Friday, April 29, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up--April 29, 2011

Another week has flown by!


Monday the weather was much nicer than it has been, so we went for a walk. We hunted yellow, and battled trolls and Yetis along the way.


Tuesday we headed to the Mall of America to visit Minnesota Sea Life Aquarium (formerly Underwater World or Underwater Adventures). No trip to the Mall would be complete without a stop by the LEGO store, which has been completely redone since our last visit!


We had a nice quiet day at home on Wednesday.


found us at friends and eating up the rest of the day running errands. But we had some fun with Spanish at the library!


Friday we got up SUPER early to watch the Royal Wedding. Well, that and get sick, if you are Kutey.

  • Kiddo started Explode the Code book 7. He'll be done with it in no time. Guess I should figure out what spelling program we will start when we are done with Explode the Code.
  • Kiddo is nearing the end of his Math book. He will likely move to the next book either the end of the coming week or the beginning of the following. Depends on how our flow is.
  • We read Chapter 34, The Rise of Julius Ceasar in Story of the World, Vol. 1. I feel like we have been sort of "plowing through" our history, not doing as many of the extras and activities as we have done before. I'll be giving that some thought this week.
  • We started Unit 12: Cnidaria in R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey-Life 1, but didn't finish it. We'll wrap it up the beginning of next week.
  • Kiddo and I are continuing our leaf monitoring for nature study. They are rather slow to come out this year, but after a sunny day, they have popped a bit. Kutey sometimes joins us, sometimes she doesn't.
  • Kutey and I went back into Teach Your Child to read in 100 Easy Lessons. I used this to teach Kiddo how to read. Kutey and I worked through 40 lessons a year ago, but then she tired of it. She was just barely 4 at the time, so I wasn't too worried. We're combining it with Starfall and a few other resources. Hopefully.
  • We started rowing Night of the Moonjellies to coincide with our study of Cnidaria. We covered quite a bit, but there are a few leftovers to cover next week. I don't have a book scheduled to row next week, so it will be fine. I am terribly inconsistent with my rowing.
  • We picked up some Perler beads for fine motor practice, too.

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

What happened to Thursday?

Some days just seem to disappear before my eyes. Thursday was one of those days. We did not get much of what was on the calendar accomplished. That isn't to say we didn't have a good day!

The kids were excited because we were going to friends for the morning. They really were not focused on anything. We left a little early with the intent of stopping by a garage sale on our way. It was a rainy, COLD day, but there were sales none-the-less! I managed to get 2 shirts for kiddo, but that was all.

We had a great time at our friends! These are the kids I used to watch on Mondays. They haven't been to our house for several weeks and the kids were very excited to see them. I got to spend some time chatting with their mom, which is always rewarding.

We left there just before lunch. There was another garage sale touted as one for homeschoolers and I had books to return to the library, so we went to the sale on our way to the library. They had *some* stuff, but I walked out with little for school. Kiddo was most excited about the sandwich container I got. We had one, now we have 2. They can each use one. Apparently this was exciting.

Then we went to the library. Going to the library is a commitment right now. There are 2 libraries about 3 miles from our house. One has a terrible selection, the other is currently closed for renovation. So we have to drive 8 miles to another library. I know 8 miles isn't that far, but it is literally all stoplights. It takes a minimum of 20 minutes to get there. Often I run in to return books and pick up the ones I have on hold. Today, though I needed to look up a few books that weren't already waiting for me. Books we will use for science. So we all went in.

And I am thrilled we did! Kiddo requested books on fish. So we found some. And a book on Manta Rays. So we got a book on Rays. And sea stars. Among others. Kutey wanted to look at "kid books." We have been reading a lot of chapter books and non-fiction books, and I think she just wants me to read more picture books. The fact that she picked out one book after another to "read before we take it home, so I can decide if I want it or not," probably supports that theory. We sat in the great reading room and read for a long time. Then we started playing with this:


So. Much. Fun. I'd call out a word, in Spanish, for Kiddo to say and find. Then he called out words for me. Then Kutey stood on a word and Kiddo said it. By the end, Kiddo could easily say the words and find them. Great learning game. It made me realize this would be super easy to do at home, just using paper!

It was almost 3 by the time we left there, and I needed to pick up contacts, so we went through the drive-through. I don't like doing that, but the kids were starving, and we were an hour from getting home.

