Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Building a Green House

Recommended as part of the Sonlight Homeschool Curriculum, my kids have been delighted by McBroom's Wonderful One-Acre Farm: Three Tall Tales. The unbelievable growing ability of the farm sweeps kids into a fantasy world. It's a great book to read in connection with planting a garden.

My son and husband worked together to put together a green house.  Actually my husband did most of the work, but my son bought the green house, used from a friend, with his own money. His plants were taking up too much space on the windowsill and needed a better home.

First the frames for the four walls were assembled.

  Then they were screwed together to form a rectangle.

Next they modified the roof from a flat roof to a peak. This was very important for the water to run off.

Panels were added and a vent was put into the top corner for summer heat.

Chessie the Horse Chestnut Tree is his favorite plant.

The green house should be the perfect home for his horse chestnut, apple and pine trees as well as his other plants.

 




 * I did not receive any compensation for this recommendation. I'm just a homeschooling mom who has found many products that I like. If you're interested in the products I recommend on this blog I want to make it easy for you to find them. 
** I am an Amazon associate and receive a small portion of the sales on orders made after clicking in from this site, which I promptly spend on homeschooling books and supplies for my children.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Magnetic Field - Make Your Own Compass

Earth Science Unit Study

Week 6: We built our own compasses and did an activity to learn more about the Earth's magnetic field.

The Earth's magnetic field is generated by the liquid iron continuously flowing in the core. Today our compass needles point north, but it hasn't always been that way. Scientific evidence found in pottery, Hawaiian volcanic lava flows and ancient lava flows suggest the Earth's magnetic field changes direction every 200,000 years or so. Being that it's been over 700,000 years since the last reversal, we are overdue for a flip.

The magnetic field protects us from the sun and from solar weather. Without it, solar weather would bombard our planet with radiation and strip away the atmosphere as it has done to Mars. On the positive side, the gorgeous northern lights are visible reminder of the magnetic field. If the magnetic field does change directions during our lifetime, the northern lights would be visible all over the planet.

The kids were glued to the screen during the video "Will the Earth's Magnetic Field Shift?" and so was my husband. This film not only explained how the magnetic field works, but gave plenty of explanation as to how it has behaved in the past and is expected to behave in the future.

Since the interaction between the magnetic field and solar radiation is responsible for the northern lights, we couldn't resist a few extra short videos.

This video explains how the northern lights are generated.

In addition to explaining the northern lights, this short video also discusses several legends associated with the Aurora Borealis.


Playing with Magnets
 After learning about the magnetic field, we played with magnets.

Earth's Core and Magnetic Field in a Bottle
Next, using steel wool, cooking oil and an empty water bottle, we made a fun toy which represented the Earth's core and the magnetic field.

 With scissors, the steel wool was cut into smaller pieces.

 A water bottle was filled with cooking oil.

 Then the steel was put into the oil.

 The kids placed magnets near the bottle to explore what would happen.

The magnets act like the Earth's core and the steel pieces are like the magnetic particles of the magnetic field. By moving the magnets, the field adjusts.

Making a Compass

It is surprisingly easy to make a compass. All that's needed is foam or something that floats and a pin can stick into, a magnet, a pin and a container with water.

The first and most important step is to magnetize the needle. This is done by rubbing it with the magnet 50 to 100 times in the same direction.

Then the needle is stuck into the foam and placed in water so that it can move about freely. We found that a large container of water worked best as the compass tended to move against the side with a smaller container.

It didn't look that pretty, but it worked. Time and again the kids were able to move the compass in the water and watch while it repositioned itself to point north.


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Alfred the Great Cakes Recipe

Week 5: We made King Alfred Cakes.

There are many stories about the Great King Alfred of England. Our Island Story (a narrative history book for children) dedicates three full chapters to King Alfred. As a child he learned to read before his brothers and won a book as a prize from his mother. As books were rare and very expensive, this was a huge reward. On another occasion, while hiding out with a shepherd family he was given charge of the cooking and the cakes burned. In a later adventure, he infiltrated a Viking camp by providing entertainment as a minstrel for several days and later was successful in driving them out of England for a time. Once life became more peaceful, he wrote down the law and began a trial by jury system, translated books and was truly a good king.

Since he was so important in England's history, we made cakes in his honor, but we didn't let ours burn.



In the middle ages there was not just one recipe for cakes, but many which shared the same basic ingredients. Oats, apples, walnuts, milk, water and salt were available and widely consumed. To make King Alfred cakes, we created a mixture of the above ingredients and made it into oatmeal. The next day we added more oats, mixed, then formed the leftovers into cakes roughly the size of hamburgers, and fried them in a pan.


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Friday, April 11, 2014

Entertaining and Educational - Games and Beading

Beading techniques, travois and corn husk doll directions are all included in Life's Adventures King Philip's War post. If you're studying American history in the near future or just love to find new crafting techniques be sure to visit.


Are you looking for ideas for education games? The kids at All Things Beautiful have been playing games and learning all week and there are several I've never heard of. One of the kids has been creating his own games. What a great way to cover strategy, creativity, writing, history/science and so many more skills.


What have your kids been up to this week? Please grab a button and link-up below.








Thursday, April 10, 2014

Best Picture Books - Round 2

With so many picture books that spark interests it's difficult to narrow down the favorites to just one post. So I'm not going to. I have several posts that each describe some of our favorite picture books.



The Little Engine That Could (Original Classic Edition)
I remember my mom reading this story about a train pushing with all his might to climb up and over a mountain. The perseverance and determination of the train help him to conquer his difficulties.

Angelita's Magic Yarn is a folk tale set in the high mountains of South America. Fire and robbers make trouble for Angelita, but she's able to overcome because whatever she needs she knits.

The Sneetches and Other Stories is a collection of Doctor Seuss classics, but the Sneetches is my favorite. Discrimination is addressed through a clever rhyming story where the Sneetches pass through a machine having stars placed on their bellies or removed from their bellies. Eventually they are just all mixed up and can't be told apart.

How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World (Dragonfly Books)
Eggs from France, cinnamon from Sri Lanka and other ingredients from around the world are gathered to prepare a delicious apple pie. Kids learn a bit about geography through this cute story.

Pretzel (Curious George)
Greta doesn't care for long dogs, but once Pretzel, an extra long Dachshund, helps her out she changes her mind.

Hedgie's Surprise
Hedgie is a tricky hedgehog who helps trick the Tomten, so he quits stealing the chicken's eggs. My kids loved this story before they began their infatuation with hedgehogs. So cute.




* I did not receive any compensation for this recommendation. I'm just a homeschooling mom who has found many products that I like. If you're interested in the products I recommend on this blog I want to make it easy for you to find them. 
** I am an Amazon associate and receive a small portion of the sales on orders made after clicking in from this site, which I promptly spend on homeschooling books and supplies for my children.




Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Picasso Watercolor Faces

We used watercolor paint, paper, pencil and black marker to create Picasso like paintings of faces.

Picasso, whose paintings and sculptures are famous throughout the world, was born in Spain and spent time in France during the 1800's and 1900's. His artistic style changed many times during his long career. During his blue period Picasso was deeply depressed and painted primarily with different shades of blue. His rose period was a happier time, and the colors of his paintings changed to reflect it. Next he moved onto cubism, and during this time he created cubism versions of paintings from other famous masters.

Before painting, we read Picasso and the Girl with a Ponytail and Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists - Picasso.




I previewed the video Picasso: The full story, and marked several clips to watch with the children. There were several portions inappropriate for children.


Next, we followed the tutorial from Art with Alex, for creating Picasso watercolor self-portraits.


First we completed pencil sketches of faces.

Profile lines were drawn down the middle and the features on each side of the face were purposely made different.

The sketches were filled in with watercolor paint, again making sure that each side of the face was different from the other.

When the paint was dry, black marker was used to outline the faces.

My six year old daughter's painting is on the left and mine is on the right.

My 12 year old's painting is on the left and my son's is on the right.




To see more of our art activities, please visit our Arts and Crafts Page.

This post is linked to:
We Made That
And Here We Go

* I did not receive any compensation for this recommendation. I'm just a homeschooling mom who has found many products that I like. If you're interested in the products I recommend on this blog I want to make it easy for you to find them. 
** I am an Amazon associate and receive a small portion of the sales on orders made after clicking in from this site, which I promptly spend on homeschooling books and supplies for my children.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Developing Algebra Skills - Fun Activity for Kids

We developed algebraic mathematical formulas for visual patterns after watching a video on Let's Play Math. The best thing about this activity is that it can be explored with kids of almost any age. Once they can add, subtract, multiply and divide at a basic level they are ready to give it a try. Watching the video linked at Let's Play Math is important to making this activity a success.

First we used toothpicks to create a pattern of squares increasing in size. Then we asked a question: How many toothpicks are required to create figure number 125 in the sequence?


Next we created a table to record information we knew.

The first column is a counter for the position in the sequence; 0, 1, 2, 3, 4. The second column contains the number of small squares in the figure; 0, 1, 4, 9, 16. The third column shows the number of toothpicks used in the figure; 0, 4, 12, 24, 40.


For us the pattern was not obvious, so we took a hint from the video and added more columns to help figure out how many toothpicks would be required for step 125. The forth column shows the number of horizontal toothpicks in each figure and the fifth column shows the number of vertical toothpicks in each figure. They are the same; 0, 2, 6, 20.

From here my son noticed a number pattern; The number of squares in each figure plus the figure's position in the sequence always add to the number of vertical or horizontal toothpicks used in the figure. From previous math, he knew that the number of squares in the figure was equal to the sequence number squared. In addition he noticed that the number of vertical toothpicks plus the number of horizontal toothpicks equals the total number of toothpicks.

For example, the third square in the sequence; 3 + 9 = 12 ----------- the 9 came from 3^2 --------- and 12 + 12 = 24 ----------- the number of toothpicks in the figure.

Replacing the sequence number with an n, I helped him to rewrite what he discovered algebraically. (n + n^2) + (n+n^2) equals the number of toothpicks in the figure.


My eleven year old found a slightly different pattern. The number of vertical or horizontal toothpicks always equals the counter number times the counter number plus one.

For example, the third square in the sequence; 3 x (3+1) = 12 and 12 + 12 = 24. Again replacing the counter with an n we wrote her solution algebraically. n  x (n + 1) + n x(n + 1) equals the number of toothpicks in the figure.

I created a sixth column in the table entitled counting with multiplication, to help my six year old. We noticed that the total number of vertical or horizontal toothpicks used in each figure was equal to the counter times the counter plus 1; 0, 1x2, 2x3, 3x4. She was able to use this information to predict the number of toothpicks used in the next few squares in the sequence.



I was baffled that the two older kids both found different solutions which seemed to work, so while they built bigger figures to check their predictions, I did a little algebra to verify.

(n + n^2) + (n+n^2) = n  x (n + 1) + n x(n + 1)
2(n + n^2) = 2n(n + 1)
2n^2+2n = 2n^2+2n

They were both correct! By they way, it would take 31, 500 to build a 125 x 125 figure. We didn't check this one.

Next my eleven year old and I found an equation to go with a different pattern. This pattern was created placing small circles in a triangle. In each new row there is one additional circle.

Again a table was created to record the known information. Column one is the counter; 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Column two shows the figure. Column 3 shows the total number of circles required to create the figure; 1, 3, 6, 10, 15, 21, 28, 36.

Again we needed a little help leading us to the solution, so I suggested doubling the number of circles required (a little bird gave me that hint:)) -, 6, 12, 20, 30, 42, 56, 72. Looking at the bigger numbers we noticed that they were answers to common single digit multiplication problems; 0, 1x2, 2x3, 3x4, 4x5, 5x6, 6x7, 7x8, 8x9.

From there we determined the number of circles required to create the figure was equal to the the figure's position in the sequence, times the position in the sequence plus 1, divided by two. Written algebraically it looks like this; n(n + 1)/2

Remember the little bird that gave me the hint? Well it actually came from the Visual Patterns website. Posted on the website are over 100 similar problems and a solution manual can be obtained after sending a quick email to the site's author.

This activity is so good for building number sense, exercising those brain math muscles, and building thinking and problem solving skills. We plan to try working similar problems at least once per week to improve these skills.



This post is linked to:
Trivium Tuesday
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