Archive for the ‘Homeschooling’ Category

High School Government Series

Monday, December 4th, 2017

high-school-government

If you are a parent of a student in high school, at some point your student has to take a class on government. To make the study of high school government more enjoyable, your student will LOVE these goofy videos and hands-on activities!

High School Government Videos:

  1. Types of Government: A fun video re-enacting dictatorship, oligarchy, monarchy, republic, true democracy, and anarchy. Includes my kids dressed up as playing cards.
  2. How a Bill Becomes a Law: My daughter (a bill) is pushed around by her brothers (Congress and the President) through the process of making a bill into a law.
  3. Preamble to the Constitution: A simple reading of the Preamble to the Constitution, with skits of various kinds to humorously bring to life each segment.
  4. Presidential Line of Succession: The President keels over, to be replaced by the Vice-President; who keels over to be replaced by the Speaker of the House; who keels over to be replaced…
  5. What are the Federal Executive Departments? Each of the Federal Executive Departments are dramatized by goofy kids in order to understand each department better.
  6. How the Judicial System Works: A Chicago gangster is counterfeiting money in his basement. Two federal agents break into his house and tell him he in under arrest. The remainder of the short video depicts how the judicial system works.
  7. The Bill of Rights: The first ten amendments of the U.S. Constitution are dramatized in this fun video.
  8. Make Your Own State Tourism Brochures: We take a break from all of our skits to show how to make a tourist pamphlet for your state. A couple of my kids have humorous pamphlets.
  9. Typical Campaign Promises: A silly skit by a candidate running for President, promising outlandish things that can never be fulfilled.
  10. How Government Gets Its Money: No matter what you do with your money, the government will want a piece of the action. Watch each scene from federal, state, and local taxes to see how the government holds out his hand for money to be forked over.

A couple of other hands-on activities go well with the study of high school government:

  1. Civitas Government Game: My kids loved this game, re-enacted it, and filmed it from the roof of my house. Make their risk worth it by watching their video, which was created, filmed, and edited entirely by my teen sons.
  2. Government Activity Books for High School: These Dover Publications books include pop-up Presidents, a 3-D White House model, and activity books that include other hands-on craft ideas. There are detailed coloring pages that can be used for notebooking, along with word searches, crossword puzzles, and code breakers.

Hopefully these skits and hands-on activities will make your students enjoy their study of high school government!

Ocean Shadow Box

Monday, September 18th, 2017

ocean-shadow-box

If your kids are learning about underwater sea creatures, why not make an ocean shadow box? It is super easy and will re-enforce the children’s learning about ocean creatures.

The first thing you will want to do is paint the box blue. It helps if a shoe box is a plain white color on the inside. We taped black construction paper around the outside of the box, but you could paint that black if you want.

In other shadow boxes we’ve made, we have spray painted the entire shoe box black, both inside and out. This is a great backdrop for any scene. If you are creating sea creatures from the deep, it is appropriate for your water to be black, especially if you make a flashlight fish out of clay, and place an LED light inside!

painting-shadow-box

Let the paint dry overnight, and then you will want to attach a plastic aquarium plant to the bottom of the box. Use clay to attach the plant to the box. (Make sure your shoe box is on its side when you decide where the ocean floor will be!)

Pour white school glue on the bottom of the scene, gluing around the plastic plant as well as the rest of the ocean floor. Pour sand on top of the glue and shake it off.

play-doh-manta-ray

If you have some small plastic ocean creatures, you can hang them with white thread to the top of the box. I used strong packing tape, but you could also use duct tape.

We added a rock and some walruses to the top of the box, along with some dolphins splashing out of the water. (See the picture at the top of this post.)

play-doh-hammerhead-shark

You can also create ocean creatures out of clay. We make a manta ray, a hammerhead shark, a starfish, a whale, and an anemone. If you study and shape one sea creature per day, you can add to your collection. You can display your creatures on built-in cardboard shelves that you have painted blue or black to match your shadow box, hot gluing the shelf into place.

simple-ocean-shadow-box

You can also make a simple ocean shadow box by spray painting a box black, adding a goldfish in a small fishbowl, and throwing seashells or any other ocean toys into the display.

Dry Ice Volcano Cake

Monday, September 4th, 2017

dry-ice-volcano-cake

Look at this super cool dry ice volcano cake we had for my son’s natural disasters themed birthday party! I was brainstorming different ways to make a volcano cake, and I’ve never seen this done before, so I thought it would be fun to make. I wasn’t disappointed, and it was fairly easy to make!

Start by baking two cake boxes, for a total of four round cakes. Cool the cakes and place them in the fridge.

Put foil on a square piece of wood or cardboard, and tape the back. Up-end one round cake onto the center of the foil. Grab a chemistry flask and cut a circle with a knife around the edge of the flask. Remove the small circle of cake, and place the flask inside.

inside-volcano-cake

Cut circles into the other cakes, and slide them like stacking rings on top of the flask until the entire flask is hidden. If you have a taller flask, you will have to bake more cakes. This will result in a taller volcano.

chocolate-volcano

Place the entire stack in the fridge to cool. Then you are ready to sculpt the volcano. Look at the video demonstration to see how I shaped it:

You can do whatever you want with the scraps of chocolate cake that you cut off the volcano. At this point, you want to place the cake back into the fridge before frosting it.

carving-volcano-cake

Frost the cake with chocolate frosting, spinning the cake to get the icing to be smooth. You can cover up any mistakes you made with the icing.

frosting-volcano-cake

Feel free to poke in plastic palm trees at the bottom of your volcano to add authenticity. This was my husband’s idea, since they were left over from a Hawaiian themed party we did for my daughter years ago. You can buy plastic palm trees at a party store.

make-a-volcano-cake

Pour hot water into the volcano. Plop dry ice chunks into the volcano. (You can buy dry ice at most grocery stores, and it’s inexpensive.) Now you will see the volcano smoking downward in an incredible way!

erupting-volcano-cake

Make sure to watch the video above to see how cool this dry ice volcano cake turned out!

How Government Gets Its Money

Monday, May 29th, 2017

how-government-gets-its-money

The U.S. government at the federal, state, and local levels has to get its money from somewhere. So it taxes individuals, businesses, and corporations to get the money it wants for its countless programs. Today we will show you through a series of skits how this is done.

The Notgrass Company has sponsored these fun blog posts because we are basing this series on their Exploring Government book. One of the chapters requires students to understand the ways that citizens are taxed. We continue our series of high school government with another set of skits for your enjoyment.

How the Government Gets Its Money

Federal Taxes:

The income tax is the main source of federal revenue, providing over half of federal money. This is a progressive tax, which means higher incomes are taxed more.

The next biggest source of revenue for the federal government is the payroll tax, which provides about one-third of federal money. This tax helps pay for Social Security and Medicare.

Other taxes include an excise tax of things like tobacco, alcohol, jewelry, and guns, customs of tariff duties on some imported goods, estate taxes when an heir’s inheritance exceeds $2 million, and much more.

learn-about-taxes

State Taxes:

States also have an income tax. Some states don’t tax personal income, and so have to rely more on other taxes. Usually, income tax rates are form 2 to 6 percent.

Another major state tax is the sales tax. Most states impose a flat statewide rate and let counties and cities add an additional tax on sales within their borders.

States also get a lot of revenue from automobile-related taxes. In about half of the states, there is an Ad valorem (to the value) tax for registering a vehicle. There are also taxes of alcohol, tobacco, utilities, theme parks, and hotels/motels.

taxing-cars

Local Taxes:

Cities and counties impose property tax on the assessed value of the real property in them. Homeowners and business owners both pay property tax. There is also a business tax, which is a small percentage of the total sales a business has in a year. Counties also charge for a business license.

I hope you enjoyed our re-enactment of “How Government Gets Its Money.” We made quite a few props for these skits, and we had a blast behind the scenes!

We truly enjoyed producing this series of high school government posts, breaking down concepts from the Exploring Government book, and making them come to life! If you would like to buy the book, get it from the Notgrass website to bless their family the most!

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