Tag Archives: Science

Classical Conversations Cycle 3 Week 21 Events

Classical Conversations Cycle 3 Week 21
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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.

Classical Conversations Cycle 3 Week 21I 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.





Classical Conversations Week 20 Combinations

Yay! Some thoughts on teaching about CC Cycle 3 Week 20 Combinations
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.

Welcome back to week 2 of CC’s statistics-based labs! Here are my thoughts about presenting these topics in class (for what it’s worth!) . . .

Remember to spend a minute or two reviewing last week’s lab and last week’s grammar (probability, outcome). Revisiting those terms and definitions will just help them stick in the kids’ minds. Plus, this week we’re setting aside those topics and picking up a new one, but we’ll be coming back to probability and outcome in future weeks, so it’s to everyone’s benefit to work on getting really comfortable with those terms.

Like last week, let’s begin with the end in mind. What’s the point of this particular lab? In my opinion, for our Classical Conversations Foundations students, it’s twofold:

  1. Grammar: To teach some basic statistics grammar (Combination) and to see that term in action.
  2. Dialectic: To begin teaching children to think about how adding “just one more” option exponentially changes the number of combinations that are possible. In other words, adding ONE additional option does NOT result in just ONE more possible combination. How many more combinations are possible? Well, it would depend on how that new option could be used.

Yay! Some thoughts on teaching about CC Cycle 3 Week 20 CombinationsIn my mind, we’ve got to set a couple of ground rules in this particular lab – We’ll assume that every pizza has to have a crust, sauce (they’ll all have it, so we won’t make it an option), and at least one topping (no plain pizzas here!).

So, if you’re teaching a group of YOUNGER STUDENTS, you’ll want to focus on the grammar and you may need to keep the options more limited. Work up slowly! One crust option and two possible pizza toppings results in how may combinations? Three. Show them how this works, either by drawing it on the board or by using some sort of manipulative – paper, paper plates, or felt. Personally, I like felt and it’s pretty cheap. It’s fun for kids to see and handle something different, and since a parent could easily create something similar at home, I believe this is in keeping with CC’s simple approach.

Once you’ve shown them how it works with two toppings, let them try three. Ask them to think first about how many combinations that would result in. Will one more topping mean only one more possible combination? No. It will mean four additional possible combinations! Wow!

Like last week, I’d suggest that children do this lab in pairs with a parent assigned to each pair to be the record-keeper (if necessary) and auditor (someone to keep up with “have we already recorded that combination?”).

If you’re teaching a group of OLDER STUDENTS, you’ll move through the warm-up quickly, and then you can let them have a turn at one crust and three toppings on their own or in teams of two. Even students of this age will enjoy working in teams usually, and it gives them someone to bounce ideas off of. If they’re still at an age where having a visual will help (or you just want to liven up the lab), you can print out these pizza toppings to match the toppings on my Lab Sheets on CC Connected. You can cut out circles from two different colors of brown construction paper. I bought a pack like this and cut out circles the size of a mason jar lid, but you could just as easily use paper plates. Write “Thick” and “Thin” on them. It doesn’t have to be complicated.

Once they’ve worked through that set of options, they’ll be ready to move to the next step – adding another pizza crust option! What happens then? At this point, they’ll probably be able to guess that it means a lot more than just one more possible combination. But will any of them guess that it actually DOUBLES the possible combinations? (That’s 14 in total) Wow!

And if that is something they can work through, then try adding “just one more” option and going for 4 toppings. What do you end up with? 22 possible combinations, by my calculation! Amazing!

What should you emphasize? For every additional option we add, the combinations grow much larger than “just one more” and that would continue to happen as long as we added more possible options.

For ADULTS/PARENTS– I gave an overview in my post last week of why we do these labs in general. But, why did we do THIS lab? What was the point?

This lab, like all of the others during this 6 weeks is related to the science of origins. One way the math of combinations relates to the science of origins is through DNA. I’m not a scientist nor am I a mathematician, but a scientist would tell you that your DNA contains 23 chromosomes. Scientists are still investigating how many genes make up those chromosomes, but the current ballpark number is 20,000. Based on what I’ve read, the possible combinations of children resulting from a single couple’s DNA is 70,368,744,177,664. This is fascinating and goes a long way toward explaining how all human beings (black-skinned, white-skinned, blue-eyed, brown-eyed, etc.) could have descended from a single original couple created by an amazing (and very creative!) God.

Again, just as I said last week, gathering data, analyzing data and drawing conclusions are very much a part of many explanations of the origins of the universe. Eventually, our children will need to be able to draw their own conclusions from data that is presented to them. These labs are a great introduction to early critical thinking skills.

Classical Conversations Cycle 3 Week 19: Probability

Classical Conversations Cycle 3 Week 19 Probability
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.

First, if you’ve got a better handle on these labs than me, stop reading now and move on.

I’m not claiming to be an expert on the subject.

But, if you don’t, or you’re just looking for someone else’s perspective, here are my 2¢.

Let’s begin with the end in mind. What’s the point of this particular lab? In my opinion, for our Classical Conversations Foundations students, it’s twofold:

  1. Helpful approach to tutoring CC Cycle 3 Week 19's Science lab!Grammar: To teach some basic statistics grammar (Probability, Outcome) and to see those terms applied.
  2. Dialectic: To begin teaching children to think about the “probability” that something (anything) could occur.

So, if you’re teaching a group of YOUNGER STUDENTS, you’ll want to focus on the grammar and getting children to use it and understand it. Set your objectives (and your bar for feeling successful) accordingly. Focus on the terms. Use them clearly during your lesson. Move through the “warm-up” slowly. Help them to really think about what you’re asking. You can use the term “probability” and “chances” (or other synonyms – likelihood, expectation, etc.) interchangeably, while you’re talking. Just be keep coming back to the term “probability” so they begin to understand what that term means. In addition, for some young students, this will be the first time that they hear the term “tally marks” and see them used. For them, that’s good stuff! Take the time to explain them and show them quickly how they work. I also suggest for younger children that they do this lab in pairs of two with a parent assigned to each pair to help with counting and making tally marks.

If you’re teaching a group of OLDER STUDENTS, you can probably move through the warm up more quickly as they catch on to what you’re asking and how it relates to the chips in your hand. You might need to quickly review tally marks before allowing them to start performing and recording their results. These students can work individually or in teams. Once they’ve completed the lab, you can add up the results of the class to see how they might have differed from individual results. Explain to them that while their individual results might have varied, that 20 is really not very many draws. Over time, with even more draws, the results of the experiment would be 1/2. Then, use the lab to begin to expand their ability to use logic. What would they need to start with in order to GUARANTEE they could get the results they wanted to? They’d have to start with chips that were all the same color. Even if there was only one chip of a different color in the mix, at some point, with enough draws, you’d pull that color out. So, the only way to be sure you can get the results you want, if you only want to draw a white chip, for example, is to start with all white chips. This seems totally logical to many of us as adults, but we take for granted that children have the same ability to be logical that we do. Their minds are all at different points in beginning to make those leaps, so this is a great exercise for them, and you will likely discover that you have some children who understand it immediately and others who are slower to grasp it (or are silent as they work through it in their heads).

For ADULTS/PARENTS– Why do we care? Why are we doing these labs? What is the point of this with children this age?

The science of origins is the effort of scientists to explain how the universe began.  The science grammar that we’ll learn in these 6 weeks is the basic definition of different ways used to explain how life began and developed. As always, YOU are the teacher. You decide how (or if) you want to elaborate on this at home. Tutors will drill the sentences/definitions. You decide what you want to teach your child. The science labs involve an introduction to basic statistics (probability, odds, combinations, etc.). Probability relates to the science of Origins because data is collected and analyzed and different and opposing conclusions are often drawn from the same data! Learning how to collect, record and analyze data is a skill that all scientists use. Gathering data, analyzing data and drawing conclusions are very much a part of many explanations of the origins of the universe. Eventually, our children will need to be able to draw their own conclusions from data that is presented to them. These labs are a great introduction to early critical thinking skills.


Photo credit: Flickr

Classical Conversations Statistics Labs from Cycle 3

Elementary Statistics Labs

We are entering Weeks 19-24 of Classical Conversations Cycle 3. ThAwesome ideas for teaching kids about statistics!is is the second time I’ve been through this cycle, and I have a better appreciation for the Statistics Labs. For the youngest, the abecedarians, this will probably be their first exposure to tally marks and making charts. I realized, having experienced with my own daughter, how much easier this made some of our math lessons a year after we were actually done with this cycle. Many of the concepts taught in these labs are challenging to our Foundations-age students (and their mothers!), but if we’ll slow down, try not to get intimidated, and take the time to try and understand them, these labs are great exposure to the grammar of basic statistics.

This time around, I’m more determined than I was last time to make them meaningful for my students at CC and for my kiddos at home. I thought I’d share with you some of the resources that I’ve found for expanding on the labs that we’ll be doing during our CC Community days.

For those of you on CC Connected who might find them helpful, I’ll be uploading the lab sheets that I’ve created for these weeks in the next few days.


Younger Students

Wonderful book for teaching young children about probability!I’ve found some awesome books for making statistics concepts approachable for even the youngest of our students! My favorite is “probably” It’s Probably Penny. The first few pages do an EXCELLENT job of teaching the concepts of the Week 23 lab in a way that works well for elementary age students.

These three books are also fun books for elaborating on the concepts of probability (although I will warn you that the last of these, A Very Improbable Story uses the terms probability and odds interchangeably, as do many of us, while mathematically that is incorrect. I had to work pretty hard to get these two term and their use straight in my head in preparation for these labs, so I did stumble on that in this otherwise entertaining and educational book):

Great elementary age book about probability!  Entertaining book about probability for elementary-aged kids!  An entertaining way to learn about odds and probability for children

This video covers Mean, Median, and Mode. Honestly, I found it a little annoying, but the aspects that annoyed me may very well be what help it stick in a child’s head.

If you prefer something musical (and who doesn’t?), there are multiple versions of this little diddy out there, but this is one of the more creative recordings. It teaches the concept of “Range,” which isn’t covered in our CC labs, but it’s still a very handy way of remembering the basic definitions of these terms. Here’s the poem:

Hey Diddle Diddle,

the Median’s the middle.

You add, then divide for the Mean.

The Mode is the one

that you see the most,

and the Range is the difference between.


Older Students

If your kids would like a fun rap song to help them with understanding Mean, Median and Mode, this one absolutely fits that bill!

If your child is ready to expand on their knowledge of statistics (or you are), but still wants it to be fun, both of these books contain some great information about statistics, but present it in fun ways. I’ll bet a few of you out there have a child who will read anything as long as it involves a comic-book/graphic-novel approach (I do!). Start with the first one – The Cartoon Introduction to Statistics, and if that isn’t meaty enough, or your child is ready for even more, try The Cartoon Guide to Statistics (which is like a college course, but with cartoons).

A fun book for older elementary kids to learn about statistics!  Cartoons make learning about statistics fun!

The following video (see link below) is a little too complex for all but the oldest (or most mathematically-oriented) of our Foundations-level students, but it is basically a class on probability done in a very conversational and approachable way. The kids in the video are pretty adept at mental math, which might even inspire a few students to embrace math with more gusto.


There are also some good courses available at Khan Academy for learning about probability and statistics.


I know this isn’t the end of the good resources for these subjects out there, so please share in the comments if you have other suggestions! I’d love to hear them!

Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Egg Protector and Drop

Classical Conversations Science Egg Protector Egg Drop

Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Egg Protector Egg Drop Science

This may be the shortest post in the history of blogging, but since I know we’re all in the middle of wrapping up our last few weeks of CC . . . and I couldn’t find anything out on CC Connected that addressed this . . . I put together a little summary sheet of the science principles (Physics) behind an Egg Protector and the Egg Drop experiment. I’ll put together a nicer and more polished post later when I have more time, but for now, I just wanted to make this available quickly to anyone who might find it helpful. You can download the document that I put together by clicking here or on the image to the right. I’ve tried to tie in as much of our science grammar as possible.

This post is linked to:

Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood Solagratiamom™

Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Week 20

Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Week 20

Time is flying! It’s week 20 and we’ll be wrapping up this year of CC Foundations before we know it!


Here’s a fun little video with information about the second law of thermodynamics:

Science Project

I found a number of videos this week that complement our bridge-building project nicely. These two from MIT are my favorites:

Part 1-

Part 2 –

Here are two others that are also good:

There are also several books that work well with this subject:

Great Books for using with the bridge science project (CC Cycle 2 Weeks 20-21)

Book for younger children (4-7) for learning about bridges (CC Cycle 2, Weeks 20-21)Cross a Bridge has simple, colorful illustrations of different types of bridges and contains a little history and fun facts about famous existing bridges, too. It is excellent for preschool and very early elementary (in CC speak, Abecedarians).

Great book about bridges! Information about structure and history. Great for elementary aged kids. CC Cycle 2 Weeks 20-21.The Bridge Book is great for all elementary-aged children. It contains information about the history of bridges as well as about their basic structure. My five year old really enjoyed it! It’s only available used at Amazon (I’ve had GREAT luck picking up used books at Amazon for a few cents plus $3.99 shipping. We don’t mind used books around here in the least.), and our library had a copy of it. It was a great combination of informative and entertaining.

Book to go along with weeks 20-21 Science Project (CC Cycle 2 Weeks 20-21)

Bridges! is more elaborate and intended for ages 7-14. It contains history, facts about different types of bridges, and projects designed to help you test out different bridge types yourself. it’s a cute book and most of the projects don’t involve terribly complicated resources (poster board, paper clips, glue, etc.). I know it can be hard to fit in more during the week, but I’ve got my eye on a few extra projects for us to try now or during week 21.

Neat book for learning about bridges (CC Cycle 2 Week 20-21 Science Project)

Bridges and Tunnels is packed with even more history, informative facts, and activities. It’s intended for ages 9-12. There are some really neat projects in this one, but it’s definitely a little more information than my 5 and 7 year old will want to sit down and digest for pleasure. The illustrations and page layouts are very approachable for the age it’s aimed at, though, so if you have an older elementary child or a middle-schooler, this book would be awesome!

Neat game that dovetails with this week's Science Project (CC Cycle 2 Weeks 20-21)

And, finally, here’s a little bridge building app that’s free and available on for Android and iPhone/iPad. We downloaded this some time ago and my son enjoyed it, but moved on and I deleted it. I downloaded it again and he’s been begging to play it all day. He was thrilled when I gave him a few minutes to play on it earlier and he built a bridge (a suspension bridge) that was strong enough to allow trucks to use it. This app gets kids familiar with some of the decision making that goes into building a bridge, even if it can’t be directly applied to the straw or popsicle bridge they’ll be building at CC.

Fine Arts – Orchestra

A FANTASTIC book for teaching kids about Beethoven! CC Cycle 2 Week 20Okay, okay, I know that I already recommended this book in my post specifically about the Orchestra, but it’s just TOO GOOD to not mention it one more time. It ties Beethoven into ALL SORTS of timeline and history sentence items. It has great facts about Beethovens 5th Symphony (the one we’re listening to in Week 20). I really just can’t recommend it enough. A mom asked me at lunch last week (when I was RAVING about this book and the whole series) if her 6th grader would enjoy it as much as my 1st and 2nd graders do and I emphatically said “YES!” For a middle school student it would just be a much easier and faster read, but they’d still enjoy the humor and absorb all the great meat that the book contains. I mean, I LOVE these books myself and I’m . . . well, let’s not discuss my age. Let’s just leave it at – THESE BOOKS ARE AWESOME!

There is a video (slightly under an hour) called “Beethoven Lives Upstairs” that is supposed to be an accurate and entertaining account of Beethoven’s life. I haven’t yet watched it, but Common Sense Media recommends it for ages 6 and up.  Our library has a copy of it in circulation, or you can purchase and stream it at Amazon (and Amazon has the DVD version, as well).

Kid-friendly biography of Beethoven! CC Cycle 2 Week 20

There’s also a short animated biography about Beethoven (by Muffin Stories), aimed at younger children, available here-

A friend and fellow CC tutor pointed me in the direction of these two videos. The first is a satire of Beethoven’s 5th symphony. As an adult, it’s hysterical! Some of it will go over younger children’s heads, but it’s still QUITE funny!


If you’re tutoring and need some more ideas about how to handle teaching the Orchestra to your class, you can check out this post at Solagratiamom.com. It’s from last year, but the same basic principles apply.

On an ALMOST totally unrelated note, I pass along the following to all those of you whose children are obsessed with the soundtrack from the Frozen movie. These guys have mixed the “Let it Go” music with Vivaldi’s “Winter” Violin Concerto (part of “The Four Seasons” work that he is most renowned for). If you want to expose your children to classical music mixed with something they already love, this may be the perfect mix. There are no vocals, but my guess is that your children can provide those, should they care to, on their own.


Yeeesh. Trying to to find books or videos about the Vietnam war that are appropriate for early elementary age students was just impossible. For me, at least. Did anyone out there find any good resources?

There is some information in the Crash Course History video on the Cold War that I posted last week. It transitions directly from the Korean War to the Vietnam War . . . but it’s not really geared toward our Foundations-aged kiddos.

I saw this blog post about drawing pictures to review and thought, “Why have I never thought of that?????” Simple, straightforward, and great for visual learners (I definitely have one of those!). Love these brilliant CC moms out there!


