Waves 2

Want to guess what type of wave this is? Then you need to know the four terms: wavelength, period, source, and depth of influence.

Want to guess what type of wave this is? Then you need to know the four terms: wavelength, period, source, and depth of influence.

Here’s the second in the lesson on waves. In this lesson we are focused entirely on 4 terms: period, wavelength, depth of influence, and source.


The period of a wave is the time it needs to complete one cycle.

If it takes less than a second, that is called a ripple.

From 1-10 seconds it is a chop.

From 10-30 seconds it is a swell.

From 5-90 minutes it is a tsunami wave.


Wavelength is the distance between two crests.

The most important thing to know is that a swell can have a wavelength of up to 100 meters. The smaller the wavelength, the closer to shore the wave is – usually.

Under 2 cm it is a ripple.

From 2cm – 10m it is a chop.

Up to 100 m it is a swell.

Anything larger than a swell falls into the tsunami category.

Depth of Influence

The depth of influence is how deep the wave influences the water underneath it. A wave with a large depth of influence will influence water much deeper than the wave. Ripples influence very little underneath them.

A ripple has a very shallow depth of influence.

A chop has a shallow depth of influence, less than half its wavelength.

A swell has a depth of influence that is roughly 1/2 of the wavelength.

A tsunami has a depth of influence that reaches to the bottom of the ocean floor.


All waves – except tsunamis – come from movement of the air above them, or something in the ocean. A tsunami is formed because of violent movement of the earth. These violent movements are things like landslides, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes.

How we practiced these…..

So now that you know the definitions, how do you practice them?

We played a game to practice depth of influence. The depth of influence game goes like this:

1. I call out a type of wave.

2. The kids reach down to the floor, or close to it, depending on how far the depth of influence extends.

So when I said “tsunami,” the kids reached all the way to the floor.

Practicing wavelength and period

For these I simply drew a series of waves on paper and handed them to the kids. Each kid got a color. Nicholas first had to draw a line from one point to the next to represent period. Then Abby got to tell him if he was right. We switched roles with wavelength. Then we switched back. Then they got to tell me what lines to draw – and I purposefully drew them wrong to see if they would correct me.


Once again for the finale we went to the beach and got in the waves we were talking about. Nicholas decided that chops were the best for his boogie board because they “came quick enough, and had a short wavelength,” so he could get in a lot of waves. Abby decided she liked the ripples because they wouldn’t get her wet.


Waves 1.

We live right by the ocean, and so we are learning about waves. Mostly I learn about waves, and then when we are at the beach, the kids and I talk about waves. We get in the waves and name the parts of a wave, and talk about how they come about. So here’s the first lesson on waves. Keep in mind these are lessons on ocean waves, not the physics idea of a wave.


Definition of a wave: Waves are the forward movement of the ocean’s water due to the movement of the water particles by the frictional drag of the wind over the water’s surface.

What makes different waves? Waves are all different. They can be different because of different winds, boats, the shape of the ocean floor, earthquakes, and other outside forces. Even you can make waves!

Swells versus waves. Swells are the regular motion of waves in an open ocean. Swells can range in size. But they travel in open ocean. They do not “break” and “crash.”

Breakers. Breakers are the waves that crest, and then crash into the shore. They come in all different shapes and sizes. The difference between the breakers depends on the shape of the ocean floor beneath them, the riptide pulling back out, and the energy in the wave itself.

Parts of a wave. Each wave has the same parts. They can change in size, but all waves have a crest and a trough. The crest is the top of the wave, the part that reaches the highest point. The trough is the lowest point of the wave under the still water.

Draw a wave

Here are the parts of an ocean wave. We focused on the crest and trough in this lesson. It's only the first lesson - we just stuck with the basics.

Here are the parts of an ocean wave. We focused on the crest and trough in this lesson. It’s only the first lesson – we just stuck with the basics.

Now that we have covered what a wave is, some different types of waves, and the two main parts of a wave, it is time to draw a wave!!!

All you need is markers (or crayons, paint, or your favorite art medium). Each student takes a piece of paper and draws a wave.

Then you label the crest and the trough, as well as write down if it is a swell, a breaker, or a different type of wave.

Nicholas drew huge breakers. Abby drew a ship and a wake for her waves. With dolphins underneath – so she wanted them to be swells, because they were in the open ocean. But it ended up being a wake because it was caused by a ship.

Visiting the waves

At the end of our lesson, we packed up and headed to the beach. We got into the ocean and yelled “crest” when we were in the crest of a wave and “trough” when we were in the trough of a wave. I also made my kids identify why the waves we were in are breakers and not a different type of wave.



Animal tracks.

Todays’s lesson is all about animal tracks.

We know the names of our animals in English (and German!), so it’s a fun lesson. The first part involves some worksheets. The second part is doing stuff.

Here are the worksheets we used:





These are four worksheets that have animal prints and animals. The fun part is that the kids have to look at the animals and figure out which tracks go to which one. We started with the last worksheet (the North American one). Then we went in random order. Each child got to pick one.

When the kids got stuck, I used some simple (very simple) questions to help guide them. Here are the questions:

1. Does the track have claw marks? Can you find animals with claws?

2. Is the track a big foot or a little foot?

3. Are you sure?

I love asking my kids “Are you sure?” The question forces them to stop for a moment and revisit whether or not they are sure about their choice. Sometimes it’s a simple yes answer. Other times the kids stop and reason their choices out loud to see if they are right. Regardless, getting used to making sure you are correct about your choice is a good habit.

Then we went outside. I laid out and taped down butcher paper. We put our feet into paint and made our own tracks. First we walked, then ran, then jumped. We looked at our tracks for each of the movements. The kids played a “same and different” game – what is the same about each of the tracks and what is different.

Lastly, we went on a track hunt. Our neighborhood has tracks  – mostly dogs and bunnies and cars. It was fun to go out and watch the kids looking around for tracks and trying to see if they could find anything new for tracks. Nicholas, my imaginative child, decided that the lines he saw in the grass were from a snake. It’s not out of the realm of possibility, but I certainly was laughing hard. He explained to Abby why a snake leaves a long line as a track. His explanation: It has no legs and slithers, like this….. (he proceeded to get down on the ground and slither).

I can’t wait until we go hiking and get to see more tracks. Maybe the kids will remember some of their lessons.

Learning about leaves.

Leaves are everywhere! And they make fun lessons and crafts.

Leaves are everywhere! And they make fun lessons and crafts.

We’ve learned about photosynthesis, and now we are doing some leaf identification. Identifying leaves works on classification skills. It’s also pretty cool to be able to do when you are on nature walks. Whenever we go somewhere, we almost always go on a nature walk and my children love to pick up leaves. Their favorite questions is, “What tree is this from?” They don’t mean they want the name of the tree (not normally), but they want to point to the tree it comes from. So I ask them a series of questions, and they eventually find the tree.

Here are the four things we are focusing on about leaves: Shape, margin, simple or compound, and alternating or opposite.

There a great website that has images of compound/single and alternating/opposite leaves.

I printed out this chart and then laminated it.  Two copies of this chart sit in a crate in my car so that I always have it. Along with paper and crayons (leaf rubbing or rock rubbings are always a great way to end a nature hike). Plus, I just like having them in case we need to get out of the car and go walking.

To begin our lesson, we wrote the word “leaf” three times. Then we learned the word for leaf in German (das Blatt/ein Blatt). I handed them a picture of a leaf and they colored it. Then Nicholas had to write “das Blatt” on it. I wrote it for Abby.

We’ve already learned what leaves do. But it is Fall here, and leaves are starting to fall off trees. So we had to read about why. I let Nicholas type the question into Google. I’m trying to teach him to find out answers on his own, and since “Google it” is our version of, “Look it up,” I try and let him do it. We ended up at this website, which had a nice and short explanation.  Then he wanted more, so we went to the NPR site, which was more scientific and less geared towards kids, which bothers my child not at all.

I printed out this worksheet for them. They had to draw the veins on their leaves – which the kids know that the nutrients to the leaf – and then color them. I then let them cut out each leaf and make a collage.

Now we go on our nature walk! I took the kids down by the river, handed them a paper bag, and let them collect leaves – only leaves that had fallen off trees. When we got home, we sorted the leaves by size, then by color (these two were for Abby to practice her relative size and color skills), then by shape and compound/single. Lastly, I handed each kid a piece of heavyweight poster board (I get the multi-packs and then cut them into paper size). I set out the glue, and had them clue all their leaves onto the board as a collage. We brushed glue on the paper, on the leaf, and then over the leaf. Abby wanted to add glitter to hers, so I let her. We had out nature leaf collages.

