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Studying Your Pet: Internet and Print Resources

Internet Resources to Study Your Pet

A really good site containing lots of veterinary resources about lots of different animal pets.

The American Veterinary Medicine Association: Care For Animals
There are many topics: pet stories, kid’s corner, animal safety, resources, pet health, and buying a pet. Under the health section you will find topics like: caring for your horse, keep your cat healthy, watching out for your dog, dental care, population control of pets, vaccinations, and animal illness & diseases. This is a great site with lots of real information that you can use.

American Animal Hospital Association
Information on locating animal hospitals, a pet newsletter online, a kids coloring page and a pet library. The library has the full contents of six books published by the AAHA: Behavior, Common Health Problems, Human Animal Bond, Nutrition, Pet Care Tips, and Preventative Care.

Fleabusters: a product for killing fleas
This site has many parts some not really about fleas and killing them. They have veterinarians who write about topics of concern to pet owners. This link is to the Fun and Games section.

AKC Best Friends
Learn about American Kennel Club. Elementary school teachers can get a free Best Friends Teaching Kit with a video, reproducible activity sheets, a wall poster, a teacher’s guide. Kits helps teach responsibility through responsible pet ownership. The kit can be used as a unit or spread throughout the curriculum. Also check out the Kids’ Corner and Lesson Plans sections for activities to do in your homeschool.

Print Resources

You and Your Cat by David Taylor A beautiful little handbook which lots of good cat pictures of many breeds. Other topics include a discussion of territorial boundaries, housing, kitten care, feeding, health care, first aid, and cat psychology.

James Herriot’s Cat Stories Many stories of cats from James Herriot’s wonderful journals of his veterinary career.

The Complete Book of Cat Care by Leon Whitney DVM This author has written a number of good pet care books. This one, on cats, has many photos showing aspects of cat care. One shows exactly how cat should be held, for example. The book has lots of information on cat diseases and on drugs and home remedies for cats. (out of print, but you may be able to buy it used)

The Complete Dog Book: 20th Edition This book is a great book covering most aspects of dog care. This large book also has lots of information on dog breeds. Republished every year, the American Kennel Club keeps you up to date on dogs.

The Complete Dog Care Manual (ASPCA) This book has much information on the care and training of dogs.

Eyewitness Handbook of Horses by Elwyn Hartley Edwards An excellent resource on breeds worldwide with actual photographs.

The Horse A truly wonderful comprehensive resource on horses, nutrition, selection, genetics, breeding, stable management, health, and structure.

One Week Off unit study Series by Castle Height Press; Take a week off from homeschool to study your pet!  Unit studies on Dogs & Puppies, Cats & Kittens, Horses, and even a My First Unit Study on Horses for pre-readers.  E-books available and all are on sale 30% right now!

Hope these resources are of great use to you as you study your pet- leave a comment and let us know if you plan to do such a study, or if you have ever used the One Week Off series to take a week off of homeschooling!

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Cool Science Experiments- The Way to Get Your Kids Excited About Science

By Marianne Vanderkolk at

I love seeing kids excited about science.  Reading about science, exploring the world outside, seeing a science video are ways in which children enjoy and become motivated about science.  And, through the years, that is what we have successfully done. However, recently it has been confirmed in my own mind, that a real and extremely valid way for kids to love science and be keen to know more, is to provide them with time to play around with really cool science experiments.

As a homeschooling family we have questioned, “What have been the things that we look back on with fond and treasured memories in science?”   It is either the hands-on nature walks and finding animals, or the fun in setting up and doing an experiment with great results.  Many of the experiments my children have enjoyed have been totally unrelated to any science text we may have been following at the time.  Most of the successful ‘science’ messes have sprung up from their own interest and trying to solve a question which they have posed themselves. (Like fixing a cheap toy and making it far better than it ever was.)

So, how do we encourage our children to play around with science?

Ask Them Questions
Firstly, ask your children questions without giving away the answer.  If you are working through a text which has science experiments, present the question to them and don’t read or let them read what sorts of results they should be getting from performing the experiment.  Ask them questions during the experiment and after it – what do you think would happen if we changed  x, y or z?

Ask them questions about life – about their physical environment or why things happen?  Ask them the curious questions before they ask you.  And then let them think and ponder about it.  It does not mean that you should never give answers, but at the same time, don’t rush in – give them time first.  When answering, relate the answer to their current experience.  And remember, it is okay to admit you don’t know the answer – that can become an ideal time to discuss how to research and find answers we are looking for.

Let Them Experiment
Let them play with all sorts of things around the home and experiment.  Using a book or science course will give you ideas about exciting science experiments. There are also a ton of books at the library that will interest your children.  Recently, I discovered an online science Curriculum which is full of really cool science experiments.  You can see some here.

The experiment instructions are also on video, which we all really love watching. Using all sorts of common household materials, and some that you need to buy, these experiments have amazed and excited my children.  In fact, it has been the recent catalyst for a whole heap of hovercraft experiments which in turn has motivated my other children to fiddle with a toy gun changing it from a gun using air pressure to one using spring mechanics.

Be Prepared, Grow a Collection of Science Tools  and Encourage Mess
If you want your children to experiment, you will need to accept and even encourage mess.  Set up some boxes where you keep all sorts of odds and ends which will come in handy for science experiments.

  • You will need materials like rubber bands, straws, pipe cleaners, paper clips, balloons, popsicle sticks.
  • You will also need tools and materials to bind items together like sticky tape, masking tape, hot glue gun, super glue, rope or string, stapler and staples, hole punch, scissors.
  • Then you will also need to collect some clean junk – bottle tops, soda bottles, clean cans, bottle lids, ice cream containers and cardboard boxes of all sizes.

Perhaps you can create a science corner – filled with experiment books and all the materials, and a table to work on.

Allow for Mistakes
Every science experiment does not need to work perfectly and make sure your children know that.  When an experiment does not work the way they had hoped,  ask them:

  • “What did you learn from that?”
  • “What might you do differently next time?”
  • “Why do you think that happened?”

Be Curious Alongside of Them, But Don’t Take Over
When your children are in the middle of a project or have completed it, they love to have a fan club.  As they become more independent, they may not need you to set up an experiment or help them do it, but they really want to share their enthusiasm with an interested party – like their family and parents! So, let them inspire you – cheer them on as they set up an experiment – ask them questions so they can verbalize what is happening and why – problem solve with them – search out answers together,  BUT don’t take over.

As parents we have the tendency to ruin the child-led learning experience and make it a full-blown lesson.  We want to run with their idea because we can see how it will make a wonderful ‘unit study’ and so we plan, get books, blah,  blah, blah, and  run off with all of our great ideas, but meanwhile our children have turned the corner, lost interest  and moved on. It doesn’t matter!  Even if their interest in that topic may have been short lived, another experiment at a later date will most likely, help to reinforce the science concept.

So, do what you need to do to excite your children about science.

Be curious, ask questions, encourage messes, grow a collection of science tools and find materials to help you.  You can find some easy and totally ‘cool’ science experiments. as well as links to science experiments on video, plus two free Science Experiment Ebooks (A Science Experiment Guide usually valued at $25, and a Science Activity Manual and Video Guide valued at $30) , here – easy science experiments.

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Teaching Kids About Energy

By Lorrie Moffat

Your son or daughter has questions about energy. How do you begin to explain such a vast concept? Teaching kids about energy starts with conveying that there are many forms of energy around us and even inside us. Life as we know it would not exist without energy. Energy is so important that all food packages list Calories, an old energy unit. Energy is either stored or involved with motion.

The property of an object or a system (a group of objects) which enables it to do work is called energy. You need energy to do work, or to apply a force across a distance, meaning to move something. If energy does involve moving an object, it is called kinetic energy. A ball rolling downhill has kinetic energy. Energy can also come from the position of an object or its arrangement. This type of energy is called potential energy, or stored energy. A ball that is stationary, on the slope of a hill, before it begins to roll down, has what is known as gravitational potential energy. As the ball rolls downhill, the potential energy it had is changed into kinetic energy. That is an example of the law of energy conservation; energy cannot be created or destroyed, it changes form from one type to another.

Since energy does change from one form to another, sometimes it is difficult to determine whether energy is potential or kinetic. Some energy is potential energy and kinetic energy simultaneously, such as thermal energy, or heat. Even a moving object can have both potential energy and kinetic energy at the same time. As the ball rolls downhill, its potential energy is changed into kinetic energy. As it rolls, at any specific time, the total amount of energy that the ball has does not change; the law of energy conservation holds. This type of energy is considered mechanical energy.

When teaching kids about energy it’s important to relay that besides the motion of objects, other types of kinetic energy include radiant energy, or light; radiant heat energy; acoustic energy, or sound; and electrical energy, or electricity through wires. Other types of potential energy include electrical energy stored in a battery, chemical energy, nuclear energy, magnetic energy, and solar energy; all stored energy in atoms or molecules. Elastic energy is potential energy within a fluid or solid that can be converted into mechanical energy.

Can there ever be a perpetual motion machine? That is, a machine that never stops moving and constantly creates its own energy as it works? Most machines noticeably heat up as they operate. This heat is from friction. The energy that goes into a machine is always greater than the amount of work it produces, because some of the initial energy changes into friction. Because friction is never completely eliminated, the energy going into a machine is always going to be larger than the machines output. A machine can never run indefinitely, so a perpetual motion machine cannot exist.

When teaching kids about energy you can explain the different types of energy. Energy is either kinetic, involving motion, or potential, stored. Energy changes form from one to another, leading to the law of energy conservation. Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it transforms from one type to another type. A perpetual motion machine cannot exist, since such a device would counteract the law of energy conservation.

Energy is a fascinating and vast subject but by remembering these energy basics teaching kids about energy can be simple and fun.

Lorie Moffat has 20 years of teaching experience in both public school classroom and science museum settings. Contact her about special summer online tutoring packages.