Saturday, November 30, 2013

Recommended Educational Gifts for Kids

Do you like to give educational gifts to kids? Here are some great ideas for gifts children will learn from and enjoy.



Math Games
Math games are great fun and good for making kids and adults think.

Lost Cities is a two-person card game. After playing cards from the five different colors in number order, the winner is determined by adding the sum, subtracting 20 and then multiplying by any betting cards. It sounds complicated, but after the first round, the rules become easy to understand.

Farkel - Math Game for Kids is a dice game that's great for kids learning place value. The lowest possible score per turn other than a 0 is 50 points. Play ends after the first person reaches 10,000.

Sumoku - Addition and Division Game - After rolling the dice, multiples of the number must be played in scrabble-like fashion. The winner is the person with the highest total when all the tiles have been played.

Speed! is a fast-paced skip-counting card game. Two players race to be the first to discard all of their cards.


Books 
In the Katie Books by James Mayhew Katie goes on adventures with her grandmother. Usually she visits art museums and has interesting interactions with the paintings while her grandmother falls asleep and waits for her. These books are wonderful for ages 4-8.

The Toothpaste Millionaire and Lemonade War are two books that are fun to read and teach unforgettable lessons about economics. Great for ages 7-12.

The Wizard of Oz and more. Dorothy is not the only hero in Oz. There are eighteen books in the Oz Series and they are all delightful fantasy novels. I know because we have been reading them all year. The kids love them. Meet the Patchwork Girl, the Rainbow's Daughter, Tik-Toc and so many interesting characters in these fantasy novels full of visual description.


Historical Games 
Each of these games were played by ancient people and are still fun to play today.

Nine Men Morris also known as Muhle or Mill is a strategy game played by the Vikings.

Tabula is a game similar to Backgammon which was played by the Romans.

Royal Game of Ur is one of the oldest known games. It is similar to the modern game trouble and was played by the Sumerians of Mesopotamia.


Building Toys
Wedgits help kids learn to follow engineering drawings as they build structures shown on the cards. They are also fun for creating interesting 3 dimensional structures.

Magnetic Construction Set is a collection of round steel balls and rods containing magnets. Using the pieces, flat shapes such as triangles and hexagons are easily created as are 3-dimensional shapes such as hexagonal cubes and pyramids.


Craft Activities
Kumihimo - Japanese chord braiding is a traditional craft that can be used to construct handles for purses, decorative trim for clothing, chords and ropes, bracelets and other decorative designs.



If you still need more ideas, check out my Recommended Educational Gift list from last year.





This post is linked to:
Relentlessly Fun
Montessori Monday

Living and Learning at Home
Hip Homeschool Hop
* Speed! is produced by Highhill Educational Supplies which is my company.
** I do not receive any compensation for any other product recommendations on this blog. 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, November 29, 2013

Paper Houses - Entertaining and Educational

Can you mark 1 million on a number line spanning 20 to 1 trillion? Let's Play Math posted a great activity for visualizing large numbers this week.

Paper houses can be used for many purposes. We recently constructed medieval houses as part of our history study. This week Wesens-Art linked-up a post on paper houses used for Christmas decorations. The similar houses we made turned out to be a great kid project as it involved cutting, crafting and 3D visualization skills. Anytime I see a 2D object become a 3D object I think back to my 10 years employment as a mechanical engineer. This is a great skill to develop and making paper houses is a fun way to practice. Be sure to visit Wesens-Art for the tutorial and to get the template.





Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Math Stars Christmas Ornaments

Winding embroidery floss around a paper circle with slits makes for a fun and addicting afternoon of crafting Christmas ornaments while practicing math skills. This activity was posted on Malke's Math in Your Feet Blog and I thought it looked like fun. The kids agreed and each created several ornaments.

First we used a compass to draw a circle on a piece of heavy card stock paper.

Next we selected a number between three and sixteen and marked that number of evenly spaced marks around the perimeter of the circle. This was a challenging estimation skill and my older daughter understood that 360 degrees in a circle divided by the number of marks will gave the number of degrees between each mark.

For example, when she made eight marks there were 45 degrees between each mark. 360/8=45.

After we had the marks we cut into the paper a small amount with scissors on each mark to create a slit.
Embroidery floss was used to create the star patterns. A piece roughly 2.5 feet long was required depending upon the number of marks and diameter of the circle. Cutting floss roughly 2.5 feet long was a simple estimation activity.

The embroidery floss was taped to the back of the circle then wound around to create stars.

The kids selected a number between one and a number smaller than the number of marks on their star. Then they counted that many slots and strung the floss through that slot. They kept winding until a star pattern appeared.

In some cases they added a second color to create more than one star. Different combinations give different patterns, and some don't create stars.

This activity was addicting for my eleven year old daughter because she quickly decided she wanted to see all the combinations. Each time a new star appeared she was delighted.


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This post is linked to: 
It's Playtime
Sew Can Do 
Montessori Monday
Smiling Like Sunshine
Relentlessly Fun
Made It Monday
Lowercase Letters



Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Best Picture Books

If you had to name your top six favorite picture books which would you choose? There are so many language rich picture books that teach while they entertain and those are the ones we like best. Here are just a few of our favorites.


The Lorax (Classic Seuss) teaches environmental responsibility through the an example of how irresponsibility can lead to disaster. Although the worst happens, the story ends with hope.

Cheering for the underdog takes an interesting twist in The Pumpkin Runner which is based on a true story. When a pumpkin farmer enters a running race from Sydney, Australia to Melbourne he is seen as a joke until he blasts the competition with little effort.

After a close call with an owl Stellaluna, a bat, is separated from her mother. Luckily she is reared by some friendly birds and has interesting adventures learning about their differences until she finally finds her mother again.

The Duchess Bakes a Cake is a book written in prose about a duchess who puts too much baking powder into her cake and ends up rising on top of it. When the family tries to get her down, they must try several different methods before they find a way which succeeds.

One day a little girl wakes up with antlers on her head in Imogene's Antlers (Reading Rainbow Books). While her mother is distraught, Imogene finds some new things she can do like set up candles on the antlers, or hand donuts on them. 

10 Little Rubber Ducks is an Eric Carle book inspired by a true story. During a sea voyage from China to the United States, some of the rubber ducks in the cargo ended up in the sea. In the book one duck meets a polar bear as it travels to the north and the other nine ducks have their own unique adventures.


  

My Reading Page has links to posts on many more books we have enjoyed.

Here are the favorite picture books of other homeschooling families. Be sure to leave me a comment with your favorites.

Barefoot Hippie Girl
Every Bed of Roses
One Magnificent Obsession
Navigating by Joy





* 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, November 24, 2013

Human Body - Week 20 - Viruses and Bacteria

 Week 20 - We learned about the differences between viruses and bacteria and made models of both.

Although viruses and bacteria can both make us sick they are very different. Pathogens or germs are names we use to refer to both bad viruses and bacteria.

Bacteria are living cells that come in three shapes; rods, spirals, and spheres. The cells have DNA, but lack a nucleus. They can reproduce rapidly when in the right environment. Most are harmless, some are good and a few are dangerous to humans. Good bacteria such as yeast give texture to our bread products and break down food in our digestive systems. Macrophage cells in our immune systems work to destroy bad bacteria, and antibiotics can help when bacteria become too numerous.

Viruses are much smaller than bacteria and reproduce by taking over a host cell. They cannot live without a host and are destroyed by the T-cells found in our immune systems. H and N surface proteins protrude from viruses and are the way scientists differentiate between them.

We read The Way We Work by David Macaulay to get a better understanding of the differences between viruses and bacteria and then took a few notes.


Bacteria come in three shapes, so each child chose a shape of bacteria to create and I created a virus. The kids were able to choose from any of the crafting materials in the house to create their bacteria.

My son chose to create a rod shaped bacteria by sewing two ovals together and stuffing them.

The spiral bacteria was created by coiling a pipe cleaner and the spherical bacteria was created by gluing a few pom-poms together.

I created the virus by needle felting a sphere and adding thumb tacks to represent the N proteins which cut the viruses loose from host cells and pins to represent the H proteins which hold the viruses to host cells.

More Human Body science projects are available on our Science Page.


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This post is linked to:
It's Playtime
The Mommy Club
Kid's Co-op

* 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, November 23, 2013

Roman Unit Study - The Punic Wars - Make a Catapult

Week 4: We made a catapult.

Three wars were fought between two ancient superpowers which became known as the Punic Wars. Both Rome and Carthage wanted control of the islands of Sicily, Corsica and Sardinia as well as the Mediterranean Sea. The battles lasted over a span of more than 100 years.

The First Punic War was primarily a sea battle which was won by the Romans. Although the people of Carthage were master ship builders, the Romans managed to get a hold of one of the Carthaginian Quinqueremes. It was reverse engineered and copied many times. Rome won the war.

The most remarkable part of The Second Punic War was the Carthaginian General Hanibal attacking the Roman Empire from the north. He crossed the Alps with 37 elephants and nearly won the war. But when the Roman General Scipio and his army was sent to Carthage to attack while the Carthaginian army was still in Italy, Hanibal rushed home to meet him. Rome won the Second Punic War too.

Restrictions placed on the Carthaginians after the Second Punic War left them unable to defend themselves against enemies. Scipio was sent to enforce the treaties and finished off the city leaving Rome the sole superpower of the Mediterranean Sea.

I created a brief presentation on the Punic Wars to help me remember a few key points to talk about with the kids. Feel free to print them for private use.

Here are two videos that do a nice job explaining the Punic Wars.



Catapults were one weapon used by the Roman Empire. After the kids had a chance to view the catapult created by Science Sparks, the one created by The Map is Not the Territory Catapult, and the Catapult - Leonardo Da Vinci Kit # EDU-61009 below, they had the chance to create their own design.


The catapults were created with rubber bands, craft sticks, glue and bottle caps. Before they began we pointed out the base and a throwing arm features of a catapult.


Catapult #1


Catapult #2

Catapult #3

Catapult #4

Engineers constantly modify their designs to make improvements. When additional rubber bands were added at the attachment point of the lever arm to the base and a rubber band was added near the bottle cap this catapult functioned much better.

The testing phase was the most fun!


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This post is linked to:
We Made That
True Aim Education 
All Things Beautiful

Friday, November 22, 2013

Teaching Kids to Tie Their Shoes - Entertaining and Education

Welcome to Entertaining and Educational, a weekly link-up for bloggers to share fun activities where kids learn and have fun at the same time.

Can your kids tie their own shoes? If they need some extra practice check out the fun activity Dana at Project Day posted. Sometimes a day of focused attention on shoe tying is all that's needed.


Now it's time to link-up. Grab a button and share!






Thursday, November 21, 2013

Farkel - Math Game for Kids

Classic Farkel Game is a fun dice game that is very good for practicing math skills. All that's needed to play are six dice. Players take turns trying to be the first to reach 10,000 points. Since Farkel is an old game there are different ways to keep score. Here are the rules we follow.
 
Ones - 100 points
Fives - 50 points
Three ones - 300 points
Three twos - 200 points
Three threes - 300 points
Three fours - 400 points
Three fives - 500 points
Three sixes - 600 points
Four of a kind - 1000 points
Three pairs - 1500 points
Five of a kind - 2000 points
Six of a kind - 3000 points
Six dice straight - 1500 points
Two triplets - 2500 points

Players must roll a minimum of 500 points to begin tracking their points. Each time the dice are rolled at least one die worth points must be set aside. The remaining dice may be rolled again to earn a greater amount of points. The process repeats until the dice rolled are not worth any points. If all the dice are worth points the player may score the points and roll all the dice again to earn more points.

After one player reaches 10,000 points the other players have one more turn to try to beat the score. The player with the highest score wins.

We play this game for math as it involves several math skills. Adding the score for each turn is great mental math practice. Since the lowest possible point value earned is 100 points, playing is good for adding bigger numbers and helps kids better understand place value. Each time the child wants to check the score they are comparing numbers, putting them in order and working on greater than, less than skills.

Once children have mastered those skills they are ready to be the score keeper. Keeping score involves adding and carrying numbers.

We have two versions of this game but prefer the Pocket Farkel version shown below. The box is smaller than a deck of cards and fits comfortably into my purse. The case is handy and it contains the point scoring values so I would recommend it. We often play while waiting to see doctors at the hospital.


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* 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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