Category Archives: Middle School

Ice Cream – Blogging Through The Alphabet

I Ice Cream

(Because I am slow on getting some things posted, yet again, I am combining the Middle School Monday post with my Blogging Through the Alphabet. Enjoy!)

Working through the Apologia Astronomy curriculum has given us a number of fun opportunities. One of the labs that was suggested was making ice cream. We could not ignore that experiment/lab!

The purpose of the experiment was to see the how chemicals (in this case – salt) could create a cooling effect. This was in relation to the gas giant planets, specifically Neptune,  that are cold not only because of the distance from the sun but also because of the chemicals in the atmosphere.

Ice Cream Making

The experiment was fun and tasty but there are a couple of things we would recommend in regards to it:

– Do it outside if at all possible; this is messy and salt water on some floors is not good

– Perhaps use a small plastic jar or container that will hold the liquid and put it in the large zipper bag with ice and salt. Trying to get ice cream out of a zipper bag that has salt all over it is difficult and salty ice cream is not my favorite.

All in all – a super easy and very tasty way to see the effects of chemicals mixing to create a lower freezing temperature.

At Home.

Join the ABC blogging group hosted by A Net In Time and Hopkins Homeschool and link up your ABC posts.

A Net In Time Schooling
My ABC Posts:
H – How to let go?
I – Ice Cream
J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

 

WASP WWII Museum – Middle School Monday

WASP field trip

Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) were a group of women who did great service for the United States and its Allies during WWII. After the men had left for war, there was a great hole left and these women trained to fill that hole. Over the course of the years, over 1800 were accepted into the training program and about 1100 graduated, going on to serve on various bases around the US.

The WASPs ferried aircraft around the country, served a tow-target gunnery pilots, some as test pilots, and in various other capacities. They flew military planes though they were only recognized as civilian pilots. Over all, they flew over 60 million miles in 78 types of aircraft. These aircraft went from the smallest trainers to the fastest fighters and the heaviest bombers of the time. 38 WASPs gave their lives during this time.

In 1977, the women pilots were finally recognizes as WWII veterans. In 2010, their contribution to the war was recognized with a Congressional God Medal.

Sweetwater, TX, and Avenger Field is home to the WASP WWII Museum. In a 1929 hanger set on a hill, there is a small collection of interesting displays highlighting and honoring these women and all that they did for the war. The museum admission is free but they won’t say no to your donation. We also purchased a book titled “We Were WASPS” by Winifred Wood with drawings by Dorothy Swain, both WASPs.

We found the example of the barracks very interesting – one of the girls kept commenting on the cots they slept on. We saw examples of the types of transmitters and other communication boxes. We viewed a memorial to the women who lost their lives during the WASP program. We read about Jacqueline Cochran, who began the WASP program (interesting story and background!). We were able to view a film about the program with footage from Avenger Field. The girls sat in one of the trainers, or simulators, that were used and there were handprints from some of the WASPS along with their biographies. We were able to see pictures of many, if not all, of the graduating classes and textbooks that they used.

It did not take more than an hour to dawdle our way through the museum but we did enjoy it quite a bit. I had been wanting to stop since we pass it every time we make a trek to New Mexico. I am glad we were able to make the stop this time and enjoy this bit of history.

At Home.

Ancient Greece ~ a Crew review

ancient-greece-review

History is a favorite topic around the three giggly girls and the opportunity to review HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Greece from Home School in the Woods was one we were more than happy to ask for.

Home School in the Woods is a company we have reviewed for in the past so we are well acquainted with the high quality of their products and the information they include. When you choose a product from Home School in the Woods, you are getting something that has been thoroughly researched and well written, with illustrations that are classic and realistic as well as accurate. Home School in the Woods is the family business of the Pak family. Headed by Amy Pak, the history products are packed full of learning through timelines, maps, reading, listening, and creating. A true hands-on product, Home School in the Woods brings history to life. HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study

HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Greece is a combination of a timeline project, learning through hands-on projects, and reading historically accurate information about a time period. Throw in some crafts and a lapbook and you have the gist of Project Passport studies. We were sent the link to download the study and it downloaded a zip file. We then unzipped that and following the instructions, it opened the study in a web browser. From there, it is easy to open each time and to navigate through the study.ancient-greece-opening-page

Once I had the study opened in the browser, I spent a little bit of time getting familiar with the project and reading the Introduction, Travel Tips, and Travel Planner. I then printed the binder information for Miss E, the student who was going to be traveling to Ancient Greece through Home School in the Woods. I also printed off all that was needed for the first two stops.

Each lesson in Ancient Greece is labeled a stop. Each stop has several parts to it. There are 25 stops in the entire study. Most stops include timeline work, writing something for the newspaper, a postcard from a famous person related to the theme of that stop, and some minibooks or activities associated with the theme. A few of the stops include an audio tour, as well. Some of the stops have taken a couple of hours but most stops are less than an hour. It all depends on how artistic and creative your student desires to be with each part of the stop.scrapbook-of-sights

So far in the stops, Miss E has visited Athens, Sparta, learned a bit about the Archaic Period, Greek Government, and everyday life in Ancient Greece. These are the first 7 stops. Miss E is working on stop 7 at this time. We are averaging just over one stop a week, with each stop broken up over a couple of days. Other topics still to come include: farming, business, and transportation; education, oration and literature; science; medicine and disease; the arts; philosophy; religion; and warfare. Each topic has readings and activities to really help you get into and learn about history and the people.map-work

There are some things that we really, really like about the HISTORY Through the Ages programs.

  • They are rich with well-researched history and cultural information.
  • The activities are so widely varied that the interest in continually renewed.
  • The program is so well laid out that it is easy for me as the teacher to get what the student needs without having to spend a lot of time fumbling through files. However, if the program didn’t open right or something goes wrong with it, I can still access each of the printable files from the zip folder.
  •  It is easily adaptable for the student. If they don’t do well with writing, you can leave out the newspaper or assign it in a different way. If they don’t like to draw, you can just have the student read the postcard; they don’t have to illustrate it. If a mini-project is too difficult or really not interesting, you can skip it because there is so much more in each stop. Adapt and change to meet the needs and interests of the students – key quality!
  • The timeline is thorough and full of information. This alone makes the program a very good investment. If all the student did was read the guide book and do the timeline, a very good knowledge of Ancient Greece would be gained.
  • The activities are fun.
  • The audio “tours” are lively and interesting.
  • It is easy for the student to self-pace the program so I don’t have to be hyper-focused on which piece she is working on each day.
  • While it takes quite a bit of printing and paper, it is used to create a final product that the student will be proud of having created.

timeline-and-more

As far as dislikes, there just aren’t many. I do wish there were an easier way to get started. The first two stops are labor intensive because you are setting up so many of the projects that will be added to or worked on throughout the entire project. From the timeline to the maps, these things take a bit to set up. But, they are very worth it as you add to it and work with it throughout each stop. We do have a wish to see the Postcard Rack redone. It just doesn’t hold the postcards. Miss E created a page with a little envelope on it where she places the postcards after she has designed them. That works much better for her and she doesn’t lose the postcards this way. But that is it!

Miss E says, “It is a fun way to learn about history.” When asked about her favorite parts, she said that the Snapshot Moments (timeline) and postcards are her absolute favorites but that she really likes all of it. Some of the newspaper articles are hard to write but others are easy and fun and she really enjoys doing the illustrations. All in all, she gives this two thumbs up and thinks that lots of other students would enjoy it as well.

Home School in the Woods has a wonderful set of learning programs with their HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study. Whether you choose Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt, The Middle Ages, or Renaissance & Reformation, there is much to learn and enjoy.

And as a note of interest – Home School in the Woods is working on Ancient Rome, which is scheduled for release in 2018!

At Home.

You can also read our review of Ancient Egypt.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about the other places you and your students can visit with the HISTORY Through The Ages programs. Just click on the image below.

HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study Reviews

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Language Exploration – Middle School Monday

language-exploration

Have you ever had opportunity for your students to explore different languages or different ways of writing languages? Our local museum has a room that focuses on languages. Well, a few very select, very different languages. And Miss E loves exploring that room every time we go to the museum.

hieroglyphics-table

Heraldry, hieroglyphics, and pictography are the main three languages to explore here. These are not your typical “languages” but that is part of what makes these explorations so interesting. With information on their uses and templates to help you write, these languages are fun and different.

heraldry

Each time we go, Miss E sits down and writes something using each of the languages. Whether it be her name or designing a shield with heraldry symbols to describe who she is, Miss E spends a lot of time absorbing and using these languages.

 

On the wall, we see this:

letters-chart

Last time we were in the museum, Miss E spent a very long time copying down much of this chart. She found it interesting to look at the changes of the letters. She also really enjoyed seeing the letters for the Greek alphabet since she is studying Ancient Greece. She found it so interesting that she copied it carefully and added it to her Ancient Greece notebook. (The review for this study from Home School in the Woods will post today, as well.)
pictography-chart

From the many typewriters to an old-fashioned printing press to a telephone operator’s booth, there are lots of ways to explore languages that are not just studying Spanish or German or even sign language. Language is using words and symbols to communicate. And this room broadens our understanding of that.

At Home.

Degas – Middle School Monday

Middle Schoolers benefit greatly, as do all students, from putting real life together with book learning. When this happens with art, it is a surprising and fun experience.

After Christmas, we were able to take a trip to Houston to see a wonderful exhibit – Degas! Approximately 200 of Degas’ works were on display at The Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibit was titled Degas: A New Vision and included examples of all of the media he worked with throughout his career. The following video is their promotional video for the exhibit.

(warning: this video does have one image from Degas’ bathers series)

Degas: A New Vision from Museum of Fine Arts, Houston on Vimeo.

Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas (1834–1917) had a long a varied career. His work spanned the mid-1800s into the early 1900s. He is often known for his ballet dancers (which we definitely some of my favorites that we saw). However, he focused on many other themes throughout his career – horses, jockeys, portraits, bathers, milliners, and more. From drawing to sculpture to photography (I had no idea!), the depth of Degas’ work was extraordinary to view.

Degas also had a strong influence on other artists. From the way he used various media to working with new ways of printing, Degas was a leader.

It was really quite interesting to see all of the sketches and early work Degas did on some of these works of art. There were some where a number of sketches to work out the plan for the piece we displayed next to the final work. Also, there were many works that Degas did multiple variations of and seeing those next to each other with the changes that were made was interesting. It was almost as if we were looking at a Find The Differences game page.

We were allowed to take a few photographs and so I did take just a few for the purpose of sharing some of the amazement we felt walking among these works of art.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This was a unique and unparalleled experience. We were very blessed to be able to take the girls to see these marvelous works of art. This was a joy and we hope to be able to find other wonderful art exhibits to take the girls to see over the years.

At Home.

Tomorrow, I will share a couple of books about Degas that were very good. So tune in for the D post in Blogging Through The Alphabet.

Clear Horizons – math choices

clear-horizons-math-choices

This week, the Virtual Curriculum Fair is focusing on Discovering Patterns: Math and the Mathematical Sciences.  You will find all sorts of ideas, helps, and surprises for practical math applications among the posts.

It is no secret that math is the hardest subject for me to write about. I could whine and complain but really, it amounts to an insecurity within myself. I know and recognize that and I fight it all the time, hoping my girls will learn to be confident in their math abilities. We have struggled with finding a good curriculum, even with our adventures as part of the Homeschool Review Crew. We have found several tidbits that help us.

1 – We do not do well with an online curriculum. Examples might be Teaching Textbooks or Khan Academy or A+ Interactive Math. We realize that these have many wonderful features; they just don’t fit our children. And that is okay.

2 – We have realized that the girls need to be able to ask questions of a real person and get multiple explanations of a concept. These explanations need to be different each time, using different words to help get the concept across.

3 – We need to practice a few problems at a time and not be overwhelmed by a huge page full of the exact same type of problem x 100.

4 – But we can do several different concepts on each page, as long as there are 5 or 6 of each type.

5 – Color is helpful and brightens up the pages but is not essential.

So that leave us looking forward at? What?

We looked at several different curriculum options – printing from online, buying a book at the store, or piecing things together ourselves. We spent a couple of hours with the girls at the store going through things and came home with a company that has been a perfect fit for us – Horizons.

Is it a perfect book that makes everything simple? No.

But, it fit our needs and has given us a way through our daily math that has made sense and we have seen really fantastic progress. All three of the girls use Horizons Math.

The pages are well set up and there is sequential progress through the concepts with a little bit of practice on following days. After a few days of this kind of practice, they might move away from that concept for a while. It will circle back, though, after a couple of weeks and then they will build on it.

We have seen the girls confidence and ability soar with Horizons. We know that there are options that may fit better in the future. Actually, the near future since Horizons doesn’t have a high school level math option so we will have to find something different. But this? It has been the answer we needed.

Pre-algebra is coming up fast. (We may start a review on a Pre-Algebra program in a couple of weeks! I’ll let you know. . .) But until then, we have clear horizons and a program we are pleased with.

I say all this to let you know, it is okay to move around a bit to find the right fit. Once we realized what was working or not working about certain programs, our view was much clearer. And with that clearer view, the right fit was easier to find.

At Home.

week-3-discovering-patterns

Please visit my fellow homeschool bloggers who are talking about Discovering Patterns: Math and the Mathematical Sciences this week:

Finding Our Math Equilibrium: Our Plan for 11th, 7th, 5th, and 2nd Grades + Free Printables! by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Math Resources and Programs for All Ages by Amanda H @ Hopkins Homeschool

Math (doesn’t) Stink! by Jennifer King @A Peace of Mind

When Math is NOT Your Thing by Michele@Family, Faith and Fridays

Math U See and All the Supplements by Laura H @ Four Little Penguins

Discovering Patterns in Our World: STEM Studies by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World

Junior High Math by Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life

Science & Math for Struggling Learners by Yvie @ Gypsy Road

Maths: a subject in progress by Sarah @ Delivering Grace

Taking Mathematics out of the Textbook by Dana Hanley @ Roscommon Acre

Maths for a Very Maths-y Boy by Lizzy @ Peaches At Home

Practical Math by Annette @ A Net in Time

One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling by Kim @ Good Sweet Love

Math, How I Loathe Thee by Shecki @ Greatly Blessed

Math and Logic in Early Elementary and Preschool {virtual curriculum fair 2017} by Meghan W @ Quiet In The Chaos

Low Stress High School Science and Math by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

Are these toys or manipulatives? This is math? by HillaryM @ Walking Fruitfully

When You Don’t Have a Math Plan by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

Clear Horizons by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens

A Few Thoughts on Teacher Math by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset

 

Have you written about math? Link up and share by clicking below:

An InLinkz Link-up

Making a Change – Accountability and Responsibility Through Routine

Welcome to week 1 of the Virtual Curriculum Fair. This is my first year participating but I have always enjoyed the posts shared. For week 1, the theme is See How We Learn. The VCF is hosted by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds. This will also serve as the Middle School Monday post for today. With the preliminary information out of the way, let’s jump in.
week-1-see-how-we-learn

Daily life.

I don’t know about you but it seems to throw me for a loop often. It seems like no matter how well things are scheduled or planned, a wrench ends up in there causing havoc.

Due to that unpredictability, I loved working without a set time schedule. It worked well for us the first couple of years. We just jumped in when we were ready each day, did our work (which was basically a checklist), and then were done. I wrote things down as we went along and kept records as needed.

Last summer, we re-evaluated it all due to struggles we were having. And we gave the girls some input on whether they wanted time blocks or lists or to be told item by item what to do. We ended up with one of each kind. That’s okay, though. It works. And it helps us deal with changes to schedules, doctors appointments, illness, the blues, or just the crazy hectic schedule we ended up with this year.

making-a-change

But really, you what made the most difference? Accountability and responsibility. We had a pretty good talk with each of the girls. In this talk we discussed the following:

