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June 2013

by Mary Ann Kelley
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Volcano Experiments, Inquiry-based Learning, Building on Strengths, Children’s Books, Art, and More

He that loves reading has everything within his reach.  –William Godwin

From the Editor

I’m very excited to let you know that I am working on a long overdue overhaul of our website! TheHomeSchoolMom has been online for 13 years and the site design shows its age. When we launched in October of 2000, I had never heard the word weblog, much less blog, and WordPress had not been invented. Everything on the site was hand coded and formatting was done the hard way. We’ve updated here and there since then, but it’s time for a fresh look and updated technology. Things have come a long way in the design world, and there are so many wonderful new gadgets and features for websites that it’s a fun time to do a redesign. I’ll be working over the next several weeks with Joy Miller, a very talented and knowledgeable designer, preparing everything for the new website.

In the meantime, here are some great resources for your summer. The featured article this month has some summer volcano science; it seemed appropriate since volcanos are one of only two science experiments that I can do without failing miserably. If you enjoy the volcano experiments, be sure to check out the free Science Video and Activity Guide from Supercharged Science.

Enjoy the newsletter!

Warm regards,

Mary Ann Kelley


Website Updates and Additions

Teaching Calendar

View the entire calendar »

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Did you know that Time4Learning offers its members an entire support system, in addition to a versatile (and comprehensive) online curriculum? Whether you’re a first time homeschooler with tons of questions, a veteran homeschooler trying something new over the summer, or a current member wondering how to cater their program to best suit your family — they can help!

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Educational Resources

Every Day Is Special
Cathy Earle created this blog 4 years ago and it is populated with wonderful information and links for your teaching calendar. Each day she highlights a historical event or person related to that day. In addition to reading about the feature for the current day, you can browse the archives for features from previous years. Cathy also has Pinterest boards and a Facebook page for Every Day Is Special.

Delightful Children’s Books
Amy Broadmoore, the site owner of Delightful Children’s Books, is a mother, library science graduate student, aspiring children’s librarian, former attorney, Cybils judge and founder of International Book Giving Day (February 14, in case you were wondering). Amy makes booklists. Lots and lots of booklists. You can view books by age or subject matter (use the Booklists by Subject tags in the right column). Here are some good ones to get you started: 20 Fantastic Books for Kids Learning to Read, 15 More Fantastic Books for Kids Learning to Read, Read Around the World Booklists. Although it’s not a booklist, 15 Pinterest Boards for Book Lovers is fun, and the Bookish Pinterest Directory is a large collection of the best book-related Pinterest boards.

Art Instruction for Children
Dan Frenette is a certified art instructor publishing free instructional videos on YouTube for students who want to learn art at home. He is adding videos weekly to an already nice-sized collection. Many videos are organized into playlists to learn specific techniques such as printmaking, crosshatching, and bookmaking. The best video to start with is the introduction video, which is somewhat hidden in the YouTube channel.

Schoolyard Films & Study Guides
Schoolyard Films produces high quality environmental films for use by schools at no charge. The films are available for download from the website with corresponding study guides. The organization’s executive director is Tom Fitz, an Emmy Award winning nature cameraman. The free film and study guide downloads are all done through iTunes U. Topics covered include what happens when a non-native species invades an area where it has no natural predators, rescue and rehabilitation of a dolphin, wildlife in Florida, bats in Panama, and more.


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Try this festive and easy flag made with strawberries, bananas, and blueberries for a light dessert on Flag Day or July 4th. This is just one of many recipes featured in last month’s weekly dinner menu plans.

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Recent Blog Posts

Our Homeschool: The Standard for Success

Our Homeschool: The Standard for SuccessEvery once in a while in this homeschooling journey, by some miracle — you are able to see that you did something right.

That happened to me, recently, in an unexpected way.

It was testing time. Standardized testing time.

* Insert ominous theatrical music here.*

Yes, in years past, I have seen testing as the time that informs me of all the ways I am failing as a homeschool mom. Of course it’s not that, but that’s still how it felt. If my kids scored well, I scored well as a homeschool mom. If they didn’t, well… Read more »


Benefits of Homeschooling: Building on Strengths

Benefits of Homeschooling: Building on StrengthsThere are so many things I appreciate about homeschooling, but one of the biggest has to be the chance to nurture individuality in my children.

Our school system tends to homogenize – one curriculum, standardized tests, teaching strategies that appeal most to logical, left-brain-oriented thinkers. Even “individualized” tracks of learning necessarily pattern students into “gifted”, “average” “behaviorally or learning disabled” and “special needs”. And I get it – there has to be some reasonable manner of organizing large numbers of students into manageable categories, so that energy and resources can best go toward meeting their needs.

But homeschoolers don’t have to do that. Read more »


Raising Global Citizens

Raising Global CitizensMore than any materials we introduce, the connections my kids find most pivotal are those they make on their own, person-to-person across any distance. For example, one of my musician sons got interested in acoustics. He joined special interest forums to talk with fellow aficionados around the world about technical details of repairing historic microphones, the artistic nuances of found sound recordings, and other topics. Friendships developed. Now they converse about everything from politics to movies. Some day, when he travels overseas, he plans to take them up on their offers to stay in New Zealand, Finland, Brazil and elsewhere. Already he’s visited friends made online in the U.S., finding the rapport they developed holds fast in person as well. Read more »


Benefits of Homeschooling: Inquiry Based Learning

Benefits of Homeschooling: Inquiry Based LearningI 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. Read more »



Featured Article

Quick and Easy
Volcano Experiments
to Share with Your Kids

By Aurora Lipper, Supercharged Science

If you’ve ever wondered what makes the Earth burp and spit magma, you’re in the right place. This article is for those who want to shake up volcanoes using chemical reactions and air pressure.

The first thing to do is to mix up your own volcano dough. You can choose from the following two mixtures. The Standard Volcano dough is akin to “play dough”, and the Earthy Volcano dough looks more like the real thing. Either way, you’ll need a few days on the shelf or a half hour in a low temperature oven to bake it dry. You can alternatively use a slab of clay if you have one large enough.

Standard Volcano dough

Mix together 6 cups flour, 2 cups salt, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, and 2 cups of warm water. The resulting mixture should be firm but smooth. Stand the water or soda bottle in the roasting pan and mold the dough around it into a volcano shape.

Earthy Volcano Dough

Mix 2-1/2 cups flour, 2-1/2 dirt, 1 cup sand, 1-1/2 cups salt and water. You mix all the dry ingredients together and then add water by the cup until the mixture sticks together. Build the volcano around an empty water bottle on a disposable turkey-style roasting pan. It will dry in two days if you have the time, but why wait? You can erupt when wet if the mixture is stiff enough! (And if it’s not, add more flour until it is.)

To make Soda Volcanoes, fill the bottle most of the way full with warm water and a bit of red food color. Add a splash of liquid soap and 1/4 cup baking soda. Stir gently. When ready, add vinegar in a steady stream and watch that lava flow!

Building Air Pressure Sulfur Volcanoes takes a bit more work. Wrap the dough around the tubing into an ice-cream-cone-shape and slap the ice- cream-end down into your roasting pan tray. Push and pull the tube from the bottom until the other end of the tu be is just below the volcano tip. Using your fingers, shape the inside top of the volcano to resemble a small Dixie cup. Your solution needs a chamber to mix and grow in before overflowing down the mountain. The tube goes at the bottom of the clay-cup space. Be sure the volcano is SEALED to the cookie sheet at the bottom. You won’t want the solution running out of the bottom of the volcano instead of popping up out the top! Make your chemical reactants.

Solution 1: In one bucket, fill halfway with warm water and add one to two cups baking soda. Add one cup of liquid dish soap and stir very gently so you don’t make too many bubbles.

Solution 2: In a different bucket, fill halfway with water and place one cup of aluminum sulfate (find this at the gardening section of the hardware store). Add red food coloring and stir.

Putting it all together: Practice your breathing: count ONE (and pour in Solution 1), TWO (inhale air only!), and THREE (pour in Solution 2 as you put your lips to the tube and puff as hard as you can!). Lava should not only flow but burp and spit all over the place!

If you enjoyed this experiment and want more activities for summer, head over to Supercharged Science to get your free copy of the Science Activity Guide.

Since 1996, Aurora Lipper has been helping families learn science. As a pilot, astronomer, mechanical engineer and university instructor, Aurora can transform toilet paper tubes into real working radios and make laser light shows from Tupperware.

TheHomeSchoolMom may be compensated for any of the links in this post through sponsorships, paid ads, free or discounted products, or affiliate links. Local resource listings are for information purposes only and do not imply endorsement. Always use due diligence when choosing resources, and please verify location and time with the organizer if applicable. Suggestions and advice on TheHomeSchoolMom.com are for general information purposes only and should never be considered as specific to any individual situation, nor are they a diagnosis or treatment advice for any kind of medical, developmental, or psychological condition. Blog posts represent the views of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of other contributors or the publisher. Full terms of use and disclosure