The Great Number Rumble is a Great Resource

During this six-week mish-mash, experimental, go-where-we-will homeschool session, we are game to try anything!  Last week was a fun start while we mixed science up with art, got into a good book by Gary Paulsen, explored the secret life of a honey bee hive, and started gathering information about some endangered animals.  What’s so different this time is that we are not following a unit study, so nothing really relates……..technically.  But that’s okay!  It’s still learning and it’s kind of liberating – I highly recommend being liberated now and then.

If you have been following this blog, you have probably read accolades about the joys of a living math approach, one that is detailed in this site,  Julie Brennan more than convinced me that this is a realistic and thoughtful approach to laying a solid foundation for a healthy math brain.  So far so good and we’ll continue skipping down this path.

For this six-week session we’re reading a story about a school district that decided to cull math from the general curriculum.  You could almost hear the collective shrieks of delight from the students jump from the pages when the announcement was made by the principal.  Every student was rejoicing, even the teachers were breathing a sigh of relief at the thought of not having to deal with math.  One student, however, was appalled at the new development and decided to convince the principal and all concerned parties that math is vital to EVERYTHING!

Sam, the pro-math student, uses each chapter to prove his point.  Art, music, bicycles, computer-generated graphics (i.e., movies)……no nook is left unexplored.  Plus sprinkled in amongst all of this interesting stuff are short biographies of famous mathematicians going back to the Greeks as well as thought-provoking sections on the weirder things that involve math.

Here’s the book.  I’ve highlighted it in a previous math post, but didn’t get too specific.  Now that we’ve cracked the cover, I can truly give it a thumbs up:

You can click on the book for a link to Amazon.


Artful Science Thanks to Brown Paper School

This next six-week session of homeschooling is going to be a giant, wonderful MISH-MASH of activity.  I have no plans for an organized unit study this time.  We are taking a break from organization and flying headlong into impulsiveness!  So far, on Day 2 out of 30, we’ve already ended up in places that weren’t even remotely planned.  In this way I admire unschoolers and can understand how that concept in action can be effective.  I’m still a little too much of a controlling freakazoid when it comes to thinking about letting go completely, though.  Maybe next year.

Anyhoo, not that I need to bore you with the inner workings of my mind here.  I’m writing this particular post to exclaim the wonders of a book we are giving homage to this session – a book from Brown Paper School Publishing (see a former post about this publisher, one of my favorites).  Here it is in itty-bitty format (sorry for the wee picture – you can click on it to get to Amazon for more information):

It’s been sitting on the shelf for several months now and caught my attention.  Just what the doctor ordered, if there is a doctor that orders such things – art and science mixed together!  Here’s the title in case you missed it in the itty-bitty picture:  Gee, Wiz!  How to Mix Art and Science or The Art of Thinking Scientifically by Linda Allison and David Katz.

Today we messed around with chromatography, water-soluble markers, filter paper and water.  We watched colors separate and climb up the paper into some pretty terrific designs and learned how chemists use chromatography to identify compounds in a lab.  The entire first section of the book is devoted to exploding colors.  You’ll also get exposure to fantastic elastics, wet and creepy stuff, water’s weird skin, unmixables, movies on the brain, one-eyed crazies, making it big, looking alike, balancing the impossible (sounds like a mom’s to-do list, eh?), and forces that are with you.

I guess this book will more than qualify for the science portion of the next six weeks (or longer, probably).  We’re going to steadily work our way through it and see what happens.

It’s available for a penny on Amazon, used.  I say, anytime you see a Brown Paper School book, snap it up!  They are gems, the whole lot of them.

Behind the Scenes in a Beehive

This is a wonderful graphic novel that buzzes about the life of a honeybee.  We read through it almost to the end today and are saving the summary/scientific definition section at the end of the book for tomorrow.  What better way to detail the life of bees than by having the bees share their story in a comic book format?  Well, comedy certainly does factor in, but much of the text is ecologically serious and scientifically accurate, thanks to author, Jay Hosler, a biologist who has spent his career studying bees.  He also happens to be a cartoonist with a zany sense of humor (what could “bee’ better?)

You’ll become attached to the main little bee, Nyuki (which means ‘bee’ in Swahili), and her silly, somewhat annoying behavior; you’ll discover that just below the surface of Nyuki’s life story is a message, one that applies to ALL life.  Nyuki learns that life is not to be feared, but to be lived!  Nyuki’s development from hapless hungry larva to busy forager has much meaning and you will see this as you travel through the story.  It’s a pleasurable experience, this book!  One we won’t soon forget.  And now we know so much more about the community of honey bees and how important they are to one another and to keeping life on Earth properly balanced.

If you wish to examine the structured science offered in Dr. Hosler’s book, please visit his website at and click on each chapter heading.  You’ll find a detailed list of concepts covered.

I did cover two of Dr. Hosler’s other books in a previous post, a post about graphic novels (post here), and recently discovered yet another of his books which looks to be just as intriguing – it’s about the biology and evolution of eyeballs!  I like the way this guy expresses himself!  Here’s a picture and description of this unusual book:

Optical Allusions is the cure for all those clamoring for a painstakingly researched, scientifically accurate, eye-themed comic book adventure. WRINKLES THE WONDER BRAIN has lost his boss’s eye and now he has to search all of human imagination for it. Along the way, he confronts biology head on and accidentally learns more about eyes and the evolution of vision than he thought possible. And, as if a compelling story with disembodied talking brains, shape-changing proteins and giant robot eyes wasn’t enough, each tale is followed by a fully illustrated, in-depth exploration of the ideas introduced in the comic story. Following in the tradition of the author’s first two books, Clan Apis and The Sandwalk Adventures, Optical Allusions uses humor and adventure to weave an unforgettable story about the wonders of seeing.”  Quote taken from product description on Amazon.

Definitely invite Dr. Hosler’s humor into your home learning environment!

Note to Readers

Just a note to tell you I’ll not be posting anything new for about 10 days or so.  Going to take some R & R and reintroduce myself to my camera, which has been sitting forlornly in it’s backpack for too long.

Since we rotate school on a six-week on/one week off schedule, next week is off!  All of us are looking forward to some time away from the books.

In the meantime, if you’re here (and thank you for being here, by the way) looking for fun educational materials, there are plenty of posts to hopefully provide you with what you need.  Search under the category you are interested in (on the left side of the blog) and enjoy the hunt for stimulating, adventure-making, laugh-inducing learning for your kids.

I’ll be back after I hit the ‘refresh’ button!  Have fun!

Rolling with Role Reversal

Sometimes it’s good to shake up the routine, inject some sizzle into the day , try something new!  Today we shook it up.  On a whim, I handed the teaching reins to Max and said, “Here you go.  You’re the teacher.  You’re in charge.  You get to teach me today!”

And teach me he did.  He took me through the paces of living math and grammar and then we finished reading aloud the book we’ve been working on all week, The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

He handed me the Daily Gram (grammar) sheets and I set about completing the work, making mistakes here and there to ensure that his eagle eye would nab them.  Of course he nabbed them.  And it seemed to make his chest swell when he pointed out that I had misplaced a comma and incorrectly (on purpose) identified the prepositional phrase.

He drug me over to the couch and proceeded with reading two sections from The Further Adventures of Penrose the Mathematical Cat, one about optical illusions, the other about using a trick to add large sums.  Generally he doesn’t like to read out loud, but he seemed to not have any issues while he was in charge.

Finally we took turns reading from E. L. Konigsburg’s book and finished the story of the Kincaid children and their runaway adventure to the Museum of Metropolitan Art in Manhattan.

At least he didn’t ask me to clean out the hamster cage or change the cats’ litter!  We had a good time reversing roles and reflecting on the experience, I’m sure he learned something, too.

Mr. Slim Goodbody – A One-Man Show Teaches About the Human Body

*NOTE:  I’ve moved the entire blog for High on Homeschool over to Blogger; lot’s of new material some come and visit!  Http://

We went to see this show recently and thoroughly enjoyed the experience!  Lubba.  Dubba.  The heart pumps twice for every beat, right?  Half the auditorium were the ‘lubbas’, we were sitting in the ‘dubba’ section.  The chant began (lubba dubba…lubba dubba…lubba dubba) and caused the giggles to ripple through the seats.  We giggled a lot during the show.  It’s clever (there’s that famous word again!) and thoroughly entertaining.

John Burnstein is the man in the Slim Goodbody costume and his mission is to teach kids about how their bodies work and how amazing they are!  He travels through most of the body systems up on stage with the help of a well-choreographed movie on a screen behind him, not to mention the organs imprinted all over his full-body costume (they are hard to miss.)  He teaches, makes you laugh and helps you understand.  This is a wonderful show for both kids and adults.  In fact, that’s Slim’s fundamental message – that our bodies are full of wonders and that makes us wonderful.  You can’t beat that message.  Not only does he detail our body systems (i.e., circulatory, respiratory, nervous, digestive, etc.), he encourages kids to take care of their bodies via sound nutrition, exercise, and rest – and to avoid smoking.

This show is traveling throughout the country on a national tour.  Tickets are inexpensive and you can also purchase supplementary materials to use at home after the show.

Who is Slim Goodbody?  Here’s a quote from his site,

“In 1975, John Burstein created the Slim Goodbody character to help him teach healthy living at the Floating Hospital in New York. Five years later, the character exploded on PBS with his first television series The Inside Story. Today, Slim Goodbody hosts the amazing National Bodyology Tour and now dozens of new characters enhance the full K-8 school curriculum.

Slim Goodbody has entertained children with his unique, exciting and enlightening shows for 30 years. Currently his programs air on over 120 public TV stations nationwide and he has authored more than a dozen children’s books. Donning his signature outfit, he educates children by combining humor, music and incredible visuals into an inspiring performance.”

Here’s the link to his upcoming live shows.

Here’s the link to his health and fitness store.

If he’s coming to your area, don’t miss the chance to see him!