Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Our herbs are really growing well in our light hut. We are growing Lemon Balm, Spearmint and Basil. We just planted the basil last week and it is really growing fast! Last week we started doing our Botany studies again. It's pretty neat that this week we are studying pollination since we were also reading about pollination while doing our butterfly study.

Day 16: Butterfly Update

We still only have 2 butterflies with one more that might emerge in the next few days. I got a nice picture of one of the butterflies eating watermelon today. You can even see the proboscis! They seem to love the watermelon, but we've never seen them drink any of the sugar water from the flower. They are pretty active most of the day.

Spain (& Diving Bell Experiment)

I have actually been kind of burned out on studying countries and although I really want to continue, I haven't been able to make myself. A couple of weeks ago, I requested books from our library about Spain since my brother was going there for work. Well, yesterday I almost returned them all. I just didn't think I could do it. But yesterday we finished the butterfly lapbook so we were out of "special projects." I decided to pull out a few of the books.

We read "Look What Came from Spain" and "The Story of Ferdinand." And, we had fun! :-)

In the first book, they talk about how a Spaniard invented the Diving Bell. Well, we did an impromptu "diving bell" experiment! We took a cup & stuffed a paper towel in it and the placed it in a sink of water upside down. The towel stayed dry because of the air in the glass! So, a person could go down in a "bell" and breathe for awhile.

Then, we read about bull fighting. We took turns being a matador and a bull and had bull fights. We also discussed weather bull fighters are mean or not. When we read "Ferdinand", we were glad that he got to go home to smell the flowers!

Last week we also read 2 books about Don Quixote. This was both for Spain and because we're going to go see the ballet in 2 more weeks. I wouldn't really recommend either book, but it did give us a good background. And, we checked out the CD of the music from the ballet and listened to part of it.

  • The Beautiful Butterfly: A Folktale from Spain by Judy Sierra - cute story about a butterfly looking for a husband & then what happens when he was eaten by a fish - this one has a happy ending unlike other versions of this story
  • Look What Came from Spain - this book is why we did the diving bell experiment and played bull & matador - great series
  • The Story of Ferdinand - about a bull who likes to smell flowers - happy ending
  • The Most Magnifecent Mosque by Ann Tungman - story about how people from 3 different "religions" lived peacefully side by side

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Butterfly Lapbook

We bought a butterfly e-book from to make a lapbook. We finished it today and it was a lot of fun. In fact, Alexandra is saying it's the funnest part of school right now! And, she wants to do another one right away. Her choice: chocolate! I tried to tell her we just studied that about a month ago, but that's what she really wants. So, I guess we're starting a chocolate lapbook next.

I was both happy with the way this project turned out and the things I learned from it about lapbooking. We'll do a few more of these "pre-made" lapbooks and then try some on our own! The biggest draw-back I found to this kind of pre-made lapbook was that they covered things differently than I would and that instead of lapbooking things we'd learned, we were looking for answers to put in our lapbook.

Here are the photos:

Photo of cover (above)

Opened one time (above)

Extra flap opened (above)

Day 15: 2 butterflies!

Today our 2nd butterfly emerged. And, again, we missed it!

We fed our butterflies today. We made a mixture of sugar and water and put it on a flower. We also gave them a chunk of watermelon in a little dish. We've seen both of them on the watermelon. I watched one of them with its proboscis in the watermelon - very neat!

I'm sure the one that tried to emerge yesterday didn't survive. I don't know why. We have one more chrysalis to go! Maybe we'll get to see it emerge tomorrow!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Day 14: Butterfly!!!

This morning, around 10:00, we noticed that we have our first adult butterfly! It had already came out of its chrysalis, so we didn't get to watch it emerge. A second butterfly was halfway out and we were excited to watch it, but nothing happened. It's now been about 11 hours, so I don't think it survived. We have 2 more chrysalites that we hope will have butterflies emerging in the next couple of days.

The picture, again, isn't great. It is taken with me aiming the camera into their "pop up tent." The white disc is the paper they were attached to and which we moved into the tent from the original jar. The red stuff looks like blood, but it isn't. I have to look up what it's called, but it is just part of their process. Kind of messy! :-)

Alexandra was excited to see it and I do hope we get to watch one of them come out of their chrysalis and see it with wet wings. We'll keep an eye on them tomorrow!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

First Swim Meet of Year

The picture above is of Alexandra (Lane 6) waiting for her freestyle race to start. She actually climbs up on the block and jumps of to start her race. I would be so nervous, but she always seems so calm!

Alexandra started swim team last year and was the next to youngest on our team. She swims for our neighborhood team and it's pretty large - someone told me there are about 250 kids! We have 17 girls in the 6 & under group!

