Weather, Astronomy & Physics

Otter has been learning about weather, astronomy and physics lately. He LOVES science, so sometimes we spend a good chunk of our school day on it.


For astronomy we are using some of the materials from WinterPromise’s Sea & Sky program as well as Apologia’s Exploring Creation With Astronomy.

Apologia Exploring Creation with AstronomyThere are lots of freebies that can work with either program. You can get TONS of free notebooking pages and lapbook items from the Yahoo group: Notebooking2Learn. You can also get notebooking pages, vocabulary & study questions, a booklist and some schedule ideas from the Yahoo Elementary Apologia Science group. Another good resource for astronomy lapbooking materials is at Homeschool Share. Check out this free lapbook for planets. Otter is also enjoying the songs over at Singing Science Records.

From what we’ve experienced so far, Otter thinks the Apologia book is more fun than WinterPromise. I think they compliment each other nicely.

Here are some of the lapbook elements he’s been working on:

Sun lapbook

Space lapbook


PhysicsWe are using Real Science-4-Kids for physics. I’ve used this program for beginning chemistry too and we both enjoyed it. The only issue is that each book on its own is pretty short and we don’t get around to doing some of the experiments (sorry son, we’re fresh out of 3 foot long boards and bananas today). Still, Otter is learning quite a bit and so am I! I’m using lots of other “extras” to add depth to our studies like “living” books, BrainPop, a huge K’nex kit on simple machines and freebies.

I made a rough outline to help us stay on track. You can take a peek at it here. We aren’t really following it exactly, but it helps me keep specifics in mind and know what books to check out from the library topic-wise.

Today, after reading part of chapter 5 and learning about stored chemical energy, Otter made a voltaic cell. We hooked it up to a voltmeter from Otter’s Snap Circuits Kit.

Voltaic Cell

Snap Circuits are awesome! Otter received his sets at least two years ago and he continues to use them on a regular basis. Usually when he gets them out, he’s busy for a good hour or two (or more!) making all sorts of neat things like a radio, voice recorder, fan, doorbell & TONS more “experiments” – all the while learning about electronics naturally in the process. The pieces are really sturdy and easy to connect via snaps. The diagrams in the experiment booklet are also easy to read so the projects are not too difficult to assemble (unlike some Lego sets that have been frustrating). If you ever look into getting some, I highly recommend one of the larger sets. Otter started out with a smaller set, but it was worth it to get one of the larger ones to add in some more varied pieces. Now he has enough pieces to complete something like 500 or more projects.

Snap Circuits


As for our weather study, we’ve finished the weather portion of Sea & Sky, but Otter is continuing to keep a weather chart and check out weather related library books and do some occasional experiments and activities. He REALLY wants his own digital weather center.

Weather centerI’m glad we decided to use Sea & Sky this year. If we hadn’t, I don’t know if I ever would have discovered how much Otter really enjoys learning about weather. He loves recording the daily data from Weather Underground and reading books about things like hurricanes and tornadoes. He’s also been watching some videos from Discovery Streaming called Storm Chasers. They are a total fave of his.

Recently we did an experiment from Steve Spangler Science where we created a cloud in a bottle:

Cloud in a bottle

Instead of using a pump as portrayed in the video, we used something called a Fizz Keeper. You can’t see a cloud in the pic above, but the experiment really worked. I think Otter must have done it about 10 or more times, lol!

Another experiment we did was to create a psychrometer to measure humidity:

Wet dry thermometer

I’ve been thinking ahead to what we’ll study next when we finish physics and I’m looking at Ellen McHenry’s Elements for chemistry. You can take a look at the first chapter of the student workbook at her site.

I hope you all have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving next week!

hand turkey

Learning About the Weather, Flight and Air

In our Adventures in Sea & Sky program we are studying flight, air and weather. Otter LOVES studying the weather. Every day it’s a big highlight for him to fill out his weather chart. I didn’t like the one WinterPromise designed because I wanted Otter to see the changes over time in a graph form. I was using a chart I found online but it didn’t work out exactly how I wanted it to so I made my own. You can download it here.

It has a bar graph to graph the daily high and low temperatures (we use blue colored pencil for the low temp and yellow for the high temp), a point graph for the barometric pressure and places to record precipitation, wind speed, humidity and observations. We don’t get subzero temps where I live, so the chart only goes down to 0 degrees. The graph lines are in a light gray color so that the data is easier to see/read.

Weather chart

Otter started a free lapbook recently from Homeschool Share. I never did manage to get the book The Glorious Flight from the library, but we read all about Louis Bleriot in the free NASA guide The Courage to Soar.

This Venn diagram is from The Courage to Soar guide but Otter’s putting it into his lapbook. It shows the differences and similarities between the Wright Brothers and Louis Bleriot:

venn diagram

Excuse the blurry pics. My camera’s focus settings was wonky and I’m too lazy to retake the pictures, lol. Here is a pic of his flight timeline:

Flight timeline

When you open it up there are different dates and events in lift-the-flap style.
Otter LOVES dates, so he really enjoyed this lapbook component.

flight timeline

Airplane vocabulary booklet:

Airplane vocabulary

Otter wrote a summary inside:

Louis Bleriot

Label and airplane

Labeling an airplane:

label and airplane

We also did some science experiments from the Courage to Soar guide. The guide has some wonderful sheets to print out that are geared to your student(s). For the experiment pictured below, Otter stuffed some toilet paper into a glass and placed it into a bowl of water. It didn’t get wet. He then thought the water in the bowl just wasn’t high enough to reach the toilet paper so he filled our kitchen sink completely up and then completely submerged the glass into that. He was thinking he was pretty smart and the paper was going to get drenched.

water and air experiment

To his amazement the paper still didn’t get wet!


It was fun to hear him exclaim “Woah!” from the kitchen and then, “How come it didn’t get wet?” and then, “Oh! I know! The air was in the way!”

September 30, 2009


Today in science we started a book calledAir (Science Alive!). It’s full of easy to understand text and simple experiments to answer and explore some of the following question and ideas:

  • What is air?
  • How much oxygen is in the air?
  • Air changes when heated
  • Air resistance
  • Wind is the energy of moving air, which produces a force
  • When warm air rises, cold air rises to take its place

and more! Most of these experiments are things you can find for free online, but it’s nice to have them available in an easy to reference book. Each experiment very clearly illustrates the steps you need to take with cartoon like graphics. The pages following the experiments feature text that talks about the concepts recently learned from the activity, colorful photographs, questions to ponder and small “Did you know?” sections with interesting facts.

In today’s experiment, Otter learned that fire needs oxygen to burn.

Candle needs oxygen experiment

Sometimes I forget that he still hasn’t learned some simple concepts. He was totally fascinated by the fact that the flame started slowly going out and then eventually was extinguished. He wanted to do it over and over again and lift up the jar just before the candle went out. I loved watching the excitement in his eyes as we did the experiment. That’s one of the blessings of getting to homeschool. *I* get to be there for these kind of moments instead of having him come home from a long day at school, ask him what he did and get the common answer “Nuthin”.