Friday, July 29, 2011

Science Experiments: Density

Does anyone else have a tendency to think small for their children? Not that I don't want my children to do bigger, better and harder things, it's just that my brain thinks they're not old enough for things, subjects, etc... They're still little kids in my mind! lol

We've been working our way through the first module in Apologia General Science. I don't know why I thought dd would hate this or not comprehend. I need to think BIGGER for my children. She is loving it, and thriving. I thought I'd share a bit of step by step of the experiment we did yesterday, in picture form...


The experiment calls for corn syrup, water and vegetable oil. Also a grape, a small rock, an ice cube and a piece of cork. We'll be learning about density and connectivity of atoms.

Pour oil in a glass, 1/4 full. Do the same with the water and then the corn syrup. You'll notice the corn syrup has atoms that are more tightly connected so it all sinks to the bottom, thereby passing through the atoms of the other substances. The water settles in the middle (atoms more tightly bound than oil, but less so than syrup) and oil at the top.

When we dropped the following items they did different things:
Grape - drops through oil and water and sits on surface of syrup.
Rock - drops through it all and lands on the bottom of syrup.
Ice Cube - floats in oil and/or settles on top of water but not in it.
Cork - floats on top of oil.

Daughter also wanted to see what a lava rock and a strawberry would do (lava rock hung out with the grape in the water on top of the corn syrup while the strawberry was only as dense as the oil. Go figure. I thought it would be like the grape!)

We learned which items have more density (corn syrup and rock) and which have less (oil and cork.)

I'll be sharing more experiments as we do them.  (For more tutorials, click on the page link at the top.)

*This homeschool post is linked to the Homeschool Mother's Journal.*

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Planning, Boiling and Waiting...

Homeschool planning is in full swing. And to make matters more immediate, I decided to just jump in, without so much as planning one day. No really. The only reason I did this was because I was insane. Just kidding. But we have a friend whose daughter is beginning the Apologia General Science like we will be using this year and they started it last week. We thought it might be fun to try to keep pace and occasionally do experiments together. So this is why we find ourselves immersed in homeschooling. In July. In the middle of homeschool piles. In the middle of a heat wave. What was I thinking? Heat stroke probably.

Monday we had our first day. No problem on the science. Latin we reviewed since we haven't done any for months and we're in the middle of the Latin for Children book A. Math, we did review times table sheets and a Saxon Placement test to see what level we should be at. For English a friend loaned me a McDougal English program. Basically a public school's textbook. We jumped right in with minimal complaining. I also printed spelling lists from online although we didn't get to any of those.

Tuesday rolls around and I'm sick and we're both tired. Just great, on our 2nd day back to homeschool. So we read. All day. We started The Hobbit last fall but never finished it. I picked up The Lord of the Rings trilogy on tape and in 3 books at a garage sale so we plan to read those soon. Time to finish Hobbit first. And here is what I realized on our 2nd day of homeschooling. I don't want to shove textbooks at my child just to make sure we have 'something' to cover a subject. I don't want to have it all planned out. I want to be free to explore, to try out new things, to spend a whole day reading if I feel like it!  I like our science program, daughter needs experience with textbooks a bit if she is ever going to go to college (you know the backwards way they learn there, right?!) Latin is going okay, but its mostly chanting and fun things. I'm okay with that. I don't want to use a stale ole' English program or generic spelling lists from online. I realized while we were reading Hobbit, there were words we both didn't know. We started a list. Those definitions will have so much more meaning because we can apply them to what we've read. I like that. I have no plan for history yet. I keep looking at Sonlight's Core 100 just for the basic fact that it is all about reading, and is similar to a Charlotte Mason style of learning. We can do dictation and narration from the readings. We'll read up and discuss current events from magazines such as The Economist, Time and Newsweek. We don't have to be entrenched in boring ole' textbooks. Don't ask me what I'm planning on doing for math. Winging it???

Boy, oh boy. I can foresee an interesting year if I'm already feeling this way. Check back with me in a few months to make sure I haven't slipped back into textbook mode after I panic about whether we're learning enough or not. I'm praying that doesn't happen!  

