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Posts Tagged With: social studies

My Journey for the Perfect Homeschool Curriculum

Be still my beating heart- our homeschool curriculum for next year has arrived!  As a mom, foster parent, and former kindergarten teacher you can be sure I have opinions on education–  if you’re not homeschooling, hang in there, I have opinions on games and toys too. 🙂  My first year homeschooling I created my own stuff.  I have a degree in early childhood, I’d taught kindergarten, and I was pretty confident I could handle it.  Yes, you may all laugh.

My Journey to find the perfect homeschool curriculum.

Mommy wasn’t the only one with a happy smile when our order came!

We had a great kindergarten year, but honestly first grade needed structure.  But oh my, there is SO MUCH stuff!  You can school online, or just on the computer with CDs, or you can read aloud to your kids all day, or you can give them workbooks, or you can sit down and cry because of all the overwhelming decisions.

I don’t want to know how many countless hours I spent researching just the right program.  What I do know is after filling most of a notebook and downing three quarters of a bottle of tylenol over a two-month period I had pretty much decided to use a different company for each subject to get the critical thinking, phonics foundation, hands-on approach I was looking for.

And then I found Timberdoodle.

My Journey to find the perfect homeschool curriculum.

A friend reviewed their Block Builders set on her blog.  I clicked around for a while until I found their first-grade core curriculum.

It had everything I’d already picked out for my son.

My Journey to find the perfect homeschool curriculum.

It was tempting to bang my head against the desk in frustration of all the wasted hours, but I was too thrilled to be angry.  In addition to the math, reading, history, and science they also had fantastic extras.  The Block Builders, but also mazes for building fine motor skills and games for memory retention.  I ordered Thinking Putty for my kinesthetic learning to use while listening and beautiful books of illustrated history.  I added writing and geography, which I hadn’t planned but have been favorites all year.

I ordered Christmas presents, Easter gifts and birthday surprises for my kids, niece, and nephews.  We had a great first grade year and I can’t stop looking at the pile of stuff for second grade!  I even ordered most of the kindergarten kit for Anna.

I’m not on their blogging team and can’t be till I can secure 26 more followers (if you can help with that…), so this really is just my opinion.  I’m sharing because if you order a core curriculum before April 15th you get a free Boogie Board, which I never would have spent money on but here’s the pic of us about two seconds after we opened our box.

My Journey to find the perfect homeschool curriculum.

Boogie Boards were the first things to come out of the box and held the kids’ attention well enough I slipped the Easter gifts out and they never knew!

So I just wanted to share, in case anyone is questioning the millions of choices for the perfect homeschool curriculum.  Order from Timberdoodle.

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Categories: Family, Homeschool | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Brian Testifies to Congress

Not all farm work happens in the field.  On Tuesday Brian did some critical chores, not in the shop, but in Congress.

Thank a Farmer, Brian testifies before Congress on behalf of Farmers and small business owners.

Thank you to American Farm Bureau for the photos!

He presented information to the House Small Business Committee about new technologies in farming; mostly about the data we now create.  Brian (usually known on this blog as Daddy!) explained how we use GPS and programs like Field View on our tractors, combine, and sprayer.  Each of those pieces of equipment records the location and what was planted, harvested, or applied in the field.  As a business owner we can then pull all of that data together and get a very detailed look at what’s going on with our farm.  We can see if a certain brand of seed grew better than other brands.  We can tell where more fertilizer might be needed.  We can watch for patterns of problems over the course of years.

That’s pretty cool technology, and its something our lawmakers know little about.

But who cares if they know about it, you ask?

Well, Congress tends to like nothing better than to create rules and regulations.  Job security and all.  Naturally no one person can be an expert on everything the United States Congress does, so “expert witnesses, ” like Brian, bring real-life information and personal stories to our elected officials.

Thank a Farmer, Brian testifies before Congress on behalf of Farmers and small business owners.

Brian visited with some of our elected officials while he was in DC.

Did you know some farmers are using drones to check their fields during the growing season to watch for pests that can damage entire fields?  Some people want to regulate these drones the same way we regulate planes.  The cost of this kind of equipment is already high; adding that kind of regulation would make the technology pretty much unusable.  You’d spend more time on paper work than the drone would save you.  You might as well check the field yourself.

