Thursday, September 30, 2010

Adapting the stream table lab (Investigation 2B: Modeling a River)

CPO Earth Science labs are called Investigations---or "student record sheets" in the right column on this page .  Open the document for Unit 1 and find Investigation 2B if you'd like to follow along.

As much as I would like to own a fancy, schmancy dedicated stream table, it was time to be realistic and adapt somewhat household supplies to do the same job.

I started with a $1.87 white plastic deep paint tray liner from a Big Box Hardware Store.  Dh cut a hole in the deeper end and inserted a plastic spigot.  The spigot came from a foodgrade bucket he uses for homebrewing, but one can purchase individual spigots at the BBHS (or a homebrewing shop, if one is so inclined).

The plastic was quite thin, so I backed it with four or so plastic lids from Costco party trays (I knew I was holding onto them for a reason!), tapped securely down with packing tape.   Here's a side view of the high tech set-up :
When the "stream table" was placed on the folding chair, it needed to be angled just a smidge more, so I placed the lid to a small cooler under the non-spigot-ed end.  The upper bucket is another foodgrade brewing bucket with a plastic spigot and the lower bucket is just a regular one.  It was there to catch water overflow from the stream table, as needed.  We used just regular play sand and tap water.
The first step was to observe what happened when the water entered the stream table system.  Apparently the tray wasn't perfectly level, because the neophyte stream headed to the right almost immediately.  Daisy was thrilled to discover that two channels developed, creating a sandbar in between.
She chose the vary the postition of the entering water for the remainder of the experiment (she could have chosen another variable such as the amount of sand in the tray, the angle of the tray, etc).  Starting from the right, you will notice that another mini sandbar developed:
(We had to use a regular kitchen funnel to guide the water from the upper bucket.  It was really windy and the stream of water was blowing around too much.)  From the center postion, you can see the pronounced lean of the "stream table" but hey, it's all cool and geeky:
And lastly, from the left position.
After all observations were recorded and her hypothesis (The path of the water will change direction when the postition of the entering water is changed.) was checked to see if it was correct (yep), it was time for some Stream Table Fun.  Note the interesting river system she created before flooding it all out:

Try it at home!

Coming up as soon as I can upload the pictures-----Investigation 3A: Convection in Earth's Atmosphere  and my adapted GeoBox!

Thrifty Thursday

Avert your eyes if you don't want to read a non-homeschooling post!  I thought it was about time the real Karen, not the homeschooling Karen, made an appearance ;)

This week in frugality:
*I used up the remaining $3.00 off meat/chicken catalina coupons from the semi-annual Old El Paso deal (buy 6 items get the $3.00 off coupon-----I had coupons for $.50/1 OEP rice packets which were on sale for $.75 in a Betty Crocker promotion, resulting in $.25 overage for each packet purchased AND the meat cats for every 6.  I started with a "few"---100!!).  My best score was 7+lb of ground beef for $0.18 out-of-pocket!  The beef was priced at $1.99/lb but each package was marked down by $2.00.  I stood there for a while, protecting my stash, while doing the math to figure out the lowest out-of-pocket total.  Yep, geeky like that too.
*I made a quadruple batch of lasagna, one to eat and three for the freezer.  Sorrento mozzarella was $1.67 per 16oz package at SuperFresh, limit 3.  Sorrento ricotta at ShopRite was at my buy-lots price of $2.99 for 3lb container.  I bought the max of 4 and will return to ShopRite tomorrow for 4 more. I adjusted the usual recipe to split 3 lbs of mozzarella and 6lb of ricotta over the 4 9x13 pans of lasagna.  Couple that with the practically free ground beef, tomato products from last winter's sales, and 2 boxes of ShopRite brand noodles, and we have 4 dinners plus 4 lunches for $14! 
*More very inexpensive ground beef (again, those $3.00 cats sure helped---I started with 15 hehehe) became 4lb of Italian meatballs (cooked prior to freezing) tweaking FishMama's meatball/meatloaf recipe (blog is LifeAsMOM).  I also made 4lb of BBQ meatballs using Pioneer Woman's recipe, baking one meal's worth with the sauce and freezing the others uncooked/unsauced.

We hardly ever eat ground beef as ground turkey had been less expensive by far.  Now both sale prices are the same.  Bleh.  Since I drain the fat from ground meat after cooking, the type of meat doesn't really matter for health purposes.  Ground beef does make a better meatball and meatloaf than ground turkey.

All that food is sure going to taste good when I just have to pull it from the freezer during this fall and winter...

I just read the ad previews for this next grocery store sale cycle.  Nothing exciting again this week.  I hope turkey time starts soon!  I still have one turkey in the freezer from last year (scored 3 free ones) which I plan on cooking this weekend or next week.  I've been collecting rainchecks to combine with coupons and saving all the free coupons that come in the mail to add to my turkey totals at whichever stores participate this year.  Last year frees didn't count at ShopRite, which was a major disappointment, so I shifted much shopping to Acme.  It would be nice to get 3 turkeys again this year, one for Thanksgiving dinner, one for late winter and one for whenever we need the cooked meat.

It's pouring today in the mid-Atlantic so my usual Thursday routine of checking the local free paper for coupon inserts has been disrupted.  I hope to get out this afternoon before picking up Older Sister at highschool.  Once I know what coupons I'll be able to snag for free, I can plan out next week's shopping trips and potentially order coupons from a clipping service, if there are any really "hot" coupons!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

Our fourth week in review: 9/20-9/24!

I cannot believe that it's been four weeks already!  Depending on my mood and how things are going, it feels like either four years or four days LOL

Two really fun labs (scroll down) this week (well, fun for us geeks here...) and an end to Sumerian civilization:

More of the same: review, reinforcement and extension of pre-algebra topics.  This week featured conversions between fractions and decimals incl. repeating decimals, fun with scientific notation, different types of graphs (actually covered in science) and a really neat picture book about Roman numerals, stumbled across in the library.   Following an activity in the book using different coins labeled as various Roman numerals, we challenged each other to write increasingly complex numbers.

This week Daisy learned about the evolution of Sumerian writing (Human Odyssey chapter 5, Ancient Near Eastern World chapters 4 and 14), and wrote her name using the Ugaritic alphabet (dating to the 14th century BC), found in the October 2006 edition of Calliope.

Her "tablet" was much smaller than we had planned.   An Epic Fail while making a salt clay recipe resulted in a need to use the very last little rectangle of Sculpy clay in the house.

The legal and court systems, the rule of King Sargon, the code of Hammurabi and the rise of Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar were also studied.  The second craft-type project was to replicate two of the animal figures found in the gorgeous mosaic arches of the gates to Babylon.  She followed the directions in Hands-on Ancient People,Vol.1 and created

Some liberties were taken with the paint colors, historically speaking ;),  but she added more details.

To finish off the Sumerian unit, she began to fill out a chart "Comparing Cultures" from the student pages which go with the Human Odyssey text.  The chart when full will compare Sumer, Egypt, Indus Valley, and China in terms of geography, economy, religion/philosophy, knowledge/arts, technology, government/law, society and history.

Ah, pronouns.  Agreement with antecedents, intensive, reflexive, subject, subject complement, object.  Nothing new for her yet in this section (continued next week).

First week of beta-testing SWB's new curriculum, Writing with Skill.  Daisy isn't enjoying herself because she doesn't really like the mechanics of writing.  She's able to write without thinking too much about it, though I believe she needs to practice the techniques and methods of writing.  I didn't know she was already skilled at outlining.  Oops.

Gilgamesh!  Specifically this version of Gilgamesh found through our fantastic library.  Daisy found it to be an enjoyable if easy read, following up with a really good discussion.

Science (the best for last!)

(Monday) We continued with Chapter 2, The Science Toolbox.  Investigation 2A (aka lab) involved SI units---estimating and measuring different masses (equal measures of sand, salt, flour and water), estimating and measuring distance and area (since I couldn't find a single meter stick or metric measuring tape in the house, we used items like a post-it pad, box of pencils and a book), and estimating and measuring temperature of liquids.

(Tuesday) section 2.3 systems and models, with discussion of independent/dependent/control variables and a Daisy-designed experimental procedure to see whether salt or fresh water would freeze sooner.

(Wednesday) section 2.4--graphs of various types (bar, pie, line) with additional practice drawing line graphs

(Thursday)  Investigation 2B: Modeling a river!  I will put this lab into a separate blog post tomorrow :)  Since we don't own a fancy stream table, I modified the lab to use an extra large paint tray liner.  Lots of pictures will be included!

(Friday) Wrapped up chapter 2 with a reading about hydrogeologists (each chapter finishes with a feature on modern-day scientists and their research) and the chapter assessment, done orally as with the first chapter.  For subsequent chapters, I will have her write out the answers.

Best of the week: Why didn't I start homeschooling her sooner???  History and science are SO enjoyable!

Worst of the week: the moaning about following a writing curriculum.  Sheesh!  You'd think this child had never had a writing assignment in her life (not true---they did a lot of writing in 3rd and 4th grades at the school).  Next week she'll do similar assignments to this week, as I've already prepared her.

New for next week:  We're going to start with Michael Clay Thompson's Building Poems with the poetry section from Figuratively Speaking as a supplement, probably once a week.  Today the new-to-us French books and CD arrived, so I hope to add 10-15 minutes of French, to start, each day.  We'll learn together and then practice on Older Sister when she gets home from school.  Next week will also be her first Earth Explorers class (9-15yrs) through the local state park------Geology: Rock ID and Collection.  I am in hope of a quiet 1.5hr to either sit outside ALONE or to sit in the car and listen to NPR ALONE.  Unfortunately, I think I will probably be schlepping to the high school to pick up Older Sister, take her home, and return to the park.  Oh well!

Thanks for sticking with me during this oh-so-long weekly wrap-up!  Please stop back to see our "stream table" in action :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday----Oktoberfest 2010

Yes, that's a double helping of potato salad and a pretzel on her plate.  No brat in sight!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Week 3: 9/13-9/17

I was so busy this past weekend that I did NOT get all the planning and prep done for the week that I had intended.  Never doing that again!  I felt scattered most of the week, sigh.

Continued review of pre-algebra topics, focusing on manipulation of decimals (word problems) this week.  Daisy definitely prefers to do her problems on the whiteboard, just an 12x18 one, instead of on paper.  It works for me!  Her older sister has taken to doing Alg 2 problems on the whiteboard as well.

(Monday) Read and discussed the final section of CPO Earth Science Chapter 1.

(Tuesday) Visited a few local state park sites with Daddy (the small zoo and a historic barn turned into a local history and folk art museum) to cross off some of the items needed in the state park scavenger hunt.  If we complete 12 or more activities, we'll earn a free state parks parking pass for next year!  I was at a monthly coffee with a great group of friends.  Some of us have been together for 17 years :)

(Wednesday) Chapter 1 activity/demo on observation of two identical liquids, Chapter 1 assessment (orally), and started the Chapter 1 project which involves observing an object in nature for 10 days.  In the afternoon, we attended the open house preview for the year's science classes through the most-local of our state parks (3 miles away!).  If she signs up for at least 10 classes in advance (at $5-6 per class), we're eligible for a 10% discount.  The schedule sheets are all marked up now!  Daisy was a little disappointed in the open house activity as mainly much younger children were participating.  Hopefully, the age-separated groups for the science classes will be more to her liking.

(Thursday) Moved onto Chapter 2--measurement.  Discussed length, weight and volume in both English and SI units.  Measured random stuff because that's fun to do.

(Friday)  Section 2.2, time and temperature.  Time took only a few minutes (hahaha),  but we spent an hour on temperature.  I found all the various thermometers in the house (candy, meat, big one for lab), we discussed the differences between F and C, then we worked conversions between F and C on the whiteboard.  Math and science together, part of my evil plan.  Then we watched Bill Nye Measurement for reinforcement and extension.

Sumer---daily life, religion/gods

We used Human Odyssey chapters 3 and 4, Ancient Near Eastern World chapters 5,9,12,13, and 15, various two-page spreads from Eyewitness Mesopotamia, one reading from Outrageous Women of Ancient Times (Enheduana), and two activities from Hands-on Ancient People vol 1.  Right now Daisy is finishing the painting for the Babylonian mosaics from the Gate of Ishtar and the papier mache is drying for a ziggurat (base is a styrofoam cone---the styrofoam blocks were too expensive).  We watched Bill Nye Archeology on Monday.  Today she read the first literature selection to go with our history studies----The Golden Bull by Marjorie Cowley.  I aksed her to read about half, but as you can see

she enjoyed the book and finished before eating lunch.

Grammar studies in Voyages in English 6 centered around nouns, with possessive nouns, nouns showing joint and separate possession, appositives, words used as nouns and verbs and words used as nouns and adjectives.  Some concepts were new which was good as Daisy was feeling like everything was just boring review.

For writing, we discussed revising sentences and chosing more exact descriptive words.  Next week we'll begin the beta-testing of the new writing curriculum from Susan Wise Bauer.  Daisy is motivated to begin because after we work on the first two weeks, she gets to start the activities in the Young Writer's Program workbook for NaNoWriMo!

Reading/literature is so far informal.  She reads at least one book daily.  We'll work on literary terms and such as soon as the new-to-us Figuratively Speaking arrives.

Other activities:
Back to the usual three-days-a-week ballet schedule, plus rehearsals for an in-studio performance each Saturday.  The Girl Scout activity for this Sunday fell through, so they won't meet until next week (I think---better go read that email again!).  I do need to figure out what to do about instrumental music.  Daisy is going to participate in the National Mythology Exam this winter, so she's checked out a lot of mythology books from the library and enjoys reading those during her free time.  I think we might buy the higher level Greek mythology book (listed on the contest bibliography---Grueber?) because she has our copy of d'Aulaires almost committed to memory.

Best of the week: history and science discussions over piles of books at the kitchen table

Worst of the week: having to wait an very long time for library requests!  The library system switched to new software, enabling inter-county requests and a much better database search.  Unfortunately the implementation and learning curve (poor librarians!) slowed down all the requests I had in the system.  It took some items 10 days to be sent from one branch to ours, after the requests were shown as "in transit."  Some things haven't even been pulled yet after 2.5 weeks from requesting.  Oh well, I'm just going to plan way ahead and request the remaining Egypt resources instead of waiting until half-way through that topic.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Our second week: Sept. 7-Sept 10

Monday was a day off for the Labor Day holiday, so it was another short week for us!

Review continued with decimals.  Many word problems were worked this week (moan, moan, slump, moan).  We're using the Key to Decimals series for this review.  I was able to purchase a boat load of various Key to books this summer for a nice used price, and I expect to resell the ones we're not using :)  On Friday, we mixed things up a bit by starting math competition prep.  She's signed up to participate in the homeschool group's Math Olympiad team ( beginning in November.  I think each Friday's math will consist of various old MOEMS problems.  I printed the sample test from the website---she did one problem just by reading it, then did two more during lunch.  She also answered September's problem of the month---I wrote her answer down in my planner to check when the answer appears next month :)  I plan on purchasing one or more of the MOEM books for practice.

We started with CPO's Earth Science with Chapter 1: Science is Everywhere.  It was the usual "branches of science," observation vs inference, and scientific method of pretty much every middle school science book first chapter.  The labs (called Investigations) were more interesting to Daisy!  With this textbook, there are 2 labs per chapter.  The first this week involved measuring flow rate of water through a bucket with spigot.  Dh is a homebrewer so we had ready access to a spigoted bucket:

Topics included measurement of volume, collecting data, calculating mean, and analyzing data.

On Friday, we did Investigation 1B, using the same equipment but varying the water level in the bucket to see if the flow rate changed.  She made observations, created a hypothesis, collected data,and analyzed the data to test her hypothesis.

The last section of Chapter 1 will be completed on Monday.

This subject is going to be SO much fun this year!  One of Daisy's goals for homeschooling was to have "history" instead of just boring old "social studies."  I think she's had more pure history this year already than all of last school year.

We're using K12's Human Odyssey with Oxford Press's History of the Ancient World volumes plus other resources.  This week she finished reading Chapter 1 of HO and read all of Chapter 2 "Unearthing Sumer."  In Ancient Near Eastern World she read chapters 2 and 3 to correspond with the textbook chapter.  We learned that the semi-nearby University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology ( houses one-third of the treasures of the Sumerian city of Ur unearthed by Sir Leonard Woolley in the 1920s and 1930s.  Unfortunately, that particular exhibit is closed until March 2011.  Some of the artificats pictured in the Human Odyssey chapter are in the UPenn collection!  We'll be making a field trip to that museum as sonn as we can  in the late winter. As a consolation to not visiting the exhibit now, we spent an hour or so exploring every page and link on the Iraq's Ancient Past website 

On Thursday, I asked her to write a few sentences about the week's reading.  She wrote a paragraph about Babylon (only covered briefly in the reading, so she read more) and one about the discovery of the burial pit of Queen Pu-abi of Ur.

Grammar covered nouns as direct objects, indirect objects and the objects of prepositions.  We reviewed dictionary entries (how to read etc) and the use of dictionaries to find unfamiliar words. 

She decided to participate in the Young Writer's Program of NaNoWriMo so I'll get her signed up this week and print out the middle school workbook to use for preparing for November.

The writing program we're going to beta-test for Susan Wise Bauer will be coming our way soon :)

I found a used copy of Michael Clay Thompson's Building Poems and a used copy of Figuratively Speaking so those will be added to the mix in the coming weeks.

Other stuff:
Art:  Daisy sketched a gazillion things this week and drew a comic strip ala Charlie Brown and Lucy with a football.  She chose a craft, recreating a Sumerian mosaic from the gates of Ishtar,  from Hands-on Ancient Peoples vol 1 (Yvonne Merrill) and started painting.  We ran out of time to finish Friday.

Girl Scouts hasn't started yet.  The troop may participate in a local women in aviation event next Sunday.

Ballet started today (Saturday).  Yesterday was the grand reopening of the studio (we'd been in temporary space while the building housing the studio was torn down and rebuilt) which is GORGEOUS!  There's even a separate green room for the boys!  Pictures are on the camera instead of my phone so I'll have to get those uploaded to photobucket to share.

This week, I again kept track of time spent on each subject.  I'm trying to get a better idea of how my on-paper plans correspond to actual time spent each day.  Math varied from 30-60 minutes, science from 15-90 minutes, history from 30-120 minutes, and English from 5-30 minutes!  Whew!

Upcoming next week:  two science labs, a trip to the local state park's nature center for a preview of the year's homeschool classes/activities, and coffee with my friends------Daisy and Daddy will do something as yet undetermined Tuesday morning!  Will they hike?  Will they visit a local museum?  Will they take sketch pads and pencils out into the wilderness?  Will they play frisbee golf?  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Friday, September 3, 2010

Our first week! (well, kinda)

We eased into school this week :)  Since we're following the schedule of her older sister, we too had orientation and getting to know the teachers and classes.  Math, history and a smidge of grammar were started this week.  Next week we'll add literature, vocab., and science. 

Daisy took a placement "test" I cobbled together, just to see what her gaps are.  She needs to have all fundamentals mastered before she can start true algebra.  Turns out she never learned division of fractions (?????) so that was first.  I then presented a lot of word problems (but Mommmmmmmmmm) to make sure she was setting up the problems correctly.  I'm of the opinion that she hadn't done enough word problems in previous years.  So far, so good.  Next week, a quickie review of decimals, then percents and then on to more fun topics.

(Tuesday) Daisy read the introduction to Human Odyssey and we discussed time (BC/BCE, AD/CE), timelines, lattitude and longitude.  I dusted off the old globe Mike's grandmother had given us years ago and she used it while doing some scavenger hunt type activities from the Student Pages and National Geographic's Xpedition site.

(Wednesday) She drew continents onto an orange with a Sharpie, peeled the orange, then flattened the peel as a simulation of creating a map projection.  Using the various projections in the atlas section of Human Odyssey and on the Xpedition site, we discussed the pros, cons and uses of the different projections.

(Thursday) Daisy read the first section of Chapter 1, From Hunter-Gatherers to City-Builders, about the Stone Age.  We explored the cave paintings of the Lascaux (France) Grotto through this amazing website spending at least an hour looking at every single drawing and reading through all the textual commentaries.  Fascinating!

Next week in history, we'll begin our study of ancient Mesopotamia.  The last library requests were picked up this afternoon!  In addition to the Human Odyssey text, we'll be using The Ancient Near Eastern World (Oxford Press), DK Eyewitness Mesopotamia, Hands-on Ancient People Vol. 1, and Outrageous Women of Ancient Times.  She will read Gilgamesh the Hero (Geraldine McCaughrean) as a literature selection.

Nothing very exciting, just the first few lessons in Voyages in English 6 (orally) to get her feet wet.

I have to take more pictures of the index card house to share.  It is now fully furnished (index card furniture), decorated (marker and colored pencil wallpaper, post-it carpets), with an entire index card family moved in.  They even have a treehouse (index cards, paper towel roll) in the yard!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010