Monday, January 31, 2011

Earth Science: Layers of the Earth Hands-on Activity

Just adding this in on Tuesday: I found out today that I have Pneumonia which is why I've been feeling ever so lousy.

I first saw this activity last year at The Learning Ark. It fit in perfectly with our Earth Science unit. There is also a similar activity using a hard-boiled egg in the book we are using for this unit, How the Earth Works by Michelle O'Brien-Palmer.  One of the other books we are using, Planet Earth/Inside Out by Gail Gibbons, had some really good description and discussion of the layers of the earth. We used those books along with cards from Free to talk about the inner core, out core, mantle and crust.

As we read about each layer, we colored playdough and added a new layer.  We started with a small sphere. We kept adding layers until the ball was covered by the crust:
Then LD looked at the globe and tried to add the continents and oceans.  Would you believe, poor LD's place of birth, Australia, didn't really fit onto his globe??!  He stuck on a tiny, tiny piece of green playdough but it wasn't much to scale!
Then LD wondered what we'd do with it.  His eyes got wide when I pulled out a butcher knife!
But he got right into slicing the world apart!
We were pretty excited by the results. The layers showed up really clearly!
And we could even talk about how different areas were thicker and thinner.

Just to mention--I made a large pot of playdough for the girls in the morning and we added the colors later in the day.  If you don't add the colors when you're first making playdough BE SURE to wear gloves!!
EARLIER IN THE DAY: The girls were happy with a very light pink -- and this worked well for our layers of the earth colors later.  Even the inner core looks pretty yellow (the color we decided upon).

We'll be sharing a few more of our Earth Science Activities in the next couple of days.


Every few years, we circle around to cover basic material again. You may be interested in the Earth Science Unit we did more recently -- and be sure to check out our Earth Science Packet.  It includes worksheets about the solar system, the layers of the Earth, plate tectonics, the ring of fire, earthquake activity and volcanoes. I also included more than a dozen hands-on activities we did with this unit including activities about plate tectonics, using a compass, earthquakes, volcanoes, instructions on how to make a shake table and more!
Find out more by visiting this post over at our new location: Earth Science Packet

Or you can purchase it by clicking on the link below: 

Once you pay for this packet, you will immediately receive a link to download this file (which will open in a browser window).  You will also receive an email from Sendowl (the service I use) TO YOUR PAYPAL EMAIL ADDRESS, which will have a link you can click on to download the Earth Science unit.  (It will say, "You can download your digital products..." with a clickable link.)  Of course, if you have any issues just email me at -- liesl at homeschoolden dot com.  You can also reach me by using the contact form on the blog or can reach me over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page.

Remember, you do not have to have a Paypal account to make a payment. Just click on the line that says, "Pay with a debit or credit card or PayPal credit." That gives you the option of paying with a credit card even if you don't have an actual Paypal account.
If you have any trouble with your orders, please contact me (Liesl)  via email -- liesl at homeschoolden dot com -- our contact page, by replying to the email you receive from Sendowl, or by leaving a message over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page.


Hope you visit our new location at (the links above take you there!) or come visit us at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page. :) ~Liesl

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Save the Egg Penguin Game -- and -- Antarctic Animal Game

DD enjoyed this penguin computer game.  The object was to move your penguin around to keep the egg warm by avoiding the other penguins and obstacles or predators that might get in your way.  Here's the link:

Also at the national geographic website was a crittercam game. She had to spot the various animals of Antarctica -- the Emperor Penguin, krill, skua and other things. 

Finally, she played a continent game.  The game flashes a continent. You copy it. Then it adds a second -- you copy those two. Then three, etc.

Arctic Animal Science Journal , Penguin Unit and other Freebies

If you are working on Arctic Animals, this first grade teacher made a very cute science journal which incorporates polar bears, penguins, walruses, the arctic fox and snowy owl: Oceans of First Grade Fun.
She also has a set of penguin "What Comes Between" math cards. The child has to place the number that comes in between 31 __ 33 or 36 __ 38.  What's nice for us is that they are in a penguin theme and are perfect for DD. We'll stick this activity into her penguin lapbook.

Another really cute unit is this Penguin Unit for tots and preschoolers. Although I found it clicking around in 4Shared, I managed to find the original blog posting here and download link from  MooMooTutu's blog and also see that is linked from Frogs Bees Under the Seas. Thank you for sharing such cute work!!

If you're looking for winter-themed activities to download for your tot or preschooler here are some links.I loved the snowman unit shared by Musings of Me. Wow! I'm so thankful for all fabulous work others have shared.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Our entire family needs a collective sigh of relief.  We've been hammered and as a result we're just plain tired.  Let's see, so I wrote about the furnace going out. Then LD got a virus.  Well, the day he felt better, I got a slightly different virus. I was so sick I had to call Dad home from work (last Friday).  By midafternoon I couldn't get out of bed.  I was in bed for two days.  Then as I got better (meaning I could get out of bed, but still have an achy head/full ears/raspy cough), the girls and LD came down with my virus.  And Dad came down with my virus.  ED in particular needed me day and night.  The kids slept day and night on Monday and Tuesday. They started to feel better yesterday (as did Dad). 
Then a snowstorm hit.  
Dad left around 4:30 from work.  We kept tabs on him as he inched forward along slick roads.  We lost power, heat and water so we all piled in the homeschool room in front of the fireplace.  Dad arrived home from work at 12:30AM!!!!  My muscles are achy because I spent so much time shoveling.  Remember that organized feeling I had?? Right out the window. I still have a headache (from the virus) and sinus pressure, I'm tired and feeling ever so not inspired by anything.  The only school stuff we've done in a while is reading and math. (And more reading, and more reading.) I think *my* sense of satisfaction is often tied to feeling like our homeschooling is inspiring, fun, creative and engaging.  When it's not??  Then I'm plagued with all those niggling feelings that we're not doing enough (?? what does that mean anyway?!)... all the stuff you vent and release to your friends, but can't because you're homebound sick.  Sigh...
I came back to add in the snowstorm picture. Enough of my complaints.  Goodness, isn't nature beautiful, awesome and inspiring? 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Penguin Unit

It's taken a while to sort through my pictures to show what we have been doing with our penguin unit.  Most of the activities were for ED, though there were a few sprinkled in for DD and LD as you'll see. DD has been working diligently on a penguin/Antarctica lapbook.  We'll share pictures of that soon.

So here's the first cute activity. I took bottle cap letters from Confessions of a Homeschooler and glued them to the bottom of these cute ornaments from the craft store.  I printed out a few penguin letter sheets from Communication4all

I set them up on the table in the mornings, but then need to put them back in her workbox or the penguins go walking!

Along those same lines, I printed out the penguin numbers from communication4all and had ED feed the penguin the number of fishes it wants.  Then ED gets to help eat them. You can also find penguin numbers at Making Learning Fun.
ED just loves do-a-dot pages right now. This is from Making Learning Fun.  You could have your child cover the circles with pennies or magnets instead.
This lacing card is from Activity Village

Penguin hat color matching -- from
stickers from oriental trading
a wooden penguin mask on sale for 50cents at Joann Fabrics
We read a number of penguin related books together.  The girls LOVED Cuddly Dudley.  We've read it at least 15 times if not more, often twice in a row!

The Emperor's Egg is a non-fiction type book explaining how the male penguin cares for the egg. This was a wonderful book and led right into our penguin-care activity below!

The kids tried to walk with an egg on their feet (you have to look closely at the picture. It doesn't show up very well.)  LD was able to do it for a very short distance, but once he put it on his tummy, he raced around the room!
We had to watch some of this amazing film -- March of the Penguins! The kids were sad when the egg rolled onto the ice and the film showed the egg freezing and cracking.
As I mentioned, DD has been working very hard on her penguin/Antarctica lapbook. We'll share more about that soon.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What we use for Reading

It has been a while since I talked about DD's reading (she's 5).  We are still working our way through EPS Primary Phonics Storybooks. I can't recommend this set of readers highly enough!  I have found them absolutely perfect after the Bob Books.  Each book (like the purple one at the left and the one straight below it) is 16 pages long and the story is reasonably good.  DD reads a new one each day -- we're up to Level 5 now.  Luckily I bought them used from another homeschooler, but knowing how well they've worked for my son and daughter I would have bought them new.

