Homeschool Me!
Homeschool articles, resources and real-world advice.

Today we were finally able to dig back into our Human Body Unit Study. One of the great things about homeschooling, is that when life gets crazy (as it inevitably does), you can postpone school until a better time.

We started today by watching a School House Rock video about the skeleton. What I loved about this video is that it reminded us of what we’d already learned about the skeletal system, but at the very end added in tendons and muscles. After it was over, we reviewed the names of the bones we had learned, and then I was able to bring up the idea of tendons attaching muscles to those bones, based on what they’d just seen in the video. (Besides, who doesn’t love a School House Rock video, anyway?)


Next I read them a section out of the Muscles chapter in “Brown Paper School book: Blood and Guts“, by Linda Allison. This was a great introduction to the concept of how muscles work by contracting and relaxing, and how muscles work in teams. For example, the author asks the reader to try moving his hand off of his shoulder using only the bicep. This is, of course, impossible as contracting your bicep only makes your fore arm come closer to your shoulder. The only way to get your arm back down is to use the corresponding muscle of your tricep. The kids loved this mini-experiment and then tried to feel their leg muscles working, too.

We’ll study more about muscles another day, especially since this book has all sorts of great little mini-experiments and easy-to-understand information about the different body systems. Today was just a ‘whet their appetite” kind of short lesson.

Today was our last day of studying the Skeletal System. We started by naming the different bones we’ve learned on “Joe” (our skeleton model, from “Ein-O’s Human Biology: Skeleton Box Kit”). I was surprised at how many bones the kids remembered. (And surprised at how many I had forgotten. Shh. Don’t tell them.)


We then read The Bones You Own, by Becky Baines. This book is published by National Geographic Kids and is great, but simple overview of the bones in our bodies and their purposes. At the end, there’s a picture of a skeleton that we named more bones on. By this time, even my 5 year old is doing quite well at remembering lots of bones, including some of the scientific names!

Then it was time to discover what had happened to the chicken bones that have been sitting in vinegar for the last week or so. We pulled out the baggie of regular chicken bones (that have been stored in the refrigerator for the past week), and opened the jar of vinegar and put those bones on a paper plate to investigate further. Each of the kids felt the original bones to remind themselves how hard and tough bones normally are. Then they took turns bending the vinegar bones. With lots of exclamations of, “Eww!” and “Gross!!” they discovered that the bones that had been in vinegar all this time had become rubbery and bendable. This opened the door perfectly to a discussion about bones being made of calcium (which the vinegar had effectively dissolved), which we get from milk and other foods.


Lastly, we cut open the bone lengthwise to study the layers inside. More exclamations of disgust erupted, but all three were fascinated to see the marrow and spongy bone so clearly. After discussing each layer and their purpose, we labeled a cross-section diagram from The Human Body, Grades 5-8: 100+ Reproducible Activities. You could also use this diagram from KB Teachers to do the same thing. We also enjoyed the picture in DK Eyewitness Books’ Human Body. This whole book has really interesting photographs of the inside of the body that are either really life-like models, or are actually from cadavers. (If you have young or sensitive ones looking on, you might want to preview this book ahead of time as some kiddos might find the life-likeness to be a bit unnerving.)

For our last activity of the day, I gave each kid their own copy of a crossword puzzle from The Human Body, Grades 5-8: 100+ Reproducible Activities that shows a diagram of a skeleton with a word bank of the matching bones’ scientific names. My 9 and 7 year olds were able to complete this with hardly any help from me, but since all the words in the word bank were the scientific terms, my 5 year old needed help. So, I wrote down the common names of each bone next to the scientific term (ie. next to ‘cranium’ I wrote ‘skull’). From that point on, she flew! I loved watching her little mind work as she crossed off words and filled them in. When she got to the tibia, the shin bone, she said to me, “That’s the shin bone because that’s where Ethan wore his shin guards during soccer.” Such a smarty-pants! Overall, I felt like the crossword puzzle became a great tool for evaluating, or testing, each kid’s retention of the knowledge we’ve acquired over the past week. And they had fun doing it!

Next, we’ll be on to the muscular system. I’m off to do my homework now so that I’ll be ready to hit the ground running tomorrow!


Today, we learned even more about the skeletal system. We started with just a fun book called “Skeleton Hiccups”, by Margery Cuyler. It’s really just a silly story about a skeleton that can’t get rid of the hiccups, but it was a nice way to ease back into our discussion of the human body.


The book we read next is where the real meat of the learning took place. I’ve long been a fan of Steve Jenkins’ Books, and his book aptly titled “Bones” did not disappoint! He has an amazing way of conveying interesting information about the size of different bones of different animals (as well as many other topics) in such a way that’s easy to understand and fun to learn. For instance, did you know that human hand has 27 different bones in it? Or that a snake can have up to 400 pairs of ribs? Or that giraffes have the same number of neck bones as humans? The kids love the illustrations and the pages that fold out are lots of fun, too! Then, at the back of the book are more snippets of information about the facts, stories, history and science of bones. My daughter couldn’t put that part down. She wanted to read every snippet!


Next, we identified some of the major bones of the human body. We labeled them on our worksheet from “The Human Body, Grades 5-8: 100+ Reproducible Activities”. Of course, you could also use the printout from Enchanted Learning to do the same thing. I had my 9yo label the bones with the scientific names (cranium, vertebrae, scapula) while my 7yo and 5yo stuck with the common names (skull, backbone, shoulder blade). They had fun labeling the picture, but the best part was feeling those same bones on their own body. Finding some of them (like the ribs, or hip bones) was a bit ticklish! Then, we grabbed “Joe” (our skeleton model, from “Ein-O’s Human Biology: Skeleton Box Kit”) and took turns naming the different bones we’d just labeled and found on ourselves.


Another lesson down, in about 30 minutes, and the kids are still thrilled to learn more tomorrow! I sent each of them to ‘rest time’ with a human body book of their own to read and report back to us about what they’d learned. I figure they can read the portion of their book about skeletons or bones right now, then read about each other system as we cover it. This way they’re not overwhelmed with trying to read the entire book in one setting, and it gives them a feeling of importance since they’ll be the only one ‘reporting’ back on what their book had to say on the subject. My 9yo has “Ripley Twists: Human Body- Fun, Facts, and Goo”, by Camilla De La Bedoyere. It’s a fun book of trivia about the human body, Ripley’s Believe It or Not style. My 7yo boy has “Under Your Skin: Your Amazing Body”, by Mick Manning. This is a fun book of facts and diagrams, with flip pages that demonstrate what the outside of something looks like, and then you flip open to the diagram of the insides. It’s done in a cartoon-style, so this is perfect for my comic-book-loving-boy. My 5yo has the classic “The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body”, by Joanna Cole. The information isn’t as cut and dry as the other two books, but since it’s told in the form of a story, it will keep my little one’s attention longer.

Tomorrow we’ll look at our chicken bones that have been soaking in vinegar. The kids have been asking to do that every day for a week now! I think they’re looking forward to it…

The kiddos (ages 9, 7, and 5) decided that over our summer “break”, they’d like to do some more science along with the light history and math we’ll be doing to keep our minds fresh.  Somehow we landed on the idea of doing a unit study on the human body.  So, I got busy googling, and looking at my local library, and exploring on Pinterest (you can see some of the things I pinned on my Science board here…) to see what fun things I could find.  I was OVERWHELMED!  There’s so much stuff out there.  And most of  it’s really great, too!  So, this will be my way of keeping it all straight, and hopefully helping any of you that are looking to do something similar.


We started today by introducing the idea of studying the human body.  I decided to use Seymour Simon’s “The Human Body” as our spine (haha! Love the pun there!) for the study. So we just read the first few pages that discuss how the human body is made of cells and can be described by different systems. Then skipped a few pages to get to the section on our first system: The Skeletal System.


