Sunday, 31 July 2011

Book Review : Charles Darwin :: Giants of Science Series

Charles Darwin by Kathleen Krull is part of her series called "Giants of Science". I have mentioned this books before here (bottom of the post) and here. My kids love them, especially my son (he's 12).

Today, I finished reading aloud Charles Darwin to Andre and we both really enjoyed this one, even though we have read quite a few books on Darwin already. Kathleen Krull writes in a way that entertains us but at the same time we still learn a lot. Her scientist biographies include many of the details we usually encounter in other books, but they also include interesting and "quirky" facts. In this one about Darwin for example, she mentons often his health issues. I am sharing with a short paragraph to give you a taste. My son loved this particular one:

"Darwin claimed he lost two of his barnacle years to illness - boils, insomonia, a "swimming head", what we today might call panic attacks. Stomach problems were common, even fashionable, among Victorian intellectuals. But Darwin's stomach took the prize - throbbing worse than ever, with spells of vomiting and extreme flatulence that lasted for weeks."

Here is another one that, as homeschoolers, we really appreciated. This quote was found closer to the beginning of the book, where the author writes about Darwin's childhood:

"Charles was not a good student. Once the headmaster even yelled at him and humilated him in front of the whole school for wasting his time. But for almost seven years, he was stuck at Shrewsbury School. "Nothing could have been worse for the development of my mind"."

The book often includes quotes from Darwin and other scientists or family members. It also refers to many of the books he wrote. We also found a list of sources at the back of the book with other book titles (some for young readers) and web sites.

The books in the Giants of Science are not long and would be great for ages 10 and up. I read these aloud because I enjoy them. I think they would be a great addition to a homeschool science curriculum.

Kathleen Krull has also written many other biographies and other books for children. You can see a list of her books here.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Summer Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Week 5

A quick wrap-up for last week. We had another great week, with a lot of fun and a bit of studying. We continued our Prehistory study and watched the BBC Walking with Dinosaurs documentary. We enjoyed the Walking with Monsters more than this one, but it was still interesting.

We spent more time at the park, the beach, with family and friends. We also did something completely new to us: we were extras in a music video! It was for a local singer and we were "acting" at a restaurant. This was such a great experience for my kids and I! Andre dreams of becoming a movie director one day and so this was very exciting for him!

Adrienne left very early on Sunday morning for her two-week Air Cadets camp. I am so happy for her, she applied for this camp and was thrilled when she found out she could go. We all miss her already, but we do know she will love this experience.

I am taking a break from blogging for the next three weeks. I am planning on starting our new school year on August 15. Over the next three weeks, I will be busy finishing up this past year's report cards and organizing our upcoming school year. If anything of interest pops up, I will write about it, but for the most part I will be off, including the wrap-up posts.

Hope you are all having a wonderful summer, enjoy your time and your family!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Hugo Cabret Movie!!

Thanks to my good friend Carol, I found out that a movie has been made based on the Invention of Hugo Cabret. Andre and I read that story in 2008 and loved it. I even wrote a post about it, you can read it here: The Invention of Hugo Cabret. It was a very interesting historical fiction novel which had set us off on a few different bunny trails, movie making, automatons. We had also both enjoyed the mix of black and white illustrations and text. The illustrations told part of the story just as much as the text. I would recommend the story for ages eight and up. The movie comes out in November this year, we are looking forward to it, I think we will check out the book again from the library before going to see the movie!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Summer Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Week 3 & 4

Two weeks have gone by so fast! Summer is here and we love it. Here is a quick review of our last two weeks.

The first week we visited my aunt's pool, twice! The kids and I had a lot of fun there and we are so grateful to be able to go there. The weather is really hot and can be humid here too, so an afternoon spent in a swimming pool is perfect.

We continued with our Prehistory study. We learned about the first swamps and forests, the first reptiles and watched the BBC Walking with Monsters documentary. That documentary is part of a series of three and is amazing to watch. I would recommend it, we found this particular title at our local library. I also found it on youtube (the picture quality isn't as great as on DVD):

Adrienne finished her Teaching Textbooks Pre-Algebra lessons during that first week. She wanted to be finished before her birthday, so she decided to double up her lessons!

Celeste completed one lesson in the Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading and practiced reading in her Elson Reader, two pages.

On Saturday, Adrienne and I attended a free outdoor concert given by the Windsor Symphony Orchestra. It was a quintet made up of an oboe, a clarinet, a flute, a bassoon, and a horn. I took a short video of it:

The second week, we basically took the whole week off. On Tuesday, it was Adrienne's birthday. She turned 14!

We could call that week the movie week. We went to the show twice! First was on Adrienne's birthday. She chose to go see Mr. Popper's Penguins. We had listened to the audio book a while ago and were all curious to see this movie version with Jim Carrey. We thought it was quite different from the book, but we loved it anyway. Jim Carrey is very funny! The trailers never show his office assistant, Pippi, but she is a great part of the movie too! 

Adrienne and I went out again to the movies to the midnight showing of the new and last Harry Potter movie.

We met our cousins at the local festival on Saturday and watched parts of the parade and a fun magic show. It was so hot!! We biked there and it was so hot!

The rest of the week we spent at home mostly, trying to keep cool. Another nice relaxing week!

If you would like to read more weekly wrap-up posts by other homeschoolers, please visit Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Summer Nature Study :: At the Pond

We have been fortunate to be able to see wildlife at the man-made pond close to our home. I often notice birds while I am walking our dog in the morning and always run back home to grab my camera.  Whenever I do bring my camera along on my walks, I rarely spot any birds!

I take photographs, sometimes accompanied by one of my children, then we all look at the photos I took on our computer screen. We research more information in the Handbook of Nature Study, in our field guides, or online. Sometimes we just talk about what I saw and captured on film. That is how we have been enjoying nature study at our house this summer. Simple but very enjoyable!

I wanted to share with you a few photographs from our nature study at the pond.

Widow Skimmer Dragonfly

I first noticed this dragonfly while I was trying to get a good photo of the Great Egret. I believe that this particular dragonfly is a female Widow Skimmer. Their larvae live in the stillwaters of ponds, lakes and marshes of the US, Southern Ontario and Quebec in Canada. I noticed a lot of these flying around. The one in the photo above is an adult female. The male has a blue body and more defined black spots on their wings, along with the white markings. A few days later, I was able to photograph a male:

Widow Skimmer Dragonfly

I love watching the Great Egret at the pond. This bird is so majestic and moves very slowly at the edges of the pond. It seems to be watching me and if I get too close, just flies a little bit away from me. After I circled the pond twice in this way, always trying to get a little closer but still at a distance, this particular Great Egret seemed to be used to me because it stopped flying away!
I wonder if it is the same Great Egret that keeps coming to our little pond. Every year we have lived here, I have been able to photograph this beautiful bird in the summer. I read that they have a life span of 23 years.

I see you!

I got too close again.

The Great Blue Heron is a bit more rare for us to see. This bird is also much more quicker at sensing my presence! I was able to only take one photo this morning before it flew away.

Great Blue Heron

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Summer Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Week 2

What a week! We had a great time this past week and spent a lot of time outside. We love summer, being able to stay outside all day and late into the evening, eating fresh fruits and veggies from the farm stands, visiting parks and beaches, going for bike rides and more! We didn't do as much "school stuff" because we were having so much fun outside, which is just fine since we are on our summer break anyway!

Here is the breakdown for the week:

- Adrienne completed 11 lessons in her Teaching Textbooks Math Pre-Algebra! She started doubling up her lessons on Tuesday and is completing another 2 today.
- Andre did 1 lesson in Math
- Celeste did one lesson in Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading, and read two pages in her Elson Reader. She also read a few picture books herself!
- Together, we completed one day of study in Prehistory, which included two lessons about the creatures of the sea from 510 to 408 millions years ago and the first fish.

We started a new read aloud, Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. We all decided to work our way through these lists. I might add a tab at the top of the blog to keep track of what we all read.

This past week, we visited a favourite park in Kingsville and had a family picnic there. We brought Orion along and he loved digging in the sand at the beach and swimming in the lake. It was a beautiful day! 

I had planned a fun day at our local splashpad for our homeschool group. We didn't have a great turnout because the "fishflies" are here, but we still had a great time.

We had a few days when my husband was home this week, so we took advantage of it. We decided to explore a bit and visited a new-to-us provincial park. This one was on Lake Erie and about an hour drive from us. The area was beautiful and we had brought a picnic along. Unfortunately, we weren't able to stay because of the biting flies there. We think they may be black flies, but we are not sure. They swarmed us as soon as we stood still, so we kept moving around. We even ate our lunch while walking. We were able to still have some fun and found a lot of "lake" glass, but we didn't stay as long as we had planned. We will try again in a couple of weeks!

We had an awesome and fun week! How was yours?

If you would like to read more wrap-up posts, you can visit Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers blog.


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