Monday, August 1, 2016

Pre-Columbian Unit Study/ Aztec, Mayan, and Incan Resource List and Reviews

Complete list of Precolumbian unit resources and project photos. Awesome!
Books, mask, pottery, and calendar

This is my top list for Pre-Columbian unit study resources! It integrates the Aztec, Mayan, and Incan cultures. Because these resources were so comprehensive, we skipped additional library books and supplemented with BrainPop and Britannica.

Extra project photos:
Precolumbian Unity Study - Aztec Temple Statue activity. Lots of resources with tons of pics!
Aztec temple statue made from free, recycled boxes. We added important vocabulary on the side of the statue.

Complete list of Precolumbian unit resources and project photos. Awesome!
Replica of Aztec pottery - the original artifact is made of obsidian and adorned with a monkey. Our version uses air dry clay and tempera paint.

And now for my resource list! 
You'll find a little of everything here - arts/crafts, short passage reading, chapter books, and field trips ideas.

 Activity Books
Aztecs: Dress, Eat, Write and Play Just Like the Aztecs (Hands-On History)
Hands-on History Aztecs review plus tons of other Precolumbian resources. Complete list and photos of activity examples!

My absolute favorite resource! Each aspect of Aztec life is introduced, then followed with a craft or activity. The historical information sections are short and directly correlate to the activity. Lessons are presented in a two-page format. The first page and half are historical text and illustrations, the remaining portion lists supplies and activity instructions.

  • Supplies are common items so our purchases were minimal. The majority of projects can be made with paint, construction paper, air dry clay, markers, etc. 
  • Because of the common supply list and excellent directions, activities are equally suited for classroom or homeschool use. 
  • The directions are clear - my student (age 10) worked independently on all the activities. Always a bonus. 
  • Activities and projects were fun! 
  • Full color with engaging graphics
  • Wish it was longer and included other Precolumbian cultures!
  • Some projects take more than a session to complete. Example: one session to form a piece of pottery, another session to paint after the clay had hardened and dried. 

Hands-On History! Aztec and Maya: Rediscover the lost world of ancient Central America, with 450 exciting pictures and 15 step-by-step projects
Hands-on History Aztec and Maya review. Tons of Precolumbian unit resources, reviews, and project activity photos!

My second favorite resource. Parts of this book are impressive, especially the historical text. The chapters are presented "encyclopedia style".  Expect short paragraphs with tons of illustrations. Each topic begins with several pages of reading, then the activity follows.

  • The historical text and illustrations are phenomenal - great content!
  • Comprehensive contents - this book had so many interesting topics (including many that were not as addressed as fully in Aztecs: Dress, Eat, Write, and Play Just Like the Aztecs). 
  • Full color
  • The projects and activities were labor intensive and required purchasing many new supplies such as: feathers, cane/bamboo sticks, wood veneer strips, straw, etc. 
  • Supply list might be cost-prohibitive for many, or simply just hard to find.
  • Many activities require cutting cardboard pieces to a specific size with a blade - a safety hazard for most kids. I tired of this quickly!

Reproducible Workbook
Mayan, Incan, and Aztec Civilizations Resource Book
    Mayan, Incan, and Aztec Civilizations Review - Plus tons of other Precolumbian unit resources!

    This workbook is more standards and comprehension driven. It will appeal to those students who dislike crafts. Each lesson is short - one page or two of text, then a reading comprehension "knowledge check". An answer key is provided at the back of the book.

    • Reproducible lessons make preparation a snap
    • The lessons are short and full of interesting details
    • Introduces terminology and words specific to the culture not found in other books
    • Answer keys for grading
    • Black and white workbook lacks color and visual interest
    • No crafting/activities can be difficult for kinesthetic learners
    • Most of the fun for my daughter in unit studies is the activities, so she was happy to have the other Hands-On History books! 

    Horrible Histories Incredible Incas review. This site has a complete list of Precolumbian unit resource and photos of activities! Chapter Book
    The Incredible Incas (Horrible Histories)
    Love, love, love this series! My daughter begs for me to load these onto her kindle. She read the Groovy Greeks, Incredible Incas, and Ruthless Romans in less than a week.

    This series truly brings history to life. Every time I ask my daughter what she learned from the book, her answers floor me. When stories are told in an entertaining way, students remember so much information. A must-have resource!

    Art/ Coloring Book
    Huge list of resources for Precolumbian unity study for Inca, Maya, and Aztec cultures. Site has photos of activities, too. Awesome!

    Aztec: 70 designs to help you de-stress (Coloring for Mindfulness)
    Just a fun addition to study motifs and color in Aztec culture. The design are printed double-sided on cardstock weight paper. The weight works well for a variety of media - we've used watercolor, pastels, and markers. The designs are intricate, detailed, and beautiful!

    Field Trips
    Temple of the Jaguar Exhibit
    Dallas World Aquarium - Mundo Maya presentation. Site has huge list of resources for Precolumbian unit study and activity photos!
    Photo with performers at Mundo Maya

    After studying about the importance of jaguars and feathers in the Aztec culture, we caught a short music and dancing presentation at the Dallas World Aquarium. It's upstairs in the Mundo Maya section. The costumes are incredible up close! And yes, those are live birds :)

    Other field trip ideas:
    • Zoo or animal sanctuary to study jaguars - an important and sacred animal to the Aztecs.
    • Aviary or area where exotic birds can be viewed. Discuss the importance of craftsman who collected feathers and created elaborate headdresses.
    • Art museum - to see golden artifacts such as Precolumbian masks.
    • Chocolatier - compare modern chocolate to the bitter drink appreciated by Aztec nobles.

    Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I will earn a small commission {at no cost to you} should you make a purchase. Thank you for supporting my homeschooling adventures so I can continue to share my experiences and resources with you!

    Monday, May 11, 2015

    Friday, May 8, 2015

    Math Curriculum Review/ Grade 3

    With the end of the school year near, it's time to review curriculum! Expect reviews {by subject/unit} for the few weeks. Curriculum for next year will also be posted. It's been exciting to see all our new resources arriving!

    Math is one of our daily subjects. During the summer, we continue math lessons and drills. 

    Spectrum Math

    This year, M finished Math Grade 3 and is about halfway through Math Grade 4. This is still my FAVORITE math series. We'll continue Math Grade 4 through the summer and into the fall. 

    Spectrum is awesome at teaching math skills in the proper order, building each skill as you continue through the workbook! Chapter pretests at the start of each chapter identify skills students may already know. 

    In addition to pre-tests, there are also chapter tests, a midterm exam, and a final exam. All lesson and test answers are in the back of the book. The answer key makes it easy to pinpoint exactly which skills were learned and which may need extra practice. 

    Most times, my third grader can teach herself independently. If she has questions, I explain the concept. Then we'll do a few problems together until she understands the process. After that, she's usually back to completing lessons independently.

    Sylvan Super Math Success

    Super Math Success adds FUN application practice to our daily math lessons. This workbook does not explain the concepts! But it works beautifully for supplemental practice. The activities are short and skill targeted. My daughter loves the activities and often does extra pages. 

    We will most definitely continue with this series, too! 

    One caveat, Sylvan's Super Success books are THICK. Removing the spine and adding spiral binding makes them much more functional. Any office supply store with a copy center can do it. Staples usually takes care of this for me ;)

    Math-Drills {Free online}

    When we need extra fact practice, I've been pulling sheets from Math-Drills. It's a very comprehensive site with many math grade levels! 

    Thursday, May 7, 2015

    Cucumber Growth Progress/ Pickler's Choice vs. Lemon

    Our cucumber experiment is in full swing. Pickler's Choice appears to be significantly outperforming the Lemon variety! Both were seeded on February 23rd and transplanted into the same barrel container. 

    Pickler's Choice/ 4" Length/ 36 Days after Sowing

    Pickler's Choice easily has 100 small cucumbers growing. It's the common, easy-to-grow variety. Two are already at least 4" long and the others are in various states of growth. 

    At this point, the Lemon variety -- a fancy yellow, globe-shaped cucumber -- hasn't produced recognizable fruits. 

    Maybe the Lemon cucumber starts as a typical, elongated shape and then forms a globe shape during maturation? That would be interesting. Perhaps the Lemon variety produces a smaller yield. Since we've never grown Lemon cucumbers before, this is truly an experiment!

    Wednesday, May 6, 2015

    Ladybug Hatching from Larva

    Yesterday a ladybug hatched from larva! It was so exciting!!! The larvae had been perched on our peony leaf for a week or so, and then finally...

    Ladybug hatching!

    Empty larva casing

    Newly hatched and hiding 

    Monday, May 4, 2015

    Why Free Building is an Essential Component of First Lego League Robotics

    Free building is an integral part of our robotic practices. It's simple - students use spare parts {from our EV3 core and expansion sets} to build something new and experiment.  

    First Lego League tip: incorporate free building into your practice sessions to get creative, build confidence, and learn how things work!
    Batmobile inspired? Either way, the blue pieces mimic engine flames...

    First Lego League tip: incorporate free building into your practice sessions to get creative, build confidence, and learn how things work!
    Range of motion for the middle wheels increased through mechanics

    In the beginning, students can view the robot as an entire entity. But really, it's just a motor and sensors held together with spare parts. Attachments are just spare parts. Learning how these spare parts work together can be intimidating, especially for those new to robotics. 

    Free building is stress-free way to get creative, build confidence, and learn how parts work together.

    During our first season, no one wanted to break the robot or make mechanical changes. They worried any mechanical modifications would cause a setback. What if changes don't help, but hurt? 

    By experimenting off the robot, with spare parts only, all the stress of breaking the robot is gone. This season is a marked difference. My daughter built this Tankbot using Lego instructions. 

    First Lego League tip: incorporate free building into your practice sessions to get creative, build confidence, and learn how things work!

    When other teammates tested it's capabilities, they WANTED to make modifications. And did! Can you spot the changes?

    First Lego League tip: incorporate free building into your practice sessions to get creative, build confidence, and learn how things work!

    Seeing the thought process evolve is awesome! Now they can pinpoint areas to improve performance and aren't afraid to test and change. This is a huge leap forward.

    Encourage free building. It's an invaluable part of the learning process.

    Friday, May 1, 2015

    Organization/ How to Contain the Explosion of Work

    Gorgeous ways to organize all that homeschool work! Patterned bins hide resealable clear pouches inside. Genius!
    Is organizing the explosion of homeschool work a challenge for you, too? Finally, a real solution! This semester I bought this awesome Cynthia Rowley bin at Staples ($13). It looks gorgeous on our shelf. But it's completely functional, too!

    Gorgeous ways to organize all that homeschool work! Patterned bins hide resealable clear pouches inside. Genius!
    Inside are hidden oversized clear envelopes/pouches, also from Staples. Love how they are so spacious that letter-sized and larger items easily fit inside. I've been trying to adapt traditional folders and pockets for some time -- but containing all our projects, worksheets, and application work has been impossible!

    The clear plastic makes finding the right subject a snap, plus it's a breeze to keep work clean. Smaller and irregular-shaped objects are safe inside. No worries about losing anything because the zipper closure is super secure. And, the bottom gusset provides expansion capability. At $4 each, they are so worth it! 

    Clutter, be gone ;)

    Gorgeous ways to organize all that homeschool work! Patterned bins hide resealable clear pouches inside. Genius!
    As you can see, the bin is fairly tall so there is little chance of it reaching capacity anytime soon. M loves this system and never has any trouble putting her work away. I love not having papers and application work everywhere!

    Our clear envelopes hold primarily Science, History, Cursive, Vocabulary, and unit work. Other subjects are mostly self contained in workbooks or composition books. This is my absolute favorite way of organizing work now. I hope it helps you, too!