Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dragonfly Mini Unit

My little Lambies are learning about dragonflies right now. It all started with a chapter we read in "Among the Pond People" by Clara Dillingham Pierson. I always bring up images of the animals we are reading about so the children can imagine the story better. The Snapping Turtle was illustrated with this picture:


The Dragonfly Children were illustrated thusly:


I printed these for the Littles to color: Dragonfly Lifecycle and Dragonfly and the older children (just those who wanted to participate) drew them using this tutorial: Draw a Dragonfly.

Eyewitness Insects has a beautifully photographed series of an emerging damselfly. A dragonfly's emergence is very similar. My copy of this book is older and has a different picture on the cover than the one I linked to. It seems that the insides are the same though.

I read "Sir Small and the Dragonfly" to Missy and Troubles. They got a laugh out of it.

Best of all, I found a perfectly undamaged deceased dragonfly while I was walking last week, so I had a wonderful specimen to show them. They got to see the compound eyes close up, see the intricate veining in the wings and observe the many jointed legs. We could not pry open the mandibles, but they did get a close look. We used magnifying glasses and also the microscope. It was a good day of science for the Littles.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Grading Helps


I have three children on whom I keep grades. I begin giving percentage scores and letter grades in Grade 7. I record the grades on one of my favorite forms and keep them in my teachers binder. At the end of the year, they go into the portfolio with a few samples of work. I have a paper grading chart that helps me calculate the grades, but as the kids get older, they sometimes have more problems than my grader can handle. I found this online calculator that is very helpful and thought I'd pass it along. It's now saved in my School Sites Folder in my favorites.

Grade Calculator

Also helpful for end of term or year calculations:

Grade Point Average
GPA Calculator

I haven't figured out which one I like better yet.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Boys and the Frogs

The Boys and the Frogs by Aesop, illustrated by Milo Winter

Narrated by Troubles:

The boys were throwing stones and the frogs were scared. One of the frogs, the one who was brave, stuck his head up out of the water. He said....

Narrated by Missy:

"Stop. We don't want to die."

Concluded by Momma:

The Moral of the Story is..."Always stop to think whether your fun may not be the cause of another's unhappiness."

Missy also used the moral for her copywork today.

The Black Widow

My friend Ginger over at Frugal Freeda mentioned this course. DrawSpace.com is a full art course for the beginning student through the advanced level. My eldest daughter is SO happy with this find! She loves to draw, and now Freeda just supplied an elective credit for her 9th grade year.

EmBlem looked over the course and assigned herself the Intermediate designation. She did read a few tips and hints in the beginners lessons that were helpful. She chose to begin with a Black Widow Drawing, since we have so many of the dears around here. Here's the Lesson. Here's a picture of her finished piece.

We'll be shopping for the more specialized pencils that are called for in the lessons this weekend. She did this with a plain old 2B Ticonderoga (the best writing pencils in the world, by the way) on basic copy paper bought from Costco. Didn't she do a marvelous job?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Worthless Piece of Junk? Never!

We had two non-functioning CD players hanging around. Before throwing them away, Polly and Jack decided to explore them. Out came some of Daddy's small tools and the magnifying glasses. I didn't note the time, but they probably spent more than an hour taking those players apart and marveling over the tiny pieces that were inside.

They compared the two and found the similar parts and noticed the differences.

Should I count this as "mechanical engineering" or "de-construction skills"?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Floor Puzzles

My Lambies, Polly, Jack, Missy and Troubles spent some time with
floor puzzles the other day. They choose to build the glow-in-the-dark creatures set.

What a great way to learn some biology, practice fine motor and classification skills and have fun
at the same time.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Learning With Dover

One way I enrich our studies is the use of Dover coloring books. We are blessed to have a bookstore in the next town that carries a large selection of Dover books in-store. When I search my shelves for a certain historical time period, science topic, or famous person and don't find a corresponding Dover, I head out and get one. If they don't have a certain one in stock, I get it on Amazon. They make our studies so much more interesting! I like to let the kids color while I read the related story. It helps my kinestetic learners stay tuned in.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Drills...The Fun Way

Ahhh....it's nearing back to school time! I have every intention of starting Monday (but have given myself until Wednesday, just in case I need more time for something). In the meantime, I am allowing the Lambies to warm up their thinking caps with these fun little games I found. Some mention using the Wii, but they work just fine on the computer, using the arrow keys and space bar, too.

Academic Skill Builders

I love that they can be playing and learning at the same time!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Storybooks for August

We began school this month, so our lit and science books will be included in this list from now on, as well as impromptu read alouds.

The Chicken Book by Garth Williams
Bomby the Bombardier Beetle by Hazel May Rue
Ox Cart Man by Donald Hall
Eloise Wilkins' Mother Goose
The Roly-Poly Pudding by Beatrix Potter
Over the Meadow by John Langstaff
Baby Whales Drink Milk by Barbara Juster Esbensen
began Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
missed quite a few right through here.....
selections from God Loves You by Catherine Marshall (love.love.love this find!!)
Daniel Boone in The Book House Vol. 9 (read over several weeks)
Jack the Giant Killer in The Book House Vol. 6 (read over several weeks)
A Nest Full of Eggs
What the Moon is Like by Franklyn M. Branley
Johnny Appleseed by Steven Kellogg
Tale of a Tadpole by Karen Wallace
Rumpelstiltskin illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky
Eyewitness Insects (specifically the dragonfly and damselfly pages)
Sir Small and the Dragonfly by Jane O'Conner

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Lego Mania!

I suppose all homeschoolers deal with it. Legomania, that is. All of my boys and most of my girls LOVE getting out the Lego.


Years of watching yard sales and swap meets carefully have netted us two very large tubs of Lego. We also buy new when the price is right. In addition, we have a tub full of the Lego that my husband had when he was young. The Crew is Lego Spoiled!

One thing that suffers from all the attention is the ever-popular manual. The schematics. The instructions. So many things that they make are freely built, but some Lambies in particular like to follow the visuals. That's hard to do with so few booklets.

Tonight, I discovered the motherlode of Lego-manuals. Every.single.one. is downloadable from Lego.com. I don't know how this nugget of information evaded me for so long. Jack is going to be so happy. PDF's are soooooo convenient!