Sea & Sky Projects

School is coming along nicely. The kids have been enjoying their work and everything has been really lovely and peaceful. I decided to squash a couple of Winter Promise weeks together since we are getting sick of the sea portion of Adventures in Sea & Sky. It’s been interesting and educational, but I think we’re all ready to move into the sky portion.

Otter has recently been working on a jellyfish lapbook I got for free from Homeschool Share. Here’s a pic of a couple of “matchbooks” and fast fact files.

Jellyfish lapbook

A jellyfish lifecycle booklet:

Jellyfish lapbook

A small shapebook about sizes and a fold out about protection from predators:

jellyfish lapbook

We also continue to work out of the 1-2-3 Draw Ocean Life book. Otter made this squid after reading about the giant squid in one of our science books:


I liked that he included creatures from the book I’m currently reading out loud to him (Pagoo) like gooseneck barnacles and sea anemones.


Pagoo is a wonderfully illustrated book about a hermit crab. While you read about his adventures you learn about the lives of many little creatures of the tide pools and all kinds of ocean science.

You can get free notebooking pages and lesson ideas over at Homeschool Share to go along with the book.

Take a look at the book on Google Books to see some of the detailed illustrations. You can read it all the way to page 25!

Another activity we did this week was make a model of a clam. You can get it free from Ellen McHenry’s wonderful printables.

Clam model

The clam’s “foot” can actually move in and out of the shell. Notice how the clam’s siphons and gills are 3-D. We learned a lot from this project. It was easy to put together and well worth the 15-20 minutes we spent on it.

Clam model


Coral Reef Lapbook

Today Otter glued into a folder all of the lapbook elements he finished last week about coral reefs:

An ocean food pyramid

Ocean food pyramid

Lift-the-flap venn diagram

Coral venn diagram

A lift-the-flap matchbook style booklet about fish and shrimp “cleaners”. After completing this booklet we watched a great little movie online:
Cleaning stations in Hawaii.


“My skeleton” vs. hard coral skeletons shutterfold


Inside of the skeletons shutterfold (He forgot to circle the inside/outside words!)

Clam shape book with sentences written inside

clam book

Coral reef creature cards and pocket

coral reef creatures

Fish defenses

fish defenses

Parrot fish “story”

parrot fish

Coral reef matchbook

coral reef matchbook

Some more booklets:

lapbook elements

Barrier Reef facts shape book

Great barrier reef

We also finished reading Pirate Diary: The Journal of Jake Carpenter.

Pirate Diary

Otter really enjoyed both the story and the illustrations. While we went through the book we used the free unit over at Homeschool Share for some vocabulary and discussion ideas.

He enjoyed the story so much that I put a couple of other books on hold at the library:



I’d also like to get the newest book in this series, but our library doesn’t have it in yet:

Roman diary

Roman Diary: The Journal of Iliona of Mytilini: Captured and Sold as a Slave in Rome – AD 107

This series of books has really great, detailed and action oriented pictures with fun story lines. In the back of each book there is an illustrated notes for the reader section that explains the real history behind each fictional story.

Today as an extra activity for science to go with Adventures in Sea & Sky, Otter made a pop-up barnacle:


You can get the free printout from Ellen J. McHenry’s website.

He also worked on a coral reef lapbook we got for free from Homeschool Share. Today he mapped out where coral reefs are in the world and learned why they are important.

The top part of the picture below is blurry but I was too lazy to take it again!

Coral reef lapbook

Otter is also doing science activities with The Young Scientist Series kits. The kits come with everything (just about) that you need for the various experiments. The experiment he’s working on this week is growing some wheat grass, measuring its growth daily and making a graph of the measurements.

wheat grass measurements

He loves the kits and so do I because I don’t have to hunt down all of the materials. The only downside is that the kits are expensive. On Amazon they run from about $15 to $24 or you can get all twelve kits from Steve Spangler’s Science for $299.95. Each box comes with 3 different themes with several experiments to do per theme. We started out with Set 1. It has the following kits inside:

Kit 1 covers recycling with activities for decomposition, making homemade paper and labeling recycling bags/boxes with homemade labels.

Kit 2 is all about scientific measurements. You grow wheat grass & beans, measure them and graph the results. Another activity is to measure towers of ice cubes as they melt and graph the results. The last activity is to measure and graph some foam capsules after they get wet (and slowly expand).

Kit 3 covers magnets and has activities where you do different things with magnets like make a compass.

Each kit comes with instructions for the teacher covering the purpose, materials, methods, results and conclusions. They also come with student pages. The student pages guide you through each step of the experiment with Celsius the Science Bug explaining concepts and asking questions as you go along. There are also areas to draw pictures, write down data and answers. Writing is kept to a minimum, but you end up with a nice record of each experiment to put into your student’s science notebook.

I got these kits as a sort of “science treat” for Otter. He loves science so much – it’s nice to be able to hand him a kit every now and then to “play” with.

Viking Lapbook and More

I haven’t been able to get around to blogging because I’ve been working on a project with a deadline of August 1st. I’ve been writing a guide and creating some materials for a “major” homeschool curriculum company. I’ll post more info on that when I get the official “O.K.”.
Now I’m finished (I hope!) and so I can get back to working on American History 2 and updating my blog. PHEW! I must say, it was a lot of work in a small amount of time. Homeschooling itself is a full time job (which we ARE doing over the summer) and my husband and I also had a website job for a local service club. Besides all of that we were melting in 108 degree temps! Ok, so those are my official excuses for not keeping things up to date.

Now that you know I am still alive, here are some pics of Otter’s viking lapbook he’s been working on:


Viking lapbook

Don’t you just love the messy handwriting and the lack of capitalization? (To Otter’s credit, he does have some processing difficulties and writing is one specific area we continue to work on).

Viking lapbook

If you lift up the big flap, there is a drawing of a longhouse underneath. The other flaps will be answered when we glue everything into the lapbook folder. One thing we’ve learned is to WAIT to glue lapbook components down until the very end of a project. Otherwise, sometimes things don’t “fit” as well as they could have.

Viking longhous

Lift the flaps

lapbook items

Inside the little red booklet is a map. Inside the other are some questions Otter had to answer about Vikings and education. He decided today he’d like to be a Viking since Vikings got to farm and learn how to fight with swords instead of do school.

Viking lapbook

Below is a lapbook element with a fold out area for a story. Otter actually got into it and even included a moral at the end Aesop style: “Never underestimate someone and don’t be greedy.” After writing his story, he said he wanted to rewrite it tomorrow. You would have to understand his history with writing to know how totally thrilled I was to hear those words. The cool thing about it too is that it didn’t take an expensive writing curriculum to get that result! Maybe the moral of “this” story should be never underestimate free homeschooling stuff… or at least to sometimes be creative and not afraid to try something new or different (like lapbooking, etc.).

This time we have a capital letter, but no period….hmmm…..

I don’t know why, but I love these little matchbooks:


Here is part of the inside of one of the lapbook components about Viking weapons:

Viking weapons

All of the above components and more are available for FREE from Homeschool Share.

We are in week 8 in Adventures in Sea & Sky. This week’s history is about Columbus and this week’s science is about ocean currents.

Otter still likes to do little crafty things so he made this stand-up Columbus:


He also did an experiment from Awesome Ocean Science that demonstrated how deep water ocean currents move. He took a pan of warm water and then placed an ice pack at one end. We put a drop of food coloring in front of the ice pack and waited to see what would happen. As you can see in the pictures below, the colored water began to move toward the other end of the pan.

Deep Water currents experiment

Last week, when we were studying some maritime medieval history, Otter made a T-O map:


You can get FREE instructions on making the map from Ellen Mc Henry’s Mapping the World program. Just click on the link for chapters 4-6 and look at pages 19-20 of the pdf.

Whales Lapbook

This week’s “extras” science theme is whales. I downloaded a free lapbook from Homeschool Share. I love that site. Here are some pictures of what Otter made so far:

The file folder and lapbook cover graphic

Whale lapbook cover

Here is a little booklet that helped him learn some whale behavior related terms. We also watched online videos that showed the different types of behavior.

Whale antics

A whale classification petal book

Whale classification

A 5 page tabbed whale vocabulary booklet

Whale vocabulary tab book

In our Sea & Sky program he’s learning about a variety of other things this week like the ocean floor (continental shelf/slope, trenches, abyssal plains, etc.), some facts about early sailors in the book Sailors, Whalers, Fantastic Sea Voyages and a bit about the early sailing history of the Egyptians.

We watched a short video online about the formation of the volcanic island Surtsey and a couple others featuring the sailor’s hornpipe dance(s).

Besides all of our regular studies, Otter is also participating in a math pilot for a Houghton Mifflin California math textbook. Normally I wouldn’t be interested in trying out a program like this. It’s totally scripted for the classroom and well…it’s so….public school like. The last time I used a public school math textbook was when Emily was in 1st grade using Calvert. However, it’s free for me to use in exchange for participating in the pilot program. I figure it can’t hurt to try it out. It helps feed my curricula junkie habit wink and I’m weird anyway about math programs. For having grown up hating math, I love looking over different math programs and sampling them with my kids. I’ve also found that my kids have benefited from a variety of approaches.

I must admit I’m actually a bit surprised at how easy it is to use. I have access to an online teacher’s guide that’s really easy to use. The manual is scripted more or less and there are LOTS of worksheets and alternative practice pages and so on in PDF format you can access with a click of your mouse. You can view a page with the answers and you can also hide the answers.

The textbook includes games and makes use of math manipulatives. It also recommends various “math readers” – books with stories that connect to the concepts being taught. There are also different levels of printables available: extra support, on level, and challenge.

So far, I like it. I’ll write more after we’ve used it for a longer period of time. You can take a look at a free preview here.

Garden in February and Chocolate Kit

This is one benefit of living in California:
Garden produce in February


Flowers in February too… (and yes someone bites her nails *cough cough* Emily *cough)

Yellow rose

Thanks to Alyssa for her black and white frame action!

Today Otter completed a really fun activity I scheduled in to go with our geography study. We are studying South America and one of the things we learned about was chocolate. After reading Chocolate: Riches from the Rainforest we did the Make Your Own Chocolate Kit.

Make Your Own Chocolate Kit

First we opened up the package and read the informational sheet that discusses how cacao is harvested as well as some of the history of chocolate. On the flip side of the sheet are the instructions on how to make your own “homemade” chocolate. The kit also included two actual cacao beans to taste.

First we put the cocoa butter in a bowl.

cocoa butter

The cocoa butter was quite hard and smelled very chocolaty. Cocoa butter is the fat extracted from the cacao bean. After microwaving it for 3 minutes it looked like this:

melted cocoa butter

We stirred the remaining lumps until they melted.


We then added in cocoa powder.

cocoa powder

Then we added powdered sugar.

powdered sugar


…and stirred some more until there were no lumps.

After the concoction was smooth, we inserted a small temperature strip and waited until it registered 94 degrees Fahrenheit.

For the next step we added a small package of crystallized chocolate in order to “temper” our chocolate. Tempering makes the surface of the chocolate shiny and also is what makes candy bars “crack” when you break them.

We now placed the candy wrappers from the kit onto a plate and added some peanut butter and marshmallows on the bottoms of some.

Then we spooned the thickening chocolate into the candy cups.

The finished product was then put into the fridge for about 20 minutes or so to fully harden and after that everyone had to have a taste, or two…or three….

Now don’t you wish you were studying the rainforest too?

If the pictures are tempting, you can order your own kit from Rainbow Resource. Gosh, I love homeschooling! 

Learning History with Playmobil

WinterPromise had it scheduled for us to build a log cabin out of twigs, but we decided to use Lincoln Logs instead and then pulled out some Playmobil to complete the whole scene.
I love having the excuse to “play” with Playmobil! Shhh don’t tell anyone I’m grownup! Don’t tell anyone either that our oldest (a junior in high school) still joins in when her little brother pulls them out. 😉

Actually Playmobil make an excellent compliment to just about any homeschool history study. You can easily build and act out just about any scene.

“Hey, we’re having a test. Show me what you learned with your Playmobil.” “Narrate to me the last chapter we went over.” “Create a different ending for the story you read.”

Playmobil is a way to flesh out characters and historical situations that makes them easier to remember because they are personalized in a hands-on and fun way.

Ds is ogling some of the Roman Playmobil sets. I’m thinking about our future ancient history studies…..

Wild West scene with Lincoln Logs

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