Friday, July 31

Homeschool Online Science Labs

This post is sponsored by Greg Landry of College Prep Science.

This past February, we took the high schooler down to Dallas for three days of science adventures! In three (very long) days, he completed all of the required labs for both Biology and Chemistry! The teacher was amazing, and we're so glad to have completed them just before everything went sideways....

Science labs have always been a challenge for homeschooling families: supplies, specimens, equipment, writing lab reports, knowing how to perform labs, smelly frogs on the kitchen table, etc. Some families attempt to remedy those issues by getting together with other families and doing labs together - pooling resources or doing science labs in a homeschool co-op setting. But, that too is sometimes problematic and often doesn't end well. The newest challenge is not being able to do labs with other families or in a homeschool co-op setting because of COVID-19.

Meet Greg Landry
Homeschool dad and former college professor, Greg Landry, has been teaching science labs to homeschooled students for over 20 years. Labs are his passion! With a desire to make quality science labs with instruction available to homeschooled students at home, he developed interactive online science labs that students love! Using their mouse and keyboard, students perform the labs, step-by-step - all online - no equipment or supplies needed. Professor Landry's online labs also include videos on lab background information, recording experiment data, and writing good formal lab reports.

Why Homeschool Science Labs?
Many public and private high schools have switched to online labs and they have become the norm. Professor Landry developed labs that are interactive - they involve student participation - not just watching a video as many are.

Colleges want to see these ingredients in what they consider legitimate for a high school science class with a lab and Professor Landry's online labs meet and exceed these criteria:
- Student interaction in performing the lab experiment (online or in person)
- Writing a formal lab report for each lab performed
- Performing at least 6 labs with formal lab reports for a high school science course

Homeschool online science labs are for 6th - 12th grade students and cover these subjects:
- Biology (10 labs available)
- Chemistry (10 labs available)
- Physics (10 labs available)
- Anatomy & Physiology (10 labs available)

Do your kids like listening to podcasts or playaways? Check out these FREE printable homeschool science lessons with audio. Students love these multi-page infographics with audio and parents love them because the audio makes them a snap to teach. Get free, immediate access to all four of them!

Thursday, July 30

Tailoring School Boxes to Your Child's Needs

School Boxes are curated curricula that's open and go.  They are available for Pre-K through 12th grade and perfect for the busy parent and / or new homeschooler!

Some of the most commonly asked questions about these new boxes from SchoolhouseTeachers are....
  • Does the school box cost extra?
    • No.  It comes with your membership, which covers all subjects and curriculum for every student in your house.  If you have ten kids, they're all covered with the same membership!
  • Is this a physical box of materials shipped to my home?
    • No.  These are digital boxes, but that doesn't mean you're going to have to print everything either.  Many of the classes are video-based or online/interactive.  Some of the classes are text-based, giving you the option to either set it up through Google Classroom (see how to do that here) or print it out and create your own textbook.
  • What’s in each Curriculum Box?
    • A curriculum guide for each subject 
    • Scope and Sequence
    • Weekly checklists to keep you on track
    • Daily checklists that guide you—and your student—through each activity
    • Direct links to the courses and resources you need by the week
    • All the additional suggested materials for the year listed in one place, like art supplies and notepaper
    • Links to additional resources for those days you want to spend more time on a topic your kids love
  • What will my child learn when we follow the Curriculum Guides?
    • See the Scope and Sequence for a full list of the skills covered at each level.  Remember that these classes are what is most commonly covered at that grade level.  You may want to tailor up or down a grade level, based on your student's abilities and needs.
    • For example, if your student is behind in math, you might choose the math class from the grade just below.  If your student is advanced in math, you might choose the math class from the grade just above.
  • Do I have to use Curriculum Guides for every subject?
  • Why should my family pay for a membership when something like Khan Academy is free?
Let's take a in-depth look at one of the School Boxes!

Looking for an open-and-go option? Take your homeschool to new heights with!  Explore the world with! Use code: EXPLORE at checkout to pay only $179 for a two-year Ultimate Membership (reg. $224.97/yr). Explore the World Tote included. Certain restrictions apply.

Wednesday, July 29

Roadschool Trip to Chimney Rock + Oregon Trail

While studying Westward Expansion with our The Good & the Beautiful History, we took a road trip north through the plains states.  Our trip through Nebraska took us right by Chimney Rock.....the same one that we used to stop off at when playing Oregon Trail on the old Apple II-E...  

There's a little bit to see in this area, including a small museum, where photography is not allowed, that talks about the Oregon Trail and hosts some of the travelers' stories.  Out back, you can hike a small section of the trail itself.

For further study, snag the free We Were There on the Oregon Trail novel study!

We stopped at the Chimney Rock Cemetery...where many loved ones were lain to rest during the trek Westward.  The cemetery wasn't as full as we'd predicted, but there was probably hundreds of settlers lain to rest beside the trail in unmarked graves.

Reading Resources

Looking for more World History?  Check out In-Depth Modern History for High School, one of 400+ courses included with a SchoolhouseTeachers membership.  In this history course, students will learn about some of the major events in history such as World War I and the fight for women’s right to vote. There are also lesser known events such as the Aboriginal Rights Movement and the South African Anti-Apartheid Movement. Included in each week’s lessons are reading, vocabulary, mapping, a quiz, and resources to go deeper into the topic.

Tuesday, July 28

Roadschool Trip to Louisiana

Louisiana is one of the states that we'd never when presented with a few days off, we thought we'd just hop on down there and see what we could find!!

History Museum in Shreveport

Our first stop was the State Museum of Louisiana, where we learned the basic background.  We learned that they have just as much oil and gas activity as Oklahoma does, and that cotton and rice were king crops for a long time.
We got to see the native wildlife, and the boys were very impressed with the pelicans.  They learned that Louisiana is nicknamed the Pelican State.  We also saw some historical krewe costumes from various Mardi Gras parades around the state.

Science Museum at Shreveport

The Sci-Port Discovery Center was one of the ASTC membership museums, which means that we could pop in and look around for free with our card!  (If you don't have a membership yet, and you travel at all, you should look into one.)  We flew airplanes and learned to navigate ships by the constellations.  We also played on giant pulleys, life-sized compass and protractors, and shot ourselves up into the air!  Mom thought the last one was really fun!

The sky started to turn a weird shade of green, so we decided to head on down the highway and see where it took us...

Following this trip, we put together a guide for studying the cultures of Louisiana, and the history behind them. Includes math, cooking, reading, and worksheets.  This unit also covers the history of Mardi Gras, arts and crafts activities, cooking projects, language arts, and more! Includes several worksheets and a printable book.  Pick up a copy here!

Fort St. Jean Baptiste in Natchitoches
This place was pretty neat for a little hole-in-the-wall!  You know we love our history, and this was something we had never studied.  Fort St. Jean Baptiste was a French fort and trading outpost during the French & Indian War.  They have recreated the fort, complete with actors, to bring history to life!  It was nice to get out of the car and walk around a bit, and we learned some science along the way when the boys stopped to ask about all the algae growing in 'de swamp.
We poked around the trading post, picking up a bit of French along the way, and learned how to make an outdoor brick oven for baking outside in the heat and humidity.  We visited both the enlisted men and officer's quarters, and got to try on some of their uniforms.  Did you know that it's not just the Dutch that used wooden shoes?  The French wore them, too!

Le Vieux Village in Opelousas
About two hours from New Orleans, Opelousas is creole country.  We visited three different museums, and learned a lot about creole history, but were only allowed to photograph in one of them.  Le Vieux Village offers a glimpse of early life in St. Landry Parish.  While the set up is similar to places we have visited in Michigan and Oklahoma, each region is unique, and we never tire of comparing and contrasting how the various cultures once lived...when the world was considerably more isolated.
Our trip to New Orleans fell short, due to a round of wild weather!  So we hunkered down in Lafayette, Louisiana for a few days before crawling back home.  But the trip wasn't sir'ee!  We learned a lot about cajuns, creoles, and our own family history!
Hungry upon arrival, we sought out a hole-in-the-wall restaurant (travel tip : always ask where the locals eat!) and enjoyed jambalaya and gumbo.  Yum!  There was even enough to take home for dinner.  "Home" being the hotel, of course....once you've been on the road a bit, home is wherever you're crashing that night.

We stumbled upon the Acadian Cultural Center at Jean Lafitte National Park.  Having an Acadian background, but not really knowing anything about it, we took this as a sign to learn more.  The things we learned were fascinating!  

The Acadian Cultural Center in Lafayette tells stories of the origins, migration, settlement, and contemporary culture of the Acadians (Cajuns).  They also have genealogical records, which we were able to use to trace our family back nearly three hundred years...following their path from the Pyrenees of France to current day locations.

Music is such a big part of Cajun history!  Cajun music and zydeco are very similar forms...Cajun music is the music of the (white) Acadians, while Zydeco is the music of the (black) Creoles. Both share common origins and influences, but each culture proudly and carefully preserves the identity of its own musical expression.  Scroll down to listen to an example of each...

According to Wikipedia, "Cajun music is relatively harsh with an infectious beat and a lot of forward drive, placing the accordion at the center. Besides the voices, only two melodic instruments are heard, the accordion and fiddle, but usually in the background can also be heard the high, clear tones of a metal triangle."

Love exploring?  Check out Everyday Explorers over at SchoolhouseTeachers.  There are classes to explore the USA, Canada, and Australia & New Zealand!

The Everyday Explorers: USA course allows students of all ages to study interesting facts about the United States and its history. A different state is visited in each homeschool geography unit. There are activities, interesting facts, and links that can help the student virtually explore the areas being discussed in the day’s lesson. Map work is included as distances traveled are calculated and the weather is logged in the different areas. Activities are targeted to different grade levels so any age student can benefit from this Everyday Explorers: USA homeschool geography course. Answer keys are included where appropriate.

Monday, July 27

Ultimate Homeschool Planner {Review}

As we kicked off our new school year, we had the opportunity to review the Ultimate Homeschool Planner.  It’s not just a homeschool planner, it’s a life planner!  

The Ultimate Homeschool Planner guides the homeschooling parent in a holistic way. Homeschooling is about education and curriculum, but it’s even more about life, love, and preparing our children for their future.

At a glance:
  • Pocket folders on the outside cover– These are a great storage area for shopping lists, ticket stubs, reminder notes, and (on one occasion) a cd of x-rays that I almost forgot to give the doctor!
  • At a glance 4 year calendar– Easy to reference future dates help with long-term planning.
  • User’s Guide–  This gives directions on how to get the most from the planner.  It's a one-time read, but worth going through, especially if you're not a planner by nature.
  • One Year Planning Grid–  Here is an area to get a feel for the year as a whole.  This makes it easy to pencil in days for vacations, semester ends, and other major plans, so you can make sure you get enough days of schooling in.  Since our travel dates vary and change, we always use pencil here!
  • Student Goal Setter– Here is a blank space for writing student goals, whether they are education or personal.
  • Pre-Planning Guides– With this, you can set priorities to glance back at during planning.
  • Monthly “At a Glance” Planner–  Like the year-long planning grid, here you can get a feel for the month as a whole, to see where busy times are coming up.
  • Weekly Planner–  This has room for multiple children, and it's the main area you’ll use weekly to write in assignments and notes.  On the weekly planning grid, I listed the days of the week across the top and the members of our family down the side.  I also named one row “blog” to keep track of blogging due dates.  Another row is named "homestead" to pencil in chores that need to be done only occasionally, depending on the season.  It’s really helped me keep on top of our busy schedule, something that can be difficult to do when we’re headed in multiple directions.
  • Records:  This area has spots for grades, reading lists, and extracurricular activities.  It's a place to record all that you are doing for and with each child.
  • Teaching Tips– Here you'll find a helpful section on personality types and learning styles, and how to work with the different types.
  • High School Planning Guide– Even if you don’t need this yet, it’s worth looking over to be prepared.
  • Year in Review- This is a space to write about the year’s accomplishments...we haven't used it yet.
  • Scripture passages and quotations on every page– These offer small bits of encouragement and know, for the days you want to drown yourself in twelve cups of coffee, or chocolate, or a nap.
 Extra thoughts:  
  • I love the fact that the calendars are undated, so you can make use of the Ultimate Homeschool Planner, no matter when you begin and end your school year.
  • It’s only an inch thick, even with all of that information!
Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, July 22

Paper Son & Angel Island Immigration

Historically, China viewed itself as the focus of the civilized world, going as far as to call their country "Zhong Guo" (the Central Kingdom).  It was not until the Chinese Exclusion Act passed in America that the Chinese faced an enemy that was just as confident of its superiority...
“I had nothing to do there. During the day, we stared at the scenery beyond the barbed wire - the sea and the sky and clouds that were separated from us. Besides listening to the birds outside the fence, we could listen to records and talk to the old-timers in the barracks. Some, due to faulty responses during the interrogation and lengthy appeal procedures, had been there for years.” - Mr. Lowe, Age 16 in 1939
Chinese immigrants came to the United States seeking jobs, but they also found misunderstanding, prejudice, restricted access to employment, and denial of citizenship.  Some American groups called for boycotts of Chinese-made goods, went on strike to demand that Chinese workers be fired, and incited mob violence in which Chinese residents were rounded up and forced out of town.  

Most Chinese men came to America expecting to make a fortune and return home wealthy.  Their wives stayed back in the home country raising children and taking care of extended family, and the men went to visit them back in China.  However, in 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed, greatly limiting immigration.  The men who were working in the United States could no longer return to China to visit their families; if they did, it was very likely that they would not be readmitted to the United States. 

The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake opened a window of opportunity for these families.  Due to the great fires, many of the city's records were destroyed.  Without paperwork to prove otherwise, many Chinese in the area claimed that they were citizens, which also meant that their children could legally enter the country.  The business of 'paper sons' (and less frequently, 'paper daughters') helped many immigrants to illegally enter the country, falsely claiming to be a son or daughter of someone who (possibly falsely) claimed to be a citizen.

Because many Chinese immigrants who came to the U.S. after the earthquake falsely claimed to be the sons and daughters of Chinese Americans living here, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) subjected all Chinese immigrants to detailed interrogations and sometimes lengthy detainment.  Although the majority of Chinese who attempted to immigrate after the Exclusion Act were turned back, enough were able to get in as “paper sons” or “paper daughters” that the number of Chinese skyrocketed in the 1920 census.

  • Paper Son
    • In 1926, 12-year-old Fu Lee lives with his grandparents in a small village in China. He lives with his grandparents because his parents are dead. It is a difficult life but made easier by the love Lee shares with his grandparents. But now Lee must leave all that he knows. Before his parents died, they spent all of their money buying a "paper son slot" for Lee to go to America. Being a "paper son" means pretending to be the son of a family already in America. If he goes, he will have the chance for a better life. But first he must pass the test at Angel Island Immigration Station in San Francisco. Only then will he be allowed to live with his new family. If Lee makes even a single mistake, he could be sent back to China. Lee knows his grandparents want a better life for him. He can't let them down.
  • The Dragon's Child
  • Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain
  • deport 
  • detain 
  • enforce 
  • ethnicity 
  • illegal 
  • incarceration 
  • interrogation 
  • nativism 
  • naturalized citizen 
  • segregate 
  • quarantine 
  • stenographer 
  • trachoma  
Make / Do
  • Select a poem from the Angel Island poems to illustrate.  Write the poem and create a drawing around the page.
  • Find a neighbor or family friend who has immigrated, and conduct the following interview.
    • Where and when were you born?
    • When did you move to the United States?
    • Why did you move to the United States? 
    • How did you feel when you came to the United States? 
    • What were your first impressions of the United States? 
    • What were some of the funniest, scariest, and saddest moments of your immigration experience? 
    • Did you face any challenges as an immigrant?  
  • What is the role of the United States government in regard to immigration? What issues are the same as they were in the 1880’s and what issues have changed? Why is this topic important? 
  • If you were immigrating far away and were allowed to take just one small suitcase with you, what would you pack in it? What would you leave behind? You would need things for regular use, but you would probably want a few precious things too, that you could never replace in your new country.

Access more US History units in the American History Novel Studies Bundle!

Includes sixteen unit studies covering American History. Each unit addresses a new topic, spanning the Revolutionary War to Vietnam.  Each unit has introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand.

  • There are photographs and illustrations, and we have also included primary documents when available.
  • After this text, there are featured videos, which augment the background information and help make the topic more accessible for more visual students.
  • You will also find a short list of reading books, including a featured novel that the unit builds upon.
  • There are vocabulary words, places, and people to identify.
  • Reading comprehension, critical thinking questions, and writing assignments are included.
  • We add fun with hands-on activities and extra videos to watch that will bring the era to life.
  • Some units also have cooking projects.

These studies are directed toward upper grades students, but some have resources for younger students so that the whole family can work together. Our family has used unit studies as curriculum for many years, and we hope that your family will enjoy these, too!

Product sample:  Paper Son & Angel Island Immigration  & Within These Lines & Japanese Internment

  • Casualties of War & Vietnam War
  • No Promises in the Wind & the Great Depression
  • Out of the Dust & the Dust Bowl
  • The Watsons Go to Birmingham & Civil Rights
  • Dusty Sourdough & Alaska
  • The King of Mulberry Street & Ellis Island Immigration
  • Paper Son & Angel Island Immigration
  • The Red Menace & McCarthyism
  • Johnny Tremain & Faces of the American Revolution
  • Sounder & Sharecropping
  • World War II Code Talkers
  • Flashback Four: Hamilton-Burr Duel
  • Within These Lines & Japanese Internment Camps
  • Flashback Four: Titanic Mission
  • Flashback Four: Lincoln Project
  • The Diviners / The Great Gatsby & Roaring Twenties

Looking for more World History?  Check out In-Depth Modern History for High School, one of 400+ courses included with a SchoolhouseTeachers membership.  In this history course, students will learn about some of the major events in history such as World War I and the fight for women’s right to vote. There are also lesser known events such as the Aboriginal Rights Movement and the South African Anti-Apartheid Movement. Included in each week’s lessons are reading, vocabulary, mapping, a quiz, and resources to go deeper into the topic.

Tuesday, July 21

Road Trip to Maryland artists' colony in Grantsville....this trip took us across the state!

Our travels were based from Odenton, where the kids' aunt & uncle were stationed, but we spent most of the time in either Baltimore (the kids were VERY into pirates at this point, and their aunt found a fabulous adventure!) or Annapolis.

In Annapolis, we visited the US Naval Academy and toured Historic Annapolis.
In Baltimore, we spent an entire afternoon aboard a pirate ship captained by the Urban Pirates.
Feeling 'beachy,' we headed to the Chesapeake Bay for a picnic and afternoon of surf.  Find a parking spot, and you've got yourself an afternoon of free fun.

An art colony or artists' colony is a place where creative practitioners live and interact with one another...

Leaving the area to head for another road trip stop, we visited Spruce Village in Grantsville, MD, a non profit organization aimed at preserving and promoting crafts and traditions that have been part of the local mountain heritage for generations. Visitors are encouraged to stop in the artist studios inside the cabins, where the artists work and display and sell their art. Classes and artist workshops are also available throughout the summer.

Did we know any of that when we rolled off the highway...desperately in search of lunch? Nope. But what a pleasant surprise!!!!!!!

This artisan was creating wooden salt and pepper shakers, bowls, and platters.  They were beautiful!!  Some of the artists use reclaimed materials to create new works, such as this metal worker.  We were asked not to take photos inside...but these recycled pieces were breathtaking!
Also at the colony is the House of Yoder.  The house is modeled after the homes built in the  mid-1700s by Yoder immigrants from Switzerland.  Inside the Yoder House, you can view an excellent presentation of Yoder history in Europe, and research Yoder genealogy in the Genealogy Lab.  We just enjoyed poking around the house, appreciating the architecture and construction and taking notes on the fantastic root cellar!!
We ate lunch at the Penn Alps restaurant first -- it was ok, albeit a bit overpriced.  This was a great place to stop, grab a bite to eat, and stroll around to stretch our legs.  The scenery was like stepping into another time and place!

Within the long-term colony (residents living there year-round) are a soap maker and a weaver.  If you're ever passing through Grantsville, take an hour to mosey around the village and watch the craftsmen at work.  AND if you can get there around Christmastime, check out their events calendar!!