Monday, April 30, 2012

Tomato Soup

My son found a recipe on the internet for tomato soup and wanted to try it.
We mixed all the ingredients carrots, garlic, onion, tomatoes, salt, pepper, and flour in the food processor and then cooked the soup for about 15 minutes. I was surprised by how quick and easy it is to make your own tomato soup.

 Plus the homemade version tastes much better.

  Hearth & Soul Hop

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dachau, Germany

WARNING: This is not a happy post.

The subject is Dachau - a World War II concentration camp. History is not pretty. Before moving to Germany I really didn't know much about this country aside from what I had learned about it in history class. I knew the war was long over, but really had no idea what it would be like to live here. After settling in I was pleasantly surprised, as you have probably gathered if you have read some of this blog. Traveling around we have had the opportunity to learn about so much history. You may be surprised by that fact that this is neither limited to nor dominated by World War II history. People have lived in Germany for thousands of years and the history we have been exposed to includes Celtic cultures, Roman dominance, and the middle ages. Much of this history was filled with war and battles, but since it happened so long ago most of what we see are the structures associated with the time periods.

World War II was a sad time in Germany's recent history. Many of the people living here didn't like what was happening, yet were powerless to stop it. It has been about 65 years since the horrors of the concentration camps were stopped. Even so, the war has created a lasting effect on the population most evident to me by the fact that I rarely see German flags.

Visitors enter the concentration camp through the main gate marked with the words Arbeit Macht Frei. This is the same place that victims once entered. At the camp we saw many school groups as it is a requirement for all German school children to visit a concentration camp prior to graduation.

 One of the first things visitors notice is a building which served as housing for prisoners.

Inside it is filled with rows and stacks of beds. These housing units were severly overcrowded as about 10 people were assigned to each bed.

Behind the building are the footprints of many more which have been destroyed. Two of them housed prisoners designated to be used for medical experimentation.

The camp was nearly escape proof. It was surrounded by towers with armed gunman, a trench, a row of glass, two rows of barbed wire, and a river on one side. Some prisoners willing entered the zone where the gunman were free to fire knowing what would happen.

A seperate building housed special prisoners such as those who had attempted to assasinate Hitler.

In the back of the camp, away from the main prisoner area stands the most gruesome building at the camp. It housed the clothes disinfecting area, the crematorium and a gas chamber which was never used. Unbelievable as it is, the process of death and dealing with the dead at the camp was extremely efficient.

Behind the crematorium are two large ash piles which are marked as memorials. One Jewish and the other Christian. Although many Jewish people were killed at the camp they were not the only victims. Anyone seen as inferior could be sent to the camps. This included homosexuals, handicaped, gypsies, Poles, Soviet Prisoners of war, Johovah's Witnesses and others.

Now four large memorials stand for visitors of different faiths to remember the inmates who suffered here and died.

Hip Homeschool Hop Button

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Motivating Children to Learn

Motivation is such an interesting topic, and one I have thought about frequently during my years spent as an educator. I believe that the level of motivation the child displays usually depends on the amount of say that he/she has in influencing the selection of coursework.

In our school, when we have experienced motivation issues, it usually indicates it is time for a change. I believe there needs to be a balance and clear expectations between the educator and child. For our family, reading, writing and math are subjects we consider too important to skip, but we let the children decide whether or not to study lesser important subjects such as gardening, dance, and sewing. Within the required subjects we still try to provide many opportunities for the children to have some amount of control over the curriculum.

If you are having motivational issues, perhaps this will help. First, ask yourself the questions to try to figure out what the real problem is, and then try something new.

The child hates school
1. Does he/she know what to expect in the upcoming day?
2. Does he/she know how long the school day will last?
3. Does the child have input in the choice of school activities?

Some children get frustrated because each day is so different from the previous day and they don't know what to expect. A friend of mine had this issue. When she made her day more consistent her child was much happier. Her first change was fewer field trips, and errands during the day. Then she set school hours and within the school hours there was a time set for predictable (everyday) activities and a time set for special activities.

In addition to my friend's method, there are other options for organizing the school day so the child knows what to expect. Workboxes are a popular organizing method. Perhaps a daily or weekly schedule could be created, or maybe the day could be divided into required activities and optional activities.

The child isn't interested in reading.
1. Who is selecting the books?
2. Why are the books being selected?
3. Is the book too difficult/easy for the child?
4. If given the choice, which books would the child select on his/her own?
         Poor quality books?
5. How are reading times structured?
6. Does the child have a reading disability?
7. How is reading encouraged?
8. Does the child see adults reading during the day?

Here are some possible changes to make to increase reading motivation.
- Give the child a choice between three books such as Robin Hood, Chinese Fairy Tales or The History of Inventions.
- Offer the child a shelf from which to select books for school reading.
- Take turns in book selection. Mom selects today's book and the child selects tomorrow.
- Try shorter reading sessions.
- Take frequent stops during reading sessions to discuss the material.
- Try taking turns reading to your child, listening to your child read and having your child read on his/her own.

