Explore one of history’s darker moments
Whether you’re hitting the shore or just dreaming of the seaside, summer is an ideal time to learn more about the science of the beach. We’ve rounded up a few books and activities to help you do just that.
3 Fun Experiments to Try
Bubbling Beach Sand
Wondering if the sand in your sandbox is real beach sand? Scoop up a tablespoon of sand and douse it with lemon juice. Real beach sand will bubble up when you add an acid because of the calcium carbonate in seashells.
Salt Water Float
Do things float better in salt water? Fill a cup about halfway full of plain tap water and try floating an egg in it. Take out the egg, and stir about four tablespoons of salt into the water. Try to float the egg again. The salt water buoys the egg so that it floats better.
Be the Erosion
Scrub a few small rocks clean — you want to get rid of any residual dirt — and add the clean rocks and a cup of water to a small, lidded plastic container. Shake the container vigorously for at least three minutes, then take a peek. The water should be brown with tiny rock particles in it — the early stages of a sandy beach formed by water- eroded rocks.
13 Science Books to Read on the Beach
How to Hide an Octopus and Other Sea Creatures by Ruth Heller has spectacular full-color illustrations.
In A House for a Hermit Crab by Eric Carle, a young sea creature adapts to his changing environment.
Investigate waves and currents, shorelines and tidepools, the ocean floor, and more through the hands-on experiments in Awesome Ocean Science by Cindy A. Littlefield.
One Small Square: Seashore by Donald Silver is full of illustrations and activities for exploring the seashore.
Take a stroll along the shore with a smart, engaging guide in Take a Beach Walk by Jane Kirkland.
One Small Place by the Sea by Barbara Brenner takes you inside a tidepool ecosystem.
Get a close-up look at sea anemones, hermit crabs, blue mussels, and other tidepool residents in What’s in the Tide Pool? by Anne Hunter.
Use National Audubon’s First Field Guide: Shells to familiarize yourself with different types of shells.
Scientist-divers team up to dig into serious ocean science in The Oceans by Ellen J. Prager and Sylvia Earle. (This one's a good pick for older kids.)
Simon and Schuster Children’s Guide to Sea Creatures by Jinny Johnson is an encyclopedic reference for ocean life.
You'll find lots of fun activities and experiments in The Ocean Book: Aquarium and Seaside Activities and Ideas for All Ages by the Center for Marine Conservation.
Oceans for Every Kid: Easy Activities That Make Learning Science Fun by Janice Van Cleave answers your ocean questions (Why is the ocean salty? What causes tides?) with hands-on experiments.
Detailed illustrations and lots of supporting information make The Marine Biology Coloring Book by Thomas M. Niesen better than the average coloring book.
Quick Answers: How to homeschool on a tiny budget, changes to the Georgia homeschool law, and what to read this summer
I would really like to homeschool my 2nd grader, but I feel like there’s no way we can afford it. I could only afford to spend about $100 total for curriculum and everything else. I am not interested in unschooling — I want a traditional curriculum. Is there any way to to make it work?
I get asked versions of this question all the time, and the answer is usually yes. To make low-budget homeschooling work, you will need a good printer with a reasonably priced ink supply, a decent internet connection, a library card, and a computer. But you definitely don’t need a big budget to homeschool — you just need to be savvy about wading through all the free stuff that’s out there to find what works for your family.
For 2nd grade, here’s what I’d recommend: Go ahead and spend part of your budget on Math Mammoth. (Use the placement tests to figure out which level to get.) The full 2nd grade curriculum download is just under $40. Math Mammoth is a mostly mastery-based program — meaning your child will stick with a concept until he thoroughly understands it — and you will need to be hands-on with helping him understand instructions and concepts. (The teaching notes at the beginning of each chapter will help with this.) You may want to shift programs and invest more money in math as your student gets older, but for elementary school, Math Mammoth is a solid, affordable option.
Language arts shouldn’t cost you a dime. Find a 2nd grade reading list you like (this one from the Sarasota Springs public library or this one from the Highland Park Public Library would be a good starting point), and work your way through the list with library books. For spelling and grammar, McGraw-Hill’s free workbooks cover the basics.
Download Mr. Q’s free Elementary Life Science textbook and Teacher Guide to cover science. It’s an engaging introduction to science in general, introducing vocabulary and concepts that will be the foundation of future science studies.
For history, pick up a copy of volume 1 of Story of the World — you can pick up a new copy on Amazon for about $12. Make it a readaloud, and help your child practice summarizing the important points of each chapter.
You can mix things up by including a free program like GPB’s Salsa, an elementary Spanish language program. You should also plan to take advantage of all the free field trip opportunities in the Atlanta area.
As the year goes on, you may find that a traditional school method is what works best for your family, but you may also find that you want to spend less time on structured classes and more time exploring specific topics or enjoying nature study. Your first year of homeschooling is as much about finding your family’s homeschool rhythm as it is about finding the right curriculum, so don’t let your budget stop you if homeschooling is something you really want to do.
Did the Georgia homeschool law change again?
It did — but don’t worry, it’s a pretty small change. House Bill 502 (passed on May 12) requires that parents include the name of their local public school system as part of their annual declaration of intent (DOI). If you file your DOI for the upcoming school year on or after July 1, you will have to include the name of your local school system in the space provided. (This space caused controversy in recent years since providing that information wasn’t required by law, even though its presence on the form suggested that it was. Now, though, the information is required. If you don't know what school district you're in, you can use the School District Finder to figure it out.)
What should we read aloud this summer? I’ve got middle schoolers.
Agatha Christie! It’s her 125th birthday this fall, and the BBC has two big Christie productions in the works — an adaptation of the creepy, atmospheric And Then There Were None and an adaptation of Secret Adversary, starring Christie’s lesser-known but delightful partners in crime, Tommy and Tuppence Beresford. Brush up on Christie’s most twisty-turny mysteries in anticipation. Start with The ABC Murders to get a feel for Christie’s style, then follow up with Five Little Pigs, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, and Murder on the Orient Express. Middle school is just the right age to appreciate Christie’s tricky plotting and surprising solutions.
Do you have a homeschooling in Atlanta question? Email us, and we’ll try to help you out!