework

Tink's (age 5)

Math-U-See Alpha, Mighty Mind game, block counting
Language - Starfall, find the vowels with alphabet cards
Reading - Teach Your Child to Read in 100 easy Lessons
Computer Lessons - Head of the Class
Fun - PKU nutritional cards (sorting low protein/high protein foods), pumpkin craft or coloring page

Work Together

Five In A Row
Building Foundations for Scientific Understanding, K-2
Story of the World, Volume 1
Art - Who is John James Audubon?, surf website, practice drawing bird's heads.
Music - Bach (listening)
Lifeskills - sewing and making Christmas gifts and cards

PE class and playtime
Tennis Lessons
Movie night with Aunt
Thanksgiving Party with family

Monday, October 25, 2010

Okay, the revamp of the Workbox System ends!

For a few weeks we have been using a version of the Workbox System that has evolved for more than two years. I started using the system almost exactly. Now the only thing our system has in common with the original is the use of the name "workbox".

I set up plastic tower organizers. One for each child. The kids have five drawers in their tower. Each drawer is labeled with the subject. When they are finished with the subject, they put the work and books back into the drawer.
This way I am not having to revisit the drawers to organize each day.

I set it up at the begining of the week and don't have to touch it again! I like this soooo much better. I have enough to do during the day than keep that task on my list. It is also teaching the kids to clean up after themselves (which they could always use more practice with).

Optimus' drawers are labeled:
1st Language Lessons

Tink's drawers are labeled:

Okay, then I have my tower! This is for all the subjects we do together. My drawers are labeled:
Unit Studies
Art & Music

Each child's binder is laid onto of their towers. Optimus has a keyboard for typing practice and Tink has the Math-U-See blocks box on top of hers.

The binders hold everything they need to "do" their work. Page protectors with subject headings separate subjects. They can put finished work in the binder and they also have plenty of paper inside. Optimus added a pencil case to his last week.

In the front sleeve of the binder, I put their weekly assignment sheet. This has been a major thing for us. I told the kids that if they wanted to work ahead they could finish things early. The condition is that they must AT LEAST finish the tasks assigned for the day. Optimus tried to convince me that he could save things for the end of the week and finish it all then. Uh, let me think about that, NO! He is such a negotiator.

You can view a sample assignment sheet here.

All in all this is the best way of "doing" school for us. It is easy for me to pull together supplies and type in assignments. The kids like it because they can see how much they have left for the day/week. The days are easier! That is the best part.

-take care all

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Reid Park Zoo's Howl-o-ween Event

Each year for the last six. Hubby's Star Wars group (501st) has volunteered their time to dress-up and greet trick-or-treaters at the zoo. It's a big event for the zoo, raising gobs of money. The "guys" all have a wonderful time. I go with him for one to two days each year. I always have an excellent time. I just thought I would share some of the photos from the event this year.

Hubby as Captain Rex.

This duck was very brave! I couldn't resist taking this pic. lol

These men and women do so much during the year for charities. I am so thankful that they get an opportunity to have such a great time serving their communities in a way that brings joy to so many.

October Activities

Hubby led his cub scouts on a nature hike in Catalina State Park.

We took the kids to the zoo. This time we seemed to focus on the birds. The kids finally seemed to appreciate the aviary instead of wanting to race to the end. Optimus used a photographic guide to tell us which birds we were seeing.
Alex found an African Stork feather.

Bearded Dragon

Beautiful corn snake.

These birds were very strange. They were making a next and their was a dove inside of it. It was odd, almost like the dove was their baby.

Tink. My little actress.