February One Thing Wrap Up

I am a member of the Homeschool Alliance, which Julie from Bravewriter runs. One of the principles we were introduced to is the One Thing principle. Focus on one thing for a month. It can be something you want to improve on, something you want to add to your homeschool or life, anything- but just one thing.  This goes along with what Gretchen Rubin says in Better Than Before,  something along the lines of- You improve what you track. 


For February I wanted to have one thing to focus on in our homeschool. I asked Jack what subject he would do every day if possible, of course he chose science. I asked if he could do one science which one would it be, he chose physics. So we made physics our one thing for February.  I gathered a few books to have on hand. My favorite is Physics for Every Kid by Janice VanCleave- the activities are quick and easy and most of the supplies are things you have on hand around your house. 



We did a physics project every day that we did school during February.  This was usually 3 days per week. Yes we had a light schedule due to ski days, park days and other activities. 


We both enjoyed this month of physics. One thing that I have noticed is it got Jack back into experimenting and doing projects. He is now waking up with an experiment or project already on his mind.  We are planning to continue focusing on one thing per month and have already chosen Astronomy and Rocketry for March.  Okay that might be two things, but they go together well. 

Have you tried the One Thing principle? Want to share your experience in the comments? 






Physics February week two

This was another fun week in our physics study. 


First up: Heavy Air from Physics for Every kid. 




Next: making a bubbler to study how the air displaces water.  I didn't get a picture of this one, but we did have some fun with the balloons afterwards.





Last:  Seeing if the swing of a pendulum changes if the length of the pendulum is shortened. 



Choosing one thing to focus on doing well this month has worked wonders for us. I'm starting to think about what topic to do for our one thing next month. Math keeps coming to mind. It would be perfect since Pi Day is next month.


Mini maker fair

Saturday we went to our local Barnes and Noble for their mini maker fair.


First up were the bristlebots.  This was a quick, fun easy activity. In fact they were so easy I was wondering why we hadn't made one before or made them for a homeschool group activity.


Next up we made paper flashlights. These were easy and very cool. You squeeze the box and the led lights up.


Most of our time was spent at the Ozobot table. He really enjoyed this activity. Ozobot is a robot that you can code using different colored markers.  He follows the black marker line you make, and then you can make him turn, speed up or slow down by adding in different colored marker patterns. I think this might make the Christmas wish list. I think it would be fun to play with!


We were also able to see some 3-d printers in action, watch some robots, use some virtual technology, use and learn about Little Bits, and use a 3-d scribbler pen.

It was a lot of fun seeing new technology, making some fun projects and being able to see some of his wish list items in action.


Nature Study week 7

This week we went to a new to me park at the suggestion of one of our group members.  It is billed as a nature park and I was anxious to visit.


It is right at the end of a street and at first glance I didn't expect much. From the parking lot all you could see was a small pavilion and small grassy area.


There was a little path to the side of the grassy area that led up a hill to a huge pond.  We saw ducks, coots, and red ear sliders along with various songbirds.





After running around the pond for a bit, the boys settled down on the grass to do some cloud watching.


Eventually the boys found some flowers to sketch in their nature journals. They sketched, dissected, compared the shapes of the petals and then we arranged the petals to form pictures.

Then, having gathered some energy they went off to have sword fights with sticks while the mothers talked about different read alouds.


5th grade!

Oh my goodness! I can't believe that my youngest child is in fifth grade already! Times flies! We started back to school about two weeks ago, though I hesitate saying that since we believe learning is a lifestyle and you should be learning something everyday.  I didn't have much planning to do since we are just continuing with a lot of the same books and curriculum as last year.


We will be finishing Saxon 5/4 and starting 6/5.


 Finishing up Story of the World volume 3 and starting Story of the World volume 4.  We are trying to switch over to more of a Charlotte Mason style homeschool this year. For history this means that we are focusing on narrations and starting a Book of Centuries.


Science was a hard subject to figure out for me this year.  Jack is a science geek. He loves it. One things he doesn't like is story science or little kid science as he calls it with pointless activities. He wants it to have experiments but not busy work experiments.  We decided to try Exploring Creation with Botany by Apologia.  I liked that it had note booking and made it feel like we were kind of following a Charlotte Mason approach and that it will help us along with our nature journals. He likes that the activities don't seem like busy work.


Geography:  We are doing the map work included with Story of the World.  We are also working through the Geography Coloring Book. The idea of a geography notebook intrigues me but I need to research more ideas for content.  We are also using Pin It Maps. Right now we are doing the Land and Water form map. We will also be working with the North America Map since it goes along with our history.

For our language arts studies, we will be using the following:

  • Easy Grammar- finishing up level 4.
  • Handwriting By George- right now this is handwriting and copy work. He likes George Washington and enjoyed learning about him. This was a win-win for both of us.
  • Bravewriter Partnership Writing.  We are using the method and doing the projects outlined where they fit. Right now he is working on a presentation about the Dalai Lama for a biography fair this week. Reading, taking notes, and writing cards for the presentation.


Foreign Language:

He is still working on Rosetta Stone German.


Nature study/botany curriculum


Nature Study/Botany:

Along with this we are doing nature notebooks and a group nature study that I have planned based off of these books. I will post the plans for that soon.

Prometheus moths


One of our projects for science and our study of insects was to hatch prometheus moths.  We received 6 cocoons and all six were hatched successfully.


They were really beautiful and amazing creatures. 


We had hoped to be able to get eggs from them, but were unsuccessful.



We ordered our cocoons from Carolina Biological.  Like I said, all of them hatched. We did find that temperature was a factor to successful hatching.  They really beat themselves up trying to fly out of the cage, which is why we didn't get any eggs from them.  We released them, since they are native to our area.  We probably won't be doing this again due to cost, but we are really glad we did it this time. Even though they are native and we know of collectors who catch them, I hadn't  seen one before this.

a starfish and a clam.

The past two weeks in science we have studied mollusks and echinoderms. 


We borrowed a snail from a friend and put it in a small plastic tank to observe and use for our labs.  He's been really fun to watch. We also bought a mystery snail to keep in with our aquatic frog.

For the mollusk unit we dissected a clam, or tried to dissect one.


This wasn't an easy one- the shell was hard to crack and the foot was hard to cut. Frustrating for the boy and really not much to see.

This week we have been studying echinoderms and dissected a starfish.


I just noticed he is wearing the same shirt in both pics. Guess it's his lab uniform.  Our starfish was fairly big and tough.  Even I had a hard time cutting through the skin. I tried scissors, broke two scalpel blades and still couldn't make the cuts needed and see what we were supposed to see.  Again, anticlimactic. I never thought I would look forward to the frog dissection but at this point I am because I think it will be somewhat easier to cut. Jack didn't do well with either of these, his frustration level was high. I can't see us repeating either of these in the future and at the moment I am not looking forward to the next two dissections- grasshopper and crayfish.  



Our project learning group has been studying owls the past couple of weeks.  Everyone watched this documentary:

Then last week we did art projects based on owl anatomy.

First we had owl skulls:


Alex made this demo out of model magic, small pastic cups and ping pong balls.  This was to demonstrate the owls head and eye movement.

We made wing models out of paper and brads:

We also made feathers our of paper and coffee straws.

This week we dissected owl pellets:





We bought our owl pellets here and would highly recommend them.  We have done this once before and our pellets didn't have near the bones that these did. We also had a wide variety of bones from different animals. I will post pics once we get the bones all clean and mounted.


We have been studying worms this past week for science. 


First we went out to find some earthworms.


Then we set up a jar with some dirt, leaves, grass and other small matter. 


The next day we did some experiments with two worms. We were having a hard time finding our earthworms in the bottle so we went out to the worm bin and grabbed a couple of red worms.



