Pennsylvania State Study

The Liberty Bell, steel production, and of course chocolate, it’s time for a Pennsylvania State Study. My kids and I have just started studying the 50 states, for the second time around. There are some key things we add to our state studies to make them interesting. Explorations We use books and movies from the library for some base understanding, we read biographies of people who had significant impact on the state, we cook something that is unique or has some significance to the state, and we color maps. We ignore for the most part things like the state bird, flower, motto and so on that teachers so dearly love to dwell on. They’re just boring and unimportant. We do examine the climate and natural world of the state though. We just did Pennsylvania. We learned about William Penn and read some books on the state from the library then … click to read more

Sunlight Experiment

Try this sunlight experiment with your kids. You just need tonic water and a sunny day.

Light is fascinating to study with kids because of its interesting properties.  Some light is visible and helps us to see.  But some light is not visible to us.  We use invisible light for heat, for seeing inside our bodies, for looking deep into space, and for many other things.  All light is energy and it comes from the sun or from burning and sometimes from chemical luminescence.  Another word for light is electromagnetic radiation. On the image above find the ultraviolet light.  It is just to the right of the visible light spectrum.  Normally you can’t see it, but if we store it and it builds then we can see just a hint of what is normally hidden. Sunlight Experiment This particular experiment is a way to trap the ultraviolet light that is always present in sunlight. Here’s what you’ll need: 2 clear plastic cups tonic water tap water … click to read more

Land Bridge Model

During an Ice Age, when the world is colder, more of the world’s water freezes into ice. This means that less water is in the oceans than before and the sea level becomes lower. Because the ocean level is lower, more of the land sticks out.  As the ice age comes to an end, the ice melts and fills the oceans, making the sea level rise and covering those same lower elevation bits of land once again.  Geologists theorize that this phenomenon  caused a land bridge to form between east Asia and North America long ago. During the last Ice Age this land bridge would have led from from Siberia to Alaska, and most archaeologists think that people and animals actually made the crossing to North America.  These probably weren’t the first people to come from Central Asia to North and South America – seeing how it’s not a great distance, chances are that some … click to read more

How To Teach Art

There’s no perfect way how to teach art, but I like to keep a few goals in mind: 1. Expose kids to great art and music, learning about the artists and musicians along the way. 2. Teach them the principles real artists use (line, shape, unity, balance, color, etc.) 3. Let them have real experiences and practice 4. Allow them to be creative and unhindered by too many rules Focus on Art Principles and Accomplished Artists To accomplish these I generally plan my art lessons based on either the work of one of the masters or on a principle of art (or both). For example, I show them a picture of Van Gogh’s Starry Night and we have a discussion about it.  What did he use to create it? Does it look realistic? What kind of texture do you see? Are his lines straight and geometric or curving and organic? What … click to read more

Munch’s The Scream

In this art project kids get to reproduce their own version of Edvard Munch’s famous painting, “The Scream.”  The best place to start is by looking at his painting and talking about what kids see.  They may notice the orange sky, the swirls in the painting, or the spooky looking person.  Talk about anything they notice in the painting. There were several versions made.  You could compare the versions.  You may also want to tell a little about Munch’s life and the Expressionist Movement. Now give kids a chance to BE the spooky looking person! Take their picture as they’re imitating the screamer.  Have the picture printed and let them cut right around the edges of their body. Pastels or paints can be used to create a similar feeling background. Munch used swirling warm colors for the sky.  When the background is painted they can glue their body to the … click to read more