Friday, September 24, 2010

Fort Snelling--Civil War

(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!)
This was week number three at Fort Snelling, the last of the series for homeschoolers at the Fort. This week, we explored the Civil War. Kiddo is fond of the wars, which in general shocks people. He is a very calm, kind, quiet kid, so the fact that he is very interested in something as violent as war, and in particular, the weapons, just doesn't line up. But he is fond of the wars. And the weapons. So there ya go.

The fort does a great job creating educational events. We spent time in the medical building (again), but this time, while we learned a bit about the medical side of the civil war, it was also home to information about the U.S. Sanitary Commission. They had a great deal of interesting information to share! If only I could remember it all (or find my notes!). The kids got to roll bandages, then apply them to a willing volunteer. Photobucket
He looks happy to be injured, no?

They also talked about some of the things that were new ideas during the civil war--like keeping the bathroom areas separate from the living areas. They also now used quinine, from the bark of the cinchona tree, to treat malaria, which was common. They were beginning to understand that disease might be caused by something coming from outside your body, rather than an imbalance of your own body (too much blood, too much water, too much bile, etc.).

The Commandant's house had displays about life at the time. We were introduced to some rules of etiquette, which was fun. We also learned about chairs! A fun tidbit. Men's chairs had arms, women's did not. The arms would get in the way for their sewing and needle work. And of course, for the large hoop skirts! As uncomfortable as I though the skirts looked, the women wearing them assured me they were far more comfortable than the layers required previously.

Kiddo's favorite sign:

That's right. Civil War Weapons. A whole room. Sigh.

Thankfully, there is always someone there to talk about such things, since I am clueless. Guns, not really my thing. We were also fortunate that when we arrived, there was only one other family there, giving Kiddo more opportunity to see things. It also turned out that the older boy in the other family was very interested--and knowledgeable--about guns. He knew what questions to ask, which resulted in a great deal of information being taken in by Kiddo. He followed the boy around, wide-eyed. I spoke to the mother of the boy while we waited for the boys to exhaust wither their interest or the gentleman answering their questions. We also happened to be standing by the wall of the building when they fired the canon at the other end of the field and felt the walls shake. Very cool.

I know we learned more, but as I am posting this as a backlog post, I just can't remember. I do remember that it was another great day, and that we spent another 5 hours at Fort Snelling, something we can't seem to avoid.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010


(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!)
OK, so it was a Children's Theatre School Matinee, but we were still in the front row!
We went to see Dr. Seuss' The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins! The Children's Theatre has produced this play before; Hubby had seen it way back in the day. He was thrilled to get to share it with his kids this time.

It was FANTASTIC. I am always skeptical when they try to convert a children's story into a play. It can go wrong in so many ways, especially if it is a story you love! This one did not disappoint, however.

Bartholomew was played by a very talented 13-year-old, Braxton Baker. The King of Didd is played by Bradley Greenwald, who never disappoints--his voice if fantastic! His eyes are exceptionally expressive--important in this role because of the beard the king has! If you don't know the story, you really should read it. It is not written in typical Seuss style, which is interesting. The play does a very good job of following the storyline, while adding little things that create interest.

And the HATS! Oh, the hats. Lots of hats. Appearing on Bartholomew's head. In very creative ways.

There were a few moments that I absolutely loved. The first was when Bartholomew and the king are complaining about how nothing happens in their respective lives--which was staged very well--and Bartholomew's mother comes and asks him what he is doing. His response? "Sitting stock still on the stump of a tree." I laughed. He delivered it so well!

The other was a song later in the play, when the king and Bartholomew are lamenting they ever complained of their lives being dull. They sing a song, with Sir Alric. The lyrics were quite touching, "I never once noticed how happy I was." Love it. Need to remember that.

The executioner was fantastic, too! Funny, and not the least bit scary, as an executioner could be.

For school matinees, when the play is over some actors and usually a crew person come back and take questions from the audience. I always love to hear the questions the kids come up with. Sometimes the answers to the questions are obvious, and sometimes they ask the same question as the previous person--it is just about asking the question. But sometimes they are great. This time they really wanted to know about the hats. Being true theater people, they gave away none of the secrets.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Yesterday started with pee in my bed and ended with vomit in my bed. Same child. Sigh.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fort Snelling--Health and Medicine

This was week number 2 at Fort Snelling. The theme this week was Health and Medicine. The hospital was set up with medical equipment from the 1820's (the time the fort normally portray), the Civil War, and World War II. The artifacts and replicas were well organized and there was a person there, dressed for the part, to answer any questions. Kiddo had lots. He is always very deliberate as he looks at things. If he can't reason out what the function is, he asks, then listens attentively to the response. Still makes no sense? Well, ask more questions. It usually takes us a while to get through these areas, but he learns a ton.


The Commandant's house had some interesting information, but the kitchen was great. They had gruel and beef broth--what you might be fed if you were sick. That was fun to see and learn about, though we decided that perhaps we would rather eat our saltines and chicken soup!

The Hands on History today was a little fabric pouch with sage tied in it. They used to put different herbs in for different ailments. Some of the herbs would still be usable today, and might help just as much as the medications we take.

One more week at the fort is yet to come!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Of Standardized Tests

In my state, we are required to administer a standardized test each year a child is of compulsory age, 7 to 16. This is the first year we fall into that category. So this is the first year we have tested. I am not big on testing. It takes a tiny snapshot. It covers a tiny sliver of the actual knowledge there is out there in the world. So in teaching to a test, you are teaching that same tiny sliver. But it seems that in order to continue homeschooling, I must jump through that one hoop. So jump we did.

In selecting the "test' to take, I admit I did some research. I only considered 2 seriously, however: The Peabody Individual Achievement Test and the California Achievement Test (CAT). Either is acceptable in my state. Both were reasonably priced. Both have good reputations. The Peabody is administered by a qualified test administrator, the CAT is parent administered. The Peabody is oral, the CAT is written. They both have good things going for them.

Ultimately we chose the Peabody, which we completed this morning. Our test administrator is a home school mom herself, making it that much easier. She developed a quick rapport with Kiddo, and they were off. Kutey and I waited in the children's book area of the library we went to. We read some books, Kutey played with some toys, and before we knew it, Kiddo was done! The test administrator had the results for me right then and there, and we left the library about 85 minutes after we entered. Kiddo actually thoroughly enjoyed the assessment. He thought it was fun! Who knew! He was actually talking about the next time he gets to do it, when he is 8...

Monday, September 13, 2010

A weekend of Parades and Reenactments

This weekend was Defeat of Jesse James Days in Northfield. It is one of my favorite weekends of the summer (though it falls after Labor Day, so some might call it fall). We attend some portion of the festivities every year, as I have for most of my life. It is one of my childhood traditions that I have carried forward and love sharing with my kids.

This year we participated in the Kiddie Parade, watched the bank robbery reenactment, visited two arts and crafts fairs, ate some lunch at the food trailers, watched the parade and went to a picnic. In past years we have gone to a period baseball game and hubby and I have done the bike ride. The bike ride and participating in the Kiddie parade are not compatible, however, so we haven't biked in a number of years.

The Kiddie parade is a favorite of the kids. It is another time they get to dress up in costumes, there just aren't enough of those! This year my nephew joined us, which was fun. Kiddo dressed up as a Ninja (the costume he has selected for Halloween) and Kutey was a princess, again. I tried to get her to at least be a cowgirl princess, but no. She was just a princess. She has the cowgirl boots (pink even!),a hat and a tiara that goes on the hat, still no. Princess it was, for the second year in a row. Oh well, she knows what she likes! I "dress up" too, because the kids won't walk without me. Cowboy hat and a bandana and I am in. This year, I adopted 3 additional kids to walk with me, as their parents wanted to watch, but the kids wanted someone there. No problem, we all walked together. It was fun! Had my nephew, not quite 3, not been there, I think I could have convinced the other 5 to walk together without me. I didn't want to have Kiddo take care of his cousin, though, so I walked.

