Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Freebies

Currclick is offering four nice freebies for this special holiday:

To receive your freebies, simply click on each individual image above (which will take you to CurrClick), add the item to your CurrClick cart, and use the following code at checkout: memorialdayFREE

I hope that you and your children enjoy learning together and celebrating this important holiday that honors the many men and women who gave their lives for our freedoms.

Happy Memorial Day!

(Disclosure: By clicking on the above images, you will be directed to my CurrClick affiliate links. I will receive a small percentage of the amount of your purchase in the form of a credit to my CurrClick account. Thanks for supporting my blog and our homeschool in this way!)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Field Trip: Cincinnati Zoo

We took this field trip to the Cincinnati Zoo back in March as part of our penguin unit. The weather was gorgeous on this particular day - warm and sunny enough to be pleasant for us humans but not so blazingly hot that the animals were languishing in the shade or asleep. We actually saw quite a bit of activity from many of them.

Even though we don't live terribly close to this zoo, we decided to purchase an annual family pass. We always have a ball there and come away having learned something new with each visit. Since there was a good special going on family memberships in March, I couldn't pass it up. If we go twice - which we will easily do - we will more than get our money's worth from it.

Do you have a zoo in your area? If so, you might want to check into any special discounts or specials they might be running. Some museums and zoos offer educator discounts to homeschooling families. What a great way to get outdoors for some learning fun with your family this summer - or anytime of the year for that matter.

These King Penguins were the primary purpose for our trip since we had just finished up our Penguin Unit. (Sorry for the poor photography. I was shooting through a wet, glass window.)

In case you can't tell, it was lunchtime when we were there. These King Penguins stand two feet tall and truly do look like little old men dressed in tuxes.

We've been to this zoo several times, but this was the first time the lions were out where we could actually see them. 

The polar bears are always one of my fave exhibits b/c it's a huge area, and there is a glassed-in portion below ground where you can see them swimming underwater.

Goofing around at the entrance.

As a part of our membership, we receive unlimited free rides on the carousel and the zoo train.

Sweet Pea the Turtle

One of the giraffes had just given birth that morning, so she was indoors resting and bonding with her new little one, but this elegant lady was out for a stroll.

Another of our fave exhibits. Usually we'll see a mama gorilla with a baby, but only the males were out on this particular day.

Thanks for joining me on this recap. of our zoo trip. I hope you've enjoyed it!

If you're looking for some fun field trip ideas or want to share a field trip that your family has taken, head over to The Homeschool Post and link up with the new Fantastic Foto Field Trips Meme going on there!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Tea Time Tips

Join Me at The Homeschool Post!

As a homeschool Mom it is so easy to let my days become rushed and chaotic with schoolwork, housework, extra curricular activities and such. In an effort to fit in all of the “important stuff”, I sometimes forget to take a breather with my children and just sit down and talk, laugh, or simply be together.

A few years ago I was introduced to a delightful solution to this problem – Tea Time. We began setting aside a special time one afternoon a week to sit down together for some refreshment and conversation, and this soon became one of our favorite parts of the week.

Here a few tips I’ve learned over the years to help facilitate this special time...

I invite you to join me over at The Homeschool Post today to read the rest of this article. Just click on the graphic at the top of this post.

Hope you enjoy!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Favorite Authors

I thought I'd take a moment and share this list I've been compiling of our favorite authors. 
Of course, it's not complete, but I'll add onto it as others come to mind.

I've tried to link each author up to either their own website or another site where you can see a partial or complete list of their works.

Composer and Artist Study

Mike Venezia (composer and artist biographies)
Opal Wheeler (composer biographies)
Anna Harwell Celenza (composer stories based on famous works)

Science/Nature Study (Please be aware that books in the Let's Read and Find Out Science series sometimes contain evolutionary or old-earth references. It's a great series, so we just use those opportunities to discuss and reaffirm the truths of Creation found in the Bible.)

Aliki Brandenburg (Let's Read and Find Out Science series)
Franklyn Branley (Let's Read and Find Out Science series)
Clyde Robert Bulla (Let's Read and Find Out Science series)
Thornton Burgess
Betsy and Giulio Maestro
Nancy Elizabeth Wallace


Aliki Brandenburg
Alice Dalgliesh
Ingri and Edgar D'Aulaire
Candace Fleming
Jean Fritz
Cheryl Harness
Dave and Neta Jackson
Betsy and Giulio Maestro
Ann McGovern (If You Lived...series)
Peter and Connie Roop
Rosalyn Schanzer
Augusta Stevenson (Childhood of Famous Americans)
Kate Waters


Jan Brett
Margaret Wise Brown
Virginia Lee Burton
Eric Carle
Nancy White Carlstrom
Barbara Cooney
Ellis Credle
Marguerite de Angeli
Tomie de Paola
Marjorie Flack
Candace Fleming
Rachel Field
Wanda Gag
James Herriot
Margaret Hodges
Holling Clancy Holling
Crockett Johnson
Ruth Krauss
Munro Leaf (The Story of Ferdinand is one of our all-time favorites.)
Lois Lenski
Jacqueline Briggs Martin
Patricia MacLachlan
Robert McCloskey
Emily Arnold McCully
David McPhail
Laura Numeroff
Wendy Orr
Patricia Polacco
Beatrix Potter
Marjorie Priceman

Candice Ransom
Cynthia Rylant
Allen Say
Uri Shulevitz
Tasha Tudor
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Jane Yolen

I hope you find this list useful. Feel free to leave a comment listing some of your family's favorite authors.

Friday, May 6, 2011

While They Sleep

While they sleep I lay scrunched in amongst all three of them,
listening to the steady rhythm of their breathing,
watching the rise and fall of their small chests.

While they sleep I cuddle them close
and turn to look at their faces
with their long eyelashes and perfect noses.

While they sleep I wonder at their stillness.
Moments earlier they tumbled and giggled.
Now they rest, dreaming the magical dreams of childhood slumber.

While they sleep, I remember their not-too-distant baby days
when I held them resting in my arms, cuddling them on my chest.
The years have flown, growing my babies into these little people
Who walk and talk, laugh and cry, play, and love.

While they sleep, I long for time to slow its pace,
To let us linger in the sweetness, the laughter, the innocence.
Tired I may be, but I relish these young, fleeting years.

While they sleep, if I think on time's swiftness too long, a tear falls.
So I collect these snapshots in my heart,
And store them away for those years I can't bear to think about just yet.

Then I thank God for the miracle of these three lives
And for giving me the chance to witness the miracle unfold.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Oil, Feathers, and Blubber: Two Penguin Experiments

These two activities helped us to understand how penguins stay dry and warm in the water.

(Please excuse the poor quality of the photos. Something is wrong with my camera, but it was all that I had handy this particular day. Hoping to get it fixed soon.)

What you need:
  • large bowl of cold water (or fill the kitchen sink)
  • petroleum jelly
  • winter glove or mitten
  • latex glove

What You Do (Experiment #1):
  • Spread petroleum jelly on the back of one hand.
  • Immerse both hands in the water.
  • Pull out your hands and observe them.
  • Talk about what happened and discuss the differences of how the water reacted differently to the two hands.
  • Talk about your experience compared to that of a penguin diving into water.
How is this like a penguin?

Before diving into the water, penguins do something called preening - coating their stiff, outer feathers with oil that they secreted in an oil gland near the base of their tail feathers. This oil acts as a barrier against the water, protecting the softer, downy feathers underneath and keeping them dry.

What You Do (Experiment #2):
  • Put the winter glove or mitten on one hand (to represent the penguin's downy undercoat and blubber blankets).
  • Over that, put the latex glove (to represent the penguin's outer coat of oiled feathers).
  • Now immerse the double-gloved hand and the bare hand in water. (Be careful not to let water seep in through the wrist opening of either glove.)
  • Which hand feels warmer and drier and why?
How is this like a penguin?
The penguin has a layer of fat called blubber underneath a layer of downy soft feathers. These two layers  insulate the penguin and keep it warm in the same way that the winter glove kept your hand warm. Penguins spread a thin layer of oil on their outer stiff feathers. This layer of oily, stiff outer feathers keeps the underneath layer of downy feathers dry in the same way that the latex glove kept the winter glove dry.

Both of these experiments were fun, simple, and helped us to make a good connection with the scientific concepts.

Hands-on learning is the best!