Monday, January 31, 2011

Book Sharing Monday--Indigo Blume

I'm linking up to Book Sharing Monday again. This time I want to share a book Kutey received as a Christmas gift from her cousins in South Carolina.


Indigo Blume and the Garden City
by Kwame Alexander and illustrated by JahSun is a fun story about a spunky girl who decides to try to make her city better by cleaning it up and planting a rooftop garden, even though most people think she can't make the city any better. It is a great story of perseverance. The illustrations are beautiful and the text has a great rhythm and flow, which makes it fun to read!

I don't know how widely available it is, but if you can find it, it is worth a read!

*The opinions expressed here are mine. I received nothing in exchange for this review. I simply like the book!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up--January 28, 2011

The LAST weekly wrap-up for January. YAY!


On Monday, we participated in CurrClick's new LEGO club for the first time. Kiddo enjoyed it, but I am anxious to see how it develops. We studied Seurat and learned how chloroplasts in leaves are like dots in a Seurat painting. We also started another lab that had us wrapping plant leaves in aluminum foil to see what happens when they are deprived of light. In the evening, we built our paper mache volcano failure.


On Tuesday, we spent the day enjoying the company of our friends at a friends house. Kiddo also made thoughtful drawings for each of his friends. Tuesdays really are one of our favorite days!


Wednesday was a day at home. We watched them clear the snow from the center of our cul-de-sac, too! It is much, MUCH easier to get in and out of the driveway now. I am no longer worried about backing into the huge mountain of snow and getting stuck! We made it through our school stuff, though not without a lot of whining. I am blaming it on the time of the year. We are all longing for spring. We also did an impromptu in depth study of the Northern Cardinal because there was one on our bird feeder. I found a coloring page with several questions on it here. We listened to its song both in this book, where we read about it as well, and on the All About Birds website. We read about the "Cardinal Grosbeak" in Anna Botsford Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study, then listened to the chapter in the Burgess Bird Book for Children that includes the cardinal. It put all of us in a better mood.


We went to the zoo on Thursday with friends we hadn't seen in a while. We got to meet their new baby and catch up on the last several months, all while enjoying the warmth and lush greenness of the zoo. We also finally found plants for our science lab AND washed the car! I know, most places that isn't big news. Here it means it was warm enough to wash it without the worry of doors freezing shut with us inside...

If you had a fun classroom (or went on a field trip) and posted about it this week, I'd love to read about it! There is a linky here, so link up! I'm going to try to make it a regular feature, because I love to see what places others are using to learn!


Friday we out our noses to the grindstone and plowed through our school work. We started our experiment to prove that plants take water in through their roots, we read about ancient Greece and the Trojan war. The kids colored Greek vases, though I had given then a variety of choices--paints, collage, basically anything we had on hand! Kiddo went back in his Explode the Code and corrected all of the mistakes he made in the last few lessons. He did the same with math. And we had a conversation about keeping up with the corrections, doing them when I say they need to be done and not waiting.

Curriculum summary:
We are working on units 27 and 28 in R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Life 1. We'll wrap them up next week. If you need information on Seurat to go with Unit 27, I have uploaded what I pulled together, along with links here.
In Story of the World Vol. 1, we read Chapter 19: The Early Greeks and Chapter 20: Greece Gets Civilized Again. We also read a variety of library books about Ancient Greece and the Trojan War.
Kiddo will wrap up Explode the Code 5 next week, then he can work through 5 1/2. It should be very quick and easy, since he grasped all of the concepts in this one no problem.
Kiddo will also wrap-up his math book next week. We are learning about money in the next few days, then he has 2 reviews and he is done. I have the next book for him already, but I am also contemplating a switch to Math-U-See. I borrowed a DVD from a friend that is at his level. Hubby and I plan to preview it to see if it might be a better approach for us. I sometimes think he just needs someone else to explain it to him!
Kutey is still working her way through Starfall. We have completed all of the short vowel lessons, but I plan to take her back through them before we move ahead. I am also hoping to print various worksheets for her. Her writing is a bit slow, so I have to be careful what I pick. Anyone have favorite K4 resources?

We are linking up to Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. Click to see what others did this week!

More plant study

In addition to our Seurat study in science this week, we started two other labs that will take a few days to weeks to see the results.

First, we are learning what happens when a plant is deprived of light. Or at least what happens to a few leaves on a plant that is deprived of light. We wrapped them in foil which we will remove a week after we placed it.

