History, no really it is

Remember where I talked about “If You Give a Homeschool Mom and Idea,” and many of you asked if I ever did the project?


Well, more than a month later it’s finally finished.  This is why I rarely do multi-step projects where you have to wait longer than say….. 5 minutes before doing the next step.  I forget to do the next step.  Sad, but true.

Supplies: canvas, ribbon, a pot of strong tea or coffee, typing paper, casserole dish



1.  Crumple up some paper.  Then flatten it out and dip it in the tea or coffee.  Leave it there for about 30 seconds or so.  I think the longer you leave it the darker it gets.  But, I couldn’t get the kids to leave it long enough to test.




2.  Repeat this over and over and over again.  After each page is completed lay them out to dry.  If you can lay them out in the Texas heat they dry in less than 5 minutes.


But, there’s also a very good chance the wind will blow them away…….


Then you get some exercise as you chase the papers all around the yard.




3.  Cut a piece of canvas roughly 9”x12.”  Cut a ribbon about 2 feet long.  Put the ribbon down first, lay the canvas on top of that, and finally lay your papers for you book on top of that.  Then draw your sewing line.  I just measured half of the paper and drew a quick line with sewing chalk.




4.  Now run it through your sewing machine with the biggest stitch your machine will do (just so that you don’t end up tearing the paper).  I backstitched at the beginning and end, but you don’t have to.


You could do this by hand, but have you ever sewn through paper?  It hurts, and is ridiculously hard.


Now in theory you could use this to write a first-person point of view journal.  But, not my kids.  No, they immediately seized them and started writing ghost stories.  Princess started drawing large numbers of Princesses and ponies.


Review: Klutz Pipe Cleaners Gone Crazy

I don’t about any of you, but I have had several people inherit or not have a use for craft supplies come up to me and say, “Ticia, you’re crafty.  You can use this.”

This is a blessing and a curse.  Blessing because I get to try things I would never buy, and curse because I then have to figure out how to store these things.

This book is mostly an example of a blessing.


We’ve now done a fair number of the projects in this book, and overall I’d say the projects are pretty good.

Did ours turn out just like their pictures?  No, but it was fairly close.

I’d say my boys are the bottom end of being old enough to do these.  It took a lot of concentration and me showing step by step how to make the projects.    My boys are very visual kinisthetic learners (I know big surprise) and they needed to see it done step by step to be able to do it, but they more or less could.
We weren’t really using the pipe cleaners that came from the kit, so we didn’t differentiate between fuzzy or regular ones like the instructions said, so some of our projects didn’t come out as plump as theirs.  I think in theory if you did it exactly right you’d have enough pipe cleaners to make everything that came with the kit.

Overall, I’d recommend the book, the instructions are clear, and you can still complete the projects after you’ve used up the pipe cleaners that came with it.

Science Sunday: Ocean floor digging

Science Sunday
Sooooo…….  I went to the library to find books on South Carolina and came up with 6.  Three about the same thing.  One which is checked out presumed missing (but was an awesome book), and another which doesn’t really lead itself to any sort of activity.

Which leads me to begging, if you have any suggestions for South Carolina, something that stands out to you please let me know.  PLEASE.

Okay, on to our project.  We read about the HL Hunley.  It’s the first ever submarine, and it sank and for years it was a mystery where did it sink, why did it sink, what happened?  And then come the turn of the century (isn’t it funny to say that and not mean 1900s?) they found it!

But how to lift it?  How can we explore its mysteries?

This book details all about the search for the Hunley and how we finally got it to the surface.  We got details of how they first searched for it right after it went missing.  Then details of the attempts through the ages, until finally it was found.

So, I gave each group of kids a bowl filled up with mud and water, and buried in it were the two cars pictured above.  I also buried miscellaneous things, rocks, bolts, other stuff.

Instructions: Using the materials pictured on the right, find the “Hunley” and discover how to get it out of the bowl without touching the car or the water.

Then the race was on.  The girls started by poking around in the water with the bamboo rods, until they found the car.  Then they used two forks to raise the “Hunley.”

The boys probably had too many cooks in the pot.  They all happily got to poking around and did find the car very quickly, but they took about a minute longer.

General consensus: The magnets were not very helpful (probably because the cars were not magnetic).  The bamboo skewers worked very well for finding it, but not for lifting it up.  The big forks worked very well for lifting it, but the spoons did not.

This was a huge hit with the boys who hid their “Hunley” several more times before finally being done with it.  After the other kids left my boys then spent several more minutes (read half an hour) finding everything in it they could.

What we’ve been reading: The Very Ugly Duckling Dinosaur

We got this book ages ago from the publisher, and I had meant to do an activity with it because it retells one of my favorite fairy tales (and yes I say that about almost all of them), but summer came and we got distracted.  And then I found it again!  Bingo, fun new activity.
So, we happily curled up and read it together and then I  gave them a piece of construction paper with an egg drawn on it, and a blank piece of construction paper.  Their job was to draw what hatched in their egg and the strange family the egg hatched to.  I told them they couldn’t do a T-Rex or duck family, and it had to be something that hatched from an egg.

While they were busily drawing and coloring away I gave reading lessons to each kid.  Then I saw the finished results:

Batman, who is currently obsessed with all things Halloween drew a spider hatching from his egg.  The spider then went to a ghost family and there they had MANY wonderful adventures.  Too many for me to tell you in this small space, partially because after the twentieth adventure my eyes glazed over and I lost track.

Superman, who is also obsessed with Halloween (I just got another question of when he can put Halloween decorations up again), had lots of eggs hatching.  The big one was a bird, who is now in the tree, and he was raised by a family of penguins.  One of the penguins died and the bird ate a tombstone, so now there’s a ghost.  And the bird ate the smaller eggs which were spiders.

