Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cells Unit Study, Weeks 2 and 3: Prokaryotic Cells, Animal Cells, Cell Cycle, and Mitosis!

     The past two weeks have been a blur of learning, to say the least. My younger children have been studying cells and they have been having a great time with the lessons. Over the past two weeks, they learned to differentiate between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. They also studied the organelles found in animal cells. We wrapped up this past week with a study on the cell cycle and mitosis.



     Continuing on with our interactive notebooks for science, we incorporated a really nice life science notebook I purchased on Teachers Pay Teachers. (By the way, this is one of my favorite go to spots for specific lesson material.) We've been using the notebooking lessons, specific to cells, found in the Life Science Interactive Notebook by Nitty Gritty Science. They practiced with identifying the stages of mitosis in cells using free worksheets found Biology Corner. Of course, no interactive learning can be complete without the audiovisual resources! We watched three very informative videos found on YouTube. They really helped my daughters to fully understand the information they recorded in their notes. Here are our favorite videos for these lessons: 


                           


                                       



                                        

   Awesome! Yes? I know! We are serious fans of Crash Course  and Bozeman Science videos on YouTube.

 


For the second "Friday Funday" of our unit study, we also used some of our fun, hands-on learning material:




My girls were so happy to show off what they learned...or maybe they just wanted to eat the cake! Well, whatever motivated them, I was happy to see that they retained so much information about cells. By the way, the chocolate cake recipe was found at The Pioneer Woman, and it was every bit as delicious as she claimed it to be.

 

      For week three, I couldn't let my girls down. I wanted to continue to foster their eagerness to learn by providing them with more sweets interactive learning activities that they would enjoy. They are both very interested in cake decorating so I  decided to bribe encourage them to show off what they learned with some new cake decorating supplies. We were caked out, but we all love cookies, so our mitosis activities for the week, turned into an edible cookie lab!


     They started by making the cookie cake for the cell cycle model.


It turned out perfectly!



While the cookie was baking, we whipped up the batter for some blue velvet cupcakes! (Seriously, it was a chemistry lesson so it was all in the name of learning.)


With the cupcakes out of the way, it was time to make some cake decorating icing. We made a large batch of buttercream icing and the girls were really anxious to play with their new tools.


Finally, it was show and prove time. Time for them to show me what they learned about the cell cycle and mitosis. They started by applying icing to the cookie and using different colors to represent the phases of interphase. I use the time to ask them questions, just to see what all they know.



They added cupcakes for the stages of mitosis. They used sprinkles and icing to show what happens during the various stages of mitosis and labeled them.



   It turned out great and after all of that work, we had to taste it. They loved it and asked to make another one someday soon. Now, don't think we only use edible labs. They also identified onion cells during their various stages of mitosis. we pulled out our handy microscope and slides and they had fun identifying the cells.
 


     Well, that wraps up the last two weeks of our cell study. Looking forward to completing this week and getting into some more exciting learning activities.

Peace and blessings,

D.T.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Friday, Fun Day: Sewing Project: Unpapertowels



     Friday Fundays are all about having fun while learning. I provide learning activities to booster their understanding of the topics covered for that week. I also incorporate fun projects to help them learn life skills that I feel are important for them to have. As homeschoolers, we have a tremendous advantage when it comes to making sure our children have a balance in what they are learning. We can also help them to understand the relevance of what they are learning in textbooks and how it applies to them in their lives. 
 
   Last year, we made a decision to decrease our usage of paper products in order to decrease our carbon footprint on the earth. One product we wanted to find a replacement for was paper towels. With a family of 6, we used lots and lots of paper towels. We were excited when we found out about unpaper towels. After a quick trip to the store and a few days of mommy and daughter sewing, we created our first set of unpaper towels that lasted us an entire year!

     Since we are focusing on sewing, this month, we decided to make new sets of unpaper towels for this year. I found the same fabric and girls and I have been using our Friday Fundays to sew these useful items. We've even had a few family members to join in on the weekends! Priceless! 

Lessons covered in this project:
  • Measurement: 
    • How to read and use a ruler
    • How to measure items
    • Perimeter of 2D objects
    • Area of  2D objects
    • Unit conversion (easily covered while cutting out each square foot from the square yard fabric)
  • Economics and money:
    • Cost (add cost of each item used in the project)
    • Savings (compare cost of typical year's purchase of paper towels against cost of unpaper towels to determine savings)
    • Money (combine needed amount of dollars and coins to purchase material and calculate change back)
  • Home economics:
    • Identifying sewing tools
    • Sewing by hand
    • Threading a needle
    • Using a sewing machine
    • Identifying parts of a sewing machine



To make a set of 9 unpaper towels, you will need:
  • One yard of printed fabric
  • One yard of terry cloth
  • Pins
  • Matching thread
  • Snaps (optional)
  • Sewing machine (optional)
  • Scissors

Instructions: 
  • Step 1: Prewash, dry, and iron all fabric prior to use.
  • Step 2: Cut fabric into 12x12 inch squares.
  • Step 3: Pin one square of printed fabric to one square of terry cloth with right sides facing.
  • Step 4:  Sew edges together, leaving a 1 inch gap for turning.
  • Step 5: Turn the fabric right side out.
  • Step 6: Sew the opening closed. 
  • Step 7: If you want to stop here, you can. Simply fold and store in areas for use. You can also apply snaps to the corners if you want to connect them into paper towel rolls. 
  • Step 8: Repeat for remaining fabric squares. 

 


    That's it! When you're done, you will have a beautiful set of unpaper towels for your family to use. No more guilt about sending paper products to the dump and you'll save some money each month with these reusable items!

Peace and blessings,
D.T.



Friday, January 16, 2015

Black History Border


My son, who is taking Honors U.S. History, is nearing his exploration of the Civil Rights Era. As I began to look through our shelves, I found a few primary source posters I wanted to display. As I was hanging them, I began to think about the people that I wanted to be sure he studied. I wanted him to be able to look at the beautiful black faces of those who were so instrumental during the Civil Rights Movement, but why stop there?


The more I thought about it, the more I felt inclined to include more and more black and brown faces from around the globe and throughout history. People who represented much more than the liberation of those of us living in this country. I became more and more excited as I began to collect these images. After a while, I decided that I wanted it to be a permanent display that all four of my children could learn from. So, the idea of creating a boarder utilizing the images came to me and I am so very pleased with it.




The boarder was created using images that I found online. I purchased a beautiful, natural brown cards stock to print the images on. All images were printed in landscape layout and in black and white coloring format. We are nearly finished with the project and very pleased. This will be a great learning tool for us to use for years to come!

Materials Used:
  • Masking tape
  • Photos of individuals that you want to display. I have saved the photos we used as one file. 

Well, that's it for our black history border project. We hope you enjoyed!

Peace,

D.T.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Cells Unit Study: Week 1, Plant Cells



 


Our first science block is off to a great start. My younger girls chose to study cells and this past week, they learned all about plant cells! They watched lots of videos that they found on YouTube and I found an excellent PowerPoint presentation for the introduction of cells over on Biology Junction's cells unit. Great resources to begin building a unit study on cells!


             



Interactive notebooking plays a major role in our learning as we seldom use textbooks in a traditional way. This week, they created notebooking pages for cell parts using a plant cell coloring worksheet. They used the cell interactives on Cells Alive to learn about the plant cell organelles and used that information to complete the notebook.

 

In our house we have Friday Funday. That means we school Monday through Thursday and Friday is for fun learning and life skills. We also play quite a bit. So, along with making homemade pizzas and having a salad bar for lunch, my eldest daughter baked a cake for her younger sisters. I provided the supplies and they used the cake to begin to learn about cake decorating and to also reinforce their lessons on plant cell organelles! Now that's what I call a win, win situation!
 
My daughter used a basic yellow cake recipe that she found over at My Recipes and doubled it. After the cake was removed from the pan and allowed to completely cool, the younger ones began to decorate their cake. They used the Learning Resources plant cell model from our school room and we discussed the function of each organelle that they added. They used toothpics and address labels to label each organelle.

This week, we continue on with our learning about cells and cellular processes. They will discover more about animal cells and cell theory. We will be sure to share our learning experiences and resources with you all later. 

Peace and blessings,
D.T.




Sunday, January 4, 2015

12 Months of Homesteading: Sewing





Greetings Everyone,


This month we are kicking off our 12 Months of Homesteading beginning with sewing. Sewing is an important skill to have for those looking to live sustainable lives. In the past, I often found myself throwing out or discarding perfectly good clothing, simply because a button was missing or because the hem had been torn. That was not that long ago but our family has since began to evaluate our wastefulness and to develop skills to limit our waste and to limit our spending.

As we go through this month, we will also be sharing all of our projects with you and we hope that many of you will join along as we develop our sewing skills throughout this month. To help us all get started, here are some lessons that we will be working on that I hope will be useful to you as well.


Free Sewing Curriculum:
Sewing Buttons and Shanks:

         

Hand Sewing:

        


Using a Sewing Machine:

       
  • Over at Skip to my Lou, you will find printable sheets for kids to practice using a sewing machine.
Well, these are all the basics I'd like to share with you. Again, we will be posting projects for beginners, throughout the week. In our homeschool, we have set aside Friday as our project day. We officially start back with our homeschooling on Monday so we look forward to sharing our projects with you next week. Please, stop by and let us know what projects you guys are working on as well.

Peace,
D.T.



Friday, January 2, 2015

Organizational Thursdays: Seed Storage Notebook

     Being a homeschooling, homesteading mama can be both exciting and exhausting. For every task that I complete, there seems to be 10 more that need to be done. Over the past two years, I have learned to take things in stride and to not sweat the small stuff. With that being said, I've decided that in 2015, I would focus on one thing each day, rather than trying to juggle multiple things while also homeschooling my children. I've dedicated various tasks to different days of the week. On Thursdays, I will pick one thing that needs to be organized.

     This week, I decided to find a better way to organize and store our seeds. I'm ashamed to say, that for someone who loves to grow fruits and vegetables, my seed storage has been anything but admirable. I've tried several different ideas that turned out to be disastrous. They were once housed in coupon envelopes, all in alphabetical order. The problem was that when we took them out to plant, someone always seemed to knock the envelop over and the contents never managed to stay in order. We also attempted to store them in mini crates with dividers.  The varying envelope sizes made that a little difficult as well. Well, I am happy to announce that we finally settled on a storage idea that works for us. Behold, the seed storage notebook!




I found this gorgeous 1 1/2 inch binder and it reminded me of spring. Perfect for storing all of our organic seeds. 


I picked up dividers for alphabetical organization. Seeds were stored by their type. For example, jalapeno peppers were stored behind the tab for the letter P as peppers, jalapeno.


 I picked up a few packs of business card protectors and some baseball card protectors. They worked great! The baseball card protectors were used for the larger seed packets. Both allow for clear visibility of the seeds.

The seeds are all stored in individual bags that can easily be removed and placed back into the binder. Best part, the binder can sit comfortably on one of our bookshelves! I am very pleased with this little organizing project and I look forward to using it to plan our garden for this upcoming spring!


Peace and blessings,
D.T.

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