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TheHomeSchoolMom Blog: Teen homeschool technology project

Teen Tech Project: Building a Computer

This week I visited with a homeschooling family whose son was anxiously awaiting his shipments from New Egg and Tiger Direct — full of the components he would assemble into his own PC.

This brought back fond memories, since two of my three sons undertook this same project during their teen years, and my oldest actually did the same after he graduated. Continue reading »

Winter Warmup: Making Snowflakes (Credit: Image created using photo by Liz West under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license)

Winter Warmup: Making Snowflakes

Snowflakes are fascinating to children and adults. They are unique, beautiful, and tiny marvels of nature.

Introduce your children to the fun of cutting paper snowflakes. Instructables has step-by-step text instructions with photos and diagrams to show you how to make six-pointed snowflakes. Six-pointed flakes are the most authentic, since they generally occur in nature with six points.

This YouTube video by The Bookhouse is a great paper snowflake-cutting demonstration that is easy to follow: Continue reading »

Electronic Circuit Board Kits (Instead of Curriculum)

Instead of Curriculum: Electronic Circuit Boards

Working with electronic circuit boards may sound ambitious or advanced, but my kids enjoyed playing with these as part of their science and technology learning when they were in their early elementary years. They learned many concepts about creating circuits from hands-on play, in particular by using a kid-friendly Snap Circuits® Kit from Elenco. Continue reading »

Homeschool High School: Our 10th Grade Plan

High School Homeschooling: Our 10th Grade Plan

From the feedback and questions that we get on our Facebook page, there is a great deal of interest in how to homeschool high school. This year my daughter is a sophomore in high school, and I thought it might be helpful to share our 10th grade plan with you. Contrary to popular belief, homeschooling high school is often easier than homeschooling younger grades. Students are older, more mature, and better able to manage their own academics. When they need assistance, the material is more difficult, but between teacher guides, online resources, and friends with a knowledge of the subject matter, we have not found this to be a problem. Continue reading »

Interest-based groups for learning (& fun)

Interest-Based Groups For Learning & Fun

In my family, interest-based groups have been an important part of homeschooling life. We formed a number of these groups over the years. Some, like a history club made up of eager parents and not-so-eager young children, barely lasted long enough for a few meetings. Others have lasted ten years. The most successful has been our boy’s science club. It was started by five families with nine boys between the ages of seven and eleven. When we began it was highly structured. We met regularly at each other’s homes. Parents took turns planning a project or experiment, got the materials, explained the educational principles underlying the activity, and if things didn’t turn out as planned (actually quite frequently) it was usually a parent who searched for answers. Continue reading »

Citizen Science

How YOU can get involved in real science!

There is a new craze hitting the streets, and hopefully this one is here to stay. It’s called citizen science. With the advancement of technology, it has become easier and easier for “regular” people to do real science. There are people everywhere interested in contributing to science, especially if it’s made easy for them. With citizen science, it is. Not only do citizens collect and report data, but they are becoming valuable helpers in analyzing the vast amount of data that is now available due to increased technology. The best part is that these are not just classroom activities, using hypothetical scenarios to mimic how science is done. While those activities are inherently valuable, think of the additional value of being an active contributor. Citizen science is a perfect way for homeschoolers to get a real world perspective on science. Continue reading »

TheHomeSchoolMom - Benefits of Homeschooling: Inquiry Based Learning

Benefits of Homeschooling: Inquiry-Based Learning

I recently wrote about how homeschooling parents can use a dialogue-based approach to education, which I see as a big potential benefit to home education. While many public schools have been forced into test-prep mania that defines success very narrowly, homeschoolers can use this educational approach to develop critical thinking and evaluate learning.

Scientific American has a recent story that reflects my thoughts on the unfortunate increased emphasis on standardized testing in public education. Continue reading »

Get Ready for Spring with Field Guides

A library of field guides is an important resource for homeschooling families, and with spring just around the corner, it’s a great time to make sure you have what you need on hand to help with identification of birds, trees, insects, spiders, snakes, turtles, frogs, toads, and wildflowers. Our field guides have always been among the most accessible books in our house. Rather than shelving them with other books, I usually keep them stacked — with their spines showing their titles — right on top of a low book shelf or table near the back door. Continue reading »

TheHomeSchoolMom: The Seasonal Table

The Seasonal Table

Sometimes we have had a designated nature table, something which is suggested by both the Waldorf-inspired approach and the Montessori-inspired approach to homeschooling, and something many Charlotte Mason homeschoolers implement as well.

Other times, we have just gathered seasonal treasures together as a kitchen table centerpiece. A walk in the brisk air, the scavenger hunt for natural objects that are lovely to see and touch and smell and shake, the artful arranging and rearranging of the bounty — these refresh the senses and clear the cobwebs out of minds. Continue reading »

Adam Steltzner: From Failing Geometry to NASA Rock Star

Adam Steltzner: From Failing Geometry To NASA “Rock Star”

You may not have heard of Adam Steltzner at all, or if you watched the Curiosity rover’s landing on Mars you may know of him as “Elvis guy” at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He has a PhD in Engineer Physics, and the story of his rise to “rock star” status among millions of NASA fans is inspiring. He wasn’t a typical science nerd. Continue reading »

How To Use a Microscope

How To Use A Microscope

Using a microscope isn’t difficult. With a little precision and practice you’ll be a pro in no time. The key is to make small and careful movements as you make your way from larger to smaller. To understand these directions, you’ll need to be familiar with the parts of the microscope. Please download or print the diagram of a microscope before starting this tutorial. Keep in mind that using a microscope is a skill. You may have to stop the procedure and start over several times before you find your specimen. Keep at it, practice makes perfect! Continue reading »

TheHomeSchoolMom: Spiders are our teachers

Spiders Are Our Teachers

We appreciate spiders in our family. A large orb weaver lives just outside the front door. Every night when we take the dogs out before going to bed we pause to appreciate the intricate web she’s rewoven. It has a lot to teach us about strength, symmetry, impermanence and beauty. Continue reading »

Quick and Easy Kitchen Chemistry Experiments You Can Share with Your Kids

Note: Kids, please have adult supervision! Shopping List: Rubbing alcohol (largest bottle) Hydrogen peroxide (largest bottle) Baking soda (largest box you can find) Distilled white vinegar (largest size) Washing soda (near the laundry soap) Citric acid (optional, but nice to have) One head of red cabbage Clear ivory dish soap (small bottle) Alum (check the Continue reading »

Easy Crystal Experiments

Crystals are formed with atoms line up in patterns and solidify. There are crystals everywhere – in the form of salt, sugar, sand, diamonds, quartz… and more! When making crystals, there is a very special kind of solution to make. It’s called a “super saturated solid solution”. What does that mean? Here’s an example: If Continue reading »

Avoid the Biggest Mistakes When Teaching Science Part 3

… Continued from Page 2 Mistake #5. Fear of making mistakes. Honestly, now… when do you learn more?  When you make mistakes, or when you get it right?  And how many of us have a hard time letting our kids make mistakes? Edison made thousands of mistakes before he invented the light bulb. Or did Continue reading »

Avoid the Biggest Mistakes When Teaching Science Part 2

… Continued from Page 1 Mistake #3. No space for the job. Once your child excited enough about something that they want to take it and run, your next task is to give them what they need! Now, kids need their own space. However, parents worldwide go crazy with the pack-rat syndrome kids seems to Continue reading »

Avoid the Biggest Mistakes When Teaching Science

Did you have a teacher that really had an impact on you? Remember the excitement?  Or the thrill you felt when you taught something to someone else and they really got it? First, let me thank you for your commitment to education – a value that is high enough for you that you are stretching Continue reading »

Top Ten Air Pressure Experiments to Mystify Your Kids Using Stuff From Around the House

There’s air surrounding us everywhere, all at the same pressure of 14.7 psi (pounds per square inch). It’s the same force you feel on your skin whether you’re on the ceiling or the floor, under the bed or in the shower. An interesting thing happens when you change a pocket of air pressure – things start to move. This difference in pressure that causes movement is what creates winds, tornadoes, airplanes to fly, and some of the experiments we’re about to do right now. Continue reading »

Simple Science

Ever wanted to catch a cloud in a bottle? Now’s your chance! Pour just a splash of water into a 2-liter plastic bottle. Light a match (a grownup’s job) and drop it into the bottle. Immediately replace the lid and squeeze the bottle a few times to watch your cloud form. Continue reading »

Germ Warfare

Hand washing and safe food handling are very important to me. I’m not above bringing food safety brochures to potlucks. This fixation is not without cause, though; as a teenager, I contracted my first obvious food-borne illness after eating strawberries in Mexico City. During the space of the next few years, I had the educational Continue reading »

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