We Teach Life, Not Just School

I am a big proponent of using life to teach academic skills. It takes some creativity sometimes to incorporate school into our lives, and our lives into school time, but it’s possible and hugely beneficial! So many times we hear from our children (and have said it ourselves) that they do not understand how what they are learning will apply to them in the real world, how it will benefit them in their adult life. Let’s show them… Make it real for them!

I believe in allowing our children to explore their passions, to explore their interests, to try and fail, but to get up and try again. These are essential life skills. We should teach our children how to make wise decisions, to know when to persevere and when to move on to something new, to honour their commitments, and to be responsible for their choices. I believe these things are just as, if not more than, important as book learning.

Sometimes this means we do weird things. We make strange mistakes, we fill the calendar, we step out of our comfort zones.

Our school board is hosting a science fair in March. TLC decided last year that he wanted a snake; actually, he’d wanted a snake for years, but last year he convinced his father to allow a snake to live at his house (our lease forbids it from living here). Waffles, as the snake is called, has been a fabulous experience for TLC. He’s had to learn how to care for it, feed it, clean its habitat, and buy food. This has increased his sense of responsibility and money management. It’s also been a source of science projects. He had to research how to care for a snake before he was allowed to get one. He had to save up the money for it and buy it himself. He has to buy the food for it and know what to feed it. Waffles will be his exhibit and project for the upcoming science fair, and one of the rewards for doing it will be that Waffles can come live at our house the week before the fair.

He gets a reward because the science fair is far out of his comfort zone. That’s okay, because one of the responsibilities of parenting and teaching our children is to push them out of their comfort zones. It’s hard for TLC to be outside of his comfort zone, and one of the signs of his maturity is that he is starting to recognize where the comfort zone boundary lies. Now he will learn that he can safely, successfully, and enjoyably step past that boundary. In order to achieve his goals and dreams, he’s going to need to be past those boundaries. It will not benefit him if I allow him to hide, to remain in the box. None of his dreams are in a box; he has huge dreams! He’s never lived his life in a box, and I refuse to allow him to build one around himself now.

Let’s teach our children — not only to read, write and do arithmetic, but to step outside the box, to explore past their comfort zones, and to persevere when things are hard in order to achieve their goals!!

Breaking Tradition (in a Nontraditional Way)

As most of the northern hemisphere is under a blanket of cold, white snow, the rest of us celebrate this time of year in the warmth of the sun. I wish a Merry Christmas to everyone reading this, no matter what part of the world you are in. This time of year, many of our homeschooling families are visiting with relatives and friends, whether that involves traveling or staying near home.

I dread writing articles around holidays, because they always seem so cliché to me. Today, I’m going to break tradition and write about something completely off-topic with Christmas.

Fun Fact: Jesus was not born this day, but did you know the renowned mathematician and scientist, Isaac Newton, was born this day in 1642?

Can you imagine science or math without Isaac Newton? He is recognized for his works, such as Newton’s laws of motion, universal gravitation, and his description of gravity. He changed how scientists view the solar system and the shape of the earth, developed the theory of color, and built the first telescope!

Just look at the amazing telescopes we have now, such as the Hubble Space telescope, launched into space by NASA in 1990. This telescope is the size of a large school bus, weighs as much as two adult elephants, and travels around Earth approximately five miles per second! This telescope has found hundreds of galaxies, discovered moons around planets, watched stars being born and die, and much more. (If you would like to view the Hubble, follow this link.) My favorite star pattern, or constellation, is Orion. This is because the constellation is mentioned a few times in the Bible, it has a unique and easily recognizable pattern, and has quite a powerful significance in the coming of Jesus! First, a few scriptures to share regarding Orion:

Job 9:9 – Who makes the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades, and the chambers of the south?
Job 38:31 – Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades, or loose the cords of Orion?
Amos 5:8 – He who made the Pleiades and Orion and changes deep darkness into morning, Who also darkens the day into night, Who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the surface of the earth, the Lord is His name.
Isaiah 13:10 – For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not flash forth their light; the sun will be dark when it rises and the moon will not shed its light.

