Thursday, April 29, 2010

3rd and 4th Grade Book Club Book: Dying to Meet You: 43 Old Cemetary Road

One of the great things about Flurpee being in a book club is not only her motivation to read in order to finish a book in time for the meeting, but also the books they select. Their most recent book, Dying to Meet You: 43 Old Cemetery Road, is an interesting example. It is an epistolary novel using letters and newspaper clippings. The first Flurpee has ever seen. When she first opened the book, she was quite puzzled and her frustration in trying to understand the story was quite painful (on my ears--she's a screamer!). I had to explain the format before she could even enjoy the book. Now that she is almost done, she has noticed that each character has their own font so she knows who the letter is from prior to reading the closing. The book has some interesting elements. The main characters have names that are indicative of their character which was fun for me to point out. She is enjoying the book a lot.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Facebook Page

Along with Twitter, I also post some of my favorite links to a new Facebook page. If you visit the actual blog, you may have noticed the Facebook badge on the right. The page holds links and you can comment on them. If you find any useful, I'd love to hear it.

The Facebook page also has a discussion area. If there are any burning topics that someone may help with or for which you'd just like to see anyone's thoughts, then perhaps posting on the discussion board would be useful.

I hope to hear from you instead of just talking to myself!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Nice Day: Showing Confidence in Children

Hanover, my girl going to public school, had spring break recently. It was lovely to have her home for the whole week. As a coincidence, she still has two good friends from her private school prior to homeschooling. They also had spring break at the same time. I was able to invite both girls to hang out for one of the days. It was a lot of fun.

The girls got along quite well and they included Flurpee (the younger one) and she did not even feel left out much (a huge issue usually). We had to break up our day by taking everyone to Flurpee's orthodontist appointment. It was funny to have five kids in the car--one of the reasons I went with a 3-row SUV.

The day was gorgeous and after we went to the dentist, I mentioned heading to a park but Hanover nixed all of our town parks: ugly and boring. I can't argue. The parks in our town are quite old and ill-maintained. One of our guests remembered a park near the orthodontist's. She had not been there in many years (basically, since she was five!) and was not quite sure if she knew where it was.

All of the kids were excited to find this park because it sounded like fun (a big wooden adventure set). I was a little concerned that we could end up driving around for no reason. I could get lost. We could miss our chance to play at a park I knew. The kids could have run out of play time while we were driving around. Yet, I decided to give it a shot. Sure, any of those things could happen. If we were driving for a long time, I could decide to stop. If we were making a lot of turns I couldn't track, I would have turned around. Instead, I put my trust in this 10 year-old and let her give it her best.

And we found it! And the kids had a blast. The towers helped feed their imaginations and they decided to be princesses and maids with an evil Queen. The Queen had a favorite princess and was very demanding of her maids. The maids had to help her control the princesses. Omega (2 1/2 years old now) wandered every where. I almost never saw him. He climbed, slid, jumped, and meandered. I cannot imagine how gratifying it was for our friend to have an adult listen to her, trust her enough to drive around out of the way, and, in the end, to succeed and be an integral part of her friends' fun day.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Super Simple Science: Biology and Osmosis

I think most people are familiar with this experiment using white carnations. One need not have carnations though. We demonstrated osmosis and cell stiffness using old celery. I used week-old, pale celery with leaves (left over from making chicken stock, yum). We felt how limp the celery was and paid attention to the color of the leaves.

We filled a glass with water and added a lot of liquid food coloring. We put the celery in the glass and waited over night.

By the next morning, we had evidence that the colored water had moved all the way to the top of the celery stalk through osmosis. The leaves were splotched with blue.

When we cut a cross-section, the main channels were also distinctly blue.

It was even more dramatic to pull the celery apart and see those same channels along their length.

We also noted that the celery was much stiffer, and crisper, and could hold its shape better. I explained that this was why we had a high-humidity drawer in the refrigerator, why the supermarket uses misters in the produce area, why there is water in pre-cut vegetable packages, and why I sometimes soak my older lettuce in water before making a salad.

There's an explanation here:

-- Post From My iPhone

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Fabulous Resource for Homeschoolers & Everyone Else: History at Our House Allowing FREE Access to Its Unique History Through Art Program

Having used this program, the History through Art is one of the incredible extras that makes History at Our House so worthwhile for homeschoolers, afterschoolwrs, and me! I learned so much about history and art appreciation listening along with my daughters to their classes.

I am so excited that I can access this tidbit of History at Our House for my older daughter as a school supplement.

The link:

-- Post From My iPhone

Friday, April 16, 2010

Keep Food from Sticking: Make Your Own Non-Stick Aluminum Foil

I love aluminum foil. It is never a mess-free meal, but the bulk of the clean up is eliminated. I prefer aluminum foil because this:

is so much more appetizing than this:

Which is what my baking sheets look like after 10 years of abuse.

Cooking on aluminum foil can be very annoying when your meal is done but your food gets stuck even with oil. Quite tedious to pick bits of foil off the bottom of dinner. There is non-stick foil now. I have not bought it because I make my own.

I use a sheet of foil that is already the right size (shown above). I scrunch it up accordian-like:

(not too tight) and then tease it apart again.

After it is opened up again, I smooth it flat with my hand moving from the inside to the edge.

It leaves all these great nooks and crannies that prevents food from sticking. I am cooking chicken breast on it tonight.

-- Post From My iPhone

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Toddler & Preschool Activity: Aluminum Foil Fun

Toddlers and preschoolers are so much fun. Even the most mundane (to us) observations are gold mines of experience or a way to practice developing skills.
They love it because it is new.

I was using some aluminum foil while cooking today and thought it would be a lot of fun for Omega. It is shiny, it crumples nicely, and makes noise. I tore off a square piece for him. For we explored how shiny it was. We reflected light onto the walls. I reflected light onto Omega's face. We felt how smooth it was. We laid it on a table and ran our hands over its flat surface. I held it while he felt it again. This time he could tell it was still smooth but it was also soft. It would easily bend where it was not fully supported.

We placed the foil on the ground. He stomped on it and danced on it. I talked about feeling it crinkle under his feet. We could see and hear the crinkles, too. I gently crumpled it and then opened it flat again. This time we could see that only small parts were shiny and we could not see as much light on the wall. He ran his hands over it to feel the bumps and how rough it is.

Then he practiced some small motor skills by squishing the sheet into a ball. He could strengthen his hands and arms by pressing as hard as he could to make it small. I had in step on the ball for the sensory experience and to see it could still be made smaller.

Of course, now you have a ball. Balls are great for throwing! We had a friendly game of catch. I made sure to point out that this ball is not like his others. We dropped his bouncy ball and it, unsurprisingly, bounced. We dropped the aluminum foil ball and it did not bounce (it just rolled off).

I helped Omega wrapped his first ball in another sheet of foil (since I took out another for this post). He then wanted to reclaim his first. He began tearing off bits of the top layer. A great exercise for manual dexterity (and learning that little bits of torn stuff belong in the trash).

I think that was a lot of learning and fun for a few cents worth of kitchen product I have anyway. There is a downside. When they realize that so much fun is a drawer away, watch out for your supplies!

-- Post From My iPhone

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Book Arts Bash Winners

Homeschooled Twins has announced the winners of the Book Arts Bash--a fantastic contest for kids who want to write. Here are they are (reprinted with permission):

Kindergarten and First Grade:

A Big Problem by Brianna T.
Runners up:
Adventures of Big D and BMC by Emma W.
Zoo With A Strange Zookeeper by Vivian L.

Second and Third Grade:

The Adventures of Blue Flame the Heroic Giant Squid-Fighting Hero by Sage M.
Runners Up:
Ruby, A Twisting Tale by Emilie M.
Mittens the Cat by Melea von T.

Fourth and Fifth Grade:

1 by Nicci M.
Runners up:
One Girl Revolution by Sadie Z.
Blaze by Alexandra S.

Sixth Grade:

The Princess by Lena G.
Runners up:
Becoming Callie by Lena G.
Trixie by Lydia A.

Seventh Grade:

Happy Ending is a Place by Mandy H.
Runners up:
Violet Fire by Bryn B.
Kite by Hannah S.

Eighth Grade:

Hollin by Garrett R.
Runners up:
Common Animals by Thomas B.
Little Angel by Adayla S.

Ninth Grade:

Why I Missed the Second Set by Rose C.
Runners up:
Untitled by Larissa S.
Tales of the Humbats: The Seventh Piece by Raven M.

Tenth Grade:

Children of the Stars by Holden M.
Runners up:
Shattering Darkness by Vienna H.
The Scouser Cap by Emily V.

Eleventh Grade:

Cadence by Scout G.
Runners up:
Vengeance: 25 cents by Kathleen M.
Don't Look Down by Tanya S

Twelfth Grade:

If Pearls Could Sing by Pamela C.
Runners up:
Broken Things by Emily D.
Falling Night by Anna W.

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Can you help us by republishing the results and sponsor links on your blog, supporting homeschooled writers and this novel-writing contest? Please email us or leave a comment to let us know you can help. We need twenty blogs to participate. Would you donate a post on yours?

-- Post From My iPhone

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter: Egg Hunt for Multiple Ages & Egg Dying Fun

Egg dying! Much goofiness.

"Look, Ma, I use my hands. And I like to eat any & all eggs that I dyed. Cooked yolks are yucky."

And an egg hunt. Each kid gets 10 eggs this year. We hide them in the evening. Each kid has their own colors to search for. That way we can customize the difficulty level and since each kid has their own color we don't have to worry about the big kids getting all of the easily found eggs or the big count & whine when one kid finds more eggs.

My husband is the designated egg hider. And he enjoys hiding them a little too much. He gets great enjoyment out clever hiding spots. We have some simple rules he needs to follow: eggs must be in plain sight. They must not be hidden in drawers or behind anything other than pillows. Not to make things easier for the kids, but so that my house isn't torn apart during the hunt.

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 02, 2010

Science Everyday: 2nd Class Lever

Pictured below is an example of a science concept in action. Is it not fascinating? Oh, it does not look like science? Yet it is! It's a simple machine allowing access to a refreshing beverage.

This particular simple machine is a lever. I know it's really a bottle opener, but it is a lever cleverly disguised as a bottle opener. When most people think of a lever they think of a balance beam or a board that is wedged under something that needs to be moved with a rock for support in the middle and the opposite end is pressed down or see-saws. Those are levers, but they are only one of three type of levers. Those examples show a 1st class lever where there is a support somewhere in the middle of the board with the thing to be lifted (load) on one side and the other side is where we try to make the board move (force).

In a 2nd class lever, as shown above, the fulcrum (support point) is not between the load (what needs to be moved) and the force (the lifting or pressing). A 2nd class lever has the load between the fulcrum and the force. As shown in the photo, the fulcrum is the end if the bottle opener that rests on the bottle cap. The load is the edge of the bottle lid that needs to be lifted. The force is the hand that lifts the other end of the bottle opener.

Now, if you buy that extra tasty rootbeer or cream soda in the fancy glass bottles, the kids will love to hear about 2nd class levers while opening their drinks. Or, if you are like me, you teach the children about 2nd class levers so that when you ask them to fetch you a drink, they can open it for you too.

Here is a link that has more explanation and examples of levers.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, April 01, 2010

An Eggcellent Day: My Silk Egg Dying Result

I have been having an egg-cellent day. We have one thing in the works involving eggs and then we did this silk egg dying from the Martha Stewart site.

I raided my husband's ties (he is a big fan of ties and found some I do not think he is wearing any more. That's my story!

We sacrificed them to the cause and hacked them up. I also had white fabric laying around to secure the tie-wrapped eggs. Then I hard-boiled them as usual. I don't think all of the ties were silk but I am not sure. One did not work out well (too light) but the rest looked pretty neat. Flurpee, 8, enjoyed picking her pattern, wrapping, and seeing the finished egg.

A friend of mine headed out to the thrift store for some ties. Please, if you use old silk boxers, I do not want to know about it and please do not invite me over for egg salad.

The patterns are hearts, stripes, a floral, and Looney Tunes of which only Daffy's bill is recognizable.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone