For our last field trip this year, we all met at Blandy Experimental Farm. The younger students did the Mammals class, while the older students did the Snake Savvy Course. My children were all in the mammals class, and we enjoyed learning about the “evidence” left behind by mammals, so we know they are present. We listened to sounds of animals, we felt animal fur, we looked at animal tracks, and we talked about “scat”, the scientific name for excrement left by an animal. After learning a bit and painting the feet you see to the left, we went on a nature hike to find the evidence of mammals. This was an excellent way to finish off the year and to remind our students of the first six weeks of science on animal life.
For parents who would like to continue with science throughout the summer, Blandy offers some wonderful options, including 4-5 day summer camps for only $100. These camps are open to homeschoolers!
*The picture to the left is of my children’s footprint molds. Here you can see two coyote feet and a woodchuck foot. The children were not particular about colors as you can see, too.
By far the most exciting find of this year has been the Seaside and Wayside Nature Readers I-IV. (Also available free at Gutenberg Project.) These have been great read aloud books for our kids, who are so interested in knowing the animals and insects around them. The illustrations are detailed, so the children can really see what is being described,making these books not only entertaining, but educative. When my children ask me “why?” about an insect or animal, I am much better prepared to answer now!
At the end of each unit chapter, you will find discussion questions and activity suggestions. I would recommend this book as early as Kindergarten as the discussion questions can be asked orally and the child can respond orally. The activities could be added as the child gets older, depending on the necessary skills. You do need all four books to cover the range of animal kingdoms.
Students were given a set of electrical supplies and instructed to connect everything in such a way to light their light bulbs. There was an assortment of resistors, so some students had success lighting their bulbs, some did not. One resistor was much too weak and smoked to the class’s great excitement.
My favorite comment after the smoke was: “Mrs. Rolling, I’m afraid. Can we stop doing this now? I don’t need to light my light bulb.”
This week students learned a bit of first aid. I began the class by asking them if they or any of their siblings had ever been to the emergency room. As expected, each family had at least one story to tell, and they all enjoyed telling their injury stories.
Then, we continued to talk about the types of injuries that can cared for at home if the right supplies are handy. The checklist given to students is based off one by theBoy Scouts of America. I explained each of the supplies in their first aid kits, and they assembled their own kits.
All first-aid supplies were bought at the local Dollar Tree or grocery store (butterfly-bandages). The plastic containers are just the right size for throwing into a back-pack for a hiking trip! Each student was very proud to have his name on the kit, too.
This week in art students began to learn about value, not of things, but of light and dark. They were given a black-line print of The Boating Party by Mary Cassatt and were allowed to choose one color to use for the entire print. Their task was to focus on the direction of light and what things would be dark and what things would be light. They seemed to jump on board!
Science: The Human Body
We spent time exploring lung capacity this week using the CSH Science Curriculum; however, the activity seemed a bit too advanced for those students under 11 years of age. Since we only have a few who are older, it did not go over as well as it might have. The youngest students enjoyed being the “guinea pigs” of the older students, though!
Extreme Weather. We had our weather grand finale today! Students pieced together 2-liter bottles to make water tornadoes, and we made lightening with balloons and a light bulb! Both were a great hit with the students. In retrospect, one balloon and a volunteer would have been more orderly than one balloon for each student. Imagine! 20 students each with a balloon in a small room!
Now we shall enjoy a long break to re-organize supplies and energies before we meet again in January. The time will be well spent.
Art: Quilting Like the Pioneers. The next three weeks in art class, we will be working on a 9 Patch Block quilt. Each child received a quilting kit with instructions, and they were introduced today to sewing basics and to quilting. We discussed how the pioneers made their quilts from left over fabric and from old clothes. The children are sewing the quilt by hand just like the pioneers! This activity was a huge hit. All of the children worked very diligently and were excited to finish their blocks at home. Although I have set aside 3 weeks for quilting, I have a hunch most children will finish within two weeks! Here are some links to help you, parents, as you help your children:
Science: Making Rain. This week we learned about the water cycle: evaporation, condensation, precipitation. We used a large glass jar filled partly with hot water and a large glass bowl filled with ice to create “rain”. We also put food coloring in the water to see if the condensed water would contain color. The rest of the time we talked about different ways of filtering water, so we can drink it. A great day!
It was a rainy day, and our location does not allow for outdoor play or excursions very easily. Given these two factors, we sketched a still-life of plants instead. The students were surprisingly quiet and focused during this week’s art lesson, and all the students produced wonderful pieces of art. I did forget to take pictures, however, so we shall have to do with an image by John James Audubon. This was our last week to study Audubon’s Birds of North America.
Science: Why is the sky blue? Continuing with our study of weather, today we did an experiment to help explain why the sky is blue. Using a clear 2-liter soda bottle, water, milk, and a flashlight, we were able to imitate the earth’s atmosphere as light passes through it. To our amazement we saw different colors as more and more milk was added to the water! In the end, we had blue and purple, so we discussed the varying lengths of color and how colors scatter when they run into particles. This seemed quite the difficult concept for most students to grasp, but the experiment, I think, brought the idea to life. For more ideas on similar experiments you can do at home, visit this website: Science Made Simple.
Art: Texture Study and A Duck. This week in art we learned more about texture, how artists create suggested texture not actual texture. Students used broken, paperless crayons to rub on paper with bark and leaves underneath. After practicing this for a time, they took a clean piece of paper and attempted to create the suggested texture of a pond or swamp. Finally, they drew a duck on their pond with oil pastels. Many students had their own ideas, of course!
Science: Weather. This week in science we learned about how the earth’s rotation affects the direction of wind and global wind patterns (the Coriolis Effect). We attempted an experiment similar to the one here. Older students drew the wind patterns on a blank globe. For more ideas, visit this website: DLESE Teaching Boxes.
During our second quarter at Catholic Schoolhouse, we are observing the weather. Some of our families are very young, the oldest child only being 5-7 years of age. Here are some tips for observing the weather with younger children:
Keep the activity age appropriate. If your oldest is 5 years of age, consider using this as an opportunity to learn about the calendar, days of the week, and months. Have your child draw a picture of what the weather looks like: a sun, a cloud, a sun covered slightly by a cloud, a cloud with rain, etc.
Keep it fun! If it is too stressful for your family to record the weather everyday, decide to check the weather four days of the week.
Check out books from the library about weather! This is a great time to read books about storms and winter storms and the like.
Here are some free weather coloring pages as well: