Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Try-It Tuesday: Combatting Boredom

I almost forgot today was Tuesday!

My eight-year-old son came to me this afternoon complaining of boredom. Perhaps you have faced a similar situation?

I had already taken the kids to a program at the library and to a playground for a couple of hours with friends. So, I was quite unsympathetic to his plight and encouraged him to find something to DO. It didn't work, as I am sure you have guessed. I suggested several things, but all ideas were met with resistance.

About to give up and assign him some chores instead, my eyes lit upon a likely-looking book on the end table.

Surely this volume would contain the answer to our quest for something to fill the long lonely hours of a sticky summer afternoon....

We perused the pages and after considering several activities, he decided upon the age-old experiment of mixing oil, water, and food coloring in a bottle. That didn't take long, and before I knew it he was back again.

Needing to finish my work, I grasped at straws and finally hit upon something I thought might work.

"Go out and ask your dad for nails, wood, and a hammer!"

His eyes lit up and out he quickly went, banging into the doorframe on the way.

I was able to work for nearly an hour when he came in, triumphantly bearing THIS creation.

He spent quite some time excitedly describing his creation and then asked for the camera, proceeding to take a video of it, explaining it again for the benefit of the video.

And there you have it! The cure for boredom - at least today, for this child. What cures boredom in YOUR house?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Try-It Tuesday: Cool Toys from Household Stuff

short but sweet
in every job that's to be done there is an element of fun"
The most useful designs for children to make are ones that can be made very quickly with no tools and no materials."

This webpage gives you TONS of photos and ideas for making cool toys and interesting inventions. Tuck this away for a rainy (or HOT) day!

Here are a couple of photos to motivate you.

I'll be honest and say that this page confuses me. I am NOT mechanically inclined at all! If you clicked on it and felt overwhelmed as well, I suggest just showing it to your child and see if he or she is motivated to try something!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hymns 2008-09

Every month we learn a new hymn and a praise chorus. This is in lieu of poetry study. I'm not an appreciator of poetry, which may surprise some of you. I find it better to spend our time memorizing songs that will hopefully be entrenched in my children's minds to come out at times of need.

How many Christian songs can YOU sing without music? I don't mean "sing along with" but I mean actually sing all the words with an approximation of a melody. We can sing a few hymns now and I KNOW that these come back to serve me in moments when I need to focus on the Lord.

I do plan to use the hymns for copywork, vocabulary study, theology, and more during this coming school year. We haven't done much of this before, although one year we did make a lapbook of that year's hymns.

So, here are the hymns and praise choruses for the upcoming school year.

August Praise Him! Praise Him! Why So Downcast
September The Solid Rock Mighty is our God
October The Old Rugged Cross Great and Mighty is He
November Trust and Obey Jesus is Alive
December O Come All Ye Faithful ???
January A New Name in Glory Change My Heart O God
February Since Jesus Came Into My Heart Shine Jesus Shine
March Redeemed He is the King of Kings
April In The Garden Ancient of Days
May At Calvary God Will Make a Way
June Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus ???
July The Star-Spangled Banner ???

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Try-It Tuesday - Maps and GPS

If you like maps or cool computer apps, or if you have a child that does, give this a try!

The GPS Visualizer

Some of the things you can do there:
  • Convert any address (or group of addresses) to longitude/latitude (Come on, I'm sure you've wondered what yours is!)
  • Create maps
  • Create a Google Earth overlay for an address
  • Convert your data in a number of ways
  • find the distance between two pairs of coordinates
  • find the straight-line distance between two locations of any kind
  • Draw a direct route between airports
  • Draw range rings around a point
  • Look up elevations
There is a nice FAQ and some tutorials as well.

Oh, come on - at LEAST figure out your longitude and latitude! I did! I'd post it here, but then you'd know my address. lol

Sunday, July 13, 2008

What Tree Is This?

I've located an even better tool for learning tree identification!

What Tree Is That? from the Arbor Day Foundation

If your kids are like mine, they love interactive computer activities. This one will teach them how to systematically look at tree leaves to identify them.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Curriculum Collected!

I've ordered Mystery of History 2! YAY! I found it used! Even better, eh?

So, I have just about all the curriculum now. Still need to order that art software and some construction paper. (I buy a LOT when I buy it - and so I make a bulk order, usually from Miller Pads and Paper.)

Now, I have to SORT.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Owl Pellets

We were given the opportunity to order free owl pellets. (Thanks, Michele, for the tip!)

NOTE - I get a LOT of hits on this post from people googling "free owl pellets". :-) The result just below mine in your google search is this one. Try that for your no-cost owl pellets. Updated March 2010 - I've been told this is no longer an option for free owl pellets, at least not in most cases.]

Did you know owl pellet dissection kits sell for about $20? I saw them at the Nature Center.

If you'd like to try a NO-MESS owl pellet dissection, here is a GREAT website. I've written a whole blog post about it - HERE.

When the pellets arrived, I put them aside for a rainy day - and today was the day! David was busy with another project (his Mandalorian armor) so the pellet dissection kept Suzy, James, and Emily busy for an hour or so on Tuesday.

First they measured their pellets and then soaked them in warm water. Em's and Suzy's got very gooey right away - lots of fur in theirs. James was larger and harder - more bones.

They used toothpicks and tweezers to pick apart the pellets. Once they were soaked, they came apart easily but many bones were very small.

These facial expressions were quite involuntary! LOL

This is a skull that James found in his pellet. He is holding on to the long orange teeth.

Here are the bones they were able to glean from the pellets. We dumped the wet fur - nothing quite so nasty as wet fur, especially when it's been regurgitated, dessicated, disinfected, and rehydrated. lol I think once they're dry, I'll have the kids glue them to cardboard and then they can write in some labels of what they are.

I should have taken a picture of the dry pellets. I do have one left for David, so maybe I can photograph that. I really thought he'd see the cool things they were finding and want to join in, but his spray painting and plexiglass was apparently far more intriguing.

Try-it Tuesday - "Stay-cation"

Undaunted by the high price of gasoline, we decided to stay home for Fourth of July, even though I had 4 days in a row off work.

We pitched a tent in our yard, built a campfire, and generally acted as though we were camping. The nice thing, of course, is that our house is right HERE, so we could use our regular bathroom and we didn't FORGET anything. LOL

The idea of a "stay-cation" came from friends, media, and a book I found called The Complete Idiot's Guide to Backyard Adventures: Close-to-home activities for fun-focused families (see link below). The book includes tons of ideas for recreation at home and nearby - nature study activities, sports ideas, experiencing other cultures, creative projects, neigborhood and community adventures. Small book, but wide-ranging in application. Check it out!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Weekly Report June 30 - July 5

Not a very paper/pencil week, but lots of learning just the same!

The only "real school" this week was:
Suzy did two math pages - Math-U-SeeAlpha 4F and 5A. Also watched the DVD for lesson 5.

But the learning didn't stop there! Read on....
Started a new read-aloud - The Lemonade Trick by Scott Corbett.

Suzy and Emily went with me to a baby shower - THINK PINK!

Saw The Bee Movie at an outdoor showing at a local park. I liked it - laughed right out loud quite a few times! It was neat sitting outside watching on the huge inflatable screen! The kids went several times last summer with Bob, but I was at work each time.

We visited the library and did our first cash-in of the kids' prize tickets! Brought home a BOATLOAD of books. The moment we walk in the house everyone is usually very busy READING.

Went to fireworks and set off some of our own (the tamer version). Swam in a friend's pool and at the waterpark. Camped out in a tent in the yard. Played outside a LOT as it was too nice to be indoors! Went to some garage sales.

Had a nature walk - photographed fish and insects, identified birds and plants and trees. James and Suzy both practiced using the digital camera.

Did lots of chores - daily ones, as well as mowing the yard, weeding the flowers, dusting, folding laundry, and more. However, the rooms? Not so clean as of tonight. Sigh.

David learned how to download a font off the internet and install it. He also installed new print cartridges for our all-in-one printer/scanner.

David wants to learn some Star Wars alphabet (thus the font download).

The three oldest kids learned to play Scattergories. Whee! I foresee some fun family times now! I love Scattergories!

[EDITED to add: we did family devotions 5 days during this week. This includes Bible reading, a memory verse, singing, and prayer.]

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Stars and Stripes Shirts

Saw a young girl wearing one of those painted stars-and-stripes t-shirts tonight at the fireworks! My girls talked to her and she said she made her shirt in kindergarten and she is in 4th grade now. Bob heard us talking and he said he still has his too.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Could you pass the latest citizenship test?

In October 2008 a new version of the U.S. citizenship test will be taken by all applicants. Could you pass it? The questions are usually selected from a list of 100 samples that prospective citizens can look at ahead of the interview. Some are easy, some are not. We have picked some of the more difficult ones.

NOTES: Candidates are not given multiple choices in the naturalization interview. The following questions have been adapted from the immigration service’s sample questions.

Link to test on MSNBC

As some of you may already know, I never watch the news and pay only cursory attention to current events. Maybe that's to my detriment, but it's never been my area of interest or expertise. Even so, I did get 80% which would apparently qualify me for citizenship. :-)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Fourth of July

After I did the Olympic post, it occurred to me that maybe I should have done a FOURTH OF JULY POST. lol Oh well. It's never too late!

So, here are some Fourth of July ideas from Family Fun magazine. (which I LOVE!)

One year we made stars-and-stripes t-shirts like these.

How about decorating a bike?

How about a printable pinwheel? Or a USA paper airplane?

Then follow up with a yummy and healthy dessert made with red and blue fruit.

Lots more activities on the Family Fun website. Go check it out!

Crying Coach!

My husband ran into the wife of Emily's coach at the water park yesterday. She said that the letter she wrote made her husband (Em's coach) cry!

See? Thank you notes are important!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Try-it Tuesday - Olympic Crafts

I know the Olympics aren't until August, but you can get started now with some great activities to prepare for watching the Games.

Some very cute Olympic-themed crafts on this website from Activity Village.

Kids can make a medal, a olive-leaf crown, a torch, the Olympic rings, and more!

More places on the web to find Olympic activities and information:
Child Fun
ABC Teach Olympic Theme Unit
About.com Family Olympics
Wikipedia article on the 2008 Olympics
Official Website of the Olympic Movement