Webcast – Summer Science Fun

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Today we will be discussing having fun with Science during Summer Vacation time. I don’t know how many of you will be continueing to school during the summer as we will, but we need to have some fun during this time as well. We need to allow our children time outside. I’ve done some research and found some really fun science activities to do during the warmer months. They are fun but educational as well. Many of these activities will be good to do outside. Many also are just plain messy, so doing them outside would be prudent.

One of the first things we need to do as we begin our Summer Science fun is to make Science Journals for our children. They can be as plain as a notebook from Walmart or as elaborate as your child would like to make them. Have your child write in their journal everyday, telling what they did, what happened during an experiment, recording growth of plants, and on and on.

Some of the best activities I found are:

Soda Bottle terrarium


Balloon science


Flower Science

http://www.education.com/activity/article/teach_science_second/ – where you use water with food coloring in it to see how water travels up the flower.

Make Your Own Cloud

http://www.education.com/activity/article/Make_Your_Own_Cloud/  –  The warm water and the match heated the air inside the jar. The warm, wet air rose up to the top of the jar and ran into the cold air just below the ice cubes. When the warm, wet air met the cold wet air, they created a cloud of water droplets. Instant cloud!

Blast Off

http://www.education.com/activity/article/Blast_Off_Rocket_Science/  –  The straw with the attached balloon quickly moves across the string. The movement stops at the end of the string or when the forces acting on the balloon are balanced.

Film Canister Rocket

http://www.sciencebob.com/experiments/filmrocket.php  –  This website doesn’t show how to make it look like a rocket, but you can build the rocket around the film canister easily.

Bake a Chemistry Cake

http://www.education.com/activity/article/Bake_Cake_fifth/  –  Great one for girls.  They bake 4 small cakes one correct and the other three with something left out to see how they turn out.  In Science journal they record how leaving something out affected the cake.

Foam It!


Make Stalactites and Stalagmites

http://www.hometrainingtools.com/making-stalactites-science-project/a/1265/  –  this one takes about a week or so to do, but the results are worth it.

Soda and mentos (more experiments for older students)


This website has a longer science fair type project for older children.

I’ve also been thinking of some other activities that can be done during the summer. I’ve looked up some good websites for some of these activities also.

Make or buy butterfly or bird feeders – then keep science journal on what comes to visit.

Make a butterfly house to watch caterpillars turn into butterflies.


Plant flowers or vegetables in small pots and record growth.

Dissect a plant and/or fruit

Make an insect collection.

http://www.hometrainingtools.com/making-an-insect-collection-project/a/1230/ This website will help you get started. Journal ideas for insect collection are record insects collected, names, scientific names, and where found. Older children could also research more about each insect.

I also found some other sites with Summer Activities that looked good also. These Site are:


http://www.charlotteparent.com/articlemain.php?Summer-Science-Activities-3346 – Questions to answer



http://archive.blisstree.com/live/great-summer-projects-crafts-nature-activities-for-kids/ – Nature

As I promised here is the Moon Phases website:  http://sciencenetlinks.com/tools/lunar-cycle-1-calendar/

The two websites that were mentioned during the webcast are:



Next week’s topic will be  How to Incorporate History in your Summer Fun.



Webcast – Making your own Unit Study

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Webcast – Novel Unit study One of the first things you need to do is start by planning. I have found that having a planning guide is a good way to do this. You can find a planning guide at Donna Young’s site:


Now I’m going to go through the steps that I use to put together my unit study. You can also use these steps for any type of unit study, not just a Novel Unit Study.

Step 1 – Pick the book or topic for your study. To show what I’m talking about I’m going to show a unit study that I’m putting together. I’m using the book, “Charlotte’s Web”. You will need to read the book first to have all the information you will need. If you are doing a unit study around a topic, such as Ancient History, then you will also need to find a really good book on Ancient History to use as your “spine” for the unit. This will be the book that guides your study. It will show the timeline & events, and famous people & places. For a novel unit study, the novel is your spine. It will guide your study as well.

Step 2 – Find additional resources. Go to the library and find books that go along with your study. For Charlotte’s Web some of the books might be a book on pigs, farm life, spiders, or friendships. You might also find historical and science books. For Charlotte’s Web you might find a book on the history of fairs, or have your child do research on the subject. A book about how pigs benefit us might be another subject to be researched. I try and find at least one science, one history, 2 or 3 fiction and a couple of websites to enhance our learning.

Step 3 – I always look for ways to incorporate a lapbook into our studies. So for Charlotte’s Web we will be doing a lapbook on pigs, farms or spiders. Since she has done a lapbook on pigs in the past, we will probably do the lapbook on spiders.

Step 4 – Look at your book or topic and list vocabulary and/or spelling words. If possible divide these into chapters or reading segments and assign with the reading.

Step 5 – Write at least 5 questions for each chapter or reading section to assess comprehension.

Step 6 – Plan writing assignments. Give your children two or three writing assignments during your study. I like to assign a couple of creative writing assignments, plus some sort of research assignment. For our Charlotte’s Web study, she will be writing about how she would feel knowing that she might be in danger of dying and how would she use her time. I’m hoping to steer her to realizing that her time is not her own, but God’s. She will also be researching the History of Fairs. I might assign one more creative writing project also.

Step 7 – Get creative. Begin to think of science topics and history topics that you can come up with “hands-on” projects to do. Many homeschoolers like to do their hands-on projects on Fridays as an incentive to working hard during the week. For Charlotte’s Web some of the projects I have come up with are: A birth announcement for Wilbur Making a “Piggy Bank” out of a 2-liter soda bottle. Making a diorama of Wilbur’s home in the barn. Making paper dolls of the farm animals and doing plays. Taking a portion of the book with a lot of dialogue and have each Child take a character and read as a play. Making a mobile of all the products that come from pigs. (you would Be amazed) Making a “Great Pig” award or using any of the words from the webs. Field trip – going to a fair if possible Field trip – going to a working farm, a pig farm if possible.

Step 8 – Write out lesson plans. You can do this by making weekly lesson plans that are structured or by listing activities and completing them in order in an unstructured plan. I am a more structured person, so I make weekly lesson plans with reading assignments, vocabulary/spelling words, questions and activities for each week.

Step 9 – Keep a journal of your unit study. Whichever way you choose to plan your unit study, keeping a journal will show how and what you did during your study. Making pictures of your activities is also a great way to make your journal more exciting. Have the children help in keeping the journal.

Step 10 – Celebrating the end of the unit. If your study has taken some time, you might want to celebrate the completion of the study by having a party, watching a movie or film, or by going on a field trip. You might also throw an “open house” to showcase the children’s work to friends and family.

Well that is my 10 steps to putting together a unit study.

I am currently working on unit studies for the novels “Charlotte’s Web” and “The Borrowers”.  If anyone is interested in these I am selling them for $5.  These are studies with weekly lesson plans for 4 to 6 weeks.  I’m also working on a Unit Study Planner of my own.  This will be for sale for $3.  If interested email me at:  cstanley@afr.net

Next week, May 29th, we will be discussing Science Activities and Getting ready for a Science Fair.  I’ll see you then.

The link to watch the recording for this webcast is  http://www.justin.tv/homeschoolchanneltv/videos

Webcast – Using your local Library

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Today I would like to discuss how we can use our local library.  I know that many of you use your library on a regular basis.  Are you using it at it’s full capacity?  Are there programs that you could be involved in that you didn’t even know about?  Are there programs that you could help start or be involved in?

Here at our library, one of the ladies has started programs specifically for the homeschoolers in the area.  This first program has been almost an overview of the library and how to use the different sections and the Dewey Decimal system.  She is planning on doing some other programs as well.  I wonder if you there are many other communities that would benefit from a program like that?

This library is also doing a summer camp.  It is for ages 4 and 5 & 6 – 11 and will take place in July for one week.  I’m not exactly sure what they will be doing, but I know they will have crafts and games.  They also have a summer reading program like most libraries.

Some other programs here at our library are a monthly game night and a weekly storytime.  It is for families and is a way to get families together and children off the computers and game boys for a little while.  There is also going to be a Literacy Workshop for children that don’t like to read.  They will be using the book, “Dussie” and will be tying it into a science project fair.  The Tweens and Teens group will have the opportunity to participate in a Science Fair and could win a Kindle Fire or a Nook.   They will also be having a Lock-in for the teens and tweens where they will be doing activities related to the book “The Hunger Games”.

I went to my library to find out if there were programs that I wasn’t aware of and got most of the information I just gave you.  But I also found out that they do beginner computer classes.  I went and talked to the lady in charge of the classes and discussed having computer classes for the home school children.  She was very receptive and wanted to start working on it right away. I think we could have many more programs if we would just take the time to suggest them and help out with them.

Using your library can be very easy.  Finding books that go along with whatever you are studying and also finding videos to enhance your learning are the most common things homeschoolers do at the library.  But did you know your library has classes, one seminars and much more available to you?

