Women Scientists Study

July 16, 2017

I wrote about our study of women scientists way back in 2015. We have completed all but the Rosalind Franklin, Marie Curie, and Wrap-up lessons, but I thought I would share the entire study here. This was written with my then 4th grader in mind. (I know the formatting is a headache–I just copied and pasted this from my personal notes. Reproducibles included as pdfs.)

Enjoy.

 Women in Science

        Overview

We will look at a few women scientist who worked in areas related to several different areas of science.

        Objectives and Life Skills

  • Read and summarize nonfiction text.
  • Watch and summarize non-fiction film.
  • Analyze and summarize visual imagery.
  • Define what a scientist is/does.
  • Note the scientific method and women’s issues in each story.
  • Complete an activity related to each scientist’s field.
  • Extract DNA
  • Observe and sketch a microscopic sample.
  • Do a nature study in a cedar glade.
  • Test and compare different models of paper airplanes.
  • Make a simple robot.
  • Attend watershed program and park clean-up day.
  • Create products about each scientist/topic.
  • Handwriting
  • Typing
  • Photography
  • Drawing
  • 2d and 3d works
  • Use knowledge/skills to independently investigate an additional women scientist of choice.
  • Reflect on information by writing/illustrating about procedures and responses to activities.
  • Publish products and reflections.
  • Plan an event. 
  • Teach others in-person.

Introduction

What is science?

What does science look like to you.  List or draw those things that remind you of “science”.

 

Draw a picture of what it looks like to DO science.

Who does science?

Write all that you can about WHO you think does science.

Draw a picture of a scientist. Explain your drawing.

Give an example of a job for each area of science:  Life Science, Physical Science, and Earth Science.

 How does science apply to your life?

Write about how science affects you every day.  DOES it affect you every day?

What would you draw to show your life and how science influences it?

 Watch Scientific Method Rap (https://youtu.be/bUa-ilQqEv0)

Introduce “Science reading response dice”, which will be used as a discussion prompt in future lessons:

1=Act out scientific vocabulary.

2=Look up unfamiliar vocabulary words.

3=How is her work relevant to you?

4=Find recent news related to her field.

5=Draw a picture of her work.

6=What are your questions?

Read Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty

Choose 5 of the following questions to discuss:

  1. Who is the most influential woman you know?  How does she inspire you?
  2. Do you think women have equal rights to men today?  Why or why not?
  3. What types of stereotypes do people have about women?  Why can stereotyping be dangerous?
  4. Do you think men and women are naturally different from one another?  Why or why not?
  5. Think of your favorite television show.  How are the female characters different from the male characters?
  6. Have you ever wanted to try an activity that is considered to be “for girls” or “for boys” only?  Did you try it anyway?  How did you feel?
  7. How can language be discriminatory?  What are some ways you can use words to make your speech more gender-neutral?
  8. Do you consider yourself to be a feminist?  Why or why not?
  9. Does the world need more feminists?  Why or why not?
  10. What are some important contributions women have made to our world?
  11. How can women’s equality help all people?
  12. What traits do the women in your family share?  How have they informed your opinions of what women should be like?

Science has traditionally been a male-dominated field, with some notable exceptions. Women historically faced considerable discrimination in science, much as they did in other areas of male-dominated societies, such as frequently being passed over for job opportunities and denied credit for their work.

We are going to learn about a few women scientists this year.

Introduce “Women’s issues response dice”, which will be used as a discussion prompt in future lessons:

1=What struggles do think she faced as a woman?

2=If you could meet her what would you say?

3=What characteristics helped her to be successful?

4=What do you find inspiring about her?

5=What contribution did she make to the world?

6=Did she face discrimination?

 

I. Rosalind Franklin

1.Read Rosalind Franklin by Lara Anderson

Reader’s response

Use scientific method and women dice for talking points.

Summary Notes

Narrate back key information, including time period, location, role, area of expertise, work, personal response, other(?). Refer to text as needed.

Make trading card

On trading card template fill in info using summary notes and either illustrate or find an original photo to include. Publish card on blog, including intro to project, template, and encourage others to join. (After the activity also include a short report on what you did, the result, how that connects to the scientist, and illustrations or photos of the activity.)

