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.


Otter finished up his shark lapbook today. He also read a couple of books about sharks to help wrap up our couple of shark themed weeks from my “extras” study.

Great White Shark The Great White Shark: King of the Ocean

This book was easy to read with large text and full page color pictures. Afterwards we watched National Geographic’s Great White Shark for free online over at Snagfilms.

Great White Shark Ruler of the Sea The other book Otter read was Great White Shark: Ruler of the Sea.

This book is chock full of great verbs like: feast, rip, scavenge, launches, gorge, dives, hunts, twitches, struggles, protect, grazes, etc.

We had a little impromptu language arts lesson when I had Otter point some out to me.

We’re really enjoying all of the free lapbooks I’ve found online. I’m so thankful to all of the moms who share their hard work and talent with the rest of the homeschooling community. This particular lapbook is available at Homeschool Share.

Here are some pics of some of the shark lapbook elements Otter completed:

Shark cards

Shark safety

Shark lapbook

Shark tabbed book

Shark anatomy

I like how you can incorporate lots of different subjects in lapbooks: reading (information), dictation, writing, handwriting, copywork, science, history, art and even math:

Shark graph

Putting up pics of Otter’s work has really been a recent motivator in his quality of handwriting. So thank you all for looking…you are helping me out! LOL! All it takes it just a little reminder, “You know this is going up on the blog…”

Shark pop-up:

shark pop-up

3 tabbed booklet:

shark lapbook

Match-up shark cards we downloaded for free from Ellen McHenry’s website.

We finally finished reading Stowaway in our Sea & Sky program. It turns out in the end that Otter decided he liked it. I’m glad we stuck with it. Although there were parts that were tedious at times, I don’t think either one of us will soon forget Captain Cook’s first voyage around the world and the discovery of Australia.

Raiders of the SeaOur new book is Raiders of the Sea, a story about some children captured by Viking raiders. The book is written from a Christian perspective and so far Otter really loves it.

I think it should be switched out as a reader and Voyage of Ice (which is a reader) be made a read-aloud. The text and reading level of Raiders of the Sea is more appropriate, in my opinion, for the target S&S age and I haven’t found anything inappropriate in it.

This Week’s in Sea & Sky

This week in Sea & Sky we are studying the “Age of Exploration” for the history portion and how the ocean affects the weather for the science portion. Today we did an experiment: “rain in a jar”.

Rain in a jar

As the hot water from jar evaporated, it hit the plastic bag containing ice, condensed and fell back down as “rain drops”.

Before our experiment we watched a movie about the water cycle over at BrainPop. I tend to use BrainPop a lot because the explanations are short, easy to understand and entertaining. I also like it that I can check Otter’s comprehension afterwards with an interactive 10 question quiz.

Bear also finished one of his projects he did for Sea & Sky (not scheduled via WinterPromise), a model ship:

Model ship

Paper model ship

It’s constructed entirely out of paper and you can get the printables and instructions to make it for free from the Canon Website.

Otter also started a new lapbook. As an extra, he is studying sharks. There is a free lapbook over at Homeschool Share I printed out for him to work on. One of the elements he made today is a little vocabulary book:

Shark vocabulary

He also read a printable book from A to Z reading: Sharks.

A to Z reading is a site with lots of printable books with accompanying worksheets and other activities. The levels span from beginning phonics an approximate 5th grade reading level. The books are great for Otter and very helpful for building fluency. They aren’t too long, there are lots of different and interesting subjects covered (as well as some non fiction) and there are tons of books spanning different levels that work very well with our Sea & Sky program this year.

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.

2nd Week Using Adventures in Sea & Sky

This is our 2nd week into WinterPromise’s program: Adventures in Sea & Sky. I think Otter’s favorite read-aloud right now is Treasure Island. I’m not sure how much of it he really understands because of all the dialect and maritime vocabulary, but every time I finish reading for the day he begs for more. I love that!
I also love how he’s really being engaged by all of the activities – not only the ones WP scheduled but all of the extras I’ve gathered up too. Sea & Sky is a terrific theme to expand on. There are all sorts of science extras you can add, along with plenty of crafts and movies.

This week Otter continued work on his mollusks lapbook (you can see more pics in some previous posts). Next week he’ll be starting one on whales. I can’t speak highly enough about lapbooks. They add a hands-on component that really helps learning STICK. They are fun to “review” too. Here are a few pictures of some of the new items he added:

Slug diet booklet

Slug diet

Lift the flaps to see what slugs eat!

what slugs eat

Learning about slugs vs. snails:

Lift the flap slug

Shutterfold with a map inside and questions to answer on each flap

Octopus shutterfold

Multiplying by 8’s – Lift the flaps to see the answers:

Multiplying by 8's

Accordion fold for octopus facts

Octopus Facts

Anyone else’s kid mix printing with cursive? roll eyes

Outrageous octopus facts

We also worked from the book 1-2-3 Draw Ocean Life. This week’s drawing was a sea cucumber. As before, I drew mine on the computer, while Otter followed along on paper. He is really enjoying this book. Each step is pretty simple to follow. We’re also looking up the items we’re drawing online for photos, videos, and more information.

Mom’s sea cucumber

Sea Cucumber

Otter’s sea cucumber

Otter's Sea Cucumber drawing

Our First Week with Sea & Sky

We’ve been enjoying our first week with Sea & Sky.

Yesterday Otter made a “shadow box ship” from the book Sailors, Whalers, Fantastic Sea Voyages. The activity book’s instructions call for supplies like craft foam and wooden dowels but since I didn’t have any of that on hand we just used card stock paper. I think it was probably easier to do that way anyway. The instructions were a little bit vague for Otter to accomplish this activity on his own so I helped direct him. We didn’t do everything exactly how it was described, but Otter was happy with the end result:

Shadow box ship

Bear is going to be making a much more detailed paper model from the Canon Creative Park website.

Otter has also been working a free lapbook about mollusks. He’s enjoying the added science component to his schedule as well as some additional hands-on activities. Here’s are some pictures of what he’s accomplished so far:

The cover of his lapbook

Mollusks lapbook

What is a mollusk? flap book

Mollusk lapbook lift the flap

Inside “What is a mollusk?”

What is a mollusk?

A 3 panel squid booklet

Lapbook component about squids

Inside the booklet

squid lapbook item

All in the mollusk family booklet

All in the Mollusk family lapbook booklet

Inside the mollusk family booklet with 3 individual tabs

Lapbook page on mollusks

We also got to start the notebooking component of Sea & Sky. The program comes with a packet of papers called the “Make Your Own Captain’s Log”. Today Otter did a sheet on labeling a ship (hmmm, interesting color choices for the sails, LOL):

Label a ship

He’s keeping all of his papers for S&S in a notebook:

Sea & Sky notebook

So far I’m finding the pacing of Sea & Sky to be very manageable. Both boys are really enjoying our read-aloud of Treasure Island and there seems to be a very good balance of activities.

My only complaint so far is that one of the books scheduled as a reader (Voyage of Ice) turned out to have, in my opinion and for MY family’s values, some inappropriate material in it for the ages it was scheduled for (3rd-6th). I’m actually quite irked about this. I am NOT criticizing Winter Promise for choosing the book as a reader. I understand that it is our responsibility as parents to preview our children’s materials and ultimately make choices and decisions regarding them and also that every family is quite different in their beliefs and philosophies. However, I would have liked a little warning about the level of romance and violence it contains. I am really quite liberal when it comes to read-alouds (books I read out loud while my kids listen) because I can be on hand to discuss things with the kids and help expose them to real life, under my terms. However, when it comes to just handing my 11 year old son something to read by himself, I am a lot more picky. Voyage of Ice is quite an amazing adventure story that is very educational about life on a whaling ship but fails my test as a reader. We will, however,be doing it as a read-aloud with some edits on the fly.

Lapbook Printables for Geography and Cultures

I’ve been busy getting ready for the up and coming school year by making some lapbook printables to go along with our study of world geography and cultures. Here’s a preview of some of the printables I’ve made and am sharing with you:

lapbook booklet Lapbook printable - prayer needs
lapbook menu lapbook temperature booklet Highest point flap book

To take a look and download them, click here. Lots more will be added over the next couple of weeks!

I recently had someone ask how I made my printables. Basically I work out of several programs. For the country and cultures lapbook I worked with Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Poser, a Wacom tablet and Adobe Acrobat.
Illustrator is a vector illustration program. I used it to make graphics that have simple shapes: the flap books, the dotted lines for fold marks, the graph for the mountain heights, the tracing of my hand for the prayer book, etc. I also used it to clean up some of the clip art images that were purchased through (Jupiter Images).
I used Photoshop to put everything together. I arranged the graphics, drew things, erased lines, used special shape brushes and so on. I saved my creations as a high resolution gif to import into Acrobat so that they would look nice printed.
Acrobat makes the PDF files for you to download.
Poser is a 3-D program that is used to create “people”. I created a child in Poser, exported a picture of the child into Illustrator and created the “blank people” template that is used for one of the cut out projects.
It probably looks very simple but it’s a lot of work!

Anyway, take a look and let me know what you think. All of this work was prompted because I couldn’t find a country lapbook that had graphics I like. In fact, I was very disappointed with a particular purchase I made awhile back and so, I just created my own. Please check back soon for additions that are in the works. The whole thing will be finished in just a couple of weeks.

For more info on lapbooks as well as links to lapbook freebies, please visit Jimmie’s Squidoo lens!