Friday, November 12, 2010

Galaxies and Stars

Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech
These last couple of weeks we went far, far away to a ....

I know.  I couldn't help it.

We are working on finishing up our Space Unit.  We wanted to finish it before the final Space Shuttle launch on November 1.  Our local space museum is having a shindig for the launch and it seems as though that would be a perfect end to our unit.  Thank goodness it was delayed because we were too!

T already learned about the moon and its phases and the planets, now it's on to galaxies and stars.  We began by learning about galaxies.

Like a true innovator, I borrowed some ideas from the The Forest Room.  To demonstrate the expansion of the universe, we blew up a balloon to measure the distance between the letters to compare it with the deflated measurement. (*Hint:  blow up the balloon to write the letters first, then let the air out to measure the deflated distance.)

T used white paint and glitter to describe the different types of galaxies (thank you, The Forest Room, again!).  Can you tell me why I thought glitter was a good idea....and why I thought the kitchen table would be a good place to craft?  We are still bedazzled.
Then she learned about the constellations, found some favorites, and learned how our night sky doesn't stay the same.
In yet another nod to The Forest Room, we I decorated an umbrella with that super stinky permanent silver paint pen.  I used chalk first to draw out some of her favorite constellations.  Then I went over it with the super stinky permanent silver paint pen.
It conveniently sprinkled a little for us so T could actually use the umbrella.

Here are some of our resources for our stars and galaxies unit.  Our total journey beyond (moon, planets, stars & galaxies) has taken us over two months of pretty consistent work.  If you want to see more, here is our moon unit and our planet unit.
Next we are on to study electricity, color, and sound.  It seems as though our conversations about stars and their energies and lifespans have naturally led us in this direction.  We are fortunate to have the flexibility to follow our interests.  What a blessing homeschooling is for us!  I'm learning so much!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fitting Square Pegs...or Not

Image by ePublicist/Yoel Ben-Avraham
I have a houseful of square pegs.

There was a time when I tried to make them round, but their edges were too sharp.

Then I made excuses for them as if I were round and I knew how they should be.

Then I gave up.  Kept my head down.  I tried to encourage them in their squareness and comfort them when they noticed they weren't round.

As they grew older and I appreciated who they were becoming more and more, I stopped keeping my head down.

Now I look around.  I'm bursting with pride at my square pegs making their own way like frontiersmen.

I keep my mouth closed though.  Their paths are unique.  How could I claim to be an expert on square-peggedness?

I just know I can love and appreciate them.

I'm so glad it really does take all kinds to make the world go round!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Our Planet Study

Our planet study was loads of fun!

We are using a bunch of different resources, but mostly R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey: Earth and Space this time.  This is our first experience with it and we are loving it!  I appreciate that it is so hands on.  Actually T appreciates it the most.
T's Pringle Oven

For our planet study we:

  • watched Bill Nye's (I love him!) The Planets
  • watched Magic School Bus' Space Adventure
  • read The Mystery of Mars by Sally Ride & Tam O'Shaughnessy 
  • did R.E.A.L. Science's Uranus experiment with egg cartons, checkers, and chop sticks (we tried to measure the "terrain" of the closed egg carton (different numbers of checkers in each egg hole) by poking and measuring with a chop stick.
  • did R.E.A.L. Science's Mars experiment by making our own red dirt with sand, water, and steel wool.
  • did R.E.A.L. Science's Mercury experiment by making our very own solar oven with a Pringle can.  We cooked a hot dog!
  • designed our cover (top pic) from the idea on Art Projects For Kids
  • and memorized R.E.A.L. Science's Planet Poem
After we had explored each planet, we gathered all of our lab notes and pictures in a notebook with her own cover art.  T is very excited to share her planet notebook with our charter school teacher.  And I'm super excited that she's excited.  

 Next, we are on to galaxies and stars!  

Friday, November 5, 2010

Swapping Picture Books

An amazing thing happened last year.  We participated in Zoe's International Postcard Swap.  We received postcards from all over.  We tracked them on our world map and I patted myself on the back for the excellent geography lessons.  We felt good, happy, and fulfilled.

Then the earthquake in New Zealand happened and my little girl's world got smaller.  She remembered getting a postcard from a family who lived in the very city hit the hardest.  We were able to pray for that family not knowing how they were doing after the earthquake.  We were able to do that just because of Zoe and Playing by the Book!

Then she (Zoe) came up with the brilliant idea of a picture book swap, Perfect Picture Books by Post.  We were all about it and super excited when we were matched with a family in Germany (my oldest is a German major).

Our package came the other day.  I wish that my camera took better pictures (or that I took better pictures with my camera) because the envelope was colorful and wonderful and...I have no pictures.  I also feel a little creepy that I just sent mine via Amazon because my world is crazy and I couldn't carve out time during business hours to go to the post office.
The book my partner sent was perfect for us.  It was something that my oldest could read and translate with no issue.  The subject was adorable and the illustrations caught the spirit of the cat.

See the cat was looking for someone specific to dance with and it was NOT the hamster.
It was all quite unfortunate until he found....HER!
True love!  *sigh*
My favorite bit was watching my oldest read aloud to my youngest.  My youngest wanted to hear it in both German and English.  She decided the book was much better in German.
We've had so much fun participating in the swap!   The whole process was loads of fun; the girls deciding which books for us to send, receiving our swap, and reading our swap (again and again).

Thanks Zoe and thank you Kerstin!!