Category Archives: science

Texas Bucket List – Gulf Coast ~ Blogging Through the Alphabet

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Honestly, I am not a water person. I don’t enjoy swimming. I don’t desire to sit by the water and “just enjoy” it. I would rather be in the shade with a book. But, with a family that loves to ocean and swimming and all that comes with it, I am learning to appreciate the joy and the beauty of the coast. The Texas Gulf Coast has tons of lovely beaches and we have been able to experience several of them.

Each spring the question begins getting asked “when are we going to the beach this year?”

Gulf Coast 2

Some years we make it a spur of the moment trip. Other times, we plan well ahead for it. Either way, we always rent a small house so that the girls can run and play and we don’t have to worry about disturbing those above or below us in a hotel or condo. It has always worked well (except for the time we found out after we got there that the water was unsuitable for drinking or cooking and we had to go find a store to buy water).

Playing in the surf is always a joy for the girls. Now that they are getting older, I imagine I will enjoy it more since I won’t worry quite so much about them in the water.

My favorite part is always the lovely sounds and the animals we get to find and observe. There is so much life on the coast and we always see something new.

Gulf Coast

A trip to the coast is always worth it.

Blessings,
At Home.

Previous Letters in the series:
A – Abilene’s Storybook Sculpture Project 
B – Big Bend
C – Congress Avenue Bridge and the Bat Colony
D – Dr Pepper Museum
E – Enchanted Rock
F – Flowers

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This is a weekly series and will be linked weekly with the Blogging Through The Alphabet co-hosts:
Amanda at Hopkins Homeschool
Kirsten at Doodle Mom
Jennifer at Worth a Bowed Head
Kimberley at Vintage Blue Suitcase
Desiree at Our Homeschool Notebook
Markie at My Life As Mrs. Cooks
Hilary at Walking Fruitfully

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The Critical Thinking Co.™ ~ a review

Over the past few years, we have had the privilege to review a few different products from The Critical Thinking Co.™ We have truly enjoyed them but I think the product we received this time around has been the trump card. Something Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha was a blast to work through.

Somethings-Fishy-at-Lake-Iwannafisha

Miss L has recently been reading a science book on forensics. When The Critical Thinking Co.™ review came up, I jumped at the chance to ask for Something Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha because it would follow the book she was reading perfectly, providing a nice and tidy wrap-up project for her forensics study.

Something Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha is designed for students ages 5th grade and up. It is a full criminal case for the student to investigate, studying reports and applying forensics knowledge to solve the crime and make informed decisions about who should be the Person of Interest for the case. It can be done individually or in a group setting.

working on Something's Fishy

Miss L tackled this on her own, with help from her “assistant” – At Home Dad. He has fairly extensive knowledge of crime scene investigation, gathering evidence, and forensic knowledge application. He was a very valuable assistant and made us realize that this would definitely work better in a group setting in order to have others to bounce thoughts and ideas off of, though this individual setting worked fine.

Something Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha
This is about a crime that needs solved. There was a fire that brought to the attention of the authorities a bundle of counterfeit money, a body, bullets and guns. What happened at Lake Iwannafisha? Who is the dead man? Why was there so much cash in the cabin? Where did all the money come from? All these questions and more will be solved by the investigation into the crime(s) committed at the fishing cabin. Or at least that is the goal. However, not all questions will have neat, clear answers.

lots of evidence to work through

Miss L started out by reading the information about different types of forensic evidence and how each type is gathered and used. The forensics evidence part should be focused on pretty well before tackling the actual case, as knowing a good bit about this is helpful in deducing information at times. Miss L read through it but did not ask any questions. In hindsight, it would have been good to spend a bit of time with her, making sure she understood it. We did got back to it often and she needed those pages to reference throughout the investigation.

Miss L, as lead investigator, was given the crime scene report and a page to guide her in taking notes on the report. From there she could ask for any type of report that she thought would help. There were lots of helpful reports for the case, but there were also a couple of “dummy reports” in there – reports that had no true impact on the case. As she noted different names, she would ask for the witness statement for that person. This got her started in thinking through the possibilities and making connections.

reports list

Witness statements were just one of the many types of reports that she could ask for. There were finger print reports and reports on counterfeit money. There were ballistics test, medical reports, anthropological reports, DMV reports, and more.

This does require lots of copies or using your book. The Critical Thinking Co.™ has a generous copyright policy that allows the original purchase to make copies for their home or classroom. The pages are perforated to make them easy to remove from the book if you need to. In order to ease the making of copies of the reports, The Critical Thinking Co has tried to make the PDFs available online. I found in trying to use this resource, though, that only the first page of any of the reports was in the file. So, I still had to make copies from the book. It was easier to do them all from the book, though if the files online were complete that would be such a time saver! Perhaps that can be easily fixed.

examining the crime scene report

It took Miss L approximately 9-10 hours to work through this case on her own with some input from her assistant. This included spending an hour or so on learning about forensic science and the different branches of it. The writing of this forensics case study was very well done and enjoyably challenging.

This is a product that was truly interesting to work through. It was completely different than anything we had ever used and was a perfect final project for the forensics unit.

Blessings,
At Home.

There were multiple products being reviewed during this Crew run from The Critical Thinking Co.™ Check out each of their products that were part of this review series –

Understanding Pre-Algebra

Critical Thinking Detective Book 1 

Something Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha

Critical Thinking Detective: Vocabulary

Dare to Compare Level 1

Vocabulary Riddles Book 1

There is currently a coupon available to the readers of the Homeschool Review Crew. Through 12/31/2018, you can get free shipping PLUS 15% off any size order when you use the coupon code TOSCREW18. You can also get free Critical Thinking Puzzles – a $75 value – delivered weekly to your inbox. Sign Up Now!
https://www.criticalthinking.com/toscrew

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Read the reviews of these products or other families who work on the case file for Something Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha by clicking the banner below.

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Ghost Science – part 2

Ghost Science part 2

Ghost Science is lots of fun and is aptly titled for several reasons. One – you can’t always see the processes taking place. Two – sometimes the items just are gone, right in front of your eyes. Three – sometimes they appear right in front of your eyes, out of nowhere.

We talked about the ghost eggs in part one so this time we are going to talk about the ghost poop. (You have no idea how much I hate writing that but it is what this part of the kit was called.) This is essentially packing peanuts.

ghost poop experiment

When these are put into water, they quickly disappear. In just seconds, they were gone, no trace left. The pamphlet that is included in the kit explains why – these are made of corn starch and so they dissolve in room temperature water.

ghost poop dissolving

When Miss J heard that, it sparked her mind and she asked THE question – does it have to be just regular water? Guess where that led . . . experimentation.

Miss J spent the next hour or so finding different liquids or making them different temperatures to see if the packing peanuts would dissolve at the same rate as it did during the original activity.

ghost poop gone

She kept some things the same, as any good scientist will. She always used 4 oz of the liquid, as measured in a measuring cup. She used the same type spoon each time and tried to stir at the same rate. Here are the different liquids she used:

  • tap water
  • vinegar (white)
  • tap water with 2 ice cubes
  • very hot tap water
  • cold lemon juice
  • cold Dr. Pepper
  • cold milk
  • tea (room temperature)
  • olive oil

Results:

  • tap water – dissolved
  • vinegar – dissolved but not as quickly
  • tap water with ice – dissolved much slower
  • very hot water – dissolved very, very fast
  • lemon juice – dissolved slower than the ice water
  • Dr. Pepper – did not dissolve
  • milk – did not fully dissolve but did dissolve some
  • tea – dissolved fast but not as fast as the hot water
  • olive oil – did not dissolve

It was fun to talk about the types of liquids she chose. We talked a bit about acids, bases, and neutral. We talked about hot and cold. All of these observations were fun for her to make.  I was really proud of her for being curious about it and wanting to follow through to test those curiosities.

Ghost Science was a super neat kit and I’d definitely recommend it. It was from the Steve Spangler Science company, which has lots of different kits and materials. It is a resource I will keep my eye on for the future.

Blessings,
At Home.

Ghost Science – part 1

Ghost Science part 1

Ghost Science sounds like a lot of fun, doesn’t it? It was.


Miss J received a neat kit for her birthday titled Ghost Science. There were two experiments included, which will be shared in two different posts so I can share plenty of pictures. The package came with plenty of materials to do the experiments several times.

ghost eggs after a few hours

 

The first one was Ghost Eggs. For this experiment, we used ghost eggs (water marbles). They sat in water for several hours, getting checked by the girls quite often to see how much they had expanded. As they expanded, they seemed to disappear in the water. We took a look at why that was happening and read about what caused it. Miss J played around a bit with different light angles to see what happened. She also noticed how the light affected it as the day went on and as the marbles grew in size.

 

ghost eggs disappearing

 

ghost eggs are gone

After they had sat in the water for quite a while, we placed some of them in a different glass bowl and added a few drops of a liquid that came with them. This liquid caused them to glow when a black light was applied. (It came with a little keychain sized blacklight.) We took the bowl into a dark room and Miss J – and sisters – experimented with how they could apply the blacklight to see the “ghost eggs” better, to make them disappear, and more. They had quite a bit of fun with the blacklight and the glowing eggs.

ghost eggs with glow added to water

 

ghost eggs glowing

We kept the ghost eggs in a bowl with water for a while and each day the girls would play with them a little bit – seeing how they squished, how they bounced, if they would take pressure and how much, could you juggle them, etc. Something new every time. Plus, they just felt interesting to move around in your hands and to hold.

 

ghost egg size

After a while, we drained them and placed them in a shallow dish to see how long it would take for them to dry out. Turns out – a very long time. They took about three weeks to dry out, back down to their original teensy-tinsy size.

ghost eggs shrunken back down

After they had completely dried out, we sacked them up and rehydrated (again) three of them to see if they would stand up to being wet. Turns out, not so much. They were much more fragile the second time we put them in water. They did get just as big but they broke very easily. In fact, one of them broke just in the growth process.

The ghost eggs were lots of fun and the experimentation and observation was fun, too. Definitely worth the time and having them sit on the counter for so long.

Blessings,
At Home.

Weigl Publishers – interactive electronic books ~ a Crew review

Weigl Publishing books review

Sometimes, we look for electronic resources and books that provide a way for the girls to learn to navigate the electronic world. Weigl Publishers  is a company that publishes innovative, high-quality electronic books and other resources. These are available in the US and around the world. Their media enhanced materials are fairly unique.

Our review for Weigl Publishers  included three interactive, electronic books.

  • There Once Was a Cowpoke Who Swallowed an Ant,
  • A Lion’s World, and
  • Glaciers.

Each book must be purchased and contains a unique code to input on the website that will unlock the interactive features. There is no subscription or site fees.

Cowpoke Who Swallowed An AntThere Once Was a Cowpoke Who Swallowed an Ant by Helen Ketteman, illustrated by Will Terry. This is published under their AV2 imprint (subgroup). The AV2 imprint has both fiction and non-fiction, as well as Spanish language titles. They began releasing titles under this imprint in 2010.

This is an interactive book read by professional voice actors with additional sound effects and fun audio additions. The digital version of the book can be read to the student or the student can read by himself. Each sentence is brought to life. If the student is being read to, the text sentences are highlighted as they are read and the pages turn at the appropriate time. If the student is read by himself, then the student will have to click next to turn the page. If the student gets stuck on a sentence, or just wants to hear it read, then placing the pointer over the sentence will cause it to be read out loud.

The story line is what you probably imagine – A cowpoke eats an ant. It stings his stomach so he has to each a spider to get the ant. The spider causes problems so he has to eat a roadrunner to get the spider. And so on. Each is more ridiculous and funny than the last. Just wait until you get to the end to see what he eats last and how it turns out in the end.

This book is best suited for K-2nd but I can definitely see pre-schoolers enjoying the antics of the cowpoke.

A Lion's World bookA Lion’s World is a non-fiction title from the EyeDiscover imprint. Weigl launched EyeDiscover in 2016. The titles in this imprint have interactive online content directed at 4-7 year olds, or K-2nd grades. When you access the digital version of the books the student sees full-screen videos and the text is read aloud.

This non-fiction titles is about a lion and the world he lives in. It includes such things as the word for the family unit, the loudness of the roar, and what actions you might find a lion doing. Each page has a short video that is looped to repeat and a short text. The text is read aloud but it is also printed on a banner at the bottom of the page. You can turn the text reading on or off, according to the desire of the student. The back of the book includes two pages of very visual facts (infographic) and a page of key words and their location within the book.

While this book is listed as a K-2 level, it would also be interesting for younger children due to the videos and the text being read. As a single viewing, it might also be interesting for a slightly older student, though I would not expect them to learn anything new from it.

watching video from glaciers bookGlaciers is a book from the Lightbox imprint by Weigl. This type of book combines the digital book with online content, interactive pages, and printable resources. It is extremely interactive and takes a multimedia approach to content. Combining the multimedia approach with audio, video, and text, students are more actively engaged in the content. Using interactive content such as layered charts and graphs, embedded web-links, and pop-up vocabulary definitions, students are engaged in learning with this full digital product. There are titles for both elementary and secondary levels.

Glaciers by Christine Webster is a non-fiction title and explores the science of glaciers. The digital book is easy to navigate even though there are quite a few buttons to click on each of the pages. The right and left arrow keys move the reader forward and backward in the book. If there is a bolded word, click it and the definition pops up. Videos are embedded and play right in the window being used. The controls for all of this are on the sides of the book. If there is a printable, it does pop up in another window as a PDF. This all makes it so easy. There is a play button to have the text read.

printable from the glacier book

The science of the glaciers covers definitions and how they study glaciers. It lists the parts of the glacier body and includes a transparency interaction where clicking the different parts of the glacier brings in its label and description. Glaciers sizes, definitions, and locations are all covered and includes an interactive Google Earth section where you can view the images of the glaciers and paths to them. (This was probably Miss J’s favorite part!) The embedded videos, such as the one of the polar bear or the one of the crevasse and cave in the glacier, are fascinating and really help build understanding of the glacier.

Glaciers is intended for students ages 8-12 or grades 3-6. I found this to be a pretty accurate range, though I think it is so rich that students up through 8th grade could easily find much to learn from this book.

The interactive ability of the Glaciers book created a desire to keep learning more. This subject would not have been interesting to Miss J but with all of the interactivity it was fascinating for her. This book took quite a while for us to work through because there were so many activities and printables and videos. It was basically a full unit study, all on its own. We probably took a week during our science time to work through this book.

Weigl Publishers  has a lot of wonderful resources to offer and we were pleased to be introduced to them. I am particularly interested in learning more about the middle school and high school books available through the Lightbox imprint. There is so much there!

Blessings,
At Home.

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Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology ~ a Crew review

We have been using Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology
in the past month or so. This is another very good science program from Apologia and we are pleased to review it.

Written by Jeannie K. Fulbright and Brooke Ryan, M.D., this program is a great and easy program to use. I was impressed that Mrs. Fulbright ensured that her information was accurate by having a co-author that was an M.D.

Apologia-Anatomy-Family

We received:

  • Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology Text
  • Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology Junior Notebooking Journal
  • Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology Notebooking Journal
  • Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology MP3 Audio CD

reading text

Let’s start with the text. Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology Text is a hardback text. It is full color textbook and is not too heavy. The pages are sturdy without being too stiff to easily turn. The print is of a good size and is easily read by these “old eyes” of mine. The text is written to the student so it is not difficult for an elementary aged student to understand. It is intended for the student to be reading the text, allowing them to more engaged.

The text is broken up periodically by some blue lettering that is a time for the student to review what was just covered. Whether it be a narration assignment or a written one, it is intended that the student take just a few short minutes to help cement the information better in their understanding. This allows the student to improve their ability to clearly and effectively learn to communicate their learning.

skeletal system activity

Throughout the chapter, you will also come across Try This! These are hands-on activities that go with the reading just finished and allow for the student to participate in the scientific method. For example, when we had read about the purpose of bones, there was a Try This! activity that had the student make a clay figure and try to stand it up. edible cellsThen they added toothpicks in place of some of the bones and tried to stand it up again. This time, with “bones” in place, the figure stood. What a great visual and hands-on activity that shows exactly how bones and the skeletal system benefit the body. The number of activities vary in each chapter and the types of materials needed will vary as well. Some only need things from around the house (such as a tape measure for comparing arm span to height) and others will need quite a few things that you might not have sitting around (such as lemon jello and lots of different candies to make an edible cell). These hands-on activities are what take this program from another good text to one that is over-the-top fantastic.

Each chapter closes with a What Do You Remember? section of questions. These are questions designed to jog the student’s memory and help them recall information. There are answers to these in the back of the book. There is a reminder of the notebooking activities to go along with the chapter or suggestions of some to do if you prefer to make your own notebook. There is also a Personal Person Project. This project is pretty cool. It has the student make their own person shape and overlays to show each of the systems that are studied in the text. The Notebooking Journal has the pieces for this project with the plastic overlays printed in color to glue down on top of the person’s shape. We decided we wanted to be able to see single systems and also to overlay several at once so Miss J created a little pocket on the page next to the person and will leave her different systems pieces there.  

The Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology MP3 Audio CD that is available has been very interesting. It is read by the author so it has purpose and inflection and understanding that a “hired” reader just would not accomplish. Mrs. Fulbright’s voice is calm and pleasant. It is a pleasure to listen to her. This audio book includes the entire text of the course. The CD is best used with the student listening while viewing the text and following along. Mrs. Fulbright explains this early on the CD. It is helpful for most students who are using the audio to also have the visual to reinforce what is being talked about. Also, there are times when Mrs. Fulbright refers to diagrams and images in the text. If the student does not have those to view, the understanding will be hampered.

image of controller for audio book

image of control for CD on the computer

The audio CD would be of great benefit to a student that struggles with reading and comprehension, especially of scientific texts with so many new words and pronunciations. This would be of benefit to a student who is an auditory learner, as well. I can also see this being useful to a visual learner because the student is following along while someone else is reading. Thus, they are getting the visual while not having to struggle with pronunciations. We have had audio books for texts before and they were dry and boring. This is nothing like that. If you have a struggling reader, this might be just the thing.

Note that this is an MP3CD, not a regular CD. It must be played in an MP3CD-compatible CD player or on a computer.

We received two notebooking journals to go along with the study

Generally speaking, the regular journal has more writing than the junior one does and the lines are printed differently. For the junior notebooking journal, there is generally the three-line formation for the student to write on. Not always but for a number of the activities. The junior notebook also has coloring pages for each chapter while the regular notebook does not. Both journals are spiral bound and designed to complement but not replace the text; you must have the text but the journals will provide additional practice with the information.

Each chapter in the text has a corresponding section in the notebooking journals. The beginning of the chapter section in the journals is generally fairly open for the student to write about what was learned or better understood in that chapter. This space also includes boxes for the student to illustrate things of interest or worth remembering. Following this, there are different activities. There are scripture copywork passages that enhance the chapter and each one is generally in both print and cursive so that you can choose which style is best for your learner. The copywork is longer in the regular notebooking journal than it is in the junior notebooking journal. There are sometimes fill in the blanks or perhaps a crossword puzzle. There are matching activities and vocabulary work. There are also miniature books that are pulled out from the back of the notebooking journal, completed, and then placed with the chapter. You will also find project pages, more to explore suggestions, and field trip sheets. There are a lot of different ways to track and reinforce the learning.

working in junior notebooking journal

Each of the notebooking journals have a lot of activities for each chapter. It is definitely a place where you can complete them all but it may not be best for you to do so. I have one daughter who does everything in the regular notebooking journal. My youngest daughter is working in the junior notebooking journal and she does not do everything. It really depends on your student and how they learn.

The front of the notebooking journals is where you will find a suggested schedule for the anatomy and physiology program. Their suggested pace is two lessons per week. At this rate and following their schedule of activities, it will take 28 weeks to complete the program. Each lesson takes approximately 4 days/2 weeks to cover. It is restated here that you do not need to feel compelled to complete every activity. Pick and choose those best suited to your learners.

We have found that the junior notebooking journal actually has more learning for the anatomy and physiology course. If I were going to be purchasing this for my middle school student and my elementary student, I would purchase them both the junior notebooking. Below you can see a comparison of the same “pages” of learning in the two journals.

notebooking journals comparison

We used this two different ways. My 9 year old used it approximately 4 days per week, because we found early on that two days a week was taking too long for my daughter’s attention span. We did every single one of the Try It! activities, mostly as we came to them. Sometimes they had to wait for a different day or until the end of the reading. We read the text together and she did the blue review sections out loud. After doing our planned reading for the day, she would open up her junior notebooking journal and complete her activities in it. We prefer to do a little bit every day so this worked well for us and allowed us some flexibility in our plans. We broke up the schedule that was printed in the notebooking journals into two each and it has worked well. It provides a good bit of reading and activity, without overwhelming, and takes between 30 minutes and an hour. If it weren’t broken up, I think that 1 -2 hours of science work would be too much for my 9 year old.

mummification of apple slices

My 11 year old has been using it, also, though with the regular notebooking journal. She knows that she has to do everything on the week by the end of the week and is a very independent learner. She has generally done her reading all at once and then done the activities and the notebooking journal over the next 3 days. It has worked well for her since she prefers to get up and get her work done early on in the day. If your child is self-directed and an independent learner, this format works well.

We have enjoyed every Apologia review we have been blessed to participate in and we tend to fully complete them. If you would like to read about other product from Apologia that we have used, please visit the following posts –

Exploring Creation with Astronomy
Field Trip Journal
Writers In Residence
Ultimate Homeschool Planner
iWitness books
Flourish
What On Earth Can I Do?

Blessings,
At Home.

Please check out additional reviews and how other families used this program by clicking on the Homeschool Review Crew banner below.

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Birds Unit Study

Birds

I know I have hinted and outright mentioned the birds study that Miss J was doing. She just finished it up. It came about because of her fascination with birds and wanting to learn more about different birds. She has been interested in birds since we did a birds book a few years ago. Since we read Look Up!, we have kept our binoculars on or near the kitchen table, which is where we can easily view the birds in the trees out back. We often grab them and study the birds that we can see and we really enjoy watching the cardinal family that comes back every year. This really factored into the decision to create a study, just for Miss J, the focused on birds. She has loved it.

birds unit study

My first resource is a bird study from Memoria Press titled “What’s That Bird?” When a local education store was cleaning out a couple years ago, I was able to get the old version of the teacher guide for this for a buck-fifty. I grabbed it. We used it to help us study the feathers, wings, migration, and more. It was a good overview of birds. We did not use the additional information in this study as it was geared quite a bit higher than 3rd grade.

We also watched Flight: The Genius of Birds, a video from Illustra Media. This video focuses on the dynamics of flight, what is required for birds to be able to fly, and how God’s design is perfect. The videography is just stunning in this video and we enjoy watching it. We learn quite a bit each time we rewatch.

We also checked out a bundle of bird books from the library and spent some time, early in the study, focused on nests, parts of the birds, feathers, and more. We used most of these books in conjunction with the pages from the Memoria Press guide we had.

The website All About Birds was a daily use. It has a good search engine on it so Miss J could easily search the type of bird she needed for that day. The information was thorough, yet accessible for one her age. It included identification, habitat, and food information, along with nest and egg details. There are bird calls to listen to and videos of the birds. This was a really good site for our study.

two page layout

I have a file from Homeschool Copywork that has coloring pages of birds. We printed these full-size and placed them in a three-prong folder. Each bird is identified. As she studied each bird, she colored it according to the images on the web site.

We also have a membership to NotebookingPages.com. This resource had a blank notebooking page for birds. I downloaded it and printed it out with four copies of it per page. Miss J would fill in one for each bird and then tape it to the back of the picture of the bird that she colored. There are several other page types on birds available in their science section. This resource is invaluable when creating your own unit studies.

The last thing I included in her study was copywork from John James Audobon. She studied a biography of him early on last fall and so including some of his most famous statements is a great way to keep him and his contributions in mind while benefitting her cursive work. These came from Homeschool Copywork.

bird quotes

This was a simple study that has given her lots of information. It has also been really easy to tie in with other work that we are doing, such as a study of the book “Bears on Hemlock Mountain.” It is not uncommon for us to be out and about somewhere and for her to state “I see a (whatever kind of bird).” We talk about it and she enjoys telling us how she knew what it was.

This is just one way in which we strive to encourage our girls’ in their learning and an example of what I wrote about for the 2018 Virtual Homeschool Fair week 3.

Blessings,
At Home.

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