Science Sunday: SNOW and ice

So, we got some surprise snow this week.  The first snow the kids really got to see and will probably remember.  I’m guessing they don’t remember the sleet that came through here before the boys turned two, and Princess was just an infant…..
And this would be an excellent reason why I don’t post themes for Science Sunday.  Originally I had a very different project planned for this week, and then we had snow.  And we had to experiment with it.
062 MATERIALS: ice, water, bowls, snow
HYPOTHESIS: the ice in the snow will melt the slowest.
SET UP: 4 bowls, one with hot water, one with cold water, one with snow, and the control with nothing but ice.

So, we dropped our ice cubes in.  The first ice cub in the hot water melted before I actually got the snow for the snow and ice one, so I had to get another ice cube.  Then I set a timer to check on the ice cubes after five minutes.  We all put a sticker on the one we thought would melt the slowest.  Everyone but Batman was sure it would be the ice and snow one.
After five minutes we went over to check on the rate of melting and revise our hypothesis.  We talked about how we can change our prediction based on what we’ve seen.  So, Batman changed his to the snow bowl, and I changed mine to the control.  We noticed at this point the hot water one had completely and totally melted, and the cold water one was much more melted than the others.
After 10 minutes the cold water one was essentially melted and Batman was quite happily dipping his fingers in and licking the water off from that bowl.  Superman was happily playing with our control ice, and Princess was just made she couldn’t stand on the chair as well.

So, lesson learned: Ice in hot water melts fastest, and ice that is not in water melts the slowest.  Hmmm, in my quick look through I can’t find a good link to explain adequately why the one in air melted slowest.  I have a theory, but not one that I could explain well.
What’d you do in your house this week?

Books on Australia and more

We continued our study of Australia this week and that’s where most of these books come from or are about.

Koala Lou– I saw this featured on a couple of blogs recently, sadly I don’t remember where.  As we were reading it I came up with all sorts of ideas I’d like to do with this book.  Overall it was very cute, fun and appropriate on so many levels.  It’s about Australia, koalas, and the Olympics.  Poor little Koala Lou is worried her mother doesn’t love her anymore, so she decides to compete in the Olympics.  Very cute.

Boo to a Goose– you may have noticed from the carousel that we read lots of Mem Fox books.  That’s because she’s from Australia, and it seemed rather appropriate to me.  This one kind of reminded me of the song “Down by the Bay” with the silly rhymes.  My kids like it a lot.  And again I had all sorts of ideas of what to do with this book.  Of course, I think for most of my ideas the kids would need to be a little older.
Hunwick’s Egg– very cute story about a (totally forgetting the type of animal, something that burrows and is only in Australia) that find an egg and decides to care for it.  Very cute, with a bit of a surprise ending.  My kids liked it, but weren’t thrilled with it.
Echidna– I think this is the one I checked out from the library, but truthfully I don’t remember exactly.  I didn’t like this one as much as the other books I found last week, and this one goes into more detail on mating rituals then I’d really like in a book to read to my preschoolers.  I’d say it’s more for 3rd grade, but if they’re in 3rd grade they need a bit more information.  So, it’s not scaled quite right for the age it’s geared for.  But, it covered the thing the boys were really big on, what eats them.  Really, they want to know this about every creature we read about it.

We continued to read the Caroline Arnold’s books from last week.  I’m seriously thinking of getting all her books in this series, they’re super cool.

Hector Saves the Moon– okay, so I finally found my copy of the first book in this series: Hector’s Escapades, First Night Out, and read it to the kids, and they were so worried that Hector would never find his Mommy again.  Good book to read to emphasize not running away from your Mom when you’re out (hint hint Superman and Batman, that is NOT A GOOD IDEA!).  It’s fun to see a book that talks about the local area so much, I got a lot of the references, but the kids didn’t, not too surprising.

Beginner’s Bible– Batman has been requesting Bible stories like crazy, and so we’ve been reading this all the time.  I’d like to find one that’s a little older for them, because they’re outgrowing this one.  But, I get frustrated with most kids Bibles because they’re either way too simplistic and don’t include many stories, or way over their heads.

David and Goliath– I LOVE Little Golden Books, especially the older ones.  This one is a great retelling of David and Goliath and is fairly faithful to the original storyline.

I just remembered another book I read when I was reading Natalie’s post:
Blue Bonnet Girl– I picked this up  because I like the Tomie DePaola version of the story and thought it would be interesting to see another version.  It’s told in rhyme and it’s a more or less well done rhyme, but the rhyme messes with the flow of the story, so I could feel the kids not following it and losing interest. It has beautiful illustrations, but it just didn’t work here.  I might suggest it for second or third grade after reading the Tomie DePaola version to compare the two.

For more great book recommendations for your kids head on over to Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns

Homeschool Hop #2 and 3 and an award

edited to add It’s Cool to Homeschool button, and to put my reasons at the top.  Head on over to Mama of 3 Blessings to see more reasons people homeschool.  Now prepare yourself for a wall of text that follows.

Why homeschool?
So, I don’t have to set my alarm at 6:00 am!  Oh, you wanted a serious answer. 
 Okay, it’s not because the schools in the area are bad.  They’re actually pretty good.  It’s more because I think they could do more.
If my kids were to go to public school they wouldn’t already be learning how to read.  They wouldn’t already be learning about other countries, and be going to learn about Ancient History in a few months.  The shame of public schools, and private schools, and charter schools is they have to go at the rate of the mob.  So, if one student understands and has mastered the concept after two days, you still have to continue on until the majority understands.  It’s also not set up real well for late bloomers.  I didn’t really start to read until almost second grade.  Then I went from a non-reader to being told I had to check out chapter books in a very short period of time.  Public schools are not set up well to accommodate this.
Oh, and because of the various different tests and different things they have to teach they really don’t teach science or history very well.  It’s rather disappointing to talk to college graduates who don’t really know anything about our history.  I know this is an area I’m passionate about, but really, to graduate from college I’d expect people to have a decent understanding of the reasons behind the Civil War or World War 2 beyond slavery or Pearl Harbor.  But, most people don’t know these things.  How can we expect people to know about the future if we don’t know our past.  Read Brave New World people!  Or 1984!  Okay, I’m off my soap box now.  End sarcastic comments of the last two sentences…..  Maybe

Because I have too much to write about, and I think I’m actually going to write about them in the opposite order that I put them in the title.  Kind of.
Julie over at My Book Retreat and Just Playin’ Around gave me this award!
The rules for this award say I have to share 10 honest things about myself.  Here goes, and hopefully without repeating myself:

1.  I’m horribly scared of scorpions.  I have been known to call Jeff at work and tell him to come home and get rid of the horrible thing.  This of course means the boys are horribly amused by finding the horrid things and showing them to me.
2.  I used to horseback ride Hunter-Jumper English.  I loved doing it, but I look back on some of the things I used to do and think I was slightly crazy.  But that’s what you do in high school.
3.  Every summer during college and the last few years of high school I’d go on mission trips to Mexico for a week during the summer.  Once upon a time I could speak Spanish fairly decently, but with a horrible accent.  That is not so true now.
4.  I went to a deaf church in college.  I took about 3 years of sign language as my foreign language.  I want to work on this with my kids, but haven’t really worked enough.
5.  I get very disappointed when I see the new versions of cartoons I grew up with.  I’m holding judgement on the new Rainbow Brite until I see it.  I’m worried about the way they’re drawn, and miss my cute overly large head soft dolls, but these could be fun.  Princess certainly liked them when she saw them on the computer screen.
6.  I’ve lived in 3 different countries.  I don’t remember two of them because I was under three, but still three countries…..
7.  I’ve visited nine different countries, and had a brief layover in a tenth, but all I saw was the airport.  Actually, it might be more I’m trying to remember if Jamaica or Cayman Islands are countries or colonies.
8.  I’ve driven through large portions of the United States.  I think I mostly haven’t see the Northwest area, and portions of the middle United States.  At some point I’m going to sit down and actually figure out where I’ve been.
9.  I reread books that I like a lot.  So, I’ve probably read Peter Pan about 50 times, at least.  The same goes for Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass.  The longer I’ve liked it the more I’ve read it.  So, I’ve been reading Peter Pan since I was 10….  By contrast I’ve only read the Harry Potter books since college and I guess I’ve read the earlier ones about 20 times.
10.  I don’t like Charles Dickens books, with the exception of A Christmas Carol.  I blame my dislike of him on being forced to read “Great Expectations” in ninth grade.  I’ve figured out I’m in general not a big fan of books from that era.  I’m just not into large amounts of description.  That might be why I like young adult books so much, they don’t feel the need to babble on for 20 pages about how pretty the landscape is.  I also tend to skip over poetry in books.  This is also why when I read through the Bible I get to Psalms and get stuck.

My family…..  I’m going to do this a bit differently, because I’m going to include people who aren’t strictly blood relatives, but they’re family just the same.
This is Jeff.  He’s the guy on the right.  He’s my husband.  This is a picture from the swing dance we met at.  Okay, technically we didn’t meet there, but it’s where we first had real conversations.  Jeff is a computer programmer, a few years ago he was working on the kernel of the computer, which is the part that talks to other people.  I told this toIMG_0405 someone a few years ago and so she went away telling people Jeff works on popcorn.  Right now he’s working with some other people to get a program up and running, but I’m rather fuzzy on exact details.  Jeff has a lot of the same interests as I do.  He loves to read, and when we got married we had to cut down our book collections to fit onto five bookshelves.  It took a lot of work.  He loves to play computer games, and got me hooked on World of Warcraft.  He loves to play strategy board games, and has slowly drawn me into those.
This is Superman and Batman.  It’s their birthday on the fourth, so I’ll be writing a whole post about them then.  Needless, to say they’re twins, and big fans of heroes, Star Wars, and all things boy.

And this picture probably pretty perfectly captures my little Princess.  She’s not really very girly, though her favorite color is pink, and if she had her way all she wore would be pink and covered in stains.  She’s a bit of a clutz, and is kind of silly.  She’s a quixotic combination of loving princess stuff but insisting you call her Batman.  I kid you not.  Her Aurora doll can go from being used as a battering ram to being carefully cradled in her arms……
This is my best friend Tara, who my kids call Aunt Tara.  As you can see the kids adore her, and think she is their favorite toy when she’s over.  Her husband was my friend who died from cancer a few weeks ago.  It was one of my happiest days when those two got married because they were both my best friends.  She has pretty much the same interests as me, but is a bit more logical and more likely to say “Really Ticia, you want to do that?”  She’s a lot like Jeff in that aspect.  We used to joke that we married the male version of our best friend, because Jeff is a lot like Tara and I’m a lot like Sam.  Seriously, it’s kind of funny.
My Mom lives about fifteen minutes from us and is kind enough to babysit the kids often.  She’s getting married in a few months to Patrick, and that’s going to be exciting!  She works as a secretary at the church that planted the church we currently attend.  Random facts about her, she likes to dance and loves country music.
Sean is my brother.  He’s working at the Hutto branch of our church as the youth pastor/whatever they feel like making him do that week.  He’s in the perfect job for him, and he’s rather wild and crazy.  This is all good.  His wife Jenn is a good calming influence, and she’s a super cool woman, who I wish wasn’t so busy so I could see her more often.  But, sadly I’ve discovered that’s the life of pastors they’re always busy.
Well, that’s the people in my family who live in the Austin area and you’re likely to see on here from time to time on this blog.
And thus ends my post of forever and a day long.  Sorry, didn’t mean to make this so long.

MckLinky Blog Hop

Legend of the Indian Paintbrush, or painting with flowers is difficult

legend of the indian paintbrush
  The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush by Tomie dePaola is a cute book about a Native American who grows up marching to the beat of a different drummer.  He doesn’t want to be a warrior, but loves pictures and doing other things.  He has a spirit journey that tells him how he will someday paint a beautiful sunset, and he searches for ages and eventually paints using Indian Paintbrushes (a type of local flower here).

