7 Lessons for Kids Inspired by the Icelandic Volcano

April 20, 2010

I love using real events to teach from – this goes for both at home with my own children, and in the classes I teach at our local co op. This week I will be using some aspects of the Icelandic volcano erupting in my middle school economics class, and as I started planning for that, I realized how many other lessons can be taught around the topic, so here are my ideas:

1. Economics

I will be getting my class to think about the economic implications of the volcano – I will ask them who is impacted economically and will steer them in the right direction so that they consider the impact on the airline industry, people stranded on vacation who aren’t back at their jobs, countries who export perishable goods etc

2.  Linguistics

The volcano’s name is so unusual to us westerners that it will provide a great study of how different languages are – and why. Let the kids learn how to pronounce it – click here for an article to help you.

3. Earth Science

What a perfect time to study volcanoes and how they operate. It will be so much more real to children while this is headline news.  And there are wonderful photos of the volcano you can share with them.

4. Geography

Now is a perfect time to study Iceland – and the countries the ash is blowing over. There are nice simulations of the way the ash is moving and you can get the kids to work out which countries it is most affecting. Use Google Earth to take a ‘closer’ look at these countries.

5. Creative Writing

Let them imagine they are a traveller ‘stuck’ somewhere because the airports are closed. They can write their adventures trying to take another route home, or their feelings as they just wait and wait. Or they can pretend they are in Iceland and can write about the actual eruptions.

6. History

Compare the effect of this eruption with other eruptions in history like Vesuvius when it decimated Pompeii or when Mount St Helen’s erupted.

7. Ecology

How does all that ash in the air affect the world we live in? As humans we can wear masks and move to other areas, but what about the plants and animals in the nearby areas? How are their habitats affected? Will there be any long term consequences?

I hope that gave you some ideas … please post any more you may have in the comments section.


Monopolycitystreets online game

September 18, 2009

monopoly city streets
My kids and I are all playing Monopolycitystreets. I was attracted to the game because you play online with people all over the world. That just strikes me as being a pretty cool thing to do.
I wasn’t sure of the educational merit of the game, though. I have encouraged my Entrepreneurship class at co-op to play, but unless they plan to become property magnates – this might not teach them all that much.
BUT – it ended up providing a great impromptu geography lesson this morning. My teenage sons started searching all over the world for a nice long street to buy (as in the board game, you buy a street and put up buildings on it). They tried every major world city they could think of – and everything was bought up. Eventually the used an atlas to find cities and my one son now ‘owns’ a street he can’t even pronounce as it is in Russian (in one of the ‘stans’).
I know everyone is going to be getting on tomorrow again to continue buying and building. I hope the learning continues too!

UPDATE: I just made a Squidoo lens about this game – visit www.squidoo.com/monopolycitystreets-online-game for links to the rules, online forums and other relevant information

Looking for homeschool curriculum at a good price?

August 29, 2009

booksHomeschooling can get pricey – especially if you have a few children. We all know we can look on Amazon and eBay for resources, but here are 5 other places I use regularly:

1. Rainbow Resource:They have such a huge selection, that you are sure to find what you are looking for – and at the best price. Spend enough ($150) and shipping is free. I buy gifts here as well as curriculum as they have a great variety.

2.  Home Science Tools: As their name states, they specialize in science curriculum and ‘toys’. They have science kits for practically every science curriculum there is. Order a catalog!

3. The Homeschool Buyers Co-op . The Homeschool Buyers Co-op is a free homeschooling organization.  Co-op membership is free and  entitles homeschooling families to discounts from over a hundred educational suppliers.  They also sponsor “Group Buys” for curriculum packages that save homerschooling families lots of money. I have bought a number of items from them – My Access (a writing package with online grading); Thinkwell’s High School Government course (which my son loves) and Meet the Masters Art program are the most recent. They negotiate really really good prices – and I have discovered many products I didn’t even know existed.

4. Homeschoolclassifieds.com is the place to go to find used curriculum. You can buy and sell for free here, and the site is easy to use (unlike Vegsource) and has many many listings, so there is a good chance you will find what you are looking for.

5.  Fetchbook.info lists the cheapest place to find a specific book. It links to sites like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Half.com etc.  Before I found this site,I would have to go from one site to the other comparing which was cheapest. This website does it all for you.