Friday, March 31, 2006


We've started working through the book World Book's Childcraft: Shapes & Numbers this week. We are both learning such wonderful things! The ideas are presented, and then there is a game or something hands-on to do.

Today we worked on polyominoes. You were supposed to cut out the various shapes from grid paper, but I'm so glad Alexandra thought of using these linking cubes! We made each of the 10 shapes out of 5 squares (or in our case, cubes) each. Then, we were supposed to make a rectangle that was 6 squares by 10 squares. We played and played with it and I finally had to look in the back and get the answer to all but the last 2 pieces. Alexandra was able to finish it. What fun!

Cool Chemistry

Yesterday, we went to a class at HMNS called Cool Chemistry. The kids learned about elements and did several experiments. The experiments were mainly about reactions of acids & bases (using Alka-Seltzer) and how temperature and surface area affect the speed of the reactions. I was wonderfully pleased with how understandable the teacher made the concepts for a 5-year-old!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Belle, Milk Duds, and a Loose Tooth

Alexandra and I went to see the off-Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast on Saturday. Belle has long been her favorite princess, so this was a special treat. (Photo is off Alexandra before the musical holding a Belle figurine she got at the Disney Princess on Ice show.)

During the intermission, we bought Milk Duds. We'd been studying chocolate and she'd never tried a Milk Dud, so we thought it was a great time to try them. Well, after we'd been sitting there for a few minutes, she started crying and I could tell her mouth hurt. It continued to hurt and that night I asked her which tooth had been hurting. She showed me and I tried wiggling it and it wiggled! She's so excited - her first loose tooth!

She told us a few months ago that if one of us is really the Tooth Fairy, we need to get our outfit, because she's about ready to start loosing teeth!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Pony Express Muesum in St. Joseph, MO

In St. Joseph, MO, we visited the Pony Express Museum. Again, the camera wasn't working properly, so unfortunately I don't have photos.

This museum was wonderful! It had a great handout that you carried with you that explained some things and told you special things to look for. We all enjoyed moving the mochilas (mail bags) from one pony to the next. You were supposed to time yourself.

Alexandra loved the play area where she got to dress up and play like she was a pioneer lady. They had a neat, handmade wooden kitchen area & some pretend food, etc.

Altogether, we spent about 2 hours here. I highly recommend it. (Photo is of 2 postcards and Alexandra's Pony Express horse, Brownie.)

Independence, MO

Besides the Truman Presidential Museum, we did the following in Independence last week:

  • rode in a covered wagon pulled by 2 mules through historic Independence - including riding in a swale made by wagons in the mid-1800's - very nice, but it was very cold
  • ate a delicious lunch at Clinton's, an old-fashioned soda fountain that Harry S. Truman worked at when he was young - we also had delicious shakes
  • visited the Frontier Trails Museum - I was not impressed with this museum as it had new things mixed in with it's artifacts, but it didn't tell you that - we did like the hand-on part: you got to load a wagon with whatever you thought was essential for your trip west & it would tell you if it got too heavy. You also got to pack a mule. Their gift shop was great - we spent a lot there.
For all the souvenir photos, I had placed a pink jacket over a chair. Well, Alexandra wanted to get in this picture, and she put the jacket on while it was still on the chair. The photos include a postcard & button from the covered wagon ride we took with Pinoeer Trails Adventures.

Union Station in Kansas City

We also went to Union Station in Kansas City. Last year was the first time we'd visited KC and we went to Union Station that time, too.

We did 3 things at Union Station:
  • IMAX film called Olympic Glory - Amazing! We almost didn't go to it, but Alexandra really wanted to, so we did. She really was hooked on the Olympics this year. Anyway, I'd highly recommend this film!
  • Science City - very good hands-on children's science museum. We'd went there last year and spent a lot of time, so this year was a little quicker. They had added a new part to their dinosaur exhibit. Real scientists are there, behind glass, working on real dinosaur bones! One was there cleaning some bones while we watched. Pretty neat!
  • KC Rail exhibit - about the history of trains in KC. We got to walk through quite a few cars on a couple of different trains - that was our favorite part

Toy & Miniature Museum of Kansas City

The first museum we went to while visiting Kansas City this year was the Toy and Miniature Museum. We had never been there and we weren't sure what to expect. It was wonderful! I highly recommend it.

It was very large. I think we were there 2 hours and didn't see everything. What I enjoyed most were they tiny china dishes & crystal glasses. The detail was amazing. And, I also loved the miniature woven rugs. Who could make such a thing? Wow! My souvenir was a pair of very inexpensive miniature muffin tins to remember those beautiful dishes.

Alexandra's favorite part was the marbles. There were many on display and drawer after drawer to open and explore. She spent a long time looking at them. Her souvenir was a miniature ceramic box that has a table, a little girl, and a teddy bear sitting at it having a picnic. Also in the picture is a souvenir "smashed" penny. She got those from several places we visited.

Truman Museum & the Miniature Whitehouse

While on our vacation last week, one of the places we stopped in Independence, MO was the Truman Museum. We found it kid friendly and I would highly recommend it. We did walk very quickly through the section about the atomic bomb. Alexandra was scared and we didn't explain any of it - just walked right on through!

Alexandra really enjoyed a little computer terminal where you could press on different presidents and hear some interesting things about them. Pres. Polk was one of them and she got excited about him because one of her ancestors was a cousin to the president! Also, I share a birthday with Washington and she shares a birthday with Teddy Roosevelt, and they were both there, too!

There were also some hands-on exhibits - a dress up area, a mail area (she wrote a letter to Truman), an area to make a campaign button (her's says "I Love Truman"), and a few others.

Another highlight was the traveling exhibit of the miniature Whitehouse. Incredible! And, it had just been decorated for Easter! There were tiny eggs & bunnies in many rooms and on the lawn. We had our own personal tour as one of the guides walked along beside us explaining the various rooms, etc.

Unfortunately, the digital camera we use had a defective chip so all of our pictures were ruined. So, I took a picture of our souvenirs. The campaign button Alexandra made says "I love Truman." And, she loves the postcard that says "Dewey Defeats Truman." We've seen that picture several times since and I think it's neat that she knows the story behind it.

(updated 4/13/06): A friend loaned me some books about the White House. We didn't have time to read them all right now, but I wanted to save this resource list for later:
  • The White House: An Illustrated History by Catherine O'Neill Grace - we enjoyed looking at the pictures of this one
  • A Kid's Guide to the White House by Betty Debnam - great book with some activities - I'm going to try to buy a copy of this book
  • First Pets: Presidential Best Friends by Nell Fuqua - cute book with cartoon illustrations - shows some very unusual first pets and some neat, sometimes funny, stories about them
  • First Kids by Gibbs Davis (Step Into Reading book) (we own this one) - antedotes about some of the First Kids
  • Smart About the First Ladies by Jon Buller (a Smart About History book) - another series we like - we just got this in the mail this week and are still reading it - it goes through each First Lady (including Laura Bush) and tells some about them - neat stories!
  • Woodrow, the White House Mouse by Barnes - we read this one and Alexandra really enjoyed it - there are others in this series

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


To finish our study of chocolate, Alexandra and her Nana made chocolate chip cookies from scratch - a rare treat around here!
Here are some of our favorite resources:
Non-fiction books:
  • From Cacao Bean to Chocolate (A Start to Finish Book) by Mitgutsch - simple, short book - good intro to subject
  • What's For Lunch? Chocolate by Llewellyn - another simple, short intro to subject, this one has photos
  • Chocolate: A Sweet History (Smart About...) by Markle (we love this series) - great book about chocolate history written as a book report, but with humor
  • The Official M&M's Brand History of Chocolate by Red, Yellow, Green & Blue - another good history of chocolate... cute with the M&M's
  • The Story of Chocolate (DK Readers Level 3 book) by Polin - we didn't read this as it seemed so much like the others, but it looked like a good book
Fiction books:
  • Chocolatina by Kraft - pretty cute book about a girl who turns into chocolate - fairly short
  • Curious George Goes to a Chocolate Factory by H. A. Rey - it was nice to read a Curious George book again - when Alexandra was younger, we read them "all the time"
  • Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot: a True Story of the Berlin Airlift and the Candy that Dropped from the Sky by Raven - this was a nice story - I think the long title describes it pretty well
  • Cam Jansen and the Chocolate Fudge Mystery by David A. Adler - great book - we read it straight through (about 45 minutes) - we'd read some of the "junior" Cam Jansen books, and Alexandra wasn't that interested, but we couldn't put this one down!
Longer book:
  • The Chocolate Touch by Catling - We LOVED this book! After the first few chapters, we could hardly put it down! Great story about John Midas who, instead of the Midas touch of gold, gets the chocolate touch. We highly recommend this!
Math books:
  • The Hershey's Milk Chocolate Multiplication Book by Pallotta - we shared a Hershey's bar tonight while reading this one - Alexandra decided that we should both draw each picture and write each multiplication problem - we might make it into our own book
  • More M&M's Brand Chocolate Candy Math by McGrath - cute (& yummy) math book that quickly covers estimating, graphing, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division & ordinal numbers - you can then make up your own math problems before eating the rest of the M&M's - by the way, our bag conatined 58 M&M's!
  • The M&M's Count to One Hundred Book by McGrath - skip counting book
  • website: - quick review of fractions - pretty basic, but just perfect for Alexandra
  • Chocolate Fever (Video Storybreak) - cute cartoon based on the book
  • Magic School Bus in the Rainforest - based on the book - the kids & Ms. Frizzle go to a rainforest to see why their cocoa tree isn't producing many cocoa beans
  • The Original How It's Done Factory Tours: Episode 2 by Kalush - this is a humorous video that shows how various things are done, including how chocolate candies are made - but, it doesn't start with the tree - we really enjoyed it
  • Veggie Tales: Rack, Shack & Benny - about Nebby K. Nezzer & his chocolate factory
  • Since cacao trees grow in rainforests, we colored a map showing where rainforests are in the world

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

bye, bye SUV

Today was the first time I ever had to have my car towed. I know this isn't exactly "school" related, but Alexandra did get to learn something. The tow truck came and I started to go inside but she wanted to stay outside and watch. She wanted to know how they would get our SUV up on the flatbed. So, we watched & I decided to take some pictures.

The problem was our radiator hose came loose and anti-freeze "flooded" our garage. I got it mopped up, we have a rental car (much to Alexandra's delight), and we should have our own SUV back tomorrow.

Amsterdam Souvenirs

Alexandra was happy that Daddy got back from Amsterdam - AND that he brought her some souvenirs. Daddy brought her this pink t-shirt that says "Fairytale Princess - Amsterdam" and these cute little wooden shoes that have windmills painted on them. He also brought me a box of "Rembrandt painting" wrapped chocolates and a box of "wooden shoe" chocolates (they are incredibly delicious!). He also brought home several ceramic "wooden shoes" that are white with blue painting. I'll have to take some more pictures!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Vincent Van Gogh

Today we finished up our quick study of Van Gogh by painting pictures like his. We both painted a "Starry Night" picture, and Alexandra painted a "Sunflowers" picture. Above is our refrigerator art.

Our favorite resources:
  • Van Gogh (Getting to Know the Worlds' Artists) by Venezia - I'm sure I said it before, but we like thise series
  • Vincent Van Gogh: Sunflowers and Swirly Stars (Smart About...) by Bucks & Holub - another series we really enjoy - it's written like a book report (but humorous) by a student - afterward, Alexandra had us write "reports" about Van Gogh
  • at Starfall - - we read about Van Gogh, and also about Seurat and Gauguin who were a part of his life
  • Camille and the Sunflowers by Laurence Anholt - a true story about a young boy who became friends with Van Gogh - pretty good

The Pony Express

We've been reading lately about the Pony Express to prepare us for a field trip next week to the Pony Express Museum in Missouri.

  • Buffalo Bill and the Pony Express by Eleanor Coerr - one of my favorites
  • The First Ride: Blazing the Trail for the Pony Express by Geis - lists the riders of the first ride and where they went - I found it kind of dull, but Alexandra said she enjoyed it
  • Bronco Charlie and the Pony Exprss by Brill - we both really enjoyed this book about the youngest Pony Express Rider
  • Ride Like the Wind: A Tale of the Pony Express by Fuchs - another of my favorites & Alex's, too - tells about a rider who got shot by an Indian arrow, falls off his horse, and his horse comes back to save him
  • Pony Express! by Steven Kroll - has neat photos at the back of how mail delivery has changed over the years

Houston Livestock Show & Carnival

This week, we attended the Houston Livestock Show & Carnival for the 3rd time. We went at 2 pm and stayed until 7 pm - this was the first time we've seen the rides lit up at night.

I forgot my camera and at first I was glad that I didn't have to worry about taking pictures, and instead could just enjoy being with Alex and watching her have fun. But, then she did some neat "firsts" and I wish I could have taken some photos!

The photo above is from the following day. Alex took her white souvenier horse with pink reigns to school with her. She named her Pinky. She dressed up as a cowgirl to show Pinky for Show-and-Tell.

Some highlights of our day:

  • first time riding bumper cars!
  • first time riding a ride where it takes you to the top of a pole & drops you over & over (hmmm... not a great discreption...with I had pictures!)
  • we watched a cow get mechanically milked and heard about the process
  • saw baby chicks hatching from eggs
  • she got her finger pinched on the ride that "drops you over & over"
  • first time being 42 inches at the carnival, so she got to ride some "bigger kid" rides

Alex says her favorite part was "the rides."

The Netherlands

We've been studying about the Netherlands since Daddy will be going there next week. Here is a photo of the windmill we made. It is from 3D Canon Papercraft. You can actually blow on the vanes and they will spin.

  • Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates (Disney) - a wonderful movie that also shows the windmills, danger of the dikes, etc.
Non-fiction Books:

  • Welcome to the Netherlands by Reynolds & Ngcheong-Lum - read a few parts, but we mainly looked at the pictures & read the captions
  • Rembrandt (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists) by Venezia - we like this series - funny & informative
  • The Netherlands (A True Book) by Heinrichs - we enjoy this series
  • Boxes for Katje by Fleming - very good book - true story about the author's mother sending care packages to a Dutch family after WWII
  • Look What Came From The Netherlands by Kevin Davis - pretty good series; this series is a good place to learn about the inventions, food, etc. from a country
Fiction books:
  • Hana in the Time of the Tulips by Noyes - very sweet story - it also has Rembrandt visiting little Hana
  • The Cow Who Fell in the Canal by Krasilovsky - cute
  • The Hole in the Dike retold by Green, pictures by Eric Carle - retells the story in classic Carle illustrations
  • Katje the Windmill Cat by Woelfle - nice, true story about a cat & a baby who survived the flooding of South Holland
  • The Great Tulip Trade (Step Into Reading) by Brust - our favorite book for this study - tells about the tulip mania of 1637 in a fiction story
  • The Boy Who Held Back the Sea retold by Hort
Cheese tasting:
  • We tasted Gouda & Edom cheese. Alexandra had never tried either. She liked the Edom a little bit better, but didn't care much for either one. I was familiar with Gouda, but found I liked Edom better.

Samuel Morse & the Morse Code

Next week, we'll be going to the Pony Express Museum in St. Joseph, MO. We have learned that the Gold Rush was the event that created the need for the Pony Express and the completion of the transcontinental telegraph triggered the ending of it. So, today we read a book about Samuel Morse and the Morse Code. Then, we each took turns writing letters to each other in Morse Code. Then, we had to decipher it. Above is a copy of my message.

  • Lives and Times: Samuel Morse by Hall - a nice, 32 page introduction to Morse, the Morse code, and his telegraph
  • Samuel Morse by Kerby - I actually read this children's book to myself as it is a lot longer. There is a diagram and instructions of a telegraph set you can make yourself & I think we'll try it! (see below - we tried it with Papa doing the work!)
  • Quick, Annie, Give Me a Catchy Line! by Quackenbush - has some humor, too
While we were visiting, Alexandra's Papa built her this telegraph set. He remembered making one when he was in school.

The picture above is of Alexandra watching her Papa build the telegraph. It was fun to play with and see how they actually work! Thanks Papa!!!
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