Saturday, June 22, 2013

Digging at the Dinosaur Museum!

We visited the Missouri Institute of Natural Science Tuesday and got to dig for fossils!  Real ones! We started out in the museum and looked at our favorite exhibits again.  Then moved to the ice block table.  Dinosaurs were frozen in a big chunk of ice and the children learned how researchers have to slowly removing rock or ice or dirt from fossils so they can be removed in one piece.  They showed this by allowing the children to put warm water one drop at a time on the dinosaur toys until they FINALLY came out.  Some kids didn't even get one out in their time.  Sometimes researchers have to pass on the responsibility, too.  Good lesson here.
Next, the researchers showed us some real fossils that are found in Missouri.  These are called crinoids.  They told us that crinoids are underwater animals that look like plants, much like coral.  The segments we find are the stalk of the plant-like animal.  Click here to learn more about the crinoid.  Then we went for a short walk up the hill to find our own crinoids.  Can you see them here?  The black arrows are pointing at the donut shaped crinoid fossils in the rock.  This is evidence that Missouri used to be underwater!

Next, we set to work.  Here's my little paleontologist on the hunt for her own crinoid fossils.  We got quite a good collection.  We even found a rock that looks a lot like a seashell.
Kids on the fossil rock at the "Dino Museum."
Wandering around after our "dig."

 After we found our fossils we took a look around at what activities the library had for us.  Ms K really enjoyed the Alphabet dig.  She found quite a few letters!

Ms Z made a rubbing of a leaf that looked a lot like how fossil would look.  All the kids enjoyed reading some dinosaur and ice age related books, making their own stegosaurus with a model and clothespins, and playing with clay and models to make foot prints and impressions just like fossils.  We had a great time and learned so much!  What fun things are you up to lately?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Field Trip Shirts and ID cards

Thursday is our co-op day.  Since it's summer time, we expect to do even more field trips. One day on a field trip this year, it occurred to me I couldn't remember exactly what my children were wearing.  What if they got lost?!  It was a pretty busy day at the zoo that day and completely possible, but a lot of the children there were in large school groups with matching shirts.  So I've been thinking on this idea for some time.  If we had matching shirts, I could easily see my kids from a distance and could describe what they were wearing if we still managed to be separated.  My sister-in-law has a cutting machine so we designed our school shirts, cut out the stencils, and painted the shirts.  The kids had a nice time finger painting, too.  Ms A wasn't in to it and I was, frankly, afraid to let Ms K have a try.  But Ms Z enjoyed exploring paint possibilities.  We just used the craft paint since we had quite a stash to explore with.  And it washed off their hands easily.
 I think the shirts turned out nicely.  Each kid has the same front.  The back has their initial pretty large on the back and their hand prints, for those who didn't mind touching the paint. I look forward to calling to the kids "Put on your field trip shirts!" and seeing the look of wonder at what adventures we would go on today. :)  Bonus:  I bought 5 shirts for about $8 and only used 3.  I already had the paint and my sister-in-law already had her cutter and paper.  That means this craft cost me about $2 per shirt and I have 2 extras!  Whoot!

Said sister-in-law also has Adobe Photoshop, so we designed some pretty swanky ID cards.  The QR code goes straight to our website, in case there's ever question about the validity of our school, and it lends a certain professionalism to them, I think. We'll update cards and photos each year, probably in the summer so there's little rush and excellent opportunities. Feel free to copy our design.  The black bars are for privacy of our information.  We had such a tough time finding a free download for a Photoshop compatible template that we designed our own.  We had to leave her house before we could finish making a generic template, but once we can, I'll post it here for anyone else who wants one with all the layers editable. We plan to order these cards as photo prints and laminate them for protection.   In case you don't know, ID cards are great for getting discounts at museums, movie theaters, and more.  If you bring in your report cards, many companies offer free or discounted items for As each semester/term.  The cards serve as identification for obtaining your own library card.  There are probably other advantages to making your own identification cards for your homeschool, but these are a few that come to mind. Bonus:  I ordered these from Walgreens for about 21 cents each!  Extra whoot! What do you think? Do you have "official" t-shirts or ID cards?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day!

