Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Spudoodles!

To continue our genetics study this week, the students made “spudoodles,” potato people that demonstrated the principles of inheritance.P1050088

 

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Each student started with two envelopes, each containing scraps of colored paper representing the genes of one parent for various traits. They copied down the genetic information for each parent onto their worksheets. Then they filled out Punnett squares for each trait to figure out the possible genetic makeup of the offspring.

 

Next, they picked one gene for each trait from each parent to determine the baby spudoodle’s genotype and phenotype and figured out the percentage chance of that particular genetic make-up.

Then came the fun part—building the spudoodles. Each potato baby had different traits—ears or no ears; hair or no hair; small, medium, or large mouth, and so on.  You can find the complete instructions and worksheets for the Spudoodle project here.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Purex PowerShot (Giveaway)

Purex has just come out with a brand new product, PowerShot Laundry Detergent. The unique bottle design is drip proof and automatically dispenses the perfect amount of detergent. Personally, I’ve never found it burdensome to measure detergent in the cap, but those drippy bottles can be irritating. However, I know that my children probably use too much detergent when they run a load. That can’t happen with this bottle! No wasted or spilled detergent = saved money!

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To use Purex PowerShot, you simply turn the bottle upside down. The pre-measured dose of detergent pours out and the measuring compartment refills, ready for the next load. Two doses can be used for large or extra-dirty loads. Really simple…no measuring cup, no hassle, no drips!

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Purex Powershot also boasts “50% more stain fighting power in every drop vs. regular Purex detergent.” I’ve only done a couple of loads of laundry so far with the PowerShot, so I can’t really attest to whether it is actually getting more stains out, but I like the idea!

Here’s your chance to win some great prizes!

  1. Enter the Purex sweepstakes to win one of 3 washer/dryer sets or one of 300 bottles of Purex PowerShot laundry detergent. All entrants will receive a $1 off Purex coupon.
  2. Enter here for a chance to win coupons for 2 FREE BOTTLES of PUREX POWERSHOT.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

“Drugging” our Fruit Flies

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As I was preparing to order our drosophila (fruit fly) cultures, I encountered a small problem. Carolina Lab would not ship their “Fly Nap” to a residential address. Fly Nap is their recommended way to temporarily knock out the flies for the students to examine them and separate them by sex or trait. They did sell a carbon dioxide system for drugging the flies, but it only came with 8 CO2 pellets, which probably wouldn’t have been enough, making it more expensive. I did some online research and found an easy and free way to knock out the flies.

Chilling fruit flies immobilizes them. They wake up quickly when returned to room temperature. We used a modification of the technique found at: http://ableweb.org/volumes/vol-24/mini.5.ratterman.pdf.  This is what we did:

  1. Place an empty vial in ice for several minutes.
  2. Tap the vial containing flies to be transferred against a table to knock the flies to the bottom. Quickly unstop the vial and invert it over the chilled empty vial.
  3. Hold the two vials together and tap against the table until the flies have been knocked into the chilled vial. Replace stoppers.
  4. The chilled flies can then be dumped onto a plate that has been placed on top of a bowl of ice to chill. Flies will remain unconscious as long as they are on the chilled plate. Students can then examine them, sort them, and discard them into a morgue or place them in vials for new crosses.

This worked very well, eliminated all risks to students or flies by the use of ether or other chemicals and cost nothing. You can read more detailed procedures at: http://ableweb.org/volumes/vol-24/mini.5.ratterman.pdf.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Genetics with Fruit Flies

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Our Apologia Biology text didn’t have any actual genetics experiments for Module 8, so I decided to add one. The students will be breeding and studying fruit flies (drosophila) for the next month to reinforce their study of genetics.

The flies that I ordered (and yes, the students were astounded that I actually paid for fruit flies!) were of two types: wild (winged) and apterous (wingless). Both types had sex-linked traits of yellow bodies and red eyes for females and gray bodies with white eyes for males. We won’t be going into much discussion of the principles of sex-linked traits, but these features will make it much easier to differentiate males and females.

On week one, the students read parts of the Carolina Drosophila manual and filled out some worksheets on the characteristics of drosophila and made predictions about the resulting F1 and F2 crosses if the wild trait were dominant and if the apterous trait were dominant. I didn’t tell them which was dominant—they will have to figure that out for themselves.P1050081

Next, we examined the flies with magnifying glasses and identified the traits we were looking for—winged vs. wingless, eye color, and body color. We also observed the larvae and pupae in the vials. I had discarded the adult flies the previous day, to ensure that we were only dealing with young, virgin flies.

Then they separated the flies of each type into male and female and started the F1 crosses by putting several wild males with several apterous females in one vial and several wild females with apterous males in the other vial.  We did have a small problem in that only about 6-8 new adult flies had appeared since I cleared the vials, so Emily and I had to add new adult flies over the 2 days following our lab day.

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For the remainder of our lab class, we did some chapter review. Then we worked together to create a Punnett Square for a dihybrid cross of a green legged, diamond backed turtle (dominant traits) with a yellow-legged square patterned back turtle (recessive traits).  The students made up our fictional turtle characteristics—no resemblance to real life!

In two weeks, after the F1 generation of fruit flies hatches, we will start the F2 generation.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Stressing out our Kindergarteners

I just read a Washington Post piece questioning the Common Core requirements for Kindergarten students to learn to read. Report: Requiring kindergarteners to read—as Common Core does—may harm some echoed concerns that I have had for years about our educational expectations for young children. Pushing young children into early academics has been an increasing trend in recent years. This isn’t new with Common Core Standards, but the new standards do seem to be solidifying the practice. In our district, even Pre-K 4 year olds take standardized tests on the computer!

My children were all early readers. The three oldest were all reading fluently by age five, and the fourth wasn’t too far behind. They all learned to read through snuggle on the couch time with Mommy, not with worksheets and drill, and, most importantly, they were ready to learn! They each reached a point where it all “clicked” and their reading just took off. Some kids will reach this point at four; others will reach it at six or seven. Does it really help a child to spend hours of drill memorizing concepts before they are ready to learn? Or will it just frustrate the child and turn him off to learning altogether?

Although my children were ahead of average academically, I still did not feel that it was developmentally appropriate for them to spend hours a day doing seatwork. I am so grateful that we had the opportunity to homeschool. In Kindergarten, they spent probably an hour a day doing seat work. The rest of our day was spent reading great books, doing crafts and simply science experiments, and most importantly, playing. They had time to use their imaginations, to create, and to realize that learning is fun. They all grew up just fine.

I’m not advocating not teaching young children, especially ones who are a little later along the developmental process. I do believe that education for younger children should be hands-on, play-based, and given in small doses. Learning can be incorporated into every aspect of life; it’s not confined to working through pages in a workbook. Textbooks have their places, but balance is so important. I feel sad for kindergarteners who have full-day school with little or no in-school playtime. And what happens when little 5-year-old Johnny doesn’t meet the new reading standards? How will he feel about himself when he’s marked as a failure so young?

A generation or two ago, children were taught to read in the first grade. I wonder if our children are really achieving more in the long run because we push academic skills on them at age 4 or 5. I would love to see a comparison of  6th graders in 1960 vs. 6th graders now. Are today’s kids smarter? Given the widespread concern over failing schools and students, I doubt it.

Any thoughts?

Monday, January 12, 2015

“Motivate Your Child” Huge Giveaway

Over the years, I’ve read many many parenting books. I don’t read many anymore just because there is so much repetition between books.  Just a few months ago, though, I read The Christian Parenting Handbook, and found it extremely helpful. The focus is on reaching the heart of your children rather than simply changing the outward behavior. The book is full of practical helps, but the emphasis is always on the heart.

The same authors have just published a brand-new book, Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent's Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told.  I’ve only read the first chapter so far, but can tell that this book will be just as good. Given that motivating my child is one of my biggest parenting struggles, I am really hoping that the book will offer me some practical, life-changing help! I’ll be writing a review once I’ve finished reading it.

To celebrate the release of Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent's Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told,  members of the Launch Team are sharing a wonderful giveaway filled with a Go Pro Camera, $50 Mardel Gift Card, $25 Amazon Gift Card, and book bundles from both the National Center for Biblical Parenting and Thomas Nelson Publishing! Three winners will win prizes with a total value of nearly $800! motivate your child giveaway Here’s what you could win: 

GRAND PRIZE  ($500+ value)

Go Pro HERO3+ Silver Camera ($300 value)

HERO3+ Silver captures gorgeous, professional-quality 1080p60 video and 10MP photos at speeds of up to 10 frames per second. Built-in Wi-Fi enables you to use the GoPro App to control the camera remotely, preview shots and share your favorites on Facebook, Twitter and more. Compatible with all GoPro mounts, you can wear it or attach it to your gear for immersive POV footage of your favorite activities. It’s waterproof to 131’ (40m) and built tough for all of life’s adventures. Combined with stunning low-light performance, high-performance audio and an ultra wide-angle glass lens, HERO3+ Silver makes capturing and sharing your life easier than ever.  

NCBP Book Bundle ($115 value)

 The Christian Parenting Handbook  and Companion Guide Parenting is Heart Work God's Awesome Story Hero Training Camp Children's Curriculum

 

Thomas Nelson Book Bundle ($90 value):

The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst  Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson   Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine  All Pro Dad by Mark Merrill  The Passionate Mom by Susan Merrill 

***

FIRST PRIZE ($165 value)

$50 Mardel Gift Card

 

NCBP Book Bundle ($115 value)

The Christian Parenting Handbook  and Companion Guide Parenting is Heart Work God's Awesome Story Hero Training Camp Children's Curriculum

***

SECOND PRIZE ($115 value)

$25 Amazon Gift Card

 

Thomas Nelson Book Bundle ($90 value):

The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst  Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson   Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine  All Pro Dad by Mark Merrill  The Passionate Mom by Susan Merrill To enter, use the Rafflecopter below. Giveaway dates: January 12, 2015 @12:00am ET through January 28, 2015 @ 11:59pm ET Terms and Conditions: This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.  Void where prohibited by law. Must be at least 18 years of age. This giveaway is in no away associated with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or Amazon. No purchase necessary for entry. Odds are determined by the number of entries. Selected winner will have 48 hours to respond to email notification to claim their prize or another winner will be drawn.  a Rafflecopter giveaway Disclaimer

Friday, January 9, 2015

Teaching the “sh” Sound

This is an excerpt from Super Star Speech: Expanded Edition. Super Star Speech includes practice materials, picture cards, and games to teach almost every speech sound. More practice materials are available at http://superstarspeech.com.

teaching sh

SH

SH is produced with the tongue tip raised and placed just behind the gum ridge. The tongue position is slightly behind the tongue position for S. The tongue sides contact the upper side teeth so that the airflow is directed over the tongue tip. Lips are slightly rounded.

