Spring is in the air!

We are blessed to live in one of the mildest regions of our country and now in the middle of February we have signs of spring everywhere! The robins have returned, the crocuses and daffodils are triumphantly raising their green fists to the sky, and the pussy willows are peeping out on the trees.

In co-op we are finishing our section on Australia with a science lesson about air and some of it’s properties. Ms J presented a variety of experiments and the children were enthralled by all the demonstrations.

First we learned that air can have force: in this experiment she filled a glass half full with water than put a lid on and inverted the glass. The air created a vacuum keeping the water in the glass and holding the lid on.

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Then to further demonstrate this force, she gave the kids juice boxes to drink and had them practise blowing air in and out after they finished to see how the air could change the shape of the box.

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Next Ms. J demonstrated that air reacts to temperature: first the children crushed some ice and then put it into an empty plastic bottle. Ms. J put on the lid and shook the ice around and then asked the kids to make observations. After some random suggestions they noticed indentations in the bottle and we talked about how the lower temperature of the ice was causing the air inside the bottle to contract or shrink and was pulling the plastic in with it as a result.

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Following the demonstration of the effects of cold temperature on the air, Ms. J asked the kids to hypothesize how heat would affect the air in the bottle. She ran hot water over the outside of the bottle and the children were able to see the sides bulge out as the air expanded.

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The next two demonstrations showed how air also contains gases and those gases interact with other forces in interesting ways. First we saw two tea-light candles covered by glasses of different sizes. The children discussed their ideas about what would happen and then observed as first the tea-light in the shorter glass went out followed a few seconds later by the other one in the taller glass. They learned that our air on earth is full of oxygen which we breathe and which is also fuel for fire. The kids discovered that the fire starved once it consumed all the O2 in the glass and that the glass with the larger volume allowed one fire to live longer than the other.

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Next Ms. J placed a tea-light in a bowl with baking soda in the bottom. She lit the candle then carefully poured vinegar around the candle onto the baking soda. The children watched the solution bubble and the flame go out then discussed what caused the fire to lose oxygen when it wasn’t covered by anything. They found out that the chemical reaction between the baking soda and vinegar created CO2 which also used up the oxygen and took away the fire’s source of that fuel.

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The last experiment of the morning was a final example of  the force that air can produce. The kids threaded a straw onto a string then taped the string between 2 chairs. Meanwhile, E was asked to blow up a balloon which we carefully taped to the straw while holding the opening closed. When E let go of the balloon it traveled the distance of the string with force and speed. The children were able to see how harnessing air can actually provide power and might have good environmental implications as a source of energy.

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The balloon demo provided an excellent segue into an exploration of wind power and the use of windmills to create energy. Two kids volunteered to represent positive or negative ideas about wind energy. Then the rest of the children took cards from a basket with statements about wind energy. They discussed each statement then decided if it was a positive or negative and pinned it on the appropriate person.

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Finally it was time for recess! The kids practised some windmill arms and ran into and away from the wind to explore the way that wind moved on their bodies.

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This week in co-op our verse is:

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Following co-op was our second last theatre camp and E has been working so hard on memorizing her lines and all the songs!

The rest of the week was a whirlwind of family visiting with an out-of-town uncle visiting and a few regular events at the end of the week such as piano and play-dates. We spent one exciting afternoon playing on a wharf with different children’s interactive displays and were able to drop in on a free juggling lesson with a local circus school!

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We enjoyed the beautiful sunshine, mountains and ocean and spent as much time as we could outside playing!IMG_9589

E is gaining so much confidence with her reading and here she is practising her lines for Theatre Camp with her Oma.

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We had some creative time with playdough. This is the world’s largest brownie with a surprise hidden inside!

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As a new method to foster better sibling co-operation, my kids now experience time out as a moment to hold hands with their beloved sister or brother whenever they fight. The time-out ends as soon as they can forgive each other and move forward as friends. So far we are having some reasonable success. 🙂IMG_9667

To fill in our week we spent some time on patterning with Math iXL, reading some great books from the library and a science construction project with dad to try and build a rocket.

