Thursday, March 31, 2011

A day on a boat

It all started with a simple statement. "Kutey and I are pretending we are on a boat." Really, I wasn't ready to get out of my cozy bed, and Kutey had come in to cuddle. She has a cold, so resting longer seemed good. Kiddo, however, wanted to be up! That is until I said that. Suddenly, he had his own dingy (a clothes basket) fastened to the side of our boat. We had hyper-speed, which Kutey loved to use. After several stints at hyper-speed, it became clear that we needed provisions. We docked the boat so Kutey and Kiddo could disembark and gather our supplies. Dishes, food (toy), tools, menus (to select our food, cause we are on a boat!), books, extra blankets, and extra pillows.

Once that was all gathered, it was time for real food. So we docked the boat again and disembarked for breakfast. Kutey ate almost nothing, she was WAY too excited to get back on the "boat."

Back on the boat, there were a few stops, due to seasickness, but mostly we kept floating along. Sometimes at hyper-speed, other times not. Originally, we were on the Mississippi River, but it became clear, by the variety of flora and fauna we were seeing, that we were on some other very special river. We saw a platypus, a river dolphin, a rhinoceros, a hippo, a shark, a whale, a giraffe, a variety of birds, and all sorts of plants including a weeping willow that was huge! It took forever to get under it.

We also read books on a variety of topics. The most pertinent to our voyage however, was Sea Clocks by Louise Borden. It was interesting. Held Kiddo's interest, but not Kutey's. She made us "lunch" while I read. After our boat "lunch," which included both real and less real food, mommy took a nap while the kids steered the ship. YAY!

It was a fun, peaceful morning. I sometimes need to be reminded that just playing can be so much fun.

LEGO tree house

I wanted to participate in the LEGO Creation Thursday link-up over at My Blessing From Above. I have thought about doing something similar, but once I found hers, I decided it is less hassle to just link-up.

The problem is, Kiddo has been building lots, but he takes things apart as fast as he builds! Always on to the next idea, the next thought. While we have literally thousands of LEGOS, it always seems he needs the pieces from his current creation for the next. So I had no pictures to post. That is until this afternoon, when he put together this "treehouse."


There is a whole story that goes along with it. The skeleton and the girl are villains with super powers, that is about all I got out of his fast talking.


I thought it was very cool that he put a hole in the platform so the mini-figs could get to it. I also love the treasure at the top. Apparently that is what the villains were after.


Kiddo, as I said, is always building. To see some of the other things he has built (that lasted long enough for me to get photos!), click here!

Garden Challenge Post #1


When I first read about The Homeschool Village's Garden Challenge, my first reaction was to laugh. It starts today. March 31. HA! Here in MN, there is no chance of planting outside for a minimum of 6 more weeks. Mid-May is much more realistic. Add to that the fact that my garden looks like this:


Yeah, not ready for garden season. That tree fell down in November, in the first heavy wet snow we had. It had a Y the center of which seems to have rotted somehow. The heavy wet snow was enough to pull the two sides apart. Hubby cleared the part that was in the neighbor's yard while it was snowing, but eventually the chain broke on his chainsaw, and, well, that is where it has been since November. Once the snow melted enough, he picked the branches up off the grass and threw them in the garden. Yep, right into my garden. Sigh.

See the chain, stuck right in the tree?

So, the first part of our garden plan is "clear out dead tree." After that, we'll need to do some maintenance on the garden soil. Truthfully, we need to get soil. What is in that garden has been terrible for growing anything the last several years. So in all likelihood we'll have to buy some organic compost and topsoil. Lots of organic compost and topsoil.

The kids first comment about it being garden planning time was, "We need a bigger fence, to keep out the deer!" They are right, the last few gardens we have planted have yielded nothing for us. The deer either ate the vegetables before they were ready, ate the blossoms, or simply ate the plants. Kutey was particularly devastated last year when the deer ate her sunflowers before they even approached blooming. Sigh. So a fence. To keep out the deer. Step 3.

This bed won't have much planted in it. It gets too much shade.

Then, and only then, can we plant. We have 2 8 x 8 gardens. I only plan to plant one of them. the other one gets little sun because I have allowed a cottonwood tree to grow up in it. There are also 2 lilac bushes, placed in the garden "until we figure out where to put them," 7 or 8 years ago, which are now 4+ feet tall. The sunflowers go on the sunny edge of that bed.

In the other 8x8 bed, tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, and perhaps squash. Kutey would like carrots, so we'll see. Maybe some green onions. I also have 2 containers that I plant cherry tomatoes in, and hope to add another planter. If I manage that, I'll plant some herbs. Not thyme. I have enough thyme. It actually grows in my grass, believe it or not. The one thing that the garden has been able to support and the deer don't eat. But neither do we!

I have never done "square foot gardening," but this year that is sort of what the plan is. I found this article useful. We'll see if we actually end up with anything like that!

Since it will be a while before we can plant anything in our garden, we are having some fun with this:


I created a grid that matches our garden, 8 x 8, and then made 1 x 1 squares with vegetables on them. The idea is to make the garden the way we want it on the paper. That way, once we are ready to plant, we'll have it all figured out, right?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Nature walking


Since the weather is slowly but steadily improving, I decided it was time to start walking again, looking for signs of spring. Kiddo and I have done walks like this for years. Kutey only remembers doing it last year. She has a cold, so I wasn't sure a walk was the best plan. Kiddo, however, needed to get out and get moving. He has been bouncing (somewhat literally) off the walls this week. So we determined we would go for a walk, but that we would take a route that allows for a shorter walk or a longer walk.

We started out, listening to the birds as we walked. We heard one call we didn't recognize, nor could we see the bird. First thing to look up when we get home. Kutey ran for about 2 blocks, which made me think perhaps she was feeling better than I thought! But then she hit a wall. Her leg hurt (stop running!), she was tired (walking isn't as hard as running), her hair wa staticy and in her face (if you would ever let me put something in it, this wouldn't be a problem!) and she started whining. At this point, we had two choices, turn around and walk home, or continue on. It was only a smidge closer to turn around and go home. So we kept walking.

Kiddo noticed a crow, and we commented on how big it was. Since we have studied birds in science, though, we knew it likely wasn't heavy. And since we studied weight in math, we decided to guess how much it weighed, to be checked when we got home. Second thing to look up when we get home. Our guess? Less than 2 pounds. By then we had reached the park (this is where Kutey truly began whining and I made the choice to keep walking).

Two weeks ago when we walked through the park, we saw red-winged blackbirds. Early arrivals getting the best spots for their nests, we thought. It seems, however, that they did not stick around. We saw no red-winged blackbirds this time. I told the kids to listen for them, too, because we might not see them. Kiddo couldn't remember what they sounded like, though. Third thing to look up when we get home.


Kutey paused in her whining long enough to do some more running with Kiddo, then resumed as we turned the corner to leave the park. I was able to distract her by spotting a ROBIN! We have only seen a few, they are just starting to really arrive here, so it is very exciting every time we see one. Last year by this time we had seen flocks and flocks of them. We had also seen flocks of cedar waxwings, which we haven't this year. We watched the robin as it hopped about in the grass. I told the kids I guessed it was a male, because they come back first. But we have never really looked at the markings of female versus male robins. Fourth thing to look up when we get home.

It is about three blocks from this point home, but there are two routs you can go. One is the hypotenuse of a triangle, the other is the opposing sides of the triangle. Kiddo likes the latter, particularly now because there is a lake covering part of the sidewalk and he likes the challenge of getting around it. Kutey, however, just needed to get home. So she and I went the short way and Kiddo went the long way. We met at the other corner. Kiddo loved the independence of walking 2 blocks by himself, since normally our walks are together. He had lots of sites to report from those two blocks!

We (finally, according to Kutey) made it home. In spite of the whining, it was a wonderful walk, full of things for us to research further.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Book Sharing Monday--The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus


This book is one recommended in Story of the World, Vol. 1. I requested it from the library but it took the slow train to get there, so we read it a little late. It is the book on which we based our Greek gods and goddess family tree. It is a good introduction to the Greek gods and goddesses, from Gaea and Uranus on to Zeus. There is a brief introduction and history, followed by the basic story of each god or goddess.


It turns out, Kutey LOVES this book. She has adopted it. She has carried it around the house with her. She has paged through it many, MANY times. It is so popular, I have added it to my list of books to consider purchasing. Kutey has a plan to make puppets of each of the gods and goddesses in the book, so she can do puppet shows with them. Sounds like a good plan to me!

Have you checked out Book Sharing Monday at Canadian Home Learning? You should!

Hip Homeschool Hop Link-up

Hip Homeschool Hop Button

I'm joining the Hip Homeschool Hop this week for the first time. Since hopefully that means I will have a few more homeschoolers reading my blog this week, I thought I would link back to a few previous posts.

  • My weekly wrap-ups. I just started doing this in January. I really like how it makes me think about what we have accomplished in the past week.
  • LEGOS are big around here; Kiddo loves to build. Often he creates things directly out of our learning.

I'm looking forward to hopping along the blogs!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up--March 24, 2011

We had a productive, positive week! If we didn't school year-round, I would likely be lamenting the fact that we seem to have hit our stride now, as we are approaching APRIL, but since we school year-round, it makes little difference.

Monday was our own day. We did a lot of school work, went for a walk, and started listening to the music for the concert later in the week. We also participated in CurrClick's LEGO Club. I haven't posted about that yet, maybe once I sort out my feelings and thoughts on it. The weather was pleasant, there was only a little whining about school work, and we accomplished almost everything we needed to!


Tuesday was our homeschool group. Have I mentioned I love this group? It is a great fit for us. This week in addition to the kids social time and wonderful conversation with the other moms, I got a cooking lesson. We made communal stir fry--everyone brings some thing to contribute to the meal. It makes it much easier to get going in the morning. I *think* I could now cook a whole chicken, and make *most* of a stir-fry entree. The sauce is a bit sketchy, still.

It snowed on Wednesday, making me very glad we had no where to be. Kiddo has been very much a self-starter lately, getting his chores done, breakfast eaten, and school started often before I get downstairs in the morning! It is immensely helpful in getting our day off to a positive start. We worked through math, reading, Explode the Code, listened to the music for the concert on Thursday and talked a bit about it, made fish puppets to take to the concert, and did Spanish on the computer. We finally got caught up on Mystery Class, too! After he finished much of his work, Kiddo went out and shoveled the driveway. It was heavy, wet snow, making the shoveling much more difficult. Still, he shoveled the whole thing himself! He even turned down the offer of help from the neighbor. I think he loves the sense of accomplishment.

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Thursday was filled with our trip to Orchestra hall, followed by lunch at IKEA, then on to the zoo for a science lab. WHEW! That tired everyone out.


Friday was just a normal day. The kids were motivated to work through all of their school work in order to start getting ready for a weekend trip to friends. The trip was canceled at the last minute, unfortunately, due to illness at our friends. We read about Rome--specifically the Roman gods and goddesses and Roman construction--in Story of the World. Kiddo and Kutey love learning about the gods and goddesses, so I was excited about this chapter. Of course, just when you think you know what direction things are going to go...turns out the construction was even MORE interesting than the gods. I should have known.

In curriculum:
  • Kiddo is flying through Explode the Code Book 6. He'll finish it up this week. Probably should have ordered the next book...We added in a bit of extra spelling practice using the words in the lessons, hopping up and down the stairs as we spelled.
  • Math is going fabulously. Kiddo spent less time on measuring length and weight than I scheduled, putting him ahead of schedule here, too.
  • We read Chapter 28: The Roman Empire in Story of the World, Vol. 1.
  • We started the unit on mammals in R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey-Life. We took a trip to the zoo for the lab. We still have 1 lab to do, hopefully this week. We also have a few extra books to read.
  • We finally got caught up with Mystery Class, only to fall behind again on Friday. Sigh. I know this is one of those things that will be easier after we have done it once. We are enjoying it, there is just a learning curve.
  • Kutey continued with Starfall, which she LOVES. She also did some work with patterns and weaving. We spent some time on number recognition, too, using our floor heart numbers from Valentine's Day.
  • We did an art project--fish puppets, which was quite fun.
  • We learned a bit about Handel and listened to music centered on the theme of water.
We are linking up to Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. Click to see what others did this week!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A purposeful trip to the zoo

