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Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years

Chaotic Bliss Homeschooling

Adventures in Geocaching -- And Other Geography Resources
Category: Academics
Tags: geography geocaching for kids world geography geography games


When geocaching on a road trip, or even around in your own neighborhood, you can use the activity to learn about the geography, history, culture, and plants and animals of an area.

Caches are sometimes placed near historical markers, and you can take the opportunity to read up on events of the past while you're looking.

There are also nature caches that ask finders to identify trees, leaves, or rocks in an area, or answer questions about a particular landform, like a mountain. 

And sometimes, locating caches requires you to venture down trails, some of which have markers that tell you about the local flora and fauna.

Smartphones have made it very easy to geocache, (get the free app). Here are some other free apps that can be used in tandem with geocaching, or by themselves to help make geography more interesting: 
  • New Google Earth: While you're out geocaching, use the new Knowledge Cards feature of Google Earth to learn about the history, culture, natural wonders, and wildlife in your area.

  • Waymarking: This free site helps you pull up all kinds of unique and interesting places in your surrounding area. Put in an address, or search by one of hundreds of categories that range from the  ordinary to the bizarre, and everything in between. Some of the entries we pulled up around Santa Fe included wagon roads and trails, labyrinths, urban legends and superstions, and weird natural formations. There was even a category showing locations for and information on penny smashers, (one of my daughter's interests).

Additional Geography Resoures:

  • National Geographic's MyWonderfulWorld has a variety of geography-related games and activities. 

Cultures and Geography, by traykay


Summer Learning
Category: Academics
Tags: summer learning summer activities smithsonian institution summer homeschool ideas

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 BookThis 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.

CK-12 BrainFlex: Sign up to practice math and science skills.

Summer Playlists: Power My Learning has collections of online activities for all the main subjects.

Electric CompanyTheir 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 GoNoodleEach 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 KidsNot 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)

If you give a kid a thermometer.....
Category: Academics
Tags: temperature scales reading a thermometer convert fahrenheit to celsius convert celsius to fahrenheit hypothermia

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… 



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