The child hates math.
1. What do you think the real problem is?
2. Is math to easy and repetitive? Is it too boring?
3. Is it too complicated with too many rules?
4. Is there a lack of connection to the real world?

Many educators believe a formal math curriculum is required. Unfortunately this could be the reason the child is resistant to math. While some children thrive and do very well with a structured environment, it can have the opposite effect on other children. Fortunately, with the growing popularity of homeschooling there are an increasing number of alternative math resources. The Living Math Forum yahoo group is full of ideas to incorporate math learning into life with examples such as quilting and cooking. It also keeps a Living Math book list which contains stories that teach math.

What are your math goals?
Requirements up to 3rd grade for most schools include topics such as telling time, measuring, counting, place value, understanding quantities, addition, multiplication and division.

Perhaps math games and activities could be incorporated into the curriculum. In my opinion, they are much more fun than workbooks for learning these concepts. Oftentimes, children don't realize they are learning math skills as they find themselves focused and motivated to win the game.  Our Math Page has some ideas for math games and activities.

If you want some structure, Life of Fred is a complete math curriculum which teaches math through stories, examples and problems. It is very different from the standard public school curriculum, but it may be the right program for a child who constantly questions the necessity or usefulness of learning math. We are currently using it for my son and he is thriving with the method. Please see my blog post on Life of Fred for more explanation.

The child hates writing!
1. What do you think the real problem is?
2. Does the child write when not in school?
3. Does he/she color pictures that sometimes contain writing?
4. Who is determining the writing topic?
5. Is the child required to write perfect sentences with capitals, periods and proper grammar?
6. Is the child required to fix writing mistakes?
7. What are your writing goals for your children?
8. Do you want them to enjoy writing?
9. Do you want them to use proper English grammar, spelling and punctuation?

As soon as I got involved in the writing process with my children I promptly squashed all of their motivation by trying to teach them to write correctly. Many children are motivated to write because they have a story to tell or something to say, and not because they want to write grammatically correct sentences.  Now I'm getting better at motivating them to write. We still work on correct writing, but my method has changed dramatically.

Although we sometimes have writing assignments, we incorporate more of a writing process as opposed to following a writing curriculum. For example we recently studied writing in advertising. First we discussed advertisements; what they are, their elements, where we see them, etc. Then we wrote our advertisements ensuring each item we discussed was included. After that we spent a day checking for proper punctuation, a day on spelling, and a day incorporating feedback (the child decided which feedback to incorporate).

Some days the kids write for the sake of writing. No corrections required. Hmmmmmm.... Check out our Language Arts Page for more writing ideas. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

I Saw it on Vacation - Week 11 - April 27

 Last week was a great week for this link-up. We had links from Pennsylvania, Australia, China and Afghanistan. Be sure to check them out. I Saw it on Vacation - Week 10.
What have you seen on Vacation? "I Saw it on Vacation" is a weekly link-up for kids and adults to learn about geography. Many of us have been to exciting places and seen unique things. Let us dream about future vacations while we learn more about our world!

Corn fields in Iowa, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigan, grizzly bears in Alaska…….monuments, landmarks, national parks, geographical features of any type are fair game. It doesn’t even really need to be a vacation. Your post could be about your local climate, or the traditions of your region. If the post shows photos of mountains and big horn sheep in Colorado, or explains hurricanes in the south it’s applicable. Just make sure it is kid-friendly and geography related.

Feel free to link-up a post you've already written and comment on the posts of others! Please link your post on the weekly I Saw it on Vacation blog-hop post and on the I Saw it on Vacation page. I’m excited to see what you have seen!
  • Link-up in two places;
    - Weekly I Saw it on Vacation blog-hop post below so we can see what’s new
    - I Saw it on Vacation Page – If you don’t see your territory send me a email so I can add it. jmommymom @ gmail . com
  • Follow me and I will follow back. Leave me a comment to let me know.
  • Link-up to your post or your main URL if your entire blog is dedicated to one place
  • Include a link back to this page in your post – You can grab the button below
  • Optional: Include the “I Saw it on Vacation” button on your side bar so others can join
  • Include the location and a short description of what you saw in your link up.
  • Check out what others have seen

If you would like to see what we have seen, check out German Living Topics, European Countries and European Living Topics on the side bar.
My in-laws left today after a two-and-a-half week visit. We had a great time and did lots of traveling while they were here. Soon I will be writing about what we saw in Salzburg, Strassbourg and the other places we visited.

What have you seen?

Highhill Homeschool

Thursday, April 26, 2012

China History Co-op. Week 4 - Shang Dynasty

Week 4: We wrote on wood like the Ancient Chinese and made ivory carvings.

We began by discussing seven important elements from the Shang Dynasty writing each one down from top to bottom and right to left like the Ancient Chinese. The elements are described below.
1 - Wood Writing - The kids made their bamboo strips for writing by tying craft sticks together with yarn.
2 - Chariots were invented.
3 - Silk was invented - We listened to the story of Lei Zu and the Silkworm and the kids got to feel real silk cloth. You can find the story in the Story of the World Volume 1.

Then they got a chance to put the silk making process in order.
4 - Oracle Bone Writing - We learned about how the Ancient Chinese used the oracle bones as a sort of fortune telling device.
5 - Tortoise shell writing
6 - Bronze - The Ancient Chinese figured out how to make bronze by mixing tin and copper.
7 - Jade and Ivory - Carvings were made out of jade and ivory. First the kids got to see real (very old) ivory carvings that one of our history co-op members happened to have.

Ivory Carvings
Ivory carvings were made from bars of soap.
A vegetable peeler was used to make the surface of the bar of soap smooth.
Designs were carved with a vegetable skewer.
Paint was put on top of the bar of soap and then wiped off from the surface. The paint sunk into the grooves making the design visible.

This post is linked to: 
Joy Focused Learning

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Steamed Brown Bread

This week the kids decided to bake brown bread. They found the recipe in our favorite 4 lb cookbook. The interesting thing about this bread is that it was boiled. I had never heard of that before.

They mixed lots of molasses and butter with flour, wheat germ, milk, nutmeg, walnuts, rasins, oil and baking soda.
The mixture was put into small metal cups (the recipe called for soup cans) to boil.
The cups were covered with aluminum foil, placed in a little bit of water and steamed with the lid on the pot.

Although the recipe called it bread, I think it was cake. It tasted very sweet. So what is the difference between bread and cake anyway?

This post is linked to
Inspired Weekends

* I did not receive any compensation for this recommendation. I'm just a homeschooling mom who has found many products that I like. If you're interested in the products I recommend on this blog I want to make it easy for you to find them. 
** I am an Amazon associate and receive a small portion of the sales on orders made after clicking in from this site, which I promptly spend on homeschooling books and supplies for my children.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Speed! - Patterns in the Cards - Six Speed

This is the fifth post in the series of posts. - Speed! Patterns in the Cards - I created the fun card game Speed! to teach multiplication. It uses skip counting to teach children to multiply and how to multiply faster. The series of Patterns in the Cards blog posts are meant to show some simple activities that can aid in number sense development using the Speed! cards.

Six Speed
Lay your cards out like this. What patterns do you see?

Here are the patterns I found with my son.
1. Ones digit is the same looking down the columns. 6-2-8-4-0.
2. Tens digit is a 0-1-1-2-3 and then a 3-4-4-5-6.

Do you think these patterns would continue if we added more cards? Continue laying out Six Speed cards with the backs up while counting by sixes in your head or writing the numbers on small slips of paper.
66 - 72 - 78 - 84 - 90

The patterns do continue!
Did you find any more patterns? Can you lay your cards out differently and find more patterns?

One thing I found interesting about the sixes is that the one digits are the same as Four Speed, but in reverse order. (4-8-2-6-0 Four Speed) & (6-2-8-4-0 Six Speed). This is more obvious when you do the Waldorf Circle exercise.

- draw a circle
- place 10 evenly spaced dots around the perimeter of the circle
- label the dots 0 thru 9
- starting at 0 draw lines in the order of the ones digit looking down the columns 6-2-8-4-0
- If you haven't tried this activity with Four Speed try it now and you should create a star in reverse order.

When you are done with this activity get out Seven Speed and get ready for next week.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

White Storks

White storks live in Germany and they seem to love the golf course. We saw them on the driving range several times this spring. They breed in many parts of Europe and spend their winters in Africa. Since they return each year in the spring and many babies are also born in the spring it is well known that the storks bring the babies.

There must be lots of good food in the grass. They shove their long beaks down into the grass and walk around eating all afternoon. They are carnivors and like to eat bugs and other small animals. Perhaps the snails and slugs around here are filling their bellies.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Make your own electrical switch

The kids made their own electrical switches. The idea for the experiment came from the battery section of the Discover and Do science experiment curriculum.

They poked brads through a piece of cardboard. A paperclip was attached to one of the brads. They attached wires to a light, battery and both sides of the switch. Next, the paper clip was moved to complete the circuit. Unfortunately it didn't work and the light wouldn't turn on. Perhaps it was because the brads were painted white? Anyways, I then encouraged them to create and test their own switches.

 My son made his switch from paperclips.

This time the experiment worked.

My daughter created her switch from quarters.

Her switch worked too.

This post is linked to 
Hearts for Home

 * I did not receive any compensation for this recommendation. I'm just a homeschooling mom who has found many products that I like. If you're interested in the products I recommend on this blog I want to make it easy for you to find them. 
** I am an Amazon associate and receive a small portion of the sales on orders made after clicking in from this site, which I promptly spend on homeschooling books and supplies for my children.
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