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Friday, February 28, 2014

Earth Kids Meeting: The Mantis Shrimp

Today, was our monthly Earth Kids meeting, and thank goodness it warmed up.  We learned about the Mantis Shrimp today, a peculiar critter.  It has a punch so strong it can break glass.  That is what stood out to me the most, and they get fairly large too.  The video below shows their beautiful colors, plus reading material can be found by clicking the highlighted link.

We usually do a craft, but this time I decided on an experiment, that actually was two experiments in one.  The one thing about experiments is sometimes they take longer than a few hours, and this was one of those. If you leave this experiment for about a week, it will go all the way to the leaves. To help learn about how plants get nutrients from their roots to their leaves, you can do this celery experiment.  You could actually use white roses or carnations, which would be really awesome, but we didn;t have any of those.  The second part of the experiment, which we have actually done before so we sent it home with the other family is to take the bottom of the celery, the root basically, dig a hole and plant it.  It will magically grow back.  This actually works for onions, potatoes and lettuce as well.  We even had broccoli and cabbage grow this way.

We got in a nice nature walk too, and lots of play time at the park.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Homeschool Art the Pink Robin and A Special Easter Card

Today, Caitlin and I decided to paint the Pink Robin for the next bird in our bird painting series. She picked it, and DJ will be doing a colored pencil version later this week.  In case you are wondering the Pink Robin lives only in southern Australia, what a bummer.   I painted mine onto a gift bag, and hers is on acid free acrylic art paper. Mine is not exactly how I wanted, but I am my own worst critic. I painted an Easter gift bag as well, but you will have to visit my other blog to see that one. Caitlin then spent a very long time designing and painting a very special Easter card for her Nonie. She actually wants to give it to her this Saturday when she goes over to sew with her, so I guess it is a very early Easter card, lol.

As part of my desire to teach my children to do random acts of kindness, they have started their letter writing monthly to their grandparents, and weekly phone call to my mom, just to let them talk and hear from them. It is a very simple way to reach out to the ones you might not get to see all the time in your busy day. Let them know you are still thinking about them. Plus, for Caitlin it helps her work on her Grammar skills.  And without my prompting, Caitlin donated her gift card she won for learning the books of the Bible, to one of her friends that just had surgery.  This made me so proud. 

Feeling Sick, Some School but No Field Trip

I worked this weekend, and apparently I caught a bug. I am pretty sure I got it there, because some of my co-workers have it as well. We were going to go the museum for, The Wolf to Woof class, but I do not share germs, so that is not going to happen. We will, instead, be de-bugging the house, some Science and History and painting later. We have not painted a new bird in a while, so we will be doing that.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Rum Island on the Santa Fe River Natural Springs

If you plan to visit Florida, then you need to visit the N Central part where there are tons of springs. The springs are 72 degrees all year, and there are hundreds of them. Some are very isolated, and I would not say safe for novice nature explorers or very small children. But most of them have camping via tent, or cabins, and are quite lovely. We were supposed to end up at Poe Springs today, which is in High Springs. They were closed, so we went ten miles down the road to a small park called Rum Island. I tried to find out why it got that name, but can not find anything online. The friends who went with us grew up here, and she might be able to tell me. It is isolated, and small, but so peaceful and beautiful. The swim area is small, and mostly pretty shallow, but it does get deep so you have to pay attention. The spring feeds into the Santa Fe River. I didn't think the kids would want to swim, so I brought no swimming apparel, but they got in in their clothes. It was almost 80 degrees, so they were not freezing when they got out. I will have to plan Poe Springs on a Friday next month, because that is when they are open this time of year. You can canoe and fish also. I won't go into detail about the geology of this area, because DJ is going to do a report on it, but it is truly fascinating.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

World Book Online for Homeschool, School or After School

Remember when you were a kid and the encyclopedia salesman would come around every Summer, wanting your parents to spend hundreds of dollars to get a set of nice encyclopedias?  I do.  But, now World Book Online, offers them online to libraries, homeschools, and public schools.  I have saved it to see if I want to use it for my daughter next school year.  They have a special right now for  30 dollars for the year subscription, and I might just go ahead and do it.  Regular price is 50 dollars which is still very reasonable.  There is a library, not real close to us, that is going to be offering it, but rather than go all the way over there, and then wait for a computer, it makes more sense to just get it for our family to use right here at home.  It has games too!  Check it out, you might like it too, at World Book Online. 

Tomorrow we will finally get to go to Poe Springs, so expect pictures from that trip.  Caitlin has decided she does not want to sing in the church choir anymore, so I am kind of bummed about that, but I won't make her. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Heart Pizzas For Valentines Day

Today, we had a non Valentines Day party. What does that mean? No paper Valentines were exchanged. Rather everyone brought a treat to share, and the kids had a ball playing at the park while us moms got some much needed mommy time. Caitlin and I made these heart shaped pizzas with just pizza dough, sauce and mozzarella cheese. The pizza dough was actually quite easy to mold into a heart, and I will try this for other holidays too. Everyone loves pizza. We watched a full week of the Olympics, and the kids really enjoyed it. Even though the Olympics will not be over, we need to get back to a more structured school week next week. We will again try to get to Poe Springs next week, and Earth Kids is also next week. Biofuels is almost over, and I guess DJ liked it. They won't be doing it again next year, so that was kind of disappointing.

When my husband got home from work, we tried a new Italian restaurant near to us, the O Sole Mio, and we are hooked. The service was amazing, and the food just awesome. We will definitely add them to our favorites.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Olympics and Yard Work

This week is a kind of fun week for us.  Because we are trying to be sure and watch our athletes in the Olympics, and activities outside of the house, we have decided to mix things up a bit.  There will be very little traditional style learning this week.  For example, today the kids made their valentines for their grandparents, and wrote their monthly letters.  In case you are wondering what I am talking about, I decided as a part of random acts of kindness, they would write their grandparents a letter each month.  This serves another purpose as well, practicing writing skills for my fourth grader.  I am really pushing the writing this year for her.  To me she still has a long way to go, but has improved so much.  She only has two more letters on her friend list, and then monthly letters to grandparents.  So, I will be looking for some new writing prompts for her.  On the plus side her spelling has improved immensely. 

Then we watched some Snowboarding and Freestyle Skiing.  Caitlin's skiier made it through, but we didn't get to see that yet, and DJ's snowboarders were not in the slope style, but we did get to watch a young man named Sage, from the USA take the gold in that event.  How exciting! 

Then, after lunch, we were outdoors doing yard work.  The lawnmower would not start, so I planted some of the flowers I bought last Friday.  My new tire garden is coming along, I need four more tires, and they need to be painted.  We got some raking done, and picking up sticks and garbage blown around from this nasty Winter.  A lot of my plants were damaged this Winter, it has been so cold.  They have been trimmed back and are already starting to come back, bigger and better I hope.  I planted Peonies, Bleeding Hearts, and some fruit bushes today. 

Caitlin, and I, painted the cabinet nobs in the kitchen black, added a nice touch, and I started working on her special birthday plates.  I will share those later.

Last week we started the Virtual Tour of the United States, with Alaska.  I need to find some info on the Exxon Valdez spill for them to ponder.  If you want to add the tour to your Geography lessons, you can follow along on my Pinterest board.  This is actually to go along with our popsicle stick game to learn the states and the capitols.  We continue our other History work as well.

I have not yet decided for tomorrow, but will probably be similar to today.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Russian Architecture: Onion Domes in Art Class

Well we did not get to go hiking at Poe Springs, because it rained, boo! But we did get to make our Onion Dome paintings. We are getting ready for the Winter Olympics and were studying Russian architecture. So, I decided we would paint onion domes on buildings. You can see the results below. We had quite a bit of paint left, so Caitlin and I did some other paintings as well. To see the others in better detail you will have to visit my other blog. I think Caitlin is going to offer up her abstracts for sale. Any money she makes will be put away for her personal use. She actually enjoyed abstract painting quite a bit. DJ's onion domes was firey and hot colors, mine a little softer with some cool geometrics, and Caitlin being the animal lover she is made her domes all look like animal paws.

We have picked our athletes to follow, each of us picked a boy and a girl.  Caitlin chose freestyle skiing for her sport, DJ snowboarding and me of course figure skating.  We have researched our athletes a little, following them on FB, read about Sochi and Russia, found them on the map, learned about the history of the Olympics, and traced the path of the torch.  Now we need to pay attention so we can watch the events we will be following.  I have a feeling some of them will be watched online, lol.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Oh Heavenly Warmth and 4H County Events

If you follow this blog, then you are aware that I have been whining for a month now about how cold it has been. Well it is finally over, at least for now, and I can stop being a turtle, lol. I am so slow when it is cold, just like turtles and alligators. I need the sun to warm me up and get me going. Even though it has been warmer, today is the first day that the sun has really shone. I got to get out and baby my poor garden some yesterday. The cold did a lot of damage, even though I covered the most tender of my plants. Caitlin is getting her own garden project this year, for Science class. But, I will share more of that later, after we get it going today. I will be putting in tomato seeds, but they will be only out if it is sunny and warm, otherwise will hibernate in the semi warmer garage. I was given a Christmas Cactus, and it is already getting larger, so I think I will put that into my newest project, the tire garden, which is no where near being ready on a large scale. I still need two or three more tires. Then they have to be painted and filled with dirt. As you may be aware I throw out ends of potatoes and onions. The onions help keep bugs away, but also will just grow wherever. We have been able to pick and eat several onions just by throwing them around the other plants. We had one small potato, but we actually planted some eyes, and we will see how that works out. Our Milkweed are dead, but I went out and cut them all back, so hopefully they will return bigger and better.

This past Sat was our annual 4H event, called County Events. This is the first step to other events. Next is Districts the first weekend of May. Both kids qualified this year for Districts. If DJ wins first, or second place, in his Demo he can go on to states. He was not old enough in previous years. Caitlin can do Fashion Review, but not sure if she will, and can enter her already award winning photograph.

This week is a more normal school week, with hiking at the Springs on Wed.

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