Five Fun Ways to Homeschool This Week

I realized I haven’t done one of these in a while, so until I catch up on photos and such I thought it could be fun.

Here’s a few ways to have some homeschool fun this week….

  1. Sing “100 bottles of beer on the wall” — math style. Take turns adding or subtracting numbers and have everybody keep singing along, while filling in the new number.  For example, “99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer, take 4 down, pass them around…” and have everybody sing “95 bottles of beer on the wall.”  Of course, feel free to make it far more PC by making it milk, juice, pop, etc.!
  2. Make  or collect some natural toys and manipulatives.
  3. Have a “meet and greet” with historic characters. Assign each child a historic character to read up on a little bit.  Make sure they keep their identities a secret.  Then have a little snack party where you all mingle.  Encourage the kids to introduce themselves only by first initial and talk about their interests, hobbies, accomplishments, etc.  At the end of the party, have them guess who they’ve been talking to (if they have any idea — it’s fine if they don’t!) and introduce themselves.
  4. Memorize a short poem each and take turns reciting them. This is especially fun to do with grandparents, when Mom or Dad get home from work, etc.
  5. Do some nature science. I posted some good October activities here, like making shrunken apple  heads, joining the Wild Watch and pumpkin seed activities.

And with that, I’m off to take a bath with a small, well painted boy and a magazine.

Checking in from the AP HS Jamboree

The jamboree at Tiffany’s is in full swing and is so much fun. We have families here from Calgary, Michigan, Texas, Nebraska and Minnesota.  Tonight the total is s 12 kids and 8 adults but it changes constantly.  I am typing on Daryl’s laptop in the guest bed and the computer is really fighting me, so this will not be a long update.  I can’t wait to post pictures and yap properly about the feeling of being with old friends and their families who have become so comfortable over the years and be meeting for sometimes the first time. Tiffany’s house is the perfect setting — so big and relaxed and comfortable.

We are doing communal meals, field trips and walks to the park, sitting around and playing games– kids with adults, old friends with new… it just is such a close family feeling that it’s wonderful and heartwarming.  Even kids who are normally very shy have just immediately slipped into the fold and become enthusiastic parts of the fun.

Although in all the excitement we did forget to do anything proper to celebrate National Punctuation Day…  😉

Ich heisse Alicia, no como carne.

The girls and I are really enjoying language classes. We had our second classes today and we’re thrilled with how quickly we’re learning.  I like that both teachers jumped right into teaching us conversations instead of having us memorize lists of words.

It’s a little wild for Victoria and me, because we are taking both German and Spanish (and the same day).  It can get us mixed up at times… you is tu in Spanish, du in German.  In Spanish, the numbers go one way after 20 and in German the other (twenty and one, versus one and twenty).  And I catch myself sometimes starting to answer in the wrong language.  🙂

It is really fun taking college classes with my daughters.  There’s something really neat about it, sitting in the back row and occasionally whispering or copying the other’s notes.  Afterwards, we stroll past the scuptures and fountains and talk about what we learned and just yap.

We’ll have to miss next Monday’s classes, because we’ll be in Nebraska.  We leave Wednesday for Tiffany’s house, to take part in the second annual AP Homeschool Jamboree.

Tiffany and I, along with all of the other mothers coming, met on an online AP HS yahoo group that I run.  I started it when Victoria was four years old and I was a fresh-eyed homeschool newbie.  I’ve known some of the moms online for 8 years, and they are like old friends even when we haven’t met.  By now I’ve been lucky enough to meet many of them, though, and you know how often we go crash at Tiffany’s house.

It should be a fun week.  Daryl will be teaching the kids to throw the atlatl, and helping them make their own.  We’ll do some wacky activities and perhaps some crafts and make giant communal suppers and I’m sure the noise level will be nearly supernatural.

Oh yes, and Daryl and I will be having a fairy tale wedding.  All the guests are invited to dress up as fairy tale characters (modern, traditional, anything).  We’re going to be Shrek and Fiona.  🙂

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it but Daryl and I get married again every year in a new way.  It all started the first time, when we couldn’t decide what type of wedding to have (and couldn’t afford much).  We decided to go with the old hand-fasting tradition of marrying for a year and then renewing it every year, and every year we do it all again in a new way.  It keeps us sappy and it’s nice to have the kids involved too.

Which reminds me, I have to find my Fiona dress…

I’ll talk to you soon!

I mean… Hasta luego!

Excavators Accidentally Uncover 3 Million Year Old Whale at San Diego Zoo

Wow!  Talk about a cool find!

Workmen constructing a storm water equalization tank this week at the San Diego Zoo dug up a surprising find: a 3-million-year-old whale.

The construction crew was using an excavotor to dig through fine grain sand, when suddenly the machine struck a solid item. Further investigation revealed that this obstacle was an enormous prehistoric whale.

(Digging up the whale and labeling it; Credit: Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo)


Our genus, Homo, wasn’t even around 3 million years ago, so this wasn’t some sort of super prehistoric zoo. The site then, during the Pliocene, was under water.

The 24-foot baleen whale appears to be very well preserved, with much of the fossilized skeleton present. Finding an intact skull, along with the vertebrae and flippers, is quite rare, according to Sarah Siren, San Diego Natural History Museum paleontological field manager.

The skull and other large pieces will be encapsulated in plaster jackets while smaller pieces, including vertebrae, are being cleaned with brushes and boxed up to be moved to the museum’s laboratory for analysis of the finds.

The age of this whale is interesting, as it coincides with what’s known as The Great American Interchange, where various land and freshwater faunas migrated between North and South America. Many species went extinct then. But armadillos, opposums, hummingbirds and vampire bats all traveled to North America, while horses, tapirs, saber-toothed cats and deer entered South America. The first short-faced bears also appeared at this time.

Source: Discovery News  (Thanks Ute!)

First Day of Language Classes

We got to take part in some free foreign language classes this semester and the first ones were on Monday.

Victoria took German, and Victoria and Anna took Spanish.  I am attending with the girls so I guess I’m taking them too.  🙂  I’ve already taken both languages but that was many years ago!

The classes were fabulous!  They are held at the state college in Mankato, and put on by international exchange students.  We have a slightly nervous young woman from Germany for German and a very fun young man (who never said where he was from, though I’m guessing Mexico) for Spanish.

They are very different in teaching styles but I have a feeling we’ll enjoy both classes.  We’re already learning a lot and the girls had homework in Spanish.  They each had to write a paragraph about themselves and both did a fantastic job!  Perhaps I’ll post them later.

We’ll be going to Mankato each Monday for the classes through November.  We think it’s going to be a pretty neat thing.

Victoria on How Glass Is Made

I asked the girls to write me up a short report on one of a few different questions, and one of them was how glass was made.  Victoria chose that one and here’s her report (with photos she found and included).  In case you were wondering!  🙂

Glass making was invented by people around 3000 BC. Before that, glass was formed by nature. Sand being struck by lightning makes thin, long tubes of glass, while volcanoes make chunks of black glass called Obsidian. The first glass was probably used as a glaze for pottery. Glass is now made by melting sand, silica and lime and fusing it together at very high temperatures. The silica/lime/sand mixture is heated to 2000-2500 degrees Fahrenheit, sometimes for up to 24 hours. At this point, he glass is reddish orange and is like a thick liquid. Adding other substances during the process changes how clear it is, how well it insulates and more. Bits of recycled glass (called cullet) of the same type are usually added to reduce the temperature needed to work it. Colors are made by adding   chemicals. Gold chloride makes a beautiful ruby red, and cobalt oxide makes a deep blue. Blown glass is made by putting a piece of glass on a long, thin metal tube and heating it in an oven. When it’s hot enough you blow into the tube and it makes the glass bubble.

blown glass beads

blown glass window