Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What About the Little Guys?

Oob has been pretending to be a puppy. He's been doing lots of fetching and licking people. And he loves being read to! If only we could convince him not to bring us library books in his mouth.

Choclo is reading more and more. He has done the Leap Frog videos (to me the easiest way to teach toddlers their letters and sounds). He is still watching Between the Lions and Electric Company and getting a lot out of them.

He has been reading Bob Books for a while (and will be for another year, I suppose). We love them because they are such nice graduated chunks. The whole "I read the whole book!"idea is a very powerful motivator.

Choclo (and Oob) are also very into Starfall. We always end up with both kids on my lap for this. I really can not believe that this is a free website! It's a top notch phonics program with a highly motivating mix of games and stories. We are currently doing lesson 6 in "Learn to Read." Great stuff!

Choclo has also just got into Puzzle Buzz. Wow! Most definitely not free, but it's exactly at his challenge level and he loves it. Great mix of stuff and he is always so excited that he did it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Flight Wrap Up

This little mini unit was a ton of fun and a good reminder to me that it isn't very much work to make one.

Klenda built a rubber band-propeller driven plane and Mxyl built a "rip cord" helicopter. Both actually flew!

Leena and Zorg built air pressure rockets and had a great time racing them with different payloads.

All four of these were from very nice kits that Mumpy had bought for them over a year ago. I tend to get cool stuff and then stash it away until I hit the right combination of ages and topics.

We never got to the Aviation Museum (Mxyl hurt his knee the morning we were to have gone), but Air and Space was fantastic!

We got there at 10, before things got crowded. Even the little guys were fascinated by all the hands on exhibits.

Choclo and Oob loved the plane best of all. You could see the ailerons and elevators move as they steered.

Here is Leena doing the Bernoulli experiment.

Klenda got to help with a paper airplane experiment.

Then everyone got to do the paper airplane contest!

An amazing time was had by all!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Young Frankenstein

In other news, Klenda called me up to her room to show me what she had done. "Look," she announced, "Leena wanted another sister, so I made her this." Very impressive in a kind of creepy way!

The kids then spent an afternoon making similar artificial children and babies all around the house (only one of which looked like I had been hanged in effigy).

Yes, the kids are campaigning for more Zoomliams - twin girls if I can at all manage it. And, no, this is not any sort of pregnancy announcement!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Flight Camp Update

Great printable stuff here at Social Studies in Flight! I like it because it is information with assessments built in. Plus, great pictures! I am probably going to do just the History of Flight section.

I think we will focus on fundamental forces of flight (lift, gravity, drag, and thrust) and then move into the flight degrees of movement (pitch, roll, and yaw). Found a great idea for demonstrating this (building a clay airplane and using skewers), here.

White Knight (the minivan) broke down over the weekend, so it's a good thing we planned to stay home and use this as our research day! I am hoping it will be fixed by tomorrow so we can do the field trips more easily.

The Emperor will be on Summer Vacation in just four...more...days...

We ended up showing pitch, roll, and yaw by "flying" Choclo and Oob. We skipped the skewers. Everyone wanted me to "fly" them, but I took the better part of valor and had them pretend to be airplanes while I called out directions. This sparked a a good discussion of how the added dimensions of air flight made control of a plane much more difficult than earlier forms of transportation.

While discussing the history of flight, we got off on a discussion of the Hindenberg, which led to talking about hydrogen and helium, relative lightness (helium does not weigh less than nothing, it weighs less than air) and their positioning on the Periodic Table. They are next to each other in order, but opposite in location because one is reactive and the other inert. I barely managed to restrain myself from launching into an explanation of electron shells (because the set up of the shells are the only thing that make it all make sense). I always wonder if these digressions end up being helpful connections which make sense of the world or unhelpful distractions which mean we never finish a topic.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Seven Quick Takes Friday

1. Mxyl has turned into Dictionary Dude! Able to define long words within seconds! Able to expound on word derivations to all within earshot! Able to look up any word you say before the suffix has left your lips! Seriously, every time I turn around he has his head in the dictionary - not the kids' dictionary, either, it's the Webster's New World University Edition. The worst part of it is that I've always found dictionaries irresistible, so when he tells me, "Hey look at this!" I do. We're not getting a lot else done.

