Monsters, Mars and Math


Here are the latest home school highlights:

We tore through the abridged “The Time Machine” by H.G. Wells. The boys were insatiable, if not a little scared, but it helped when we reminded them that everything worked out because “he” was retelling adventures he survived, instead of enduring them in “real time.” Isaac insisted we start Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” (abridged) right away, and wouldn’t let me stop until I’d read 4 chapters. I’m thrilled they are enjoying stories from “real” books with minimal pictures. Granted, I love picture books, but I like to know they are building pictures in their minds.


I recently took advantage of a sale at Unit Studies by Amanda Bennett and downloaded four “Download ‘N Go” studies. Ian dove straight into the Robots study, and sits for hours at a time watching robot videos, writing and drawing about robots and learning facts and history about robots.

One assignment was to pretend he was taking the 2.5 year round trip to Mars, and had to fit everything he wanted to take into a 1-meter square box. We measured and taped off an imaginary box and let the boys get an idea of how much they can fit in it.

Then they had an imaginary “blast-off.”

One history lesson was about Ctesibius and his water clock invention. The assignment was to learn how a water clock operates and then draw his own. I started into the lesson, but Ian cut me off saying, “I know how a water clock works.” Curious, I asked, “Oh? How?” He replied, “It’s a bowl filled with water, with a hole in the bottom and measuring lines on the inside. As the water drains, you can tell what time it is.” “How did you know that?!” I asked. “I saw it on Beakman’s World.” Here is his ridiculously high tech water clock, complete with a breakout to show what’s inside the clock.

I’ll see if I can explain the picture. He said the moon causes waves, which it uses for water power (top tube in water), and it uses the bottom tube for water exchange. There is a satellite it is connected to the clock that communicates to airplanes, which transmit info about the moon, the time, and such.

Isaac has a study on dolphins that he is very interested in. He’s done some drawing, measuring, writing and videos in that study, too.


Today, on the way back from Ian’s piano lesson, we ended up discussing money, “quarters” of things, and somehow that led into a discussion about showing numbers on a graph to visually see them. That inspired me to demonstrate a few types of charts and graphs on the carpet with tape, string and pennies.

Here, Ian is learning the basics of coordinates.

Here, I gave him coordinates to plot, to show how a shape could be made and measured.

In this picture, I’m showing Ian examples of how to use a bar graph. We used the example of 3 kids and how many pieces of Halloween candy each got.

We also toyed with graphing other shapes, like triangles, and trend lines, like for showing inches of rainfall each day of a week, and then moved on to pie charts. He took to the plotting, and concepts of negative numbers fairly naturally, but seemed more concerned that the imaginary Elijah graph got more candy than his.

I’m in love right now, because I see four handsome faces piled on the big squishy pillow chair, enthralled with a book about Yellowstone. I LOVE seeing them all lined up and snuggly like that.

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