Free Famous Inventors/Invention Unit study

Click here for a downloadable PDF of this unit study and others.)

As a busy mom of eleven, I have become the queen of finding the simplest ways to do seemingly difficult tasks. Homeschooling is one of them. Although the prospect of teaching multiple children may seem daunting to some, I have found a wonderful reprieve in using unit studies. Right now, I am using unit studies with all of my elementary age children, and it makes things so much easier.

Recently, after using the same Creation Science unit study for twelve weeks, my children and I grew bored with it, but, unfortunately, I didn’t have any other unit study curricula we hadn’t already used. After searching online for free unit studies, I became a little discouraged because the vast majority of them rely heavily on printable worksheets, and, while that may work for some, I knew my kids would quickly tire of those studies, as well.

Out of sheer desperation, I decided to write my own unit study, and, surprisingly, I really enjoyed it. I eventually ended up writing several, all of which I did end up using, and we thoroughly enjoyed them.

Today I’d like to share with you the very first unit study I wrote, “Famous Inventors/Inventing.” This study is meant to last approximately 2-3 weeks, but you can always have the option of shortening it or stretching it out as you see fit. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

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(Image courtesy of  Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos,net)

 

Famous Inventors/Inventing

Recommended Resources:

Did You Invent the Phone Alone, Alexander Graham Bell?– Melvin and Gilda Berger
Who Was Thomas Alva Edison?– Margaret Frith
Inventions- FAQ– Valerie Wyatt
Ben Franklin and His First Kite– Stephen Krensky
The Many Lives of Benjamin Franklin– Aliki
So You Want to Be an Inventor?– Judith St. George
Imitating Nature- From Bat Sonar to Canes for the Blind– Toney Allman
Imitating Nature- From Bug Legs to Walking Robots– Toney Allman
Imitating Nature- From Barbs on a Weed to Velcro– Toney Allman
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory– Roald Dahl
– khanacademy.com/engineering

Vocabulary:

invention         vibration             helicopter
invent                incandescent    airplane
phonograph     engineer             creativity
telephone         bioengineer       resilient
electricity         print                    determination
experiment      calendar             automobile
telegraph          lightning            genius
patent                machine             ingenuity
laboratory        submarine          lightbulb

Famous Inventors:

– Thomas Edison
– Alexander Graham Bell
– Benjamin Franklin
– Nikola Tesla
– Orville and Wilbur Wright
– Samuel Morse
– Henry Ford
– Leonardo Da Vinci
– George Washington Carver
– Johannes Gutenberg
– Eli Whitney

Activities:

1. Read So You Want to Be an Inventor?, then brainstorm new invention ideas. (Language Arts, History, Science)

2. Create a word scramble out of selected vocabulary words. (Language Arts)

3. Read a biography of an inventor of your choice. (History, Science)

4. Research an inventor and write a short biography. (History, Science, Language Arts)

5. When inventors apply for a patent, they submit a drawing and short description of their idea to the patent office. Choose a favorite invention idea from Activity 1, draw it, and write a short description. (Language Arts, Art, Science, Social Studies)

6. Thomas Edison worked on a train in his youth. Learn about trains and how they work. (History, Science)

7. Thomas Edison once said, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” Discuss the meaning of this quote. (Language Arts, Character)

8. Use Activity 7 to inspire a discussion on percentages. (Math)

9. Using common household items, build a 3-D model of invention idea from Activities 1 and 5. (Science, Art)

10. Research Samuel Morse and learn how to tap out your name in Morse Code. (History)

11. Thomas Edison’s mother provided him with a basement laboratory. It was filled with, among other things, empty jars and bottles, feathers, and rocks. Create a temporary lab in the kitchen or basement and experiment using materials similar to Edison’s in addition to: a magnifying glass or microscope, baking soda, vinegar, corn starch, and other household items. (Science)

12. Cut out individual letters from various magazines or advertisements and glue them to a piece of paper to spell out vocabulary words. (Language Arts)

13. Create “goo” by combining a box of corn starch, water, and food coloring (optional). Add water a little at a time and stir in a cake pan until it is the consistency of mayonnaise. This can be found on page 31 of Inventions- FAQ by Valerie Wyatt. (Science)

14. Write a story about an inventor using vocabulary words. (Language Arts)

15. Read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as a family read aloud. (Literature)

16. Copy a page of a book by hand, then discuss how Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press not only made the creation of books far easier, but also inspired people to learn to read since books became much more accessible. (Language Arts, History, Social Studies)

17. Create a “mini-bot” by using double-sided tape to attach a cell phone vibrator and a button cell battery to the bottom of a very small toy. One wire from the vibrator should be under the battery. Attach the other wire to a piece of double-sided tape and stick it to the top of the battery. The toy should “run” around the floor. (Science)

18. Read about the Wright Brothers’ various attempts to achieve flight. (Science, History)

19. The Wright Brothers achieved flight in Kitty Hawk, NC. Find this on a map. (History, Geography)

20. Using a map of the US, measure the distance from your house to Kitty Hawk, NC and calculate how long it would take to travel there at 60 MPH. (Math, Geography)

21. Visit a toy or candy factory and observe the machinery used to create their products. Prepare a list of questions to ask beforehand. (Field Trip, Science, Social Studies, Language Arts)

22. Research Eli Whitney’s cotton gin and write a paper discussing the pros and cons of this invention. (History, Language Arts, Social Studies)

23. Read about Leonardo Da Vinci’s “prophetic” inventions, which never came to fruition until centuries after his death. (History, Science)

24. Study some of Da Vinci’s most famous “inventions,” such as the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper. (Art)

25. Draw inspiration from Da Vinci’s work and paint an artistic masterpiece. (Art)

26. While Henry Ford did not invent the automobile, he did come up with the assembly line. Try making something that takes several steps (a sandwich, a simple foam craft, breaded chicken fingers, etc.) alone, then try again using an assembly line. Which was more efficient? (Critical Thinking, History)

27. George Washington Carver was known as the “Peanut Scientist.” Read about his life and enjoy a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. (History)

28. Make a lapbook to showcase finished work from this study. Use your artistic talents to decorate it scrapbook-style. (Art)

 

 

 

 

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The Unschool Experiment

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Wow. It’s been about two years since I wrote my last post, and looking back, all I can think is, “My! How times have changed!” If you’re familiar with this blog, you will probably remember that the vast majority of my posts dealt with my concepts about unschooling and how we were integrating it into our lives. That time of my life is something that I now refer to as “The Unschool Experiment.”

A fair amount of time has passed since then, and my views on this homeschooling method have changed a bit. But first…let me tell you a little story.

John Holt, considered to be the Father of Unschooling is, by far, one of my favorite authors, and I find his ideas about the education of children to be altogether inspiring and quite beautiful. I discovered his books during a period in my life when I was experiencing some homeschool burnout and was looking for a more peaceful way for my children to learn at home.

Holt is a firm believer in a child’s natural ability to learn on their own, especially if they are freed from the trappings of conventional schooling. If a baby is able to learn to crawl, walk, and talk without any formal lessons, then it is only plausible that, if given the opportunity, a child can learn anything they value and deem necessary without any sort of outside coercion.

It was with these ideas in my head that I set out for us to become an unschooling family. Looking back, the first year of our “unschooling” endeavor was actually a bit more like relaxed homeschooling. We had some routines I was unwilling to let go of, such as family read-alouds, silent reading, and formal math curriculum. (Okay. Life of Fred. Not very formal but certainly more formal than most unschoolers would approve of.) Regardless, we were certainly doing less assigned work than we did in the past and much less than most other homeschoolers we knew, so, to me, we were unschoolers.

Eventually, I began to immerse myself in books and blogs about radical unschooling. As a Christian, some of their principles were quite alien and shocking to me, but I slowly began to fall for the blissful writings of these authors and figured that maybe if I let go of any structure at all, we would have this amazing, peaceful life where my children would be happily doing science experiments, reading great literature, and writing novels without any prompting from me.

At first, my children were elated. You mean we don’t even have to do math or listen to you read? Nope. Not even that.

I spent months waiting expectantly for my children to surprise me with ingenious inventions and innovative entrepreneurial ideas. It didn’t happen. Don’t get me wrong. There were certainly moments when one of my kids would astonish me with something particularly unexpected, such as when my daughter built a working candy machine out of Legos. But these moments were few and far between. A very large amount of time was being spent on nothing more than watching YouTube videos and bickering over whose turn it was on the phone.

I tried to be patient and kept repeating to myself, Just say yes more! Maybe they needed to deschool some more, or maybe I was failing to see the value in what they were doing.
It may have been either of these things, but once family relationships started suffering and our house turned into complete chaos, I finally gave in and admitted to myself that this just wasn’t working. This “blissful path” I set my hopes on was not what our family needed, and it was far from blissful.

I am not going to go so far as to say that unschooling never works. I’m sure it does for many people, but it clearly does not work for everyone.

Our family needs the structure that accompanies our homeschooling days. We need to know what is going to happen when, and it is such an advantage to have activities planned to keep my kids busy for a couple hours a day.

I am no longer the rigid homeschool mom I once was, but I’m also not willing to let my kids have total sovereignty over their education.

Right now I am in the middle of writing a book on the practicalities of homeschooling, and I would like to share this thought I expressed in it with you today:

“There has to be a point that a parent will concede that this method just may not work for their child. As parents, educating our own children is not only a right but a privilege, and we must see to it that we are holding up our end of the bargain.”

And think about it…do our kids deserve anything less?

 

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” target=”_blank”>Wise Woman Link Up

Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Practical Mondays

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The Unschool Experiment

Wow. It’s been about two years since I wrote my last post, and looking back, all I can think is, “My! How times have changed!” If you’re familiar with this blog, you will probably remember that the vast majority of my posts dealt with my concepts about unschooling and how we were integrating it into our lives. That time of my life is something that I now refer to as “The Unschool Experiment.”

A fair amount of time has passed since then, and my views on this homeschooling method have changed a bit. But first…let me tell you a little story.

John Holt, considered to be the Father of Unschooling is, by far, one of my favorite authors, and I find his ideas about the education of children to be altogether inspiring and quite beautiful. I discovered his books during a period in my life when I was experiencing some homeschool burnout and was looking for a more peaceful way for my children to learn at home.

Holt is a firm believer in a child’s natural ability to learn on their own, especially if they are freed from the trappings of conventional schooling. If a baby is able to learn to crawl, walk, and talk without any formal lessons, then it is only plausible that, if given the opportunity, a child can learn anything they value and deem necessary without any sort of outside coercion.

It was with these ideas in my head that I set out for us to become an unschooling family. Looking back, the first year of our “unschooling” endeavor was actually a bit more like relaxed homeschooling. We had some routines I was unwilling to let go of, such as family read-alouds, silent reading, and formal math curriculum. (Okay. Life of Fred. Not very formal but certainly more formal than most unschoolers would approve of.) Regardless, we were certainly doing less assigned work than we did in the past and much less than most other homeschoolers we knew, so, to me, we were unschoolers.

Eventually, I began to immerse myself in books and blogs about radical unschooling. As a Christian, some of their principles were quite alien and shocking to me, but I slowly began to fall for the blissful writings of these authors and figured that maybe if I let go of any structure at all, we would have this amazing, peaceful life where my children would be happily doing science experiments, reading great literature, and writing novels without any prompting from me.

At first, my children were elated. You mean we don’t even have to do math or listen to you read? Nope. Not even that.

I spent months waiting expectantly for my children to surprise me with ingenious inventions and innovative entrepreneurial ideas. It didn’t happen. Don’t get me wrong. There were certainly moments when one of my kids would astonish me with something particularly unexpected, such as when my daughter built a working candy machine out of Legos. But these moments were few and far between. A very large amount of time was being spent on nothing more than watching YouTube videos and bickering over whose turn it was on the phone.

I tried to be patient and kept repeating to myself, Just say yes more! Maybe they needed to deschool some more, or maybe I was failing to see the value in what they were doing.
It may have been either of these things, but once family relationships started suffering and our house turned into complete chaos, I finally gave in and admitted to myself that this just wasn’t working. This “blissful path” I set my hopes on was not what our family needed, and it was far from blissful.

I am not going to go so far as to say that unschooling never works. I’m sure it does for many people, but it clearly does not work for everyone.

Our family needs the structure that accompanies our homeschooling days. We need to know what is going to happen when, and it is such an advantage to have activities planned to keep my kids busy for a couple hours a day.

I am no longer the rigid homeschool mom I once was, but I’m also not willing to let my kids have total sovereignty over their education.

Right now I am in the middle of writing a book on the practicalities of homeschooling, and I would like to share this thought I expressed in it with you today:

“There has to be a point that a parent will concede that this method just may not work for their child. As parents, educating our own children is not only a right but a privilege, and we must see to it that we are holding up our end of the bargain.”

And think about it…do our kids deserve anything less?