stART: something about stars, I can’t remember right now

It’s one of THOSE days.  You know where somebody, and I’m not naming names but they’re about 3 feet high, zapped my brain.

So, we read this awesome book about the Navajo and how the stars were placed in the sky.  Hopefully by the end of this post I’ll remember the name.  Well, it seemed perfect for a craft I’d been thinking about.

Supplies: black or blue construction paper (I cut it into fourths and let them have fun with that much, fits better in the lapbook); those foil stars (you know, the GOLD star for being good)


1.  And only step.  Let your kids have a blast putting on star stickers however they like.


Princess’ summary of story: The coyote threw the stars away, while the woman was trying to put them in the sky.
Finally found the book:

I love this book, it’s probably my favorite of the different ones from this region.

To see more great book activities head on over to
A Mommy’s Adventures.  Sigh, I always have this problem with the button, it keeps making the next few sentences after it a link, I don’t know the details of why, now you know my secret reason for having it at the bottom.

And, I’ve decided to make a category called dinner time crafts.  To my mind these are crafts you can set your kids doing and not have to supervise.

stART: Cactus Hotel

I can’t remember if anyone else has done this, but we read Cactus Hotel last week.  It’s a great nonfiction story of how a cactus is a home to many creatures in the desert.  The kids loved reading it and we talked a lot about the different animals.  I had all sorts of ideas about how I could make this into a complicated project, but then I finally realized go for simple, and you get it done.

Supplies: card stock (just to make sure the paper is sturdy enough, you could use copy paper); sand paper, crayons; glue, scissors, print out (below)
cactus hotel.doc
(anyone know how to do those cool little mini pictures that Jolanthe at Homeschool Creations does?)

0111.  Cut cardstock in half (not necessary, but that’s the size we wanted).
2.  Cut out a cactus shape from the sandpaper.

3.  Color the cactus with crayon (it makes a cool texture).


4.  Start cutting out pictures galore.  Seriously, you haven’t seen the finished product yet.  They went nuts with the pictures.


5.  Glue like it’s about to go out of style.  Have you noticed the 20 cent bottles of glue right now?  Now you know why I buy them like a crazy woman.

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Honest it takes two pages of pictures to cover up half a page of artwork.  Right?

Can you guess which one is mine?

In order: Batman, Princess, mine, Princess (her second), Superman (he drew in a second cactus).

We had a blast doing this, and it’s going in the lapbook for four states (all of them desert states).

Head on over to
A Mommy’s Adventures to see what other story related projects people are doing.

New Mexico and Arizona books

In my mind New Mexico and Arizona are linked together, not for any good reason, just they have many similarities.  You can also include some of these books for Texas to my mind.


Incredible Wild West– We didn’t read this as such, just used it for some information.  I haven’t figured out a good way to read books like this aloud.  There’s so many random facts and some continue on to other pages.  I enjoy them when I’m reading it to myself, but boy is it frustrating to read out loud.


The Zunis– This provided great information about one of the local tribes in the area.  If I really wanted to just studying the different American Indian tribes in the area could take up several weeks of study.  The title is linked to the activity we did with this.


The Grand Canyon– This is a good introduction type book.  It covers why it’s important and what you’ll see there.


Find it in the Desert– This is mostly specific to Southwestern United States, but there are a few references to other areas in it.  My kids enjoyed the seek and find aspect of it.  It opened up with “Can you find _____ of the snake.”  Which got them involved and excited about finding out more.


Cactus Hotel– This is one of those odd ones that is covering nonfiction material, but might be categorized as fiction because of the way it’s written.  My kids loved this one, and we’re going to be doing an art project on it soon.




Possum’s Wild West Adventure–  I really liked this as a short read-aloud sort of chapter book.  It’s not divided up into chapters, but it takes about 30-45 minutes to read aloud (depending on how many questions your kids ask).  They loved it, but were disappointed when some of the cowboys were the bad guys at the end of the story.


The Secret of the Circle-K Cave– My kids liked this cave much better than the one we visited.  It does a good job of presenting fun information and a small mystery.


How the Stars Fell Into the Sky– My kids loved this one and we talked about it a lot.  I also saw a lot of parallels between what Christians believe about the fall of man and how the Navajo explained it.  So, we discussed that a bunch.  This is another one that I have an art activity planned.  I just need to get those little gold stars for it.


Little Gold Star– We’ll be reading this soon, so no review of it yet.  I’ll update once we have.


Don’t Call Me Pig– I think I got this as my book from New Mexico on the trip, and this book is part of what convinced me to study both at once.  Both states were trying to claim it as “local interest.”


Night Dancer– One more that didn’t fit into my carousel.  We all agreed this was fun, and wanted to try dancing like that (link goes to the book on Amazon).

Science Sunday: exploring caves


There’s just some weeks, where I’m feeling lazy, and this was one of those weeks.  Not that I was, I just felt that way.  So, here’s our odd little contribution.



This is a cute beginner science book with a fun little mystery.  It takes place in New Mexico, not too far from Carlsbad Caverns.  Remembering how they did with our local caves, we opted not to visit there when we drove through New Mexico, but I did want them to learn about the caves, and this was a great extension of learning about the OK Corral, because it had cowboys also.  This book does a lot of covering how to safely explore caves, and how the different formations are made.


So, to practice what they learned in a way they wouldn’t be freaked out, I kicked them outside while I set up their surprise.  And that’s how they spent most of their time outside.  Staring at the door wondering when I was going to let them back in.  I kid you not.



So, how do you safely explore a cave?

1.  Always go in groups of 3.  Never by yourself.  This works out good, I have 3 kids.


2.  Wear long pants and shirt, they should be heavy duty.  We didn’t follow that one.  Pajama pants are not known for their protection.



3.  Bring a flashlight, and climbing gear.  Flashlight we had, climbing gear not so much.  They didn’t say, but I’d add in a first aid kit, but that’s just my kids ability to get hurt.


4.  The general nature rule: Take only pictures, leave only footprints.  And one added for caves: don’t touch the rock formations, that will “kill” the formation so it can’t continue growing and changing (the oils in our hand react poorly with the chemicals in the formations, not harmful to us, but it is to the cave).



Batman’s pictures of the cave.  I took our 3 little kid sized tables and draped a bunch of tablecloths over them.





Inside the cavern, the large room inside a cave, of our cave there was an underground lake.  It’s a mobile lake and also seems to trap people.


Caves often have lakes in them.  We also learned that while bats like to nest in caves, they don’t go deep into them, preferring the twilight area near the cave’s entrance.  They don’t like the absolute dark of the interior of the cave.


I’m hoping to do this experiment from Little Wonders’ Days, and show them how a stalactite grows.


So, it’s not this amazing experiment or anything, but it was fun.  And the kids are begging me to keep this up until Daddy comes home tonight (I’m writing this on Thursday).

stART: Zuni kachina masks

We read all about the Zuni who lived primarily in New Mexico, we started off talking about visiting there, and what we remembered, and then read the book.  Afterwards we decided to make Kachina masks, so we could be kachina dancers.
Supplies: paper plates, dot markers, glitter glue (actually this is one of those fun crafts that is only limited by your time and your imagination, our time was not enough to add all the bells and whistles)
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1.  Saturate your plate in dot paint.  Then add about a pound of glitter glue.  Make sure to add so much that you have a pile of it in one spot that is probably equivalent to a cup of glue.  This really makes it sparkle.

2.  Stick your whole hand on the wet glitter glue.  Then act surprised that it got dirty.


Finished products (or the ones I could find):

Superman says: “I dare you rain spirits to rain more.  Austin isn’t flooded yet.”  Okay, he didn’t say that, but they were amused at people dancing to make it rain.

For more great art ideas head on over to a Mommy’s Adventures.

Albuquerque, where New Mexico gets mountains



And in the middle of those mountains is the Old Town on Albuquerque, you can kind of  see why people might settle here.  We spent a few hours in the Old Town area and got to see some of the local history, and get a few birthday presents for friends and family.  There’s some truly gorgeous jewelry here, and that says something from someone who doesn’t really wear much beyond a necklace.



IMG_0196 We got to see one of the missions that was founded with the town, and learned that it was named after a Spanish Duke with a very long name.  This mission is still a functioning Catholic Church, and had just had services that morning, and before going in we had a short talk about how we act in this church.  “This is a quiet church, and we’re not going to be loud or run.”




The kids were intrigued by the bar they had for kneeling on for the prayers, because our church doesn’t have these.  So, I explained that at this church they kneeled for praying and so we each took a turn kneeling and saying a prayer to God (and I’m not Catholic, so this is just my best understanding of Catholic tradition, feel free to correct me).



We talked about who the different statues were and why there were important.  To be honest, I wasn’t really sure of who a lot of them are, I’m just not that familiar with the Catholic Saints to say who all of them were.  I could recognize Saint Francis (who’s not in this picture), but I’m not sure who is in this picture.




Then the kids took a second to pose for me in front of this sign put up by the Sons of the Confederation (some group like that), in honor of Albuquerque withstanding the Union army attack.  Jeff and I had fun disagreeing on why the Confederates were triumphant.  I thought it was because Defenders tend to have more to lose and fight better.  Jeff thought it was because the Union army was only willing to take the town if they could do it with minimal casualties.  So, we had fun discussing our random bit of history trivia with no real knowledge of the battle.



We left Albuquerque (I’m having fun reveling in my newfound knowledge of how to spell it), and headed on to the Arizona border.  We enjoyed watching the mountains and the like pass by and enjoyed looking at the rock formations.  We go to the Arizona state border and I was very disappointed to find out the Welcome Center was closed for the 4th of July.  Oh the sadness and horror of it all!  And, we also saw a sign that convinced me we’re not moving to Arizona.  I’m thinking I don’t want to move somewhere that has to warn people about poisonous creatures as it welcomes you to the state.

New Mexico is flat and barren



Actually, we started off in West Texas, which is currently getting a lot of rain because of the hurricane coming up in the gulf.  In case you didn’t know, West Texas does not believe in drainage, so you see sights like the one on the left, lots and lots of water flooding.  When, I was in Abilene we used to joke after the rain you would get Sikes Island, Gardner Island, and so on.


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We did our usual thing of stopping at the Welcome Center as soon as we crossed the state border and were amused at the Guinea (we found this out there).  He’s semi-domesticated and happily followed the kids around as they chased him.




We found out that New Mexico is where Billy the Kid died.  So, we followed a little road  for a couple of miles and got to see the outside of the Fort, and wandered around to the back to find the gravesite.  The kids thought that was rather amusing to be able to see where he was buried and were intrigued by the idea in general.


IMG_0190 The interesting thing about his headstone is it was stolen twice.  That’s right, not once, but twice.  The first time it was stolen in 1950 and was lost until 1976 when it was found in Texas.  The second time was in 1981, and it was recovered 4 days later in California (ironic that it was the two states I’ve lived in).  After that the governor ordered it to be set with iron, and now it has a cage around it (that you can see above).  The amusing thing to my kids was people threw money in there, and they wanted to know why.  Of course then they chased each other around the graveyard pretending to shoot each other like they were cops and robbers.



Well, my timer for delaying Princess has gone off, so now I”m off to give her a bath.  I leave you with a shot of Batman sleeping in the car.  It rather amazes me how they can sleep in these positions.  And as a final comment, it took 4 towns in West Texas before we found a city with a bathroom for Princess to use.


If I ever remember, or when I get back in town I’ll hook this up to Debbie’s geography hop, over at Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn