Random Thoughts

I’ve been rather lazy about blogging lately.  Part of it is that we’ve been so busy.  Part is that it was so hot.  And part is that I’ve just been out of the mood.  I’m patient, though.  I figure the mood will come back.  🙂

But in the meantime, here’s a little catch up about what’s new here.

1.  They’ve changed my blog and I’m having a hard time with the new format.  It looks mostly the same on your end, but behind the scenes it’s like suddenly having a whole new face, voice and attitude on your husband.  I know it’s the same deep down, but I can’t find my footing yet.  I keep frowning at it and going away.

I don’t get all the symbols and sections.  I can’t type my usual rapid-fire way because it can’t keep up and if I make a mistake it takes 30 seconds for it to slowly back up and by then I’ve been too impatient and have hit backspace too many times and I’ve deleted my whole first paragraph.

This will take a little getting used to.  I may mope.  I’ll get over it, but I am darn good at moping and may even glare at my computer screen for a few days.  It’s how I am.  😉

2.  Both girls failed swimming.  My poor girls.  I don’t even know why, since they have become excellent swimmers and they were enjoying everything they were taught.  The only consolation is that it seems that almost everybody else in both classes failed too, which makes me think that:

a) they do not have realistic expectations

and/or

b) they do not have competent teachers.

This was Victoria’s 5th year and Anna’s 4th.  They both passed every single section of skills they were expected to master, but apparently missed one of the long lists of skills they were supposed to string together.

I believe it was something along the lines of  “Student will execute a shallow dive into the water, swim underwater to the other side, bark like a seal, backstroke back, turn into a magical pony, spit diamonds out of her ear, touch the bottom, hold her breath for 16 minutes and recite Keats while doing the breast stroke back.”  Or something like that.  I could be a little off.

3)  Jack quit T-ball.  Good grief, this boy makes me crazy.  (Yes, it’s all about me.)  I’m not even sure why.  All I know is that he got grumpier and grumpier about going and Daryl finally got tired of putting on his SuperDaddy hat and trying to make it fun enough.  My boy can be sweet and loving and funny and charming, but he can also be stubborn and sullen and dramatic and scowly.   T-ball was bringing all of that out in him, and I need to save my battles for the 80 things that are more important, like baths, vegetables and not whacking your sister.

4)  The girls finished their California Achievement Tests and they’re on their way back to Oregon or wherever they come from.  The tests, not the girls.

5)  The microwave died today.  I am not taking it well.

6)  Victoria and I converted percentages, decimals and fractions while walking around town today, and multiplied them.  I made it all into sales talk, because you may think you don’t need to multiply 80% by 65.5 until you run into a clearance sale at Dillards and it’s 80% off these snazzy jeans that were ridiculously priced at $65.50 to begin with and you still don’t know if you can afford them.  😉

7)  Jack’s reading is really taking off.  We have been reading together a lot and I love how he jumps in.  We read a really fun poetry book about spleens and things tonight.  I finally know what spleens do, or at least the part that rhymed happily in two stanzas.

8)  There is lots more — V’s lovely new bike that she bargained down, playdates and HyperDash and seedlings and art… but I am still scowly about this new format and tired of waiting for backspaces and typing in this odd little gray box.  (You SEE where Jack gets that scowly business?!)  Besides, this has gone on really long and has no pictures and there is probably not a soul reading it.  🙂

Tomorrow I will try to be shorter, prettier and wittier.  Wait, I will try to make my POST all of those things.   Oh yes, and less scowly.

More Ant Science

Here’s a page where you can find more natural ways to repel ants (and a few other pests).  I do not recommend using borax around kids, however.  It is natural, but it is a poison and an irritant.

Victoria had so much fun with the chalk ant maze that I wonder if we could dream up some sort of cinnamon versus pepper experiment or something.  Which substance will they avoid the most?   We’ve had some ants in the house lately, trying to escape the wet weather.  We could see if vinegar repels them better or talcum powder…

And then I really think I’m done with ants for a while!  Unless someone knows of a good recipe for replacement gel for a gel ant farm…  The Jello experiment was really not such a good idea.   They sank in it!   🙂

5 Fun Ways to Learn Today

It’s not usually hard to find fun ways to homeschool in the summer time, but here’s a few ideas I had for spicing things up around here.

1.  Have a trivia obstacle course.  Set up an assortment of balance beams, hula hoops, kiddie pools and other props in some sort of fun way and get a stack of question cards from any educational game you happen to have (Kids’ Trivial Pursuit, Brainquest Cards, flash cards, that geography game you always meant to play…) or just make up some on your own.  Now challenge the kids to run the course, stopping at each station to answer a question before being able to move on.  Give one child a stop watch and the job of recording times.  Each child gets to run the course three times (with new questions each time) and keep his/her best score.

2.  Give the kids colored chalk and ask them to decoratively cover the driveway with math facts.  🙂

3.  Play FBI Most Wanted with garden bugs.  Give the kids a bug ID book and a bug box, net or jar.  Tell them they’re agents who have to rid the garden of evil.  Their assignment (should they accept it) is to find bugs, look them up and ascertain if they are on the side of good or evil in the garden.  Bad bugs should be captured and sent to prison (a location away from beloved garden plants).  Have them make up ID cards with pictures and descriptions of any criminals they catch.

4.  Spray math.  Put kids in bathing suits.  Turn on the hose.  Ask rapid fire math questions.  They have to answer in under 3 seconds.  Wrong answers or missed answers get sprayed!  Make sure you play this on a really hot day when it’s not so bad to get sprayed!

5.  Give the kids an outdoor thermometer and have them see how wide of a range of change in termperature they can find outside.  Help them hypothesize about the difference between full shade and the sunniest spot, and guess the temperature to begin with.  Place bets about what the temperature will be at 6 o’clock and at sunset.  If you’re up for a little flashlight science, have them perform the same tests after dark.  Is there still a difference in warmth in places that were in the sun all day?  If so, is it as much?  Is it warmer right in front of the flashlight?  Then head inside and see if it’s warmer or cooler in bed.  🙂

More Geology 101: Edible Rocks!

Beta mentioned getting ready to start an earth science unit the other day when I posted the geology cartoon.  Here’s another fun way to introduce the unit.  Make meteorite candy!

This activity has been designed as a comfortable introduction to describing meteorites. It helps students become better observers by making a connection between the familiar (candy bars) and the unfamiliar (meteorites).

Edible “rocks” are used in a scientific context, showing students the importance of observation, teamwork, and communication skills. Using everyday terms, students draw and describe the food.. They attempt to match their observations with short descriptions written in geologic “Field Note” style.

These six candies most closely represent meteorite characteristics:

1.  Peanut Brittle (chondrites)
2.  Rocky Road (chondrites)
3.  Thick Bar, Solid Chocolate (iron without fusion crust)
4.  3 Musketeers TM (achondrite with fusion crust)
5.  Rice Cereal Treats (meteorite regolith breccia)
6.  Chocolate brownie (carbonaceous chondirtes)

Get the lesson plan (and recipes) here.

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Strip Searched Student

Common sense is apparently not completely dead in our judicial system.  The Supreme Court ruled that the AZ school that searched a 13 year-old girl down to (and including) her bra and underwear while looking for the equivalent of two Advils violated her rights.  Two lower courts had found in favor of the school.

“Wilson’s treatment of Redding was abusive and it was not reasonable for him to believe that the law permitted it,” Ginsburg said.

More on the story here.

Ant Mazes!

The other day I posted about telling the kids that ants supposedly won’t cross a chalk line and how Victoria wanted to make up ant mazes to try it.  Well, yesterday she did!  Here’s the video result.  Apologies in advance– I am very loud and she is very quiet!  My video camera is not exactly sophisticated.  🙂

[kml_flashembed movie=”http://www.youtube.com/v/8hJhPUXFYrk” width=”425″ height=”350″/]

And just as we were standing there talking, an ant ran the maze so I got it on tape!

 [kml_flashembed movie=”http://www.youtube.com/v/JOuoNejk7Xs” width=”425″ height=”350″/]