All the data I mentioned before is also of legal concern to farmers.  Brian can pull information from the cloud right from the seat of his combine, but who else can see his data?  Can the company that made the program sell that data?  Can the government take it?  Could the Chicago Board of Trade have access to exactly how much corn is being harvested in the US right now?  Can seed companies look at the yield of their seeds and their competitors?

Thank a Farmer, Brian testifies before Congress on behalf of Farmers and small business owners.

Thanks to Missouri Farm Bureau’s press release, the story hit the papers about the time Brian’s plane touched down in Kansas City!

Both of these issues, along with many others, may be visited by Congress.  Some issues we hope they’ll stay away from, allowing owners to control their own small businesses.  On other issues we hope they will choose to help instead of hinder America’s farmers.

So in its own way, this work is as important as any we do here on the farm.

Categories: Science | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Insect Thematic Unit

A few weeks ago I shared a lap book activity we did as part of our Insect Thematic Unit.  Since the creepy crawly bugs were a big hit at our house and the activity was at least noticed online 😉 I thought I’d post the whole thing.

Insect thematic unit—activities and printables {DaddysTractor.com}

We started by learning what makes a bug– three body parts, six legs, antenna.  And since no theme unit in our home is complete without making something out of play dough, we went ahead and got that part over with had lots of fun making bugs!

Insect thematic unit—activities and printables {DaddysTractor.com}

Our Insect unit was full of science, so it was nice to add some dramatic play for social studies.  The kiddos acted out a butterfly life cycle, starting as a bunched-up ball to represent the egg, then crawling on the floor like caterpillars, hanging upside down and being a chrysalis, and finally emerging and being butterflies.

Insect thematic unit—activities and printables {DaddysTractor.com}

After emerging and allowing our wings to dry, butterflies of course, must find food!  So we had a drink of flower nectar with our long, straw-like tounges!

Insect thematic unit—activities and printables {DaddysTractor.com}

(That’s lemonade in cups with a construction paper flower laid over the top.  I made holes in the middle of the flowers and gave them our smoothie straws for sipping!)

Insect thematic unit—activities and printables {DaddysTractor.com}

And because all lessons are learned better with food, we also learned how bees, butterflies and other insects pollinate flowers.  First the kids cut and glued petals to the outside of a brown paper lunch bag.  Then I filled them with (a small serving of baked) Cheetos.  They ate the snack and wiped their fingers on the front of the bags as if it were pollen– what’s not to love?!

Insect thematic unit—activities and printables {DaddysTractor.com}

For art we painted a paper plate red, allowed it to dry, then cut it up the middle and attached the two pieces together with a brad.  Then they both glued a head and dots to their ladybug.  Naturally Brett added a face like the grouchy ladybug in the book.  While Anna worked on her gluing technique, Brett wrote down different ways to represent the dots on his ladybug.  He wrote a six first, then made an addition problem by adding the dots from each side of the body (3+3=6), then wrote a fraction showing how many of the bugs were on the left wing (3/6).

We added a few more things to our lap book.  There was the Grouchy Ladybug clock activity from the first post.Insect thematic unit—activities and printables {DaddysTractor.com}

Grouchy Ladybug 1   Grouchy Ladybug cards 1   Grouchy Ladybug cards 2

And then we had fun with a life cycle circle with Velcro pieces that can be put together over and over and over again!

Life cycle 1   Life cycle circle

Insect thematic unit—activities and printables {DaddysTractor.com}

We collected pictures from magazines and printed some from online and then sorted insects from non-insects.  Watch the pictures you choose, cutesy ladybugs don’t always have six legs or three body parts!  We taped these Bug Sorting pockets into our lap book and used them for storing our pieces.

Brett was interested (for a few minutes anyway) in watching YouTube videos of bees “dance” to show the other bees where the flowers are.  He had more fun gluing his own dancing bees into patterns on the back of his lap book.

