I've posted my lab sheet for this lab on CC Connected (user name lb_oliver). My thoughts here will dovetail with that approach. You can also see my suggestions for ways to expand on this topic in my post here.
This post is going to be short and sweet, but don’t panic, because the concepts in this lab are largely a review of the concepts from Week 19. So, if you need a quick refresher on those, go here for my first post about probability.
This week, here’s my take on the point of the lab for our Classical Conversations Foundations students:
Grammar: Reinforce the grammar terms that they’ve heard in weeks past (Probability, Outcome, Combination), and introduce a new term – Event. Then, they get to see the terms Probability, Outcome and Event applied (Combination we’re leaving behind in the dust with week 20).
Dialectic: Much like Week 19, this is an opportunity to teach our children about the “probability” that something (anything) could occur. The only real difference is that in this lab, we’re teaching children that sometimes when looking at a series of outcomes, we might be more interested in one group of outcomes than another. A group of outcomes that is of interest is referred to as an Event.
I wanted to do something fun to make this lab a little more interesting, so we used paper muffin cups, marked 1 through 6 to represent our pancakes. Children worked in teams to roll the dice and they distributed dried blueberries (I bought a big bag at Costco) according to the rolls of their dice. The most confusing thing about this lab for most folks is understanding that you need to roll the die, then place one blueberry for each roll. The blueberry goes to the pancake whose number you rolled.
I’m going to be honest with ya’ here. I’m a little scared of super-healthy-minded-homeschooling-moms. Sometimes, I join their ranks, so I get where they’re coming from. I don’t like to reward my kids with junk food all the time. And, I’m often thrilled that because we homeschool my children are much less exposed to all the junk food that seems to show up in most traditional school classrooms. So . . . I used dried blueberries.
On the other hand . . . this lab would be whole lot more fun with chocolate chips. I’m just saying.
I’m chicken. It doesn’t mean you have to be. And really, 30 chocolate chips split between two kiddos . . . it’s not much chocolate. Next time we do Cycle 3 . . . . maybe I’ll be braver.
I am updating my lab sheet out on CC Connected, so if you’re using those, go and look for the REVISED version. Even though this is my second time through this cycle and these labs, I’m still mastering the grammar myself! After more research and thinking through this blog post, I decided to make a couple of changes to make sure I was using the term Event properly.
For ADULTS/PARENTS– here’s an example of an event that’s of interest from a science-of-origins perspective:
There are 500 known naturally-occurring amino acids.* These acids are considered left-handed or right-handed depending on how their atoms are joined together. Of those 500, 20 bond together into proteins that are used by ALL living things on Earth.** ALL 20 of these amino acids used by living things are considered to be left-handed. No one knows why. To try and figure this out, scientist create amino acids in laboratories. When doing this, the “Event” that might interest us is the occurrence of left-handed aminos. If these were generated more often, or most often, it might be an indication of how ALL life on Earth “evolved” to rely on the same 20 left-handed amino acids. Instead, when scientists make amino acids in their laboratories, left-handed and right-handed outcomes are equally likely to occur.***
In Challenge A, Classical Conversations students read and discuss “It Couldn’t Just Happen.” According to this book (p.70) there is no chance at all that even one protein with all left-handed amino acids could ever have “just happened” to come into existence.
This is the time of year in our family when a couple of things typically happen: 1) We’re just really getting back into the school “groove” and I start to feel good about what we’re accomplishing and 2) tax season hits.
In some past life that I occasionally have flashbacks of, I was a CPA who had VERY, VERY little to do with taxes. I spent most of my time (and by that, I mean 50-80 hours/week) auditing fairly large, often publicly-traded companies. I won’t bore you with the details. I’ll just skip to the end of the story . . . I don’t do that any more.
Okay, if you want more details (skip on down if you don’t), I resigned because by husband operates his own business (now businesses) and needed more accounting and office management than I could provide him after exerting all my energy on someone else’s business. I resigned, got pregnant, felt yucky, had a baby, and now I exert all my energy on children and homeschool and my husband still needs more accounting and office management than I’m able to provide. See how well that worked out for him? One less income, more mouths to feed, same pitiful amount of attention. Have I mentioned that my husband is wonderful? Consequently, I really am always trying to balance it out, and at this time of year, the balance tips in his favor. I also help out another CPA doing business taxes at this time of year. So, more time on taxes and business = less time on cool CC stuff and blogging.
It only lasts for a few weeks, and then the scales will tip back the other direction.
I don’t think we’re actually going to Memory Master this year, but I like to act like we’re still shooting for it so we still push ourselves in review. I made the kids some sheets to keep up with what they’ve mastered and what they haven’t, based on what this CC mom had done. When they can answer the review question with absolutely no assistance, they get a sticker. And, because I am not above bribery (although I’m not usually prone to it, either), I offered them a chocolate chip for every 5 in a row they can get. Again, we got in a LOT of review in exchange for some stickers and a couple (really, just a couple . . . we need to do a lot more review!) of chocolate chips. You can download a copy for yourself by clicking on the image to the right, or by visiting the printables page.
This week, I decided that we needed a new review game at home to spice things up! I’ve seen Jenga versions of CC review games in abundance, so I decided to go with one of those. Like the CC mom at this blog, I did this the “quick and dirty” way . . . I just used a sharpie and wrote on my Jenga pieces. It’s fast, it doesn’t throw the balance of the blocks off, and you can just ignore it if you want to play Jenga and NOT review CC. The only difference I made, was that I did not write the weeks on my blocks, just the subjects. I didn’t want to be locked in to which weeks we were reviewing. I’d rather create piles of my CC memory review card by subject and then just draw from them based on what’s written on the block that you pull. There are 54 pieces in a complete Jenga set, so I just dealt them evenly into 7 stacks, and then any extras went into the stacks that I think we struggle more with (History sentences, Geography, etc. I avoided extra blocks for Timeline and Math, since we repeat those each cycle already.) After that, it was easy and fun and I ended up taking it to class with us and using it there, as well.
Jenga aside, do you know what my kids’ favorite way of reviewing this past week was? Using a card game that came in a Chic-Fil-A kids meal. My son got it as a prize for bringing his Bible and looking up his memory verse in his Wednesday night class at church (I love his teachers – encouraging Bible literacy in your Kindergarten class rocks!). It’s called “Cattle Drive,” but basically it’s just “War” with a smaller cow-themed deck of cards. My kids don’t play war all that fast (it’s just never occurred to them) and they’re totally used to using a game to review CC, so when I was asking them how they wanted to review last week, my son suggested this game and said they’d just answer a CC question on each turn. The loser (lowest number card) of the turn got to read the question for the winner (highest number of card). They reviewed a good chunk of CC that morning over breakfast this way . . . and the only effort it required on my part was pulling out our CC memory cards. Winner!
I recommended this WWI book in my last post before we’d really had a chance to use it. Now that we’ve had it and used it on our Kindle, I’m going to give this book a second shout out. I’m also going to recommend the WWII book. I think this book would work well in hard copy, as well, but we REALLY enjoyed it on our Kindle. It’s nice that we can walk through just a “path” or two and then put the book down and come back to it later. I’ve found it particularly amusing to hear my children advocate for choosing paths of totally different risk-levels (My son: “Skip the additional training, go straight to the front!!” vs My daughter: “Let’s stay in the U.S. and see if/when they decide to join the war.”). I will warn you that, as would often happen in war, a great deal of the paths don’t end well – you die, your lungs are damaged for the rest of your life, etc., but they aren’t gruesome.
The first time we chose a path that resulted in our character dying, my children stopped and looked at me. They don’t often (ever!) read books that don’t have happy endings, so this was a new experience. Not a bad one, though. Wars are NOT warm and fuzzy experiences, and while my natural tendency is to focus on heart-warming or heroic stories like these:
Nicholas Winton (who was responsible for the Czech Kindertransport of WWII that saved 669 children from concentration camps),
or the Little Ships of Dunkirk where 700 privately owned boats (we’re talking fishing boats, ferries, and yachts) sailed across the English channel and assisted in rescuing 338,000 French and English troops who had been cut off from the rest of the forces and trapped on the beaches at Dunkirk
. . . those stories aren’t representative of the whole experience. These interactive books have done a good job of helping me to really explain to my children how horrible war can be without it being a traumatizing experience.
