Thursday, November 10, 2011

My Kindergartener

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This is my girl.  I love her.  Since she is a homeschooler, I am counting this shot as her official School photo this year.  Hers and Sparky’s.  Sparky is her dog that she has had with her since she was 9 months.  He comes to school with us everyday. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have had these cookies on my brain for awhile now. So today I decided to make them.  Probably not the best decision as I was home by myself with 2 active children.   My girl loves to help cook in the kitchen.  My son wants to be included.  So by myself with two children who may or may not be good helpers made this momma a little crazy.  But the cookies were soooooo good.  At least I have a good cookie when going nuts. 
Here is the recipe that I got from the Food Network. 

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray cookie sheets with nonstick spray or line them with parchment paper.
Using a mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Beat in the white and brown sugars, a little at a time, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, then mix in the vanilla and pumpkin puree. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the batter in thirds. Stir in the chips. Scoop the cookie dough by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared cookie sheets and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cookies are browned around the edges. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let them rest for 2 minutes. Take the cookies off with a spatula and cool them on wire racks.
I had to bake them the full 20 minutes as to get them more firm.  Yummy!  I know what I am having once these kiddos go to bed. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A few things I am struggling with

I like doing arts and crafts. However, I need a game plan and I am struggling in getting in into the day.  I am hoping that after a book I bought at the Renaissance Fair this weekend will help me find crafts that my girl is interested in and be able to put into our day. 
The other area is Spanish.  I bought the Little Pim Spanish.  I love these DVDs.  I think that my girl finds them not in  her learning style.  She is a girl that is hands on.  I am a mom that has always struggled with the language.  So I am trying to brainstorm how to use the videos but also make it a little more “fun” for my girl.  In hopes that we both learn. 
What areas are you struggling with?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Daddy and homeschool

As a stay at home mom I am the primary teacher.  There are some days that I have an appointment that takes me away from home from what would otherwise be a homeschool day.  I leave the house and leave my hubby to hold down the home front. 
What I love is that even though I don’t leave him a list of what he should cover he gets in his kind of homeschool and both father and child thrive.  Today, the two decided to conquer a couple of books that were not on the to do list.  It was fun coming home and to hear that my girl sounded out words that she has not learned yet and her daddy helped her to do it. 
I learn that daddy taught her science terms and principals like photosynthesis.  I am not sure what they were talking about that lead to this discussion.  But I am glad that they do.  This is not the type of discussion that I would probably have during the day. 

I am thankful for a husband that encourages me and helps me to do the best as the primary teacher.  I am also thankful for a husband that has no problem jumping in with two feet and seeing where the day takes him.  I would say I am pretty blessed to have him in my life as my partner and father of my children. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Renaissance Fair

Today we went back to another time.  We learned about birds, saw a jugglers and and saw the sun threw a telescope. All in all it was a good day.    

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Reading Progress

Mickey is doing well with her reading ability.  We have been focused on short a and i sounds.  This week we focused on changing words from a short a sound to a short i sound. An example of this was taking the word “bat” and changing it to “bit”.  She is getting better at her writing her words.  I really enjoy seeing her sound out words to be able to write them down. I am thrilled to have moved to McRuffy curriculum.  It has been a good fit for both her and I. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Cornstarch and Water

So we did venture into the kitchen and did the cornstarch and water experiment.  I have to tell you that it was messy!  But this momma thought it was pretty cool.  It was fascinating that the cornstarch felt like a ball then when we tried to pour it, it poured just like it was a liquid. 
My girl hates to be dirty!  So getting her hands dirty was a little rough for her.  But she thought it was fun to do.  However, I don’t think that she wants to do that everyday.  I think that if my toddler got his hands in it he would have loved it.  I just did not want to make a bigger mess than I already had.  The mess was not hard to clean up at all! 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Water Experiments

I found two experiments that I want to try with my little scientist aka my kindergartener.  I found this page with water experiments, from homeschool-ideas.com.  I have a feeling I am going to visiting this site some more in the future.
Idea #1
Surface Tension -  Starting with putting water on top of penny.  They had this very neat video on the site that just makes me think that this could be FUN.  (I think that this is #2 on the list)

Idea #2
Mix together cornstarch and water.  Is it a solid or a liquid.  Again there was this neat video on the site that they shared.  Here is a guy that can walk on custard.  Now I am probably going to post this and go see if I can make a mess with this in my kitchen.  If we survive, I will post and let you know how the experiment went. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Biscuits and Honey

What can be better than biscuits and honey?  A good book. 
Last week while we were doing our insect unit we read the book “The Bee Tree” by Patricia Palacco.  This is a story about a Grandpa and granddaughter and their adventure finding the bee tree.  Soon they get all sorts of neighbors to join them as the chase 3 bees to the bee tree.  The Grandpa wants to teach his granddaughter that there is such sweetness inside of books, just like the taste of sweet honey from the bee tree.  At the end of the book everyone comes back to the house and they make Baking powder biscuits and eat them with honey from the tree. 
I had wanted to make the baking powder biscuits last week but we didn’t get to it until today.  It was super easy and fun!  And of course we put honey on our biscuits. 
Here is the recipe I used, in case you want to make them.
Baking Powder Biscuits
Ingredients
3/4 cup milk
2 cups of all purpose flour
4 tbsps of shortening, lard or vegetable oil
4 tsps baking powder
1 tsp salt

Directions
Sift flour once; measure; add baking powder, salt and sift again.  Cut in shortening.  Stir in milk.  Drop biscuits onto cookie sheet and bake.  bake in a 475 degree oven for 12-15 minutes.  Makes about 12 biscuits. 
Hope you enjoy. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Celebrating Reading

On Friday, we had a day that was all about celebrating Mickey’s accomplishments in school with reading. 
First we headed off to the library.  This was a big day.  A day where she would be able to get her library card.  At our library a child can get their library card if they are able to write their first and name on the back of the card.  Mickey worked really hard on her name and had the goal of getting her library card.  She filled in her name like she has been writing her name for a long time. We searched for some library books and checked them out all by herself.  This was such a big day!
After the library we headed off to Pizza Hut.  They have the Book It program and I learned in August that this program was also offered to homeschool students too!  So I got our homeschool registered and they sent me all their information and supplies in September.  October was the first official month.  Every time Mickey read a book (one of the short ones that she is working on) we put a sticker on her chart.  Once she filled her chart she earned her first personal pan pizza at Pizza Hut. 
Mickey ordered her favorite pizza, a cheese pizza.  The amazing thing for this momma is that she ate the Whole thing.  My girl does not eat the whole thing of anything willingly.  But this pizza she ate every last bite.  I am not sure if she just liked that pizza more than any other pizza or if the fact that she worked hard to earn this pizza made it taste that much better.  Either way, this momma is not complaining! 
It was fun to take time and celebrate the accomplishments that she has made in so short amount of time in school.  It was a fun day! One that I will remember for a long, long time. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ant Farm Update

It appears that I did not goof when putting the ants in the habitat.  Yay!  I can breathe now.  Except for the fact that I have ants in my house, voluntarily.  Well at least they are in a place where they won’t bite me.  I hope.  I have been asked where I got our farm.  My particular one I got when I bought the curriculum “My Father’s World”.  We also got a butterfly garden (which I am  looking forward to).  However, I knew that one can get the ant hill farm on it’s own.  So I did some searching (not much) and found the direct source.  You can also buy it from amazon if you so choose to do so. 
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The company is Insect Lore and you can find them at http://www.insectlore.com/ .  They have the ant farm, the butterfly garden and a Lady Bug Land.  The lady bug land is something that we just might have to do.  I like lady bugs a lot more than ants!  Oh and they also have an earthworm nursery.  I might just skip that one… but who knows when it comes to my girl. 

