Archive for June, 2009

More Than One Right Answer

Does your student know that sometimes there are questions that seem to have no right or wrong answer? Today, let’s study a little geography and find out how that can possibly be.

When we talk about “America” most of us think of the United States. But many people in the rest of the world use the word “America” or the phrase “the Americas” interchangeably and by that phrase they’re referring to the entire western hemisphere; everything found in North America, South America and all of the associated islands and regions. Get out your world map or globe. We’re going to be explorers today- just like Amerigo Vespucci and Christopher Columbus!

Help your student encircle “the Americas” with his finger, tracing the entire north and south American continents.

Now what do we mean by “North America?” Usually, we define this is three nations: The United States, Canada and Mexico. Older students might be interested in learning more about NAFTA- the North American Free Trade Agreement between these three nations.

But if you Google “North America” you will quickly discover that there are many, many definitions of North America ranging from 3 nations, to 49 nations!!! The definition depends on whether or not you separate “Central America” from North America and South America- and it depends on including the many island nations and territories that are also found in the northern half of the western hemisphere such as Cuba, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, etc.

There are two points to today’s activities. First- to become more familiar with the geography which surrounds the United States, exploring the map to discover the many islands and territories which are our north American neighbors. The second is to discover that there are sometimes several “correct answers” to the same question.

For example, if you hold up a cube and ask a student how many sides the cube has you can get many different answers. A top side and a bottom side. Or an inside and an outside. Or a front side, back side, left side and right side. Or six sides. Or eight sides (by including the inside and outside), etc. ALL are correct in some ways- and all are incomplete in other ways.

In human relationships there are sometimes more than one right answer as well. What we perceive as “how it happened” may NOT be how our friend or sibling perceived things unfolded. That’s why it’s always so important to communicate clearly with one another and not jump to conclusions based on our own understanding or interpretation. Talk with your children about some recent misunderstanding where two people had two different understandings of a particular event or set of circumstances. Stress the value of understanding and patience when having such a discussion.

Proverbs 18: Particularly verses 2, 13 and 17


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Just Weight Till They Try This!

Weight or wait? Words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings are called homonyms. Usually they are two word homonyms such as the words wait and weight. Sometimes they can be three way homonyms such as the words two, to and too. Have your children try to think of other homonyms.

Today, let’s learn about both wait and weight. To wait, of course, means to have patience and let some time pass before the next action. You might cook a recipe with your children in which you have to wait to add ingredients, wait while it chills, wait for it to bake and then wait for it to cool off before eating it. Talk with them about the fact that waiting is an inevitable part of life; waiting in line at the bank, at the grocery store, to be seen by the pediatrician, for permission to leave the table, etc. Make a list of all the times you have to wait in your family.

Talk with them about waiting on the Lord- how when we pray and don’t always see instant results. Waiting with faith is another vital lesson for every child to learn. Talk about the difference between waiting impatiently and angrily, versus waiting quietly with expectancy.

Now let’s talk about weight. Weigh each of your children. Consider making a weight chart and keeping track of their weight over the next few months so they can see how much they’re actually growing. Perhaps this is a good time to talk about the relationship between good nutrition, exercise and body weight.

Have fun learning about different measures of weight. We weigh mail in ounces. Use a postal or kitchen scale, if you have one, to weigh varioius light objects. We weigh most things in pounds. Use a bathroom scale to weigh several different items. The British often refer to weight in stones. Has your child ever heard of that? 1 stone = 14 pounds. How much would your child weigh in stones? (weight/14= stones) How about kilograms? Many countries measure in kilos. 1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds. How many kilos does your child weigh? (weight/2.2= Kilos) This might be an appropriate time to introduce the concept of a ton. 1 ton = 2000 lbs. Large items are usually measured in tons. Point out a weight limit sign on a small bridge nearby.

Psalm 4:3

Isaiah 130:5

Proverbs 20:23

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Outfox Bored Students

Today, let’s have some fun with the word fox. Here’s a great site to get your discussion started:

Did you know that a female fox is called a vixen? Did your children know that a baby fox is called a kit?

Foxes have traditionally been thought of as very clever, crafty animals. Talk with your children about what it means when we say someone was outfoxed.

What does it mean when we say someone was “crazy like a fox?” Of what about “sly as a fox?”

Foxes are known for their large, bushy tails. Have you or your children ever seen the plant called foxtail? Take a look at photos of the plant and see if your child can guess why it’s called foxtail.

Do you remember seeing the Disney animated version of Robin Hood as a child- where Robin Hood was a fox and Maid Marian was a vixen? Today might be a fun day to rent this classic animated film and enjoy it with your children.

Let your children make a fun fox puppet following these simple steps. (Use brown or gray construction paper if you have it available):

Song of Solomon 2:15

Matthew 8:20

Luke 13:32

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The Oil of Gladness

Are you a little “rusty” at having fun? Are your children “squeaking” about not wanting to do school today? Sounds like it’s time to oil your homeschool bus! Or to use a fascinating phrase from Psalm 45, perhaps it’s the “oil of gladness” that your homeschool needs. Today, let’s learn more about oil.

See how many kinds of oil you can find in your home this morning. Let’s start in the kitchen: Vegetable oil? Olive oil? Safflower oil? Walnut oil? Peanut oil? Canola oil? Sesame oil? After explaining that not ALL oil is edible, pour a teaspoon of each oil, one by one and let each child touch the tip of one finger to the oil and taste it. Which one tastes best? Which one tastes worst? Is there a consensus on a favorite? Again- remind them that only kitchen oils are edible!

Now let’s pour a few tablespoons of oil into a glass and then add some water from the faucet. Show your children how quickly the oil and water begin to separate. Oil and water do not mix. Let them watch in wonder as the oil floats to the top of the glass. Oil is lighter than water.

Put on your teacher’s “thinking cap” and try to remember where there’s a squeaky hinge in your house: Car door? Front door? Pantry door? Kitchen cabinet? Garage door? Tool shed door? Take some oil (3-in-1, WD-40 or even kitchen oil) and demonstrate how oil lubricates and penetrates and quiets a squeaky hinge.

Take a quick lap around the internet and find a few pictures of oil wells or offshore oil platforms. Today is the perfect day to “build an oil well” with whatever you have available: Wiki stix, Legos, popsicle sticks, Tinker toys, etc.

When you’re through with your construction project, talk with your children about where oil comes from and the many ways in which we use oil from gasoline and motor oil to making plastics and packaging. Here’s an interesting link to explore:

For lunch perhaps you’d like to have a salad with oil & vinegar dressing, or a good old-fashioned peanut butter and jelly sandwich; LOTS of oil in peanut butter! (If you happen to have a jar of “natural” peanut butter around that hasn’t been used for a few days, be sure to show the children how the oil has risen to the top of the jar.) If you decide to have potato chips or Fritos with lunch, be sure to set them out early on a paper plate and then let the children see the small spots where some of the oil has come out of their snack onto the paper plate.

Here is an interesting thought to discuss with your children…   Forgiveness is the oil of relationships. Josh McDowell

What do they think that means? How have they seen forgiveness used within your family to heal a relationship?

Psalm 45:7

2 Kings 4:1-7

James 5:14

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The Wonder of Under

Has your homeschool fun been underwhelming lately? It’s easy to do if you take out the fun. Resolve to put some fun back in learning today no matter what you’re studying or how you’re studying it.

What do we mean by under? Why do we call it underwear? Or underneath? Or under cover? Why do we say someone gets under our skin? For older students- why do is it called driving under the influence? (a great opportunity to talk about how alcohol or other substances CAN “influence” our decisions, behavior and values)

Have you ever read or watched Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea? It might be fun this summer to do so as a family!

Do your students know the pledge of allegiance? I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Talk with them about the concept of being under God; what does that mean and what are the implications to such a concept?

If you live anywhere near the ocean, be SURE to talk about undertow and the danger to swimmers and surfers! (Water safety is a topic you can’t rehearse too often!)

What do people mean when they talk about visiting down under? Anytime is a fun time to learn more about Australia; that’s a whole study in itself, but now would be a great day to read or review your Five in a Row activities from The Pumpkin Runner.

Prov 3:5

Mt 8:9

Eph 1:22

1 Peter 5:6

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If the Shoe Fits- Wear it

Let’s have fun today with the topic of shoes. Did you read A Pair of Red Clogs or The Grass Sandals in Five in a Row? Today would be a great day to review those stories!

For preschoolers how about the nursery rhyme One, Two, Buckle My Shoe? Today is as good a day as any for little ones to learn to tie shoelaces too!

Talk about famous shoe sayings. I mentioned one already in the title, but how about these?

A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.

I cried because I had no shoes. Then I met a man who had no feet.

Before you criticize someone else, you should walk a mile in their shoes.

Between saying and doing, many a pair of shoes is worn out.

Talk about those sayings and help your children figure out what they mean.

Maybe your children could serve daddy today by polishing several pairs of his shoes while he’s at work.

Ephesians 6:15

Mark 6:6-11

Luke 15:22

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Smile and the World Smiles WIth You

Today’s idea might bring a smile to your face. Let’s talk about smiles. A smile is a facial expression that usually reflects happiness. I love several of the things Mother Teresa had to say about smiles. (Now might be a fun time to get online and learn more about the remarkable life of Mother Teresa with your children!)

Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing. ~Mother Teresa

Peace begins with a smile. ~Mother Teresa

Talk about those quotes with your children. Help them understand what they mean. Then discuss the following quote from an anonymous source. (Ask your children if they know what the word ‘anonymous’ means- if not, today is a great day to learn!)

A smile costs nothing but gives much.  It enriches those who receive without making poorer those who give.  It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.  None is so rich or mighty that he cannot get along without it and none is so poor that he cannot be made rich by it.  Yet a smile cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is of no value to anyone until it is given away.  Some people are too tired to give you a smile.  Give them one of yours, as none needs a smile so much as he who has no more to give. ~Author Unknown

Take a look at one of the most famous paintings in the world:

Ask your children if they think the lady in the painting is smiling or not. People have argued for centuries over exactly what the expression is. The Mona Lisa was painted by Leonardo da Vinci. Now might be a wonderful time to do a little research together and learn more about da Vinci and his amazing life.

Here’s another interesting quotation: A laugh is a smile that bursts. ~Mary H. Waldrip

Take time today to laugh with your children. Do something silly and frivolous right in the middle of the school day. Watch an old episode of I Love Lucy or The Andy Griffith Show, or watch a favorite cartoon or movie comedy together. Smiles and laughter are the medicine that helps the more difficult parts of every school day go down.

If you’re a Five in a Row user, think back over all the wonderful books you’ve shared together with your children and ask them to pick the three books that made them smile the most!

The title of today’s blog is Smile and the World Smiles With You. Ask your children what they think that means. Help them think through this interesting concept, and how optimism can be contagious. Make it your purpose to smile at your children more often as you go about the daily tasks of homeschooling.

Proverbs 31:25

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