Category Archives: Elementary

Bird Books

bird books for unit study

We created a bird study for Miss J. I decided it would be good to share some of the book resources with you that we used. I will be linking to this in an upcoming post on the unit study itself so be watching for it.

bird books on Audubon

We specifically made it a point to talk about John James Audubon and the influence he had on nature studies, and bird studies in particular. These were two very interesting books about him and his work.

The Boy Who Drew Birds by Jacqueline Davies

Capturing Nature: The Writings and Art of John James Audubon edited by Peter and Connie Roop

bird books set 1

These are some of the reference books we picked up at the library.

Backyard Birds

Smithsonian Bird Watcher

Bird – a DK eyewitness book

If You Were a Bird by S. J. Calder

bird books set 2

These books were chosen because they hit on a specific theme or idea we were covering such as nests or the birds we were likely to see based on where we live.

Learn About Texas Birds

Backyard Birds Texas by Bill Fenimore

Birds Build Nests by Cathryn Sill

About Birds: A Guide For Children

bird books set 3

And these were directing some of the more detailed information and questions for the study.

Exploring Creations with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day by Jeannie Fulbright

Look Up: Bird Watching in Your Own Backyard by Annette LeBlanc Cate

What’s That Bird? Teacher Key from Memoria Press

These books, by themselves, make a pretty thorough bird study. But, if you want to go further with it, check out the upcoming post about the unit study that Miss J just finished.

Blessings,
At Home.

 

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Resources to enrich The Hidden Village

 

resource list post cover

Soon, I will be sharing with you a review of this new book from Bonnie Rose Hudson. She is an amazing writer whose works show us new worlds and lead us to experience people and places we didn’t know about before. The Hidden Village is just such a book. In fact, it is about that very thing. I have pulled these videos together to share with the giggly girls in order to enrich our own reading of the book and to help us understand more about the place and culture of the story and its characters.

The book is set in India, in the part that is known as the state of West Bengal. The village is situated at the southern end of this section, near the Bay of Bengal.

 

MANGROVES

Just a few videos to pick and choose from about mangroves. The place where the story takes places is a mangrove forest and that is very different than any forest my girls have ever seen. So I found a few and we probably will not watch all of them all the way through. But, I did like certain things about each one so I chose a variety.

 

 

 

JUTE

In the book, the family cultivates and harvests jute. So, what better way to understand the work that goes into the harvest of this product than a couple of videos.

 

MARKET

The character talks about visiting the market and what they are able to get from the markets. I imagine this one is still very different from what they experienced in the book but it still gives a bit of an idea to the girls.

 

VILLAGE

I found this interesting. It would be more like the village the main character lives in and not the village that was hidden. Still, some pictures are helpful in understanding more about them, even if it is not as primitive as the book setting.

 

SARI

A sari is a style of dress that is worn long and over one shoulder. These are often colorful and vibrant. The best way to see a sari is to do a search online. Many of what I found were very fancy, not at all what I would imagine the girls and women of The Hidden Village would wear.

INDIAN RHINOCEROS

You can read up on this magnificent animal and see some images pretty easily online. Here is a nice information page about it that gives very readable information on the rhinoceros, an endangered animal. This herbivore can grow very large and is a solitary animal.


MONGOOSE

This little mammal is very small, only about 6 or so inches. It eats both plants and animals, making it an omnivore. They appear much like a weasel but are very agile like a monkey. There are a few images on A-Z Animals and there are plenty of others online.

 

And that is the end of the list. There are probably more that I could pull together and I might. But for not, these are the ones that are specifically mentioned at the end of the book in the section on exploring the world of West Bengal, India.

Weekly Science Lesson

simple weekly science lessons

We have had a lot of fun recently using a weekly science lesson from a company called Mystery Doug. Each week we get an email with a link to a video answering a question. We watch the video and then, if even one of the girls is interested in learning more, we do the extension activities when they are offered.

This week the question was about the skeleton – why do our skeletons have so many bones? The short, five minute video was a neat illustration of the human skeleton and its function. It doesn’t take long for the video and we have really learned a lot of interesting things from these videos.

company name

Sometimes, there is an accompanying hands-on activity. This week, it was making an artistic rendition of your own hand so that it looks like an x-ray. It was lots of fun and Miss J did a great job with hers.

We have found that the video do so well that the topics pop up in conversations often. For example, the other night, we were talking with grandparents about the trees changing colors. Miss J popped out the explanation for the change in colors and shocked everyone at the table (the other two girls had missed that particular video lesson). She was quite proud of the fact that she knew something no one else did. Great way to increase self-esteem, as well.

If you are looking for a short and simple addition of science to your week, check out Mystery Doug.

At Home.

Hands-On History from Home School In The Woods ~ a Crew review

 

When learning something that is full of ideas and images, such as history, hands-on learning brings a concrete element to it. Home School in the Woods (HSITW) is a hands-on history company that brings some understanding to ideas, elements, and cultures that we cannot get without a tactile activity. We have had fun this summer with some relaxed learning about our home state of Texas through HSITW’s new product, Make-a-State Activity.

Hands-On History Activity-Paks: Make-A-StateMake-A-State is a part of the Activity-Paks series. Other titles in the series include:

*The Old Testament
*The New Testament
*Composers
*Artists

HSITW is a company focused on bringing history to life through hands-on activities and informative readings. Each of the products in the HSITW lines are well-researched and well-written. The information is written at a level that upper elementary students and older are generally able to read and understand it on their own. However, with just a little bit of help, even younger elementary students are very capable of using and learning with all of the HSITW products that we have used over the years.
(Project Passport: Ancient Greece, Project Passport: Ancient Egypt, U.S. Elections)

Hands-On History Activity-Paks: Make-A-StateMake-A-State is a Activity-Pak that can be used to study any state in the U.S or Washington D.C. The activities all work together to create a lapbook that includes more than 20 mini projects. All together these projects will give an overview of the chosen state. Most of the topics are generic in theme, allowing it be created specifically for your state. These topics include things like the agriculture of the state, the industry, the climate and the government. Also included are projects about the wildlife, the state song, and sports teams. From the history of the name of the state to the native peoples that live there, many topics are similar from state to state. Creating a tourist brochure and a mini newspaper are a couple of the projects that take a tad bit longer but are well worth the increased efforts.

There are also some projects that are designed to be specific to your state. These include a recipe, the motto, and the state bird and flower. There is also a map to create for your chosen state that you can personalize or mark in a way that fits what you are emphasizing for your state. Not to be forgotten, each state also has a state quarter that is designed to well-represent the state and there is a project to show that off, too.

Lastly, there is a folder game included to help learn about all of the United States. There are three versions of the game included and a set of double sided cards to cut out. Depending on what you are wanting to focus on, you use a different game board but the cards stay the same. Here’s a video of me attempting to explain the variations and how I put them together in a single file folder.


How We Used  Make-A-State:

We chose to use this Activity-Pak as a family. Since we are planning some field trips after the weather cools down to some places related to the history of Texas, we decided to use this as a fun summer projects. And it was well enjoyed. There were several days when the first thing that the girls wanted to do was to work on a mini book or two from Make-A-State (even before breakfast).

We divided up the projects and each of the girls chose something that she was interested in to work on. We used the included information sheet about Texas to get some of the information from (such as for the timeline). We also used the internet to do some research, mostly accessing a known Texas history and information site. For many of the images we needed, we used a Google search for black line coloring pages and printed them at a reduced size of about 30%.

Over the course of several days, working an hour or two a day, we completed the project. We finished it by placing each of the mini books onto blank paper and putting it into a three-prong folder. This way it can sit on our bookshelf easily and as we add to out states collection, they will all be similar. Here is a quick video showing you how it looks put into the folder.

A Couple of Notes:

We have not found a good double sided tape to use for these projects. We have also found that glue sticks don’t work for most of them. White glue really would not work due to the required drying time. So, our solution is to use tape. If you know my girls, you know that we have a deep love of tape. 🙂 Tape works really well and can hold up to the strain that some of the folds put on the projects.

We have become pretty familiar with Home School in the Woods and the ways in which their projects work. There is a bit of a learning curve with this company but it is well worth taking the time to beat that learning curve. Each project in a pack is put together a bit differently to create variety. This means that each project needs a little bit of thinking to put it together right. There are detailed instructions included but, honestly, it still takes some thinking to put some of them together. There are always images included of the completed project and those are terribly helpful.

Printing can also be tricky. You do have to know your own printer. Due to the differences in printer, each page of a project is presented to you separately with printing instructions (print 1-b on the back of 1-a, or something like that). You do need to read through those and print them as instructed to make the projects easier to put together. If you are like me, each time, I have to experiment a bit to remember which way to take the first page out and put it back in the printing drawer to get it printed in the right direction on the back. But, again, it is well worth taking the time and effort (and sometimes paper) to figure it out. My youngest still remembers working on Project Passport: Ancient Egypt from, what, 3 years ago?

A-La-Carte Options:

Home School in the Woods has recently introduced an a-la-carte option for some of their projects. This is a way for you to grab and use one or two of the projects, without having to commit to a longer study of the topic. Perhaps you are reading on a subject and your student shows an interest, you could head over to HSITW and see if there is a single hands-on project to do related to that topic. Or it could be a jumping off point. For example, here is a post about the mini unit study we did last week on the Erie Canal based off of the a-la-carte projects HSITW is offering (free at the time of this writing).

 

Thoughts:

This is a company that we enjoy a lot. Their products are well-researched, well-put-together, and lots of fun. Add to that the retention of information, and this hands-on history company is one worth looking into for your history needs.

At Home.

There were 100 families using products from Home School in the Woods. Click the banner below to read about what they thought from the product lines that were reviewed:

Time Traveler American
*New World Explorers
*Colonial Life
*The American Revolution
*The Early 19th Century
*The Civil War
*Industrial Revolution through Great Depression
*World War II

Lap-Paks
*U.S. Elections
*20th Century in America
*Wonders of the World
*Benjamin Franklin
*Knights

Activity-Paks
*The Old Testament
*The New Testament
*Composers
*Artists

Timeline Trio

 

Hands-on History {Home School in the Woods Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Following “Rabbit Trails”

following rabbit trails

Today’s middle school Monday post is going to ramble a bit about following rabbit trails. In home education, we often call it following a rabbit trail when we get off track trying to find out information about a question or get sidetracked on something we find interesting or just follow the trail that appears before us when working. It is definitely a delight-led path and it is strongly influenced by the student. All these are good things!

When you are having “one of THOSE days” – you know the kind: no one really wants to work but everyone knows they really need to work but everything is just kind of blah – rabbit trails do wonders for enthusiasm! And for us, today was a rabbit trail kind of day.

world book libraries

10 libraries available

 

I began pulling up some additional resources about China, Siberia, Trans-Siberian railroad, and Gladys Aylward (to go with the YWAM unit study we are reviewing). I had looked a bundle of things up on the library site and decided to wander through SchoolhouseTeachers.com to see what they might have to complement the study. From there, I clicked on World Book to see what the 10 different libraries there might have to add.

interactive map image

part of an interactive map feature

 

Miss E saw me looking at an interactive map of China and started asking some questions. So, we ended up looking at all of the main cities in China and watching a video about the first Emperor of China. Then, we listened to their national anthem, some traditional court music, and some ancient ceremonial music.

video audio maps images of China

part of the media features in the China article

 

From there, she wanted to look up Gladys Aylward and read about her. So we also talked about how we can keep notes directly IN World Book and how to properly cite articles and websites. After reading what was there about Ms. Aylward, Miss E then stumbled across some ebooks on the World Book library.

So, we looked up a bundle of different books and spent some time reading about giraffes with Miss J. Miss J spent a lot of time with the giraffe book and then followed it up with looking at the kids’ library within World Book for more giraffe information. Miss E found some books on mythology. In particular she found one titled Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome. Guess what she is now reading? All 448 pages of it, I expect.

giraffe book

Giraffe book that Miss J was reading

 

I also took a bit of time to show her the timeline feature and library of World Book. She was fascinated. She spent quite a bit of time looking at some of the timelines they have and also working with the features of how to make her own timeline.

I definitely see this rabbit trail having sparked some interest. And how much did these two learn? I have no earthly idea but it was a whole lot more than if I had pushed the regular school load at that time. Yes, they still did math and spelling and some of those “regular” subjects. More importantly, though, is that they each found something to be excited about and to follow the rabbit trail a ways. They will remember much about the trails they followed today and that is what learning is all about!

At Home.

Need a Fun Book to Read?

last-of-the-really-great-whangdoodles

This one? Totally unexpected and out of left field but a home run. (Yea, yea – mixing metaphors or something there but this was a cool book!)

The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards

I absolutely adore Julie Andrews. I have since I was a child and watched The Sound of Music every. single. year. Just ask my brother. He HATED it! But when I discovered her writing, I fell in love with her books, too. My girls love her books, as well. Pink, sparkly, princesses – what’s not to love?

Well, because of that adoration, I had to pick up this book at the book sale when I found it. I knew nothing about it but I had to pick it up and read it out loud to the girls. And it is fantastic!!!!!!

last-of-the-really-great-whangdoodles-quote-1

Synopsis:

Three siblings – Ben, Tom, and Lindy – meet the very unusual Professor Savant who becomes convinced that they are just the children who are capable of making the trip to the elusive Whangdoodleland. In order to make the trip and be able to meet the Whangdoodle, the children have to learn to see and understand things in a completely different way than they ever have before. Once they successfully make the trip, they meet amazing creatures and see unbelievable things. Can they find the perseverance and strength needed to meet the Whangdoodle? And what happens if they succeed?

last-of-the-really-great-whangdoodles-quote-2

Thoughts:

There is so many tidbits of wisdom tucked into sentences throughout this book. I couldn’t believe how much was packed into this fantastical, imaginative book about seeing things you cannot even imagine. From the way blood works in a body to how we listen to Latin words to the responsibilities we have of managing life, there are wise thoughts everywhere.

last-of-the-really-great-whangdoodles-quote-4

One of my favorite scenes was when the professor was teaching the children to look. No, not just look, but to really see, to observe. They were looking at chrysanthemums and the children dismissed them fairly simply but when they actually looked, they saw so much more – color and texture and life. It was really an interesting scene.

last-of-the-really-great-whangdoodles-quote-3

We loved the book and highly recommend it. Each day, all three girls were disappointed when I placed the bookmark. That is the sign of a very good book.

At Home.

 

Blue Ribbon Awards – Our Choices

family-blue-ribbon-awards

If you have been following our adventures for a while, you know that at the end of each Homeschool Review Crew year we vote for our favorite products from all of those that we reviewed during the year. We enjoy sharing our favorites with you over again so that is what we are doing today. When I announced it was time to vote, more than one of the girls hollered “I LOVE THIS PART!”

We truly enjoy these products. Each of these we are either still using or have completed. We would recommend these products to our friends to use (and have often with some of these). When people ask for ideas for curriculum, these are the companies we share.

All three of the giggly girls had input with choosing these companies. And later this week the results of the Homeschool Review Crew will be posting. I’ll let you know when those post so you can read about what the final results were across the board, including categories that are not included here because we didn’t review in that category OR we didn’t care for the product that we did review.

Drum Roll Please . . .

Reading Curriculum: Talking Fingers

Writing Curriculum: Writers In Residence

Spelling Program: Talking Fingers

Penmanship Program: Homeschool Copywork

Literature Curriculum: IEW Poetry Memorization

Literature Resources: YWAM: Clara Barton

History/Social Studies Curriculum: Homeschool Legacy

History/Social Studies Supplement: The Cat of Bubastes (However, it was a close call between that, Beric the Briton, and The Dragon and the Raven.)

Science Curriculum: Apologia Astronomy

Science Supplement: NotebookingPages.com

Math Supplement: Times Tales

Foreign Language Curriculum: Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids

Fine Arts: ARTistic Pursuits: Construct (We are using other books by this company, as well.)

Christian Education: Science Shepherd

Christian Education Product:The Familyman Christmas Treasury

Elementary Product: Apologia Astronomy

Middle School Product: NotebookingPages.com

Parent Product: Hey Mama! Planner

Best Resource I Didn’t Know I Needed: Jolly Phonics & Jolly Grammar

Best Online Product: Homeschool Copywork

Best Book/Novel/Audio Book/Audio Drama: The Glass Castle

Just For Fun: 3 Seeds and Commissioned, both by Chara Games

Personal Favorites:
Miss E: The Cat of Bubastes
Miss L: NotebookingPages.com
Miss J: Talking Fingers
Mom: Working It Out from Everyday Education

Be sure to check out the Homeschool Review Crew post with all the winners from the Crew voting and other families’ favorites. When that post goes live, I’ll put the link here.

Thank your for joining us for our Middle School Monday post and seeing what our favorites were with this year’s Homeschool Review Crew.

At Home.

 

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