Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Free Lesson on Cell Walls

I have been participating in Teaching Blog Addict's Science Week this week. Today's Linky is for Science Freebies and Science Unit Sales. I didn't have anything to contribute, until Dawson was working on a plant cell microscope lab this morning.

One of the questions posed was: Why doesn't an animal cell have a cell wall, when a plant cell does?

Here is the technical answer from Wikipedia:

The cell wall structure provides a lot of support and stabilizes the overall structure of the plant. Cells can't move around. In animals, multiple interactions between cells and molecules around them (referred to as the extracellular matrix) help to hold everything in place but animals have no real equivalent to the, relatively rigid, cell wall.

Dawson had an example to share:

He put water in a glass to represent the plant cell with cell wall. It was stable, and the cell did not move. And he dropped three drops of water on the kitchen counter, to represent animal cells with no cell wall (glass enclosure).

After time they began to start to move toward each other.

Eventually they attached to one another. They never fell apart and disintegrated. They were stabilized by each other.

This was a great visual for what he was studying. And it is your Science Freebie.

A Nature Walk

On Mondays, while Dawson is at guitar lessons, Brynne and I like to do a nature study. This week we decided to venture out to the neighborhood across the street from ours. It's a fairly new subdivision, with a nature theme (the elementary school is built in the subdivision and it has a nature theme, too). There are gravel walking trails everywhere.

We pulled off at the side of the road near the walking trail and our first stop, the cattails.

Then we went on toward a tree that looked interesting. It had huge red thorns on the branches, about every 2-3 inches. It was the coolest looking thing. Looked kind of like the briar patch.

We saw lots of neat wildflowers.

But our greatest finds were cactuses! I had no idea that we had natural cacti near us! They were everywhere and so cool to see up close and personal and in their natural environment.

It was a beautiful afternoon and we got to see lots of things we haven't ever seen before. We will definitely be hitting more of these trails soon.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Website Help ~ Cells and More

For continued study on the basics of cells, I wanted Dawson to know the parts and their definitions.

I came upon this website, Quizlet, where you can make your own flashcards. Then you can do different practice techniques and games with the flashcards. There are also some pre-made flashcards, like for Cells.

Dawson was able to study the flashcards, then do practice activities called: Speller and Learn. Then he played a couple of games called: Scatter and Space Race. Finally he was able to Test on the terms.

This is a great tool!

I am linking up with Teaching Blog Addict's Science Week. Today's theme is Links to Science Videos and Fave Science Websites.

Favorite Science Books

I am participating in Teaching Blog Addict's Science Week this week. Yesterday's topic was Favorite Science Books.

It is no secret, with our Human Body study this past month, that the series of books by Pamela Hill Nettleton have been my favorite! They are so perfect for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd grade level, even kindergarten. Heck, I've even enjoyed them!

A+ with a Star

A little history. When Eli started having spelling tests last year in the 1st grade, he would have a lot of trouble keeping up with the pace. He would scream "WAIT!" when the teacher tried to move on to another word, when he was not done with the previous one. So, we decided that we would have him do his spelling tests with his Resource Teacher.

Eli's Resource Teacher is an amazing woman, and her class is a safe place for him to land when he is needing some peace and quiet or some extra help with something.

This year, at his meeting, we discussed having him take his tests on Fridays with his Reading Resource teacher again so as not to stress out Eli, the teacher, or the other students. But on Wednesdays, they have a pre-test for their spelling words and sentences. If a student gets 100% on the pre-test, he or she does not have to take it on Friday.

He's had some bomb pre-tests, because he takes them in the classroom with the other students. His teachers and I discussed this and I told them that I would prefer that he go ahead and take the pre-tests in the classroom as a way to gently push him out of his comfort zone.

So, this week I bribed him. I told him I would pay him $5 if he got a 100% on his Wednesday pre-test including writing both sentences correctly. We studied. He took the test.

And he got a 100%!!!

Now, he's not going to turn down the money, that's for sure. But with him, the money means nothing compared to the words of affirmation he received for doing such a great job! He eats that up!

We are so proud of him for accomplishing this, and are hoping for more success stories.

(If a student gets a 100% every week of a month, they get to eat lunch in the classroom with the teacher. Maybe I'll throw in an extra incentive to see if we can get that accomplished.)

And more success stories there are! I actually typed this last Wednesday evening. On Friday, Eli carried out of the school a certificate for Start Student of the week in Music! He continues to charm the pants off all his teachers.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Math Monday ~ Arithmetickle

For Fun Math this week, we did a riddle out of Arithmetickle written by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz.

What is 6+3+4+1+5+7+2+4+12+2+4+10+3+1?

The numbers in the problem were the answers to 14 Where's Waldo type questions found in the poem "How Many Coconuts?" on page 21 of the book.

Brynne went out to one of our trees and picked a bucket of acorns to use as coconuts. I drew a grid on printer paper to help keep her "coconuts" contained.

We read the poem in full, and then read each line separately. Brynne found what it was asking for, i.e. "How many toes on the three-toed sloth?", to get the answer to the question in each line. Then she counted out that number of "coconuts" and put them on the grid.

When the poem was over, she had 14 grid squares containing "coconuts". So, she just added them together to get the answer.

It was really fun. She wants to do more of these riddles, so I will hang onto the book for another couple of weeks for us to use.

More fun math ideas are at love2learn2day. Go see!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cells ~ It's What's for Dinner

Dawson made edible cells on Friday.

He made an animal cell pizza ...

and a plant cell chocolate chip cookie ...

He reviewed what he's learned about cells the past two weeks, and I had dinner made by someone else. Win, win!!

I am linking up at Science Sunday at Adventures in Mommydom.

Science Sunday ~ Hmmm ... Let Me Think About It!

This week in our study of the Human Body, Brynne moved on to the Nervous System. Our first stop was a Pamela Hill Nettleton book called, Think, Think, Think: Learning About Your Brain.

As part of our discussions about the brain, and the fact that it's the BOSS of the body, we discussed the importance of the spinal cord.

We did a hands on spinal cord project by alternating gummy Life Savers and wagon wheel pasta on a pipe cleaner. We talked about why there was the "squishy" stuff in between the vertebra and how the back can bend and sway because of it.

We completed "The Brynne" by adding the stomach, small intestine and large intestine, from our study last week of the Digestive System (although I just realized I have the large intestine coming out of the stomach, when the small intestine should be) and the brain and spinal cord.

We are now done talking about the parts of the body and will conclude our study of the Human Body with a two-day unit on nutrition and the Food Pyramid.

This has been fun!

See what other fun things have been happening in the world of science at Science Sunday hosted by Adventures in Mommydom.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Study America Saturday ~ Resources

This week Brynne studied the state of Florida in her U.S. States study. It was an ordinary week, no bells and whistles. So, I thought I would take this opportunity to share the resources we use for our states studies.

If at all possible, I check out a book about the state from this series. These books are very short, concise but with lots of pertinent information, and have great pictures. In fact, if we were pressed for time, Brynne could even read these books herself.

A Fun Book about the State

To me, I want us reading about everything that we do. I try to find a good fictional book that is set in the state we are studying. I do this in a few ways ...

    An Activity

    I try to draw something from our book we read above and do a hands-on activity, like cooking or a craft. We don't always get to this, however, because we only do our history studies two days a week. I just read the book ahead of time and see if something catches my eye. Like for the state of Virginia, we read Bring Me Some Apples and I'll Bake You a Pie. So, we baked an apple crunch. I also pay attention to your ideas and bookmark those for later use.

    Coloring Page

    While I am reading books to Brynne, she is usually working on a coloring page. I print off our pages from the Crayola site.

    Notebooking Page

    Honestly, I can't remember where I got mine. But, Jimmie's Collage has a great set of state notebooking pages. We do one of these for each state and print off pictures of all of the state symbols to attach to the page.

    State License Plates

    I printed off the state license plates from here, and made a large blank map of the United States for Brynne to attach the license plate to.


    Brynne learns which state we will be studying that week by getting the mail on Mondays and finding a postcard from that state, that I have received from a Postcard Swap that started this past summer.

    Did you do something fun this week in your history studies? (And it doesn't have to just be about a particular state.) If so, link up!!

    Friday, September 23, 2011

    Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Out of ...

    Whew! I am glad it's Friday evening! Although we have a pretty busy weekend (much busier than this homebody prefers), we had an even busier week in our schooling. I am out of breath and it will not be out of the question for me to be in bed by about 7:00 Sunday night!

