Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Estimating the Age of Trees

Children often request The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein to be read in connection with learning about trees. It is about a little boy who loves a tree. As the little boy ages, he demands more and more from the tree until the tree has nothing left to give. Finally the cycle completes when the old man and the tree are united and happy together again.


After reading this book we discussed how counting the rings of a tree tells us how old it was. Now my son is counting the rings on every tree stump he sees and estimating the age of living trees. My favorite was when we went out to dinner in a log cabin restaurant and he counted the rings of several logs. He said all the trees were twenty years old.

Each species of tree grows at its own rate which can result in various diameters for trees of the same age. This makes identifying they type of tree more important.

There are many math skills involved in this activity.
Counting the rings.
Estimating the age.
Soon I'm going to suggest he keep a notebook to write down the data he has collected. After collecting enough data on tree species, number of rings and diameter he could create several different graphs to help with future estimates of tree ages.

 





This post is linked to:
Relentlessly Fun

* 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 20, 2014

Latitude Activities for Kids - Make an Astrolabe

Earth Science Unit Study

Week 7: We learned how latitude affects climate and created astrolabes to measure our latitude on the Earth.

This short video emphasizes five important latitudes. The Equator at 0 degrees, Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn at 22.5 degrees north and south and the Arctic and Antarctic circles at 66.5 degrees.

After watching the video and before beginning the project it was important for the kids to understand degrees, so we had a short math lesson. With a protractor under them, they had to turn their bodies to face 0 degrees, 90 degrees, 180 degrees and 270 degrees with a little jumping game. Then we looked at how degrees on a protractor relate to degrees of latitude.

Janice VanCleave's A+ Projects in Earth Science: Winning Experiments for Science Fairs and Extra Credit has tons of projects we plan to complete in conjunction with our Earth Science study.

We began with the simple project of creating dough balls to represent the Earth and using embroidery floss to mark the different latitudes.


Next, using a protractor, cardboard, straw, scissors, tape and a key chain for a weight we created astrolabes.
The project was very simple and took less than 30 minutes to complete.

First the protractors were traced onto cardboard and cut out. A small hole was created at the center.

A string was fastened in place to the hole and a straw was slit and placed on the top for a sight.

The cardboard was marked from 0 to 90 degrees. 0 degrees was at the bottom and 90 was near the straw.

To determine latitude, the north star is sighted through the straw and the angle where the string crosses is read from the astrolabe. That angle is latitude. Although it wasn't very accurate, it worked well. We measured Germany to be around 50 degrees north on the globe and also on the astrolabe. 





* 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.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Middle Ages Music and Dance - Make Your Own May Pole

Week 6: We danced around the May pole and made pan flutes.

Some of the string, wind and percussion instruments of the middle ages, such as the dulcimer and fiddle are still played today, while others have changed form and been combined with various instruments into the instruments we know today. Common people of the middle ages often played the bagpipes as the materials (wood and sheep skin) were readily obtainable. Middle age instruments such as the zink and crumhorn have been modified into the recorder and clarinet of which we are familiar. The Zink, a wind instrument that looks like a curved recorder, was a very common instrument. The Crumhorn took a lot of wind to make sound, looked like an umbrella handle and sounded like a bagpipe.

Although flutes are often pictured in middle age images, they were difficult to play and weren't nearly as common as pan flutes. Constructed from bamboo, the hallow reeds were bound together with string like materials often made from animals.

Our pan flutes were constructed from plastic drinking straws and tape.
Beginning with the longest straw, subsequent straws were trimmed 1/2 inch shorter than the previous straws.

The first time we did this activity, following the book Pythagoras and the Ratios, we used slightly different pipe lengths which turned out to be a more advanced lesson in measuring and fractions.

After constructing pan flutes we learned a maypole dance. During the middle ages, and today, in certain locations in Germany, children dance around the maypole on May 1st. By dancing in patterns to the right and left, the ribbons are woven around the pole resulting in interesting designs.

The pole we used was constructed from several lengths of PVC piping glued together and set into a base.

The ribbons were made by finger knitting long lengths of yarn.

We learned several things dancing around the maypole. First, it is easiest to begin with a small number of participants and gradually add people two at a time. The patterns are repeated in one direction to weave the yarn onto the pole and then done in reverse to unwind the weave.

