Unlocking Genius

I have one son, ten years old, who is very interested in space travel and rockets and so forth. He is firmly convinced he can unlock the secrets of Warp Speed. Maybe he will someday. In order to feed his interest I check out a bunch of Junior level books from the library. He read them and found them interesting, but complained that they didn’t give enough information. He really wants to know more of the intricacies, like what materials to use for the hull design, aerodynamics, how to mix the proper fuels and speed and trajectories . . . yeah, he’s funny. Anyway I decided to get him adult level books and checked out a bunch for him. He is finding them very interesting and they’re not at all too difficult as far as reading level and I think he’s comprehending it better than I would, because he’s so … Keep on reading

Entrepreneurs

My kids, ages 12, 10, 7, and 5, sold Otter Pops and frozen cherry juice bars at the local 4th of July parade in our town. They bought 400 otter pops for $14 and sold them for $.25 each and 100 cherry juice bars for $9 and sold them for $.50 each. They had about 100 Otter Pops left over and around 20 juice bars. In the whole process we taught them some very basic principles of business and money. They were not allowed to go into debt to begin their business. They had to have the cash up front to buy their product. We helped them figure out how much they should charge. If 100 Otter Pops costs $3.50, then how much does one cost? Answer: $.03 and 5 mils (the unit after the pennies is called mils, but you usually only see it on gas station signs or … Keep on reading

Defense Against The Dark Arts

My kids love Harry Potter, so to make life and learning a little more fun, we do Harry Potter themed things at our house. One of those is Defense Against the Dark Arts. Defense Against the Dark Arts is the regularly scheduled scripture study that my kids do as a part of their school work.  We call it “Defense Against the Dark Arts” for obvious reasons.  We believe there really is such a thing as evil and we must do certain things to defend ourselves from it; one of those is scripture study.  We read scripture stories together and talk about how our lives should be different because we now know more about God.  We talk about His commandments and how obeying them brings us protection.  We relate it not just to our own lives, but also the peoples we are learning about in history and geography, and in the … Keep on reading

Our Official School Name: Copher’s School of Mishaps and Mayhem

Since we homeschool our kids we can name our “school” whatever we want.  So, as a family infatuated with Harry Potter, we wanted something reminiscent of Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  My husband came up with our official school name: Copher’s School of Mishaps and Mayhem.  It’s mostly just for us, because we think it’s awesome to have an official school name, and even more awesome that it’s such a cool one.  When using official correspondence regarding our school (which happens once in a blue moon) we use our acronym: CSMM.  Do you have an official school name for your homeschool?   Keeping with the Harry Potter theme, we also keep track of “house” points, which are awarded and removed based on behavior.  Beans or marbles or pebbles in a jar work wonderfully as house points.  There are three houses; Arcturus, Vega, and Polaris (named after stars), with the … Keep on reading

Education Myths

Education myths are far too widespread and also can be quite damaging.  Let’s take a look at a few of them. Myth #1. Education and school are synonyms. While it’s possible that education happens in school (and much of the time it probably does), education is far more than what goes on in the classroom and not everything that goes on in the classroom can be called education. Education is really about humans learning who we are and what we are capable of. That is no small thing. If we, even in our thoughts and attitudes limit ourselves to being educated by a teacher in a formal classroom setting we will be severely handicapped. You often hear of how amazing it was that Abe Lincoln or Henry Ford or Thomas Edison or Bill Gates or any number of remarkable individuals accomplished so much with very little education. This is a … Keep on reading

Catalysts and Enzymes

Catalysts and enzymes sound complicated, but they are really just big words for simple concepts.  Catalysts are chemicals that speed up a reaction or make it go, but are not used up in the reaction. Enzymes are catalysts in living things. Scientists theorize that enzymes, which are very specific to doing one job only have a “lock and key” sort of mechanism.  That is, the actual physical shape and chemical arrangement of the enzyme perfectly matches the substrate the enzyme needs to affect, so the two join up. Catalyst Experiment 1 Pour some soda pop into a clear glass. Now scoop a tablespoon of sugar into the glass. What happens? When the pop is fizzing more, that is the carbon dioxide gas coming out of solution more quickly. The sugar acts as a catalyst and speeds up the reaction. Catalyst Experiment 2 Pour 1/2 c. of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) into … Keep on reading

Math: Skip Counting

Skip counting is an awesome skill for kids to add to their tool belt.  In particular, it makes multiplying much more manageable when you already have skip counting down.  The problem is – teaching kids skip counting can be boring.  It’s one of those 5 minutes every day things, and all too often we just repeat what we’ve always done, just the same day after day.  Why not mix it up a little? Some ideas to make skip counting more fun:  Use actual objects to represent the numbers. young children are visual learners, unable to grasp the concept of abstract numbers. They need actual objects to look at to understand the concept. Count while playing hide-and-seek. If the kids hide in one room and you find them quickly, you can play this over and over in just a few minutes and they’ll have heard counting by 2’s, 5’s, 10’s or … Keep on reading

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 … Keep on reading

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 … Keep on reading

Simple Symmetry

I love to peruse education catalogs and check out all the latest and greatest resources that are out there, but sometimes I really wonder if people really buy all that stuff? I was perusing the other day and came across geometry mirrors, a math manipulative I’ve never even considered buying. “Watch students grasp the concept of symmetry as they use these plastic mirrors!” I immediately thought, “Kids don’t need a plastic mirror. They just need to make a symme-tree.” First, you need to understand the basic principle of symmetry if you don’t already. For a lesson on what symmetry is, watch this video on line symmetry. This video can be used for you to better understand how to teach it, or even for kids to watch with you to teach them the basics of what symmetry is. Now take a piece of green construction paper and fold it in half … Keep on reading