Review Games

Review Games for CC

This week, we reviewed CC at lunch one day using our Cranium Zooreka game. Like most of our efforts at review, it was pretty simple – take a turn, answer a CC question. My kiddos have realized they can usually talk me into a game in the middle of the school day as long as they propose we do CC review in some form along with it. This game took us while to play this time (we actually walked away and came back to it later in the day). We got in a LOT of review!

A few weeks ago, I ordered an Eggspert game to use at home and for review in the classroom. We’ve only used it once in class and a couple of times at home, but my kiddos have really enjoyed it! The only downside for the classroom is that there are only 6 controllers, so you do have to play in teams, or nominate a child or two to be the “Quiz Show Hosts” if you have a class of more than 6 children. But, it’s fun, and since there’s a timer, you can move through questions pretty quickly. Again, we got a LOT of review in while using it and the kids had a great time!

This post is linked to:

Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood Solagratiamom™

Classical Conversations Week 10

Classical Conversations Week 10

This week our “Science Project” was Facility Clean-up! I loved the opportunity to do a little something for our hosting church. They are wonderful and we SO appreciate their willingness to host our Classical Conversations (CC) group each week. Just to keep it real here, when I asked my son after the day was over what his favorite and least favorite parts of his CC day had been, “cleaning up his classroom” fell into the “least favorite” category. We need to do some work on the idea of serving others joyfully, obviously. All the children in my class were wonderfully helpful, though, and more than willing to pitch in and get some things done. Maybe they still went home and told their mothers it was their least favorite part of the day, too . . . or maybe it was just my ornery rascal. Sometimes he likes to say things just to see what my reaction is going to be. Anyone else got one of those?

Skip Counting SquaresMath

My kiddos enjoyed last week’s Skip Counting Maze, so I went ahead and created one for this week as well. You can download it by clicking on the image to the right.

Math Squares unifix cubesMy favorite way to introduce the squares in class (and I’ll probably go over this again at home, where we have more time) is visually. I realize that the objective of our class time during CC is not to teach (this is SUCH a difficult thing to retrain your brain about), but to introduce the material and drill it. However, when it comes to the squares, I just think it helps children to see it, even if the younger ones don’t really understand exactly what  they’re seeing.  So, I like the worksheets that show the grid and how the square that has 2 sides that are each 1 space is one square in total, the square that has 2 sides that are each 2 spaces each is made up of 4 squares in total, etc. (there’s one example of this out on CC Connected called “wk 10- squares cut-n-paste.pdf“). Or, another thing that I like to do is use unifix cubes to illustrate how they work. In a CC class, you only have time to really illustrate about the the first 5 like this, but I do think that it helps introduce the mathematical concept to the children in a way that also holds their attention while you teach them the skip counting song. You can also take the unifix cubes back in when we’re learning the “Area of a Square” on Week 17 to reinforce the idea and link the two pieces of grammar together.

While doing a little research to see if there were any newer or better ways under the sun to teach this concept (none that I could find), I did find this interesting webpage showing the pattern in the “ones” place of squares, which is something I’d never realized before (but you all probably have known this for years!).  I love it when trying to teach my children teaches me something new, too. One of the great things about homeschooling.



CC3 Image


If you’re looking for a good way to review the History sentences thus far this year, and you have access to CC Connected (C3), I can tell you one thing we’re going to do this week at our house.  Melody Stroud has created cards for each of the history sentences for the first 12 weeks of the year. There are images that accompany them. We’ll be taking all of these cards, cutting them apart and then shuffling them and my children will work on finding the ones that go together and getting the sentences in the right order.  Just in case you are on C3, but have trouble finding things (you’re not alone!), the image to the right shows you how to set your search to pull up just the 12 applicable files.

In my hunt for reading related to this week’s grammar, I just couldn’t find a whole lot.  Here are two that I haven’t read personally, but look potentially good:

This one is a novel, but gets good reviews for historical information, and looks best for a “tween.” You can peruse the reviews yourself by clicking on the image:

These Eyewitness books are usually good for a broad overview.  This particular one is not available at our local library, so I haven’t had a chance to take a look at it to see what kind of information it provides and how well it fits with our history grammar.

Eyewitness Russia

NOW, this book looks GREAT, and I’ve ordered it, because it’s also not available at our library. I’ll come back and give you a review here after we’ve actually received it!

Daily Life in Ancient and Modern Moscow


This is unrelated to this week’s history grammar, but there are two things that we’ve enjoyed very much the week around here that I don’t think I’ve recommended before and thought you might want to check out.

