Saturday, January 29, 2011

Winter Snow Activity

We are trying to spend more time studying nature by joining in the activities posted on the Handbook of Nature Study blog. We had an amazing opportunity to participate in the Snow activity (Week 2 of the Winter Wednesday series). Snow is incredibly rare in my part of the country and even rarer in January, so our January snow brought lots of excitement. Somehow I remembered to try the Snow to Water activity before the snow melted.

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Since I have not experienced much snow in my life, I really didn't know how this experiment would turn out. The idea was to measure snow and let it melt and compare the amount of water to the amount of snow.

We gathered a large bowl of snow. Then we tried a few different things. First we spooned snow into a liquid measuring cup, heaping it very loosely in the cup. We also used two other measuring cups, one tightly packed and one just spooned in and leveled.

Metal measuring cup with tightly packed snow

Here are our results:

Just 15 minutes after filling the measuring cups - already lots of melting action!

Fully melted snow. The packed snow(metal cup) produced about 2/3 cup of water. The lightly filled snow cup (orange) only about 1/4 cup. Amazing!
Snow spooned in to the liquid measuring cup.

Melting quickly!

Just over 1/4 cup of water from over a cup of snow!

Friday, January 28, 2011

TOS Homeschool Crew - TenMarks Math


TenMarks is an online math program that encourages your student to do his or her best and receive a perfect score of 10 out of 10! Ten Marks consists of a video lesson and virtual worksheets of ten questions each. The student is given unlimited access to the learning video and hints to help them succeed at each worksheet. As additional motivation the completion of worksheets unlocks games to be played as a reward for the hard work.

TenMarks is created for 3rd through 12 grade students, so I set up Kirk with Algebra 1 and Maggie with the 6th grade curriculum. I received an email each week stating that 4 worksheets had been assigned for each child and the date they were due. Kirk and Maggie simply went to the website, logged in, and completed their worksheets. (I did not notice that they also had tests assigned, however, so we got behind on those.)

TenMarks did not work for our family. I asked Kirk to stop and took over his account to see for myself why he disliked it so much. Maggie continued using it throughout the review, but struggled with the presentation. Now, I feel that this is strictly a personality issue. Neither is overly competitive so the 'perfect 10' was not a big motivator and they had no interest in the certificate showing that they understood the concept. Also, neither learns well from verbal explanations, both would prefer to read the explanation. The videos did have a 'whiteboard' type feel but the teacher's handwriting was difficult to decipher and the explanation spoken, and only examples were written. A written explanation would have made much more sense to both kids.
I used Kirk's program for a couple of weeks and did fine, but found some errors. One test had two incorrect answers - and although I immediately sent feedback and received a quick response, the 30 minute test limit meant that both of my answers, which were correct, were marked wrong. I went back and found that the answers had been corrected, but my score had not been corrected. This is no big deal for me, since I passed Algebra 1 many years ago, but as a student I would not have been too thrilled to have a 90 on my record when it should have been a 100. (I believe that would have been corrected if I had sent a request.) When we found errors on worksheets, we submitted feedback and waited for the correction before continuing the worksheet.

So, although it was not a good fit for our family, some things I liked about TenMarks are:

  •  The student can watch the video lesson right from the worksheet, without penalty.
  • If the child uses too many hints they might have to do the worksheet over. Since the hints are problem specific and get you very close to the answer if you use all three hints, this is a clear indication that you do not understand the concept.
  • The worksheets are not timed, so there is plenty of time to figure out a problem and watch the video if necessary.
  • If you stop in the middle of a worksheet your answers are saved and you can start where you left off and even change or correct your previous answers.
  • When you finish the worksheet you have one chance to go back and correct your answers so you can receive a perfect score.
  • If you do not complete your 4 worksheets by the due date, they do not assign 4 additional worksheets, instead you receive enough worksheets to add up to a total of 4 for the week. This is nice because you don't face the possibility of having 16 worksheets facing you if you get behind!
  • You can pause the program for vacation, sickness, etc.
  • Customer Service was quick. As stated previously, I sent feedback on a few errors and although I did not always get an email response, I did find corrected answers within 24-48 hours.
TenMarks is $10 per month, $49 for six months, or $89 for twelve months, per student. They offer a free trial for parents or homeschoolers. You may choose the age and subject and try sample worksheets, videos, and hints.

Many TOS Crew members also reviewed TenMarks. Please click here for their thoughts about this math program.

**Any products reviewed by me as a member of the 2010-2011 TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Fit Mommy Friday 2011, Week 4

Last week I posted my new health and fitness goals. They are:

1. Continue 4 days per week of exercise, gradually increasing length and intensity of my home exercise time.

2. Increase my water intake

3. Eat more raw vegetables.

Here are my week's results:

Friday: no exercise, drank plenty of water.

Saturday: walked at museum (gentle, slow walk - not exactly exercise) drank some water, some raw veggies

Sunday: 30 minutes Wii Active 2, drank plenty of water.

Monday - 15 minutes Wii Active 2, good on water intake

Tuesday - no exercise, some water

Wednesday - 10 min Wii Active 2, 15 min Wii Fit Plus, great raw veggie intake, good water intake

Thursday - 2 mile walk, good raw veggie intake

Overall, this was not a great week. I am having a hard time adjusting to my husband's unusual and unplanned work hours. I am tired and have a lack of energy. I also forgot all about my goals until later in the week - oops! I need to come up with a good way to remember and track my goals.

