Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Jasper Johns

We have been studying the artist Jasper Johns for a few days after reading about him at ArtSmart4Kids. I hadn't heard of him before and enjoyed the links Jessica posted. And, I thought Jessica's Johns-style US map fit in nicely with our goal of learning the US states and where they are located. I wrote 'United States' on the map in white crayon before using the watercolors, but it didn't show up very well.

Then, Kathy at Art Projects for Kids came up with this Jasper Johns number project. I found it a good time to practice some math skills. For example, we had to cut 8 1/2 inches into 4 equal pieces. We haven't used oil pastels very much so I enjoyed the chance to use that medium.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

30 Poets/30 Days

Gregory K. Pincus at GottaBook will be posting 30 poets in 30 days for National Poetry Month in April! These poems are previously unpublished. He'll begin on April 1st. I think this is a great way to get a taste of poetry - something I neglect in our home! (Thanks to Melissa Wiley for posting about this and alerting me to it!)
By the way, I've been enjoying reading some of Gregory K's poems tonight - like The Best Concert Ever and Reasons Why I Don't Write. They are both really funny and I think children, as well as adults, would enjoy them.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fascinating Plants

Do you know what this is??? It's part of our new Cape Sundew! Isn't it beautiful? This plant is a carnivorous plant (or CP) and it uses those sticky drops of "dew" to trap its victims. You can see 2 little "meals" in this photo - I think they are gnats. When I touch these droplets of "dew", it is sticky and I can pull the plant towards me when I pull my finger away.

Here's a fuller view of our sundew. In the bowl, the green "stuff" is another CP - bladderwort. It eats very tiny insects. To be a CP a plant must do 3 things - attract, capture and digest its prey. Some are active like the more familiar venus flytrap and the bladderwort which "sucks in" its prey; and some are passive like this sundew and pitcher plants. The sundew actually becomes active when it captures its prey and will slowly wrap its tentacles around its prey.
We learned about CPs while attending a class recently. We enjoyed listening to this passionate speaker tell us about CPs as he showed us dozens of his "babies." Then, he gave us the 2 above plants to take home!
For further reading, we checked out Elizabite by H. A. Rey! The speaker had it on display so we had to see what it was like. Alexandra thought it was quite funny!

This was one of the biggest pitcher plants we saw. It was about 2 1/2 inches long. Some pitcher plants can eat small mammals like frogs and mice!

I was surprised at the beautiful blooms CPs can have. Although this blooming pitcher plant was inside, this was the same kind of plant that grows at this local nature preserve and we enjoyed seeing these blooms out in the wild.

The butterworts became my new "favorite CP" because of these beautiful flowers. Aren't they gorgeous??? By the way, CPs eat meat because they live in poor soil and they need these extra nutrients. You should NEVER give a CP any fertilizer.

Above is a video about pitcher plants that I found really interesting. And, you should check out the videos at Peter's Savage Garden. He has some great videos and shows lots of different plants.

Louisiana Purchase and Lewis & Clark

We have started a new co-op with another Classical Conversations family. Basically, we will be studying about Westward Expansion and pioneers. For a "spine", we are using Great Pioneer Projects You Can Build Yourself by Rachel Dickinson and Learning Through History's magazine, Westward Ho!

In the past, Alexandra and I had worked through most of the small book, "What A Deal!" The Louisana Purchase by Carole Marsh. I wish I would have got this book at again as we would have made some Mississippi Mud Pie or built a raft of pretzle rods.

I also have the Kaleidoscope Kids Book, The Lewis & Carol Expedition, which has lots of great projects in it. But, I just wasn't up to it! I was literally putting together this first study the morning of our co-op.

So, what did we do?
  • At Enchanted Learning, we read about the Louisiana Purchase and took a quiz.

  • We also read about Lewis & Clark at Enchanted Learning.

  • We watched Schoolhouse Rock's "Elbow Room" (shown above).

  • We colored a map of the Louisian Purchase.

  • I think I found this part the most interesting - we discussed the Westward Journey series of nickels that the US mint released in 2004-2006. I was able to find 4 of the 5 coins at our house and especially enjoyed the coin that has a replica of the Peace Medal the explorers gave to Native American chiefs. "It shows the hand of a Native American and the hand aof a European-American clasped in a friendly handshake below a crossed pipe and tomahawk." I'd seen these coins before, but hadn't really paid any attention to them or what they meant.

  • Lastly, I still hope to complete this one: Over the past year and a half, Alexandra has earned 3 Junior Ranger badges. Well, you can earn a Lewis and Clark Junior Web Ranger by doing research online (or in a book), filling out this form, and mailing it in! I've printed it out, I just need to set down with Alexandra and do the work now.

Our next stop in history - The Oregon Trail.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hang In There!!!

I have been so busy planning our fun-filled school days lately that I haven't had much time to blog! We are doing lots of neat things and I can't wait to squeeze in some new posts. In the mean time, please "hang in there" with me!
Oh, and here's a quick tip - I was at WalMart today and picked up 6 calendars for 50 cents to 1 dollar each. I'm using them to work on my drawings - like this cute kitty! So, you might keep your eye out for 2009 calendars - they are selling cheap! I especially like to pick up the Fine Art calendars, but this is the first time I've picked up cartoon and animal calendars to work on my own drawing skills.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Genghis Khan @ Houston Museum of Natural Science

A few weeks ago, we took a field trip to HMNS to see the Genghis Khan exhibit. Before we went, I'd found a website about Khan that Alexandra and I read through. Unfortunately, I've spent probably an hour looking for the site so I could post a link, but I cannot find it. We also read the book by Demi, Chingis Khan (which is an alternate spelling of his name).

I visited the HMNS site and realized they had lesson plans, but didn't understand how to pull them up. If you go to this site, you actually click on the words "Vocabulary" (this could be useful to anyone studying Khan), "Knowledge Hunt" (I WISH I would have figured this out before we went as it has 10 pages of questions you can fill out as you walk through the exhibit! It would also be a useful guide to anyone studying about Genghis Khan AND Marco Polo), and Extension Activities. Actually, I'm considering going again so I can use the Knowledge Hunt questions!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Camera Tip for Using Macro (Moss)

I love using macro on my camera. Sometimes, the photos I capture startle me! Sometimes, I think it looks like I've used a microscope, not a camera.

While we were in Oklahoma last week, we took a drive out in the country and went on a nature walk. Our main "sightings" were mosses and lichens. I took the above photo of some moss spore capsules using the macro function on my camera. These stalks were about 3/4 of an inch tall. I just love how the "heads" look like goose heads!

The above moss also looked more beautiful using my camera than using my eye. It looks like a bunch of little stars! But, here are my 2 camera tips for using macro:

  1. Turn off the flash.
  2. DON'T ZOOM IN - Just get closer! I mean REALLY close! You might want to even get within an inch or so. The "don't zoom in" was something I learned by trial and error. Try it out for yourself and let me know what happens!

Google Reader Search Function

About a year ago I discovered Google Reader and it is saving me so much time! Using Google Reader, I can track all of my favorite blogs on one site! I have it set to show all of the posts I haven't read yet. So, when I visit Google Reader, I can catch up on everyone's blog!

Just a few days ago, I noticed a "search" function on Google Reader. It is so neat! If I remember reading about something on someone's blog, but I don't remember who, I can search "all items" and Google Reader finds the post for me! Or, if I'm working on a new topic and want to see if any of my friends have blogged about it, I can type some key words and hit "search."

For example, I typed in "Tall Tales" this morning and came across several of Ms. Julie's posts. I was also able to find several posts on Blog, She Wrote where she's used some FIAR books. I've requested some of them from the library.

I'm so excited to find this "new" tool!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Balancing Eggs with Mark Kistler

As I mentioned yesterday, today is the equinox and some people believe you can only balance an egg on the equinox. I've balanced an egg before and it wasn't on the equinox. Well, we tried it again today, but we weren't able to do it. I know there is a skill to it and last year I was able to balance quite a few eggs. But, today, I wasn't patient enough and didn't remember the 'trick.' So, instead, Alexandra and I drew some eggs standing on their end - Ninja Eggs, that is.

For $40, we recently bought a 3 year subscription to Mark Kistler's website through Homeschool Buyers Co-op and have been having fun learning to draw. I am especially enjoying learning to shade. Anyway, these were our Ninja Eggs and we'd draw them since we weren't able to make any eggs balance.

Tall Tall Tall Tales

We're currently doing a unit called Tall Tall Tall Tales using a free ebook from Rainbow Horizons Publishing. It is written for grades 4-8 and we are really enjoying this study!

We started by discussing what Tall Tales were and reading about Paul Bunyan from Mary Pope Osborne's American Tall Tales. Then, we were given 9 short stories and we were to separate fact from fiction - this wasn't as easy as it sounded!
Next, we discussed some effective writing tools like adjectives, alliteration, exaggeration, simile, and conversation. We read an entertaining story called The Talking Cat and then we did today's assignment: created our own "gross" menu concentration on using adjectives and alliteration. I came up with "Road Kill House" complete with food items like "puffy possum paws" and "smelly skunk burgers."
Alexandra's restaurant was called Gigi's Gummy Guts. She had dishes like "guinea pig noggin juice" and "toilet water" - yum!
A few weeks ago, Ms. Julie at Art Lessons for Kids ran a contest where she would create an art project and lesson plans for someone's topic. I didn't win, but she liked my idea of Tall Tales so much that she went ahead and created both some artwork and some additional lesson plans! We had fun recreating Ms. Julie's picture of Paul Bunyan and Blue. My artwork is at the top of this post and Alexandra's "Blue" is here at the bottom.
A lot of this unit has to do with writing. Next, we'll be working with exaggeration and then similes and conversation. This is a fun, creative writing unit and I recommend it. I know I'll be looking at other units by Rainbow Horizons Publishing.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spring (Vernal) Equinox

Tomorrow is the vernal equinox which means "spring equal night." The vernal equinox is the time when the sun's path intersects the equator. On that day, every place on earth has nearly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night. In the Northern Hemisphere, it always falls near March 20 or 21, and marks the start of spring! This year, the Equinox falls on Friday, March 20th.

Today we updated our Journey North project. Looking at the graph, you can see that all of the photoperiods (hours of daylight) are headed towards 12 hours! (Tomorrow, we will graph Monday's data, so we won't see it hit near 12 hours until we graph next Friday.) It is a great way to understand what happens with the equinox.

We also watched 2 videos on BrainPop today. (I recently bought a subscription, though I wish I would have used the Homeschool Buyers Co-op and earned some points!) We watched one video called Solstice and Equinox and another called Time Zones which helps us understand some of our Journey North data.

Here's a short quiz you and your kids can take about the equinox. I plan on looking up more information about the Great Sphinx of Egypt and the pyramid of Kulkulkan or Quetzalcoatl the Serpent God.

And, last year I talked with several other bloggers about the myth that you can only balance an egg on its end on the equinox! This myth is based on the fact that day and night are balanced on the equinox so it is thought by some to be the only day where it is possible to balance an egg. It is actually kind of tricky, but it is just as hard (or just as easy) to do it any day of the year. Give it a try on the equinox and then you might try it another day, too! (This photo is of an egg I balanced last year and it was a few days AFTER the equinox.)

So, have some fun learning about the equinox tomorrow!

I went ahead and looked up some YouTube videos about Chichen Itza, the pyramid in Mexico. It was built by the Mayans who were incredible mathematicians and astronomers. They built this pyramid in such a precise way that twice a year, during the spring and fall equinox, a feathery snake (shadow) would appear on the side of the pyramid. The above video is in Spanish, but has English subtitles and explained Chichen Itza better than any other video I watched. Chichen Itza was one of th 21 finalists for the "new" 7 Wonders of the World.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pi Day

Yesterday, we celebrated Pi Day (March 14th or 3.14). Alexandra had lots of fun preparing a surprise "Pi" meal with her Nana.

For dinner, they made pizza pie with pepperoni (arranged as a happy face). They also made a fruit salad with all circular fruits. And, we had slices of cucumber and round chips with dip. For dessert, they made a giant chocolate chip cookie and she decorated it with the symbol for pi. (I forgot to take a photo of the finished cookie!)

Nana also had the neatest idea to make everyone round placemats out of old wrapping paper! They traced a large bowl and cut out individual placemats. They also made little round name tags that doubled as coasters. I thought they turned out great! And, they will last through several meals.

And, since we are visiting family, I had to share this cute photo of my little nephew. He just turned 10 months old and what a cutie!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Hands On Blog Carnival - 4th Edition

Welcome to the fourth edition of the Hands On Homeschool Blog Carnival! We have lots of great submissions for this carnival, so let's get started!

First, some hands on history fun!

Julie at Ms. Julies Place - Art Lessons for Kids ran a contest where she would create a complete unit study for one lucky winner. Ms. Julie chose the winner and created a unit study on knights and castles in her post And the Winner is...

Brenda at The Tie That Binds Us posts Limbourgh Brothers or the Limburger Cheest Touch? which tells about her week with her younger kids while her older kids were gone. The kids learned about the Limbourgh brothers of the 1400s who worked together creating illuminated books. She also posts photos of their fun, hands on week.

At One Child Policy, Jimmie shares Panning for Gold Activity - A Great End to American Story 1 in which her daughter pans for gold using a kit from Winter Promise. Sprite's dad gave her some help and they uncovered some fools gold and other treasures.

At Sunrise to Sunset, Martha shows photos of the HOAC lapbook her and her sons created in Columbus Who? She also tells how she made this lapbook more enjoyable for her kids - by precutting out the booklets.

Next, some hands on science fun!

Over at One Busy Mama, Erica and her sons create wonderful murals of a chipmunk den. And, they even got to go to a class to learn more about chipmunks in a hands-on way in Chipmunk Den and Outing.

Cheryl posted about the Nervous System at Talking to Myself . Her children create neuron drawings and put together a puzzle of the brain and skull! She also adds a link where you can get this puzzle and 3 other body puzzles.

Mouse at The Science Mouse has a great video of her daughter who shows us how to Make Your Own Science Journal.

Jenafer at Cage Free Monkeys tells about how her kids enjoyed excavating gems from a kit in Scientific Journey Ends With Messy Floors. Thankfully, "no one was injured by the wooden mallet or the sharp wooden spikes."

And some more fun!

Andrea at Prairie Crafts at Home shows some neat photos of the barn her son made in MY DS 15 MADE THIS COOL BARN. "School" is about so much more than just what we learn in textbooks!

Dana at Principled Discovery shares a wonderful post about What My Daughter Has Learned Through Blogging. Her daughter has started her own e-zine and is learning about things like how to create a blog, how to conduct an interview, and how to write a business email.

Another Dana (me!) at School For Us posted about a different way to learn where each state is - by DRAWING the United States. I also posted a few US geography resources that we are enjoying.

I hope you enjoyed this edition of the Hands On Blog Carnival. Our next carnival will be on March 30th and will be hosted by Kris at Science of Relations. You can use this submission form if you'd like to contribute to our next carnival.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Upcoming Hands On Homeschool Blog Carnival

I will be hosting the 4th edition of the Hands On Homeschool Blog Carnival on Monday. Here's a link to our last carnival, edition #3. If you'd like to submit something for the 4th edition of the carnival, please fill out this carnival submission form by Sunday morning.
I can't wait to read all of the submissions. Thank you!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Preparing for Pi Day

As I mentioned earlier, Saturday is Pi Day (since 3.14 is March 14th). Here are some of our plans.

To start with, we will read Sir Comference and the Dragon of Pi by Cindy Neuschwander and Wayne Geehan. (We love this whole series of books!) Then, we will "discover pi" using this site. We'll also watch the BrainPop video about pi.

We will also be doing some circle art using compasses and this post by ArtSmart4Kids about artist Frank Stella.

We'll be on Spring Break (yeah!!) or I would probably do more. But, we will also possibly have pizza and make a giant cookie "cake" for dessert. (Alexandra doesn't care for pies.)

Hope you have fun on Pi Day! Oh, and remember it is Einstein's birthday, too!

Thank You, Julie!

Julie at Ms. Julie's Place honored me with the IEMommy Blogger Award. (Thank you, Julie!)

"This award acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his/her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary and personal values every day.”

So now the rules state that I should share the award with fifteen other WONDERFUL BLOGGERS out there! So, here's my list of 15 of SOME of my favorite blogs - some I've been reading for years and others I've only found recently. Hopefully, you will visit some of these blogs and you might find some new favorites, too! (I went ahead and posted them alphabetically.)

  1. Alston Academy

  2. At Home Science

  3. Boys+ Academy

  4. Blog, She Wrote

  5. Higher Up and Further In

  6. Homeschool Math Blog

  7. In the Sparrow's Nest

  8. Let's play math!

  9. Life & Love in the Rose Cottage

  10. martinzoo

  11. Teaching Your Children

  12. that artist woman

  13. Think!

  14. Toad Haven

  15. Twinkling Stars Family School

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Upcoming Houston Area Festivals

Here are some upcoming Houston area festivals that we are hoping to attend! (photo from Sam Houston Festival in 2006.)

Houston Children's Festival. Dates: April 4th & 5th. We've been to this festival many times since Alexandra was a toddler, but I've never blogged about it! If we get to go this year, I'll post some photos!

Houston International Festival. The focus country this year is Ireland . Dates: April 18th & 19th/25th & 26th. Through their website you can buy tickets half price through the end of March! We've attended this festival only once, in 2006, when the focus country was Jamaica. IFest offers EXTENSIVE Teacher's Guides online. Unfortunately, it looks like you can only access this years and the past 3 years guides, but those include Ireland (183 pages!), Africa, China, and Jamaica. These guides would be helpful for anyone studying those countries. The guides include things like environment, geography, culture and history.

Houston Japan Festival. Dates: April 25th & 26th. We've never been to this festival, but we hope to try it out this year!

Sam Houston Folk Festival . Dates: May 1st - 3rd. We've also been to this only once, in 2006. There are lots of wonderful demonstrations at this festival! I highly recommend it! It's about an hour north of Houston.

Dragon Boat Festival. Date: May 2nd. We've also never been to this one but we learned about dragon boat racing while studying Canada. Then, we found out that Houston has a dragon boat race!!! So, we're really looking forward to this event. Since dragon boat racing originated in Asia, there is also a "celebration of Asian culture" that takes place on the day of the race with dancing, music, and taiko drumming.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Nature Fest - Saturday

If you live in the Houston area, you might consider going to the Nature Fest at Jesse H. Jones Park on Saturday. They have talks about birds, butterflies, native plants, reptiles and more. They also have guided nature walks and pontoon boat tours (you must be a certain age - I don't remember the age, but Alexandra is too young). There are also live animals to touch and see. We went last year and had a wonderful time!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Drawing the United States

We joined Classical Conversations in January, but last semester the students were working on memorizing the states and capitals. One of the resources some of the families used was Mr. Walker's Web Site on how to memorize the U.S.

Mr. Walker's method actually involves learning to draw all of the states in their proper places from memory. He does this by using neat memory devices like remembering Wyoming is off center from the other 4 "square" states below it. You ask yourself "Why" when you're drawing it and remember "Why? is Wyoming."

We're also learning the capitals as we learn to draw the states. So far, we're just working on the first 10, but I hope Alexandra and I can both draw and name all of the states and capitals by the end of the semester.

Here are a few more US geography resources:

Monday, March 02, 2009

Pi Day Plans

The 21st annual Pi Day (3/14 or 3.14) is coming up next Saturday and I've been searching for some fun things to do. Last year was the first time I'd heard of it and I didn't have much time to plan since I found out on 3/13.

So, first of all, I was letting everyone know so they can plan! But, I'm also wondering if you have some fun Pi plans that you could share with me.

Also, I've seen several versions (some on YouTube) of the American Pi song, but I enjoyed these lyrics. Here's part of it (sang to the tune "Bye, bye, miss American Pie...")

Find, find the value of pi
3 point 1 4 1 5 9 2 6 5 3 5 8 9...
A good ol’ fraction you might hope to define
But the decimal never dies, the decimal never dies.
Related Posts with Thumbnails