Friday, July 30, 2010

School Corner: forward to school!

That seemed much more amusing when I first wrote it.
Well, we’ve been back in town now for almost two weeks, and we’re mostly settled back in.  The house is still a mess, but I’m making slow progress on this.  You should see how amazingly clean my bathroom is, now my dining room……..
Did we do what I wanted on the trip?
Well, yes and no.  We saw the sights I wanted to see, but we didn’t get most of the schoolwork done I wanted to.  I have to figure out how to make that work better.  The kids got a fair amount of the random worksheets done, but I need to figure out a way to make that flow smoother and some it is just they’re not at the point of doing things on their own yet.  They can’t read the instructions, and so they need to be told how.

What have we done since we got back?
042 We’ve been working hard learning about Arizona and New Mexico.  I was going to separate the two of them, but they’re rather entwined by the American Indian tribes and the general culture of the area.

And continued to learn more about insects.

We’ve been busy working on numbers more.  The kids have gotten pretty good at our calendar game.  Now I’m moving it on to general counting and having them just put one number back after they’ve built that number with their Math-U-See blocks.

Oh, I saw this Montessori at home article, and thought it was very interesting.  In general I’m not a huge Montessori person, I was the kid in school who would roll their eyes at anything that felt like busy work, and I appear to of passed that on to my kids.  They don’t do well at repetitive tasks, so the transfer things they enjoyed once and then looked at me like I was crazy.  But, the aspect of doing every day tasks is the part of Montessori that appeals to me.  So, I enjoyed reading an article that emphasized the parts I really agree with and try to incorporate into our lives.  Hmmmm, maybe that’s the kid's’ next task, fold my mountain of laundry.

Oh well, this has been rather ramble, I’m in a bit of a contemplative mood.  I want to keep participating in Preschool Corner, but I also don’t really enjoy writing a post that is just a recap of what I already wrote before, so I’m trying to figure out how I want to do this from here on out.  I don’t know.  We’ll see what wild and wacky thing I do next.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

stART: Zuni kachina masks

We read all about the Zuni who lived primarily in New Mexico, we started off talking about visiting there, and what we remembered, and then read the book.  Afterwards we decided to make Kachina masks, so we could be kachina dancers.
Supplies: paper plates, dot markers, glitter glue (actually this is one of those fun crafts that is only limited by your time and your imagination, our time was not enough to add all the bells and whistles)
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1.  Saturate your plate in dot paint.  Then add about a pound of glitter glue.  Make sure to add so much that you have a pile of it in one spot that is probably equivalent to a cup of glue.  This really makes it sparkle.

2.  Stick your whole hand on the wet glitter glue.  Then act surprised that it got dirty.


Finished products (or the ones I could find):

Superman says: “I dare you rain spirits to rain more.  Austin isn’t flooded yet.”  Okay, he didn’t say that, but they were amused at people dancing to make it rain.

For more great art ideas head on over to a Mommy’s Adventures.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Favorite family board games


I’ve mentioned once before that I like games.  Sadly we haven’t gotten to play as many as I’d like.  If you ask my kids, here are their favorite games:

1.  Monopoly Junior Toy Story edition- ummmm, how is it that they can’t add and we have to show them how to make change every time, but they still win every time?  We’ve devised a couple of house rules:  Whoever is Buzz doesn’t get to be blue also; and Princess plays with Mommy (because she doesn’t have the patience to sit for the whole game).

2.  The Very Hungry Caterpillar game-  I don’t mind this one as much, probably because while it still relies on luck, I don’t sit there for 15 turns aware I’m going to lose and having to wait an eternity for the kids to win (can you tell I’ve been forced to play Monopoly Junior one too many times recently?).

3.  Superman (I think) got this for Christmas, actually I think it was Batman that got it from Superman.  Either way, this is a Scooby-Doo board game, and it’s surprisingly fun.  When you spin and get a ghost you have to push the ghost at the top down and when you do different things happen to the board that might send you back to start.  It’s really fun.  I just have to be careful they don’t lose the figures in playing with them.  Sorry Fred, I think you got caught by the ghost at some point.

