Earth Day Pancakes
(Earth Day is April 22nd)
This is a guest blog post written by Renae C.
Homeschool fun – start your kids off right for Earth Day by making these pancakes in the shape of the planet Earth! Simply take your favorite pancake mix (I like Krusteaz) and follow the directions. Next, separate 2/3 of the mix into one bowl, and 1/3 of the mix in another. In the larger bowl add blue food coloring and add green to the smaller bowl.
You will want a piping bag, or if you don’t have one on hand (I didn’t), then you can make a temporary one yourself. You will need some wax paper, which you should fold in half, and roll it into a cone. Tape the sides and you’re done.
Now that you have mixed your batter and you have your piping bag, you will need to load the green batter into the bag. Then pour the blue batter onto your greased skillet, making sure it makes more of a circular shape than an oval one. Take your piping bag and pipe green batter in the shape of the continents (or as close as you can manage!).
Finish the pancakes the way that you regularly would. I made my pancakes in advance, so all I will have to do in the morning is pull them out, heat them up, and serve.
Renae C. is a homeschooling mom and blogger. She writes ‘Mostly Together Mommy’ (www.mtmommy.com).
The Global Oneness Project offers multicultural stories and accompanying lesson plans for high school and college classrooms. Their award-winning collection of films, photo essays, and articles explore cultural, social, and environmental issues with a humanistic lens. The curriculum content contains an interdisciplinary approach to learning and facilitates the development of active, critical thinking. Each month, they release a new story and accompanying lesson plan. All of the content and resources are available for free with no ads or subscriptions.
Their films have been featured on National Geographic, PBS, The Atlantic,The New York Times, The New Yorker, and at the Smithsonian, among others. Their educational materials are being used in diverse settings around the country including Chicago Public Schools, MIT, UC Berkeley, and AltSchool.
Just thought you might want to check it out!
Earth Day was started in 1970 and April 22 was set aside as the day to reflect upon our planet and what we can do to help our earth remain healthy for future generations. From the very beginning, school children were encouraged to celebrate Earth Day. I remember being involved in Earth Day projects in school. Do you?
As a homeschooler, you can incorporate Earth Day into your science curriculum, your government studies (depending on the age of your children, they can learn about the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, etc.), your English lesson, you can make Earth Day arts and crafts and you can even sing Earth Day songs! You can even incorporate Earth Day into a cooking lesson by making a colorful and delicious Rice Krispy earth. Just remember, approximately 70% of that Rice Krispy earth should be blue!
In addition, as a family, you can recycle cans and bottles, start a compost pile, donate used clothing, plant trees, etc.
Talk to your kids about Earth Day and see what they’d like to do. They’ll probably have some creative ideas on how they would like to beautify this wonderful planet we call home.
And remember–fun learning is forever learning,
Words and Images – Using Video in Homeschooling
Angela Newsom, Cross and Quill Media
I admit it: I was a little lost. With my kids ranging from ages two to 10, I was trying to make Ye Olde One Room Schoolhouse work—you know, teaching multiple ages at once—and I was having trouble keeping their attention. The words and ideas from the textbook pages I was reading to them were attempting to cross over into my kids’ minds, but were often not surviving the journey. When I asked questions, I saw blinks and blank stares. What was I doing wrong?
I wasn’t sure. But I knew there had to be a better way.
One problem is that textbooks are usually not the best way to teach anything, but that’s a story for another day. Beyond that, I wanted to experiment with enhancing all the reading we were doing with videos. So I started looking for short films, documentaries, classic and contemporary movies, whatever I could find to add a little visual life to our studies.
Why videos? Here are two reasons: first, by virtue of repetition in a different form, kids are better able to remember the stories and ideas they are learning.
Second, watching a film is a kind of literary-historical study in itself. While movie-making is only a bit over a hundred years old, those were years of incredible change. And we can learn, by watching the films created throughout the decades of the past century, what the people of those very different parts of the century believed and valued. Film scripts, after all, are an important part of the literature of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries (indeed, for too many people, films are the only literature they encounter), much as the plays of Shakespeare, though written for visual performance on stage, are an important part of the literature of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.
So I began to use videos to supplement our reading. And I started noticing something: my kids were learning more. They were also paying closer attention to my reading. How did I work that magic?
For one thing, I taught them to be detectives. In the videos we watched, the children were required to point out any discrepancies between the film and what we had read (and even the best historical videos are sometimes less than accurate). This brings up an important rule for us: read first, watch second. Not just because we should prefer words over images (though there is perhaps something in that), but because the peoples of the past left their stories primarily in written form.
So the kids had to be on the lookout for errors. And they had fun with it. They learned more, I think, from comparing videos with books because they were being trained to watch for variations from fact.
But I encountered a problem: while I found an abundance of films that looked like they might work, reliable reviews did not always exist, and I wasn’t always sure that particular movies or documentaries were a good fit with our theological and moral standards. And at the time, options for filtering our selections were rather limited.
Then I found the Dove Channel. I had used the Dove Foundation website for checking on movie reviews for our family, but the Dove Channel was new. What is the Dove Channel? It’s a streaming video service that has been described as a more family-friendly version of Netflix, which includes films, TV specials and series, animated shorts, classic movies and documentaries.
And—this is the best part for you homeschoolers—Dove Channel now has a dedicated homeschool shelf to help you easily find relevant films for the subjects your kids are studying. I consulted with Dove to help them come up with the current lineup of categories and the videos in each: Bible, History, Literature, Pre-School, and Science.
All these films have the Dove seal of approval, and include suggested age levels. Dove reviews are included with the description to help you decide whether a particular film is an acceptable choice for your family. You can also set up password-protected parental controls: this option allows you to choose what is acceptable for your family to watch, while your children will not be able to access any other videos without a password.
I have thoroughly enjoyed using the Dove Channel for many of my media choices for homeschooling. I regularly post about various videos on the Cross and Quill Media Facebook Page, where I include all streaming options to help with homeschool learning. The Cross and Quill website also has a growing collection of videos listed by subject and age. Care to join me and thousands of others in using streaming videos for homeschool? We’d love to have you!
Earth Day Time Capsule is a guest blog post written by Deborah Lee Rose/HowtoSmile.org
Time capsules can cover a calendar year like 2016, or capture a special day like Earth Day. In 2016, Earth Day 46 will take place on Friday, April 22. From now until then, you can collect items to create an Earth Day time capsule, with the Howtosmile.org activity Create Your Own Time Capsule. Gather items like photos of endangered species—will they still be endangered when you open your time capsule?
Include a piece of something that can’t be recycled—will there be a recyclable version in years to come? Save an article about the environment—will it still be true in a year or even five years from now? You can also add things like postage stamps with Earth themes, and photos of yourself helping clean up the environment. Talk about what you’re including with your family, friends and classmates. Then seal your capsule and mark it to be opened on a future Earth Day, maybe Earth Day 50 in 2020!
Earth Day – Ocean Clean Up 2016
This is a guest blog post written by Deborah Lee Rose.
If you do one thing for the environment in 2016, it could be to help clean up and prevent plastic trash from polluting our oceans. More than 5 trillion pieces of plastic may be floating—and sinking deeper—in the world’s oceans, according to scientists. This marine debris includes toys, toothbrushes, bottles, plastic bags, fishing nets and other items that break down into smaller pieces and are carried around the globe by ocean currents and waves.
Planning a marine cleanup for Earth Day 46 or any day in 2016? Add STEM exploration to your environmental efforts with the Howtosmile.org activity A Scientific Cleanup. This is a comprehensive lesson plan for a cleanup trip to a local beach, lake or stream. Learners keep track of and analyze the types and amounts of trash they pick up (including plastic), discuss the marine debris problem in their community, and consider ways to prevent pollution. The lesson helps learners understand the effects of both natural events and human influences on ecosystems. It also teaches them science process skills like forming questions and answering them by experimenting, carrying out research, and designing experimental tests.
Ocean pollution gets really hands-on in the All Tangled Up activity. Learners examine and simulate wildlife entanglement by experiencing what it might be like to be a marine animal trapped in debris. Learners wrap rubber bands around their fingers and across the back of their hands, then try to disentangle themselves.
You can use easy to find images of stuff—or actual stuff—that humans add to ocean or beach pollution in the I Am/Who Has: A Litter Matching Game activity. Learners can discover the source of ocean debris like cans, plastic grocery bags, tires, plastic food wrappers, and water bottles, and how to reduce their use or prevent them from ending up in the ocean.
Drawing what they learn about marine debris can help reinforce students’ understanding of ocean pollution and its environmental impact. Encourage them to create their own marine debris themed art for their classroom, home, afterschool program, or even a future art contest.
Younger learners can also do fun games and puzzles from NOAA’s downloadable Understanding Marine Debris booklet. Older learners can check out the new book Plastic Ahoy: Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, by Patricia Newman with photos by Annie Crawley. The book follows a scientific expedition out into the ocean to study the effects of plastic pollution, answer questions about what happens when plastic ends up where it doesn’t belong, and explore how it affects ocean life.
Animation and the Joy of Learning
One of the most heartbreaking things I see as a teacher, parent, or animator is a young person putting so much pressure on themselves that they lose the joy that attracted them to an art form (or activity) in the first place. As a young animation student I was drawn into a sequence of excitement, opportunity, achievement, and comparison (to those more advanced than myself), and then to insecurity and frustration. Each time I saw someone’s animation I had to know if I could do better. If I could be more valuable. As if becoming more adept at a certain skill had any bearing on who I was or my value as a person. But I continued to put pressure on myself to understand complicated concepts instantly and execute them effortlessly. Little by little that pressure robbed me of the joy I felt when animating. And it continued not just through school, but well into my career. Until finally I couldn’t keep up with it.
After four years working for Walt Disney Feature Animation in the late ‘90’s, I found myself cleaning out my desk and saying good-bye to the job that had been my dream since 6th grade. While I had talent, I couldn’t draw or animate as well as the other artists there, some who were my age, but many who had been animating for decades. And instead of approaching my position with a humble curiosity, I had instead withdrawn into myself hoping that I could somehow pull some animation off on my own that would ‘Wow!’ those around me, which of course I couldn’t. As a result, I found myself without a position on the newest film, without the opportunity to learn from those who had so much more skill than myself, and without a desire to continue animating, a process that had always fascinated me and something I truly loved to do. What had I done wrong!? I had expected to learn too much too quickly. I had attached my character and self-worth to a skill that took thousands of hours to master. I had abandoned the joy of learning.
I finally did give up putting that unachievable pressure on myself and I have enjoyed animating in the world of film over the last 25 years, although I still feel it sneak up on me every once in a while. Now I see the pressure in new places, the eyes of my children and my students. I think with the technological advancements today it makes it even harder for this next generation. A world of information and opportunity is at their fingertips. Almost everything is effortless…and yet there are still things in life that are truly hard to master. Growing up and maturing. Learning to interact with people. Knowing thyself. And, in the case of my students, animation. When the movie goer watches an animated movie they ingest years of work from hundreds of people in a couple of hours. Unfortunately, sometimes a student will expect the same level of skill and expertise from themselves that they see on the screen. I make it a point to always take the pressure off an assignment. Each of them is at a different point in their journey. Each is valuable. And it’s getting them excited about the journey that is the real key. Then doing something wrong becomes a fantastic opportunity to learn. And not a discouragement, but rather a moment to build momentum. If we embrace failure and mistakes as the catalyst for understanding and disconnect it from our value as people then we have a learning model that is powerful, and enjoyable! At least it was that way for me.
Chad Stewart is a seasoned homeschool dad with 8 children all at different stages of growing into adulthood. He has worked in the animation field for the last 25 years and was on the animation team for movies such as The Emperor’s New Groove and Tarzan. Beginning as a 2D animator he then moved into the world of 3D animation and worked as an animator on projects such as Stewart Little 2, Open Season and The Polar Express. He has taught at an online animation school for career-minded adults and began THE ANIMATION COURSE in 2014 to bring his knowledge and love of the animation art form to school-aged students!
Five Reasons to Attend a Homeschool Convention
Living in today’s Internet society, some homeschoolers may wonder if attending a homeschool convention is still necessary. After all, with easy access to information and homeschool websites, why not just save yourself the hassle and added travel expenses and enjoy the convenience of shopping online?
As great a tool as the Internet may be, there are still some wonderful benefits to attending a homeschool convention that can’t be found anywhere else. Here are just a few reasons why you should make plans to attend a homeschool conference near you this year:
After spending the winter months inside, it’s easy to think you’re the only one homeschooling in the world. Getting out to see crowds and talk with other Christian homeschool families at spring and summer homeschool conventions helps you find support, gather new ideas, and remember you’re not alone.
Get Quality Information
Who has time to search through tons of homeschool information on the Internet? Save yourself the frustration and reap the benefits of experienced homeschool convention leaders. Event organizers usually spend hours sifting through information to choose only the best workshop topics, speakers, and homeschool curriculum providers who offer valuable, up-to-date information and products.
Learn from Workshops
Discovering new ideas for becoming a better homeschooling parent is easier with practical “how-to” workshops. Most conventions not only offer workshops to improve your teaching abilities and homeschool’s academic quality, but also workshops that relate to current legal issues in your state, family relationships, parenting, and more. Remember, every good teacher remains a student.
Help Dad Get in the Game
One great advantage of attending a homeschool convention is to get Dad more involved in the homeschooling process. Although many dads work full time and leave homeschooling more to Mom, they also care deeply about their child’s education. By attending a homeschool convention, your husband can gather information, talk to other homeschooling fathers, and better understand homeschooling issues. Most of all, a convention will give him a whole new perspective and appreciation for your responsibilities involved in homeschooling.
Purchase Curriculum Materials
The vendor exhibit hall at homeschool conventions offers a huge number of curriculum choices on every major subject. Since most curriculums are not sold in book stores, attending a convention gives you the freedom to examine products firsthand before purchasing. Another benefit is that you can better customize your child’s homeschooling experience by finding the right resources that meet his individual needs. To make the most of your time, be sure to plan ahead and note which booths you want to visit during the conference.
In addition to these great benefits, homeschool parents who visit the Alpha Omega Publications booth at their homeschool convention will enjoy the benefits of these great deals:
– Homeschool curriculum demonstrations
– Curriculum product displays
– 20% off all convention orders
– Registration to win $300 in AOP curriculum
For help finding a homeschool convention near you, view the complete list of homeschool conventions that Alpha Omega Publications will be attending this year!
Alpha Omega Publications is a leading provider of PreK-12 Christian curriculum, educational resources, and services to homeschool families worldwide. AOP follows its mission every day by creating and providing quality Christian educational materials to thousands of students through curriculum, educational books and games, support services, family entertainment, and an accredited online academy. To learn more, visit www.aop.com or call 800-622-3070.
The Wilderness Classroom introduces elementary and middle school students to the wonders of exploration and wilderness travel while improving basic skills like reading, critical thinking and communication.
Each year the Wilderness Classroom designs and undertakes several educational expeditions in remote locations around the world, and shares this experience virtually with students from around the world. They partner with other explorers and travelers interested in sharing their experiences as well.
In addition, Wilderness Classroom offers a number of virtual assemblies, lesson plans, and a Kid Zone on their site. You might want to check it out. And it’s just in time for Earth Day!
Fun! And as we all know, fun learning is forever learning!
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Earth Day Solar Cookies Experiment
This is a Guest Blog Post Written by Aurora Lipper, Owner of Supercharged Science
Can you use the power of the sun without using fancy and expensive solar cells?
You bet! We’re going to focus the incoming light down into a heat-absorbing box that will actually cook your food for you.
What is Solar Energy?
Life on Earth wouldn’t be possible without the energy from the sun. The sun’s energy travels through the vacuum of space to reach the Earth’s surface, and most of that light is visible light and infrared, with a small part being ultraviolet.
When you stand in sunlight, your arms can feel the warmth of the light, even with your eyes closed. That’s the infrared part of sunlight. The ultraviolet portion has more energy than the infrared and is also responsible for giving you a sunburn.
We’re going to make use of all the sunlight in order to make our cookies today!
- Two large sheets of poster board (black is best)
- Aluminum foil
- Plastic wrap
- Black construction paper
- Cardboard box
- Pizza box (clean!)
- Tape & scissors
- Reusable plastic baggies
- Cookie dough (your favorite)
1. Measure an inch from each of three sides of the pizza box. Use the scissors/razor to cut a door out of the pizza box. Bend the door open if necessary. Cover the inside of the door with aluminum foil.
2. The heat needs to get trapped inside the box. Take your plastic wrap and tape it over the opening between the door and the inside of the pizza box. It doesn’t matter which side you tape it on.
3. To help the heat stay inside the box, line the inside with aluminum foil. You can also add an insulation layer with some cotton balls, shredded paper, or fine shavings. On top, place your foil. On top of this, put down the black construction paper. Use tape to secure it all in place.
4. Check to make sure the box still closes. Take your cookie dough and place it in balls onto the surface of the paper.
5. Measure the temperature inside the cookie with a thermometer. Do not eat the cookies until they register 165 on an instant-read thermometer. (There’s a real food safety concern here, as the cookie dough stays in the “danger thermal zone” for more than four hours. If you’re concerned, either omit the eggs in the recipe or use pasteurized eggs.)
6. Enjoy your cookies! Be sure to share!
The solar cookie oven uses the light from the sun, specifically the UV and IR parts of the spectrum, to bake the dough into some delicious treats. The UV rays are energetic and are responsible for damaging our skin if we don’t shield it. The atmosphere of our earth does a lot to dissipate this energy so we aren’t subject to some of the more harmful parts of the energy that the sun emits. In fact, the sun can eject enormous, energetic bursts of radiation far into space in the form of solar flares. We experience these flares as scrambles in our satellite signals, as well as see their effects visually in the atmosphere as aurorae.
The solar cookie oven operates on the basic principle that the light can be concentrated to be directly useful for our energy needs. Instead of converting the energy into electricity to power an oven, for example, the sun’s rays are now directly heating the surfaces that the cookies rest on. A few ingredients are necessary for this oven to operate properly, which is what this experiment explores. Sunlight at the Earth’s surface is mostly in the visible and near-infrared (IR) part of the spectrum, with a small part in the near-ultraviolet (UV). The UV light has more energy than the IR, although it’s the IR that you feel as heat.
Your solar cooker does a few different things. First, it concentrates the sunlight into a smaller space using aluminum foil. This makes the energy from the sun more potent. You’re also converting light into heat by using the black construction paper. If you’ve ever gotten into car with dark seats, you know that those seats can get HOT on summer days! The black color absorbs most of the sunlight and transforms it into heat (which boosts the efficiency of your solar oven). By strapping on a plastic sheet over the top of the pizza-box cooker, you’re preventing the heat from escaping and cooling the oven off. Keeping the cover clear allows sunlight to enter and the heat to stay in. (Remember the black stuff converted your light into heat?) If you live in an area that’s cold or windy, you’ll find this part essential to cooking with your oven!
Enjoy your Earth Day Solar Cookies!