We did a lab worksheet for these tests to add to our science notebook. We are using Pandia Press REAL Science Odyssey Life Level One for our curriculum.  I tend to add a lot of extras on to our curriculum to follow Jack's interest.  Jack also drew a worm and labeled it and then wrote the Latin name for the phylum and the meaning to add to his notebook. We didn't make a worm jar with the different layers. We have had a worm bin for over a year now and he understands the process well.


Next we dissected an earthworm. This wasn't part of the curriculum, but he was interested so we did it. This was quick and really informative.  Questions he had were:  Why does a worm have a gizzard? Why does a worm have 5 hearts?

We will print the pictures out to put in to his science notebook along with his questions and the answers that he finds.






Shovelnose snake

While at the park this past Friday, someone in our group found a shovelnose snake. 


It's very small, but fiesty.


We brought it home to show Zac and keep for a few days for observation.  We did consult my brother who is as much of a snake expert as we have around these parts. He helped us set up a small tank and get the right kind of food for him.  As soon as he hit the sand, he started to burrow in it.


It is a very beautiful snake.


He really enjoys this log decoration and is eating his crickets.


I had never seen one before this. He has been fascinating to watch and observe.  The way he digs and buries himself. And I can't believe how long they can stay under the sand.  Really fascinating! 

Egg Science day

Instead of having an Easter Egg hunt at our homeschool group park day the weekend of Easter, we decided to do an egg science day.


First we had an egg drop.


Then we did egg crash test dummies. This one was fun.


Then we tried to squeeze the egg and break it.  Eventually the teenagers were able too.


Here are some links to the experiments:

Top 10 Easter Science Experiments

My Egg Science Pinterest Board




Learning about snakes.

We have recently started a weekly project learning group within our homeschool group.  We are still learning and evolving with project based learning and some of our members have never heard of it before, but they like the idea. 

We have been meeting once a week for a few hours. After many attemps to get things rolling, we decided to provide a framework to  steer the projects for the time being.  We decided to use the Harry Potter series to steer our project topics.

Since the first thing that happens in The Sorcerer's Stone is Harry's encounter with the snake, we decided that snakes would be our first topic.  For our first meeting on snakes, each of the kids researched something about snakes that they wanted to learn about.  My brother is a snake enthusiast and brought two of his snakes to tell about and let the kids hold.




Seeing the snakes and being able to hold them was a real learning opportunity. I love the fact that there were a few people who were scared of snakes, or too scared to hold them that by the end of the afternoon were holding them.   That was the best part.  For people to learn and get over their fears of these wonderful creatures.

After the snakes had gone, the kids took turns telling everyone else about their research.  Jack had researched spitting cobras and told the group about them.  After that the group discussed what we would do the next week.  We all decided to dissect snakes. 



Don't worry I will spare you the pics.  It was a wonderful learning experience.  We had kids from 6 years old to 17 years old  dissecting. The 6 year old rocked it. She was so involved and asking questions about everything.   It was an amazing opportunity to learn about these animals. 

So thankful for our fun, crazy homeschool group.

Da Vinci

This past week we went on a field trip to a nearby city with our homeschool group to see the Da Vinci exhibit.




It was a very fun, hands-on exhibit.


The kids were in awe of everything that DaVinci had done.



The kids were all inspired and ready to go home to make things.


We have done this field trip once before, about nine years ago. It has always been one of my favorites.

Science fair

A few weeks ago we had our homeschool group science fair.   The way we do these is really laid back- no awards, no rules, pretty much anything goes.  We just want the kids to get excited about learning and sharing their work with others.  We also want them to get comfortable sharing their work by giving a presentation, but that is not required. 


Jack did a project on the different types of rocks.  He made a project board and set out his rock collection from our science curriculum.  He chose not to talk about his project.  He was really happy with his drawing in which he was trying to show the three types of rocks and how they were formed. 

