Newton’s Three Laws.

nlmWe’ve been focusing a lot on Physics these past few months. Nicholas just wants to keep learning more and more, so we do more and more. I’m big into child-directed learning (as you probably know), and like to follow his lead. It doesn’t mean that we don’t do anything else, but we do a lot of things that he likes.

I’ve liked the whole “lapbooking” thing for a while. But what I don’t like is that so many lapbooks are cut and paste – they don’t have room for the kids to write or draw. So when I use someone else’s lapbook, I tend to add things into them.

In this case, we used this small window book of Newton’s Laws from Jimmie’s Collage. I simply printed out the file and then cut everything out. We also didn’t make a real window book, I simply stapled the sides of the paper together. But instead of having it be a cut and paste activity, I added things in.

First, we cut out the picture of Newton and put it on a cover page and Nicholas had to write “Newton’s Laws” on the front page. Second, he cut out the boxes that titled each law (the ones that say Newton’s First Law, etc) and glued them to a page. he then had to copy what each law says under the pasted on box. He wanted to use markers, so I let him. He still doesn’t write really well, which is fine, so sometimes it took two pages to write the law.

Then we stapled it all together and he got to make a book. He was really proud of the book – which is a good thing because I like it when he’s proud of the work he does.

After we completed the book, we went online to view some images of Newton’s Laws. This site has an amazing series of little GIFs about the laws that was really helpful for Nicholas to see.

Lastly, we pulled out his toy cars. Toy cars? Yes. Toy cars. After seeing the GIFs and writing the laws, I wanted to see how much he really understood about them. What better way than a practical exam?

So I would say a law and he would have to demonstrate it with his toy cars, and use the correct words. Nothing in our house can go “fast,” it has to “accelerate,” have “constant speed” or be “in motion.” It’s important to use the correct words from the start. When he decided he was confused, he could refer to the book he made.

Surprisingly, he did quite well. He wanted to play at this quiz a lot longer than I did. We spent about an hour with me saying things like, “First,” and  “Second” and having him use his cars (and crash them together) to demonstrate the laws of motion.

So that was our study of Newton’s Laws.


Metals lesson.


There are a lot of metals in the world. What makes something a metal? What makes them all unique?

There are a lot of metals in the world. What makes something a metal? What makes them all unique?

I used the free lapbook/notebook that can be found here as my basis for the lesson. I also added some stuff in. We aren’t a big lapbooking family. But I love it when people have the lapbooks put together because I can generally use some of the ideas to make our own lessons.

Here’s the link for the metals lapbook/notebook.

Preparation –

I simply printed out the lapbooking materials. I love looking through them and picking and choosing what I want to use.  I decided that for our quick lesson today we would use page 12 – it’s the introduction page.

First we sat down at the desks and I asked the kids what are some metals they know.

Answers: Gold, silver, bronze, copper, tin, lead, titanium, steel, and zinc.

Then I asked the kids what those items all share (Please compare them). I got some silly answers (We can find them all in a car), to some more serious ones  – they are all found in rocks or the ground; we can make them all take shapes, and they all conduct electricity.

Metals can be found everywhere. We found metals all over our neighborhood. Where can you find metals?

Metals can be found everywhere. We found metals all over our neighborhood. Where can you find metals?

Then Nicholas had to read the paper (page 12). He highlighted the words he didn’t know. We looked up the words on Google (he simply Googled “definition of…..”).

Next we pulled out our Periodic Table of Elements. On the back of the paper Nicholas had to write the elements that are also metals. It was fun to see his excitement at writing down all the metals – and their atomic number (that was his add to the program).

Finally, we went on a metal hunt. The kids took their videocamera and made a video of them going around the neighborhood finding metals. I thought that was fun. I gave them 20 minutes to find as many metals as they could. They really enjoyed running around and finding metals.

Free German Resources.

We are working on more German this year. I'm hoping that we can all speak pretty well at the end of the year.

We are working on more German this year. I’m hoping that we can all speak pretty well at the end of the year.

I have found many free resources on the Internet for German this year. Last year we started with Powerglide German, and a German tutor. This year we are continuing with Powerglide (sometimes) – but we are also using new resources.

BBC has a great German learning program with videos. It’s a lot of fun. We are watching one video per day, although sometimes we watch the same video many times in a row if my kids  – and I – haven’t learned the lesson yet. It just depends on how we learn the lesson on wether we watch the video.

Here’s the link: BBC German program.

I’ve also found a bunch of free worksheets on the web. This means I can print out worksheets and we can do them as a family – me included! We often have fun coloring them in, writing the words, and doing the worksheets together. My husband then gets the grade the worksheets. The kids find it pretty amusing that they get better grades than Mom. It’s also a way for my husband to be a part of our homeschooling experience, since he sometimes feels left out.

Free German worksheets 1

Free German worksheets 2

Free German worksheets 3

Free German worksheets 4

Lastly, we speak German. I have some phrases that I will only say in German – “It’s time to go home” and “Stop” – are always done in German. But we also have time at night or in the morning. My husband likes to speak German with them over breakfast in the morning. We also have found a great German restaurant in town. When we go there we only speak in German. We go at least once a month. It is fun to watch the kids constantly have to repeat their English words in German.

I think we are only able to do this because my husband speaks German fluently. I’m not sure I’d have the incentive to learn another language at this time and speak it with the kids if it wasn’t for my husband constantly challenging us. And to make it even more challenging – my kids are picking it up so fast! I feel so slow compared to how quickly they are picking up German!

What will your verse be?

Robin Williams died yesterday. I really loved most of his work. He was first introduced to me in “Dead Poets Society” and then I became a fan. I’ve watched Mork and Mindy, Patch Adams, Good Will Hunting, and a ton of other movies because he was in the movie. In honor of his death, we are spending today’s lesson reading poetry and talking about it. In fact, we have made our own “Dead Poet’s Society” in our house.

We built a fort.

Then we watched this fabulous clip where Robin Williams is asking the students what heir verse will be.

Now we are reading poetry and talking about it.

Here are the poems we are reading today:

Walt Whitman: Oh Me! Oh Life!

Robert Frost: The Road Not Taken 

Rudyard Kipling: If

We then talked about which poem was our favorite. Each of us got to draw a picture representing our favorite poem, then tell everyone else about the picture.

Was there talking and reading in this lesson? Yes. Was there presentations and public speaking? Yes. Did each of us have to decide on a favorite and articulate a reason why? Yes. We practiced all these skills in a simple poetry lesson. And we also got to have a lot of fun huddling in a fort and doing class in a place that wasn’t a table, classroom, or desk.

Adding to our German resources.

We’ve been studying German for a year. We have had a German tutor, a German program (which was fun, but we didn’t do religiously), and my husband speaking German with us. So now what do we do? I don’t think the kids are ready to move onto the higher level German courses, but we need a way to still practice.

Browsing on Amazon I found the following resources –
The Everything Learning German Book: Speak, write, and understand basic German in no time

German for Children with Two Audio CDs, Third Edition

Lightning-Fast German for Kids and Families: Learn German, Speak German, Teach Kids German – Quick As A Flash, Even If You Don’t Speak A Word Now! (German Edition)

I haven’t gotten the books yet, but I hope they come in soon. This way, I have extras to add to my German course. I am also having the kids watch German cartoons on YouTube. The words go really fast, but it gets them used to the cadence of the language. Nicholas was so excited yesterday when he could pick out some of the words in German. Since the kids have to work at watching them, I generally pick the German shorts. Even better, I get to delegate this task to the husband. He gets to do it, and send me links.

Delegating it to the husband has a bunch of benefits, not the least of which is that he feels involved. But the kids also like watching something that daddy has picked out for them – they watch it with very little fuss. It’s been amazing having him so involved in German. If only he could get more involved with a lot of other things too.

