Skittles Experiment

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I’ve seen this experiment several places online and the results looked so impressive that I just had to try it out with the kids.  Check out the beautiful pics of our Skittles experiment!  I know that we’ll be repeating this experiment to see the beautiful color combinations–probably whenever we have company over.  They’ll think we’re magicians!

Materials:

  • Skittles
  • large plate
  • warm/hot water
  • measuring cup

Directions:

  1. Arrange Skittles in a circle around the outside edge of the plate, making sure to alternate colors.  Plate should sit on a level surface.  (This really does affect the outcome of the experiment!)
  2. Pour warm water in the middle of the plate so that it spreads out just beyond the line of Skittles.
  3. Watch closely because the colors will disperse fairly quickly.  Try not to shake the plate or it will cause the colors to shift about and muddy.

This experiment is a fun jumping off point for talking about diffusion.  You can see that concept in action by watching the colors diffuse through the water.

 

The Way of the Samurai Book Giveaway — CLOSED

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I will officially be starting monthly giveaways on my Relaxed Homeschooling blog!  This month’s giveaway is The Way of the Samurai by Inazo Nitobe.  I thought it looked like a really interesting and educational book.  If you would use this book in your homeschooling endeavors, go ahead and enter!

You can enter by following the link below.  It’s open to participants within the 48 contiguous United States and will end on Feb. 28, 2017.  The winner will be announced on my blog and contacted through email.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Nathan Hale: Revolutionary Spy by Nathan Olson

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Here’s another book from my quest to find interesting graphic novels.  Nathan Hale: Revolutionary Spy is a book that can be digested in one sitting.

Premise:

Nathan Hale was a young man who lived in Connecticut immediately prior to the Revolutionary War.  He was a student at Yale and later taught others (even getting up early to teach girls for free).  Having grown up amid the colonists’ unrest due to British taxes, he volunteered to join the army.  Nathan’s willingness to serve as a spy and his refusal to betray his country are commendable.  Unfortunately, his life was cut short when he was only 21 years old.

My thoughts:

I think this book is a great beginner biography for elementary-age children.  They get a quick overview of Nathan’s life–just enough to pique their interest.  Once they’re at a higher reading level they can come back to Nathan’s story and read a book that is more in depth.

I enjoyed reading about Nathan and the defining moments in his life.  He sounds like a remarkable young man, and it’s a tragedy that his life was cut short.  I’m sure he would have gone on to do many more commendable deeds had he lived longer.  Particularly gratifying was his view on the importance of educating women.  He was truly ahead of his times!

The book is divided into four very short chapters: Student and Teacher, Soldier and Leader, Daring Spy, and War Hero.  At the end, you’ll find a section with more information about Nathan Hale.

I recommend this book to kids who enjoy graphic novels and would prefer to learn about history through that medium.  This particular book is best suited to elementary-age children.

Possible Objections:

  • Nathan is hanged (while we only see his silhouette, kids may still find it disturbing)

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Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Alamo All-Stars by Nathan Hale

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I read Alamo All-Stars over the course of a couple days. This is a super-fun graphic novel that is perfect for teaching kids about history!  I’m excited to check out the other books in this series.

Premise:

Learn about the early history of the state of Texas, its inhabitants, and their relationship with Mexico.  Who fought for the independence of the Texas?  Why?  How did the Mexican government respond?  What happened at the Alamo?  You’ll find answers to all these questions and more in Alamo All Stars!

My thoughts:

I love this book!  It’s a fantastic way to teach kids about history in a fun and engaging way.  Who wants to read about a bunch of stale dates and names in a history book?  Let kids learn history through graphic novels!!

I’m a big history fan when it’s presented in an interesting format.  Alamo All Stars definitely meets that requirement.  My school days were inexplicably absent of almost any information pertaining to U.S. History.  I don’t know how that happened, but it did.  So I learned about a period of American history that was completely new to me.  And now the story makes sense and will stick with me.  If a person can see a story unfolding before their eyes, it’s more likely that they will retain that information.

It was pretty cool to learn about the roles that Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie played at the Alamo.  (Yes, I’m talking about the man who has a knife named after him.)  I had no idea that they were there!

There are a few stock characters who act as narrators in this book (and the others in the series).  They help provide background information and commentary, as well as a little humor.  The illustrations have a somewhat simple style, but I think they’re quite nice.

I recommend this book for anybody in the elementary to teen years who wants to learn about history in an interesting way.  This would also be great for homeschoolers or to augment a history classroom.

Possible Objections:

  • One instance of the d-word
  • Some violence

Super Shark Encyclopedia and Other Creatures of the Deep by Derek Harvey

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Super Shark Encyclopedia is another book that came from our out-of-town library trip.  My second son absolutely loves encyclopedia-type books, so I thought he might enjoy looking at this one.

Premise:

This is an encyclopedic book which teaches the reader about many different ocean creatures.  There is a short section at the beginning of the book which shows the different “layers” of the ocean and briefly explains them.  It has sections on Amazing Anatomy, Animal Athletes, Life Stories, Supernatural Senses, and Exploring the Deep.  Creatures are featured using full-color photography, basic statistics, and a short description.  A short glossary in the back helps out with more uncommon terms.

My thoughts:

We really like this book.  It has interesting tidbits of information about many different sea creatures, and that information is perfectly complimented by the wonderful visuals.  It’s short enough that I can look at it with my smaller kids, but contains enough information to keep my elementary-age kids reading it themselves, too.  Personally, I love any book about animals.  This one is quite engaging.

The photos in this book are amazing!  They are clear and colorful, close-up and just plain beautiful.  The pages are quite large so that means the photos are nice and large, too.

I would recommend this book for elementary through preteen children.  The entries are fairly concise and may not contain enough information to satisfy older readers.

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Duct Tape Clipboard – Art

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This activity is a fun and easy craft which also serves a purpose in keeping your child organized.  The duct tape clipboard would be the perfect place for your child to keep a list of the things they want to accomplish during the week.

To make these, we purchased some Superman duct tape at Walmart to dress up a plain brown clipboard.  One roll is enough to do two clipboards, if you do about seven rows of tape on each side.  My girls got Hello Kitty ones. Your kids could even make these as gifts for friends or cousins.

There are lots of cool duct tape designs:

Angry Birds

Avengers

Batman

Butterfly

Colored Squares

Despicable Me

Gummy Bears

Hearts

Musical Notes

Peacock Feathers

Phineas & Ferb

Pink Polka Dot

Polka Dot

Skulls

SpongeBob

Star Wars

Zebra Print

School Supplies – 2016/2017

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The beginning of this school year has been rather stressful for our family.  We have spent the summer getting our house ready to sell and packing up our belongings so that we can move.  The only problem is, the new school year has arrived and we haven’t moved.  So here we are, caught without school supplies or books because they’re languishing in storage.  It isn’t really feasible to dig the boxes out because we have a large unit and I don’t even know where they are.

The night before we were supposed to start school, I made a trip to Walmart, hoping to find some inspiration there.  (Can you tell I was feeling a little desperate?)

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I found a few things there:

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They also had a medium-sized dry-erase board which we’ll use for many different things.

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In their clearance section there were some simpler cross-stitch patterns.  I think the three eldest should be able to handle these.

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Finally, I picked out birdhouses, brushes and paint from their craft section.  I’m sure the kids will enjoy this activity!

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I got a Sony camera and bag for my eldest, who’s shown an interest in photography.  We got a fractions workbook for the 9-year-old at Imagination Station.  My mom dropped off notebooks the last time she visited, which will come in handy for many uses.  Each child will use their own notebook for:

  • recording spelling lists
  • writing
  • recording scientific observations
  • scratch paper for math problems

Supplies 2016 - 1

I also took the kids to BAM and let each of them pick out an educational book to use this year:

McGraw-Hill Education: Math Grade 6
DK Eyewitness Books: Hurricane & Tornado
Rocks, Minerals & Gems
Magic School Bus Presents: The Human Body
Little Box of Crystals and GemsHuman Body: A Visual Encyclopedia (I forgot to include this in the photo)

Supplies 2016 - 4

We started off by listing the subjects to be covered and how often they would occur each week.  The youngest child is just starting kindergarten, so her load will be lighter.  The kids then copied the list onto their own sheet of paper.  They keep track of what they finish each week using tick marks.

Supplies 2016 - 9

The board is a great place to display the weekly writing prompt.  The kids can write their response in their notebook.  Younger kids can draw a picture and dictate their story to you.

Supplies 2016 - 8

Here you can see our weekly spelling list on the whiteboard. I chose words based on those I noticed the kids had misspelled.  On the sheet of paper you can see our list of potential field trips.  I asked the kids to brainstorm ideas and had the eldest write them down while I left to complete a chore.  They did really well working together.

That’s it–the beginning of our school year.  It’s been less than ideal, what with all of the uncertainties and upheaval in our life right now, but I think we’ve dealt with it okay.

How has the beginning of your school year been so far?