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Sunday, March 31, 2019

The Science of Parabolas with "A Computer Called Katherine" Book

At Christmas, my daughter, Dragonfly (age 7) got the movie Hidden Figures as a present.  The video tells the story of three female mathematicians, who stood against racism, sexism, and helped the USA win the space race.  The movie is a great introduction to the history of NASA, racial segregation, and women in science, while still managing to only be rated PG.  It's a great video for moms and daughters to watch together (although my husband enjoyed it as well).  If you haven't yet seen the movie, I highly recommend it.

One of the inspirational women was Katherine Johnson, worked long mathematical equations by hand in the years before computers were in wide use.  Even after the first "calculating machines" were available at NASA, Katherine still double-checked the computers work!  I love how Hidden Figures shows women working complicated math problems, as it encouraged my own daughter in her math learning.  As a mom, I'm always looking for women to inspire my daughter, and I'm pleased to have found Katherine.

Many people are talking about S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering, math) right now and encouraging kids to explore concepts related to those subjects.  Unfortunately, girls are still lagging behind boys in the S.T.E.M. fields.  Whenever women can point girls to roll models in the S.T.E.M. fields, I think it should be done.

In researching the women of Hidden Figures, I began to explore books about their lives and space technology in general.  These are just a small amount of all the books I found.  The following graphic shows my favorites and the book titles below link to the book or product.

My kids love to play with the Safari Ltd toob figurines.  For a theme unit on Katherine Johnson, rockets, and NASA, the Safari Ltd Space Toob is perfect.  They're great for sensory bins, small world play, and dioramas.  Combine them with my Montessori-inspired 3-part cards to expand the learning possibilities even more.  The printable can be used to match the figurines to real pictures of the objects, practice reading, spell new words, expand vocabulary, and inspire stories.  Scroll to the bottom of the post for a chance to win a Space Toob from Safari Ltd or click here to order your own from Amazon.

About two months ago, one of my blogger friends began organizing a S.T.E.M and Literature blog hop called "Storybook Science."  As soon as I heard about the series, I knew which book I wanted to highlight- "A Computer Called Katherine!"  At the time, it hadn't even been published yet, so I had to preorder it on Amazon and wait for it to arrive.

It was a bit of a gamble, but we were so pleased with the book when we finally got to read it!  "A Computer Called Katherine" tells how a girl, who used to count everything, went to work for NASA and won the space race.  The book touches briefly on the topics of racism and sexism, but mainly focuses on Katherine's love of math.  When the negative subjects are addressed as part of her story, the author uses a cute phrase, "Katherine knew that was wrong- as wrong as ___ (basic math problem with the wrong answer)."  Kids will enjoy "correcting" the book and giving the right answer (mine did).

"A Computer Called Katherine" also talks a lot about parabolas.  For my kids (ages 7, 6, and 5), this was a new concept.  We talked about the shape that a parabola makes on a graph and in real life, looked around the house for examples of the parabola shape, and made them with our hands.

We also discussed the relationship to the earth and the moon and sang about the "earth going around the sun" and "the moon going around the earth."  The book launched an in-depth look at gravity, how it effects the earth and moon, and how difficult it would be to aim a rocket at the moon.

Gravity Explained

I had intended that we would do a catapult experiment to explore the shape of the parabola in a fun way, but it didn't happen before this publishing date.  My original thought was that we'd work on trying to get our marshmallow to land in a cup.  We would then discuss how difficult the task was and talk about how Katherine and the NASA engineers had to work hard to make sure their rocket landed exactly where they hoped it would land.  They didn't get a second chance.

Instead of posting about my own experiment, I decided to do a tiny round-up of ways to explore parabolas with kids.  Under the graphic, I listed the source of each activity and explained how I would use it to lead kids in a discussion of parabolas.  In most of the links (colored text), kids don't have to have any prior knowledge of higher math to understand the activity.

A Computer Called Katherine // Amazon- The book that started this entire blog post!  Although parabolas are not discussed in detail, they are introduced as part of the math formulas that Katherine needed to launch and land the rockets.

Parabolas in Real Life // Youtube- The St. Louis Arch is a parabola!  Most fountains are parabolas too!  Hunt through art books, go on a field trip, or do a Google image search and see how many "real life" parabolas you can find.

Science on the Swings // STEM Activities for Kids- My husband informed me that this isn't a true parabola, but for introducing the concept of a U-shape to kids, a swing set will work just fine.

Marshmallow Shooter // Preschool Powol Packets- The shooter might not make the most obvious parabolic shape, but it'll get kids moving and giggling.

Catapult // Little Bins for Little Hands- Launch an Easter egg, ping pong ball, or pom pom from the catapult and see who can get it closest to a set target.  To tie it to the NASA space program, put the catapult on a world map and ask kids to land their "rocket" on a specific places in the ocean.

Stomp Rocket // I Can Teach My Child- It's not exactly a NASA-style launch, but a stomp rocket can be a lot of fun and can help kids see how rockets go up.

Punching U-Shapes // How to Run a Home Daycare- For early learners who haven't had any previous exposure to parabolas, just drawing or punching the shape helps cement the shape in their heads.  My kids also enjoyed going on a "U-shaped Lines" hunt around the house.

Angry Birds Parabolas // Algebra 2 Coach- Older children who are ready to graph their own quadratic equations will enjoy them more if they get to play around with a familiar video game and play with technology.  This blog give you all the details and programs to use.  Of course, any sort of launching game would work as well.


Safari Ltd has graciously donated a Space Toob of mini figurines for me to giveaway on my blog!  Enter the contest on the Rafflecopter box below!  Prize has no cash equivalent and winners must be from the continental USA only (sorry).  Space toob will be sent to the winner from Safari Ltd.  Contest closes on April 5th, 2019.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post is the last in the Storybook Science Blog-Hop for 2019.  So many amazing bloggers have been writing content all month with experiments to go alongside books.  Click on the picture to see all the great ideas and be sure to pin this image so you can find all the posts for later.

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Friday, March 29, 2019

The Human Body Stuff for Kids

Human Body Stuff for Kids from In Our Pond

Updated- March 29, 2019 to include more information and update graphics.

Skimmer (age 4) is obsessed with the human body, particularly skeletons.  We're very happy to feed his interest.  We even have a skeleton model named is Bona.  Here are some of the things that we love and some that are on our list.

Human Body Activity Book for Kids- I was given a free copy of this book to review.  It's a great resource for kids who love the human body, full of crossword puzzles, dot-to-dots, and fascinating facts.

Bones in the Human Body- This book teaches kids the names of the bones in the human body.

Amazing X-Rays: Human Body- My kids LOVE this book!  There's a mini x-ray viewer on the book and a set of x-rays for exploring.  Each page of the book talks about a different x-ray from teeth to broken bones.  Also, look for the companion books for Pets and Exotic Animals.

Human Body Encyclopedia- 3D pictures show kids both how their bodies look and how they work.  It's sure to be a favorite among young scientists.

The Fantastic Body- Written by a doctor, this thick book contains lots of information for kids on their bodies and what happens when things go wrong.  It would make a great reference for homeschoolers.

DK Eyewitness: Skeleton- Skimmer thinks this book is awesome.  It talks about bones of all different creatures and compares each body part to other species.

Shine-a-Light: Human Body- In this unique style of book, the children are encouraged to "shine a light" behind the pages of the book to reveal what's happening on inside the body.  My kids especially love the pregnant woman and preborn child.

The Human Body Visual Encyclopedia- I picked this book purely based on the cover- it looks so interesting!

Inside Your Outside- Join the Cat in the Hat on the inside of the human body and visit the brain, explore digestion, and swim through the veins.

Magnetic Human Body Puzzle- This wood puzzle allows kids to build the different systems in the human body and see how they all work together.

Squishy Human Body- I read this body model suggested by homeschool parents quite often.  I think it might be more durable than the hard plastic versions since it's squishy.  I think this will be the next model we buy.

Skeleton Model- This was the "Bona" that I referenced in the introductory paragraph.  Although he didn't survive very long in our house, Skimmer still talks about him and mourns his loss.  I know we'll need to buy another one soon.

DNA Model- Although this isn't a typical preschool toy, DNA is the building blocks of life and should be part of every child's education.

Safari Ltd Human Organs- Great for sensory bins and matching with Montessori-inspired 3-part cards.

Eye Model- My kids first saw this model at the eye doctor- they were enchanted.  If I had my way, we'd have an entire shelf of 3D biology models (I'd probably need a homeschool room too).

Pregnancy Model- I can see this model being very helpful in the future when we start exploring pregnancy and answer questions about the kids' bio mom (all three kids are adopted).  What do you think- would you buy this for your homeschool?

Operation Game- Although the body parts in this game aren't realistic, the game can be a lot of fun for kids who want to experience the thrills and chills of an operating room.

Scabs and Guts Game- This game looks SO gross!  Perfect for kids.

Large 2-Sided Magnetic Poster- Classrooms and homeschool families would benefit from a big, magnetic poster like this.

Pumping Heart Model- Show kids exactly how the heart works with this model.

Red Water Beads- Mix the red sensory beads with some white ping pong balls and a few other ingredients to make a blood model sensory bin.  When kids are a bit older, search Pinterest for a more accurate blood model with more parts.

Real Doctor Tools- Did you know that you can buy real stethoscopes, reflex hammers, blood pressure kits, and other real tools on Amazon?  It's like a wonderland for would-be doctors and nurses.  Families need to decide what tools are acceptable for their kids, but how amazing would it be for kids to learn how to make neat sutures or take accurate blood pressure?

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Monday, March 25, 2019

Montessori-Inspired Frog Life Cycle 3-Part Cards

All winter long, Dragonfly (age 7) has been daydreaming of catching frogs in our yard.  It's her very favorite thing in the world!  She's even convinced that she's seen them already, even though we're still covered in snow.

Over the years, I've written quite a bit about frogs and we've studied them a few times in our homeschool, but I haven't created many printables for them.  As I was working on the ladybug life cycle cards last week, I looked over my other metamorphosis printables (scroll down to see all of them) and realized that I hadn't made a frog life cycle set.

I set out to remedy that problem immediately!  Fortunately, it was easy to find real pictures for these Montessori-inspired cards.  They match the Safari Ltd frog life cycle toys and work great with sensory bins. The cards can be used to work on reading and spelling, especially when combined with a moveable alphabet.


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Montessori-inspired frog-life cycle 3-part cards to match the Safari Ltd frog life cycle set.  Great for a spring study of frogs or an anytime look at metamorphosis.  These free printables, featuring real pictures of the life cycle, are good for homeschoolers and traditional teachers alike.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Montessori-Inspired Ladybug Life Cycle 3-Part Cards

I was going through all my 3-part matching cards for Safari Ltd products and realized that I hadn't done all the life cycle sets yet.  Since it's springtime and many homeschoolers are studying birds and bugs now, I decided I'd better get busy getting all the life cycle sets done.  We're still covered in snow, but these bright pictures of green leaves and red ladybugs are lifting my spirits.

We like to use the life cycle set in sensory bins, alongside the cards.  Kids can use the printables for simple matching activities in the traditional Montessori 3-part cards method (explained here) or can combine them with a moveable alphabet for a spelling practice.

It's also fun to get out all your Safari Ltd life cycle sets and set them up so each stage of the insect life cycle matches each other (scroll down for more matching cards), all the eggs together, all the larvae, etc.  It's a great chance to explore the similarities between all insects and compare them to non-insects bugs like spiders and worms.

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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Books about Insect for Kids

I love doing these round-up type of posts with books for every subject.  Although we still have snow on the ground, the warmer days have the kids anxiously waiting for springtime and the return/awakening of the insects.  If you're looking for some awesome, general knowledge books about insects for kids, this list is a great place to start.  I've even ordered a few for our own collection.

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Science Toys for Learning About Insects

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Tide Pool Learning Ideas

My family is getting very excited about our upcoming Oregon Coast road trip.  One of the best parts about visiting the ocean is Oregon are the tide pools.  My kids remember them very well from our trip two year ago (read all about on my travel blog- Party Through the USA).  We're all looking forward to what we'll find this trip.

It's a great time for some special homeschooling lessons on tide pools.  I've scoured the internet and asked my friends at the Kid Blogger Network for some great printables, sensory bins, science lessons, and more.  Be sure to check out my post on the travel site about books for learning about the Oregon Coast, too.

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Saturday, March 16, 2019

NYC Gilded Age Book Recommendations

Updated- March 16, 2019 with books that I've read.  Originally published on Feb. 9, 2017.

This is perhaps a sort of shameful confession from a mother in her thirties, but I'm quite obsessed right now with Broadway's Newsies.  Last spring, I got to see the musical on tour with my siblings.  Ever since, I have been listening to the music.  It always makes me smile to hear the perky beats and defiant lyrics.  I'm very excited this month to see the show in the movie theater, and I'm really hoping that Disney will release it on DVD this summer.

The Newsies have reawakened my interest in the Gilded Age.  The time period is fascinating because of how quickly the world was changing and what those changes meant for the next century.  Horses were being replaced by automobiles, factory workers were demanding their rights, and reformers were working for change.  This is the era of the telephone, the railway, and the lightbulb.  Immigrants were pouring into our country by the thousands, bringing with them urban problems, disease, cheap labor, and innovations.  This was the time of industrial and political giants like Boss Tammany, Thomas Edison, John D. Rockefeller, and Joseph Pulitzer.  And, through all the changes and turmoil, the voices of the Newsies could be heard, peddling the banner.

Most books set in the late 1800's feature either the Wild West or Southern reconstruction.  I've read plenty of books set in those places, but it's harder to find books set in NYC at that time.  If you're slightly interested in the Gilded Age and/or you like to read about history, here's my recommendations of books.  Enjoy!



Wish List


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Monday, March 11, 2019

Homeschooling Ideas for Learning about Dolphins

After completing the Dolphin sensory bin post a few week ago, I knew I wanted to do one more post about marine mammals.  I teamed up with my friends at the Kids' Blogger Network to bring you a fun list of dolphins- sensory ideas, crafts, printables, and more.  I have also included a list of picture books for learning about dolphins.  My hope is that this post will serve as a launch pad for your own homeschool studies about these amazing animals.

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