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Wrapping it up with a bit more time outside! We love the sun! Here we are getting our upper body workout at the playground, Mom even got in on the action 🙂

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E is trying to master roller blading whenever it’s dry and she is making great progress with her balance and control.IMG_9705

May the sun shine brightly on you today!

Can Learning be Fun too?

Due to a new stat holiday and a public school holiday this was a short week for school attenders but our home-learning journey continues along it’s regular ambling path! We drove home from our trip to see family on Monday so filled our car ride with ipad apps, audio books and sleep.

Tuesday we repacked our suitcases and jumped in the car for a spontaneous get-away by ourselves. We drove to a beautiful lake with a natural hot spring and spent 48 glorious hours floating in the steaming pools outdoors in the rain and sunshine! We met a family from Zimbabwe who told us wonderful stories about Africa and it’s incredible environment!

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Happy Valentine’s Day! We spent a much needed day at home doing the everyday chores of life. We had a great time finding our family Valentine’s surprises and E was such a caring sister she read her brothers’ cards to them before she even cracked her own!

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For some added Valentine’s fun, E helped me make some special V-day pancakes! Pink pancake anyone? 🙂 We put blended strawberries and bananas in the batter than added pink food colouring for some real pop and chocolate chips because these were sweet treats for our sweeties after all! 🙂

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E and her brother worked on Canadian maps together following a colour key to identify the provinces and labelling them.

Friday was clean up day and chores routines to accomplish, however, after a week away it was pretty light duty so we collected our middle one from pre-school along with a friend and headed off to enjoy a sunny afternoon at the zoo! The day was a perfect spring day with sun-soaked earth warming our tired-of-winter feet! I know in this part of the country there is no real winter to complain of, but the often grey skies do wear us down sometimes, and as we emerge from our dens blinking into that dazzling orb in the sky, we are overwhelmed with the blessing of sunlight!

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The weather held for the weekend and we enjoyed it immensely. Somehow, I feel refreshed and ready for another week of adventurous learning. Tonight we have a family member arriving for a visit so home learning will be full of twists and turns as we enjoy our time with him, but that is the wonderful thing about this learning exploration from home – it’s a wonderful journey and we know to enjoy the path as much as the destination!

Sunshine and smiles to you!

Presenting Australian Animals! Feb. 4-9th

So this week at co-op our verse was Deut. 31:6 and the last week learning about courage. After opening circle, we shared our presentations and E finally got to present her research on Emu’s. She practised her audience skills with active listening, asking relevant questions, and showing appreciation and respect to the speaker.IMG_8677

When it was her turn, E spoke clearly and showed enthusiasm for some parts of her topic. Unfortunately she placed her notes on the table on the table behind her so spent the first part of her presentation with her back to the audience 😦 When reminded,  she pulled her notes out and faced her audience with good expression and volume. She was so excited to share her Emu egg, feather and prepared Emu meat with the other children!

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At recess we carried on our Australian theme with “What time is it Mr/Ms Koala/ Kangaroo/Dingo…” When the appropriate moment arose the chosen animal would shout “Tea Time!” We had a great running game and finished up with some laps around the parking lot, jumping jacks and then a stretch to keep us limber.

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Before co-op ended we also shared a special treat called Lamingtons. This is supposedly the national dessert of Australia and the recipe can be found under the food tab on the left.

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Following co-op E had another great week of theatre camp where she is learning songs and selected dialogue from several well-known musicals such as Annie, Charlie Brown, and Peter Pan. We love her Miss. Hannigan impressions!

Tuesday we celebrated International Pancake Day with lots of family baking time! E is becoming very adept at reading and following a recipe and shows good safety awareness at the stove. She is consistently able to measure ingredients for a recipe using imperial and metric systems. E is also beginning to convert her measurements when necessary to use the tools available. ie: if the 1 cup measure is dirty E is learning that she can use 2x 1/2 cup measures or 4 x 1/4 cup measures.

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Tuesday night we had swimming lessons and some playtime in the pool afterward.

Wednesday was a time for more math as E practised patterning on Math iXL

Thursday we focussed on literacy with our weekly trip to the library and E had her final swimming lesson. She passed her level with flying colours and is excited to proceed to the next.

Friday was our cleaning, packing and organizing day. E is developing good personal habits in being responsible for her own room and is starting to help with laundry. After our morning chores were done, E attended a Valentine’s party at a homeschooling friend’s house.

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Saturday we headed off on a small road trip to celebrate E’s Great-Grandma’s 80th birthday! It was fun to drive over the mountains and observe the difference in temperature and weather on our drive. When we stopped at the top of a high mountain pass to use the facilities there was a huge bank of snow covering the edge of the building up to the eaves!

E had a fun-filled weekend with cousins, cuddling up to e-books & games, cuddling Papa, and swimming at the hotel.

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E was happy to show Great-Grandma her growing skill as a reader and some of the projects she’s been working on.

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E was delighted to honour the family tradition of a special tea party with Great-Grandma and her cousin G and her Mama. Usually these tea parties are just for E and her GG but this one was extra special! We always practise our best manners with GG and this tea party E spent time asking some good questions about when GG was a little girl and found out all kinds of interesting things about life 70 odd years ago! GG rode a horse to school without a saddle, she had 11 younger siblings and she didn’t have water in a tap, she had to carry it from the spring in a bucket!

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Finally the best way to wrap up a weekend in a sunny and snowy location was sledding on pieces of cardboard, the most timeless of childhood toys! 🙂

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January 28 – February 1 2013 – Life Down Under

This week is all about the wonderful world of Oz, aka: Australia. We started the week with a co-op lesson on the Great Barrier Reef and dot paintings of tropical fish

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Then following co-op E was immersed in the world of theatre with stretching, singing, memorizing lines and learning choreography.

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Tuesday we used research we collected last week and began creating a poster for E’s presentation on Emu’s next week. She is creating a presentation board that shows the Emu in it’s habitat and uses an interactive display to give additional info about Emus and their life cycle. Swimming lessons followed by a family swim at the end of the day made for a late night and an exhausted girly!

This is the website for the language dvds we are using. Even though they are intended for a young audience E seems to enjoy them and is remembering a lot of vocab. We have mostly French but I bought one Spanish and would like to work on that as well;

http://www.push44.com/hokx11a5

Wednesday I had a meeting in the morning so it was time with Dad and some more emu research. We have been incorporating more electronic mediums into our school program and with the arrival of E’s school ipad it has been a whole new learning world for us. We are using Math IXL for patterning activities and Raz Kids for reading as well as ibooks and Kindle e-books. We have installed Overdrive and hope to begin using our DL e-library as well. E is enjoying reading so much now and is making great strides across the curriculum! PE today was our suppertime dance party and for supper in the spirit of research we had some delicious Emu Steak!

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Thursday we started the morning with piano lessons then worked on E’s research project board. She is also working on organizing her information into an outline for her presentation. Swimming lessons at the end of the day for PE.

Friday morning was full of errands then we headed to E’s grandparents for a night spent playing with cousins and her brothers!

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Saturday brought our final research exercise with a trip to the zoo to visit the emus and check out what kinds of props we might procure

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Emu scat, actually an important feature of E’s presentation and yes this is a gross pic!

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A curious Roosevelt Elk wondering what we were up to when all the other visitors appeared to be gone for the day.

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Bald Eagles are native to our area and we see them frequently at this time of year. Their nests are always so dramatic that I just can’t resist taking pics of them.

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This is actually an Ostrich egg and we are hoping we will be able to find an Emu egg for next week but if not, this will be a size comparison at least. How many people would 1 Ostrich Egg Omelette feed?

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