Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Review of The Road to Surfdom at Learning Tangent

Connor Boyack writes an amazing picture book series where two twins (The Tuttle Twins) learn about libertarian economics using real world examples. By their very nature, this series challenges widely-held assumptions about economics and personal liberties. Whenever I read the description of the next book, I think, You can't teach a child that! It's too complicated/controversial/etc.!

Then I read the book and, guess what? You can! 

And you should. The Road to Surfdom covers the unintended consequences of central planning and even pictures a farmer who has lost his farm due to rising property taxes and eminent domain. Wow, that sounds like a big topic, right? You can't teach a kid that!

But yes, you can. And you should, because one day in the not-so-distant future, your child will vote on central planning issues.

For example, along with the highly contested presidential race this year, my ballot also included a state-wide vote to expand public transportation. Public transportation is one of those things that often sound great but have the kinds of unintended consequences depicted in The Road to Surfdom. The bond was approved and will affect 76 counties. I wonder if any houses will be torn down and what businesses might fail due to changes in traffic patterns? When we vote to give government this sort of power, these are the kinds of risks we take, and it’s important not only to understand the risks, but to understand how such changes might affect our future.

I'm a libertarian and yet these books manage to challenge my own non-libertarian assumptions--they often remind me of something I 'learned' in my public school education, and then I laugh and laugh. So if these books challenge the way you see the world, that’s a good thing!

You can get the Tuttle Twins books at a discount by purchasing the whole set or multiples of a book. Perfect for your friends who believe in small government and big individual freedoms. Check out TuttleTwin.com for more information on this unique series.

See my review of The Tuttle Twins and the Road to Surfdom here at Learning Tangent Homeschool Magazine.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Review & Projects: Science Comics: Volcanoes

One day as I ambled through the book store (on my way to Ursula Vernon's book signing!) a snazzy cover and the words SCIENCE jumped out at me off the shelf. Like, practically fell on my head! I thought to myself, my kids like science! And comic books!

Flipping through the book, Science Comics: Coral Reefs: Cities Under the Ocean, I was impressed. I might have bought the book right then except that, sadly, my oldest has expressed a disinterest in ocean life (maybe they switched him at birth?). But, seeing that this was to be a series of awesome comic books, I snapped a photo of the cover and sent it to myself, and when I got home later, actually remembered to look it up and get a copy of the next book to review.

Here's the review of the latest, Science Comics: Volcanoes: Fire and Life on Learning Tangent Homeschool Magazine!

My favorite part about the book is that it was actually too advanced for my 7yo--I mean, he read it and liked it, but I'll be encouraging him to read these (again) when he's older. This surprised me because we've done plenty of hands-on experiments and read other books about volcanoes, because he likes them so much. I didn't expect to learn more! These books are solidly middle-grade because they provide a lot of technical detail and terminology. These give you a better sense that there is so much more to learn out there. And of course they are more entertaining than a text book. So now, the next time my kids ask to do a volcano experiment (again, hahaha!) I have more information to draw from and lovely illustrations to show them from the book.

So buy the book for yourself if your children aren't old enough yet (I'm serious!), and then use this handy-dandy vocab list to tie-in science experiments and the like with what the book teaches. Let me emphasize that the comic book depicts/explains these in a way that my google searches and other research for my kids up to that point simply did not:

Layers of the Earth:
  • Crust
  • Mantle
  • Inner core
  • Outer core

Plate Movement:
  • Oceanic and continental plates
  • Convergent boundary
  • Subduct
  • Divergent boundary
  • Geotherm

Lava & Eruptions:
  • Magma
  • Magma chamber
  • Lava
  • Mafic, felsic
  • Viscous
  • Lava haze
  • Pillow lava
  • Convection currents
  • Pyroclastic flow
  • Outgassing

Types of Volcanos:
  • Shield volcano
  • Composite volcano
  • Stratovolcano
  • Parasitic volcano
  • Hotspot

Examples of Hands-on Learning:

Layers of the Earth with homemade play dough
Model different types of volcanoes with your play dough.

Make a volcano "explode" and talk about chemical reactions.

Observe how temperature affects the volume of a gas with this balloon experiment.

Use colored marshmallows and toothpicks to model molecules in the book.

Blow out a candle using CO2.

Test the viscosity of different liquids by pouring honey, water, etc.

Model plate tectonics with graham crackers and frosting, or by cutting a show box in half, fitting one half over the other, filling with sand, and shoving the two halves together.

Model an earthquake and the damage to structures using jello.

Get your hands on pumice and other rocks to compare: test that they float, their mass displacement in a jar of water, their weight etc.

Have fun!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Review: Melissa and Doug Monster Puppets

If you're looking for a gift for young children that's NOT battery powered and that fosters imaginative play, check out these Monster Puppets with removable velcro features. My kids have had these for a couple of years and they still love them. I like the thick, sturdy feel and the endless possibilities.

One game we like to play is "My Monster Needs a..." which we sing to the tune of "The Farmer in the Dell."

My monster needs a nose! My monster needs a nose!
Please help me [Name] -- my monster needs a nose!


My monster needs a nose! My monster needs a nose!
Thank you, thank you, [Name] -- my monster has a nose!

Another game we like is to stick the pieces in a container and pull them out for a surprise, or for the puppet creator to surprise the audience with their creation.

You can sometimes find these for a good price on [ Amazon ]. Have fun!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Constellations and a Review: Artec Paper Craft Planetarium

Finally, we found a star projector that was actually educational! However, it fell apart after two weeks. If you use any of Artec's products, be prepared to supplement their glue and sticky tape with better glue and tape. Because this particular one had some impressive features, I went ahead and wrote up this long review anyway, and at the bottom I'll mention a few other books and printables about Constellations.

Usually I see projectors that project random stars and we wanted constellations, or I see DIY instructions that involve removing the mirrors from flashlights and that kind of thing. This Planetarium shows you what the constellations look like at different times of the year so I was excited to try it out.

However, this kit is not for everyone.
At the ArTec Website

Long story short, it says 8+ for a reason! More like 30+ if you are not used to putting things like this together. Expect this project to take at least an hour to build. "We" used a hot glue gun to reinforce the double-sided tape that came with the kit. We did not even attempt the school glue because I hate that kind of glue. The tubular part of the projector was the most challenging.

On the other hand, the "craft" part is one of the things that I find appealing. Talk about developing motor skills!

I LOVE that this thing is not a hunk of plastic that you just switch on. My oldest was very excited about wiring up the battery compartment (!!!) and the lightbulb. When you wire something like that yourself, it's even more magical when it works! I've looked into designing our own electronic experiments without a kit like this and my brain imploded. The downside is that the final product is more delicate than a pre-made product.

The instructions were adequate... We did get the thing together so they can't be that bad. I felt that the print was a little small (haha, I'm old!) and the diagrams could be clearer. But reading instructions like these is not my strong point. Just know that your child may need help with this aspect if they're like me.

We also LOVE that each constellation is numbered and there is a corresponding list in the instructions. We'll be having fun looking up each constellation to expand this topic.

You also use a push pin, not included, or a safety pin like we did to punch all the holes in the constellations. This was oddly satisfying for us both.

So, this may not be the best kit to start with if your child is still developing fine-motor and instruction-reading skills.

Shipping is expensive on their website. Some of these kits are also available at regular stores at a slightly higher price, which is much less than you'd pay for shipping. There are many kits available on amazon as well like this obstacle-avoiding robot (not to mention The Robot Book which we like for DIY projects) and these constellation playing cards... aaahhh! Excuse me while I go add to the childrens' wishlist!

We checked out some neat books, including Find the Constellations by H. A. Rey. My kids love Curious George and this book is a higher reading level which is perfect for my seven-year-old. This book is very thorough.

Our other favorite was Glow-in-the-Dark Constellations by C. E. Thompson. This one is a field guide, so it's wonderfully concise while still packing in a lot of information about what constellations to look for in different seasons.

Now we're printing out constellation dot-to-dots from Almost Unschoolers where you can find more book recommendations as well. Dustbunny.com has a good overview of the basic constellations. Enchanted Learning has more constellation dot-to-dots although you do have to be a member. With the books we have, I think I'll make a few of our own dot-to-dots. When we went to the science museum's Astronomy Days, they had a neat activity where they taped illustrations of the constellations to the inside of a tent's roof, then sent us in to identify/match the constellation handed to us.

Then there's this easy paper telescope craft with printable constellation cards - no flashlights necessary.

Constellations are so much fun!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Review: The First Drawing by Mordicai Gerstein #Homeschool #History #Lascaux

The First Drawing by Mordicai Gerstein asks your child to imagine if they were the first person to invent drawing, way back when the woolly mammoths walked the Earth. A wonderful concept with great execution.

My second-born has always been highly imaginative and sees faces in the ceiling, so he connected with The First Drawing.

If you live near the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, get your hands on this book now and then attend their PaleoPalooza event (This year it's Nov 14th, 2016)! Last year they had a display talking about Lascaux Cave in France, as well as an area where kids could make their own 'cave drawing.' Perfect!

Also worth mentioning:

Mordicai Gerstein also wrote How to Bicycle to the Moon to Plant Sunflowers: A Simple but Brilliant Plan in 24 Easy Steps. (You can take a breath now!) This book is as silly as it sounds and my kids laughed every single time we read it.

Visit Mordicai Gerstein's website to learn more about the dozens of works that he has written and illustrated.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Lesson Plan: Simple Machines

Last month I taught an awesome group of first and second graders about simple machines at one of our co-ops. After an introduction on simple machines, we split into groups and designed and built simple machines of our own using common craft materials and everyday objects. The kids loved working with their hands to put their newfound knowledge to immediate use.

It was a lot of fun researching (and drawing!) simple machines and making up a story to inspire our students to design their own machines. I've made my lesson plan available on TeacherPayTeacher:

Sally's Simple Machines
by Michelle Ristuccia

Another member of the co-op had this wonderful book which we read to introduce simple machines:

How Do You Lift A Lion? by Robert E. Wells

This gave me some time to (ahem) finish drawing and crossing all my T's in my new lesson plan. My lesson explains each of the 6 simple machines, but this book would still be a great supplement.

I've added this and other worksheets on a new collaborative Pinterest Board:


If you want me to add you to the board, send me a message.


Sunday, October 9, 2016

Charlie Cat Ebook Raffle [Ends 10/15/2016]

Enter below to win an ebook copy of Charlie Cat (kindle or pdf). Enter and share until Oct. 15!

Charlie Cat does not like scary monsters and ghosts. Charlie's friend Susie Dog loves to dress up for Halloween. When Susie Dog scares Charlie Cat, Charlie uses his strong voice to tell her STOP. Find out how these two friends get along on Halloween.

You can also view and share the giveaway on Facebook.

The giveaway is also at rafflecopter's page here.

Good luck!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Book Release: Charlie Cat Does NOT Like Halloween

Here it is, just in time for Halloween!

Charlie Cat Does NOT Like Halloween!

Charlie Cat does not like scary monsters and ghosts. Charlie's friend Susie Dog loves to dress up for Halloween. When Susie Dog scares Charlie Cat, Charlie uses his strong voice to tell her STOP. Find out how these two friends get along on Halloween.

Charlie Cat is a rhyming picture book for ages 0-8
Pages: 27

Buy now on [Createspace]!

Buy the paperback on [Amazon] or the ebook.

If you are local to me, contact me about getting a signed copy around Halloween day!

Thank you for your support. Remember to leave a review - it doesn't have to be a long review. I love reader feedback, and so do other potential readers, and so does Amazon!

Charlie Cat also has his own facebook page.

The book can also be found on [Goodreads].

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Halloween Book Sneak Peak!

Say "Hi" to Charlie Cat!

I mentioned in another post that we have spent many years searching for Halloween books that were appropriate for our young kids - one of which is particularly sensitive to "scary" things. So, if you enjoyed that post, now is the perfect time to join my mailing list and check the "for children" option. Mailing list subscribers will be the first to have access to my upcoming book and free coloring sheets of Charlie Cat.

You see, Charlie Cat does not like Halloween.

Sensitive children are often misunderstood for the simple fact that they don't like scary things. My goal is not to shelter them from the entire world, but simply to respect them for who they are.

This picture book is for children who don't like scary things.

It's ok to not like scary things. There is no magic potion to drink to make you "brave."

It's important that our friends respect when we say "stop." It's important that they respect who we are, and that can be a difficult concept for young children. What better way to share this message than with a book?

Without further ado, here is a sneak peak of Charlie Cat!

Join my mailing list to be the first to hear about Charlie Cat's picture book and other upcoming educational products and books. 

Happy Halloween!

Friday, September 23, 2016

7 Not-so-Scary Halloween Books

Are you thinking that it's a while before Halloween? You'd be surprised. Over here it's already pumpkin-this and pumpkin-that and when-can-we-carve-pumpkins. If you're trying to pick up books from the library or have them delivered to your house in time for the holiday, you might want to get on that, and here's a list to help.

One of my children is easily frightened, but also wants to participate in social events like trick-or-treating. Thus, we've spent many Halloweens searching for books that were not too scary. Here are our favorites:

This book was perfect for our needs because mouse and mole take turns frightening each other and then overcome their fears together.

Halloween Is... by Gail Gibbons.
This book talks about the origins of Halloween.

This one talks about how pumpkins are grown and about their historical and cultural use. It also mentions Halloween briefly. It goes best with the Halloween Is... book above by the same author.

(Get this one in Spanish!)
This one also talks about how pumpkins grow, but for younger children.

Who doesn't love a good (or really bad...) joke? Humor helped our kids with Halloween.

I thought the illustrations in this one would be too scary for my kids but apparently we have progressed past the mention of the word "ghost" frightening them. Whew! I love this parody of Goodnight, Moon.

No Halloween children's book list would be complete without...

AlphaOops Halloween by Alethea Kontis, one of our favorite authors!

Here's hoping your children enjoy a safe Halloween!

Like this post? Then you'll like my upcoming Halloween picture book! Here's a sneak peak of Charlie Cat.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Story Elements Classes

Earlier this month I had a great time running a class at the Lillington library for our homeschool group. We used fairy tales to discover the different elements of a story, and then we made our own as a class. Everyone had a blast!

This is our class story. If you can make my drawings out, I'll be impressed.

Then this week I took part of that lesson and used the same story-telling method to introduce our co-op class to elements of a story. They'll be using these new vocabulary words to play an awesome game, Create-a-Story, that the co-op has. As you play the game, players gather cards like "character" and on the other side of the card is a description of a character. You gather several of each type of card and once you reach the end of the board game, it's time to pick your favorite cards and write your story using an outline provided with the game. For the co-op, we divided the students into groups and each group is creating their own story. My group drew cards about pirates, treasure, and tornadoes... So much fun!

Earlier this year I also taught a class about the three-act story structure to middle and highschoolers at the Erwin library. I find the three-act structure helpful for understanding the "problem," "solution," and tension of a story on a deeper level, even when that story doesn't follow the model precisely. My favorite part during all of these classes is being privileged to talk with enthusiastic students who are very creative and excited to learn more. I'll also be doing a presentation on NaNoWriMo and encouraged my older students to look into that.

I'll be teaching more of these classes in the future. You can read about my classes here and connect with me through email or facebook.

PS. Another good tool for story telling are cubes like the Rory's Story Cubes

Friday, September 2, 2016

Review: That's a Possibility! by Bruce Goldstone

My 5-year-old is constantly asking me if XYZ can happen. Can a tornado happen where we live? Earthquakes? Can fire burn under water? What if...

The answers often center around probability, and they're questions I don't want to fudge the answer to. What if I told him that tornadoes can't happen here, and then we have to hide in our bathroom from a tornado? That would be my luck! And just try telling him "not to worry" about something. He's not too worried, actually. He likes his what-ifs and can-you-reallys. So, yes, a tornado can happen here, but it doesn't happen often.

Yes, we had a small earthquake here once (can't fudge that one!) but no, earthquakes are unlikely to destroy everything on the continent. These "buts" and "maybes" would eventually lead to him asking me the exact same question again (Send help!), perhaps looking for a more accessible answer.

Then I found this book. Tada! It walks the reader through questions and visuals like the one on the cover and introduces important terminology such as "possible" and "probable." It starts out at about my 5-year-old's level and gets a little more complicated from there, ending with a few activities you can do at home.

This book brought the concept of probability back down from the clouds, where my child lives, down to earth. At least for a few minutes.

I'm sure my 5-year-old will continue to ask (and re-ask...) the same kinds of questions every hour of every day, but now the answers and the discussions that follow can be more meaningful to him (and to me.) Now he understands that there are many things that CAN happen but likely never will happen. Like being struck by lightning. One hundred times. Yes, of course he asked me that one, too.

P.S. Fire can burn under water if it is burning magnesium. Or if it uses an oxidizer. You're welcome.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Review: The Young Chef's French Cookbook (I'm the Chef)

We've been studying geography and my seven-year-old also expressed an interest in cooking. So, while we were learning about France, I stumbled across this great cookbook. He has always been a selective eater, so we were excited to see recipes that he would be willing to eat as well as able to cook. Our favorites were:

Toasted Cheese and Ham Sandwich
Quiche Lorraine
Butter, Lemon, and Parsley Sole

There are also recipes that would be great for children a year or two older, like the kids shown on the cover. The lay-out is great, making it easy for young cooks to follow themselves. This book is real cooking for beginners.

Friday, July 1, 2016


There is a beehive in my front yard.


Guys! There is a beehive in my yard!

You can bet that we've already gotten a lot of homeschool mileage out of the bees. When our extra supplies arrived for expanding the hive, my husband sat down with the kids and showed them (and me!) what everything was and why the bees need this and that. I didn't even ask him to do this. He just did. Clearly I married the right guy.

Wax-coated black plastic foundation

And then of course there is the experience of watching the bees in our garden and watching them fly in and out of the hive.

The bees love our cucumber and squash plants

Do you know what is so funny? While we were waiting for the bees to arrive, we got a lot of questions, and I worried, too. Kids and bees -- I must be crazy, right? And yet, here I am standing a foot away from the hive to take these photos, and the bees don't care.

They're Russian bees! Don't be afraid to get Russian bees because they are "more aggressive." As long as we don't knock the hive over or wear imitation banana perfume, the kids will be safe.

Ahhh! They're so amazing!

P.S. The NC Zoo has a neat bee exhibit including a giant fake hive that you can walk into. The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences also has a beehive that you can see into in their Discovery Room.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Review: The Book with No Pictures

The Book with No Pictures by B. J. Novak is hilarious and perfect for young children with a twisted sense of humor. Be aware that this book requires singing and funny voices!

This book was a gift and when I first saw the cover, I wasn't sure what to think. Now my kids love this book so much that they insisted on reading it at our homeschool book club and they had all the other children in uproarious laughter.

Who knew that a picture book without pictures could be so interesting?

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Review: Hamster Princess Of Mice and Magic by Ursula Vernon

(New to this series? See my review of the first book, Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible)

Hamster Princess: Of Mice and Magic by Ursula Vernon, the second book in the Hamster Princess series, is based on the classic fairy tale "The Twelve Dancing Princesses", except that in Harriet's world, the princesses are mice named after the twelve months of the year. In the original fairy tale, the soldier who discovers the princesses' secret marries the eldest daughter - as you can imagine, Harriet finds her own way to make things right. Of Mice and Magic makes for a great sequel that continues with the feminist themes of the first book, by which I mean that Harriet is female, saves the day, and doesn't believe in forcing princesses to marry.

Ursula is the creator of Hugo-Award winning graphic novel Digger, which is for more mature audiences, as well as many other graphic novels and otherworks which you can find out about at

Oh, and did I mention that the third book is out? I can't wait to get my hands on Hamster Princess: Ratpunzel.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Photography in the Park in Living Education

My article "Photography in the Park" is out in Living Education Spring 2016: Go Wild!

"Photography in the Park" was inspired by our trips photographing mushrooms. I'll admit that this photo was all me:

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Review: Hamster Princess Harriet the Invincible by Ursula Vernon

I'd like to take a break from educational ideas and books to share something just for fun:

Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible by Ursula Vernon is a hilarious graphic novel that reinvents the classic fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty (Little Briar Rose), except that the princess is a hamster who fights ogres and cliff dives. You see, when Harriet learns about the curse placed on her, she realizes that she is temporarily invincible because the spell must keep her alive until her birthday in order for her to prick her finger and fall into a deep sleep. Harriet easily subverts fairy tale tropes with her no-nonsense attitude, because if she doesn't want to marry a prince, then why should she?

Harriet the Invincible is an engaging mix of traditional text story-telling and graphic novel illustrations that help deliver comedic punchlines. Because of the reading level, this series is listed as Middle Grade (8-12). My son is younger than that but enjoyed the book very much and read it multiple times in a day. I think some of the jokes may have gone over his head and that an older child will get even more out of the book.

One of the reasons I love this series is because I see a number of fairy tale mash-ups for adults, but not many (any?) for this age group, and certainly none so clever. Harriet is quite inspiring as a strong female character who happens to be a hamster.

One of the amazing things about this series is that Ursula Vernon is both author and illustrator of Hamster Princess and many other of her works. That's like writing the book twice!

Ursula is also the creator of Hugo-Award winning graphic novel Digger, which is for more mature audiences, as well as many other graphic novels and otherworks which you can find out about at

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Review: Its NOT the Stork #biology

I am so glad that I heard about this book from another mom. A lot of children have questions about pregnancy and every thing that goes along with it, and I'm a big fan of giving as much information as is reasonably possible. I'm also a big fan of utilizing a book like this to help me, especially with a topic like this one.

When it comes to sex and all that, I feel like we parents can be too anxious about what to tell our children when. I thought, where do I start?

Start here!

Its NOT the Stork by Robie H. Harris.

My almost-seven-year-old read it and enjoyed it. You can see right on the cover that it is intended for four-years-old and up.

If your child is older, take a look at Its So Amazing by Robie H. Harris, which is the same topic but for seven and up.

And while we're on the topic, Its Perfectly Normal by Robie H. Harris talks about puberty, so I assume that's for older children.

Have toddlers? Check out Who Has What? by Robie H. Harris.

Visit Robie H. Harris' website to learn more about what she writes.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Review: The Tuttle Twins and the Food Truck Disaster by @CBoyack

My review of The Tuttle Twins and the Food Truck Fiasco by Connor Boyack is live on Learning Tangent Magazine!

This is more than a book review for me because back in Feburary, Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, tackled these same issues.

Last year, the town decided to allow food trucks. Not long after, a few businesses raised concerns about the food trucks hurting their own bottom line. At the same time, many other businesses, such as Fainting Goat Brewing, The Mill, and Draft Line Brewery, saw how food trucks benefited the town and its citizens. Unfortunately, the new regulations were passed.

The regulations limit food trucks to operating only two days a week, as well as ban them from commercial areas. Wow, really? Really.

If you're a local, you can follow The Mill, Draft Line Brewing, and the Fainting Goat Brewing Company on facebook to see when they're having special events with musicians and food trucks. You can also follow Flattz Signature Flatbreads, one of the food trucks that helped bring awareness to remove the regulations.

Seeing a book that explains these issues on a level that my gradeschooler can understand is wonderful. I don't often get political on my social media, but when it comes to educating our children, sometimes politics play a part and we are big believers in small government and deregulation. From that perspective, this book was perfect for my 1st grader, and my rising kindergartner now wants to run a lemonade stand.

Make sure you check out my review here!

Buy The Tuttle Twins and the Food Truck Fiasco by Connor Boyack, or any of the other Tuttle Twins books, directly from [ TuttleTwins.com ]

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Fun with Fractions! #Math #Homeschool

My son has been interested in fractions, so I printed out this fraction bar freebie on Teacher's Notebook and TPT, broke out fun manipulatives and our calculator.

Once it came time for review, we enjoyed:

and Pizza Fraction Bingo. He really loves Bingo and other board games, so we have several bingo games by this company. Learning Resources also has a number of other matching fraction manipulates (see below), but if you prefer solid wood, especially for little hands, get something like Grimm's Wooden Fraction Circles:

or this Lift and Learn Puzzle which also has the words and numbers on it. I love the nice colors, solid feel, and the food-neutral aspect of these alternatives.

There is also plenty of organic learning that you can do with fractions. I started describing their food in fractions long before we with printables and manipulatives. Cooking is a great way to learn and review fractions over and over again. You can have lots of fun baking or pouring water from one measuring cup into another.

More Learning Resources fraction manipulatives:

Have something cool to add? Comment below!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Review: Boy Were We Wrong About the Human Body by Kathleen V Kudlinski

We found an awesome series of science history picture books, Boy, Were We Wrong by Kathleen V. Kudlinski. This series presents a nicely summarized history of scientific discovery centered around different themes, all with the purpose of showing readers that our knowledge of science is based on educated guesses. The best part about these books is that they tell your child that THEY might be the next scientist who makes a big discovery that changes science.

The books we read are:

There's one more:

I particularly liked that the Dinosaur book explained that many textbooks, films, and other books feature already out-dated information about Dinosaurs. There have been several discoveries in the last few years that negate what I learned as a kid. Did you know that triceratops and torosaurus are the same dinosaur?

Or that they thought Brontosaurus did not really exist, and now they've changed their mind again?

And, of course, the Solar System book talks about Pluto being a dwarf planet. My four-year-old loves to tell me that Pluto is indeed a planet, just a dwarf one. Poor Pluto!

You can also check out [Kudvinski's website]. She has written many children's books about science and history.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Review: Snap Circuits Jr.

Today we broke out our Snap Circuits Jr. kit. I'm so thrilled with it, and I noticed that it appears to be on sale at [ Amazon ] right now!
The projects in the book have great explanations and illustrations, and follow a very logical progression and start simple, so it is like a 100 science lessons in one kit. I love how the board holds everything together so that it's easier for little hands that are still developing fine motor control.

Having just spent the day checking out different brick-and-mortar stores trying to find 1.5V bulbs and 1.5V motors for what I thought was a simple electronics project, I'm relieved to start with this instead. My 6.5-year-old will still want to build a simple robot one day, but maybe after we've both learned more of the principals behind the crazy DIY projects that require you to buy a 10 pack of flashlight bulbs on Amazon, and a five pack of this and that, until suddenly your cart totals far more than the $20 that this set costs right now

Monday, February 1, 2016

Review: Nellie Nova Takes Flight at Learning Tangent Magazine

My review for Nellie Nova Takes Flight went live today at Learning Tangent: The Common Sense Homeschool Magazine!

Learning Tangent is an interfaith quarterly magazine that has been running since early 2014. Editor-in-Chief Gail Nelsen started this inspiring publication as a bridge between homeschoolers' various beliefs and faiths. Because in the end, we are all homeschoolers!

I'm excited to share Nellie Nova Takes Flight with both my readers and with the readers of Learning Tangent. Like Learning Tangent, Nellie Nova is something that all homeschoolers can get excited about: a book about and for homeschoolers, written by a homeschooler! And did I mention time travel and famous women scientists?

Nellie Nova Takes Flight

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Review: Rattlesnake Board Game #Magnetism #Homeschool #Science

My four and six-year-old love this Rattlesnake board game that their aunt got them for Christmas. The idea is to place a magnet on the board without causing them to clash together.

We like the simple rules, and who doesn't love magnets? This is a game of fine motor skills that's perfect for their age.

When your board starts to look like this, watch out!

Since we love magnets so much and they also got magnetic building tiles for Christmas, we've had a lot of questions about magnets around here. I think that's funny since we've always had magnets of all sorts, including wooden trains. The rattlesnake "eggs" intrigued them!

To explore magnets more, we found facts about magnetism (and video) at Easy Science for Kids, and for something more in-depth, an introduction to magnets video on Khan Academy (my 6yo has an account there. It's free!) and also NASA's explanation of Earth's Magnetosphere.

To round off, here are Elementary Science Experiments for Magnets. My kids have done the first one at Marbles Kids Museum near us, exploring properties and the magnetic field.


PS. My family also got them buzzing earth magnets as extras for the game, but they're a little bigger than the game magnets. They also buzz better and I think they'd be fun for an extra challenge!

PPS. How are your kids exploring magnets? Share in the comments below!