Sunday, September 30, 2012

Science Post #2: Space and Earth

Because it was covered briefly in our MFW's science curriculcum (Usborne First Encyclopedia of Science) and because I did an "A is for Astronaut" mini-unit with Sissy, we did a lot with Space Science and Earth Science the past two weeks. These are some of the books we read. I recommend any of them. 

As we were reading Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11, an award-winning book by Brian Floca, I told the kids we could probably find their real voices online. Here is a really short clip, but there are others we listened to that include more dialogue such as the "giant leap for mankind" quote. They loved this, and it especially helped my 5 year old who had wondered if this was "a true story." There is an illustration in the book of a family cheering in front of the television set, and that (along with the audio clips) gave me tears and goose bumps.

We made play-dough Earths. 
First, they formed these balls of dough, big to small.

They left the red ball solid, then flattened the orange ball to carefully wrap around the red ball. Then the yellow ball was flattened to wrap around the orange/red ball, etc.

After they repeated those steps through blue, they used green play-dough to form continent shapes. We got out the globe, and I asked the kids to each name all 7 continents. Sis can't name them all yet, but she came close with hints.

Next, they cut their dough balls in half. Care needs to be taken with this as the ball will want to squish under the pressure of the knife.

And you will find the 4 layers of the Earth plus the blue ocean on the outside: inner core, outer core, mantle, and crust. (This one looks like it has more layers because because he had to use two shades of yellow mixed together to make a big enough ball. But the yellow is all mantle.)

To review, each filled out this worksheet.

We sang this Layers of the Earth song (which I modified slightly because I couldn't fit that many words into  that tune).

The next day, we reviewed the 4 layers by making edible Earths. I added a little flour and powdered sugar to peanut butter to make it stand up better.

After forming balls (the mantle), we cut them in half, scooped out the center, added soy cream cheese (the outer core) and a strawberry (inner core), then rolled it in ground flax seed (the crust). This didn't turn out as well as I had hoped because the peanut butter consistency wasn't firm enough, but I think it got the point across. And it made for a nice bedtime snack.

I put together this Astronaut Sensory Tub using a Space Toob. I made homemade moon sand (9 cups of flour and about 1 1/2 cups of baby oil). At first, I thought it was just crumbly flour, but it really is moldable! (Sis also got some pink sprinkles in there when she was playing "bakery" with the moon sand.)

When we were reading Space by Bobbie Kalman, my 7 year old kept going over to the space tub to pull out items that matched pictures (like a satellite or certain astronaut gear) in the book.

Also, the first time they played with the moon sand, they were at the kitchen table. On subsequent play times, I had to send them outside because it was very messy.

They were ridiculously impatient waiting for this Oreo experiment. (We actually used this Newman's Organics version.)

I used the printable at the bottom of this page for our model. I edited the word-doc, deleting the pictures for a second sheet to include space for their own cookies.

There was a whole section of space activities at the WonderWorks Museum we visited this month.

#1: Dash, trying out the rocket.

#2: Tornado is pumping his fist "yes" as the monitor (which asks space-related trivia questions) declares his "correct" answer.

#3: This scale calculates your weight on the Moon and Mars. Sis apparently weighs 7 lbs. on the Moon and 16.4 on Mars (and that's 42 lbs. on Earth).

The kids each completed a mini book from this Lifesaver Lessons book.

Magic School Bus: Out of This World teaches about meteorites, so we did this experiment. I filled a baking pan with flour and let them drop rocks into it from different heights with different sized rocks. They repeated this experiment SO many times, for so long, that I finally went inside and just let them have at it. I also showed them pictures online of different meteorites and crater sites in the United States. (BTW, I'm using the flour to make salt dough tomorrow, so it won't go to waste.)

We used these constellation lacing cards. I punched holes on the dots.

The kids placed them on top of construction paper, filled in the dots, then covered them with star stickers. They connected the dots and labeled the constellations.

I asked the kids to design their own constellations.
Tornado named his "Monster," and Dash's was "Bareka." 

Sissy named her constellations "Key-etay" and "Remi."
We blew up this old constellation ball to examine.

styrofoam solar system from Science Post #1

jdaniel4smomScience SundayCachey Mamas Classroom

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Wrap-Up Collage Journal

In Our Lives 
Oh, man...just getting back into the swing of things after our two trips. There are still suitcases in the hallway, but they HAVE been emptied.

My car got rear ended in the terrible traffic our town always has. The resulting damage was not as bad as the massive thud we felt (and the SCREECHING scared scream from Baby). And everyone was fine. Now I just have to get an estimate for the other guy's insurance.

If you look at this picture as googly eyes on top of his closed eyes, it's just kind of silly. But when I squint and look at it like those are his eyes, it freaks me out.

In other Dash news, I thought Uncle Matt would be happy to hear that "first Illinois but then the yellow Missouri Tigers" are his favorite football teams. He just announced this.

Ryan was away this week on business. We were excited to have him back and very sorry he had to carry out so much trash upon his return. I really meant to get to that.

In Our Homeschool 
For one of our tea times, we drank hot Hawaiian tea sweetened with agave and these Vegan Carrot Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (topped with an orange glaze). Still reading Farmer Boy.

I forgot to say in my Tennessee trip post that we (well, the kids and Ryan, mind has a difficult time focusing on audiobooks, especially if they are in a fantasy genre) listened to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. They loved it. Even more than I expected. They are anxious to start the next book.

In other subjects, we had a lot of math, science, phonics, and spelling to catch up on for our homeschool academy classes. The two middle kids are listening to their teacher read Charlotte's Web in one of their classes.

I subbed in Tornado's Thinking Skills class this week. The teacher had left me pictures ripped from magazines. Everyone picked a picture and started writing a story. After a few minutes, they passed their story on to the next person. They passed around their stories several times until I said it was time to wrap the story up. There were some verrry interesting stories. I enjoyed being in a 5th/6th grade class; it was a nice change from the nursery, which I also do. I enjoy watching Tornado interact with his peers in a classroom setting, which is pretty...comforting on a good day.

I LOVE Sissy's classes at our other co-op. She takes a kindergarten class and an American Girl History class. Here is her notebook she is working on in AGH.

Something Else We Baked 
After reading a chapter in Farmer Boy about the Wilders harvesting their maple syrup for the year, I looked up "maple recipes" and came up with this Maple Apple Crisp. Delicious.

Extracurricular This Week
Last week the kids became fully emerged into their fall extracurricular activity schedule, which is, I have to say, much fuller than I had planned it to be. (We do have Saturdays free this semester, which is a huge relief. Friday-Sunday off: yay!) I am really loving everything they've got going so far, and I have strategically scheduled everything in groups. Although I am on the road a lot, going here and there,  it helps that most of their activities are back-to-back/at the same time.

This is an project Tornado completed from the last couple of weeks in his community art class.

And this is a picture Sissy drew at her art class. She said it is her and her cousins, W and C. So sweet.

Places We're Going and People We're Seeing
On Friday, I took the kids to World Fest in Little Rock. There were different booths and activities set up at War Memorial Park to celebrate culture and diversity.

Next, we met Aunt Tracy at Dempsey's Bakery for lunch. The boys also had to get haircuts at Pigtails and Crewcuts. Since it was only $9, and she needed her hair washed, anyway, Sis got to sit in a car for the first time. She got a wash and blowout, which was really fun for her.

My Favorite Book We Read 
I highly recommend this book by Jef Czekaj. Great alphabet book with a similar feel to The Scrambled States of America. X is tired of being at the end of the alphabet and underused. He is calling for a new alphabet. It's very clever and educational. "Why does [A] get to be in so many words?...And I and E, aren't you tired of having to switch places every time C comes into the picture?"

What's New With Baby
I think this picture probably best describes what Baby is up to these days. Wreaking havoc everywhere he goes!!! Well, not that bad, but it HAS gotten very difficult to sit with him and even stand holding him (because he's no longer content to just cuddle - he wants to move!). He desperately wants to MOVE but can't quite crawl yet, so he's in that in-between stage.

He reaches out for everything, whether we are sitting at the table, the counter, the computer, etc. I was just standing at the counter, making supper, when he pulled Sissy's bowl of miso noodles off to the floor (when resulted in hysterical sobbing on her part because that was all that was left). The dogs were very pleased with their special meal.

Homegrown Learners

Friday, September 21, 2012

Our Week in Tennessee

Traveling by car had turned into a nightmare since Little Man came along 8 months ago. He has had very little patience with his carseat. He does not understand why he is not in Mommy's arms where he believes (logically, of course) he belongs 24-7. Therefore, we put off traveling big distances for awhile.

However, a year ago we had purchased a discounted travel voucher deal that was expiring this week. It was use it or lose it, and we (or at least the kids and I) really needed to get out of the house. It was important for us to go somewhere fun together as a family to slow down and reconnect without the hustle and bustle of daily life.

I was inspired by one of my facebook friends to make (Pinterest-inspired) traveling notebooks for the kids. I didn't know how these would go over, but they were a success! They never really used this license plate game because it proved to be a little advanced for them. 

I did love these state abbreviation pages I made by copying off a capital T pattern, then an N which I cut out and clued onto the T page before making copies. I had searched for something like this but couldn't find anything. (If there ARE pages like this available, please let me know, to save me the trouble for our next states.) I hope these will help make the state abbreviations stick in their heads.  

I also printed off a Tennesse state outline for them to color and label. They also labeled our route on the United States map. In addition, the boys had a Tennessee word search.

I found lots of versions by searching for road trip printables on Pinterest. The links to several of these are at the bottom of this post. They can be reused by putting them in page protectors and using dry-erase (better yet, wet-erase so it won't smudge) markers.

car colors bingo
I think this was one of their favorite pages they used the most.

I ripped some pages out of this hidden pictures workbook for the middle two and more difficult pages for Tornado. There was also a spot for some of their homework pages.

Prepared NOT Scared!: Preparedness Project - Travel Bag!
Something else I tried this trip was "Car Bucks." I attached a baggie inside their notebooks for their bucks. Each car buck was equivalent to a dollar. 

Every time they completed a couple of pages in their notebooks they earned a Car Buck. Whenever I noticed they had been riding well without fighting or complaining for a couple of hours, they earned a Car Buck. Because we were generous about handing them out, they were aware that any (Mommy-approved) snacks (even juice) from gas stations or souvenirs from shops were their responsibilities. (Meals and water were provided, of course.) 

Car Bucks could also be taken away, but fortunately that only happened a time or two. It was fun to see them calculating how many car bucks they might have left if they bought something and whether the purchase would be worth it or not. We'll definitely use these on future road trips.

We left our house about 8:00 p.m. and made it a few hours to Jackson, Tennessee. It was almost dark by the time we made it to Gatlinburg. This is the night view of our resort, which is a Holiday Inn property just a couple of blocks from the main downtown street in Gatlinburg. Great location!

We were very happy with our accommodations, and I'd recommend this resort to anyone (who can afford it, which won't always be the case for us). We usually stay in small hotel rooms, so this was fancy for us. We always feel torn - spend money on somewhere nice which does feel really nice. Or just find an adequate place to sleep because we're going to be spending most of our time outside of the room, anyway. We unfortunately never got to enjoy any of the resort's fun children's activities. We did get to swim in the pool one night.

master bedroom with jacuzzi tub 

the big kids' room

The first night when we arrived we walked downtown to look around. See that strand of lights against the trees in the back? It's a skylift that goes all the way up that mountain. I'd like to do that next time.

After a great supper at Mellow Mushroom, we let the kids play video games at an arcade.

The next morning, we headed to WonderWorks in Pigeon Forge. This was #1 on our list of intended destinations. I mean, look at it; how could it not have been? There are four WonderWorks locations in the U.S. (Myrtle Beach, Panama City, Orlando, and this one plus one coming soon to Syracuse, NY).

This is what the ceiling of the foyer looked like. You know that my Tornado, lover of silly and mixed up things, was in heaven.

Admission is expensive ($22.99 for adults and $14.99 for kids), the way it is at most places in the area. There are coupons, though, around town for...maybe $2.50 off per ticket? There is an additional discount for home schoolers, but you have to arrange for these tickets BEFORE YOUR VISIT.

There's a good mixture of active games and learning centers.

I caught Ryan in this flight simulator, which is right up his alley. He has a flight simulator computer game at home, but this one with the three screens and cool control panels seemed like a dream come true and led to my obnoxious teasing, "I'm so happy for you! Are you so happy right now?! This is like the best day of your life, isn't it?!" He, of course, told me to be quiet and go away.

The good news is that the kids and Ryan seemingly did not catch any viruses from repeatedly sticking their faces and bodies into this fun contraption.

It is a combination of a science museum, children's museum, and amusement park.

The bed of nails was cool. You lie on the smooth bed, then the nails raise up underneath you.

After a few hours at WonderWorks, we needed a break. After lunch at Mellow Mushroom, this time at the Pigeon Forge location, we drove over to Parrot Mountain and Gardens (which is very close to Dollywood). It's a very lovely spot that is run by seemingly nice, caring people. The grounds were clean and well-kept. Did you see the "19 Kids and Counting" episode which showcased a visit here?

We did not expect the volume of bird noise that greeted us when we opened the door. It was so loud (but in a beautiful way).

Admission is $15.95 for 12 and up; $7.99 for 2-11. We had a $1 off each ticket coupon. The kids really enjoyed feeding the MANY birds, which they did a lot, paying quarters for feed.

There are birds throughout the park, beyond this feeding area, sitting on perches. They are taken into cages at night. Other birds are kept in large outdoor cages. They do no allow photos taken in the bird nursery, but the kids got to interact with the babies, as well.

This bird was trained to high-five you. There were birds who could do all sorts of tricks, like say, "Praise the Lord" or sing "Rocky Top," which you can watch on this video. I am fascinated by the talking abilities of birds. The term "bird brain" is actually a giant misnomer. Even chickens (which have to endure such treachery and lack of dignity in factory farms) are very intelligent beings!!! That's not something I learned at Parrot Mountain, just a little something extra I thought I'd throw in here for ya.

This guy who talked to us for a long time about the birds and showed the kids their tricks was super friendly and helpful.

I could stare closely at each bird's amazing designs all day. 

It makes me sad to see birds with clipped wings. It feels so unfair. (What I didn't know until now is that wings grow back; it isn't permanent.)

I do understand that this place is partly a sanctuary (but can't be deemed a true sanctuary since I believe there is some breeding going on for profit, to make money to support their efforts), and I couldn't imagine how much hard work goes into it. I know these people are working toward rehabilitating injured birds and repopulating endangered species. I just wish there had never been such a thing as pet birds to begin with. (If you have a pet bird, that's not judgment. I wish I could bring them all home with me, too.) As for what is the best thing to do about it all now since they can't all just be released into the wild without consequence, I don't have the answers. I do believe that these birds get a lot of love and attention, which they seem to crave and enjoy, from their caregivers and the public.

Don't expect to automatically get your picture taken holding all of the birds, which is what you are led to believe with the brochure. Once we paid our admission (around $70 for our family), they wanted another $15 from us for a chance to hold the birds and receive a souvenir photo. It's misleading. We declined, but they did very nicely let the kids all have a turn holding this guy (girl?).

Baby tuckered out. I adore it when he does this, sitting straight up. With that chubby face and dimpled chin.

It's a nice little walk through the gardens. There is a "secret garden" area where small birds are flying free in a fairly large outdoor room with a netted ceiling. I would have liked to have seen free flying spaces like that for all of the birds. We did enjoy our time at Parrot Mountain, and the kids walked away from it with increased knowledge and an even deeper love of birds.

After we left the birds, we headed back to WonderWorks for the 7 p.m. magic show. It was fabulous! And guess who got to be the special helper onstage? This cutie, who even got to take home a magic rope as a gift.

I really enjoy magic shows. I spend my whole time, desperate to figure out the trick. But I never can! So then I constantly whisper, "HOW did he do that?!"

What I especially loved about this show is that Terry Evanswood (above) was very clear upfront that there was nothing "magical" about what he was doing. It was PRETEND, simply tricks he learned from practicing, and only God can perform miracles. He was very funny, charming, and talented. He was also an inspiring motivational speaker! I loved that he turned the conversation toward people appreciating life and choosing to be happy, etc. It was great for the kids to hear, I thought. He said that it would be arrogant for him to perform without telling everyone that it was God who gave him his success, encouragement, and inspiration. For anyone who is reluctant to attend a magic show because of the hocus-pocus, I thought he presented it in a very responsible, honest way that did not feel compromising.

We had some extra time after the show (since we were basically staying up until midnight all week), so these two wanted a try at the climbing wall.

I was really proud of them. After only a couple of steps they both felt how difficult it was going to be and wanted to give up. We encouraged them to keep going, and they did, which was good for them. Sissy got about half way up.

And, with a lot of urging and encouragement, Dash ended up making it to the top.

We didn't have as much luck with the Ropes Challenge Course. Earlier in the day, Ryan took Dash up there, and he (my 7 year old) totally panicked a few feet into it, and they had to come back down. 

Sis, my one brave child, was ready to go that night, which encouraged her 23 months older brother to try again. It went a little better this time, but Ryan had his hands full up there, trying to help both of them. It wasn't that it was scary for Sissy; it was just difficult for her to maneuver. 

And Dash - he gets really scared with things like this, which is something that surprises people sometimes because of his "active boy" nature. He's not really a risk-taker. I think he gets this from his father.

The next day, one of our activities included driving through the Smoky Mountains to reach Cherokee, North Carolina. We were hoping to check out the Indian re-enactment village, and I was sort of devastated when we arrived about 4:10 only to find they stop selling tickets at 4:00 (with a 5:00 closing time). It was one of the places I'd wanted to visit most during this trip. Fortunately, we were able to head down the road to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. We enjoyed this a lot! We're starting the Indian portion of our My Father's World studies, so it went along perfectly with that.

Next, we stopped by a few Native American souvenir shops.

Clingman's Dome was our next destination. I think the kids and I were all a little carsick as we made our way up the winding highway.

Dash was disappointed that the trail up to Clingman's Dome was paved. "I thought we were going to go exploring." A paved walkway just did not say "adventure" to him. He made up for it by climbing on any rocky hills he found.

The kids were really impressed with two guys who had been hiking and camping for days. Dash asked if we could "play explorer." That inspired our "what are we going to's getting dark, and we have no food or place to sleep" routine the entire half-mile walk back to the car.

Clingman's Dome Observation Tower is a half-mile (which actually felt much longer to me, and I love to hike) from the parking lot. I was highly impressed with Tornado who led the way. He and Ryan (who was carrying Baby on the way up) made it up there first. Sometimes, he either gets distracted or winded, so that was great.

Notice their rosy faces? It was CHILLY, and we weren't properly prepared for that.

Clingman's Dome is the highest mountain in the Smokies and the third highest point east of the Mississippi. It's beautiful, and the kids were able to see how the "Smoky" Mountains got their name. And wouldn't you know, after taking just a few pictures at the top of this remarkable camera battery died.

Fun trip. I'm sad that it involved finding out about the passing of my very special, beloved grandfather. The next morning (as was the plan all along), we packed up for home, which we reached around 11 p.m. After a load of laundry and a few adjustments to the luggage, we were back on the road by 10 a.m. toward Missouri for his visitation and funeral.

Homegrown LearnersPhotobucket