Thursday, September 29, 2011

Heart Field Trip

We don't have a Magic School Bus, but we did make a pretty wonderful field trip this past (extended) weekend. One of our first stops was the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. Part of the reason we studied the heart/circulatory system last week instead of going on to muscles and joints was to take advantage of the spectacular interactive science display at the Franklin Institute.

You enter this huge heart on the right, go through the chambers of the heart, pick up oxygen in the lungs and continue on. All the while you hear the 'thump thump' of the heart.  Everyone did this multiple times!
You could crawl through the arteries.

And check to see what color blood various creatures have. Who knew that the octopus has blue blood? I didn't until this past weekend!
We had a pretty spectacular afternoon at the Franklin Institute -- and we didn't even set foot in the Mummies exhibit (a special display only until October). There were lots of other interactive displays (space, geography, etc.) as well.  I highly recommend a trip for anyone on the east coast of the US.

Oh -- and by the way, thanks for the wonderful comments left on the post below. I can't tell you how much I love hearing from people who have stopped by. Thank you for taking the time to write -- it warms my heart. :-)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Human Body Unit: Heart and Circulatory System Activities

Our study of the heart and circulatory system started with a listen to our own heartbeats. We measured our heart rates when resting and after walking, running and skipping. Then using a graph put out by Texas heart institute (4th grade curriculum, p. 25), we graphed our results.

Heart as a Pump:
We did this experiment: When your heart beats it acts like a tennis ball filled with water. The heart muscle squeezes blood out of its way. Between beats it goes back to its original shape.  The human heart creates enough pressure to squirt blood 30 feet. The kids had a tough time actually squeezing the tennis ball, but they got the idea.

Our bodies have 5.6 liters of blood.  We measured that out in a big pot:
Circulatory System Activity:
This is how Harold looked before we started. I named him to pique the kids' interest!
 We sat down together and I explained how blood that has no oxygen heads to the heart and into the lungs.  There is picks up oxygen (I said it more along the lines of "OH MY GET ME SOME OXYGEN QUIIIiiiiiCK!").  Then I drew the lines in red showing how the oxygenated blood heads back to the heart and then gets squeezed out to the body.  I showed how some blood travels to the brain, some to the arms, fingers, legs, toes, etc. etc.)  The blood drops off oxygen and then returns in veins (blue lines) back to the heart where it is sent off to the lungs to pick up more oxygen.
 After we drew the lines -- arteries and veins -- together, I got two tiles.  I put the blue tile on top and the red tile on the bottom.  I traveled from the heart as a blue tile (with red underneath) to the lungs where I flipped over and became the red sided tile.  Then I 'drove' my red tile back through the heart and out into the body.  I decided to go to the brain to drop of oxygen where I flipped my red tile back to blue.  The blue tile traveled along the blue veins back to the heart and then to the lungs.
 After we all took a number of turns doing that, we piled blue/red or red/blue tiles all over Harold's body to show the path of blood.
 I searched everywhere for a heart-circulatory activity and never found one... but this activity that somehow jumped into my head turned out to be a HUGE hit in our house!! The kids even spent a long time "teaching" Dad what they had learned!
 One last picture of this activity:
 Heart and Circulatory Activity

Blood Activity:
Another day we learned a bit more about blood. We cut open a chicken leg bone (before baking it for lunch) and examined the bone marrow. We had read in one of our books that bone marrow is where blood cells are formed. We took a close look at the bone marrow, poked and prodded.

Then we "made" our own blood.  The types of cells made in bone marrow include red cells, white cells and platelets.    We talked again about the basic function of these cells.
  • the fluid is called plasma (corn syrup)
  • red cells carry the oxygen (red jelly beans)
  • white cells fight infection (white jelly beans)
  • platelets help to clot and form scabs (rice)
Circulatory System Packet

We have just finished studying the Circulatory System again. This time we covered the circulatory system in much more depth.  We talked about the heart, pulse, blood vessels, blood flow, blood and the components of blood (red and white blood cells, platelets), blood types, cholesterol, and diseases of the circulatory system.  (The kids are currently in grade 3, 6, and 8)  It is 40+ pages (plus another 10 pages of lapbook/interactive notebook pages).  We did a number of hands-on activities and the instructions (with photos) are included in this packet.