The fun thing about walking is you get to see the parade from the inside. It is honestly almost as much fun to watch the parents with cameras parading down the sidewalks as it is to see the kids parading in the parade! There are far more people walking on the sides, "following" their kids as they go through the route, as there are kids in the parade, and certainly more than there are sitting and watching! This year we had a special treat, too! My grandmother came down and saw the kids in the parade. Normally she stays away because downtown is really, REALLY busy during this weekend. But she said she decided she couldn't miss it. Yay!

The parade route is only a few blocks and at the end there are orange push-ups as a treat. A melty, sticky treat. And I always forget the wet wipes. Usually I end up sacrificing the bandana from my costume for the wiping of hands and faces! It is fun for the kids to get to be in a parade. I figure I have 1, maybe 2 more years before Kiddo decides he would rather not participate. Until then, however, I will enjoy the parade with my kids. And maybe next year I will get to sit back and watch!


After the Kiddie Parade, we stuck around and watch the bank raid reenactment. One of the best things about the whole event is that everything is done by volunteers. And that includes the raid reenactment. There are many, MANY people who are involved in reenacting the raid. This year, there were too many. We had a difficult time seeing what was happening at certain critical junctures, which was unfortunate but true. They basically tell the story of what happened on September 7, 1876 when 8 men rode into the town of Northfield and tried to rob the bank. Townspeople managed to figure out what was happening--my favorite line in the reenactment is "Get your guns boys, they're robbing the bank!"--the bank teller lost his life protecting the assests of the bank, and the band of robbers was permanently broken up--two were killed, three were arrested and jailed, and two got away for the time being. It is a good dose of history and action rolled into one.


Sunday is devoted to the big Parade. We arrive early enough to park near our designated seating (we have been in the same location since I was a kid). Then we walk downtown for some arts and crafts (which the kids don't enjoy that much, but one of the fairs is at a park), then to Bridge Square, a.k.a. Concession Central, where we eat food that is not entirely good for you. The kids got corn dogs, french fries, and ice cream. I had a taco in a bag (which is actually not as bad for you as some things!) and a caramel apple sundae (it is an apple, that is healthy, right?). hubby ate a skewer of some sort, I think, and maybe a gyro. My sister and I then went to the other art fair, while the kids ate and lounged near the river. Then it is off to the parade. This is a well-done parade, though I have to admit I was a bit disappointed this year. It was missing some fun, somehow. They don't allow politicians to walk in the parade--a big thing in an election year! I appreciate that. They also limit the entrants to keep the parade under 2 hours, and keep the gaps to a minimum. There is candy thrown, which is fun for the kids, and a lesson in sharing and not being greedy (for me, too). At the end of the parade, a business comes through with a semi. I have to believe the back end is filled with candy, because they come and dump it by the bucket-full in front of the kids. Buckets. Full. Dumped. That is more candy than we ever eat. We divide it among all the kids, bet even then we end up with too much! I toss the gum and jawbreakers. Still too much. But the kids think it is great!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fort Snelling Science and Technology

Today we started a series of Fridays at Fort Snelling for homeschoolers. Each week, for three weeks, the Fort puts together a day on a different topic. Today's topic was Science and Technology.

PhotobucketThe infantry drill was done very differently than normal. They had six different weapons, carried by soldiers from 6 different time periods, all the way from the 1820's to the present. Five of the weapons were loaded and fired, the sixth, the one from the present, was just held up for us to see. I think most of the students present enjoyed that demonstration. The artillery demonstration consisted of an 1820's canon AND a civil war canon.

We watched the blacksmith demonstration again, something both Kiddo and Kutey love to do. Kiddo also got to shovel the charcoal for the fire, quite the treat. We made pinwheels in the "Hands on History" segment, as an example of wind power.

They also had equipment from World War II and the Civil War, set up inside one of the barracks. We didn't find these until almost the end of our time there, unfortunately. Kiddo loved this part. In the World War II area, they showed the three boys who were there (including Kiddo) all of the weapons. At the end, they pulled out the bazooka. That was Kiddo's favorite moment of the day. Really. He loved it. A K*Nex model has already been built.

For homeschool days they hand out a sheet with less than 10 questions on it, each of which can be answered by visiting a different area of the fort. This time there were questions about the blackmith, the hospital (glad we don't use the tooth key anymore!), the commandant's house and kitchen, and the sutler store, to name a few. I like that they give us a "worksheet" if only because it encourages us to get new information! Once we finished our sheet, and spent 5 hours at the fort (again) we headed out. The kids received a set of toy binoculars for their efforts. We'll be heading back to Fort Snelling again next week for a new topic!

Blood Model

We are studying the circulatory system this week in R.E.A.L Science Odyssey. Have I mentioned that we are really enjoying this curriculum? Easy for me to follow, and the kids are getting a lot out of it--makes it so worth it for us!

science,RSO Life-1Our lab consisted of making a model of the blood. I never would have thought to do that on my own, yet the kids loved it!

It called for:
K*ro syrup--for the plasma
Red hot candies--for red blood cells
Dry lentils or split yellow peas--for platelets
Lima beans--White blood cells.

This posed a bit of a problem. The grocery store did not have K*ro syrup, and I really was not excited about buying it anyway. I don't use it for anything else anymore, so it seemed a bit silly to by a jug of it to use a half cup. No one here eats lima beans, so buying a bag of them in order to use 5, yes 5!, seemed silly as well. Similar reasoning for the tablespoon of lentils.

science,RSO Life-1So I got creative. I made simple syrup for plasma. It worked, likely not quite as well as the K*ro syrup, but well enough. I used pearl barley for the platelets, and mini marshmallows for the white blood cells. The marshmallows floated, not the best substitution. Still, the kids got the idea, so I consider it a success. They wanted to eat all the red blood cells, though! the hazard with making a model with candy!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Our Classroom today--September 7

Today was the first day of school for most public schools in our area. That means that all of those places that are too crowded to go to during the summer are now pleasantly spacious. So today we hit the Zoo again. The weather was good--a little breezy perhaps, but not terrible. We spent a couple of hours watching the dolphins, sharks and fish. When I say that to some people, they wonder how on earth I get my kids to stay in one place that long. The answer? I don't. They choose to stay that long. We do bring along colored pencils and paper. That gives them something to do that takes a little longer. But they also just enjoy darting around with their friends, all trying to find the next cool thing to point out. It also probably helps that the moms get as excited as the kids when we see the moray eel, or when the ray darts up the glass unexpectedly.

The big excitement today, though, were the babies! The baby dolphin was born in July. She isn't on exhibit yet, really, but they are allowing visitors to go up into the stadium where you can catch glimpses of her in the back pools. So very cool! There is also a baby snow monkey, born in June, that is so fun to watch! The snow monkeys have always been one of my favorites.

The kids also adore the new play area at the zoo. After lunch, we let them play and play and play. We hit the Grizzly Coast exhibit briefly at the end of the day, darting out of the zoo just before their 4 pm closing time. I love that we can spend so much time at the zoo and still feel like there more we could have done. It is a membership well worth it for us!

Friday, September 3, 2010

School supply lists

While we were on our hunt for pencil cap erasers, I paused to grabbed the school supply lists for our two local schools. No, I don't intend to enroll Kiddo in public school, I was curious none-the-less. None of the items on the list seem awful, though I imagine if you have to buy everything on the list it would not be trivial.