So, that’s the story.  Now, can you guess what we did?
054Yep, we painted sunsets with flowers.  And, let me tell you it is not easy to paint with a flower.  The stems keep breaking and you can’t get any detail work done.  Now, I guess Indian Paintbrushes might work a little better because they are from the lupus family and are shaped rather like….. paintbrushes, you know the ones for fine details.
And all too quickly my kids got tired of painting a sunset and just decided to make brown blobs.  They had very detailed descriptions of their pictures, which of course I no longer remember…..
056This would be right before I decided to take her shirt off.  Her new thing is to put handprints on everything.
063   057
And then Batman……  That picture above is an early stage……
071And then about halfway through Princess started singing.  I tried to get a video of her singing, but then she stopped and the boys started yelling about painting their hair.  So I made an executive decision it was time for a bath!

For more great story related ideas head over to A Mommy’s Adventures.

Quick tip for owies…..

Man, I thought I had a picture of this……001 And I was right.

You see that green spot on his chin?  That is my secret medicine for owies that aren’t real that can’t have bandaids put on them.  My kids feel satisfied because I did put something on it, but I’m not using yet another bandaid for an imaginary injury.

Are you ready for what it is?

Make-up concealer.  Someone told me once that this green stuff is supposed to hide those bags you get under your eyes, and I was in one of those phases where I believed I might actually wear make-up.  So I bought it.  And it’s sat in my drawer for cough cough essentially unused.

But now it has a new life as “green medicine,” my husband uses the anti-itch cream in our first aid kit.  So, if Jeff puts stuff on he puts on “white medicine.”  Don’t you love our descriptive names?

For more ideas head over to We Are That Family for Works for Me Wednesday and then head over to Kim at Mom Tried It where she hosts Try and Tell on Tuesdays.  And maybe next week I’ll put the banners in to go with this…….

And by the way Kim, I’m loving LiveWriter, thanks for suggesting it.

Geography: Texas and Australia

Because I’m sure you were really thinking those two went together.  Well, oddly enough in our house they did, because to teach them about Australia I had to first show them a few things on our map.
012First we found Texas on our map (and yes Batman is attempting to do a handstand on the map).  Then we put push pins in for where we are, and where Nana and Granddad and our friends who sent us postcards are (Adriana over at My Bilingual Boys).  And as I posted yesterday we also were reviewing a product about Australia, and I thought this was a perfect way to move into zoo animals (I’m thinking we’ll learn about different zoo animals from each continent).
So from finding Texas on the map, and discussing where that was, and how it is part of the United States, a concept I hadn’t brought up before.  We looked in the atlas and found Australia.  Alas my globe has been eaten by the monster in our house, so I don’t know what happened to it, but we were able to find it on the atlas and figure out it’s far away from us.  I found my globe, or I should say one of the boys did under their bed.  We had a very long discussion about how it’s not a toy to wander around the house.
They were really intrigued by this idea of a it being entirely surrounded by water.  They’re also intrigued by the different animals that are found there.  I’m thinking this might be a future lesson about Texas, what animals do we find here.  Of course most of the animals you find here are found in most of our country.  So, I don’t know, I’m still thinking through if that makes sense as a lesson.  I’m looking at this site here, and all of the animals listed are fairly common, I mean we have a Virginia Opossum (incidentally very cool site about animals, if you’re interested).
And I just found out about this:

I sent the lady an email about joining a few days ago, but haven’t heard back yet.  It might be she’s already got Texas for her next group, or she’s getting overwhelmed with requests.  So, this could be another way to get postcards.
And, if you’re still wanting a card from Texas, or just feel like randomly sending me a card…….  I’ve got all of mine sent out, except a request I got last week, and the international ones.  If snow clears up I’ll go mail those tomorrow……  Notice how I snuck in we got snow?
If you want to find out about more great geography ideas head over to Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn for more great ideas!

Review: Download and Go Expedition Australia

So, here’s my second e-book to review for my try-out.  We’re still in the process of using this, but I wanted to let everyone know what I thought so far.

This is from a series of books called Download ‘N’ Go.  Each individual book costs $7.95, and has about 100 pages of information (or the Australia one does).  I have to say I really enjoyed this book and of the two I was given to review I think this is a much better deal.  I’m thinking some of these could be great for me to get for my kids in a few years.  I like the Davy Crockett one I just got an email for in my in-box.  He would be fun to study in a few years, especially when we cover United States history in more detail in a few years.  Now be honest, how many of you when I said Davy Crockett got the theme song to the old Disney TV show stuck in your heads?

Here’s the set-up of the book it has two different things you can do.  First it has a notebooking set you can go through and fill out with all sorts of great information and comparison between where you live and between different parts of Australia.  It’s designed so you can go through and do a quick study of Australia in 5 days.  And in five days you get a pretty good knowledge of it.

Each day you talk about a different geographic feature, a different animal, and each day also has a specific thing they talk about.  For instance day one talks about how we say different words to mean the same thing.  Another day you learn about Captain Cook.

While you go through and learn about these different things you construct both a notebook and a lapbook.  I have to admit both of these are intended for kids much older than mine, so most of it they couldn’t do without a lot of help, but they enjoyed the activities that goes with this.

What did I like most?  For me right now, I liked that they’d already researched all of the kid appropriate links for me and included some really interesting videos (I would have linked more videos, because I had problems when I started to look for videos of the other animals that didn’t have videos).  That’s one of the harder things I think right now is finding links that are age appropriate without searching for hours.

In a few years my answer would change.  I remember doing a country report in sixth grade and struggling to gather the material to present.  This perfectly lays it out in a way a younger elementary student could do with help, and an older one could do by themselves.  And both of those students would have a very impressive report that could win a prize if they took their time.

Is it worth the money?  I’d have to say yes.

Other items that could go with this:
Little Continental Hoppers Australia– another e-book
Check out my what we read this week book for some of the books we checked out for this unit.  And then check out our science activity.  And since I realized since I wrote this review I’m still adding more to what we did for Australia, just go to the Australia section.

Review: I Wanna Be a Firefighter e-book

I’m trying out for the Homeschool Crew, and received two e-books from them to try out.  This is the first of two I’m reviewing.
So, first details.  I Wanna Be a Firefighter is released by TOS Homeschool E-Store and is $8.95.  When you open it you get 82 pages of things to do.
I’m going to start off by saying a great deal of this was over my kid’s’ heads.  They enjoyed it, but they’re not old enough for most of the activities.  And, truthfully I’d be worried if they were.  This is intended for elementary ages, and I’d say most of them are aimed at about a strong second grade level.
So, if most of it was too old for my kids, how did I use it?  There’s about 20-30 pages of read-aloud information about firefighters.  We learned about the history of firefighting, why there are fire dogs, and a bunch of other information.
After I was done reading to them I had fun asking the kids what they learned.  Here’s what they said “They use hoses and the water comes out and sprays them, and then they use axes to cut down the walls.”  “The dogs were there to keep the horsies safe and keep people away.”  Not too surprising my kids mainly took away from the read aloud the weapons and the animals.
What we got the most use out of is the games and physical activities.  They loved the “Stay Low and Go” game and the “Stop Drop and Roll” game.  There’s about 10 or so games listed in this that we could have used, and ideas for how to host a party.  I’d show you pictures of the games, but we were having too much fun to take pictures.  So you’ll just have to imagine laughing kids.

So, is this worth it?  For me right now, no.  But, if I had older kids, or kids in a wide age range, yes.  There was about 60 pages worth of materials that we weren’t even able to touch on because my kids weren’t up to the writing activities they had and the depth of knowledge discussed.
Books that would go well with this e-book that I happen to have:
Busiest Firefighters Ever by Richard Scary
A Sesame Street book called “I Want to Be a Firefighter” that must be out of print because I can’t find it on Amazon.
Hmmm, I’m having zero luck finding the books I have.  I guess that’s the downside of buying most of your books at Half Price Books, they’re random, obscure and hard to find.




Location Today Tomorrow Tuesday
Austin, TX *

72° / 37°

57° / 38°

39° / 31°

Mckinney, TX *

57° / 33°

48° / 33°

39° / 28°

*Severe weather alert

Only in Texas do you get forecasts like this.  I mean really, today it was gorgeous, according to my husband and Superman it was shorts weather.  And then on Tuesday high of 39 and low of 31 with chance of snow……..

I remember a time a few years ago having 90 degree weather the week after Christmas and then two days later having snow.

CRAZY man CRAZY!  Where’s my spring weather?  Come on February is almost over, and I want shorts!