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The Dot Game

Have you ever played the dot game? If not, you should. It's fun and simple. I used to play this game with my father when we were waiting for food in restaurants. Recently I introduced my eight year old son to the game when we were waiting for the girls to finish a dance class. He loved it. It's free, fun to play and good for logical thinking.

It's somewhat similar to tic-tac-toe in that you can play with a pencil and paper almost anywhere.
Players start by drawing a grid of dots.

Then players take turns drawing one line between two dots.We have taken 5 or 6 turns each.

Players acheive points by completing a square of grid lines. If the player makes a square he/she writes his/her initial inside the square and gets another turn to draw a line.

The play ends when the grid is filled in with squares. Whoever completed the most squares is the winner.

Here is an on-line version so you can get a better idea of how it is played. The Dot Game.

Real Family Fun
It's Playtime
Tuesday Tots

Election Week Lesson Plan

With the elections only eight days away we plan to focus our studies this week on government. It will be a true crash course. Here are some websites and resources we plan to use.

Day 1: Research
Ben's Guide to US Government for Kids

Day 2: Branches of Government
School House Rocks Branches of Government Song and Video
How to Understand the Three Government Branches

I created these two simple Branches of Government worksheets. You are welcome to download and print them for personal use.
Branches of Government worksheet 1
Branches of Government worksheet 2

Day 3: Political Parties
Political Parties Rap - Smart Songs

Day 4: Electoral College
Electing a US President in Plain English
Electoral College

How many votes does each state get?
Electoral Vote Map
Blank USA Map

The electoral vote map in the link above is based on the 2000 census and many numbers have changed. The first thing I had my children do was compare the numbers to the Wiki state population page and update their maps. It turned out to be an excellent geography lesson. My son knows some of the states, and this activity focused his attention on the rest.

Day 5: Current Issues
Read this library book. - Duck for President
2016 Election Issues

I plan to read some of these questions to the kids and let them decide where they stand. Then they can select their candidate.
68 Issues - Where do the candidates stand?

Day 6: Track Elections
How to Elect the US President - Parents please preview this one. Depending on your sense of humor, you could find this in poor taste.
Why do we vote on Tuesdays?
Blank USA Map

Cell Unit Study - Week 5 - Cell Structure

Week 5: We built the structural support system of the cell.

We are continuing to follow David Macaulay's The Way We Work as a guide for our cell activities. Cells have structural support systems just like the bones that support our bodies. They keep us from being blobs. Cell support systems are made from three main components.

Microtubules - Represented by pipe cleaners inserted into plastic straws
Intermediate Filaments - Represented by yarn
Actin Filaments - Represented by two strands of embroidery floss

We began by inserting the pipe cleaners into the straws to create the microtubules.

One end of each of the microtubules (pipe cleaners) was attached to a circular pipe cleaner.

The opposite ends were attached to a second circle.

The outward pushing force of the microtubules was then counteracted by the actin filaments. They were tied so that the two circular structures were pulled together to hold the cell in a spherical shape.

The intermediate filament (yarn) was woven around the microtubules to hold the cell in shape.

All of the components of the structure have a bit of flexibility which allows them to be squished or change shape when they are inside our bodies.

Ancient Greece History Co-op - Week 2 - Minoans

Week 2: We made plaster frescos.

Crete is a large Greek island which was inhabited by the Minoans from around 2700 bc until 1450 bc. The home of the Minotaur and the ancient sport of bull jumping are explained well in this youtube video.

After discussing how Sir Arthur Evans discovered the Palace of Knossos and a bit about the palace the kids made their own frescos.

First they looked at some frescoes from the Palace of Knossos and chose the ones they liked the best to try to recreate.
Next a thin layer of plaster was spread into an old yogurt lid.

Red, blue and yellow paint was mixed into some plaster.

The colored plaster was mixed in with the wet plaster to create the frescoes. Plaster dries quickly so the kids had to work fast.

Here is a finished blue monkey fresco.

From left to right, top to bottom: Dolphins, Minotaur, Blue Monkey, Dolphin, Fish

Striped Sweater from Home Spun Yarn

This is a sweater I made from the uneven, bulky yarn I spun on a spinning wheel. Since the yarn was so bulky, the sweater was knit-up surprisingly fast. The pattern came from The Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns by Ann Budd.

