Monday, April 11, 2016

Girls Like Electronics, Too!

We've been busy curriculum shopping again recently. I believe that I've bore the child with the most difficult ability to satisfy her learning style. She's a YouTube/ Minecraft/ DIY with a screen kid I've ever met.

Alas, we'll get there yet. At the moment, we're weeks deep into Time4Learning, a full online curriculum that she's doing great at. I've heard pros and cons to this. What I love is that it's all video learning with quizzes and practice. I love that it has its own Facebook community for parents. And there I've met an enormous amount of parents who've had their children do T4L for years, even graduating them on this curriculum. I'm in.

 On a fun learning note, I've heard great things about Snap Circuits! These are like Lego on crack because you snap-snap-snap, and boom, lights and fans start whipping around. It teaches children about electricity and what a complete circuit is. These are things that never "clicked" for me learning it briefly in school.

 After circuit ONE, look at this face... who doesn't love to make a kid do that? Only unicorns and a carnival could make her do this otherwise.

There are 21 different circuits to complete in the beginner kit. Many are similar with just a few flips of a switch or a fan in a different direction brings alternate outcomes. I love it. She loved it more.

Seriously? You'd think Santa just slid down the chimney when that egg lit up.

She doesn't even realize she's learning too much. She just knows it's fun and that if she fiddles with the circuits, she makes things happen. That's STEM right there.

All in all, Snap Circuits are a success! We'll definitely be looking into bigger and different kits. Seeing her study the diagrams to reproduce them was worth every penny.  

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Exploring Creativity

We're closing in on our last few months of our first year of home school. We've had some successes and some fails with curriculum, schedules and finding what works, so I've missed a few months of blogging, but I'm going to start getting this moving more frequently. We're finding our groove. :)

We've chosen to be year-round homeschoolers and take breaks when we feel like doing so throughout the year. This helps ease the strain of strict schedules to get curriculum completed and allows for more interest-led learning as life leads us that way.

Squirrel gets excited about a lot of things, but it can be difficult to hone in on what is most exciting to her as a student. So far, making her own videos, cooking and science are big deals to her.

If I let her, she'll make videos all day long on a cell phone or tablet left lying around. Not just any videos, though. She likes to make instructional videos, from "unboxing" videos to DIY everything in our house. Even when a camera is not pointed at her, she talks her way through teaching each and every one of YOU how to sweep, make a cup of Kool-Aid, or wash a dog in the backyard. It's what she's drawn to.

So, I have to try to direct her in an appropriate direction with her passions. Instead of letting her stare at YouTube all day long, I've let her create her own videos, and I've uploaded a few to a private channel. She's working me over to get me to make all her videos public. I'm not quite ready for that yet.

Her latest achievement is making homemade dog treats. Actually, they're partially homemade. Semi-homemade is the coined term, I believe.

Squirrel gives you Milk Bone Sandwiches... take two Milk Bones and sandwich them together with a sticky, nutty layer of PB. I must say, the dogs are fans!

So, my goal as we move into 3rd grade work and ideas, is to allow the Squirrel more freedom in her learning. Some things she finds boring, and I understand. As I'm working FT currently, I try to give her things to rouse her curiosity, but some things just aren't going to be crazy exciting. Math. She's good at it, but it isn't too exciting. I'll be exploring the web and getting some of my own creative ideas flowing to bring more excitement to our learning overall.

And, I'm happy for warmer weather, so we can cruise back to doing nature walks after our Saturday soccer games. Good times ahead!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Plugging Along and Learning Big

I am still a newbie at this school thing, but it feels good to hear your kiddo preach what she has learned or to see the focus and excitement of new ideas. 

Fruit Loops and Ixl math problems in the mornings. We subscribed to this at her insistance, but she is finding it isn't to her liking. I'm still thinking Teaching Textbooks when summer rolls around.

Keeping up with outdoor time and field trips, we discovered a cool pumpkin farm in Elgin. Look at this monster!

 This was my favorite learning thing there. Squirrel got to make homemade cornmeal from an ear of corn.

 Grinding the kernels off the stalk....

Grinding the kernels into meal. Then we took it home and made cornbread out of her hardwork! Totally pioneer of us. 😊

A little fun with baby pumpkin slingshots!

Then we took our pumpkin loot home for a little unit study and put them in order smallest to largest...

Then she learned to do some estimating on their weight in ounces, comparing weights in her hands and then seeing how close her guesses were on the scale. She was pretty good!

Finally, checking on the test of whether a pumpkin will float or sink... guess what? They're flaoters, big or small.

Squirrel is rocking her math, both carrying in addition and borrowing in math. We are up to 3-digit problems for both!

Science is the absolute favorite though. We focus primarily with Apologia Flying Creatures, but we are finding ourselves unafraid of wandering off on a new subject. I found a great book at Five Below full of experiments. We chose a few weather experiments to work on. First, freezing water. Here, our cupful of ice. We checked our water in 30 minute increments to see how long for it to freeze (Squirrel fingers poking at the water slows the process a bitπŸ˜‚). 

We froze a few caveman toys in our water for an added bit of cavefun. Here our mammoth slowly finds his way out after centuries entrapped in ice and cold darkness.

First, when only his tusk showed itself. We also measured how quickly the ice melted in 30 minute increments taking data notes on her observations.

While the ice froze, we made a tornado bottle to see how objects are affected inside the spinning storm. 

Finally, yesterday we went to Chisholm Trail Days not far from home. We saw many Indian and cowboy relics and artifacts brought from the museum nearby.

Here, a man shows Squirrel one of the toys girls played with on the Chisholm  Trail... spinning the small ball beneath makes the hens peck the seeds above. Fun.

This toy was used to make the horses move left or right depending on the direction of the stick on the noisemaker.

Branding her first steer.

Indian dances are beautiful and mesmerizing.

Made her own bandanna!

Squirrel on a miniature horwe.

Playing in the shady creek at the park there, having fun with new friends.

Silly selfies.

Lastly, we saw a recreation of a cattle drive with cowboys driving the longhorns down the trail.

This morning, working in her Just Write Book 1, with Gummy, her toothless unicorn at her side.

More adventures await....! 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

I Only Thought We Hadn't Done Much Lately....

Then I scrolled through my camera roll on my phone....

We have much enjoyed learning all about Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day from Apologia. Eyes closed, but fun experiment treating feathers with oil to see how waterfowl waterproof their feathers. Squirrel is all about experiments....

In Story of the World, I continued to forget to hunt down sugar cubes, so we made our Egyptian pyramid out of 2x2 lego blocks instead. She learned that each lego block weighed at least as much as an elephant and might take 50 men to drag one up to the top.

Above, she picked pandas as an animal to study,  so  we nature hunted for goodies to create her first nature diorama of panda living areas.

For fun, and learning, we treated ourselves to the most awesome Lego Expo with massive creations and activities. In. Awe. This guy was her fave from Jurassic World, so she had to pose!

At the Austin Nature Center, she got to check out cool fossils and rocks! 

And do a little digging in the fossil Dino Pit.

Another day, we hit the Snake Farm... still as cool as I remember. She got to touch and feed infant turtles... pancake turtles and tortoises. They are super cute and love that lettuce.

The guy with the baby gator left her wishing for a soft bunny, but she still was curious. Here they taught about the animals, let us watch the carnivores eat, and let all the kids ask tons of questions. Great interaction.

Back to science, we did a backyard experiment on flying. We learned how birds use their wings to slow their flight and land, using the umbrella.  It's tougher than it looks!

And finally, science experiment on crystals. We made soap crystals overnight in the pitcher...

In the morning, she found her name in glittery shining crystals! We love learning together!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Curriculum Fun

The past few weeks have mostly been filled with language arts and math, but we managed to squeeze in some fun, too.

Story of the World is teaching ancient history and we made salt dough Egyptian writings then baked it to set it. 

Before baking....

Translating the code.....

Here is cuneiform paintings on scrolls, the other writings in that area at the time. 

And, playing with the leftover dough... we present roasting weiners over the campfire!

Science is still birds, but Squirrel asked to learn about the body, so we did a random lesson on taste and smell.

Brave girl letting mama swab her down with unknown flavors! She had to guess if what I gave her to taste was sweet, salty, sour, bitter or savory. 

In other news, we found  THE most awesomest app for Squirrel! She loves to draw comics but gets really mad at her artistic skills and puts the kebosh on her own creativity. I found Comicker on the Google play store. It comes with backgrounds and characters galore and she only has to pick them out and add her own storyline. 

She is excited to get to create like this!