Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Outdoor Hour #31 - Focus on Trees

We are starting a Tree Focus with our Outdoor Hour Challenges. We have such a variety of trees in our neighborhood we should be able to find a few a lot of new trees to identify and look at. We have become acquainted with a number of our neighborhood trees the last few months and it is nice to hear the kids get excited when they see those same types of trees other places. When they actually remember the names it always brings a smile to my face.

But before leaving on our walk Sophie had to stop and play with her snap dragons. She has wanted some for a long time. We finally went to the nursery last week and she picked out a pot of them for her own. She is taking good care of them and they are flowering nicely.

The neighbors tree caught our eye first. It is a ginkgo tree and at the moment it has all sort of balls all over it.
The ground is also covered with squished ones and they don't smell particularly good so we moved along.

We of course had to look at the flowers. These ones were very soft so we had to also touch them. Look Henry found a snail.
He wanted to take it home but I told him he had to put it back. He wasn't happy about that.

This tree has some nuts on it.I don't know what kind of tree it is but it is fun to see so many different types of things on the trees today.

Here the boys are examining some pine cones on a pine tree.
Sophie knew the name of this tree. She told me it was a yucca tree. I had to look it up to make sure she was right. And sure enough she was correct. Someone else must have told her the name. It wasn't me.

This is one of the biggest and oldest trees in our neighborhood. The sidewalk is made to go around this live oak. Sophie picked up a number of accorns that are scattered about under it.

We made it home and the kids added a few more acorns and pine cones to our jar of treasures.

Sophie decided to draw a picture of one of the many fan palms we have around our block.

It was another pleasant trip around the block. Even after traveling along this same street at least 2 or 3 times a week we are still able to see new things each time.

Monday, September 29, 2008

2 weeks already?

Two weeks ago we did a science experiment and the directions told us to let the solution wait two weeks. At the time I thought two weeks was a long time and I didn't know if the kids could wait that long.
The directions called for us to add gelatin as well as sugar (blue batch). That sounded strange to me at the time so I made a 2nd batch without the gelatin (yellow batch). I am glad I did. The blue batch pretty much solidified into one big chunk of blue jello. There were a few little white crystal like formations in the blue jello but nothing exciting to look at and I couldn't even get a decent picture of them through the glass jar.
The yellow batch turned out exactly as I had hoped it would. Here is a nice chuck of crystals that formed on the top of the liquid.

And after pouring out the liquid left in the jar this is what we saw on the bottom.

Look at how beautiful these perfect crystals turned out.

The kids were excited to give these crystals the taste test. Since it was just sugar and water it wasn't that exciting but they of course were thrilled when I told them they could break off a little to try.
Here are the crystals that formed around the string and paperclip that we had hanging into the solution. You can't even see the paperclip inside all the crystals.
This one turned out really well!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Maybe we need a break.

I can't say this week has been stellar. We still accomplished much of what was planned but we dragged our feet through a lot of it.

Monday went well. After doing the pledge of allegiance (Ian's new job is to remind us to do this. I forget about sometimes) and some scripture reading (we are starting over with the New Testament again) we listened to our chapter of Story of the World for the week which is about Japan and Korea. We read a few picture books about Japan and Korea. And broke out the origami paper to make some little animals and people. Sophie did her math and grammerland exercises. I felt like we had done pretty well. Sophie left to go to her Science club having completed what I planned for the day.
Japan books

Tuesday we read some more picture books about Japan and also a few more about rocks and crystals. I had hoped to start a Lapbook about rocks but we didn't get very far. Barely even started, to be honest. Sophie took about 2 hours doing her one exercise of Math and threw countless fits about how hard it was and how I wouldn't help her. We didn't get much more accomplished this day. I was hopping we could do better the next.

Wednesday did seem to go better. Again we did our pledge and scripture reading to start. We read a few more story books about Japan and China.
Korea Books

The kids have really enjoyed most of these storybooks. Again we tried to do our rock lapbook but got distracted. Mostly it had something to do with the boys behaving badly. They just don't understand how much their fighting disturbs our studies. We went to the park and played with our park day friends. It was hot. But the kids had a great time and didn't want to come home.

Thursday we started our day normally. We pushed the library until later in the day. We usually go in the morning for story time but since my kids don't ever sit through story time, I didn't feel compelled to go at the same time. Instead we attempted grammerland and math. Ian did some of his math workbook. He started his Early bird 1B since he finished 1A last time. I tried to just have Sophie practice subtracting by doing some worksheets rather than a new exercise from her math book. But she again just pitched a fit about it and eventually I just sent her to her room to cool down because she was so worked up and it wasn't getting us anywhere. She hates this but I need it because otherwise we both loose our cool and I am really trying to keep calm even though she flips out. She ended up reading books in her room and not ever getting back to her math.
We did go to the library in the afternoon before heading to Ian's soccer practice. We got a whole bunch of new books.

By Friday I was tired and really didn't want to do school at all but I knew we couldn't just do nothing so I put an Audio CD on of the librivox recordings I had downloaded of Our Island Story. I cleaned the kitchen and did the laundry, Sophie colored and tried to do origami while we listened to chapter after chapter. Many of them we had read already but we got through a whole bunch of chapters and only turned it off when the CD was done. Sophie wanted more but I hadn't downloaded them all yet. And Henry had been invited to go and play at the Little Gym with a friend. We all went and watched him tumble and have fun for a bit and then we headed next door to OSH and we wandered through their garden section. We love to do this. I mentioned this to someone once and they thought we were strange. Are we the only ones who love to look at all the plants and water fountains in Osh or Home depot? Sophie has been asking for some snap dragons for months. They are her new favorite flower "even more than pansies" she says. We found some there and she picked out a small pot of them. Ian picked out some bird seed to fill our empty bird feeder and they were happy.
When we made it home we just simply read books the rest of the day or worked on projects.
One of our new books that we picked up at the library, that we all really liked is Dave's Down to Earth Rock Shop by Stuart Murphy. It is one of Murphy's math book series but it explains how to classify rocks. The kids loved it.
Sophie did end up doing a math exercise that afternoon and Ian did another in his book as well.

I have books and things lined up for what is scheduled for next week but I am starting to feel like we really need a change of pace. I can't say we had a great school week. Mostly because of Math I think. Sophie is fighting it a lot and it makes everything else difficult as a result. Maybe a break from math for a bit is all we need or maybe a whole change of pace would be helpful. Or maybe it was just one of those weeks that just doesn't run smoothly. Or it may even just be my attitude.

For what ever reason... I am feeling like we need to take it easy next week or have a break. I guess we will just see how it goes. Maybe after our Sabbath day of rest it won't feel quite so bad.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Soccer for Henny

Soccer season is here and the boys are having a ball. I finally remembered to bring my camera to Henry's last game/practice.

His little team doesn't actually play against another team. Mostly they just get together and run around. There is some ball kicking and some goals made. Henry has been having a good time.

Henry is so excited to finally have something that is his. He is so used to having to sit and watch Sophie as she does ballet. And he had to sit in the waiting room and watch the others have swim lessons. But now Henry is 3 years old and that is the magic number. He is now old enough to do classes of his own.

He is having a good time and yes he still has to sit and watch Ian's soccer games and practice but I know he is thrilled when I say it is time for his soccer. He loves to put on his long black socks and cover up the shin guards. He has a some hand me down cleats that he runs to get when I tell him he has a soccer game.

It is only week 3 and I am sure it will start to loose it's excitement but for now he loves it!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What mess?

We live in a very small house with one big room that is the kitchen, dining and living room all in one. I am always amazed at how much goes on in this one room each day. This is the table that I set for dinner each night. This is the table that sees a lot of play dough time. This table is also where our painting and other arts and crafts happen. It is also the place where Sophie struggles through her daily math exercise. I couldn't even tell you how many times a day I wipe it off or sweep under it. Here is what our table looked like Monday afternoon as I was about to clear it off before starting dinner.

I took this picture because I had an unexpected visitor that afternoon. She had come in to pick up something. She was standing looking at the table with all its pencils, papers and such and made the comment "It sure looks like there was some fun school going on here". It wasn't just the table that showed signs of what we had been up to that day. There were also a number of books scattered about the room and lots of folded paper attempts at different origami animals and figures.
We are reading books this week about Japan and Korea. Sophie loved the book Little Oh which is about an origami doll that comes to life.
We, of course had to do some origami today and had all sorts of different cranes, men, butterflies, fish and a few made up animals that Sophie folded hanging about the room.
I am glad this visitor didn't just look around and see a mess, which is what I was thinking when I opened the door and asked her to come inside. I shouldn't be embarrassed at the state of this main room. It is where a lot of learning and living happen. If it didn't look messy then you would think we hadn't done much that day.

Friday, September 19, 2008

What have we be doing?

It has been science week at our house this week. Not that this is all we have done but it is what my kids have been all excited about. I know the excitement stems from the many different projects or experiments we have been doing related to rocks. On Monday we read a book about crystals and then followed some directions on how to go about making crystals out of sugar. One recipe called for just sugar and water and another also required some unflavored gelatin. We tried both and are going to see which one makes better crystals. We added some food coloring to make sure we knew which was which. They are supposed to sit undisturbed for 2 weeks but we will see we can wait that long.

The kids loved it when we broke out our magnifying glasses to look closely at salt and sugar to see what shape their crystals are. Sophie and Ian drew pictures of each and labeled them.

We also read a number of book about rocks and minerals this week. I threw in the book Stone Soup just because it had rock in the title and we haven't ever read this story. Ian loved it and asked for it again so I guess it was a hit.
There are more rock books floating around than are pictured here. This is just all could find at the moment.
Today we made some "rocks" of our own. We made some igneous rock out of evaporated milk, chocolate chips and sugar. I wonder what those things mixed together over some heat will create? Our "hot lava" is currently cooling and we will give it a try after dinner. This afternoon we also made some "sedimentary rock". We just followed a recipe for apricot bars and are enjoying our layered treat. I will have to think of a way to cook a metamorphic rock. The different rock science books we have make it using clay but I wanted to make an edible one. So I will have to think a bit about it. Ian and Sophie have really enjoyed the cooking we have been able to do today.

We haven't only been in the kitchen for Science this week. We also made some clay to mold into clay pots and then cook. They were supposed to be for our History lesson about China. In the SOTW acivity guide it says to use air dry clay for this project, but when I pulled it out on Monday it was already dry. So I improvised with a homemade cooked clay that we have used before on other projects. It didn't work quite as well. In the oven the clay sort of flattened out. Our bowls turned out to be more like plates. And when we painted them they really softened up. Henry punched a hole through his with his paintbrush. So they never made it to the lacquer stage. But the kids had fun. Not every project has to turn out I guess. I am not even going to post pictures because I didn't take any. Lets just say they didn't turn out well.
We of course listened to the chapter on the Tang Dynasty in China from SOTW and read a whole bunch of books that either take place in china or

We read this story book called Jonkonnu which is about Winslow Homer and a painting he did called Dressing for the carnival. Winslow Homer is a much more interesting artist than I ever knew before. He saw a lot in his life and did a lot with his work that I wouldn't have realized. Our study this month on him has surely opened my eyes to this great artist. I only knew of a handful of his paintings but hearing some of the stories behind the paintings makes it so much more meaningful.

As well as these subjects we have done our usual Math. Sophie needed extra practice to go along with her workbook pages so I printed out some math drill pages and she has been doing three columns a day. She is getting much better at adding three three-digit numbers. She only taking about a half an hour to do her 3 columns.

We have also done a chapter a day with Grammerland. Each chapter usually ends with an assignment for the children of Schoolroom shire, and we have been doing these each time. We still aren't quite done but I think Sophie is enjoying it and she is certainly getting good at identifying the different parts of speech.

I am sure there is tons more that we have done. And a lot that we could have done but never got around to. But it felt like a good academic week and the kids have had fun.

I am off to enjoy a few more "sedimentary rocks".

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

This is Me

Every few weeks in our Ward's Primary our "Sister Friendly" (Does every ward have a Sister Friendly?) spotlights one or two of the children and teachers. Last week she spotlighted me. She read off some the answers I filled in on a sheet we passed around to all the kids at the beginning of the year. I remember trying to fill in that spotlight sheet and having such a hard time. I don't like to talk about myself and especially don't like to have to answer questions like "What are you especially good at?" or "What do other people like about you?". I don't mind the "What is you favorite food?" or What is your favorite color?" type questions. I thought it was kinda funny because as Sister Friendly read the clues the kids couldn't guess who it was of course but finally settled on Sophie. People are always telling me that we look alike, but I really don't see it. Most people would agree that her personality is more like my husbands. I do admit I play a large role in her likes and dislikes because of what I choose to expose her to but only to a certain extent. She is definitely her own girl. But this isn't supposed to be about her. I am supposed to talk about me.

I think I have a hard time answering the "What are you especially good at?" question because I don't really consider myself really good at anything. I have always thought of myself as a jack of all trades but master of none. I do a lot of things well but nothing stands out as my particular talent. I can draw but am not an artist. I can cook but am not a Betty Crocker. I can do crafts but am no Martha Stewart. I think when I answered this question on the spotlight sheet, I said something like "I learn new things easily". I consider this a talent. I catch on to things quickly. I usually only have to be shown things once before I can do it on my own. (The key word here is shown. I am very visual. I don't follow directions or patterns well. I need pictures!) Not that I am going to master the skill but I am proficient enough to do the job.

When it came to that other hard question.... I don't think I ever answered it. I left the "What do other people like about you?" question blank. I couldn't think of anything that would make any sense, especially to a room full of primary kids. When they answer that question it is usually something like. I am funny or friendly or nice. None of those answers seemed to fit. Not that I can't be funny or friendly. But I don't know if that is why people like me. I am sure some people don't even think of me as friendly. I tend to be shy and not want attention so I don't jump into conversations with others quickly and easily all the time especially those I don't know well. I also don't usually talk unless I have something I need to say.
The only thing that came to mind in answer to this question was something along the lines of "I do my job or duties". I pull my weight and then some, when given assignments (remember I am the jack of all trades). But even this hasn't totally been the case recently. At times I have let some of my balls drop because I am juggling too many things.

I know I am going to have to fill in a lot more of these spotlight questionnaires so I am going to have to come up with some better answers. But for now THIS IS ME.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Outdoor Hour #30 Weeds, Seeds and a Butterfly

We really needed our walk today. We have neglected our almost daily walks around the block and we have missed them. But this morning we had some cranky kids, that were fighting with each other. I knew just what we all needed. We needed to head out and explore outside for awhile.
I told the kids to grab their scooters and we headed out on our usual walk around the block. We know our neighborhood well but it is always changing at the same time. Since we have been really looking at everything as we scoot around we are noticing the changes as they happen.
I told the kids that we were going to look for seeds as we went.

Ian pointed out the pods in the Silk Tree that we had studied earlier in the summer. We pulled one off and broke it open to see the seeds inside.

We also noticed the Hollyhocks were still blooming but there were also a lot of dried bunches of seeds on the stalks as well.
Sophie broke one of the bunches open to see the seeds. She thought they looked like little disks arranged in a circle. I hope our neighbor doesn't mind, but we stuck a handful of the seeds in our pocket in hopes that we can plant them next year.

We passed a number of Sycamore trees and noticed that some of the balls on the tree were turning fluffy and when we took a closer look we could see that each of the balls was really a bunch of seeds with fluff to catch the wind.

There are still a number of flowers out and about. These purple dahlias were beautiful.

We always stop at the fence covered in morning glories. It is always a good place to spot some kind of bee or wasp or something. But today we got really lucky and got a good look at this.......
We sat and watched it for awhile. I was surprised at how quiet and calm my kids were. They didn't try to grab it and we all just watched it shift its wings and open and shut them. It was very nice to let us look at it.

Henry stopped to look at these fun feathery plants. They weren't as soft as we thought they would be. But for Henry, nature is something to explore through touch so this is a good one for him.

There are plenty of weeds along our walk too. And they were all sending out their fluffy seeds as well.

We made it home and I broke out my new field guide. I just bought one when ordering other school books a few weeks ago. I was tired of checking them out of the library. I had no trouble finding our butterfly in it. We had such a good look at it and the field guide is very easy to use.

I also gave Sophie a new little sketch book. She somehow lost her last one. I kinda think she left it sitting on the side walk during one of last walks. I often have to send her back for it when on our walks. So I think for now we may just keep our sketch books at home and draw when we come back.

She did draw a lovely little Grey Hairstreak butterfly and colored it in.

It is amazing what a little outside time did for our short tempers this morning. Sunshine, fresh air and a little exercise was just the right medicine for our fractiousness today. We were actually able to do some more of our other studies after our outing. I was almost ready to call it a day before we had gone out. I am going to have to remember to fit in some more walks in the morning. We often get outside to play in the afternoon but it I can see it really helped us this morning.