First Week Of School
We have started our new school year and the first week has gone very well. We have five kids and are schooling grades 4, 2, k, and pre-k, and a toddler.
We are using several great resources this year that are new to us. I am close to being finished with my plans and purchases. I will write more about them soon. But for starters I invested in some very nice Unit Studies from Hands Of A Child. These units are so well done, it will take us a while to get through all the material they provided. I am just so impressed with this product. Included are all the materials and book lists for the unit, and worksheets, templates, and supplies to make lapbooks, and notebooks too.
The children are really excited too. I think starting the school year with some fun activities really helps to build the excitement in homeschooling. We launched our first day of school with a fun and very well done Unit Study of Airplanes from Hands Of A Child, and some science activities and craft activities. I will write specifically about the Airplane Unit Study and post it on the blog soon.
We also built marble runs, yes plural, everyone wanted their own. We bought a set of marbles and the rest was recycled boxes and tubes we had in our storage closet. Much to the dismay of my husband, I save lots of boxes and containers that we can use in our arts and crafts. I keep a big box of these in a closet and pull them out now and then when we need them.
With the marble runs we had lots of races. This kept the children busy for several hours. A great activity!
This was a good craft activity for using motor skills and design. It also helped them understand several science and physics vocabulary words:
To enhance the math of this activity, have the children make graphs comparing lengths of the runs the marble travels. You could also use a stop watch that times seconds and time the marbles as they start and finish. You can also measure different size marbles that weigh different amounts.
A Marble Run is very simple to do.
Buy some Marbles:
Then build from recycled materials you have around the house. We used paper towel and toilet paper tubes, packing tape, scissors, cereal boxes, and macaroni and cheese boxes.
To build a marble run:
Simply cut the tubes in half lengthwise, or leave whole and cut a hole in one end for the marble to fall through. The ramps are held onto the box with a long peice of packing tape. Adjust the angels of your track to go faster or slower. Add speed bumpls if you wish. Join several completed marble runs together to make it longer too. Just use your imagination. On the back of the box/marble run, you can tape an additional tube or box piece to make a brace, like on the back of a picture frame to make it stand up. This helps so the kids can use both hands to race thier marbles.
If you would rather buy your marble run already made, and keep it for years for lots of fun here is a really good option:
In addition to racing marbles, we also raced gooy green slime this week in our science studies.
I bought this simple kit on Ebay. It is also available on Amazon and at lots of children’s educational stores. It is called “Cool Slime” and has all the ingredients (only 2) and equipment needed. It comes with teaching instructions for 5 experiments, though you can find seveal more online to add to it.
click this link if you are interested in buying this Cool Slime kit:
We did the first three experiments this week and plan to finish the kit next week.
The kids learned alot from combining these two ingredients: Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA) and Cross Linker Solution (Sodium Tetraborate).
Some of the subjects/vocabulary discussed included:
making the gooy green slime involved measuring, mixing, and stirring
and what fun, gooy green, jelly, slime we created! It is cool to the touch.
We raced to see how long we could create a line (sorry, no picture) with this without breaking the chain. We set a timer for three minutes. The children would hold a blob in their hand and let it slowly fall to the table below. Then as it would touch the table gently move their hand over just a bit to create a long continuous chain. Then we took rulers and measured the distances. It seems like a long time, as the slime moves very slowly. The most patient won!
Now how about that sneeze!
No really it was another race. Ofcourse the most patient person won again. That is the trick to racing with this stuff.
Here is another link to a really nice kit to learn how to make and use fun and silly slime:
For our school work this year, I found great products on Ebay and Amazon. I also found some of the curriculum I needed from Hands Of A Child, Amanda Bennet Unit Studies and Down load and go, Currclick, The Old School House Magazine, and Christian Book Distributors. One big investment was Teaching Textbooks Math for my fourth grader ( about $120 new). Wow, what a difference this has made. For the past four years we used Life Pac Math and it went well until half way through this past year, when he became bored with it and wasn’t motivated to do it. This new math has him excited about math again! Yay! Yay! Yay!
I found some really great supplies from Ebay. I made a whole new reading library, a whole science lab with equipment and lots of science kits, bought curriculums, and a few crafts. I am thrilled about several hands on items I got to help make learning more fun. A terrific product was the Harcourt Math Manipulatives Packs for each grade level. Costs between $9 and $12 per grade. Fantastic! Another great item was Evan Moore file folder games and manipulatives that cost about $5 each.
Overall, on Ebay, I paid about any where from $.01 cents to $20.00 for each item. I ended up paying about $.15 cents on the dollar for most of it, though I was willing to go as high as 50% including shipping, if it was something I really wanted. For example, I found a nice chemestry set for $50 and it retailed new for $115. The most expensive part of all my purchaseswas the shipping. I found several sellers willing to combine shipping on items when I won several from their sale. So this helped some. I do wish Ebay would help cut the shipping costs more.
Finally, a purchase for me to help bring it all together, HOME SCHOOL TRACKER PLUS. I bought it at a great discount. It is a software program that helps plan and organize it ALL, and prepare transcripts too. It is flexible and customizable to each student. Such a nice product and very useful. Hope I can make the most of this.
Here is the link to Home School Tracker Plus:
Planning is very important, and really helps me to see the overall picture of our school progress.
But I am always flexible to listen to what plans the Lord wants for my day and my plans are always subject to change.
The first week was off to a great start. I am looking forward to a great school year this year filled with lots of learning adventures and fun with my kids. Hope your school year is filled with lots of learning adventures too.
(Sorry about the links, I will add them later the link thing wasn’t working, so for now it is marked with ****)