2016 Aquarium Science Classes

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This is our fourth year attending science classes at Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg. It’s a bit shocking for me to write that, but it’s true. Four years already? At first, it was only my son and I going there. My mom was living with us at the time and she kept my daughter, age three at the time.

Boy and girl at Ripley's Aquarium

Before the class, they look at the fish.

The following year, they each attended their own class, but soon the Preschool class was canceled and my daughter joined my son in the K-2 class. Last year, they were perfectly matched to the K-2 class, as my son was in second grade and my daughter in Kindergarten. Continue reading »

This year, we had to make a decision: do we put them in K-2 or 3-5? The curriculum is different from last year. They change teachers and curriculum every year at Ripley’s, so that was not the issue. The issue was, should we challenge the little one or bore the older one?

Boy and girl touch jelly fish at Ripley's Aquarium

Touching the jelly fish

We decided to challenge our daughter, who is in first grade this year, and allow our son to study on his grade level. So they are both in the class for Grades 3-5.

They have already had one class (September). The new teacher did a great job and the kids had no problem following the presentation, answering questions, participating in class, and performing the experiment.

Children performing an experiement

Experiment after the lecture

They learned about different science disciplines and the scientific method. It’s a great beginning and we look forward to the rest of the year. My son has been scoring very high in science in his nationally standardized test every year so we must be doing something right in our homeschool. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.


Aquarium Homeschooling Science Classes

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Once a month, I take my children to Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg for science classes designed especially for homeschoolers. Preschoolers started last week, but I could not take my daughter because she suffered from acute bronchitis.

My son being in kindergarten, he attends the K-2 class – an interesting mix of maturity levels. So far, we have attended two classes. About fifteen children showed up each time. Their parents, some handling a preschooler and/or a baby, attend the class as well. The young ones behave well. So far, no incidents.

The students sit on the carpet in the middle of the room. Parents and younger siblings sit on chairs set up against three of the walls in the room.

The September class, Beautiful Biomes, presented the seven types of environments on this planet. My son found it a bit boring. The PowerPoint slides did not save us from the monotony of a lecture-style presentation, although the teacher’s voice brimmed with excitement.

Thirty minutes into it, my son came over to my seat and told me he was bored. I encouraged him to pay attention as best he could. He did not have to wait long after that.

The teacher asked the students to line up so they can receive materials for the hands-on activity. They created their own biome by planting flower seeds into mason jars filled with dirt. My son was proud to bring his home.

Ripley's Aquarium science class on beautiful biomes

Homeschoolers line up to receive their materials

The October class, Shooting Stars, held our attention better. Pictures of the Universe inspire me with awe. Space fascinates my son.

Ripley's Aquarium Lecture on Shooting Stars - Homeschooling Science Class

Lecture on the Universe

For the craft, they built shooting stars, following step-by-step directions from the teacher.

Ripley's Aquarium Shooting Stars Homeschooling Class

Building a shooting star

We received a handout with about thirty websites to check out about space. I can’t wait to look at more pictures with the Universe. “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork.” Psalm 19:1

Showing off his shooting star Ripley's Aquarium

Showing off his shooting star

I like science, but it does not come naturally to me. I am thankful to Ripley’s for putting on classes for homeschoolers.


Our First Official Homeschool Break

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We homeschool for six weeks and take a week off. Many veteran homeschoolers have recommended this schedule as a sanity preserver, so I am going with the voice of experience. We have homeschooled now for six weeks and this is the first official school break in our home. It’s exciting.

I thought this would be the week when I finally finish some writing projects and can applesauce, but I have all kinds of other appointments which I was not planning on. On top of that, our monthly Ripley’s Aquarium science class happens to be this week and we still have another session of our Adventurer Club to attend before we take a two-week break from that…

Looks like learning will happen despite the break from the 3Rs.

The curve ball is the bug my daughter has been fighting for a few days now and which has transferred to my son today.

Speaking of my son, I asked him to sweep the floor after lunch and he did a great job. I still had to sweep a bit after him in places, but he has made a lot of progress since last week. He was proud of what he accomplished. After he missed the trash can though, he got discouraged. He asked me to sweep up the mess. I told him that he was still learning and encouraged him not to give up. He was still negative, but stood there and watched me sweep.

After I cleaned up the trash can area, he came back to me asking me to let him try dumping the dust pan again. He did not miss this time. I felt he was growing right there before my eyes, not just in home ec. skills, but also in attitude towards work and in his self-image.

Work is an important component of the Moore Formula (besides academics and service). I think children learn so much by working and performing chores around the house.

As I look up, I thank God for every day I am able to stay home and teach the kids.

As I look up, I thank God for every day I am able to stay home and teach the kids.

When we visited their grandmother in the hospital over the weekend (that falls under service, by the way), my son narrated a whole book to her of his own free will – Curious George Gets a Job. (Narration is a Charlotte Mason method.)

Of all the books we have read to him recently, he thought of that one because George broke his leg and had to wear a cast – like grandmother, who fell and broke her leg, and has to wear a cast now.

My daughter sang I’m a Super Sleuth – which she learned in church recently – also of her own free will. Children are so good at comforting others. They are natural at it.

I feel so blessed to be able to stay home with them and teach them and watch them grow and learn.

Homeschooling blesses me just as much as it blesses them. Which is why, when I look up at the sky, I thank God for my life. How did I get to be so lucky?