Category: homeschool

For our second week of science experiments, we actually did several quick and easy activities to explore the properties of water (and a little bit of phases-of-matter while we were at it).

Surface tension is awesome. We filled a translucent cup with water and talked about how if we added more water, it would surely overflow. Then I produced a handful of paper clips, and we hypothesized that adding metal paper clips would cause the water to spill out as well. Jonas, Susannah, and I all took turns adding one paper clip at a time, and guess what? It never did overflow! (According to the directions, it eventually should have, but we didn’t have enough paperclips.)

Next, we observed condensation. The kids each filled a cup with ice and water and set them on the deck rail. We came back to check on the cups after two minutes’ and five minutes’ time had elapsed and took note of the fine haze and large water drops that eventually covered the outside of the cups. Amazing!

To experience evaporation, we dipped both hands into a pitcher of water. Then we held one hand still and waved the other hand through the air (some of us waved more enthusiastically than others). Can you believe that the waved hands dried faster than the still hands?

We went inside for the next part of our experiment. A pan full of ice + heat from the stove = water! A pan full of water + continued heat from the stove = steam! We talked a little bit about molecules, but that’s a little beyond the 3-6 year old brain, so I didn’t harp on it too much.

The final project for today was to make yogurt popsicles. We talked a little bit about how to classify yogurt (since it takes the shape of its container, it must be a liquid) and what might happen if it spent a few hours in our freezer. It was hard to wait, but after lunch we tasted the frozen yogurt and decided that it’s pretty delicious as a liquid or a solid!

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It’s Volcano Day!

As I’ve mentioned before, Susannah is a little bit obsessed with volcanoes right now. For weeks I’ve been thinking that we ought to make a baking soda volcano for her, and today we finally did it.

First, I pulled up a great short video about the earth science behind volcanic eruptions.

 I assembled our ingredients and brought everything outside to the deck. We used the vase as the center of our volcano. (If I were doing this again, I’d use something a little bit shorter.) The directions I found online worked great.

I filled the vase most-of-the-way full with warm water. Jonas added red food coloring,  and Susannah put in 6 drops (okay, one generous squirt) of dish detergent. I poured a heap of baking soda into a small ramekin, and each kid added one tablespoon to the vase.

Then we heaped soil around the vase to make the cone of the volcano. (Some online sources recommend making salt dough for your volcano, and I can see why. My vase was pretty tall, so we couldn’t get the dirt to heap high enough to meet the opening, at least working on the cookie sheet. Still – for a 3 and 6 year old, it was close enough.)

The final step is to slowly pour vinegar into the vase. I used apple cider vinegar because it’s what I had on hand, and look at that lovely “lava flow!”

Jonas and Susannah were thrilled and Pax was inquisitive. He even lapped up a little bit of the foamy “lava,” poor dumb pup.

After the lava finally quit flowing, we wrote about our experiment. Susannah used the large doodle pad and I wrote her words; I was really suprised at some of what she retained! Jonas wrote on lined paper and illustrated on construction paper. His text said, “Volcanos. Do not tuch lava becus its hot. What we yoused. We pute bakeing soda in the volcano then we put the drit on the vase. Then we put the vinagr. Eruption lava.”

They had so much fun, and it was so simple, that I think I’ve decided to have a Scientific Summer. It wouldn’t be too hard to pull ideas for 8-10 experiments and do one each week. If we write & draw about each one, we’d have a neat little book by the time school starts back in the fall!

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Most of the time, our homeschool days bear very little similarity to my days as a public-school teacher. Oh yes, we read ‘n write ‘n cipher… but it’s one-on-one (plus a little sister and a baby sister underfoot) so it’s different. Jonas FLIES through some coursework and we linger in other areas. We do a lot of learning “off the record” when a snippet of information he picked up somewhere sparks his curiosity and he wants to know more.

But today was the first day of Jonas’ very first standardized testing, and it was so odd to have this part of my “old life” show up here. As a credentialed teacher, I was certified to administer the ITBS test in our home. The state of Kentucky doesn’t actually require standardized testing for homeschoolers, and because of Jonas’ age he isn’t technically registered as homeschooler yet anyway. (KY requires reporting from ages 6-16; since Jonas turned six in February, this coming fall will be the first year we will need to report to our school system as homeschoolers.) However, we decided that we’d like to see where he tests in terms of grade-level, both for our own information –are there any areas where I might have a ‘blind spot’ that he needs improvement?– and in case we need documention in the future if we choose to enroll him in a public or private school. So, we ordered the first grade level exam and picked a date to begin.

Of course, there are still some differences when doing this test at home; passing out test booklets and pencils to ONE kid instead of twenty goes much faster. And we only had to wait until Jonas finished each section before moving ahead to the next (in a classroom, I’m pretty sure he’d be like I was at that age: first one finished, twiddling his thumbs until he could finally move on when the rest of the group was done).

It’s also okay for him to talk aloud during the test, because he won’t be giving away the answers to anyone else. Halfway down page 3, for example, he bubbled in his answer and exclaimed happily, “This is SO MUCH FUN!”

We completed vocabulary, word analysis, listening skills, and reading today. There are still several sections in to go: language, mathematics (math concepts and computation), science, social studies, and information resources. We’ll be testing tomorrow and, if needed, Friday. Then we’ll mail off the booklets and wait for his scores.

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We’ve been adding leaves each day during our school time. I love especially that every family member ended up on the tree, although that took four days. And I love that “ice cream,” “sandwiches,” and “food” are separate entries.

Also note: this tree is on our ‘school wall,’ which is about a 4-foot long space in between the family room and the eat-in space of our kitchen. It’s a major thoroughfare, and the tree has suffered a few rips over the last two weeks.

And finally, please note that this morning Susannah decided to water the tree. With water from her Kleen Kanteen. Super.

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The Scarecrow Who Loved Hay
by Jonas P. Nebel

Once upon a time, there was a little scarecrow who loved hay. Whenever he got some hay in him, he got squishier and squishier until he got bones. Then he began to walk and walk, all the way to the airport. When he saw a airplane, it looked like a bird. Whenever he saw the airplane-bird, he climbed onto it and it started to fly. Whenever it landed, it landed in Georgia. In Georgia, he met my Grandmama. Then he met my Poppa, my Nonna, and my cousin Ethan.

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We joined the United Christian Home Schoolers of Owensboro last month, and we got to take our first group field trip this week!

A few firefighters showed us around the downtown fire station. We got to see all the gear they wear, the vehicles they use (there was a pump truck, a ladder truck, a rescue truck, a 4-wheeler, and a boat, in addition to the fire chief’s bright red pickup truck), and some of the cool equipment they have (like a night-vision heat detector thing, the proper name for which I’ve completely forgotten).

It was a blast!

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Meet the author

MICHELLE NEBEL

I write uplifting women’s fiction woven with threads of faith, grace, and Southern hospitality. My blog is where I share a glimpse of my life, and I hope you’ll find the thoughts here encouraging!

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