Friday, September 3, 2010
These books are the backbone of my homeschooling life. For our first science unit this year, we are studying atmosphere and meteorology. Janice Van Cleave's Weather book is an excellent resource. I have used her books in the past from time to time, but never to the extent I plan to use them this year. Today we began to explore convection currents. There is a very easy to reproduce demonstration in the book that perfectly showed the movement of air. We made a 'wind detector' by cutting a small strip of tissue paper, punching a hole in one end, then tying it to a pencil. The boys went to the door and held the detector next to it while I opened it. Since the outside air was MUCH warmer than inside, the paper was sucked out the door. We tried the same thing with the refrigerator door...it was blown out of the refrigerator. Then they tried holding it as high as they could while opening the door again...the opposite effect! This simple experiment led to a very long, in depth discussion on the ways air moves through the atmosphere and how that affects both weather and climate.
Simple hands-on experiments seem to lead to the best retention of information for my kids. And for me, for that matter! I could have handed them each a book about wind, asked them a couple questions and then given them a worksheet to quiz their memorization of the facts. But I'm guessing that a week later, they would remember very little of what we had learned.
This has been another good week for us. I am learning to go with the flow a bit more with each passing day. I'm making a conscious effort to answer their questions...even if they lead us on a tangent that will last the rest of the day. I'm working to do as little seat work as necessary to give them the tools they need to succeed. Some days I worry that they will grow up and not be able
to ___________ (fill in your own perceived necessity for successful education).
But just today, JT showed me how left to his own devices, he will learn what needs to be learned. EM and JT were outside playing. EM found a 'cool' spider. JT asked for a jar (empty jars are one of the absolute necessities of homeschool life) and prepared it for his new 'pet'. After making sure it had all the comforts an arachnid requires, he disappeared into the classroom. Five minutes later he returned with a notebook page with his first entry in his observation chart. He noted that the spider, "responds to touch with a fierce jump toward it. Is it attacking the object that touched it?" He told me, "I figured I'd better start learning how to do this if I'm going to be an entomologist or arachnologist when I grow up."
So much for worrying that he won't be able to cope with life because I rarely make him write compositions.