2. In related news, my mother has been avenged several times over for all those times she asked me to do something and I had my head in a book. I now have 4 1/2 children who will sneak off and read the moment I look the other way. It's great to have readers and all, but I can see why my Mom had certain regrets about teaching me to read. We're not getting much else done.

3. It's lily season! I have a number of favorite plants, but these lilies have to be near the top. There's something about lilies that I find enchanting. These don't have much fragrance, but the sight of them is a feast for me.

4.We're having a really colorful gardening season just now. We are harvesting red and yellow raspberries, blueberries, and pink currants. We also have strawberries, but they keep getting eaten by little black beetles, so we've eaten scarcely any from our garden. Anybody know how to stop little black strawberry eating beetles? We haven't been mulching, so I think that's part of the problem. Also, after a nice harvest of plums, our 5 year old Asian plum tree has suddenly died. Suddenly as in one day it was fine, the next every leaf on the tree was drooping and yellow. Anybody know what could have killed a tree that quickly?

5. Zorg has crossed over! He's a Webelo, now! Congratulations, Zorg! In case you don't know, Webelos is a two year program at the end of Cub Scouts, and a kind of transition towards Boy Scouts.

6. I am (more or less) done with our home school portfolios! I still need to go through and pick out some samples, but I am hoping to do that this afternoon. Doing portfolios always makes me happy, especially this time of year when it feels like we aren't getting a lot done. I go back through our (unfiled messy pile of) papers and realize that we did tons of cool stuff. I feel so much better about slacking off!

7. Happy Feast of the Sacred Heart! We had a ton of stuff planned, but Klenda woke up with a high fever. We've scaled back to a relaxing day at home, but we are keeping our special dinner: build your own mini-heart pizzas!

More with Jen!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Flight Camp

Next week is Flight Camp! Now, by "camp," I actually mean a short but intensive focus on flight. For four days we will live and breathe the subject.

Day 1: Intro to flight. We'll be looking at some carefully selected books (carefully selected by Bill who noticed we were doing Flight Camp). We'll do the Bill Nye "Flight" episode as well as the relevant Brain Pop movies. We will also do a packet that includes many of these. In the afternoon I am hoping to do some amazing paper airplanes.

Day 2: We will pop on down to the Air and Space Museum for their excellent How Things Fly exhibit. After a year of touring museums, it's the most comprehensive hands on exhibit I've ever seen about anything. In the afternoon we will start building some (hopefully) working models that I stashed away when the kids were too young to do them.

Day 3: The College Park Aviation Museum - a lovely small hands on museum with a ton of imagination and a plane you can climb into. And aviator scarves, helmets, and goggles! I love this place!! I am hoping we can finish the build projects in the afternoon and start flying.

Day 4: Clean the entire house and then make a trip to BWI to watch planes take off and land (there is a nifty little museum featuring a cut up jet on the Observation Deck). While we are there we will pick up an actual person who has really flown in on a plane... a very favorite friend!

I wonder how I would have home schooled before the internet. I totally take for granted that I can Google a week's worth of fabulous lessons on practically any subject (with worksheets and You Tube videos) in less than a minute. Is this being lazy or resourceful? I can remember before the internet. I can remember before e mail. I remember computers without mouses. I can even remember typewriters!!!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

House Rules

I must say that civilizing the Zoomlians has been a much longer and more difficult process than I ever dreamed possible. But it's all paying off!

They are actually enforcing their own table manners! They are even coming up with their own rules!

Tonight it was Mxyl laying down the law for Leena: NO! We can not all pretend to be cannibals at the dinner table!

I am so proud. (sniff)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

End of School Fun

It has been terribly hot since we've gotten back from New Orleans. The combination of the heat and the vacation experience have all led to an overwhelming feeling of...summer.

I've been having a hard time summoning the resolve to do much home schooling. I soldiered on last week, but the fine weather this week (highs in the upper 70s) made me take a second look.

Why was I soldiering on, anyway? It's not like we won't do anything educational over the summer and it's not like have a curriculum we are trying to finish.

Mild weather in June is not to be squandered!

