Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Relaxed homeschooling, lungs, and blood...What Fun!

Somehow this year, we seem to have found our homeschooling groove. I don't know if it's that A and I have both become much more relaxed in our approach, the fact that she is 6 and a half now, or what, but we seem to be getting more amazing things done this year than ever before in a much more laid back way.

While the OCD me still needs structure, I am seeing some truth in this unschooling thing, and am incorporating so many of the ideas behind it.
Our schedule has become very loose. We study what we feel called to. We've stopped calling the time that we focus on structure 'School' and have started calling it our 'Study Time'.
I am seeing A learn, create, and thrive in the time we spend just living. She is writing more, building more, and exploring more.

A has been spending an incredible amount of time on her I-pad with an app call Monster Physics. The amount of learning she is experiencing through play is mind boggling. She is teaching me physics concepts that I never even knew existed.

The legos have also made a resurgence this week. Currently there is a massive dessert lego scene that has taken over my coffee table, complete with straw gathered from outside to serve as bedding for the horses and camels. 

Comic writing is still going strong. A has been working for the past week on a comic about 2 friends out camping when zombies attacked. It's almost complete, so I'll have to post a pic of that soon.
Then this afternoon, A pulled out her comic templates and created this gem.
A story of a red blood cells life- "fictional, just based loosely on a few facts mom" she informed me.

A is still extremely interested in all things relating to Anatomy, so last week we decided to focus on the respiratory system. We of course read a lot of books, watched a few BrainPop videos, and dove head first into some fun demonstrations like this one that was in one of the books we read.

Then A and I figured out how to make a model lung. I have seen these online before, but all only had one balloon to represent a lung. A wanted it to be realistic, so we figured out this model.
We cut the bottom off a 2 liter coke bottle. We took 2 straws and on the bendy end attached a balloon to each one with a rubber band. We placed that in the bottle, bending the balloons away from each other. These are the lungs.
Pull the top of the 2 straws through the lip of the bottle.  Use a glob of playdough to surround the top of the lip and the straws in order to keep the only air coming in through the straws. 
Cut a piece of a plastic produce bag to place over the bottom of the bottle. Attach to bottle with a rubber band. Then we added a tab made from painters tape to the plastic to use as a handle to pull the plastic (diaphragm)
Pull down and watch the lungs inflate... tada!
A set of working lungs!

This week we are focusing on blood. YAY! And so we started out by making a model of our blood.
Here's how...
Start out with a 1 liter bottle filled about half way with water and colored with yellow food coloring. This will give you the Plasma.
For the red blood cells you will need to get some red Cheerios. How exactly you might ask? Well, place a bunch of Cheerios in a plastic baggie with red food coloring and squish it around. Perfection... Oh but use gloves. I didn't and my hands are still stained! LOL
What better thing to use for the white blood cells than marshmallows. Perfect as they are bigger than the Cheerios, just as white blood cells are larger than red blood cells. 
You can see A sneaking some to eat in the picture below. LOL
We made some platelets out of little pieces of different colored pipe cleaners.
 Add a large amount of Cheerios to the Plasma. Your blood will begin to turn red. Just like red blood cells are what give blood it's red color. Next add a few marshmallows. Remember there are way less of these than red blood cells in our blood. Next add your platelets. Screw the lid firmly in place and shake to mix. Lay bottle of it's side and observe your 'blood'
 A super cool project to help learn the different components of blood and a good way to gross out dad when he comes home LOL.
Have fun experimenting!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A chill is in the air but how about a yummy fish dish for dinner?

There was definitely a chill in the air Sunday. You could feel the change. 
Today we woke up to this beautiful sight.
The view we enjoyed as we ate breakfast....The sun just beginning to rise at 9:30.

 And we are lucky enough to enjoy this beautiful sight from our school room window.

Now that you have basked in the beauty that is our island home, how about a super yummy halibut recipe for you to try.

I had some tomatoes that were close to going bad that I needed to use tonight, so I whipped this quick dish up with a few things we had on hand.

Halibut With A Citrusy Tomato Caper Sauce
  • Olive Oil
  • 2 TBS minced garlic
  • 3 roma tomatoes coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 TBS dried parsley
  • 1 TBS Italian Seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large halibut fillet

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute garlic until fragrant. Add tomatoes, green onions, orange juice, parsley, italian seasoning, and salt and pepper. Stir. Simmer over low while Halibut cooks.
In a cast iron skillet, heat 2 TBS olive oil.
Season halibut with season salt.
Saute halibut over medium heat for 5 mins per side, or until flakes easily with fish. You know the deal, if you have a thicker piece, cook longer than I suggest, thinner piece, cook it for less time  :)
Plate halibut and serve with citrusy tomato caper sauce.

Hope you all had a great Monday. I am off to bed, listening the the Aleutian lullabye that is the roaring winds.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A little math fun- The Number Devil

We've had this book sitting on our bookshelf for a while now. A picked it up the other day and we are both loving it. 
It's about a young boy who hates math. In his dreams he meets the number devil who shows him the amazing and wonderfully thought provoking world of fun that mathematics truly is.
We have only made our way through night one and two so far, but are looking forward to discovering new ideas in the coming weeks.
 A of course could not just listen, but had to explore the concepts herself. I had to smile as she jumped off the couch and ran to get a white board. 
We learned about roman numerals, the importance of zero, multiplication and place value, and exponents.

A explored our birth years...
... and 10 to the power of 1-10. She was excited to see how large her numbers went...
 I loved watching her discover palindromes while multiplying with ones. 
and so on.
How fun!

The we played some dominoes and worked on multiplying doubles.
Who knew math could be so much fun? 
This homeschool thing rocks!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Goverment shutdown vs crabbing

This is what we should have seen out the window today....opening day of commercial king crab season.
Instead the boats are all sitting docked at the Harbor. About 80 of them...unable to start the frenzied season due to the shut down in Washington.

I snapped this pic from from front beach Sunday night. A staged 'headed out to sea' by the Deadliest Catch.
From left to right, you see the Wizard, Northwestern, Time Bandit, Cape Caution, and the Saga.

We've been seeing and hearing this thing flying around filming all week. We don't have many helicopters here...only the coast guard normally.

From my dining area window Sunday night A and I watched all the action.

Then we headed out to the store and snapped this shot along the way.

We also stopped by and saw the Cornelia Marie this weekend. I even got Ansley to pose for a pic.

On the homeschoolin front, our dissection specimines came in the mail today.
A fetal pig, a sheep's brain, heart, and liver, and a cow's eye.....stay tuned for pics.
Night all!

A day in our world- what does it look like on our homeschool adventure?

Have you ever wondered what a day in the life of our homeschooling adventure looks like? Well, if so, then your in for a treat because today I am sharing what our Monday here in Alaska looked like.

I woke A up around 9:15. She lounged in bed while I fed Bella and took her out. When I came back in, I slipped into her bed and we snuggled under the covers while she told me her dreams. 
We were up and moving around 9:30. We headed into the kitchen where I fixed breakfast for her and then I hopped in the shower while she ate. Around 9:45 we settled onto the couch and turned on CNN Student News. This comes on HLN at midnight everyday to be recorded for the next morning. A loves starting her morning like this. 10 minutes later, A and I are both getting dressed and making our beds, and a little after 10 am, we meet in the school room, joined by Bella of course, and start our "study time" with a candle and a morning prayer.

This morning A asked to start with Scout. Scout is what we call our Grade 5 Language Arts program from WinterPromise. The whole series centers around a dog named Scout and his boy Tommy. We used their grade 3 program last year, and skipped to grade 5, focused on organized paragraph writing, this year. 
After working through a few pages of Scout, I pulled up a BrainPop video on the Gold Rush. Then we read more about the California gold rush, and California becoming a state from one of our American History Resources.
Then it was on to science. I pulled up another BrainPop, this time on Volcanoes before A worked in her Daily Science workbook.
Around 11, we headed into the kitchen for a drink and to explore square numbers.
 A used her color cubes to explore square numbers and multiplication, and made a chart of her findings.

 After finishing, she of course had to doodle. A square with a crown :)
 It was almost lunch time when she finished so while I fixed lunch, she plopped onto my bead with Bella and dug into a book she is reading. 
We ate a quick lunch, talked to Nana on the phone for a few minutes, and got ready to head to our homeschool gym class at the PCR.

By 2pm, we had left the gym and were on our way to Safeway to pick up a few things we needed for our next project...
How fun!

We drove out of town and to Summer's Bay to one of the few places on the island that has a sand beach. Most of the beaches are rocky with little if any sand.
A looked up from reading her Highlights Magazine that had come in the mail, smiled from the back seat and said "I love my life. I am so glad I don't go to school."

After a drive down a gravel road, along towering cliffs and breaking surf, we made it to our destination.
We started by digging a small whole in which to sit the base of a Sobe bottle.  A and I then worked to build up the sides of the volcano around our bottle and fill it halfway with water, food coloring, and then added some spoonfuls of baking soda.

 Then it was time to add the vinegar! 
 Eruption time! 
I love the smile on her face.

 I can not even begin to count how many times we did this, but we used up half a box of baking soda and an entire bottle of vinegar!
Totally worth it though.
 When we could erupt no more, it was time to just enjoy to quite beach. Playing and exploring in utter solitude.
 ...finding a seagull carcass, with wings still attached to the rib cage, made for some interesting discussions.
 We listened the the sound of the waves breaking on the beach and eagles flying overhead.

 A game created...
jumping from small dune to dune and rock to rock
 ...and landing in the splits!

 A sponge washed up on the beach...picked up and toted home with us...a perfect last treasure before heading back home.

 On the way back toward town, we caught a glimpse of the island's own snow capped volcano.
Once home, I started a quick pick up of the house and A grabbed some comic templates I had printed for her this weekend and commenced writing her own comic about monsters in a classroom.

I started dinner, and she played with "squinkie town" that she set up this weekend that now takes up over half of the dinning room table.
After dinner, she played Angry Birds on her ipad, played , read a few more chapters, had a snack and listened to me read before she headed to bed around 9pm.

It's days like this when I just have to smile and feel so blessed with the life I live.