After picking up the contacts, we headed to the thrift shop. An unscheduled stop. But Kutey had done perler beads for the first time at our friends, and she wanted some for home. They are good for fine motor skills, so I was willing to indulge her. I know the thrift shop always has them, so it was easy. Kiddo picked up a few books while we were there, too.

Then we headed home, by way of a few garage sales. Didn't get much, but you just never know!

Hubby arrived home not much after us, and we discovered that his car had been broken into while parked in the driveway overnight. There was nothing in it to steal, so they got nothing, it was just totally disconcerting to have someone in our car! In our driveway! Such a violation.

So that is what happened to Thursday! I can't wait until the library closer reopens so that we won't lose a whole afternoon just taking a quick trip to the library!

Where were you at 2 am?

Did you get up early to watch the Royal Wedding?

We did. Sort of. I set the alarm for 2 am when I went to bed at 10 pm. At 12:30 am, Kutey cried from her room, said she was sick, and we beat it to the bathroom. Nothing came of it. She went back to bed, back to sleep. I went back to bed. The alarm went off, I decided to let the kids sleep for a bit longer. They had other plans. Kutey woke up 15 minutes later, again complaining that she didn't feel well, we hit the bathroom, nothing. Kiddo woke up and asked if it was time to get up, so I let him.

For the next hour, we watched the wedding hype. Well, Kiddo, hubby, and I did. Kutey was still miserable. And miserable became truly sick at 3:15. Ugh. After that, she went to sleep. She woke up briefly just in time to see the bride get into her car and drive off to the abbey. She also woke up to see the kiss on the balcony. Other than that, however, my little princess missed the whole royal extravaganza. Poor thing. She was feeling better by the middle of the day, thank goodness.

We caught a recap of the wedding, so all was not lost. She got to see all the good parts, without the long drawn out parts. Kiddo kept telling her "oh, and then there was singing that lasted forever!" or "We saw the guests come to the church, and then it was forever before anything good happened." He watched just about the full 5+ hours, dozing only briefly while we waited for the balcony appearance.

It was such fun to watch! Catherine was a beautiful bride. Her dress was fabulous. I loved watching Princes William and Harry interact. The carriage was fairytale. I think that might have been Kutey's favorite part.

Did you watch? What was your favorite part?


Shuttle Endeavour Delayed

After the early morning for the wedding this morning, we were looking forward to watching the space shuttle Endeavour. It was a bummer that they had to delay, but it actually might work out better. We might be more awake when it launches now!

In the meantime, I found some fun information! NASA has announced where the four shuttles will be placed on display. I hope we can go see one of them someday. Kiddo would love it!

I also found this map of where the space station is.

We'll be watching the updates, waiting to hear when the launch will be!

LEGO Aquarium

Our trip the aquarium earlier this week had a big impact on Kiddo, apparently. I often find out how important or exciting something is to him by what he builds out of LEGOS. This week was no different.


He built an aquarium! So FUN! He had tanks for the octopus, seahorses, and fish.

Seahorses! There was even a find the seahorses game!

I demanded requested he add jellyfish. We did, after all, go to the aquarium specifically to see the jellyfish. He obliged.

Jellyfish tanks!

I love when he does these things. He just reinforces his learning, which is so great.

If you like LEGOS, be sure to check out our trip to the totally redone LEGO store! The new creations are pretty amazing.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Garden Challenge Post #2


It has already been a month since first post for the Homeschool Village's Garden Challenge, which means it is time for the second post!

I'd love to say we have our garden planned, that we have been out digging the new dirt in, that we are ready to plant, that the weather has cooperated. I'd love to say that the tree has been taken out of the garden. The reality, however, is that our garden looks like this:

Pretty sure the garden is still under there...

Not better. Worse in fact. None of the tree has been cleared out. Much more of the tree has been placed in the garden, to save the grass. So step one is still: Clear out the dead tree. The kids are not really interested in helping with that. Nor, honestly, is hubby. It seems I will need to hire "a tree guy," to come in and take it away. FUN! At least the tree has been cut down completely. No more chain dangerously stuck in it.


We have been thinking about what to plant. I came across a Lowe's ad with yard and garden ideas (I am working on finding a link, I'll update if I do!). There was a "Pizza Garden" in it. Two containers, one with tomato and chives, the other with bell peppers, oregano, and parsley. The kids and I discussed the idea and decided it sounded like fun. So our containers will have those things. I cleared out the remnants of last year's tomatoes, and emptied the dirt into the garden. I think new dirt is a good idea.



I also emptied the plants out of the front half barrel. It is usually planted with flowers Kutey's picks out. We'll probably do the same this year. She doesn't pick them until she sees them at the nursery.




This space is outside my front door, along the garage. It is screaming to be filled with planters for herbs and vegetables. It gets pretty good sun, so I am thinking maybe a few tomatoes here, too. It has the added benefit of being out of the general range of these:


Yep, still gonna need that fence. Kiddo and Daddy have been talking about what they will build.

I haven't been too worried about the garden. Our weather has been cold, cold, cold. We won't plant for a couple more weeks anyway. I also need a weekend when it isn't so rainy so we can actually get into the garden!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The all new LEGO store

After our outing to the Sea Life Aquarium, we had lunch in the food court above the LEGO Store. We haven't been there for a while and discovered they have redone the WHOLE THING! There are brand new giant LEGO creations. AMAZING. You should have seen Kiddo's face when he saw this:


I wasn't sure I was going to be able to drag him away to get lunch!

The kids spent a good amount of time simply staring over the railing at the LEGO store after they ate. When we finally told them we could head down--thrilled is an understatement.

Kiddo then discovered the Diagon Alley LEGO set in the window of the store. We all meandered over to the Microsoft store and watched the Kinect in action...made me want one even more! Kiddo didn't realize he was alone for a few minutes (I could see him the whole time). It was amusing when he did realize it. He stayed right where he was, and just looked both ways, until I went to get him. We went inside the store.


WOW! Only the bottom six were for consumers to buy from, but still, a TON of bricks!


So fun! Check out the peacock feather on the hat!


Can you believe they have Theseus and the Minotaur?

They have a somewhat better building area, but they took out the track, which is kind of a bummer. Though it was much easier to pull my kids away!

Our Classroom Today--April 26, 2011


It was a cold, rainy, cold, rainy day. Our Tuesday group has had to be indoors a bit too often as of late, winter is just dragging on and on! This week, though, Minnesota Sea Life Aquarium at the Mall of America is having homeschool days, offering a steep discount. YAY!

This was the best shot I could get!

We are studying cnidaria (R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey-Life Unit 12) and rowing Night of the Moonjellies this week and the aquarium is the only place close by that I know of with jellyfish. Seemed like a perfect match. OK, so I tweaked our schedule a bit to make the two coincide, but I have been tweaking the science schedule all winter to make it work with what we have available!


The aquarium has been completely redone in the last year or so, and it is much improved. I specifically wanted to see the jellyfish, sea horses, and the octopus. Kiddo specifically wanted to hang out with his friends, so the educational value was a bit lost on him. He willingly touched sea stars and horseshoe crabs, though, so his friends were a positive influence there. Normally he is hesitant to do those things.

Jellyfish fun house!

The room the jellyfish are in has walls of mirrors, which makes it seem like there are even more jellyfish than there actually are. There were many, but not as many as it seems at first glance. Kutey had pinched her fingers prior to this room and was having a hard time calming back down, Kiddo had gotten ahead of me so I couldn't make sure he had taken notice of the things he was supposed to take notice of, and there were a lot of people. I got kiddo to come back and stay closer, Kutey calmed down a little, but the loudness and the people didn't go away. I did make sure we got a good look at the jellyfish. I could have spent literally hours staring at them, if there had been fewer people. And if my kids hadn't wanted to move on. And if we hadn't been with friends. Hours. So peaceful. But we moved on.


We made our way to the seahorses, which were quite cool, but crowded. At one point, I noticed Kiddo start talking to a woman we didn't know. I wasn't worried, I knew why he was talking to her. She looked a bit like me, and was holding a camera like me. He had no idea it wasn't me until I tapped him on the shoulder. Kutey lost me for a second in this room, mistaking the same woman for me, and melted down again. But the sea horses were fun to look at. Really fun.


Then it was on to the coral and anemones, and finally the tube aquarium, where you literally walk directly under the fish, sharks, rays, and turtles. The kids love this part. It used to be the first thing you did, but they have reversed the path and made it come at the end. The Sawfish was particularly popular with our friend N. Kiddo enjoyed the Shark Ray. Kutey liked seeing the Loggerhead Sea Turtle. We read a book about Loggerheads a couple of weeks ago, so it fit right in.

Kutey loved these Koi.

We finished up our trip through the aquarium and headed to lunch. We boarded the elevator with...the woman both Kiddo and Kutey had mistaken for me! She knew they had done it. She thought she had made Kutey cry. I assured her it was just the timing, it wasn't her specifically. She is a homeschooler as well, so we exchanged pleasantries and names. Maybe I'll bump into her again!


A few more fun things we saw:

Almost as much fun as the jellyfish!

My friend T loved these eels. They were quite fun to watch!

Shark eggs. We almost missed these. They were right at the door on the way out, along with a few tiny baby sharks!


Aren't they magical?

Monday, April 25, 2011

A yellow walk

The weather today was actually spring-like, surprising considering the spring we have had! Kutey wanted to go for a walk. Knowing the forecast for the next couple of days is cold and rainy, I thought it was a fantastic idea!

The very first thing we noticed?


Dandelions! The first of the season. I know many people think they are a pest and spray to get rid of them. They are Kutey's favorite, though. She would happily spend hours picking them. It is one of my favorite images of summer, my little girl frolicking in the dandelions. You can imagine the glee when they were discovered. Kutey wanted to pick them on the spot, but we were literally a block from home, just starting our walk. I didn't want to carry them all the way back. So we picked them on our way home.

A little farther along our path, we saw these:


Daffodils! A sure sign of spring. There are oddly very few of these in our area. They really brighten up the landscape! I admit, I have not planted any in my yard to add to the color. Maybe I should!

Then there were the not so natural yellow objects that crossed our path:

Don't you love when some company comes through and leaves leaflets all over that no one wants? And then they just blow about the neighborhood? Yeah, it's not my favorite, either. This one was a bit too far out in the marshy, swampy area to retrieve.


Not really sure what this is. It looks like a ball, but it had tape wrapped around it, and seemed to be covered in fabric. We left it where it was. But it IS yellow, so there you go.

This lovely bush rounded out our yellow hunt. Beautiful!


In addition to hunting yellow (which was mostly imposed by me), we had to get past numerous grumpy old trolls, some terrifying snow bugs, and even a Yeti! Yep. Our neighborhood is dangerous. These things are around every corner, or at every other driveway, as the case was today. Getting past them requires a great deal of skill and wit. They also have well developed communication. Each time we came across a new troll, he already knew our trick from the previous troll.

We also climbed Mount Everest, which seems to be a lot closer to my house than I thought, and much, MUCH easier to climb than I thought it would be!

I know these walks probably don't appeal to a lot of people. I just feel so lucky to be able to spend this time with my kids. We had so much fun!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Bakken Museum--Homeschool Science Series

The April Homeschool Science Series was presented by the Bakken Museum. I admit, we have never been there. It has been on my list of places to go but has been a casualty of the sheer number of opportunities available to us. After seeing the presentation, I am even more inclined to go!

The presentation was on static electricity. Kiddo has been asking me about the shocks he gives Kutey when he helps her unbuckle her seat belt, so the timing was fabulous. Kiddo wasn't sure he wanted to go--until I said that maybe his questions would get answered. Then we were off.


Andre, the presenter, was fabulous. Keep in mind, this is far from a typical "school" group. The age range is infant to probably 13. Not all presenters can handle that range at once. Add to that the fact that he is used to working with the aid of a white board, but this room doesn't have a white board. He did great. He used a lot of volunteers (no shortage of those here!) He explained things very clearly and concisely.

Demonstrations included many things using a Van de Graaff generator. We watched as bits of paper flew out of first one person's hand, then the last person's hand in a string of two people. We watched as hair stood out. We watched as a ball on a rod bounced between two hands. All of these things were explained, quite simply, using the terms attract and repel. By the end, the kids could explain attract and repel, insulator and conductor.


Andre saved the best for last, though. First, we all stood in a circle, creating a circuit, through which a shock was sent. I have seen and heard about this, but I don't remember participating. I made sure the kids participated because, as the presenter noted, it isn't everyday that you get to try this! He noted that he hadn't done it with a group this large, so it might take a couple of tries. It didn't. The first time worked and it was so cool! Kutey's face was priceless. I don't think either kid knew what to expect! The whole room was excited. So he did it again.

The final thing, after that, was an explanation of lightning rods. He had a miniature house with a lightning rod. He placed a bit of Bangsite inside it. First he hit the grounded lightning rod with a shot of electricity taken from the Van de Graaf generator and placed in a Leyden jar. Then he ungrounded it and repeated the process. With a bang of a result. The audience LOVED it. Kiddo LOVED it. You may remember that his favorite Ben Franklin invention was the lightning rod. It was a memorable demonstration.

At the very end, when he took questions, Kiddo raised his hand and asked his question. I was proud of him for remembering his question AND remembering to ask it.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up--April 15, 2011

Let's get right to it!


Monday was a busy, busy day. We hit The Works in the morning to build cars, then headed to my hometown to welcome our new cousin/niece and play with her big brother. We also had a bit of fun with snakes!


We went to the ballet on Tuesday, then had a picnic and played at the park, digging a giant hole.


Wednesday Kiddo and I had a great day full of good school fun, but Kutey wound up with strep throat.


On Thursday, Kiddo finished his Magic Treehouse Research Guide on the Titanic so we did a bit more exploration on the subject.

We took the day off on Friday. I wasn't feeling particularly well, which makes it harder to teach! Kiddo spent some quality time with his LEGOS, and both kids got to go to run errands with Daddy who stayed home since I wasn't feeling well (we thought it might be strep, and I might need to go to the doctor, which is trickier when you are not feeling well and have to take 2 kids with you.)

Curriculum wise:
  • We read Chapter 31 in Story of the World, Vol.1 about the Mauryan Empire of India.
  • We haven't been very good about working on science the last couple of weeks. Supplies have been ordered, however, so we should be able to pick up R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey-Life next week and move forward again, er, backward as the case may be.
  • Kiddo is working on spelling with words from Explode the Code book 6. Those -er, -ir, -ur words are tricky! He loves to practice by spelling them for me while going up and down the stairs. Book 7 should arrive sometime in the next week or so, and we'll go back to our regular lessons.
  • In math, Kiddo started learning his times tables. He has been multiplying for a while, but hasn't ever memorized the tables. I remember learning the tables when I was young, I hope he remembers it as fondly as I do!
  • Kiddo read two Magic Treehouse Research guides this week--American Revolution and Titanic--in addition to other reading.
  • We measured and sketched leaf buds in our back yard for nature study.
  • Kiddo is still working through Mango Languages Little Pim. He seems to enjoy it. I'll be looking for a new teaching tool, however, since he will have it done soon!
  • Kutey read a bit and did Spanish, but getting sick mid-week brought things to an abrupt halt.

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

Friday, April 15, 2011

Titanic Study and LEGOS

Kiddo adores Magic Treehouse Research Guides. He likes the fiction books, but he LOVES the Research Guides. They are his current go to read. This week he read the American Revolution and The Titanic. Once he reads them, we go to the website, take the quiz, and he gets a stamp in his passport. He loves that.

I love how he reads these books and feels the need to share what he has learned, "Did you know...?" I hear this many, MANY times when he is reading. I love it!

On Thursday he finished Titanic. As he was announcing his progress (another one of the things that makes reading these fun), I started looking for things to further explore the Titanic. In my search I came across History Channel's Titanic information. So once he read the book, he took the quiz, and we perused the website. I was glad Kutey was upstairs resting, because the information might have been a little intense for her. Kiddo handled it all well, though. The Titanic Interactive section was my favorite. There are survivor stories in that area that added a more in depth touch. Did you know that there was a stewardess, Violet Jessop, who survived the Titanic sinking AND the sinking of the Britannic during World War I? The ships were both part of the White Star Line. Violet continued to work on ships through her life. I am not sure I would have ever wanted to get on another ship after Titanic.

Kiddo also built a mini-Titanic from LEGOS. This was all his idea. He started it on Tuesday, when he first picked up the book. He was intrigued by the double layer hull and the watertight compartments. Once he finished reading, he thought he should build a bigger version, a better version. It hasn't happened yet, but it likely will soon!



More LEGO Creations at My Blessings From Above!