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My sick little pirate

I shared about Joel's bug and meningitis scare when I thought we were on the verge of getting all better. Unfortunately, we were on the verge of getting a whole lot sicker. It's been a yucky month. Joel went downhill the very next day. We took him to the doctor and she told us that his lab results looked to her as if he did, in fact, have a mild form of meningitis. That was healing nicely, but now he had pneumonia. Ethan caught a sick bug. Honor caught a sick bug. She came down with it ON Talk Like A Pirate Day. We've gone an entire week with everyone starting to feel better..until last night when both girls started hacking and sniffling anew. Hopefully the sniffling will end soon and we'll be back on track. 

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Physics for the bedridden

I have always been terrified of meningitis. It's the crazy stuff that I can't control that seems to freak me out the most. Joel scared the snot out of us Thursday morning when he woke up with a high fever and a stiff neck. We rushed him to the hospital immediately. The hospital rushed him into a lumbar puncture and other testing.

Thankfully, those tests came back clear and it was decided that Joel just had a nasty bug. He was sent home with instructions to stay on the couch for 3 days (completely flat on his back for the first 12 hours) and to watch t.v. and drink caffeine.

If he weren't so miserable, he would have loved it. He remembers very little of that morning, thanks to some good drugs. Apparently Joel and morphine get along reeeeeally well. Chris asked him how he was feeling and Joel announced, "This is GREAT. I'm on crack. I have a blaaaanket. I feel like Christmas! But I'm sad."

His fever stayed scary-high all day and evening long, but it broke in the middle of the night and he woke up fever-free. Today, his neck is still stiff, but he can move it. He tried to forge a doctor's note declaring that he should be dismissed from school, but I didn't fall for it. We managed to get in some reading and our physics class.

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Physics - The Scientific Method

The goal for this week was to learn how to properly use the Scientific Method and to create good Science Journals.

We began the week with some easy experiments from Super Charged Science. The first was to see how many drops of water could fit on a penny. We discussed changing variables and tried using cold pennies and hot pennies, clean pennies and dirty pennies. It was interesting and easy and made a great introduction for documenting an experiment.

We covered pendulums and weights and some other easy experiments before tackling our big project of the week: a linear accelerator. I told my husband, Chris that we were about to build a Gauss Rifle and he was downright giddy with excitement. I let him take over for that one since he was so eager.

I sweep daily. I really do.
The boys used a lot of initiative for this project and I was really proud of all of them.
We like to incorporate God's Holy Word in our homeschool as much as possible.
  I loved watching their eyebrows furrow and their minds whir as they wondered and tweaked and figured things out.
Once the assigned project was over, they wanted to keep trying out new ideas. How far could it shoot? Farther than my living room. We tried the church gym. Farther than that. We tried the parking lot. It was hot and rough asphalt, so our marble only traveled about a foot. This made more interesting discussion.

Science and boys' brains. Such a beautiful combination!

Here is a video of Chris demonstrating the sample Gauss Rifle that he built and tested before the boys did their experiment:

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First Day of School

Joel is so proud that he can no longer stand up tall under the mantle!

Gracie can brush all of that hair by herself, and rarely gets jelly in it this year.

Honor is still a butterfly ballerina mermaid princess.

And a goofball.

Ethan is all manly and serious.

Well, he tries.

It was a beautiful day with a scavenger hunt and buttermilk blueberry coffeecake. They filled out their first day of school pages, with a record of their signatures, their height, their goals, etc. It is always interesting to compare these to last year's pages.

We went over new books, but we did no new bookwork.

All in all, a perfect first day.

Truth Seekers (teen fiction) - A Review

We all enjoy a bit of mindless fiction occasionally. I feel a lot better about feeding my kids Mind Candy when it also contains a good bit of truth. My 13 year old, Joel has enjoyed a new fiction story recently, entitled The Machine: A Truth Seekers Novel. This was written by Bill Myers, who is the author of the popular Wally McDoogle stories and many others award-winning books. Truth Seekers is a fun ride and it acknowledges the truth of God throughout.

The Characters
The main characters are twins, Jake and Jennifer. Each chapter takes turns, telling the tale from each twin's perspective. Jennifer is a neat-freak, who wants things nice and tidy. Her brother, Jake is a complete slob and doesn't really care about tidiness. He's pretty much the exact opposite of Jennifer. When Jennifer shares her perspective, she is looking down on Jake for his bad habits. When Jake shares his side, he thinks Jennifer is just weird. Joel was the true reviewer of this book and he felt this dual perspective approach was brilliant. He said that it really broadened his outlook. He told me, "You get to see your main characters better because if you just see your characters from you main character's viewpoint, you don't get to know your characters nearly as well." As a mom, I thought this was wonderful, especially because Joel is my neat-freak and he has a hard time with grace toward his untidy brother. I also love that you get a girl and a guy's perspective. My daughters can enjoy it just as much as their brothers.

About a year before the book begins, the twins' mother died unexpectedly. Jake is healing okay, but Jennifer is still struggling with nightmares. The twins live with their aunt while their dad works in Israel. They join him in Israel to help him work on "The Machine". This machine produces holographic images from sound and light wave imprints left on objects. In theory, if you have a board from Noah's ark, you could produce an image so realistic, it's like you are really there. Adventure ensues, of course, but I won't give it away.

It gets going rather quickly, which is good for those who need a good grab to keep them going. The book begins with a gripping nightmare. By the 2nd chapter, they are already moving to Israel. It is a bit random and jumpy, perfect for tweens. For me, as an adult, I found the writing slightly irritating, but only slightly. There was quite a bit of "Anyway, I'll get to that later" kind of dialogue with the reader. It was verrrry conversational. Those are appealing traits younger teens, but Joel felt that the writing would be too juvenile for anyone older than 13. In fact, he thought it might be better suited for his 8-year old sister. He did love the story though, and this fits the description the publishers give for target audience.

The overall theme of the story is learning to trust God. It's not always easy. While they are enjoying a good story, readers are reminded that God keeps His promises and He has promised that He's always working for our good. This is an urgently important lesson for young teens to grasp. Overall, it is a fun read with a good message. Joel and I give it a thumbs-up.

*I received this book from B&B Media Group, in exchange for my honest opinion. I am disclosing this information in accordance to FTC Regulations. All opinions are my own. Do with them what you will. 

Physics and the Scientific Method

My high school student begins Physics in one week. This is one of my favorite things to learn about and it will be my first time getting to teach it. I'm very excited!

For High School Physics, I am using Super Charged Science. It is out-of-this-world fabulous! It is also out-of-this-world expensive. If I had not received a free membership for a review this past year, it would be out of my budget. If your budget looks like mine, you might consider MIT's free online course.

For our first week, we will go over the Scientific Method. It's a simple thing, but I need to know that my students are solid in this before moving on to anything else.

My 3rd and 4th grade students are doing their own thing, but I found a few resources that will allow them to join us a bit, as well:
I rarely decorate our tiny space, but this bulletin board is fabulous, don't you think? I plan to tackle my own version of it this week.

Beginning a year of science experiments wouldn't be complete without a science journal, now would it? I have been very impressed with Aurora Lipper's detailed description of what a science journal entails. After teaching this to my students, I want them to have a reminder in the front of their science journals, so I've created this quick reference sheet for them.

For some fun exposure to the scientific method in extreme action, try watching some Mythbusters! This show is available on the Discovery Channel and on Netflix. There is occasionally some inappropriate language, so preview it yourself before plopping the kids in front of the screen.