As a homeschool parent, I am always looking for websites to help bring lessons to life, to enrich, or to explain in better ways all the things we are learning. Some of my favorites right now are Khan Academy, Mensa For Kids, and the History Channel. There are so many websites that are truly wonderful, but I want to share why I am particularly impressed with these three right now.
While my children do not yet realize it, we are going through the top eleven pieces of art recovered by the Monuments Men. The first questions of our second-semester art were: “Is art important? Is art worth protecting? Is art worth risking a life to save and why?” They each had to write out their responses to these questions, and we will revisit their responses at the end of the semester after we watch the movie. Khan Academy has been a tremendous help as we learn about these works of art. I just put the piece of art we are studying into the search area and a video with two professors explaining the piece of art comes up. It also has a quiz to make sure that the information is understood. I especially enjoyed the lesson on the Ghent Altarpiece. They explained so many tiny things that I would never have even noticed and most certainly not understood the importance of without the lesson.
photo credit: Khan Academy
Mensa For Kids is another great site that we are currently using for our science lessons. It presents the lessons and has great questions for review. It also includes other sites to visit that help teach the lessons as well. I am fairly picky when it comes to science and find this site to be a very comprehensive one for the lessons we are covering.
Obviously, the History Channel is a great resource for teaching history. Personally, I learn best visually and auditorily so watching things on History Channel is very helpful. We are currently learning about the slavery and the Civil War. Rootshas been remade and is on the History Channel. Their website has a full guide to help students as they watch the show. It is very comprehensive and has many other sites to visit. It also has thought-provoking questions. There are activities that are suggested to help the viewers explore their own roots and to understand the time period better.
We are very excited to have discovered these sites and to be learning more from them every day.
We just finished Pollyanna for school. I never read this book as a child, so it was as new to me as to the girls. I can say that I truly loved this book!
The author did a great job making the reader understand the personality of each of the characters. Pollyanna’s character reminded me of a more optimistic and unfortunate Junie B. Jones. I love reading aloud and always do different voices for the different characters. The way this book is written lends itself very well to being read aloud.
While this story is about a little girl, I feel like any child could enjoy this book. There were so many lessons in this book. I felt like we had lots of teachable moments throughout the book. There is a bit of a mystery in Pollyanna, which is fun. There are tragic moments as well. There were parts of the book that had such beautifully written passages that I had to stop and weep a little before I could go on. I know that may sound over-the-top, but I think that if you go and read Pollyanna as an adult it would touch your heart way more than if were read it only as a child. I know my children were touched, but they could not fully fathom some of the more adult-feelings in this book.
I want everyone I know to read this book. I actually am giving it to our pastor and one of my nieces. I’m including a prism with each book. I also have hung a couple of prisms in our school room to remind of us some of the lessons we learned from Pollyanna. I won’t tell you why I included the prisms, but I hope you’ll read the book and find out on your own!
One of the things I love about Ambleside online is the amazing books that we get to read. (Now, I will tell you that each year I have found at least one book on our list that I have decided to not read. We either tried it and disliked it so much that there was no point in continuing or we found a book that better fit our children’s and our tastes.)
Back to great books… I have had the pleasure of discovering some great books through homeschooling and I never like to keep good information to myself (that seems so selfish). One of the books we are currently reading is Wit and Wisdom from Poor Richard’s Almanack by Benjamin Franklin. It is basically proverbs. Some you’ll recognize right away like “No Pain, No gain” or “Haste makes Waste”. There are so many other gems of wisdom in this little book. I have definitely had to explain most of these to my girls. The language is sometimes hard to understand; but there is so much wisdom in those words that once I explain it, they are eager to tell of examples where this makes sense.
This is a very inexpensive book at only $2.50. It would make a great little gift for a graduate, someone getting a new job, or even a stocking stuffer.
Our elementary science this year covers a broad range of ideas. I decided to do at least one science experiment a week from a couple of Steve Spangler’s science experiment books. Last week, we did an experiment that demonstrated Bernoulli’s Principle. For this experiment you’ll need a hairdryer, toilet paper roll, and a ping pong ball. He performed this experiment on the Ellen Show. My children loved doing it over and over. I think it really did help them understand the idea of lift that makes an airplane able to fly.
I’m sure that most people are familiar with Dr. Seuss’s, Ten Apples Up On Top. We decided to do a little engineering experiment to see if we could build a structure that would hold stacked apples. The girls were allowed to use whatever blocks we had. The building had to be at least three feet tall. It was fun to see just how much balance and planning had to go into holding the weight of the apples and being able to place the apples in a way where they would not all fall down.
They definitely figured out pretty quickly that it was best to have a wider and sturdier block to hold the apples. The wooden blocks would only hold one apple and I was even shocked that it held that one. It was a fun little experiment.
Since we use “real” books and not as many textbooks in our home school, we spend most of our days reading. Because two of my children are struggling readers and the books that they are “reading” are quite demanding, I usually read aloud. This is good for all of us; but there are occasions where I simply do not have the time or that they are just not listening to me because the baby wants my attention or they are just sick of hearing my voice. During these times, I have found it extremely helpful to use Audibles and LibriVox. Audibles is through Amazon and is a pay program. You buy the audiobook. I use it with my older child. She reads along as it reads it aloud. This was one of the recommended methods for her due to her phonological processing disorder.
LibriVox is a free program. People volunteer to read chapters or whole books. The books in this program are all public domain, so only certain books are available. We used it with Burgess Animal Book. I felt like the girls listened along much better and we were able to pause or go back and repeat if we needed to do that. I like both programs and would highly recommend both to anyone who enjoys listening to stories.
The kiddos woke up to an Earth Day breakfast. I thought that Earth pancakes sounded so cute.
They were not the hit I’d hoped they would be. Only one of my children would even try them. Good thing I knew that was going to be the most probable outcome and made the rest of the batch normal.
Later, we read The Lorax by Dr. Seuss and the two little girls did a couple of worksheets pertaining to the book.
After some school work, we made seed paper out of old catalogs. We tore paper into about 2 to 3 inch pieces and put them into a blender filled about halfway with water. After blending, we took the pulp outside and used an old screen to press out the excess water and mold them into shapes. Then we added marigold and hollyhock seeds. We plan on giving these away once they dry.
We even had a Lorax themed dinner and an “earthy” dessert.
I got the coloring sheet printable from Dawn Nicole Designs. Olivia loves to color and after we read The Lorax, she was so excited to color and frame her work.
I made bow tie pasta (the Lorax’s mustache) with broccoli (truffala trees) with homemade low carb Alfredo sauce with Keto fried chicken. For dessert, the kids used chocolate pudding, smashed Oreos, and gummy worms to make their “earthy” dessert.
One of the books we read for school this year is The Little Duke by Charlotte Mary Yonge. It is a great story and very well written. It has some dated language and some of the names are hard to pronounce, but we enjoyed it nonetheless. There were definitely things I had to stop and clarify, but I think this is a benefit. It allows for better comprehension and it makes the story more relatable if they truly understand what is going on and can put themselves in the story. If the records are accurate this is their 34th great-grandfather, so it makes it even more special to learn about someone in our own family.
This true story is about Richard the Fearless, the Little Duke, who became the Duke as a child. The description of the back cover of the book says,
Richard the Fearless, the great grandfather of William the Conqueror, became Duke of Normandy at just 8 years old, after the assassination of his father. The Little Duke tells the heroic tales of his trials at home in Normandy and at the court in France where he was a prisoner.
My children would beg me to read more, but as we got close to the end they begged me not to finish just yet. They were sad to be done with the story. This historical novel makes history come alive for children. They get the opportunity to “get to know” a figure from the past. They get the chance to see that kings and dukes were once little children too. One of my favorite parts of the book, was when they found a chest that contained Richard’s father’s (William Longsword) “treasure”. The priest explained to Richard and the men why the contents of the chest were his father’s greatest treasure. It is a beautiful story, and it shows why Richard would become the kind of man that he was.
We truly loved this book and I’m looking forward to reading it again someday with my little boy.
3 Tbl. Synthetic Iron Oxide (I got ours from Amazon)
We used gloves, masks and a plastic tablecloth when mixing this. It turns everything black, so be prepared to get messy.
Once we mixed the three ingredients, it became a very nice thick slime. We then used magnets from hard drives to play with the slime. It actually will move and dance with the magnet. The children really enjoyed this.