2. DNA Extraction and Observation

Strawberry DNA Extraction

  1. Put a bottle of isopropyl alcohol in a freezer. We’ll come back to it later.
  2. Measure 90 mL of water into a beaker or similar container.
  3. Pour 10 mL of dish soap into the 90 mL of water.
  4. Add 1/4 tsp of salt to the liquid in the beaker.
  5. Mix it all up and now you’ve got a homemade extraction solution!
  6. Place one strawberry in a plastic zipper-lock bag.
  7. Pour your extraction solution into the bag with the strawberry.
  8. Remove as much air from the bag as possible and seal it.
  9. Use your hands to mash, smash, and mush the strawberry inside of the bag until there are no large pieces remaining.
  10. Pour the resulting strawberry and extraction solution mixture through a sieve and into a beaker or similar container.
  11. Use a spoon to press the strained bits of strawberry against the sieve, forcing even more of the solution into the beaker.
  12. From the container it is currently in, transfer the solution into a smaller beaker or similar container that holds around 50-100 mL of fluid.
  13. Add 5 mL of your chilled isopropyl alcohol to the solution and hold the mixture at eye level.
  14. Can you see how there is a separation of white “stuff” atop the rest of the solution? That’s the DNA of the strawberry.
  15. Gently remove the DNA from the solution using tweezers. Observe the strand with a magnifying glass and/or under the microscope.

The long thick fibers you pull out of the extraction solution are strands of strawberry DNA. DNA is present in every cell of all plants and animals and determines the genetics of the individual organisms.

While other fruits are soft and just as easy to pulverize, strawberries are the perfect choice for a DNA extraction lab for two reasons: they yield more DNA than any other fruits, and they are octoploid, meaning that they have eight copies of each type of DNA chromosome. These special circumstances make strawberry DNA easy to extract and see. (Human cells are generally diploid, with only two sets of chromosomes.)

To extract the DNA, each component of the extraction solution plays a part. The soap helps to dissolve the cell membranes. The salt is added to break up protein chains that hold nucleic acids together, releasing the DNA strands. Finally, DNA is not soluble in isopropyl alcohol, and even less so when the alcohol is ice cold.

Closer look at DNA

Read Have a Nice DNA (Enjoy Your Cells) by Fran Balkwill

Make a simple model of DNA. Needed: bits and bobbins, your  choice of materials

Question to consider: why make a model of DNA/why do scientists study DNA?

II. Beatrix Potter

1. Read A Victorian Naturalist: Beatrix Potter’s Drawings from the Armitt Collection by Beatrix Potter, Mary Noble

Reader’s response

Use scientific method and women dice for talking points.

Summary Notes

Narrate back key information, including time period, location, role, area of expertise, work,                                                                 personal response, other(?). Refer to text as needed.

Make trading card

On trading card template fill in info using summary notes and either illustrate or find an original photo to include. Publish card on blog, including intro to project, template, and encourage others to join. (After the activity also include a short report on what you did, the result, how that connects to the scientist, and illustrations or photos of the activity.)

2. Microscopic Observation

DIY Microscope Sample

Take a sample from around the house or yard and prepare a microscope slide of the sample. https://youtu.be/Zbh7kdE-9Gw http://thehappyscientist.com/science-video/microscopes-making-dry-mount Needed: Slide, wet plate, water dropper, dye and dropper, paper towel

Fill in Microscope Data Sheet

Microscopic Art

Choose an image of a microscopic sample–https://www.pinterest.com/seamyside81/art-under-the-microscope/. Describe what you see. What can you learn from examining this image? What questions do you have?

Choose an image of your sample and use various watercolor techniques (https://youtu.be/K-KYHJriivw) to create an artwork of the image. Be sure to label your work. Needed: watercolor paper, brushes, watercolor paints, various substances to create varying textures

Question to consider: what impact does the microscope have on science?

 

III. Elsie Quarterman

1. Watch Wild Side episode, A Crusade for Conservation (https://youtu.be/vad3qykQH0s)

“Reader”’s response

Use scientific method and women dice for talking points.

Summary Notes

Narrate back key information, including time period, location, role, area of expertise, work,                                                                 personal response, other(?). Refer to video as needed.

Make trading card

On trading card template fill in info using summary notes and  either illustrate or find an original photo to include. Publish card on blog, including intro to project, template, and encourage others to join. (After the activity also include a short report on what you did, the result, how that connects to the scientist, and illustrations or photos of the activity.)

2. Nature Study Cedar glades are a unique habitat primarily found in my area so you could replace the following activities with those related to a unique habitat near you.

Plant Identification Preparation

  1. Shuffle set of plant description and color flower cards together and place in one stack.
  2. Each player selects a card from the stack.
  3. To begin to find a match, the first player will either read the plant description card (if that’s what they drew from the stack) or describe the color photograph of their plant on their card to rest of the group (color, number of petals, leaves).
  4. If someone has the plant card that matches, they give their card to that person and both draw another card from the stack. The person who had the match to the first player’s card goes next.
  5. The game continues until all the sets are matched. Players will keep up with the number of matches they each complete.

This is very similar to what a scientist would do in the field with an unknown plant; they will carefully observe the plant characteristics and then match those observed structures with a description in a plant guide book.

Plant Identification in the Field

Go on a hike to a cedar glade. Use a plant id guide and zone graphic to play your bingo card.

Choose one plant to observe closely. Spend several minutes looking at the plant and  also where it is growing (what other plants are near it, what is the ground like where it is growing). On an index card, draw a   detailed picture of the plant and on the other side write information that will help you to identify it in     a plant id guide. Id the plant. When you get home research the lifecycle of your plant and draw and label a  graphic that shows the different stages of life. Also needed: coloring pencils, magnifying glass

Question to consider: why is close observation an important part of science?

 

IV. Fly Girls

1. Read Flying High: Pioneer Women in American Aviation by Charles R. Mitchell

Reader’s response

Use scientific method and women dice for talking points.

Summary Notes

Choose one woman to focus on. Narrate back key information, including time period, location, role, area of expertise, work, personal response, other(?). Refer to video as needed.

Make trading card

On trading card template fill in info using summary notes and either illustrate or find an original photo to include. Publish card on blog, including intro to project, template, and encourage others to join. (After the activity also include a short report on what you did, the result, how that connects to the scientist, and illustrations or photos of the activity.)

2. Aviation at Home

Paper Plane Designs

Use Airplanes KWL Chart to record what you already know about planes and how they fly (they fly through the air, you can make a plane out of paper or metal, etc.) and write what you want to know.

Watch Bill Nye Flight episode (https://youtu.be/JjfPQ4gWBFI) for review on flight. Do the activities they suggest. Needed: balloons, pencils, heavy book, string, tape, 2 ping pong balls, straw, cardboard cereal box, scissors, paperclip

Create 6 paper planes focusing on variation in size of the plane (large, medium, small), weight (light or heavy), and wing structure (long and thin, short and wide, big like a butterfly, etc.). Describe the plane, write a hypothesis about how far your plane will fly, and support your hypothesis with information about your plane.

Launch planes. Use measuring tape to measure the distance that each plane flies in “meters.”

Analyzing Data

Create a chart with the various aspects of each plane (is it large, small, medium, are the wings long, short, etc.) and chart the distance that each plane flies so you can analyze which aspects of a plane make it go farthest.

What do you notice? Which plane flew the farthest? The shortest distance? Did any planes fly the same distance? Was your hypothesis correct?

Complete your KWL chart: What did you learn about how planes fly? Did anything we knew about planes change based on our activity?

Question to consider: what part does variation in design/approach have on the scientific method?

 

V. Cynthia Breazeal

1. Watch The Rise of Personal Robots (http://www.ted.com/talks/cynthia_breazeal_the_rise_of_personal_robots?language=en)

“Reader”’s response

Use scientific method and women dice for talking points.

Summary Notes

Narrate back key information, including time period, location, role, area of expertise, work, personal response, other(?). Refer to video as needed.

Make trading card

On trading card template fill in info using summary notes and either illustrate or find an original photo to include. Publish card on blog, including intro to project, template, and encourage others to join. (After the activity also include a short report on what you did, the result, how that connects to the scientist, and illustrations or photos of the activity.)

