Sunday, February 26, 2012

Geometry Unit Study with Janice VanCleave's Geometry for Every Kid

Over the past few weeks, the girls have been expressing much more interest in learning about solid shapes.  During breaks they would gravitate to the shape manipulatives in the room.  They were genuinely interested, so we decided to take a little while and focus on geometry!

Geometry is one of my favorite math topics and easily adaptable to teaching to multiples.  My children range from early elementary through middle school and their learning abilities also very greatly.  Still, the tangible and artistic learning opportunities that can be done when studying geometry allow all to grasp the concepts in their own unique way.  This past weekend, I was able to put together a variety of resources and material to help along the way.


We will be using Janice VanCleave's Geometry for Every Kid as our guide. The flow is very logical, however there is not a lot of review practice so we will be adding extra practice when needed.  My eldest daughter will also be using Investigating with Power Solids. I used this text along with the accompanying manipulatives a year ago with my eldest child and I was amazed.  My son is a hands on learner and has  never done well with text books.  This kit allowed him to learn more than I thought he would grasp in a short period of time.  Speaking of hands on, here are a few of the things we will be using to make this as interactive an experience as possible:


We have Investigating Power Solids 3D kit.  This kit is opaque and the tops come off for studying volume.  We also have tangrams, assorted plane shapes, and geo boards.  The gum drops and tooth picks are for building polyhedrons (another of my sons favorite activities).  Finally, you will find math vocabulary cards.  I love these because often times I am able to teach the kids a concept but they sometimes don't understand vocabulary terms. To help them with this I have taken the vocabulary terms relevant to our study of geometry and created a ring of terms for them to study. I just punched holes in the cards and attached them to the ring.  


After putting these things together, we looked for some books to read along the way.  Here are a few of the books we gathered from our library trip.


After gathering resources, it was time to look at the notebooks.  Initially, I wanted to create lapbook pieces to go along with our books.  After careful consideration, I decided not to.  I realized that by creating the pieces myself, a great opportunity for my children to express them selves creatively would be lost.  Yet still, we needed a way to use lapbook pieces without spending too much time printing, cutting, and gluing during lesson time.  Thankfully, Jimmie from Jimmie's Collage created a Squidoo lens that solved our problem.  Check out  her lenses titled How to Plan a Lapbook.  Using the advice provided by Jimmie allowed us to create a great learning environment that works for us.  All of the materials needed are provided for the children to choose from to create the notes that they need.

At this point, the girls have really taken to this approach to studying Geometry.  Usually, math time is the hardest part of our day and this week has been just the opposite.  They have been eager to study math this week.  It has also been a lot less stressful on me as well.  I'll leave you with a peak into their notebooks.  They belong to my 2nd, 3rd, and 5th graders.  

Picnik collage

***For continuity purposes, I will be adding all new resources about this study to this post.  This will make it easier for you and I to find these resources when revisiting this topic.  I will note the date of these additions.

3/8/12: Geometry Unit Photos

3/8/12: Youtube playlist: Geometry


Online Resources:
Eclectic Homeschool Online: Geometry Unit Study
Geometry Unit Study  (Great lesson plan filled with free printables.)
Johnnie's Math Page- Geometry  (Geometry Interactives) (3D Nets for solids interactive) (3D Nets for solids interactive) (Shape interactive)
NLVM 3-5 Geometry Manipulatives (Geometry Interactives)
Math Open Reference- Geometry (Free online math refer0ence text.)
AAA Math- Geometry (Section on 2D and 3D shapes)
Mobius Strip Power Point Presentation
Escher Teacher Guide  (Free printable guide showing geometry in art.  Lots of activities.)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Looking Back 2012, Week 8

Picnik collage

I am so sad to see this week end.  It has been such a wonderful week for all of us.  We have learned some amazing things and spent time, some quality time, with our new friends!  Productivity was at an all time high for us and we even finished in record time every day this week.  The kids felt like champions getting through each day so quickly while learning so much.  I have to tell you, they made mommy very happy too.

So here's what went on over at our house:
  • History:  We studied the Nok Civilization of West Africa.  We read several books about Anansi the spider and other tricksters from West Africa.  We also made African foods and jewelry.  The girls had so much fun with the jewelry, they decided they wanted to start their own jewelry making business!  And they're really serious about it too.  They've been drawing sketches all week.
  • Geography:  We have jumped over into Asia and the girls began learning some of the physical land features of Asia.  We watched a few videos from our youtube playlist for Asia.
  •  Math: We began our study of Geometry using a unit study approach. The girls learned about the types of geometry, angles, and lines.  We also created an origami whale showing how geometry is used in art.  (I will be posting resources in a few days.)
  • Science:  We continued with our bird study.  This week the girls studied bird feathers, experimented with bird baths, and practiced identifying birds they found.  They drew pictures of the birds and wrote down information about the birds they saw in their field journals.  
  • Writing:  This week we focused on letter writing.  We wrote thank you letters to Whitney Labs for allowing us to come for a class the previous week.  
  • Reading: During reading time, the girls read about John James Audubon and wrote a biography about him and his contributions to science.
  • Grammar: We completed a few more pages in our Daily Grams books and practiced more with adverbs and adjectives.
  • Activities:  This week the kids visited the Museum of Contemporary Art and also attended art class where they created works of abstract art.  We had our monthly 4H meeting where my baby girl did a fabulous job with her very first presentation ever.  She presented gardening to the group and the kids had the chance to see how seeds germinate and learn more about the parts of plants.  We ended the week with a trip to Kingsley Plantation on Saturday.  We had such a great time there.  There were live demonstrations.  The girls learned to make tabby, spin cotton, make Jacob's ladder, plant crops, and prepare food as the slaves of northeast Florida did years ago.  They even earned junior ranger badges for participating.  
 I have to say, that this has been one of those weeks that renews my spirit in homeschooling.  It reminded me of my personal "Why" I homeschool.  Nothing is more rewarding than seeing your children happy and filled with joy and pride about themselves.  I look forward to seeing what next week has to offer us.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Updating Blog

I will be updating the blog this week.  After performing a Google search for myself, I decided to remove pictures from Google and Picasa.  The recent changes to Google have made too much of my personal info accessible by linking the images from my personal pages and the homeschooling ones.  I hope to have all of the removed images replaced this week.  Sorry for the inconvenience.

It's Time to Visit Asia!

The girls finished their geographical studies of Africa last week and when asked what continent they wanted to visit next, the answer was Asia! They figured that since we were studying ancient Mesopotamia, China, and India in history that Asia would be the logical choice.  I agree. So off we go!

If you know my family at all you know we like never use one text or book to study anything.  Our study of Asia will be no exception.  I have actually planned to use bits and pieces of several books we have on hand.  Some of these can be found at your local library and some easily online.   Here's what we will be using:

Spine Text: Evan-Moor EMC 766 Asia

(For consistency, we use these maps which we used to create our Big Book of Geography.)

We will also be using parts of Expedition Earth by Confessions of a Homeschooler. She even offers various dowloads for FREE! 

Youtube Playlist for Asia!

Online resources:
Getting Ahead: World Geography  (Discs 2-4)
Travel the World by Train: Asia
Wild Asia: Island Magic (Covers the native plants and animals of Southern Asia.)
Wild Asia: Kingdoms of the Coast
Wild Asia: In the Realm of the Red Ape
Wildest Asia

Well there are a few of the resources we will be utilizing.  I am excited to be exploring this continent with the kids.  It is sure to be a fascinating trip.

***Disclaimer: Some of the product links in this post are to companies that I am affiliated with.  I was not compensated in any way for recommending these products.  I do receive payment for purchases of these products from the companies I am affiliated with.  I will only post products that I have used and recommend.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Looking Back 2012, Week 7

This week has been an adventurous week.  We all learned so many lessons and met a lot of new people.  For starters, we finally joined a local homeschool group.  We found the group through friends of ours and the kids had a great time with the kids in the group.  They had field trips lined up for every day this week and unfortunately, we were unable to attend them all.   We did get the opportunity to attend the trip to Whitney Labs.


Whitney Labs is a marine biology lab with the University of Florida.  It is located in St. Augustine, Florida and offers various educational classes to students.  Our children enjoyed a 2 1/2 hour, hands-on learning experience there.  The instructors were informative and patient.  You could tell, they really enjoyed sharing their knowledge with the children.  With the children being grouped by ages, they were able to adapt the learning to make it appropriate for each group.  

The groups took part in three learning stations. In one station they examined living and non-living aspects of the ocean through a microscope.  In the second station, they conducted experiments to determine the types of food a mullosk eats. There they went through each step of the scientific method.  During the final station, they had the opportunity observe and handle various sea creatures.  There were all sorts of crabs, lobsters, snails, clams, Sea Anemone, Sea Urchin, and countless others.


I would highly recommend a trip to Whitney Labs if you are in the Florida area.  Your kids will love it!


Although we enjoyed our trip we still had some class work to tend to.  This weeks history focus was on ancient China.  We had a great time learning about the Yellow River Valley and the invention of silk.  The girls also made Ming bowls.  The directions were found in the Story of the World Activity Guide.  You need a plastic bowl, air drying clay, plastic wrap, paint, glue, water, and a paint brush.  After turning the bowl upside down, you cover it with plastic wrap.  Roll the clay out into a square and mold it to the outside of the bowl.  Cut away any edges from the bottom and let it dry for a day or so.  After it dries, remove from the bowl and decorate.  We looked up a few examples of Ming bowls online for the girls to examine before decorating.  After the decorations have dried you can cover with a glaze made of 1 part water to 2 parts glue.  Let it dry and you have your Ming Bowl.

In math we introduced a unit on geometry.  There were no outlined lessons for math this week, I just put out a few geometry manipulatives that we owned along with some paper and math workbooks.  The kids took the figures and decided to trace them.  I asked them questions about the shape and they wrote down facts about each in their notebook.  They also found some pages to do in the workbooks they had.  They enjoyed the laid back approach.  Next week, we will be adding a little more structure to our study. I am in the process of setting up a geometry station and bookmarking websites for us to use in our study.  Hopefully I will be able to complete the geometry lapbook pieces I am working on by tomorrow.  We'll keep our fingers crossed.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Birds, Birds, Birds

We have been studying birds for the past few weeks.  We began using a text accompanied with outdoor observations but it is not working for everyone.  My eldest child loves the Apologia series.  The younger ones like it, but can only stay focused for short periods of reading from it.  My children love computers and hands on activities so I have spent the day looking ways to diversify our learning. 

Here are a few of the living books that the girls wanted to read:


I have been creating Quizlet flashcards to help with the retention of vocabulary terms.  All of my children love Quizlet so this is a huge plus. If they will study them, I will create them!  Here are the sets for lessons 2 and 3 of Apologia Zoology 1:

If you like quizlet as well, join our group, Interactive Homeschooling, and share along with us.  I have added all of the sets I have created to the group.

There were quite a few resources online that the girls can use for their research.  Here are the sites we will be looking to utilize: (Cool interactive bird identification!)  (Be sure to check out the facts pages!) (Index of birds based on diet.) (Birds of North America info.)

I know many of you are also studying birds.  If you have any other suggestions of resources or activities, please share.  We would love it.

Happy birding,

Friday, February 10, 2012

Looking Back 2012, Week 6

This week was for the birds! Literally!  We have been having a great time studying birds this week.  We have read several books and the girls have worked well showing off what they learned in their science notebooks.  We moved away from the Apologia text and spent more time in living books and observations this week.  We kept the text handy and utilized it as a resource when needed.  The girls decided to conduct a few of the experiments from the text and we also found a great idea for a toilet paper bird feeder on Pinterest from Moffatt Girls.  So here's what we did: 


So what do we hope to learn:
  1. What types of birds can we attract to our yard during this time of year?
  2. Which bird feeder do the birds like the best?
  3. Which type of bird seed do the birds like the best?
Science Notebooks

Resources: These notebooking pages were purchased from
 Lapbooking resources from Learn 'N Folder Notebook and Dona Ward Cockrum.

We did manage to squeeze a little history into the week as well.  This week focused on the ancient people of the Indus River Valley.  We really enjoyed this part of The Story of the World because my children have always been fascinated by the Indian culture.  They love the clothes and dances.  We were able to find a few great videos on Netflix.  The Story of India, Episode 1 and  Legacy: The Origins of Civilization, Episode 2
History Notebooks


Notebook resources for history from: Dynamic 2 Moms and The Story of the World Activity Guide.

We also had a chance to attend art club at the library this week.  They created projects related to valentines day.  The girls presented us with some adorable valentine heart shaped envelopes they created for us.  My husband and I love these notes from the children. 


This really was a fun week.  We hope your week was fun and exciting as well.  At the request of my crew, we are looking to incorporate more technology and computer time into our schooling.  We'll see what we can come up with this week end.

Have a great weekend!


Monday, February 6, 2012

Looking Back 2012, Week5

Looking back over last week, I would have to say that it was one of our most functional weeks.  We kept our extra activities to a limit.  The new workbox system seemed to motivate the girls allowing them to complete school work earlier than usual. We also used the meals we made in advance allowing me to focus completely on school work.  Not to mention that it greatly decreased the amount of dishes to be washed each day!  The week went so well that we decided to continue with this pattern.  Luckily, we made enough   meals to last us a few weeks.  


So what did we do for school this week?  We attended a local environmental class where we learned about wildflowers.  While we were there, the environmentalist also lead us through bird identification, animal tracking, and plant identification.  The kids also also attended their drama classes at the library.  I never would have thought they would enjoy this class as much as they do, but they absolutely love it. We also began playing Monopoly each night this week.  This is their new game of choice.

Inside the classroom:
  • Nick began his second semester with FLVS last week.  He is continuing with  his core classes (math, language arts, science, and world cultures) and adding career education and critical thinking.
  • The girls completed section 3 of James and the Giant Peach.  We had the movie in our Netflix list and it came early, so we watched it one evening. We also made craft stick puppets of all the characters.
  • In science, we began lesson 2 of Apologia Zoology 1.  My eldest daughter loves the text, but the younger ones are not enjoying the reading of the textbook.  We will continue using the text as a spine but will make some changes with our approach this week.  
  • In history, we learned about the Assyrians.  We added a wall timeline that proved helpful for my middle daughter who is visually stimulated.  
  • In math, we continued with Horizons math.  My eldest daughter is focusing on double and triple digit division and the younger girls are being introduced to division.  They also review previous concepts daily with this text which is very helpful for them.
  •  In grammar, the girls continued with Daily Grams and Easy Grammar.  My middle daughter is still confusing adverbs and adjectives so we will take time next week to work on these with some fun center activities.  I found loads of them on Pinterest this past weekend.
  • During art time, the girls made functional wooden clocks which they decorated and then put together the electrical pieces.
  • In geography, we studied the political map of Central Africa.  
  • During center time, we incorporated some of our learning games that we haven't utilized in a while.  The kids really enjoyed getting into them again.
This week, I really enjoyed the extra time that I had.  It felt good to exercise and even take a nap a few days this week.  I can't tell you the last time I did that.  Being a homeschooling mom is sometimes overwhelming, but this past week didn't feel that way at all.  It really felt good to provide home cooked meals everyday, quality school time, and balance that with great family time. The best part of it all, is that the children enjoyed their days so much better.  Nothing is more important than that!


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