Wednesday, September 25, 2013

She blinded me with...

SCIENCE! OK that was dorky. Sorry. :)

Aaaaanyway --- today's post is indeed about Science.  I will readily admit that Science, especially Biology, is not my cup of tea.  I did not enjoy dissecting a worm (all I can remember about that is I smashed the poor thing's gonads when I sliced it open), and I can will never forget the scent of formaldehyde along with the image of someone making their frog do a funny dance, when we were doing THAT exciting lesson. Blech.  I have always been much more interested in the "why" rather than the "how", when it comes to humans and animals.  What I mean by that is -- I'd much rather dissect (ew) someone's behavior and figure out what past events or hereditary traits are causing their current state than delve into their brain and talk about neurons and DNA and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...  And on the flipside from boredom, hearing about someone's broken finger or sprained ankle or, heaven forbid, WOUND (just typing that word made my wrists go weak and I had to stop typing for a moment) makes me have to put my head between my knees.  In my mid-20s, I had to bring my mother along with me to my pre-tonsillectomy doctor's appointments because when he started talking about what they would do, I turned green and the world turned fuzzy.  They even had to pull out the smelling salts at one point.  In summary, Kiki + Biology = no bueno, and being a nurse or doctor was never on my list of dream jobs.

However, I did always think it would be cool to be a storm tracker.  And earth sciences are pretty darn interesting.  Tectonic plates, earthquakes, volcanoes --- COOL. (or hot, really, I suppose)  The stars, planets, space -- also cool.  So I'm not totally a buzzkill about the sciences. :)  Just the ones that deal with innards, I guess.

My dad was a Chemist and now my brother is, too.  Chemistry can be interesting - cool experiments and analyzing, figuring out how many electrons are needed for bonding, etc (I love math, so I did enjoy all of that) - so I thought we would start with a Chemistry program I found online.  We dove right in and.... Snoozefest 2013.  Buggy did find the basics of it interesting -- what matter is, atoms, thinking about how tiny they must be -- all that good stuff.  But then... eyes glazed over.  For both of us, frankly.  The experiments and lessons are pretty dry. In my opinion, more for 5th grade than K-4.  Sooo -- we finished our lessons about matter, atoms, and bonds, memorized some terms, and then shut the book (literally) on that one.

We are now doing something much more exciting and FUN! Our homeschool group has a Science Club.  September was all about Weather. So - we kept a weather journal at home with the high temps, the wind direction, the barometric pressure, and the rainfall.  We looked at the journal and discussed any trends we noticed.  We poked around online and talked about earthquakes and tornadoes.  We watched some tsunami and flooding footage.  I showed Bug all the stuff about tectonic plates and fault lines.  Then, we went to our Science Club on Monday, and Bug made a tornado using two 2-liter bottles. So. AWESOME.

See the cute & tiny tornado?

Of course, it's glittery blue water, which makes it even more epic. :)

The kids also made lightning and thunder and learned about rain, and it was just all around pretty darn cool. The conversations that these kids had while doing everything were really neat.  I was glad we had learned about electrons, because there was discussion about electrons inside clouds in the lightning group.  Buggy was able to put together what she had learned with this and it made sense to her. :)

October is all about Animals, so Bug is a bundle of excitement about that!! In the weeks leading up to that next meeting, we are going to learn about animal classifications and habitats, and do all sorts of fun things.

Because Science = SUPER AWESOME FUN at the Cactus Schoolhouse. :)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Lovely Lulu

Going into this homeschool year, I had a pretty good idea of how things would go with Bug.  I spent a few years being her teacher before she went off to Kindergarten, and even then we did some activities in the afternoons together. I know how she learns, and she is a dream to teach. :)  Lulu was the wild card - partly because she is 3, and I was wondering how that would work, teaching a 2nd grader with a not-quite-a-preschooler underfoot.  But also because she has nuances to her personality that are different than her big sister's, and I knew I would have to get to know her in an educational environment to see what activities work best for her.  That is one of the many reasons we are homeschooling -- tailoring the girls' education to their personal learning styles!  A lovely bonus to just having two students. :)

As I have mentioned before, we are using this Letter of the Week program.  There is a LOT in there, so I printed out the things I thought Lulu might want to try, and we're going from there. So far, she has been a big fan of the Leap Frog Letter  Factory DVD, reading books (this is a newer development, sitting still for a story or two), Play-Doh, and coloring.  She also really enjoys painting, whether it's on paper with watercolors, or with water on the walls.  From the LOTW program, here are some pictures of what she is loving (and asking for each week!):

Circle magnets to fill in the letter of the week

Do-a-Dot markers in the shape of each week's letter...
...which ends up looking like this when she is done :)

Counting something that coordinates with the letter of the week (Apple seeds for A), finding the number, and gluing it to the page next to it.

We have also played some learning games (Memory, Dominoes, Candy Land), and she really enjoys those as well.  So far, so good -- her attention span is obviously shorter than Buggy's, but each week she gets more into it.  Whew!  I'm always looking for ideas on occupying a preschooler while an older sibling is learning -- so please share. :)

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Big Reveal...

As promised, here is the finished project from my last blog post. :) It's a Texas Covered Chuck Wagon!! From our Road Trip USA curriculum.

Wasn't that exciting? :)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Week 1 - Alice, Apples, & Atoms, oh my!

We did it! We survived our first week of homeschooling.  And --- we had a blast!!! :) It was everything I dreamed it could be. I know it's only the first week, but it really felt so perfect.  The rhythm, the learning, all of it - we just settled right in and found our groove pretty quickly. Whew!

So, here are some highlights:

A is for Apple!

Ten Apples up on Top
Some of Week 1's handiwork

The number jumping game was a hit ~ and Buggy even joined in as the "number caller".  Which leads me to one of my favorite things about this week.  When Bug finished up her work, she helped me lead Lulu in her activities.  :)  It was very sweet!

Thanks to the Internet, I found a creative way to reinforce the lesson about atoms.  The curriculum we got may be a wee bit too dry, but it's very comprehensive and Bug **loves** science.  Thanks to all my friends out in the Facebook world, we also now have many neat ideas for experiments and ways to keep science FUN!

Speaking of science, we had our first official Cactus Schoolhouse field trip, to the Arizona Science Center!  What a great place!!!! We walked around for 3 hours, and still didn't see all there was to see. We will definitely be returning sometime soon.

Sesame Street Feet!

We have to get one of these!!!! SO cool.

You know my girls loved to be able to talk about poop without getting the "bathroom talk" lecture!!!

If only Lulu would actually eat this healthy! :)

Making a vortex - SOOO cool.

Feats of strength

Spinning around & around & around...

This was my favorite. So cute :) Dust trees "dancing" to the music. :)

I see you!

And.... stay tuned to see pictures of Buggy's first lapbook (Alice in Wonderland), and to find out what this will become! :)