Friday, August 21, 2009

Space : The Final Frontier

Nic is a lover of science, and I have to admit, I am not so much interested in it. This is more a dad area. But I am trying to encourage his interest by keeping plenty of materials on hand as much as possible and making sure we cover our science topics in fun and interisting ways. We started out by reading several great books about the planets, Earth's moon, space travel and more. We really enjoyed a dvd all about food and waste while traveling in space. I had never really pondered how astronauts relieved themselves while in the ships, but now we know the answer and it involves suctioning...not something that Nicholas or I would ever like to experience it turns out, as we discussed it in a lengthy conversation after the video ended. Have fun envisioning that one for a moment, you won't be able to stop yourself :)

Nicholas has made both a poster and 3D model of the solar system for some science and art combined. Both models include the infamous Pluto, the
out casted-not-even-a-planet-anymore-reject. It came with both kits after all, and it IS out there, but just considered a dwarf planet now. The library once again has come to our aide - they have a great newish book called "When is a Planet not a Planet? The Story of Pluto" AND, lucky me, they had the audio version as well!! So I was able to read along with Nicholas in the book while we both listened to the soothing voices of the two readers, all while lounging out on the couch. This book is rated for ages 9-12 but I found it just right for Nic (age 8 1/2). It gives detailed factual information, but it does it simply and quickly while not going over his head or over-explaining. Several scientists that I plan on having us study in the future are mentioned in this book, so he got a little intro into who they are and what they did. The illustrations in the book are very eye pleasing, I am glad that I did get both the book and audio version because I think it helps to have the pictures and written words right there to focus on while he got to hear the book read aloud.

We also spend some time working on a Space workbook and flashcards, both purchased at Target in the dollar section (score)! And I was also able to borrow a kit from the library that has fictional space stories as well as puppets, so the kids and I have been able to come together for some playtime and
story time again. Even though I did not focus on teaching anything space related to Sydney, she is still picking things up. She can name a few of the planets on Nic's poster (and the dwarf planet LOL, pointing out to the rest of us that it has the same name as Mickey Mouse's dog) and likes to ask Nic to read the rest to her. It's really cool getting to see Nic pass down his knowledge to his little sister, and how much she admires him for it.I remembered something from when Nic was her age, he had a Blue's Clues radio toy that sang a song about the order of the planets. I sang it to them and he remembered. Sometimes I can't believe how much time has gone by!

During moments like those, when they are sitting there all quiet and nice and it's something off of the Hallmark channel, then I know why I am homeschooling. And well, when they laundry hamper is overflowing, and they are screaming at eachother, and we are behind in math and it's 6:30pm and I don't know what is for dinner...well, it's harder to remember why we are homeschooling, but deep down I still know we chose it for our family because it's what we believe to be best for all 4 of us. I just need to go back to that quiet moment!

If You Give a Mouse a Brussels Sprout

Getting my kids to try new foods is not so easy. Some times the whining begins before they even know WHAT it is that I have cooked. (I should mention that this goes mostly for the younger one.) Lucky for me, I think I may have found a loophole in the kids rule about saying no to new foods! Hoorah, score for mom! So as it turns out, if someone other than myself suggests the food...perhaps even a made up fictional character in a book, then somehow the idea of trying it goes from gross, no way, not even if you paid me to tasty, delicious, can't wait to try it.
And THIS is how I got my children to try potato soup.

We sat together in the living room and I read the story "The Cat who liked Potato Soup" by Terry Farish on one kind of chilly and definitely rainy day. I had come across the book while browsing the children's section of the library, the title grabbed my attention straight away. I flipped through it quickly, checked it out from the library, and made my shopping list later that night!

It continues to be a challenge for me to pull together lessons and activities than both Nicholas and Sydney enjoy, so finding something as simple as a short story and easy meals that the kids can help with is really great. I will be searching the shelves for more titles like this one...maybe there is hope yet that they might try some Brussels sprouts sometime in their childhood!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Music and Movement

We were invited to our first drum circle by Aunt Danica. I wasn't sure what it would entail exactly, but decided it would be fun to go and try it out. Turns out it is exactly what you would think - people drumming in a circle :) It was fun! There were all kinds of people with all kinds of drums, just making music and enjoying the outdoors. Nicholas and Sydney were both able to experiment with several types of drums, some belonging to Danica and other belonging to the group. Sydney had a blast dancing in the circle - it was cute at the time, but the group sent out an email later saying that they'd prefer the children to dance outside of the circle next time. Oops! We are looking forward to going again soon, and are also looking for a drum of our own so if you see any while you're out, let us know!

Nicholas had his trial gymnastics class last week. Saying he LOVED it would be an understatement! His group went to several stations during his hour class, doing everything from somersaults to back bends and flips on the bar. I signed him up for the next session, which conveniently starts this week! He is in an all boys class with a male instructor. I am not allowed to take photos inside the gym except on designated "photo day", but there is a seating area for visitors to sit and watch.

Sydney has been begging to go to ballet so we signed her up for a pre-school ballet/tap combo class down at the local dance studio. She went in for her leotard and shoe fitting and met all of the instructors. I didn't think she would ever want to leave! Her classes won't start until mid-September. The studio does not allow viewing during classes, but she will have a recital in June of next year. Turns out that they will preform at my old high school! So she will be dancing on the same stage where mommy performed in theatre, which I think is pretty cool since we are not even in that same county anymore!