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National Chocolate Day

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Sunday, October 28 is the National Chocolate Day, so why not join the celebration and at the same time make it a learning experience?

Chocolate Sampling

You will need to purchase the following types of chocolate for sampling: unsweetened, milk chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate

Break up into pieces each of the different types of chocolate and put them on individual plates. Have each person close their eyes and sample a piece of each type of chocolate. Have everyone rate them from 5 being their favorite to 1 being the least favorite. Reveal to your participants what each type of chocolates was and tally the points each received. You could create a bar graph for math with each of the chocolates.

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How Chocolate is Made (Science) 

Chocolate comes from the seed of the tropical Theobroma cacao tree.  Cacao, which has been cultivated for at least three millennia, is grown in Mexico, Central America, and Northern South America.  The earliest known documentation of use, of cacao seeds, is around 1100 BC.  The cacao tree seeds have a very intense bitter taste that must be fermented to develop the flavor.

Once the seeds have been fermented, the beans are then dried, cleaned and roasted.  After roasting, the shell is removed to produce cacao nibs.  The cacao nibs are then ground into a cocoa mass which is pure chocolate in rough form.   The cocoa mass is usually liquefied then molded with or without other ingredients, it is called chocolate liquor.  The chocolate liquor may then be processed into two components: cocoa solids and cocoa butter. 

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  • Unsweetened baking chocolate –  cocoa solids and cocoa butter in varying proportions.
  • Sweet chocolate –  cocoa solids, cocoa butter or other fat and sugar.
  • Milk chocolate – sweet chocolate with milk powder or condensed milk.
  • White chocolate – cocoa butter, sugar, and milk but no cocoa solids.
  • Dark chocolate- cacao beans, sugar, emulsifying agent

Some good news about dark chocolate if eaten without any milk: it can lower your blood pressure; it has a large number of antioxidants. Now, that is good news!:)

Language Arts How about having your daughter or son create a story about chocolate or reading this book? (Click on the book to go to the link.)

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Geography

Using the chart of the top ten producers of cacao, locate the countries on a map. Have your son/ daughter read the number aloud to reinforce place value. (math)

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Culminating Activity- Make a chocolate dessert. This can be cookies, pie, ice cream, a malt… There are limitless possibilities, aren’t there?

Enjoy!  ~Lisa~

3 Great Book Series for Middle Schoolers

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Woo! Hoo! I am excited to share these series that are terrific for middle school students.  Not only are they each fantastic books, but you can let your bookworm read these without worrying about bad language or inappropriate scenes. You can even use these for read alouds for your entire family.

IMG_3995Goodreads recommended the first book, Mice of the Round Table and I am so glad that I read it! This is a fabulous and imaginative tale (tail) of the beasts that live in the kingdom of Camelot who must unite to defend and protect the kingdom of both man and animal against an evil force. I am really looking forward to reading the next book, Voyage to Avalon

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My niece recommended the book, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library. This book was not only fun to read, but it is set in Ohio and in a library (two things that are dear to me). Twelve lucky students are selected to have an exclusive overnight preview of the new town library that Mr. Luigi Lemoncello, an eccentric game creator has designed for the town. The catch is that once the students are there, they must use clues from library resources to be able to get out. I loved the references to other great books that were throughout the story. A bonus is at the end where there is a list of other books mentioned to read as well. There are also some word puzzles and sneak peaks of books that follow. Other books in the series include Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics, and Mr. Lemoncello’s Great Library Race.

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Peter and the Starcatchers is a book about who else but Peter Pan? This is the story of how Peter arrives in Neverland and the adventures that await him and his friends. There are sword fights, mysterious happenings, and treachery, along with loyalty, bravery, and selflessness. I am eagerly looking forward to reading the other two books in this series, Peter and the Shadow Thieves, and Peter and the Secret of Rundoon

Homeschool Subjects to Teach

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Reading, writing, arithmetic are the core topics for your school, but what do you need to teach besides these three? The best place to check would be your state’s homeschool laws because when you notify the school officials most states require specific topics to be studied. If you are teaching here in Ohio these are the topics that are required:

(a) language, reading, spelling, and writing;

(b) geography, history of the United States and Ohio; and national, state, and local government;

(c) mathematics;

(d) science;

(e) health;

(f) physical education;

(g) fine arts, including music; and

(h) first aid, safety, and fire prevention.

It looks like a long list and you may be wondering how to cover all of them. This week I will concentrate on these subjects and how to schedule them. The good news is you do not need to teach every subject every day. Of course, the 3 R’s, as they are frequently referred to (Reading, Writing, Arithmetic), need to be taught daily due to the amount of information that is taught and learned.

Social Studies, Science  If you have purchased a textbook and it is for an entire school year, then you will need to teach each of these subjects daily. But, if you have not and you have junior high or younger students, Social Studies and Science can be covered by dividing them throughout the week. For instance, you can teach Social Studies on Monday and Wednesday and teach Science on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, or vice versa depending upon your curricula or topics you are studying for the year.

Health, Physical Education These subjects can be taught once a week and can actually be incorporated together since many times when you are discussing health topics you include physical education.

Fine Arts This too can be taught once a week.

First Aid, Safety, and Fire Prevention The first two topics can be taught in conjunction with Health and Physical Education since you discuss injury prevention and naturally teach first aid as you care for scrapes and bruises. Fire Prevention needs to only be taught a few weeks for the entire school year and reviewed as necessary.

These are only recommendations and you can teach subjects as you like since there is nothing stated by law on how many days you teach or how much time you spend on each one. However, keep in mind that you are preparing your son or daughter to one day leave your home and be able to support themselves. Lay a strong, solid educational foundation for your student. The world job market is highly competitive and employers are looking for well-educated people to work for them. You are the perfect teacher to equip your scholar to succeed. 🙂

Looking ahead: Next week I will give you some ideas on how to teach each of these subjects. The following week I will discuss teaching high school subjects. 

 

 

 

Illness: How to Keep Going

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I have had one of those lingering colds where you just can’t seem to find the energy to do even the simplest of tasks. Teaching, doing lesson plans, cleaning the house and going grocery shopping seem like insurmountable tasks. I need a backup plan to get through this time. I am sure you have been there too. One piece of advice that I would like to give to you is to plan ahead in the event that you might not feel well sometime during the school year. So, while I am less foggy-headed, I thought I’d write some ideas that you can use if you find yourself under the weather.

Math

Here are some websites for math worksheets that will help your student stay on track and review concepts.

Homeschool Math

Math Drills

Soft School 

Looking for educational videos? Here are a few that I think your children will like.

Brain Pop It has some free videos and quizzes on a variety of topics for your daughter to take after she watches them. You can assign one or more depending upon your need. If you enjoy what is offered, you can sign up for a year’s subscription.

Social Studies

Liberty’s Kids are great for American history that I think your son will enjoy. They are well animated and would be great to use.

Ducksters has a variety of articles and games that are interesting that include topics of geography, science, and history.

Board and Card Games can also be educational as they teach children to do some of the following: Read and follow directions, strategize (checkers, chess, tic-tac-toe, Sorry, Monopoly), count money (Life, Monopoly), and add (Yahtzee, card games).

Educational Online Games

Sheppard Software would be a way of reviewing all sorts of topics.

 

Stay well!

~Lisa

 

 

 

 

1 Key to Teaching Teenage Sons

imagesWhat is one of the keys to helping teenage boys learn? Movement! Boys, no matter what age, need to be active. Some, more than others. Their natural inclination is to be moving and doing. One time I had about all I could take from my early teenage son and his inability to focus. I thought I was failing as a homeschool teacher; having him sit in a chair was like asking a frog to stop jumping.

I called a friend who was the mother of six boys, ranging in ages from 19-8 and told her the difficulty I was having. She invited me to come and see how she taught her active teens. The day that I went to visit changed my way of thinking of teaching my sons. Five of her young men were there and the house was bustling with activity. Not the kind of atmosphere that I was used to when we were in school.

Her two younger sons were sitting at their large kitchen table working on math problems, while her three teenage sons were all working on school in very different ways than what I was accustomed to seeing. One of her teen sons walked around the house while he was reading his textbook, another was listening to music on his headphones and reading a textbook, yet another teenager who had special needs was watching a documentary on animals, pacing the floor in the other room with the television turned up loudly enough that all of us could hear it.  The two boys at the table worked for ten minutes and were dismissed for a short break to go outside and run around or shoot hoops.

My first thought was, “How could she, how could they, get anything accomplished?” Surprisingly, as I spoke to each of them later, each of the boys could tell me what they had learned that morning. Incidentally, the teenager who read while walking around also explained that he learned his multiplication tables while hanging upside down on the swing set.

Did I rush right home, let the boys listen to music, and walk around the house while reading their Algebra? No, because that was not comfortable for my teaching style, but I did have my extremely active 13 year old son run a determined set of laps around the house or shoot some basketball or play with a hacky sack when I saw him beginning to get jumpy, and it really helped! He was able to come back and focus for longer periods of time instead of me telling him to sit up, pay attention, badger him about doing his math problems, etc. No longer when I announced we were going to do math, did he fall out of his chair because I let him do his work on the living room floor (as long as he stayed focused and his handwriting was legible). As both boys grew older, they listened to music with headphones while working on things that didn’t require so much concentration (as long as they could tell me what thy had learned).

You know the level of concentration your son needs to accomplish a task, so don’t abandon everything you are doing. But, if you have a fidgety son who is having trouble staying focused, how about shorter lessons with breaks, a short physical activity,  or doing schoolwork somewhere besides at a desk, such as the floor or the couch?

~Lisa