Thursday, May 31, 2012

Summer Learning Inspired by Pinterest: Math Coordinates

I'm a "pinhead". 

Yeah, I love Pinterest and pinning and do it QUITE often. There ARE some really GREAT ideas out there just waiting to be pinned and used. Right? LOL

But I haven't been able to get to many during our school year. We're focused so much on our regular schoolwork and activities (and all those other gazillion "little things" that need doing each day) that EXTRAS get passed right on by. This summer I hope to change that. There are just too many AWESOME ideas and websites to be explored!

Math Coordinates!

Aren't you excited? LOL Actually I found LOTS of wonderful, interesting, hands-on, multi-sensory, and   delight-directed learning activities to help kids understand and use coordinates. 

The kids LOVED this video from Math Crush! Not only does it explain the history of coordinates and how to do them, but it also shows how it's used in EVERY DAY LIFE! And then we completed the review worksheet provided together. (Unfortunately the rest of the activities are by paid membership only. Boo hoo! I'm a frugal-minded homeschool Mama!)

 We practiced finding coordinates by playing Dice Tic-Tac-Toe from Using a single quadrant grid, the Saplings rolled different colored dice to find a number for the x-axis (red di) and the y-axis (white di), and then marked their spots with a specific shape (i.e. circle and square). And when someone got 3 points in a row, they won. This was perfect for learning which line IS the x-axis and which is the y-axis and for plotting those points!

And then we were ready for something a bit harder! The Saplings completed coordinate puzzles from Math Aids. What's great about this site is that you can make puzzles with varying levels of difficulty! White Pine skipped right through to the Angry Bird character since he's more a pro at this stuff, but Sugar Maple and Balsam Fir completed medium and hard level puzzles.

Oh, and since parabolas were mentioned in the video and how video game designers use coordinates to create games, I let the kids PLAY Angry Birds. This got me MAJOR COOL MOM POINTS! We didn't get into the plotting of parabolas though. I think that was BEYOND the scope of our study! LOL

Math coordinates are also helpful when looking at maps and globes. So, I pulled out the Delorme and we used the key and coordinates to locate various places in Maine, and then we spun the globe around and learned about latitude and longitude. We made a simple manipulative to remember latitude and longitude and (x-axis and y-axis) inspired by Nauticus and practiced latitude and longitude on a world map from Eduplace.

Photo by Nauticus - Visit Website Link Above
For Activity

Coordinates are also very important for the Global Positioning System or GPS.

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a space-based satellite navigation system that provides location and time information in all weather, anywhere on or near the Earth, where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites. It is maintained by the United States government and is freely accessible to anyone with a GPS receiver.
The GPS program provides critical capabilities to military, civil and commercial users around the world. In addition, GPS is the backbone for modernizing the global air traffic system. - Wikipedia

And for Geocaching! Ever been? Geocaching is a treasure search game using the GPS system and a handheld GPS receiver using COORDINATES posted by "cachers" at Geocaching websites. (Head over to this website to find out more.) Oftentimes these caches or small plastic or metal boxes are hidden in public parks or wooded areas and are nice hikes. It's ALWAYS exciting to find one, but sometimes disappointing when we simply CAN NOT locate it. We "unearthed" 3 new ones in our area for our coordinates study!

Cache #1 - Founders Cementary
Cache #2 - A Babbling Brook Along the
Path to the Cache by Lumberyard
Cache #2 - Hidden Here!
Cache #3 - Hidden here at the Fish Hatchery! We Fed Fish

And we played Battleship! What better classical COORDINATES board game then this one, huh?

So, what fun Pinterest-inspired learning should we do next?!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My TOP 10 Can't-Do-It-Without List for Homeschooling

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings

Angie over at Many Little Blessings is having an informative and fun linky party for Top Ten Tuesday this week. (Yeah, I am a little late since it's WEDNESDAY! LOL) You should head over and see what others are linking up!

My Top 10 Homeschooling Must Haves

1. Laptop with internet access and printer

Would that be considered 3 things? LOL The internet has a wealth of FREE worksheet printables, informational videos, on-line tutorials, outline and detailed maps, field guides, educational games, and arts and craft ideas. The list really is endless!

Sugar Maple Watching an Educational Video On-Line

4. Library

Nothing can really top the library! Even 1-3! All those books are just waiting to be read and enjoyed and turned into "delight-directed" learning! And most libraries even have videos, puzzles and games, computers with internet, and special events you can attend.

Library Books and Videos for a Snow Unit Study

5. Working Vehicle

Yeah, a WORKING vehicle. (Have you read about my vehicle frustrations this month?) When it comes to homeschooling, you really aren't HOME all that much. Well, at least around here! LOL White Pine, Sugar Maple and Balsam Fir participate in numerous activities that require transportation as well as going on field trips and getting to the state parks that we enjoy.