She also just started the Little Critter reading book which has a new installment of an ongoing-story on each page.  DD likes this, though it is still quite challenging for her.  LD also used this after the Primary Phonics Storybooks and it kept his interest enough that we finished the entire book (though of course sprinkled in other things as well over the course of time.)

Another resource we use for DD are the little mini-books from My First Little Readers. I like these because of the repetition.  They are not phonics based, but work through repetition. Here's an example of the first three pages of one: 1) Get out of bed. Hurry up! Hurry up! 2) Brush my teeth. Hurry up! Hurry up! 3) Get dressed Hurry up! Hurry up! (7 pages total)

The booklets tear out of the workbook and you staple them together.

Little Math and Letter Activities

 LD is slowly on the mend. He had his first bite to eat in more than two days a bit ago.

Meanwhile, here are a few things ED did with me this morning.

I pulled out a few of the letters from a large letter floor mat, introduced them to her one at a time and called out a letter for her to jump to.  She and DD enjoyed this a lot and ran from letter to letter like crazy people!  I never got an action shot of them jumping and as you can see, ED then pulled out a number puzzle to work on and the photo-moment was over!
ED still enjoys the snowflake and Christmas tree numbers I made back in December.  She only does this once a week or so now, but still enjoys this.

Back in December I printed out this inchworm activity which I got from Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler to have on hand for ED.  Thanks Erica!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Poor Buddy

LD is quite sick--hasn't eaten for two days, is lethargic, feverish and sleeps most of the day/night.  Will update soon.  Poor guy.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

No Heat! Oh My!

Here's the scene:

Our furnace has been on the fritz!  This morning it was a chilly 59F/15C degrees in the living room area and even colder in our bedroom! (Nowhere near as cold as it is outside, though.)

Everything is draped in ice. It's actually quite beautiful.
Except that EVERYTHING is covered in ice. Imagine backing out of our garage...
and driving up THIS driveway!  It took nearly an hour to chip through that stretch of driveway (and there's salt and sand on the driveway!
Once you get up our driveway, there's the hill on our road to get up!  Dad spent two hours shoveling the road as best he could so he could get to work.
 Meanwhile, the past three days our furnace hasn't been working!!  Luckily we've had a lot of help this season getting our fireplace in order.  A friend gave us a HUGE stack of uncut logs. Uncle T and Dad loaded the trailer and brought them back.  Then we were lucky to have the pure muscle and brawn of Uncle S to chop up the entire pile for us (with a dull axe we had on hand!).  ED has helping to keep the fireplace clean. And we've been spending lots of cozy, cuddly time in the warm homeschool room in front of the fire.

Oh and by the way, we finally were able to get repairmen just before noon -- and the furnace is back up and running! Whew!

On the homeschool front--I've been meaning to put up a post about our latest units. We've done lots of penguin-related activities and have moved on to the Middle Ages.  We've been having some really good school-time but life has been so busy I haven't made it on to the computer much.

On a good note, though, I'm feeling more organized than I have in ages (perhaps since last March when we began the moving process). 
  • *I have a new weekly planner that includes a home-repair section since we've had so many house related issues (sewer, washing machine, heater, trying to better insulate the house since there are a lot of drafts, etc.) My weekly planner is where I write down all of the school related activities we do each day, but it's logical and easy to add in the home-repair things I've had to keep track of lately.  Last year I knew I wouldn't have access to a printer for a while when were moving so I had enough pages in my last homeschool planner to take me from July 2009 through Dec. 2010.
  • *I've created a new file system for bills, medical files, the house, cars, dog etc. etc.  (we had SO many important papers that needed to be put away but hadn't filed anything since we moved in last July). 
  • *I've created/posted a weekly dinner menu that hangs on the pantry door (nothing fancy just a sheet that has columns for M-F and space to write our dinner meals.  
  • *And I've even made a lot of headway organizing our homeschool materials (though that's still an on-going project).  
  • The house is reasonably clean (thanks to lots and lots of help from Grams and Gramps this December) and I feel fairly on top of it (until I go into the homeschool room and see why the girls have been so quiet and self-entertaining while I've been on the computer!!!)
  • *And best of all with the in-person inspiration from my dear sister and brother in-law I've been carving out more me-time to run and stretch.  I only run for 30-45 minutes (I'm a former marathon runner) but I feel great to have some consistency with my exercise.  And, I found this awesome book that has me working on my flexibility.  I only do it in the evenings at this point, but am so excited to be making forward progress.  If you're interested it's called 7 Minutes of Magic: The Ultimate Energy Workout. I got it out from the library, but highly recommend it.  I've done many of these stretches over the course of my sports career.  Lately I found that I hadn't been stretching as I should and found I'm not as limber as I should be. This book and it's stretching routine is absolutely perfect for my needs. I've added it into my bedtime routine every other evening.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Skip Counting by 4s -- StarFighter Game

Here are the cards and game boards I made for LD. I cut them out and mounted them on a file folder so you can't see through the back!

The red cards are the 4s times tables plus two enemy tie fighters. The game board has five slots.

To play the game all the red cards are turned upside down. Each player takes a turn choosing a card and solving the problem. He/she places the card on his board if he gets it correct. If not, the card gets placed back down face down. If a player chooses an enemy tie fighter he loses all the starfighters on his board and has to start over. Those cards are mixed up and placed in the middle once again. The first player to fill all five slots on his gameboard wins.

Since LD is just learning to skip count by 4s, he can use the help sheets he made the other day to help solve the problems.
I suspect I'll be making a simple-addition unicorn game like this soon for DD!!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

SkipCounting By 4s Game

This is a bit hard to see, but we made these skip counting rolled papers. As you unfurl the paper it reveals the answer to 4x1, 4x2, etc. LD took a lot of time drawing different styles of star fighters in each rectangle! Then we worked together to fill out the other chart skip counting up through 40. We used these sheets as a reference for the next skip counting by 4s game:

I made two game boards -- 10 rows of 10 circles.  I also made a spinner with various problems 4x1, 4x2 all the way to 4x8.  In order to add the pieces to the game board, the player had to use the reference sheet (above) to answer the problem. For example, 4x6=24. The first player to 100 won the game.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Kindergarten Math Games

Hi! It's great to be back online after a very full holiday season.  We're now back into the swing of things and I'd like to share some new activities the kids and I have started into. I'll start first with my 5 year old's math activities the past couple of days:

DD is learning basic addition.  This week we're working on the 5s.  I gave her the colored construction paper and paper clips (not the chart!) and had her figure out how to divide the paper clips different ways to make 5.
I bought a colorful pack of Crazy Eight cards from the dollar store and used them to play the "Make 5" game with DD. First I removed the 6s, 7s, and 8s from the deck and set them aside.  I shuffled the deck (numbers 0-5) and handed each player three cards.  The first player had to either pick up the face-up card or draw a new card.  She had to make five with her cards. If she put down a pair she had to keep three cards in her hand, drawing and placing new cards down until she couldn't go any more.  The great thing about this game was that if DD went first, she always won (and so was doubly motivated to play again and again!). We'll play the same game for 6s (and eventually 7s).

We've been going over the days of the week and placing them in the proper order.
This is an game to reinforce odd-even, less and more (we've been playing this for nearly a year now from time-to-time).  I cut up butterflies from and made up my own dice. One die has large numbers (10-16) and another die has smaller numbers (4-9).  We each choose a die, roll it and collect that number of butterflies in our net. Then one player spins the spinner to see who wins the round.

This game is from Peggy Kaye's Games for Math (I highly recommend this book or any of her books!!) and is supposed to help reinforce the idea of regrouping (moving nine singles+1 to the large square).  I think I had too many "win 10" slots on my spinner, but DD enjoyed this game nonetheless! The first player to fifty won the game.

See these related (and more recent!) posts:

Montessori Style Math Worksheets You Might Be Interested In: