Spring 2012 Homeschool Portfolio Review: Math and Science

So, you may notice I never posted a plan of what we were doing for the Spring 2012. Well, that’s because we were in one of those frustrating times where it seems like nothing is working and the year was going to be horrible. So I didn’t really expect to stick to anything. I left it wide open to see what would happen. I think the kids liked that, because despite the fact I’ve been just so sick and miserable, we did an amazing amount of stuff! So much, in fact, that I had to split this up into multiple posts.


The Boy and I had all sorts of issues with math. He wants to do all his work in his head, but he just doesn’t have the working memory to actually do it! He is capable of so much more math, but if it involves writing, he simply won’t. In a few years, I’m sure he’ll be able to keep more in his head, if he’s anything like his parents, but for now I’m just going to have to back off and let him stay where he is comfortable.

So we reviewed addition, subtraction, multiplication and division in one to five digit numbers. He learned how to do the same actions on decimals and fractions, though I’m sure he only retained a little of it. He still doesn’t have a really good grasp on the decimal system to understand how easy it is to multiply and divide by 10. We did a few lessons on probability and he learned how to express probabilities as fractions and percentages. Then we moved on to Beast Academy, a new elementary series from the company that makes Art of Problem Solving. The Boy did the entire practice test in one shot because the answers were *fun*. They would work out to interesting numbers, or there was a tricky short cut that made him feel like he was cheating, but of course just proved he knew the math well. The books themselves are cartoons filled with little jokes and interesting games and problems. It’s a hit!

The Girl continued in Singapore, moving to Singapore 1B. She likes it, just a few pages at a time. Like her brother, she always thinks she wants more, but then it’s overwhelming and she shuts down, so I have to make sure to stop her before she gets upset. She worked on reading two-digit numbers (yay Bingo!), adding and subtracting numbers under twenty, probability of coin flips, skip counting, simple multiplication, symmetry, bar charts (which she invented for herself!), and finding the unknown (simple algebra).

Both kids also enjoyed a lot of books and activities from the Living Math curriculum, which goes through math concepts from cultures we’re studying in history. We made Chinese counting sticks, quipus, used an abacus, learned cuneiform numbers, and all sorts of other things.

The baby enjoys patterns, shapes, and counting things.


I don’t even know where to begin with science. They are surrounded by science. Science is in their genes (well, yes, literally, but I’m using it as a metaphor here, people!).

They both use Bernard Nebel’s Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding for some ideas of lessons, activities, and related books, but that’s usually only necessary when I’m especially exhausted or it’s the dead of winter and we just aren’t running into science often enough. Otherwise, we visit science places, read science books, do astronomy, raise many animals and plants, and play with science all day long.

The Boy investigated lasers, nuclear fission, chain reactions, naming conventions in organic chemistry, making molecules, static electricity, lightning, circuits and electronics, flight (in balloons, helicopters, and planes), vacuums, and how soaps work.

The Girl enjoyed mixing jello and proteases, gasses and pressure, and classifying fruits and vegetables.

Together they worked on raising a mantis, crickets, mealworms, and moths and learned a lot about food webs and metamorphosis. They helped build, tend, and harvest in the garden. They studied the anatomy of flowers, insects, and arachnids, and unfortunately, a prolonged study of the human digestive system. They also learned an awful lot about fermentation. We took nature walks in Maryland and Alabama and compared and contrasted the plants and animals that lived there and discussed adaptations for living in different environments. We studied the water cycle, pH, and made our own indicators. We talked about the types of energy and how energy changes forms (and how roller coasters and swings are excellent for demonstrating kinetic vs. potential energy). We investigated the three main forms of matter and their properties and identified the materials different objects are made out of and why someone would choose that particular material. We went to a real archaeology dig! We investigated flight more and took a trip to the Air and Space museum. We also studied levers and pulleys and simple machines made from them.

And that’s just the things I was aware of and remember.

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