Wednesday, April 29, 2009

oops, sorry!

Hi all, I was doing some updating on the blog and I think I accidentally removed a comment from the swine flu post. This was not intentional, I am soo sorry! I'm not sure which post was accidentally deleted, but if it was your post, please feel free to re-post. Just when I thought I had this blogging thing conquered! :-)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Multiplication helps for your visual learners and right-brain thinkers

Hi again!

I guess I am feeling especially chatty today :-0. Anyway, I have been working with darling youngest child on mastering multiplication, and although it's progressing ok..we just seem to be stuck on the actual memorizing of the multiplication table. I have to give myself a reality check every so often because the same work was so easy for my oldest child to learn, but I KNOW that my youngest learns completely different. He struggles with memorizing the multiplication tables, but can already do easy algebraic problems where he needs to solve for x in simple equations (ok...makes sense right?), Geometry concepts...not a problem, but memorizing tables...ugh!

Well, I finally figured it out after many weeks of banging my head against the darling youngster was staging a stand-off (unintentional of course) against memorizing the table (think the Alamo :-) ). It wasn't that he didn't understand the concept (he can tell you the answers to the easier parts of the table just fine), he didn't want to take the time to memorize the more difficult parts of the table!

So to make a long story longer ;-), I did some handy dandy research to figure out if there was anything out there that might help us overcome this hurdle, and I'm happy to report: yes there is, as a matter of fact I found two really great resources!

The first resource is the TimesTales system from Trigger Memory System. This system teaches the difficult times table in a fun story. I had ordered this system for my oldest child, but she learned her tables so quickly, I never had a chance to use it (to be honest I forgot I had it). I was reorganizing the room where we homeschool and lo and behold I found it! I figured, "why not", and decided to try it out. Oh my youngster loved the story and I was amazed at how much he actually retained! Praises! To check out the TimesTales system, click here

The other find that I think is truly a gem is a series of videos on youtube called Right Brain Math. Here is a sample video:

Swine Flu, what's a person to do?

And Joseph said unto them, fear not: for am I in the place of God? - Genesis 50:19

It seems like every few years there is a new kind of flu popping up, and I have to say..I am not usually an alarmist (although I can be high strung :-)), so I am not overly stressed about this either. I've read up on the facts about the swine flu (I have to admit, I'd never even heard about it until the reports began airing a few days ago), and I wanted to pass along the information to you. I am strong in my belief and faith and I know that I have no control over the various things that transpire in this world, but I do know where my strength and help comes from and so I am at peace.

That said, I do believe that we need to keep ourselves armed with knowledge and take preventive measures, so I've compiled a list of things we can do:

First, prayer - Prayer is our first line of defense. The power of prayer has been proven time and time again and it is our most powerful tool we can use against the many things that we encounter on a daily basis. Let's pray for our brothers and sisters around the world who have been affected by this horrible epidemic, and let's pray for each other. Let's pray that we will find peace and comfort, that fears will be stilled, and that we and our loved ones will remain healthy.

Second, Personal Hygiene - it is always a great defense against sickness and disease. We should wash our hands; if we are sick, we should limit our contact with others; avoid touching surfaces that are used by large numbers of people. Soap and water work much better than these expensive hand-sanitizing agents.

Third, we have to take care of ourselves - A healthy diet and lifestyle is essential towards living longer and preventing many types of diseases. One of the best things we can do is get back to the type of diet that incorporates fruits, vegetables and grain, with limits on or elimination of eating meats.

Fourth, know what you're dealing with. Here are some links to check out to get your questions answered. (this is a google earth swine flu timeline)

Now, if you've read this far, I have a favor to ask everyone: If you know of any natural preventative herbs, oils, fruits, vegetables, etc that one can use to help boost their immune system or prevent viruses and/or bacterial infections, please take a moment to post your ideas here? That would be great! thank you again,



Update: One of the readers sent in this link which I think is great: I hope this helps!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Happy Birthday William Shakespeare!

Today is William Shakespeare's 445th birthday...ok, ok so the fact that he is no longer living is a small technicality :-) since this is also the celebration of his death. imagine that, being born and dying on the same date...hmmm, anyway...

William Shakespeare was a renowned poet and playwright and is considered one of the most influential writers in the English language.

The thing I love most about Shakespeare is the fact that it can be taught to virtually any age. My daughter really loves Shakespeare, we have read the plays, watched documentaries such as "In search of Shakespeare", and done research online and the boys like the battle scenes (of course).

There are some great resources out there to teach about Shakespeare to include free lesson plans, audiobooks, etc.

Check out these links:

I really hope you'll enjoy these links!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Hi all, I composed a post (a week or so ago) asking about free things to do around your local area. If you could please take a moment to respond to the post with things that you do around your area, that would be really great! I'm taking on a challenge from a friend of mine who wants to see how many places I can find around the country or the world, that has free interesting things to do for families and educators. To get you started, I'll list some things we have come across in our travels:

  • Amish Country has many wonderful places to visit and see like Dutch Haven
  • Herr's Snack Factory
  • Hershey Farm
  • Hershey's Chocolate World
  • Denver Botanic Gardens
  • Colorado State Capital
  • Dinosaur Ridge
Ok, your turn! One reader posted about San Antonio, Tx and boy, is that a wonderful place filled with things to do and see! ok, let's see what the rest of you come up with! Thanks in advance!

For those of you with primary-aged children

Hi all,

I know that some of my readers have young children, so I wanted to share a resource I came across a little while ago. This resource is geared for those of you who have children in Pre-K to 4th grade, and what is does is serve as a curriculum guide. It matches up areas of study (like language arts, math, science, etc) with games that can be played online. I think it's definitely a lot of fun, and could be used as an incentive tool for your children (if they like online games, that is). If you are interested in learning more, check out the link below:

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Free Sports Geography Lesson Plans

Hello friends, I just wanted to quickly share another great geography resource that I've found that's absolutely free (that's right, free!) Free is great, one of my favorite words in the dictionary...ok, moving on :-)

"SPORTING GEOGRAPHY® is an educational program that offers a motivational way for students to learn while having fun. The program helps children learn geography, history and math at the elementary and middle school level. It is targeted for children ages 8-13, specifically in grades four through eight. SPORTING GEOGRAPHY materials provide teachers with a link to a current event while complementing their curriculum objectives."

To see what kind of free sports program is available in your area, please visit:

Chemistry - pt 4 Errupting Volcano

Chemical volcanos are classic projects for science fairs and chemistry demonstrations. The mentos and diet soda eruption is really powerful, capable of producing jets of soda several feet high. It's messy, so you might want to do this project outdoors. Our class went to an open field with our directions in hand and proceeded to do our volcano experiment. The children really had a lot of fun. To achieve similar results, here's what you need to do:

  1. First, gather your supplies.
  2. You could substitute normal soda for diet soda. The project will work just as well, but the resulting eruption will be sticky. Whatever you use, the drink has to be carbonated!
  3. First, stack the candies. The easiest way to do this is to stack them in a test tube narrow enough to form a single column. Otherwise, you can roll a sheet of paper into a tube just barely wide enough for a stack of candies.
  4. Place an index card over the opening of the test tube or end of the paper tube to hold the candies in the container. Invert the test tube.
  5. Open your full 2-liter or 16 oz bottle of diet soda. The eruption happens very quickly, so set things up: you want the open bottle - index card - roll of candies so that as soon as you remove the index card, the candies will drop smoothly into the bottle.
  6. When you're ready, do it! You can repeat the eruption with the same bottle and another stack of candies. Have fun!

What You Need:

  • roll of mentos candies
  • 2-liter bottle of diet soda
  • index card
  • test tube or sheet of paper

Why does it work? The caffeine, potassium benzoate, aspartame, and CO2 gas contained in the Diet Coke and the gelatin and gum arabic ingredients of the Mentos all contribute to the jet effect. The surface of the mint Mentos is littered with many small holes, allowing CO2 bubbles to form very rapidly and in great quantity, in turn causing the jet of foam. (Courtesy of wikipedia)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Free Places to go/ Things to do in your hometown?

