Saturday, January 31, 2009

Wrinkle in Time Unit Study-Chapters 5 & 6

Please see Chapters 1, 2, 3 & 4 for more ideas.

Chapter 5


Math, Science, History, & Literature:

tesseract: see chapter 1 for more on this.

Science: protoplasm :"Protoplasm is the living contents of a cell that are surrounded by a plasma membrane." Study cells and create a model of the cell structure. Use this interactive cell model. Compare plant and animal cells.

slaglike:Slag is the by-product of smelting ore to purify metals.

History: Jesus, Leonardo da Vinci (this is a great resource at the Museum of Science that includes lesson plans, pictures, and other resources), Michelangelo, Shakespeare ("The Tempest"), Bach, Pasteur, Madame Curie (I like the book Manya's Dream: a Story of Marie Curie by Frieda Wishinsky), Einstein, Schweitzer, Gandhi, Buddha (I like the book The prince who became a beggar, by Amina Okada), Beethoven, Rembrandt, St. Francis, Euclid, Copernicus

Quotes in this chapter:
"Experience is the mother of knowledge."- Cervantes
"How small is the earth to him who looks from heaven." - Delille
"And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not." - Jesus
"We are such stuff as dreams are made on." - Prospero in The Tempest

Chapter 6:


Science & Math:
sumac, birches, pines, maples This would make an excellent nature journal exercise. Go outside and look at all the trees you can find. Go to a park if you need more trees to look at. Take along a journal with blank pages. Do bark and leaf rubbings. Draw the trees. Record the characteristics you notice. Finally, see if you can identify the trees. If you have difficulty, go online or find a book on tree identification at your local library.

goldenrod: Goldenrod is a late blooming flower that supports many different insects.

"I do not know everything; still many things I understand."- Goethe

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Times Tales Giveaway!

The winner is: #19 the Prudent Homemaker. Email me with your info, and I'll get this right to you. Thank you to everyone who entered.

Times Tales: So, wow. I heard about this book, last year, from a friend of mine. Xavier (my 8-year-old son) started doing multiplication at the beginning of this year, and I had forgotten about the book. We struggled with trying to memorize the multiplication tables. Now, I'm a big proponent of memorization of math facts. It just makes using them easier. But, Xavier has understood multiplication for years. And, he was having a hard time memorizing them. Finally, after we had already moved on to division (I refuse to hold him back when he is already learning pre-Algebra from watching Gabriel do it), I remembered April's recommendation. I asked her if she still had her books and she loaned them to me. I brought them home and, one night while Xavier was waiting for Dominic (the 5-year-old son) to go to sleep so that he could go to sleep, we sat in the chair together and read through the book. It was 11:00 at night. We went through it in about 20 minutes. The next day, Xavier still remembered all his multiplication facts. Finally, we can stop worrying about this. I highly recommend these books. At $14.95, they aren't much more than a set of flash cards, and cheaper than some music CDs that teach the multiplication facts. They are faster than either of these approaches.
One caveat to this, Xavier is a right brained thinker. He thinks in pictures. I am a whole brained thinker and learned the multiplication facts while lying in bed at night listening to my dad say them to me over and over again. That did not work for Xavier. This book would have driven me up the wall. Probably with Mrs. Week and Mrs. Snowman in the car. On the other hand, I can't guarantee that. It might have taught me my facts faster.

A funny note about the way Xavier did his multiplication before this book: If the problem was 3x9, he would say, "9x2=18, plus 9=27." If the problem was 4x9, he would say, "9x2=18, plus 18=36." If the problem was 9x6, he would say, "9x2=18, plus 18=36, plus 18=54." That boy could do that type of multiplication faster than most people can do regular multiplication. But, now he's even faster, and he's less frustrated.

So, in honor of the fact that this is such an amazing resource, I'm giving one away this week. This giveaway will end at 11:59 P.M., Tuesday, February 3. Good luck!

For more giveaways, visit the bloggy giveaways!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Schoolhouse Rock: Multiplication

Many children have a hard time memorizing the multiplication tables. Schoolhouse rock multiplication makes learning the multiplication tables fun. You can also use Times Tales. I'll talk about that tomorrow, when I give away a copy of Times Tales. For now, have fun with Schoolhouse rock!









Monday, January 26, 2009

A Wrinkle in Time Unit Study: Chapters 3 and 4

Well, I was able to do all the research for chapters 3 and 4 before posting either, so you get both at the same time. Yay!
Please refer to Chapter 1 for ideas on things to do with various aspects from these chapters.
Chapter 2 is here. Please remember that various children have different vocabularies. This book is rich in vocabulary. If you read to your children, and have your children read, books that have a rich vocabulary, they will pick up on that vocabulary, and their vocabulary will improve as a result.

Chap 3:

Murry house and yard.

New Character:
Mrs. Which


History, Math, and Science:
megaparsec: 1,000,000 parsecs- parsecs: 3.26 light years
There are so many things you can do with light years. Texas Instruments has an activity page dealing with light years. This is a neat activity that allows students to learn how to use their calculators to do show things in scientific notation. EG 900,000= 9 05 Then, they go on to calculate how far light travels in a second, minute, etc and write the calculations in both scientific and standard notations. They compute a lot of different things. Then, they complete Student Activity pages. Whew! Who knew all these companies provide all this stuff ready for teachers to use?

Mrs. Murry is doing an experiment and a blue liquid is moving from her beaker to a retort. Now, what, exactly is a retort? According to Wikipedia (whose information should always be taken with a grain of salt), "a retort is a glassware device used for distillation or dry distillation of substances." And, all this time, I thought a retort was when you answered a question! This could be fun to use a retort in an experiment at home.

Mrs. Murry also used a Bunsen burner. While most adults will know what this is, many children will not. You may want to enlighten them!

Mrs. Who quotes Dante, "What grievous pain a little fault doth give thee." This would make a great character quote. Children are frequently prone to allowing themselves to be so upset by the little things. Ah, many adults are, too.

Chap 4:
Setting: alien planet

corona (not the beer!)

History, Science, and Math:

"To action little, less to words inclined." Horace- a philosopher and writer in ancient times.

"Nothing is hopeless; we must hope for everything." Euripides- another excellent character quote- another writer from ancient times.

"The more a man knows, the less he talks." French saying
"To stake one's life for the truth.- Vitam impendere vero." This is a hard concept for children to understand, and so worth exploring.

thinning atmosphere: Here, you can talk about the layers present in Earth's Atmosphere. You can talk about cooking in a thinner atmosphere, and you can talk about the extra effort it takes to breathe in a thinner atmosphere (this is what is hit on in the book), and how it effects things like walking, sports, and even just how you're feeling when sitting down.

plateaus: Here, you can learn about land formations. You can do artwork, drawing plateaus. You could also do a craft project, forming plateaus out of salt clay.

corona of clouds: With this, you can start learning about clouds. You can draw pictures of a corona of clouds. You can try to take pictures of coronas. Any other ideas?

As always, if you have any suggestions for me, please leave me a comment!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

National Gallery of Art Free Resources

The National Gallery of Art (NGA) is a great, free, resource. The NGA has many resources available online. They have online tours of their collection. Not only do these online tours provide you with the ability to view fine art from anywhere in the world, they also give you information about the art you are viewing. For instance, on a page dedicated to the work of Thomas Sully, the NGA details Sully's life, his work, Captain Charles Stewart, and the history of the subject of the art. You can see the artwork as a full screen image. This enables your students, children, or you to view art that you might never get a chance to see, otherwise.

The NGA also has education resources. These resources include online resources, and a loan program. The online resources include lessons with art discussion, student activities, printable worksheets, and related resources. This is a great resource that provides a ready made lesson for teachers. The NGA also provides loans of DVDs, videos, slides and image CDs, and teaching packets. The teaching packets, I am especially excited about. For instance, the Picture France booklet and classroom guide (which are available for download online) includes a 150 page booklet, a separate classroom guide, with activities, student handouts, a timeline, resource information, 40 slides, and image CD with more than 75 works of art, 20 color study prints, and a wall map. These resources are available to basically anyone who would like to use them. The only cost is return postage. They are a loan item. But, what a resource!

If your child is in school, you'll want to be sure their school is aware of this resource. If you teach your children at home, you should definitely take a look at this. If, like me, you are just interested in art (although I do teach my children at home), you should also look at it. You may just find an invaluable, free, resource.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Friday, January 23, 2009

Geography Games

There are two websites that I love for geography.

The first website, Test Your Geography Knowledge has multiple quizzes to help you learn your geography. This site has everything from continents to major cities of the world. It is in quiz form, but you can use hints to help you. Each time you take the quiz, you get a bit better, because of the repetition.

The second website, you can use after you know a little geography. has a 'Tetris' game that you can do with countries and states. It's fun to test your knowledge this way.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Giveaway: Life of Fred

Time's Up! The winner is #12- lindsey.hefner at
I've sent you an email. If you don't get it, please email me! There's a 'contact me' button to the left. Thank you for entering, everyone!

Note: This series is good for homeschooled children, traditionally schooled children, and adults wanting to relearn some of what they have forgotten about math!

Life of Fred

We love Life of Fred at our house. Life of Fred is a new way of looking at math. This is a math book in story form. Each chapter covers a different concept, and reviews previous concepts. The books cover, in order, fractions, decimals and percents, beginning algebra, advanced algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, and statistics.

Life of Fred is like one long word problem. It teaches students to take the math they’re learning and use it in real life. Life of Fred’s author, Stanley F. Schmidt, Ph.D. says,
These Life of Fred books are designed to teach the material. They are not merely repositories of examples and homework problems. It is so important that kids learn how to learn from reading.
Once they finish college, they will face sixty years in which virtually all of their real learning will come from what they read.

This exemplifies what these books are all about.

In my opinion, Life of Fred books make a great math supplement. I believe that everyone should use them. They make the student think outside the box. It makes math fun (he’s a very funny author). It makes you expand your thinking about math. It makes math relevant to ‘real’ life and uses applications not typically found in math curriculum word problems.

And, that is why I am giving away Life of Fred: Fractions. I will have it shipped directly from Life of Fred’s website. They are very fast. I have received my books within 3 days. If you would like to win one of these books, and have the chance to try them out for free, please leave a comment. I will decide the winner by random drawing in one week on Wednesday, January 28. Thank you for your interest.

For more giveaways, visit the Bloggy Giveaways!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Wrinkle in Time Unit Study: Chapter 2

Please refer to Chapter 1 for ideas on things to do with these aspects from the chapter.


History and Science:
sport (biology)
13. Biology. an organism or part that shows an unusual or singular deviation from the normal or parent type; mutation
22. Botany. to mutate.

Look up the word sport, as it pertains to science. Show that there are many different meanings of the word 'sport'. Illustrate a 'sport' plant. Consider that a sport may have a part in evolution.

Mrs. Who quotes Pascal, "The heart has its reasons, whereof reason knows nothing."
What does this quote mean? Who was Pascal? Research Pascal, and add him to your timeline. What was Pascal famous for?

Mrs. Who also quotes Seneca, "Nothing deters a good man from doing what is honorable."
What makes something honorable? Research Seneca. Who was he? When did he live? What did Seneca influence? Add him to your timeline.

For handwriting practice, you can have your children copy a quote. This provides them with a model of a good sentence, as well as a good resource to draw on in their mind.

Draw one of the characters from the story. Draw the 'haunted house.' Sew some ghosts. Make a haunted house out of poster board.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Winter Crafts, Ice Sun Catchers

My children don't like to do crafts. So, I, personally, do not have many suggestions for you. However, I do have a few suggestions on places to find craft ideas and directions. Also, I want to talk about ice sun catchers.

First, there are several places you can get ideas for making crafts with your children. My favorite site is The Ramblings of a Crazy Woman. Jennwa has a lot of neat ideas that include supply lists, instructions and pictures. Most of her ideas are doable by young children. Another good website is Family Fun. They have ideas for crafts, costumes, and food. It's a great website.

Now, ice sun catchers.


Plate, container lid, or anything that you can easily lift a disc of ice out of
Yarn, hemp, or twine (enough to go around the circumference of the
lid/plate plus extra to hang from a tree or other high object)
Items from nature - the more colorful the better:
- holly berries
- forsythia flowers, pansies, johnny jump ups, etc.
- small acorns
- acorn caps
- grass

Carefully place your nature treasures in a design on the plate/lid.
Lay the string/twine/yarn around the edges of the plate and let the
rest of the string/twine/yarn drape over the edge of the plate/lid so
that it's outside of the lid/plate.

Slowly (VERY SLOWLY) add water until the lid/plate is filled. You
must go slowly or the force of the water will destroy your design.

Let the plate freeze overnight. In the morning, remove the disc from
the lid/plate and hang from a tree.

You have a beautiful sun catcher to enjoy while the weather is cold. :o)

HT to Eclectic Eccentricities. To see pictures of a completed sun catcher, go to Eclectic Eccentricities.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Wrinkle in Time Unit Study

The first project we’re going to tackle is a A Wrinkle in Time unit study. Since I am writing this as I create it, you’ll get two chapters each week. This is because we are reading two chapters a week. That makes sense, right? There are twelve chapters in this book. When I have completed all the weeks, I’ll link all the posts together in one place to make it easier. In the meantime, enjoy!

First, I want to talk about unit studies a little bit. Unit studies are basically taking one subject and using that subject across the curriculum. So, for our A Wrinkle in Time unit study, we’ll learn about literature, history, science, math, vocabulary, and art.

For this unit study, my children will be making a notebook. We will make at least one notebook page for each chapter. Each chapter notebook page will include the following information: setting, new characters, short synopsis, vocabulary, history, science, and math. The first page (about the book as a whole, versus a single chapter) will include a short paragraph about the life of the author, as well as some history. Any extra activities done will be added after the first notebook page for each chapter. So, if we do a word search for the vocabulary lesson, the word search will be added to the notebook behind the chapter page.

Note: This unit study guide will not include literature information such as questions, themes, etc. For more literature information, including questions, activities, character analysis, themes, and concepts, please visit Consumer Help Web, and Easy Fun School.

Author Study:
Look up Madeline L’Engle’s biography. Did you know she wasn’t published until she was 40? Write a short paragraph about Madeline L’Engle’s Life.

Look up what was going on in the world at the time of the book’s publishing. Add these things to a timeline, or write about them on a notebook page.

The Murry house: You could have your children draw a cross-section of what they think the Murry house would look like. You could also have them draw the attic, or the kitchen.

In this chapter, we meet Meg Murry, Charles Wallace, Mrs. Murry, and Mrs. Whatsit. Although the twins, Sandy and Dennys, are mentioned in this chapter, we don’t really meet them until later in the book.

There are many activities you can do with a vocabulary lesson. First, a child should understand the meaning of the words. See if your child can guess the meaning of the words before looking them up in the dictionary. Learning to infer meaning from context is an important skill. Look the words up in the dictionary. Have the children use the words in a sentence. If they are able to write, have them write the words and sentences. You can use the words as spelling words. You could choose a few words to add to a regular spelling program, if you already use one. At Puzzlemaker you can make word searches, crossword puzzles, cryptograms, and other puzzles.

Here are some suggested vocabulary words:



Look up tesseracts. If you would like to tie in a history lesson, do a short biography on the mathematician Charles Howard Hinton, the person known for coining the term tesseract. His work, ”A New Era of Thought” is available online.

You could also look up Llewellyn Setters and greyhounds. Your students could draw what they think Fortinbras would look like, based on these studies.

Also mentioned in Chapter 1, are geraniums, and chrysanthemums. You could do a nature study on these.

For math, you could not only study tesseracts, but geometric patterns (mentioned in the description of the kitchen curtains).

If you have any other suggestions for Chapter 1, let me know and I’ll add them. Thanks!

The Reason for "Teaching Your Children"

Most people would agree that learning begins at home. In fact, most schools would agree that children should start Kindergarten already knowing many things. Not knowing those things severely handicaps a child starting Kindergarten. Some parents decide to continue to teach their children after they reach 'school' age. These people are called homeschoolers. There are also many parents who continue to teach their children after school, or during the summer.

This blog is for anyone who ever wanted to teach their children. I'll explore curriculum, unit studies, learning through play, and whatever else floats my fancy that day. If you have something you would like to hear about, please let me know! I'm here for you!