2. Interacting with Robots

Playing with Robots

Building Your Bristlebots (more info at http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Robotics_p010.shtml)

  1. Have an adult help you cut the heads off two toothbrushes. Make sure one toothbrush has straight bristles and one has slanted bristles.
  2. If you cannot cut all the way through the neck of the toothbrush with scissors, you can score it (cut into the surface as far as possible), then bend it back and forth several times to break the head off.
  3. Cut a small piece of double-sided foam tape, about the size of one of your toothbrush heads.
  4. Place one piece of tape onto the back of a toothbrush head, and remove the tape’s paper backing.
  5. Firmly press a vibration motor with leads (the shiny metal cylinder) lengthwise onto the double-sided tape, so that the off-center weight is sticking off the short edge of the tape at the brush end, and the motor’s wires are pointing toward the cut end of the toothbrush.
  6. It is important to make sure that the weight is free to rotate completely, and that it does not get stuck against the tape or the toothbrush.
  7. Firmly press a coin-cell battery with leads (the piece wrapped in yellow plastic) onto the double-sided tape. The battery’s wires should be pointing toward the cut end of the toothbrush, in the same direction as the motor’s wires.

Note: do not remove the yellow plastic wrapper from the battery. It helps keep the wires attached to the battery.

  1. Twist the exposed metal parts of the battery’s black wire and the motor’s blue wire together.

Note: your wires might have short sections of plastic insulation still stuck on the ends, covering the metal parts. You can gently tug on these sections to remove the insulation. Be careful not to pinch and pull too hard, as you might rip the entire wire off of the motor or battery.

  1. Do not twist together the red wires yet. If you do this, your bristlebot will turn on! First, you need to build your second bristlebot and set up a race course.
  2. Repeat steps 2–6 to build your second bristlebot.

Racing Your Bristlebots

  1. One problem with bristlebots is that they tend to randomly buzz all over the place instead of going straight. This makes it rather difficult to race them against each other. To force them to go straight, cut and fold a piece of paper to make two side-by-side “chutes. Each chute should be wide enough that a bristlebot does not get stuck against the sides, but narrow enough that it cannot spin around completely. Be sure you have your finished chute on a flat surface.
  2. Now, get ready to race your bristlebots! For each bristlebot, twist together the exposed metal part of the red wires from the motor and battery. This will cause your bristlebots to start moving, so don’t let them escape!
  3. Important: Make sure the exposed metal parts of the red and black wires from the batterydo not touch each other. This will create a short circuit and cause the battery to overheat and die very quickly. It is okay for the insulated plastic parts of the wires to touch, just make sure the metal parts do not touch.
  4. Pick up your bristlebots and place them side by side in your racing chute, with the cut ends of the toothbrushes facing toward the far end of the chute.
  5. Let both bristlebots go at the same time. Watch closely to see which one makes it to the other end of the chute first.
  6. Record the winner of the race in your lab notebook.
  7. Repeat the race four more times, for a total of five trials. Make sure you record your results.
  8. Optional: Use a stopwatch to record how long it takes each bristlebot to go down the chute. Have a volunteer help if it is too difficult to use a stopwatch and control both bristlebots at the same time.
  9. Analyze your results.
  10. Does one bristlebot consistently win the race?
  11. How do your results compare to your prediction about which type of bristlebot would be faster?

Thinking About Robots

There are many different kinds of robots; they have many different kinds of bodies/ways of moving and can also be controlled by different means.

Read over the robot trading cards. Classify the different kinds of robots by type of movement and autonomy. Also decide if the robot is social, meaning it interacts and communicates with humans or other autonomous physical agents by following social behaviors and rules attached to its role.

Movement categories can include:

  • Stationary with arms
  • Wheeled
  • Legged
  • Swimming

Autonomy categories can include:

  • Pre-programmed, which operate in a simple, controlled environment so that they do not require a great deal in the way of intelligent control systems (“artificial intelligence”) to operate successfully.
  • Autonomous, which operate independently of human operators in environments that are not as tightly controlled as pre-programmed robots. They have “autonomy” because it is ultimately the machine’s responsibility to detect changes in the environment and to adapt to it.
  • Teleoperated, which are controlled remotely by a human being.
  • Augmenting, which are connected directly to the human user’s body, either by theuser gripping the controls in their hand or by having it in contact with the user’s body in some other way.

Design your own robot, by writing a detailed description of its classification, including function, purpose, and features. Also illustrate or build a model of your robot.  Write a story about your robot and how it interacts with people. Needed: bits and bobbins, your choice of materials

Question to consider: how/why does science benefit from creativity/imagination?

 

VI. Rachel Carson

1. Read Rachel Carson : extraordinary environmentalist Wheeler, Jill

Reader’s response

Use scientific method and women dice for talking points.

Summary Notes

Narrate back key information, including time period, location, role, area of expertise, work, personal response, other(?). Refer to video as needed.

Make trading card

On trading card template fill in info using summary notes and either illustrate or find an original photo to include. Publish card on blog, including intro to project, template, and encourage others to join. (After the activity also include a short report on what you did, the result, how that connects to the scientist, and illustrations or photos of the activity.)

2. Environmentalism

Watersheds

Read Discover the Waters of … (see if there is one available for your area from Project WET) and do activities. Take part in a watershed program from your agricultural extension office.

Take Action

Help your local watershed by joining a park clean-up.

Design and implement your own take action project related to environmentalism.

Question to consider: how can be science become relevant to our daily lives?

 

VII. Marie Curie

1.Read Marie Curie (comic book)

Reader’s response

Use scientific method and women dice for talking points.

Summary Notes

Narrate back key information, including time period, location, role, area of expertise, work, personal response, other(?). Refer to book as needed.

Make trading card

On trading card template fill in info using summary notes and either illustrate or find an original photo to include. Publish card on blog, including intro to project, template, and encourage others to join. (After the activity also include a short report on what you did, the result, how that connects to the scientist, and illustrations or photos of the activity.)

2. Radioactive

Watch Radioactivity on Youtube (https://youtu.be/azwesgfZ1b8)

Cloud chamber activity (directions bookmarked on tablet)–Dear Blog readers, umm so I can’t find where I saved this so if you find something doable please share.

 

Wrap-up

Read Headstrong : 52 women who changed science–and the world by Swaby, Rachel

  • Choose one scientist to investigate independently.
  • Check the library and internet for resources.

Summary Notes

Narrate back key information, including time period, location, role, area of expertise, work, personal response, other(?). Refer to video as needed.

Make trading card

On trading card template fill in info using summary notes and either illustrate or find an original photo to include. Publish card on blog, including intro to project, template, and encourage others to join. (After the activity also include a short report on what you did, the result, how that connects to the scientist, and illustrations or photos of the activity.)

Design and implement your own activity to explore your scientist’s area of expertise.

How to: define her area of expertise or a related science topic that you would like to investigate, find a library book or internet resource about that topic and choose an activity or 2 to do, are there writing or art activities you can add?

Share with friends

Have a science playdate. Copies of trading cards, including blank template to attendees. Read your favorite book about a woman scientist. Lead them through the activity that you designed or your fav from the series. Play a game related to activity or another science topic.

 

       Materials Lists

 Books and Videos used in this Lesson

Reproducible Worksheets and Handouts used in this Lesson —Dear Blog readers, I have included two PDFs from my files as noted. The rest are links to PDFs I found online.

Supplies used in this Lesson

General

Paper, blank and lined

Pencil

Notebook

dice

I

Isopropyl alcohol

Droppers

Beakers

Dish soap

Salk

Strawberries

Ziploc bag

Sieve

Spoon

Tweezers

Magnifying glass/microscope

Craft materials?

II

Slides

Wet plates

Dropper

Dye and dropper

Watercolor paper

Brushes

Watercolor paint

Various substances for texture?

 

III

Index card

Coloring pencils

Magnifying glass

IV

Balloons

Pencils

Heavy book

String

Tape

2 ping pong balls

Straw

Cardboard

Scissors

Paperclip

Measuring tape

Colored paper

Ruler

V

2 tooth brushes

Scissors

Double-sided foam tape

2 vibration motors with leads

2 coil cell batteries with leads

Craft materials?

VI

(Dependent on student choice)

VII

????

Wrap-Up

(Dependent on student choice)

video game homeschool

May 5, 2016

As usual, I haven’t blogged in ages. What has called me back here to write this little blurb? Summer plans, of course! I am about ready for a change in pace around here.

Normally we don’t do any schooly activities during June and July other than summer reading. I decided to offer the kid some structured activities this summer though but different from how we “do school” the rest of the year. The major project for the six weeks sandwiched between camps will be Video Game HomeSchool.

Topics to include history of video game tech, game art/story appreciation, gaming jobs, diy video games, gamer self-care, and Zelda. We’ll watch a video-game related movie each week and go on field trips including to the local vintage arcade and cosplay event at the mall.