Pet Ants

We made an ant farm for our homeschool unit on Insects. I have to tell you it was a test of a mother’s love to deal with those ants.  They really creep me out.  All day I kept feeling the ants all over my body.  Sometimes as a mom you do things that normally you wouldn’t do because you know how excited your child is going to be.  My girl is loving her ant farm even though I think mom messed up a step or two. The ants are not on the sand part like should be and I am not sure if they will get there or not. 
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Looking at the ants. We put them in the fridge for about 5 min to make sure that they would not climb out and bite us. Mickey is not sure at this point whether she likes the ants or not.
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After putting sand in we had to make a hole with the stick. Of course Mickey had to have Sparky help her out. :)
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My proud girl. And the verdict is that she likes the ants. She has named them and is convinced that she can tell one ant from the other. Who am I, to say that she can't tell the difference. Right now, the ants are on the wrong side and I am not sure if there is a way to salvage the project without starting over from scratch, but right now my girl loves her pet ants. I didn't know they are pet ants but that is what Mickey is telling me they are.

Flexibility

I was reminded yesterday that as a homeschooling family, flexibility is a must.  I am a person who thrives when there is a plan.  I don’t like flying by the seat of my pants.  I hate “winging” it.  I like knowing what is up ahead.  Then life throws me a curve ball.  Most of the time those curve balls are not a big deal. But I can make them into a BIGGER deal that they need to be because I stress about it not being in the plan.  Being a mom means that there is so much you do with your children that is not part of the plan. 
I had a choice to make yesterday.  We had planned to do an ant farm in our homeschool schedule.  Just NOT this week.  This week was supposed to be sea creatures.  Last time I checked ants don’t live in the sea.  However, my ants arrived in the mail late Monday.  So that meant that I had to get those pesky and oh so creepy ants in their farm before I killed them. Which also meant that we needed to change our course this week.  After I had already planned the week.  Is it a big deal?  Nope.  But it can cause me stress when I think about things not going according to ‘my” plan. 
After a few stressful moments, I realized that I just needed to change.  It wasn’t a big deal and flying by the seat of my pants was going to have to be ok.  Now if I can just remember to do that when the Bigger things in life require that I change my plans and listen to the Lord telling me.  “It is okay if you life plans change, because I am right here with you.  Even if you can’t see me, I AM here.” 
The Lord has reassured me time and time again that even though homeschooling was never in my plan and truthfully very far from what I ever thought I be in my plan.  I now can’t imagine doing things any differently.  I am exactly where I need to be.  But this would have never had happened if I didn’t listen and realize that I needed to bend and be flexible and to think differently that I ever had before. 
What areas in life do you need a little flexibility?  Are you like me and need that plan?  What happens when life doesn’t happen according to your plan?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Time at the Fair

Fair time is always a highlight of our year. We have been going to the fair since Mickey was 9 months. My daughter is very comfortable around animals.  This year before we headed out to the fair we read “Andi’s Fair Surprise” by Susan K. Marlow.  This a book series about a little girl named Andi who is 6 years old.  This book was a book about going to the Fair.  Everyone in the family participated and entered things in the fair.  All except Andi because she was still too little.  While we were at the fair my girl starts telling me when she gets older she is going to enter different animals in the fair.  As we looked at the different animals she was weighing the options and whether this would be the animal she would raise.  I don’t know what I am going to do when she decides that this is the year that she is going to raise animals.  Jeff and I are not FFA or 4-H people and have no idea on even where to begin with that journey!
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Goats are my girl’s favorite animal at the fair. 
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Nate is wondering what all the fuss over a goat is.  Will he be a animal lover like his sister?
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Taking time out to enjoy a lollipop
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Llamas are another fav.  Her and this little guy seemed have a love fest going on. 
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The petting zoo where she can feed any animal she wants is our highlight and where we spend most of our time.
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More goats….
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and more laughs
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Nate decides to take a snooze
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Nate wakes up and will he like the animals??
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I think he is liking his time.
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Yes, he is an animal lover like his sister.
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What a silly guy
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She had to find another one to love
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But she thinks that she wants to raise and show bunnies….Her momma, is not as sure as she is.  Winking smile