This book is one of my favorites and yet it is much different than a typical pattern book. Instead of providing instructions for a sweater which can be made in a few sizes from a particular weight yarn, it gives general instructions for several different types of sweaters, and charts for making them in any size, with any weight yarn, and needles desired.

I like it for several reasons. First, if I stumble upon a yarn store and happen to purchase some without a project in mind, I can use this book to design my own project. Second, all four sweaters I have made using the guidelines in this book have fit. This has not always been the case with other sweaters. Lastly, I love the freedom it provides. It can have cables, a lacey edge, seed stitch or a fair isle trim and the pattern still works. It has been a joy to make sweaters from this book.

* 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.

I have been participating in a blog hop at Cherrios & Lattes for children learning how to read and write. Although I wouldn't consider my daughter a reader yet, she can read or sound out most three letter words and a few more beyond that. One activity she really seems to enjoy, and does primarily on her own is copying sentences from books. She always picks her favorite book of the week and usually copies the first sentence or two. Then she asks me to read it. When I do she is so proud and satisfied with her work.

Although she can't yet read she is learning so much with this activity. She is already familiar with the story and some of the words. Each time she copies a sentence she is figuring out a little more of this complex code. Awesome!

Stick Ums

Stick Ums Stick*ums 750 pc Design Pack Boxed are cardboard cutout shapes and colorful sticky bendables which are shaped and move a bit like pipe-cleaners. My daughter enjoys wrapping them around the cutouts to create fun dolls and objects. I like the toy because it is simple enough that she can work independently and she is continuing to enhance her fine motor skills.

* 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.

Cell Unit Study - Week 4 - Cell Walls

Week 4: We built cell walls.

Cell walls are made up of phospholipids, which are a type of fatty acid. They are made from a carbon chain, plus a glycerol, and a phosphorus containing molecule. I learned that from the book The Way We Work by David Macaulay. We are following the Building Life section, page by page to learn about cells.

Last week we put our atoms together to construct molecules. One molecule we made was a carbon chain. It contained carbon atoms (orange gumdrops) linked together in a chain with hydrogen atoms (red gumdrops) attached to each carbon.

Since the cell walls would be very large if we continued to build individual atoms, this week the candy pieces represent molecules. The gummy worms are phospholipid carbon chains, the green gummy bears are glycerol molecules and the white gumdrops are phosphorus containing molecules.

Two phospholipids attach to a glycerol, which attaches to a phosphorus containing molecule to create a fatty acid, the basis for the wall.

When water is added, as in the above photo, it is attracted to the head end.

Mixing water and the fatty acids, the result is a group of molecules in which the tail ends attract each other and the head ends are on the top and bottom. This is a cross section of the cell wall. When many of these fatty acids and water are stacked together they form the cell membrane.

The kids are really enjoying these cell activities and even ask to do science. To see our other cell activities please check out our science page.

* 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.

Ancient Greece History Co-op - Week 1 - Maps

Week 1: We began with Mediterranean maps.

The first week of each history co-op always begins with a mapping activity. This one was excellent because it incorporated the study of longitude and latitude, and math to create a grid in order to transfer the map to posterboard.

For the next few months we plan to study Ancient Greece. The Minoans who lived on the Island of Crete were the first known Greek civilization. The population flourished during the bronze age from around 2700 bc until 1450 bc. Since the Minoans were the first Greek civilization, Crete is the first feature to be placed on map.

Each child began with a Mediterranean map. They drew several longitude (vertical) and latitude (horizontal) lines on top of their maps. Each line was labeled with its degree coordinate.

Next, the posterboard was measured and math was used to determine an appropriate scale for the latitude and longitude of the posterboard. We decided on 1 inch = 1.5 degrees. It was necessary to divide the desired horizontal coverage area (about 49 degrees) by 1.5 to determine 32 inches were required for the map. Since the posterboard was only 28 inches wide we decided it would be alright to cut off a bit of the original map when doing the transfer. For the vertical dimension 28 degrees was divided by 1.5. We found 18 inches would work well since the posterboard was 22 inches tall.

Next we marked 1 inch increments on the posterboard, drew and labeled the latitude and longitude lines.

With the lines drawn in place we were able to add the island of Crete by using the small Mediterranean map and another Greek map as reference.

Week 2 we added mainland Greece.

Following week 1, we added more and more detail to the map until it included much of the world known to the Ancient Greeks.