Hi all, this is a little detour from my regular entries. I live in an area that is great and has lots of free things or inexpensive things to do around town. If you would be so kind, I am trying to compile a list of free things to do or interesting places to go around the states and the world. Will you guys help me out with this? If you wouldn't mind, will you please send me your favorite places to visit in your area that are either free or inexpensive? If you have friends who are also homeschoolers, please invite them to send me info also. Let's see if we can hit every state at least once, thanks!

Chemistry - Part 3 Growing Crystals

There are a few different ways to grow crystals that I know of, and I'm sure there are many more that I don't know of, but here is the least toxic way to grow them:

What You Need:
  • Epsom or table salt
  • a shallow pan to grow your crystals in (like a pie tin or rimmed cookie sheet)
  • warm water
  • dark paper and scissors
  1. First select a warm, dry place to grow crystals (someplace that gets direct light is the best).
  2. Use the scissors to cut dark paper in a way that it will fit in the bottom of the pan.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt to 1/4 cup warm water in a separate container. Stir until the salt is dissolved.
  4. Put the paper in your selected container and pour the salt solution over it.
  5. Put the container in a warm, sunny location. As the water evaporates, your crystals will begin to form.
  6. This experiment may take from as as little as a few hours to a few days, it depends on how warm it is and the rate of evaporation.
Side note: If you are looking to grow really spectacular crystals, you will want to use borax instead of Epsom Salt, and maybe add some food coloring to get beautiful, colored crystals.

Ok, well that's it for now, I need to go teach the kiddies :-). Stay tuned for part 4- volcano experiments

Chemistry Part 2 - edible atoms

Ok, I am going to break the posts down by experiment so that they won't be too long.
I've been teaching about the Periodic Table of Elements. In order to bring it home we made edible atoms. this is a very easy project to do:
  • Get a pack of sugar cookies, snickerdoodles or some other plain cookie, not chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin (you can make it even more fun if you have the time to bake the cookies at home)
  • You'll want to get a couple different types of candy (jelly beans, chocolate chips, dinner mints, something small enough to fit on the cookie). The candy pieces will represent the protons and neutrons, so make sure you have at least 2 different kinds of cookies
  • Have your child(ren) pick an element that they would like to make (I would keep the atomic number at 8 or below or your cookie will become over-crowded)
  • The purpose of building the element is to have your child show the number of protons and neutrons in the atom.
  • To determine the number of protons, teach your child that the number of protons is equal to the atomic number of the element (show them the atomic number on the periodic table)
  • To determine the number of neutrons, they will need to take the atomic weight and subtract the number of protons from it. The atomic weight is equal to the protons plus the neutrons
  • After they have made their yummy atom, you can check it against the periodic table and then let them eat it! So delicious!
Next entry: Chemistry Part 3 - growing crystals

Monday, April 6, 2009

Chemistry - Part I

Hello friends,

Well today I was thinking about writing about vocabulary helps, but I think I may wait and hold off on that for one of my product reviews. Today I'm going to write about Chemistry. I teach a Science coop class to 12 students aged 9 -12. These are an awesome group of children and we have had fun all year.

Science can be a difficult subject to teach, and it's so important to instill that love of discovery and exploration while they are still young. It's important to try to do this before they get it into their minds that Science is hard, too hard for them to learn. :-( My take on this is...I would probably have felt the same way if I hadn't come across two incredible science teachers while I was in high school. My Chemistry teacher would come up with the COOLEST experiments, and my Physics teacher..well what can I say...he used to let us fly rockets down the hallways to prove theories (of course the other teachers weren't always thrilled :-) ). Anyway... I pray that I have a small fraction of influence on these lovely kids :-)