It’s amazing that even in scripture, the constellations and solar system remind us of God’s glory and incredible creative power! Not only that, but through Ellen G. White we have an incredible picture of just how special this constellation is: “Dark, heavy clouds came up and clashed against each other. The clouds parted and rolled back; then we could look up through the open space in Orion, where God’s voice came from. Heaven will come down through that ‘open space,” adapted from Early Writings, p. 42. I encourage you to visit this link to read more of this vision she writes of — Orion.

Also, if you have children of Pathfinder ages (10-16), I really suggest earning the Stars honor! It’s super fun and a great thing to include in their studies of science.

God is amazing. He chose to share His wonderful creation with us, His beautiful, created children. I am honestly overwhelmed in the splendor we get to witness as a result of people He has given the gift of discovery to, such as Isaac Newton. Through these beautiful, scientific solar discoveries, and with the message from His messengers, we can truly be looking for His coming in a nontraditional way!

My prayer is that, through science, we gain a deeper insight to the wonder that is our God. Thank you for reading along. Whatever your plans are for the day, enjoy!

p.s. For a fun family activity, try making a solar scene with paints, poster board, and various sized lids/bowls/cups. Just click on these YouTube links: Galaxy, Planets. (Don’t forget to use safety gear where needed, especially if you are going to use spray paint!) I seriously had so much fun with this project during a Pathfinder leader convention! 

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Newton

https://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/k-4/stories/nasa-knows/what-is-the-hubble-space-telecope-k4.html

http://www.whiteestate.org/vez/jul08/did%20you%20know.htm

http://www.pathfindersonline.org/honors/nature/186-stars

Five Ways to Introduce Coding to Your Homeschooler

Coding is a computer language that is prevalent in our world today. Frankly, our children are all digital natives, so they will be expected to know some form of coding as adults. While coding as a language may feel foreign to many of us, there are websites that can help introduce our children to coding. There are lots of different types of code that we should all be familiar with, such as html. If you want to learn more yourself, or teach your kids more about coding, there are several resources that can assist you.

As computer science fields continue to advance, coding will be a new normal, and will be used in many careers and across various industries around the world. The need to learn to code is especially important since many jobs of the past are now automated and machine driven. To increase our children’s marketability, we should provide them with the skills they need to be the brains behind the machines.

I believe exposing children to this language early is critical to students learning it thoroughly. Thankfully, there are many free options that are now available for any person to learn coding. While “free” sounds good, we also want to think about safety and how to offer our children ad-free options. Here are a few resources that I trust to give my kids access to coding.

Five Free Computer Coding Programs

Tynker

5 Ways to Introduce Coding to Your Homeschooler

The recommended age is children seven years old and older. Children will have an opportunity to code robots, build apps, explore stem, create mods for Minecraft, code drones, and build games. Tynker is great because it makes learning coding exciting and student-directed. Kids will feel like their playing games, while in fact, they are learning a new language.

Scratch

“Scratch is a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab.”(1) It gives kids an opportunity to create, innovate, and problem solve from a computer.

Hour of Code

The Hour of Code takes place each year during Computer Science Education Week. It is both a movement and event that takes place each year. The activities section of their website has tons of games that introduce young students to coding adventures.

One cool aspect on the Hour of Code website is that there is a resource for teachers that tells you exactly how to teach computer science at each appropriate grade level.

Code.org

This site provides online classes for kids to learn how to code. It is a nonprofit agency that wants to connect more women and minority groups to computer science fields. The 100 percent free curriculum is helping code.org reach their goal.

Stencyl


Parents are sometimes relieved when they find out their kids want to create a video rather than just play on one. Stencyl is offers a block-snapping interface and games, so kids can create their video games.

Lego Mindstorms EV3

This program is a paid program that kids and adults who are Lego enthusiasts will enjoy. The learning game comes with three interactive servo motors, remote control, a color sensor, redesigned touch sensor, infrared sensor, and 550+ LEGO® Technic elements. The EV3 Programmer App is a free download available for iOS and Android tablet devices.

These programs provide great free starting points. While the basic levels that will give students a good understanding of how to use the program are free, if parents and kids want to go into more depth with coding there are some paid components available as well.

Proverbs 1:5 states that, “A wise [man] will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsel.”(2) As our world changes, the information that we teach our children will change too. Of course the fundamentals of reading, writing, and arithmetic will always be there, but now we owe it to our children to give them a language that they can build upon later in life.

Did you enjoy this post? If so, share it with others and connect with me online. Also, be sure to follow me on Instagram where I share many of the homeschool activities that my daughters and I are enjoying together.

Reference:

(1) Scratch.mit.edu. (2017). Scratch – About. [online] Available at: https://scratch.mit.edu/about [Accessed 21 Aug. 2017].

(2) Kingjamesbibleonline.org. (2017). PROVERBS 1:5 KJV “A wise [man] will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:”. [online] Available at: https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Proverbs-1-5/ [Accessed 21 Aug. 2017].

Cool bug facts for homeschool kids

6 Cool Bug Facts Kids Should Know

Not long ago, I wrote a post entitled “Teaching Kids Entomology While Hiking.” Because we share our world with millions of insects all around us, it’s important for our kids to learn about the benefits of bugs. Although insects are often considered a nuisance, they serve a very important role in our ecosystem.

Adam Zagajewski once wrote, “In summer the empire of insects spreads.” As summer approaches it’s a great time for homeschooling families to watch the wonder of bugs and learn about why God made them.

6 cool bug facts kids should know

This summer teach kids about insects by sharing these six characteristics with them:

  1. Insects have three sections that help distinctly identify them from other creatures. The segments are head, thorax, and abdomen.
  2. Insects have compound eyes. Compound eyes are also called Arthropod eyes, which help insects see in multiple directions.
  3. They also have two antennae, which are movable organs that carry out different sensory functions for different insects.
  4. Insects have three pairs of legs.
  5. Just like reptiles, insects are exothermic, which means they are cold-blooded. Have you ever noticed that insects seem to disappear in the winter? Some insects migrate south like birds to stay warm. Other insects may die or temporarily freeze. When an insect lies dormant through the winter, it is considered a special type of hibernation during called “diapause.”
  6. One other interesting feature that insects possess is that they can molt. Molting is the shedding of their outer skin as it grows.

Feel free to download this original word search I created:

Entomology Word Search, click on the image to view the word bank.

Insects are critically important in our environment because they help break down other organisms and make room for new ones. We can thank insects for our produce because many are master pollinators. We can also thank insects for cleaning up our waste and other decaying matter.

6 COOL iNSECT FACTS KIDS SHOULD KNOW

Purdue University asserts that…

Insects are underappreciated for their role in the food web. They are the sole food source for many amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Insects themselves are harvested and eaten by people in some cultures. They are a rich source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, and are prized as delicacies in many third-world countries (1).

If you’ve discovered that your child is completely enamored with bugs and nature, here are a few resources that you may want to incorporate in your lessons:

Be sure to let me know if you found this post helpful in the comment section below.

All of my articles on this blog can be found here.

Reader question: Name one characteristic about bugs that you find interesting and share why?

Reference:

(1) “Who Let The Bugs Out? | Purdue | Entomology | Insect | Collect | Supplies | Specimen | Mounting | Identifying | Displaying | Preserve | Labels”. Extension.entm.purdue.edu. N.p., 2017. Web. 10 May 2017.

 

Sensory Slime Fun!

Slime, slime, beautiful slime! It is one of our favorite sensory items to play with! We love how easy it is to make an how open ended it is. Plus it lasts a long time if you store it in a Ziplock bag! One of our favorite things to do is to use clear glue and add food coloring and glitter!! You can also add sequines, stars, little plastic toys…the options are endless!

Our favorite recipe uses clear glue, liquid startch and food coloring.

Slime Recipe:

1/2 Cup of Elmer’s Washable Non Toxic Clear Glue or White Glue

1/2 Cup of Liquid Starch

1/2 Cup of Water

Measuring Cup

2 bowls and a spoon

food coloring, confetti, glitter {optional}

Instructions:

1. In one bowl mix 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup of glue {really mix to combine completely}. Pour glue into water. Stir the glue and water together well!

2. Add color, glitter, or confetti! Mix the glitter and color into the glue and water mixture.

3Pour in 1/2 cup of liquid starch and mix. The slime will begin to form. When it begins to turn into a glob, use your hands to mix and stretch it until it’s no longer sticky. Then it’s time to play!

One of our favorite ways to use Slime is to add in little animal toys, bugs, and play dough tools.  It really is so easy to whip up and the possibilities are endless. Need some more ideas? Check all of the gread slime ideas here: Best Slime Activities