You can find out much more about our packet here at this post: Circulatory System Packet: Worksheets and Activities or can purchase if through PayPal with the link below.

The Circulatory System Packet is 40+pages. It is $4.75.
Today and tomorrow only, it is $3.00! ♥ Happy Valentine's Day! ♥
(Until 9am EST, Wednesday Feb. 15, 2017)

Once you pay for this packet, you will immediately receive a link to download this file (which will open in a browser window).  You will also receive an email from Sendowl (the service I use) to your PayPal email address, which will have a link you can click on to download the Circulatory System Packet.  (It will say, “You can download your digital products…” with a clickable link.)
Of course, if you have any issues just email me at — liesl at homeschoolden dot com or reply to the SendOwl email that is sent to you.  You can also reach me by using the contact form on the blog at our new location, ~Liesl

$4.75 $3.00

(today and tomorrow only, until 9am EST Wed. Feb. 15)

Don't forget to check your PayPal email address for the download link.

Here are a couple other screen shots of our packet:


The Wrinkled Heart Activity: And now on a related, but different note... today I decided to address the heart in the emotional sense too. I found this wonderful idea at ProTeacher. It is an activity about the things people say that can be hurtful and the things people say that can be kind.  Before I read Chrysanthemum to the kids (since that's the book I had on hand), I cut out a heart.  Then after we read the book we talked about the things the mice said that were hurtful (and I made folds in the heart) and things we've said to each other that have been hurtful (more folds) and things that they've heard others say that might be hurtful (more folds). Then we talked about things we say that are kind (unfold). We said as many kind things as we could until the heart was unfolded. Then we talked about how the heart was still wrinkled and how the hurtful things we hear can linger for a while in our heart. We hung our wrinkled heart in the homeschool room as a reminder to be kind to one another. What a lovely idea, don't you think?

We have moved to  In the years since we moved from this location, we've started creating lots of packets and worksheets.  We have a number of science packets.... and our science packets are especially popular. We continue to do a lot of hands-on science [and history], which I think is why the kids love science and history SO much!

Just as an example, this is our Digestive System Packet which includes lapbook pages, worksheets, plus our hands-on activity ideas.

 Digestive System Unit Plans

We have a packet on the Skeletal System Packet which includes a half-dozen hands on activities.
 We also have a packets on Earth Science, Cells,  and more!

See you soon over at our new location: or over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page. ~Liesl

Thursday, September 22, 2011

This is the United States--Unit Study of Landmarks and Symbols

We have been working steadily on our USA landmarks and symbols unit study. This is a unit that doesn't lend itself as well to pictures since I have pulled it together using history resources I have on hand. The kids each have a notebook and we've been adding to it steadily. Funny enough, LD has said he LOVES history and has been really into this unit.  That amazes me a bit because it has been less project-oriented than many of our units have tended to be (and involves a lot more writing on his part).

We've read and done sheets about the USA, the American flag, George Washington, the Thirteen Colonies, and the Liberty Bell. We also read about some landmarks out west such as the Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde and Arches.

We used a couple lessons from Art Projects for Kids - Desert Landscape and How to Draw a Cactus.
I read a review on Wright on Time at Almost Homeschoolers and decided this might fit in well with our unit study.
 The kids like the fact that the kids in this book were homeschoolers. This first book mostly focused on the two kids as they explored a cave out in Arizona.  We were lucky to be traveling when we read this and had the opportunity to visit our own cave!

They had colored lights, but the scene was still pretty, if not entirely natural
Okay--so back to our unit--we did more reading and worksheets, sang lots of US songs (Yankee Doodle, My Country Tis of Thee and the like).
 We've done quite a bit with US geography.
We've been playing lots of rounds of Mad Dash. This is a geography game I've had for years. We play it as a one-team game competing against our previous scores. We get 25 cards and then start the timer. The object is to place the state cards in a row (states have to touch their neighbors) trying to make it across the country as far as possible. The cards have a certain number of points and after the time runs out you add up your points. The more neighbors a state has, the fewer points it's worth.
 We've been using the landmark and symbols cards (note--our blog has moved. This link takes you to our new location... the cards are still free, but are hosted over at See you there!! ~Liesl)  I made last summer regularly and lay them out on a big map we have. 
We talked about the Statue of Liberty and did a couple crafts:
 And drew our own fireworks based on this project from Art Projects for Kids.
That's it for now!

You may be interested in these related posts:

Last year: Civics and Government Unit We went into much more depth about the US again. Not only did we go over some of the well-known American landmarks and symbols, but we went over some basic facts about the US government.  We have a new 40-page US Civics and Government Unit available which includes civics cards, pages about the 3 branches of government, sorting cards about the different responsibilities of the legislative, judicial and executive branches and much more.

We also have a World Facts Packet which has students identify the world's largest countries, the countries with the highest populations, the longest river in the world, the highest mountain, the largest desert, etc.  This packet also has a U.S. Facts pages (the largest/smallest states, highest mountain, largest cities, major rivers and lakes, etc.)

This packet goes over some basic world facts.  Do they know…
  • What are the four largest countries? (Russia, Canada, the U.S.A., China)
  • What countries have the most people? (China, India, the U.S.A.)
  • What are the world’s largest cities? (Tokyo, Jakarta, Seoul)
  • Which countries have the longest life expectancy? (Monaco, Macau, Japan)
  • What are the major religions?
  • Famous world landmarks
This packet also goes over some basic facts about America.
  • What is the U.S. capital? Washington, D.C.
  • What is the smallest state? Rhode Island
  • Biggest state? Alaska
  • What is the name of the tallest mountain in the U.S.? Mt. McKinley
  • What is the longest river? Mississippi River
  • There is also a sheet so the kids can locate some geographic features of the US: the larger rivers, the oceans, Gulf of Mexico, and the Great Lakes

If you do a lot of Montessori activities with your students, you might check out this post: Various Free Montessori Cards.

See you soon over at our other location: or over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page. ~Liesl

Monday, September 19, 2011

Human Body Unit: The Hand

Our Study of the Human Hand
Why do we have so many bones in our hand?
 We talked about the fact that there are 27 bones in the hand. First, to demonstrate why this is important I did an activity we had done a couple years ago. We pretended that we just had one bone per finger by taping popcycle sticks to their fingers.  Then they had to pick up beads. They found they could do it if they scooped up the beads
The Bones of the Hand:
Next, we did the wonderful idea I picked up from Almost Homeschoolers. They actually used bits of colored dough and baked their hands together. We used icing instead.
We used the bones of the hand packet from Homeschool Bits which I got on sale back in August for 25 cents. That is the colored hand you see in this picture and the first picture posted above.  I think the hand study-pack is now 50 cents.
X-Ray of the Hand and other Activities
We worked on a couple of the experiments we have from The Young Scientist Club. I got the ready-made experiments from NOEO science. (I did not buy their entire curriculum, I just bought the set of five experiment kits as this was one of the best prices I found on the Internet.) I'm adding in those experiments as we get to them throughout the year. The experiment below (also from the kit) shows the ball and socket bones.
Why do we need a thumb?
We got this hand-claw kit earlier this summer from another family.  We talked about why it's so important to have a thumb. Before we attached the thumb, we tried to pick things up with just the fingers.
It was pretty hard, though the kids realized they could squeeze their fingers together (making a scissoring motion) to pick smaller things up.
 But when the thumb was added, how easy it was!

And that was pretty much it for this part of our human body unit.