* This homeschool update is linked to Back to (Home) School 2011. *


It's been 2 weeks of scorching hot heat. It's a miracle if I get out to water the garden and don't die from heat and mosquito bites. Basically it's so hot out, I'm surprised plants aren't boiling! But watering hasn't seemed to matter. Our wonderful plot of squash looks like a meteor landed in the middle of it. I guess it can't take the heat. It's still producing but it seems only a matter of time. 

We have, however had a few good points! The okra is FINALLY starting to bud! It is the slowest growing plant I've ever seen! But it's making up for lost time. See the adorable buds. I can't wait to have some!

The tomato plants look like Brer Rabbit's brer patch but they are still producing green tomatoes. This week I found one adorable red tomato! Yay! Finally. I'm counting on many more. I think they like this heat. I glad someone/thing does. All in all, the garden this year has been 'okay'. We've harvested some things but not as much as I had hoped. I have canning supplies all primed and ready but no use for them yet. We plan to do a fall planting soon. Maybe mid August? Need to read up on that. I also plan to Lasagna garden so the beds are ready for next year. All in all its been a good learning experience. I'm thinking we need to look into a watering system as well, maybe underground? We'll see...

*This garden update is linked to Tuesday Garden Party and Homeschool Village Garden Challenge. *


We're in waiting mode. We're 13 days into the 21 days for our incubating eggs. So far so good. The temperature in our homemade incubator is doing pretty well. We've candled the eggs twice. First time we couldn't see anything, so hard with brown eggs. We candled on Monday as well and saw these. 

Don't know if they mean chicks or boiled eggs. We'll candle again on Monday August 1st, our 18th day and then we go into lockdown with hopeful hatchings on August 4th. Check back for an update!

Also, the other day we drove past a guy putting this at the end of his driveway.

We stopped and asked if it was trash, it was, so we excitedly offered to come back with a truck for it. FREE! Doesn't it look like a start to a great coop?! Our backyard is filled with scrap woods and paneling. Can't wait to get started creating a coop-de-ville!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

This Week's Gardening...

Last week we only had one day that dipped below 95. This week the forecast is for 100's all week. Guess where I am? Yup. Inside. Guess where I'm not. Yup, the garden. I do go out and water, and the family picks various produce but we're just not spending the time outside, lest we be cooked to death. Our pledge/goal is to work outside a couple nights this week, ie: after 8 pm where hopefully God's fan will help us work cooler. We'll see.

In the mean time, we're growing sweet potatoes. Yes, I know they take 100 days (November 1st!) Yes, I know I'm behind and too late and foolish. I don't care.  Someone posted this video on Facebook last week and I couldn't quit thinking about it.

So when we stopped into Trader Joes this past weekend, I grabbed up a bag of organic sweet potatoes and I'm determined to make them my own! We'll grow them inside for a few weeks until they vine and then my goal is to plant them in 5 gallon white paint buckets. This way, when October rolls around and we can potentially have some freezes, I can pull all the buckets in the house, into the dining room to line the wall under the window for the last few weeks of growing. I'm determined. Can you tell?

I had the pre-teen watch the video and explained about pesticides and how they can harm us. She helped me fill jars (given to me for canning by hubby's boss. So thankful.) with water and stick toothpicks in the sides. I put them up on top of the hutch, hoping the cat doesn't find them. He's awfully curious and will want to pull them all out!

Chicken update: We've had a couple crackages. We're down to 10 eggs now. We tried candling on Sunday night but couldn't see anything. I think we'll wait until next Sunday (at 10 days) or maybe even the next Friday before we candle again. We're just nervous Nelllies, being that this is our first time hatching. Crossing fingers.

Okay, back to planning our homeschool. An update on that coming soon...

Friday, July 15, 2011

They're Heeeerrrreeee!!!

Talkin' about chickens here. Okay, not chickens really, but fertilized eggs. We decided to go a different route on our chicken farming adventure. And what better homeschool learning than raising your chickens from scratch!

I ordered eggs last week and they arrived yesterday. I spent all the time inbetween, building our very own incubator (you can see the progression of hits and misses of building it here). The eggs are resting comfortably in said incubator, being turned every 5 hours or so. 

There is so much to learn about chickens, and eggs and incubating and such. So I joined the forum boards at Backyard Chickens. Everyone there is so helpful! I feel like I might actually be able to do this endeavor! My main goal is not to kill the chicks! lol  We have a mix of chickens: Rhode Island Reds, Buff Orpingtons, Barred Rocks, Easter Eggers (blue/green eggs!) and Blue Laced Red Wyandottes. Should be fun.

Pre-teen comes home from camp today and I can't wait for her to see them. Now I need to do something homeschool-ish and teach her about chickens, eggs and such. Any suggestions on a unit study or something to use? She's going into 7th grade so I want it to be age appropriate if possible.

Anyway, just had to share!

Friday, July 8, 2011

July 8 - Homeschool Mother's Journal

(This post is linked to Homeschool Mother's Journal)

In our homeschool this week…
We've been researching our new pet (see favorite things below), habitats, foods, etc... We've been researching care and feeding of chickens and searching for where to buy some. We've been researching how to build an incubator if we decide to hatch eggs. My daughter has been reading a lot. She made a deal with the teen to take over the teen's job of changing the kitty litter and feeding the animals, for pay. She received her first salary and promptly spent it on the first two books in the Kane Chronicles. I love when she finds a series she wants to read over and over.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
The pre-teen (formerly the little one) is heading off to camp on Monday so the excitement for this has been immeasurable. However she came down sick on Wednesday, fevers, chills, cough, etc... We're praying she is all better by Monday. Grandma heads to camp with her to be a counselor. Cross your fingers for good health.

My favorite thing this week was…
A new pet has joined our menagerie this week. We're not sure if we'll keep him or just study him and release again soon. Another favorite is Saturday. Hubby and I will celebrate our 23rd anniversary.. I'm thankful to God and all his workings in our lives. Without him, we would have never made it past the first year!

Things I’m working on…
Okay, I'm going to say it out loud... I'm planning homeschooling. I know, I'm not mentally ready for school to start but I'm feeling the need to begin some planning. I've been researching My Father's World, revisiting Sonlight, or trying to wing a history program. I'm a bit confused but I'm on a mission. I'll share our curriculum list when I figure it out. We usually start again in mid-August. We'll see. Maybe it will be after Labor Day. Who knows.

I’m reading…
A few books at the moment grace my bedside table: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Year of Plenty and Have a New Kid By Friday. All are wonderful so far and hard to put down.

I'm Cooking...
We hit the farmer's market last week and bought tons of veggies. Today I'm making a rhubarb pie. Actually two. One is rhubarb and peaches (for hubby who is allergic to strawberries), the other is strawberry rhubarb. It's my first foray into using rhubarb. Wish me luck!

I’m grateful for…
A few families we know from church have been getting together on Friday nights to hang out, play games and do a bible study. We've been studying our way through Philippians. What a blessing to my life, to my spiritual life that has been floundering in a desert without water. I've needed this so much. I've been rereading through Philippians as much as I can and seeing where I can apply it to my life.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share...
We attended Maker Faire in Kansas City the weekend before last. An event full of robots, inventions, science and art. It was amazing and very inspiring for the pre-teen. Here she is working one of the robots. (They have Maker Faires all over the country. Check it out for a city near you. Not to be missed!)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Peace & Gentleness School

I was at a bible study slash games party this weekend and someone mentioned they were planning out their homeschooling this week. I immediately threw my fingers in my ears and moaned, "lalalala, don't talk about homeschool yet!" The rest of the weekend I was thinking about my reaction. Sure, some of it was to be funny because I can't help myself. But the rest was pure unwant. And that had me thinking all weekend. Do I hate homeschooling? No. Is it the planning? Maybe. But once I get going, I'm good. Am I enjoying my summer freedom too much? Probably. lol Are there other problems with our homeschooling? I think this is the kicker.

