Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Works Egg Drop Challenge

Today was the final homeschool day of the spring at The Works! The project for today was to build a contraption to prevent an egg from breaking when dropped from a height of 3 stories. We opted to create one for the whole family, working together, rather than trying to get two done. This proved to be an excellent choice, given that we had a tough time even getting one done in time! We were the very last people ones to complete the drop! That is my one complaint about the activity. There was simply not enough time to do the activity. Kiddo could have done a lot more IF we had more time.

worksKiddo was full of ideas. We used a paper plate AND a coffee filter as parachutes. Many people used a balloon, but without helium, it really didn't slow things down much. The paper plate and coffee filters caught much more of the air as it came down, which slowed it down significantly. The other thing was to pad the egg effectively. Our last minute choice to blow air into the ziploc baggie that held the egg proved to be wise. It filled much more space in the the box that way, and allowed for more cushioning. We also stuffed our box with foam peanuts and bubble wrap.

In the end, we successfully dropped our egg out of the window, and the egg survived.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Captain Obvious's Statement of the Day...

Bunk beds are not fun to change sheets on...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

What was I thinking!?!?!?!


On our nature walk for the Outdoor Hour Challenge, we walked past a few garage sales (we were headed to a more natural area to listen, but had to walk through the neighborhood to get there...). At one, Kiddo saw these. I didn't buy them. I thought they were a bit expensive, and honestly, we already have 35 POUNDS of LEGOS. So why would we need more building things? But Kiddo could not stop talking about them. So I told him to talk to Daddy. Hubby stopped on his way home from work and picked up 2 boxes--one small and one large. We were talking, though, and he thought maybe we could get a couple more. They weren't that expensive, they came with convenient storage, and Kiddo would love to be able to build whatever he wanted without running out of pieces. We have a few small sets of K'Nex, you see, and apparently this running out of pieces thing has been a problem in the past. OK, so I went to pick up another one. Or two. Since they only had 3 more, I bargained and got all 3.

Hubby has long wanted organization for the LEGOS, so the boxes for the K'Nex? perfect--one for connectors, one for sticks, etc. We proceeded to dump out 2 *small* boxes...what you see on the floor in the picture...and that is when we realized just exactly how many pieces fit in a box. And when we began to wonder what we were thinking...

Kiddo could barely contain his excitement. He lost the ability to complete sentences, which was kinda funny. We dumped out the rest of the pieces and then proceeded to sort them. I have to say, the sorting of the pieces, while it took FOREVER, has paid off. These have been played with for 2 days straight, but at the end of the day, they are EASILY picked up and put into their respective boxes to be put away. Currently there is a ceiling-height tower with a secondary tower next to it, a little shorter. Both have motorized elevators that operate on a pulley system in them. That structure barely made a dent in the K'Nex supply. And Kiddo has been learning non-stop for 2 days. Probably that is what we were thinking.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Outdoor Hour, Challenge #2

Today's challenge was to "use your words." We used to go on daily walks--last year, before we got over-involved in other things and ran out of time to do any such thing--and on of Kiddo's favorite kinds of walks to take were "sense" walks, where we used our five senses to examine and describe objects. This reminded me a little bit of that, but on a more macro level. We didn't look at one specific thing and examine it with all five senses, instead we used our senses to find things to examine.

We laid on the grass and listened. We heard birds, specifically red-winged blackbirds which are abundant in our natural area because it has wetlands. We heard the wind blowing in the trees and the cattails. We heard frogs.

We also saw lots of birds, again, red-winged blackbirds were the most abundant, but it was a great opportunity for Kiddo to add another bird to the list of birds he can recognize. And this one he can recognize by sight and sound. I am fairly certain Kutey could pick this one out, too.

outdoor hourWe also saw flowers, which we took a minute to stop and smell. Kutey loves flowers. She loved the lilacs and these pink flowers on a bush. Kiddo liked the pink ones, but not the lilacs. We also saw several birch trees, a new one kiddo is trying to be able to identify.

When we got home, we talked more about what we had seen and heard and smelled. Then we described things.

The assignment was:
One word to describe something they heard.
Two words for something they saw.
Three words for something they felt.

We didn't quite do that. We hadn't really done much touching, so I kinda skipped that one, but we did the other two.

Kutey: heard: croaking; saw: purple flowers
Kiddo: heard: chirping; saw: red-winged blackbirds, fluffy cattails, pink flowers (which smelled almost creamy--his words).

I didn't have them journal. I am still sort of trying to get into a groove with all of this!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Plot Study

When I started the first lesson of R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey last month, I had intended to finish the lesson in the week. I don't know what happened. We didn't get to it, and it just kept getting put off.

I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist. I didn't have exactly what they were asking for (I don't have a meter stick, for example, just a yard stick and barely that) so I kept putting it off until I had the "right" tools. I finally decided that I was not going to get anywhere if I kept doing that and plunged ahead. So today we did the second lab for lesson 1--a plot study.

RSOWe have a large yard, and toward the back it is less tended. None of my yard is exactly "manicured" which the book said to avoid, but I figured this would be some of the more wild space. I used tent stakes to stake out a space 1 yard x 1 yard. Then we started observing and writing down the things we saw that were living and the things we saw that were not living. Garbage, rock, stick (WAS living, now isn't). We saw some very cool living things, too, I thought. There was a tiny green caterpillar, several ants, and a couple of small winged insects along with grass and dandelions, common blue violets (which the kids can both easily identify! YAY!), and some buckthorn that should NOT be there, among other things.

Kiddo and Kutey lost interest fairly quickly. I'd say they looked for maybe 10 minutes, total, and that was in several spurts. I spent probably 30 minutes looking and pointing things out before I gave up and called it good enough. Maybe the next session will be more interesting to them!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Our Classroom Today--May 4

Our classroom today was a park. Not unlike many other Tuesdays when the weather is pleasant. There was lots of equipment, and the promise of a walk to the Lock and Dam on the river. So what did our kids do for the better part of the 5 or six hours we were here?

Well, this:

It is dry in the picture, but it was not dry for most of their play time. They started adding water to it by scooping water out of very shallow puddles into buckets. Very shallow. It took lots and lots of time, and they got little water. But they were OK with that, and just kept plugging away. Then one of them noticed the spigot. It was maybe 10 feet from the puddle. And the water really started flowing.

I am amazed at how little it takes to entertain our kids! This was week number 3 of sand/dirt play. And they have always had the option of playground equipment/zoos/other sites, but they are somehow drawn to the dirt. Kiddo played for probably 3 hours before he decided he was a bit hungry--at 2:30! We didn't leave until almost 5, which meant driving in rush hour traffic, but it is always worth it!

As we were nearing the end of our stay, we gave a five minute warning to all of the kids. Their response? "Ah, Why?" We all looked at them and laughed. The response was "because we have been here for 6 hours!" (we were a little late--every one else had been there for a while before we got there.) There was a woman sitting on the bench who asked one of the other moms if we had really been there for 6 hours. She could not believe it! But really, once we gt outside, that is the norm. 4, 5, 6 hours. Time flys by, the kids have fun, and we get to talk. I love Tuesdays!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Fire Station Field Trip

Field TripsWhen I was in elementary school, I remember going to our local fire station for a tour. It was one of the best field trips I recall. I don't remember climbing around in the trucks or anything like that (we probably did, I just don't remember it) but I remember standing in the station looking at the trucks. Maybe it is because it was one of the first field trips I had ever been on (I am pretty sure it was kindergarten).

Given that memory, I was thrilled when the opportunity came up to tour our local fire station, on a day and at a time when we were available! It was a great morning. The fire inspector talked a bit about safety, the importance of smoke detectors and an escape plan, then gave us a tour of the building.

Field TripsThe best part, though, was the truck bay. The kids loved it. They got to climb in and out of all of the trucks. The only condition was that they not push any buttons. I am not sure what button they would have pushed, the choices were overwhelming. There is no way I could ever remember what all those buttons did. Good thing I am not a firefighter, huh!

The one downside of the whole outing was that we went with a large group of people who we did not know. And it was a really big group of preschoolers. That aside, it was still great fun. The kids came away with a plastic fireman's hat, a coloring book, and the idea that they should have, and practice, an escape plan. And hopefully some fond memories of climbing around in some fire trucks!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Civil War Saturday

Field TripsWe are fortunate to live in an area with lots of recreational opportunities. Three Rivers Park District operates a number of different parks in the area with a number of different purposes. One of them is The Landing, which is a living history village set 150 years ago. There are costumed interpreters and buildings of the era.

Saturday they did a Civil War encampment day. They brought in Civil War reenactors with guns and canons. I sent the kidlets with Hubby (so I could go to some garage sales). They had a great time. I talked to them a couple of times on the phone. Kiddo did not want to leave. They had to see everything before they could come home. That is how Kiddo is when you put him into a setting like that--he needs time to absorb as much as he can. We can go back many more times, and there will always be more for him to absorb. He just loves it.

At the Landing they got to ride in a horse drawn trolley, go to the one room school house, where Kiddo was quizzed on first grade spelling words from the 1860's, and visit several different houses with various activities inside. The high point of the day for both of them, though, was being asked to collect dandelions to be put into bread. The kids loved the idea of being able to eat something that just grows wild in our backyard! We had already learned that Dandelions were edible as part of our Outdoor Hour Challenge #1. Having someone else confirm this, AND being asked to collect them to actually be baked into something that could be eaten was very exciting. Of course, now they want to eat dandelions. All.the.time. Anyone have any good dandelion recipes?