Going in the reverse direction, it is sometimes necessary to look up to ensure the ribbons are unwound in the proper order, but it is much easier to unwind by dancing the pattern.

When kids weren't busy dancing or constructing pan flutes, they were busy making their own music.


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Friday, April 18, 2014

Entertaining and Educational - The Crow and the Pitcher

Do you remember the Aesop Fable The Crow and the Pitcher? The crow has difficulty getting water out of the pitcher with her long skinny beak. In the end adding rocks to the water raised the water level and enabled her to drink.

After reading the story, the kids at Life with Moore Babies did an impromptu experiment to understand the concept. It's a great story/project combination for preschoolers-2nd grade. Be sure to check it out!

Have a great Easter!











Thursday, April 17, 2014

Writing Onomatopoeia Poetry

Our first poetry tea time was a great success.

Sharing poetry with children introduces new ways of playing with words and greatly increases vocabulary. We have read lots of poetry, but not been as successful creating poetry. To breath new energy into our writing program, we held a Poetry Tea Time. This time we followed a lesson from Brave Writer. The kids loved eating snacks while doing school work, and I loved seeing them write poetry with enthusiasm.




The Arrow is a lesson product line from Brave Writer. Each issue is centered around one particular book and contains selected copy work/dictation passages with suggestions on how to teach them. Behind the copy work/dictation lessons, are poetry lesson and writing project lesson ideas.

For us, our prior attempts at copy work were less than successful. I personally greatly needed guidance on how to go about a copy work session as well. These lesson plans were exactly what I needed.

The back of the Pippi Longstocking Issue of the Arrow contained a lesson plan for writing poetry with onomatopoeia. Each child had a turn sharing writing they did, a poem, or short story. Next we read a few example poems in the lesson as well as my kids favorite board book - We're Going on a Bear Hunt - Then we worked on our own poems.

First we decided on a noisy place in which to set our poems. Then we spent some time writing down the sounds we hear in that place. After that we began writing poems. These are only rough drafts, and we stopped here since the kids were excited about their work. I wanted to keep the positive vibs going.


Airport - draft by my 7 year old daughter
At the airport it's so noisy
all the airplanes taking off
And all the people making noises
Walking all about
Pulling all their luggage with a clanging and a crackit
Bump, bump, bump as the suitcases go by
Rum, rum, rum as the airplanes take off and land
They always have to take off and land
otherwise they would land and crash


Near Jace is a Loud Place - rough draft by my 10 year old son
It is a noisy place to be by Jace
Na, Na, Na, Ga, Yow, Yow
These are the noises to hear from me
Ya, ya, yah, g, bee
The sounds from me are endless here
Boom, clatter, clash, smash, smash, smash, wham, boom, ping
I am a very noisy thing
If you try to beat me in a contest you will learn
I am the best here - What I'll do
is yow, yang, ying, ping, pang, poo, wahoo
Here is a question easy to answer;
Will you try to beat me or will you give up?

Autobahn - rough draft by my 12 year old daughter (who was recently stranded on the autobahn with friends when their car broke down)

The trucks go vroom
and the cars go zoom
while the broken ones clink and crash

as they race to shut the door
to the onwards coming crash

The pickup truck races through the sun
to tow the broken car away
then there's not much danger
of a crash on this road for about a year and a day
whoosh, vroom, roar, whier
smash, clash, roar, boom, bang




This post is linked to:
Living and Learning at Home

* 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 16, 2014

Free Piano Lessons for Kids

The kids are learning piano by watching videos, and it's working really well.


Free Piano Lessons for Kids has uploaded over 50 free piano lessons. Each video lasts between 5 and 10 minutes. Although my 6 and 10 year old kids have had some prior piano experience, they really enjoy this format. The lessons build on each other, yet go at a pace where the kids don't get overwhelmed.

Most of the lessons take less than 10 minutes to complete, but they were especially inspired with Lesson 8 - Rhythm Dictation: Hot Crossed Buns.

During the lesson, the instructor used his heartbeat mat to place quarter notes, eighth notes and rests to match the rhythm of Hot Crossed Buns. After they lesson they both wanted their own heartbeat mats and notes.

Next, they placed the notes to match the rhythm of other familiar songs.

I highly recommend this series of videos as a gentle introduction to music.




This post is linked to:
Fourth Grade Flipper
Tuesday Tots
Montessori Monday
True Aim Education
Living and Learning at Home

* 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 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.
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