Thursday, December 29, 2005

Building Bridges

This week during "Christmas break", we've been "studying" bridges. It all started with a class we took at a local museum a few weeks ago. During the class, we learned why people use triangles as part of their bridges. (Triangles are much stronger) We also made a toothpick & clay bridge with lots of triangles.

This week, we've been studying the 3 basic types of bridges: beam, arch, and suspension. We made models of all 3 with simple materials like index cards, straws, and dental floss. We were impressed with how much load the bridges could bear! Photo is of our suspension bridge, which held over 250 pennies before it collapsed.

For our activities, we used these 2 websites: and

We also watched a wonderful video of the collapes of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. It was about 2 1/2 minutes long. Unfortunately, I can't find the website now, although I find lots of websites with shorter videos.

And, we watched a couple of videos from our library. Our favorite was called "Big Cable Bridges."

Now we're enjoying seeing what types of bridges we see as we travel around town!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Feliz Navidad

Alex's Spanish class had a Christmas Party this week - Feliz Navidad! The children sang two songs in Spanish, broke open a pinata, ate Mexican snacks, and then had a birthday cake and sang Happy Birthday (Feliz Cumpleanos) to Jesus. Alex had really been looking forward to the pinata for a few weeks, and she wasn't disappointed! Each child got two turns to hit and then they got lots of candy.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Getting Ready for Christmas

We have less than 2 weeks to go until Christmas. Last week, we "trimmed" the tree. We even bought a new artificial one this year with the lights already "strung." Alex loved decorating the tree and the house! What an extra joy Christmas is when a child is involved...

We've also been doing some holiday baking. Alex helped me make a batch of toffee, some gingerbread men, and some peanut butter fudge. It was my first time to make the fudge & I had to make a second batch after Alexandra went to bed tonight because I messed up the first batch. But, batch number 2 turned out great! We'll be giving some of these treats out to Alexandra's teachers & friends - mine, too!

Tonight we also made and decorated a gingerbread house. This is only our second try, and we thought it turned out pretty well! We bought pre-formed pieces & decorations from our grocery store & it included a mix to make the icing. This icing was WONDERFUL! It was so much like "glue!" It WAS hard to squeeze out, but it kept everything in place. Alexandra even put a gingerbread man INSIDE our house. She told me that she'd never do this if she was the mom - too messy!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Las Posadas

We are using the Evan-Moor "Theme Pockets: December" book this December to study December holidays. Yesterday, we were working on Las Posadas which is celebrated in Mexico. We read a wonderful book, so I just had to share it! It's called Nine Days to Christmas by Marie Hall Ets and Aurora Labastida.

Also, today for Las Posadas Alexandra made a luminaria. Here's a picture of her holding it to light the way to the Inn!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


For Thanksgiving, we are doing the Evan-Moor study entitled "Life in Plymouth Colony." It's a History Pocket book. Anyway, one of Alex's favorite things has been the tithing man and his pole. The tithing man who watched over the long church services. He had a pole (forgot if it has a name) that had a fur (or feather) on one end & a knob on the other. If a child was giggling or talking during church, the tithing man tapped him on the head with the knob. If anyone (except a baby) fell asleep during church, the tithing man tickled them under the nose to wake them up. If an adult smiled or talked during church, they had to pay a fine! Glad our church isn't so strict. :-)

The picture above shows Alex holding her Tithing Man's pole. Hopefully, she won't bring it to church! :-)

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Italy & DaVinci

The past few weeks, we've been studying Italy. I must be running out of steam, as we did a little less for this country, too. We did have another Treasure Chest about Leonardo DaVinci. From that kit, we built a model of Da Vinci's flyer.

And, we'd picked up a book that had a model of the Coliseum. We made it, too.
We've had fun studying countries, but we are going to take a break for November to study about Thanksgiving and then probably study Christmas Around the World in December.


I adapted this from something I read on a Core Knowledge website about insects. We filled a conatainer with Cheetos, drew a bee on Alex's finger and then had her finger "visit" the flower looking for nectar. When she picked up her bee finger, "pollen" was on her finger! A great way to demonstate pollination!

Egypt, cont.

We didn't do near as much on Egypt as I had planned. We did go to the exhibit at HMNS. The 3D movie was great, but we kind of sped through the actual exhibit.

The first photo is of Alex stamping hieroglyphics on papyrus. The second photo is Alex with a temple model we built. And the last photo is Alex as we were playing the Egyptian game, Senet. All of these items were from a Treasure Chest kit (it's available at Rainbow Resource, although we got it at a discount bookstore).

Italian Festival

In October, we went to an Italian Festival. We had already eaten lunch so didn't try any of the main dishes, but we did try Italian doughnuts. They came coated in either powdered sugar (Alex's favorite) or cinnamon sugar.

We also watched dancers doing Italian dances - especially tarantella's. A few weeks later, we were studying arachinds and read that the tarantella dances were started because of a ban on dancing! They created the dances saying they were "sweating out the poison from tarantulas." We even went on stage and danced a little! The photos didn't turn out very well because of the lighting. This photos is actually just two of the dancers having fun before the show. They wore tambourines tied to their belts.

The Sedgwick County Zoo

While we were in Kansas, we also visited the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita. This was my first time there, although Alex had been there before. It was beautiful with lots of shade. We spent a lot of time watching the swans. One of them would "bark" at Alex if she hadn't fed her in a while. There was also a fish who liked to steal the food by popping out of a pipe.


In September, we went to the Cosmosphere while visiting family in Kansas. We'd never been before, and it was a great experience. They have lots of space memorabilia and we watched the IMAX film, Destination Imagination. We also went to a lecture/show about Dr. Goddard, the Father of Modern Rocketry. What a fascinating story! And, an exciting show, with plenty of explosions. We would highly recommend the Cosmosphere to anyone who has a chance to visit.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Yummy, bugs!

After attending a class about insects and arachinds at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, we decided to study more about these creatures. Tonight, we had a bug for desert! Actually, it's made of ice cream. It has 3 body parts (head, thorax & abdomen) made of ice cream, 6 legs made of pretzles, eyes made of M&M's, a mandible made of a broken M&M, and then we added a chocolate "shell" for the exoskeleton. Yummy, bugs!!! Tommorow night, we think we'll try the same thing, but make a spider instead! Yum, yum! (This was adapted from a Core Knowledge lesson plan)
Non-fiction book:
  • On Beyond Bugs: All About Insects by Tish Rabe (added to list March 2006) - great Cat in the Hat book - it's funny, it rhymes, and it teaches, all at the same time!
  • Insects That Work Together: A Bobbie Kalman Book by Aloian & Kalman - wonderful book with great facts & photos! (added Oct 2006)

Thursday, October 06, 2005


We are just getting started on Egypt, but wanted to write down some of our favorite resources so far (since I have to take them back to the library tomorrow)...
  • "Mummies Unwrapped! Alien Adventures in Ancient Egypt" - a National Geogrphic Kids Video that is funny (in a childish way - but we enjoyed it), yet informational
  • "Seeker of Knowledge: The Man Who Deciphered Egyptian Hieroglyphs" by James Rumford- wonderful book - it also teaches about perseverence and that even kids can dream big & fulfill their dreams
  • "Adventures in Ancient Egypt" by Linda Bailey - funny, but very informational book - it's about twins (brother/sister) & their little sister who travel back in time (reminds me of The Magic Tree House books) - lots of pictures - we highly recommend it
  • "The 5,000-Year-Old Puzzle: Solving a Mystery of Ancient Egypt" by Claudia Logan
  • "The Crafts and Culture of the Ancient Egyptians" by Jovinelly (added May 2006) - we've been reading some more about Egypt lately & came across this great craft book - we made a headdress & will post the picture soon - we planned on making the cat mummy, but haven't made the time
  • "Look What Came from Egypt"
Above is a step pyramid we built out of sugar cubes.


We went and saw "The March of the Penguins" movie at the theater last week (but, Alex fell asleep after about 20 minutes). After that, we borrowed a very cute movie from the library called "Antartic Antics." It is based on a poetry book by the same name, but in the movie they sing them as songs and they are very cute! Also, we borrowed a book called "Penguin Chick" by Betty Tatham. It goes wonderfully with "The March of the Penguins."

Monday, September 26, 2005


We had lots of fun studying Russia. In fact, now that we've moved on, Alex asked if we could "Do Russia" again.

Here is some of what we did:
  • Matryushka Dolls - - we printed out 5 nesting dolls (see our photo) that you color then bend & they will actually nest inside each other - we also read the Christmas story about her from the same site
  • Tchaikovsky - listened several times to "Tchaikovsky Discovers America" - wonderful!! We will probably buy this...
  • Faberge Eggs - spray painted Easter Eggs & decorated with glitter & "jewel" stickers - even hid a jewel inside
  • Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake - colored some swans & folded a paper oragami swan
  • Onion domes - coloring page (used glitter glue, too) from
  • Great book: "The Littlest Matryoshka" by Bliss - cute story about nesting dolls
  • "Rechenka's Eggs" by Polacco (added April 2006) - cute fiction book that also shows some Russian onion domed buildings and clothes and it uses some Russian words had a lot of great ideas! Sorry this is so quick & choppy!
Update: Another lady who does Galloping the Globe shared her blog with our group. If we ever get a chance to study Russia some more, we would like to try some of the ideas from her blog:

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Also for France, we've been studying the French Impressionists painters, especially Monet. Monet liked to take his easel outside to paint and he painted a lot of water scenes. So, we took our easel outside to paint a picture of our pool & the reflections in the pool. This was so much fun! Alex spent about 45 minutes on her painting! She even used her imagination and added water lilies. We just used water colors, so we didn't have many colors to choose from - I think Alex had 24 colors, and I only had 8. We need to buy some better paints!

Wright Brothers

We are studying the Wright brothers (who gained noteriety in France when they showed off their plane & flying skills). We found the instructions for making an "Incredible Edible Wright Flyer."
It is made with graham crackers, pretzles, and icing. We tried to make it with the icing, but it wasn't working for us. Maybe we should have tried a different kind of icing? Anyway, we ended up using a glue gun. I also wish we'd have broken the pretzles in half to make the plane shorter. This was a grown up job - too hard for Alex, but she enjoyed watching, eating, and then playing with the Flyer.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Eiffel Tower

This week we've been studying France. We looked at several picture books about France and studied several famous people. We watched the Nest animated movie of Joan of Arc, read quite a bit about Louis Pasteur (and watched the Nest animated movie), and read a book about Degas. Next week, we will finish by cooking a French dinner and studying Monet.

From, we found a printout to make a model of the Eiffel Tower. I really thought it looked difficult to cut, but Alex did a wonderful job! And, we once again enjoyed the freedom of homeschooling to "do school" in the beautiful outdoors!


We've been studying Galileo, and decided to make the Leaning Tower of Pisa using vanilla wafers and icing. Galileo went to the top of the tower and dropped two different weights - one heavy & one light. At the time, people believed the heavier one would hit the ground first. But, the two weights hit the ground at the same time. Galileo revolutionized the way scientists "did science" by using experiments, not just "thinking about things."

Our favorite resources for Galileo were the animated video by Nest Entertainment and the book, "Galileo" (a "What's Their Story?" book) by Jacueline Mitton.


We studied Scotland a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures. The highlight of our study was visiting a friend of ours who is from Scotland. She shared some photo albums with us, especially of her wedding, and then showed us her husband's actual kilt & accessories from their wedding! It was really neat to actually see it and learn some new terms. She also served us some shortbread and gave us a package to make Shepherd's pie and loaned us some tapes of bagpipe music. I wish I had taken my camera!

I've already returned the books, so I don't remember if there were any that we liked particularly better than others. But, one extrememly cute book that we still have is called "The Ghosts' Trip to Loch Ness" by Duquennoy.

I think if we study Scotland in the future, or we might do it anyway, I'd make my daughter a simple kilt to dress up in - I think she'd love that!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Layers of the Earth

We have now started studying geology. To begin with, we are studying the layers of the earth. Alex made a playdough model of the 4 layers of the earth: crust, mantle, outer core, & inner core. Then, we cut it open to see what it looked like. She really enjoyed making her model! And, we bought new playdough, so we both enjoyed playing with it!

Owl Pellets

We spent one day dissecting owl pellets. Alex's pellet was a lot bigger than mine, but when we found the skulls, Alex's was a lot smaller. But, then she found another skull... and another skull...

So, she had 3 whole skeletons in her pellet, and I only had one, but it was quite a bit larger. We really enjoyed it once we got past the "gross" factor.

I took the time, while Alex was still "digging" at her bones, to lay out my skeleton. I know I didn't get all the bones in the right places, and I didn't find all of the bones (it just got too tedious), but we had a lot of fun discovering the joys of owl pellets & rodent skeletons! We thought the skulls & the teeth were the neatest part!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


We have been studying "space" since Alex took a Junior Astronaut camp in late July. Here are some of our favorite books:

"Postcards from Pluto: a Tour of the Solar System" by Loreen Leedy
"The Magic Schol Bus: Lost in the Solar System" by Joanna Cole (movie, also)
"The Case of the Planetarium Puzzle" by Vivain Binamin

On her own, Alex decided to make playdough models of the planets by size. She got the idea from the "Planetarium Puzzle" book. She learned the names of the planets in order during her camp.
She also made lots of other "space crafts" at camp as shown in this picture.

At home, we used a Lite-Brite to make constellations.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Ireland Crafts

We made two castles for Ireland. The first one, the pink one, took a LOT of time as I kept messing up. Alex was expecting it to look more like a Disney princess castle.

Alex helped a lot more with the second, green one. She helped paint, cut, and decorate it. It was a lot easier, too, as it is made out of toilet paper tubes.

We also made two green, shamrock "angels." The crafts for Ireland have been lots of fun, and I don't know how we'll do near as much on other countries!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

1st day of kindergarten

Today was Alex's 1st official day of kindergarten! She will be going to a homeschool "enrichment school" every Wednesday. Since today was her first day there, we decided this was her 1st day of kindergarten. Tomorrow will be her 1st day of kindergarten at home.

FIAR-Katy and the Big Snow - Snowman

We started FIAR (Five in a Row) this week covering the book, Katy and the Big Snow. Today, we made a snowman from ice cubes! Yesterday, we filled 3 balloons with water & placed them in the freezer. Today, we sprinkled them with salt to make them melt & then stick together. Then, we decorated them with felt. Alex also added sugar to the snowman for fresh snow. There's nothing like a snowman in August!

Monday, August 08, 2005

3 States of Matter

Today we have been studying about the three states of matter: solids, liquids, and gases. We did several experiments. The experiments were from the book "Solids, liquids, and gases" by Louise Osborne.

We mixed a solid, baking soda, with a liquid, vinegar, to create a gas, carbon dioxide. The gas filled up the balloon.

We also used salt, a solid, to melt ice, another solid. The ice then froze again and stuck to the piece of yarn. Alex was able to pull the icecube out of the water with the yarn!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Harriet Tubman Resources

We read many books about Harriet Tubman, slavery & the Underground Railroad. Alex was fascinated by the whole things - she still is. We've been reading/studying these subjects for at least a month.

Here are favorites - each of these we've read more than 10 times & plan to buy them:
"Young Harriet Tubman: Freedom Fighter" by Anne Benjamin
"Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman" by Alan Schroeder
"The Drinking Gourd" by F. N. Monjo (with cassette)
"Escape North: The Story of Harriet Tubman" by Monica Kulling - we read this July 2006, and really enjoyed it. It's a Step Into Reading book
"Harriet Tubmand and the Underground Railroad" by Michael Martin - it's a cartoon-style book & we really enjoyed it - we read in July 2006

"Harriet Tubman" - an Animated Hero Classic
"Great Americans for children: Harriet Tubman"
(one of these movies we loved & watched probably 5 times, but I'm sorry I forgot which one!)
"Follow the drinking gourd" Reading Rainbow movie

Ireland Resources

Here are some of our resources from "visiting" Ireland:

"Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland" by Tomie de Paola - This was definitely our MOST read book.
"St. Patrick's Day" by Gail Gibbons - This was our 2nd most read book
"Fair, Brown & Trembling: An Irish Cinderella Story" - I like this because I've seen versions of Cinderella for other countries we'll try in the future, too.
"Katie's Wish" by Hazen - This tells about the Potato famine at a young age-appropriate level.
"Crafts for St. Patrick's Day" by Ross - we're still planning on doing a few crafts out of this. They're pretty easy, but we just need to go get some glitter & some gold pipe cleaners.

The next few books I didn't read to Alex, we just looked at and discussed the pictures:
"Dublin" by Deborah Kent, "Look What Came from Ireland" by Harvey, "Count Your Way Through Ireland" by Haskins & Benson

We also looked at a few books on potatoes. We're planning on doing a "potato" craft or experiment.

We watched 3 movies:
"Irish-American Heritage" (American Cultures for Children movie) - this was good. It taught some words in Gaelic. And, it showed how to make a harp with a box - Alex wants to do this, but I'm not sure we'll get around to it.
"Lord of the Dance" - she is LOVING this one. We've had it a week & she's watched it 3-4 times (she was pretty sick for 3 days & mostly just laid around watching movies) Now, she does Irish dancing around the house (me, too!!
"Riverdance" - we actually never finished this one because she loves "Lord of the Dance" so much, but I think I prefer this one.

We also listened to The Irish Tenors CD I already had and we learned the song about "Dublin's Fair City... and Molly Malone."

Some of my family just got back from Ireland so we're eagerly awaiting their package of goodies. :-)

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Harriet Tubman

Yesterday turned out to be unseasonably cool, so we did school outside! It was really nice. We also went for a long bike ride in the park. We worked some more on the castle, but still haven't finished it. Maybe I'll work on it some more tonight...

Besides Ireland, we are also studying about Harriet Tubman, slavery, and the Underground Railroad. Today we came across a National Geographic Site ( that lets you pretend you are a slave who is thinking about running away. If you decide to run away, you may get caught! (We did) But, you can always go back and try again. We also looked at this site - is for second grade. We looked at their timeline, did their quiz, and a wordsearch. We've also been singing "Follow the Drinking Gourd" and watched the Reading Rainbow movie about the book which we borrowed from the library.

The best part of the day was when I tucked her in and she asked why we'd done "so little school" that day. :-)

Friday, July 08, 2005

Starting Ireland

We started Galloping the Globe this week by "traveling" to Ireland. Although this country is not covered in Galloping the Globe, we have family members visiting there this month, so thought we'd start with Ireland. They will also be sharing their experience with us via email and photos and some surprises when they return.

This week, we've been reading books about Ireland. We've learned about St. Patrick, the flag of Ireland, castles, and shamrocks. We've been listening to music by The Irish Tenors and have colored a picture of a leprechaun, made shamrocks, and are now making a pink (of course) castle.

Our family members took two "Flat Stanelys" with them to Ireland - they are named Lisa (in swimsuit) and Majetta (cheerleader). We will share pictures of them as they travel. This is a picture of Lisa and Majetta with their suitcase packed for their trip to Ireland.

Also this week, we are working on math, spelling, and handwriting. We will officially start kindergarten in August.
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