Monday, April 30

Where Have All the Flowers Gone (Kingston Trio)

You know you're a home school mom when you're husband brings you flowers and your first thought is, "We could dissect these!"  Has this ever happened to you?  ......maybe I'm just weird.
Spring is coming, and we're going to be focusing heavily on gardening.  I think that, if you want the kids to understand plant growth, they should understand plant anatomy.  This post is a unit study on plants and plant anatomy.  Feel free to share!
We began by examining the flower, intact.  The kids drew pictures of the tulip, and labeled the important parts.  Then we dug a little deeper, and learned the plant classifications : monocotyledon and dicotyledon, commonly referred to as monocots and dicots.
Then we pulled out the scalpel and cutting board, and went to work!  We worked our way from the top down, examining the petals and plant reproductive system first.  There are great (free) resources to help you with this part at the bottom of this post.  If you look closely, you can see the teeny ovules.
We carefully pulled apart the leaves and checked out how the plant gets its nutrients by capillary action.  There is a fantastic Young Scientists' kit that demonstrates capillary action through multiple experiments.  For a quick & easy show, though, you can stick a celery stalk into a glass with blue or red food coloring - leave it overnight and watch the magic as the stalk turns colors!

Finally, we got down to the bulb - the seed of this tulip plant.  Remember what Shrek said?  It's like an onion.  You have to peel back the layers (like baklava...hee hee).  The boys enjoyed peeling layer after layer off the bulb until they reached the stalk and fibrous roots.
Here are a couple of anatomical diagramming pages to get you started....

Resources :

If you don't already own the Magic School Bus DVD set, I highly recommend it.  Ninety percent of the time, I can find an introductory-level video that engages the kids in whatever science topic we will be discussing.  They retain a lot of information, without even realizing it, and all because Miss Frizzle makes it so fun!  This 8-dvd set has twenty-six hours of episodes!!


  • 4 pots
  • 1 jar with a lid
  • 5 healthy plants  (same size & kind)
  • potting soil
  • water
  • labels
  • paper & crayons
  • Put one plant in a jar, with soil, and put the lid on it.  Label it "No Air."
  • Put a plant into a pot with no soil.  Label it "No Soil."
  • Put a plant into a pot with soil and label it "No Sun."  (Keep it in the dark)
  • Put a plant into a pot with soil and label it "No Water."  (Give it sun, but no water)
  • Put a plant into a pot and label it "Soil, Sun, Water, and Air."  (Give it all four)
  • Keep track of your plants' growth for 7-10 days.  Note any changes.
  • What did you learn about plant needs?

Thursday, April 26

Should I Stay or Should I Go? (Clash)

Our Fun Friday field trip plans fell by the wayside, as we got caught up in all of the schools' end-of-year field trips.  The original plan was to visit the Oklahoma Aquarium and learn about marine science, however we quickly realized that they were at capacity shortly after opening. 

Next, we attempted to visit the Tulsa Zoo, where there is a travelling Zoorassic Park exhibit (animals AND dinosaurs!), but it, too, was quickly filled by a multitude of emptying school buses.  (And by multitude, I mean that the kids counted no less than sixty in the parking lot.)  It was so crowded that we had to make our own cattywampus parking space...

After driving around Tulsa all morning, the natives were getting restless....and hungry.  We stopped off for a quick bite and happened upon one of those local artsy newspapers over lunch.
The Colors of Mayfest???  It said it was free, and we couldn't stomach the thought of driving all the way back home with no FUN in our Fun Friday, so we said "eh, why not give it a shot?"  What we found was a master class in the arts - glassblowing, all types of painting & drawing, pottery throwing, glassworks, leather tooling, and countless other types of fine arts were exhibited in tiny, white tents.  Four stages had live musical performances going on, and a Kids Zone offered up five or six different craft activities and an area for them to dig up fossils, and they got to keep one!
While there were numerous shopping-only tents, the kids actually gravitated toward the artists.  Many of the folks we stopped and talked with were enthusiastic about answering the boys' questions, and spent a good deal of time chatting with them. 
One of those memory booths was set up in the festival corner, and we got a little silly!

The youngest found a spin-a-wheel and won several boxes of pasta and bag full of fun trinkets from the company, which put him in a great mood for the rest of the day. 
Sometimes, you have to scrap the playbook.  Although nothing went as planned, and we had to keep leaving one activity in search of another, the weather was beautiful, the kids were happy, we had our friends with us, and the day turned out perfectly! 
 One artist the boys found particularly interesting was John Bramblitt, a blind painter who lost his sight in an accident, who was thrilled to answer all of their questions.

Wednesday, April 25

Circle Game (Joni Mitchell)

As part of our series on homeschooling around town, we decided to visit the local doughnut shoppe....otherwise referred to by my kids as "the mothership."  The Krispy Kreme in Winston-Salem is the original store...and it's one of our favorite sweet treats!

In addition to being super yummy (and just terrible for you!), doughnuts are a great way to get some living math into your school day.

Elementary Math

Upper elementary / middle schoolers
  • Take the multiplication a step further, with bigger numbers
  • Work further with fractions (if each person gets 2 1/2 doughnuts, how many do we need?)
  • Work on estimating and multiplying

High Schoolers