Saturday, August 30, 2008

Outdoor Hour Challenge #27 & Unplug Your Kids: Insects

(I decided to use this post for double duty as the Unplug Your Kids topic this week was: insects! So, instead of reposting these photos, I'll just link to this post from a few days ago.)

This week's challenge for Outdoor Hour was to study and look for bees. Sadly, we haven't seen many bees in our backyard for the past few years. We have 2 different types of plants that used to be covered in them, but we rarely see them now. So, we were outside and I was sure we wouldn't find any...

but, we found this one... she was dead. But, it was a great opportunity to study it close up and get a few photos.

We spent lots of time in the backyard this week. Alexandra saved this milkweed bug from the pool - he's drying off his wings.

I found this katydid on our sago palm. I love this photo! You might try to enlarge it. I think it is one of my best insect photos ever. And, I actually wasn't sure if this was a katydid or a grasshopper of some kind when I found it. I did some research and found that you can usually tell a katydid by its LONG antenna. They are sometimes even called longhorned grasshoppers, though they are more closely related the cricket.

And, this was just an incredible gift from God! My dog actually "found" it. This was right outside our back door. I actually thought this poor cicada was deformed... and dead. His coloring was so strange! So, I didn't even wake Alexandra to see it. About 30 minutes later, I took her outside to see it...And, he was out and letting his wings dry! Aren't those incredibly colored wings!!! I thought he was a most unusual colored cicada.

But, once again, I hadn't waited long enough... he is actually just an "ordinary" (but beautiful) cicada. Isn't that just amazing???

Monday, August 25, 2008

Having Fun with Andy Warhol

This week's Unplug Your Kid's theme was cylinders. I'd been planning on studying Andy Warhol and when I saw the theme I thought - "soup cans!" So, today we started a study of Warhol by reading 2 books about him and creating 2 pieces of art.

Our first "assignment" was to draw something that is a part of our every day life. Alexandra chose to draw Ovaltine (a cylinder) - something her and her cousin love to drink when they go to Grandma's.

I drew a modern "Healthy Request" can of Campbell's Soup... just like Andy.

We also tried to make some of his strangely colored portrait collages. We tried several mediums and couldn't find anything we could use to color ON Alexandra's face. So, we ended up coloring the background with markers. I still thought these turned out very neat looking.

If anyone's ever tried this (or knows of a way I can do it on my computer), I'd love to make these more colorful. I'd like to buy some watercolors and see if that would work.

We plan on studying more about Warhol this week... and making more masterpieces! So, if you have any ideas, please let me know!

Next week's theme: INSECTS

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Great Bug Blog

Jessica at Trivium Academy "found" a great bug blog that I'm really enjoying. It's called Bug Safari. Cindy has lots of great photos of some amazing bugs!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

1st Day of School Photos

3rd grade - 2008

2nd grade - 2007

1st grade - 2006

Kindergarten - 2005

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Outdoor Chalenge #26: Insects

We haven't done one of Barb's Outdoor Chalenges all summer! But, I love them and am happy to get involved again now that our school is back in session.

Right now, Barb's challenges are about different insects. Challenge #26 is about ladybugs and aphids, but she has told us that these are just guidelines. So, I decided to share about our nature studies from the past 2 days. They include insects, but not ladybugs and aphids.

On Saturday, we were running errands and we were seeing TONS of dragonflies. We went to the grocery store and saw 40-50 around the grass in the parking lot! At our own house, we saw about a dozen.

Today when I got home I saw about 6 dragonflies... and they were in a swarm of gnats... just eating them up! (I think.) Everywhere I looked there were gnats. And, there'd been lots of gnats this weekend, too. So, I guess the dragonflies are doing well because the gnats are doing well. If anyone has a better explanation for me, I'd love to hear it!
We have had LOTS of rain during the past 3 days... and much more predicted! The temperatures our nice, but you have to keep your umbrella handy. With all of this rain, we were pleased (isn't that strange?) to see so many mushrooms popping up... even in our own backyard. So, today we went on a mushroom hunt. We also read some about them. I haven't identified these, so I think I'll mainly just show you the photos of mushrooms in our neighborhood...

A fairy ring? And, we had a great time talking to this neighbor we've never really met before.

I'd read about making spore prints. Basically, you take the cap off of a mushroom and place it flat down on a black piece of paper. Then, you put a bowl over it so it doesn't get any drafts on it. Wait a few hours, and see what you've got! I thought it turned out really neat.
So, I think we'll be hunting for more mushrooms as we have about a WEEK more of rain ahead of us! I've seen a BIG one I'd really like to photograph...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

1st Day(s) of School

We started school Monday and are off to a pretty good start... though we are having to work around a house painter and running errands to Home Depot.

I meant to get our house painted during the summer, but we just got it arranged to start on Monday. So, we're living in kind of a mess... but an exciting mess! We've always had white walls and we are going to a fairly dark brown. I'm loving it!!! The first 2 rooms to be done are our master bedroom and bath. So, we're sleeping in the spare room and sharing Alexandra's bathroom.
So far, we've had 2 pretty full days of school. For history, we are reading 3 books about Benjamin Franklin. They are a Time for Kids biography, What's the Big Idea, Benjamin Franklin? and Ben and Me. We are enjoying and learning from all three. While I was reading, Alexandra drew a picture of Amos from Ben and Me.

Since we are studying about Benjamin Franklin, I thought we should study electricity for science. I actually have a book of experiments about Ben, but I just couldn't get into it. But, I found one of my science kits (I seem to collect them!) about electricity that we hadn't finished, so we got it out. We started by making a battery... and it worked! Then, we tried an electromagnet... and it didn't. I think it is because we used pennies that were post-1982. Did you know that "U.S. pennies made before 1982 are 95% copper, but newer pennies only have a 2.5% copper coating!" (from this website)

Alexandra has 2 new favorite subjects: Latin & composition.

She is really enjoying Latin for Children - especially the chants. And, she loves finding derivitives for the various vocabulary words. For example, we had the word "terra" which means "earth" and she came up with "terra cotta" and I came up with "terrestrial sphere" and "extraterrestrial." For "porta" which means "gate", she came up with "portal" from Cyberchase... the "gate" which takes them into Cyberworld.

For composition, we're using Andrew Pudewa's Teaching Writing: Structure & Style. So far, it is working great! We both think it is a lot of fun... and effective! For this first step, you basically write an outline and then tell the story back from the outline. I'll share a story she did today. I got the story from a sample of a Scholastic Magazine.

How Many Hurricanes? (retold by Alexandra)

Hurricanes are some of the biggest storms. The hurricane season is June 1 to November 30. Weather experts say that nine could occur this season.

Their winds have to be faster than 74 miles per hour. They can knock down trees, destroy and flood.

Each hurricane gets its very own name. More than one can happen at the same time. People like knowing their names so they can see which is on the news. Hopefully, not all the names will get used this season.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Our Next Trip - any suggestions?

I received a great phone call this week. My sister-in-law is going to a convention in Wisconsin in October and she asked if we'd like to come along! So, we'll be going on another trip. Yeah!

We'll be flying to Kansas City and then driving up. We have several days to get to Wisconsin and several days to get home so we'll be making several stops. Right now our plans are to stop in Hannibal, MO and to spend some time in Wisconsin including Door County. We might stop by Chicago which we LOVED last fall, or we might just try some new spots.

All together, we'll probably be driving through portions of Kansas, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Missouri. If you've got any great ideas for places to visit, particularly for Wisconsin (near Green Bay, Milwaukee, Madison, and Door County) and/or Iowa (we'll drive through Iowa City, Des Moines, Dubuque & Cedar Rapids), please let me know! Or, we could drive back through Illinois and hit cities like Peoria and Springfield. Thanks for your help!

Friday, August 15, 2008

32 Days

I have been out of town 32 days since the beginning of May! Close to 48 days when you include April. Yikes! But, we've had a lot of fun.

Last week, we spent the beginning of the week in Kansas where it got super hot and then cooled off. Then, I went to my brother's in Oklahoma for a 3 day weekend. We had so much fun!

On Friday, we went to visit some of his friends who live in the country. Alexandra is friends with their 2 girls who are 6.5 and 4. They went swimming, we had a cookout, and then we used their telescope to look at the moon (I have never done that! The craters were incredible!) and Venus - we could even see its moons!!!. I hope to post photos soon.

On Saturday, we went out to the lake with another of his friends. They have a trailer and several boats. We went sailing... right before a storm hit. So, we weren't gone long before we had to quickly sail for home. It was an amazing 1st time sail boat trip for both of us. In the evening, we played Wii and ordered pizza.

On Sunday, we went out to the lake again, this time with both of his friends and the kids. The kids played with dead guppies (gross!) and played in the sand. We cooked out and went canoeing. And, then we went out on a motor boat to fish. I have quite a fish story to tell, so I'm hoping my brother's friend sends me the photo they took. :-)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

First Day of School... plans???

We will be starting school on Monday... and we'll also have a house painter here at 8:30 am. So, I've been thinking about what we should do for the first day of school. We traditionally go out for a doughnut breakfast and take a photo at home, but I was trying to think of more ways to make the day special... even with a painter around all day. :-) Any ideas?

Oh, and we organized most of our school things today. Yeah! I'll have to share photos tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Homeschool Humor

I have been out on the road again and have been totally taking a break from homeschooling. I even started doing some genealogy research again - and finding a TON of information! But, we start back to school on Monday, so I need to get our "school" in order. I'm reading some blogs tonight and came across some great homeschool humor at Alston Academy. Enjoy!

You Must Be Homeschooled If...
Someone asks what grade you're in and you're not sure.
You sometimes go to school in your pajamas.
You sleep till 9:00 am on school days, but get up early on Sundays.
Your favorite author is Jane Austen (girls) or Robert Louis Stevenson (boys).
You own the entire series of Saxon Math books.
Your birthday is an official school holiday.
You don't get to stay home from school when you're sick.
You are unaware of the current fads, fashions, and slang terms.
Your favorite activity is reading.
You know what a unit study is.
Watching a movie means you'll have to write a report comparing the film to the book.
You dress up as historical or literary characters for Halloween.
You exchange e-mail Valentines with your homeschool pen pals.
Your room looks like a science lab.
You can get science credit for going to the dentist.
You go to the park for P.E.
You check out at least ten books every time you visit the library.
You have ever attempted to teach yourself physics.
You have no idea what rock bands are currently popular.
You get books and science kits for your birthday.
You know what Latin roots are.
Your board games all have names like "Bookworm", "Scrabble", "S'math", "Game of Knowledge", and "Name The State".
Your home library is arranged in Dewey Decimal order.
Your favorite place to study is outside, under a tree.
You can quote lines from Shakespeare, but not from South Park.
You memorize math formulas for fun.
You never get nervous on the first day of school.
The only bully you ever run into is your big brother.
You don't have to remember a locker combination, just your computer password.
It takes you less than a minute to walk to school.
You don't have to worry about forgetting anything - you can just run back to your room and get it.
Your school bus is a nine-passenger van.
There are only nine students in your class - but all of them are your brothers and sisters.
You have a 12-year-old, a 6-year-old, and a 2-year old in the same class.
You can get extra credit for cleaning your room.

* * *
You Must Be a Home Educator If...
You live in a one-house schoolroom.
Your walls are covered with maps and timelines.
You know what math manipulatives are.
You have mold growing in your fridge…on purpose.
Your preschooler can name all the planets, but doesn't know who the Rugrats are.
You've mastered the fine art of vacuuming a floor without sucking up a Lego or K'nex piece.
You're either an expert at doing the Lego dance - Oooch! Ouch! Yeow! - or else you've resorted to wearing shoes around the house.
You know the recipes for homemade versions of Play-doh, finger paint, and paste.
Your students have to clear the breakfast bowls off the table before sitting down to do their school work.
Your house is messy, but your kids are happy.
You know that reverse psychology really works.
Your kids publish their own family newsletter.
You shop for birthday presents at educational stores.
All you want for Christmas is a Barnes & Noble gift certificate.
You'd rather buy books than clothes.
Your friends don't want to help you move because you have so many books.
You turn a trip to the grocery store into a learning experience.
You get nervous about what people will say when you take your kids to K-Mart in the middle of the day.
You have a standard one-minute speech to give to store clerks, mother-in-laws, and school officials about why you homeschool.
You are sick and tired of answering the question, "But what about socialization?"
For your wedding anniversary, you decide to splurge and get a photocopier.
Talking out loud to yourself is the same as having a parent/teacher conference.
When you see a parking lot full of mini vans, you wonder if there's a homeschooling conference.
You take your family vacation in September, when the beaches and theme parks are empty.
You take a suitcase full of books along on your family vacation.
You can never find your kitchen utensils because they're out in the sandbox.
Your kitchen doubles as a science lab.
You are on a first name basis with your local librarian and bookstore owner.
The UPS driver delivers a box of Scholastic books to your doorstep once a month.
You know the scientific names of dinosaurs from A to Z.
You're willing to drop what you're doing at a moment's notice to go look something up in a dictionary or encyclopedia.
You have ever vented for more than five minutes on the evils of standardized testing.
You don't get fired for teaching your students about God.
Some days you learn as much as your students.
The more your kids learn, the less you seem to know.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

65 YEARS!!!

This weekend, we celebrated my husband's grandparent's 65th wedding anniversary! Isn't it hard to imagine being married that long?!? This party was a complete surprise to them, and they loved it.

Even with 2 "photographers" in the family, we forgot to have Grandma and Grandpa pose together! So, this is the best shot we have of them celebrating their special day together.

This is Grandpa with his "big" sister. There were 8 kids in Grandpa's family and 3 are still living. This lovely lady, Aunt Jessie, is the oldest at 93. She'll be 94 in October. She was the 2nd child and Grandpa was the 5th. The other living brother lives in Iowa and has Alzheimer's.

This is Grandma (in brown) with her remaining siblings. There were 7 children in her family and 3 are still living. "Auntie" (on left) lives just down the street from Grandma and Grandpa where they've been neighbors for many years. (Grandma and Grandpa have lived in the same house most of their married lives!) My husband grew up in the same neighborhood as his grandma and great aunt! The uncle in the photo lives close enough to visit regularly. Out of the children, Auntie was #4, Grandma was #5, and this Uncle was #7 - the baby of the family.

Cosmosphere & Prairie Dogs

We are currently in Kansas visiting family and went to the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center yesterday. Their mission statement is "honoring the past and inspiring the future of space exploration."

For the week, we also have a Flat Stanley visiting us from Iowa. Here he is outside of the museum posing with an astronaut.

Here's Alexandra in a "procedure trainer." I wish I would have copied the quote about how you have to get out of there with a can opener. I got in it, and it wasn't easy getting out!

Alexandra is standing in front of a real piece of the Berlin Wall. Her Nana told her she has 2 small pieces of it and will give her a piece.

We've been to the Cosmosphere before, but I'm always so excited to see the paririe dogs right by the highway and Lowes! There's a whole town of them! You can drive pretty close to them, but they get scared when you stop to take photos. One of them immediately started a "danger" call and they all ran to their holes.

I just read on Wikipedia and remember seeing in a video about Lewis and Clark that prairie dogs are named for their habitat (prairie) and warning call which sounds similar to a dog's bark.

And, here's one doing his warning call! He was the closest to me and he must have been telling them I was a huge threat as the others all went INSIDE their holes instead of just standing in the entrance. He would not quit his alarm until I drove away and I wondered if he would sacrifice himself so he could keep warning the others. Anyway, I think they are so cute and it's neat to have them living right in town!

By the way, it is HOT!!! Flat Stanley is pointing that out, though the car actually showed a temp of 109 at one point. I'm sure thankful we have air conditioning!

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