My kids are HUGE fans of Wild Kratts. I’m pretty sure they have seen every episode, most more than once. When I heard there would be four new episodes all about reptiles this week it seemed perfect for a reptile unit study. I had to work Monday and a bit on Tuesday, a public speaking assignment to prepare and present on Thursday, and a gluten free lasagna to cook and deliver for a volunteer lunch on Friday. It was a bit of a busy week but we managed to get a good deal of fun and learning done.
Monday – Work day for me. No school / free reading.
Draw a rattlesnake using a shape pattern on the skin
Library to pick up books
**”What is a reptile?” – non fiction reading & comprehension passage – updated KWL sheets
Snake trail addition and subtraction math game – Mark alternating spaces with + and – signs, shuffle a stack of playing cards with face cards removed. Each child receives a die, dry erase board and marker, and game marker. Student rolls the die and moves the appropriate number of spaces. They draw 2 cards from the pile and write the problem & solution on their board using the operation they landed on. Continue until board is full. Fast finishers can go back and reverse the operation for extra practice.
Wild Kratts episode “Gila Monster Under My House”
Spike the Mixed Up Monster by Susan Hood (fiction book – Spanish vocab)
Friday **”Alligator” and “Crocodile” – non fiction reading & comprehension passages
**Alligator and Crocodile Venn diagram (compare contrast)
Wild Kratts episode “Mom of a Croc”
Reptile exhibit at Knoxville Zoo
Zoo journals – sketches of snakes at zoo & writing prompt “If I worked at the zoo…”
*KWL – Graphic organizer for many subjects “Know, Want to know, Learned”. Useful for establishing prior knowledge, eliciting questions to be answered during the week, and summarizing information learned during the unit. Example
The Wright Brothers by Andrew Santella
The Wright Brothers: Heroes of Flight by Carin T Ford (Famous Inventors series)
Stealing Air by Trent Reedy
You Wouldn’t Want to be on the First Flying Machine by Ian Graham
You Can Draw Planes
How Airplanes Work by Paul Ohmann
The Wright Brothers biographies were used for reading/comprehension of non-fiction text. Students were also asked to pick 5 events from the Wright Brothers lives and create a timeline from those events.
It’s the beginning of August (in a few more hours) and we’re back from our crazy Florida vacation so it’s time to start getting back to a somewhat regular school-ish schedule.
Our local zoo has just completed a new giraffe encounter area and zoo members (us!) can feed a giraffe for free through Sunday so I’m putting together a mini unit for Thursday, zoo visit on Friday, and art project for Monday.
Spring is in full bloom here – just ask my allergies – so it is a perfect time to do a unit on butterflies! Our local zoo has a beautiful butterfly garden exhibit that should be open and make a great addition to our unit.
Introduction video – The Story of the Butterfly (Amazon Prime). We’ve discussed butterflies and their life cycle before but videos are always welcome for breaking into a subject.
Library Trip – We have books due (and we’re out of milk) so we’ll take a quick trip to the library (and grocery) for our books for the week. (See resource list below.)
Niagara Falls A couple of fiction books from the library to go along with our unit.
We’ll use the Power of Speech worksheet from this TPT freebie to discuss why authors use certain dialogue for their characters and what character traits we can infer from their speech.
We’ll take a virtual field trip to Niagara Falls and a few local waterfalls via Google Earth.
I found this story paper with a picture of Niagara Falls that we’ll use to write about our virtual field trip.
Another great library book – How Does a Waterfall become Electricity? – will be the basis for our science portion of this unit. We’ll use a portion of the non-fiction text to identify the main idea and supporting details of a passage/chapter.
Norris Dam State Park is about 30 minutes north of us. As we were finishing up our lesson on Thursday the news reported that the Dam would be spilling water to lower lake levels. It was such a perfect fit that we took a picnic lunch and headed out the next morning. We stopped at three different observation points and took pictures and got a real feel of the power of the water. The kids saw the size of the powerhouse and the transformers, just like we had read about! While there were quite a few spectators at the dam viewing sites, our picnic area was empty and beautiful! We also visited the Old Grist Mill, watching how the water moved the wheel and then going inside to see the gears moving. The Lenoir Museum was also interesting and educational. The kids enjoyed seeing, touching and even using some the of the tools used “a long, long time ago”, as the kids put it. Here are some pictures from our trip!
In preparation for our field trip to The Lost Sea this week we’re studying all about caves!
First up was a “what do we know about caves?” brainstorming activity. Brainstorming is not a very popular activity around here for some reason. It seems to go much smoother when we use www.wordle.net and I do the typing of the ideas. Then we tinkered with the design of our wordle until everyone liked it and came up with the image above. (Our wordle is saved online here.)
Our main text for this Caves Unit Study is from the USGS and is designed for grades K-3 (get it here). It’s a tremendous resource and the story is very engaging for my kids who love reading adventures and mysteries. It is very text-heavy so I transferred the pdfs to my iPad and am reading them to the kids. At certain points I’ll stop and ask them to predict what might happen next. We covered lessons 1 & 2 on the first day, using some, but not all, of the suggested follow-up activities.
We created a 3-part foldable to remember the differences between troglobites, trogloxenes, and troglophiles. We also started decorating lapbooks for the unit.
Day 2 I have planned to help my mom around her house so I’ve got some independent work for the kids lined up for after we read lesson 3 together. Today is all about bats!
After reading the story we’ll practice Spanish directional words together with this little book from TPT. Then we’ll review what we learned yesterday about water creating cave through erosion with this fun activity using sugar cubes and clay.
EDIT 5-1-13 – We actually changed this experiment up a bit. I demoed wrapping the sugar in the clay and each of the kids then made their own, so we ended up with 3 “caves”. We applied water to the sugar in different ways to see how different conditions would affect the rate of erosion. Cave 1 was placed in a shallow bowl of water to simulate a cave lake. Cave 2 was misted with water to simulate slow erosion from rain water. Cave 3 had water poured directly onto the sugar to simulate a continuous flowing river.
Lesson 4 deals with stalactites and stalagmites. We’ll try this experiment from TLC’s How Stuff Works to create our own versions. We’ll also talk about cave preservation and why caves are important and do a writing activity about our field trip.
Lesson 5 talks about cave paintings, which goes really well with the Native American studies we did last week & the first part of this week. We’ll look at images of cave paintings and then create our own “cave” paintings on the huge rocks in our backyard using chalk and inspiration from the symbol worksheets here.
Today was a migraine day & part of our more relaxed “Spring Break” week. Since I didn’t feel up to heading out anywhere fun with the kids today we started out the day with a movie – Despicable Me. That inspired a day’s lesson on the moon. I’m sure we’ll add more to our study of the moon when we start an in depth space unit later (I scored a massive reproducible space workbook at a consignment sale for $3), but here’s what we considered today.
I fully expected that there would be days and weeks where we had to throw out the plan and adjust to whatever – work, illness, life in general. I’ve got to say though, I didn’t expect our very first week as homeschoolers to end up like this.
Last week was a major transition for us. We left the virtual academy (aka public school at home) and started homeschooling under a private school. My niece left her brick-and-mortar public school and is joining us as well. (Having cousins 34 days apart was completely unplanned but working out very well.) I’ve been supplementing the virtual school curriculum for months so had plenty of ideas & activities ready to go to see what hit during this first week. I also planned at least one day of “school” at the park and a trip to the zoo.
What I didn’t plan on was coming down with a cold /flu/respiratory infection that knocked all those other plans right out the window. I’m talking major congestion, sore throat, sneezing, fever, want-to-sleep-all-day kinda sick. Not very conducive to excitedly introducing a pair of 7-year-olds to the funtastic world of homeschooling!
We adapted. We did more videos & CDs than discussions. We only did one of the science experiments in our lab kit because I was too tired to shop for supplies. We learned how to take quizzes on BrainPop.com online and email me the results so I could gauge comprehension from the couch. We instituted “Snuggle Conferences” and “Tickle Conferences” for dealing with minor attitude or behavior issues.
It wasn’t the week I planned but it turned out pretty good. Nobody else has gotten sick. (Whew!) We learned that male platypuses are venomous and about Newton’s laws of motion. (We have a plan for testing some of those laws out at a local bounce house very soon.) We explored weavesilk.com which led us to an app that created the image above. We started creating our own board games & they have real potential for fun. I’m excited to see where we go from here.
The Iditarod Sled Dog race stars March 2nd. We’ll be including some fun projects about the race & dogs in general in the week before and the 10-17 days the race lasts, or until we lose interest, whichever happens first.
IditaNature is a fun way to encourage outdoor play while learning about the amazing Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. From March 3rd to March 17th, 2012 children are each challenged to play outside for 1,150 minutes, while the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is underway.