Friday, July 22, 2011

Prehistory – Devonian and Carboniferous Periods

We finally moved on to the next periods in our Prehistory study.   The Devonian and Carboniferous periods are when animals began to move from living in the water to living on land.   One of the adaptations that was necessary for this switch was the development of a shelled egg.  Prior to this most animals were amphibious and had to return to the water to lay their eggs.   To help the kids understand the difference, we did the naked egg experiment.  We took a raw egg and soaked it in vinegar.  After 24 hours, we drained off the vinegar and replaced it with fresh vinegar.  Due to some poor planning on my part, the egg then sat in our refrigerator for about a month.  It actually only takes a week for the shell to dissolve, leaving an egg held together by the membrane.  The egg will be larger than it started since some vinegar is able to enter the egg through the membrane, which is semi-permeable (for older kids an explanation of osmosis may be in order).  We compared our naked egg to a shelled egg.

We actually managed to do this without the egg bursting.  Georgie kept taking it out of the bowl and rolling it around on the table so we didn’t spend too much time exploring it.

We matched up our Charlie’s Playhouse Creature Cards with our Timeline. Georgie is really taking off with reading and is having a lot of fun trying to read the information on each critter by himself.  He also made up a game where he laid three cards face down and asked Vicki to pick the one with certain characteristics. 

We read the information on each period in our Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History and Usborne First Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life.  The information and pictures in the two books are very similar (and often the same) but there are enough differences that it’s been worth looking through both.  Both encyclopedias are definitely not necessary but I bought the First Encyclopedia for 60% off at a Scholastic Warehouse Sale.

We finished up this section of Prehistory by playing a fun game about Extinction.   I found it at Borders when I was looking for Steph’s summer reading selection.  It was a package that came with a book Gone Extinct, a toob of animals and a game board.  Evidently it is just one of many Groovy Tube sets available. (They are available at Amazon).
Groovy Tube Books: Gone Extinct! (Fact Book, Game Board and Collectible Figurines)
Not all the extinct critters included were prehistoric.  There were 15 animals included:  Allosaurus (carnivorous dinosaur), Ammonite (ancient relative of squid and octopus), Archaeopteryx (first feathered fossil, early relative of birds), Archelon (giant sea turtle, extinct 74 million years), Arthropleura (giant millipede-like creature of Carboniferous period), Brachauchenius (giant swimming reptile, extinct 90 million years), Dodo bird (small peaceful bird, extinct around 1700), Red Colobus Monkey (extinct in 2000), Opabinia (tiny creature of the Cambrian period), Pteranodon (flying reptile lived with the dinosaurs), Quagga (looked like half zebra, half horse, extinct in 1883), Smilodon (saber-toothed cat, extinct about 10,000 years ago), Steller’s Sea Cow (large floating mammal, extinct in 1768), Tasmanian Tiger (marsupial, extinct in 1936), Wooly Mammoth (furry relative of elephant, extinct about 10,000 years ago).


The game is Journey to Extinction Island.  The premise is that you have a machine that transports you to an island where extinct animals still live.   But, there are poachers on the island as well.  The animals are divided into zones (Swamp, Forest, Water and Sky).  Players have to rescue one animal from each zone, save any animals taken by poachers and reach the End space in Poacher’s Hideout.  We had fun playing the game.  Vicki didn’t want to leave the purple path (since that’s her favorite color) and Georgie wanted to use the animals as game pieces but once they got the idea, it went pretty well.  As each animal was rescued, I would read about it from the book. 


Georgie’s favorite is definitely the dodo bird but he insists on calling it the doo-doo bird.  I tried to tell him it was pronounced dodo (long o sounds) but he asked me “how do you spell do?  D…O…so d o d o is doo-doo.”   I can see we are going to have a lot of fun moments doing school with this one.  He does not accept “because that’s the way it is” as an answer.

After, I let them play with the animals on their own and we ended up with Opabinia swimming with the Dodo bird on his back to go and rescue Archeopteryx.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: Dance Nationals and Camping

We had a very busy week with very little (like no) actual school being done.

Steph’s dance Nationals this year was last weekend in Egg Harbor Township.  Right up the road from the Egg Harbor City Campground where we stayed last year so we decided to turn it into a family vacation.   Daddy and the little kids started camping on Friday, while Steph, her friend Coral and I headed down to a hotel on Saturday to prepare for Nationals on Sunday.

Everybody had a great time at Nationals and Steph did really well.  She was 3rd Place Overall Senior Soloist for her tap solo to As Fast As You Can….

fast as you can 2011b
her, Robert and Cassidy were the TOP Overall Senior Trio for The Remedy!…
the remedy nationals
and her small group 5 Guys Named Moe won TOP Teen Small Group!  They were one of only two groups that won Diamond level awards.
5 guys named moe 2011 l
After Nationals, we headed over to the campground to join the rest of the family.   Poor Daddy got to set up camp and spend Friday night with the two little guys in a tent during record rainfalls and a local tornado warning.  Everything went okay and the weather the rest of the week was sunny and very very hot.  High temperatures were in the 90 with high humidity.  So, a lot of time was spent down at the lake splashing around or just relaxing.
Once again Vicki took it as her personal mission to get as dirty as possible.
We all headed home on Wednesday and Steph finished up the week by getting her hair cut and donating it to Locks of Love.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Kutztown Folk Festival

Grammy Kaye and I took the little guys to the Kutztown Folk Festival in Pennsylvania yesterday.   Last time I went to the festival was probably over 10 years ago. 

The kids had a great time riding a mule drawn carousel.   The kids ended up going back for a second ride.  The kids couldn’t sit together and on one ride, were actually on completely opposite sides of the ride.
They also had a lot of fun running through the hay maze.  I’m not sure what the big attraction was here since there was only one dead-end and one correct path through.  It wasn’t a real big maze but the kids kept running back in to go through it again.
There was a petting area/zoo that we also had to visit more than once.  Georgie really liked feeding the little bunnies.  He showed an amazing amount of patience standing there holding a piece of cabbage for them.
The petting area also had some adorable baby ducklings….
and goats to feed.  The kids had a lot of fun feeding the goats and thought it tickled.  George was a little better about not trying to feed them one kernel or grain at a time.
The animal feed was sold in ice cream cones and this guy stole it right out of Grammy Kaye’s hand.
Vicki finally got to take that pony ride she’s been asking for ever since she chickened out at the fun fair back in May (or was it April?).   Georgie really, really enjoyed riding the big horse.  He had the biggest grin on his face and was nice and relaxed.  Vicki was able to ride a much smaller pony, which she liked.
We were able to see some antique tractors……
and turn the crank on an old corn husker.
We didn’t get too much of a chance to look at the many craft booths but Grammy did get to see the fabulous quilts.

We had a lot of fun at the Festival but didn’t linger once the kids had enough.  We had record high temperatures yesterday – hitting the 90’s with lots of humidity – and Georgie was definitely getting cranky by the time we left.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up

We’ve had a few light weeks lately due to Steph’s end of the year craziness and Georgie’s vacation with Granny Franny.    We do school year round but summer brings more field trips and nature experiences. 

Steph’s dance recital (her 14th!!) was last weekend.  She had a great time, all the dancers looked wonderful and the grandparents were very impressed.   We head to Nationals next weekend and another year is over.

fast as you can 2011.

remedy 2011 d

the face 2011d

mein herr 2011 c

We will be spending lots of time at our pool this summer.  This is great exercise for the kids and usually wears them out, which is a bonus.  We usually go down in the morning since the kids are very fair and I try not to have them spend a lot of time in the sun in the hottest part of the day.  There is a canopy down at the pool now so I may start bringing down lunch and we can sit in the shade to eat.


This week we went on a field trip to a local zoo that I haven’t been to in many years.  (more about that here)


I finally broke down and ordered the wooden capital letter pieces from Handwriting without Tears for Vicki.  When we first ordered the program, I made up my own capital letter cards and used thick foam to make pieces.  Unfortunately, Vicki (aka Little Miss Destructo) has already….destroyed quite of few of them.   The wooden pieces should have a better survival rate, plus there seems to be many extra pieces in the set.   I introduced these this week and she enjoyed exploring them but didn’t spend much time forming letters.


One of her favorite things to play with is our Unifix blocks.  I had to order Steph’s summer reading books from Amazon so I threw a book on Developing Mathematics with Unifix in the order to get some extra ideas for activities to do with them.  Georgie also loves the unifix blocks and since the book is for Grades K-3, I’m sure I’ll find activities for him in there too.


Vicki also played with our bottle cap letter matching games…..


and her wipe-off books.  She’s actually started to trace the letters and numbers in these books instead of just scribbling but she always (ALWAYS) colors her hands, fingernails and/or face with the markers.


What Georgie did in his core curriculum this week:

Handwriting without Tears:
practiced numbers, Cc, Oo and Ss on paper; pg 18 and 19 in book – Vv and Ww.

OPGTR Lessons 50 and 51.  We are coming across some issues in the reading lessons due his pronunciation of words.  He has a slight lisp and some difficulty pronouncing certain words/sounds.  It’s causing him some frustration with these lessons, which leads him to wanting to rush through them which of course makes it worse.
He read lots of books this week but they were all ones he read before.  I did order him a few new beginning readers.  I’m still trying to figure out a way to give him more access to books while keeping Vicki away from them since she still tends to rip things (although supposedly it’s more often “accidental” these days).


We added ETC back into our schedule this week.  He completed pg 1-8 in ETC2.   ETC is covering many of the same words we are currently doing in OPGTR (beginning blends) but for some reason he has less trouble with ETC. 

We didn’t do any AAS this week.

Scholastic GUM – Lesson 2 and pg 12 on Action Words, Lesson 3 and pg 13 on Capitalizing the first word in a sentence.  We did additional practice sheets from MacMillian Treasure grammar workbook.
pg 28 from Scholastic 1st Grade Reading Comprehension and Reading Skills workbook.

MM Yr 1A: pg 92, 93 111, 113 (addition/subtraction) and Yr 1B: pg 51 (time order) and pg 65 (shapes and measuring).

Next week I hope to get back into our Prehistory study.

Space Farms Zoo and Museum

Way back in November of last year, at the same Tricky Tray where I won the Family Membership to our local museum (that we are definitely enjoying) we also won four passes to a local zoo.  This particular zoo is one I went to as a child and took Steph a few times when she was younger but haven’t been to in at least 10 years.

Yesterday I decided to take the kids to the zoo and check it out.  First thing I realized is that it’s not nearly as “local” as I remembered.  It took us just over an hour to get there with the kids complaining the whole time.  It was a nice drive through the farms and rolling hills of Sussex County NJ.
The zoo had a mix of naturalistic exhibits and old concrete floored cages.  It was nicely spread out with lots of shade but Georgie still started getting cranky from the heat.  Vicki really enjoyed seeing the animals.

Petting a baby yak…..
and feeding the deer.
This zoo had a lot of animals that could be fed or pet through the cages.  In addition to the usual corn and pellets provided to feed certain animals, many people bring their own food to feed some of the larger animals.   For the larger, dangerous animals the zoo has low iron fences set about 3 feet back from the chain link cages.  One of the times I was there with Steph, a man lifted his young daughter over the outer fence to retrieve some peaches that feel between the two fences while they were feeding the grizzly bear.  Yeah, people can be pretty stupid.  The zoo evidently doesn’t have any policy against feeding the animals – any of the animals.

I was mean and only let my kids feed the animals where food was provided.  Georgie still likes to feed the animals one kernel of corn or one pellet of food at at time. 
Vicki liked trying to pronounce coati…
and liked the jaguar “just like Diego’s friend”.  The prairie dogs were also a big hit.
The museum part consisted of multiple barn-like structures full of antiques – cars, horse-drawn wagons, toys, artifacts, a replica of an old covered wagon…
a dog propelled treadmill used for churning butter from 1860’s.
The kids weren’t that interested in the antiques, except the toys which they wanted to know if they could take home. 

It was an okay day but I think in the future I’ll stick with our much more local zoo (one I used to docent at) – it’s closer, cheaper, has more naturalistic exhibits and more educational information on the animals.