Thursday, November 19, 2009

Clark Planetarium

Today we had the opportunity to join some other homeschoolers at the local planetarium. The kids had never been so I thought that it would be pretty cool. Turns was pretty cool! We did not head out of the house until a quarter to noon though, so during the morning we had language arts. The kids both had spelling tests (they passed), Princess did some vocabulary work and exercises with identifying pronouns, and Spike read The Ugly Duckling from his reading book and answered questions to make sure he understood. He was rather peeved with that since he assured me he had already read the story in another book, and yet I made him do it again. Feel free to imagine my evil mom laugh now.

After language arts, we ate some lunch and packed up to go. But I could not just let the kids sit and vegetate during the 40 minute drive, could I? Of course not! They got math work to do while I drove us there. Amazingly, they did not seem to mind. After all, they were really looking forward to the field trip. So, today I explained to Princess how to do multiplication of a three digit number by a two digit number during the car ride. How productive I feel.

So now we were at the truly fun part of our day. We arrived at the planetarium and awaited the rest of the homeschoolers. The kids really liked the big globe thing at the entrance. It is actually a big white ball in which images are projected onto from three sides. Spike liked when it showed all the earthquakes happening around the globe during one day. There are more than you would think. And yes, in this picture Spike is pulling weird eyes at me. The kid won't look normal for a picture if he can help it.

After I explained to them what the pendulum was demonstrating (that is, that the pendulum swings the same, but the earth is rotating, so the circle of planks gets knocked down slowly), they seemed to find it much more interesting. Here is a whole crowd of homeschooled munckins patiently waiting for the event of the next little block to be knocked down.

Sprout had little to no interest in the pendulum. She, instead, liked this wheel that could be turned. It was spinning a moon around a model earth, but I am pretty sure she could not see that since it was pretty high up. So, for no point apparently, she just kept turning, and turning, and turning and had a wonderful time doing so.

Although they have done something similar to this before, both the big kids spent a while turning a wheel to see how hard it was to get different types of light bulbs to light up, therefore seeing how much energy is used for each type. They found out they could make the LED and fluorescent lights together glow easier than just the regular one alone.

At this point we all went and watched a movie in the dome theater. The big kids really liked it, and Sprout thought that it was okay.

After the movie we watched the audio-kinetic sculpture, which has a bunch of balls that go through a maze of drops and spins and roller coaster type stuff, sometimes hitting chimes along the way. The whole sculpture is about two stories tall and is a lot of fun to watch. There are also larger balls rolling around on tracks on the ceiling.

The kids took turns standing on a scale that tells you how much you weight on other planets and stars. Spike would weigh in at a whopping 12,620 billion pounds on a neutron star, while Sprout would be a meager 3 pounds on the moon.

And then what else was there? Oh yeah, the kids visited the moon...

and Mars. Princess and Spike had a hard time breathing, and even starting collapsing, but Sprout apparently is an alien who survive perfectly in that atmosphere and could not figure out why they could not.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Preschool Time for Sprout

Our little Sprout is the tender age of 2. Although everyone knows the saying "Terrible Twos", I would have to say that she is not all that terrible. In fact, she is pretty darn awesome. She is getting to the point where she is telling us things. Recently, this has included making up something about where her shoes have gone. She has told me that our dog has bitten them, or even monsters took them. Even after I find them, she usually sticks to her story. These things are said in that particular toddler language that only those who live with said toddler can really understand. I love having funny conversations with her and just marvel at her budding personality.

During school days, when I am helping the big kids, Sprout has her assortment of things to do. These include wooden puzzles and educational videos that I regularly change out from the library, coloring, her play kitchen, or her other toys. Every now and then I let her play with some pony beads and cups since she really likes pouring the beads back and forth, although this usually leads to a lot of picking up beads for me. I do try to make things so that she is learning as well. We have started on colors, and so far she has blue and red down pretty well.

Recently, I learned that the library we often frequent has discovery time for small kids once a week. They read stories, sing songs, play with bubbles, do crafts, and all sorts of other toddler fun. What fun! Although I need another trip to the library each week like I need a bump in the head, I decided it would be a nice opportunity for her.

So off we have been heading to discovery time for Sprout. I arm the older kids with some of their assignments and they sit and work at some of the tables in the library while I spend the time with Sprout. She has been a little reserved, but really seems to like it, and is very well behaved. Even just for my benefit, it is fun watching her.

Monday, November 16, 2009


One of the neat things with homeschooling is being able to stop lessons when the mood strikes to do something else. Well, at least some of the time. The kids would be stopping all the time because their mood was more for a board game rather than math if they could, but you get the idea.

When the first snow of the year fell, we postponed starting school in the morning so that the kids could get on their snow gear and play outside for a while. They were so excited they did not even change out of their pajamas before donning snowpants, coats, and all the necessary snow accessories. I felt that the experience of getting a small bit of "snow day" was worth the late start, and the kids successfully had gotten out their wiggles and were ready to start school (while sipping hot chocolate) when they came in.

My husband works from home, and sometimes we go outside and work on things in the backyard during his lunch break. Today we dumped many, many bags of leaves onto the garden. My mother-in-law has wonderfully brought us these leaves which she has picked up from relatives, or just from strangers curbs. It is wonderful to see the ground covered in leaves, knowing that this will help provide the soil which more nutrition for all of our veggies next year.

So now there is a large area just covered with leaves. I would guess it is about a foot deep all over the garden. As you might expect, the kids wanted to go jump around in them. They already had all been outside helping us dump the leaves out of the bags, and so we me and my husband went in I let the big kids stay out. Sprout had to come in with me, since I did not want her to get too cold, but the little stinker kept sneaking out the doggy door!

On one of my excursions to retrieve the little one and bribe her to stay indoors, I noticed that Spike was missing. Turns out that Princess had buried him almost entirely with leaves, per his request. I ran in, grabbed my camera, and snapped a couple of pictures. You have to look pretty closely in the first picture in order to find Spike's face. He told me that being buried in the leaves was, "nice and warm."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A day out

Today was Princess's monthly book club meeting, so after finishing up some schoolwork we headed out to drop her off. The book they read for this month was Little Women (abridged versions are allowed). The girls also talk about an important woman in history, and this month's pick was Beatrix Potter, so we looked up some information on her yesterday. For their snack they ate ginger snap cookies and made yarn dolls for the craft that pertains to the book. Fun, huh?

Well, with big sister off having her fun, I decided that Spike and Sprout needed something fun as well, but without having to drive too far from where Princess was. First we went to the thrift store, which is always an exciting experience. Spike even found a VHS copy of Star Wars I. He has been on a bit of a Stars Wars thing for a couple of months, so how could I say no? That was a lot of happy bought for only 99 cents! After that we went out to ice cream at this cute little old-fashioned store. The kids both picked play-doh ice cream and I got peppermint stick, yum! We sat next to some beautifully decorated Christmas trees and enjoyed the treat. But this was not enough...there was more. We went to a nearby park, where they tuckered themselves out.

It was getting close to the time to pick up Princess, so we went and waited for her until she was finished up with her activities. And, of course, by this time Spike and Sprout had regained their energy so we all went to yet another park. I wanted Princess to get some time to run around as well since today was actually playgroup day, but we had to miss it for book club. Unfortunately, it was getting really cold so we had to cut the time at the park short. I am hoping for at least a few more weeks that we play at the park before the real winter weather kicks in. Playing outside is so much more fun.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I have not gotten around to posting Princess's last science experiment, so even though it did not happen today, I am including it. She has been learning about solutions. The unit started with putting solutions together and learning how different substances dissolved and has moved onto separating solutions. The method that did with this experiment is chromatography. Princess took some strips of coffee filters and colored a dot on each with marker. The colors we used were black, brown, blue, and green. She dipped one side of the coffee filter into a water and alcohol solution, then watched as the filter absorbed the solution. As the wetness hit the marker, the the ink was separated into the different colors that went into it. Black was definitely the most interesting. We could see bits of pink and purple, along with orange and some bright blue. Spike also did the experiment. The kids pretty much always do each others experiments, although the one who is not required to do so does not have to take notes.

As the experiment was wrapping up, Sprout woke up from nap. Gotta love that nap hair!

Today we did an experiment from Spike's science lessons. He has most recently been studying simple machines. We learned about wheels and levers so far, and today was pulleys. We first measured the amount of newtons required to pick up the bucket we had loaded with stuff (including one of Sprout's snow boots), and then tested the amount of newtons required to lift with the pulley. To test the amount of newtons, Spike uses a spring weight that he gets a kick out of. We rigged the pulley up on the landing outside of me and my husband's bedroom where you can look down at the entryway, so the kids could lift the bucket up one floor of the home. They obviously enjoyed doing this, as they continued to play with it long after their required experimentation was over. Speaking of which...I believe the pulley is still there.

The kids also helped me make chocolate chip cookies today. I could tell you that this was a learning experience about measurement and all that, but honestly everyone just wanted some cookies.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Fun with Fresco

Today we got math, language arts, and art accomplished. Due to the kiddos other activities, we ran out of time for history, but you can only do what you can, right? Princess finished reading the retold version of Robinson Crusoe for literature and Spike read the entire small chapter book I gave him to read even though he was only supposed to read half. Little stinker got carried away.

Art was really fun today. The kids learned about fresco paintings. We read the book A Boy Named Giotto, which was about the painter Giotto di Bondone when he was a young kid. The kids liked the story, but they enjoyed doing their own frescoes even more.

To create a more authentic experience than mere painting on paper could provide, and as we are lacking in any plaster walls, I created some plaster tablet things. A couple days ago, I spread some wall plaster onto poster board, let it dry, and there you go! I did not take any pictures before the kids started painting, but I am sure that you can imagine what they looked like. The kids thought it was really neat and had a nice time painting on the plaster. And you know what? I think they will remember better just what a fresco is now.

Although she technically was not one of the students for the lesson, whenever paint is involved, Sprout is there. I let her paint on construction paper since she does not really care what she is painting on, as long as she gets to do it.

Princess's finished painting, which was purely from her imagination.

Spike's finished painting, inspired by his little penguin toy named Squawk.

Sprout's finished painting, apparently inspired by her love of paint in lots of colors.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Can They Build It? Yes They Can!

Today I took the kids to the local Home Depot to participate in the Kids' Clinic activity. For those of you out there who are not familiar with this program that Home Depot has, it is a free activity for kiddos where they get a kit to build whatever project is for that month. The clinics are held on the first Saturday of every month. If you want more information, go to the Kids' Clinic website. On their first visit, each kid gets a Home Depot apron. These are like the ones you see on the employees, just smaller. For every project they finish they get a pin to put on their apron. I have joked with the kids that it is kind of like Home Depot Scouts. This month the project was a tile trivet.

Princess and Spike have done these activities on a couple of occasions, but it was a first for Sprout. It was completely appropriate for her right now since she currently has a bit of a munchkin crush on Bob the Builder, and often asks me, "Watch Bob?" She felt mighty proud of herself hammering in the little nails, even if her hammer banging was not always on where it was supposed to be. The big kids did great and did not even need any help for me. I even offered, but they politely declined.

And for your viewing pleasure, here is a clip of Sprout's crazy hammering.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Beautiful Day

First off, I should announce that we have exciting news! Spike officially has his own e-mail address. The older kids have been e-mailing each other, me, their dad, and their grandmas at every spare moment. Don't worry, he did get the internet safety talk and had to repeat it all back to me before I allowed it.

Today we had playgroup. When the weather is chilly we all head to a gymnasium that the kids can run around in and get out their wiggles. When the weather is nice we meet at a park. The park is pretty much the unanimous favorite. Today was extra wonderful. The weather was just the right amount of chilly, the leaves were a pretty gold color, and the kids had a nice time playing.

Spike was attacked by a scurvy pirate, but since he posses some branch dueling skills of his own he was able to leave the fight unscathed.

Sprout found her favorite tree. Whenever we are at this park she spends quite a while picking at the bark on this tree. Something about it just amazes her.

I would have liked to get more pictures of Princess, but as soon as more of her friends arrived, she zoomed to the other end of the park to climb in their tree "clubhouse." From what she tells me, one of her friends had a box of pretty rocks that they looked through.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Science and Snacks

So these happened about a week ago, but I am including it now since it took my until now to get my butt into gear with starting a homeschool blog. I will be including some of the other things we have done up to the point later on.

Firstly, my kiddos love science. While they sometimes complain about math or language arts, not a negative word is said about science. And can you blame them, I mean, science is fun! Princess has been studying solutions lately. For her science experiment she used four different solvents which were soapy water, alcohol, vinegar, and cooking oil, and three solutes which were salt, baking soda, and sugar. She tried every combination of these in little plastic cups to see what dissolved and what did not (after making a hypothesis chart of what she thought would happen). She was correct of many of them, but there were surprises. Alcohol causes the salt to make clumps and not dissolve at all, which she thought was neat. Of course the kids could never tire of watching what vinegar and baking soda do when combined; the sudden fizz is even better when done in a graduated cylinder. And yes, I do realize my children are in their pajamas and Spike's hair is crazy, but it was pajama day so you will have to excuse our sloppiness.

Mixing, mixing, mixing...

All of Princess's solutions after she was finished.

The kids could mix vinegar and baking soda all day long if I let them.

A little while later, it was snack time. As Spike and Princess have been pestering me to teach them some cooking skills (and it is certainly not a bad idea since I do not want to be preparing their meals forever), we started doing some simple cooking classes. I found a printable kids' coloring cookbook on the Taste of Home website and we have started by working on those recipes. This was a fitting one for October since they were little spider snacks. The biggest lesson here was to not lick your fingers while preparing food, especially food you are going to be sharing! I made them wash their hands every time they put a finger with peanut butter on it in their mouths. They were happy with their creations in the end and enjoyed eating them.

Alas, Spike gets tired of my taking pictures sometimes.

Princess's finished product.

Spike's finished product.