• games,  homeschooling,  mathematics,  science

    Make Your Own UNO Card Games

    I can teach anything with a homemade UNO game. Or at least, I can use it anytime there’s something I need the children to practice that can be divided into categories. The basic game goes like this: deal out seven cards each. Flip one card over from the leftover card pile. You can play any card from the same category. Star cards allow you to change category that is meant to be played. If you can’t play a card you have to pick up another. If you get down to your last card you have to say “uno” before the next person plays, or else you have to draw another…

  • homeschooling,  science

    Elementeo, the card game, and other resources for teaching children about the elements.

    My husband bought a copy of the game Elementeo. It is a card game something like Magic: the Gathering, where cards provide different monsters or abilities with which to attack the other player, except in this game the characters are based off of the elements. There is Chromium Crook and Iodine Mermaid. Each card has a little description of the character that refers in some way to what the element is used for. Yesterday before playing, I did something else with the game, that I’ve been wanting to do for a couple of weeks now. I spread one set of cards out on the floor and arranged them in the…

  • homeschooling,  mathematics,  science

    Step By Step Instructions to Making a Golden Ratio Gauge

    It began with mention of the Golden Ratio on some of the Engineering an Empire videos we were watching. Then we read a little chapter about the golden rectangle in Penrose the Mathematical Cat and we found some other you-tube videos, particularily this one about using a golden ratio gauge in designing woodworking projects. My first searches for instructions on making a golden ratio gauge all turned up the same proportions: 34, 21 and 13 centimeters. I made one like that and then decided to try scaling it down. Dividing all the distances in half worked. Armed with two golden-ratio gauges of differing sizes we did a golden-ratio hunt searching out…

  • books,  homeschooling,  science

    Introducing a Seven Year Old to Albert Einstein

    We started them with the book What’s the Matter with Albert Einstein? by  Frieda Wishinsky and then without mentioning the connection I brought out The Time and Space of Uncle Albert by Russel Stannard and waited to see how long it would take for the children to figure out that the scientist uncle Albert of the second story was the same as the character in the first. Russel Stannard’s book is a chapter book, probably meant for older children or young teenagers. My four year old quickly lost interest. My seven year old gobbled it up. The story itself is of Albert helping his niece, named Gedanken (German for thought or…

  • homeschooling,  science

    doing science – measuring grapes and a new twist on homemade model volcanoes

    We have two different types of science activities here. Some days our experiments are carefully planned out. A while ago we weighed individual grapes and then placed them in different environments – some in corn syrup, some in salt, some in water, some with oil rubbed on them. We waited two days and then weighed them all again (each grape is individually labelled so we could compare weight changes). We could then discuss what the potential flaws in our experiment are (in this case we weighed all the grapes but we didn’t preselect matching sized grapes, so they do have different surface areas, and a few might have other blemishes) and design…

  • homeschooling,  mathematics,  science

    Learning Through Play: Exploring Gears

    We’re learning about gears right now and the thing is, my kids already knew lots about gears. They knew that gears can transfer force and that two gears touching each other will turn opposite directions, and that a small gear will rotate more times than the large gear it is attached to. They knew how to use their lego bevelled gears to switch the force to an axle perpendicular to the first one, and they knew how to use the lego rack and pinion. So then the question becomes, what next? The first thing to learn was that we really didn’t know all that much about gears. For example, we…

  • books,  homeschooling,  science

    Book Review: George’s Secret Key to the Universe

    What do you think when you hear the word scientist? Does the phrase “space travel” seem like a pipe dream (perhaps a historic artifact of the cold war) or is it going to play a significant part in our future? There are some of the issues that come up in the book George’s Secret Key to the Universe, by Lucy Hawking and her father Stephen Hawking. The main character of the story, George, is a young boy with environmentalist parents who reject modern technology in their efforts to save the world. George meets the scientist who lives next door and is taken on incredible adventures. Quite a bit of scientific details are worked into the story themselves, but…

  • homeschooling,  science

    Learning Through Play: Exploring Mechanical Force

    Yesterday we made pinwheels. We made two different styles of pinwheels so we could test the effectiveness of them. We wanted to try to standardize our wind source so that we knew we weren’t just blowing harder on one than on the other, so we tried a couple of things. We tried using a fan, filling a balloon and then letting the air out of it towards the pinwheels and using our air cannons but we could never get the pinwheels to move very well with any of those. Blowing on it we could target the wind better. Next time though, I’ll try a hair drier. When I was asking my…

  • homeschooling,  science

    Learning through Play: transportation through cell membranes.

    I wanted to follow up with our exploration of the blood stream by discussing how molecules move in and out of the blood stream. So I turned to the The Body Book by Sara Stein and read some of it to my children. Included in it was instructions for exploring diffusion with marbles. We used a wooden tray, making our “semi-permeable membrane” out of card paper. Two different colors of marbles were placed in the tray and we shuffled it back and forth on the floor to give the marbles some motion and watch how they spread out. (Holding it the way my son is in the picture makes the marbles all move…

  • education,  homeschooling,  mathematics,  religion,  science

    science, math and religion, or how do you know what you know?

    This morning my kids and I read a short book called Maybe Yes, Maybe No, a skeptics guide for kids. It goes through a story of a little girl being told that there are ghosts in a friend’s house, and her figuring out what the ghosts really were. Then it talks about other strange things people believe, and some rules of science such as finding ways to test things, repeating the test, being honest, etc. My six year old’s big disappointment about the book was that it doesn’t tell him where to find ideas about things to test. He was almost crying about it. He said he wanted to do real…