  • what was expected in regards to attitude – from God and from us
  • what was expected in regards to housework – daily chores and responsibilities
  • general timeline for starting school – 9:00 each morning with their morning responsibilities taken care of
  • completing school work – each of these discussions was different because one chose a blocked time schedule, one wanted a list so she could “do the next thing”, and the other wanted to come to us for each of the items on her school list for the day; just for a note: I do have a blocked schedule written out for each of the girls just in case and to help me stay on “schedule” but they don’t have to work by it.
  • school work accountability – Miss E has a simple to make checklist that she actually checks off each day, Miss L goes through her own checklist that she completes visually, and Miss J relies on my notes in my planner

This discussion was perhaps the very best things we have done so far with homeschooling. I forget sometimes that clear expectations make it easier to actually MEET those expectations. For me and for the girls. So by us taking the time to include the girls and be clear about what we expected, it has placed more responsibility on each of them and they have become stronger because of it.

Is it perfect? Nope. We still have plenty of days where things don’t get fully done or where attitudes (mine and theirs) are less than ideal. But overall? This has been a wonderfully freeing choice and it is very simple to remind them of the plans and expectations. They then take a deep breathe, reassess, and move forward on a better path. Most of the time.

Another thing that has made a huge difference in accomplishing what we need to? Me.

Yep – I make a difference. If I am not doing well, am in a bad mood, or didn’t sleep well, it can easily affect everyone else in the family. I soooooo wish that were not true but it is. Another example of that accountability and responsibility we talked to the girls about.

So, I have tried harder to take the responsibility for setting the daily tone. Some days I do well. Other days? Well, not so much.

Still, what have I found that makes it easier for me to hold my temper, speak kindly, or have the patience necessary to teach math when no one wants to do it? I need a morning routine just as much as the girls do.

My morning routine?

  1. prayer before I get out of bed
  2. get dressed (for exercise most of the time)
  3. make my tea and drink it while reading my Bible and devotional
  4. exercise and shower
  5. get some breakfast
  6. get started on schooling/housework/daily life

This works extremely well for me most days. Some days? We still hit bumps but that is life.

Daily life.

Welcome to our imperfect life where we love each other fiercely (sometimes more loudly than others), love God more, and work together to learn and grow and become the women God created each of us to be. All this with the help of the lone male around our house, At Home Dad. Come on in and enjoy life with us.

At Home.

vcf-banner-for-month

The following VCF participants have written their take on the theme of See How We Learn. Next week we will be addressing the theme of Playing With Words: the Language Arts. Until then, please take some time to go visit the blogs of these homeschoolers.

I invite you to see how my fellow bloggers learn in their homeschools (note: all posts will be live by noon EST, Jan. 2nd):

The Evolution of Our Homeschool by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Us-School Because We Are Us, Not Someone Else by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

It’s All About the School by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays

Setting the Stage- the 2017 Virtual Curriculum Fair! by Lisa N. @ Golden Grasses

New Year, New Goals, New School! by Amanda H @ Hopkins Homeschool

Homeschooling – A Glimpse into How We Do it by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

Spotlight on How We Learn in Our Homeschool by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World

Our Unique Eclectic Homeschool  by Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life

How We Learn on the Go by Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning

Home Education – 10 Ways We Make It Work by Lizzy @ Peaches At Home

Schedules, where would I be without them? by Kim @ Good Sweet Love

Education at Our House by Shecki @ Greatly Blessed

Starting the Day Well by Sarah @ Delivering Grace

Making a Change – Accountability and Responsibility Through Routine by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens

A time to be encouraged is coming.. the Virtual Curriculum Fair by Annette @ A Net in Time

Loving the Moment! by Jen K @ A Peace of Mind

Keeping Our Homeschool Organized by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

Homeschool Goal Setting – Looking Forward, Looking Back by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset

How We Choose Curriculum by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

This Is How We Homeschool by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break

How we don’t learn in our homeschool & how I don’t plan {2017 Virtual Homeschool Curriculum Fair} by Meghan @ Quiet in the Chaos

Learning Our Way by Lisa @ McClanahan 7

Limping Along: Our Semi-Eclectic Approach to Homeschooling by Debra @Footprints in the Butter

2017 Virtual Curriculum Fair: See How We Learn by Dana L @ Luv’N Lambert Life

And even more ideas can be found by clicking through for the Linkup!

An InLinkz Link-up

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