Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Thanksgiving Fun

While at my brothers, I asked him to help Alexandra climb a tree like we used to do...

Romans Study - Our Report Card

Alexandra & I go to BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) together. It is an incredible non-denominational, international Bible Study. This is our 3rd year to attend together, and I am amazed at the teachings.

This year we are studying Romans. I am amazed at how much deeper I am understanding Christ's work for us on the cross. And, on the way home from our Thanksgiving trip yesterday, I heard a couple of sermons on the radio that just tied in very neatly. So, I wanted to share briefly some of what I've learned:

If God gave you or me a report card, we have not earned a B+ for being "pretty good." We ALL have earned F's. In fact, we earn a big, fat zero. God says if we break the law at one point, we have broken the whole law. (James 2:10) And, as the Almighty Judge, he says that sin is punished by death. (Romans 6:23) He is a Just God, and must follow through and punish sin with death. But, He sent His own Son to take our punishment! (John 3:16)

We have to realize that we are powerless to do anything good before God. (Isaiah 64:6) God is a Wrathful God and we need saved from His wrath because we are all sinners. (I John 1:8)But, God sent His own Son to die in our place. We need to repent of our sins and accept the free gift of salvation. We need to confess Jesus as Lord and believe that God raised Him from the dead. (Romans 10:9) We can do nothing to earn it, but we will do good works to show how much we love Him and how grateful we are to Him. (Ephesians 2:8 & 9) We need to make Jesus our Lord and Savior.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Look Who Lives in the Desert!

This week, we've been reading about Africa and the Sahara Desert in Story of the World (SOTW). We checked out a book called Look Who Lives in the Desert! by Brooke Bessesen. It was a really good book. On each 2-page spread, there is a cartoon about an animal who lives in the desert along with a poem about the animal. On the other page is a list of Fascinating Facts about the animal. There were so many neat things to read about! We recommend this book!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Flower Arranging

Today, Alexandra worked on her Flower Arranging badge with the girls in her Keepers group. It turned out to a beautiful day, and we were glad to be outside - both for the beautiful weather and because of the mess! The moss got all over the children!
The girls were making fall arrangements that they could use as a Thanksgiving centerpiece. They learned about focal points, accents, and fillers. They also learned some rules about how tall to make the arrangement compared to the size of your container.

With lots of things to choose from, Alexandra experimented quite a bit. But, in the end, she made an arrangement of just one type of flower - a large, red mum. All the girl's arrangements turned out very pretty. And, afterwards, they enjoyed playing in the park. Their favorite thing was the tire swing - they played on it for about 30 minutes.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Ben & Me Chapter 3

Dear Alexandra,
Benjamin Franklin let me have his hat! And, he put supplies and things in it!
Your Friend,
Amos the Mouse

(photo of Amos on "Ben's" head in "Ben's" hat)

Ben & Me Chapter 2

Dear Alexandra,
Today I helped Benjamin Franklin - you’ll probably know who he is - make a Franklin Stove. That’s just what he named it, because it was made by him. But, I think it should be called the Amos Stove, because I’m really the one who thought of it.
Your best friend,
Amos the Mouse

(photo of Amos with a "Franklin" Stove)

Friday, November 17, 2006

Our Time at the Zoo

After our Egyptian class today, we went to the zoo. I don't think we've been since last December, but maybe I'm forgetting a time. Anyway, we re-joined the zoo with hopes that we'll go a lot more often!

Our first stop was the aquarium, which was also the best part, I think. Alexandra is really wanting a Beta fish, and she was showing her love for fish today! We sat and watched many tanks for 5 minutes or so. We just had a wonderful time watching all of the wonderful creatures. We really enjoyed some moon fish, which are like jelly fish. And, another favorite was a red-toothed triggerfish.
We explored other parts of the zoo - mainly the bird house and the primate area. Alexandra got to ride on the carousel. And, we had a snack - nachos for Alexandra and popcorn for me. The weather was beautiful - sunny and in the low 70's. We just had a wonderful, lovely day.

Egypt with a Docent

(above: picture of Alexandra holding a replica of a mirror found with King Tut - since they didn't have glass, they used brass for their mirrors instead)
Today we went to our local museum for a homeschoolers-only docent tour of an Egypt exhibit. I thought she would just tell us things we already knew, but I was very mistaken! And, besides learning new things, we got to see and touch things, too.
Here are some highlights:
  • before the tour started, we looked around the gathering room and the docent discussed with us the difference between the pyramids of Egyptian, Mesopotamian (ziggurats), and the Mayan civilizations
  • Alexandra got to lie down on an Egyptian wooden "pillow" - it's like a neck rest, but it is quite a ways off the ground - it looks very uncomfortable
  • I learned that hieroglyphic is an adjective (like "hieroglyphic writings) and hieroglyphs is a noun - I didn't know the difference!
  • we got to smell myrrh! (very nice smell, it's used in expensive perfumes, too)
  • we learned that the length of the linen used in wrappings was about 6 football fields!
  • we got to see a model of the Rosetta Stone and learn how a man deciphered it
  • we learned how you know which way to read hieroglyphs (you look at the pictures of animals and read from nose to tail)
  • we learned that after removing the brain, they stuffed the nose with peppercorn - they believed that when the body woke up, it would sneeze and then start breathing!!!
  • we learned that in the US, Victorian women would have mummy parties - they bought a mummy and the guests unwrapped it and got to keep all of the amulets they found
  • Alexandra got to pick out 2 amulets - she picked a frog, which is wrapped around the foot, and a bull (I think), which is wrapped around the back - I believe she said there are 251 amulets wrapped in a body!!!
  • we got to look at and touch natron
  • we got to see models of the various types of Egyptian pyramids - from the earliest single-layer, to the more complicated Great Pyramid
  • we learned how they made the bases of the pyramids level - they dug a grid into the bedrock (see photo above) and then the flooded it and they knew how to level it by the water!
  • we also learned how the used a level - Alexandra is demonstrating it in the photo above - when the string with a weight on it lined up with a mark on the level, they knew they were leveled
I'm sure I'm forgetting some wonderful things, but it was just a great, informative class! And, it was small, too - only 3 girls and their moms! Alexandra got to ask all the questions she wanted... and so did I.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Great Science Book

From the library, we checked out The Berenstain Bears' Science Fair. It's a pretty long book, but Alexandra and I have read it 3 times in the past 4 days! She loves it! The card catalog describes it as follows: Papa Bear teaches Small Bear and Sister about machines, matter, and energy, and helps them prepare projects for a science fair.

If I weren't in the middle of so many other "special studies", I would probably have us study simple machines ( has a great game) and then energy (our local museum has a great movie about energy that we really enjoy - we watched it this week!). We've studied the 3 states of matter before, but we could definitely review it. I just might have to jump into one of these...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Heidi... Another Snail!!!

PeeWee is doing very well, even though I still don't feel like I know what I'm doing. We've had PeeWee since last Monday, so I'm please with that. We were wanting to find another snail so we could possibly have baby snails. I read that you can see their little heart beats!

Well, two days ago - during daylight! - I saw a snail's shell lying near where we found the first one. The snail was not "out", so I was hoping he was alive. I'd been told that you can run warm, not hot!, water over them to wake them up, so we gave it a try. It took over a minute, but it worked! We were so excited. Alexandra named him/her Heidi (actually she says Hidey, because it likes to hide).
We've ordered a book from the library called Snailology that is supposed to teach us more about taking care of the snails. I'm still worried that we're going to accidentally kill them!

Model of the Solar System

A few weeks ago when Alexandra's Nana was here, we went outside and modeled the solar system. We had found a model online where you make the planets using peppercorn, acorns, etc. These actually show a pretty good representation of the comparitive size of the planets. It was neat to see both the difference between the Inner & Outer planets, and the difference between the planets and the sun - a basketball!

(Photo above is taken by Alexandra from "Mars." I'm standing by the sun aka basketball)

Then, we went outside and paced off the distance between the planets. This was also a very good model. It was amazing to see how "close" the Inner planets were to each other and to the sun - they were all within about a block. But, then we got to the Outer planets and they were much further apart. In fact, we had about 4 straight blocks before our street dead ends, and we only got through Uranus!

Ben Franklin Class

Yesterday, we took a class about Benjamin Franklin at our history museum. We did 3 main activities:
  1. made a "quill pen" which Alexandra loves (just a feather taped with masking tape to a pencil)
  2. did several experiments with static electricity - this was LOTS of fun! (see photo)
  3. made some "prints" like Benjamin Franklin the printer - I was busy and missed seeing Alexandra do hers!

Balancing Class

Yesterday, we went to two classes at our history museum. The first one was a great class (they're all great!) about balancing.

The children first experimented with balancing a ruler on their 2 index fingers. Then, they worked on balancing different shapes on the eraser of a pencil. This was a lot harder for the kids than I would have thought!

Later, they learned how to balance a pencil on its pointed tip! This was a lot of fun and the children got to take home their balancing pencil. Alexandra is carrying hers around and playing with it a lot. It's hard to see in the photo, but to make it you wrap a wire around the pencil and then put a "glob" of clay at the other end of the wire. Then, you bend the wire in an arch so that the clay is lower than the tip of the pencil.

Ben & Me Chapter 1

OK, I had a "brilliant" ;-) idea after reading another persons blog about making puppets for a story they were reading. We have been studying Benjamin Franklin and had only read one chapter of Ben & Me which tells a fictionalized story about Ben from the point-of-view of Amos, the mouse. So, last night Alexandra made a mouse, Amos, out of a type of clay. Well, the dog ate it, and of course this was very upsetting. So, today, I made Amos while she made Ben's little squirrel friend, Skuggs. We will be posting a photo of "Amos" with each chapter and Alexandra is writing "letters" from Amos to Alexandra. I hope everyone, especially Alexandra, enjoys this adventure!
- Dana
(Photo is of Amos & his suitcase)

Dear Alexandra,
Today I moved to a house and there was a man that sneezed a lot. He had a cap and one side was warm and cozy. I went on the warm and cozy side. I said to myself, “This is where I will live for ever and ever.” That is what I said. Today I bought myself a suitcase with a badge that said “I went to a man’s hat and had fun.”
Your Friend,
Amos the Mouse

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Pow Wow

Today we met some friends at a Pow Wow dance competition. The other girls have been studying Native Americans using the American Girl Kaya books as a basis. Their mother had even made them some Native American dresses to wear.

We watched quite a few dances of all kinds. It is neat to see the many different styles. But, it was very cold and windy in the bleachers - good thing I'd brought a blanket!

At one point, they invited everyone to come down and dance around the drummer/singers and leave money on a blanket. The moms and the girls excitedly went down to get to dance ourselves and see the "real dancers" up close.

After the dancing, we shopped a little. Alexandra got a necklace & bracelet set. One of the other girls got her hair braided and wrapped.

Our friends had to leave, and we went to visit the teepees that they had already seen. And, we bought some Indian Fry Bread to try - it was great! It's kind of like a fried tortilla, but fatter!

Dissecting an Eyeball

(Alexandra holding the un-dissected eyeball)

This week, we went to some friends house to have a lesson related to Benjamin Franklin. Since one of the girls has wanted to dissect something with me, I decided to concentrate on Franklin's invention of the bifocals and how he needed to understand something about lenses and the eye.

Basically, we talked about how lenses bend light and then used a drop of water on Syran wrap to magnify an ad. After that, we went straight to dissecting the cow's eye.

We watched each step on and then completed that step ourselves. It was so much fun! I hadn't dissected anything in years, and I wasn't sure how well I would handle it. But, it turned out to be fine. (Although I would like sharper scissors.) And, the other girls and the mom didn't want to touch it at first, but by the end, they were all touching it and really enjoying it!

( Alexandra is holding the lens. This was her FAVORITE part. We even saved it! I ended up chopping it in half to show a cross-section, and she cried! We are going to get another eyeball so she can save the lens!)

They want to do some more "classes" togehter and do another dissection soon. I think we'll do the sheep's heart in the next few weeks, as I already have it. We'll probably mix up another batch of "candy blood", too.

Books we enjoyed:
  • Sight (A True Book) by Murphy - great book
  • Buddy: The First Seeing Eye Dog by Eva Moore - we really enjoyed this true story
  • The Magic School Bus Explores the Senses - great diagrams, fun story, and informational "reports"


Yesterday, we read the chapter about Mercury in Exploring Creation with Astronomy. My friend had just told me that on Wednesday she had been at our Natural Science museum on Wednesday and they had special telescopes and solarspotters set up to view Mercury's transit of the sun. I wish we would have seen it, but didn't know the musuem would be doing that! Anyway, we did get to hear our friends tell us about it, and then we read about it in our book.
For our activity, we demonstrated how craters are made on Mercury using flour and small rocks. Alexandra got covered in flour, but had a lot of fun. We also tried writing in the flour and making imprints in it.

Sound, the Ear, and the Armonica

With the Ben Franklin exhibit in town, we got together with some friends this week to talk about his invention of the armonica. My friend was in charge of teaching, and she did a neat job of talking about sound, the ear, and the armonica.
First she talked about sound waves and demonstrated them. Then, she discussed a model of an ear and showed a book with photos of the parts of an ear. After that, the children got to go through a kid-size model of the ear - complete with ear canal, ear drum, "small" bones, and the auditory nerve. They loved this!!! The 3 girls asked to do it over and over again.
After this, we went on to listen to music played on crystal glasses brought to us by the internet. Then, she got out her crystal glasses and the girls learned to play them! It was a lot of fun, and I know the girls learned a lot. Thank you, Ms. S!!!
(My camera no longer takes good pictures indoors, so I really didn't get but a few, poor photos!)
Good book: The Magic School Bus Explores the Senses - great diagrams, fun story, and informational "reports"

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


We read a wonderful book this week called Snowflake Bentley by Martin. The book is about how Wilson A. Bentley became fascinated with snowflakes while he was a young boy and learned how to photograph them. It is a neat story with lots of "facts" sprinkled throughout the book. We've also enjoyed the book Snow Crystals by Bentley which includes lots of photos of snowflakes.

Great video: Snowflake Bentley by Weston Woods. This is a reading of the book by Martin. The reading is very good and it not only includes the animated pictures from the book, but also real video footage of "Bentley" - both an actor, and at the end, some real footage! There are also pictures of some of his snowflakes. It is just a wonderful video!

While reading about snowflakes, we also really enjoyed 2 websites where you can create your own snowflakes online - both are addictive to both young & old!

More pictures of PeeWee

This is a picture of PeeWee on Alexandra's 6-year-old hand, to give you an idea of his size.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Our New Pet - PeeWee the Snail

Last night we got home after 9 pm and it had been raining. As I walked around the back of our SUV, I noticed a large snail on the driveway. I've only seen snails in our yard once in the more than 10 years we've lived here! And, I was just very surprised because it was so large!

We are now reading about how to take care of our snail. We read they liked vegetables so we grated some carrots and PeeWee is eating them! We've also got dirt, water, grass, and leaves in its environment and I plan to do some more research. If anyone has any tips, I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Deer & Alligators

What an amazing day!!! We went to our astronomy class which is located on a lot of acres of woods, ponds, and lakes. As we parked, Alexandra noticed some deer across the parking lot from us - 8 of them! Both bucks & does! I stopped the car and rolled down our windows and we were able to sit and watch them and take some pictures.

Next, as we got out of the car, some of the other children said they'd seen a small alligator in some water near the drain pipe. Well, although I knew there were alligators in the area, I saw what they were pointing at and really thought they were mistaken. But, a few minutes later it had moved and we could see it laying with its head in the drain! It was about 1.5 feet, which I'm told means it's about 1.5 years old. Very neat - our first alligator out in the wild!

Alexandra enjoyed her class and we spent some time with a bug neat catching bugs. One lady caught an absolutely beautiful spider and I caught... a fuzzy caterpillar.

After class, we went with 2 other ladies and their children down some of the hiking trails. First, we went out on a dock on the lake. We were looking for alligators, but we didn't see any. I did see this sign which tells you how to be alligator wise.

Next, we went down a trail that takes you around the water to an observation tower. I spotted our first alligator - another little guy about 1.5 feet long that was quite a ways out in the water sunning on a small log. It was again so amazing to see him! (You might need to click on the photo to make it bigger)

We kept on walking and saw and heard some beautiful ducks. We stopped and listened to them, but we were trying to watch out for snakes and alligators at the same time. Well, all of a sudden I looked back at the path and there, about 30 feet in front of us lying on the path, were two huge alligators! They were each about 6 foot long! And, 30 feet is as close as you are supposed to get to them. I can't believe I got so distracted looking in the water that I failed to look at the path!!! (the photo shows the 2 on the path in front of us)

Anyway, we were safe and the alligators were amazing. There was at least one more that was laying mainly in the water. They were blocking the path pretty well, so we were done with our hike.

Alexandra did NOT enjoy getting so close to these large alligators. I think she'd heard too much about the rules or watched too much Crocodile Hunter. She was ready to run all the way home. We did stay and take some pictures and we just admired these beautiful, powerful animals before turning around and heading home.

On the way back to the cars, we encountered a lot less dangerous animal... a sweet bunny. I took a picture of the girls enjoying this gentler animal. (the rabbit is in the lower, left hand corner)

It was an incredible, nature-filled day that I'll never forget.

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