After reading those pages, and taking breaks throughout to discuss some of the information, we looked at a worksheet I got from “The Human Body, Grades 5-8: 100+ Reproducible Activities” that covers the systems of the body. I love that this worksheet breaks down the systems into categories like the ‘movement group, the ‘control group’, and the ‘energy group’. I think that helps us all to understand better the main function of that system in relation to the rest of the body.


Then, we opened our “Ein-O’s Human Biology: Skeleton Box Kit” and put together the small scale skeleton and skull. The kids were already enthralled with inspecting the details and, in fact, we wound up having a spontaneous discussion about babies’ soft spots on their skull before all the bones fuse together. Gotta love the rabbit trails in active learning!

Finally we went into the kitchen and pulled out the chicken bones I’d saved from a few nights ago so we could do our “Rubbery Bones” experiment. The idea is that you submerge a chicken bone (preferably a leg bone – or drumstick) in a jar of vinegar for several days. After 3-10 days (depending on which source you’re looking at), you can remove the bone from the jar and it no longer feels hard, but rubbery. And, at that point you can also dissect the bone to see the marrow and spongy parts. This will be a fun day, so I’ll keep you updated on that, and the ensuing discussions, which I’m sure will be quite memorable!

That’s it. I think we only spent a total of maybe 30 minutes doing all of this. We’ll do more tomorrow with the skeletal system, but I really wanted to keep everything super light today. The idea being that I keep ‘em wanting more! Wish me luck!

Want an introduction to the orchestra, but haven’t had a chance to make it to your local bookstore or library? Just enjoy this cute little video on YouTube made in the 1940s.

We all learn differently. This is especially apparent to a teacher – whether a homeschool teacher or a certified public school teacher. What’s not apparent all the time is exactly which type of learning is best for each individual.

What most educational systems don’t account for is the vast discrepancy between students and their individual learning styles or ‘intelligences’. Some students are great at math or reading, while others are great learning a new sport or a new song. The key to a good education is allowing for all of the intelligences to be built on.

As a homeschooling parent/teacher, I found Dr. Mercola’s simple article about ‘multiple intelligences’ did a great job of outlining each learning style in an easy-to-understand format. In fact, I could easily recognize most of my strengths as well as my daughter’s, too.

But, the fascinating thing (to me anyway) was the link to an online test to determine your percentages of each intelligence. After I took the test and had fun dissecting my own chart, I had my 7 year old take it, too. (I wouldn’t suggest it for anyone much younger unless you’re ready to re-phrase most of the questions and even answer the questions for them.) What was amazing to me, was seeing how she answered differently than I would have for her. It turns out that she’s stronger in some areas than I’ve given her credit for, and vice versa.

Of course, the next step is for me to start recognizing her most prominent intelligences and allowing her the space to do more of her school work aligned with those strengths while not neglecting the weaker areas. Should make for an interesting next few months…

What about you? Have you heard of these intelligences before? If you have, is it now easier for you (or your student) to complete necessary tasks with this information in mind? Share your stories!

(December 14 – 18, 2009)
Our school week will see the heavier loads on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as those are the days that ds is at Mother’s Day Out so that dd and I have less interruptions. Each activity is designed to take only 10-15 minutes at the most as this is one of the defining characteristics of a Charlotte Mason approach to education.

*Please feel free to leave your comments or questions below. I always love learning from other people!*

Planning Day

  • Poetry – Free Reading:

    Amazing Peace, by Maya Angelou.

    Gorgeous book. Gorgeous illustrations. Gorgeous poetry – like I expected anything less from Ms. Angelou. This Christmas poem was written for the 2005 White House Tree Lighting ceremony and celebrates the promise of peace in the holiday season.

    As a side note, the book we checked out also included a CD of Ms. Angelou reading her own poem. I’m generally a fan of listening to authors read their own work; however, this particular rendition didn’t do it for me. I’m not sure she had the book in front of her while she was reading, because there are several pages of the book that you have to flip through quite quickly in order to keep up with her pace. Because of that, I feel like we missed out on some of the beauty of the poem and the illustrations of the book. We’ll read it again, more slowly to enjoy the message of the poem and stare a little longer at the detailed illustrations.

School Day

  • To Start: Pledge/Calendar/Weather
  • Reading Log: Record non-school books Kate’s read for the reading program called Book It!.
  • Memory Work: “God became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” John 1:14 (My mix of The Message and NLT)
  • Spirituality: “He’s Here” (Birth of Jesus), The Jesus Storybook Bible, pgs 176-183.
  • Language Arts: Learn some of the parts of speech (noun, verb, adjective). Do an online madlib together.
  • History:
  • Literature: “A Raven and a Swan”, from Aesop’s Fables (Milo Winter Edition).
  • Geography:
    • Chapter 11 of Paddle to the Sea, by Holling C. Holling.
    • Fill in another square of our Paddle to the Sea Story Board with a picture depicting this chapter and a one sentence summary on the back.
  • Math:
    • Read Money Madness, by David Adler.
    • Discuss the ideas of bartering and how money came into being.
  • Poetry: Selected Poems from A Child’s Garden of Verses, by Robert Louis Stevenson. (during Tea Time.)

Library Day

  • Literature – Free Reading:
    The Princess Who had Almost Everything, by Mireille Levert.

    A book about a princess who is constantly bored. Finally her parents offer her hand in marriage to the prince who can keep her attention and amuse her. The prince who wins her hand was most clever, indeed. But, I won’t spoil the ending by telling you how he does it. :)
    Needless to say, this would be a fun book to read if your little one has been complaining of boredom recently. Who knows, it might even give them an idea or two to try for themselves…

School Day

Field Trips/Nature Study

  • Literature – Free Reading:

    Gaston, the Green-Nosed Alligator, by James Rice.

    A fun, Cajun rendition of the Rudolph story only with an alligator. This book has been in my family since I was a little girl since both my parents are from Louisiana. So fun to find eccentric Christmas stories instead of the same ones over and over. :)

(December 7 – 11, 2009)
Our school week will see the heavier loads on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as those are the days that ds is at Mother’s Day Out so that dd and I have less interruptions. Each activity is designed to take only 10-15 minutes at the most as this is one of the defining characteristics of a Charlotte Mason approach to education.

*Please feel free to leave your comments or questions below. I always love learning from other people!*

Planning Day

  • Literature – Free Reading:

    Ginger and Petunia, by Patricia Polacco.

    Cute book about a pig who takes on the persona of her owner who is away on vacation for a few days. A bit wordy for my 3 and 4 year old, my 6 year old was entranced by the descriptions of all the funny things that Petunia the Pig did in her owner’s stead.

School Day

    Library Day

    • Science – Free Reading:
      The Bizarre Body, by Katharine Kenah.

      A great beginning reader about the body. Interesting facts about the eyes, heart, finger nails, etc. The kids have loved digging into this book and then looking at eachother’s fingernails and eyes to see what the book is talking about.

    School Day

    Field Trips/Nature Study

    • Handicrafts:

      Project of the Month Club, a unique website that delivers craft, woodworking, and science projects to your door, sent me a couple of products to try out and blog about on this site and my other site The Mommy Journal. We have a stepstool and a tissue box cover to choose from for our craft today. If you’re interested in joining the club, be sure to enter the promo code “homeschoolme” for a 10% discount. Check back on this site for my blog article after we attempt this craft, too. Should be fun!

    (November 9 – 13, 2009)
    Our school week will see the heavier loads on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as those are the days that ds is at Mother’s Day Out so that dd and I have less interruptions. Each activity is designed to take only 10-15 minutes at the most as this is one of the defining characteristics of a Charlotte Mason approach to education.

    *Please feel free to leave your comments or questions below. I always love learning from other people!*

    Planning Day

    • Science – Free Reading:

      Voyage Ocean, by John Woodward.

      Another non-fiction book we picked up at our local library. The kids loved looking at all the incredible pictures of ocean life, the sea floor, underwater volcanoes, and so much more. To add to the fun, this book is actually a circular book that is contained in it’s own circular box and each circle page is devoted to a different animal or topic. The verbaige was over their heads for sure, but the pictures were excellent.

    School Day

    Library Day

    • Handicrafts – Free Reading:
      Ed Emberleys Fingerprint Drawing Book, by Ed Emberley.

      Another of Kate’s picks. She so enjoys any kind of artwork, that this was totally up her alley. Of course, we already love Ed Emberley’s stuff because it is so simple to follow his step-by-step drawing instructions. Perfect for a beginner, or a non-artist who can only draw circles and lines like myself. :)

    School Day

    Field Trips/Nature Study

    • Literature – Free Reading:

      Nuts to You, by Lois Ehlert.

      Another of our favorite authors, Lois Ehlert doesn’t disappoint. The art is amazing as usual and the adorable story about a squirrel and his nut definitely makes the kiddos smile.

    (November 2 – 6, 2009)
    Our school week will see the heavier loads on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as those are the days that ds is at Mother’s Day Out so that dd and I have less interruptions. Each activity is designed to take only 10-15 minutes at the most as this is one of the defining characteristics of a Charlotte Mason approach to education.

    *Please feel free to leave your comments or questions below. I always love learning from other people!*

    Planning Day

    • Science – Free Reading:

      The Digestive System, by Christine Taylor-Butler.

      Every time we go to the library, I encourage my kids to check out at least one or two non-fiction books to encourage their natural curiosity about things other than story books. This past week, both Ethan (my 4yo ds), and Kate picked out a book about the digestive system. This series of books also includes the other body systems (circulatory, skeletal, etc). The information is laid out in easy 1-2 page ‘chapters’ on different topics. The ‘chapter’ we read was about burping. Of course, my ds was completely enthralled! That’s one of his favorite things to talk about! :)

    School Day

    Library Day

    School Day

    • To Start: Pledge/Calendar/Weather
    • Reading Log: We’ve started a reading program called Book It!, where Kate sets a monthly goal of how much she wants to read (either pages, time, or number of books). At the end of the month, if she’s reached her goal, she gets a coupon to Pizza Hut for a free personal sized pizza. She’s set a goal for November of 20 non-school books.
    • Memory Work: “Be thankful in all circumstances,for this is the way God wants you to live.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18.(My mash up of NLT and The Message.)
    • Spirituality: Kate wanted to read about another ‘amazing person’ today and chose “Black Elk”, from Ten Amazing People: And How They Changed the World, by Maura D. Shaw.
    • Geography:
      • Chapter 9 of Paddle to the Sea, by Holling C. Holling.
      • Fill in another square of our Paddle to the Sea Story Board with a picture depicting this chapter and a one sentence summary on the back.
    • History:
    • Literature: “How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin”, from Just So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling.
    • Math: Read The Coin Counting Book, by Rozanne Lanczak Williams.

      Great introduction to the concept of money/coins. Covers ALL the denominations including half dollars and dollar coins, too. Love the photography, too, as it’s not all of just one side of the coin. It shows both sides of the coin, and almost never is it shown straight up and down. Great way to help kids recognize coins from any different angle.

    Field Trips/Nature Study

    • Literature – Free Reading:

      Ignis, by Gina Wilson.
      A story of a little dragon who can’t find his flame, Ignis goes on a quest to find out who he really is, since he can’t be a real dragon without fire! As he discovers who he’s not, he’s reminded that his flame can be found inside. A happy ending allows for a great discussion with kiddos about finding their true passion or true self inside.
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