Category Archives: science

A Round-up of Bird Study Resources

Bird Study Resources

We are studying birds with our upper elementary student. Again. Because she is fascinated. You can read about what we did a couple of years ago and see the resources we used that year on the post about birds.

This year, we are going more in depth about the different birds, habitats, migration, anatomy, and all the other stuff. We have pulled all the bird books we have one the shelves and are reading through them or the parts of them that pertain to birds. I have pulled the DVDs we have and have bookmarked things on Netflix and Amazon. We have a ton of material to cover this year!

Some of these links are to product reviews that I have done. Others are to blog posts that I have written in regards to the item. One is an affiliate link; it is marked as such.

Picture Books:

Field Guides:

  • The Sibley’s Field Guide To Birds of Western North America, written and illustrated by David Allen Sibley
  • Texas Birds: A Folding Pocket Naturalist’s Guide to familiar species
  • Birds of Central Texas: A Guide to Common and Notable Species
  • Favorite Audubon Birds of America with Introduction and Commentaries by Roger Tory Peterson
  • Identifying and Feeding Birds (a BirdWatcher’s Digest book) by Bill Thompson III

Science Curriculum Books:

  • Apologia’s Flying Creatures – lessons 1-6
  • Christian Nature Readers Level 4 – chapters 2-9
  • The Usborne Complete First Book of Nature – pages 2-24
  • Creation Club Idea Book: Experiencing Nature with Children of All Ages at Home, School, Camp, or Church by Constance H. Crossman – pages 25-40
  • What’s That Bird? from Memoria Press
  • CrossWired Science (affiliate link) – They have a short study unit on birds called Mighty Feathers. It is supposed to include around 30 hours of work if we do it all.

DVDs/movies/videos:

  • Flight: the genius of birds (from Illustra Media)
  • Wild America – season 2 is all about birds (part of Amazon Prime Video at the time of this writing)
  • Super Nature Wild Flyers (on Netflix at the time of this writing)
  • Beak & Brain: Genius Birds From Down Under (on Netflix at the time of this writing)
  • Bird Brain by Nova (on Netflix at the time of this writing)
  • Birders (on Netflix at the time of this writing)
  • Dancing With the Birds (coming to Netflix but not yet there at the time of this writing)
  • Birds of the Backyard (on Amazon Prime Video at the time of this writing)
  • Nature: Season 4 Episode 3 – on ostrich, emu and the rhea (on Amazon Prime Video at the time of this writing)
  • Hummingbirds, narrated by David Attenborough (on Amazon Prime Video at the time of this writing)
  • First Flight: A Mother Hummingbird’s Story (on Amazon Prime Video at the time of thie writing)
  • Audubon – a video that combines a biography of Audubon, the man’s art, and live shots of the birds that correspond to his drawings (on Amazon Prime Video at the time of this writing)

Other:

  • A Charm of Goldfinches And Other Wild Gatherings: Quirky Collective Nouns of the Animal Kingdom by Matt Sewell
  • A Nest For Celeste by Henry Cole (I don’t own this book but it looks good and includes a lot of information about Audubon and his apprentice and his artwork) – read more about it on a friend’s blog)

The more I look, the more I find to explore and learn about. We are spending a bit of time on Friday afternoons at the Arboretum here locally and seeing which birds we can see. Hopefully, we can find a good place to settle in and do some sketching.

I am really enjoying this unit and I think so is Miss J. If you know of additional resources that might fit in, please leave a comment with it below. There is always room for more, right?

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

A Round-up of Bird Study Resources

Destination Moon ~ Book Club

September's Book Club

Oh y’all – August just blew right up and caught me completely unaware. I did not get a post up for that and gave myself permission to skip it. But, I have September’s ready and it is a lovely read on the space race.

Destination Moon: The Remarkable and Improbably Voyage of Apollo 11
by Richard Maurer

Destination Moon recounts the components of the space race from WWII until the end of the Apollo program. This gives a nice, easy-to-read chronology of the events that brought the US to the moon six times. The book brings us to know not only the astronauts that flew on the rockets and landed on the moon, but also those scientists and politicians that made sure the program kept moving forward. The political tensions and social issues are not ignored, as they all played such an important role in the space race.

