The PBS Learning Media Middle School Collection features 40 self-paced lessons for grades 5 - 8 in the core subjects. Some of the topics include: energy, plate tectonics, nutrition, and Newton's law; civil rights, building the Erie Canal, and the Trail of Tears; language arts topics such as symbolism and personification; and math topics such as ratios and proportions, multiplying fractions, and graphing distance and time.
The slideshow lessons incorporate video and interactive activities. Learners take notes, answer questions (multiple choice, matching, drag and drop), learn new vocabulary, and complete writing assignments.
Each lesson also includes a teaching guide with an overview of the lesson, and a summary of what's on each slide.
In an effort to help parents stave off the dreaded "summer learning loss," a variety of free programs are available online, and more are popping up all the time. Here's a list of some of the ones I've come across to help keep your kids learning and occupied throughout the summer:
Start with a Book: This site has printable Reading Adventure Packs for grades K - 3, covering a variety of topics, including Bugs, Birds, and Animals; Flight; Time and Time Travel; and others (24 altogether). You'll also find links to hands-on activities, writing prompts, websites and mobile apps.
Summer Playlists: Power My Learning has collections of online activities for all the main subjects.
Electric Company: Their summer learning program includes YouTube videos and corresponding worksheets for math and vocabulary. A guide and other PDF resources can be downloaded from the main summer learning page.
Camp GoNoodle: Each week in July, you receive an email with new adventures and activities, both online and off, and the ability to earn badges.
Self-Learning for Kids: Not really a program, but a very long list of free, self-learning online resources for kids in pre-K through sixth grades. There are 75 resources, organized by type.
(More resources listed in comments sections below)
So I pull out the giant plastic thermometer because my son and I are talking about temperature, and reading the thermometer, and temperature scales, and I use it sometimes because it’s obviously easier to manipulate for various purposes than the real thermometers we use for science experiments.
Anyway, we're discussing how the thermometers we use to measure peoples' temperatures today are the digital kind like the one we have that you swipe across your forehead…
…but the ones lots of people had in their medicine cabinets in the old days probably contained mercury, a silvery liquid substance, which is highly toxic to people and the environment, ….
…so if you broke one, you had to be really careful to dispose of it properly because it could poison you. “Then how’d people get rid of it?” he wants to know. I tell him I’m not sure, we’ll look it up; I never broke a mercury thermometer, and anyway, let’s get back to temperature.
We’re looking at temperature reference points, and how they relate to the three forms of water: room temperature, liquid water, 68 degrees; freezing point, ice, 32 degrees; boiling point, steam, 212 degrees.
This leads to a discussion about how God also has three forms, but is one God, and how He teaches people about Himself with pictures, (He is Living Water), and how God’s Bible, although it’s all words, is like a picture book.
He gets it, because he says when he’s reading his “Three Investigators” mystery, he can “see the kids digging in the graveyard," or whatever other crazy, spooky adventure they’re on.
Yes, I say, and God also uses pictures, things we can see, like water, to help us “see” Him, because He’s invisible, and we mention some things the Bible says God is: God is light, He’s the rock, He’s a shield, a door, a mighty fortress, etc. and that all of these things teach us something about Him.
Back to temperature.
We’re talking about normal body temperature being 98.6 degrees and how human beings are warm-blooded, which means our body temperature stays the same, unless we’re sick, because we’re not like reptiles such as lizards that have to find places to stay warm at night and cool during the day.
This leads to a discussion of how our bodies can’t stand extreme temperatures, like if you fell off a boat into the icy water, the body focuses on heating the important areas, your vital organs, to try to keep you alive...
... but your thinking would get foggy, and your arms and legs wouldn’t work too well either, and this is called hypothermia, and if you were in the water like that long enough, you would eventually die.
And then we talk about the other extreme, how a person can get overheated with heatstroke, and how that can also kill you.
We get back to temperature, and how there are different temperature scales. We’re focusing on Fahrenheit and Celsius, both named for the men who devised them, and the giant thermometer has both, so we can see the relativities of the different temperatures.
I tell him sometimes you have to convert between the two scales, and that there are formulas for that, but some places, like Canada, conveniently have thermometers with both scales like our giant thermometer.
We talk about how they use Celsius practically everywhere for most things, except in the U.S., where it’s used mostly in science.
I joke and say if you ask a British person the temperature, and he says “It’s hot, it’s 30 degrees.”, you know he has to be talking Celsius. Or if you ask him what normal body temperature is, and he says 37 degrees, obviously that’s not Fahrenheit, unless he was talking about a frozen corpse. He finds that funny and chuckles, and says, as he’s smiling, “Wow, that’s a good discussion starter.” And I’m looking at him and I’m thinking, “Does he mean, temperature in general, or the part about the frozen corpse?”
He’s still chuckling, as we continue with our day…