Friday, August 20, 2010

Scientists In The House!

Since we were originally going to spend Tuesdays at co-op, all my lesson plans this year are designed for a four-day schoolweek. I'll fix them eventually, but this week Ruth already had a four-day schoolweek as she spent Monday going to a doctor's appointment several hours away, and the twins decided to get their schoolwork done by Thursday so that the only work they had to do Friday was a science lab with me. It worked out pretty well, although Ruth did not get quite as much done as I'd hoped. But she's still getting in the swing of things, where the twins are old pros now, so I'm hoping the routine gets easier as we go along. I will say this - having only one student needing constant attention is SO MUCH EASIER than having two! :)

Anyway, today was science day (and catch-up day for Ruth and I). We're using A Beka for science this year for both Ruth and the twins - I don't love A Beka but I wanted a curriculum that had both "book learning" and hands on labs/experiments for each week. The twins' curriculum, Science of the Physical Creation actually has its own lab manual with multiple experiments for each concept - I love! I do have to modify some of the experiments to work with household objects, as I'm not ready to sink a ton of money into science lab equipment (maybe next year), but nothing too bad.

If the twins' curriculum is acceptable, though, I love Ruth's curriculum. We're doing Exploring God's World and the focus is all on observation, hands-on experiments, and the joy of learning. I used this curriculum myself when I was around her age (maybe a little older?) and I still remember many of the concepts from it. It also taught me how to discover things for myself and think logically.

Anyway, today was science lab day. The twins have been studying about scientific notation and measurement this week, so their lab was all about tools we use to measure.

Their first task was the measure the living room using a student ruler. They had to repeat the process twice, then measure the room using a tape measure.

Next we weighed several different objects - a pitcher filled with water, a hymnal, and a crate of books - using a postal scale and a bathroom scale.

Finally, we measured out 250 ML of water using a large kitchen measuring cup, then a smaller liquid measuring cup, then a graduated cylinder.

We recorded the results of our finds in our notebooks and talked about precision and accuracy, and why scientists use different tools to measure different things. The twins then had to fill out a chapter review which, I'll admit, looked hard to me! But they did really well! Elizabeth panicked a little at the beginning (science is not her thing, lol, whereas Allen goes at it like he was a born scientist), but I sat with her and told her that learning to understand scientific terms, etc, was just like learning to speak Spanish or read sewing patterns - it was its own language and took some time. After that she did just fine. :)

Ruth has been learning about what science is, what scientists do, and how our five senses help us investigate about the world around us. The recommended lab project for this lesson was to begin a "science museum" where she could collect items and display them. This is where homeschooling requires a little innovation. The lesson is obviously designed for a classroom, which would have space to set aside for a display, but we're doing schoolwork on the kitchen table! It's hard enough to get it cleared away for lunch! I had decided earlier than instead of keeping a physical display, we would photograph and sketch the objects we study throughout the year and put them in a nature journal. Thus, instead of sending her out to collect flowers to display (and later identify and label), I handed her my digital camera and told her to go out and photography as many flowers as she could find, making sure to get a good picture of the stem, leaves, and flowers (as this will help us identify them in a later lesson). When she returned, I had her sketch the flowers using the photographs and colored pencils. I am uploading the photos to as we speak to make prints; I'll pick up the prints tomorrow and we'll put them in our nature journal along with her sketches.

I did realize when I looked at her sketches that I'd given her too little direction about sketching. I need to teach her about sketching - counting how many flower petals there are, how the veins in the leaves branch out, etc. Just proves I'm still learning to teach!

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