    In art this week, what seems to be our favorite subject, it looked like a scene out of Africa! Dawson and Brynne read about the history of African masks, and made their own versions with cardboard. Fun, fun, fun! Of course this project came out of my all-time favorite book in the world: The Usborne Treasury of Art!!!

    On Tuesday Dawson had to attend a funeral, so Brynne and I had a non-school school day. She played some favorite educational games on the computer and watched some educational television. On Wednesday, our day started off normal. But then out of the blue, we hit a brick wall. We ended up calling off school early for the day.

    We did have a funny moment. After our rough day on Wednesday, we were running behind on Thursday, so did something a little out of the ordinaryWe were in the middle of our reading for the day, out of Yankee Doodle Boy by Joseph Plumb Martin, when Dawson needed to take an **ahem** restroom break. I sat in the hall, outside the bathroom, and read loudly to him while he was in there so we wouldn't get any further behind (no pun intended). I told him I thought this was a bit unorthodox. He said, "We are a homeschooling family, mom." Yes. Yes, we are.

    And this homeschooling family did accomplish some things, despite the upsets.

    Dawson ~ 9th Grade

    Dawson finished his study of The Declaration of Independence. We found that he has an easier time analyzing information and answering questions orally, than writing them. He completed his Easy Grammar lessons for the week, and did his first lesson out of Reading Detective. He noticed that it is the beginner's book for grades 3-4. But I told him that I determined that it was in about the 4th grade that he started to struggle in his ability to critically analyze text information. So, he's starting there. I think it will be very beneficial.

    He is still in the introductory material of Life of Fred Algebra. Right now he is learning how to write sets and use parentheses. All of this is in preparation for actual equations. I love how the text is using silly examples to drive these points home, before he has to figure out what it all means in the context of equations.

    Dawson and I are both reading The Hunger Games. It is fun to read the same thing as him so that we can discuss it. In fact, the other day he told me to hurry up and get caught up to him.

    Several times during the week, while working in the kitchen, I heard Dawson upstairs practicing his guitar. There was nothing out of tune in what I was hearing. In fact, I was so very impressed. He sat with me many times and played his latest tune, "Ode to Joy". He is even considering playing in the Christmas concert, which makes me know that his confidence level is souring because of his guitar lessons.

    His biggest area of study this week was in something that is completely out of sight ... Cells. He watched videos, did a virtual microscope analysis of cheek cells, and then made edible animal and plant cells. I will be posting more on that this weekend!

    Despite all the upsetting moments this week, a lot was accomplished and Dawson and I worked some more things out in how to best teach him. We are always learning.

    Brynne ~ 2nd Grade

    Miss Brynne is continuing to do well! She is improving every day in her Easy Grammar lessons, and gradually learning how to do them independently. Just this week, she started reading what she was copying from Copywork for Little Girls. Although she only writes about one or two sentences of a passage each day, she noticed that she was writing something continuous and asked if it was a story. I explained that it is a poem, and she wanted me to read it to her over and over. This week she also worked heavily on "a", "d", and "g" in her Handwriting Without Tears text. Her handwriting is getting better every day.

    On Monday afternoon, we had some fun out of the house. Our local library had a Fancy Nancy tea party. Brynne got all dressed up for stories, cookies, and crafts.

    Before we left she made some fancy paper with shaving cream and food coloring. It was so fun I even made a few extra pieces myself.

    In math, Brynne encountered many instances where shapes and objects were out of order. She compared sizes and measurements and determined what items were smaller/lighter or bigger/heavier than others. She also finished patterns and sorted objects according to similarities in shape.

    Brynne studied the state of Florida in her U.S. States study. She did a notebooking page, coloring page, added the state Licence plate to our map, read the two postcards we received as part of our postcard swap, read a Rookie Read About Geography book on the state, and read the book My Family Vacation written by Dayal Kaur Khalsa.

    Finally, we were out of our minds excited to complete our study of The Human Body and "The Brynne". Check back on Sunday to see what we did!

    After our day today, of many projects, every space of countertop in our kitchen was covered in supplies. It took me quite some time to get things cleaned up.

    And, now, I'm out of things to say, and extremely tired. So, good-night.

    I am linking up with Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.