6. Mini White Boards with Dry Erase Markers

Is that 2? LOL Every school day we use white boards. They're great! Not only do they save on paper - it's important to be GREEN, right? - but the kids find it a nice break from pencil-and-paper work. They can write in different colors and erase errors and redo them.

Sometimes White Boards Communicate
Opinions about Math LOL

8. Office Supplies

I'm going to count this one as ONE, but really it's a whole lot'o somethings! LOL Binders for daily work, dividers for organizing papers, pens and pencils, sharpener and stapler, glue sticks and index cards, typing paper and construction paper, and colored pencils and scissors are all pretty important for our homeschools.

Our Current School Shelves with Texts,
Reference Books, Work Binders, and
Office Supplies Caddy

9. Patience

Not just the teacher, ahem, Mom, but also the kiddos. Each day I am juggling 3 Saplings who all learn differently, have different interests and are at different grade levels. And sometimes my Saplings simply must be understanding and rely on themselves to accomplish work while I am busy helping another. Patience makes homeschooling go smoother!

10. Support from Family and Friends

You CAN homeschool without the support of extended family and close friends, but it so much better with it. That support can take a huge "weight" of a homeschooling parents shoulders by giving them someone to talk about good AND bad days.

Blue Spruce Helping Balsam Fir Build a Model Engine

There you have it! Our Side of the Mountain's Top 10 Must Haves for Homeschooling! What are yours?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

As the Garden Grows: May 19-25

What a fantabulous week!

All the determined (and sometimes EXHAUSTING) discipline consistency and firm reminders of behavior expectations have paid off! Our Saplings have had MUCH more pleasant, helpful dispositions this week. And better moods make for a more relaxed, enjoyable times together!

Balsam Fir's To Go Lunch: Brownie Bites,
Pineapple Chunks, Pasta Salad with Pepper
Slices, Carrots, Peas, Cucumber Slices,
and Turkey-and-Cheese Pinwheels, and a
Peppered Hard-boiled Egg
My To Do Lunch: Pineapple Chunks, Cucumber Slices, Crushed
Honey Chex to top Non-fat Organic Strawberry Yogurt, Turkey
Scraps, Peppered Hard-boiled Egg, and Brownie Bites
Stacked and Ready to Drop into the Cooler
with Ice Packs...Names Written on Top Since
Meals are Customized

So, what DID we do this week?

We rototilled! Well, BLUE SPRUCE rototilled! LOL While he was tearing up the yard, I was off at our group portfolio reviews. Another year has officially ended! Let Year 9 commence! My assessor even stayed 1 1/2 hours after reviews ended to talk - ((GULP!)) - homeschooling high school with me.

Front of House View: Fenced in Garden, Chicken and Ducks
and Corner of Square Foot Garden Bed
Back of House View: Fenced in Garden, TENT and Hammock,
and Chicken Coop

And we loaded up the back of a friend's truck with compost several times from the Transfer Station to add to the garden. Isn't it cool that our TRASH DUMP composts?

Moving Compost

Balsam Fir discovered the weed whacker. That boy with tools! But at least he's a HUGE help around the yard, huh? I think he's weed whacked for 4 hours? 5 hours? this week. Weeds be gone! LOL

The Saplings and I spent Sunday afternoon at the educational farm ORIENTEERING. Did you know that I'm "directionally-challenged"? Sugar Maple, too. Anyway, Wikipedia defines Orienteering as:

Orienteering is a family of sports that requires navigational skills using a map and compass to navigate from point to point in diverse and usually unfamiliar terrain, and normally moving at speed. Participants are given a topographical map, usually a specially prepared orienteering map, which they use to find control points.

International Orienteering Symbol

I was a little disappointed that we didn't learn COMPASS skills though. Someday I'll have a better understanding of using one! I'd like to say that I completed the course with the kids, but I didn't.  Perhaps next time? ((wink))

A View at the Farm

On Wednesday we visited the farm AGAIN, but this time for ICE CREAM MAKING. Yum! Sadly, it was the last day of our family pass until the winter. (Summer and fall are just too busy to add in farm activities too.) We then spent the afternoon wondering around the wildlife park with friends.

Some days we completed just a little bit of our "summer studies", but mostly we followed our own interests. White Pine fenced in and planted his newly 'tilled and composted garden. Sugar Maple practiced her clarinet and created crafts. Balsam Fir built a "water house". Using wooden planks, he created the floor of a "house" that allowed the brook to flow under and through (because MOM was worried he would dam the whole thing up and make a pond in the yard). There was some dirt-flinging and "chicken chasing" and movie watching and bike riding. And the kids went swimming in the lake. Brrrrr! No way, no how for me! LOL


Now, my plan is to do some of the fun, hands-on "stuff" for learning that I've pinned from Pinterest this summer. This week we did some Math coordinate learning, but I'll be creating a post JUST for our hands-on fun soon. Check back for it! How do YOU use Pinterest in your schooling?

I hope to join up with the Daily Outdoors Challenge at Cultivated Lives next week. Our goal is to spend at least an hour outside EVERY SINGLE DAY. Wanna join? Click on the link!

The Daily Outdoor Challenge

Oh, and check out my friend from 3 Crazy Monkeys latest blog giveaway for Fiber One Chewy Bars here!

I'm a little tired from this week though. LOL How about you?

Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers3Boys&aDog DEALS!Favorite Resource This WeekScience SundayThe Things We Find InsideHip Homeschool Hop Buttonabc button
Magical Mouse SchoolhouseChestnut Grove Academy

Monday, May 21, 2012

New Leaf Publishing: World History

Written by James P. Stobaugh, this 12th grade World History curriculum comes with a 288 page black-and-white student book. This book has 34 short chapters that each have several lessons with assignments. And a 143 page teacher's edition that breaks down the chapters by lessons and includes lesson objectives, assignment answers and exam keys.

You will find these components in the book (taken from the student edition):

- narrative background
-critical thinking questions
- concepts/generalizations (theories)
- history makers (people)
- historiographies or historical debate
- world view formation

Lesson 2: Growth of Greek Civilization Teacher's Edition Preview
Lesson 2 Growth of Greek Civilization Student Edition Preview

Our thoughts? 

Stobaugh only skims the surface of World History and, for White Pine, there wasn't enough details in each chapter to keep him intrigued and interested. He's a history buff! Although there were numerous black-and-white photos, there were no maps of any region or time period discussed. Maps are very important to us! Obviously World History is a HUGE subject to cover in ANY NUMBER of pages, but 288 were not nearly enough for my 13-year-old.

However, the curriculum was very user friendly. Each chapter is broken down into 5 20-30 minutes lessons so it's easy to implement into your school day. There are also weekly exams (or assessments) provided and the lesson assessment questions are thought-provoking. Students only need a notebook and pencil to use this curriculum. 

So, if you're looking for an OVERVIEW of World History then click here for more information.

Disclaimer: As a member of the New Leaf Publishing Group, Our Side of the Mountain was provided this product free in exchange for our honest review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.   

TOS Review: Heritage History Young Readers

So, we received this really neat history curriculum, Young Readers Classical Curriculum, to review from Heritage History. What's cool about it? Well, this history curriculum is a bunch of stories on a CD that I can download onto my Kindle Fire and bring anywhere with us! A GREAT resource for VAN LEARNING or waiting for one of the Saplings to finish an activity! (Yeah, we're on the road quite a bit! LOL)

Young Readers ($24.99) is for (from website):
The Young Readers collection is the introductory unit of the Heritage Classical Curriculum. It is intended for grammar school students who are reading fluently and would benefit from a broad introduction to leading events and characters of Western Civilization.
The Young Readers library includes easy-to-read, engaging selections from many of the other libraries in the Heritage History curriculum series. Most of the books in the Young Readers collection are anecdotal rather than comprehensive histories—that is, they provide short stories selected to appeal to children rather than a complete overview of a civilization. In addition to stories from history, the Young Readers collection includes legends, adapted literature, historical fiction, and short biographies.

I'm new at downloading files onto my Kindle Fire, but with a little help from Blue Spruce we had our American, European and Ancient histories ready to read! Over 80 "living books" to enjoy! (Want to see a list of those book? Click here!)

So, where did we enjoy Young Readers? 

Around a fire, in the back yard, with the hens and ducks of course! LOL What's more enjoyable for learning history than relaxing around a warm, crackling fire with your pets near by, listening and discussing history? The Saplings wanted me to read more and more from Heritage History

Oh, and if you want to focus on a different area of history, Heritage History also has CDs for Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, British Middle Ages, and British Empire!

And each CD comes with the following study aides:
dozens of historical maps, including outline maps and geography terms, summary of each historical era, battle dictionary, short biographies of famous people, timelines of major events, 100s of quality images, and accountability records

Pondering Heritage Heritage? Head over to their website for more information by clicking here or any of the highlighted links above, or see what other TOS members have to say about all the CD collections here!

Disclaimer: As a member of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew, Our Side of the Mountain was provided this product free in exchange for our honest review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.