Believe it or not – this activity took all day. It was our whole school day. Nicholas still had to do his spelling and online math, but we were done after this. It was awesome. They had fun. and learned a lot – all without realizing they were really learning.

Nature camp!


We found bones in the grass. There were some claws on the foot bone, so my children decided the bones must have belonged to a tiger. No amount of talking about how tigers don’t live here mattered. There were claws, so it must be a tiger.

It is Spring Break in the school system here so lots of places are having camps over this week. Nicholas got signed up for a day of nature camp at Effie Yeaw Nature Center. He had a blast at the camp learning about frogs and reptiles. They built a toad house – although I tried to tell him that we don’t have toads. He still wants to put in the yard, so I said okay.

What else is there to do? We ate a picnic after camp. That was fun. All three of us sat down and ate – with half the other families who had kids at camp. We also went on a hike, climbed trees, walked through a Native American village, looked for tadpoles in a pond, and drew images of things we had seen in the mud. The drawing things was something Nicholas picked up form his counselors, who had the kids draw a fish with sticks in the mud near the pond. We had to do it too – after all, Nicholas got to be the pond director.


Nicholas liked climbing all the trees. They had ones with lower branches that were perfect for the young climbers.

One of the coolest things we saw was a set of bones hidden in the grass. The kids wanted to take them home, but I made sure to repeat the “Take memories and leave footprints” mantra I’m trying to teach them about hiking. There was also a flock of turkeys – 4 of them. One was a big old guy with all the colored feathers. Three were women. He was chasing the women turkeys and my kids thought it was so cool. They kept yelling “Bock bock” after the turkeys as they were chasing them.

There were also butterflies that flew really close to us. Nicholas wanted to know why the butterflies weren’t super colorful like the ones I draw at home. That led into a discussion of nature and camouflage.

Abby decided making "leaf showers" was an awesome thing. It was super cute.

Abby decided making “leaf showers” was an awesome thing. It was super cute.

We had a blast having leaf showers. Abby thought this was great fun because she could pile the leaves, toss them up and yell, “Leaf shower!” It was fun watching this occur. I’m also glad she was wearing a hat because her hair would’ve been filled with dirt and leaves otherwise. Nothing a bath won’t cure, but since she doesn’t like her hair washed, I prefer not to have to do it every night.

They had a playground filled with stumps over different heights. My kids loved running around and jumping on each stump. Abby made  a big production of jumping off them. Nicholas made a big deal of jumping from one to the next. It made me a bit nervous. I had images of blood and cuts and all kinds of nice injuries, but I let them do it because it is important for them to explore their boundaries. If they are wrapped in cotton, how are they going to learn?

What does all this teach the kids? To appreciate life and the natural world. Who knows if they are going to be ecologists or biologists, but it is important to expose them to nature. I have great plans to do a walk a week over summer. It won’t be too far – Abby lasted for a mile on the hike before wanting to be carried. But hiking and nature are an essential part of life that they need to experience. It i as important as book work.

Also I need to remember that you can never have enough sunscreen or snacks. My kids might not eat the sandwich I packed for lunch, but if I have raisins for snacks they will chow down.

Rocks…yet again.

They are working together on the rock dig. Nicholas is the geologist and he designated Abby as his "Second in commond geologist."

They are working together on the rock dig. Nicholas is the geologist and he designated Abby as his “Second in command geologist.”

It is always a little hard for me when we have to go through a topic a ton of times. Partially, my creativity is getting worn down. There are only so many ways I know of on how to present a topic. Secondly, I like some variety in our studies. But when my kids wanted to return to rocks, I knew there was no way out of this.

So we pulled out the rock dig again. Nicholas insisted on wearing the goggles that came with the dig. Abby refused to put hers on. The nice thing about the rock dig is that they worked together. Nicholas did it and then showed Abby how to do it. Abby tried, promptly banged the hammer into her finger, and then wanted the brush back so she could dust the rock dust away. We finally finished the dig and found all the rocks.

Then we got to clean the rocks. I simply put a bowl of water and a towel out and let the kids have fun with cleaning rocks. The polished them and then we got to sort them by color. Nicholas had to help me clean up the dust (he swept) while Abby was in charge of sorting rocks by color. When we were done cleaning we compared the rocks to the chart that came with the dig.

Next we pulled out our magnifying glasses and looked around for rocks in our house. We found granite (in our tile) and

The Christmas tree is made out of construction paper and is up on our wall.

The Christmas tree is made out of construction paper and is up on our wall.

we found rocks around the house. The kids had great fun searching through the mud for rocks.

When we practiced writing we practiced the words: rock, geologist, mineral, and granite. Then we did a rhyming game and named all the words that rhyme with rock. Nicholas was responsible for telling me what the beginning sound of the word was, then I wrote the word on a piece of paper.

Math was done next – we did an addition review and subtraction of double digit numbers (no carrying).

Finally we did our art for the day. We are learning how to draw a Christmas tree. I cut one out of paper and put it on the wall so the shape is nice and big. Every day we sit down and draw the tree.

It might sounds repetitive but drawing the tree with the kids is fun. We all draw a different looking tree. In Abby’s case the tree is more of a blob. Nicholas is actually able to get some of the shape drawn correctly.

Then we choose how we are going to decorate our trees. Yesterday the kids wanted to use feathers and pompoms. The day before it was glitter glue. I’m kind of hoping today is just crayons so it is easy to clean up.

So that was our lesson!

Rafts and floating.


Today’s lesson was about floating. We have done versions of this lesson before, when Nicholas was younger. But this time I wanted to make it more about states of matter, density, and him doing things.

Our practice words for the day were : raft, float, density, and on.

We did our normal addition work sheets before we started.

Then I handed him a pair of scissors and asked him to cut the foam we were going to use into strips. Cutting is a skill that takes practice, just like writing. It always takes longer than you would think.

Then we measured how long the rafts might be and cut the duct tape to the length Nicholas wanted the rafts. Then we laid the foam onto the tape and finished the rafts by wrapping the tape around both sides. Abby even got to make her own raft by laying the foam strips onto the tape. You can also do this craft with glue and wood sticks.

Then we took the rafts to the pool outside. We wanted to see if they would float – they did. Then we practiced putting things on our raft to see if we could make the rafts sink.

Rocks, bark, twigs, leafs, grass, toy cars, a Barbie ….they all went onto the rafts. Some made the rafts sink – made them more dense than water- and some things didn’t make the raft sink.

We went back inside and defined density, using the correctness and volume words and concepts.

Then we went outside for some water fun. The fun part was just as great as the rafting lesson. While we were out, the outside chairs got turned over and the rafts were made to float down the river ( hose over the back of the chair = river). Almost everything in the backyard got floated – or tried – down the river. It was another good lesson for them to learn, and they did it all on their own.


First fractions.

Fractions can be a hard concept to grasp. The idea of half or third is abstract. So to help the young ones learn, make fractions a practical experience.

We took a banana, strawberry, one-cup measuring cup, and pretzels out in the backyard.

We split the strawberry in half. I had Nicholas take the knife and cut the strawberry in half. Then we added two halves to get a whole. I then gave him the pretzels and asked him to break them in half. He managed just fine 🙂

We did the same thing with thirds but used the banana because it was bigger. Then we split the pretzels into thirds.

When we finished we ate the fruit and pretzels as a snack.

Then we learned what fractions look like while written. I gave Nicholas the hose and had him fill up the measuring cup I the 1/2 mark. He asked what it looked like and I said it was 1/2. Then he filled it up. I asked how much more he needed to make a full cup and he answered correctly. We repeated this with thirds. When he got stuck, we pulled out the pretzels and demonstrate again before trying the measuring cup again.

We had a blast outside and learned our fractions and how to use a measuring cup.

Park play day.


I’m a big fan of making play count. Sometimes we are outside all day during the summer and it is hard to do book learning. So instead we turn to a different type of lessons and skills.

Motor skills are important. For the young set, parks are a great place to develop gross motor skills. For older kids, parks are places to learn to play together, to use their imagination, and grow.

For me and mine, we also learn German at the park. My husband is fabulous and teaches me what I need to know the night before. I learned the commands for: go play, have fun, run more. I learned the words for different types of park equipment and things we might do at the park.

Then I made the park a German zone. I spoke only German to the kids and let them speak only German. It was a fun hour that we couldn’t do in rainy weather.


Get outside!

It’s officially summer time in the Wunderlich house. We define summer as: the first time we go to a park and the slides are too hot to play on. So it is summer.

I’m desperate to get my kids outside and enjoying nature. My mother instilled a live of nature and Visitors centers in me as a child and I want to give that to my kids.

So outside we go.

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