Tips:

1. Demonstrate tongue placement and lip rounding, using a mirror.

2. Develop SH from S. Have the child hold an S sound while slowly sliding his tongue back until SH is produced. A drill of TH-SSS-SHH may be helpful. Use the analogy of a turtle sliding his head back into his shell.

3. If the SH is too “hard,” sounding like a CH, instruct the child to say it slowly and softly. Have him draw out the sound for several seconds, perhaps blowing on his hand or a feather.

4. If air is leaking around the sides of the tongue, producing a distorted or lisping SH, have the child practice widening and narrowing his tongue, using a mirror. The tongue should be widened in the production of SH. Touch the sides of his tongue and instruct him to press the tongue sides against the back teeth. It may be helpful to lower the tongue tip with a popsicle stick to allow airflow over the top of the tongue rather than around the sides of the tongue.

 

This activity will help your child contrast the /sh/ sound with /s/ and /ch/.

Say each word pair as quickly as you can:

Sea --- she

Sell --- shell

Sort ---short

Sin --- shin

Sue --- shoe

Sip --- ship

Ship – chip

Chin –shin

Cheat – sheet

Shoe – chew

Share – chair

Sheep – cheap

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Motivate Your Child!

I am excited to share with you about a new book I’m reading this month -- Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent's Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told. Doesn’t that sound amazing? I know that in my home, motivating my child is one of my biggest challenges!

$150 preorder

God's Word gives us a better way to parent, one that builds strong internal motivation in children. When parents change the way they parent, kids change the way they live.Motivate Your Child is a practical book that explores a theology of internal motivation and then gives parents real-life solutions to equip their kids for life.
This is the newest book by parenting experts, Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN from the National Center for Biblical Parenting (NCBP), also authors of The Christian Parenting Handbook.  In order to motivate parents to Pre-Order the book, the NCBP is offering a $150 package of resources for FREE! There are video, audio and print items that can be used on a variety of devices. You can learn more on the Book Website. You can Pre-Order the book now from any retailer, and then follow the instructions below. Pre-Order from Amazon INSTRUCTIONS: Purchase the book. Email the receipt to gift@biblicalparenting.org. The NCBP will send you the link and a special code to access these downloadable products. This offer is good until January 31, 2015. Disclaimer

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Word for 2015: Love

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I’ve decided that my word for this year will be “love.” I would like for my home to characterized by love rather than by strife. I want to focus on responding to others with love in all my relationships, especially with those people who are difficult to love.

I also want to look for more ways to reach out beyond my circle of family and friends to show love this year.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 

I Cor. 13:4-8 NIV

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Skating in the Park

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Our city opens an outdoor skating rink each year during the holiday season. This year, my three girls and I tried it out and found it to be a lot of fun! The rink was smaller and more crowded than the indoor rink, but the atmosphere was great. The air was 50 degrees, so it was quite pleasant. I even got too warm to wear my jacket after a while. As it became dark, we were able to see the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree display nearby in the park. I think this will become a new annual holiday tradition!

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Monday, December 29, 2014

If He Had Not Come (Review)

If He Had Not Come, by Nan F. Weeks and David Nicholson, is a sweet Christmas story that is sure to be enjoyed by all ages. The story was originally written in 1938 by Ms. Weeks, and has been republished by Nicholson, who added illustrations and devotional material.

The premise of the story is that a little boy, Bobby, reads the words, “if I had not come,” from John 15:22 before bed. He then dreams of a world that has never known Jesus, a world with no churches, no Christian hospitals or homeless ministries, a world that exhibits little kindness or compassion.

I enjoyed reading this book with my daughter. We’ve read many Christmas-themed books, but this stands out with its unique plot.My teen enjoyed the book too, so this isn’t just a story for young children, although young children would certainly enjoy it. We read the book and discussed the “interactive topics” and “going deeper” questions one night for our advent devotional time, discussing all the ways we thought our world and our lives would be different if Jesus had not come to earth. The illustrations are sweet and old-fashioned, suitable for a book that is set in the 1930’s.

I read the Kindle format of the story, but would recommend the print version. On my 8.9” Kindle Fire, the pictures were very small. If I held the Fire vertically, the pictures were on a separate page from the accompanying text. In landscape, 2-page view the pictures were on the facing page, but not full-page size as I would have expected.

Other than the formatting oddities, I do recommend If He Had Not Come, and we will certainly read it again next Christmas.

I received this book free in exchange for my honest review from BookLook Bloggers.