Tuesday, June 15, 2010

History Class - China Study

The last two weeks of history class have been dedicated to Asia during the Ancient and Middle Ages. Learning about China, and Japan, and even some about Korea. What an incredible area!
The kids with their carp kites:


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Idaho Day One

After testing today (which went much better than yesterday), we did our unit on Idaho. I talked about where potatoes grew, and why they were so prevalent there, and then we did our sheets from the USA book on Idaho.

For each state I used a mix of the book series in this post, and the worksheets in this post. These are the extra resources I used for Idaho in particular:

School House Rock - Earth

Hello USA series - Idaho
Eat Your Way Through the USA (Section on Idaho of course)


Incredible Edible Idaho - Potatoes - A PDF file of the life cycle of a potato plant and potato nutrition facts. Even has a coloring sheet.

Idaho Dept of Agriculture Food of the Month - Includes all the different foods that grow well in Idaho and has a PDF file on most of them.


For the Idaho unit we made baked Idaho Russet potatoes for dinner with nitrate free bacon and herbs from the garden on top. We made fresh asparagus, because it is in season in Idaho right this second, which we smothered with the last of the cheese we got from the Tillamook factory (white cheddar pepper corn cheese).

Then Alex made Potato Chip Cookies:

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups crushed potato chips

1 cup crushed nuts

1 pound butter

2 cups sugar

1 tsp vanilla

powdered sugar

1) Mix together all ingredients except powdered sugar.

2) Bake at 325* for 15 minutes. Cool.

3) Roll in powdered sugar.

We split the recipe in half (making it a math lesson as well) and then he made them. They are crunchy and VERY sweet... not considering they are made with potato chips, not bad at all.

Logan and Cyan making the asparagus:


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Testing day...

We don't put much stock in tests. Especially standardized tests. In my mind, standardized tests are meant to test standardized children... and those children do not exist.

But I like to know where my children are in the scope of things and how they are progressing. And if (God forbid) something should ever happen to me and they would need to go into public school, then I think the test scores are good information to have on hand. So for the last two Springs, I have set up a day to do the MAP test with an online proctor.

Today was the day. They had their water bottles filled with water, I bought fruit bars as snacks, and they were allowed to chew gum. (Whoohooo!) This took out most of the test anxiety they may have and I got Cyan ready to go.

This year she switched from the test being electronically read to her, to reading it herself. I had let her know ahead of time and had prepared her by going over the Dolch words, and reviewing the rules of sounding things out. She was set. We started the test today in high spirits.

That didn't last long.

She got through the first questions with flying colors. They were mostly deductive reasoning and I was shocked at the level of vocabulary they were requiring of my 8 year old... but she was doing ok. I stayed in the room and as I watched her she got all of the first 5 problems correct, even though some seemed quite a bit above her level. Then as I watched I started to get irritated. The questions didn't come back to a 3rd grade level... they kept going higher and higher until she was having to read entire pages worth of work and then they would ask her questions like "now find the false statement on this page". WHAT? Um... She's 8.

I sat with her and watched the next two questions closely. The first one was a page of instructions on how to install a fire alarm in a hallway. It had about 2 paragraphs worth of info, which is heavy for her age level. Ie: hard but do-able. But then, when we got to the multiple choice answers it asked her 'which of these four sentences did not appear in the instructions' and it had four choices... and NONE of them had appeared (word for word) in the (painful for her to read cuz she is 8 years old) instructions.

The next one was worse. It said:

"You are writing a children's book about the dentist. The book is about a child's very first visit to a dentist office. Please choose the words that would keep the focus of your young audience."

A) Oral Hygienist, Calcification, Plaque, Surgical Tray

B) Cavities, Cleaning Tools, Tooth Brush, Dentist's Mask

C) Gums, Bite, Enamel, Aspirator

D) Oral, Tarter, Orthodontist, Cuspid

At this point she started crying cuz she didn't know what ANY of those words meant and I told her she could be done now. I signed off the computer and called the proctor.

I told the proctor what had happened and I told her that in no way was I going to watch my daughter cry through a test. (We were only through the first part of three.) Plus, I was pretty sure that when I left the room she was just pressing buttons anyhow to get through it, so that wasn't going to show us anything. She told me that the first five questions (all of which my daughter got correct, remember?) set the level of the test and that level could be anywhere from 3rd to 12th grade level. I was blown away to say the least. So basically, my daughter was getting 7th to 12th grade questions because she has good deductive reasoning skills?? Apparently, the answer is yes. Gosh that sucks!

Yeah... I told the proctor that we were all done with that, and that we could try another test tomorrow, but my kids will not be taking the MAP test again. But what makes me even more angry is that Cyan spent an hour after her test saying that she was sorry she couldn't do it. Poor thing! In NO WAY should a test EVER make a child feel like that.


Monday, June 7, 2010

Resources for California State unit study

For each state I used a mix of the book series in this post, and the worksheets in this post. These are the extra resources I used for California in particular:

This Land Called America - California

Over California
Homeward Bound - The Incredible Journey

Organic California Walnuts - History of the black walnut and the walnuts of California.

Castroville Artichoke Festival - We were ALMOST there for it. We left the day before the festival. But we ate at least 4 artichokes each in honor of the season. (Another quick food fact of CA, I have never paid less than $1.50 for an avocado... there that is SPENDY! lol! I was in avocado heaven!)

Oakland California's Gold Rush

Dairy Council of CA kids games - We saw a LOT of happy California dairy cows. It is amazing how much land they have!


(frankly, you could make just about anything and use ingredients from California. But these are the few we chose because we saw them when we were down there. In fact, we made lemonade down there several times from the Meyer Lemon tree in my mom's back yard.)


1 c. crab meat
1 c. fresh Parmesan cheese
1 c. Hellman's real mayonnaise
8 oz. can artichoke hearts, diced
1 sm. can water chestnuts
4 oz. sour cream or yogurt

Bake in shallow dish at 400 degrees until cheese bubbles. Serve hot. Toast - to go with dip: Sliced French bread (sliced finely), toasted; or English muffin, toasted in oven on both sides, cut into squares. Serve dip on toasts.

Strawberry Shortcake from All Recipes

Perfect Lemonade: Boil 2 cups of water in a med saucepan. Add 1 cup of sugar while mixing with a whisk. Mix until dissolved. Once you can not see any sugar in the syrup, place ice cubes into the pot to cool it down. Add this to the juice of 4 Meyer lemons (approximately 1 cup of juice) in a pitcher, and fill the pitcher the rest of the way with cold water or ice.

More things we saw growing in the California sun included:





Lettuce and Lettuce mixes

Broccoli... you name it. It's there somewhere.


Resources for Oregon State unit study

Oregon is only a little ways off, but we got a lot of information for our sister state. For each state I used a mix of the book series in this post, and the worksheets in this post. These are the extra resources I used for Oregon State in particular:

Apples to Oregon

Oregon, State of Wonder

Dirty Jobs with Mike Roe: Cranberry Farmer - (recap here, you can find it on Netflix or at your local library)

Bill Nye, the Science Guy - Volcanoes (talks about the ring of fire and Crater Lake briefly. Good for all the Pacific States.)

Crater Lake National Park teacher resources - This website is for teachers who are close enough to go to Crater Lake. If you can, you should go. It's amazing! But if not, skip down to the Jr Rangers portion at the bottom of the resources.

Tillamook Cheese Factory - We were lucky enough to tour this facility while we were on our trip. What a neat place! And, they have the best ice cream EVER. :) Watching the cheese be made was fascinating.

Oregon's Cranberry Network - Fun recipes and information on how cranberries are grown and harvested. Amazing process! Reminds me a lot of how rice is grown and harvested.

The Story of Henderson Lewelling - The story that is behind the book 'Apples to Oregon' is that of Henderson Lewelling. He is the man that brought apple trees to the West Coast. He and his brother were the pioneers of the now famous Oregon and Washington apple movement. Although WA grows more apples, in Lewelling's day, Washington WAS Oregon. So we won't hold it against him. ;)


Macaroni and Cheese Cheese Cheese

Paula Dean's Pear Crisp

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Resources for the USA unit studies

I have found TONS of really amazing resources for these studies that I would love to share with you. Along with the pages that I printed out and turned into a book (See here) I have been collecting and researching books and websites on different states and have found some really amazing gems in the mix!

For each state, my library carries these series:
Scholastic Series - America the Beautiful
Celebrate the States series
Portraits of the States
Weird USA (one for each state)

I have collected a few books for my own personal library on the subject as well:
Smart About the Fifty States
Don't Know Much About the 50 States
My America - A Poetry Atlas
Eat Your Way Through The USA

Games we have collected include:
10 Days In the USA
Scrambled States of America

Websites we have found and LOVED so far include:
Ben's Guide the Place the States (A fun game where you have to place the states on their correct places. Several levels from "Match up the piece with the state shape" to "Place the state where it goes on a lineless map".)

Mr Donn State Unit Studies (This site has tons of different resources. I found lots of broken links, but also many others that were very useful in developing this unit study.)

HIP Pocket Change (Each quarter from the USA quarter collection with a small amount of history and a coloring page.)

Shepard's Software USA Geography (A collection of games about the united states.)

Kids.Gov (a resource page which has each states website that are geared specifically for children. Some broken links here as well, but a lot of really neat sites to visit).

Over all, I have used these resources more than any others. There are hundreds and hundreds out there, and I have reviewed many of them setting up for this unit. As I go through the states I will add specific books, websites, and materials that I found helpful for that particular state's study.


Resources for Washington State Unit Study

For each state I used a mix of the book series in this post, and the worksheets in this post. Here are the extra resources I used for the Washington State unit study:

Over Washington
Discoveries American Series - Washington
Washington State - A Scenic Tour
Bill Nye the Science Guy - Volcanoes (Talks about Mt St Helen's, the islands of Hawaii, and even Mt Delani National park in Alaska. Good for all the Pacific States.)

Weird Washington
E is for Evergreen
- A Washington Alphabet

All about WA state - a site that has state facts, state symbols, and other resource links.

FEMA for kids - Mt St Helen's safety and information.

About.com/Washington State - Tons of links (have not checked them all) about WA state and activities for kids. Great resource!

Apple Hangman - Just for fun, but each answer is a different kind of apple!

Recipe for WA:
Grandma Ole's Apple Pie
(of course!)

(Because we live here, these were limited. I didn't think we needed to spend a lot of time on WA state. But it was neat to see a few of these things. I learned some facts about our state I never knew before.)