Science and Everyday Life

Wednesday is our science day and this week’s lesson had us working all week on finding ways to make jobs easier.  It all started with Samantha’s elementary physical science on her online science program.  We went to the library and enjoyed exploring the selection of books to bring home and pour over for further study.  I also found some short videos on YouTube to show Sam how pulleys, levers and other tools work.  But the different tasks and lessons she covered on her online science lessons were particularly fun.
Samantha’s first part of her simple machine lesson showed a short video clip of a man getting very tired as he cut a bucket full of oranges.  She then learned about different tools that could possibly be used to work smarter, not harder.  In one of her tasks, Sam had help unscrambling syllables with silly bulls. The program tells us the word and the definition of the word.  For example, reduce. Reduce means to make less or decrease. Then she has to unscramble the syllables to spell the vocabulary word correctly. If her answer is correct, then it confirms it by reading the word and then telling her how many syllables the word has. If her answer is incorrect, it tells her, “Still scrambled. Keep trying.”  The program reads the syllables as she is choosing them and unscrambling the syllables. This is helpful for new readers because it helps them learn to decode words, which is part of learning to read.

Each lesson builds on the previous lesson.  The second lesson showed us the Halfer 2000 machine, which was created to make cutting oranges smarter, not harder.  Here Sam had to drag labels to the right part of the machine to properly label each part of the machine. These were tools she had learned in the previous lesson.  As Sam picks up the label to drag it, it reads the label. If it’s incorrect, it will say, “Sorry,” or “Keep trying,” and then tell us the name of the part and the function of that part.  If Sam’s answer is correct, it will say, “Yes,” or “You got it,” and then tells us what the function of that part of the machine is.  Sam gets excited when she hears, “You got it!”  But she’s also encouraged when she hears, “keep trying,” when she gets the answer wrong.  And again, if she weren’t a good reader, it is helpful that the program reads the label for her as she picks it up to place it on the part of the machine. The program teaches us how much easier a job like cutting buckets of oranges can be with a machine that uses  6 different tools that work together.

On another lesson Jojo mixes up the words in the glossary, and they are no longer in alphabetical order. Oh-oh. It’s Sam’s job to fix what Jojo has done and put them in alphabetical order so they’re easier to look up. Science4Us doesn’t assume the student knows what it means to alphabetize. As you move the mouse around, there’s an area that says, “Tell me about alphabetizing.”  Although Sam has practiced ABC order before, it’s something Sam is still learning. So I have her click on this spot so she can hear an explanation again of what it means to alphabetize.  It’s helpful for her to hear the explanation and to see the alphabet line right in front of her as they unscramble a word list to teach how to alphabetize words.  She’s a visual learner, so this is so helpful.  It’s also helpful for auditory learners.  I appreciate that I’m able to pause the video so I can go over any portion that I feel she may need to hear again or review. Another feature I like is that the letters are highlighted in different colors as they’re being described. I know this is particularly helpful for kids with dyslexia or if they’re still learning to recognize the letter placement as they’re alphabetizing.  Once we went through the hows and whys of alphabetizing, Sam then started to work through putting the glossary in ABC order. Throughout the exercise, there are prompts that encouraged her and gave her tips.

In the last lesson and exercise, Pinky has several tasks for which he needs tools to make his job easier.  As he reaches each task, he asks for help on choosing the right tool.  If Sam chose the right tool, it told us the name of the tool and then Pinky showed us how he used the tool to accomplish the task. If Sam chose the wrong tool, then Pinky would say, “Umm, nope,” and the program would say the name of that tool and tell us how that tool would be more helpful.  Now the tools in this exercise were different tools, more everyday tools we find at home, like scissors, a door stop, a noodle, tinker toy and hammer.

The last task Sam learned was taking notes about the lesson. She learned to "analyze or think about the different machines and examine them really closely." This is how the program worded it.  I like how the program basically described what it means to analyze a lesson.  Then she learned to fill out a chart and organize details about the machine. Sam started by choosing the definition for the tool, in this case, a lever. Again, if the choice Sam makes is wrong, it tells her what that definition is actually for and tells her to try again. So even though she’s gotten it wrong, she’s still learning what word goes with that ‘wrong’ definition she chose.  The next task is to choose characteristics of that tool (lever), giving Sam choices.  Once she chooses the right characteristics, they place them on the correct place on the notepad. The next task is choosing examples of levers and non-examples of levers.  The final picture is the finished product she has put together on the notepad.  We see a picture of a notepad with a tool, in this case a lever, with the definition, characteristics, examples and non-examples.  I particularly loved this exercise because it taught Sam the importance of taking notes and a simple way of taking notes.  At the end of this task, it gave Sam the option of saving this note.
This was such a thorough lesson, but I still wanted to reinforce what she learned.  

These lessons could've been done over a week or several weeks. We chose to do them all in one day.  We also repeat the lessons another day because that's how Sam learns best.  I was able to find resources from our library and show examples of the use of simple tools in our daily life, like using a ramp for a wheel chair, or a door stop to keep the door open, or a magnet to pick up all the pins we dropped.  After doing laundry, the string in Sam’s sweatshirt fell out. So I used a simple tool to thread it through. I showed her how putting a safety pin on one end of the string and threading it through is a simple way of threading it back in place.  

This is an example of  homeschooling where lessons becomes part of our everyday life, or everyday life is homeschooling. We were able to incorporate things we use and do every day into part of our lessons.  If Sam were in school, these lessons would’ve possibly ended after an hour or so.  I’d love to hear some examples of how your homeschool blends in with your everyday activities. 

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