If you enjoy the Horrible Histories videos, here’s a link to a playlist of WWII related videos. While we did find these interesting, I didn’t find them to be as educational as they have been on other subjects.
I find these Crash Course History videos very interesting and educational. I almost always learn something I didn’t know or hear a perspective that I haven’t thought of. For the WWII video, I’m going to say that it’s generally not appropriate for elementary-aged kiddos. Preview it and make your own call. There’s just too much about WWII that is gruesome (and captured in photo and film) for young kids, plus there’s some language and imagery here that I would prefer my kiddos not to see (and there’s so much information covered so quickly, I think they’d struggle with digesting it, anyway). For adults, and high-school students, this is just what it says – a crash course in WWII . . .
There is, of course, also a crash course in WWI. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether you think it’s appropriate for younger kiddos. It’s less gruesome, but still may not be something your younger children will be able to follow (or that you want them to watch).
Here’s a way to illustrate all three of Newton’s laws of motion using matchbox cars:
This awesome CC mom uses a different tune than we use in our community, but I love how she integrates hand motions into her geography songs. The hand motions often help me remember which countries are where!
Week 16 Balkans:
Week 15 Middle East:
I wasn’t able to find many resources for Gainsborough (week 15), but of course the resources for Monet are nearly unending! Here are my absolute favorites!
I keep recommending the books and videos in this “Getting to Know . . . ” series by Mike Venezia because I think they are so good! Again, the video is just cost prohibitive to purchase (check your library!), but the book is reasonable, and Monet is an artist that you and your children will enjoy revisiting year-after-year.
This is both an excellent book and video. It’s sweet with lots of great information about Monet, as told by a little girl who visits his art and his historic home.
These two books were new to us, this year. They’re great for pre-school and early elementary students. They contain easily understood information about Monet on well-illustrated pages. There are more in-depth biographies at the end of both books (but if you’re family is like ours, you children start to lose interest at that point). The first book, “Monet Paints a Day” has boxes on each page that are separate from the story-line but contain great information about the artist. I liked having the option to add in more elaborate information as I read.
This book was also a new discovery this year. It is EXCELLENT! Lots of good information about Monet and the Impressionist movement are woven through the story, and I loved that this book focused on paintings that we aren’t as familiar with.
This is an interesting video about Monet, that focuses on his garden at Giverny.
One last note for those of you that live in the Middle Tennessee area. The Frist Center for the Arts in Nashville (free for children under 18, $10 for adults + parking) will be hosting an exhibit entitled “Looking East” through May 11, 2014. The pieces are on loan from the Museum of Fine Art in Boston. The purpose of the exhibit is to illustrate how Japanese art influenced other artists across the globe . . . after the U.S. restored trade with Japan (see Timeline Week #18). During Japan’s Isolation (see Timeline Week #15), Western artists weren’t able to see what was going on there, so after Japan re-opened its borders to the world (thanks to the work of U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry, see CC History Sentence from Cycle 1, Week 10), there was a shift in modern art around 1872. How cool to see our Timeline and Fine Art illustrated for us in one place! Japanese art will be on display beside paintings and prints of Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Edvard Munch and the furniture of Frank Lloyd Wright. Two of those artists – Claude Monet and Edgar Degas are covered in our current (Cycle 2) fine arts! It’s rare to get to see our history grammar and art illustrated this way, so take advantage of it, if you can!
I don’t know if any of you have picked up on this yet . . . but we like games around here. We like them so much that I think I’ve mentioned games about a million times on the blog already. I’ve mentioned them here and here and here, and that doesn’t even count the homeschool-related posts I’ve mentioned them in. So . . . yep. There’s no doubt about it. We definitely like games.
I’m always looking for great games to add to our collection, and it’s not unusual for a game or two to show up around here on any of the occasions that call for gift-giving. My kids really don’t mind at all if a game is educational, as long as it’s fun. Consequently, we own a LOT of educational games. Especially math games. I separated the games earlier this year so that the ones that are more for pure fun are down with the toys and the ones that are more educational are with our school stuff. It hasn’t made a bit of difference. The kids just pull out what they’re in the mood for. The educational ones come out every bit as often as the others.
Since we’re talking about math games here, I’ll remind you just for reference that my children are currently 7 and 5.
Here are some of our absolute favorite math-related games:
Math Game #1:
Dino Math Tracks. We’ve owned this game for at least two years. It teaches place value up to the 1000s. My children LOVE this game. The game can be played multiple ways depending on the age and ability of the child.
Math Game #2:
Sum Swamp. This game gets played around here ALL.THE.TIME. At least once a week I come in and discover that my children are playing this one. Usually at the dining room table. And, usually someone is SITTING on the dining room table. We’re raising great game players around here, but respect for furniture and a general knowledge of manners is really lacking. I try not to fuss too much, since they are voluntarily electing to do math. This game is a great introduction (or reinforcement) of the basics of addition and subtraction. It has simple rules and play is generally pretty quick. A single round usually lasts under 20 minutes. My children often play more than one before moving on.
Math Game #3
Money Bags. This is a great game for learning about the value of coins and how to combine them. You earn money by landing on the labeled spaces and spin to see what kind of coins you’re allowed to receive from the bank. Then, you have to figure out how to combine the permitted coins in order to collect your wages. We’ve owned this game for a while, but this year we finally hit the right age for playing it, and it’s become very popular around here. They’ve gotten much better at calculating with coins!
Math Game #4
4-Way Count Down. This is a great game! It’s easily transported and easily stored. It can be used for kids of a HUGE variety of ages and skill-sets. We typically play a simple addition version with my son, but you can play with addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division (or any combination). This is a handy game to carry with you when you want to keep a child entertained. It’s about the size of a large book. The only loose pieces are the dice, and they get rolled within the game box, so there’s very little that can get lost. Our only suggestion for improving the game would be to put a piece of felt down in the center of the box to make rolling the dice quieter. Other than that, this is nearly the PERFECT game!
Math Game #5
Math Dice. Another simple and well designed game for reinforcing mental math. To play, you roll the odd sided white die to reveal a number. Then, roll the five regular (colored) dice to give you a set of numbers. You must use one or more of the numbers shown on the colored dice to make the first number. You move one space for every colored dice you use to arrive at the correct answer, so you gain points for making your solution more complicated. This is another game that can be played with a younger child using just addition (this is how we typically play with my son) or with an older child using all four operations and reinforcing addition, subtraction, multiplication and division in the process. The game comes with a storage bag and is small enough to stick in your purse and carry with you for playing on the run. However, rolling the dice is part of the game and you do have to keep an eye on the trajectory of the dice (I have some crazy dice rollers, so I speak from experience!) in order to keep from losing any when you’re out and about!
I know you’re thinking that I can’t possibly come up with any more games to recommend, but I can! We seriously LOVE games! And while we’ve had our fair share of duds around here, I won’t share those with you. For now, this post is PLENTY long, so I’ll save some of my non-math related games for another time!
In the meantime, if you’ve got great math game recommendations, I am anxious to hear them! Please add them in the comments so I can go and check them out!
And, if you’re interested in some of the things that have been successes around here that AREN’T games . . . you can always check out this page!
We got to go to our local children’s science center this week. To be honest, I wasn’t actually thinking in advance about how well their “Space” section fit in with what we were covering in CC, but it sure worked out perfectly! It was very cool to see the relative size of the planets on a larger scale and see lots of facts about them, the sun and the stars. It was just an excellent tie-in to the science grammar we’re covering in CC . . . reinforcing and adding to those memory pegs!
Our cup overrunneth with ways to expand on this week’s Science Grammar! I’ll keep my suggestions to a minimum since there really is SO much stuff out there on the planets.
We were lucky enough a year or so ago to stumble upon a solar system mobile kit at a thrift store for about $3. It’s a lot like the one below (and yet, old enough that it included Pluto as a planet). My husband and son had SO much fun painting it and putting it together. It hung in his room until it got knocked down, but it’s still on display hanging down in the kids’ basement “play area” (or the dungeon, as I sometimes like to refer to it). The glow-in-the-dark paint in our thrift store kit had pretty much dried up. It was the only thing in the kit not in brand new condition. But the “glow” is a MUST with one of these, so whether you buy one, or just create one yourself (I doubt that it would be that hard to do . . . I just am much more likely to put it together from a kit!), be sure and get one with glow-in-the-dark paint, or plan to pick up a bottle separately!
About that same time, we checked this book out from the library and my son LOVED it. We renewed it as many times as we were allowed (meaning we had it for over 2 months!) and have checked it out once or twice since then.
This video is a good overview of the Solar System, probably best for younger children (8 and under):
I realized that there are a lot of Solar System puzzles out there, and I was thinking we would add one to our collection around here. The one below looks like exactly what I’d like – planet names, relative size, and in the proper
order, but I don’t love this price. If you happen to see one that’s a better price, let me know!
This week, I created a Skip Counting Maze for the 15s. You can download it by clicking on the image to the right.
Also, posting the skip counting numbers on the stairs was a GREAT success and I’ve been trying to figure out somewhere else that I can post the 15’s this week, just to shake things up a bit. We’ll go back to the stairs for either the Squares or the Cubes in a future week, but for this week I’m actually going to tape down the 15s in my kitchen in a hopscotch pattern. My kids LOVE hopscotch. I’ve tried using hopscotch in my CC class in the past, but it usually either 1) takes to long to let everyone have a turn or 2) the kids get a little too crazy with it. I think here at home we might be able to control it a little better (and if we don’t, it won’t make our “class” run too long!).
There is a wonderful video that shows Versailles at the following link. There’s also a good biography to read. If you let the video play on through, there are actually 6 videos about Louis XIV (each separated from the next by and ad). Or, you can click the link on the right under the video that says “watch more videos” and pick and choose which of the 6 you’d like to watch. WARNING: The second video, “Louis XIV-Marriage” contains some discussion that may not be appropriate for children. You’ll definitely want to preview it first.
There are also good videos at that same website about Peter the Great and Henry VIII, but since the Age of Absolute Monarchs is largely known for how the monarchs abused their power, were promiscuous and used violence as a means to an end, you will definitely want to preview these first! If you have young children, they probably work better as a 2 minute history refresher for you as a parent, rather than as something you’ll want to watch with them. Your call. I’m thinking in my house we’ll wait until we get to the Challenge level to get into some of these details.
It’s HARD to find books and videos to expand on this particular history sentence for younger kids! Here are a couple that doactually look good for Elementary age kiddos:
Tin Whistle (Music Theory)
Last week, I gave you a few Apps for reviewing the notes. This week, I’d like to give you a cute online game for doing that. I think I got better at note recognition by playing this one!
Also, I LOVED the idea of the relay game from this pinon my Tin Whistle Pinterest Board so much, that I made up my own (you can download it by clicking the image on the right). We haven’t played it in class yet, but hopefully we will sometime this next week, and in the meantime, we’ll be playing it at home. It’s a wonderful reinforcement of both the Tin Whistle section of CC and of what my children have been learning in their piano class, as well. Actually, that reminds me of a game my children’s piano teacher has been playing with them that dovetails with Tin Whistle beautifully: “Beethoven, May I?” She has the children line up on one side of the room. Either she plays Beethoven and one of them does. Beethoven stands across the room from the players. Each player mush ask Beethoven if they may move a quarter note (1 step), a half note (2 steps), a whole note (4 steps), an eighth note (1/2 a step), or some combination of those. The goal is to be the first to reach Beethoven. We’ve played this at home in our kitchen where we have square tiles and it works wonderfully! Each square is a quarter note, so we all know exactly how far to step. My children have LOVED it! The especially love when I play as a contestant and one of them gets to be Beethoven and rig the game so that only the kids win. It gives me a chance to try and beat them with more complicated combinations of notes, which just gives them more opportunities to think about the note value (and what an excellent math lesson, too!). Kudos to their piano teacher for a great game. I highly recommend it!
And now, I’ll leave you with one last picture from our trip to the science center. I have absolutely NO idea what these poses have to do with the arch they built, but I am pretty sure it will end up someday in an internet photo collection that causes people to laugh and wonder what kind of family these poor children were from.
Some of my favorite memories of my childhood involve being a loser.
Dad, a year or two ago over a cut throat game of Trivial Pursuit
My dad was absolutely fantastic about playing checkers with me, starting sometime around when I was 8. After we’d gotten pretty good at playing a basic game of checkers, he had a desire to learn how to play chess, so we basically learned together. And, here’s the important part – he never, ever LET me win. In fact, on the VERY rare occasions when I did, in fact, beat him, he would grin and look at me and say, “You gotta let the little kids win sometimes.” And I would grin and laugh with him, because we both knew it was a joke and that I’d won fair and square.
Now, of course, I’m all grown up and married with two kids of my own. My husband enjoys games of ALL sorts, and so do both of our children. My son, in particular, would play a game all day, every day, if he were permitted to. Over the years, we have often heard the sweet voice of a three or four year old asking, “Will you please play a board game with me?” Let me tell you, that is hard to turn down. Of course, all too often, we do, because we’re busy, but we try to make a point (and my husband is SO much better at this than I am) to play games with both of our children fairly often.
I know that there are all sorts of studies out there about game playing and why it’s valuable, but I’m just going to tell you the things I’ve observed for myself. No highly pedigreed sources here.
A momentous occasion: Playing their first board game with no adult help.
Playing games teaches good sportsmanship.
I’ve told you that my son absolutely LOVES to play games. Mostly, he really, really likes to win. I don’t blame him. I can be pretty competitive myself. So can my husband. Pre-kids, we’d play games against each other and do our fair share of good-natured trash-talking. So, our son comes by the desire to win honestly, and we really can’t hold that against him. There was a period of time when he would BEG to play a game, and then have a meltdown at the end when he wasn’t the winner. (See first paragraph. I’m a big fan of winning fair and square. Plus, even if you’re inclined to let a kid win, it gets complicated when there are two involved in the game.)
We’ve been pretty clear with him over the years that if he can’t be a good sport when he wins AND when he loses, we don’t enjoy playing with him. And, if we don’t enjoy playing with him, we won’t be doing it for awhile. He has come a long way. That’s not to say that he’s not still VERY competitive. And it’s not to say that we don’t have to sometimes remind him that good sportsmanship is required. But, these days he’s generally able to lose with grace and realize that there’ll always be another opportunity to “skunk” one of us again.
Playing games teaches math skills.
I’ve still got fairly little guys, and over the years, they have learned so much math simply from playing games. Early on, it was just rolling the dice and counting steps, and that was great and a real challenge for a three year-old. As they’ve gotten older, some of the games have involved more complicated math, or math to help you choose the better of two possible pathways. Games can also teach patterning, matching, and money recognition.
Playing games teaches logic and strategy.
Just tonight, I was listening as my husband played against both of our kiddos in one of their favorite games, Guess Who? (in my next post, I’ll tell you about some of our favorite family-friendly games over the years). I listened as he explained to them why he’d asked a question the way he had and how it helped him to get better results than some of the questions they’d been asking. I think I actually heard the light bulbs click on in their heads as they discussed with each other what to do next. And of course, there’s logic and strategy in so many different games, especially the tried-and-true favorites checkers and chess, the only slightly more exotic Tic-Tac-Toe and Connect Four , and even in a simple game of “Go Fish.”
Playing games creates great memories and strengthens family bonds.
I’ve already told you that some of my favorite memories from my childhood are of playing my dad in checkers and chess, but on into my teenage and adult years, our extended family would get together for holidays and play lots of games. I can look back and remember so many times that we laughed until we cried, and I share with those family members the memories of funny phrases or things that happened during those games. Those are wonderful bonding moments, and I want my children to get to have them to!
Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. I mostly do it because it seems to be the cool thing to do these days. If you happen to actually use one of them, it would really be a hoot.