Princess, who is “scared of Halloween” and can produce a very dramatic scream at the mention of it, had a family of horses who raised a bird (I think, that or a butterfly).  They are all girls.  You can tell because they have very long eyelashes.
I’d explain more about her picture, but she’s asleep as I write this, and I’m not about to wake her.  She desperately needs this sleep, even if it is almost 10:00…….

My comments on the book:  It’s very cute, and I loved the different ways the “ugly duckling” tried to fit in with people, and he looked so pitiful trying to fit in.  I’d highly recommend buying this book or checking it out from the library.

abc button
DISCLOSURE: I received a copy of this book for review.  That was all the pay I got.  I’m sure we would have eventually read this book when we saw it anyways.

Favorite Resource this week: Pinterest

Favorite Resource This Week

I LOVE this site.  It’s so addicting, it’s like One Pretty Thing, but it’s only the stuff I like!


One of the things I’ve been looking for recently has been activities/crafts for swimming creatures to go with our science text, and here’s what I have so far:

Chapter 1 oceans and currents:

Experiment from All Things Beautiful

Chapter 2 whales:

whale from Superheroes and Princesses

Chapter 3 seals:

nothing yet

Chapter 4: aquatic herps (turtles)

turtle milk bottle lid from Mama Jenn

Chapter 5: Primeval Reptiles (water dinos):

nothing yet, though there is one about Champy I might do from Superheroes and Princesses, still debating

Chapter 6: fish:

Fish sun catcher from 4 Crazy Kings

Chapter 7: Sharks and Rays:

Shark craft from Brimful Curiostities, anyone have a good manta ray craft?

Crab science experiment from Learning Ideas (you should totally check out this site)

Chapter 9: Mollusks

Hermit Crab from Handprint and Footprint Crafts


I’d go on, but you get the idea.  If you want to see all of the 50 odd ideas I have on my Swimming Creatures board feel free to head there.  If you have a craft or activity related to this be sure to leave it in the comments and I’ll head over and add it to my board.


DISCLOSURE:  None of these pictures are my own, all of them were taken from the site linked right underneath, if you want to see the entire cool project FOLLOW THE LINK!


I was super lucky to go to Schlitterbahn twice this summer, so do I get to check it off my list twice?

Our first time was Schlitterbahn Galveston way back in May, but I packed them very well and they got all lost amongst the luggage.




For this one Jeff had a horrid sunburn, as did my brother.  The kids all heartily approved of Schlitterbahn Galveston.


And of course Uncle Sean had to be silly.  You wouldn’t believe the pictures I have of that boy over the years……..



And then for my birthday we got to go to the original Schiltterbahn.  The original Schlitterbahn, the one I’ve been going to since I was in junior high.  Best birthday ever!  Okay, I might have said that almost every year, but it’s always true.


I wonder if I could live at Schlitterbahn?


I’m super excited because they’re supposed to be opening one here in Austin, how cool is that?

Bible Alive: making observations

We’ve been teaching our second and third graders about making observations as they read the Bible.  Here’s their list of observations from Genesis 7 and 8.018
Sorry the picture is  blurry, but here’s what I remember and what I can read:
take a lot of animals; a male and it’s mate of every animal
Noah’s whole family
clean and unclean animals, 7 of the clean animals
God said He would kill all not on the ark
Did he destroy fish?
Noah was 600
floodgates were opened, there was water underground
God closed the door
God brought the animals
water covered the earth 130 days
July 17th the ark stopped
Noah sacrificed animals to God
Noah sent two different birds out
Noah sent a raven first

Pretty good notes for being 8 and 9 years old.

Decorating a doll house

Princess got a gorgeous doll house built by her Granddad when she was two.  She played with it a little bit earlier, but she’s really starting to get into it now.  She’s also putting stickers on it.  So, I’m trying to turn her creative bent in a constructive non-destructive way.


To forestall the complete stickering of the dollhouse I offered to help decorate one room.

We had to ride for a long time to get the supplies.  A very long time.


And then we got to work “making it pretty.”  First we cut some pink flannel for a carpet.  Princess insisted it needed to be taped down, so it is well and thoroughly taped.  Then we got some very fuzzy pink fabric (not sure what it is, maybe  fleece) and cut it into small blankets and pillows.


Mac checked out our work and declared we needed something on the walls, and some knick knacks.  So we took another long ride and picked up some scrapbooking paper and some flower buttons to strew about the room.

And finally after hours of work it was done:

There are extra blankets and pillows for all of the visiting dolls.  The pet dragon has a lovely pink pillow for his bed.  Now, I’m just wondering how long before the boys demand I first build something like this for their  rooms, and then how long before it needs to be “decorated.”


And finally after all that hard work we were tuckered out, and took a nap.  Oh wait, that only happened in my dreams.

learning laboratory at mama smiles

Science Sunday: How Big is a Whale?

Science Sunday

We finished up the chapter on whales and dolphins, but I didn’t think they were quite grasping how big these animals were.  If I read to you a whale is 100 feet long would you know how long that is?



First we measured the kids to get a baseline of how far a distance is.


We also tried to measure Mac, but he wasn’t so cooperative.




Then we measured out the different whales and dolphins using 10 feet measurements with our tape.  This picture is the length of a Killer Whale, 30 feet.


The kids were fairly impressed, but then we measured  the Sperm Whale.


That is a distance of 110 feet.  The kids were very impressed that I was almost all the way across the street to be that far away.


I did this for about 8 different whales and dolphins, but you get the idea, and some of these just aren’t as impressive.  I mean being 8 feet away when you take a picture is just a normal picture.


But, they do now remember how big a whale is.