Hooray for Inventors! by Marcia WilliamsThe first is a book called “Hooray for Inventors!” by Marcia Williams.  I like Marcia Williams’ books very much and my daughter ADORES them, since they’re typically written in a comic strip-style, and she is currently obsessed with comic books! I didn’t realize that this particular book would fit well with our CC history grammar, but it has. The book is dedicated to Leonardo Da Vinci (Cycle 2 Week 6), so the first couple of pages show some of his more forward-thinking inventions, the ones that didn’t come to pass until hundreds of years after he drew them – the helicopter, the parachute, the hang glider, etc. In addition to Leonardo Da Vinci, the book also has a section on Gutenberg (Week 13 of Timeline) and Watt’s Steam Engine (Week 13 of History in Cycle 2). And of course, it has information on a lot of other inventors, as well. It’s a great little book!

Poster for Your Friend the RatAnd the second thing is this little short film from Pixar called “Your Friend the Rat.” I pinned this on Pinterest quite some time ago because I saw it elsewhere, but I wasn’t overly confident that it would be worth it. What I’ve since discovered is that it’s about 10 minutes long, terribly entertaining, and really contains a decent amount of information – both historical and scientific. Of course, it’s well done since it’s from Pixar and I was pleasantly surprised by the information. It contained a good (and not overly scary or gory . . . my little boy has a very low tolerance for both, even the animated kind) description of the Plague and the role of rats and fleas. It gives the scientific names (great reinforcement of Cycle 1 Week 1 Science) of the rats it discusses, and even explains that human anatomy and rat anatomy are very similar (hello, Cycle 3 Science). I just wanted to give it a little shout out, since you may have been like me and been skeptical. It’s only $2.99 from Amazon to download, so not a bad deal at all. There’s a description of the overall plot at Wikipedia, if you’d like to read a little more about it.

Science Grammar

Our public library recently started creating Curriculum Kits. They’re designed for teachers in the public school system doing unit studies in their classroom, but anyone can check them out. I just happened to stumble onto a couple while looking for books relating to our CC topics a month or more ago. There aren’t many curriculum kits and there was a waiting list, so I made the request and have been patiently waiting. When I stopped by the library early this week, two of the librarians stopped me to tell me that I had a HUGE box of books and they didn’t know how I was going to get them to my car! It’s such a new thing that the librarians at our branch had never seen one of these kits before either! And they were right – it’s a HUGE box of books and it was HEAVY carrying it to my car. But look at all the great stuff inside of this one:

Science Space Curriculum



Books, books, and more books! All about Space and the Solar System. I’m excited, I’m thrilled, I’m overwhelmed, I’m inundated, and I’m very, very concerned that we’re going to get some of these books mixed up with all the rest of the library books we have around here. The kids have been forbidden to remove a single item without requesting to do so first! Really, though, it has saved me a LOT of time searching for books on topics that tie in with our Science grammar.




Our favorites from this treasure chest so far have been:

Our Sun BookOur Solar System Book

Both books are full of GREAT photos or illustrations and TRUCKLOADS of good information. The “Our Sun” book not only talks about the parts of the sun, but mentions Copernicus (from Cycle 2, Week 6’s history grammar), the tilt of the earth’s axis and how it affects seasons (this was discussed in the Science Experiment in Cycle 1, Week 13) , and the role of the Sun in the Water Cycle (Cycle 2, Week 4). There are no reviews on Amazon (yet! I need to write one!), so I’m not sure I would have gone looking for it if it hadn’t been included in this curriculum kit. It’s a real winner, especially for a CC family, in my opinion. Look for it!

Here are a few more books that look like they’d also dovetail nicely with our CC grammar this week. These weren’t included in our kit, but they’re either by authors or part of a series that I usually think does a great job.

Phases of the Moon The Moon Book  The Moon Seems to ChangeMagic School Bus Takes a Moonwalk

And finally, there were three videos included in our Space Curriculum kit. We haven’t had a chance to watch them, so I can’t say whether or not they’re worth tracking down, but I know it’s nice sometimes to have a different kind of media to use, so I’ll list them here in case you want to check them out for your family:

  • Wonders of the Solar System
  • The Solar System!
  • NASA ISS: A Tour of the International Space Station (I can’t find this DVD anywhere online, but I’m wondering if it’s the same video that’s out on YouTube here. We watched it a year or so ago and it was great! I highly recommend if if you have children interested in space. As an adult, I found it very interesting, as well.)

Sun, Solar System, Space Videos

The NASA website itself has tons of information out there. If you have children for whom space is very interesting, it’s well worth checking out!

See you next week!

This post is linked to:
Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood