Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Our Classroom Today--August 31

The weather this summer has been rather tricky. We have had many HOT days (well, hot for us, anyway), and the humidity on those days has often been intolerable. And the threat of rain is frequent. Such was the case today. The forecast was for rain. And really, that would have been better. We opted for an inside location for our weekly gathering.

classroom This is the play structure. My kids disappeared inside and I caught a glimpse or two of them but did not see them for the next 45 minutes. There is also a gymnasium with ride on toys, basketball hoops, and a bounce house. The kids had fun, I guess. It was loud. It was crowded (apparently everyone had the same idea!) The ride on toys were a hot commodity. Probably not a problem under normal circumstances, but Kutey and I were both a bit off and tired, which meant lots of tears for her, and lots of me acting in ways that I don't normally like (my friend called me ruthless. Yeah. Not my norm.) We left after a couple of hours, completely exhausted--physically and/or emotionally--by the excursion. While it is one of the few large motor areas available to us in the winter months, I am not sure we'll be going back any time soon.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Whole lot of History...

(This post is part of the back log I am working on. If you are getting it in a reader, I apologize, things will be out of order!) We spent three days last week submersed in history. Kiddo's favorite. He was in his element. It was made better by the fact that we hit two of the history sites with good friends. That always helps. Even if the site isn't interesting enough, there are friends to distract us!

Thursday: Fort Snelling
history,Fort Snelling
Our second visit to the fort this summer. The weather was perfect for the outing, again. The fort only has shade directly in front of the buildings where the porches are or inside the buildings, so decent temperatures are a must!

This summer they seem to have a few different things happening at that fort. There are more buildings open, which is fun, and today we were fortunate to catch someone working in the wood shop! She was working on the inserts for a butter mold. It is fascinating to think about the immense amount of work that went into creating each and every item. We can easily pick up a new whatever from the store when pieces go missing from ours. The only option then was to make a new one. We were also fortunate to catch "Mrs. Snelling" at home today. She was FABULOUS! I learned more in the short time we listened to her than I have in the many visits before. Kiddo has even asked if we can read more about this time in our history, I think partly because of her!

Ever since our Ben Franklin Study last spring, Kiddo has been fascinated by lightning rods. It is his favorite Franklin invention. Today we discovered the lightning rods on Fort Snelling! Apparently there was a lightning strike on one of the buildings some years ago after which they fixed lightning rods (in great numbers) to the tops of the buildings. It was quite cool.
history,Fort Snelling

Friday: The Nina and Pinta
This summer, you can see replicas of Christopher Columbus's ships the Nina and the Pinta. While we have only touched on Christopher Columbus, and only read about his ships just before we saw the ships, it is on our schedule for this year. The ships were worth the visit, but again, more interaction might have been nice. There are people who are actually living on the ships, sailing them from one port to the next. I wish they had been more available to answer questions. That said, it was still very interesting to think about sailing across the Atlantic Ocean on something as small as these ships were.
The Pinta has been built 50% larger to accommodate more people, and it is STILL small. To learn that the crew slept on deck was also fascinating. I can't imagine it, though I have never been a seafarer, either. There were so many ropes, I can't imagine being able to remember what they all were for! I guess if you do it enough, it becomes second nature. The one crew person who we asked about that (while he managed the line to get on the Nina, the smaller of the two ships) said it wasn't really as hard as it looked. Sure, OK.

After our brief tours of the ships, we spent a lovely afternoon in the grassy park beside the river, playing with friends, all in sight of the ships. It was delightful.

Saturday: The Gibbs Museum Craft Fair
When we became members of the Gibbs museum last time we visited, I knew that we needed to make it there at least two more times to make the membership worth what we paid (aside from supporting the work of the Ramsey County Historical Society, which is a great place for the money to go regardless). They have special weekends throughout the summer and fall, so I didn't think it would be a problem. I wasn't counting on the weather being ridiculous, however. It was hot and humid on Saturday, but we went anyway.

The craft fair wasn't as good as the County Fair day had been, but we did manage to squeeze in an overcrowded tour of the house. Daddy went with us and he had never been to the Gibbs, so we wanted to make sure he got the tour. If you recall, it was also the one thing Kiddo was most upset about last time we went to the Gibbs. So we got our tour. It would have been a bit better if they had at least one more tour of the house. There were too many people trying to see it!

We also did two craft items. Kiddo wove a mat, and Kiddo and Kutey dipped candles again. The mat weaving was super simple and super rewarding. They had looms set up on cardboard squares and fabric cut into strips. I folded each strip into thirds and Kiddo wove it through the loom. It took about 15 minutes to complete the whole project (maybe a bit longer), and Kiddo was so proud of his creation! He wants to rearrange the table in the family room so he can put it there with a lamp on top of it. So sweet. Candle dipping was fun again, and went fast because the kids were the only two doing it at the time. The down side was the volunteer running it was new and didn't quite have to process down. She didn't trim the weight off until the very end, which made the candles a bit awkward. She also didn't think they needed to be redipped once she had cut it off...but the bottoms looked very rough after the trimming, and that was how we did it the last time, so we did it anyway.

They also had block printing you could do, but there was only one station and elaborate pictures being created, so we didn't do that one. Apparently you could make a bookmark some where, too, but we didn't find that. The blacksmith was there again, and there was a man working with a draw knife making an axe handle as well. There were a couple of other craft demos as well, including chicken scratch embroidery which I would like to look up and try.

There was another history event we could have attended on Sunday, but the temperatures soared and it the event was outdoors in mostly sun. And after three days of history, we maybe needed a break anyway!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The blog hiatus

I seem to have taken a blog break. It wasn't intentional. I have had so much to blog, though, that the thought of sitting down to do it has been overwhelming! So I just haven't done it. I am going to start back in, since we have had a lot of "school" happening. I am going to try to back post, too. My hope is to post one new and one back post every time I post. They should all be dated correctly, but if you get them in a reader you are going to get them in a totally wacky order! In order to keep this as our school record, though, that is what I have to do! Hope you enjoy at least some of the posts. And hey, maybe there will be some winter posts to cool you off while it is SO HOT!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

While we were gone...

caterpillar,nature,scienceOur caterpillar made a chrysalis.

We left our caterpillar with Daddy while we went camping with Aunt J. He noticed that the caterpillar stopped eating and then was hanging from the bottom of the cover to the peanut butter jar butterfly habitat. By the time we got home, the butterfly was in a chrysalis. Three days from the time the kids brought it home. We would have liked a few more days to watch, but we are still looking forward to the next stage!

There isn't much to watch right now, but the chrysalis is quite pretty!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

There is caterpillar poop in my van

Because we got a new pet!

Grandma L. had monarch butterfly caterpillars on her milkweed this summer. The kids went with Daddy to visit on Saturday and came home with one. Kiddo held a large stalk of milkweed for the entire 30 minute drive, carefully watching the caterpillar to make sure it didn't fall.

I wish I could say I was more prepared, that we had the perfect butterfly habitat ready to go. We didn't. Daddy took a recently emptied peanut butter jar (thank goodness it had run through the dishwasher already!) and quickly drilled some holes in the top. That became our new pet's home. I have been letting the milkweed grow in our landscaping, partly because I love the blossoms and partly to attract butterflies, so we have a ready supply of food for our little friend. I am as excited as the kids to watch the process unfold! We never did this when I was a kid, we only ever caught woolly bear caterpillars. They would go into cocoons, but never come out. Let's hope we are more successful with this one!

We have already noted that he is a prolific pooper. And that he eats constantly (hence the pooping in equal amounts). It wasn't until we were watching him, and saw the pooping, however, that Kiddo mentioned that he had done that in the van. And that it had fallen to the floor. And that he had no idea where it had gone. Sigh. Guess I need to vacuum...