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Friday, February 26, 2016

Bioluminescence Science and Chemistry Experiment Fun Friday Homeschool

I am going to walk you through the steps of this experiment so you can try it at home. This counts both as a Biology, and Chemistry lab, read why here. As you can see in the first image with my daughter, this is actually the end of the experiment, it really glows right on her face, nice and bright.

You will need:

Glow sticks
2 drinking glasses
Ice water
Warm water


Give each child a glow stick. Have then look at the stick only. Ask them what they notice. What does it look like, in its original form. Have them gently rock the stick back and forth. Does it do anything? Now go into a darker room, gently bend the stick, observe what happens, and note it. Now put the sticks into the ice water, observe what happens. Leave the glow sticks in the ice water for five minutes, then return to observe the results. Now put the glow sticks in the warm water, observe and note what happens. Leave the glow sticks in the warm water for 5 minutes, then observe your final results. If you have a dead glow stick, in other words it doesn't glow anymore, stick it in both types of water and observe what happens. I won't give you our results, that ruins the fun.

We are also doing a Physics experiment today, which I will share another day, baking, and art.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Fun Fridays are Back

We have not done Fun Fridays, in a very long time.  We are halfway through our school year, and I decided we could do Fun Fridays.  What is Fun Friday?  Well, if we are not doing a field trip, it means we are doing some more fun and leisurely assignments at home.  I like it to be creative, and also to get some things done that maybe there isn't enough time for during the week, like DJ walking to the Barber to get his hair cut, lol.  It also gives us time to do experiments, and research.  DJ has to do labs for Biology, and since some of the Marine Biology experiments fit Biology, and didn't get done last year, we are doing them this year.  Once my roses have some nice buds on them, we are going to do a Hybrid experiment.  I will share all that, when we do it.  Yesterday, we did an experiment for Annelids, it was real simple, but they got the right idea.

DJ's Art project, he has two, both have to do with the upcoming 4H fair.  He is doing a cover design, and a wood burning project.  Caitlin will be making a matching painted paw print shirt, to go with her pants, for the fair, and she still has to pick a photograph.  Speaking of photographs we saw our first Monarch caterpillar of the year, this week, and it made a chrysalis already.  So, we will be watching that.  I told Caitlin if she wanted to do Art on Fun Friday, that she had to pick an artist she wanted to study, and learn about.  She chose Robert Bateman Wildlife Artist.  She drew, and then used colored pencils to complete her first remake of his Lynx painting.  He really does beautiful work.  She will have to do writing assignments, along with art for her projects. 

The new SAT, is interesting, lol.  There are actually five sections, with the essay writing now optional.  I don't know why anyone would not do that part.  Even if you got a low score, it will still boost your overall score.  DJ is very strong in writing, so it will work well for him.  We took a practice SAT, full exam, he took the old version at the end of last summer.  We did not do the essay part, because it is self graded, right now, until it goes live in March.  He actually improved quite a bit on the Reading, which was already pretty good, and the Math, which is his weakest are, he improved 30 points.  Heads up there is a lot of Geometry.  So, if you have not started Geometry yet, which we had not, you might want to.  So, for now Business Math will be awarded to him a half credit, he started Geometry, and will work through the rest of this year on that, and finishing up Algebra 1.  That way when he takes the actual SAT, at the end of this school year, hopefully we will get a real good idea of where he is.  He will be at the end of 10th grade.  The SAT, can be taken as many times as you want to pay for it.  Colleges only get the highest score you get.  So, there is always room for improvement. 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Bird Watching at Andrews Wildlife Management Area

We finally got our state park pass. Andrews is not a state park, but I plan on doing monthly field trips to local state parks, which are mostly springs. We hiked for 3.5 miles, at the Andrews Wildlife Management Area, yesterday, looking for birds. We didn't get a lot of pictures of birds, but we saw tons especially in this one area. The Suwannee River is high, from all the rain north of here, and will probably stay high through the spring once the snow starts to melt. So, we will be visiting springs on the Santa Fe River, which currently at least is not flooded. If the water is high, at the springs it is OK, but a lot of time the water gets brown out conditions where you can't see the clear water, and swimming is not advised. We were able to identify a lot of the birds we saw, but some we could not, they were too far away, even with binoculars. We saw about six Feral Hogs, but they were scared of us, and wanted no part of being close to us. Even though there are hiking trails, this area also allows hunting, so you do have to be very careful what time of year you go, and lucky for us none of our kids were quiet, lol. DJ saw a big cat when we first got there, unfortunately I did not so I can't say what it was, but we did find tracks for it. No gators, too chilly. After I had to take DJ up the road to Fanning Springs, for his volunteer day, and that springs did have brown out conditions. The ranger said there were manatees in there, but that we wouldn't see them. Of course we had to go check, and not only did we see one, but got a picture of it. DJ told me later, that he saw three more, in the hour he was there, but that the camera on his phone would not work. The weather was beautiful, and no bugs, awesome~!  We are at the end of our second quarter, and will be finishing up testing Monday, to see where we are in Math and Writing. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Great American Bird Count 2016

I have been using Ebird for the past week, or so, to keep track of birds visiting my feeders.  Starting this Friday, the Great American Bird Count begins.  We will be going on a field trip to a local bird watching refugee, and then entering our findings on the Ebird app.  The weather is supposed to be splendid, Friday, and I am looking forward to it.  We are having a ball identifying all the birds we have been getting to the feeders.  I put up an extra feeder last year, and the birds just come like crazy.  I love to watch them, and see all their quirky behaviors.  We have some birds that are here with us all year, and then visitors throughout the year.  If you want a fun nature activity to do with your kids, check out the Ebird website. 

Caitlin, and I bought our seeds for our Three Sisters Garden.  We are not ready to start planting yet, but by the end of March, the corn should be able to go in,

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Rediscovering Hooda Math and PBS Math Educational Resources

My 15 yr old used Hooda Math for years.  When he got in the higher grades, he stopped using it, and I forgot about it.  I rediscovered it while looking for fun Math games for my now 11 year old.  She loves it, and I find games to be an excellent way to learn.  Not all day, and not all the time, but 15-30 minutes of educational games is a nice brain break, and different way to learn.  One thing I have noticed, since I decided to use Common Core standards, in our homeschool, is that I think it is harder for one because they don't allow kids to memorize math facts such as multiplication, and division before moving them on to harder concepts using those facts.  This slows kids down incredibly.  I think they need to learn those math facts first, before being forced to learn something their poor little brains just can't comprehend.  That is what I am doing anyway.  One of the beautiful things about homeschooling, is I can go at my child's place, even if the end goal is still to achieve the harder standards.  It isn't even that they are harder, just they want them to learn is harder.  The method has changed, not what they learn in the end.  Caitlin has improved immensely in the last 6 weeks, since I took her off the total Common Core method, and started letting her brain learn in a more sensible manner.

Along with OpenEd, I have started using PBS, and their media Math resources.  I then reinforce the videos with worksheets, discussion, games, and hands on learning.  Fridays, I evaluate how much she has retained with a test.  I can not say how much I love Flash Cards, for learning the math facts I mentioned above.  We use an app, and that makes it just that much more cool.  Cool Math, is another website, I used to use, and will be looking at it again for my daughter.

I will be looking at the Writing on PBS as well, though I love the Michael Clay Thompson series we have been using, and am already looking at purchasing it again for next year. 

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