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Science Makes My Brain Feel Smart

My girl loves her science days.  Yesterday was a fun one.  The science experiment was what happens to raisins when they are put into soda.  The answer is that the dance in the bubbles.  The carbon dioxide in the soda makes the fizz and the bubbles that we see in the soda.  Those bubbles carry the raisins up and as the bubbles pop the raisins fall and get caught up in another bubble.  How fun this was to watch.  We will do this one again when Daddy comes home and let him see the fun we had! 
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This is a project to do if you have little ones in your house. It was easy and fun to watch.  Also my girl loves eating raisins.  Her quotes from today
“Science makes my brain feel smart” and “science was yummy today.” 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Day 40

We are in the beginning of October and we just completed day 40!  Wow!  I have to say that this has been a great experience for both my daughter and I and most of all our family. 
I thought I would share a couple of pictures of Mickey’s accomplishment in reading.  I am so proud of her. 

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Here is my girl holding up the books she has read and made in the past 40 days of school!   So exciting!!
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13 Books!
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Words that are not in a family group!
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I forgot to count them.  But I think that there are 15-20 words in there. 
This has been an exciting process for both of us. It has been fun to watch her learn and grasp new abilities that are going to open a whole new world for her! 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

How Do You Get Everything Done?

I think that every mom and especially every homeschooling mom wants to know how you can possibly get everything done that needs to get done, done.  I am here to answer that question.  YOU DON’T!  Unless you have a genie in a bottle or maybe a live in maid, I don’t know how to get everything done.  I don’t have a genie or a live in maid.  There are some days that I can do the things that are on my list and I am excited.  There are other days when I look at my list and realize that I didn’t even come close that day.  I have to realign my priorities and make sure that the important things get done and the other things can wait.  I don’t know if I ever have everything done. I can tell you that when my hubby is home more things get done than when he is on the road. 
I guess what I am trying to say that if you are beating yourself up for not getting everything on your list done, don’t.  If you need to enlist help, and you if you are human you need help.  That help may come from your spouse or your children if they are old enough.  You need to take a look at your priorities and see what is really important and what can wait a day or two. 
Also you need time to recharge and take time for yourself, even if your house is a mess.  You have a lot of responsibilities but they will slowly feel like a unmanageable mountain if you don’t take regular time to recharge those batteries.  It is amazing how much more I get accomplished when I take time to get out without my kiddos and just recharge. 

Change of Math Curriculum

imageI have be willing to change when things are not working.  Just because I have bought something does not mean that it will be the best thing for us to use.  In my research on what reading program I should use after we ended the Ready2Read program, I stumbled onto a math program.  The workbook we were using was good but left out some hands on tools to really bring home the concepts better.  The program I found was McRuffy Math.  I ordered and started using it the day after it arrived to our home.  WE LOVE IT!!!!  The best review was when my girl said “Momma, I like Math now, it is NOT BORING anymore.”  She looks forward to doing math everyday.  It is hands on and fun. 
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There is a teacher’s manual, a workbook for the student, a resource kit and lots of hands on manipulatives.  It is taking things at a pace that my girl can handle and she looks forward to it.  She often wants to continue to work on it long after the lessons are over.  Darn a kid that wants to continue learning.  Smile  I love it because it has taken away the fear of “Doing it wrong” and just the plain ol’ fun of learning.  It also gives me, the teacher great guidelines on how to teach a lesson.  It even tells me what to say!  So if you are looking for a good hands on math curriculum, this one is a great one to look into. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Postcard from Where You Live

I am writing today to ask for your help.  Will you send my daughter, a postcard from where you live?  Pretty please, with a cherry on top?? 
THE GOAL
We have a goal is to receive a postcard from each of the 50 states.  There is nothing more fun for my little girl than to receive mail.  My little girl will be over the moon about receiving a postcard and will make learning about that particular state so much fun and real.  If you could write a fact or two on the postcard about your state we would love that, too! 
This idea has been in my head for a few years.  A friend of mine, a fellow December mom asked me to send her daughters a postcard for a project that they were doing for a class project.  It just looked like a lot of fun and seemed like something that we would enjoy doing. 
So if you think you can help us out, please email me at darrylin@comcast.net and I will send you my address.  I don’t want to put our address up for the whole world to see. 
I look forward to sharing our postcards with you as we go on our journey of traveling the 50 states. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Progress and Frustrations

How do I measure our progress and whether it was a good homeschool day or not?  I am still trying to figure that out.    I see how much my girl is learning and I am excited.  I see her progress even when I am not sure that she sees it. Today, we took out the flash cards that she has made in her reading time and counted up the words that she now knows.  These were just the sight words and not the family words that she also knows.  She is up to 15 words.  We cheered and were excited about it.  Today we also did not take out our math workbook.  We took out her favorite “Inchimals”.  We worked on addition.  Then we worked on adding the number 1 to the other numbers or animals,  She loves this and it was showing me how much she knows even though she did not need a pencil in her hand. 
We took breaks and silly breaks in between and it seemed to help.  This is much better than going into one right after another.  She even took a snack break.  She is very into apples these days.  She is on a mission to find her favorite one.  Currently golden delicious is winning as her favorite. 
Writing has also been the struggle part of the day for us.  She has that mindset that she needs to do it perfect the first time.  Even though I have yet to meet that person who does everything perfect that first time.  She also has that mindset that her way is the right way.  I thought today, that we would not do any writing except for our handwriting without tears lesson.  I thought if we did not do it in other areas that it would mean that this area would be easier.  It did not turn out that way.  Maybe, I need to put writing in the beginning on the school day, so she is fresh?

Maybe, what is done at the beginning changes due to what we are struggling with?  I don’t know how to make writing fun for her.  Right, now even though most of the areas of school were a success, writing portion of the day was just a bust.  There was frustration on both our parts today.  I don’t feel good about it.  So what and how do I change so that she succeeds in this area? 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Check In

My girl is in full swing of kindergarten. I can’t believe that we are already mid-September and we started Kinder the beginning of August.  We seem to have gotten into our groove.  All the worries that I had before of not being able to teach her have went out the window.  There are rough days and days that I wonder if I am doing things right.  I think that is normal and I think that every parent and homeschool teacher has those same thoughts from time to time. 
We had to make a few adjustments.  The first was when we did Math.  I was saving it to later in our day.  This did not work.  I was getting comments like “My head hurts when I do math”.  I did not want her to have a bad feeling with math so early on. I actually really, really enjoyed math while I was in school.  So I made a change and we are doing math first thing in our day.  This one change has made all the difference.  Right now, the main struggle she has is actually little to do with math and more to do with writing.  Writing has never been a strong suit and she continues to make progress there. 
Reading is going well.  We are enjoying Ready2Read by Annie Moffatt.  I think that she does a good job blending sight words and phonics in a way that my girl who is right brain gets it.  Annie Moffatt has many, many hands on activities that do well with my very hands on little girl.  I never knew that you could be hands on with reading.  She gets to make her own little books for the different family words and then read them.  So good for growing the confidence of young readers.  Saturday, my girl read her first book from the library!  Such a proud moment! 
Science is her favorite subject.  She gets to be her investigative self.  She looks forward to this part of the week.  She losses all her inhibitions and doesn’t worry about always having to be right.  I love this.  So far we have cleaned a penny with lemon juice and mixed primary colors.  Of course, she did not need her safety goggles but she wore them anyway. 
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Spanish and Social studies are still trying to find a home in our day.  We are doing Spanish but not as regularly as I would like.  Social studies is still in need of some work. 
My Father’s World is working okay. At times I think that it is not as much as I would like.  I am still working with it to see how we can make it successful. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Colored Noodles

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I get the Family Fun magazine and found an activity that I thought I could use being a homeschooling momma.  It was Pretty Pasta.  Here is the recipe.  I thought it would be fun to decorate all those words we are working so hard to learn.  And anything else she chooses to decorate with them. 
Materials Needed
  • Dried Pasta
  • 2 teaspoons of Vinegar
  • 10-12 drops of food coloring
  • Ziploc plastic baggy
  • paper towels and cookie sheet
Instructions
  • For each color you make add 10-12 drops of food coloring to the baggy and 2 teaspoons of vinegar.  I could not find regular old fashion food coloring.  But the different colors of gel food coloring worked just fine. 
  • Add half cup of dried pasta to baggy.  I used elbow macaroni and one other that I can’t remember what it is called.  But long tube noodles.  Close the Ziploc and shake and have a dance party in your kitchen.  My girl loved this part.  She did not like the smell of vinegar but she loved the shaking.  Rest and shake off and on for about 5 minutes. 
  • Spoon or pour the pasta onto the paper towels that are lined on a cookie sheet.  Spread them out so they are one layer.  Let them dry.  You can turn them over once (but I forgot and they turned out just fine). 
I am looking forward to seeing all the fun we will have with all our colors.  We did red, green, blue, purple, orange and pink.  We did not do yellow as the pasta was already yellow.  My girl is very excited to use the noodles.  I see us doing a project tomorrow with them.  I guess I will need to go and make one up.  I will let you know how it goes. 

Explora Museum

We only stayed in Albuquerque a short time before we were to head further north.  We decided that we wanted to try out the Explora! museum.  We went for my girl’s 3rd birthday and we wanted to see how she had changed and grown up.  I remember that we had to explain a lot to her and help her do things at the museum.  This time she jumped in with both feet and had a grand ol’ time.  My boy had a little fun too.  It was a great family day. 
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My boy could of stayed at this exhibit forever.  It was running water.  The goal was for older kids to see how they could change the flow of water.  He was having a blast splashing. 
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He also enjoyed catching the balls as they flowed by.  He got pretty good at it.
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Fun with air.  My girl made the “helicopters” to play with air. 
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Everyone needs to put their face in the air a time or two, right?
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Her favorite color ball, Yellow!
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My boy in the toddler room.  He had fun chasing a ball all over. 
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This is a huge elevator!  It had these chairs and even a couch in their.  It was comfy!
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Taking time out for a stroll. 
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Playing with sound.  So much fun. 
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I think she was in heaven!  She loves bubbles and how can you beat these huge bubbles?
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Grammie time. Grammie wanted to solve the puzzle.  My girl had other plans. 
She was going to make a cake.Guess who won??
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My girl.  How can she be a kindergartener already??

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Dinosaur Train

One of our favorite shows these days is Dinosaur Train on PBS.  I really love how much my girl learns from this show and how she can spout off names of dinosaurs like it is nothing.  So we thought it would be a fun day while on our vacation to head to the Natural History Museum in Albuquerque. When I was younger I used to visit this same museum when I visited my family so it was fun to see how it has changed over the years. One of the best parts is that we counted it as part of school.  It was so much fun.  It was fun to show her how big these creatures were and have this cartoon that she loves come to life.   It was also fun to see her ask the volunteers that were there if they were a paleontologist.  At her age, I don’t know if I knew much about dinosaurs but I can tell you I did not know the word paleontologist. 

Here are some pictures from our fun day with the dinosaurs. 
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Mickey liked this dinosaur… who they named Spike.
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She was a little bit afraid of this guy… but who can blame her?  He is kind of big.
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Momma’s turn with Spike.
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Thankful that Daddy was along for this trip.  Momma would not be so brave as to hold a snake for her daughter. 
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This nice volunteer was available to answer all of my girl’s questions!
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She loved seeing these big dinosaurs.
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She liked seeing the big brother and baby sisters.  I don’t know how she decided who was who, but she did. 
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Ammonite.  I actually knew what this was.  Yay, for Dinosaur Train. 
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I think that this was a saber tooth tiger.
This was a good day!  I liked the memories that we made.  Learning is so much fun.