Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Homeschool Learning: Lots of Science!

With each passing day, I receive confirmation in one form or another that I made the right decision to homeschool my seven year old son.  We have only been at this for less than two months.  At the beginning, it was all about my son who was struggling socially and emotionally in school.  He needed rescued if there was ever any hope for him to overcome his Selective Mutism and before his tiny, fragile spirit was broken.  His learning was not suffering.  In fact, he was doing quite well- reading above grade level, excelling in spelling, holding his own with writing, and he discovered that he loved math. But day by day, the happy, talkative, carefree, spirited boy I knew at home was disappearing before my eyes.  In his place was a child who was anxiety-ridden, who had tantrums, meltdowns, and who begged me to bring him home.  And so I did.

Actually it was not that simple. It was not an impulsive decision I made overnight.  I have actually been praying, thinking, talking, and researching about homeschooling for over a year.  As a teacher, of course academics were at the forefront of my mind.  My child has learned so much and I wanted to keep him on track.  But whose track?  I quickly learned that homeschool does not resemble learning in a brick and mortar school.  I learned that my child needed time to decompose... needed lots of time to talk about his learning...and I learned that he is naturally wired to express his interests and guide his own learning.

Although our environment looks much different than a traditional classroom, I apply much of the same learning and pedagogical principles as I did when in the classroom.  Learning is student-centered, interest-based, content is integrated, and I strive to find learning activities that are engaging, motivating, and that require depth of thought.

The last four weeks have seen us exploring various topics such as arctic animals, the Olympics, and the scientific method, just to name a few.  Like those of you in the classroom, I integrate as much as possible to get the most "bang for my buck" and to keep the learning as authentic as possible.  On most days, I am integrating science and/or social studies with language arts and math.

And now... well, now, this homeschool thing is about me as well as him.  This experience the last two months has grown me as a mother and as a teacher.  But that is a story for another day!

Here's a little peek into some of our explorations...

After learning about polar bears, we read about penguins.  I used a fantastic digital book from Scholastic's Storia. We used the word bank page in the photo as we read to compare and contrast information. I would love to give credit to the author, but the page does not have the author's name.  Please let me know if you know who the author is!

Valentine's Day found us experimenting with solids and liquids.  We used Primary Paradise's Valentine's Day Candy Experiment

Next, we moved on to our rocks and mineral study.  I am using Earth's Riches  by Edwin Johns ( a Wright Group leveled reader that is just perfect for my son!)  Last week found us trying another experiment to grow salt crystals.

My son mixed salt into warm water, being sure to follow the directions...

After three days, we had some amazing results!

For Christmas, both my boys received geode exploration kits.  We used the geodes to touch and explore and to bring our science vocabulary words- rock, mineral, crystal- to life.  You can see the kit listed on Amazon here

I created a simple flip flap organizer for his science notebook so he could record his observations and notes from his reading.  For this one, he wrote the definition for each word under the flap.

For this one, he records examples for each word under the flap.

Thank you to Graphics from the Pond, My Cute Graphics, and KG Fonts for sharing their amazing talents!

You can download both of these interactive organizers from Google Drive by clicking here.

Finally, we are using my March Writing Prompts for fun and varied topics related to March.


Just like in the classroom, life is not all rainbows and lollipops. We are getting to the point where we have an equal amount of good and bad days.  And just like all my students over the last twenty-five years, this special little boy is teaching me so very much!

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