Friday

Living Book Chemistry Plans for Elementary

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When I asked my kids what they wanted to study for science this year, they both said that they wanted to “blow things up,” which I took to understand that they wanted to learn about chemistry. Being a Charlotte Mason inspired homeschool, I knew I wanted to use living books as much as possible to study chemistry. In case you were curious, this is very difficult to do with a third grader and sixth grader, but I came up with what I feel is a great selection of books to introduce chemistry to younger learners.


We are not exploring every facet of chemistry, but instead I wanted to focus on beginning exposure since this was the first time either of my girls had ventured into the chemical realm at all. My goal is to have the girls understand the states of matter, atoms, molecules, compounds, solutions, elements, periodic table, and how chemistry influences our lives. We start our three week study on Monday, but I wanted to share my plans in advance. I’ll come back and rate how things worked later.

Read Aloud Books for Both

The How and Why Wonder Book of Chemistry : Our spine for most of the study. This book is older, but easy to understand with nice pictures and not too much text.

Itch: The Explosive Adventures of an Element Hunter : Believe it or not, there is actually a fictional book about chemistry! I’m looking forward to reading this one to the girls as much as anything else we are studying just to see how chemistry works as a plot line.

What Is the World Made Of? All About Solids, Liquids, and Gases : The Let’s Read and Find Out science books are some of my favorites and this one is perfect for introducing the states of matter to elementary age kids.

A Drop Of Water: A Book of Science and Wonder : If nothing else the stunning photographs in this book make it a must have! Learning about one of the most important molecules on our planet makes it educational.

What's Smaller Than a Pygmy Shrew? : A super cute and informative picture book to help kids understand exactly how tiny atoms and their parts are. This one even helped me visualize the size of atoms.

The Story of Salt : I love this picture book because it combines chemistry (NaCl) with history to teach children in a fun way how chemistry can actually shape world history.

The Day-Glo Brothers : This fun book is about two brothers who used chemistry to invent day-glo colors that are used to day for safety vests, signs, etc. It’s best to read this book under a black light for maximum awesomness!

Independent Reads

Exploring the World of Chemistry: From Ancient Metals to High-Speed Computers : Grace will be reading one chapter every day from this book, which traces the history of chemistry from ancient times to present day.  She loves the Tiner books because of their conversational tone.

Marie Curie's Search for Radium : Sophia is reading this one to me very slowly over the course of our study. It’s slightly above her reading level which is why we are taking our time with it. Marie Curie was such an amazing woman that I can’t wait for Sophia to read this one!

Experiment Books

Fizz, Bubble & Flash!: Element Explorations & Atom Adventures for Hands-On Science Fun! : This book has experiments organized by element. We’re using it to do three experiments.

Amazing Kitchen Chemistry Projects You Can Build Yourself : A fun way to explore chemistry and get in the kitchen. We’re using this book to do four experiments.

Documentaries



BBC Discovering the Elements: A three part series that is difficult to find but gets rave reviews!

For Fun

The Periodic Table of Elements Coloring Book : Perfect to help kids who love art and coloring to learn.

Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe : Gorgeous pictures and good information about how every element is used in our world today.

The Periodic Table: Elements with Style! : Fun book that creates cartoon characters for each of the elements.

Quick Six Elements Game: A great way to help kids become familiar with the elements and the periodic table.

Hopefully this list will help some of you who might be struggling to add some living books into your chemistry studies! You can download my plans for how I make all of this work together over the course of three weeks here.

What subject have you found difficult to teach through living books?
Chelli

Monday

Online Homeschool Planning: Pinterest and Homeschool Planet

Technology to Help Plan and Prep Your Homeschool

This post contains affiliate links. I appreciate your support of my blog. See full legal disclosure here. I received a subscription to Homeschool Planet for free, and I'm being compensated for my time to write this review. All of my opinions are my own as I am not required to write a positive review.

Homeschooling in the 21st century is an exciting time. With the advent of technology, home education is becoming more accessible to the masses and easier than ever for those of us already homeschooling.  I’m starting a new series about how to use technology to help you, the homeschool parent, prepare and plan your homeschool.


I love using technology especially when it comes to planning. I use Pinterest to do my big picture planning and recently started using Homeschool Planet as my detailed, daily planner.

Using Pinterest for Homeschool Planning
While Pinterest is best known as a place to find home improvement projects and recipes, it is a perfect place to use as homeschool planning as well. I didn’t start out using Pinterest this way, but as I began to pin more and more homeschool related things, I soon realized that it was the solution to help me remember those random book recommendations that other homeschoolers suggested, curriculum that looked really cool to use one day, or blog posts that inspired and helped me. Here are three tips to help maximize Pinterest’s potential when planning your homeschool year:

1. Be specific with your boards. I break my homeschool boards down into narrow categories. For example, science is broken down into specific topics such as chemistry, botany, astronomy, etc. History is divided into specific time periods and subject matter. This allows me to quickly find things that fit exactly with our homeschool studies for the year without having to scroll through 100 different pins on one general science board. When I began planning and need a specific book, activity, or video, the first place I check are my Pinterest boards for ideas {sneak a peek at how my Pinterest boards are organized}.

2. Think about the future. I quickly realized that Pinterest was great for planning far into the future. Even though my oldest is just entering the middle grades, I still pin things that look interesting for high school, and when my oldest was in lower elementary, I was pinning things for upper elementary and middle school. I have discovered this was invaluable because once Grace hit the middle grades, I already had curriculum, books, activities, etc. already waiting. If I’d tried to remember all of that, I would have failed miserably.

3. Maximize the description box. I recently started making the description box on each of my homeschool pins much more user friendly for planning. I now try to include grade levels, ages, or reading levels for any curriculum or books that I pin. For example, I recently pinned a creative writing book I am thinking about possibly using for Grace in the near future. When I pinned it, I added in the description that it was intended for grades 3 and up. Now I can tell with one glance exactly which grades the book can be used, without clicking on the pin. By doing this one simple act, it has really made my planning time much shorter.

Using Homeschool Planet for Planning
While I prefer doing my initial planning on paper, once I get a final plan I prefer to use an online planner because it’s so easy and simple. I’ve tried a handful of different online planners, but there are definitely some huge benefits for our family that are found in Homeschool Planet.

1. It allows me to input shared classes. So this just might be my favorite feature of Homeschool Planet! Instead of having to enter the same class separately for each of my kids, I can enter it once and tell the program that both girls will be doing the class. Then in the assignments I can differentiate anything I need the girls to do separately. This is super helpful since we combine for science, history, and geography. I only have to type things once and with a click of a button it shows up on both girls’ assignment sheets.

2. I can use it on my tablet. While not all the features are available for the mobile version, the most important part is available: our schedule. I can open Homeschool Planet on my tablet and instantly know exactly what is assigned for each child in our homeschool. This makes life so convenient for me since I don’t need a print out to keep up with everything. School can go with us anywhere we go and with Grace being involved in some outsourced classes this year, I know that having Homeschool Planet at my fingertips will be super helpful.


3. I can schedule their chores. Not only does Homeschool Planet keep our school work organized, but it also lets me add each child’s chores to their daily list as well. This makes our chore system super easy to implement since I have no need for any extra cute charts or printables. One sheet of paper contains it all, from school work to their responsibilities around the home.

4. I can customize exactly what I want it to do. Utilizing all the features of Homeschool Planet allows me to create shopping lists, family appointment calendars, book lists, to do lists, etc. all in one place. While I don’t use every feature they have, I do use a lot of them. It makes things so handy to have everything all in one digital place, so when I need to run errands, I’ve got all of the information I need at my fingertips. No more having 10 pieces of paper to keep track of or a big binder to carry around of a paper planner.

5. It saves me TONS of time. So I'm kind of known among my friends and fellow homeschoolers for my intense planning method of pre-planning our entire year. Thank goodness for Homeschool Planet because it saves me hours when I'm ready to input everything for our year. It does all the work for me at one click of a button. It can repeat assignments. It can divide long term assignments. It can manipulate your plans almost any way you wish. As an example, when I input an entire year's worth of work for both of my girls this year, it only took me one hour. Love it!


By using Pinterest and Homeschool Planet, you can easily use technology to plan for a year of homeschooling. If you don’t have a Pinterest account already, go sign up! If you want to try Homeschool Planet, Homeschool Buyers Co-op offers a 30 day FREE trial so you can see how awesome digital planning can be! And while you are there, sign up with the co-op for great group buys exclusively for homeschoolers!

How do you use technology to plan your homeschool?
Chelli

Thursday

How a Super Detailed Plan Brings Restful Learning

The past two months Everyday Scholé has been discussing restful homeschool planning. We’re finishing out the series by showing three different planning styles and how all lead to scholé in your homeschool.


Anyone who has read my blog knows that I love to plan our homeschool in minute detail. I’ve had more than one person tell me they could never plan that way because it would be too stressful for them to follow such a plan. Which is why I’m so excited about this post! Even if we all do it differently a restful homeschool year can be found in a multitude of approaches. I like to plan in detail. Even to the point of writing down page numbers for daily math work for an entire year in advance!

Here’s how my super detailed planning helps keep my year one of rest.

It makes everything open and go.
I don’t use a lot of pre-planned curriculum especially for history, science, and geography so taking the time to create detailed lesson plans is a life saver when the school days get busy. I don’t have to worry about flipping through books or gathering supplies. It’s all pre-planned, printed, sorted, gathered, and ready to go for the day.

It helps me instantly see where we are in the year.
When I have everything planned out by subject, it just takes a quick glance at my planner to know exactly how much ground we’ve covered and how much we have left to go in our academics. This lets me know if we need to slow down or speed up in one or more subjects to stay at the correct pace. That being said, though, I don’t necessarily rush us to finish in a certain time frame {more about this later}.

It ensures the academic goals I’ve made for the year are met.
Every year I try to make specific goals for my children that I want to focus on for that year. The academic goals I make for them are much easier to work into our schedule if I pre-plan the entire year. I can make sure that those are goals are being systematically and thoroughly addressed through my planning. When I try to be looser with my planning, these goals are one of the first things that are negatively affected. I forget about them during the day to day repetition of school.

It allows others to fill in if needed.
I’ve only had to make use of this option a handful of times over the course of our homeschool, but I can promise you that having everything pre-planned makes it 1,000 times easier for someone else to step in and run the day for you. I’ve had my mother and Preacher Man take over homeshcool duties in past years when I’ve left town for various things. And most recently Grace ran our school day while I was in Fort Worth at the Great Homeschool Convention. Pre-planning everything makes it simple to hand over the reins if necessary. I’ve also discovered it helps your older children be more independent with their work if you are sick.

The interesting thing about all of this pre-planning is that it looks very rigid and regimented on paper, but my implementation of all this planning is very restful and leisurely. I do not stress if we don’t make it exactly through everything I had planned for the year. Our days are very go with the flow. Our year has plenty of breaks and days off. But all of this is possible because I have these wonderfully detailed plans. If I didn’t, I would be a stressed out, worried mess. Which brings me to my final point,

It is super easy to tweak and adjust as needed for circumstances.
I find that the sweet spot of restful planning for me is having super detailed lesson plans on paper, a regimented year long calendar, daily anchors for each major learning block, and back up plans when time is short. Without all of this preparation when circumstances did change, I would be much more frazzled. Having plans and having schedules allows me to be more flexible in how our time is spent. I have my plans and schedules as parameters, but there is a lot of empty space on the road which makes our homeschool a true journey of rest for me.


Not sure if my super detailed approach is right for you, check out my two other Everyday Scholé blogging friends who take different approaches to planning as well.

        

What is your homeschool planning style that makes your year restful?
Chelli