Saturday, September 28, 2013

7 Leadership Lesson of the American Revolution - Review

John Antal explains that "We owe the patriots of 1776 a great debt, the least of which is to know and understand their struggle and in so doing, to carry on the fight for Liberty" in his new book 7 Leadership Lessons of the American Revolution.  I was able to receive an advance copy of this book to read and review.  This book not only shares stories of the Revolution but also about what characteristics make up great leaders.

Antal takes 7 pivotal events from the Revolution and explains what each teaches us about the qualities of leadership. What does George Washington taking out his reading glasses to read his prepared thoughts before his men show us about leadership? What do the efforts of Ben, John and Tom illustrate for leaders of our day? What qualities did a bookworm shopkeeper have that could give the colonial army an advantage they sorely needed? I found the stories very interesting but even more importantly, as I read this book I was amazed at the men, placed at just the right time and circumstances, and with just the right skills or attributes that we needed to win a the American Revolution, an outcome that we americans should not have been able to accomplish.

I read this book with a notepad beside me. I jotted down quotes and made a list of traits that leaders exhibit. I learned things about these men, some I had only heard the name of but didn't know anything about them (yes my education is rather lacking!). I certainly learned a lot about what it takes to lead.

I think one of the most powerful events that Antal shares in this book is the famous "Give me Liberty or give me Death" speech given by Patrick Henry. What I really appreciated is that the entire text of his speech is included. Wow! what a powerful speaker he was. I had never read his entire words before and although the last phrase became so famous there is so much more in that text than just that one phrase and it made such a difference to the cause of liberty.

As you can tell I really loved the book! I do plan to buy a copy when it comes out. I had to read this one on my computer but I want have this book on my shelves and have my kids read it one day, when they are ready for it.

Tennis Anyone?


A few weeks ago I noticed tennis rackets were on sale in the Big 5 weekly ad. Henry has been asking to play tennis for months. I don't know exactly where the desire came from. He is just an active little guy who likes to try all the different sports. I figured it would be fun for us to have some more sports equipment to take with us to the park. It would be great for my kids to learn tennis. I played tennis in high school and figured I could at least teach them the rules of the game and some basic skills. So we ventured over to Big 5 and bought 5 rackets and a bag of balls. We stopped at the Goodwill across the street to see if there was an used one Molly could use. She was thrilled to find a pink child size racket there.

 We have taken our new rackets to the park several times over the past few weeks. We do tend to spend most of our time chasing after balls that flew off in unintended directions. I have also noticed that the kids play better when Dad is able to come along with us and we have an adult on each side of the net.  It is going to take some time but at least they now have something new to try out when we head to parks that have courts.

 We practiced just bouncing the ball with the racket.

 Hitting the ball over the net was a bit more of a challenge. They could each hit the ball they bounced or tossed for themselves but hitting the balls back over the net once someone else hit it over was a lot more of a challenge.

 It is hard to photograph tennis. Timing it right so the ball was in the shot was really hard. Usually I ended up with pictures of the kids after they had hit the ball.

 Henry finally told me to put the camera away. He said it wasn't any fun if I wasn't available to hit the ball back to him.

I have a feeling we will be playing more tennis over the coming months and hopefully years. I really like the sport and despite what some people may think you do certainly get hot and sweaty running around the court chasing balls.

Friday again so time for a report - the one where I decide we need another computer.

The weeks seem to be flying by. We are busy everyday and never get everything I would like into our schedule.  I never seem to find a moment to sit here and type a post. I am either running kids around to their various activities or I have kids who always seem to need the computers.

Burned up the oxygen in the jar.
Sophie is loving her Williamsburg Intermediate classes. At first she felt a bit overwhelmed because there were assignments with due dates and there seemed to be a lot of assignments. She is only taking two classes but they have a lot of small projects or readings that she needs to "turn in". A lot of these she simply has to just report "done". Other assignments require a bit of research and the preparation of a short report, usually done on a powerpoint slide.  She also has been spending a lot of time exchanging emails and chatting with her classmates before or after her online classes.  She also started a story for one of her creative writing assignments and is often adding in another section to her opus. So as a result the computer is often being used.

The laptop has been more or less taken over by Ian. He is always working on his robots and "programming" them.  When not programming he is looking up building techniques for Lego Robots. This boy lives and breathes to build and program robots. I think, when his First Lego League is finished I may have him take a programming class like Tynker or Scratch. I know the programming he is doing with his lego robot is teaching him many of these same principles but I just think he will enjoy this too. Of course this means he will be spending even more time on the computer.

Water rised into the jar as the Oxygen was used up by the fire.
Henry doesn't have any online classes and doesn't particularly show any interest in robots or programming. He mostly just likes to play the games and not design them. He is a Minecraft junkie just like most boys his age. He loves to monopolize our Kindle fire when he has earned "screen time" and play Minecraft. I still don't understand what it is that is so exciting about this game but it sure makes Henry do his chores and homework quickly when he is bribed with the opportunity of an hour of playtime.