Alex did great at her 1st swim meet of the year today! (We missed the practice meet & the first meet). She did 13 seconds better on her freestyle! She won a team buck for that - a prize they get every time they beat their previous best time. They get to hand it in at the concession stand and the kids are so happy when they win one.

She did a little slower than her fastest backstroke from last year, but she'd only swam that fast at the very last race last year - Divisionals. So, that was a very good time for her, too.

I'm a "tent mom" or "lane parent" and I get to stay with the 6 & under girls all morning. We get there a little before 7 & stay until we're done, usually around noon. It' s a long, hot morning but it is a lot of fun, too.

The picture below is of her waiting for them to sound the horn for her backstroke race.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

One Grain of Rice

Today we read a book by Demi called One Grain of Rice. After reading this book which has 2 main characters, Alexandra and I took turns acting out the parts & being the narrator 6 times in a row! After that, I called it quits, but we will probably do it again tomorrow. :-)

The book is about a famine in India and how a girl "tricks" the raja to give her a lot of rice. She does that by asking him to give her 1 grain of rice the 1st day, double that to 2 grains the 2nd day, 4 the 3rd, etc. She asks him to do this for 30 days & he agrees. He has no idea how quickly the rice will multiply!

The acitivty we are doing which was suggested on a yahoo group is to take a bag of rice & start with 1 grain in a bowl, add 2 the next day, etc. We won't be doing it for 30 days, but we will do it until the bag of rice is gone. When it gets into higher amounts, we will use measuring cups or something to estimate how much rice needs to be added to our bowl.

Update: Day 6

Today was Day 6 on our rice project. We now have 63 grains of rice in our bowl and it still doesn't seem like much. It's hard to believe that if we did this for 30 days we'd have over 1 trillion grains of rice!!!

We're keeping a chart which is a wonderful math lesson. Alexandra is helping me to double our "# added" to find out how many to add that day. And, she's helping to add to find out our "total" for the day.

Blueberry Picking

Today we went with some "old friends" to go blueberry picking. We've only done this once before & it was a lot of fun. The blueberries were early this year, but you did have to hunt a little bit to find the ripe ones. It just made it that much more fun!

This afternoon, we made a blueberry cobbler. Alexandra preferred the blueberries raw.

Also, while there we both tried blackberries. It's been years since I've had them, and i just didn't care for the little seeds. And, Alexandra didn't like them so she helped her friend by picking some for her basked. Alexandra did end up with a thorn in her finger, but got it out.

One other new thing we tried was flavored honey stix! They are kind of like Pixie Sticks, but they have flavored honey. We tried peach & watermelon & they were so good that we bought more to take home with us.

The girls played so wonderfully together afterwards. It was just a very nice day.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Day 7: 2 chrysalides

Day 7 - The 2 caterpillars who had each made their J shapes yesterday both turned into a chrysalis today! So, we have 2 chrsyalides! (I had to look up the plural form of chrysalis on the internet.)

We didn't see it happen with the first one, but did get to watch a lot of the 2nd one. It kind of seemed to swell up at the head area (away from the attachment point) & then it wiggled & wiggled. It worked very hard for a few minutes & then it had pushed its skin off! It mainly looked like a head & it eventually fell to the bottom. It's really strange as we now have 2 "heads" lying at the bottom of the container.

Also, one of them has become detached from the "roof", so I'm not sure what will happen. He did fall into some of the webbing they'd made, so he's actually still up pretty high.

The other 3 are still crawling around. 2 of them look pretty small still.

In the photo, the one closest to Alexandra had turned into a chrysalis while the "J" away from her hadn't changed yet. They get a lot shorter after turning into a chrysalis.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Day 6: Caterpillars make J's

Day 6 - We received our painted lady caterpillars on Tuesday and so today (Sunday), Day 6, we saw 2 of them at the top hanging in their "J" shape! Can't wait to see what happens next!!!

It is very hard to get pictures of them right now. The instructions say not to open the container until each of them have turned into a chrysalis as you might introduce germs to them. I finally found out that by aiming the camera at my daughter instead of the plastic, I can get an OK picture.

Resource: Becoming Butterflies by Anne Rockwell - another good book by Rockwell

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


I'm not sure how much we'll do with this, but I have a few more books on order. Last month, Alexandra went to her monthly science class and it was about mammals. The teacher, as always, was wonderful. He talked about the 3 divisions of mammals: marsupials, monotremes, & placental. Anyway, when I got home we checked out a few books & they've been great.

The picture above is from some of the skulls that were on display at the class. There were also some live animals, but those pictures didn't turn out. They also went into the museum & each child sketched one of the mammals & thought about how it was especially adapted for it's environment. Alexandra chose a Dik-dik and discovered that its very small size helped it hide from predators.


  • Is a Camel a Mammal? by Tish Rabe (Dr. Seuss Learning Library) - great book/great series!
  • It Could Still be a Mammal by Allan Fowler - short, but nice
  • About Mammals: A Guide for Children by Sill - short & simple - good for younger kids

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Audio Stories & Books

While traveling last week, we listened to James and the Giant Peach on CD and loved it. So, I thought I'd create an entry of audio stories we enjoy so we can refer back to it & others can, too.
  • James and the Giant Peach by Dahl performed by Jeremy Irons
  • All of the Magic Tree House books read by author Mary Pope Osborne
  • Tchaikovsky Discovers America (Classical Kids)
  • Mozart's Magnificent Voyage (Classical Kids)
  • Peter and the Wolf - several versions
  • stories by Jim Weiss - I'll record some specific names soon
  • The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis - we have the Harper Children's Audio unabridged version & it's wonderful - I like that it is unabridged - each book is read by someone different, complete with different voices - we got them for Christmas & haven't listened to them all yet, but my favorite so far is Prince Caspian read by Lynn Redgrave
  • Trouble with Tink (Disney Fairies book) by Kiki Thorpe - WONDERFUL audiobook!!! Alexandra borrowed it from the library and listened to it almost every night & in the car. We will probably buy this one.
  • Your Story Hour Volume 7 - We actually just listened to the 1st of 12 CDs today. It was about Joan of Arc. It was wonderful! Then, while Alexandra napped, I listened to about 20 minutes of the 2nd one about John Bunyan. It was wonderful, too! I can't wait to listen to the others.

Monday, May 08, 2006


I've been wanting to try lapbooking with Alexandra. I found a free lapbook study on lions at, so I decided to do a quick study on lions so we could see how lapbooking works. I was happy with our finished project (need to take some pictures), but we have a lot to learn. It didn't look as "professional" as I'd like it to look. We'll see what happens with our next one.

Other resources:

  • (made the 3-D illustration of a savanna pictured below to explain the habitat of lions)
  • Lions (A True Book) by Squire - we like the True Books!
  • Daniel in the Lions' Den by Auld - great version
  • Lions at Lunchtime (Magic Tree House) by Mary Pope Osborne

We also did something new while visiting my family this weekend. We had a "show and tell" time. My sister's daughter had made a presentation on wildflowers for school, so she shared her board and notebook with us. My daughter & I shared our lion lapbook & savanna. My brother had just returned from Iraq and shared 2 slide show presentations (with videos). And, my mom had went to Europe & gave us souvenirs & had her pictures for us to look through as we had time. We're going to try to do this as a regular event, especially for the children. I'd like to even have a group of homeschool kids that got together once a month or so for a show and tell. I'll have to think about organizing one.
Here's a picture of the inside of our 1st lapbook. I think maybe it is just too bare? (The file folder is yellow - for some reason it looks manilla in this photo.)

This is a picture of the outside. I'm not sure how most people close their lapbooks, but I hot-glued buttons on both sides & used yarn to tie it shut. I also printed out a lion coloring page for Alexandra to color to make our cover. (photo download isn't working)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Seed Experiment

This first picture is of Alexandra. She was playing the part of Hello Kitty today. She often pretends she is someone other than herself while we do school.

Today we finished up a botany experiment about what seeds need to grow. (We use Exploring Creation with Botany.) We had placed some seeds in the refrigerator, where they got neither warmth nor light. We placed some in a bright window where they got both warmth and light. And, we placed some in a drawer where they got warmth, but no light. The first two groups turned out as I expected, but I was surprised by the 3rd group - the one in the drawer. However, Alexandra's hypothesis was correct!

Since the beans above were in the refrigerator and got neither warmth nor light, they did not grow at all.

The seeds above were in the window and got plenty of light and warmth, and grew nicely. they are nice and green.

This 3rd group, the ones from the drawer, suprised me. They were very large! In fact, when I opened the drawer, the bag was poking up & I thought there was a bug inside! Yikes! These are also very white, not a healthy green. It took me a minute, but I realized they were so long because they were looking for light. What a great way to reinforce these concepts - even to me!

Flower Dissection

Yesterday, for Botany, we dissected a lily we had bought at the grocery store. Alexandra was fascinated by how much pollen was on the anthers & it was her idea to smear some of it in our notebooks. It was also her idea to look at it with a magnifying glass. It was really neat!

We glued & taped the various parts in our respective Botany journals. The lily was a great flower to use as it had large parts. It was neat to cut open the ovary and see the ovules that will become seeds!

We also looked at the irises in our yard. A few of them looked like seed pods instead of buds, so we decided to dissect them. Wow! There were a lot of seeds in them, each about 1/2 the size of a kernal of corn. Plants are such amazing, beautiful creations!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


We are really enjoying our study of Texas. On the way to Dallas this past weekend, we stopped at the Sam Houston monument. We've done it a few times as Alexandra has been fascinated with Sam Houston since she was 3. The picture above is one of the huge statue with a little bitty Alexandra standing in front. I was also excited to pick up a few books about Texas in their gift shop.


  • True Tales of Texas by Bertha Mae Cox - this is kind of our "spine" to this study - written by a lady who is evidently passionate about Texas history, each chapter is told like a true "story" - we even bought our own copy to keep - with reading one chapter a few times a week, this will probably take a month
  • L is for Lone Star: a Texas Alphabet by Crane - good book that covers a lot of things related to Texas
  • Let's Remember... When Texas was a Republic by Betsy Warren - good book about Texas history - it's written as a coloring book, too - Betsy Warren has written about 8 books about Texas & they all look good
  • Let's Remember...When Texas Belonged to Spain by Besty Warren (same series)
  • Texas... in Historic Sites and Symbols by Betsy Warren
  • Voices of the Alamo by Sherry Garland - great book that travels through hundreds of years of history surrounding the Alamo from a mission to a landmark
  • T is for Texas by Anne Bustard - nice, short alphabet book about Texas
  • Texas Alphabet by James Rice - good book that goes into quite a few pieces of Texas history
  • A Picture Book of Davy Crockett by David Adler - we love this series
  • Texas Jack at the Alamo by James Rice - pretty good book, but a little bloody
  • Robert La Salle by Trish Kline - short story about La Salle
  • Gaston Goes to Texas by James Rice - cute story about Gaston, an alligator, who becomes a cattle herdsman
  • Trail Drive by James Rice - about a cattle drive

Prairie Dogs

Alexandra picked out 3 books about prairie dogs - we ended up reading 2 of them and enjoyed them very much. So, I looked for fiction books about prairie dogs, too.
  • The Prairie Dog (Life Cycles) by Crewe - great book & they have books about quite a few different animals - we will use these again
  • Prairie Dogs (Early Bird Nature Books) by Staub - another great book that also has books about other animals - we will use these again
  • Prairie Dog Pioneers by Harper - good book about a little girl & her family that moved to the prairie
  • Lonesome Lester by Luttrell - main character is a prairie dog

Jamaica & the Houston International Festival

Jamaica was the spotlight country at the Houston International Festival this year. I thought the best part was watching the dancers from Jamaica (we watched 3 different groups) & trying some food from Jamaica.

While we watched one group, they were doing dances with a European influence. I'd never seen anything like it. The dance above (blue dresses) was very slow and the girls were constantly using their fans. They also curtsied and bowed quite a bit.

This next dance was also very different from what I've seen before. The girls wore dresses that had lots of pleats. For the first half of the dance, they sat in chairs & "waved" their skirts. Then, they stood up & moved a little, but the dance was still mainly about waving their dresses. It was neat to watch!

Since pirates were a major part of Jamaica's history, we saw some pirates. One came up behind Alexandra & I thought she was going to be scared, but instead she reached out her hand to shake his hand! He took her to his treasure chest & gave her the biggest "treasure" (necklace) I've ever seen! He must have thought she was special, because it was the largest necklace in the treasure box.

They also had a ship (well, a front of a ship) that Alexandra climbed aboard & pretended to steer. She was fascinated by the skeleton hanging from the front of the ship.

The last group of dancers from Jamaica pretended they were slaves, as that is another large part of Jamaican history. Their singing and dancing was wonderful - unfortunately, my pictures weren't so wonderful.
Here are the Jamaican foods I tried for the first time:
  • chicken curry - so-so
  • tamarind - I loved it, but very strong - they are related to the date - kind of in a nut shell that they cracked for me & then the fruit is around a large pit
  • Guava Jelly - very good (Alexandra didn't think so - she prefered the crackers) - I even bought a jar
  • Solomon Gundy (mixed with cream cheese) - I liked this & bought some - Alexandra said she liked it, too, but later changed her mind - very strong & I could only eat a few bites at a time - here is a description I found online: "Solomon Gundy is a smoked red herring made into a spicy fish paste with Scotch bonnet peppers and other seasonings."

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