We sure love our Daddy!  The Boy Scout is quite a man.  He works so hard at work then comes home and takes care of things around here, too.  He is so supportive of my work in midwifery. It's my passion and he has so much patience for the strange hours required.  He loves to play with the girls.  They are his biggest fans.  Many times he has commented how he feels like a rock star when he comes home.  "Daddy!" is the battle cry while the mobs charge forth to hug him. He is one fantastic cook!  There are a few things he makes extremely well.  We call him the "Master of Leftover Masterpieces."  I like to cook so that we have leftovers and he makes them over into something completely different and wonderful.  For these and many more reasons we wanted to do something special for him, so we went to the park on a gorgeous day with a good friend and my sister-in-law, a very talented amateur photographer.  The kids had a lovely time and we caught some great photos.  And these were just taken on a camera phone!  Can you believe it?!  Anyway, she did great.  Then we asked the girls questions about "Daddy" and added them to the collage.  Round it out with chocolate candies and breakfast in bed and he thought this was quite a wonderful morning. :)  
Bonus: Walgreens was running a free 8x10 collage print! I should have shared that with you all, but I blanked out, so apologies!  But I totally took advantage of that and also made a smaller collage of all of us that he could keep in his wallet.

Monday, June 3, 2013

For Peace At Home

Have you ever had a hectic day? Maybe the children have been at each other's throats all day.  Or perhaps the day started out with stress. Maybe you went off track a little today, made some poor choices, and are now regretting them.  Of course you want to have peace in your home!  But how can you invite that peace back?  Our family has been experimenting with "resets."  We return to the important starts of our days.  Our day is "supposed" to start with prayer and scripture study and perhaps a song or two. Some days we do this and still have a hectic day.  More often, we forget and have a pretty tough time.  When I notice we're having a tough moment, I call for a reset.  Everyone comes to the living room or wherever most of us are, we turn off technology, and we return to our Father.  We often start with a prayer, but sometimes we need a song to draw in the Holy Spirit first. Then we find a scripture to read together.  Most of the time, we find a good teaching moment here. We once again feel the peace of the Spirit.  We pray for more guidance in our day.  As we have practiced this "reset" idea, we have been doing better about starting our day out the right way, but we also have gotten better about resetting our days in the right way.  Our Heavenly Father is waiting for us to speak to Him.  He has answers for us, if we'll only turn to Him. Our homes can be temples to the Lord.  As we practice these little things, they can grow our faith and our testimonies.  As we center our life on Christ, we can have true peace and happiness. Simple consistent good habits lead to happiness. Are we perfect at this?  Of course not!  And we still have tough days where no one remembers we need a reset.  But we're trying and this is helping.

Where did I find this idea?  Well, it's been evolving for some time, but a part of it came from Elder Richard G Scott's talk in the April 2013 General Conference "For Peace at Home." He begins his talk with these words (emphasis added):
Many voices from the world in which we live tell us we should live at a frantic pace.  There is always more to do and more to accomplish.  Yet deep inside each of us is a need to have a place of refuge where peace and serenity prevail, a place where we can reset, regroup, and re-energize to prepare for future pressures. The ideal place for that peace is within the walls of our own homes, where we have done all we can to make the Lord Jesus Christ the centerpiece.
He tells us that parents are not the only responsible party here.  Children can be taught to help keep the peace in the home. 
Children who are made to feel accountable for their actions...grow to be trustworthy citizens in the kingdom of God.
He also encourages us to be wise in our use of technology.  The fact that we can communicate instantaneously with anyone in the world through the internet is amazing.  We can find answers to many worldly questions, connect with loved ones, and study the scriptures and other important works.  But it can also be a source of filth and distraction.  We should be very careful about what we allow into our homes and what we allow to take our attention away from the most important job we can have: helping our children grow up in righteousness. I know I've been struggling to find a balance.  We need "free time" just as much as our children do.  But our children also need times of our undivided attention.  They need to experience all the beauty that life can offer and they need us to guide them in those experiences.  We need to get out more.  We need to get down on the floor with them more. We need to talk with them and not only to them.  We need to focus our lives in service to others.  The internet can be a great tool to organize and research. But don't allow this tool to use you!

On that note, I'll leave you to read or watch Elder Scott's talk yourself, while I take my children out to experience this world, after we start our day right, of course. ;)
Read, listen to, or watch his full talk here.