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Entries in homeschooling (66)



Calvin loved playing in water when he was a baby, and it turns out not much has changed. Our science exploration this week, building on what we did last week, revolved around the what, how, and why of hydrometers. Out came the kitchen scale again, and several of the objects we used for our demonstration last week, plus a few additional items, all followed up by a field trip to our local home brewing store (where else would you go to get a trusty hydrometer?)


Tinkering with robotics

I love when inspiration hits (think: "You got chocolate in my peanut butter!" "You got peanut butter in my chocolate!")

This weekend: Lego Mindstorms meets Tinker Crate.

It started with a zoetrope assembly, then the question "Do you think we can rig Tracker to run it?", followed by a lot of planning, a fair amount of trial and error, a smidgeon of frustration, and much rejoicing at success.


Writing, age 8

For the past year we've been using the Michael Clay Thompson grammar curriculum. We love it. It's holistic, rolling grammar, poetry, and Latin based vocabulary into one rich unit full of great lit and poem examples and recommendations. But this isn't a review and I'm not a paid spokesperson. Actually, I just thought I'd share a couple of my favorite samples from Calvin's work this year as we near the end of MCT's Town series.

First, an experiment with enjambed poetry:

My Castle, by Calvin Ophoff, age 8

My castle is a funny place
that I have not explored.
I've seen the front, I've seen the back,
with shining spires reaching up into the sky
to bathe their tips in golden light.
I've seen the sides with pretty emeralds
decorating them, the abbey with its glistening cross,
the pumpkin fields so green. I've seen the
chariots covered with gold and silver,
yet I haven't been inside.
It fades away at dawn's first light,
and reappears at 9:00 at night!


Second, an experiment with descriptive paragraphs:

The moon shone bright and clear down onto the woods below. An owl spread her wings gently and let the soft night breeze carry her upward. Down below, twigs cracked as a black squirrel made its way through the undergrowth. A chickadee sang its song loud and clear: "Chick-a-dee! Chick-a-dee!" The blue jay crowed its warning call as a bear smashed its way around the forest. The fish in the forest pool swam around silently under the still water. The moon rose higher as a bell somewhere began to toll.

by Calvin Ophoff, age 8


Heating things up with science

From Brownian Motion to boiling points. After discussing Brownian Motion we explored the link between the measurement of temperature and the rate of atomic motion on the invisible scale. Today we demonstrated the nature of the second law of Thermodynamics, and charted the rate of temperature increase over time in water. We heated crushed ice over the stove, measuring its temperature every minute until well past the boiling point. It was fun for Calvin, but a true letdown for the dog, who was hoping we were cooking something delicious and would drop a morsel or two.


An air and a roast

He's playing Danny Boy right now, and an old Welsh air, and we're studying the late middle ages, so that at any given moment the house feels like it's beckoning to our British forebears. I made a roast the other day just to complete the circle, although if you ask the Renaissance Fair people they might have suggested a turkey leg with a wizard as companion instead.

When we first started homeschooling, our focus was on thematic units, usually launched by a deep interest in a book. I fell back on Five in a Row a lot, and, with enough tweaking to fit our unique needs, we both really loved the program. It's a holistic curriculum that spends a full week with one book, exploring the story and connecting it to a full array of subjects. It was our earliest foray into math, history, geography, art...everything. We immersed ourselves in the culture of whatever was the book of the week, consuming it for meals, dressing in it for clothes, celebrating its holidays, its customs, its beliefs.

A part of me misses the all-encompassing nature of those early studies—they certainly made it easy to plan the week's meals—but clearly our later methods were informed by those early days. Even though we don't often plan a week of well rounded, holistic learning, we often find connections between the subjects we're studying. So when we're studying the crusades and reading Robin Hood and suddenly Calvin is playing a Welsh air, we find that connection, and then we make a roast and eat it while watching the best movie of all time—Disney's animated Robin Hood.