Monday we went to the National Zoo and did scavenger hunts. I am finding that lots of museums have scavenger hunts that you can print out before you visit. It's a great way to stretch the experience so that older and younger kids can all benefit. Try googling your destination with "scavenger hunt."
And we debated the possibilities of cuddling a cuttlefish. All the Zoomlians said, "NO!" This was sparked by a certain spelling error...
We also watched orang utans playing peekaboo with a sheet. It looked very familiar!

Today we went back to the B & O Railroad Museum. Awesome!

Here the kids are playing in a caboose.

Here is my favorite locomotive ever. It looks like it just rolled out of Metropolis!

Did we make connections with our US History unit? I feel like I did, but the kids only got a bit here and there. Sometimes it's hard to tell. They have a Conestoga wagon. They also had a helpful exhibit on railroads in the Civil War.

We also finished our Abraham Lincoln CD during all the driving. We used his life to discuss Westward Expansion and the rise of the Civil War.

Tomorrow it will rain and we will do some home school blocks and I will finish my planning for next week. After that, who knows? I definitely want to go somewhere Thursday and Friday.

Next week is the last week for the Emperor, and we are finishing up our non-Dad homeschool with Flight Camp: all kinds of activities centering around flight. A later post, I hope!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Happy Birthday, Choclo!

You're FIVE!
What a great five, too!
Cuddly but independent.
Smart but sweet.
Little brother and BIG brother.
You are reading and counting
and teaching me about trucks!

He wanted a train cake, so I cut up a 13x9 and went with the Freight Train theme. As always, adding candy to a cake more than makes up for any lack of decorating skill!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Seven Quick Takes Friday

The Things I Heard This Week Edition:

1. "Happy Birthday" sung to a favorite niece on her 17th birthday. Or it might have been the sound of old age creeping up on me. This was my first niece, born after I was married but before I had any kids myself. I remember holding her as a baby and being so amazed at this whole, new, amazing, little person! And now she is this whole, new, amazing, BIG person who will now be allowed to drive a car. It makes me look at the Zoomlians with new eyes...

2. Sweet stories from the past. The Emperor's family has a long tradition of using Memorial Day as, well, Memorial Day: a day to remember those gone before. We start the day picking flowers, a bouquet for each grave we will visit, and the stories start coming.

These flowers are for Aunt Toni. I remember the first family meal when I met her. I offered to help with the dishes and she instantly decided that I could do no wrong - a belief she held the rest of her life!

These roses are for Grandpa Bob. He actually planted this rose bush and he was always so proud of them. He would have loved your butterfly garden, let's get some flowers from there.

Then we visit the graves, lay the flowers, pray, give the grass the trim of loving perfection (the cousins bring scissors) and remember together. Then it's back to our house for a cook out and more stories, past and present.

3. My favorite story from Cousin C. Mockingbirds really can imitate very well. Unfortunately, one became enchanted with the sound of C's alarm clock. It gave a perfect rendition of the alarm's buzzer. Right outside his window. Earlier and earlier every morning. When I asked how he had gotten it to stop, he confessed that after weeks of trying to dissuade the bird, he had given up and moved his bedroom. Lends new meaning to "To Kill a Mockingbird."

4. "You know I love you baby, but I just can't smile." This is a game which we like whenever someone is feeling sulky or grumpy. It's simple. You take turns looking someone in the eye and try to say ,"You know I love you baby, but I just can't smile." Without smiling. It's much tougher than it sounds and we always end up in giggles!

5. I love it that Choclo spontaneously thanks God for anything that delights him. The other day we went to a friend's horse farm. Choclo got to ride a lovely little pony the color of a fresh penny. Choclo: What a beautiful horsey! Thank you God for the beautiful horsey!

6. We are getting our first ever new couch. In preparation, we are trying to enforce the "No Jumping on Furniture" rule a bit more stringently.

Me: Were you jumping on the furniture?
Zorg: No.
Me. Good.
Zorg: We were jumping onto the furniture.

7. The Zoomlians demonstrating what Darth Vader sounds like speaking in Pig Latin. "Ooklay, (breath) Iay...amay (breath) oryay (breath) aaatherfay!" (What can you say to that? "Ooooohnay!")

More with Jen!