Monday, May 31, 2010

Monday Memories - Impressionists

Since I've now been blogging for almost 5 years, I thought I'd start a new weekly post called "Monday Memories." I'll use these posts to highlight some of my favorite activities from earlier years. I hope you enjoy these memories, and maybe you'll find a "new" post and a new idea to use! (If you'd like to create a weekly "Monday Memories" post, too, please let me know! If we have enough interest, I'll look into creating a Mr. Linky or something.)

Three years ago, we did a co-op with a sweet family, Mrs. S and her two girls. One daugther is Alex's age and the other was a few years older. Mrs. S and I took turns teaching various subjects. We spent several months studying the Impressionists and it was one of my favorite studiest of all times. Since then, Alex and I have went to a lot of art museums - from Houston and Dallas to Chicago and NYC. And, we are always able to recognize a lot of the artists and pieces of art because of this study.
Mrs. S used to decorate cakes and she had an assortment of equipment. She came up with the wonderful idea of decorating brownies Impressionist-style. She taught the girls (and me) about decorating and how to use the bags.
Hopefully you can see that some used dots to make our artwork while others smeared the background.

Alex smeared her background and then painted a bridge and flowers. It looks like a Monet!

Mrs. S also taught us about Mary Cassatt and how she was greatly influenced by Japanese prints. She had bought a brayer and taught the girls to make prints using foam paper and a stylus.

Alex made a tooth print. She was about ready to loose both front teeth and was fascinated with teeth. 

This is another great idea from Mrs. S. She bought artificial water lilies and floated them in the pool. We took canvases and watercolors outside and painted.

Here is Alex with her watercolor of waterlilies.

I had never used chalk pastels before and we spent some time learning how to use them. This is my Degas-styled drawing of a ballerina.

And, Mrs. S taught us about oil painting. I did two paintings and this is my second. I was trying not to blend the colors too much and really was pleased with how this turned out.

I hope you enjoyed this first edition of "Monday Memories." Next week, I'll share with you another of my favorite homeschooling memories.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Alex's President Garfield Presentation Using XtraNormal

(NOTE: YOU CAN SEE ALEX'S VIDEO ON MY BLOG. I'm not sure why it doesn't show up on Google Reader.)

Alex's history assignment for this week was to choose one of these presidents between Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt and make an online presentation. She chose to use XtraNormal to create a movie about President Garfield. This is something we'd never used before and Alex enjoyed learning how to use it. It's a neat way to add variety to your learning and a great way to share what you've learned!

Her online history class is now reading book 8 of Joy Hakim's series, A History of Us. This book, subtitled An Age of Extremes, covers the years 1880-1917. One of the chapters we read this week covers the presidents between Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt.

We have really been enjoying Joy Hakim's books. We have already covered books 6 and 7 this semester. In the next few weeks we will finish about half of book 8 and will continue with the book in the fall.
We decided to grab our book, Smart About the Presidents, to read more about the 9 presidents between Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. These pages are brief but have interesting facts and drawings.

We also read about the wives of the 9 presidents in our copy of Smart About the First Ladies.
I also showed her a copy of our new book, America's Presidents: A Museum in a Book. This is a wonderful book that has copies of actual letters, documents, and other papers. Alex really enjoyed this book and flipped through it and read for a long time.

America: The Story of US

Have you been watching America: The Story of US on the History channel? We are recording it via DVR and have watched pieces of it. My plan is to watch it all this summer. But, we are really enjoying it! The stories are really interesting and the graphics are incredible.

And, did you know that home schools can get a DVD copy for free? The deadline to request yours is July 1st and they will be mailed out around August.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Memorial Day Lapbook

We made this Memorial Day lapbook two years ago. We love making lapbooks because they are a great keepsake and review. We will be looking over this lapbook again this week.

The 12 minibooks, created by Lilliput Station, are available for $5 at CurrClick. We enjoyed putting together this lapbook and learned a lot in the process.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Carl Orff's Carmina Burana

On Saturday, we went to a production of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana.  We got to enjoy the beautiful singing by the Texas Master Chorale which includes TWO of our homeschooling friends. One of our friends is my piano teacher and she is the one who invited me. I was surprised to see another friend performing. She was born in South Africa and moved here about 2 years ago from Canada with her husband and 3 daughters who are triplets. She used to sing opera and attends my church where she sometimes sings solos.

Anyway, besides the 100 member chorale, there were also a live orchestra (the percussion parts are amazing!) and children's choir. The whole event was phenomenal. The songs are poems that were written in the 11th and 12 centuries in Latin and German. They were found in 1803 and, in 1935 & 1936, Carl Orff put 24 of the poems to music. The entire performance lasts about 71 minutes. A lot of the movements are very lively and the most famous piece is called O Fortuna. I found recordings of the entire performance of Carmina Burana online, but I have included a great recording of O Fortuana here. If you get a chance to see Carmina Burana, I highly recommend it!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Horrible Histories on YouTube

Let me start out by saying that I know Horrible Histories aren't for everyone. But, my daughter and I "discovered" these short clips on YouTube today and have been enjoying them. (Well, most of them.) One of our favorites is "The Wives of Henry VIII." (I would recommend you preview them before sharing them with your children.)

Monday, May 17, 2010

3D Drawing with Mark Kistler...LIVE!

Mark Kistler has been teaching 3D drawing for over 30 years. We are fortunate that he lives in the Houston area. And, today, Alex and I got to take a free, 45 minute class at our co-op.

In the 45 minutes, he showed us how to draw 4 basic drawings. I really liked Alex's robot.

Here is Mr. Kistler showing us how to draw. He has lots of lessons on his website, and you can buy a discounted subscription at Homeschool Buyers Co-op. We bought the lessons a little over a year ago and are really happy with them. Mr. Kistler (or Mr. Mark) teaches both summer camps and year-round lessons in the Houston area and we are looking into signing Alex up for some classes.

Mark Kistler also has a new series airing on PBS on Saturdays. You can check your local station for details. And, he has an app for iPhones called "Drawing with Mark Kistler." There are free lessons both on his website and with the app. (And, yes, these are my 4 drawings from today. My favorite was the fish.)

*I am not affiliated with Mark Kistler in any way. I just enjoy his method of teaching art.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

If You Take Your Daughter to a Swim Meet

If you take your daughter to a swim meet...
it might last 7 hours...
and it might rain for 5 of those hours...
and your tent might leak...
and all of your stuff might get soaked...
and you might throw it all in the washing machine...
and you might end up with an umbrella that looks like this...

I guess there should be a label on umbrellas telling you to "hand wash only."

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Seuss' The Butter Battle Book & The Cold War

I have mentioned the Free Technology for Teachers blog several times since I found it a few weeks ago. I am finding so many wonderful resources there! Today he had a post about the Cold War and a book/video by Seuss titled "The Butter Battle Book." The book was written in 1984 and the movie was produced in 1989. It is an alleghory about the Cold War written during the Cold War. We won't be studying this time period until next year, but I went ahead and explained the basics to Alex and we watched the video online. And, that is one reason I love to blog and love Google Reader - I will have this resource saved for next semester and other families might be able to use it, too.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Supply and Demand Fun

Today, Alex's online history class briefly discussed supply and demand. This is something we haven't discussed before, so I went "Googling" for some ideas. Here's what I found:
  • Brainpop - video about Supply and Demand
  • Lemonade Stand Tycoon and Lemonade Stand Tycoon 2: New York Edition - you can play these free for 1 hour and then pay about $7. Alex has Zoo Tycoon and we really enjoyed Lemonade 2 today. 
  • You Are Here
  • A great site called "You Are Here" by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). If you go to the Food Court, you can learn about to supply and demand, business competition, the history of the FTC, and mergers and monopolies. Some of these areas are games and some are cute animations. One, the history of the FTC, is a nice video. (There are other areas of the mall where you can learn about other subjects.) I HIGHLY recommend this site. It's fun... and educational!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Our Travels

I finally created my first page on my blog. Well, I guess it is my second page since the blog itself is the main page (titled "Home"). It is called "Our Travels" (right below header) and includes one photo and a link to each of the "big" trips we've been on while homeschooling. (I wish it was more obvious and I'll try to figure out how to make it stand out more. Does anyone have any tips?)

I love this photo from our 2nd trip. (The first trip, to Missouri, is the one where I lost ALL of the photos due to a faulty memory card!) It is from our trip to Colorado in March of 2007, so Alex was about 6.5. She is missing her two front teeth and I think she looks so cute. (And happy!) She was always pushing her tongue through the gap. This trip was taken with my mother-in-law on one of our annual "Girls' Trips." We had an amazing time!

Gallons, Quarts, Pints, and Cups... and Bug Juice!

We've been having fun working on English equivalents and conversions this week.

I found this neat problem at Learning Resources. You start with the recipe for Bug Juice and calculate how many gallons of Bug Juice you will make. You can also make your own recipe using whatever theme you'd like. For example, you could make Chocolate Chip or Flower Juice instead.

This was a neat activity I found at Beacon Learning Center. This activity has 2 steps. First, they give you a recipe for Creepy Crawly Punch and tell you how much of each ingredient you have on hand. Then they ask, do you have enough of each ingredient? If not, you need to create a shopping list for what you need to buy. Alex ended up making her own Grape Kool-Aid Punch for me to solve.

Two and a half years ago (time flies!) we made this Mrs. Gallon (usually called Mr. Gallon) which Alex remembered fondly, though she didn't remember all of the pieces.

This week, I came across this clever way to remember the gallons, quarts, pints & cups - something I have trouble remembering. Basically, you write a large G for Gallon, fill it with 4 Q's for Quarts, each Q gets to P's for Pints, and each P gets 2 C's for cups. This has really helped me! I can actually 'see' the P with 2 C's and remember a pint is equal to 2 cups. We'll see if I can remember it a year from now, though! Alex says she prefers to visualize Mrs. Gallon. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tree Class & Pond Play

Today was nature day for our nature group. We haven't made it to many outings this year and I didn't know most of the people there. But, we did see some old friends, and we made some new friends!

One of the moms arranged this meeting at her house in the country. Actually, it is a neighborhood, but they have 10 acres... 10 beautiful acres! She brought in a horticulturist to teach us about the tress on her property.

Here he is answering one of my questions:
Q: What makes a compound leaf a compound leaf and not just a bunch of leaves? 
A: All of it comes from one leaf bud.
Another questions I asked:
Q: What makes a tree "mature"?
A: When it pretty much has grown full size - both in height and girth. He said scientist were recently surprised when they put sensitive growth monitors around massive sequoias and found they are STILL growing!

Of course, I had to photograph some critters. We found a lot of these caterpillars. In fact, the family said they are everywhere and constantly dropping on them. We also saw a deer as it stood and watched the children playing in the pond. I grabbed my camera, but I wasn't fast enough.

And, the kids had a BLAST playing in their pond! The family dug it out about 2.5 years ago. And, they never stocked it with fish but it now has 3 kinds of fish. How? Birds, like egrets and cranes, visit ponds and the fish eggs can get stuck on their feet and legs. Then, of course, when they visit a new pond, they leave the eggs! Wow!

This was the other best part of the day for the kids - the water slide, jumping platform, and zip slide. Alex's favorite part was the jumping platform. The moms basically sat in the shade and talked. It was a wonderful day!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Swim Team Season

Summer swim team is back in session! Their practices started two weeks ago. That first week was chilly, but most of the kids handled it well. (Thankfully, Alex doesn't get cold easily, but some of the kids looked really cold.) This week, our temperatures are around 90, but it is still cool and breezy when Alex swims. Her practice is the last of the day, from 7 to 8 pm.

Here's Alex at practice swimming breaststroke (I think).

Our trial meet was this Saturday. Before the meet, the coaches always lead a short pep rally. Here's the team getting ready to swim! For the trial meet, we "only" had to be there at 7 am -and it was at our pool so it only takes a few minutes. I think we usually have to be at away games at 7 (though some are 30 minutes away) and home games at 6:30. It's hard, but it is fun.

The parents have to volunteer so everything will happen that needs to happen. I am a tent mom this year for the 9/10 year old girls. That means I hang out in the tent with the girls as their parents might be volunteering somewhere else. I did this when Alex was 4 & 5 and it was a lot of work. But, at that age, we were constantly looking for goggles, swim caps, even girls! It is MUCH easier at this age.

Here's Alex (head down, arm up) swimming freestyle at the trial meet.

And, here's our team! Swimming is really big around here. Our team has 212 swimmers, and that is a "neighborhood" swim team. Actually, anyone who lives in a neighborhood that doesn't have a swim team can pick a team to join. If your neighborhood has a swim team, you cannot go to another team. The neighborhood next to us doesn't have a team, so these kids are mainly from those 2 neighborhoods.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Somedays It's Hard...

just getting out of bed!

Alex and I laughed when we saw our new dog, Chloe, lying like this "in" her bed. (And, yes, when she curls up, she really does fit in the bed!) This morning, we had fun coming up with captions for this photo. Does anyone have a caption they like?


Friday, May 07, 2010

Pollinator LIVE! (a distance learning adventure)

Pollinator LIVE will be hosting a live webcast this Wednesday, May 12th. It is geared for grades 4 to 8 and is the first of a series of live webcasts. This one will be at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C and is titled Insect Zoo in Your Schoolyard. (You do need to go to the site to register, but it is free. And, you can watch a short "test" video to make sure you'll be able to see the live webcast.)

The topics of the day include: Overview of Pollination, Pollinator Partners, "Bee" a Scientist, Monarch Update, and Attracting Pollinators to Your Schoolyard Garden (or, in our case, our home!). There are also broadcasts on other topics planned for September 2010, October 2010, February 2011, and April 2011.

There are also Lesson Plans broken down by age groups which I plan on looking at this weekend. And, if you miss the live class, it will be archived on the Pollinator LIVE site!

P.S. We use BrainPop a LOT and find it to be a great resource, though kind of expensive. They have videos titles "pollination" and "honeybees" that we will watch before Wednesday's webcast. After the movie, they have a quiz, activities, "read more", and Q&A. It'll be a great start to this topic! I also think we'll try to find some pollen to photograph using our digital microscope.

For younger students, you might try this project I used with Alex when she was barely 5. I adapted it from something I read online at Core Knowledge. I cut out petals and filled a container with Cheetos. Then, I drew a bee on Alex's finger. When her bee visited the flower, it came out with pollen on it!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Meet Chloe

I've been meaning to post about Chloe and just haven't gotten around to it. So, here's Chloe...!

We have had our Chihuahua, Pandy, for almost 5 years now. (Her birthday is on the 12th!) I've always been a cat person, and Pandy was the first indoor dog I've ever had. (And, I love her dearly.) Anyway, I recently decided we should have a second dog in our family. My husband and Alex have been ready for a long time.  

A few weeks ago, we saw signs of a "found" Chihuahua in our neighborhood. After about a week, I gave them a call and asked if they were planning on keeping her if they didn't find an owner. They said "no" so I told them to call me back after the sign had been up 2 weeks. Well, we got the call! We went over that evening and met this sweet little Chihuahua (or Chihuhua mix). Pandy is only 5.5 pounds and this Chihuahua is 10.5 pounds - a big difference! We've had mixed ideas about whether she is a pure Chihuahua or a mix. Anyway, Alex instantly fell in love with her and they are already quite a pair. Pandy was supposed to be Alex's dog, but she preferred to follow me around. Chloe, on the other hand, acts like she is Alex's shadow. Here they are playing on their favorite new play place - the waterfall!

This last photo doesn't include Chloe, but I was enjoying playing with the color highlight function of my camera. Anyway, we took Chloe to the vet and found out she wasn't spayed. So, she got spayed yesterday and is doing well now. Also, she started puppy training classes 2 weeks ago! Oh... that was a surprise, too. We thought she was a full grown dog, but the vet told us they thought she was about 10 months old. We are really enjoying our new puppy... now if we could just finish housebreaking her!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The Polio Crusade (American Experience)

With Alex being sick today, we ended up watching The Polio Crusade which I had recorded with our DVR. It is another PBS American Experience movie, like The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln we watched a few months ago. Episodes air on our local station on Monday nights. We have also found them at NetFlix.

This was an amazing story. My mom grew up during this time and I talked with her about her experience last time we "studied" the topic of polio about a year and a half ago. My grandfather, her dad, had a mild case of polio.

From the movie, I learned that the March of Dimes started to combat polio. Up until that time, fundraising had relied on rich people giving large amounts of money. This campaign asked each family to send a dime to DC to help stop this horrible disease. It worked! Millions of dollars were raised, and it has changed the way charities raise money even today.

There are more resources online at PBS including a photo gallery, teacher's resources, then & now (about grassroots fundraising), a biography, an interview, and further reading (both books and websites). (And, The Polio Crusade is available to watch online!)

Here are some questions about the film that are on the PBS site. I had Alex answer them, and thought I'd share her answers here.

What is another name for infantile paralysis? POLIO

In what season did polio tend to strike? SUMMER

What rising young politician was stricken by polio in 1921? FDR

Why did polio become a bigger rather than a smaller problem after the adoption of modern sanitation systems? BECAUSE BABIES DIDN'T COME INTO CONTACT WITH THE POLIO VIRUS AND DEVELOP IMMUNITY TO IT



How did the March of Dimes spread its message among movie audiences? HAD CELEBRITIES LIKE JUDY GARLAND AND MICKEY ROONEY MAKE "COMMERICALS" ABOUT SENDING IN DIMES

Why did many towns use pesticides against polio? THEY WEREN'T SURE WHAT WAS SPREADING THE POLIO AND THEY WANTED TO DO SOMETHING Was this effective? IT WAS NOT EFFECTIVE

What researcher committed to developing a polio vaccine did O’Connor meet on a ship in 1951? JONAS SALK

How was this researcher’s planned vaccine different from other vaccines? HE WAS NOT GOING TO USE A LIVE VIRUS

What researcher was the main opponent of this approach? SABIN


In what year was a major field test conducted of Salk’s vaccine? 1954 What were the results? GOOD - ABOUT 80 TO 90 PERCENT EFFECTIVE

Why did the surgeon general suddenly halt the vaccine program? BECAUSE THERE WAS A BAD BATCH AND CHILDREN WERE GETTING POLIO FROM THE VACCINE

What happened to the number of polio cases in the years after vaccines were widely distributed? IT DECREASED SUBSTANTIALLY

When was Sabin’s vaccine ready? 1962 What advantages did it have over Salk’s? YOU COULD DRINK IT

In what year was polio declared eradicated in the United States? 1973
Last time I posted about polio, I recommended 3 books. I just requested them from the library and I thought I'd list them again here:
  • Dancing with Katya by Dori Chaconas - This is Alexandra's favorite and we've read it twice. It's a picture book about a girl whose little sister develops polio. They used to go out by the pond to dance and the big sister wonders if her little sister will ever dance again.
  • Close to Home (Once Upon America book) by Lydia Weaver - This is a fiction book about a little girl whose mom works for Dr. Jonas Salk as they try to find a polio vaccine. One of the little girl's classmates is crippled from polio and another classmate's mom is terrified that her daughter will get polio so they live with all of their house windows nailed shut.
  • Healing Warrior: A Story about Sister Elizabeth Kenny by Emily Crofford - This book is a true story about a nurse in Australia who makes up her own method of treating patients with polio... and is successful.
And, Joan Headly left a comment on my post recommending the following book:
  • Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio by Peg Kehret
P.S. Here's another site we are enjoying: Whatever Happened to Polio? There is even an online game about people with disabilites in 1955 verses 2005.

Virtual Choir

Alex was pretty sick yesterday, though she is much better today. We didn't do any "school" yesterday, and have been taking it pretty light today. We've read some from her history book and are watching a few educational movies I've recorded on our DVR.

We started our day by watching CNN Students News for yesterday and today. One of the news pieces was about a Virtual Choir which is conducted by Eric Whitacre. Basically, people from around the world (12 different countries) bought the same recording of this song and made a video recording of themselves singing their part while Eric directed them through the recording. Then, they sent in their audition pieces. The condutor put it all together and this beautiful "virutal chior" was created. I think it is amazing!

This 2nd video is by one of the singers, 18-year-old Melody. She has recorded her own voice in the various parts and it is beautiful! (She also has other songs.)
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