There are many preferences stated on the list, from what brand markers (Cr*yola preferred) to what color spiral notebooks (1 green, 1 red, 1 blue). Of the 19 items on the 1st and 2nd grade list, 10 of them are "collected and shared within the classroom." Though I am not sure that the zipper baggies are not on that list, too, since A-L brings the gallon freezer size and M-Z brings the sandwich size. I guess I see the logic, sort of. But it takes so much of the fun out of shopping for school supplies. Unless, of course, you don't like shopping for school supplies, then it might put some fun back in. Or if you have exceptionally indecisive children, then a very specific list is good.

Any way, I started reading the list to Kiddo, who was baffled by the very idea of a school supply list. I had to explain that if he was going to public school, these would be the things he would have to have. When he got that panicked look in his eyes, I assured him that he wasn't going to public school. He was relieved--glad he likes what we are doing! So back to the list we went. Colored pencils--he was good with that, he loves his colored pencils, though he would not like being limited to 10 to 16. Crayons--this is where they lost him (mind you, this was the second item). "Why? I don't like crayons." It is true. He has never really liked crayons. He prefers his colored pencils. Then he asked "Wait, crayons or markers?" When I replied that they needed to have both, he was again lost. "But I don't like either of them. I only use colored pencils." Again, true. Unless I specifically tell him to use one of the others, or there is nothing else available, he doesn't use them.

My response? "Well, good thing you don't have to worry about it." Which made him smile. And me? I am glad I don't have to worry about which brand of glue sticks I bought...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

School Supply Shopping

school suppliesI don't usually go school supply shopping until everything hits clearance. Unless of course I know I need something, and I can hit a great sale. Or I am buying for a school supply drive. That is an entirely different story. In general, there isn't anything I need that badly, or I need something very specific (like Prang brand colored pencils, or Elmer's blue gel glue--which is cheaper at Rainbow Resource than my local T*rget. Go figure!) But as we have been moving forward with school this summer, we have run across the need for a couple of items. Binders, mostly, for science, history, and geography. So this morning, we made a list. Kiddo is very anxious to have his things in one place, you see, so no waiting a week or two for clearance. Besides, by then they might not have what we need. They are already out of composition notebooks, after all!

What an exercise in frustration! I had three items on my list. 3! They were entirely out of pencil cap erasers--mind you, school hasn't even started yet. I had to hunt high and low for a decent package of just ordinary mechanical pencils (for me, not the kids), and the binders were in no particular order anymore, so price checking was a must! There were a few others milling about the area, and abandoning carts in aisle-blocking places, which made things a bit trickier. We bought binders. We bought pencils (found in a completely random location not in the school supplies and all by themselves. They were meant to be mine!). Then we headed down the way to see if OfficeM*x had any pencil cap erasers--cause the eraser on the pencil will be gone LONG before the pencil!

MORE FRUSTRATION! for the longest time, all we could find was a tub pencil cap erasers, regular erasers, and pencil grips. I don't want pencil grips! I don't even want 6 regular erasers! I just want a package of regular old pencil cap erasers! We hunted and hunted and hunted (because the place was as busy as I have ever seen one to even ask). Finally Kutey said she thought she saw some "arrow erasers," so we followed her. It was the same tub, but below it on the other (back) side of the kiosk, in the very. bottom. bin. were PENCIL CAP ERASERS! YAY! We grabbed a pack (probably should have grabbed more, but hey, at least we have enough for a few months!).

While we were milling about, however, I saw this:
school supplies

for $8. A double sided white board and six WASHABLE dry erase markers. I have been reading about the washable markers, and wanted to give them a try. They were selling the markers alone for $12. Why would I buy that? Not that I need another board, but for $4 less than the markers alone, I'll take another board! If I like the markers, I may go back and get another one--so each kid would have their own board...

Did you get everything on your school supply list?

Fall Curriculum

We are making few changes this fall in our curriculum. We are using mostly stuff we have used in the past. We are perhaps focusing a bit more on getting through some things (Story of the World!), but overall, there are few new surprises this year. The big additions are a more formal science curriculum and more specific geography study.

Here is what we are using:

We are continuing with Singapore, and adding Miquon. Kutey will be participating at whatever level she can. We will also add in a bunch of math games. Kiddo claims he doesn't like math and that it is hard. That just means to me that I haven't done my job. We'll see if we can't get get him liking math a bit more.....

We are using R.E.A.L Science Odyssey: Life level 1 this year. We are really enjoying it (I mentioned we school year-round, right?). I like that everything is laid out clearly for me. I like that the supplies are generally easy to come by (or I already have them). I love that the author spells out the big idea, small idea--makes it easy for me to assess whether or not we are getting what we should be out of each lesson. I love that I could try it before I buy it. We are still working through the first units, so I haven't had to buy it yet, but I will in the coming weeks.

I have also downloaded Earth and Space Level 1. I was a bit torn about which one to do, but since Kiddo has already studied quite a bit about space (but wants more) and had asked to study the human body (which is in the Life curriculum, right away) I opted for that one first.

I am also hoping to throw in some fun science stuff, including experiments from The Magic School Bus Simple Science page. The kids love The Magic School Bus. We'll be watching a number of videos and reading a number of books to go along side our science curriculum.

Kiddo adores history. We have volumes 1 and 2 of Story of the World--the book, the activity guide, and the CDs. Kiddo has listened to both volumes all the way through numerous times. He knows a lot, but I want to be a bit more deliberate with this, since he is so interested in history. We have started reading the first book, one chapter at a time, doing discussion, and activities. Because I bought my copy of volume 1 used, I purchased the student pages download. Kiddo will be putting together a history notebook as we go. He adores the maps!

We will also be attempting to add in early American history. For that we will be using library resources--I hope. We started with Columbus, and we'll work our way onward. If you know of a great resource for this, let me know! I am not entirely fond of the thought of muddling my way through, but that is where I am right now.

Both kids are working through Explode the Code right now. For Kiddo, this is review, which means he is flying through the books. For him, this is good. He needs the confidence! It is also helping reinforce some spelling rules, which is great! I bought the first Beyond the Code book for Kiddo, but I am not sure how much we will use it. Kutey is just starting out in this. She is going very slowly through Book 1 right now. We skipped the Ready Set Go books, she just didn't need them.

If you are wondering if the teacher's guide is worth buying, let me say that I love it. It gives me so many new ideas! It extends the lessons a bit, reinforcing things a bit more, and gives more explanation of the RULES! I love the rules. I just don't know them all. The teachers guide fills me in.

In addition, each child has reading goals. It isn't so much about number of pages or number of books, or even amount of time. I just want them reading and improving, and challenging themselves. So they will each be reading a variety of books.

I haven't firmed this one up yet. I am currently thinking I will use this framework from Homeschool Creations (Thanks, T and C for reminding me about this site! I had totally forgotten about it!) We'll give it a go with Egypt, as we study it in history. Then I'll know better if it needs any tweaking or not.

That is what I have planned for the big things right now! We'll continue to do our weekly homeschool group gatherings, and our monthly trips to the Works and hopefully the monthly art class (it is up in the air right now. Not sure if she is offering it or not!)

This is a lot more structure than I have had for the last 2 years. I am not a structure person, but I am finding that if left to my own devices, we get less done than I would like and I spend too much time thinking, not enough doing. Hopefully this means we will spend more time doing!

Summer's end?

I have been hearing it for weeks. It started as little comments, "I want to get X done before the summer is over," or "We want to go to (insert summer hot spot) at least once more before summer is over." In the last week or so, though, the comments have come with much more urgency. The lists have gotten longer. The voices more frantic. It starts to make my heart race, even though it isn't my list! I start to feel like maybe I am forgetting something, cheating my children of some phenomenal summer experience that will fortify them for the upcoming cold and create a memory that will last for the rest of their life! SUMMER IS ENDING!?!?! But we haven't.....

And then I remember: Summer isn't ending for us. It CAN go on. And all of the must do items will be less crowded. Yes, some of the things will be closed after labor day, a nod to the fact that once school is in session, the profits are no longer there to be made. The population which would continue to utilize those spaces is suddenly much, MUCH smaller. It is unfortunate, in some cases, such as the historical sites that are only open Memorial Day through Labor Day. Kiddo would love to still hit some of those throughout the fall. For the most part, however, we don't miss them. We don't generally go to amusement parks and the like, anyway. Their closure has little impact on us. We will miss the pools and beaches, but it is really only a few weeks before the weather turns and we would not be able to frequent them, anyway. Truthfully, the weather today would not be pool or beach weather anyway.

I have to remember, as I hear the to do lists, not to panic. One of the reasons we choose to homeschool is that we can make our own calendar. Summer doesn't have to end because the school bell rings. If we want to picnic in the park again, we can. If a beach worthy day does occur, then we can hit one of the beaches that is still open. We can still go to all the play spaces, and have them nearly entirely to ourselves. To be honest, the best part of our summer is about to begin!

I ALSO have to remember that my children are not deprived. They are lucky. They are privileged. They live in bounty. They experience joy and happiness daily, even if all we do is hang out at home and dance, read, sing, and play.

Enjoy this summer day!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Building the Nile Delta

SOTW1This year we are working our way more deliberately through The Story of the World, vol. 1. Kiddo longed for map work (he digs maps of all kinds), but I somehow never found the time to do them with him. He also loves hands on stuff (really, what kid doesn't?), and the activity guide for SOTW has lots of ideas. Why didn't I do this before? No answer. We are doing it now, though, and Kiddo is enjoying it immensely.

One of the ideas for the study of the early Egyptians was to build a model of the Nile Delta. Kiddo loves reading about Ancient Egypt. He has talked about it for over a year. He KNOWS the Nile. He was thrilled with the idea of building a model of the delta. THRILLED. I have a tendency, though, to not do things unless I have the perfect equipment. It is something I am working on, particularly this year. And Kiddo is helping me. When I said I wasn't sure we had everything we needed, he asked what we needed, headed out to the garage to find everything, and came back declaring we had what we needed. Yep, not getting out of it this time!

We bought an aluminum pan, 3 inches deep, and filled it with potting soil. The kids had a system for doing this. Kiddo shoveled in the dirt, Kutey patted it down. So fun to see them working together! They decided who was going to do which job, and then cooperated flawlessly to finish the job. One of the reasons I love homeschooling is the relationships the kids build with each other.
We had to dig rocks out of the landscaping around our house to put in the river bed, but Kiddo was more than willing to do the work, just to finish the project. We used some grass repair kit leftovers from a couple of years ago when we had our driveway redone (Kiddo knew it was in the garage. I did not. He was determined to do this project today!) The rocks at the one end represent mountains. The grass seed will sprout once we "flood" our model.

Bones and muscles

Unit 4 of our Life science curriculum covers the skeletal and muscular systems. The first lab covered the skeleton. We talked about which bone is the longest (the femur) and where it is(your thigh). We talked about the humerus and how it isn't humorous when you hit it. We talked about the skull, the vertebrae, the rib cage, and others. We also talked about how if we didn't have bones, we would be blobs--and we would have to be in water or be the size of a bug.

Then we put together a skeleton! Well, a paper one, anyway. I cut out Kutey's, Kiddo did his own. They both glued them together on their own, with no direction. Yes, there is a picture, but Kiddo realized that later, and Kutey never wanted to use it.

Then we moved on to the muscles. We talked about how your bones can't move without muscles, how muscles pull, they can't push, and how they work in pairs. Then we made a model of the arm to demonstrate all of that (in the upper part of the picture).

We then moved on to reading more about bones in The Magic School Bus The Search for the Missing Bones (which I didn't even realize we owned but found when I was cleaning up the floor in the kids room the other day--how cool!)