Friday, July 27, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up

I just realized it’s been three weeks since I’ve done a Weekly Wrap-up.  So what have we been doing lately?  I would say we’ve been doing lots of life learning. ;-)

Georgie has been playing lots of Minecraft (he plays on a Multi-player server with other homeschooled kids), reading his Pokemon books and playing with his Pokemon cards.  The Pokemon stuff is really helping him with his reading and he combined his interests by building golems of Pokemon on Minecraft.  

Playing Minecraft, and Toon Town, have done a lot for his spelling and typing skills as well.  I’m hoping to have him start Dance Mat Typing soon so he learns the proper way to type.

IMG_0041IMG_0046 IMG_0130

The extreme heat finally broke for a few days so we did spend some time playing outside.

Hanging from the hammock….


makeshift sword and shield….


I made up some more sidewalk paints in a cupcake holder (using my silicon wrappers)….


and I added some more sticks to our tent to make it bigger.



I gave up on trying to find the perfect planner and made my own.  I have tabs for To Do/Notes, Calendar/Birthdays, Kids Fun (with lists of ideas and schedules for places), Homeschool, 4-H, Contacts/Memberships, Menus, Shopping Lists (I’m always thinking of things I need to buy and I never remember when I’m actually at the store), and Book Lists so I can keep track of what books I need/what I have.  I used scrapbook papers, cardstock and duct tape to put it together.  The pages are attached to three binder rings that are attached to the spine by putting two vertical slits in the inside layer and threading the rings through.

 IMG_0133 IMG_0134

We’ve been enjoying the variety of birds that visit our feeders and identifying them using our National Audubon Society Field Guide to Birds – Eastern Region.  I had started making up identification cards for the kids that showed many of our local birds and I really should finish them up and print them before the birds all fly south for the winter.

We have a bunch of house finches that love the new thistle feeder we put up.


The male ruby-throated hummingbird is a frequent visitor to our sap feeder…

IMG_0055 IMG_0135

along with our Downy Woodpeckers (I never knew woodpeckers were fans of sugar water although it’s possible they are going after the ants drowned inside it).


Our garden has started producing so we’ve been enjoying fresh zucchini and yellow squash, along with our first batch of green beans.

 IMG_0166 IMG_0167

After skipping last year, we had our Pool Party/BBQ again this year.  We celebrated Vicki’s 5th Birthday, Georgie’s 7th Birthday and Steph’s High School Graduation.   After initial predictions of rain, we ended up having an absolutely gorgeous day for the party.  No rain and a high of 75 degrees so not unbearably hot either.

IMG_0189 IMG_0191

Vicki was nice enough to give Steph Ariel for her cake after Georgie turned down her request for Pikachu.  Of course, Pikachu is everyone’s favorite.

IMG_0194 - Copy - Copy (2) IMG_0195 IMG_0204  IMG_0217 IMG_0230 IMG_0260

And we finished up with a trip to the Franklin Mineral Museum this week with our Cloverbud Group.   While we were waiting for the rest of the group to arrive, Georgie and Vicki practiced being rocks……

IMG_0294 IMG_0295

and after an amazing tour of the museum, we were able to excavate our own rocks that we will use as we continue our Rock and Minerals study at home (hopefully next week).


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

4-H Cloverbuds: Rock and Minerals

Our latest topic in Cloverbuds was Rocks and Minerals.  This is also our current science topic at home (even though I intended to be finished with it a long time ago).  I guess it works out okay by doing it together since this way we had a cool field trip too.

We did the library meeting portion of our study first.   We started by discussing the difference between a rock and a mineral (the lab we did at home for this can be seen here).   I used our REAL Science Odyssey as a basis for the study.

We discussed some of the tools geologists will use to identify minerals.   We had a Rocks & Minerals field guide (I’ve since purchased the Audubon Field Guide), a magnet, magnifying glasses, streak plates, and various tools to determine hardness (penny, nails, steel file, sandpaper and glass plates).  I also had small bottles of vinegar to demonstrate how some minerals will react with acids.  We never did get to that test or the demonstration of how pumice is the only rock that floats, since at this particularly meeting we had mostly the younger members of the group and they do not have an extensive attention span.


I put a chart of the Moh’s Hardness Scale on the board showing where the various tools we would be using fell.   I meant to have this typed up all nice and neat but I ended up running out of time setting things up that morning.


I put up another chart that we filled in as we went through each test.   


In addition to our RSO Rock & Mineral Test Kit, I had an extensive collection of other rocks and minerals that the kids collected when we went to Crystal Caves or from Steph’s collection.


We started by using our magnifying glasses to look at the Appearance of each mineral.  Appearance covered all the characteristics you could determine by looking at the minerals – cleavage, luster, color, etc.

We then rubbed each mineral against the streak plate to determine the streak color.  The kids thought it was pretty neat the way some of the minerals had streak that was different than their visible color.


Our last test was hardness.  We started with the softest and worked our way up to the hardest.   The first test was to see if we could scratch any of our minerals with a fingernail.   We then used a copper penny (must be an older penny to make sure it is copper), a nail, a glass plate, a steel file, and our streak plates.   Each test gave us a range for the mineral.  For example, for something that couldn’t be scratched by a fingernail but could scratch the penny, we knew it had a hardness between 2.2 and 3.2.   After testing each mineral, we attempted to make a guess as to what some of them might be. 


We may redo the testing at home since we only went through four of the minerals and some of the testing was rushed.

We then discussed how it was important to be able to identify minerals since different minerals have different uses.   Silicon is used in computers, feldspar is used to make pottery, apatite is used for fertilizer, and of course, pretty rocks and minerals are used to make jewelry.  I bought some of Steph’s jewelry with me as samples, including some turquoise, tigers eye (a form of quartz), malachite, hematite, agate, and amethyst.   After the kids made their own jewelry with beads.



For our field trip we went to the Franklin Mineral Museum in Franklin New Jersey. 


The tour began in the native rock room.  These were all specimens that were found in the local area of Ogdensburg – Franklin.  The kids all drifted right over to the big hunks of Magnetite with some handy magnets to demonstrate how magnetite is the most magnetic of the naturally occurring minerals.   There were many other minerals to see, as well as old miners helmets and tools.




We saw fossils and petrified wood.


A replica of the mine where our guide showed the various tools that were used, and the mine office….IMG_0347 IMG_0350  IMG_0354 IMG_0355

and demonstrated the bell system that was used to tell the lift operator where miners needed to be picked up.

IMG_0359We went through the fluorescence room where rocks were shown under UV lights to demonstrate the many colors the minerals displayed.  The guide had the kids watch closely to see that some minerals continued to glow even when the UV light was turned off, which displayed phosphorescence. 

One room was a beautiful display of various rocks and minerals that were someone’s personal collection before they were donated to the museum.  Georgie liked the sulfur containing rocks for their bright yellow color….


a big hunk of pyrite or “fool’s gold”….


a pretty piece of iridescent limonite…


and a hunk of mesolite that the guide told us about touching accidently.  It’s not nearly as soft as it looks and in fact those little fibers will actually pierce skin.

IMG_0325 IMG_0328 IMG_0330

After the museum tour, we made our way down to the dumpsite to collect our own rocks.  It was over 90 degrees and sunny so we didn’t spend a lot of time searching but the kids did have fun clambering around the dumpsite.   We may have to make another trip there in the fall when it’s cooler.   Each kid was able to collect a baggie of rocks and there was a shed available with UV light boxes where they could check their specimens for fluorescence.  Both Georgie and Vicki had quite a few specimens that showed a lot of color under the lights.


IMG_0364 IMG_0370b IMG_0372b IMG_0374   IMG_0378

We finished up with a trip to the gift shop and some yummy rock candy.


Next month we are going to do some Sharpie tie-dye and make lanyards.