The Sun illuminates half of the Moon all the time. Imagine shining a flashlight on a beach ball. The half that faces the light is lit up. There’s no light on the far side, right? So for the Moon, which half is lit up depends on the rotation of the Moon. And which part of the illuminated side we can see depends on where we are when looking at the Moon. Sound complicated? This lab will straighten everything out so it makes sense.
One question you’ll hear is: Why don’t we have eclipses every month when there’s a new Moon? The next lesson is all about eclipses, but you can quickly answer their questions by reminding them that the Moon’s orbit around the Earth is not in the same plane as the Earth’s orbit around the Sun (called the ecliptic). It’s actually off by about 5o. In fact, only twice per month does the Moon pass through the ecliptic.
An elementary school science teacher has decided to do away with textbooks and teach hands on science with experiments to her fourth and fifth grade students. Leigh Ann Anderson at Barnhart Elementary School in St. Charles, MD believes that in order to learn science, you have to do it. So she has decided to put, “the lab before the blab.” This is something that many homeschool science teachers already do. Here are some ways to put this theory in action.
Do an experiment and follow it up with a video
Suppose you are teaching children about basic electronic conductivity. Give them batteries, some foil and a small light bulb. Now have them design their own circuit where they use the bits of foil to make wires, attach them to the battery and then try and light up the bulb. If they fail the first time, tell them what they are doing wrong and ask them to try again. Once they get the hang of how to complete the circuit using the metal foil, ask them to substitute the foil with other metal items around the classroom. Once they understand how the circuit can be changed using different materials you can show them a video to explain what scientific principle they have been applying.
Give a problem and let them come up with the solution
Want to teach the children about force and motion? Here is a simple problem to give them. Put a small rubber duck on the floor and say it needs to be moved using a plastic catapult. Now they have to figure out how to work the catapult to move the toy. They will find out how much force is needed to move the toy to a predetermined distance. Start with half a meter and let them build up the motion to over a meter. This will teach them how to vary the force applied on the catapult. The children will learn a lot without even realizing the principles they have picked up. Now you can tell them about the theory behind their work.
The last thing you would call a parent who takes on the responsibility of educating their own children is lazy. However, critics can come up with a number of reasons to apply this adjective to a homeschooling parent and this is one of the latest. The “Lazy Parent Syndrome” has come under the scanner of critics and it has made an impact on homeschooling parents.
Is the first born always more intelligent?
The proponents of this theory say that the birth order of the child can determine his level of intelligence. This is because the mother is said to pay a great deal more attention to the development of the first born child than she does to any subsequent children. According to the lazy parent syndrome, the mother gets lazy with the second and third born children and does not give them the same attention and time.
Does a parent spend less time on subsequent children?
Is this really true? Does a parent become more lax with subsequent children? Possibly. However this is probably because parents are a lot more nervous and thus hypervigilant about the rearing of their first child. With the second child, they do not feel the need for all that stress and are not as worried about how the child will learn once they have experience under their belts. This does not mean that Mom and Dad give less than their best to the second and third child that they are tutoring at home. It simply means that they have done it before, and are better organized the next time round knowing exactly what needs to be done.
Is it more accurate to call Lazy Parenting Syndrome Tired Parenting Syndrome?
The adjective “lazy” has many negative connotations and while a parent may seem to be more lackluster with subsequent children, it is generally because they have additional responsibilities and are tired. What’s more, the children themselves have more than one teacher as the elder sibling can often teach younger sisters and brothers many things that the mother or father would otherwise do.
So this latest criticism of homeschooling is actually nothing all that new.
Today you get to learn how to read an astronomical chart to find out when the Sun sets, when twilight ends, which planets are visible, when the next full moon occurs, and much more. This is an excellent way to impress your friends.
The patterns of stars and planets stay the same, although they appear to move across the sky nightly, and different stars and planets can be seen in different seasons.
This is one of the finest charts I’ve ever used as an astronomer, as it has so much information all in one place. You’ll find the rise and set times for all eight planets, peak times for annual meteor showers, moon phases, sunrise and set times, and it gives an overall picture of what the evening looks like over the entire year. Kids can clearly see the planetary movement patterns and quickly find what they need each night. I keep one of these posted right by the door for everyone to view all year long.
One of the main criticisms of homeschooling is that the children do not learn how to interact with their peer group. Some critics say that they are not as socialized as their regular school going counterparts. This may have been true in the past, but now with the amount of networking that homeschool families engage in, it is just another myth.
Social Media Sites Help
Today homeschooling parents are on the internet blogging about their experiences with homeschooling. They share what works for them and they also caution others about the mistakes they make. They have regularly updated Facebook pages, Twitter feeds that tell their friends what they are planning, and WhatsApp to share what they see as they see it. There are homeschooling forum where you can find others who are teaching the same grade you are to their children.
Homeschoolers Network and Make Socialization Work
It was never as simple to get a group of like minded people together as it is today. So if your homeschooled child has an interest in a specific activity all you need to do is get on a social media site and find out which other homeschool family is doing that same thing. Then contact them and get together to engage in the activity in a group. What could be more social than meeting up with people with similar interests and pursuing your common hobby?
Homeschoolers Are More Social
The irony is that homeschool families actually have more flexible schedules to meet up with other people and do what they want to. If a child was attending regular school half the day, they would be gone and there would not normally be enough time to pursue an additional activity on that same day…at least not without some serious schedule juggling and late evenings. However a homeschool family can finish lessons early on a day that they have planned a special event or activity. That way their school work doesn’t suffer even while they are out having fun with friends.
So the old thought that homeschoolers are not social is actually just not true today. If anything, they are usually more active socially speaking than their counterparts in regular school.
Managing an infant or an active toddler along with teaching an older child can be quite an exhausting and frustrating process. The baby needs attention and so does your school going child.
Here are a few things that you can do to engage your baby while still giving your elder one the attention he requires.
Make it School Time for the Toddler Too
You may feel that the child is much too young to begin learning, but that’s not true. The human child is like a sponge till the age of 5 and will pick up whatever you teach him. Use educational toys like wooden alphabet blocks, stack a rack, and building blocks of anything that will keep the toddler’s hands busy. Then give him an assignment with which to play. For instance, sort the alphabet into two piles, or make a building with the blocks (or anything else depending on the toys that he is using).
Stock up on the activities and the snacks
Line up three toy or puzzle assignments for your young child to play with as the attention span is usually quite short at this stage. As soon as you find that your toddler is getting distracted from the play activity ask him to put the toys away. Storing the toys will take some time and will teach him the value of a keeping your workspace clear. Once the toys are put away, give him a small treat or a snack. This will take up a couple of minutes and give you a breather. Once he is done eating, pick up the next activity or toy that you have planned for him and begin on that.
What works for a toddler will not work with an infant
Do remember that a very young child is going to need the mother’s attention periodically and there is nothing that you can do to change that fact. In this case what you need to do is study the schedule of the infant and then fit in the studies of the elder one when the infant is sleeping. Tell your elder one what the problem is and enlist his help. It will be easier for you to go through the school day schedule with him that way.
A super-fast, super-cool car that uses the pent-up energy inside a mouse trap spring to propel a homemade car forward.
While normally this is reserved for high school physics classes, it really is a fun and inexpensive experiment to do with kids of all ages.
This is a great demonstration of how energy changes form. At first, the energy was stored in the spring of the mousetrap as elastic potential energy, but after the trap is triggered, the energy is transformed into kinetic energy as rotation of the wheels.
If you plan to take your children for a foreign vacation you might be surprised to hear that your family can use the experience as a great learning tool. This applies not only to homeschooling students but to any child; the exposure is great for broadening their horizons. Here are a few things that you can help them focus on in order to get more out of the trip.
Before you leave, get a travel book for the country. Have your children learn where it is located and how long it will take to travel there. You can use the globe to pinpoint the travel route you will take. Then have them check to see if they are going to travel over land or over sea. Identify the countries that they will cross on the journey. It will help them get a sense of just where they are headed on the trip.
