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.


Science4us.com Review

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Here we are again, talking about science. Science4us.com is a wonderful online curriculum for K-2 which can also be used in grades 3rd-5th for review of key concepts. It was developed in 2010 and has since received several awards. The Department of Education gave them a grant for game-based learning innovation and they used it well.

Science4us.com activity

Science4us.com activity

This is an online curriculum so once you pay ($7.95 per month) they will send you login information and you are good to go. Once logged in, you can choose from four books: Life, Physical, Inquiry, and Earth/Space. Inside each book, you will find different modules which can be picked up in random order. Once inside a module though, you should start from the top left and work your way down through the activities in order.  Continue reading »

Science in the early grades can be a liberating subject, because you really don’t have to do it. As such, there is no guilt on the days when you did not do it. And when you do do it, it’s fun for the kids and you feel like a superhero. When you do math in K-6 grades, you are actually doing science, because math is the basis for scientific equations.

Boy and girl working on computers

Working on different levels of science4us.com

I have reviewed this curriculum once before, two years ago. My children were 5 and 3 at the time. They are now 7 and 5. I thought it might be interesting to watch how they interact with an online course and the content of a science course at their new level.

It turns out, they could no longer stay on the same level, on one computer. Two years ago, the three-year-old was happy to watch and learn. Now, she wanted to do her own clicking, circling, matching and so on. So we had them work on two separate computers.

Science4us.com activity

Another science4us.com screen up close

This curriculum comes in handy especially if you have to give one-on-one attention to your students. I found it very helpful when my young one “did school” with science4us.com while I worked with my oldest.

The activities are interactive but short lectures do get presented from time to time, teaching young kids to sit through a small theoretical explanation. I have only found one game which is nothing but a game. The rest of the material serves an educational purpose and does not feel like a game per se. It is however very colorful and easy to navigate.

Robots walk the kids through the different modules. They even have exercises in alphabetizing, taking notes, and spelling. There is a final test at the end of each module, but throughout the module there are small quizzes to check for understanding. If the answer is not correct, there is a button to push for the concept to be repeated.

I have my own interface, as a teacher, and can see which modules they covered, their test results and how much time they spent online. This curriculum can be used in a large classroom, obviously, or in a small homeschool. If you don’t like teaching science or doing experiments in the kitchen, investing in science4us.com would be a great idea.

The opinions expressed here are my own. I received a free subscription to science4us.com in exchange for my honest review of this product on my blog. I was not required to write a positive review. I was not compensated in any other way. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC regulations.


Valentine’s Day Homemade Candy

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Homeschooling allows for lots of time spent together in the kitchen, so here’s a science lesson with sweet lab results…

What says Valentine’s Day better than a homemade chocolate treat? Here’s a recipe I found in a magazine three years ago, which has been a great success with my family. There is a time to eat healthy and there is a time to enjoy a treat. This is the latter time.

 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Bonbons

Mix 1 cup creamy peanut butter, 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 5 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature, and 1/2 tsp. vanilla in a large bowl.

Knead mixture until smooth, adding up to 1/2 cup more powdered sugar to prevent sticking.

My three-year-old daughter kneads the peanut butter and powdered sugar.

My three-year-old daughter kneads the peanut butter and powdered sugar.

Roll dough into 1” balls and set on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet; chill 1 hour.

Here are the peanut butter balls getting ready to chill in the refrigerator for one hour.

Here are the peanut butter balls getting ready to chill in the refrigerator for one hour.

Line 2 more cookie sheets with wax paper; set aside. Place assorted sprinkles in shallow bowls.

Microwave 1 1/2 cups light cocoa candy melts, stirring every 15 seconds, until smooth. I used a double-boiler because I find it easier.

Drop the balls 5 at a time in the melted chocolate to coat. Removed balls with a fork allowing excess chocolate to drip off. Roll balls in sprinkles to coat. Place on the lined cookie sheets. Repeat with the remaining balls, then chill until chocolate is set. Makes about 40 bonbons.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Bonbons

The last step is the most laborious and you will remember why you only do this once a year. Not just because they are so rich…

I promise your homeschool will be very cheerful the day you make this recipe with the children and then enjoy it with them and hubby.

Valentine's Day RoundUp