Friday, October 30, 2009

The evidence

At crime scene A(where the theft occurred) the following evidence will be found: several sets of prints and a diet coke can.

At crime scene B(where the item was found) the following evidence will be found: an apple with a bite mark in it and a note with a biology assignment written on it.

Other evidence that will be included:

The lock to the cabinet will be in Diane's desk and Diane's keys

Brandie's keys will be on her desk

Juli and Ryan will be observed "getting in trouble" for not properly cleaning their classroom.

We will also interview and collect information from the suspects.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Suspects

On the Friday of our Thanksgiving party we went down as usual for lunch at 11:00am. When we returned to our classroom we found the cabinet lock missing and our microscope and its accessories missing. The entire teaching staff is on the suspect list, with only those teachers who were in the gym the entire time having an alabi. If the class can't remember which teachers were in the gym they must assume they are a suspect. There are 13 teachers, for the sake of time we will give about half of them an alabi that elimenates them from the suspect list.

Our main suspects are:

Brandie the assistant director- Brandie has the only other key to our cabinet and also has a key to get into the building and classrooms. She runs errands through out the building constantly and no one would think twice about her being inside the classroom. She was recently a bit embarrassed by the fact that we found more bacteria on her hands than on the toilet seat in the bathroom and could have taken the microscope out of revenge.

Diane the director- Diane also has a key to all of the doors in the building and could have easily asked the custodian to cut the lock off the cabinet. He would not have thought anything of it since she is the director. Diane was very interested in looking at the slides since we had found bacteria on the water fountain. She may have borrowed it to show the custodian that the waterfountain needed to be disinfected. A piece of the microscope and the uncut lock was found in Diane's desk. She says she picked it up off the floor, but perhaps she has broken the microscope and is afraid to tell us.

Ryan and Juli- Ryan and Juli teach one of the 3 year old MDO classes. Again when we did the bacteria swabs we found bacteria on one of their toys. Diane, was witnessed yelling at them for not cleaning the toys properly and Juli was over heard angrily saying that she was going to have a "word" with Anna(me) about what exactly I told Diane about the bacteria. She thinks I overstepped my boundaries by suggesting that they clean their toys a bit better.(for anyone reading this the bacteria was minimal and most of this story is fabricated specifically for this activity). Ryan and Julie could have taken the microscope out of revenge or perhaps they just wanted to see exactly what was found on their toy.

Jennifer- Jennifer conducts the younger homeschool co-op group. She feels like her class is not getting a fair chance at using it and could have taken it to use in her classroom. Jennifer denies stealing the microscope and says she over heard Diane yelling at Juli and Ryan as well as the Juli angrily saying that she was going to have a "word" with Anna(me) about what exactly I told Diane about the bacteria and that she thinks I overstepped my boundaries by suggesting that they clean their toys a bit better

Cassey and Breanne- Cassey and Breanne are the ones that discovered that the cabinet had been broken into. Breanne is in college and could have taken the microscope to use for a project with the intentions of returning it. Both Cassey and Breanne say they walked into the classroom after the microscope was already gone, but their prints were found at the scene along with another set of prints. They say they were just looking to see what had happened.


This is a work in progress so these stories will probably change a little before we actually do the activity.

Planning our CSI unit study

During the next 6 weeks our co-op will be doing Crime Scene Investigations for science using a book similar to Crime Scene Investigations. As my good friend Tracy will tell you I am a science geek, so I am more than excited to be putting together this activity. One thing it also allows me to do, is to practice my creative thinking and writing skills. Isn't it great that we get to learn right along with our kids?! I will give you instructions on how I set this activity up as well as some good resources and activities in case you decide to do one!

Starting out:

First I will divide the kids into teams. We have a small group so it will be 3 per group. Each team will have a folder prepared with the essentials they will need.
The book I have is awesome. It gives several "cases" to refer to when setting up your own. The first step is to decide on your crime! Our crime will be the theft of our beloved microscope. We did several fundraisers to be able to purchase this item, and spent about $260 on it.

Next is our suspect list:

Since our co-op is ran during the hours of the connected mother's day out we will be using those teachers in our investigation. I will assign very specific roles and hand a script to each teacher participating. The script will have a story for them to play out, either giving the teacher an alabi or making them into a suspect. Out of all of our teachers we will have 7 suspects, one being guilty of the theft. Before we start the unit I will meet with those involved to let them know their parts.

The Crime Scene:

Our crime scene will be the cabinet in our room. It is locked with a small lock so the lock will be off and the microscope missing. The crime scene will be staged with physical evidence and will need to be roped off for a few weeks while the project is going on.

Planting the evidence:

Several of our suspects will have been at the crime scene so my class will have to be very careful about documenting physical evidence. They will have to collect fingerprints and other evidence that will be placed there when I set up the crime scene. To throw the students off and to test their listening, reasoning and deduction skills, we will stage "scenes" that will be played out by the teachers. For instance, one of our suspects motive is that she got in trouble for some bacteria that our class found on her toys in the classroom. The director will come upstairs while we are headed to the computer lab and "yell" at the teachers for not cleaning the toys properly, thus giving that teacher the motive of revenge for stealing the microscope.

CSI Lab:

We will also set up a lab area. The class will need to take fingerprints, handwritting samples and so on. The lab area will be used to study the evidence. I will go into this in more detail when I have it all set up.

Fun stuff:

Our curriculum book offers alot of fun extras to do to make the unit feel more authentic. We have badges(hall passes) that allow the kids to be out of the classroom during the activity, search warrents, and even a really neat bulletin board idea. At the end of the activity we will have a presentation and each team will present who they think is guilty and why. We also have several labs that wont be directly related to our case but are realated to CSI in general.

That's it for now! I will post again as things come together. Feel free to post suggestions or even tell us about your CSI unit study. I love getting ideas from others!

Stupid in America

I watched this today. Very interesting. It's about 40 min long but I encourage anyone still deciding or those not entirely sure to use this video as part of your research.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Contest Question for $10gc to Hands of a Child

This weeks question for a $10 gc to Hands of a Child is: Do you participate in a co-op or any other enrichment program? Is there any particular reason for your choice? Just leave a comment and your name could be drawn! Drawing is this evening at 7pm central!

Are you curious about why In the Hands of a Child started producing and selling quality homeschool educational products? Well, then you've come to the right place to satisfy that curiosity!

In the Hands of a Child began in 2002 when two homeschooling moms found themselves constantly searching for the right graphics and information for their children to complete lapbooks and trying to answer the question, “What exactly is a lapbook?” Kimm Bellotto and Niki McNeil met through an online homeschool email list and after chatting, they soon discovered that they both loved lapbooks and were both looking for an easier way for homeschooling moms to pull together the necessary items for a lapbook. Those chats soon turned into a business plan and the two of them quietly “set-up shop” on the web becoming the first company to sell ready to use lapbook kits. With Niki’s creative ideas and Kimm’s creative graphics abilities, the two moms published their first unit, entitled Plant, in November 2002.

At first the only people who even knew they existed, outside of their families, was a small circle of online friends from a homeschool support eGroup. These moms began using the product and spreading the word to other homeschooling moms and slowly, but steadily, the business began to grow into what is now an internationally recognized company in the homeschooling community.

Niki and Katie met through a mutual scrapbooking hobby and when Niki mentioned that she and Kimm were looking for additional writers, the “inner author” inside Katie jumped at the chance! In 2005, Katie joined In the Hands of a Child as an author/researcher and then as a partner in the growing business. Today, the three of women share equal responsibilities; each bringing unique qualities and talents to the business with one goal in mind - to provide quality lapbooking materials for all educators while serving homeschooling families and classroom teachers looking for an easier way to put laughter and learning together in the hands of their children. Our aim is to help all educators of children of all ages and skill levels, ranging from Preschool to High School, with the use of just one type of product.

In the Hands of a Child has been greatly impacted by the homeschooling community. The vast majority of customers who purchase materials from our company are homeschoolers. In addition, Niki, Kimm, and Katie have built a strong link of communication and mutual friendship with many of our customers (mostly homeschoolers) through our on-line chats, on-line co-op groups, and yahoo email groups. We are more than grateful to be blessed with such wonderful customers and friends as the ones from the homeschool community that make up the larger part of our international customer base. While we often hear what a wonderful addition our company has been to the homeschooling community we are forever indebted to them for our tremendous success as a company.

Before In the Hands of a Child made its debut, homeschoolers had to do all of the preparation in order to pull together a lapbook. That task takes a lot of time when searching for items and/or graphics to use. Many educators do not have the time or the resources to complete this for every unit study in their curriculum. Knowing how much our own children learned and enjoyed learning in this style we knew we could meet a need for educators who want to put more of a hands-on spin to their curriculum, but were daunted by the task. We took the preparation time out of the parent/teacher job description and allowed educators to focus on the learning experience.

As the benefits of lapbooking become more well-known in all educational arenas our business continues to blossom with more and more educators looking for a simpler way to incorporate lapbooks into their daily learning experience. They come to us with relief because we are saving them from endless searches and confusing decisions about miniature books and graphic organizers, and we are giving them the opportunity to complete a project with their children that doesn’t require so much preparation that the joy fizzles out for both teacher and student. In addition, we offer custom made Lapbooking Project Packs that allow the customer the option to name the topic and grade level of the unit. We complete this within a 3-week time frame allowing customers to study a wide variety of topics of their choice, whether it is Disneyland before an upcoming vacation or The United States Navy before Uncle Greg deploys to serve our country. This is truly a one of a kind service for our customers and our custom orders have more then doubled since we began offering them.

Customers call, write, and email us on a daily basis with comments like, “This is my first year homeschooling and it has been overwhelmingly stressful trying to research all that is available and then determining what would work best for my daughter. She is a very hands-on crafty kid and worksheets just bored her. A lot of the curriculum available for purchase just didn't have enough hands-on activities to satisfy her and she dreaded "school time". I was so elated to find your site, bought all the preschool Project Packs that were available at the time… and got started right away. My daughter loved them so much she even asked to do "school" on Saturday and Sunday. I was elated. Thank you for making these wonderful resources available to us.”

All together we have published over 200 Project Packs and we continue to release new ones on a regular basis. In addition, we have added other products to our line including lapbooking supplies, craft kits, membership programs, and much more. The success of our business can be directly related to the support of the homeschooling moms, classroom teachers, and all of the children out there who use our products and continue to tell others about our company and the type of curriculum we have to offer. It is through their words, their testimonials and their efforts that we continue to grow.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Contest Question for Crititcal Thinking Co

Tell us about your homechool space. Even if you don't have a designated space, tell us where you generally get your work done. Winners will be drawn randomly on Wed!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Another Week Another Contest!

This is a big one! The Critical Thinking Company has sponsored a $50 gift card!

For more than 50 years, our award-winning products have helped students of all abilities achieve better grades and higher test scores with highly effective lessons that sharpen the mind as they teach standards-based reading, writing, mathematics, science, and history. Our products are fun, easy to use, and guaranteed to produce better grades and higher test scores. We design critical thinking into reading, writing, math, science and history lessons so students carefully analyze what they are learning. Deeper analysis produces deeper understanding, which results in better grades and higher test scores. Over time, students who practice critical thinking learn to apply it throughout their education and life.
"If we teach children everything we know, their knowledge is limited to ours. If we teach children to think, their knowledge is limitless." - Michael Baker, President
We do not teach through drill and memorization or teach to the tests—we empower the mind! Our goals are higher grades, top test scores, and problem solving skills to meet all of life’s challenges. The Critical Thinking Company is recommended by Mensa, Learning Magazine, The Well Trained Mind, Dr. Toy, Creative Child Magazine, and used by Sylvan Learning Centers, Club Z In-Home Tutoring, leading U.S. public schools, and gifted & talented programs in 57 countries throughout the world. We guarantee better grades and higher test scores—or your money back.Children love our products and you'll love what our products do for your child.
HistoryThe company was founded by John Baker in 1958 under the name Midwest Publications as a math and textbook company, combining powerful logic problems with high educational and editorial standards. The Critical Thinking Co. now boasts over 200 titles in reading, writing, math, science and history, and remains a family-owned business under the guidance of John’s son, Michael Baker.
In the 1976, the company changed its name to Critical Thinking Press and Software. The name was further changed to Critical Thinking Books & Software in 1997. The current moniker, The Critical Thinking Co. was adopted in November of 2003.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bacteria Experiments

I am science geek. My major in college was Biology so I was so excited when I got to start doing science lab with the kids up at co-op! With the flu season upon us and everyone in a panic about H1N1 I decided that this would be a great week to talk about bacteria. So we ordered kits from to grow our own bacteria. We swabbed and cultured 20 samples last Wed and patiently have waited for them to grow. We had major success and the process has resulted in my BOYS(!) constantly asking to wash their hands. I definitely consider that a result! Above are a few pictures from some of our best cultures, including a water fountain, a computer keyboard and hands that had been coughed on(I know totally gross right?!).

Everyone up at co-op was so excited to see this, that we have decided to order a gram stain kit to see what kind of bacteria was growing and you can be sure that we will be making sure to disinfect the areas that we found the growth in.

I recommend this kit for all ages. Even my k-5 daughter understood what we were doing and it really gave her a visual for why we need to take special care not to spread our germs. has some health units that would suppliment this experiment nicely.

If you decide to do this experiment please take precautions and use safety glasses and masks. Remember thats bacteria thats growing in there and it can make you sick!

Curriculum Reviews

Be on the look out for reviews on various curriculum written by homeschooling parents!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Contest Question is....

One of my favorite things about homeschooling is the flexability that it gives us. We do however have a basic daily schedule that we try to stick to. Today's contest question is: What is your daily schedule and are you flexible or do you like to stick to it?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Win me Tuesday October 13th-Spelling City

Have fun practicing your spelling words

Our next contest is coming up! On Tuesday I will be giving away a free upgraded membership to the spelling curriculum site !!

Here is just a bit of what that will find on

- Over 42,000 spelling words and ten learning games!- A REAL person who says each word and sentence.- Free home pages for teachers and parents to save lists.- How To Videos to explain to teachers and parents how to use A free forum and newsletter with more vocabulary and spelling resources!
- Ten spelling and vocabulary games to play online or to print.- Free printables for handwriting practice with your saved lists.- A Resources Section which highlights features and existing lists for Dolch words, compound words, sound-alikes (their, there, they're), contractions, possessives, and more.
After taking the online spelling test, students can print out a report, retake the entire test, or get tested only on spelling words that they got wrong the first time.
TeachMe spells and displays the word in ways that stimulate memory for visual and verbal learners.
Printable Games include WordSearch, UnScramble, WhichWord?, Sentence UnScramble and MissingLetter.Printable Handwriting Worksheets for combined spelling and handwriting practice can be created from any saved list (this feature only works if the list is saved). Choices includes three sizes of lines, capitals or small letters, script or cursive, and with directional arrows on or off. How cool is that?
Teachers: try our new Spelling City Parents’ Letter, available as PDFs for you to print and send home with your students' spelling word lists.

Even if you dont win be sure to go check out for lots of free spelling help!

Finishing up K-5

We started school in Janunary of last year so we are about to close out our first full year!! I am so proud of Brianna and I am proud of me! When we first started this journey the idea was just being tested. Now, a year later my husband is convinced and I am definitely convinced that this was the best way to go! I have really enjoyed watching my daughter grow and learn in a way that fostered a love for learning. Are we still working out kinks? For sure. Do we still have rough days? Definitely. But, we have seen this year bring such joy, that I have no second thoughts about continuing on homeschooling next year.

Technically, Brianna is about a semester ahead of her peers. It just worked out this way since we started in Jan instead of Aug. I have learned alot about Brianna. Brianna loves to work in workbooks, but is very easily discouraged when she really wants to master something and can't get it right away. She is slowly learning that a little practice goes along way and I have seen her really take off. Her favorite subject is math, which shouldn't suprise me because she is very musical too. She loves to sing, and often makes up her own songs, which can be quite brilliant sometimes. We also have started piano. She struggles with reading, but it goes back to the wanting to have it mastered NOW, thing. She is still eager to learn, but I find that I need to sneak in our LA into things that are a little more fun. She needs lots of praise when she has finished her books.

I am really looking forward to starting with Keira, but she isnt quite as academic as her sister so it looks like we are going to stick with the coloring sheets and dot to dots for a while. I would be happy with her just playing but she is so excited about starting that she requests sheets.

We will be having an end of the year party when my brother comes down from VA. I am so excited to be able to celebrate our accomplishments!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Contests Galore!

Most of you who follow my blog know that I also run the facebook group North Texas Homeschoolers. Well, I have talked to a few companies and have found several that are willing to sponsor some pretty cool prizes!! So if you are a North Texan Homeschooler be sure to look us up on Facebook! The first contest is today and I will be giving away a $20 gift card!!

Need a homeschool resource and need in now??? offers Ebooks, audiobooks, videos all instantly downloadable. They also offer online classes. Curriculum and Classes in a Click!