Thursday, April 22, 2010

My Boring Life

Whew! What a day!

Today I packed up Abigail and the stroller, picked up Anna as a backup, and took us all over to the A Beka Books open house taking place about 1/2 hour away. I got to glance through their display last week at MACHE, but we had three hours before the displays closed and three buildings to get through, and I was stressed and knew an open house would be a much less stressful setting, so I didn't buy anything. Today was different - I know a bit more about what next years curriculum is going to look like (lol, I know a bit more about what the next four years are going to look like!) so I was more prepared.

I picked up science books and test/key sets for the twins (14) and Ruth (10)... I don't really intend to modify the course much, as I am not a science-y person. I picked up a lot of language arts material in various grades to use as reviews/quick studies, since it has recently come to my attention that our language art skills are a little lacking. Ok, try nonexistent. I am trying to keep a hopeful mind, since we were working 4th grade math on October and the kids just tested into 7th grade math last week, and will probably test close to grade level by the start of the next school year (we'll definitely be working math over the summer!), but on the other hand... Oh, I am so discouraged! It feels like just when I get one area under control, I find another area that needs just as much work. I would love to take the summer off because right now I just feel so overwhelmed, but when I think about "wasting" even a few weeks, I feel almost more overwhelmed. Arg. No good answers, apparently, just keep chugging away and do the best we can. Anyway...

I also picked up a history course for Ruth at grade level, but I'm also conscious that if I can't get her reading at a much higher level by next year, I'm not sure how much of this curriculum she'll be able to handle. This is key - I absolutely HAVE to get her reading over the summer! Must must MUST! As far as the twins go, I want to do world history/geography, but I wasn't in love with the A Beka course, so I bought the map worksheets and am going to cobble together my own curriculum.

Anna (16) bought a Bible Doctrines course for next year. I was impressed by the curriculum, and I think that not only will the knowledge be useful to her, but that the textbook itself feels less like a textbook and more like a reference book. Well worth the $16!

I also bought several grades worth of math for Ruth, as she also has some major catching-up to do in the arithmetic department, but I think she will be easier to get caught up since she is still pre-algebraic. ;)

I expected to feel less stressed out after getting the curriculum together... instead I think I feel a little more. :(

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I'm A Mad Scientist!

Okay, well, maybe not so mad... and not much of a scientist... :)

I've been trying to be good about doing one hands-on "lab science" type session per week with the twins (we usually pull Ruth and Anna into our sessions, too!). This week we're studying the matter and motion unit in our science books, so I immediately thought about
this density column experiment. I remember doing it myself when I was their age and having a blast!

One of my goals this year was not only to get us caught up to grade level, but to establish good schoolwork habits (write neatly, do your work, read the instructions, etc), so before we began I had each kid bring their notebook and sharpened pencil over, and reviewed standards - neatness, show their work, etc. Some of us are naturally more neat than others, but all of us have to make the effort, lol! We paused between each step to let everyone record the results in their notebooks, and I also kept track of the results on a whiteboard.

We started off by weighing the same amoung of seven different liquids - water, salt water (we added about 2 tablespoons to every cup), molasses, oil, vinegar, wine (don't ask!), and syrup - basically every liquid we could find in the pantry. Using a postal scale, we measured 1/4 cup of each liquid and recorded the respective weights (I don't remember the results off the top of my head, lol, but they were each different). I very casually introduced
the scientific method - hypothesize, experiment, gather data, form conclusions - and we had a lot of fun making hypotheses about what each liquid would weigh, how much the salt would change the density of the water, what the heaviest and lightest liquids would be, etc.
After recording the results, I told the kids we were going to "stack" the liquids and asked them to hypothesize about the order the liquids would take.

We built our density column out of a ruler and a cylindrical vase. Everyone took turns pouring about 1 1/2" of their favorite liquid into the vase and we watched it form into layers. We compared the actual results to our hypotheses - I think everyone got it right! - and then began dropping small items in to see on which layer they landed. Key? straight to the bottom. Paper clip? straight to the bottom (this surprised me... I thought it might slow down a little around the molasses/syrup layer). Ditto BB pellets. Airsoft pellets landed on top of the water layer; same with the crayon. The plastic poker chip (I know, I know, wine and poker chips?!?) hung out on top of the oil.

Overall, we had a fun day in the old science lab - I mean, the kitchen. :)