Now if you left it to me, here’s what I’d want to play:

Carcassonne-  It’s a fun tile laying game where you are trying to get the most points by building the biggest cities, farms, roads, etc.  There’s a lot of expansion and each one adds in something different.  We’ve got about 5 of the expansions, and some of the mini ones.  Actually I talked about it back at my New Year’s post about my favorite board games.

And now I just need to remember to link this over to Kylie at  Our World Wide Classroom.

Geography: Arizona


What to me is one of the quintessential things about Arizona aside from the Grand Canyon?  Of course the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.  So, I searched long and hard to find a kid appropriate book about it.  Did you know they didn’t even have one at the bookstores in Arizona?  All their stuff in the local interest section was desert, desert, Grand Canyon, desert animals, maybe a book about Kokopelli, but nothing.  I could find the same books in New Mexico and several of them in Texas, so it’s not like it was anything special.

So, while I read to them the adventures of the brave hitchhiking possum (shouldn’t it be opossum?  Or is that maybe a Southern thing [imagine the accent when I type that]); they happily played with the toob of Wild West figures I’d found for them.  So they had lots of fun acting out parts of the story, and this worked well because it’s not really a picture book, but one very long story with a couple of pictures to break up the text.

I’d highly recommend picking this up if you see it, I liked the story, and it’s apparently part of a series.  The other benefit is there’s a link (with password) at the back of the book to an audio download.  I haven’t checked it out yet, but I’m intrigued.

This did lead to some interesting conversations.  Things like: “Mommy were the Indians bad guys?”  So, I explained that they weren’t always the bad guys, sometimes they were, and sometimes the cowboys were.  I really think the current trend of blaming everything on the pioneers as these horrible people isn’t healthy.  Yes, there were a lot of mistakes made by them, but there were also mistakes made by the American Indians.  Neither side is blameless.  So, that is what I’m teaching the kids as it’s age appropriate.  Right now, they’re just learning that both sides did things they shouldn’t have.  When they get older we can get into more details, but right now they really don’t need to know more than that.

Okay, off my soap box about history revisionism.  It’s a little bit of a sore subject to me.  I don’t know about other states, but it sure seems like Texas goes through this every time we go through textbook revisions of what history figure are we going to ridicule and who are we going to make into a saint.  Sigh, stupid politicians.

Backing away from the box.  Really, I am now.  Mostly.  Probably for now.  So, to change the subject for more posts about Geography and History head over to Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Raising Rock Stars: Creation

So, this is a bit of an odd post, since our history curriculum is written from a Christian point of view it includes things from the Bible.  So, I wasn’t quite sure whether to put this as history or Bible, so I’m going to do a bit of both.
We read the first few lessons in The Mystery of History and learned about how God created the world and how God created man.  To reinforce this we did two things:

001 1.  We made a mini-booklet where the kids took turns illustrating the different days of creation.  This one was my favorite picture.  Batman drew God resting on His bed in heaven.  He was quite proud of himself.  Okay, so I was proud of him too.

2.  They tried to mold man out of play-doh, like God molded Adam from the dirt.  We all agreed it was hard, and we’re very glad that we didn’t have to try and make a person out of dirt.  It’s hard.

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My little creator had quite a lot of fun making his human.

Then just like God we rested from all our hard work.
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Well, the boys rested.  Princess……… well after a while I gave up on her resting, and she painted her fingernails.
009And she’s quite proud of herself.
Raising Rock Stars

Monday, July 26, 2010

Picking flowers

I’ve apparently had this sitting in my draft folder for about a month, since the pictures are from June.  But, here ya go.

I don’t know about your kids, but mine love picking flowers.  I’ve worked very hard on them understanding they can’t just pick any flowers.  They can only pick the flowers in our backyard and the flowers on the side of the road.

But, they kept picking them (“Mom, what’s Superman doing?”  “I think that’s you in the picture”) right below where the flower ends.


Do you know how hard it is to type with a five year old trying to climb into your lap like a kitten?  Okay, he’s been distracted by the remains of my breakfast shake.

So, I taught them how to cut flowers, and it was simple.  I had them grasp the flower in their fist, and then cut under their hand.  It’s still only about a 3 inch stem to put in a cup, but that’s about the perfect size for fitting in a coffee cup or a small tea cup.006

Or tucking in your hair.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Outstanding Blogger Award

Terra over at Monkey See, Monkey Do and Discovering Montessori over at The Work Plan both gave me this award.  I’m horrid at following through on awards, but this seemed like an excellent excuse to tell you IT’S MY BIRTHDAY TODAY!  And so you get to learn seven things about me for my birthday.

0041.  I love birthdays!  Can you tell?  I drop not so subtle hints to my friends and family for weeks and sometimes months ahead of time.  One of my primary love languages is gifts, so I’m all about the little presents.  Jeff brought me home Dublin Dr. Pepper the other day, and it was AWESOME!

2.  I routinely mistype the captchas on blogs.  Really, why does my computer supply a finished version of it that just messes up how it’s spelled?  That or I forget they’re there and then close the window before I type it in.  So, if you’ve ever not gotten a comment and your captcha pops up after I’ve hit enter that’s why.  I didn’t realize in time and didn’t go back to check.  I’m getting better at this.  Kinda.

Batman's popcorn sandwich 3.  As a leftie I hate erasable pens and a lot of the fountain pens or many of the nicer ones.  My hand turns all black and I just smear the ink.  It’s not pretty.  I had to search out quick drying pens for my Bible story pictures because I kept smearing the ink. (How do you like Batman’s popcorn sandwich?)

4.  I’m a sucker for a good young adult fantasy or sci-fi series.  I’ve read most of them and can provide a lot of recommendations in that area.

5.  I love book orders.  When I was teaching I easily spent half my salary on those things.  I’m so stoked now that my kids are old enough for my homeschool: “Last Name Academy” to be considered an official school and get those.

6.  I am rather hard on my electronics, particularly my camera.  I’m amazed it’s survived almost 3 years.  I think I should get the fancy kid camera for my next one, it’s nearly indestructible.

7.  I talk to myself.  A LOT.  I also have imaginary conversations with Jeff, and then wonder why he doesn’t remember talking to me about something.  This drives him slightly nuts.  Poor guy, he puts up with a lot.

And there you go.  Ummmm……..  I can’t find the image that’s supposed to go with this, and I’m going to not pass this on.

Science Sunday: Insect Mouths


I bet that got your attention didn’t it?
Basically insects have three different types of mouths: chewing (think ants, caterpillars, crickets); sponge (fly is the primary example I can think of); and sucking (butterfly, mosquito).
Purpose of experiment: to see how the different insects eat (inspired by this post from the Work Plan).
First we tried eating with a sponge mouth.  We all agreed this was very hard to do and we wouldn’t get much food if we had to eat that way.

As a side not, I think it would have worked better if I had more thoroughly saturated the sponges beforehand.

Next we tried to use a proboscis like a butterfly has on the plate, and agreed that butterflies would not really be able to eat from this.


Then we tried it in a flower to suck up the nectar.  This worked so much better.  It was still a challenge to try and get them not to use their hands.  But, eventually they mastered it.

I have no pictures of the chewing, because obviously that is how we normally eat, and figured pictures were rather unnecessary, and potentially gross depending on my kids’ manners at that moment.
Results:  The kids all agree that they like chewing food the best.  The straw was fun, but it was challenging to get in without using their hands.

Oh, and look what I found in my garden (picture from here):
001And he would be why my tomato plant has produced NOTHING.  As soon as a leaf grows he eats it, and he was huge!  About 5 inches long, and when I found out what he was I was going to transplant him somewhere else, but he had already gone underground to form his cocoon.  But in the meantime the kids had a lot of fun observing him.  Sigh, that’s going to be a rather useless plant.

But look what I did successfully grow!  And it actually tasted good, unlike say the bell peppers I grew last year, which tasted all weird from the horrid drought and heat.  Hurricane Alex did good for us in the rain department.  The entire time we were out of town Texas was getting rain.

Sigh, Superman just woke up and came downstairs with the announcement, “Nobody talk to me,” guess my blogging time is done for now.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Recent books of some sort

Now we get to see what all I remember.


I figured I’d throw in some random ones that if left to my kids is all we’d read.  Every time we go to Barnes and Noble they beg and beg to get books.  It’s so hard to say no to that, but they want to choose the same type of books every time.  “How to Train Your Dragon” books are high up on their list, but the last several we’ve bought (and this is staple bound in general) the pages start coming out very easily.  Ridiculously easily.  So I dislike getting those.  They love the Super Friends books, and any of those books which have stickers or figures you can punch out.  Any gimmick and they’re sold.  So, here’s the books of these I liked:


Bubble Bath Pirates- library find.  My kids favorite part is where they are undressed and running to the bath chanting “Naked, naked, naked,” and then they jump in and cause a big splash.  Sigh, all too close to reality.

the other we really liked, but I couldn’t add in:

Temper Temper- It’s about a little girl who keeps losing her temper and how horrible things happen when she does.  Then she finds out no one likes to play with her because of that.  Good for if you have any kids with temper problems, which it seems like lately I’ve had 3 of them.  They’re napping right now because of a complete and total meltdown over a bag.  Really, a bag to hold their toys in.


Now head on over to Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns to see some other great books people read.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Another giveaway coming soon!

I’m so excited because CSN stores contacted me to do another review/giveaway for them.  I have no clue what I’m going to get because they have everything including the bathroom sink, I mean kitchen sink.


So, what do you guys think?  Two of my ideas are: furniture for the dollhouse or castle (there’s a cool siege machine they’ve got) or maybe some wooden blocks.  We don’t have any and I’m trying to decide if I want to get some.


Give me ideas people.  Each idea that’s a comment will count as an entry when I put the giveaway up.

Travel pictures

Here’s what I’ve noticed from driving cross-country with kids.



Kids can sleep in any position.











Don’t give your son chocolate bars in the car.  He will be quite proud of this.










Large numbers of books to read are always a good thing.   Oh, and always wear cowboy boots on trips.










You can always entertain yourself by drumming on your backpack.




Oh, and pre-schoolers need to go potty at least once an hour, unless they’re asleep.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Completed bears as promised

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As promised.  :)

Random pictures from the trip that I really really love

And they don’t really fit anywhere else, so I’m sticking them here…….
Hmmmm, editing that just made it look screwy and ridiculously thin, I might have to change that.

So, each hotel we went to and used the luggage cart the kids had a blast pretending it was the “dinosaur train” and yelling “All aboard the Dinosaur Train!”  Then taking turns pretending to be the person in front.


My friend we went cross-country to see.

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Princess modeling, briefly, the bow she insisted she would wear forever and ever and ever.  Two minutes later she gave it to me, and said, “Here Mom, this is for you.”  Gee, thanks…..

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The epic battle of the stuffed animals at Barnes and Noble.  Boy were they happy.  Buzz Lightyear and Trooper Rex Bear destroyed the horrible ummmm…… beanie babies?


I love this picture of Princess.  I think Batman took it, or maybe Superman.  One of the kids took it before I took the camera away at Fort Stockton.

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So, Princess left her dog, her precious dog that she sleeps with every night, at Danette’s house.  So, I tried consoling her.  I tried explaining her dog was keeping the baby safe, and finally I laid down and we slept together.

And she did get her puppy back the next morning with many happy tears.


Princess trying to figure out how to carry her lemonade without carrying it.  I interceded before she soaked herself with cold lemonade on a somewhat cold day.


It took over 20 pictures before I finally caught a super cute picture of my kids in the noodle forest.  Really.

And two random ones from the zoo, one that cracked me up, and one that is just cool.
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Tomorrow ends my pictures from the trip.  Just some random observations of the trip, and driving in the car.  And then next week will return to our regularly scheduled crazy kid adventures.  Hopefully.
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