Separating the Hydrogen from the oxygen.
We didn't add salt to the water so the copper wires
started to react with the water and created some bluish powder.
This is not what we were expecting.
So besides our time on computers we are doing other school work. The kids are moving through their different Math programs. We are learning about the 13 colonies and why the different groups sailed for the new world. We are reading about the elements and even doing an experiment or two when I can fit them in. The kids are adding "dress-ups" to their writing by watching Andrew Pudewa (of IEW fame)  teach the different skills. They like it when writing includes another section on the DVD.

Molly is learning all her letter sounds and how to write the letters. Mostly she acts as the distraction so that one math lesson takes two hours to complete rather than the half hour it should.

So anyway. Not a very detailed report. But at least I am writing and reporting something.  We are busy and tired by the end of each day.  That is enough for me.

Henry learning to do handstands on parallel bars at the Little Gym.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Numbed! - Review

I jumped at the chance to review Numbed! by David Lubar. My kids read Punished! a year or so ago and thought it was great fun. When I saw that this book was coming out soon, was available for review and it was about math, I knew it was something I would had to have my kids read.

I downloaded it my kindle and then asked Henry, my 8 year old, if he would like to read a book for me. I figured since he is the age of the target audience, and a somewhat reluctant reader, he would be the perfect kid for the job. I explained that this was a book that hadn't been released yet and that he could read it before most kids. He broke out into a Cheshire cat like grin. I don't know if it was because it was an "advance copy" and he felt special or because I was letting him use my kindle. I then told him he would have to help me write a review of the book. The grin faded a bit at that but he still agreed.

He read two or three chapters a day and finished it pretty quickly. He never complained when I reminded him to read this book.c

Logan and Benedict go on a field trip to the Math Museum. They think it is boring. They leave their group and get blasted by a robot named Cypher while they are in a part of the museum that isn't open to the public. They return home but realize they can't do math anymore. They can't count, tell time, count money, they can't even help dad make pancakes because they can't measure the amount of milk they need for the recipe. They realize Math is important and that they use it for lots of everyday things without even recognizing it. The boys head back to the museum to get Cypher to return their math skills.

The boys talk to Cypher's creator, Dr. Thagoras who tells them that they will have to go through a series of rooms to gain back their math skills. They answer math problems so they that can move from room to room and in the process figure out that math really is important and certainly not boring.

After Henry started reading the book and I read a chapter or two aloud my 10 year old and my 12 year old also decided they needed to read this book too. I guess it was just too fun and entertaining for them to miss. Sophie of course read it very quickly and Ian just read from the part I read aloud to the end. They all enjoyed it. I am happy to have them read books that make Math more than just a series of problems in their workbooks. Showing how math fits into everyday life is important for them to understand. It is a great help to have books like this that are fun but instructional. We had to look up and make Mobis Strips after reading the chapter where the boys travel along one. I love it when books create questions that they boys want to find the answers to.

Henry hasn't read Punished, the first book in this series. Sophie and Ian read it and still remember it.  I think we will be picking it up at the library this week. We may also have to see what other books David Lubar has written. We certainly have enjoyed these two.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Painting Georgia Style

I figured since we are focusing on American History we would also add in some American Artists as well.  I started with one of my favorites Georgia O'Keeffe. Last week we read the Veneizia biography as well as some children's picture books about her.  This week I figured we should give her art a try.

I had each of the kids pick one of her abstract pictures to try to copy.

 I thought chalk pastels would be a fun change.
 Sophie choose one that I thought might be easier to do with watercolor pencils.

 Sophie wanted to try another one once she was done because she really wanted to try the chalk. She picked a rather intricate swirly clouds painting. She found it very difficult.
Here are the finished products.

This was the picture he was looking at.

 Molly of course couldn't let the others have all the fun. She loved smearing the pastels on the paper.
I can't seem to find the Georgia painting that Ian used. It must be a pretty obscure painting. It was one of the pictures in the book on Georgia O'Keeffe's abstract art. It is in someone's private collection so I guess it isn't circulated too often.  I admit I helped Ian quite a bit with his. I probably should have just done one of my own. Pastels really are a fun medium!

Here is Sophie's watercolor pencil finished project.
And Georgia's Grey Line with purple and lavender that she used as her inspiration.

They all turned out lovely. The kids have a greater appreciation for how much more there is to these pictures than just swishes or swirls on a paper.  I think next week we may need to try our hand at some her flower pictures.

Monday, September 16, 2013

A bit of randomness

I have a head cold at the moment and desire to be "the taskmaster" today is low. So instead I am sitting here and thought I would post a few random pictures from the last few weeks.  I haven't been the most attentive blogger. We have been busy, busy, busy running around from this, that, and the other thing.
We hang out at this cool park while Ian has his Robotics class. My kids really like the climbing wall.
Molly has been digging out everything she can from the craft closet. She was very diligent about placing the little plastic beads on the board to create a heart.

Ian of course has his Lego Robot out all the time. We live with legos all over the floor all the time.
Molly took a bunch of pictures with the camera a few days ago.  She actually managed to get a lot of pictures of herself.