Sunday, September 30, 2007

Incredible Animal Photos

I saw a little newspiece about this lady and her photos of animals at the zoo. She volunteers at the zoo and takes photos when she can. Her photos are incredible!!! I hope someone hires her to work for a magazine, though I love that you can go online and look at her photos for free!

Saturday, September 29, 2007


With our KONOS online co-op group, we've been studying the Aztecs this week. Although KONOS usually has lots of projects, we didn't get any of them done this week. But, we had a lot of fun learning about the Aztecs and were sad to see how Cortez conquered them.

We started at this site. We printed off their worksheets and went through all of the sections. They had great information about the Aztec gods & goddesses, their mythology, their temples, everyday life, etc. And, they have some great coloring pages! They also have a link for you to calculate dates in Aztec heiroglyphs, some neat activities about their calendar and what the different parts mean, and a part about the history of chocolate! (again, it's at

We also used this Scholastic site to print off a calendar and 2 maps (with & without labels) to work on more geography of the region with our cork boards and push pins.

Another day, we used a Core Knowledge unit to talk about Columbus, Cortez (conquerer of the Aztecs) and Pizarro (conquerer of the Incas). I loved how it tied these 3 men together - how one man's experience led to another. And, at the end, it had a review where it compared and contrasted them.

I also used this idea from CK. I pretended I was a conquistador and placed my flag in Alexandra's territory and "claimed" it as my own. Then, I went and gathered all of her riches and said they were mine. I thought it really drove home the point of how the Spaniards had no right to take the land & treasures that didn't belong to them (not to mention the people!), but they thought it was OK.

CK also had this quote from Cortez: "We suffer from a disease that only gold can cure." And, they contrasted it with this quote from the Bible: "Watch out! Be on your guard against wanting to have more and more things. Life is not made up of how much a person has." Luke 12:15. We talked about whether Cortez was following Jesus command. (Nope!)

Before listing some other resources, I just wanted to mention some thoughts I had while doing this study.

First of all, I was disgusted with the human sacrifices - and just the sheer amount of it! How disgusting that they would believe their god wanted them to do this. And, at the same time, how dedicated they were to their gods!

Then, I started thinking how God in the Old Testament wanted blood sacrifices, though not human!!! Blood had to be shed for forgiveness. But, in the end, God did require a human sacrifice - His own Son!


  • The Encylopedia of the Ancient Americas by Green, MacDonald, Stelle & Stotter - I picked this book about at Half Price Books and it has good information, photos, and projects
  • The Aztecs (a History Beneath Your Feet book) by Peter Chrisp - another book with good info, photos, and projects
  • The Aztecs (A True Book) by Santella - we always enjoy this series
  • The Crafts & Cultures of the Aztecs by Jovinelly & Netelkos - more info, photos & projects
  • Aztecs, Inca & Maya (DK Eyewitness Book)
  • Hernan Cortez: Conquistador and Explorer by Molzahn - this was the main book we used for Cortez
  • You Wouldn't Want to be an Aztec Sacrifice: Gruesome Things You'd Rather Not Know by MacDonald - this was Alexandra's favorite book, though I wouldn't recommend it for everyone! It does get pretty gruesome!


For art appreciation/art history, we've been studying Picasso the past few weeks - Alexandra's choice!

We learned that Picasso's father was an art teacher, who recognized his talents at a young age. His style changed many times and included:

  • The Blue Period - this started after a friend of his died and was his first big break from painting like others - he mixed blue paint with his other colors and made blue people, blue walls, etc. Alexandra and I tried blue paintings of our own - they are both about something sad in our life - when her hamster Emma died about a month ago - mine shows a blue tree with a cross under it representing where she's buried and Alexandra's shows Emma with wings while Alexandra is on the ground standing next to Emma's tombstone (photo of The Old Guitarist taken at The Art Institute in Chicago, but it doesn't show how blue it is!)

  • The Rose Period - Picasso fell in love and broke his "blue period" and changed into a "rose period." His colors were "happier" and he started painting happier things. He made many paintings of circus people at this time.
  • Cubism - Picasso developed this style and became famous for it. Cubism changed over the years, but some of them are of people with their facial parts placed in the wrong place. Many of these paintings look like they were broken and put back together. We played a fun on-line activity for this one that we found and Toad Haven. We went to Picasso Head and created our own mixed up faces. Lots of fun! (below: Picasso's The Red Armchair seen at The Art Institute)
  • Collage - "Art historians generally attribute the first use of collage in fine art to Pablo Picasso in 1912, when he glued a piece of patterned oilcloth to a cubist still life." We made our own collage art - I actually tried to kind of copy one of Picasso's works called Lady with a Hat while Alexandra made up her own creation - A Peek Into Lunch, complete with a sandwich, apple, napkin, and other lunch items.

  • Guernica - We also looked at one of his most famous paintings, Guernica. Picasso painted this large painting of a town in Spain called Guernica which was by the town he'd grown up in. It had been bombed during the Spanish Civil War and thousands of innocent people had died. Picasso made this large painting to demonstrate his anger.
We read several good books about Picasso:
  • Picasso (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists) by Mike Venezia - a great series
  • Pablo Picasso: Breaking All the Rules by True Kelley (a Smart About Art book) - another great series by various authors
  • Pable Picasso by Linda Lowery (an Own My Own Biography)
  • Picasso: Art Activity Pack - this is the first one of this series that we've used, but I have 4 or 5 others waiting to be used! This has descriptions and photos of several of Picasso's art works and then an acitivity - in this pack, the activitiy was the collage Alexandra and I did, shown above
  • Picasso and the Girl with the Ponytail by Anholt - a book we LOVE (below - photo of Alexandra in front of one of Picasso's paintings of the Girl with the Ponytail

  • When Pigasso met Mootise by Laden - this book was OK, but gives you an idea of the artwork of these 2 artists and their relationship
  • Picasso and Minou by Maltbie - very cute book about Picasso and his real-life cat

Friday, September 28, 2007

Sea World: Day 2

Alexandra and me after our 6:30 am visit to the dophins - after sleeping on a hard floor and  no shower :-)

Saying goodbye to Sea World... for 1 hour (we ended up being there 23 hours with a 1 hour break!!!)

Alexandra and her  new friend waiting to leave... (loved how they were standing their with their matching pony tails)

Although the gates don't officially open until 10:00 am, they open the gates at 9:00 am for a dolphin feeding time. Alexandra and I both fed and TOUCHED the dolphins!!! What an incredible experience! And, there were very few people there as this early opening isn't advertised. Incredible!!!

Waiting for a bite to eat...

Stretching out to touch a dolphin

Alexandra enjoyed sitting in the "wet zone" at this show - her new friend even go to crank the handle to "turn the water off"(Alexandra is in a pink shirt by the rail in the row in behind the actor)

Alexandra and new friends on Journey to Atlantis ride - she's on the back row, far right, with hand in air - I rode this once.... and got quite wet :-)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sea World Sleepover

This past weekend, Alexandra was "finally" old enough to go to the Sea World Homeschool Sleepover. So, we went! We had so much fun and made friends with 2 other families from another city.

Basically, you get to have the park to yourselves! There were about 40 homeschoolers divided into 2 groups and a teenage girl's birthday party group. We got to go "behind stage" at a lot of the shows and see the animals up close. I loved how the animals actually seemed glad to see us and would swim over to say "hello!" The beluga, above, is one of my favorite sea mammals.

For dinner, we had pizza, carrot sticks & ranch dressing. A meal Alexandra and I love! Afterwards, the kids did a craft and I happened to spot this piece of trash in the grass - covered with snails! I think there were 8 in all. Everyone enjoyed looking at them. I wonder why they were there? I guess to get a small meal. Anyway, these were some TINY snails and I'm glad at least this one photo turned out.

Here's a photo of Alexandra and her new friend as we were walking around. We stayed outside until about 9:30 pm and it was totally dark. They didn't even have lights up in lots of places and we didn't use a flashlight, so at times it was very hard to see. The lights were even out in the buildings we went into - but there were lights on in most of the tanks or exhibits.