Insect thematic unit—activities and printables {DaddysTractor.com}

And the Body Part activity on the top half of the folder was a funny way to teach “head,” “thorax,” and “abdomen.”  Making sure each body part touched the edges of the paper we took turns drawing insects.  Then we lifted the flaps to create funny, mix-matched bugs!  Anna wasn’t much help drawing, but she laughed uproariously each time we made a silly creature!

Naturally, books are the most important part of any unit!  Our library had lots of non-fiction books about butterflies, bees, ladybugs etc., for all reading levels and but our favorites were The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Grouchy Ladybug, both by Eric Carle and several Magic School Bus books.  Oh!  Try Nexflixing Sid the Science Kid Bug Club too.  Enjoy!

Categories: Homeschool, Thematic Unit | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Getting Ready for Spring Planting

This shows farmers getting equipment ready for spring planting—so cool!  {DaddysTractor.com}

The sun seems a bit shy this year, but despite the cold, Daddy is getting ready for spring planting! Today’s task is getting the planter ready. The planter is one of the most important pieces of equipment on our farm because it puts the seeds into the soil.  Without that, there is nothing to farm!  Getting each seed at the right depth with soil pushed in on all sides is a big goal, but Daddy keeps working to make that happen.  After purchasing the planter we have now, Daddy took off many of the parts it came with and replaced them with parts from a company called Precision Planting.  And each spring he checks each part, replaces broken pieces, oils, cleans and otherwise repairs the planter.

This shows farmers getting equipment ready for spring planting—so cool!  {DaddysTractor.com}

Here you see Daddy using a tourch to remove a bolt that was stripped.

This shows farmers getting equipment ready for spring planting—so cool!  {DaddysTractor.com}

This is the part he was working on.  These are 16 of these on the planter and each one must be in perfect working order!

This shows farmers getting equipment ready for spring planting—so cool!  {DaddysTractor.com}

To adjust the row openers Daddy crawls in under the planter.  All is well and good until he needs a tool and has to crawl back out to get it!

This shows farmers getting equipment ready for spring planting—so cool!  {DaddysTractor.com}

Brett, Anna, and the farm dog Ben are great help to our hired man, Cory.

This shows farmers getting equipment ready for spring planting—so cool!  {DaddysTractor.com}

But Cory gets the job done anyhow!

This shows farmers getting equipment ready for spring planting—so cool!  {DaddysTractor.com}

The planter isn’t the only piece of equipment that must be prepared for spring.  In this photo you see a line-up of the tractors and the equipment they run that are ready for the sun to start shining!

This shows farmers getting equipment ready for spring planting—so cool!  {DaddysTractor.com}

The green and yellow thing on the end may look like the planter, but actually its a drill.  A drill does the same job as a planter- it puts seeds into the ground- but it does it a different way.  We use the drill to plant seeds that aren’t as picky about perfection, like wheat.  Some of our soybeans are planted with the drill too.  There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to plant everything with the planter.

What about you?  Are you as ready for spring as I am?!

Categories: Technology | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Farm to Table– Where Your Food Comes From

How many of us really know where our food comes from?  Sure, it grows on the farm.  Sure, you may go to the farmer’s market and purchase your veggies or visit a U-Pick to get the whole apple orchard experience.  But there is so much more to food than even farmer’s think about each time they sit down to the table!

Sure, farmers planted seeds, but where did the seeds come from?  Yes, farmers grew the wheat, but who baked that bread?

So here’s a look at a small piece of the big food picture; these are pictures of what we do with the corn after it has been harvested.

Hauling Grain (15)

Daddy drives the semi and trailer to the grain elevator. This elevator, part of a company called Ingredion, is in Kansas City. Ingredion is a smaller elevator than others, but it has some neat technology others don’t. The huge, concrete cylinders store grain. Imagine how much grain they can hold and then remember this elevator is small!

Hauling Grain (27)

Depending on the day, Daddy and Anna must wait in line for their turn to unload. Some days they wait for several hours.

Hauling Grain (63)

This is a scanning system. Our truck has a card on the dashboard with all our farm’s information. As you drive across this computer scans the card so the elevator knows who the grain is coming from.

Hauling Grain (37)

These trucks are waiting in line just in front of the probe. This machine takes samples of the grain to be tested for moisture, foreign material, to see if it is the correct kind of corn (waxy), and for a fungus called aflatoxin.