I am looking forward to delving into this interest with the kid who aspires to be a professional gamer; I imagine she’ll really school me.

    picturepicture (2)

art with the simpsons

September 15, 2015

For now we’re exploring art with the television show, The Simpsons. Really, it’s just an excuse to watch one of my favorite shows with the Bug and do fun projects together. What we do:

  • watch an episode and play I-spy art (yay! somebody already compiled a list of art references in the show)
  • read books about the artist whose work was in the episode we watched (Uncle Andy’s by James Warhola, Linnea in Monet’s Garden by Cristin Bjork, and all sorts of other books we’ve picked up from our public library)
  • look at digitized copies of original works by the artist (several larger museums and Google make these accessible for free!) and explore them with close-looking, open-ended inquiry (MoMA has an awesome class about how to do this)
  • do an art project focusing on similar methods/media as the artist  (we’ve used Discovering Great Artists for most of our project ideas)

Artists we have studied include Andy Warhol, Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and René Magritte. We’ve really been wandering all over the art history map.

I loved all the projects we’ve done with this–so many new experiences and media–especially doing them with her.

  • We went on a field trip to the river with our watercolors and painted our impression of the river

watercolors at the river

  • used the copier and colored pencils to create pet portraits

Lucy cat

  • played exquisite corpse

an exquisite corpse

  • cut and arranged paper to create bright, colorful collages

paper collage

  • made use of my stash of discarded books to make surrealist collages

my big box of discarded books came in handythings got creepy

  • mixed paint to make all kinds of blue to use in our moody paintings

moody blues

a preview

August 23, 2015

Lily gravitates toward wanting to know more about women in history. Like when we studied the presidents, and she wanted to know why there weren’t any women presidents.

I thought it would be fun to combine that interest and her love for science to do a unit study of women scientists.

the scientist

The unit will follow along with our regular science curriculum, Elementary Science Education; after learning about botany, we’ll study a woman botanist. For each scientist we study we’ll read or watch a documentary about her, do a project related to her work (some include field trips!), and then make a trading card to summarize learning. Lily will also choose a scientist and design a study about her. To wrap it up Lily will also share her learning with a science party, where she shares the study she designed and/or her favorites from the unit overall.

Specifically the unit will include:

  • Rosalind Franklin–extracting and building models of DNA
  • Beatrix Potter–microscope observation and art
  • Elsie Quarterman–cedar glade field trip to id plants
  • Women aviators–paper plane design
  • Cynthia Breazeal–classifying robots and making bristle-bots
  • Rachel Carson–watershed education and service project

I look forward to reporting back on how the unit goes.

4th grade, here we come!

August 15, 2015

Yesterday we wrapped up the first full week of 4th grade. Even with all the messiness of learning and the ‘tude from the pre-teen it was pretty great.

This year we are continuing with some of the same things we have used in previous years including Brave Writer and the next level of Buildings Foundations For Scientific Learning. We have also added several new things, including Beast Academy for math, entry to art history with The Simpsons and Discovering Great Artist for projects, cobbled together curric of US social studies, and digging into information literacy more intentionally.

This week was:

reviewing the times tables because she didn’t review nearly enough over the summer,

fighting about independent reading,

starting a paracosm writing project,

meeting Shakespeare,

learning about camera techniques in film and then watching My Neighbor Totoro,

science class “failure” due to improper lab equipment,

art field trip to paint our impressions of the river like Monet,

nature study about cats, including starting a diy field guide,

rock climbing (it’s her new favorite thing).

A hodge-podge of my favorite resources/activities from this week that I would like to share:

Partnership Writing from Brave Writer–This is a step by step language arts plan that includes 10 monthly projects. With how we fit it into our homeschool it is taking us 2 years to complete. I love the philosophy behind it, and Lily has enjoyed each of the projects she has completed so far.

The Worlds and Works of the Nelson Brothers–This website shares the original works and history of the Nelson brothers who lived during the late 1880s. I used it to explain what paracosm is for Lily’s current writing project, but I also have taken great delight in pouring over the imaginary world the brothers created.

Handbook of Nature Study–This has been a standard resource book for us for several years now, right along with our field guides. It includes studies on several different nature topics with an engaging description and several activities/observations for each topic. I was hesitant to use it at first due to the age of the work, but for the most part the information is still relevant, and I find Comstock’s activities and questions engaging.

Painting at the park–If you study Monet I highly recommend doing a landscape art project outside. Not only is it fun to change up where we do school, but it fit with what we learned about Monet perfectly (for example, the invention of more portable paint storage allowed him and other impressionists to more easily take their work outside).

Google Art Project–If you can’t get to a museum to see original artworks in person, I highly recommend this resource for viewing them. We have a few physical prints of famous artworks, but the Google Art Project can allow you a much finer level of detail–Lily said she could feel the paintings. And it’s free!

We are winding down now, with only a month left of school.

 

 

Some of my favorite things from this year:

 

All the Minecraft learning.

mam-made Stampycat doll

 

I think I have come a long way compared to the days when I was annoyed with all the MC Youtube videos the kid would incessantly watch. Now I watch them right along with her and sometimes even sneak an episode of Stampy in my own freetime. I no longer just nod my head when she throws all the gaming lingo at me but actually speak the speak with her. Ever since I asked her to share Minecraft with me, it is like a door was unlocked, and I love that I have a sweet, patient guide to this new world.

multiplication tower for math

 

Besides trying to do some of our work via Minecraft, such as her Lincoln exhibit and math lessons, it has also been a great platform for her to build an expertise and then share her knowledge with others. She has spent hours reading and watching about MC in addition to her time spent in game. She nerds out and exchanges knowledge with friends–I really do love it when she shows friends how to ride a pig. I am also inspired by how she shares Minecraft with me. She makes sure that I have a firm basis in the game, constantly sharing info, posing questions, mostly patiently answering all of mine, and challenging me to keep getting better (she makes sure I don’t just know how to build but also how to battle zombies and the like). Going through this process with her has also provided a space for us to discuss how she learns best–a conversation that I look forward to continuing to watch grow…

 

Field trips with friends! I love that we have a homeschool group to go on field trips with, but we also enjoy going with regular old friends, too. So far this year our ventures included going to an Andy Warhol exhibit, cedar glade, basset hound rescue fundraiser, two horse stables, swimming pool, cemetery, petting farm, historic house (too many times for her taste, though), botanical garden full of bug sculptures, zombie walk, natural history museum twice, kids’ science center, camping with our Girl Scout troop, theater twice, park a million times, with still more to come (and I may have missed some). Really we can’t get enough field trips…

my little bug heaven for my horse loving girl the cutest teddy bear of a lamb

 

I love that for independent reading she chose to pick up Harry Potter again. The series was her first book love, and it makes my heart happy that the embers are still burning brightly…

 

All the new books we read. Besides The Borrowers all of our read-alouds were new to both of us, which I don’t always seek out. Usually I feel like I am introducing my favorites to her, so it is nice to discover new ones with her…

 

Watching and discussing movies with her. We haven’t watched many new things, mostly old favorites,  but I really do love experiencing movies with her. We probably talk more with movies than with our read-alouds, but I am perfectly fine with that. I am taking this as inspiration for next year to deepen the conversation even more…

 

I also love experiencing poetry with her. Until we started doing the Brave Writer poetry teatimes, I had not read much poetry beyond required reading in school and Lily had not read any. We don’t always drink tea with our poetry but carving out time to even if we only have just read a single poem to each other each week making it a routine has added to our homeschool in many ways. She gets practice in reading fluency; it’s another strand with which to enrich our language-arts tapestry; I get to make up for all those years with no poetry. By far her favorite is You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You written by John Ciardi and illustrated by Edward Gorey. My favorite is a vinyl recording of Dylan Thomas reading his poetry…

reading from her favorite poetry bookmy favorite

Outdoor education is also a favorite and a constant in our homeschool. This year she is taking a homeschool class from our local nature center. Besides providing a group learning opportunity, it has also served as springboard into our nature studies at home. Last year we didn’t use a formal science curriculum but had various kinds of science fun here and there. I love the depth of this for science study and plan to take it as inspiration for what we do next year…

checking out aqua critters in our creek

Also, adding bones to our nature collection was super rad.

deer bones

She’s not so interested in the work of cleaning them, but that is okay with me–more fun for me. I cleaned up a deer skull and vertebrae and will be working on a box turtle shell next…

 

Studying chemistry was really done on a whim based on a conversation about her interests. Until recently though I didn’t realize that her vision of chemistry involved explosions, meanwhile we had been doing a fairly boring Minecraft class about the elements followed by the curriculum, Inquiry in Action. While Inquiry in Action was not exactly the showy chemistry she was expecting, it was still an excellent curriculum, including not only activities to understand chemistry-related concepts but also to practice the scientific method…

 

I also love crafting with her.

This year we’ve done more sewing and a bit of knitting. She also got into making loom band bracelets. My favorite is working on projects with her for her doll, and I look forward to adding to her wardrobe over the next year, too…

 

I already reviewed our Lincoln study so I won’t repeat that. Right now we are studying fashion history, which started out with us following a timeline. Now I just ask her what she would like to look at each week using the Survey of Historic Costume textbook I held onto from my own studies and various Youtube videos as inspiration. Lily said she wanted coloring sheets, but I couldn’t find one comprehensive resource I liked so we used some of these paper dolls from Practical Pages and I also made some of my own using my geeky prowess. We also had discussions about technology and social history, which were a nice bonus for this history nerd–more history, yes please.

As part of our study we also went to an exhibit of wedding dresses owned by women from our community. It was one of the best museum experiences I have ever had. Another visitor, an older lady, started a conversation with us by asking Lily where she went to school. Lily answered that she homeschools and the lady actually had a supportive response, which was refreshing in comparison to our other exchanges with strangers on the topic. She shared about her experience in attending a country school (I ‘m assuming one-room school based on her description). She also shared with us that her wedding dress and her husband’s suit were in the exhibit and talked some about their wedding story. Then she told us about his experience in World War II and about a documentary that included his story, which brought their family an opportunity to visit sites where he had fought. When we got home I watched the documentary and realized I may have missed out by avoiding military history in my studies; it’s about more than just military tactics and engagements…

 

Recently we also decided to do more Girl Scout badges independently from our troop to complete any remaining ones she is interested in before she bridges to Juniors at the end of the year. Right now she is working on the Make-Your-Own badge. Her topic is books, and she has decided to make a PSA about book care, make a poster showing the parts of a book, learn more about her favorite author, and learn how to and then construct a book. She can earn one of these badges each year so I think we may do it again next year as part of school…

 

 

All in all, I am really glad that I have stopped planning solely based on what I think she should learn and instead that she takes the lead more. I am also taking joy in being inspired by what we do to take up in my own learning. I think this is my favorite year so far…

 

 

 

One of the many ways we have added Minecraft to our homeschool this year was through building a museum exhibit about a historical figure. Bug chose to learn about Abraham Lincoln who she says is her favorite person in history.

The way we went about the Lincoln study was exploring questions she had and resources that I found, which I thought she would enjoy. I really had to reel myself back because history is my favorite, and I didn’t want to overwhelm her.

The first thing she wanted to learn about was his hat. We found specs on the size of hat and made a paper replica. We also checked out the real thing thanks to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library’s interactive and engaging website that shares primary sources related to him. For all the primary sources we look at we go into greater depth by analyzing them (a great resource if you are interested in trying this is the Primary Source Analysis Tool from the Library of Congress).We also read Abe Lincoln’s Hat by Martha Brenner.

We also found out how tall Lincoln was and made a life-size drawing of him.

lily and lincoln

Another aspect we explored was photographs of Lincoln. We looked at several of photographs from the Library of Congress. (We also followed a bunny-trail to learn about the daguerreotype process.)

Most recently we delved into the childhood of Lincoln. We started by reading Stand Tall, Abe Lincoln by St. George, Judith; it helped us to connect to the story of his childhood, which was heartbreaking and inspiring. We also did several other activities related to his childhood, including playing a game about pioneer survival, making a  lifestyle comparison, analyzing and discussing the ax in relation to his childhood chores, and making a batch of pumpkin butter to represent a food he may have eaten.

Miss Lily decided that was enough for her so she set to work creating her exhibit.

Abe ExhibitAbe Exhibit

She included a statue of Lincoln and model of his hat. The hat is large enough to walk inside of and shows how he kept important papers in it. This is the first time I have had her do a culminating project like this, and it is a great first try.  While her grammar and spelling are not strong, which I could see in her labels and books that she made with the exhibit, this format gave her a chance to also work in something she excels at, building in Minecraft.

 

 

In January we will embark on a study of fashion history combined with clothing and accessory crafting for us and Lily’s American Girl knock-off. I might even whip up some patterns to share for the latter.