Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Earth's Layers and Spheres

This year, we are shifting our focus in science to earth and space science. This is exciting for us because the girls haven't spent much time in this area. To make it even better, we have a few families that are working with us to complete lab activities. So far, they have been a hit with all of the girls.

 First on our stop was the study of the earth's layers and its spheres. We watched some great videos found on YouTube.  The girls favorite was the Layers of the Earth Rap! That song has really stuck with them!

Resources we used:

During our group lab session, we discussed the layers of the earth and built scale models of the earth.  We also viewed real core samples from the that were brought in by another parent!



  • Large Styrofoam ball (cut in half)
  • Acrylic paint (4 different colors)
  • Velcro dots
  • Heavy card stock
  • 1 1/2 inch hinge (found in hardware store near door hinges)
  • Super glue
  • Index cards
After coloring in each layer, we created index cards listing the facts about each layer on one side and the name of the layer on the other.  With the heavy card stock, we cut out  small squares and labeled the layers.  After the paint dried, we applied the Velcro dots to the model and applied the correct label to its part.  The hinge joint was then used to attach the two halves.  Be sure to use the super glue on the screws to hold them in place.  Our completed model were all finished and looked great!  We have more to add to them when we reach our lesson on plate tectonics so check back with us then.

If you're looking for a simpler model, I found one made by Canon that can be printed and assembled here.

Book list:
  •  Earth's Crust by: Conrad Storad
  • Earth's Core and Mantle by: Gregory Vogt
  • The Lithosphere by: Gregory Vogt
  • The Biosphere by: Gregory Vogt
  • The Hydrosphere by: Gregory Vogt
Well that wraps up our study of the earth's layers.  We enjoyed it and are looking forward to learning more about our precious planet.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Week 4

We have just completed our fourth week back in school.  The girls have been busy, busy, busy learning all sorts of new things while big brother wrapped up his finals.  We also managed to complete our first "official" portfolio reviews and student evaluations.  I can't tell you what a relief it is to have all of that done and behind us now!

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App 

This week we studied the types of rocks.  T was able to identify all of the rocks during lab correctly.  All of the girls did!
Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

This week in history we studied the Myceneans.  For geography, we decided to make a geography notebook.  The girls have really enjoyed doing this.

We've been working hard in math and doing more math notebooking.  We completed our study on nouns which was the first part of speech introduced in Grammarland

After all that work, we had to get out and have some fun!

 Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

A trip to the bowling alley with friends always does the trick!  We are making good use of our free bowling tickets from Kidsbowlfree.com. ( Our Favorite Resource this week!)

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

We finished off the week with a little jewelry making. My girls have have always enjoyed stringing beads.  This week, I surprised them with more supplies.  They upgraded to beading wire and learned to use the various crimps and claps.  This set was designed by Miss B.  After they finished, they asked if I could design them a website so they could sell them!  This brought up lots of learning opportunities.  We talked about the things they needed to think about and work on as they prepare to launch a jewelry business.  They realized they had more work to do, but weren't discouraged by it.  We'll see how they grow their idea over the next few months!

We really enjoyed our week and we hope you guys did the same!

Linking up this week with:
Homegrown Learners
Weekly Wrap-up

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Pizza Hut BOOK IT! Enrollment

Well it's that time again! Time to enroll in the Pizza Hut BOOK IT! program.  This program has been one of the motivating factors for my children.  They love to read, but are not very fond of keeping a reading log.  A trip to pizza hut each month for those who have reached the required reading motivates them to keep track!  So if you're interested in taking advantage of this great program, head over to Pizza Hut BOOK IT for more details!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Minerals and Crystals

We just wrapped up our two week study on minerals.  It was loads of fun for the girls so we wanted to share some of the fabulous resources we found to use along the way.

We love You Tube, with its endless source of visual resources, so we created a playlist to use with our study.  Another great video on minerals can be found here.

Our spelling/vocabulary words for the week were uploaded to Spelling City and can be found here. If you don't have a membership, you can access these and your child can play the free activities to help them learn.  The spelling test is also free.  They can type in their name and print a certificate of their grade for record keeping.

There were several sites picked out for the girls.  They are different ages and vary in reading ability, so I provided them with the following options to choose from.  They used these sites to gather information about crystals and minerals during the study:
Science in our house is always hands on so there was no shortage in scientific investigations during our study. The girls conducted a mineral dig, cracked open geodes, grew crystals, and identified the various types of minerals in each, and we also had a lab with friends to practice identifying various types of minerals.  The lab was wonderful and the girls worked methodically through their investigations. I set out eight different minerals on grid paper.  The girls picked one number at a time to test and identify.  We provided them with mineral guides to help them.  When they finished, they returned their mineral to its correct place for the next person. They observed the minerals' color, shape, and luster. They performed hardness tests, streak tests, acid tests.  They also checked for the specific gravity as well as magnetic properties of each mineral.


IMAG1201, Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App


IMAG1229 IMAG1231
We used several kits in this study. You can find most of these in various places like Hobby Lobby.  They often run them on sale and you can print a 40% off coupon on their website, anytime. Kits we used for our activities:
Lastly, we needed to find resources to document our learning.  There was no shortage there.  We used some notebooking pages, worksheets, and lapbook pieces to make our interactive notebooks.

Free printables:

We have a few more activities planned coming up.  They include visiting our local gem and mineral society and convention coming to our area.  If you would like to do the same, here in the U.S. you can find information at AFMS. Simply find your region on the list.

Well, that's it for our study of minerals and crystals.  Next stop...Rocks!

(Disclosure: I am affiliated with several of the companies linked within this post.  I receive a monetary compensation for purchases of the mentioned products, however I only recommend products we use personally and that I believe in.  Any monetary compensation received is used to provide for our homeschooling.)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

New Beginnings

It's been two months since we moved and equally as long since our last blog post.  So much has changed in our world. We've moved into a new house and it was on thing after another getting settled.  In the mist of the move, my father, while riding his motorcycle to work one morning, barely avoided a serious crash.  While swerving out of the way his was able to lay his bike down without a scratch. However, in doing so he tore all of the thigh muscles away from the knee in his left leg and was unable to walk.  After having reconstructive surgery, he is faring well.  We are so thankful for this blessing.

With everything that was going on, we decided to go ahead and end the past school year.  We were all ready for a little breather and a fresh start.  We took a little time to get acclimated in the new house and to take care of dad.  Doing so gave us time to reflect upon the year we had and to discuss what we wanted to accomplish in the future.  This led to lots and lots of changes for us.  Some exciting and others bitter sweet.

My son has decided that he would like to try public schooling this upcoming year.  He feels that he would enjoy public school more now that he is older and in a new state.  We are currently exploring his schooling options for the fall and I must say, I don't know how to feel about it all right now.  I'll let you know how this transition goes.  This will be our first experience transitioning from homeschool to public school.

The girls and I decided to change our schooling to a year round learning experience.  We put together a schedule that included frequent week long breaks.  The kids were always saying, they never got a break!  It's funny listening to them.  Although I know we have taken tons of breaks, it's their perception that counts.  So, we worked out a schedule of five weeks on and one week off.  They were so excited to have these regular breaks on paper to look forward to.  It made planning a breeze for me too!

We got started a few weeks ago and things have gone okay.  It was difficult getting back in the saddle, but things are moving right along now.  Some old curriculum and new curriculum in the mix.  We even have a few friends who agreed to accompany us in weekly bowling trips and science labs.  It's become our favorite day of the week!

IMAG1229 IMAG1141 IMAG1160 

The kids have been busy and we have so much more to share.  New notebooking pages and projects.  But that will have to wait for another post.  

Peace and blessings,

Monday, April 16, 2012

Koinania Family Vacation Giveaway!

Are you feeling worn out as the school year comes to an end? Could you and your family use a vacation? What if it were free? Well, I don't know about you, but this family could certainly use a free vacation!  If you're interested, you should head over to Homeschool Giveaways and Freebies.  Register for your chance to win a family vacation to Koinania Valley Ranch Family Resort and stay for up to seven nights!  The prize value is up to $1,500 so head on over to Homeschool Giveaways and Freebies today!  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Time 4 Learning Review

About a month ago I told you guys I would be reviewing an online educational website called Time 4 Learning.  I had heard so many wonderful things about this site and was always curious as to whether or not it would work for our family.  I visited the site, but was reluctant to sign up for anything with monthly fees for all four of my children.  I still wondered about the curriculum and was overjoyed when given the opportunity to try it out for a month for free!

For those of you who don't know us well, let me tell you that my children love a great interactive learning site.  Over the years, we have run into three problems when searching for online curriculum that worked for us.  First, most sites only specialize in one subject at a time.  This is a problem when you have monthly fees to pay for multiple children at multiple sites.  Second, those that do cover every subject can come with hefty pricing.  Lastly, many of those that claimed to be complete, engaging, and parent friendly, did not lived up to our expectations.  And believe me, I invested more than $1,000 a few years ago on interactive curriculum.  It was the most painful experience for the children and I to get through and I have been skeptical about complete curriculum ever since.

Now enters Time 4 Learning.  Our experience with Time 4 Learning has been refreshing to say the least.    But, as with all things, there are pros and cons to utilizing this site.  I will try my best to let you know what we found for our family.

  • The curriculum is engaging and maintained the interest of my children.
  • The subject content had depth and the girls learned a lot as well as got a great review on material we had previously covered.
  • My children actually requested to complete their Time 4 Learning assignments.  This was great considering we were in the middle of moving and I did not require them to do so.
  • They had access to not only their grade level, but also the grades directly above and below their assigned grade.  This was very valuable, since my children have varying degrees of competency in various subjects.
  • Not only does it give immediate feedback, it reviews the concept briefly and allows the child to try answering the question again.
  • It is a secular curriculum. We prefer to use secular curriculum and include discussions of various religious viewpoints when applicable.
  • They have Algebra!  Can't tell you how great this was to find, being he mother of a middle school child who hates math textbooks.
  • The parent portal was unbelievable easy to utilize.  I had no trouble accessing progress reports and printing worksheets.  
  • The record keeping is complete and easy to print.  This allows for accurate and easy documentation of your child's progress that can be printed for their portfolios (if your state requires it like mine).  
  • Pricing for this resource is definitely reasonable.  Not only do they offer multiple child discounts, but they also offer a two week money back guarantee.  That way you can try it out at no risk and see if it works for you.  
  • The program stops with eighth grade so you have to find something else that fits after that.
  • My son is in seventh grade, so it was discouraging to find that science ended with the sixth grade and social studies ended with seventh grade.

    After having the opportunity to review this curriculum, I would definitely recommend to others.  Especially for the elementary grade levels.  I would not recommend it as a stand alone curriculum for upper middle school grade levels for the reasons listed above.  However, it would be easy to fill in the missing subjects for these grade levels.  I can honestly say that as we gather our options for the next coming school year, Time 4 Learning with definitely be among our options.

    Disclosures:  Although I was provided with one month's free membership in exchange for my review, the opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

    Friday, March 23, 2012

    Knitting and Legos and Moving, Oh My!

    It's Spring Break time over here and it's been mixed with some exciting moments and some overwhelming ones as well.  Moving day did not go as planned so the house is filled with boxes.  You can see my son jumping around some to get to the chair in the collage below!  All though things have been a little hectic, we didn't let that stop us from having fun and learning a new skill.

    Picnik collage

    I was inspired by Karen's daughter, over at HomeSchool Girls to finally begin learning to knit. I have had knitting needles and looms in the house for quite some time now, but never tried to use them.  After seeing the lovely drawstring purse Karen's daughter made, we had to give it a try and we are so happy we did.  To start out we used knitting looms.  My three daughters, my niece, and myself, all made our first hats!  The girls had such a good time and once one was done, they were begging to make another.  My eldest daughter even started mixing colors and creating patterns all by herself.  My barely 6 year old niece knitted her mom a purse!  She was so proud, but I wish I had taken a picture of my sisters face when she saw the bright colors her daughter had chosen!  It was a great bonding moment for us all and we are looking forward to learning more about knitting soon.

    With all the busy stuff going on, we were so happy to be going on our scheduled trip to Legoland in Winter Haven, Florida!

    Picnik collage

    One of my buddies set up the most amazing homeschool field trips to Legoland for only $5 per person!!!  No, that is not a typo.  I'm sure they have made some adjustments to the price by now, so be sure to check their website for current homeschool group rates.  Included in the admission, which is normally $75 per adult and $65 per child, was a class on Lego Mindstroms.  The girls got to refresh their skills since it's been a year since they attended a robotics class.

    Picnik collage

    Although they enjoyed the class, they couldn't wait to get a glimpse at all the magnificent Lego creations featured in the park.  I think dad was the most amazed person there.  He couldn't stop snapping pictures.  It was an enlightening experience for the kids to see what a person's imagination could lead to.  After taking in some sights, we rode the great rides.  This park is so family friendly.  All of my shorties, who are usually too small to get on anything, were able to ride each and every ride there.

    Picnik collage

    We had such a good time and the hubby has vowed to make another trip.  Guess we'll be calling to book another homeschool trip for next year!

    So what's been going on in your school?  Hop on over and share your ideas and experiences.

    This week, we will be linking up with:


    abc button

    Saturday, March 17, 2012

    Looking Back 2012, Week 11

    Picnik collage 

    Have you ever had one of those weeks where you have the most wonderful plans laid out, but you manage to only complete a small portion of them? Well, we just had one of those weeks.  We've had lots of appointments this week, but we managed to have a lot of fun mixed with a little bit of learning!

    We completed the Jr. Ranger program at the Timucuan Ecological and Historical Preserve.  There we learned about the history of the Timucuan Indians as well as the Spaniards who came to the area.  We studied the river ecosystem and the kids found poison ivy and muscadine grape vines in the preserve.

    In history, we studied Moses and the Exodus from Egypt in SOTW.  My favorite resource this week had to be our audiobook version of SOTW.  It was a great help to be able to listen to the stories in the van while traveling around.  The girls had no trouble completing their notebooking pages while listening.

    Our formal science studies were pushed to the side this week.  This is odd, since science is our favorite subject and is usually the first thing the girls want to work on.  But lately, it's math that they love the most.  Although we had no formal lessons, we still learned a lot on our trip.  The girls also had fun comparing the new bird and plant species that they found at our new home.  One very exciting moment was when we pulled up at the old house and discovered a Red Bellied Woodpecker in the tree of the yard.  We have always heared them, but never saw them up close. Other new birds identified this week include the Northern Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, Blue Jay and the Tufted Titmouse.

    In math, our geometry unit study is still going strong.

    They experimented with Mobius strips and circles this week. We also got a little crafty and made our own pentominoes! 3D pentominoes are great for studying geometry and they make great math puzzles.

    There are 12 possible pentominoes, so you need a total of 60 cubes.  You can use wood blocks, but being the thrifty person that I try to always be, we decided to use the $1.00 foam block sets I found at Michaels.  We practiced drawing out our own pentominoes, but here is a picture of the 12 pentominoes you can use as a guide.
    The z pentominoe was shown twice in the above picture, but you only need one.

    Next, you simply glue them together and allow them to dry.

    Finished product!  When you're finished, have fun creating squares and rectangles using all of the pentominoes.

    Well that's all for us.  We did enjoy our week and we hope you enjoyed yours as well.  If you have something to share, join our weekly blog hop.

     We will be linking up this week with:


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