My new FAVORITE homeschool site!

I can’t believe I didn’t hear of this fabulous site sooner! Where has it been all my life?

Curriculum Choice Homeschool Review Blog

Real reviews about real homeschool products by homeschool moms who know what they are talking about (and who know how to blog) and who know the sorts of questions we all want to ask about the books and programs we’ve never tried before.

This site is a must-read for homeschool moms!

 

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The BEST Science lessons

. . .are the ones children learn from getting outdoors and living life! Not remaining confined in cinder-block buildings full of metal desks and artificial light.

Check out our most recent “Science Class” observation post–right outside our back door, in the awnings of the porch:

My oldest daughter, Prima, took these pictures, in addition to making lots of notes and diagrams in her science notebook, about the nest-building and child-rearing habits of backyard birds! 🙂

And this doesn’t even include our adventures in butterfly watching, firefly stalking, and birdhouse-observing!

The Search for Quality School Books

Jennefer at the Smooth Stones Academy blog has recently posted an excellent, informative run-down of the different books they have tried in their homeschool, complete with her notes about what is and is not working. For parents who need advice and guidance before making those school book purchases, this is a must-read! You can read her post here: http://smoothstonesacademy.blogspot.com/2010/03/reflections-on-academic-hits-and-misses.html

For other great book ideas, you can also check out Cellista’s weekly homeschool reports, which chronicle the weekly books read, assignments completed, and activities undertaken in her home school (though I’m biased in recommending this site–Cellista uses the same curriculum that I do!). Here’s a recent report from her blog:

http://cellista.wordpress.com/2010/02/19/weekly-report-21-2/

Science With Friends

Well, I’ve finally done it. When sadness threatened to get the best of me (after our local homeschool group wouldn’t let us join because we are Mormon), I dried my tears and went to work to make life more livable here for me and my  children. I decided to start up a NEW homeschool group!

I started with just a few homeschooling families that were willing to let my children play with their children. After some playdates, outings, and homeschool activities together, we are really enjoying each other’s company, and I feel good knowing that I’m supporting an endeavor that welcomes homeschool families of ALL religions and races.

Here is a look at our recent Science Club activities:

It has been so much fun having other families to come with us to the Science museum, singing classes, library story time, and so on. The children have been much happier now that they have made some friends, and I enjoy the relaxed tone of this casual homeschool group–no committee meetings, dues, or red tape whatsoever! 🙂

More Science Fun

For those of you who missed my posting about science, click HERE to learn my secrets for helping children learn to love science!

In that vein, I thought I’d share some pictures from our most recent expedition to our local science museum, where they hosted a lab that taught my children to design and build their own circuits that work like alarms:

Natural Learning Benefit #5: Mother Nature’s in Charge!

One of the benefits of natural learning is the abundance of time available for children to explore and enjoy the great outdoors, rather than spending their time confined inside a cinder-clock building. When our area was hit with a snow storm last week, my children were called to recess not by the clanging of a timed bell, but by Mother Nature herself!

Benefit #2 of Natural Learning: Science Buffs

After reading about a recent government study of high school science issues (voicing concerns that teens do more goofing off in science labs than actually learning science), I thought I would share the things I learned about instilling a passionate love of science in my children!

Here’s a picture of my daughter, Dizzy, working on a physics experiment during a recent trip to a children’s science museum:

My children love science (my two oldest daughters often declare that they want to be scientists when they grow up) because we read about it in WHOLE BOOKS, not textbooks (which read like encyclopedias, instead of speaking directly to the child with an interesting tale of life and scientific phenomena to explore). It takes an engaging narrative to make science exciting for children, not the dry, fact-filled paragraphs that fill most science textbooks these days.

Here are my recommendations:

Five in a Row

This delightful teacher’s guide helps you extrapolate scientific lessons from high-quality children’s stories (most of which are classics or Caldecott medal winners). My children LOVE this program, and absorb every detail of science learned from these exciting stories–which include lessons in biology, chemistry, physics, and earth science.

The Story of Science

Joy Hakim’s science series is an exciting way to help students get interested in science. Rather than introducing dry facts, figures, statistics, and formulae, Hakim tells the stories of great scientists–their questions, quandaries, and dilemmas that led to discovery. Science is never boring with delightful reads like these!

(Please note: I highly recommend these books, but the author occasionally lets her atheistic/anti-Christian views slip through. But only rarely–I don’t think my children encounter anything in these books that they wouldn’t experience among friends and neighbors with different beliefs, so rather than denying them this excellent science resource, I just point out that this particular author “does not believe as we do,” but that she is an excellent scholar, nonetheless).

But books aren’t enough! You have to get out and experience science in order to love it!

Here’s my son, Screech, learning about pulleys and gravity:

In this picture, Prima and Buttercup are learning about buoyancy, velocity, and surface area:

Interestingly enough, the day these pictures were taken, my children pretty much had the science museum to themselves (because during the day, most other children are at public school). Halfway through our visit, however, a bus load of public school kids arrived on a field trip. How my heart ached for them as they crowded in and were rushed through each exhibit, forced to stand in line and march in accord to the chaperone’s kid-counting orders. I wished that I could take a few of the more troubled-looking kids home with me and give them the delightful experience of learning science without being herded about in large groups like cattle.

And those poor teachers–only two of them with about fifty kids. They looked so exhausted and stressed; they were much too busy counting heads and keeping the peace to actually interact with their students and teach any science. My heart went out to them, too.

Here’s a shot of Dizzy, testing different wing spans in a wind tunnel:

The Bottom Line: whether you teach your children at home or send them to public school, I heartily recommend these science reads and real-life encounters with science to help kids get excited about this particular subject.

P.S. For a fun read about a family’s experience dissecting owl pellets at home, read Cellista’s “Owl Puke” posting!