My pre-teen (aka: little one not so much longer) has such a different learning style than my own. She does NOT revel in writing everything down, making lists, perfecting her cursive, researching details. If we did things her way we'd read all day and play with Legos, Playmobile or outside for the rest of the time. Oh, and some science experiments or inventions thrown in for good measure. She hates structure. How am I supposed to school around that? Plus we're moving into 7th grade this year and I'm getting scared. Scared that I won't cover everything, scared that we'll continue to fight about everything. Scared scared scared.

However, I keep trying to embrace this scripture: 
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4: 4-7

He does not want me to worry, but to just rejoice in him and to enjoy the peace that he gives me. Why is that so hard? Gentleness is another part of me that is not always evident in our day to day homeschool exchanges. I want to just get it all done quickly so our day can continue. This will be a year of changing things up. I want school to always be a positive experience, for us both!

I happened across a post by Classic Housewife with the challenge to post what our school looks like and what works for us in our homeschooling. Here goes:

Well, we're down to one child. The teen graduated last year and is working full time and attending college. The pre-teen (formerly the little one) is growing up. In August she will turn 12 and enter 7th grade homeschool.  She is a hands on learner I think. Hates repetition. I keep trying to pigeon hole her into a certain learning style but as of yet have not been successful. It's probably one of the reasons I have so much trouble teaching her sometimes, even though she is super smart.

1 - Reading. My daughter loves to read. Granted, she wants to read what SHE wants to read but she will eventually settle down and read a book I assign. I think if I make more of our schooling into reading (history books, biographies on scientists, artists, mathmaticans, short stories, etc...) it will make a big chunk of our school easier.

2 - Latin. This was enjoyable in the beginning of the year. Then we got a bit behind and I kept pushing the Latin at a faster pace and it lost its appeal. I plan to bring it back and make it enjoyable.

3 - Baking. My daughter plans to be a baker when she grows up. Why not incorporate this into a few subjects? For example, history/geography? We could cook from different lands and time periods. We could also use baking as a way to reach out with missions. I realized the other day we've lived here for 16 years and I don't know the neighbor's names behind me. I've waved occasionally but that is it. It's time to meet the neighbors, why not bring cookies?! 

4 - Science. My daughter LOVES anything science or inventing. This is where I really fail. I like science, but organizing activities and experiments is not something I usually do. This year I'm scheduling at least 3 activities or experiments a month, outside of our science learning lessons. I must foster this love for science she has.

5 - Art. The preteen is always asking for art supplies for holidays and every time we're near a craft store. I'm an artist for criminey's sake! I should be teaching her more about artists, different techniques, and providing opportunities to visit places with art; to enhance her love of art.

** This is a post for the second annual “Back to (Home) School” blog carnival **

Monday, July 4, 2011

CONTEST - Name That Turtle

While we're waiting on chickens (planning/building our coop), a new friend has wandered into our lives.

He is a Three Toed Box Turtle, indigenous to our area of Missouri. He has three big toes on each back foot, not to be confused with the 5 toes on the front. We wandered into the middle of the road where my teen was driving. He's a lucky lucky turtle. lol She couldn't stand to have him run over so he came home with her.

Within 5 minutes of looking up what kind of turtle he might be, the little one had seen this habitat and had made a makeshift facsimile in the basement (the red 'thing' is a washcloth on top of a shelf where he can crawl under to hide.) He's especially fond of black and blueberries. We want to go to Wally World  to pick up crickets today. We plan to tackle an outdoor arena for him this afternoon.

He has a propensity for swimming in the little paper making tray we repurposed. And the little one put an old rag shirt on top of his hidding corner only to find later he had dragged it out to under the heat lamp and was laying under it. He's a funny little sort (or she, who knows really.)

The only problem with him is, he/she doesn't have a name. Mr. Turtle is what we're calling him at this point. I told the little one it should be something Greek, since she likes Greek myths but so far we haven't named him. That's where you come in. We need help naming our fat little turtle. What do you think?

The winner will receive a one of a kind drawing by the little one of 'Mr. Turtle' complete with the chosen name. I'm also throwing in a Swagbucks $5 gift certificate code to Amazon (you use it like money on Amazon when you check out.) Anyone is welcome to answer, children too! 

Name him well! Good Luck!
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