On the other hand, we purchased Wii Active 2. This is a different kind of exercise than the Wii Fit Plus and I find that the shorter workout is more of a challenge than a full hour of Wii Fit Plus. Hopefully having a variety of home exercise options will keep my interest up.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dinosaurs and More!

So sweet! MT petting one of the non-animatronic dinosaurs.
These were just part of the normal walking path 'decorations'.
Photo by Debbie.
FRitW wants to see dinosaur bones. He thinks that would be simply the coolest experience ever.

I think that would be cool too, but how about lifesize animatronic dinosaurs? Talk about cool! I have had a hard time finding museums within a reasonable distance with dinosaur bone exhibits. Oh some museums have a few, but I'd love for FRitW and all of us to really get some dinosaur exposure! So when I received an email about the Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary in McKinney, Texas I knew I had found our destination.

The Heard Museum has dinosaur skeletons - 3 complete ones on display as well as a skull and a cave bear skeleton. This was our answer - and the exhibit of Lifesize Animatronic Dinosaurs, well that was just icing on the cake! Problem: The exhibit was only on display for one more week. Solution: GO NOW!

Dad has a new position at work that is requiring more travel, so we took advantage of his absence and headed to McKinney last Saturday. We met up with Aunt Debbie and Pumpkinhead at the museum. It was so fun to follow the path to find the large, realistic, moving dinosaurs among the plant life. MT was pretty frightened but everyone else loved it! He clung tight whenever we approached one of the beasts.

Most of them roared or growled, moved heads and mouths and occasionally arms. Kirk was a little disappointed - he would have liked to see some real movement. He probably wouldn't have been satisfied if they had chased him. (Boy, that would have been fun to see! Heehee!)

We walked the entire trail twice and parts of it three times. Maggie was impressed with a tree that had been struck by lightning but was still alive. Only the outside edges of the trunk remained, but it was enough to provide nutrition to the branches and leaves.
Photo by Aunt Debbie. I love how the sunlight shines through the branches!

Inside there were exhibits of various fossils, a 'bug' exhibit - which covered insects and arachnids - both live creatures and methods of studying them. A really neat feature of the bug exhibit was this scale which showed your weight in terms of number of fleas, small ants, house flies, june bugs, and scorpions. Amazing - as long as I never, ever, ever encounter that many critters!
We also found the dinosaur skeletons. Oh, FRitW had the hardest time waiting for everyone to be ready to move on to the skeletons!

The exhibit pictured below was like an I Spy book. MT particularly liked finding each animal or plant pictured at the bottom of the exhibit. These were all examples of local flora and fauna.

Local kids found this 5-legged toad in their backyard. Photo by Debbie.

We intend to visit Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary again. There are multiple trails that I would love to try out in each season. Oh, and FRitW says that seeing the dinosaur bones was just as cool as he thought it would be.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

TOS Review - Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids


I have had the chance to review the new Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids, and I love it! The dictionary is a large, colorful, hard-bound book with more than 200 pages of definitions, pronunciations, scripture references, and pictures. Although it is a large book, it is not too heavy or unwieldy for a smaller child. The dictionary is designed to be used by children Kindergarten age to preteen.

Although this is a dictionary for KIDS, I found myself turning to it many times. I used it to look up information about cities and maps, Hebrew festivals, and the temple and tabernacle during my Bible reading time. Kirk read it for fun, and I had to go looking for it in Maggie's room a couple of times because she had it for bedtime reading.

This Bible Dictionary is colorfully illustrated and well laid out, which made it easy to use as a reference or as a starting point for study.

Particular things I appreciated:

  • There are lots of well marked, well labeled maps.
  • Where possible, actual photographs are used (photo of a stone manger from Solomon's time, photos of Mount Sinai, various places in Jerusalem, etc.)
  • The pages of 'foods in Bible times', insects, birds, and others. Again actual photographs are used.
  • Similarly, the page of the Apostles, Jewish Festivals and Feasts, Names of God - all of these are grouped with their definition and have scripture references and brief introductions/explanations.
  • Definitions include people: Abraham, Paul, etc, places: Siloam, Jerusalem, etc, things, and ideas.  
  • Each entry has one or more scripture references.
  • Delicate subjects were handled very nicely.

This is a book that will continue to see lots of use in our home over the year and if it disappears into Maggie's room again - I know where to find it!

The Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids can be purchased for $14.99 at the Lifeway website. You might also find it at local stores or other online sellers. For an inside look at this book click here and click the small "Google Preview" button.

Click here to read reviews from the other TOS Homeschool Crew members.

**Any products reviewed by me as a member of the 2010-2011 TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Monday, January 24, 2011

TOS Homeschool Crew Blog Walk - January 24-28, 2011

Did you find a blog you enjoyed during last week's blog walk? I have a new list this week - Ten more Homeschool Crew members to introduce you to.

Please remember to comment on a post or two when you visit each blog. Each blogger has a different personality, a different homeschooling style, different kids - you just never know when you will 'meet' someone with a situation you can identify with.

 It can be so hard to remember where you found that recipe, or saw that math game you'd like to make - so save yourself the trouble and follow any blog that peaks your interest.

Click on the links below to visit this week's blogs:

1. Clark Clan Craziness

2. Doxazo Prep Academy

3. My Elastic Life

4. Fun in the Sun

5. A Teaching Heart

6. Mindful Ramblings

7. Simple Thoughts

8. Joy in Our Journey

9. Crazy Homeschool Mama

10. Walking Home