Science articles for the week.

The goal is to have your student read and write. Whether it is fiction or non-fiction, the goal remains the same. I use nonfiction for my son – he likes to read about science. Reading about science also exposes him to a wide variety of vocabulary words and interesting punctuation. He reads enough fiction on his own and with me during reading time.

In addition, he’s learning about random topics while reading non-fiction. He loves all things science, and so reading about science helps him learn even more about a topic he already loves. If he had to read about dance or ponies, he probably wouldn’t do it as often. Lastly, by choosing articles that I know he will like, I don’t have to argue with him about doing the reading portion of the work. Sometimes we still argue about the writing – but we never have an argument about the reading.

Here’s the list of articles we’ve been using:


The next batch of articles.

In case you need more inspiration for reading science related things – or your child does – here are the list of the other articles we have used over the past week.

Remember, the goal is to read and then write a summary. I’m always happy when Nicholas wants to talk about the article, but he always has to write at least one sentence to summarize the article – since I want him to practice writing. I often get a lot of push back on writing. But the deal is, he has to write the sentence before he gets up. Otherwise, the whole exercise gets started over with a new article.

Sometimes he wants to read three or four before he writes his sentence – and that’s okay too. But he has to write a sentence before he gets up – legibly and that actually summarizes the article. Not simply copying the title.

Here’s the list:

Color and ice.

We did a color and ice experiment. Or really, we played with tools, ice, and color.

Here's the bin before the kids started playing with the ice. Food coloring, water, pipe cleaners, and all our tools.

Here’s the bin before the kids started playing with the ice. Food coloring, water, pipe cleaners, and all our tools.

Here’s what we used:

  • A plastic bin to hold the ice
  • 2 plastic containers for water
  • Paint brushes
  • Food coloring
  • Knives and spoons
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Hammers (the ones we use with playdough)
  • Towels

All I had to do was put everything outside, and away they played. For 2 hours.

First, the kids grabbed the food coloring and made their water different colors. Then they dripped it on the ice. Then they rubbed the ice cubes together. They were shocked to find that the food coloring made the ice not stick together. They had previously made ice sculptures by using water to make the ice cubes stick to each other. But with the food coloring, the ice wasn’t sticking. Abby and Nicholas had a great conversation about it. I got to sit and listen to them. It went something like this:

N: Why won’t they stick together with food coloring? Mom?!

A: Maybe it’s too colored.

N: Maybe. Let’s see. Stuck two ice cubes together without food coloring. Then tried to stick two of the colored ice cubes together – and they didn’t stick.

A: See. I told you so.

N: Yeah. But I bet the colored water works.

A: No. Your colored water is too brown (Nicholas had made it all brown).

N: Tries with his colored water, and it worked. Ha Abby, I told you so.

A: Okay. But now my hands are all colored.

N: We can wash them later. Let’s smash ice cubes!

A: Okay. I get the pink ones.

N: They aren’t pink. They are just less red than some others.

Coloring the water and the ice was one of the first things they did.

Coloring the water and the ice was one of the first things they did.

I love listening to conversations like this. They have these amazing conversations where they are playing and discovering things, all without being led somewhere. They are simply exploring the world around them, and these lessons will stick with them better than any other lessons. When they do something that’s similar to this, they can simply flash back to the things they learned while playing. There’s a reason why kids learn best while playing, and why all we have to do – as parents – is present them with opportunities.

It’s really quite amazing to listen to the conversations that go on for hours about this. I imagine we will be discussing the ice activity as a favorite for days to come. My kids tend to get stuck on these things and request repeats. Next time, I think I’ll make ice cubes in different shapes and colors beforehand. Then I don’t have to give them food coloring and watch them color themselves, their clothes, and the patio.

So our AAR (after action report) went something like this (I ask the questions, and the kids give their responses):

What did we use?

  • Ice cubes
  • Hammers
  • Colors
  • Water
  • Paintbrushes
  • Hands
  • Feet
  • Knives
  • Sticks
  • Rocks (they found some in the back yard)
  • Leaves (they picked them off the plants and used them as decoration)

    Yes, we were in pajamas. No one wanted to get dressed. It's one of the great things about homeschooling -science and learning in pajamas.

    Yes, we were in pajamas. No one wanted to get dressed. It’s one of the great things about homeschooling -science and learning in pajamas.

  • Water

What did we do?

  • Played with ice
  • Made ice sculptures
  • Colored water
  • Painted ice
  • Smashed ice
  • Melted ice
  • Painted my feet (Abby)
  • Had fun
  • Mixed colors
  • Stuck ice together
  • Colored ice
  • Used a knife
  • Drilled holes

What did we learn?

  • Ice sticks with water.
  • Ice doesn’t stick with too much food coloring.
  • Red, yellow, and blue make brown.
  • Mixing colors makes other colors.
  • Colored ice melts into colored water.
  • Breaking ice is hard.
  • Smashing ice is fun.
  • Smashing smaller pieces of ice is easier than the big pieces.
  • Food coloring colors people too.
  • Water can melt ice in patterns.
  • Leaves can stick to ice.

What words describe our experience?

  • Fun
  • Smash
  • Color
  • Ice
  • Cold
  • Wet
  • Exciting
  • Loud
  • Crush
  • Drop
  • Multicolored
  • Friction
  • Melt

Hands on for August.

This week is the last week before vacation! We are headed out to a family reunion (yes, my kids still do work at vacation. It keeps them on a pattern, a routine, that helps ground them when they are in a place where everything else is different).

I’m gathering everything for August. It turns out that we might be on our own for homeschooling this year. I applied to a charter school like the one we used in Sacramento, but they are all booked up and don’t have room for us right now. So we are going to homeschool on our own – or I’m making plans for that.

In preparation, I’m working on our August curriculum. Nicholas has requested that we do more hands on things. I have a stock of science kits in the garage that we will work our way through, but I wanted something to do that’s more engineering – that will force him to think outside the box. So I found this great book called Tinkerlabs – it’s all about helping little inventors get inventing.

One of the best parts about this book is that Nicholas can read it himself. We will pick something to do on Monday. Then he has to make a list of what he needs and what we have. Tuesday we can shop, and the rest of the week will be spent doing the project. There’s a Home Depot, a Michael’s, and several parts stores right by us. I imagine that we can find most parts easily. And what we can’t find, we can use Amazon Prime to have shipped to us in a few days.

I’m super excited to get started on these projects. I’m also really excited that Nicholas is excited about his August plans. It’s always best in our house when the kids are excited about what they are doing.


A new find…….

I’ve found a new blog that I like.

It’s Not Just Cute.

I found her blog because a friend posted one of her posts about dry ice bubbles. Since I’m always looking for science experiments we can do at home, I totally opened her post and now we are doing the experiment today.

But as I started browsing through her stuff, I kept finding more and more that I liked.

It’s sometimes hard for me to find other homeschool bloggers that I like to read a lot. Some are too religious for me. Some homeschool through homesteading (which isn’t a possibility for us). And still more are homeschooling special needs kids – which I don’t have to deal with. Others blog about their specific style of homeshcooling – usually one of the big three (Montessori, C Mason, or a packaged curriculum). These all have some good ideas, but aren’t really a good set for me to spend a lot of time reading – because they don’t apply to us.

But Not Just Cute blogs a lot like I do – about random stuff, with some themes in there. And they still have great ideas.

So I’m stealing her experiment – and her questions! But I’m going to add a few questions to the list. I’ll post our poster about the experiment on the blog later today and add a format for you to do a poster too. I do love doing posters about experiments. They are almost better than keeping a lab book for younger kids because you can print out pictures, post them on the poster, and describe them.

We then put the posters on our walls. Needless to say, people who come into our house always comment on the decor – which I call homeschool chic.

I hope everyone has a good day!

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