I liked this photo above about Project Puffin. If you look at the photo in the upper left corner, it has 2 "fake" puffins and 1 real one. The puffins were almost extinct and they placed these fake puffins around and they lured the real ones. This really helped improve the number of puffins. What a great idea!

We slept in the coral reef & shark building. The above photo of jellyfish was taken in the building. I didn't get any good photos of where we actually slept, because it was so dark! We had to walk quite a ways to change into our night clothes, which was kind of fun. About as close to camping as I like to get! And, when we woke up after VERY little sleep (I didn't know you could bring an air mattress & the sleeping bag on cement was very uncomfortable AND I had HORRIBLE allergies which cleared up on the way home), we got to go visit the dolphins - at about 6:30 am! What a wonderful way to start the day. They were so happy & playful! A few people got to touch the dolphins, too!

Here's a little killer "music" to end the post. We had visited the "grown up" first, and it was asleep floating in the water. Then, as we were leaving, we passed the "baby's" tank - she's about 2 years old. She started singing to us. We thought it was so neat!!!


For the past few weeks, we've been lightly studying stars & constellations. We've been using the book Find the Constellations by H. A. Rey. This is a great astronomy book and I LOVE how they draw the constellations! They are not your typical drawings - they actually help you "see" the figures. For example, in the photo below you have: the Great Bear, the Virgin, the Whale, and the Twins.
We got the idea of using glow-in-the-dark puff paint from Robin at martinzoo. We have now made 12 constellations like this and, when we take them into a dark room, we can actually identify them! We were even able to identify one of them, Orion, outside the other night at Sea World. (It's just too bright where we live to see much.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Thoughts from Luke

I have several posts I've been meaning to write. We've been studying the stars and have done a few neat things and have a great book to recommend. We've been studying Picasso and learned so much about him and his art... and, of course, made some of our own! And, we went on a sleepover at Sea World this past weekend and slept in the Coral Reef building.

But, today, I thought I'd share what God has been showing me the past 2 days while studying Luke. I haven't been having my time alone with God lately, and it shows. Yesterday, I "drug" out my Bible and thought I'd try again. God hit me so powerfully with several verses, and he did the same today. And, I just feel the need to share! I hope these verses & thoughts help someone else. These verses are all from Luke 5.

v. 5 - "But because you say so, I will..." These words were spoken by Simon Peter after they'd been working all night and hadn't caught anything. Jesus had told him to put the nets in a certain place, and Simon replied that they hadn't caught anything all night "but because you say so, I will..." Isn't that what our response to Jesus should be? We might have tried so many things and God tells us to try something else and we think it is hopeless... "but because (He) says so..." we should try. He is God.

v. 8 - "Go away from me, Lord, I am a sinful man." This is again Simon speaking after he sees the great number of fish they had caught. When we truly see Jesus, we see all of our sinfulness and are ashamed of it. (But, God can forgive us and make us clean again!)

v. 11 - They "left everything and followed him." That is what God asks of us - just to leave our "things" - our problems, doubts, "baggage" - and follow Him. He will lead us down the path we should go.

v. 12 - "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." I have been repeating the same sin, over and over again lately and I feel unable to stop. But, God can make me clean! I don't have to be victim to myself. God is able to make me clean and make me into a new creature! We need to ask Him for help when we feel like this!

v. 13 - "Jesus reached out and touched him." These words were spoken about a man "unclean" with leprosy. When we feel "unclean" by the sin in our life, God is still willing to reach out & touch us!!! He doesn't look away or walk on the other side of the street. He reaches out & touches us. What an incredible thing - that the perfect God of the universe would reach out and touch me!

v. 16 - "But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places & prayed." If Jesus "had to" pray - and often! - how much more do we need to pray?

Prayerfully Yours,

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Geography and the Explorers

Our online KONOS co-op is currently studying the explorers. Along with that topic, we're studying geography. For example, since we're studying the Caribbean area that Columbus and other explorers explored, we're learning the names of the islands, bodies of water, etc, in that area. I came up with this neat idea of printing out a map, placing it on a sheet of corkboard (I got 4 of them for about $6 at WalMart) and then we take turns naming a place and the other person needs to place a pin in it. We're both really enjoying this game and have learned a lot! (Geography is NOT one of my strong points!)

We also used a Montessori approach to learning some land and water forms. We made models of the various land/water forms from Model Magic (which actually began to dissolve and get slimey in the water!) and added blue-colored water to make the water. For example, Vasco de Balboa crossed the isthmus of Panama, so we made this peninsula to show what that term means. (I'd seen another homeschooling blogger do something similar - but, unfortunately I don't remember who!)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

First Karate Demo - with Kamas!

Alexandra participated in her first karate demo on Saturday - complete with her weapon of choice: the kamas. Before performing in small groups to demonstrate their weapons, the students performed in larger groups. Alexandra loves karate and her favorite part is the weapons! (She uses both kamas and the bow.)


Close-up of a dragonfly in our backyard - it looks incredible close up. You can even see a tear in his wing!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Go Texans!!!

What a great feeling it is to be cheering on a winning team... the Texans!!! We're now 2-0 (which is a first). This if fun. Go Texans!!! (photo: Alexandra at the first game of the season against the Kansas City Chiefs - whom we beat!)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Tail of a Gecko

Today a small gecko, about 1.5 inches, got in our door jam so we had to get him out to shut the door. Unfortunately, his tail came out so this makes him more susceptible to predators. Usually, a gecko will drop his tail if he is captured and the predator should go after the wiggling tail instead of the gecko. So, now the poor gecko is in more danger - until his tail grows back.

But, I couldn't resist the urge to show Alexandra the tail. And, we got out her microscope and took the above photo at 60X. Isn't it neat?

The tail continued to wiggle for several minutes and we videotaped him with our digital microscope. Even after it stopped wiggling, it would start again if we touched it. Pretty neat defense system! (By the way, it was a lot more active at the beginning. This is probably 3-5 minutes after the tail fell off.)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Nature Day

We went with our homeschool nature group on our first nature day of the year - down by the coast. The group made 4 stops, but we were only able to go to the first 3.

Our first stop was to a nature preserve. There were dragonflies and lovebugs everywhere! I'd really never seen so many dragonflies, though there are often an abundance of lovebugs this time of year.

I also loved the lilypads. We looked for frogs, but I only found one and it was too far away to photograph.

We got pretty close to two small alligators. This is the fourth time for us to see them out in the wild (and all within the past year!) and the novelty is starting to wear off. But, it's still exciting! These two were about 2 foot long. They sat around for a long time and let us get really close.

Here's a close up after one of them had decided he was safer in the water.

Unless you're a real nature person, you might find this gross. It's alligator scat! The kids thought it was pretty gross to start with, but then thought it was pretty neat. There are a lot of berries that aren't digested at all. In fact, the sign with info about the alligators just mentioned different kinds of animals they eat - nothing about berries!

Our second stop was the beach where we ate and played in the water. It was a very hot day and the water was a wonderful temperature. There were even outdoor showers and indoor bathrooms. This is my favorite photo of the day - a wonderful sand crab. (You might click this one to enlarge it. You can see the hairs on his legs!) Some of the kids and I had fun as we blocked the front and back door to his house and he was running around. We weren't trying to be mean - we just wanted to watch him longer and not let him go in his hole. And, we did let him "go home."

Our last stop of the day was a fish hatchery/aquarium. We toured the facility and saw how they raised the fish. It was very neat to see the small eggs and "fry." It was a hot, steamy, fish-smelling tour, though. The kids favorite part was the touch tank where you could touch crabs, fish and anenomes.

At the end, the kids were allowed to feed some of the fish. We were all amazed at how quickly the fish came and splashed around trying to get their food!

Fun with Math

We did a couple of fun math activities this week - both were inspired by Alexandra. First, she was working on fractions and turned one of her figures into a cube with a face. This gave me an idea to teach her how to draw a cube. She caught on quick and even drew some cute hands & feet. So, we made this cute little cubes all over our dry erase board.

I'd also bought some flash cards this week that were story problems. She came up with a tic-tac-toe game. On your turn, you're asked a question. If you get it right, you get to take a turn! But, she made the tic-tac-toe game out of stick pins (with cardboard under the "game board"). I thought this was clever, fun, and colorful!

Magnets & a Compass

We studied (played with?) magnets this week using a kit from The Young Scientists Club. We talked about how like poles repel and opposite poles attract. And, we experimented with finding the north and south pole on different shaped magnets. We also made a compass, above. And, it worked! (The compass was part of studying the Explorers with KONOS.)

And, Alexandra taped a magnet to the top of this little car and showed how she could move the car because "like poles repel." This was lots of fun!

Chicago - Day 5 (last day!)

On our last day in Chicago, we went to Shedd Aquarium. Here's a photo of Alexandra in front of some jelly fish.

We really enjoyed the dolphin show - though it was only 15 minutes long! It was nice that school was back in session as there were not very many people there. They said up until a few days earlier, the place had been packed!

Although many of the computer games were broken, when they worked, they were one of our favorite things! In this game, you tried to save the sea horses!

Chicago - Day 4 - Hershey

Another of Alexandra's favorite places in Chicago was the Hershey's store. Yum! She got to crank some handles and fill her own bucket of chocolate (which we're still eating on).

And, she got to design her own cupcake. Wow! Chocolate cupcake with chocolate fudge icing and Hershey bars for a face. It was yummy, but she (we!) barely ate any of it and then accidentally left it somewhere.
After this, we went across the street to the Ghiradelli store and my mom & Alexandra shared a sundae while I had a chocolate shake. Delicious! (And that was pretty much dinner for the night - great mom, huh?) :-)

Chicago - Day 4 - Art Institute

On Day 4, we spent over 6 hours at the Art Institute of Chicago - and we could have stayed much longer! (Or come back a second day!) We were so excited to see so many artists... and specific paintings!... that we recognized.

Alexandra took a photo of each suit of armor.

I got excited to run into a few Precissionism paintings by Demuth that I had studied just a few weeks earlier!

We saw lots of paintings by Georgia O'Keefe.

American Gothic by Grant Wood - I'd always thought this was a farmer and his wife, but it is a farmer and his daughter!

Alexandra looking at one of the miniature room displays - there were probably 50 or so and they were so small and detailed! We both love miniatures.

I was excited to recognize this as a painting by Thomas Cole, Father of the Hudson River School of Art I also studied recently. And, my mom could even remember his 5 components of art I'd shared with her. He thought each piece of art should have: still water, a water feature, mountains, sky, and trees. (This is from memory - I'll have to look at my notes to make sure I got it right.)

Alexandra in front of Mary Cassatt's The Child's Bath - one of our favorites! We stayed in front of this one quite a while.

Alexandra (and I!) got so excited to see this one. It is one of Picasso's paintings of Sylvette, "The Girl with the Ponytail." This one was titled Portrait of Sylvette David. We came to love this painting by reading the book Picasso and the Girl with the Ponytail by Laurence Anholt. Great book and great story!

A painting by Picasso we see in books - Mother and Child.

This painting is called Rainy Street by Caillebotte. I took it because it was on the cover of a brochure Alexandra was carrying around. We bought the tour book and Alexandra loved looking through it and finding paintings that were in her book. It was like a scavanger or treasure hunt!

Another one Alexandra got very excited about since we'd studied it. This one is Acrobats at the Cirque Fernando by Renoir.

Another Picasso (who we're currently studying) from his Blue Period - The Old Guitarist.

Another example of Seurat's Pointilism which Alexandra was thrilled to recognize - Bathers at Asnieres.

Another we recognized - Van Gogh's Self Portrait.

And another we recognized - Bedroom in Arles by Van Gogh.

LOTS of Monet's!!!

And, a highlight was seeing Seurat's large painting, Sunday afternoon on La Grande Jatte. My mother has memories of seeing this painting when she was a little girl, and I hope Alexandra always remembers this special day when we saw so many incredible pieces of art!
Related Posts with Thumbnails