Friday, September 30, 2011

Gardens of the World Field Trip

This week we got a chance to visit a charming little botanical garden called Gardens of the World.

Featuring six separate garden areas on four and a half acres, it was the perfect size for a beautiful morning walk.

While gathering everybody and everything we needed to get out the door, I noticed E-R dragging.   When I asked her what was wrong, she told me that she hated going to museums and gardens.   She expressed just how boring they are to her quite well!   I told her that this was my choice and she could make the choice for our next field trip.

As my children have gotten older I have given in when they complain that they would rather stay home, but a few weeks ago one of my children mentioned that we never go anywhere anymore.   At that point I decided we were going to go ahead and go whether they wanted to or not.  

We pulled into the parking lot and hopped out.  Right at the entrance was the neatest chess set.  E-R was out of the car in a flash to check-out if it was there to be used.   So much for just wanting to stay home and not visit boring old gardens.

Battling it out!

Next we strolled through the French Gardens.

The center piece of this garden is a replica of the fountain at  the Palace of Versailles.  

A tiny clue we were headed towards the Japanese Garden. 

If you look closely at the left hand side of the picture just about in the middle you will see a brown blob.  That brown blob is a HUGE spider that was suspended about 10 feet above the path.   

California Mission Courtyard Garden

I was pleasantly surprised to come around the corner and find this diminutive sculpture of Jesus washing Peter's Feet.  

 At the English Rose Garden E-R fell in love with taking pictures of the roses.   She told me that perhaps she wants to become a photographer.   

I think she did a beautiful job.   

Last but not least was the Roman Garden.  I loved it.   I could have sat on the bench and gazed at this chain fountain forever.   I love flowers and colors, but the only flowers in this garden are the lavender plants.   It was so relaxing.  Perhaps,  I need to think about the color palette in my garden.  

I think the best part of the day for my kids was the opportunity to be in front of the camera!  "Mom, Mom take my picture!" rang out throughout the entire morning.  

What did I really learn from this field trip?   I learned I need to power through those teenage complaints, moans, and groans that staying home to lounge, watch tv, and play video games would be a better use of time.  I thought our visit might be marred by complaints and poutiness, but instead it was filled with charming excited children.   I will have my kids help pick the places we visit, but museums, gardens, and all other educational places here we come.

Be sure to check out Anna-Marie's field trip blog hop to see where other homeschoolers are field tripping.


Week 4

This week was a short, but good week.   Tuesday we volunteered at the Bishop's Storehouse.  The girls loved it.  They got a shopping cart to fill with food.  It was like shopping on their own.    I packed tomatoes into bags of three pounds each.    I also came home with a box of bruised tomatoes to make into sauce.   Good day all around.

Thursday was a day off school for E and A-M, so we planned a field trip to a local botanical gardens. .

Math:  This week we entered into the realm of negative rational numbers.  The girls got the hang of it pretty quickly.   They continued to work in their Key to Fractions and Percent books as well.

English:  We covered Direct and Indirect Objects.   We used

to review some of those pesky punctuation rules that have been a problem for I-E and E-R.  

Literature:  E-R and I-E choose vocabulary from Black Beauty to learn and took a quiz on those words on Friday.    Most of the words were specific to horse care.   We've ditched The History of the Horse because E-R and I-E just hated it.  Instead they will read the books, pick vocabulary to learn from each book, and complete a final project after reading each book.  This week and next week they are reading Black Beauty, and the following two weeks will be project time.  

Art:   This week was a review of positive and negative space.   Working on a collage, E-R was most impressed with the little 1.24 oz glue bottle that came in her art kit.   

Sometimes it's the little things in life that are the most appreciated.   

Geography:  Biblical Lands was the map learned this week.   

History:  Continuing on with the artists of the Renaissance, we also learned about the Medici family.   The Jim Weiss CD  "Masters of the Renaissance" 

did a beautiful job of weaving the stories of the Medici family into the stories of the artist we have been studying.   If you haven't listened to any of Jim Weiss' CDs, you are missing out.   Many are available at most public libraries.   

Shakespeare:   This week the kids played improv games, so the instructors could get a feel for each students personalities and acting abilities.  Next week is the big day when the kids find out which play they will be performing.   I-E is hoping for a Comedy of Errors.    E-R is crossing her fingers for Much Ado About Nothing.  

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Why I Homeschool Wednesday
Wordless Wednesday 
All Wrapped -Up in One

One is never too old for Matchbox cars!

Monday, September 26, 2011

How to Create a Science Course From a Science Kit

Science kits seem to pop-up just about everywhere these days-- toy stores, book stores, and even the local hardware store.   Robots, bubbles, volcanoes, perfume, slime, solar power, gum.   There doesn't seem to be any aspect of science study that hasn't been turned into a kit.   The varied topics found in these science kits can turn your science studies into an unique personalized course.   The following steps will enable you to put together a science course just right for your family.

First find a quality science kit.  I've found that price usually matches usefulness of the product. My favorite kits are created by Thames and Kosmos.  When my children were younger the  Science in a Nutshell  kits worked well for us.   Over the years we have also tried using lower quality kits, but were always disappointed with the results.  It's hard to focus on the science concepts when mom or dad have to take over and jury-rig the contraption to try to get the experiment to work.

The latest kit we've picked 

will allow us to build a wind turbine to preform experiments with.

A library of resource books is a must.   The Kingfisher Science Encyclopedia and the Usborne Internet-Linked Science Encyclopedias are my go to books.   I also consider our library a source for more specific information.

images courtesy of

Determine which concepts the science kit can be used to teach.   Pull out the little instruction booklet that came with your kit.

Sometimes manuals provide a bit of background or scientific information, but usually I've found them to be pretty bare-bones,thus the need for additional information to make a kit into a complete course.

Looking through this booklet  I see that the concepts of  work, energy, wind, aerodynamics, wind power, and windmills are covered throughout the different experiments.

Then decide where, how, and when your students will research these concepts.   Matching up the above concepts with the entries in my Kingfisher Science Encyclopedia and Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedias,  I start to see how learning the concepts will take place.   The wind entry in the Kingfisher Science Encyclopedia will lend itself to summarizing, so I mark down our first assignment as reading the entry and writing a paragraph summarizing the information.    While looking through the Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia, I come across a beautiful chart  explaining the Beaufort Scale of Wind Forces with a list of observable effects to measure wind force, so I include the assignment to reproduce that chart in their science notebooks, and then to make a chart to observe wind force each day through out our study of wind power.   Further more I find a  website from the Usborne Encyclopedia which includes lots of online activities about what causes different types of weather. Looking up the other concepts, I see that some of the information may be good to memorize while other entries would work for further independent research.

One of the concepts, windmills, is not covered in either encyclopedia, so I head to the library to find some books on windmills.  After searching through lots of how-to-books, I found The Wind at Work, an activity guide about windmills as well as a book chock full of pictures and history about windmills.   I also came across this gem : The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.  I hadn't planned on including a novel in our science studies, but this true story about a boy who makes a windmill out of junk in order to bring food and hope to his African village was just too good to pass up.   I feel my children will benefit from several different character traits shown in this story which is one of the reasons I love being able to put together studies that are individualized for my family.

Next match up the assignments with the experiments in the kit.   The wind entry will of course match up with the two experiments on wind.  I like to complete our research and reading before completing the experiments as I find it helps my kids to better understand what is happening during the experiment.

Complete the experiments.  The best part of any science course is the experiments!   I have my kids complete lab sheets with all experiments.   I find it helps them process what is going on in the experiment, and we have something concrete to look back on and discuss after the actual experiment has been dismantled.   Donna Young has several different lab sheets available for free.

Individualize the course for your family.  Science is an  opportunity to explore and analyze the world while really making learning fun.   There are science kits available for kindergartners through adults.  Don't wait until your children are older to start science and don't avoid using the kits yourself because you aren't young.  Use young children's natural wonder to jump start their love of learning.   Assignments for younger kids may be as simple as a picture drawn to show what was learned. That's okay. The books and assignments  I've mentioned here work for my middle school aged children; others may work better for you family.  If science is incorporated throughout their growing up years,  investigating, probing, questioning, scrutinizing, and digging to learn more about our world will become second nature to your children.

Be sure to check out what all the other Hip Homeschool Moms are doing at the