The way in which the characters involved are introduced is fabulous, bringing them into the picture one-by-one, giving their history. It is easy to see how the role they each played was important.

The book contains 36 chapters and seven briefings, broken down into six parts:

  • War
  • Dreams
  • Spacemen
  • The Plan
  • Crews
  • The Moon

Filled throughout with black and white photographs of the events and people, this is a wonderful resource for learning more about how the United States made it to the moon.

Want to read another review? Check out A Net In Time. This is where I first heard of this recounting of the true story so I decided to pick it up from the library and I am really glad I did. I learned so much reading through this chronology of the events that brought US astronauts to the moon.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

There are additional resources to be found on SchoolhouseTeachers.com related to space – some to experiments and some are lessons on the spacecraft. A lesson on manned spacecraft, one on models and space exploration, one on space probes, and then some others with the space themed activities. Please consider using the link above (affiliate link – if you choose to purchase a membership with them, I will receive a small commission).

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Inner Space Cavern

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To start off our “new year”, we did many of our norms – took the day off, made grade level signs and took pictures, had a fun breakfast (see this on our Instagram account), and enjoyed the leisurely day. But we also took a field trip on day two. We went to Austin for some items we had to pick up and on the way back, we made a stop at Inner Space Cavern.

This cavern is found right alongside I-35. In fact, it was discovered because of the construction of the interstate. When they were drilling as part of building the road, they punctured the cavern and lost the drill bit. They actually punctured it 8 time, I think they said. One of the men decided he had to get the drill bit back and a geologist rode the giant drill down into the cavern with a tiny little light to find the bit. He also found some amazing formations. Of course, they looked completely different to him, probably, with only a small light and not the beautiful lighting they have in there now. But still, it was probably stunning to him to see the giant cavern.

It is interesting to stand in the quiet and hear the rumbling of the vehicles overhead on the interstate. At one point, the guide turns all the lights off and you get to absorb the absolute darkness. It is so interesting. The tour we took was about an hour and we had a fabulous tour guide. He knew the history of the cave and a large amount of the scientific information to go along with it. He added his own humor and entertained questions of all sorts from my chatty youngest. She kept up to the front of the tour group and chatted with him for a large part of the time. She asked all sorts of questions and he did a good job answering them (at least from my perspective at the back with my oldest).

All three girls seemed to really enjoy the outing but I know from hanging out with the oldest at the back that she was thoroughly pleased that we had stopped and taken the tour. In fact, she is begging to come back and do the hardest tour, where they strap a light on you and you go spelunking in tiny crevices and your light is the only source. It is definitely off the main path and is not a very big group, thus the much higher price point than the tour we took yesterday.

The formations we got to see were just beautiful. They were interesting and hearing about how they form and grow was just as enjoyable as it has been since I was a child. Learning about the number of animals whose bones were found in the cavern was interesting and it was neat to see the drawings that had been created on a retaining wall. There was a giant sinkhole that had formed and that was interesting to see the evidence of, also. Some of the bones had been taken up to the visitor’s center and were on display there. Most, though, as still down in the cavern, as exposure to air and moisture disintegrates them very quickly since they have not had the compression necessary to fossilize them.

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Another really interesting part was the room where we were shown flint forming on the ceiling. The flint looked totally different on the outside but when it was cut open, there was the tell-tale color of black. That was really interesting to see in a natural setting.

The rough patches on the smooth rock are the flint beginning to form. To the left of that, there are some large, almost tooth-shaped rocks with a lot of rough rock below it. That is the exposed fault line.

The rough patches on the smooth rock are the flint beginning to form. To the left of that, there are some large, almost tooth-shaped rocks with a lot of rough rock below it. That is the exposed fault line.

In that same room, he showed us the evidence of the Balcones Fault line. It is the only fault running through Texas and has had its top layers of rock interlock like strong legos. It is so strong, the guide said, that we would be safer under the fault line in the cavern than above it were an earthquake to hit. The interlocked rocks would hardly move! And we were able to see that fault line and broken rock from when it shook many, many, many years ago. Really fascinating.

Inner Space Cavern is not quite as large as Carlsbad, which I have posted about on from 2017 and 2013, but it is just a beautiful cave and is privately operated. I am so glad we stopped to check it out.

Edit to add: A blogger contacted me to let me know she had a fairly thorough unit study to go along specifically with Inner Space but really, guys, it looks like it would work great for all caves. You can find it on her blog Waco Mom.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

New Mexico Bucket List – V ~ Blogging Through The Alphabet

Blogging Through The Alphabet V image

There are some things in New Mexico that seem just, well, strange. As we noted in an earlier post, one of these is volcanoes in New Mexico. The other is what is called the Very Large Array or VLA. Let’s visit the VLA first.

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By Brian W. Schaller – Own work, FAL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30495896

The Very Large Array is an astronomical radio observation station. You will find the VLA about 50 miles west of the city of Socorro, out on the plains. There are 27 of the radio antennas out there, positioned in a large Y shape. Each of the antennas is 82 feet in diameter. The uniqueness of this is that each of the signals is combined to essentially create a single signal from what is the equivalent of a receiver 22 miles by 422 feet.

VLA Karl_G._Jansky_Very_Large_Array_(8279314499)

By BriYYZ from Toronto, Canada – Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25905886

So what does the VLA actually do? From the National Radio Astronomy Observatory site, “Radio astronomy is the study of celestial objects that give off radio waves. With radio astronomy, we study astronomical phenomena that are often invisible or hidden in other portions of the electromagnetic spectrum.” The gathered information is used by astronomers around the world.

On northward now to the Valles Caldera National Preserve. I think I may have put park on the image that I made for this week but it is technically a preserve, handled under the National Park Service. This area is located in the north-central part of the state in the Jemez Mountains. The preserve includes most of the caldera created by an eruption many, many years ago. A caldera is formed when the ground collapses into the magma chambers as the magma is erupted in a series of eruptions. (Yellowstone is another example of a caldera.)

The caldera is dormant, though not extinct. According to the NPS site, there are signs of volcanic life including boiling sulphuric acid fumaroles and hot springs. This area is considered one of the world’s best examples of an intact volcanic caldera.

In addition to the volcanic history found here, there is also plenty of examples of human history. This area was widely used for hunting and gathering lifestyles prior to the agricultural lifestyle that came about. The area has great obsidian deposits and many native cultures treasure the area and its resources. There is also a history here of the Spanish and Mexican settlements in the area, including some important land grants.

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mountain bikers at Valles Caldera photo from National Park Service

The park is a beautiful place and there are many activities visitors can participate in. Of course, there is hiking and camping. There is fishing, horseback riding, visiting historic sites, mountain biking, and other activities including ranger-led options.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Blogging Through The Alphabet V vertical image

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Each week we will be linking up with the hosts of Blogging Through the Alphabet. Please visit some of these other blogs to get things like book lists, vegan recipes, and wonderful places to visit, just to name the topics I can think of off the top of my head.

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You can also join us and link up your own Blogging Through The Alphabet Post!! Just be sure to follow these simple rules–

* Each post must be family friendly. If it is not, we have the right to remove it.
* When linking up to this post, you give us permission to share your post and/or a photo from your post in future posts and social media shares.
* Place the Blog Button from the site onto the post you are linking up.
* Use the hashtag #abcblogging when promoting your post. This will help us find you and help us promote you as well.
* If you have time, check out a few of the other posts and share the love.
* The most important rule is to make sure you are having fun! This is not something we want you to be stressed out over. We want to see all the fun ideas that everyone comes up with for the letters!

Hands-on Science with Supercharged Science ~ a Crew review

Supercharged Science

If your students are anything like my girls, science that can be either really exciting or teeth-pulling stressful. We have been having some really excellent science days lately with Supercharged Science. The online science curriculum we have been working with has options for K-12 (and beyond). I am so glad we are going to have access to the  e-Science Homeschool Science Curriculum for a good bit longer because we are having some good fun with it. Oh, and learning science, too!

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Aurora Lipper is the founder and educator for the online classes. With the tremendous science background Mrs. Lipper has, your students get to say that they are taking science from a rocket scientist. And they are! Mrs. Lipper knows her materials very well and does a great job presenting them in a way that keeps the student’s attention while filling their heads with the knowledge they need for the topic.

