phd mama

from diapers to deconstruction

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It’s Electric!









Our unit study on electricity included experiments, reference books, fiction, and scientific biographies. We looked at amazing moments in the history of science and marveled at the ways that electricity transforms our lives. My elder daughter especially loved playing with the Snap Circuits, and these resources changed the way we all appreciate and understand the electricity that flows through our home. We attended a local library program on Squishy Circuits where we learned about conductivity. And, of course, we discussed electrical safety (no kite flying in thunderstorms for us!). I hope this list of resources charges you up just as much for studying electricity!

  1. Watch The Animated Hero Classics: Benjamin Franklin
  2. Batteries, Bulbs, and Wires by David Glover
  3. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba, Bryan Mealer, and Elizabeth Zunon
  4. Charged Up: The Story of Electricity by Jacqui Bailey and Matthew Lilly
  5. Electrical Wizard: How Nikola Tesla Lit Up the World by Elizabeth Rusch and Oliver Dominguez
  6. Energy Makes Things Happen by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley and Paul Meisel
  7. DK’s First Science Encyclopedia
  8. How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning by Rosalyn Schanzer
  9. Jackrabbit McCabe and the Electric Telegraph by Lucy Margaret Rozier and Leo Espinosa
  10. The Magic School Bus and the Electric Field Trip by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen
  11. My Light by Molly Bang
  12. Oscar and the Bird: A Book about Electricity by Geoff Waring
  13. Watch Popular Mechanics for Kids: Lightning and Other Forces of Nature
  14. Watch Disney’s Safety Smart Science with Bill Nye the Science Guy: Electricity
  15. Watch Disney’s The Science of Disney Imagineering: Electricity
  16. Experiment with Snap Circuits
  17. Switch On, Switch Off by Melvin Berger and Carolyn Croll
  18. Thomas Edison by Barbara Kramer
  19. Who Was Ben Franklin? by Dennis Brindell Fradin and John O’Brien
  20. Who Was Thomas Alva Edison? by Margaret Frith and John O’Brien

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The Magic of Music








I try to incorporate music into almost every unit study we do, so my children gain exposure to all kinds of styles and instruments. For this list, I intentionally went more general. My elder daughter is working on learning to read music, and I wanted to give her and my younger child an overview of common musical instruments, key concepts in music appreciation and composition, and the role of music in storytelling. Some of these resources are technically suited to children younger than mine (ages 6 and 3), but we found them beneficial. It’s been exciting to watch them play orchestra, to value the role of a conductor, and to bring music into their play more frequently after this unit. While I’ve limited the list to only 14 items, this unit definitely illustrates for me the incredible power of music to shape all of our stories!

  1. Watch Baby Einstein’s Meet the Orchestra: First Instruments
  2. Watch Cathy & Marcy’s Song Shop’s Meet the Instruments: Things with Strings
  3. Do Re Mi: If You Can Read Music, Thank Guido d’Arezzo by Susan L. Roth and Angelo Mafucci
  4. Watch Disney’s Fantasia/Fantasia 2000
  5. Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle and Rafael López
  6. Watch Sesame Street’s Elmo’s Musical Adventure and Sing Yourself Silly
  7. Watch Keep Christmas with You Featuring Santino Fontana and the Muppets® from Sesame Street®
  8. Ketzel, the Cat who Composed by Lesléa Newman and Amy June Bates
  9. M is for Melody: A Musical Alphabet by Kathy-jo Wargin and Katherine Larson
  10. M is for Music by Kathleen Krull and Stacy Innerst
  11. Watch Disney’s Make Mine Music
  12. Watch Disney’s Melody Time
  13. Meet the Orchestra by Ann Hayes and Karmen Thompson
  14. The Usborne Internet-Linked Introduction to Music by Eileen O’Brien