During the summer many libraries have programs for children to come and participate in.  Our library has this program.  There will be people reading books aloud, some arts and crafts, and a magician.  You might check with your library and see if they have something like this going on this summer.  If not, ask about getting it started.  Remember you might be just the person to get some great things going at your library.

If your library doesn’t offer some of these programs, you might go and suggest them.  Also I believe all children need to understand the Dewey Decimal system, so I have put together a “Tic Tac Toe” board (well a friend of mine came up with it) to help children understand the system.  The summer is a wonderful time to do this little reading project.  Your child will read different books from the sections of the Dewey Decimal system.  They will also read Biographies and Fiction titles as well.  When they have completed their board, they should be rewarded with a prize of some sort.  If you have a home schooling group, you might want to do this with other homeschoolers.  Our board looks like this.  If you are interested in this board just email me and I’ll send it to you.  My email is  cstanley@afr.net

I hope this webcast has been of some help to you.  If you have any questions or comments please let me know.  Also I would love some suggestions on topics for future webcasts.

Thanks and I’ll see you next week.


Classifying Donuts

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We did a short but fun science activity today that I thought I would share.  We have been studying Classifying Animals.  So today we Classified Donuts to show how classification works.  Here are some pictures.

  We classified the donuts into groups by shape, size and then flavor for the round group and then by shape and flavor for the non round group.

  This is the chart after we finished.

  This is Abby eating the experiment.

This was short, but fun AND delicious.

Creative Writing and How to Make a Creative Writing Notebook/Folder


Today we will be discussing Creative Writing.  I will explain the writing process, how to make a writing folder and give you some writing resources. First I’d like to teach the writing process.

There are five steps:

1) Prewriting – This is where the child begins thinking about what they want to write about and organizing their thoughts.  There are many types of prewriting that your child can do.  Things like freewriting, making a web, creativing a flow chart, making a list or using a story map.  At the end of this webcast I will give you resources to graphic organizers that will help in the prewriting stage.

2) 1st Draft – The 1st draft is where the child writes without worrying about spelling, grammar or punctuation.  This is a purely a creative writing time.  For most children trying to spell correctly, making sure they are capitalizing and punctuating can be distracting to the creative side of writing.  So during this step, they don’t need to worry about those things at all.  During the week, allow your child to write up to 5 1st drafts on any subject they like.  After no more than 5 1st drafts, the child will pick one of their 1st drafts to continue the writing process and publish their work.

3) Revising – During the revising stage, the child will read their 1st draft and try to make it sound better and more interesting.  They will:

  • Change sentences – add words, take out unnecessary words, and change to more interesting vocabulary.
  • read, reread and reread again.  Your child needs to learn to read their own writing.  They will find many of their own mistakes that way.
  • Take out sentences if needed.
  • Add sentences if needed.
  • Combine sentences if possible.

4) Editing – This is where your child will start looking at their spelling, grammar and punctuation. They will:

  • Reread. They need to think about their writing. Does it sound correct? Change to make it sound correct.
  • Check for capital letters.
  • Check for punctuation at the end of sentences.
  • Highlight any words that MIGHT be misspelled. Then look up all the words in a dictionary or use spell check.
  • Check for new paragraphs. Did you start a new topice with each paragraph? Change the setting? Use dialogue?

5) Publishing – After your child has revised and edited, they will write their final draft.  This is the writing that they will publish.  There are many ways to publish your child’s work.  Such as: making a mini book, creating a family newsletter and putting their writing in it to send to family and friends, or using one of the many online children’s publishing website.  Most of these website are free and will show your child’s work in a gallery with other students of the same age.  You can give family and friends the web address for them to view the work.  I will list some of these sites at the end of this post.

Now I would like to show you pictures of the Writing Folder that I have used for years in my classroom and in my homeschool.  This made with two pockets folder (no brads), one inside the other and stapled together.



On the back I will put a sheet that gives suggestions on how the child might publish their work.  I just haven’t got it on this one yet.  Before stapling the folders together, you might laminate them for durability.  Your child will use the pockets during each step of the writing process.  The revising and editing sheets are there to help the child remember what needs to be done during those steps.   This folder is a tool to help the child move through the steps in the Writing Process, but the writing process itself has to be taught.


The Writing Notebook –


Graphic Organizers –


Prompts –








http://www.tikatok.com/  (this site is not free)





There are many more, but these are the ones I found quickly.

I hope this helps you to be inspired to teach Creative Writing to your children.  If there are any other questions, please email me.

See you next week,