Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Human Body

We had a little co-op learning with our fellow homeschool friends this week. The future scientists looked at cells from different parts of the body through a microscope; they made their own mock cells with jello and candies, DNA with marshmallows and twizzlers, mechanical robot hands with straws and stings, spines with pipe cleaners and beads. Who knew cells and DNA could be so tasty!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Math Out Loud

M. C. Escher, Joseph Fourier, Eratosthenes, Euclid, recursion, mobius strip, binary numbers, pi, probability... some stuff just went way over our heads, but Math Out Loud: A Mathical Mystery Tour was definitely fun and zany! (Did you know that Pi is in everything?)

Funny enough, we recently checked out a book called "The Librarian Who Measured the Earth" by Kathryn Lasky. This "librarian" happens to be... Eratosthenes! He's a great thinker of ancient Greece who figured out the circumference of the earth over two thousand years ago. (Told you we're all about  ancient Greece these days.) Thanks to Math Out Loud, we now know how to pronounce "Eratosthenes" properly.

I try to keep the heavy subject of Math light at home. No longer do we say "Let's do some Math" in our house; the "M" word seems to inevitably trigger an alarm bell in child and high blood pressure in mom. But we meet with Fred. "Let's see what Fred's up to today."

Fred Gauss is a 3 feet tall boy genius with a flat head, a Professor of meta-mathematics at KITTENS University. He's the protagonist in the 10-book Elementary Series of Life of Fred, the creation of Dr. Stanley F. Schmidt. We're on book 8 of the series, Life of Fred: Honey. It's a good fit for a literary kid like Serena who loves the story format and enjoys the lighthearted humour.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Planets & Gods

Serena's recent obsession with Greek Mythology has led us right into the study of our solar system.  The planets are so much more interesting when she realized that they're all named after Greek and Roman gods and goddesses.

Venus is the current favourite - goddess of love, beauty, and springtime. "I was born in spring!" She's also taken a liking to Saturn, the grandfather of the gods, Jupiter's father, because she was born on a Saturday - named for Saturn.

This ties nicely into her Planet Narnia book club reading:
The group has already finished discussing The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (imagery: Jupiter) and Prince Caspian (imagery: Mars), and they are now diving into The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (imagery: Sun). Serena is also totally drawn into the world of Percy Jackson, devouring the The Lightning Thief, the first book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan.

Another logical extension of this whole Greek myths craze is ancient history. We love the DVD series Drive Thru History with Dave Stotts. It covers Rome, Greece, Turkey, and Asia Minor, though we've been focusing most of our exploration on Greece.

Related Reading:
Curious Kids Guides: Ancient Greece by Fiona Macdonald
Hail! Ancient Greeks by Jen Green
Alexander the Great by Demi
Find the Constellations by H. A. Rey
National Geographic Kids: 13 Planets by David A. Aguilar
Comets, Stars, the Moon, and Mars by Douglas Florian
The Planets by Gail Gibbons

Saturday, October 13, 2012

All Things Canada

In writing different Sandwich Book Reports, I notice that it's tricky for Serena to condense a story. Partly because she reads beyond her grade level so the plot lines of her books tend to be quite elaborate, but also partly because she favours intricate details. It's hard to summarize a story in one paragraph when she spends the whole time describing what the characters ate for breakfast...

All Things Canada is a handy theme-based writing curriculum that teaches the techniques of making a "Key Word Outline" and rewriting the original passage in your own words based on your outline. The content is all Canadian-based so we cover Language Arts and Socials at the same time - bonus!

Speaking of Canada, Serena loves the coast to coast road trip with Bucko Beaver in Wow Canada! by Vivien Bowers. With each province explored, we supplement the reading with a great series by Sleeping Bear Press:

Canada: M is for Maple
BC: S is for Spirit Bear
AB: C is for Chinook
SK: L is for Land of the Living Skies
MN: G is for Golden Boy
ON: A is for Algonquin
NB: F is for Fiddlehead
NS: B is for Bluenose
NL: P is for Puffin

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Cyrano de Bergerac

With plenty of panache, Serena delivered a gallant presentation at our annual Book In A Bag with the VCHEA Wednesday Club.

The book, Cyrano, by Geraldine McCaughrean, became a fast favourite this past summer - love story, comedy, poetry, drama, all rolled together with a big dose of panache, an irresistible package for this literary child.

(Quote in Serena's presentation came from the original Cyrano de Bergerac, Act 1, by Edmond Rostand,written in Paris, France 1897.)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Monday, October 1, 2012

Burns Bog

Pileated Woodpeckers
By Serena
{Inspiration: "On The Wing" - bird poems and paintings by Douglas Florian}

Look at my amazing crest,
Good enough to invite a guest!
My colour is absolutely the best
When it comes to my flaming red crest.

A snack of carpenter ants is just fine
When it comes to the time to dine.
I'm the biggest, I'm omnivores,
No doubt I am the prettiest!

These 2 pileated woodpeckers were definitely the highlight of our two & a half hour hike around Burns Bog yesterday. Pileated woodpeckers are the largest of its kind in North America. Serena was quick to inform me that the smallest is the Downy woodpecker. Don't know how she comes up with these things...

Other spectacles:

Lots of bees buzzing in and out of these beautiful bog orchids;

Dainty little dragonflies flitting around;

and a fierce BOG MONSTER!!!