History of the Country
Each country has its own unique history and this is a great lesson to teach the children when they are about to visit a country. Pay special attention to the history of the tourist attractions that you are sure to visit on vacation. That way, when they get there the children will know what the fuss is about when visiting an old building. Also, try and hire a guide on the spot to get more information that is pertinent to the building.
Foreign Language Phrases
Picking up a foreign language is fun when you know that you will actually get to test your knowledge with locals. If you are already learning the foreign language in your home school classroom, all the better. If not, then have the children identify common phrases that they use daily and find the proper foreign translations. Practice these phrases to get ready for the vacation.
Traditional Dress and Food
Its always fun to play dress up, so try and get a traditional costume of the country that you are visiting for the full family. These can often be rented for a photo session if they are too outlandish to wear back home. It is also a good idea to expose children’s taste buds to different kinds of cuisine. Let them taste some of the local food and decide whether they like it or not.
Most homeschooling families make the decision to homeschool their child at the preschool age. This is where the homeschooling teacher must instill a love of science in the child by teaching him to perform activities that show him science in action. Performing small experiments that are fun is the key here.
For instance you can discuss the viscosity of fluids by asking them to spill different liquids such as milk, honey and chocolate syrup. Depending on your child, you might not give them the highly complicated terms viscosity, tensile stress and deformation to learn. You will just arouse their curiosity about the different behavior of familiar liquids.
The trick here is to make them want to learn more on their own. So don’t get too upset if they decide to drag out bottles of milk, carbonated drinks, and fruit juice boxes to spill. They are just trying to build on what you have taught them. You can give them a heads up that they need to ask you to be present when they decide to do these experiments.
This way they learn to have an adult present when conducting experiments that may have potentially disastrous results. Plus you are able to minimize the cleaning up effort required at the end of the experiment if you can lay out the newspapers to catch their work before they start experimenting.
Liquids are not the only thing that you can experiment with. Take up science experiments with solids as well. Have them make mixtures using and cornflakes and rice cereal. Now have them separate them. Next give them powdered sugar and salt and ask them to separate the two powders. Here they learn about homogeneous and heterogeneous mixtures.
Do let them know in advance that they can only make mixtures of stuff after asking your permission or else you will end up seeing some rather unique mixtures all over the house. You will need to provide them with enough fun activities so that they enjoy the whole process of conducting a science experiment. Its never to early to get a child interested in science and if you plan on homeschooling your child, preschool is the best time to rouse that interest.
This is REALLY easy to build. SUPER cool to watch (though most adults can’t figure out how it works until you tell them). And it teaches one of the MOST IMPORTANT concepts there is in science. Guaranteed to keep small kids and cats busy for hours :-)
Here’s what you need:
can with a lid
small heavy rock or large nut (about 1″ in diameter)
two paper clips
rubber band (at least 3″ x 1/4″)
You’ll need two holes punched through your container – one in the lid and the bottom. Thread your rubber band through the heavy washer and tie it off (this is important!). Poke the ends of the rubber band through one of the holes and catch it on the other side with a paper clip. (Just push a paper clip partway through so the rubber band doesn’t slip back through the hole.) Do this for both sides, and make sure that your rubber band is a pulled mildly-tight inside the can. You want the rock (I used a hexnut in the video) to dangle in the center of the can without touching the sides of the container.
Now for the fun part… gently roll the can on a smooth floor away from you. The can should roll, slow down, stop, and return to you! If it doesn’t, check the rubber band tightness inside the can.
The large hex nut or small rock is a weight that twists up the rubber band as the can rolls around it. The kinetic energy (the rolling motion of the can) transforms into potential (elastic) energy stored in the rubber band the free side twists around. The can stops (this is the point of highest potential energy) and returns to you (potential energy is being transformed into kinetic). The farther the toy is rolled the more elastic potential energy it stores.
This is one of the most fundamental – and most important – concepts in science: energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can change forms. This is technically known as Conservation of Energy, or The First Law of Thermodynamics.
In our case, it moves from kinetic to potential and back again, over and over. With each roll, the can moves less and less because there’s also a small percentage of the energy being transformed into heat through friction with the table and air resistance. In space, this can would go on forever if you could keep the rubber band from freezing. :)