Saturday, February 28, 2009

Tree exploring

Here are a few shots of the boys on the main stump of the tree, exploring the root system. I've also included the shots of a mushroom cap that we found in the yard. I thought it looked like a mini darth vadar's helmet and kept trying to put it on the boys' heads. They just thought I was crazy and had more fun shooting it w/the water guns. As you can see, Logan was very helpful in the tree discussion as well. The bark makes a good cat scratcher....

More Artwork

Niles is really loving his art class. Here are some more pictures that I scanned. The pages are bigger than the scanner so if it seems like something is cut off, it just may be. We've also begun our science unit on plants. We spent a lot of time yesterday looking at plants outside and the tree segments from one that had fallen down earlier in the winter and been cut up.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Here is our Musher

We picked Bjornar Andersen for our musher. By a strange coincidence, I've gotten back in contact with one of my high school teachers through FaceBook. He is moving to Norway, as his wife is from there and they own a bed & breakfast outside Oslo. They just happen to have Robert Sorlie [link in English] as a neighbor, who has won the Race twice! He doesn't race every year, but his team is in Hurgal and this is the member who is leading the team this year. Kind of cool to have that connection!

We finally watched the Nat Geo video on Alaska today. Niles has decided that between the earthquakes, the volcanoes and the cold, Alaska may be fun to visit, but he is not ready to move there!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Maping Activities

I used the cabelas map in order to do some map reading questions w/Niles yesterday. One of the questions was how far is it from Ophir to Eagle Island. Now to me, this meant using the miles given between the cities from Ophir to Eagle Island on the southern route. To Niles, this meant, getting out his big laminated map and measuring w/a ruler then figuring out the scale to get the miles from one city to another. They are almost directly across from each other, so I guess he decided to do it that way. After much discussion, we decided that the question could have been better written and that either way was technically correct. :-) And that you'd come up w/very different answers because one way involved going to several cities first and the other way was much more direct. Ah, the joys of smart children.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Today, we studied about posture and the skeleton a bit. Niles and I decided to test out the theory that the span of your arms is equal to your height. So we got out some paper and I outlined his body. Then he laid on it the other way and spread his arms out so we could see if it was true. And it was! Kinda cool! Then Niles drew in his skeleton and correctly identified some of the parts for me. I can only identify some major ones and the ones that the book pointed out. Where's Aunt Amy when you need her?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Submarine sandwich book report

I found this neat idea in The Creative Teacher by Steve Springer, Brandy Alexander and Kimberly Persiani-Becker. Using construction paper, you create a template as follows:

bread slice - book info [title, author, illustrator, copyright]
mustard - summary, sequence of events
lettuce - character analysis, physical details, personality, role in book, do you like them?
lunch meat - setting description
cheese - turning point/ climax description
tomato - 5 new vocabulary words
mayonaise - scene illustration
bread slice - student's name, date & thumbs up or down for book.

Niles just read Togo by Robert Blake and he's working on this project now.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Old Salem home school days

We went on a field trip to Old Salem on Friday. I took Luca out of preschool for the day to come with us, since it is about a 2 hour drive from here to there and I knew that there would be no way I'd be back in time. The kids and I enjoyed it quite a bit. It's a nice set up, where they have many of the homes open and activities going on inside. For example, at the gun smith's shop, they are making a gun. The bakery is open and working and smelled great too. We had lunch at the restaurant there, consisting of grilled cheese and soda. :) Which was probably better than having lunch at the Tavern anyway. We had stopped there to see, but it was full. George Washington stayed at the Tavern and ate there back in the day. We got to see them making shoes and someone mending clothes in the Single Brothers house.

Things we learned: Muskets are loud. Shoes were made to wear on either foot, and would mold to either your left or right foot, depending on which you wore it on every day. Cellars are cooler than the rest of the house. The street was lowered at after the original houses were built so some of the houses look really tall. Using a lever or a pulley can help you pick up things much heavier than you are. Beds were made of a lower straw layer with a feather layer on top of that. In the tavern, you could be put in a room with strangers, even sharing the same bed if there wasn't another room. If you had lots of money, you could request a room to yourself, but it did cost extra. The people went to Mass every day and sat with their choirs. This isn't choir like we think of it. Choirs were social groups, i.e. single women, called sisters, sat together. Single men, called brothers, sat together. Tradesmen with tradesmen, and so on. If you look at the pictures I posted on photobucket, link in separate post, you will see something called single brothers' house. This is where all the bachelor's lived. They were the tradesmen, apprentices, etc. The house was added on to so it looks almost as if it were 2 different homes but it's one big place. As Old Salem grew, they needed to add on to it. If you think dental tools are scary now, you should see what they looked like then. Ginger candy [eaten to freshen breath and help digestion] is strong but tasty. Niles likes chamomile tea [for headaches and belly aches.] Old Salem was founded by Moravians, which is apparently a German protestant sect. The water pump is easy to use once you get your rythm going. There were no Jews there. [This came up at the salting trough in the cellar at the Tavern. They butchered pigs there, which led to a discussion of not keeping Kosher.] And most importantly for Luca, there was no play ground, but Mom did consent to buy a toy rifle and a toy pistol before we left.

Apparently, they do homeschool days once in the spring and once in the fall. So maybe we'll get a chance to go back and see the things we missed, like the smith's shop, the puppet show at the toy museum and the singing in the church.
Photobucket Album

Friday, February 6, 2009


there's a special on it on Nat Geo and you can see the whole video here.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Trail Mail

We mailed out Niles' letter project for the Iditarod race this morning. He drew a crazy picture, then wrote a brief message on the back. It said, "from Niles, age 8 in 3rd grade. I hope this cheers you up along the trail." I should have taken a picture of it but forgot. If we get it back from our musher, I will do so then. We won't know which musher will have our letter until it's returned. I'm so glad we found the project! It's pretty cool. We are also going to start following the Mt. Redoubt volcanic activity too!