We spent the first half of the year studying Apologia Elementary Science- Swimming Creatures (Zoology 2). This was really a great course and the children really enjoyed it. We combined the reading and notebooking with the great experiments and also some videos from Discovery School. We really enjoyed it. The only thing I would say about this series is I think you really get the maximum benefit of this curriculum when you take your time to expand on all the great lessons presented (next time we will take a full year). For example, when we were studying the Cephlapods, we went to our local Aquarium and did a squid dissection class and sea creature scavenger hunt through the Aquarium. We also played Marine Zoology Jeopardy (smile). I would load the file to share with you if I could figure it out, but if any of you would like to take a look, let me know (For those of you who follow the Yahoo group, I know someone on there has also developed a jeopardy game, I haven't seen it, but I'm sure it's great. This is one for the entire book).

ok I digress... this is supposed to be an entry about Chemistry :-)

Anyway, the children really wanted to do Chemistry the second half of the year and unfortunately, Apologia currently only publishes Chemistry for High School students. I really wanted a book that would teach the complex concepts of Chemistry to young children in a non-intimidating manner and looked at a lot of different curricula at our fairs. The one that pleased me the most was surprisingly a secular book (strictly teaches concepts, no evolution or anything like that in the chemistry book-I haven't used their biology or physics, so I don't know).

The book we are using for Chemistry is called Real Science 4 kids - Chemistry. It's really a great book, and we are having a lot of fun with it. It is published by Gravitas Publishing The things I really like about the book's thin, short and sweet :-), very colorful, and it is written in a way that it is easily understood by my youngest students. This course is designed to be taught in as few as 10 weeks (there are 10 chapters). the chapters are only about 3-4 pages each, and it is very easy to incorporate the notebooking concept as well as hands on learning. The down side of this curriculum is that it is pricey, worth the buy, but you may want to look for used copies or wait for the curriculum fairs.

I have each student keep a binder and they all have pretty much the same assignments with the exception of the writing and research requirements. Here is a list of what they are required to do for the week:

Notebook Page Summary
Weekly Research (find an article that involves chemistry and it's uses today)
Connects to Language
Learn Periodic Table Song

We review the assigned chapter in class, have oral reports on what they found during their research , then we do a class activity and our experiment.

So now we are on our 3rd week of class, and so far we have covered atoms, molecules and this week is chemical reactions (yeah!). We have grown crystals, made an edible atom, and marshmallow molecules and this week we will be doing the infamous volcano reactions! You know the ones I'm talking about...the diet coke and Menthos, or the vinegar and baking soda, but we will put a little spin on it by comparing the various reactions and see which one causes the biggest eruption (I love to, as the kids say, "blow" things up (in a non life-threatening way of course)! Probably all those years I spent in the military :-)

Anyway, if we get a chance we will also launch my darling son's hydrogen rocket he's been itching to try out. Well, that's all for now, in the Chemistry part II, I will post specifics about each experiment that we've done to give you some ideas.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

God Testimony!

Hello friends,

I just wanted to give a quick testimony on God's wonderful blessings! Today I woke up at 6am to begin my day. I felt very energized and was looking forward to another beautiful day that the Lord has made, trust me, that is big in itself because I am NOT a morning person :-)! Well our youth group had a car wash fundraiser scheduled for this afternoon to raise money for a mission trip we are taking in August. The Devil has just thrown stumbling block after stumbling block in the way of our club, and we have struggled with raising money, but we all know who is in control! We decided to add a detail service to our normal car wash and ask some of our neighboring churches if we could put some fliers out for their constituents to see. Every church was incredibly friendly and accommodating (thank you Jesus!) to our request.

Well our car wash began, very slowly, but soon we began having car after car after car show up, and before we knew it, we had run over the time we had scheduled to have the car wash end. Everyone loved the work ethic shown and really appreciated the great job the children did in the detailing and washing of their car. As we were tallying up the money, we noticed that the majority of people had given much more than they actually owed for their cars. What a blessing, we exceeded our expectations! We give all the honor and praise to him who knows our name, sees our needs and answers our calls.