Hauling Grain (42)

This shows the probe sampling our corn.

Hauling Grain (49)

The machine will take samples from a couple of places in the trailer, often once in the front and once in the back.

Hauling Grain (71)

Then its into the office to await the results of the tests.

Inside the office Brett watches an employee test for foreign matter.

Inside the office Brett watches an employee test for foreign matter.

Here they check for alfatoxin.

Here they check for alfatoxin.

This screen displays information about the automated grain leg system.  The grain leg moves the corn from the shed where farmers unload to the concrete silos, which you'll see soon in another photo!

This screen displays information about the automated grain leg system. The grain leg moves the corn from the shed where farmers unload to the concrete silos, which you’ll see soon in another photo!

And now the appropriate thing to do would be to play in the semi truck while waiting yet again for your turn to unload.

And now the appropriate thing to do would be to play in the semi truck while waiting yet again for your turn to unload.

If test results are fine the next stop is this green shed.  Grain is unloaded from the bottom of the trailer and goes under the floor.  Then the yellow grain leg, using a belt and buckets, hauls the corn up and over to the storage silos.

If test results are fine the next stop is this green shed. Grain is unloaded from the bottom of the trailer and goes under the floor. Then the yellow grain leg, using a belt and buckets, hauls the corn up and over to the storage silos.

Daddy cranks open the hoppers on the bottom of the trailer and corn flows out!  This, I might add, is about the best part and the whole reason to sit for hours in a semi truck!

Daddy cranks open the hoppers on the bottom of the trailer and corn flows out! This, I might add, is about the best part and the whole reason to sit for hours in a semi truck!

Here Brett sweeps up each and every kernel, making sure it falls into the grate.  You might also see that the truck is parked on a plate of metal.  This is the scale which weighs the truck before unloading and after.  The difference is the amount of corn the elevator will pay him for.

Here Brett sweeps up each and every kernel, making sure it falls into the grate. You might also see that the truck is parked on a plate of metal. This is the scale which weighs the truck before unloading and after. The difference is the amount of corn the elevator will pay Daddy for.

And this is the last of the corn, trickling out of the hopper bottom.  All that is left of the trip is to close the doors and grab a ticket from the scale house telling us how much the truck weighed.  And then its back to the farm to pick up another load and do it all over again!

And this is the last of the corn, trickling out of the hopper bottom. All that is left of the trip is to close the doors and grab a ticket from the scale house telling us how much the truck weighed. And then its back to the farm to pick up another load and do it all over again!

Categories: Technology | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Easter on Grandma’s Farm

Easter on the FarmEaster at Grandma's Farm Easter 13 (181) Easter 13 (184)Easter at Grandma's Farm

My children and their cousins are the fifth generation to hunt eggs on my Grandma’s farm.  A couple hundred eggs, scattered over several acres.  Its a great time.

But the city of Blue Springs is crowding it on one side, the city of Grain Valley on the other.

Easter at Grandma's Farm

I wonder if this family farm will be here for my grandchildren?

Categories: Family | Tags: | Leave a comment

A Book for Your Tractor Lesson

You know that great feeling when you stumble on something great completely by accident?  I have it today!  We were at the library looking for books for school, which means I’m scribbling down reference numbers and chasing children’s books from all their misplaced places, when the title of this book caught my eye.

A great book for your tractor lesson plan!

Being “Daddy’s Tractor” of course, we had to check this one out.  And we’ll probably renew it too!  Its a whimsical book with bright illustrations and a bit of nostalgia for the by-gone era of small family farms.  Grandpa takes his grandson out to the old homestead, now fallen into decay.  There they find a forgotten (red!) Farmall tractor growing up with weeds.

A great farm book for a tractor lesson plan

Please note that Farmall is a predecessor to Case IH.  And if you don’t know what Case IH is, kindly refer to the photos in the blog title.  And for all of you cheering for green and yellow, just allow me this moment.  It is hard for all of us in ag to find truly good literature, but do you know how hard it is to find books with red tractors?!

But back to the actual point…  Grandpa tells his grandson all about the work the tractor used to do on the farm when he was a boy, making this book a fantastic addition to our History of Agriculture Theme Unit.

A great book for a tractor lesson plan

The author/illustrator is not a farmer (or even remotely connected with ag in any way) and it was not written to be a scientifically, historically, or otherwise perfectly accurate portrait of farm life, but I thought Michael Garland did a nice job and avoided any of the usual mistakes of drawing all roosters instead of hens etc..   And the story of how this book came to be, featured on the last page, is probably my favorite part of all.

So now you can be as excited as I am :-).

Categories: Homeschool, Thematic Unit | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

St. Patrick’s Day, A Missionary’s Story Lesson Plan

I love St. Patrick’s Day.  I’m not really sure why.  But I do know that most of the St. Patrick’s Day celebration seems to revolve around things that are… not as “G” as I’d like them to be for my family.  So I did a little hop, skip, and jump when I read Teaching the Trinity for St. Patrick’s Day from I Have No Greater Joy.  That post and a few quick searches later and this is the St. Patrick’s Day lesson plan we’re working from!

St. Patrick's Day, a missionary's story

We checked out Patrick, Ireland’s Patron Saint from the library (even before I read the Trinity lesson plan!) and it was the perfect book for introducing the kids to Patrick the missionary.  Did you know Patrick was held as a slave in Ireland, escaped home, and later returned to share the gospel?

St. Patrick, a missionary's story lesson plan

Then we made shamrocks from bits of scrapbook paper by cutting three hearts and gluing them to a craft stick.  Its not in the photo, but we also added ribbons to them to make them pretty.

St. Patrick's Day, a missionary's story lesson plan

We talked about the shamrock shape and how St. Patrick might have taught the trinity with it.  Anna didn’t understand at all, but Brett was able to follow along enough that at least he understands there is such a confusing concept, even if he can’t yet grasp it!  We sang the song “God the Father” as posted in the Trinity lesson and that was a great hit.  It was so easy for them to learn!

At the end of the Patrick book is a short section on the legends of St. Patrick.  Brett enjoyed the story about the snakes (of course) and he loved the gross motor activity we created to go with it.  I had the kids take their shamrocks outside and chase pretend snakes out of the yard.  If there had been any real ones… well, they’d be gone too ;-).

St. Patrick's Day, a missionary's story lesson plan

The kids also enjoyed this video I found on Pinterest.

I bought some dot paints from Hobby Lobby last fall, and if you haven’t tried them, they’re great.  All the fun of painting (mostly!) without the fuss and mess.  When I saw this it seemed like a great idea for the preschool kids in my Homeschool Co-Op class.

St. Patrick's Day, a missionary story lesson plan

And then I used those same leftover bits of scrapbook paper to cut out shamrocks– two of each design.  One shamrock I glued to a paper and the other I left loose.  Tomorrow I’ll have the preschoolers match the paper’s designs, then Monday I’ll make it a math lesson for Brett by writing simple addition facts on the loose shamrocks and the answers on the glued down ones.  Hmm, or maybe capital letters with a lowercase match?  Might need more scraps…

St.Patrick's day, a missionary's story lesson plan

And this has nothing to do with missionaries, trinities, or Christ in anyway, but I couldn’t resist.  Remember that whole me just liking St. Patty’s thing?  Well, I also love Lucky Charms.

There.

I just admitted it.

Online.

I love them.

When I taught kindergarten I always bought one box for my class to sort the shapes and then I ATE THE REST!

Once a year.

But I haven’t taught kindergarten in six years.  So its been a looooong time since I’ve eaten Lucky Charms.  And I couldn’t resist.  Today we sorted the shapes.

It was so educational.

And tasty.

St. Patrick's Day, a missionary's story lesson plan

And then I gave them each a missionary penny.

St. Patrick's Day, a missionary's story lesson plan

What is that?  Well, a missionary penny is one SENT.  All people are sent to spread the gospel, some in foreign countries and under heroic circumstances like Patrick, but all of us are called.  Funny enough, the penny is also considered “lucky,” but plainly states “In God We Trust.”  We discussed that it is not luck but God who gives us all good things– which was important to me in a St. Patty’s Day lesson!

If you have other ideas for making Christ a part of the St. Patrick’s Day celebration, leave them below!

Categories: Homeschool, Thematic Unit | Tags: , , , , , , | 9 Comments

History of Agriculture Theme Unit

One of the best things about homeschooling is choosing to study what you like!  We recently completed a theme unit on the history of agriculture.  If this sounds like fun to you, here ya go!

HISTORY OF AGRICULTURE THEME UNIT

Reading

The American Family Farm by Joan Anderson

Farming Then and Now by Katie Roden

Pictures from the Farm by JC Allen and Son, Inc. (Brett loved this one!)

Case Photographic History by April Halberstadt

The Big Book of Tractors by John Deere

Tractor Mac Arrives at the Farm by Billy Steers (and other Tractor Mac books)

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingles Wilder, Chapters 10 &11

History of Agriculture Theme Unit

Writing

Keep a vocabulary list of all the new words you learn

Brainstorm facts you’ve learned about farming; choose one to write in your journal

Explore the poem “One for the Mouse, one for the crow, one to rot, one to grow”

Pretend you are living on a family farm __ years ago.  Write a letter to someone telling them about your day.

Math

Create a timeline of farm history (We started about 1800.).  Add to it through the unit.  These ready-made timelines were great resources!

“Plant” (glue) ears of corn in numerical order.  For older students, plant numbers by 2s, 5s, etc. or backwards.

Use this website from nps.gov to learn how many miles a man walked to plant one acre, how much a plow cost and billions of other math facts from the 19th Century!

Use the “one for the mouse” poem to do a little hands-on subtraction

History of Agriculture Theme Unit

Science

Try this experiment to learn why rubber tires were a great improvement over horses hooves and steel wheels.

Experiment with tying straw sheaves.  If you don’t have straw large weeds from the side of  the road will work as well.  Will your sheaves protect the straw from the rain?

Make a farm diorama with a shoe box, clay, plastic toy cowboys and horses (can you figure out a way to dress your cowboys to look like farmers?), and any other things you can imagine!

Social Studies

Try sowing seeds yourself.  Grass seed is a great choice.

Use a hand grinder to grind wheat.

Watch the archival footage on these John Deere DVDs. CombinesTractors

Field Trip!  The best part of homeschooling– right?!  Visit Missouri Town, an Amish community, or similar location

History of Agriculture Theme Unit

Art

Make a collage of seeds

Design a piece of machinery the could help farmers.  Use food boxes, paper towel tubes, brads, yarn, whatever!

Roll toy tractors in (washable) paint and create prints

Scripture

The Parable of the Sower, Luke 8:5-8

Other Internet Resources

Country Life vs. City Life from Home School Year Blog

Farm Theme Pinterest board

Fun on the Farm by Fabulous in First Blog

Counting 1-5 Grain Bins from Hands On: As We Grow Blog

Categories: Homeschool, Thematic Unit | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Election 2012

2012 is a big election year!  We will vote for President of the United States, as well as many Senators, Congressmen, Governors, and local and state offices.

Some people believe politicians in Washington do not affect their lives, but on our farm our daily life has a lot to do with the laws and regulations others put into place.  Let me give you an example.

Last year the Missouri River flooded.  Check out this map of the US.

You can see that the Missouri River goes through many states, not just Missouri.  So when the river flooded, lots of people had trouble!  The Army Corps of Engineers decided the best thing to do would be to dynamite a levy– a dam built up with dirt to keep the river where it belongs.  When they blew the levy up thousands of Missouri homes, businesses, and farms were destroyed in the horrible flooding that followed.  The Corps said destroying the levy was the best way to control the flood.  Many Missourians disagree.

This year we will vote for leaders who will write new laws.  We can choose leaders who promise to pass laws that will change how the Army Corps of Engineers does its job, or we can choose leaders who plan to keep things the way they are.

The farms that were underwater last year are dry now, but they are still unusable.  The sand and debris from the flooding cover the good, rich dirt, keeping plants from growing.  Scientists say it could be 20 years before the land is usable again.

So tell me, do you think politicians in Washington can affect your life?  Who will you choose in Election 2012?

Categories: Science | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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