Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Grand Canal

Venice is a city of canals and boats, not cars and roads. Since boats are the main mode of transportation, the Grand Canal is like an express way. There are definitely traffic rules of the water, but there are also defensive manuvers. While we were on the public transportation boat, a few times the boat changed speed significantly and then turned. When we looked out the window, sure enough, another boat passed closely by.

Saturday, September 29, 2012


My favorite part of Venice was walking around the canals. Once we got away from the center of action Venice was very peaceful.
My children have enjoyed reading the Magic Tree House Series of books, which are about the adventures of two young kids. In the book Carnival at Candlelight by Mary Pope Osborne, Jack and Annie traveled in their Magic Tree House to Venice. I'm glad the kids had the opportunity to read this book before our trip.

* 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.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Cell Unit Study - Week 1 - Drawings

Week 1: We drew cells and looked at cells under a microscope.

I recently checked out the book The Way We Work by David Macaulay from the library in my search for a children's book about cells. The explainations are well done and the illustrations facilitate understanding. I like that the explanations begin with cells under a microscope, move into atoms and then explain how atoms are incorporated into cells. Since the concept of cells is difficult to understand we will be doing an activity a week inconjunction with the pages of the book. 

The first week we began with a very simple project. The kids looked at cells in several different books and then drew one of their own. We talked about how the DNA stored in the nucleus is like a cookbook. Each person has their own unique version which contains directions on how to build them. Each recipe contains the instructions for a different dish just as there are instructions for many different kinds of cells. Only the directions that are needed are used.

They labeled their cells and then we looked at some cell slides under our microscope.
I Can Teach My Child Science Sunday Hip Homeschool Hop Button

Homeschool Hobbies and Handicrafts

What have your kids been doing? "Homeschool Hobbies and Handicrafts" is a weekly link-up to share and show-off your kid's projects. Woodworking, knitting, crochet, weaving, paper airplane design, painting, drawing and so many more...... During school time, or when kids are finished - what are they spending their time on? Are they practicing instruments? Constantly crafting? Writing plays? Inventing new things? There are many blog-hops to share pre-school crafts and activities and many for adults as well. This one is for kids. Show-off their projects and talents!

Hand constructed furniture, needlepointed pillows, hand-made baskets, beautiful and creative photos, homemade videos...... Kid made items of any type are fair game and they don't need to be homeschooled. This is their chance to shine. What did they choose to make? What patterns/books/tools did they use? How did they get the idea? What inspired them?

Feel free to link-up a post you've already written and comment on the posts of others! I’m excited to see what your kids have created.

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Here is a quilt my daughter made a few years ago from scraps of fabric. I was given a similar quilt for a baby gift when her sister was born. She loved it and wanted one for herself, so she followed the simple pattern. If you look closely you can see squares constructed from two small squares and a rectangle.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Palazzo Ducale

Palazzo Ducale is located next to St. Marks Basilica in the center of Venice, Italy. It translates to the Doge's Palace. The Doge was the senior elected leader of the Republic of Venice. In many respects his position was similar to a prince or a duke. Construction on the Doge's Palace in it's current location began during the 12th century. Since then it has been destroyed by fire and undergone renovations multiple times.

Within the square structure of the palace is a large and elegant courtyard.

What I found most interesting about this palace was that it was not only a residence for the high official, but also served as the court house, legal headquarters and prison.

In the top photo two bridges spanning the canal are visible. The covered bridge in the back is known as the Bridge of Sighs. It connects the palace with the prison.

Leukemia - How is Jemma? - Day 102

Jemma is sticking to the plan! She had a blood check this morning and although her blood counts are low, they are rising again. If they continue to rise she will be able to resume her treatment on Monday with a bone marrow withdraw.

Fall has arrived in Germany. There have been many rainy days over the past few weeks and we expect many more. With the dreary weather cold season has begun. Many of our friends have been sick. I see people wiping noses and am keenly aware each and every time someone coughs or sneezes. My sensitivity to simple germs is flying out of control. My son and daughter have nicknamed themselves Mr. and Mrs. Germ. The adults are Mr. and Mrs. Bacteria, grandma is Mrs. Try to Stay Clean and Jemma is Baby Try to Stay Clean. We are staying home much more than normal and trying to stay healthy.

Many playdates for my older two kids have been cancelled due to colds. I'm glad they have been, because it's much better than the alternative. Although we are hypersensitive to germs, we keep reminding ourselves that this is only temporary. Normalcy will resume and Jemma's immune system will be stronger and able to fight infection. In the mean time we need to everything we can to keep her healthy and germ free.

Speed! Celebration Sale - Multiplication Game

Speed! has been selling extremely well at Amazon.  Children and parents are having fun learning multiplication skills together, and we wish to thank those of you who are playing and enjoying this game.

With the start of the new school year, we thought it would be a good time to celebrate with a big sale.

For the next two weeks (Saturday, September 22, 2012 -  Saturday, October 6, 2012) you can get Speed! for only $16.  It's fun, affordable, educational, and it makes a great birthday or Christmas gift!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fair Isle Sweater

One way I encourage the kids to do crafts is to do them myself. Knitting is a hobby of mine and for some reason I really like knitting sweaters. For me seeing progress and bringing my project to completion is very rewarding.

Here is the body and arms of a fair isle sweater I finished just before Jemma got sick.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Speed! - Number Sense - Factoring Algebraic Expressions

Speed! is a fun game for learning multiplication, but playing Speed! also helps children develop a strong number sense. This is the fourth post in a series of posts - Speed! Number Sense - to explore different mathmatical concepts and how playing Speed! can facilitate understanding of these concepts.

The fourth concept is FACTORING ALGEBRAIC EXPRESSIONS. When children play Speed! they begin to notice that some decks have the same numbers as other decks. That knowledge is an incredible aid in determining the least common denominator.

The first step is to factoring the equation is to find two numbers which multiply together to equal 28. Children who have played a lot of Four Speed and Seven Speed should recognize that both decks contain a 28.

The next step would be to check if the two numbers add to 11 to create the coefficient in front of the x. They do, and therefore the equation factors to.
Of course it is not always quite so simple. 
This equation contains a 12. The first step is to find two numbers which multiply together to equal 12. Children who have played a lot of Speed should recognize that 12 is a card in several Speed! decks. In fact Two, Three, Four and Six Speed all contain the number 12.

The next step would be to find the combination of numbers which when multiplied together equal 12, and when added together equal 8.

The answer is 2 and 6, and therefore the equation can be factored as shown above.

Playing Speed! doesn't teach algebra, it is an activity that helps with multiplication and creates an excellent foundational number sense within children who play. It simply makes higher levels of math easier.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Leukemia - How is Jemma? - Day 99

Jemma has been feeling very good even though her blood levels are steadily dropping. She is again at high risk for infection. So we are keeping her home and cleaning a lot as we have been for the past several months.

Although we are home bound, we still have the telephone. My other two children do not like to talk, but Jemma loves it. When she called her Aunt the other day she walked around, played her a piano song and had fun talking. She called her other Aunt all by herself through Skype. Since her phone was on her Aunt showed up available. It was 3 am in California where she lives. Luckily she was happy to talk.

For all of you supporting us from afar I want to say a big thank you. Your notes and well wishes are uplifting and mean so much.

For those of you out here in Germany thank you for your support as well. - Jemma just asked who's older - Silke, Reiner or Isabel? Do you think it's the mom, dad or daughter?

Rialto Bridge

This bridge spanning the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy was completed in 1591. It contains two rows of shops. In my mind, this is what the original London Bridge would have been like. And like the London Bridge, the Rialto Bridge has collapsed twice.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

St. Mark's Basilica

The Basilica di San Marco sits on a large plaza in the the center of Venice.

Venice was the trading gateway between Europe and the east during the time of Marco Polo. The city prospered and this church is an overwhelming symbol of that prosperity. It's nickname is the Church of Gold.
The winged lion is one of the many statues which adorn the church. It was the symbol of the Republic of Venice which held governing power from the 7th to the 18th centuries.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Venice, Italy

 Venice is a city of canals. Built on a lagoon reaching into the Adriatic Sea, it is a great place to visit.

Gesuati and Giorgio Maggiore are just two of the amazing Churches in Venice. Gesuati is a relatively new church, built during the 18th century in the Rococo style. San Giorgio Maggiore was built in the 16th century and is one of just a few structures on a small island.

Venetian Masks are worn during annual carnival festivals.

Before visiting Venice we read about the famous explorer Marco Polo. We enjoyed the books Marco Polo's Adventures in China by Milton Rugoff and The Adventures of Marco Polo by Russell Freedman.

* 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.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Long Division

Teaching my son long division has been a big challenge full of frustration, yelling, crying and trying. It took quite a while before he was ready for the challenge, and then once he was it took several days before he got it. The entire process took about a week, but in the end he got it! Here is how we did it.

I knew he was ready for long division. We have blasted past it a few times as it was explained in the Life of Fred curriculum we are using. He can divide small numbers in his head and knows most of his math facts. Long division was the next big milestone. Finally he was requested to do a problem in his book. That's when the fun started.

My son is a child who learns best by figuring things out on his own. He is very visual and sometimes learns by reading, but telling him what to do almost never works. For me that creates an extra challenge.

Our Method
Money is something we can all relate to, so we divided money. Each day I gave my son some 10's, 1's, dimes, and pennies and asked him to divide the money between 3 people. These units were used because they coordinate directly to place value. No quarters, nickels or 5 dollar bills were used or allowed.

After he divided the actual money we did the same problem with paper. On the paper we wrote down divide, multiply, subtract, bring down so he could remember the steps and relate them to the paper money. Now because my son is a figure it out kind of kid, I gave him a second quantity of money and asked him to divide the money and do the problem on paper by himself.

This process was repeated about four days in a row. Each day I would do a problem with him and then ask him to do one on his own. We always divided by 3, and always used 10's, 1's, dimes and pennies to divide amounts of money such as $55.41. The first two days were very long. He worked on his problem for most of the morning before I asked if he would like me to finish it for him.

Each day he was able to get a little farther in the process. He also began to see the correlation between the money and the paper. He realized when he only had two dimes and needed to trade them for pennies was the same as when he subtracted and was left with a 2. By the end he was able to do a problem on his own in less than 10 minutes.

Once he understood this we added a bit of variation. We divided a large number such as 1,452,324 by 3. Then we tried a problem divisible by 5. By then he had it.

Wow! How did you teach long division?

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