Monday, January 28, 2013

Electricity Unit

I'm working on an electricity unit for my K and 6th graders. They work well together, so the activities will be fun for them both to do even though the K'er obviously won't be able to do most of the written work and such.

Since I'm trying to design a unit they can do together, of course I need a variety of different resources. So here's what I'm leaning towards:


Hands On Stuff:


Other Stuff:

  • Teachers Pay Teachers
Electricity Around Us - a sheet where kids look for things that use electricity
City Science: Getting Electricity - a cool lesson plan with definitions and a guide to use with Bill Nye video
Static electricity lab - includes instructions for 5 stations to set up to explore static electricity

TPT has many, many more great items for download, I just explored a few of the freebies. The teachers who submit their work to TPT really do some high quality stuff and are nice enough to share it with others. Of course, they have a gazillion paid items that are just incredible. Go check it out.

  • Homeschool Share
Snap Circuits / Electricity Lap'N Note - a really cool lapbook to use with the Snap Circuits kit I included in the Hands On Stuff carousel above.
  • Videos - I haven't watched any of these yet, so preview before you show the kids.
Myth Busters Season 4, Episode 9: Franklin's Kite (this is available for free on Amazon Prime, if you are a Prime member)

America Revealed Season 1, Ep. 3 "Electric Nation" (also on Prime) - This one looks cool. It discusses the U.S. electrical grid and its impact on the world.

Bill Nye: Static Electricity

Bill Nye: Electrical Current

Dirty Jobs Season 1, Ep. 25 "Garbage Pit Technician" - another Prime video, Mike Rowe meets some folks who are turning trash into electricity

Modern Times Wonders HOOVER DAM & LAKE MEAD Nevada (Prime)


These are what I've found so far, but I'm sure there will be a part 2 as I keep researching for resources. It's going to be a fun unit to do together.




Friday, January 25, 2013

Planning a Unit Study

I like doing unit studies with my kiddos, but if I don't plan well then it just doesn't happen. Planning is key for having a successful time of learning and fun. Seriously, all my great ideas just go POOF! if I don't get them down on paper or at least in a folder.

Using a combination of tools to plan a unit is the best way for me. I love all the forms and binders that I see other moms use. They are so neat and tidy. I've always dreamed that I could do it like those other moms.

I have come to accept that I am not those other moms, my kids are not their kids, my life is not their life. I find myself comparing my weaknesses to their strengths, but I have many strengths and I need to just use them and quit comparing. God knew me when he gave me these kiddos and He knew me when he called me to homeschool them. I am no surprise to Him! So rather than being frustrated that I can't do things like others do, I'm going to show you how I've learned to operate in the strengths He has blessed me with.

Using a variety of tools to create my units that work with my many moods and differing capabilities on any given day helps me to still feel successful, even on days when I am not my best.

First, I just decide on a theme. Sometimes I think it up all by myself. Sometimes I find inspiration in a book or a website or the most addictive thing I've ever encountered, Pinterest.

Once I've decided on a theme I start looking for books that fit the theme. Most of the time I just search my local library catalog online. A benefit of doing this is the catalog lists all the subjects that any particular book covers, which then gives me new ideas of units to do next.

After choosing books, I look for things like lapbooks, coloring pages, other printables to bring more depth to the study. Then I search for crafts, recipes and large motor activities such as walking like a penguin and trying to walk with an "egg" on top of our feet to see how hard it might be for emperor penguin daddies. Last, I try to find videos on YouTube or movies to rent that will add depth to our study. Now, I'm ready to put it all together.

After I've gathered all these materials, I compare my collection with our state standards to see which standards I've covered and if there are more that would be easy to include in that particular study. I know many moms start with the standards but working backwards suits me better. I do start with standards when I'm doing individual learning activities, but not with a themed unit plan.

All these things are not new ideas, but where I differ from some other moms is my organizational method. I have a file box that I use for these units. I place all the books in there along with folders filled with printables. On the outside of the folders, I write things I don't want to forget, such as a category of items that I haven't found activities for yet, where to find certain items in my stash for that study, or a shopping list for things I need.

