History: Fountain of Youth

learning laboratory at mama smiles
How many of you saw the most recent Pirates of the Caribbean film with the Fountain of Youth?
I did, and found the lore included in it very interesting and amusing.  Not to mention that I loved the ending with the Spaniards coming in and destroying it declaring, “Only God can grant eternity.”  AWESOME!
Well this past week we read about Ponce de Leon, and of course I associate him with the Fountain of Youth.  That was one of the big things he did as an explorer, he looked for the Fountain of Youth in Florida.

As a matter of fact there is an archeological park in Saint Augustine, Florida that claims to be the ACTUAL Fountain of Youth.  When Jeff and I visited there, pre-kids our hotel was right next to it, but for various reasons we didn’t make it to that park (too busy exploring the fort, one of the few forts to of never been taken in battle, or any of the other sites there).

After reading about Ponce de Leon, I challenged the kids to design what the Fountain looked like out of Legos.

Up at the top is Batman’s which looks more fountainy, here on the left is Superman’s.  He said the fountain was near a battle, so it needed soldiers to protect it.  Princess’ fountain was more on the theoretical side.  I’m sure there’s a fountain in there somewhere amongst all of those bricks.

Florida with no Disney in sight

No  really, I just didn’t want to have the kids focus on Disney, so we focused on NASA and animals. 



Here’s our projects:

TOTALLY AWESOME MOMENT:  Batman: “Mommy, I want to read to Daddy the book I read to you last morning.”


WOO HOO!  Okay, yes I know it’s because he wants to work on earning a prize, but still.  He wants to read.


All right, back to what I was saying, our projects:


On the left hand side covering one entire side is our Everglades book with hundreds of animals.


On the right are the two animals I decided to have us learn about.  It had to be two because I wanted them to learn about the manatee because it’s so unique, and besides then I could get this song stuck in someone else’s head.


And then we also had to learn about dolphins, because those are Princess’ favorite animal, or one of them.  You can’t forget “Ponies!”


And we of course did our usual state symbols (and with all of these if you click on the picture it will take you to the download).  This time I tried it with the pictures already in the boxes, and I don’t like that as much, but now I know.  “And knowing is half the battle.  Go Joe!”  Sigh, we got a DVD of some of those episodes and it doesn’t include the silly little PSA’s at the end of the episodes, so the kids do not get that joke at all.



And finally, we learned about NASA and the space study.


But, for rather obvious reasons this project won’t fit into a lapbook.  So, we headed over to Homeschool Share and looked at their materials.  If you haven’t been there, totally check it out, one caveat: it’s a little hard to navigate.  I found this piece by looking up Neil Armstrong, not NASA or Florida.


NASA accordian lapbook

We did read one other book, but I didn’t put the pieces in for it because I couldn’t find them, and besides I didn’t need to recall my boys favorite thing about this book.


stART: Florida Everglades

Amazon.com Widgets

So……  I could have sworn I wrote this post when I wrote my posts for the week, but apparently I didn’t.  Here goes.


As part of our study of Florida we read about the Everglades and then we made our own version of the Everglades.  I’d actually say if you can find a different book to read that, because this one was okay, but not great.

Supplies needed: construction paper: 2 blue, green, yellow, glue (I also took a small amount and tinted it blue), dried grass, scissors, printout (below), crayons


Everglades Animals



1.  Cut out large numbers of animal pictures.  So many that you will be able to cover the paper more times than you could imagine.  While the kids are doing that you can trim the first page of blue paper to make it look wavy, and to be about a third of it’s size.  The yellow paper to be about half, and the green to be about 2/3, and finally the other blue is left normal.





2.  On each layer glue the appropriate animals.  It’s water, marsh, grassland, sky, in case you were wondering.  For the marshland we used the blue tinted glue and put the dried grass on the yellow paper.





3.  Insist on putting all of the animals on.  There are so many on it that we had to put them on the front and back.


Sadly, there’s also some in the wrong areas.  But, it was done gleefully saying “Look, I put the manatee in the sky, isn’t that silly?”



Well, here’s the finished pictures.  AAAAAHHHHHH viscous puppy attack as I get the pictures.


Oh no I’m being licked to death.  And those sharp little puppy teeth are trying to chew on my nose.


Whew, got him calmed down and sitting on my lap now.  He’s figured out how to get past our puppy gate for upstairs.  And then he figured out how to get past my improvisation to stop him from doing that.  Why are all young things in my family horribly good at getting into mischief?  My boys defeated the child-proofing on their door in less time than it took me to put it on when they were babies.



So, that’s the many layers of the Everglades.  I could have made it much more complicated, but this was quite complicated enough for me.

stART: space, the final frontier

These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise.  Her five year mission, to explore brave new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before!

Bother, can’t find the video I want, curses foiled by laziness, and wanting to keep to a time schedule.

Supplies needed: 2 liter bottle, white acrylic paint, knife, sharpies, foam core board or cardboard


1.  Paint the outside of your soda bottle (by the way thanks to our MOPS group for drinking large amounts of soda, and letting me take these home, saved me shoving large amounts of soda down my kids’ throats).
PS: in theory this could be really cool looking swirling around paint on the inside.


2.  Cut a hole in your bottle (McDonald’s toy optional).  If your kid desires you can then tape the door back on to make a hinge.

Then of course, your kid can decide he needs to randomly put some tape on their space shuttle…….


3.  Decorate it with the sharpies.

Meanwhile at some point while the kids are distracted or because the kids won’t leave you alone until their rockets have wings.  Cut a wing shape out of the foam core board or cardboard.


4.  Glue the wings on using a hot glue gun because the kids do not have patience for regular glue to dry.

The kids have been very excitedly playing with them ever since we finished them.

Problem I’ve got is Batman desperately wants to shoot his rocket up in the air.  You know like a real spaceship, with fire and all……..

Books inspiring this:
Astronuats, Launch Day,

Okay, so opinion question ya’ll.  I’m having a moral quandry.  I’ve read several different articles talking about Amazon carrying books and images that encourage pedophilia (this one they removed), but I read another article that says there is still some on their site.  But, the second article I’m having a harder time finding evidence for.  So, has anyone seen any further information on this?

I don’t want to use Amazon or provide links to it, until I’m sure this is resolved (and yes I know there is a “free speech” issue here, but there is also a moral issue of not exploiting children that to my mind trumps free speech).

I’ve applied to be a Barnes and Noble affiliate, but I don’t know if they’ve got an interface like amazon has.  Sigh, so much to think about.

Okay, now head on over to A Mommy’s Adventures to see more cool book and art related projects.

Geography: The Country Schoolhouse


So, remember my mentioning “The Old Country Schoolhouse” on Saturday, and it was wildly popular?
<a href=”http://ws.amazon.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&MarketPlace=US&ID=V20070822%2FUS%2Fadvenofmommy-20%2F8001%2Ff14dfb40-2113-4409-a299-555a72262578&Operation=NoScript”>Amazon.com Widgets</a>  Basically the story is of a grandson and grandfather talking as the boy walks to school.

<img style=”display: inline; float: right” align=”right” src=”http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/a/ae/Oldestschool.jpg/248px-Oldestschool.jpg” />We used it to talk about the <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oldest_Wooden_Schoolhouse” target=”_blank”>oldest wooden schoolhouse</a> in our country that is in <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Augustine,_Florida” target=”_blank”>St. Augustine, Florida</a>.  It’s a very cool city and has many different things to study.  It has a fascinating fort, a college and lot of interesting history.  Jeff and I were lucky enough to spend a week there pre-kids, and I’m looking forward to taking the kids there someday. 
(picture from Wikipedia, I’m feeling lazy and I don’t want to look for my pictures and scan it in)

<a href=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/_RGDYPnAIl_U/TNqvYSaLpxI/AAAAAAAADNE/WVQ7OA2vnVY/s1600-h/003%5B3%5D.jpg”><img style=”background-image: none; border-bottom: 0px; border-left: 0px; padding-left: 0px; padding-right: 0px; display: inline; float: left; border-top: 0px; border-right: 0px; padding-top: 0px” title=”003″ border=”0″ alt=”003″ align=”left” src=”http://lh6.ggpht.com/_RGDYPnAIl_U/TNqvY52MkWI/AAAAAAAADNI/65LCU767ANY/003_thumb.jpg?imgmax=800″ width=”244″ height=”184″ /></a>

To make our project I gave the kids some strips of manila paper I’d cut into 1/2” to 1” width, and they busily colored it brown.  I also gave them a triangle to color for the roof.


Then I set them to cutting and gluing their strips on to make a house shape for the school.  And of course they made a house shape.  Really.  Honestly.


Okay, okay, you caught me.  The boys made big blobs, and drew yellow spots (more on that later).

And you know what their narration of the story consisted of?  My kids of course learned so much from this and they drew excellent conclusions.

Or, they all said the same thing: “The boys went potty in the snow.”

Yes, that’s all they could tell me about the story.  We read this story at least 6 times, and all they would tell me is the boys went potty in the snow.

For kids who might have learned something useful in their geography and history studies head on over to Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn.

Books about Florida


One of these things is not like the other one, one of these things just doesn’t belong:

Amazon.com Widgets


Can you guess which of these books is not about Florida?  If you guessed “The Little Cat Baby” that would be correct.  And it was also the miss of the week.  It was just weird.  Really weird.


But, successes…….


A Country Schoolhouse– the clear cut winner, though it doesn’t take place in Florida I chose it for Florida because Florida has the oldest still standing wooden schoolhouse in St. Augustine.  So, we read this.  It’s a cute story of a grandfather telling his grandson what it was like to grow up in a schoolhouse.  Look for another post on this.


The space books-  I’d totally recommend “Life on a Space Shuttle,” it’s part of the Rookie Reader series that has never failed me.  “Launch Day” is geared for older kids, I’d say 3rd grade with a guess, and was too many words, and it covered much of the other book.  But, the pictures are great in both of them.


Animal books- all of these are from series we’ve gotten before and had great luck with, so nothing really new to say.  Other than “Barbara Manatee…….  You are the one for me…..  You came from up above, and you’re the one I love……”  Yes, yes, thank you very much I did get that stuck in your head.  Mwa ha ha ha ha ha


So, that’s my quick post about what we read this week.  We also reread several Halloween books, but I already wrote about them, and I’m trying to gather them up and hide them from the kids to save for next year…….


Head on over to Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns to see what everyone else is reading this week.