The other projects included- rocket velocity and different types of fuel,  fire and carbon dioxide, g-force, and  non-Newtonian fluids.  The kids had a blast looking and each others projects and learning about new things. 


magnetic slime

I recently saw this post on Frugal Fun For Boys on magnetic slime.  I knew this would be right up Jack's alley.


This was really easy and quick to make.




It was super messy, but tons of fun.  Jack played with it for days.  Ours was rather thick and we tried to make it thinner the next time around.  We didn't have a  lot of success making it thinner, but it was a great science exploration. 

For the recipe and directions be sure to check out the post on Frugal Fun for Boys.

learning about fossils

Yesterday for our project group learning day we expanded on our fossil exploration.


We took a pie pan and spread a layer of clay in the bottom.  Next we took sea shells, spread vaseline over them, and then pressed them into the clay then removed them leaving imprints.  Finally, we mixed and poured plaster into the pie plate filling in the imprints and making a good base.  The kids loved this. Once they saw the results above they were experimenting with different ways to make their own fossils.


Including a shell mandala.  I can see lots more experimenting in our future. Alex made a dinosaur track replica and Jack cast his own hand. 

It was a great way to talk about casts and molds and the different types of fossils.


Fossil hunting

Yesterday, we had the opportunity to head out on an adventure with some of our friends. We visited two of my favorite places. The first was the fossilized oyster bed in The Grand Staircase National Monument.



The last time we were hear Jack was just a toddler. He has always been my rock guy so I knew he would love to visit here.


There are so many fossils out here, it really is amazing. 



The geology of the area was amazing.  Talisa is taking a geology class right now in college and it was great to have her along. She was able to explain some of the things we noticed.


We found this layer of coal. Which brought up all sorts of questions that we are looking in to.  It crumbled really easily, but the colors are a match to some  of the rock that my husband uses for flintknapping. 


After we had explored for a while, we headed over to the Paria Canyon. The colors in the canyon walls are amazing.


We found the cemetary.



Our last stop was the Paria River.  It is so beautiful here.






It was a beautiful day, spent with wonderful friends. Can't wait to do it again!


Catching up- homeschooling version

What have we been up too? Being sick for one, not so fun.  We have been keeping ourselves busy with lots of field trips, projects and homeschool group activities.

Here is what the last 6 weeks have looked like in our homeschool.


One evening when we were out on our nightly walk, Jack came up with the idea for a book. He immediately came home and started to get to work.  He insisted on typing it on the vintage typewriter.


His friends taught him how to play chess.


We've still been doing our study of rocks and minerals. Here we are studying metamorphic rocks.


Alex made a bunch of terrariums to put around the house.  Everyone loves them.

We also celebrated Chinese New Year with our homeschool group,  went skiing, learned suminagashi, Jack and Zac went to a primitive skills camp, we started a project learning group and more. All those will get their own posts over the coming days.  

What we did this week


We went for a few walks.  We found bat houses along the river.


We stopped by the hardware store for some project material.


The bug had a bath. It also is starting to get out around town. Alex has been practicing like crazy to get the manual down.  It's a cute car!


I taught Jack how to make pancakes. He now wants to make them ALL the time.


I started a moon journal.  I am making various art and finding wonderful quotes to use in it.  Loving this right now. It is a good way to center myself before bed.


We've been enjoying our rock and mineral study. We took our friends on a rock hunt at our homeschool park day on Friday.


Zac made some sandals out of Yucca. He has been starting to get back to practicing his skills. It is nice to see him doing something he loves.

There has also been some hard stuff. Teenage years can be hard. Parenting the teenagers can be hard. Friendships can be hard. I'm talking about adult friendships here.   I've been blessed with many good and true friends. Sometimes it can be hard reaching out to make new ones. Sometimes I trust to soon or too much. Or something.  I don't really know.  Anyways.  It's been one of those weeks.  But the weekend is here and we are enjoying it.  Hope you are too.