After our outing to Orchestra Hall this morning, we at lunch at one of the kids favorite restaurnauts (that is not a misspelling. That is what they call them.) IKEA. Yes, really. IKEA. They love the meatballs. I love the bright, open cafeteria at IKEA. Who says homeschoolers don't eat in cafeterias?

After that, we went to the Zoo. Yes, a full day, but we had a lab to do for R.E.A.L. Science that involved going to the Zoo. I figured half the day was shot with the trip downtown for the concert (half hour there, 2 hours there, half hour home, three hours, the better part of the morning), we likely wouldn't get much done the rest of the day anyway, so might as well make it productive somehow. So to the zoo it was.

We started learning about mammals this week. The first lab in R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey has to do with descriptive names of animals. Our mission was to find as many animals with descriptive names as possible. We got bonus points if it was a mammal, and mega bonus points if we caught a mammal doing what only mammals can do, nursing young. Before we even started, Kiddo went through the list of mammals he knew had babies currently at the zoo--the snow monkey, the dolphin, and the other monkey (De Brazza's Monkey). He was determined to get the bonus points. Guess going to the zoo a zillion times this winter has benefits.

We only went through the tropics trail and the aquarium, we were exhausted by then. But we were able to find 29 animals with descriptive names--Red-ruffed Lemurs, Ring-Tailed Lemurs, Pipefish, Leafy Sea Dragons, and Asian Forest Tortoises, to name a few.

Love the Leafy Sea Dragons.

The De Brazza's Monkey isn't far into the Tropics Trail, so it was the first baby mammal we came across. The baby monkey is getting bigger, so it wasn't just clinging to the mother like it had been the past few times we saw it. It was fun to see the baby out exploring, but Kiddo REALLY wanted to see a baby nursing. Given that the other babies we might see are older, we waited. And waited. And waited. And finally. FINALLY! We saw it. Good thing, too, since we didn't see any of the other babies we thought we might.

Finally, you can see just how different the baby looks! That is an older sibling. The baby is starting to get a beard, like the adults, but is still a very different color.

Only 17 of the 29 descriptive names we found were mammals, which gave us the opportunity to figure out what they were given what we have learned.


Given it is Spring Break time for public schools, the zoo was a little crowded. We got a couple of odd looks when we were filling out forms for the lab, but it didn't curb the kids enthusiasm at all. R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey really is a fun curriculum, if I can just get myself geared up to actually do the labs!

Our zoo has a great deal of construction happening at our zoo, which is great. We'll soon have penguins, very exciting. We will also have a new reptile and amphibian area, which the kids are really looking forward to. In the meantime, we have construction. And exhibits like this:

How would you classify this animal? (I got a LOT of strange looks from people as I took this picture--crazy lady taking pictures of a ladder?)

Oh, and remember the upside down fish? It was back.

Water Music

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This morning we had the pleasure of attending another Young People's Concert at Orchestra Hall. These performances are geared toward students and school groups, last about an hour, and feature pieces of music on a theme. Some piece are well known, others not so well known. The orchestra's education department puts together an entire curriculum, telling a bit about the composer, some background on the composition, and lots of teaching ideas for every piece in the performance. They also provide recordings of the music so you can listen and talk about the pieces before you attend the concert. So fabulous.

This performance was entitled "Water Music", so all of the pieces centered on water themes. The pieces were:
  • “Allegro” from The Water Music Suite #2 George Frederich Handel arr. Harty
  • “Father of Waters” from Mississippi Suite Ferde GrofĂ©
  • Aqua Steve Heitzeg
  • On the Beautiful Blue Danube waltzes excerpts Johann Strauss, Jr.
  • “Oceana” La Mer by Claude Debussy

As an added bonus, Black Label Movement, a local dance company, performed during the performance of La Mer. The adults in our group were rather impressed with the length of the piece they performed. To set the tone, when they entered the auditorium, they carried in several large balloons covered in fabrics made to look like underwater creatures. They were very cool.

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The conductor, Courtney Lewis, is superb. He is young and does a little bit of explaining about each piece. He also seems to genuinely enjoy what he is doing. That makes a difference in the kids enjoyment of the concert. From what I have read, he is a talented conductor. I am not an orchestra musician, however, so I cannot attest to that. He seems great!

The kids enjoyed the concert, but didn't love it as much as they did the one in December. Kiddo couldn't name a favorite thing. Kutey liked the dancers best. I enjoyed the whole concert. My only disappointment was that the information sent out before the concert encouraged us to create and bring a sea creature stick puppet, which we did. But they didn't include them in the performance in any way. We enjoyed making ours, so it wasn't a huge loss, but I think the kids would have enjoyed some sort of inclusion of their puppets in the show, as I was led to believe there would be.

That aside, however, it was a fantastic performance. We'll be attending another concert in May, and I am already looking forward to it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Our Classroom Today--March 22, 2011

Our Tuesday group is only four families big. But it is the perfect size, as far as I am concerned. 4 families means 8 kids, ages not quite 2 to almost 8. It also means a great deal of energy. Since our philosophy is opposed to squelching that all the time, we have a limited number of places we can go in the winter. Thankfully, we are small enough that meeting at our homes is possible. No one has a large home. But they are all still big enough for all of us to gather. The added benefit? We can cook lunch together. We all contribute, but it is much easier than trying to figure out what to pack in a lunch in the morning (I don't know how public school parents do it every day!)

So today, we met at T's house. For the last two weeks, you may remember, the kids have been putting on performances. It was clear last week that performances may have run their course. The kids were having a bit of trouble with the "directing." Mostly it seemed that they weren't quite sure how to let each person direct. They kind of all wanted to be the director, not unusual, but it was causing a bit of conflict.


Such was the case today. There was conflict. So we gently steered them another direction. It resulted in many pictures being drawn. They had a shop, of some sort, too. The also took orders for things from the moms, drew the picture, then and and "sold" it to us in exchange for play money. Very fun.

While they kids were doing this, we were making stir-fry. Well, T was making stir-fry, C and O were helping, and I was watching, since I don't cook. But I learned how to cook a whole chicken, pick it for stir-fry, stir-fry it with vegetables and sauce (though that part is still a bit daunting to me...), and make stock from the remains of the chicken. The stir-fry was delicious. And I could, maybe, make it. Productive day!

Plus, Kiddo drew this very fun picture of Quidditch from Harry Potter.
Love it!

I forgot

When we first started our homeschooling journey, two and a half years ago, one of the things we did was a daily walk. Sometimes it was just around the triangle--a three block area near our house. Other times it was through our park, and others it was out and about somewhere. But we tried to walk daily. We stopped when the weather turned foul, as it does here in Minnesota. We never really got back into the habit.

Yesterday was very nice, so we went for a walk. It was the second walk we have been on in as many weeks, what with the weather improving and all. And I was reminded of the simple joy I found in those walks. We didn't go far, a little over a mile and a half, but it was beautiful. The fresh air was wonderful. The kids running and smiling and laughing was bliss. I forgot. I forgot how nice a daily walk can be. I need to try to remember. It did wonders for my attitude!

(Of course, today the weather was absolutely foul. There was no walk today.)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Book Sharing Monday--The Very Fairy Princess

If you have read the sidebar notes about my kids, you will completely understand where this book fits into our world.


The Very Fairy Princess by Julie Andrews and her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton. I happened upon it one day while I was looking for something else and knew Kutey needed it. A pink fairy princess, the ultimate. To top it off, it is a lovely story about a little girl who pretends to be a princess and how things like scabby knees are princess-like. I love the message.


OK, so it does a little bit of reinforcing the pink adoration that exists in my home. The story isn't just about pink, though. Besides, with or without the book, Kutey is going to love pink.

See more books at Canadian Home Learning's Book Sharing Monday.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up--March 18, 2011

We had a wonderful, busy week!

My Monday kids were here on Monday, which always throws a bit of a wrinkle into our school day. They played a lot of Harry Potter, which Kiddo adored, but there were bumps along the way, disputes, and one of the boys just wanted his mommy and daddy, all afternoon. It can be a bit draining. Not much school work was completed, though I finished up a few things for St. Patrick's Day later in the week.


Tuesday we planned to have a party with our Tuesday group, so I lugged things along. The kids had other plans, however. Much fun was had by all! I love our Tuesday group!


We accomplished quite a bit on Wednesday, even making it to the Homeschool Science Series at a local library. Mad Science proved to be entertaining again! We also finished up our science unit on amphibians, even without the exactly correct supplies.


Thursday was a day full of St. Patrick's Day! We read books, did a craft, ate green food and Irish food, and played St. Patrick's Day games. We also managed to enjoy the beautiful weather with a walk.

Friday was a great day for school work. Kiddo worked his way through his math, Explode the Code, reading, and chores with lightning speed. We did history, then he went back and finished all the things he hadn't done--coloring pages, word searches, and crosswords, etc. He had free time the rest of the day. Work like that deserves some time off.

Curriculum wise:
  • We finished up amphibians (Unit 21) in R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey-Life 1.
  • We read about the beginning of Rome in Chapter 27 of Story of the World, Vol. 1, covering the story of Romulus and Remus.
  • Kiddo is breezing through Explode the Code book 6. He is on course to finish it a week before I planned. I am trying to emphasize how the rules apply to spelling, so he gets used to thinking about that. Once we finish books 7 and 8, I'll be looking to add in Spelling and Grammar. If you have suggestions, I am all ears!
  • In math, Kiddo worked on measuring length in both metric and English units. He declared measuring his favorite thing. Of course, he declares whatever we are focusing on in math his favorite. It also resulted in measuring the kids, only to discover that Kutey has grown 4 inches and Kiddo has grown more than 3. OY!
  • Kutey revisited Starfall this week for reading. We also worked some math skills with our St. Patrick's Day games. I need to start doing more with her, I am just having trouble figuring out what to do!
We are linking up to Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. Click to see what others did this week!

Spring is in the air!

A friend in the south mentioned that they are expecting 80's this weekend! We are nowhere near that. We still have snow on the ground (especially in the big piles), but the weather is improving. I'll take 50's over teens any day!

Yesterday it was warm enough that the kids and I went for a walk. We saw all sorts birds! Sparrows, finches, crows, a blue jay (which was screeching!), a possible robin, ducks, and red-winged blackbirds. This is the first sighting of red-winged blackbirds this spring for us. I love red-winged blackbirds. Kiddo remembered this when we heard them, which touched my heart. I love them because my mother loved them. My mother loved them because her father loved them. Maybe my kids will love them because I do.

Later in the day, we stepped outside and heard the creek behind our house rushing. We HAD to investigate, of course. Our creek is really just drainage, so melting snow and rain make it flow much more than normal. It flows into a small river that is just a bit away from our house--the yard two houses over touches the river. The river is expected to flood in the next few days.


It was beautiful. Kiddo explored closer to it than Kutey and I. He loved it. Awesome. Nature is awesome.


We saw a fairly new looking woodpecker hole up in one of our dead trees. Kiddo noticed all the older holes first (they are numerous). But this one looked fairly fresh.


We also noticed deer tracks in the snow. We see them sometimes in the summer, but I haven't seen them this winter. Obviously they have been around, though!

It was refreshing to be able to be back in the great outdoors. I was born and raised here, but the cold of winter still gets me. I don't tolerate it well, so this day, this warmth was a gift.

St. Patrick's Day craft

I had hoped to do a few crafts on St. Patrick's Day. My kids, however, wanted to play. Kutey did one craft, very small.


She decorated 2 shamrocks with glitter glue and jewels, her two favorite craft supplies. Once they dry, we'll glue them together with a string between them so we can hang it up.

Maybe I can get them to decorate a few more...

St. Patrick's Day Fun

I love St. Patrick's Day. It is my favorite holiday, next to Christmas. Weird? I know. But I love it. Maybe because it isn't as hyped as others. I can decide how we celebrate. We eat green and Irish, we read books about Ireland and St. Patrick, we listen to Irish Music, and we play St. Patrick's Day games.

This year, I made the games. I thought they were great, would be so much fun to play, and we could spend the day playing them. The kids, however, wanted to do other things. Ah, well. Maybe the games will be fun another day!

I did manage to get them to play each of the following games, and they enjoyed them, they just didn't want to play them for an extended period of time.

Shamrock Matching:
Played like memory. Kutey and I played this one together. It is a little trickier than most memory games, because many of the shamrocks are similar, but not the same. Kutey did very well, better than I did!

Shamrock number match:
I made two mats, one numbered one to ten twice, the other one to twenty. I thought the kids could play these together, but I ended up playing with Kutey. We used dice numbered 0 to 9, using 0 as a 10. The idea was, roll the die, cover the number. For 1 to 20, roll 2 dice, cover the number. Great for the first bit, but slows way down as you get into it. I eventually started letting Kutey roll 3 dice. Then she was more likely to get a number she needed!

Shamrock Counting
These cards were made to play two games, but we only played one. Roll a die numbered one to six and cover that many shamrocks. I happen to have enough green counters to use, which made it more festive, but anything would work. This one was quick and works number recognition and counting.

Shamrock Showdown
This is a place value game. I have seen various versions of it around the Internet. I made my own, because I wanted to be able to put it on the back of the above cards, so it needed to be a certain size. I also wanted to be able to have a place for writing the number after the coins were drawn. Kiddo and I played this one a few times. He loved it when he drew good numbers, but not so much when he drew two zeros in a row. He still got the biggest number, but he wasn't as interested in the game anymore. We'll work on that.

Parts of Speech Rainbows
This one is similar to other ideas I have seen on the web, too. I made my own version because I needed it to fit on the back of the shamrock counting cards. I made nouns and verbs, but later realized I should have made adjectives, too. Kiddo loved this game. It is a nice gentle way to talk about nouns and verbs. We have talked about this before, but we don't cover it regularly. I put the cards on an old cookie sheet and pulled out some word magnets. Kiddo sorted them in no time. Then he got out the other set of magnetic words we have and sorted them. It was funny, though, because he sorted them by whether it was a "bounce," "mermaid," or "beautiful" word.

I planned to post these for anyone to print if they wanted to, but I haven't gotten that far. And now that St. Patrick's Day is past, I would guess the interest is much lower. I might still post them, we'll see.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Food

On St. Patrick's Day, my kids love green. To eat. They have been looking forward to it and talking about it for weeks. So here is what we ate for lunch:


Green noodles (basil linguine), green beans, green apple, green grapes, green jello, and even green milk. Served on green dishes.

I wish I could say they devoured it, but no. Kiddo ate everything except the green apple. Apparently granny smith apples are sour. Kutey ate the grapes. And the jello. Loved the jello. Oddly, she loves the other things too, most days. The jello was just too exciting!

I will admit, the jello is good. It has a layer of cream on top that just makes it that much better. I found the recipe two years ago here. The kids expect it for St. Patrick's Day. It's a tradition, according to them!

Kutey and I made rice krispie bars sprinkled with green sprinkles, too.

Dinner is a different matter. Not so green. More Irish.

Irish Stew and Freckle (soda) bread.

This is the meal we have made for the last three years on St. Patrick's Day. The bread is fabulous and easy, and the stew is pretty easy (though we always forget to cook the potatoes until we need them, then we have to sort of slow the process down). It all tastes great.

We finished the night off with mint and fudge brownie ice cream. Green ice cream has become a St. Patrick's Day tradition, too.

Do you eat anything special for St. Patrick's Day?

This may not seem very important, I know

But it is, so I'm bothering telling you so*!

It is almost 50 degrees here. 50! Woo-hoo! My car said it was 50 yesterday. Two days in a row! There is hope for Spring yet!

*Yes, that is Dr. Seuss. Yes, maybe I have read the Sleep Book 1 or 2 times....

Random bits

A couple of random tidbits have floated in and out of my brain today...thought I would share. Maybe that will get them to stop floating around!

There was a fire at my local elementary school, during the school day, on Monday. I didn't find out about it until last night. The dad who told me (his son goes to school there) seemed a bit appalled that I didn't know. Um, I homeschool. My kids weren't there. And I don't watch the news most of the time. They sensationalize things too much. So no, I didn't know. Apparently someone set a roll of toilet paper on fire. Nice. Added to the list of things I don't need my child learning at school. It was handled in an interesting manner, too, according to the dad who told the story. Since I don't have it first hand, however, I won't comment.

The kids and I went for a walk this morning. It was SO beautiful. There were a few issues. There were lakes in the sidewalks, which are no ones fault. It is what happens when snow melts in Minnesota. But there were also dog poop mine fields. ON THE SIDEWALKS! It is a pet peeve of mine. Gonna have a dog? Gonna walk it and let it go to the bathroom somewhere besides your own yard? CLEAN IT UP! No one else needs to be responsible for that. Just clean in up. Likewise, I don't care how friendly your dog is, if you are walking it where you might encounter other people put it on a leash. We encountered one dog this morning. Not on a leash. It was friendly, and my kids are fine with dogs, but we hang out with a number of children for whom that encounter would have been horrific. And the owner was on the other side of the snow mound from the dog. I have in the past had to stand between a dog and someone I was walking with. It is not pleasant and I shouldn't have to do it. Leash laws are there for a reason.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

No ear hearing

Remember earlier this year I did a post on "Instead of...?" One of those was as follows:
1. Instead of...waiting for the perfect supplies to do an art project or science project, move ahead with what you've got. The kids won't know the difference!
I need to remind myself of that one regularly. Science has been roadblocked, not because of the content, but because I want it to be perfect. So I wait for the perfect supplies. For the last two weeks it was a metal slinky. We have plastic one, but the book said metal, so I didn't move forward. We waited. It also called for an eye dropper, which I don't have, so we waited. BAH!

This week, I decided we needed to just do it, get through it, plastic slinky and all.

And you know what? The lab went fine. The kids learned what they were supposed to learn. Go figure!

The lesson was on waves and how some animals hear--newts through their legs, fish through a line on their bodies, etc. It is part of the Amphibians unit in R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey-Life (Unit 21). We explored waves of all sorts using various demonstrations.

Slinky waves

Waves on pie plate


Waves in water

Notice the dropper? Yeah, I used a medicine dropper, because that is what I had. It worked, no problem what so ever. It isn't about the perfect equipment, sometimes what you have available will work just fine. Gotta remember that!

Mad Science at the Homeschool Science Series

This month's Homeschool Science Series presenter was Mad Science. They are one of the presenters we saw last year and loved, so I was really looking forward to it!

From the beginning, though, it was different. It wasn't the same presenter. He was good, but lacked some of the energy of the presenter from last year. None of the information was new. But my mantra, repetition is good, applies here. The more times they see the toilet paper demonstration, the more likely they are to remember the Bernoulli effect and the like. Yes, eventually we will cover it in science (though I don't remember covering it in my science classes...), but they will already have exposure to the concept. That can only help!

Even given that, it was fun and educational! High excitement, high interest, high impact science demonstrations.

How to toilet paper a tree (a.k.a. the Bernoulli effect)


Dry ice clouds