Our group still has about $40k to raise for this trip, if you all would be so kind, will you please lift our youth group up in your prayers? Thank you and God Bless!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Blog experiences thus far

"For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith." - Romans 1:17

Ok, I hope those of you who have subscribed to my blog don't receive notification EVERY single time I edit the blog, because I swear I think I edited the previous entry 6 times
Anyway, sorry about that. I hope that you are enjoying the posts so far, this has been a lot of fun. I finally have a venue for my chattiness :-). I've posted one of my favorite texts above, I hope you enjoy it.

Teaching with Legos

Ok friends, I really had planned on posting this topic yesterday, but I got sucked up into the whole 'ER' mania. What can I say, I love ER!

Ok, back to our topic, Legos! How many of you have children (big and small, boys and girls) that are obsessed with Legos? I have boys that eat, breathe, and sleep Legos! If they had their way, that's all they would focus on! Well as a special treat for our youngest son, we mix up his lessons and twice a week we have Lego day (dss is in ps).

I know what you are thinking: Lego day...he gets to play with his legos and build cool creations..well yes and no. He's having fun, but he's also learning (see how sneaky I am :-) ). Right now we are working on multiplication, so we use the Legos as a manipulative and he learns his problems using Legos. Let's say we are working on a problem...12 x 4, he takes his 4 groups of 12 different types of Legos, counts them out, and builds something cool with the blocks, then we turn it into a division problem and he solves the problem by demolishing his creation. Pretty cool, right? But wait, that's not all! Did you know you can teach just about any subject using Legos?

Here are some ideas to use with teaching Legos:

Get a set of Legos of various length. The various lengths will represent a whole, half, quarter, eighth, and sixteenth notes. Show the longest Lego and tell them it represents a whole note because you can put 4 quarter legos on top of it. Pick up the half length lego, ask them how many will fit on the whole note and have them demonstrate. Continue to go through all of the sizes until your child has a good grasp of the different types of notes, then let them lose and see what kind of song they can create with their Legos.

Using Legos to construct sentences. Make up a key with different color Legos. Each color should represent different parts of the sentence (subject, noun, adjective, verb, pronoun - for older children, independent clause, dependent clause, punctuation, conjunctions, etc). As the child reads the sentence, have the child duplicate the sentence using Legos by picking out the various parts of speech and replacing them with the correct corresponding Lego color. Sure, it's school work, but it's fun too!

Find places of interests around the world, have child try to build a replica and looking at a map, correctly place their replica in the city or country in question.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Grammar.....hmmm, some of us cringe, when we think about teaching grammar. Ugh...are my kids going to get this, is this going to be as painful as pulling teeth?

Some of us LOVE grammar, what's not to love, right? The flow of the English language, the diagramming of sentences... ah :-)

Grammar is a very important (and often very neglected) subject, but it can be a difficult subject to teach, and many of us are very intimidated by it.

Well, that's all about to change; Are you looking for a fun, relaxing way to cuddle up with your children and teach basic grammar? Well I have found it, and guess what, I'm going to share it with you :-).

I have to put forth the following disclaimer before I share this resource: This is not intended to replace a formal grammar program, but if you use this along with worksheets, your children will really enjoy it, you will really enjoy it, and they will have a very good grasp on basic grammar. That said, let me tell you about our experience with Grammarland, written by M.L. Nesbitt.

I came across this book this past January on the freebies of the day website (link to their site is in the homeschool links section), but it is also available on other websites as well. It is a classic novel written in 1878, and is what I like to warmly refer to as "a living book".

Living books are usually written in story form by an author who has a passion for the subject. A living book makes the subject come to life. In Grammar-Land, we are taught about the 9 parts of speech by wonderful characters such as: Judge Grammar, Mr. Noun, Mr. Pronoun, Little Article, Mr. Adjective, Little Interjection, Dr. Verb and so on. It is a wonderful story that follows the adventures and disagreements of the various parts of speech, as they parade in front of Judge Grammar to plead their case. The children of Schoolroom-Shire are given tasks to figure out in each chapter.

Our children LOVE this book! They can't wait to do our lesson on grammar, and it truly warms mom's heart when I hear "mom, can we do grammar today?"

To get your own free copy, check out

Don't forget to download your free worksheets for grammar (check out the links under Homeschool links)