We are also studying how plants get water--through their roots or through their leaves. To find out we are watering one plant at the roots and the other by spraying the leaves.

We even put foil around the one we are watering by spraying the leaves, to prevent any water from dripping into the soil and watering the roots.

The kids both already know what will happen. We have plants in the house, they have watched me water them, helped me water them, and witnessed what happens when we don't water them! The process is important, too, though. So in spite of their claims to knowledge, we did the experiment. Results to come, when we have them!

p.s. sorry about the blurry photos. I have to figure out what is going on with my camera!

Recently at my house...

Kiddo: Can I get another set of hands out here?

Me: Sure, just grow them!

Kiddo: Mommy, I'm not General Grievous!

Too much Lego Star Wars!

(He was outside trying to untangle the dog's line from the fallen tree in the back yard. It really did take 4 hands.)

Paper mache failure

Last week when we were learning about the Minoans and Theseus and the Minotaur, we also learned about Thera, an island near Crete. Apparently a volcano erupted on the island then caved in on itself causing the island to sink into the ocean. One of the suggested activities for the chapter was to make an erupting volcano, you know, the baking soda and vinegar kind of volcano. I never did this project as a kid, so I thought why not?

I sent hubby to the store to get supplies, which might have been a mistake. He came home with paper mache mix. The box boasts: JUST ADD WATER! Sounded easy enough. I read the directions 1 part mix to 1/2 part water. I began to get skeptical after pouring the cup of water into the 2 cups of mix. It was still really, REALLY dry. I added a bit more water, but it didn't improve. Hubby is far more of an optimist than I am about these kinds of things. So we plunged ahead.


We built the crude structure and stuffed it with newspaper wads. Then we attempted to put the paper mache, um, goop?, onto the structure. I lost faith very quickly. It wasn't working. Hubby was more optimistic and kept going while I was wandering about trying to figure out what to do to make it better. I came up with nothing. The kids and Daddy finished the volcano and we set it aside to dry--it said it would need a day.


3 days later, it was still wet. And worse, it was cracking apart, leaving holes where the vinegar and baking soda mixture will likely seep in and cause the whole thing to collapse.


Paper mache volcano--failed. Next up? Homemade clay volcano. Maye that will work better?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Our Classroom Today--January 27

Today found us at the zoo, once again. We really are getting our money's worth out of that membership! We met friends there who we haven't seen in a while. There is a new baby in their family, so they haven't been out and about much.


I was particularly excited to hit the zoo again, because the last time we were there, I forgot my camera. I really wanted to get a good shot of the baby monkey, to document how different it looks from the parents. Unfortunately, though the monkey was there and came out and played a bit, my camera and I had a difference of opinion at that particular moment. I am in the market for a new one, I have reached my limit with this one's lack of manual user controls. It has also never been great in low light, and much of the time I have to shoot in low light. Combined with the fact that what appears on the LCD and what I actually see on my computer are two completely different things, and, well, you get frustration. All this to say, sadly, no monkey photos to share.


We did see the baby monkey, though. And the baby dolphin, born July 18. And another baby monkey that I didn't know was there! It was a baby snow monkey, born June 26. No, it isn't a tiny baby, it is 7 months old, but it sure was cute! We stopped a couple of volunteers to find out just how old the monkey was. We had a delightful conversation. One of them asked Kiddo if he homeschooled! The other one has a daughter who homeschools! Very supportive women. They not only answered the question (the best they could...they didn't know the exact date, but they said it was over 6 months), they also referred me to a variety of resources. They made sure we had seen the other baby monkey, and the baby dolphin. They also made sure we knew about the raptor show. Normally there is a bird show, but they are redoing a ton of space at the zoo, so they don't have a regular bird show. They bring out a few birds and talk about them, but there is no flying. We were coming from there when we saw the baby monkey. Great volunteers make our zoo much more enjoyable.


As I mentioned, we were coming from the raptor show. Kiddo had a chance to shine today, and he was very, VERY proud of himself. He answered two questions during the show--one about what other animals live in the rain forest (he answered monkeys), and what you call the toes of a raptor (talons). He also hung around after the show to ASK questions. The only bird that was new to him was the Spectacled Owl. The other 2, the Peregrine Falcon and the Red-Tailed Hawk, we have seen before, both at the zoo and elsewhere. Repetition, though, is good. Even better, he has gotten excited about the next unit we are doing in science, where we will be studying and classifying animals.


After the zoo, we ran a few errands, hitting the craft store for some red card stock and then a wild goose chase for cheap plants which may end up dead in our science unit. It is January in Minnesota. Plants are not plentiful, or cheap. I did almost buy a table top tomato plant at the expensive plant shop. The tomatoes looked so nummy!

We also went to the...CAR WASH! YAY! For weather warm enough to wash the car!!! I didn't even complain (too much) about the half hour wait for our turn! The car is no longer crusty! Yes, I consider the car wash part of our classroom today. If they are going to grow up in Minnesota, they have to learn when it is appropriate to wash the car and when such action would result in being frozen into the car before you arrive home.

What's your classroom?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What we did this morning


We spent some time this morning staring out our front window watching the city remove the monstrous pile of snow from the center of the cul-de-sac. Kiddo was a bit unhappy about this; he says he likes to climb up the mountain of snow. I pointed out to him that he hasn't actually done that this winter, though he has had ample opportunity. I also pointed out that it was dangerous to have a pile that big in the middle of the street. There was essentially a one lane loop around the pile, but there was no way to tell if there was any thing on the other side. The amount of darkness this time of year makes it that much worse.

So we watched as the trucks came, one after another, and hauled away the mountain. We also witnessed a random act of kindness, when our neighbor came out and offered the driver of the loader a cup of coffee (by creatively signing with his own cup). The driver stopped, opened the door, and handed the neighbor his own cup for a refill.


Wanna guess how many trucks it took to take it all away? Keep in mind, in the first picture, they had already hauled away 2-3 truckloads...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Keep the tissues handy

If you are at all like me, you might want the tissues handy before watching this.

Incidentally, I found this by way of Book Sharing Monday on Canadian Home Learning, linked by 365 Days of Children's Books.

Drawing in the Morning


Kiddo was up before me this morning. In fact, he woke me up to tell me he was drawing a rainbow, but he couldn't find indigo. In my half-awake state, I told him to skip it, just go from blue to violet. That must have been acceptable, because he wandered off.

By the time I got downstairs, he had completed most of these:

He drew them for his friends in our Tuesday group. Hubby and I have commented to each other on how thoughtful he always is in picking out gifts for others. He always thinks about what they would like, not what he would. He was equally thoughtful in drawing pictures for his friends. Each person was drawn a picture of one of their favorite things: a pink fairy princess, a rainbow, a digger, Thomas the Tank Engine, and two Star Wars characters. He used toys to model for some of the pictures; he was very proud of that method.

I really need to find him an art outlet!

Love this!

Have you seen the latest Home Spun Comic strip? If you are a homeschooler and you aren't subscribed to her blog, why not? Her comics are great. They never disappoint. I love this one, not just because she mentions my blog in the post, but because this is how we school. Seize the opportunity. It's bitterly cold? Well, at least you can freeze bubbles or make a cloud! Snowing (again!)? Catch some flakes, you'll be in awe of their beauty. And read Home Spun comics. You'll love them if you are a homeschooler (and maybe even if you aren't!)

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Minotaur's maze and Theseus--Version 2

After reading The Hero and the Minotaur, Kiddo determined that he needed to build a new maze for the story. The picture in the book had a maze on different levels; Kiddo's original model was only one level. The book is also much more detailed from the beginning, so Kiddo wanted to add more to the scene.

He started by making a ship, because Theseus sailed from Athens to Crete.

He also built the bronze statue that guards the entrance to the port.

Finally, he and Daddy built the maze.
Much more involved than the previous model.

He even included the princess in this model, if you look carefully, you might see her! That was, of course, Kutey's favorite part.

Science and Seurat

We have been studying plants in our science curriculum. This week, we studied the leaves and their function. As a part of that study we studied the artist Georges Seurat. How's that for 2 subjects in 1!

I pulled together information about Seurat. To be honest, while I know his famous painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, I knew very little about the artist and his style. It was quite interesting!

I pulled together some information and paintings for the kids to look at while we talked. We looked at a few on the computer because you can see the details much better there in some cases. If you are interested in seeing the information, I have uploaded my document here. That document also has all of the links I found useful in preparing for the lab, along with the sites I used to get the information.

science,RSO Life-1

We used Seurat to talk about plant leaves because leaves appear green, though they are not. Chloroplasts are green. If you put enough of them close enough together, the whole leaf will appear green. Much the same way as Seurat's dots of different color paint combine to make an image when looked at from a distance.

science,RSO Life-1

After we discussed Seurat and looked at his paintings, we tried our hand at creating pictures with dots!

Book Sharing Monday

I am trying a new linky this week--Book Sharing Monday at Canadian Home Learning.

Last week when we were at the library for the Homeschool Science Series, I picked up a few books to go along with our study of Theseus and the Minotaur. This was one of the recommended books.


The Hero and the Minotaur by Robert Byrd.

It deserves its reputation. It tells the story of Theseus and the Minotaur, but it does more than that. It starts when Theseus is born, it continues through his life up to and beyond his defeat of the Minotaur and his crowning as king. It also covers the story of Daedalus and Icarus, which we hadn't read about in our history book. The pictures are well done, too. The picture of the Minotaur's maze inspired kiddo to create a whole new maze out of LEGOS (pictures and post to come!)

The best test of this book, though, was the fact that Kutey recited the story (with great detail and accuracy) to Daddy after hearing it read only once. That is a great book!

Art website

While researching Georges Seurat for science (go figure!) recently, I came across this website:
Art Smarts 4 kids.

While it hasn't been updated in almost a year, what is there is good and accessible. There is a timeline here of the different periods in art, along with samples.

I am hoping it will come in handy for artist studies. Now that Kiddo doesn't have his once a month art class, which was discontinued after 2 1/2 years, I feel I need to add some art study into our home curriculum. I'm looking at Artistic Pursuits, too. Just not sure what I am looking for...

If you have any ideas, let me know!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up--January 21, 2011

We had a good, low-key week! The end of the week found Kiddo and I with minor colds, so a few things didn't get done--we'll finish them up this weekend or the beginning of next week.

We stayed home on Monday and caught up with laundry and rested. We read about Martin Luther King, Jr. and talked about his life. We also did the basics for school.

Tuesday is our regular homeschool group day. We went to a member's home and had fun playing and chatting. While it was warm on Monday, it was not on Tuesday. Being inside and with friends was just what we needed. I love going and chatting with these women. So much knowledge. So much creativity. So much support.


Wednesday was the first presentation of the Spring Homeschool Science Series at a local library. The "Friends of the Library" group sponsors it, which makes it a free outing. This month it was the MN Zoo. The zoo outreach always seems to bring animals that are not in their displayed collections at the zoo, and this time was no different. We learned about Red-Tailed Hawks, Mexican Red-Kneed Tarantulas, Blue-Tongued Skinks, Chinchillas, and Red-Footed Tortoises.


Thursday was a day at home. We focused on our history, reading about the Minoans and Theseus, and Kiddo build a Minotaur's maze out of LEGOS.


Friday was bitterly cold (-25 F/-31 C). We stayed home, where it was warm. We managed to fit in a virtual Friday History Field Trip to Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birth home. Kiddo filled out his first Friday History Field trip record form, too! It is nice to get some writing out of him! We also has some fun with bitter cold science. We tossed boiling water into the air to make a cloud, and we blew bubbles and watched them freeze. You have to make the best of the cold, right?

Curriculum wise:
We studied the Minoans, the island of Crete, Theseus and the Minotaur, bull-jumping, and the island of Thera in chapter 18 of Story of the World, vol. 1.

In science, we only read the Unit 27 materials in our R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey--Life Level 1. We finished up our seed unit, and did some fun winter science that was not part of the curriculum.

Kiddo is whizzing along in his Singapore Math, but I am noticing that we need to do more drilling with the basic addition and subtraction facts so they don't hang him up. We'll be playing more dice games in the coming weeks.

Kiddo is also flying through his Explode the Code book 5. He is right where he needs to be and is having no trouble at all with the content.

Kutey has been working on Starfall. She would love to do one story every day, but I am slowing her down a bit and we are repeating the stories in groups. I want a bit more mastery than one time gives us. I am also hoping to add in some BOB books, and maybe Funnix.

I am looking to get our Geography study back on track, which will also bring in a few of the social sciences. I'd also like to add some sort of Art back in, especially for Kiddo. He misses his monthly art class. Hopefully I'll find something before February!

We are linking up to Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. Click to see what others did this week!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Theseus and the Minotaur

This week in history we studied the Minoans. I say we, because I am not sure my history study prior to homeschooling included study of the Minoans.

Part of this study was the story of Theseus and the Minotaur. One suggested activity for this was to build a labyrinth with the Minotaur at the center, a model of the maze the minotaur lived in. I chose to skip the clay and cardboard, and kiddo made one out of LEGOS. You should have seen his excitement when I gave him the assignment. LEGOS + History=excitement.

I gave no direction. He went upstairs and happily built, I stayed away until he brought me the finished product.


He was limited by the size of base we have in this particular set of LEGOS. If we are going to continue building things like this, I think I should get a larger base, or at least a few bases that can be combined into one larger base.


I love how Theseus is standing in the entrance, holding his sword and a "torch". There is a grey piece near his feet that represents the ball of wool. The Minotaur is actually D*rth Maul. You go with what you've got!


This made me laugh!

This made me laugh!

Probably because I am here, too. And I would rather be in Hawaii.

The Birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr.--Friday History Field Trip #13

It was -25 F (-31 C) when we got up. Yeah. That is over 50 degrees F below freezing. If I can avoid it, I don't go out when it is this cold. That, combined with the fact that we were already out of the house twice this week, meant we were not going out for a Friday History Field Trip today. So I scheduled a virtual one instead!

We visited the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr. It is a National Historic Site, in a Historic District that includes the Ebenezer Baptist Church as well as the fire station on the corner. The grave of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King, are also in the area. On Monday, we read about Martin Luther King, Jr. and talked about who he was and why he was important to our history. I also got an email from with a link to the virtual tour of the birthplace. We didn't have time for it on Monday, so I saved it for our Friday History Field Trip.


We started by looking at Google maps to find where Atlanta was in relation to us. We mapped the location, then got directions so we could see how far away it was from us. We viewed the aerial image of the area of the house, trying to determine what the buildings might be from the look of their roofs. Then we zoomed to street level and "walked" up and down the street to see what else was in the neighborhood. I particularly enjoyed the "double shot-gun" houses across the street. We discussed similarities and differences to our area.

Then we looked at the house. I had the kids guess how old it was. Both were surprised it was built in 1895. We went through the house, beginning on the the front and side porches. There are a few neat things staged in the house, so make sure if you go on the tour, that you look all around. The kids loved the little touches life, things that made the house look like people lived there. They loved all of the audio tidbits, too! I think their favorite was the reaction of Martin Luther King, Sr., upon learning he had a son. We had to define and discuss a few things, such as "multi-generational" and "chifforobe," which means we got an added bonus vocabulary lesson!


After our trip, I had Kiddo fill out a Friday History Field Trip Record sheet. He doesn't like to write very much, so I took dictation for a few questions, but I had him write as many answers as he could. Oddly enough, he loved this activity. I think this was an excellent time to introduce the record sheet. I hope to have him fill one out for every Friday History Field Trip going forward, so I am glad he found the exercise enjoyable.

This was a great field trip, even though I never had to leave the couch! We were able to take the time we needed to listen to the descriptions, to listen again, to look around the rooms (Kutey loved looking at the ceiling). We had the internet available to us, so we could look up anything we had questions about.

It's -13 F outside, what do you do?

Blow bubbles of course!

It was -25 F (-31 C) this morning. One of those days when you are happy to be a homeschooler and not need to leave the house! It is just plain cold. Thankfully there is no wind, so the wind chill isn't bad!

When it gets this cold, though, there are some fun science things you can do! I was reminded of them when I opened my email and found this video, sent by my brother-in-law, made by a guy he knows:

His worked really well! So we gave it a shot. It is so cool to see that cloud form, and then drift away! We tried it maybe 5 times. It has to be really dry for this to work; when it gets this cold, it is usually pretty dry, too!

You can read why this works here.

From that video, I found this one from my local news this morning. Minnesotans are a little weird when it comes to cold like this--we have to find new things to do!

It reminded me of BUBBLES! Who could forget BUBBLES?!?! I love bubbles in the summer, and they are just as much fun in the winter, really! I tried to get descent photos of a frozen bubble, without much luck. This is the best I could get:


Not great, I realize. You can see how the one bubble is flattened on the bottom in the first picture.
This is a crushed frozen bubble. We witnessed a few rolling on the snow, too, which was neat. This was a short-lived activity, however. It was really too cold for us, even just blowing the bubbles from the doorway! Of course, we could have put on our coats...

If you live in the frozen northland, these are really fun activities to try! If you live in a warmer area, well, I guess you'll have to watch the videos and enjoy that you can feel you fingers and toes!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Kids in the Kitchen


Lately Kutey has been asking to help in the kitchen. Not at every meal, but many. She has her morning breakfast tasks, and I am beginning to remember that she likes to do certain things then--cause I have forgotten several times, and that has been unpopular. I often let the kids pick their lunch, so she gets to help a lot with that.

But then there are the times when having her help will slow down the process. I am not the greatest cook. I hold my own, but it takes more focus than some other things. And sometimes having Kutey there takes my focus away. I also struggle to find things she can do to help. I know it is important to let her help, I am just sometimes at a loss for what to have her do! She loves being there and feeling involved, and I want her to have that success.

So, what kinds of things do your almost 5 year-olds help with in the kitchen? Do you have any fantastic meals that kids can help with much of? I'm looking for ideas! Also, do you have any great tricks to keep it from being a messy endeavor? Because having to clean up a huge mess after cooking, not my favorite thing.

Seed lab addendum

When we finished our seed lab last week, one of the extension activities was to place the soaked seeds in a closed dark container in a dark place to see if they would sprout. The question we are trying to answer? Do seeds need sunlight to sprout?

We opened the container today, a week later. Here are the results:

Nope, light is not necessary. The next question? Would they have light if they were planted in the ground? Nope, so it is a good thing they don't need it!

One warning: If you do this, be warned that the seeds will smell not so pleasant after being in a sealed container...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

MN Zoo at the Homeschool Science Series

Today was the first of the Spring Homeschool Science Series presentations at a local library. We started going to these last year, and they were fun! They are free, a big bonus, and they provide another avenue for learning about science. They are only in the spring, which is great for our schedule, too!

Today the MN Zoo brought out a variety of animals. It is always fun to see some new animals, and there were some different ones there today. I am ever the diligent student at these things lately. One of the things I know about myself is that I retain more if I write it down while I am listening. It took me almost 2 years of homeschooling to remember (and admit) this. Incidentally, there is a scene in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone that drive me nuts--when Snape calls Harry out for not listening, but he is taking notes! Always has bugged me, but I digress. I take notes. I am probably the only one there who does, but I need to have something to spur my memory. Kiddo likes to ask me questions after we leave, and if I haven't written it down, well, I just don't remember. I know I can look some of it up later. Animals are easy to do that with. Historical sites? Not as easy. And science experiments? Not easy at all! So I take notes. Lots and lots of notes.

There were five animals today. Some we are familiar with (red-tailed hawks are often injured, and thus it seems every nature center has one!) and some were very new (chinchillas!). I was very proud of my kids today. Kiddo answered one of the questions correctly about what animals need to stay alive and healthy, and Kutey sat "criss-cross applesauce," as requested by the presenter even when every other kid around her was on their knees. They were also both very attentive.

The presenter was FANTASTIC. She was very engaging without being condescending. She connected with both the younger kids and the older kids. In fact she assessed the ages before she started-- a simple show of hands for grade, which is always fun in a homeschool crowd! And she managed to fill in gaps for the parents without anyone having to ask and interrupt. The 45 minutes really did fly by!

Here are the animals we saw and a few of the notes I took:

Red-tailed Hawk
-Sensitive eyesight
-Has a piece of skull that sticks out over their eyes to shield them from the sunlight
-Can fly at 120 mph to catch prey
-Weighs 2 pounds
-Can see a mouse from a football field away
This particular one is an imprint. He was raised by humans, so has no fear of them. He is 29 years old! Rather old for a hawk.

Mexican Red-kneed Tarantula
Mexican Red-Kneed Tarantula
-Has 8 legs, but appears to have 10. Two are pedipalps, which are more like arms used to hold and put food in mouth.
-Hair is used as protection. When threatened, they loosen their hair with their legs, then shake. The hair gets into the predators eyes, and the spider gets away.
Make webs on the ground
-Very fragile. Their bodies are as fragile as an egg.

Blue-tongued Skink
-From Australia, where they are sometimes mistaken as the venomous death adder snake.
-Short legs, so they don't move fast.
-When scared, they stick out their blue tongue (and it is BLUE!) which is unexpected and odd in color, thus startling a predator.
-Cold-blooded, so only as warm as the air and ground around it.
-The presenter mentioned that in Australia you can come out of your house in the morning and find 20 skinks on your driveway.

So cute!
-Very endangered--less than 3500 left in the wild
-Very thick fur--for each hair we have, they have 60.
-They live in a dry area where there is volcanic ash dust everywhere, they dust themselves in it.
-The presenter actually had a box with dust in it that she put the chinchilla in and we got to watch her dust herself. It was very fun to see!

Red-footed Tortoise
-Weighs 12 pounds
-Lives in the rain forest
-Backbone and hips are attached to their shell
Scute--the pieces of the shell. In this case, the yellow dots on the shell are newer, the darker around the edges is older, which makes it easier to see.
This particular tortoise was also very strong. The presenter held her in place while we touched her, but the tortoise really wanted to go explore! The presenter mentioned that the tortoise can pull a red wagon, a discovery made by accident, but a demonstration of how powerful she is!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Random Monday

It's just another random Monday. Did you hear the Bangles singing in your head when you read that? Maybe that was just me.

  • We skipped a play date today in the interest of staying home and trying to recover from the cold that took up residence in our house. Instead I am doing laundry (again) and cleaning (again) and drinking echinacea tea.
  • I opened the window in my room for almost an hour, until the kids started complaining they were cold. What, it is 25 degrees F today, that's a heat wave!
  • It's probably just me, but my house smells. Like sick people. And disinfectant. Sick people and disinfectant. Not a great combination. Hence the need to open the window.
  • In the laundry today I discovered a pair of my capris. It is January. In Minnesota. It hasn't been capri weather since at least September. How are they just getting washed now?
  • I saw a whole group of robins today. Which wouldn't be noteworthy except that this is Minnesota. And it is January. Did you see the temperature above? We are no where near spring, yet there they were, flitting about the trees. Maybe that means an early spring?
  • Hey, I can dream, can't I?
  • It snowed again last night. I feel like we have been getting an inch or so every other day. It probably isn't that often, but it feels like it.
  • I have a bad habit of making tea and leaving it in the kitchen to cool. I then promptly forget I made it until I think about needing something warm to drink, by which point the tea is already cold. Yep, there is a cup of tea in my kitchen right now, in just that state.

Wishing you a good--if random--Monday!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up--January 14, 2011

In spite of the January doldrums, this was a great week for us!


On Monday I had the 3 kids I look after here. In spite of some incidents, we made it through the day relatively unscathed. We also had some fun making books for Ashurbanipal's library.


Tuesday is the day we get together with our homechool group. For a variety of reasons, we hadn't seen them in a while. We went to the Zoo, one of our favorite hangouts. Though I forgot the camera, we had a great day. My fingers and toes thawed out by the next day...


found us at the Works for their homeschool day and straw rocket launchers. These are SO much fun. I think the wheels in Kiddo's head are turning trying to figure out how to make more, bigger, and better. Due to Daddy's illness, we camped out in our family room. I highly recommend it for beating back the January doldrums!


Thursday we spent the day at home, working through our school stuff, playing with LEGOS and Polly Pockets. We finally did our seed lab for science, almost a week later! Kiddo also finished reading the Magic Tree House Leprechauns and Irish Folklore Research Guide. I let him sign up for the Magic Tree House website, he answered the questions for the book and got his first passport sticker. He is now very excited to read the rest of the series, so hopefully I have avoided C*ptain Underp*nts for the time being.

science,RSO Life-1

Today (Friday) we are home again, forgoing a Friday History Field Trip due to the Works outing earlier in the week. We did, however, get more done on Wednesday than I though we would, but this does make the week feel more relaxed. The kids are enjoying the extra time, recreating Harry Potter using Star Wars LEGOS.

Curriculum wise:
  • We finished up Chapters 16 and 17 in Story of the World Vol. 1, reading about the Assyrians, Ashurbanipal, the Library at Nineveh, the Babylonians, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and King Nebuchadnezzar.
  • Finished up Unit 26 in R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Life-1, on Seeds. We had to skip the second lab because we can't go out and collect seeds right now. They are mostly buried under snow.
  • Kiddo started Explode the Code 5, and is cruising through it. ETC 4 covered syllable division which seems to have been more challenging than what is covered in ETC 5.
  • In Math, Kiddo started telling time. I admit I have skipped this largely because I like being able to fudge the clock. Once he can tell time, I have to be more precise. The upside of waiting, though is that he is grasping it quickly.
  • Kutey has been working on Starfall, along with a reading board I create for her each day on the white board. She had done quite a bit in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, but then lost interest. This is a little lighter and more fun. We'll go back to Teach Your Child when she is ready.
Read what other homeschoolers have done at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers!