Polar Bears

The third week in January we continued our Antarctic/Artic animal studies  with Polar Bears.  We followed a very similar plan to Penguins.

First Molly read books and worked with a CAN/HAVE/ARE graphic organizer.  I had a really hard time finding books about Polar Bears on the iPad, and actually didn’t end up buying any at all.  We used NatGeoKids and this website.  If I had had time to go to the library I would have looked for:

Polar Bears, by Gail Gibbons

MTH Polar Bear Fact Tracker

Big Fuzzy, by Caroline Castle

Tundra Animals, by Dayton

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We chose our facts and wrote them on post-its.  (I have been using JotNotPro to make copies of these for their portfolios, since we are doing them on a jumbo notepad.)  Lucy (K4) really gets into this part.  She loves contributing facts and really retains a lot of what she hears while we do this.

Then Molly picked 4 facts and wrote her report.  This week we talked a lot about the importance of a clever title to draw your reader in. 😉

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For art we did this project from that artist woman.  Hers are definitely better than ours. 😉  We also don’t have the same tempra paints that she does, so I just watered our tempra down a bit.

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Last but not least, we did the blubber glove experiment.

You need:

2 gallon baggies

shortening (I used a block)

a bowl of ice water

Put the shortening in the first bag and squish it around.  Then put the second bag inside that and try to get some of the shortening on all sides.  Let the kids put one hand in the “blubber glove” and one hand in the ice water by itself.  They will quickly discover the bennefits of blubber!  Polar bears can have up to 10 centemeters of blubber.  of course we got out the ruler and measured on our arms how far out that would go. 😉

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Here is another experiement about how Polar Bears stay warm that we didn’t do this week (I couldn’t find it!) but we will, probably this weekend.

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Frozen

Are everyone else’s children as obsessed (and I mean that in every sense of the word) with the movie Frozen?  I wouldn’t even say we are a family who gets super into Disney movies, but man… this one caputured our hearts.  I think its the sisters.  🙂  Using that obsession, we kicked off our second semester with a month of all things FROZEN.

Anyway, as a New Years resolution (of which I have one… PLAN.) I sat down and planned all of January.  And seriously?  Life is so much better when I plan.  I’ll do a little post on planning soon.  For real.  Stop laughing.  I’ll do it.  You can plan on it.  (Get it?  Plan on it…. nevermind.)

So here is the January line up:

Snow

Penguins

Polar Bears

Whales

Be Awesome.

Just kidding on that last one.  But that is pretty much how it felt to have an entire month planned, with shopping list, ready to go.  BAM!

I didn’t take many snow pictures, but we did lots of fun stuff. 🙂

We read Over and Under the Snow and talked about hibernating animals and the subnivean zone.

We made these adorable snowmen.

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And this fun snow art.  (I got this idea from someone else, but I can’t remember who…)

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We tried the Borax snow crystals but it didn’t work.  We need to try again!

We talked about symmetry and drew the owl from Draw Write Now.

We also did paper snowflakes, again talking about symmetry.

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We read Snowflake Bently and talked about the uniqueness of snowflakes, why they would be hard to photograph and their structures (all snowflakes have 6 “legs”).  We also looked at this website and watched the short movie.

We drew a big snowman on the chalkboard and filled it in with adjectives for snow.

We did the life cycle of a snow man.  I don’t think they’ll ever forget the states of matter.  (solid, liquid, gas)  They had a blast singing about Olaf from Frozen while we did this.  😉

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Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

Molly’s Curriculum

This question is honestly the reason I decided to start this little blog.  I spend a lot of time sending out links to people who want to know about “my” ideas.  And lets be clear, next to none of them are mine, and I will always do my very very best to give credit where credit is due.  I love to share, but nothing drives me more crazy than people who take credit when it isn’t theirs to take.  So, I promise to always link back to things I’ve seen elsewhere- so expect a lot of links.  🙂

The biggest reason I love homeschooling is the ability to choose curriculum that makes sense to my kids.  What works for my kid, may not work for any other kid.  Some people love “boxed” curriculums.  I love picking and choosing.  I also love that when we get a bit run down with these selections we can take a week to explore something they are interested in, a holiday, something that coorelates with a field trip and then come back to this with fresh attitudes.  Some people may think my kids are too young for science and history and fine arts… but thats what they love to learn about.  So that is what we do.

Last summer I spent a good deal of time investigating and researching and asking opinions on curriculum.  At the time I had two friends who homeschooled (coincidentally both named Summer) who helped me greatly in sorting out all the choices.  I couldn’t ever express enough gratitude to them for listenting to be weigh out my options.  Curriculum is pricey, and I was terrified of hating everything I picked.  Luckily, that isn’t the case, for the most part.  🙂

Math:  Math U See  We really are loving this program.  It is based on manipulatives you can order from the website and a DVD that introduces each lesson.  We started Molly with Primer, though more than half of it was too easy for her, it was an excellent base, introduced skip counting, telling time and the manipulatives, which would be very important later.  She started Alpha just a few weeks after the start of school and we couldn’t be happier with it.  Lucy started Primer at the begining of the year, and really enjoys it.  In the interest of being honest, Molly is at the point where we need to practice math facts, which isn’t all that fun for anyone.  Thanks to Summer, we’ve begun using Math Drills which is amazing.  You can specify which drills you need the kids to practice and when they finish a “test” it gives them a speed in MPH, and a certificate that they can email to friends and family.  Its brilliant.  Seriously.

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This was the first curriculum she “completed” and she was outrageously excited to be starting Alpha.

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Both girls working on their math and sharing the blocks. They do each have their own set. The case is from Container Store (thank you, Summer!). You can also see Molly’s planner in this picture, which is the main part of our “calendar” time for her. It is very important to me to teach her executive skills. If you don’t know about them, check out the book Smart But Scattered. Its not one I would recommend buying, but it is a good read.

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Lucy *loves* math. I think it makes her feel like a big girl. 🙂

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Lucy watching Mr. Demme

Spelling:  We use All About Spelling.  I can’t say teaching spelling is my favorite thing… I just find it a little boring to teach, but so exciting to see the lessons sink in and to see her apply them at other times of the day.  This program heavily relies on manipulatives, which for some kids is great, but for others is… dangerous.  😉  After some looking around and another great suggestion from my app guru Summer, we found iSpeak Word which we now use for the most part, during the manipulative portion of the lessons.   Then, on KinderTown (A friend recommeded this and it has been so helpful.)  I found Spelling City .  This has several great free spelling practice games, as well as a test feature.  We did go ahead and subscribe for a year, and I have to say we use it a lot, not only for the spelling features (which are great, Molly loves Hang Mouse) but also for the record keeping and vocabulary portions.  I also love that its all set up for when Lucy begins spelling.  We began with Level 1, which she finished at the end of the first semester and is rocking Level 2.  The whole thing has become much less frustrating since we’ve begun using the iPad as our “manipulative”.

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iSpeak Word… I turn the sound off, or she will make it say the word each time she moves a letter and spelling will take an hour. We mostly just use this in place of the letter tiles that come with All About Spelling.

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Working on Spelling City, which we love.

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Proud to have finished Level 1!

Reading/ Language Arts:  Because Molly already knows how to read, this threw me for a bit of a loop.  I started with Explode the Code and Beyond the Code, both of which she enjoyed.  While doing some research over break we switched to First Language Lessons and Writing With Ease.  Both of which we enjoy very much.  She really has a love of literature (which I share), so these are both right up her/our alley.

Science:  Here was my one big curriculum fail.  I went with Science Fusion.  There isn’t anything wrong with it per se, but Molly couldn’t get in to it.  Nothing was hands on, the worksheets were lame and the topics were dry.  Over winter break I spent a lot of time looking for something different and finally decided on R.E.A.L. Science Odessey.

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Learning about cells and the difference between animal and plant cells

History:  As I was looking around on the Pandia Press website I came across their History program, which we’ve begun.  We’re only on the second lesson, but so far Molly is enamoured with the book A Child’s History of The World .  She loves hearing about how people long ago lived.  So far her interest in “dinos” is rivaled only by her interest in the people who first lived after them.  She loves telling people that she learned that cave people drank blood like milk.  I think she likes the shock value.  😉  We are also using some materials, readings and ideas from Story of the World.

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The main text for history is the Usbourn Internet Linked Encyclopedia of World History. Here she is looking to see what color to use for the Mayan Ruins.

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What may have been their favorite project yet: the archeology dig. A shoe box filled with coffee grinds, small things from around the house, and an archeological map. This has been requested several more times.

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Our version of Geography. Each time we come across a character or friend or relative or person of interest in history/art we add a star to our maps, which we review every day. The love it. Molly especially likes being the “teacher” and asking the questions. 🙂

Art/Music:  We’re loosely following Confession of A Homeschooler’s Greatest Artists and Greatest Composers.  We’ve enjoyed both!  Both rely on the Greatist Artist and Greatest Composers series, which you can find on Amazon.    They also love doing puzzles with Jigzo.  A friend recommended it when I was bummed that an art puzzle app that I purchased didn’t have many of the paintings I was hoping it would.  Basically I Google a work of art, screen shot it, crop it and then you can use this app to create a puzzle for it.  I do wish it would store the photos in the app so the girls could use it without me having to get the photos for them, but it works.

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Learning about Picasso with a friend

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Learning about Picasso’s blue period with Nana, our favorite art teacher.

Other ideas of course come from Pinterest.  Everyone knows I love me some Pinterest.  I hope someone finds this helpful!

Clearly we love our iPad and it is a huge part of our schooling experience.  Next I’ll do a list of our favorite apps. 🙂