Once I've started my folders, I go to the different websites and blogs that I like to use for ideas (many of them I've listed below) and start making a Pinterest board with great ideas for the hands on stuff. This always leads me to more printables.

Here's the really good part... After I've done all of this, I create a blog post for my unit. It brings everything together for me and I can't lose it! So, I have my file box, my Pinterest boards and my blog post to keep me on track.

I know that blog posts are more fun with pictures of the kids actually doing the activities, so after we've completed the unit I will come back and edit my post to include an "after" section. This will serve as a reminder of all we're actually accomplishing, helpful for those days when I feel like a failure. I know I'm not the only one who has these days, but they still get to me when they come.

Hopefully, me sharing this will help somebody to find a way that works for her, rather than always comparing her weakness to other moms' strengths, as we are so prone to do.

Here's my list of favorite resource sites:

Delightful Learning - Awesome blog for Five In A Row ideas and motivation to document our learning with pictures as we go. I also love the way she does Project Life albums with their school work.

Teachers Pay Teachers - Lots of free printables and thousands of printables to buy at a reasonable price for every possible subject you could imagine

CurrClick - Another website for free and cheap printables

Homeschool Share - Lots of free lapbooks and units, especially if you're looking for literature based units

Spell Out Loud - great ideas

Confessions of a Homeschooler - wonderful K4 and K5 curriculum, units to teach about artists and composers, and an outstanding geography curriculum. Plus recipes, menus, and much more.

These are just the ones I can think of right now. I have a more thorough post coming up soon. Hopefully you find this post motivates you to stop comparing and enjoy schooling your children, using the unique strengths God gave you and not focusing on the weaknesses.

Tell me, what strengths do you have and what system have you implemented to use those strengths for a successful homeschool experience?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Big Cat, Little Kitty


In our study of the days of the week, I found this little book at the library. Big Cat, Little Kitty  by Scotti Cohn, illustrated by Susan Detwiler, received the Mom's Choice Award. On each day of the week we meet a different big cat and domestic kitty, each interacting with their own environments. We are also introduced to other animals that share their habitats.

I thought it would be a cute way to review the days of the week. However, this little book is sooo much more.

On Monday, we meet a tiger in the jungle talking with a gibbon. That same day we meet a striped house cat on a porch with a spider. This goes on with different big and little cats for each day. The domestic are chosen by how similar they look to the big cat for the day.

The illustrations in this book are gorgeous. The big cat habitats introduced are jungle, savanna, desert, snowy tundra, American forest, and rain forest. The little kitties are on a porch, in a park, in a house, by a pond, at a playground, by a frozen creek and in a backyard.

At the back of the book, there are some great pages chock full of information about the different cats and a website to visit for teaching activities, quizzes and more. Using these back pages, we learned that cats are mammals in the Carnivora family, divided into cats that roar and cats that don't roar. There's a world map showing where each cat lives. A section to learn more about each cat and match their fur patterns to them. There's a page about cat senses and adaptations, and then a great true or false quiz to reinforce cat facts.

Although I chose this book to reinforce the days of the week, I plan to use it as a springboard into a fun cats unit.  I will be posting the cats unit plans as soon as I finish them.

I'd love some input on this unit. What kind of fun things have you used to learn about cats in your family?

Days, Months, and Years Unit

We're learning about the days, weeks, months and seasons in a year. The spine of this study is a free lapbook I found over at Teachers Pay Teachers called All in a Year. This little lapbook has mini books for days in a week, special days in each month, writing the month names, what I do in my day, etc. It's a great resource. 

To bring some literature into our unit, I've chosen the following books: 

I like the Calendar Notebook printables over at one of my favorite blogs,  Homeschool Creations. You just print them out, place in your own binder and you have a great resource to do calendar time with your young'uns. Place the pages in sheet protectors and use dry erase markers if you want to reuse the pages. You could also use vis a vis markers that are wet erase and stay put when dry. They're great for things you don't want to rub off before you're done with them. 
We sing our fun days of the week song to the tune of Adams Family theme song:
Days of the week (snap, snap)
Days of the week (snap, snap)
Days of the week, days of the week,
Days of the week (snap, snap)
There's Sunday and there's Monday,
There's Tuesday and there's Wednesday,
There's Thursday and there's Friday
And then there's Saturday.
Days of the week (snap, snap)
Days of the week (snap, snap)
Days of the week, days of the week,
Days of the week (snap, snap)
Then there's our Months of the year song sung to the tune of Ten Little Indians:
January, February, March and April,
May, June, July and August,
September, October, November, December,
These are the months of the year. 
Here are some more fun printables I found:
Season Fun pocket chart activity
Here's a great 4 seasons craft and see how to make a seasons collage here.
I'm working on a Winter unit and a Weather unit, incorporating some great books and activities. I'll post those when I have them ready. Until then, I hope you have some calendar fun with your kiddos.
Have you found any great resources to use for calendar, seasons, winter or weather? I'd love it if you'd leave me a comment and share what you've found.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Attitude Adjustment

 Sometimes, in our home, we have attitude problems. I'm sure you can relate to such a thing. I'd like to say that this is everyone else's problem, I always have my attitude in check and I am the perfect example of grace and humility to my children. That the children and my husband are the problem, because that would provide me with a nice opportunity for a pity party and I'd have someone else to blame for my trouble. However, it would be far from the truth. In fact, my attitude is the one that needs adjusted more than any other. 


I firmly believe that Mom sets the tone of the household. We have the privilege of blessing our family with the work we do and a spreading a good attitude around like seeds in a garden.

Why do I fail in this area over and over and over again? Why is it so hard for me to get it together?

I look to scripture to find answers. I'm drawn to Philippians because so many of the verses I've committed to memory for application in my life are found in this book. 

I have to consider, from where is my attitude problem coming? There are several things I've found in my own life that tend to result in a bad attitude, and Philippians seems to instruct me on all of them.

Am I resentful about all of the plates I have spinning, all of the tasks that loom so large in my view? Do I speak out of this resentment rather than speaking positive words regarding my work and the privilege of doing it for my family as unto the Lord? The answer is found here:

Philippians 2:14 (KJV)
Do all things without murmurings and disputings

Am I anxious about my future or the outcome of things in my life? I'm admonished to be anxious for nothing here and given the remedy:

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

Am I wrought with inner turmoil in my heart and mind, a lack of peace and calm in my situation?

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

What am I thinking about? Where is my thought life? In another verse (I can't remember the reference) we are told that as a man thinks in his heart, so is he and out of the mouth the heart speaks. What are we to think about, because that's what we talk about? Are the words of my mouth pleasing to the Father? Am I encouraging and edifying with my speech or am I tearing down my own house with my tongue? Do I bless or curse?

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Does my attitude issue spring from discontent with my situation? Am I comparing my life to others and find myself wanting?

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be 

Do I find myself overwhelmed again by the load I carry because I forget that His yoke is easy and His burden is light? I'm reminded that I carry things on my shoulders that are not mine to carry, but those things that ARE for me to do, I can do through His strength.

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Am I being selfish and only worrying about my needs, choosing not to place others first because I fear there will be nothing left for me?

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

He provides me with all that I need: peace, contentment, strength.  His mercies are new every morning. I have clear instructions on how to live, how to think, and reassurance that I am not alone, He is right there with me, loving me, providing for me, strengthening me and gently teaching me His ways. I need to rest in this, knowing that He gave me a family and the work that comes with it, but He has not left it all to me. He's right there with me and I am so thankful that He has been with me all along.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday

Tomorrow is the observance of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday in the U.S. and I thought it would be a good idea to observe it in our homeschool, too. I've put together a little batch of last minute ideas. I know it's short notice, but these will still be good ideas next year. So, without further ado...



 More ideas:

 FREE Martin Luther King, Jr. Curriculum Ideas by Learning Foundations at Teachers Pay Teachers

I like these hands on activities:

So, what are you doing to learn about Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement?

Kindergarten Standards for Social Studies

With my daughter in Kindergarten, I have some state standards to satisfy with her this year. I have the standards broken down into subjects in an Excel spreadsheet and then I created a spreadsheet where I copied and pasted the standards and then added activities that will satisfy those standards. Here are some of the things I've put together:

  • To explore how other children around the world have unique needs and also needs in common, we are reading from Children Just Like Me. There are many other books that will satisfy this requirement, but we already have this one. Here are a few that I found:
      • To explore past events and important people through literature in legends and historical accounts we will be reading selections from The American Story: 100 True Tales from American History by Jennifer Armstrong. Again, this is a book we already have. We will also incorporate various books from the library to learn about folks like Betsy Ross, Johnny Appleseed, Ben Franklin, Paul Revere, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Here are a few:
      I was able to find a free lapbook for Abe Lincoln: The Boy Who Loved Books over at 
      They also have a Ben Franklin lapbook that was made to go with the D'Aulaire Benjamin Franklin book. This one is more for older students, but we may use some of the activities.
      • Next on the standards list is getting familiar with U.S. holidays, such as Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, President's Day (see yesterday's post for this one), Martin Luther King, Jr birthday, etc. I don't have all of these planned out yet, but has a Martin Luther King, Jr. express lapbook that we're going to use. Right now it's on sale for $1.00. You can't beat that with a stick (as my Grandma used to say).
      •  We have to get familiar with the location of our state, Oklahoma, on a map and be able to recognize the Oklahoma flag. This will be satisfied by looking at maps of the U.S. and putting together the Oklahoma Mini Lapbook, also at It's only $1.00, too. They have one for every state.

      • We have to learn about the American Flag. We will do this flag craft  
      and make this flag snack:
       or maybe this one: 
      Or maybe both. :o)
      • We'll practice the pledge of allegiance and talk about what it means.
      • We'll listen to and sing along with the Star Spangled Banner and talk about who wrote it and why.
      •  We'll do some activities from U is for U.S.A. over at
      • We'll explore some books about the flag:
        • We have to develop an understanding of city/town, state, country. We will accomplish this by going through Me on the Map

        That just about does it. There are a few standards I didn't plan for because we've either already mastered them or they will be satisfied in our every day living and need no planning. 

        What are you doing to meet your kindergarten standards this year?


        Friday, January 18, 2013

        President's Day Unit Study


        I'm looking forward to doing a President's day unit with my K and 6th grade kiddos. My units work a little differently than most. Rather than planning out a whole week or two of study, I just gather everything in a folder/basket and they pick which things they want to do when. I'll include hands on activities, books, coloring pages, written activities such as lapbooks, history pockets, etc.

        I'll also include links to videos and websites that have other related fun stuff on them. I don't require them to do everything, but I want to spark an interest in the subject by being able to do the things that interest them first. Toward the end of the unit, when it looks like their excitement has waned, I will go through and choose leftover things that I wanted them to do, but they didn't pick. Clear as mud?? Here we go.



        You might also check out this week's free resource Firm Reliance at CurrClick. I haven't read it, but it looks interesting if you are wanting to explore the Judeo-Christian roots of the Founders. 
        In addition to reading books, we'll do some hands on activities. I thought these 3 D puzzles looked cool. I especially like the clothespin presidents. How fun! After we do the President's Day unit, I'm looking forward to a US Symbols unit, so I went ahead and included these presidential monument activities no. I figured this might spark some interest in the next unit before they get there. I'll try whatever I can, you know?
        We'll build a log cabin with Lincoln Logs, we'll explore Mount Rushmore by build a model and then making clothespin presidents to learn which presidents are included on the Mount. Some 3D puzzles looked fun. 
        Hand on activities:       


        We have this video series and it is a great resource for your whole family to learn more about all of the Presidents.

        I found this video about Abraham Lincoln made by Disney on YouTube. They also have videos for many other presidents.

        For those of you who like David Barton and Wallbuilders, check out this American Heritage video, not exactly for President's Day, but it does talk about the founders, including George Washington. 


        Over at Classroom Magic there are a few free activities to do

        There's a great blog post showing a President's Day lapbook over at Homeschool Creations

        More lapbook resources can be found at the following (click on the pictures to go to the website)

        Below is a free lapbook for the book "Abe Lincoln, The Boy Who Loved Books"


        Thera are so many other resources out there, but this should give you a good start. Be sure to leave me a comment below to let me know what you're doing for President's Day with your students.