Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Snail Study

Alexandra has been begging to teach me again since she taught me about ladybugs last week. So, while we were at the library this week, she picked out a book about snails and decided that was what she wanted to teach.

I helped her find a few websites earlier this week and she printed out a coloring page, a maze, and instructions on how to make a Model Magic snail. We had a cute lesson today that lasted about an hour. I thought our snails turned out adorable! And, I'm glad to see her so excited about learning. And, teaching!

Squirrel Feeder

For my birthday last week, I told my husband and daughter that I'd like something for the yard. They got me a squirrel feeder - they even hung it up while I was at the Beth Moore event on Friday!

Today was the first day we've seen a squirrel at the feeder. We watched him for about 10 minutes and he let us get within a few steps of him. It was so funny! He was barely paying any attention to us. He'd lean out over the feeder and raise up the lid and get out a sunflower seed or piece of corn. Then, he perch back on the fence and take about half a minute to gobble it down. Then, he was back for another bite. He didn't run off until we were close enough we could have touched him! (By that time I'd switched cameras, so I don't have some of the better photos yet.)
Our little chihuahua loves to chase the squirrels and he was trying to get to this one, but the squirrel just ignored him. Evidentally, my dog isn't very scary and the food we serve around here is delicious.

Tadpoles: Day 6

We still have 5 tadpoles alive and growing! The poor little guy with the crooked tail isn't looking very good, though. We actually moved him to his own bowl and are trying to get food right near him. I'm guessing that if he can survive the tadpole stage, he should be just fine.

Today was exciting because we could see a few tadpole eyes! And, we saw a mouth, too! (One tadpole was up against the wall of the aquarium and you could see his mouth.) They are getting such fat bodies, although they're still less than an inch long. What fun!!! (You can compare their shapes from "Day 4" - their body shape has really changed!)
A funny story: We were at the park yesterday and I ran into a friend I hadn't seen in about a year. She was asking me about homeschooling as she's considering doing it herself. She asked if our school was "fun" and "hands-on" and I said "Yes!" I told her about our tadpoles and was shocked that she didn't share my enthusiasm. It truly never crossed my mind that all mommies wouldn't want to raise tadpoles! :-) Now I get it though... they're frogs, right? Is that supposed to be a boy thing??? Or gross or something? Maybe I don't get it... I love frogs!

Monday, February 26, 2007

5 Reasons Why I Blog

Dana over at Rare and Beautiful Treasures tagged me for my very first meme! (It's been so nice to be have so many people reading and commenting on my blog lately!) (By the way, what does meme mean?) So, here are 5 reasons why I blog:
  1. I blog to keep a scrapbook/yearbook of our homeschooling experience. I love to scroll back through the pages and see what we've done. I especially love looking at the photos! And, I did print off all the photos from last year and put them in a "Kindergarten Scrapbook", although there aren't any words in it at this point. Someday...
  2. My blog is where I can go to look up resources we've used. For example, with St. Patrick's Day coming up, I went back to last year's posts and read about what we did and, especially, what books we enjoyed. I've checked them out to read again this year.
  3. I blog in the hope that other people who read my blog find my resources useful. I try to post book lists, websites, even photos, in the hopes that others can use them.
  4. I blog because I love to get inspired by other people's blogs. I'm hoping someone might get inspired by mine!
  5. I blog so our school can touch more than just my daughter and myself. I want to share what we're learning! And, share that learning can be fun! And, that there are so many ways to learn!
I'm not sure who to "tag." I've just started reading so many new blogs in the past couple of weeks and am enjoying them all. So, if you read this consider yourself tagged and let me know if you post something on your blog!

Tadpoles: Day 4

(Photo taken from above the tadpole's tank. The tadpoles are almost 1 inch long now. You also can see some eggs that haven't hatched. I took 9 photos and this is the only one that was half-way decent.)
I've been a little afraid for the little tadpoles we got in the mail Friday. They seemed to be growing bigger, but they were rarely moving. The literature said they wouldn't move much, but it still seemed scary!

Well, the 5 original that hatched before we got them, are alive and doing well! They broke free from their egg sacs today and are now swimming around. (None of the other 10 have hatched.) One poor little guy has a crooked tail and can only swim in a circle. We're not sure what we're going to do about him.

We are just really having a lot of fun watching these little guys and are amazed at how fast they're growing! We even fed them for the first time this afternoon, although I'm not sure they ate anything.

Go, Girls' Team!

Alexandra is taking karate and the girls are definitely the minority. Today, they did a mini-tournament of sword and shield fighting. They divided the kids by ages and so Alexandra was in the 5's, 6's, and 7's. There were a total of 11 boys and 1 girl - her!

She ended up finishing 2nd place!!! The sensei is always saying "Go, Girls' Team!" and we were so proud of how she represented the girls' team... and just proud of her! I was disappointed that they only gave a prize to the first place, but we'll always know she fought in the championship round and came in 2nd!!!

Go, Girls' Team!!! Go, Alexandra!!!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Best Kids Book Site

I used to use this site a lot and had totally forgotten about it! It's a great way to find books on a particular subject. Thanks to Starry Sky Ranch for the reminder!

Tadpoles: Day 1

Our frog embryos came last night!!! We were so amazed that they are so small. The literature told us that some could have hatched while in shipment, or they might hatch after we received them. Well, we have 15 eggs!!! And, 5 of those have hatched. They are so small!
Last night, we couldn't' tell for sure what anything was. But, today, you can tell the head, tail & gills of the 5 that have hatched. And, they are all (except one) still inside their yolk sac (you can see the faint circle around some of them in the photo). The 5 that have hatched wiggle occasionally. If you watch them for a few minutes, you'll see 1 or 2 wiggle.
I'm just so excited about them! (Alexandra is, too.) I was disappointed to learn that we are not supposed to release them. I honestly thought we could as they are a common type of frog. What will I do if all 15 survive???

Friday, February 23, 2007

Teacher for the Day

Alexandra slept late this morning as she had to take some Benadryl last night for a very infected fire ant bite. (We went to the doctor today and got some antibiotics.) So, with a very late start already and a doctor's appointment only 3 hours away, I was surprised when Alexandra said she wanted to be the teacher today and she wanted to teach me about ladybugs, history, and art. And, I decided to let her!

First of all, she wanted me to show her how I find things to teach with on the internet. She especially wanted a little booklet about ladybugs. So, we went to Enchanted Learning and found a booklet for her to print out.

Then, we decided she needed a craft and we looked around for one. She didn't find one that she liked, so she made up her own! She gave us colored paper, stickers, glue, scissors, and crayons and we were to make a ladybug picture. We had a lot of fun! (I need to take a photo still - sorry!)

Then, I told her she needed to see if we had any books about ladybugs. She quickly found a book about bugs and looked up the page about ladybugs. During school, she read the 2-page spread and we discussed these interesting facts.

She also made up a game for us to play! It was very cute & I feel bad that we only had a few minutes to play as it was time to go to her appointment.

We meant to finish the history & art sections, but didn't get around to it. We actually read and discussed the art book she wanted to use tonight for bedtime. It's called Squeaking of Art: The Mice Go To The Museum by Wellington. It's a great book that shows modified versions of some famous work. My favorite part, though, was how it explained some art terminology like "still life", "portrait", and "landscape."

I thought it turned out to be a great day. (We also spent a lot of time "decluttering" which always feels good.) And, I thought it was neat that she got a taste of what it takes for me to put her lessons together!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Oil Painting Outside

We have been studying about the Impressionists and have gotten interested in oil paintings since our friend, Ms. S, exposed us to them last week. Today, Alexandra dragged (literally) her easel outside to do some painting. (By the way, it was a beautiful 80 degrees here today!!!)

She had so much fun painting and she even had me bring out the video camera to record her teaching a painting show. Today she taught us how to paint a ballerina. And, I'm again thankful that we can take our school outside and follow our desires - in this case, to paint! (I still need to go and clean the 15+ brushes she used...)

Playing "Mary Anning"

Alexandra had recently received a "dinosaur egg." To uncover the toy dinosaur hidden inside, you use a chisel and hammer. I thought it was so cute when she brought it outside to play with today and said that she was Mary Anning.

First of all, I'm grateful that I homeschool and so I know who Mary Anning is - I didn't before I studied about her with my daughter. Secondly, I'm grateful that my daughter knows who Mary Anning is and enjoys learning about wonderful people, especially women, of the past!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tea Party

Our Keepers group had a tea party yesterday. The girls practiced their manners and tried some new foods. I tried some new foods, too! I don't think Alexandra cared for it too much, but I loved the scones and clotted cream. Yum!

Monday, February 19, 2007


Yesterday (Yes, Sunday), Alexandra decided to do her "homework" for her Rome class at the museum. The teacher had given them an outline of a gecko and they were supposed to make it into a mosaic. We'd went shopping on Saturday and bought some mosaic pieces of different shades of green. She used this to put together her mosaic.

There weren't enough pieces to share, so I just laid mine out and took a photo & then dumped them for her to use. :-) (Photo of mine below. It was a lot of fun!)

Alexandra gets a "prize" later this week when we "hand in" her assignment. (She asked the teacher, and "Yes", she can get her project back if she wants it. Otherwise, it'll go on display in the room.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

President's Day - Lincoln

Tomorrow, for our small co-op, we're doing a short study for President's Day. I'm going to be teaching about Lincoln, so I thought I'd share what I'll be doing ahead of time in case it might help someone.

  1. Talking about why Lincoln is nicknamed "Honest Abe"
  2. Printing out a little book about Lincoln
  3. Reading the book Mr. Lincoln's Whiskers and then discussing the parts of a letter and having the children write a letter about something we're studying
(Thanks for the help on my links, B! Also, for everyone else, the "Honest Abe" link takes you to the correct page, but I can't find the "Honest Abe" article now that President's Day is past - updated 2/20/07)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Embossing Valentine's Cards

Alexandra and I made several Valentine's cards (and one birthday card) on Monday. I had taught her Keepers class about dry and heat embossing, so we did a little of each. It was a lot of fun. I want to learn more about making cards now!

Frog Habitat

Alexandra had been in the tub for almost an hour tonight, so I finally went in and asked her what she was doing.

"Making a habitat for my frog."

Then, she poured water in the purple "habitat" and said, "It needs to be moisturized."

Thank you, Magic School Bus!

(This photo was taken later - after she added a chair for her frog, Ribbit, some decorations, a bowl of water and even a shark, I mean small fish, to eat.)


Yesterday, Alexandra learned about 3D shapes with ALEKS math. I went online and found some "shape nets" - a new term to me. A shape net is the pattern you use to fold into a 3D shape. For example, I printed out a net for a rectangular prism. We cut it out, folded it, and created a rectangular prism!

Alexandra had lots of fun taping her shapes together. Then, she turned them all into dice! She even made a dice store and got all of our dice out to sell to me. Her store had a sign and everything! And, I was surprised how many dice we now have - plenty for all of our games, but I'm sure I'll buy more. I just love them! The more colors & shapes the better!
This tied in nicely with a book we read a couple of weeks ago called Sir Cumference and the Sword in the Cone by Neuschwander.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Multiplication Math Game

Alexandra started some harder multiplication today (ex. 42 x 3), so I came up with a new game. We took 3 dice - 2 of 1 color and the other 1 is a different color. You roll them and make the largest number possible with the 2 dice (ex. 42) and then multiply it by the die of a different color. Then, the other person takes their turn (we take turns so she can watch me do mine and I can correct her if necessary) and the winner of the round is whoever has the larger number. We played until someone (Alexandra) won 5 rounds. We both really enjoyed it, and it was a great way to practice without worksheets!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day

For God so loVed the world
that he gAve his

That whosoever

Believeth In Him
should Not perish
But have Everlasting life

John 3:16

I saw this posted on several blogs today and thought I'd add it, too. God did give us the ultimate gift of love in His Son, Jesus.

Money War for Gems

Alexandra and I modified a couple of games we've played before and came up with our own version of "Money War for Gems" which we both really enjoyed. We played it using RightStart's money cards (which is like a deck of cards with real photos of coins - and, most importantly, they are the correct size), dice, and some fake gems (though you could use anything).

Here's how we played. One person rolls a die and that is how many cards each person is dealt. Then, you turn over each card, one at a time, and add them up. The person with the highest total wins a gem and gets to roll the die next. We played until someone collected 10 gems.

This was a great game for both coin recognition and mental addition!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Home Education Resources

Alexandra and I have really been enjoying the printable games from They are priced at $2.49 each or you can buy 4 related games for $7.99. We've bought Shark Wars (from Exploring Numbers) and the whole set of both Money Skills and Multiplication & Division. We haven't tried them all yet, but here are the ones we have tried:
  • Shark Wars - Great game for learning to read large numbers. We even read facts about the different types of sharks.
  • Coin Wars - Alexandra really has been enjoying this one. She does have trouble telling quarters from nickels, so I'm not going to use thier pictures any more (the coins aren't the correct sizes, so a quarter does look about the size of a nickel.) We'll continue to play this game, but put coins in a cup and pour them out one by one instead. Great game for adding money!
  • Toy Store - We have just used this game to add coins. Alexandra loves this one - who doesn't want to buy toys?
  • Cats & Dogs - My favorite game, and Alexandra really enjoys it, too. It works on multiplication skills up to 6 x 6.
By the way, this site also has some neat worksheets that are free!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Germs & Infection

Today we continued our study of germs (or microbes) and infection. We went to Brain Pop Jr. ( and watched a video about why it is important to wash your hands. (It is found under Health, then Be Well, then Washing Hands.) After the video, you can take a quiz, see a cartoon, draw about it, read about it (short book list), write about it, etc. There are just lots of good ideas there! And, there are also some great ideas to try under "Ideas for Grown Ups."

Later, we played some games at the American Museum of Natural History's website. They have an area called "Infection Detection Protection." There are 7 activities there, and so far we've done 3 of them.

"Meet the Microbes" talks about the difference between viruses, bacteria, and protozoa.

"Bacteria in the Cafeteria" is a game where you click on different blue stars in the cafeteria and they tell you about different bacteria. You decide if they are helpful or not.

"Infection" was probably our favorite. You get to pick which virus you want to be. Then, you try to get past a body's defenses. You "roll" and then move your piece. It might say "You were sneezed out. Go back to Start" or "You got into the blood stream. Move ahead 4 spaces." We never got anywhere close to winning. It really shows how hard it is for germs actually to get into your body and make you sick.

We plan at looking at the other 4 items in the next couple of days.

Two good books we enjoyed:
  • No Measles, No Mumps for Me by Paul Showers
  • I Know How We Fight Germs by Kate Rowan - this is a "Sam's Science" book - we've never read any of these before, but Alexandra liked it so much that I've now ordered all the books are library has in this series

Saturday, February 10, 2007

acorn-like seeds

We found these acorn-like seeds near Dallas recently. Maybe they are a type of acorn? (That's what the local children told me.) And, yes, I forgot to look at the tree. (We were in a hurry and I just grabbed them.) I should have photographed them next to a coin or something. They're pretty big. The largest is almost as big as a golf ball. Can anyone help me identify them? Thanks!

"S" hook

Here's the "S" hook the blacksmith at the living history museum made for us on Wednesday. He said it could hold about 200 pounds! Also, the end is "rolled" so that it wouldn't tear fabrics or otherwise hurt things that were hung on it.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Thankful Thursday

I was reading Rare and Beautiful Treasure's blog tonight (see side bar) and she was doing a list for Thankful Thursday about why she's thankful to live where she does. My blog is usually more about what we're doing, but I needed this tonight, so here goes!

10 Things that I am thankful for tonight:
  1. I am thankful that I can stay home and homeschool my daughter.
  2. I am thankful that I can afford to take her on lots of field trips and museums.
  3. I am thankful for homeschooling friends.
  4. I am thankful for the internet, where I get so many wonderful ideas.
  5. I am thankful for a wonderful library that puts the world at our fingertips.
  6. I am thankful that I live in a city with so many opportunities (museums, fine arts, homeschool activities, etc).
  7. I am thankful that I live in a city that is warm most of the year - it's been in the 70's the past 2 days, although it'll cool off tomorrow.
  8. I am thankful for a creative friend who is doing a very small co-op with me ("Thanks, S!").
  9. I am thankful for a husband who is very supportive of our homeschooling.
  10. I am thankful for a loving God who loves me even when I act unlovable... like today.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A Working Historical Farm

We went to a working historical farm today. They have 4 main areas, although one is being worked on: they represent the 1830's, 1860's, 1890's, and 1930's.

Our first stop was the 1830's. This farm house (above photo) was a LOT like the one we visited in the fall. Since we weren't on a tour, we just walked around and did what we wanted. After exploring the house, including some steep steps to the upstairs, Alexandra used a grinder to grind some corn. Then, we headed out to the pig pen to see the pigs. There were already some people there talking to one of the people who worked there (they were costumes from their time period). Well, we ended up hooking up with this large, extended family for the rest of the day. There were 3 other children about Alexandra's age, and one of the mom's used to be a tour guide at the ranch!!! She gave us an "insider's tour."

Next stop was the 1890's (as the 1860's is under "re"construction). We did get to ride a tram there and we tried to spot the alligator that often frequents the area. We found him lying on the shore as we passed over a bridge. Alexandra was glad we were on the tram... they say he is 15 feet long!!! I was sad I didn't get a photo, but glad that Alexandra didn't get scared as we were on the tram.
In the 1890's area, we first watched the blacksmith for quite a while. He made a S-hook and they gave it to Alexandra to keep!!! The "ex"guide had first asked if she could have it to keep, but then she passed it along to us as her daughter already has one. I'll have to take a photo of it. What a neat keepsake! And, he used wax to coat it!

The 1890's house (above photo) was wonderful. We learned lots of neat trivia, like how the men and women hit their flasks from each other. And, about a parasite that created beautiful patterns in the wood the house is made of. Because of pesticides, this parasite is now extinct and there will never again be any wood that looks like this.
The last stop was the 1930's. We mainly just watched the cowboy show. I took lots of pictures (I loved this!!!), so I'll just talk you through them.
One of the horses - named Blue

The 2 cowboys trying to get a lasso on the cow

The first cow we saw roped - they actually eventually put 2 ropes on him - one from each cowboy

Half-way there!

One cowboy will jump off his horse while the other holds a robe tight. Then, the cowboy gets the cow on his side. He pulls the tail between the cow's legs because the cow can't stand up without his tail to help him "balance!". The reason the rope the cows in the first place would be to help them - give them medicine, check out a problem, etc.

Trying to rope cow #2

Telling us about branding the cows. He also talked about how they would clip their horns when necessary (kind of like clipping our nails) and how they give the cows their bolus twice a year - they grab the cow by one horn, then hold on to him with his nostrils and use a tool to put the bolus into the cow's stomach. In the old days, the cowboy with the skinniest arms got this job. Yuck!

The last thing we watched was the cows swimming. This is actually the last working bath of the kind in the country. It was used to kill the ticks off of the cows. They used many horrible chemicals in the past that sometimes killed the cows, the cowboys, or the people who ate the meat. This is now just used for a demonstration and contains only water.

As you can tell, we had a wonderful day. And, the temperatures were in the 70's! Alexandra came home with a little corn doll that cost less than $2. You can't beat that! And, I came home with lots of photos.


Today we went to Alexandra's astronomy class. We were the first family there and there is a fairly long walk from the parking lot to the building. On the walk, we pass over a lake. We were surprised to find several vultures sitting in a tree nearby. We quietly walked closer as I took quite a few photos. As we got closer, the birds took off one by one. Then, we noticed more in other trees. And, finally, we saw many flying in the air near the end of the lake. I think we saw around 70 or 80 vultures! It was amazing!

I asked our teacher about them when we got to class. She confirmed they were vultures - she believes they are called black vutlures. She says they migrate through every year and arrive around November. They leave a different area when the eagles arrive for their migration. Then, when the eagles leave, the vultures return there. She says it's strange - you'll have all these vultures around for several months and then one day, they just all leave!
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