Monthly Archives: August 2011

World Water Monitoring Day 2011


The official World Water Monitoring Day September 18, 2011, but you can submit water samples through December 31, 2011. Here is a description from the official site:

World Water Monitoring Day™ (WWMD) is an international education and outreach program that builds public awareness and involvement in protecting water resources around the world by engaging citizens to conduct basic monitoring of their local water bodies.

An easy-to-use test kit enables everyone from children to adults to sample local water bodies for a core set of water quality parameters including temperature, acidity (pH), clarity (turbidity) and dissolved oxygen (DO). Results are shared with participating communities around the globe through the WWMD Web site.

The test kits are $13, plus $8.10 S&H. In addition to helping with WWMD, collecting and analyzing a water sample is an excellent science lesson unto itself. This year, with the recent BP oil spill, the lesson is especially crucial. In addition, partly due to the oil spill, there are many, many educational resources for teaching about water quality available. Some of the many resources that might interest you are:

  • Maps help put the BP oil spill into better perspective. This map and this map let you compare the size of the oil spill to where you live (this is very eye opening – it is about the size of half the state of Washington, where I live).
  • The EPA has lots of resources for kids about water and pollution, as well as a page of teaching resources
  • The National Wildlife Federation has a page devoted to the spill that summarizes the events in age-appropriate language and detail. In addition, they have a mini-newsletter for kids that covers the spill. They also have an easy science activity that helps to illustrate the effects if the spill. (Here and here and here are other similar experiments that are aimed at somewhat different age groups.)
  • The Gulf of Mexico Alliance has many lesson plans, as well as videos, podcasts, and other educational resources.
  • NOAA has a page for students and educators with various experiments for students
  • National Environmental Education Week has many lessons and activities for teaching about water.
  • The National Park Service has several activities about water for kids.
  • has many lesson plans for educators, as well as videos, podcasts, a virtual field trip, and more.
  • The USDA Forest Service has lots of information, worksheets, videos, photos, etc. about fish
  • The Wildlife Forever State-Fish Art Contest has a lesson plan that uses art to teach about fish
  • The USGS has a Water Science for Schools page
  • Black Tides is a site that discusses oil spills with a graphical interface, it is more appropriate for middle – highschoolers.
  • Here is a history of oil spills. While, is a history of the more famous oil spills.
  • Energy Kids discusses oil, where it comes from, how we use it, etc.
  • CNN has a detailed timeline of the spill

Labels: Science
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Don’t Know Much About History Review and Giveaway

I was recently contacted by Tandem Literary about doing a review of Don’t Know Much About History by Kenneth C. Davis.  I am really glad that accepted the offer as not only did I greatly enjoy the book, but I learned a lot also. Kenneth Davis is a very down-to-earth historian, who engages his readers with humor, wit, and an irreverent tone, unlike that of many traditional academia. As a result, Don’t Know Much About History reads more like a lively novel, than a history book.
First published in 1990, Don’t Know Much About History, captured the attention of readers everywhere, landing it on the New York Time’s bestseller list, where it remained for 35 consecutive weeks! Don’t Know Much About History has just been revised to include new discoveries about our nation’s past, as well more recent history, such as the Clinton scandal, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the Great Recession, the election of Barrack Obama, and more.
Don’t Know Much About History would make an excellent “text” for teaching high school level U.S. history. It covers major historical events, often disproving historical myths that many of us were taught in high school. Davis brings history to life by including real life stories about the people and places that formed our country’s history. In between each major historical event, he includes short timelines to further summarize each era. He also includes many primary sources, which not only contribute to the feeling that this is “real history”, but would also provide wonderful springboards for student research papers.

In addition to contributing a review copy of Don’t Much About History, Tandem Literary has generously agreed to send one lucky Homeschool Mo reader a copy of her own! I am going to keep this giveaway simple, one entry per person. I am using Rafflecopter for the first time, so hopefully everything will go smoothly. To enter this giveaway, you must enter your comment in the Rafflecopter form below. Any comments left on my blog will be greatly appreciated, but will not count as an entry. You must have javascript enabled to use Rafflecopter.

Disclosure – Tandem Literary sent me a free copy of Don’t Know Much About History for review and will send one reader a free copy, but I was not compensated in any other way for this review. The top image link does go to Amazon, whom I am an affiliate for, so if you order a copy of the book via that link, I will earn a small percentage. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Labels: History, Phonics and Reading
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

The History of Homeschooling

She Homeschools posted this history of homeschooling chart from online and I thought it was so interesting, that I’d also share it with you. Once again, it is so nice to see homeschooling treated in neutral tones in the mainstream.

Via: Online College Source

Labels: This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Build-A-Sign Review–AKA Not Allowing Salespeople to Interfere with Your Homeschooling


After my Easy Canvas Print review, the company offered me a chance to also review a free product from their sister company, Build-A-Sign. I was ecstatic, because there was a custom sign that I have been wanting to have made for some time. You see, we have a problem with an excessive number of door-to-door salespeople, religious missionaries, politicians, etc.

As homeschoolers, phone calls, door-to-door salespeople, and other day-to-day interruptions can make our jobs difficult, at best. I long ago learned to minimize interruptions by letting phone calls go directly to voice mail, not checking e-mail during the day, scheduling appointments for either before or after our “school day”, etc., but the distractions coming to our door were not only wreaking havoc on our day, but also presenting a safety concern.


You see, our front doors came with decorative windows, which while lovely to look at, were providing an opportunity for certain door-to-door sales people to peer in our house. These salespeople were the ones that use high pressure, sometimes outright scary, tactics to attempt to persuade people to buy magazine subscriptions. If you have never had one of these salespeople come to your door, consider yourself lucky. We were having them come every week! Not only does the BBB give these companies F’s for their questionable business tactics, some of the salespeople are convicted felons. There have been cases were a salesperson subsequently went on to rob and/or assault a homeowner.

Needless to say, I was not only uncomfortable with having to fight the high pressure sales tactics on weekly basis, I started getting a bit freaked out by the fact that some of the salespeople were peering into our house. I tried putting up a “ No Soliciting” sign, but the salespeople were not even remotely deterred , because they “weren’t soliciting, they were raising money for charity” or some other such nonsense. After consulting with friends, I finally came up with a sign that said:

No Soliciting

We do not buy, sell, donate, discuss religion or politics, etc. through the door.

Thank you for respecting our privacy.

I have not had one magazine salesperson knock on my door in the two years since I posted this sign. In fact, the only people who have continued to disturb our peace have been Comcast salespeople who claim to be knocking to “let us know that they will be coming out next week to do work on our street and they didn’t want us to be worried, but while they have my attention…” Grrrrr!


Anyway, the problem with my printed sign, was that it looked tacky. So I gladly ordered an aluminum sign from Build-A-Sign. The design process was fairly straight forward. I chose an aluminum “street sign” as I wanted something that would fit on my door and be weather resistant. The sign arrived quickly and was impeccably packed. I drilled two holes into the sign, threaded a ribbon through the holes, hung the sign from a hook, and voila! It looks so much better than  my tacky printed sign!

Labels: Phonics and Reading
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

I’ve Been Honored!

I was given the “One Lovely Blog Award” by a lovely blog, Ponad Siebe, which means “more than myself” in Polish (at least according to Google Translator, though I did do some more research before accepting this translation). How fun is that?!?!? When I started blogging, I had not realized how many people from all over the world that I would “meet”. Go check out this new blog! Google Translator gets a bit wacky at times, but that only adds a bit of humor to her posts!

Labels: This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

It’s Perseid Meteor Shower Time

Perseid Meteor Shower – credit Jimmy Westlake/NASA

The Perseid meteor shower is one of the best shows for viewing meteors. Unfortunately, this year, the peak of the Perseid happens to fall on the same night as the full moon. This will make it very difficult to see many meteors. So EarthSky recommends:

….watching before dawn until the morning of August 10 to have moonless skies. Before dawn is the best time of night for watching meteors, anyway, since that is when the radiant point for the Perseids is highest in the sky.

Of course, unless you are serious morning people, that is a bit difficult with young children. We tried to look for some meteors tonight, but have the added complication of having such long days here in the Pacific Northwest. We will probably wait until Tuesday and stay up a bit late to see if we can see any. Dora has never seen a “shooting star”, but is so very entranced with the moon, I think she will really enjoy seeing them.

Labels: Science
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Tot Time: A Week of Montessori and Good Potty Reading

Bellingham Bay 3The big event of our week was that we went to Secunda’s freshman orientation for college in Bellingham, WA! We spent two days there and Dora hated sleeping in a hotel. We all came back completely exhausted! Above is Dora on the boardwalk, below is a view of the bay. I forgot to bring my good camera, so these was taken with my phone.

Bellingham Bay 2

I had a package arrive from Montessori Services and Dora was there when I opened it, so we spent the week focusing on those materials.


I ordered a sorting tray and some wooden buttons. I’ve tried to get by with cheap sorting trays, but this one works so much better. It has the main holder with three small holders for sorting. The wooden buttons are very nice and we sorted them by size. This task challenged Dora some, but once I helped her get going, she was able to finish it on her own with just a little prompting.


I also set up a pouring/water play area for her. Most of the glasses and pouring containers, we already owned, but the larger white 8 oz. porcelain pitcher was new. She pours water back and forth from containers and glasses. I have introduced a funnel and turkey baster, but those don’t really interest her. Sometimes I color the water with these fizzy color tablets from Steve Spangler, but she is really quite happy pouring just plain water. I have her keep everything in this dishwashing tub so that we don’t have a total mess.


She spent hours playing with this tiny music box and knew what the song was right away (Twinkle Little Star). She occasionally has to be reminded which direction to turn the handle to get the box to play. It is such good fine motor work!


Finally, I brought out her open-close basket again, and added a few new containers. I put finger flashlights in the containers to encourage her to open them. She enjoyed it a couple of times, but I really need to find some more advanced containers.

Oddly, Dora has developed a fear of dolphins! Nothing anyone says will convince her that she has nothing to fear from dolphins, especially while on dry land. She will suddenly run up to me and cling to my leg, because “dolphins are chasing her”. When you have five children, sometimes you start to think you’ve seen it all. Then your toddler becomes terrified of imaginary dolphins and you realize you will never see it all. Smile

I think Dora may be gearing up to potty train! She has been having us read all of our potty books over and over. The ones she has enjoyed the most are (all of these are affiliate links):

Do you know of any other good potty training books for girls?

I’m linking this post to:
  Tot School Shibley Smiles


Labels: High School, Montessori, This and That, Toddlers, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Astronomy-themed Sensory Tub


This month, we are finishing up Gohan’s year of earth science with an astronomy unit. I thought it would be fun to tie in some of Dora’s work with his studies, so they’d both be “studying” astronomy at the same time.

I started with our August sensory tub, which I made space-themed. For the filler/base I used blue Bubber, which is made by the same company that makes Moon Sand. It is expensive, but after having an opportunity to play with it last fall, I have been eagerly waiting for an opportunity to use it. It is very light and airy, like Model Magic. If you squish it, it just kind “melts’, but at the same time it can be molded like play dough.

I also added some miniature planets, astronauts, and rockets that we had around the house. I had found a set of glow in the dark-stars at the consignment store that I also added. I purchased some glow-in-dark bouncy balls that I thought looked like stars. Finally, I added some colored finger-flashlight.

It was a great hit with Dora, she spent about two hours playing with the tub today!

Labels: Montessori, Summer, This and That, Toddlers
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Free Classical Curriculum Has a Nasty Twist

Readers, I greatly apologize for recently posting a link to a free classical curriculum. Thankfully, a reader pointed out that the site had racist books for some of their recommended reading. I would never have mentioned the site had I seen those, but they were not in the parts of the site that I explored and would use. I cannot tolerate racism in any form, so I deleted the post. I am greatly saddened that an otherwise great source, had to be tainted with such hatred. Once again, I apologize for ever linking to the site and hope that anyone that I inadvertently hurt or offended can find it in their heart to forgive me.

Labels: This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff