I have not done the best this last year of sharing some of the stuff we have been learning about in our home school. I decided I would post some things from this last year as I need to document what we’ve done, and hopefully give you some ideas you could use in your own. I’ll warn you this is a gigantic post.
I do hesitate in showing an entire unit at once, because being like most of you, you start to judge yourself that you aren’t accomplishing much as a homeschooler. Or those that don’t homeschool assume that this is what homeschool looks like and should look like for every other homeschooler out there. It’s not. Everyone is different. Everyone teaches in their own way. This is how we learn. I’m a hands on visual learner and so I tend to do more of that in my own homeschool. I really don’t believe there is a right or wrong way of doing things. But I wanted to share, because I love learning from others and seeing how they do things. I also love doing this with my kids, and I really do love homeschooling. So I hope that shows through some of the things we do.
This year we are specifically focusing on 2 areas of science. Astronomy and Geology. About a semester for each. Everything that I am showing here, was not done in a day, nor a week, but over a semester mixed with many of our other homeschooling topics. I had a lot of fun with this unit, and occasionally we will still do an activity, watch a movie about it, or learn from a website even though we are mostly finished with this unit. There is something about learning about the vastness of our Solar System and the intricate details that to me declare so loudly that there is a God. I see his handiwork in the heavens in so many ways. To me there is nothing like looking up at the stars on a summer night and realizing how infinitely small you are in this great universe and yet knowing personally from experience that God knows me, hears my prayers and blesses me daily. How incredible it is!
We are using Latterday Learning’s Family School curriculum this year for our studies as well as supplementing other things along the way. I don’t follow it exactly, but use it as a basis to build on things for the year. They have some great things in it, with great resources and ways that unit ties to the gospel.
Another resource that I use all the time for planning my homeschool lessons is Pinterest. You can get sucked into pinterest and hours later emerge if you are not careful. But it can be an amazing resource for gathering and saving information for future lessons and activities. It saves me HOURS of researching on the internet. I type in a topic we want to study like “Astronomy Lessons”. I then browse through them really quickly and then pin the ones I like that are promising to a board I have for “Science – Astronomy.” Later when I go through our daily lessons, I can quickly see that the topic is “stars” for the day and I can then look at my pinterest boards for videos, activities, art lessons, websites and hands on activities that can go with our unit. It’s awesome. I absolutely LOVE pinterest for lesson planning.
So let me show you some of the aspects of our Astronomy Unit.
We started it off by making our own model of the solar system so we could refer to it throughout our unit. We determined what each of the planets looked like and let the kids paint their rendition. Even Belén got involved, but of course she has to get involved in everything we do.
We learned about the sun and the different layers of the sun. How it effects our weather and planet. What the northern lights are, and although we did this s’more activity last summer it was also part of a unit on the sun and the power and heat the sun creates. I like to do notebooking pages, where I have my kids draw and label things we are talking about, and create their own reminder to go back and review, and to look back on over time. So you’ll see some of examples of those here, like the sun image above.
We studied galaxies and the different aspects that are found in galaxies, gas, stars, dust and planets. Savannah named her’s “The Moon Galaxy”
We also discussed the three types of galaxies and looked at examples of them.
We learned about the life cycle of a star and how they are made and formed. Here is an example of the same lesson and instructions and everyone’s variation on it based on their age. I bet you couldn’t tell which one was Belén’s.
We studied each of the planets and the different characteristics of them. We watched videos about them, and I had the kids pick a planet to learn about and to make a quick poster about some of it’s characteristics.
We learned about the moon and it’s characteristics. We demonstrated how it reflects the light of the sun and how it moves through the different phases.We learned how it effects the tides of our oceans. We looked and eclipses and discussed the different types. These are oreo cookie moon phases we did last year, but were still part of the astronomy unit. We learned what the surface of the moon is like and how craters are formed.
We incorporated math by determining how much we would weigh on the moon compared to earth. And then compared those numbers to how much we would weigh on each of the planets.
We learned about different scientists that helped us develop what we currently know as our solar system. We learned about Copernicus and his theory, Galileo and his invention of the telescope and built our own telescope similar to the one he created. We discussed Newton and Kepler’s law of planetary motion. That turned into a bit discussion at the dinner table with Beau about why the planets orbit in an elliptical pattern over a circular planet in space. Which also led to a discussion about the pull of gravity and how it works on our earth as compared to the moon.
We added their faces to our time line so we could see where the lined up in History.
We also read these two biographical novels about famous people and Astronomy. I have to say that I really enjoyed Carry On, Mr. Bowditch. He is my kind of guy. Someone that despite his circumstances decided to educate himself and did to the point that we was the most well known nautical navigator of his time. He was able to determine how to sail and travel by boat using astronomy and math that surpassed the ways they were currently doing it. I loved that he was completely self educated and became brilliant at what he did by studying everything he could get his hands on. If he didn’t know it, he learned it. From languages to high mathematics, to astronomy, to navigation, etc. He also experienced some difficult trials in his life of loosing most of his family as well as his wife whom he had only been married to for a month or so before heading to sea again. She died when he was away.
I also love it when something in a book we read instigates other learning. While Mr. Bowditch was out at sea one night they thought the sea was on fire. They weren’t sure what it was, and it scared a lot of the men. Eventually they realized it was jelly fish, and phosphorescence. The kids weren’t sure what this meant so it was the perfect time to watch Life of Pi, and see the scene with the whale and Jelly fish. They could then understand why the sailors thought the sea was on fire. It also gave us the chance to read the children’s book Night of the Moonjellies as well.
We studied the Astronauts and the first landing on the moon. Which they each acted out stating the famous line “One small step for man, One giant leap for mankind.” We also acted out hitting the golf ball on the moon. We also enjoyed listening to the live radio broadcast of their Christmas eve devotional as they were orbiting the earth and watching the video of Neil Armstrong stepping on the moon for the first time. We then called up grandma to see if she remembered anything about the day it actually happened. What she was doing and where she was at.
This was their favorite part though. Some astronaut food that I just happened to find at Michaels one day. I picked it up knowing we’d have the unit later in the year, and they’ve seen it and have been waiting for the day when they could actually try the freeze dried ice cream. It was pretty tasty.
We learned about the space race between Russia and the USA. You can’t tell from the tags on the back of their shirts but one says Russia and the other United states. They were racing against each other. We talked about the various missions as that country moved forward with what they had accomplished by the mission, and saw who eventually won the space race.
You can’t tell but the US is cheering when Apollo II landed on the moon. This was one of those days were school was having a hard time getting started, kids weren’t cooperating, and I knew they would not sit there and listen to me tell them about the space race. They would have been bored out of their minds. I got the idea to actually make it a race that would physically be involved it, and it was one of the highlight days of our unit.
These are just a few of the things we have done. We also discussed constellations and the north star for a lesson as well, but I have no pictures to show for it. We are still learning about black holes, comets, asteroids and meteors.
I am hoping to finish up the unit with a couple of field trips. I’d love to go to the Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake. I also like to go on a field trip to the BYU Planetarium for a show as well as having the chance to look at their large telescope during one of the showing times. I’d also like to go up in the mountains now that it’s getting warmer, and wait for the sun to go down and do some star gazing far from the lights, finding constellations while enjoying some hot chocolate. All of which I think will be a great way to wind up our Astronomy Unit for the year.
So there you have it, a look at one of our school units all combined in one. I also like sharing this because when it feels like you aren’t making a lot of progress with school stuff, seeing it all put together like this helps you realize that we have done quite a bit of learning, and the good time we had while doing it.
One thing I love about homeschooling, is that I was able to make these memories with my children. We learned it together, we will remember it together and have these memories to look back on. It won’t be just my child’s memory of a school activity with their teacher, it is now a family memory for all of us, where we learned something together. I love that, as well as all the things I relearned that I have forgotten over the years.