Saturday, May 16, 2015

Netflix History

 I admit that Spring time is always the hardest time for me to stay motivated to homeschool. My kids just want to play outside and I am worn out from months of being "the enforcer" as far as school work goes.  Every Spring it is the same. I hit the point where I am just not as motivated and my kids aren't motivated so we start getting less and less accomplished. History and Science are usually the first subjects to fall by the way side.

But my feelings of guilt are overcome a bit because we have been using out Netflix Streaming a whole lot and watching some great shows that really have taught us a lot.

We started the History Channel series How the States got their Shapes.  The first half of the series was great! We were learning all sorts of things about why our states are shaped the way they are and tons of history along the way because you can't tell the history of a states' shape without filling in some of the history of the region.  We never finished all the episodes. We lost interest when the show started to be more about how the US is polarized politically and such rather then discussing the actual states and their shapes.

We moved onto another History Channel series called The Men Who Built America. This one was so interesting. A little gritty at times. Vanderbuilt, Rockefeller, Carneige, Morgan and Ford were pretty ruthless in their business dealing. But there is a lot of history taught and we had some great discussions as we talked about each of these men and what they did, good and bad.   There was a whole lot of history here that I didn't know. My History education was sorely lacking. I knew little more than the names of these men and couldn't have even told you what they did before watching this show. Now my kids play Monopoly and call each other Rockefeller or JP Morgan.

David Macaulay books have been a favorite at our house for years. So I thought we would watch this great series called Building Big. Each episode covers a different type of structure. We watched all 5 shows  so we learned about Bridges, Dams, Tunnels, Skyscrapers and Domes. This is a PBS show and sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the American Society of Civil Engineers so I guess you could count this more as science rather than history. But what was really great about this series was that we had already watched those other two shows and the kids knew some of the history behind the structures discussed. So the science was backed up by History they had already studied.

Yesterday we finished yet another History Channel series, The Ultimate Guide to the Presidents. Again another great series that seemed pretty fair or balanced in the telling of each president's history. It explained the sentiment of the nation at the time each president was elected or took office (not all were elected!) And pointed out some of the highlights or low points during their years in office.  The series spent more time on the older presidents and skimmed through the more recent ones but I feel like I learned a lot. Again my poor History education showed in my lack of knowledge about many of these presidents.

 I enjoyed watching all these shows because they filled in so many holes. I know my kids enjoyed them. They were always asking to watch the next episode when the credits ran in the one we were currently finishing.  We often discussed the subjects and people we learned about with their Dad when he came home from work each day. He, being a History major in college and just an all around history and trivia buff, knew most of it already.   I on the other hand need it presented in a very visual way and I then it starts to be made clear. 

Thank goodness for Netflix. It has served us well the last month or two. Our History curriculum would be sadly lacking without access to these great shows.  Thanks also to the History Channel for making them and having them in the Netflix catalog.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

What Sophie's Been Up To.

Sophie joined a Basketball Team a few months ago. She was a little scared at first since she hasn't really done any sports before. One of her former Young Woman's Leaders urged us to sign her up. She was going to coach and knew they needed more girls to form a team. I thought with her as a coach Sophie would be well taken care of while doing something she had never done before. 

The YW leader ended up not coaching because there weren't enough girls to form yet another team so Sophie started  with a different coach the first few weeks. But it didn't seem to change her mind about Basketball. She has really enjoyed it. She is still rather timid about dibbling and shooting during the games but she is a GREAT defender. Her last game is this Saturday. There are only two teams in her age bracket so she has played the same team every week. They have only won one game but each time loose by less and less and the other team scores are lower and lower each game. I somehow think all the experienced players ended up on one team and all the novice players were on the other.  That YW leader took over as Sophie's coach a few weeks ago and there has been great improvement from all the girls and they play better and better as a team. 

This has been a great experience for Sophie. She has gain confidence and even though she has never done this before she knows now that she can give new things a try.

April was poetry month so the local library held a teen poetry contest. Sophie wrote a great poem for one of her classes a few months back and when she saw the announcement about the contest decided to enter her poem. 

Grandpa’s Orchard

(inspired by author’s memories)

An Orchard, tall, filled with many kinds of fruit, stands,
Hiding battlegrounds, and quaint fairylands.
Lost in those trees are memories of fantasy,
Where I once imagined, created and saw

That fantastical world that I love.

It didn't win the contest but got an honorable mention! She picked up her certificate today.


About a week ago Sophie saw an announcement for Auditions. Our little town is going to do a Shakespeare in the Park play in July. They are doing A Mid Summer Night's Dream. Sophie decided she had to try out. The whole day of the Audition she read through the play and tried to memorize a monologue to use as her audition. She ended up just reading a passage they they asked her to read. She was given a part and she couldn't be happier. She gets to play Mustard Seed one of Tatiana's Fairies.  Not a whole lot of lines (which I think is good) but she gets to be on the stage. And now we get to start having multiple play practices a week.


Oh... yeah... in April our Ward held a Ward Talent show.  Sophie signed herself up to sing Noble Maiden Fair from Brave.  I played the piano for her and of course I flubbed up a bit even though I had practiced it and practiced it, but my nerves always get the best of me. Sophie did a great job despite my mess up. 

I think it is amazing that Sophie is putting herself out there. Either playing Basketball has just brought out a more aggressive side of her or perhaps she is just missing some of the opportunities to perform that we used to have at our homeschool co-op before we moved. But she is certainly branching out and trying new things.  She, of course, is counting a lot of it for projects in her Young Women's Personal Progress. 

For what ever reason she is certainly keeping me busy. All these different practices and such mean I get to taxi her about quite a bit.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Picture Overload - Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

 May 1st was Homeschool day at Six Flags Dicovery Kingdom. It is only a little over an hour away and we could use school funds to pay for the kids tickets so we decided to go. It ended up being a great day at the amusement park

We started off in the little kids park and rode a few rides there.

First was the swings. Molly and Sophie really liked this one. 

Henry thought it was a little too tame.

There were some hot air balloons to ride which made me a bit dizzy. Not only did they go up and down but also spun around too.

And just to make sure my head was fully aching. We had to go on a tea cup like ride where we went round and round and spun around too.  

Molly had a great time but honestly my head started to hurt!

 Here was the kiddie roller coaster.

Henry was not happy with that coaster and really needed to give one of the big ones a try. He is my only dare-devil, death-defying kid. None of the others wanted anything to do with the big coasters and since my husband gets motion sick really easily. I was the default go on the rides with Henry person.  I told Henry to pick one to start with. He decided to try Kong. This one hangs below the track and has a bunch of upside down loops and some cork screw like twists. He loved it!
While I went on the coaster with Henry the others went on the carousel.

 And to the tiger show.

 They even ran into the 6 flags guy that helped us with our tickets.  The school was supposed to send us our tickets and when they didn't arrive (the but school funds had been taken so we knew they had been purchased) we contacted this man to see about replacements. He came through for us and we got the tickets we needed to get into the park.

Henry and I did Kong and another coaster called the Boomerang which was a short coaster but once you went through it forward they reversed it and you went back through the twists and loops backward.  Not nearly as fun as Kong but still filled the need of the thrill seeking Henry.

 We caught up with the others and went on the water rapids.  They thought this was very fun. Molly didn't love it. She ended up getting the brunt from the deluge of a waterfall and was soaked from top to bottom. Lucky for all of us it was a hot day and everyone dried pretty quickly.

 The kids all loved this one so much we had to do it a second time. This time I went with the older kids and Molly, who didn't want to get more wet, stayed off with her Dad.

A dolphin show was next. When I was a kid we came to this park when it was called Marine World. I remember seeing the dolphins and killer whale shows.

 They no longer have any Orcas but the dolphins were pretty impressive.

We went to the Butterfly Garden

 What a peaceful place to just sit and watch the butterflies flit around among the tropical plants.

 Our tanks were running on empty so we picked up a large Ice Cream Sundae to give us a burst of sugar energy.
 Wow that was yummy and disappeared way too quickly.

 A few more kiddie rides and some more animals.
 I don't have pictures of the wooden rollar coaster Henry and I went on but I think it was my least favorite ride and certainly least favorite coaster we rode the whole day.

This picture isn't mine. I found it online but we loved the ride so I had to include one. This was the Tsunami Soaker. On a hot day this would feel so good! You climb into these rounds with about 5 other people and each person has a water gun. Once the ride starts the floor fills with water and then as you twist and twirl you get to shoot water at other people in other barrels or along the edge of the ride. It was lots of fun and of course we were soaked yet again.

 At the sea lion show Henry was picked to come up and pet the sea lion.

 Another ride with hot air balloons.

To finish off the day I told Henry we could do another coaster. He was debating if he wanted to do Medusa or Superman but when I said what about Sky Screamer he got really excited.

Not a coaster but certainly a bit more of a thrill ride. Henry and I were the only takers so we quickly made our way to the ride. Since it was getting on to closing time the lines were even shorter. We didn't have to wait at all in fact. There were only a few seats filled as we rose up into the air way above the park. This was by far my favorite ride. It was really cool to fly that high above everything. I admit when we were all the way up there and I could see how much higher we were than the trees around us and the only thing higher was a loop of the roller coaster near by, I was a tad bit nervous. Only for a moment though because it was such a great feeling to fly like that.

After our flight we were headed back to meet the others but saw there was no line for one of the other coasters and decided to quickly do that one as well. The Cobra was more of a traditional coaster. No loops but lots of quick twists ands ups and downs.

It was a lovely day at Six Flags. Great way to kick off the Summer. My kids seem to think Vacation has already started.