Greatly Blessed

Greatly Blessed

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Beyond the Books - Social Studies and Science

This week's topic for Virtual Curriculum Fair brings out the inner Ms. Frizzle in me.  If you're familiar with Magic School Bus, you know that her wild clothing usually matches the topic the kids are learning about.  That's me, but not with clothing.  Or at least, not just with clothing.  I love themes.  I will take a topic and run with it.  Which is great for getting really into science and history, this week's topics.

Social Studies
This year, we're working on California History.  We're using Our Golden California.  Because we live here, we have great field trip opportunities, such as the capitol, the missions, and other historical sites.  Field trips are one of my favorite parts of homeschooling.

The day of our Mission field trip

Other resources we've used for History include:
My Father's World - I really enjoyed MFW.  We did 4 years of the 5 year cycle.  Exploring Countries and Cultures was my personal favorite, but part of that may have been because it was such a new way for us to homeschool, after many years of workbooks.
Write Through History
Moving Beyond The Page
Hewitt Homeschooling
Art In History - truly a favorite of ours!  We've done about half a dozen of these projects, and they're very nice.  The projects include a link to a lesson plan to go learn about what you're making, but since I usually pick the project based on what we're learning about, we have usually already covered what's in the plan.  Those lesson plans did once save Eli's bacon, though, when he needed a project for school.
Homeschool Legacy
Carole Roman books - She does both a series for younger kids about different countries, and a series for slightly older kids on different time periods/places in history.

"Bendy guys" from Figures in Motion - our school room has several posters featuring various historical figures we've made.
Biographies, like the ones from YWAM Publishing
Audio Dramas from Heirloom Audio
History, travel, and science related videos from SmartKidz Media.  Also classical and international music.
Eli used several Nano Blocks kits to build various buildings/monuments from around the world as we studied about them.  Brianna built St. Basil's Cathedral from a larger scale kit.

Geography is usually lumped in with history under "social studies," but this year I wanted a deliberate geography program.  Katie is using Beginning Geography, and Jack and Hannah are using Daily Geography Practice, but we're going through it faster than recommended.

Making globe cakes, 2010-2011 school year

Make African inspired beads
Make chocolate
Games are a great way to learn geography, as are my very favorite puzzles.

This year, Jack and Hannah are using something different to cover reading comprehension, test prep, and science.  It's not a full fledged science curriculum, but it exposes the kids to a lot of science information, and vocabulary, and they both need the reading comprehension skills.

Field trips are also a great way to learn science!  Zoos, obviously, are great for this, but also farm trips, pumpkin patches, mines, fish hatcheries, and manufacturing trips.

Other fun stuff that falls into the science catagory:
Montessori By Mom - great explorations in science for little ones (and not so little!)
Go Science DVDs
Groovy Lab in a Box - we have a couple more of these that we need to use!  They're really fun; I just forget to pull them out.
Color Mixing
Circuit Maze - still a favorite
Curiosity Quest DVDs - These are pretty cool.  I would love to find them on Netflix or Amazon so we could watch more of them.
We've done the butterfly kit thing a couple of times now, and I think we could probably do it again next year so the younger kids can enjoy it.
I know most people think of K'nex as toys, but they put out some nice science kids, too.  Eli really enjoyed them.

The other great way to learn more about social studies and science is by reading!  We have enjoyed geography linked series, such as Carole Marsh's Around The World chapter books, and history related series, such as Dear America, or Magic Tree House.  And, of course, science chapter books featuring the gang from Magic School Bus!

Okay, slightly off color, but it made me laugh out loud.

Happy learning!  Remember that there are many, many ways of learning social studies and science, and the beauty of homeschooling is that you don't have learn them in someone else's order or method.  Have fun!

Please visit my fellow homeschool bloggers who are talking about Exploring Our World this week:
Note: all links will be LIVE by Monday 1/23 at noon EST.
Notebooking Our Way through History by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Studying the Where and How by Michele@Family, Faith and Fridays
The History of Our Mysterious Struggle With History by Laura @ Four Little Penguins
Social Science, Science and Exploring our World - Our Path by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory
Learning History Through Fiction by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset
History in Our Homeschool by Amanda H @ Hopkins Homeschool
Exploring Our World Through History And Science by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World
Bringing History to Life! by Yvie @ Gypsy Road
History, Living Books and the Imagination by Sarah @ Delivering Grace
Exploring our world comes in many different forms. by Kim @ Good Sweet Love
Bible, History and Geography by Lizzy @ Peaches At Home
Beyond the Books - Social Studies and Science by Shecki @ Greatly Blessed
Exploring the World with Living Books by Brittney @ Mom's Heart
High School History & Science without Textbooks by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
Exploring the World Starting with Canada by Annette @ A Net in Time
Visit The World Through Video by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens
Nature Study is Our Favorite Way to Do Science by HillaryM @ Walking Fruitfully
What A Wonderful World by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
The Time we got Lost in the Woods by Dana Hanley @ Roscommon Acres

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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Our Not Very Exciting Week

Here we are with another week flown by.  A little shorter than the usual week, because of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday.

Here's a model shot of the dress I made for Hannah that I showed last week.  I really like this pattern.  I am working on a panda outfit for Katie in the sewing room now.

This guy asked me out to dinner for no reason at all this week!  It was nice to get out, just the 2 of us.

We also made it to the library again.  Partly to return all of last week's videos, and partly because Brianna reserved a whole list of books on my library card, so I keep getting emails to come pick them up when they hit our local branch.

So, ages ago, we made swirly paper with shaving cream and paint.  But we never did anything with it.  Last week, I saw a snowman art project and I thought it might be cute to do something very similar.  The snowmen are circles cut from white paper.  The hats are black contact paper.  The faces and "buttons" are drawn on.  The snow is circles from our 1/8" hole punch.  And the whole thing is held together with clear contact paper on top.

We had a great field trip to the train museum over the weekend, and I took some fun pictures of Brianna while we were out and about.  This lines up perfectly with our history lessons, as we're studying the building of the transcontinental railroad right now.

I have a couple more field trips in mind that I'd like to take the kids on, but the weather is icky again, so it will have to wait a bit.

We have a craft in progress for Year of the Rooster, but it's not quite finished yet.  I hope to show them next week.

If you would pray for Katie, I'd appreciate it.  She's got a rather awful outbreak of molescum going.  Our Little Friends have had it off and on ever since we've known them, and it looks like Katie picked it up from them.

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Friday, January 20, 2017

Field Trip Friday: Ca State Railroad Museum

Our spelling passage last week (in Spelling You See, level E) was about the Transcontinental Railroad.  The passages we've had lately have gone really well with our history studies this year.  We watched a You Tube video about Promontory, Utah, where the two railways met, and I decided we need a trip to the train museum.

I set out with Josiah, Brianna, Eli, a friend of B&E from school, Jack, Hannah, and Katie.  Josiah is camera shy, so he's beside me while I'm taking this picture before we entered the museum.

The teens went off to do their own thing, and I was left with "my students" to enjoy the museum at a more leisurely pace.

We saw trains!  Lots of trains.  We watched a movie in the beginning, and I was pleased that it mentioned the Chinese contribution to the Transcontinental Railroad in a positive light.

In fact, there were even exhibits that talked about the Chinese laborers who worked on the tracks.

The kids and I had a great time looking at everything.

We even found a very old prosthetic leg!  I, for one, am thankful that technology has come along so much since then.  This leg looked pretty primitive to us.

We learned that, because California doesn't *have* coal, California engines burned wood instead, and had special funnel shaped, spark-catching smokestacks like the one above.  I like the mirrored ceiling that allowed us to see the top of the train engine.

I'd explained to the kids about the Golden Spike, and I thought our local museum might have a replica (maybe an old iron one painted gold?) but it turns out, TWO gold spikes were cast, and one of them lives here!

We were all pretty impressed with it.

All 4 sides are beautifully engraved.

Oh look, more trains.

Lots of them you could look in, and some of them you could even go inside.

The docents were helpful in explaining things to the kids.

The cars you could walk through were pretty cool.  There was a modern one, like the high speed trains I rode in China, then there was a sleeper car that rocks (I told the docent on board that one that I'd need motion sickness medicine to do his job!), and my favorite, the dining car with all the different dish sets used by the various railroads.

There was also an outdoor section, with, you guessed it, more trains.

It was really neat to be able to see and touch part of our history.

Oh, look, the teenagers have found us.

This was a "ladies waiting room" in the train depot.  At Christmastime, they do a Polar Express train ride here.  The trains are not currently running, but they start back up in April, so I told Hannah to remind me after her birthday and we'll come back and ride one of the trains.

We had pizza for lunch.

Afterwards, we stopped in at the Wells Fargo Museum and got to play with a telegraph!  This was perfect, because the lesson prior to the railroad lesson in our spelling book was about Samuel Morse, inventor of the telegraph.

We learned a little bit more about the Pony Express, too.

The brass scales used to weigh gold to change the miners' gold into money.

And the origin of the phrase "shotgun" in regard to riding in the car.

A fun time was had by all, and we came home with this book from the train museum gift shop to remember our visit.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Photo Shoot in Old Sac

We recently went on a field trip to the Train Museum in Old Sacramento, and while we were there, Brianna and I had a little fun taking pictures.

I'm calling them "not senior" pictures, since Bri is a junior this year.

But we enjoyed the experience enough that I might do her actual senior pictures next year.

Old Sac has plenty of "props" and backdrops to make taking pictures there interesting.

Pretty much the only obstacle is people passing by.

Which is when editing comes in handy.

I took over 200 pictures that day, so we both ended up with lots of favorites.

It was nice to work together and try many different ideas.

Brianna prefers a serious expression.

So we did lots and lots of serious look shots.

But every once in a while, I asked her to smile.

The weather was perfect.

Not too warm.

Not too cool.

Not too windy.

Just the right amount of sun, streaming into this shot.

The trains give both the sense of travel and of times gone by.

Speaking of time gone by... did my little toddler Brianna turn into such a lovely young woman?

In the blink of an eye, I tell you.

And before I know it,

instead of blowing kisses,

she'll be waving bye bye like her older siblings,

and stepping out into the big, bright world all on her own.

I'm glad I have these photos to remember this fleeting in-between time.

Definitely not a little girl any more, but not quite a full fledged grown up yet, either.

It's almost as if she's waiting for her train to come and take her away to adulthood.

I look forward to seeing who she becomes,

and where she goes in life.

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