The online science space for Supercharged Science can be navigated by grade level or by topic. You can choose either one and you can easily jump back and forth between the two navigation options. You have a single login for your family and so from there, they each will go to where their current work is located.

If you are navigating by grade level, you will see an image for each grade level, K-8. High school level material is found in the topics. Under each grade level is the list of the concepts taught in that level. Some of the concepts are found in multiple levels as the material increases in depth and some of the hands-on activities/experiments are repeated in different levels since the material is appropriate in multiple places. The placement of materials is based upon Mrs. Lipper’s experience as an educator and the national science standards.

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If you are navigating by topic, you click that at the top of the screen and it will take you to a list of all possible topics. There are total of 26 units. If you are new to science, or formal science, there is an overview of science and an introduction to the scientific method. There is also a unit on science fair projects, one on math activities, and one on teaching resources. Add in all the units on electricity, chemistry, physics, and other expected science topics and that’s a ton of materials!

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The units, whether accessed by level or topic, contain basically the same materials:

  • written introduction
  • video introduction
  • shopping list for hands-on activities/experiments
  • reading downloads
  • experiments with a video for each one
  • downloadable student worksheet and exercises for each experiment (often one for younger students and one for older students)
  • exercises for each part of the unit to check understanding

reading and exercises

How We Have Been Using Supercharged Science

When we received access to the program, I logged in and became familiar with how to navigate the program. (We reviewed this program previously and the navigation is the same at this point. However, see my note at the end of the review on the soon-to-be-released new site with better navigation.)

Screenshot 2019-05-27 at 5.52.42 PMThen Miss J and I sat down together and I let her just explore the options. We looked at grade level and then at topics. I let her watch some of the videos and look at the possible experiments. After looking at the grade five level, she decided that she wanted to do some things with gravity and magnetism. So, she started working on Unit 1: Mechanics through the topics menu. I bookmarked the main page of this for her, with her name next to Supercharged Science, so that she could easily find where she was.

Miss L sat down on her own and explored the options. She chose to work with Unit 10: Electricity. She really wants to tackle Unit 14: Electronics but realized that it would be good to have the background of electricity first. So, she has been working through that unit first. She also has the unit bookmarked with her name on it so that she doesn’t have to click through many pages to get to where she is in the unit. We have updated the pages a couple of times as she works through the unit so there is less clicking needed. (It looks like the number of clicks that will be needed is going to be a bit less on the new site.)

Miss E has been watching the videos on the high school level Unit 15: Chemistry 2. She did a chemistry class this year and so seeing some of that chemistry put into use has been a great extension of her course. She watches probably two experiments per day. Since this is “bonus” work for the chemistry class she took, she is not doing the worksheets.

Mechanics: 

This unit covers force, gravity and friction. There are 9 experiments to go with force. There are two teleclasses and three experiments to go with gravity. There are seven experiements to go with friction. We work on science 4 days per week and we generally do one video and experiment per day. We are in the friction section now and it has been a blast getting here.

Miss J enjoys hands-on and so this is obviously just right for her. She likes to see things done for her (the video to go along with each experiment is perfect for this) and then she likes to do them. She has found most of the experiments are able to be replicated, though not as easily as the video makes them look. (But isn’t that a great lesson – try, try again?)

hovercraft

Some of her favorite lessons have been the barrel roof, the paper airplanes, and the simple hovercraft. She has also done several experiments with balls (dropping them, throwing them, comparing them).

 

While those demonstrated concepts well, the real fun comes when you make something. We made a simple compass, made a paper clip fly, and registered the minute movements of the earth’s electromagnetic field with a machine we made.

 

She even used static electricity to move objects.

Each of these lessons varies widely in the amount of time required. If you are viewing a teleclass, the video can be close to 50 minutes. If you are doing a simple experiment, like the one we did about force using a rope, it can be just a couple of minutes for the video and five more for the experiment. Some days, you can easily get in more than one experiment and that is why the shopping list is great. You can use it to gather all the materials you need for the unit before even starting the unit. That saves time in the long run because no one likes to spend time gathering materials for the experiment when the student is ready RIGHT NOW for the experiment.

Electricity:

Miss L has been able to do most of this unit on her own, though some of the experiments she has skipped because I couldn’t find the right materials (that I KNOW we have some where). *See note above about the shopping list and gathering materials prior to the unit.* She works very independently so I am not exactly sure just how far she has gotten in the unit. She does one video and experiment each day. electricity experiment 1

This unit has two lessons: circuits and components, and robotics. In the circuits and components sections, there are 13 experiments. In the robotics section, there are 15 experiments. Miss L has made some interesting looking contraptions with her experiments, some of which have worked well and some which have not. For one that did not work we were able to determine that it was probably due to the humidity levels (over 90% that day) so she plans to try it again soon. It is a good lesson for the student to have to figure out why something isn’t working like Mrs. Lipper says it should. Lots of lessons are learned that way.

Chemistry:

chemistry video

This unit includes 2 lessons. The first has one teleclass and nine videos. The second has one teleclass and 38 (yes! 38!) experiment videos. Many of the videos in this unit are for things we cannot do at the house so it is amazing to have good videos of the chemical reactions and excellent explanations of the results that are being seen.

Miss E spends about 20 – 30 minutes on this each day. Because we are using this as an extension of her previous chemistry class, I am not requiring the worksheets or exercises from her.

Overall Thoughts

This is an exciting online science program with solid explanations and clear examples. With all of the visual examples of the concepts being show in the experiments and then being able to do most of the experiments, this truly is a science program that teaches and shows the concepts. The students are truly able to see and understand better because of this.

When we reviewed this previously, it was just as good of a program but it didn’t fit us as well. The girls were younger and so it took a lot more preparation on my part (gathering materials and deciding what videos to watch, etc). I had to do all of the navigating and they didn’t always want to work on the same materials. With them older and more independent, this is a much better fit. I don’t know that this program will peter out of use as it did before since the girls are each working on something that is of interest to them. They all seem to be getting much more out of it this time around.

Note on New Site

There will be a new Supercharged Science site introduced soon. The content is all going to remain the same. There will still be all the same parts of each unit and the worksheets and videos will all still be available as they are on the current site. The new site will have easier navigation and is easier on the eyes. There is less of the stark white and more soothing blue, which makes it a pleasant experience. The girls and I have been given a sneak-peek at the new site and I really do like the way it is going to be set up. It will make navigation easier. We will still bookmark each girls’ part of the site in a different bookmark so they can get to their own unit easily but overall, it is much easier to go from place to place and to get to the worksheets or videos or whatever you need within the unit. Be looking for this new site to roll out soon.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

A number of families from the Homeschool Review Crew were given the opportunity to try out Supercharged Science.

Head over to the Crew blog to read about their experiences.

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CrossWired Science ~ a Crew review

There are affiliate links embedded in this review. This is being disclosed in accordance with regulations.

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Linking learning together creates for long-term memory and stronger understanding. This is the goal of CrossWired Science. The name comes from the way in which they cross-link all of the learning into what they call Global Topics. This brand-new company has a subscription program that gives you access to their entire site. The site is growing and changing with new additions all the time.

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At this point, there are two Global Topics up but there are plans for 2 more in the immediate future and multiple others in the more distant future. When the Global Topics are all up, there will be six years of science on the site. The current Global Topics are  Sound, and Fluid Dynamics.

Global Topics

Fluid Dynamics and Sound are the two Global Topics shown here.

What is a Global Topic, you ask? This is a broad science category that has multiple application areas. CrossWired takes a look at as many of those applications as they can for each topic. They do this through targeted videos they have made. They also have a variety of related videos from others (not hot linked on the student pages but copy and paste works simply or you can use a hot link from the teacher’s account), experiments, readings, and drawings. They have cross-wired every related application and use they can think of, it seems. That is where the name comes from – relating everything together and letting the brain wire the knowledge that way. This kind of knowledge transfer is long-lasting and strong.

Our Family’s Use

All three of the giggly girls were using the program. We got access about a month ago and have been using it almost daily during our regular school days. As I mentioned the program is brand-new and so materials are still being added daily to enrich and expand the program. Two of the girls chose to use the Fluid Dynamics topic and one chose the Sound topic.

progress on program.

They log on to their own individual student account. It has marked what they have completed in their topic so they can choose something different. There is not a set schedule, direction, or plan. This is almost a “rabbit trail” curriculum, meaning the student chooses what looks interesting that day and explores it.

  • The exploration may be through the core videos, which are targeted videos that explain and demonstrate the topic. Each video has its own page and has a link to a printable worksheet to go along with it. After watching the video, there is a quick quiz to test the student’s knowledge based on the video. Once the test has been completed, it cannot be retaken. Each video page has a link on the right for helpful information and directions for the teacher who is looking for more on how best to use the core videos. video lesson page
  • It might be through related videos. For Fluid Dynamics this included things like space or underwater animals or waves.
  • It could be through a suggested reading plan. There are several of these to choose from, including the YWAM biographies, science books, Creation magazine, or books of the student’s choosing. There is one reading plan linked at this time but the rest of these reading plans should be linked soon.
  • There are experiments. There are a significant number of experiments and hands-on activities for the topic. Each one is a clickable link that takes you to a printable PDF. It includes information on the project and helps the student understand the points structure, which is helpful for the parent grading each project. The PDF also has hot links for videos, materials, or information that will help complete the experiment. There is also an approximate time frame on each one to assist with planning. There is a printable journal for the experiments that includes all of the project pages.
  • Field trip ideas are also suggested. As is well-known, field trips are a great way to really deepen a student’s understanding of a principle. Thus, it is highly recommended that field trips be taken during the study of each Global Topic to really help reinforce the learning.
  • Gold Dig (Fluid Dynamics) or Digging Deeper (Sound) is a section that is set up differently, with a lot more reading, rather than videos, and diagrams. It is still related to the Global Topic but takes the student on a bit more of an in-depth study of one part of it. For Sound, this was a study of human sounds, animal sounds, sonic booms, and more. It ends with a longer quiz and a short essay question.
  • There are two devotionals at the end of each topic. They are a more reading directed study. Both ask the student to think carefully about the devotional at the end of it. One of them on Sound has just a couple of short essay questions. The other has some multiple choice in addition to short essay.

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This is just the tip of the iceberg, y’all. There is so much here! It is a fabulously interesting program and the site allows for delight-led learning to reign freely. Two of the girls have absolutely loved having the freedom to get on and see what looks interesting to them that day. One child like structure a whole lot more and prefers check lists and specific assignments, so this was not such a good fit for her. However, it is doable both ways.

For the child who likes structure, we could easily give her a check list of what to do each day. For example, I told her to spend a minimum of 20 minutes on the site and then told her to pick videos one day. Another day I told her to pick from the experiments. Another day, I told her to do the reading plan (which actually was to go find a science book and read). So, while I didn’t have a pre-set curriculum to follow, it was easy enough to give her the checklist her heart desires with classes.

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For the other two, I often ended up having to tell them to get off the site and get busy with their other classes! They would spend hours, literally, watching the videos in the topic. This is the type of learning that resonates with them well and ties many ideas together. It is wonderful to see them really digging in.

20190325_122053Each of the Global Topics can be gone through multiple times. There is a First Timers curriculum and a Second Timers curriculum. At this point, I have not noticed much difference in the two, as they seem to contain the same videos and links and activities. It is nice though, in that when you go back through it with the Second Timers page, you will be marking off the materials again, so you can see what you have done the second time. It is recommended that this second time through happen a year or two later so that your brain can process it differently, cross-wiring the learning to other knowledge you have gained in between times.

A neat feature that we have not used yet is a note taking pop-up box. I can see some great usefulness with this feature. You click the little box down in the bottom right and it pops up a small box to make notes in. It will save those and you can look at all the notes you have taken.

Teacher’s Materials

There is a teacher’s area where you can do many things, including where you add the student accounts. There is access to view the students’ scores on the quizzes, though you have to look them up individually. These scores can even be looked at question by question if you need to pinpoint what to work on more specifically. There is a link to tips for the teacher to help plan or schedule. There is a calendar link that gives you planning information to schedule the topic, including a high school, middle school, and elementary portion. The calendars as scheduled are downloadable but there are also blank calendars for planning six months or a year.

calendar suggestion

Another link you find in the teacher’s area is to the worksheets. When you click through on these, you have access to the answers for all of the worksheets so you can grade the student work. The next link you have in the teacher area is to the links in the General Links area of the student account. Here, they are hot linked so you can play the videos directly in the teacher’s account. The same is true of the Unit Links, which are linked to be able to play directly from the teacher’s area.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

Guys! This is a great site. I find it an appealing site, with the freedom to move around and find the things that are interesting. Curiosity is fed through this kind of freedom and with children who really focus on delight-led learning, this is perfect.

use and age recommendations

Within just a short while, this will be a site that can easily work as a full curriculum for the whole family. But it doesn’t have to. It could also work as a supplement to a different core curriculum or even just a site to explore for fun. There are hours and hours and hours of materials here with just the two Global Topics. When they get all of them up (I think they are aiming for something like 30), watch out! There will be endless hours of materials to learn from.

Take a minute to visit the CrossWired Science site and read up on their educational ideas, as well as through the information under General Info. The General Info is like the FAQ page and will answer many questions you might have.

This is a wonderful resource and I am so glad to have access to it! Use this code when you sign up and receive $5 off – gg17.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog and see what other families thought about this new program presented by CrossWired Science.

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George Washington Carver, a YWAM biography ~ a Crew review

YWAM George Washington Carver

YWAM Publishing  has become a favorite in our home and we are always on the lookout for more of the biographies we don’t own so we can increase our collection. They have two series – Heroes of History  and Christian Heroes: Then & Now 
– that are well-written, well-researched biographies of important people through history. Each of the heroes has made contributions to history and shown courage through their actions and life lived. Each of the lives is focused on serving God. We received a softback copy of the book Heroes of History- George Washington Carver and a digital copy of the study guide to go with this particular book.

The YWAM biographies are easy-to-read books written by Janet and Geoff Benge. They are written for about 4th grade and up, though they are easily used as read alouds with students much younger. The research is evident that has gone into the books, bringing to life the people, places, and events of their lives.

We chose George Washington Carver because we knew of this man but not a lot about his background and life. Additionally, it fit well into the period of history we were studying – from before the Civil War and well into the 20th century. These biographies are perfect for adding into studies, as we did with the G.W. Carver book. They enhance and bring to life the era being discussed and they are always about influential people that deserve our attention.

GWC book

We added the Carver biography to our morning time, reading two to three chapters each day. We would discuss the questions from the study guide aloud and once or twice, we pulled out a map to add to the discussion. There were vocabulary words that we included from the study guide, also. Many of these words we touched on as we came across them in the reading. These discussions and vocabulary words allowed us to talk about important topics such as racism, slavery, education, and advancement. We also talked about some difficult topics, again racism and slavery are part of that, but also words like lynching and what burning at the stake meant. It brought to the forefront a discussion about how people can choose to act certain ways and why it was tolerated by so many.

If you haven’t caught it yet, this book includes some very deep ideas about how to treat others, values, morals, and how all that should come out in the way people live. There are some difficult scenes that Carver experienced. We did not shy away from them and we talked about how those affected his life.

One way I knew that this book was worth the time we were spending on it was when Miss L asked about how long it was going to be before we got to the peanuts. You see, that is what so many people think about with George Washington Carver – peanuts. At this point we were about 3/4 of the way through the book. That allowed us to talk about how history can misrepresent people and their contributions in life. Yes, Carver did amazing things with peanuts. Yet, Carver had many, many contributions that were extremely important that had nothing to do with peanuts. His main goal in life was to help black farmers live better lives and to have better, stronger, healthier farms and families. And he did this in many ways.

George Washington Carver wrote hundreds of leaflets that were distributed to the farmers, telling them how to grow different plants, how to use different medicinal plants, how to preserve food, and how to get more out of their lands. Carver lived alongside his students at Tuskegee Institute and taught them as much about how to live an honorable and frugal life as he did about botany during his 50 years there. He strove to present a life beyond reproach. He lived in the midst of the racial issues but chose to address them with understanding and hope, not arguing or trying to force anything. And he made much headway with his approach, garnering worldwide attention and admiration.

GWC book and bio page

The Book –

The softback book is 190 pages long. It covers the story of George Washington Carver’s life from infancy to death. His actual birthdate is unknown since he was born a slave, though to the caring and kind Carver family. He died in his upper 70s in Tuskegee.

George was a curious young man, always desiring to know and understand the way things worked. From a young age, he collected plants and studied them. When he was eleven, he left home to get an education, which he couldn’t do where he lived as he was not white. So, he went to find what he desired. He found kind families to help and house him, working throughout to earn his stay and keep. He often started his own laundry business to earn money to pay for his books and rent, especially as he got older and was still seeking education. This pursuit of education continued all of his life, though he ended up with a masters degree and a couple of doctorate degrees conferred upon him.

From being refused admission to a university because of the color of his skin to working for more than 50 years at Tuskegee Institute, Carver was a model of a life lived in pursuit of the good things – knowledge, understanding, and living as a Christian. He shared what he knew with others, freely, asking nothing in return except to try to live a good life and help others when they could. His work as a botanist brought him to understand that life had to change for farmers, so he taught them to change. He worked hard to find ways to make new products, such as the peanut, sweet potato, and cowpea, attractive and helpful. With hundreds of ideas of new product options and how it would benefit them, Carver brought about change for the farmers, black and white, in the south.

GWC quote

The Study Guide –

The study guide is a downloaded product, so you must have internet access to download it. After that, it is on the computer and you can access it without internet. There are two parts to the study guide – one is the main part of the study with the activities and ideas, the other is the reproducible worksheets and maps. I accessed the activities and ideas online, choosing to not print any of it, though it would have been easy to do so as it opens in a PDF. I did print the worksheet, maps, and timeline for use.

GWC timeline

There are 8 parts to the study guide.

  1. Key Quotes
  2. Display Corner
  3. Chapter Questions
  4. Student Explorations
  5. Community Links
  6. Social Studies
  7. Related Themes to Explore
  8. Culminating Event

There is also a list of books and resources, as well as the answers to the chapter questions.

As I mentioned earlier, we added the chapter questions in as we read through the book. These included a vocabulary work, a question whose answer comes directly from the text, a comprehension question, and an open-ended question requiring and opinion or interpretation. Most of these came up naturally in the discussion of the chapters as we went along. The answers to these are found at the back of the study guide.

The student explorations allow the students to choose an area of interest to them and do a project in that area. It might be an essay or a creative writing assignment, such as a journal entry (GWC was known for writing every day in his journal) or writing a song or writing a newpaper article as might have featured George. The student might create a crossword puzzle or plant a crop or flower garden.

GWC flower garden

Miss J was interested in planting this year and so we chose some flowers from a local nursery and planted a flower bed to grow. As botanicals were something Carver was well-known for, she also chose another activity related to flowers. She created a botanical picture using sculpting, which came from a link we found in the list of books and resources. (This was from one of the teacher lessons by the National Park Service on the artist George Washington Carver.) She painted a piece of cardboard for a background and then sculpted some flowers for the pictures from air dry clay.

GWC project

We also tackled some of the information from the social studies section, working on the maps related to where Carver lived and worked, as well as maps of the state of Alabama. There was a timeline included to mark important events on, such as the civil war, the Great Depression, the Emancipation Proclamation, and many other events and people, such as WEB de Bois and Booker T Washington. These help us key into other events that are around the same time and built that transferable knowledge that helps make history come to life.

GWC bio page

Overall Thoughts –

We adore YWAM and the study guides they have to go along with the Heroes of History and Christian Heroes of History series. We highly recommend the books to everyone and can’t wait to find more for the girls to read. Miss E often asks for these as gifts so we will be looking at the homeschool convention this week to see if there is a booth to get a few more. We have previously reviewed the following books and study guides:

And on our shelves – well, we have probably 10 or 12 others. These are wonderful stories that are gripping and interesting and encouraging to live lives full of courage and hope and purpose.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Click on the banner below to visit the Homeschool Review Crew and read about how other families used these books and study guides. There are stories on well-known, current people like Heroes of History- Ben Carson and others from that past that I would enjoy reading that go along with the vacation we took last fall, like Heroes of History- Benjamin Franklin and Heroes of History- Thomas Edison. Click below to find more to read!

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