Tuesday, April 29, 2008

nature, and lectures, and black bears...oh my

One of our local favorites, Tinker Nature Park, held their Earth Day Celebration this past Saturday. So off the kids and I headed. (Rich couldn't join us because he was off at "soccer coach school".)

We made sure we were there in time for the Black Bear Presentation. Master Gray has long been a fan of the bear, in all its species forms. However, had I realized how long the presentation was going to be, we probably would have skipped it. It was really aimed more at adults than at young kids. But Gray amazed me...he sat totally captivated for the entire hour! (Even Max did okay, though he got a little squirmy and came up in my lap for a bit.)

Afterwards, we just headed off on a little hike through the park. Always good to blow off a little steam after having your butt planted for so long, right?

Monday, April 28, 2008

using that vocab-game 1, week 1

Jean had a neat idea. Well, she has tons of neat ideas, but this one involves Annie's vocabulary lists. Jean suggested that I post Annie's list for the week, and let everyone use them in sentences. I love this idea...it's always easier to get the feel of new words when you see them used in a number of sentences.

We decided to turn it into a bit of a game. Each Monday, I'll post Annie's list for the week. You can write sentences using the words. Write just one sentence using one word. Or write eight sentences, each using a different word. Or anywhere in between. Thursday morning I will read Annie each of the sentences (so she doesn't know who wrote them), and she will choose her favorite three. Each sentence she chooses will earn a point. Points will be collected throughout the entire quarter and the person with the most points at the end of the quarter will win a small prize. And then hopefully we'll start over next quarter.

And by the way, after she chooses, I will have her sit down and read the sentences herself so she can see them in print. She always has to write a little story using each of the words...perhaps I should then have her post that as well.

Anyway, a few tidbits about Annie...she loves animals, particularly wolves and ravens, as well as cats and dogs, she loves fantasy, she loves history. Mentions of these may improve your chances of her choosing a particular sentence. :)

Hope that all made sense. And here's this week's list:

*harp (focusing on the definition "to dwell on; to persist" not on the musical instrument)








Thursday, April 24, 2008

just keeps getting better

I don't think Annie ever could have imagined that today would be even more exciting than yesterday, but it has definitely proved to be just that!

First off, today is Take Your Sons and Daughters to Work Day. Rich's school always puts together all kinds of great things for the kids. Annie has always had a ball, and this year was no exception. Gray was finally old enough to go as well, so we also had one very happy little boy on our hands. Gray actually spent the morning with Rich as he was doing a fun animal lab with his students that he figured Gray would really enjoy.

But Annie went off with the other kids to do the "planned activities" for the morning. One of these was "classes" was on recycling. And each kid had to make a poster on recycling. The posters were later judged...and Miss Annie won first place! I wish I could post of photo of the poster, but they're keeping it hanging on campus for now (and Rich had forgotten to take the camera with him to school). But here's a picture of Annie with her prize:

(Rich is more than a little jealous...he really wants one of these hoodies, but they cost $40 at the bookstore.)

But that's not the most exciting part of Miss Annie's day...no, that would involve something she received in the mail. She was invited to the Awards Ceremony for being among the top-scoring students on the John Hopkins University's Center for Talented Youth's SCAT test. Way to go, Annie! (And Jean--I'm sure you've been through this, so maybe you can give us a heads up of what it will be like...you know, like is she supposed to dress up? will she receive her certificate during the ceremony, or do they just hand them out afterwards?...that kind of stuff.)

Anyway, we will be taking her out to dinner to celebrate shortly...after she and Rich get home from a talk being given by retired Army Major General Batiste.

making friends

Sometimes the highlight of a day is making friends and learning to lean on others. Yesterday was another Camp Arrowhead day for Miss Annie. And I think she had more fun there than she ever has before...and believe me, that's really saying something!

"Working Dogs" and "Community Cooperation" made up the schedule. Annie was most excited about "Working Dogs"...anything involving animals always gets a big thumbs up with her. Yep, she's a typical kid on that one. But it turned out to be the "Community Cooperation" class that left her full of excitement for the rest of the day. It simply involved solving problems as a group. This was not only a great life exercise, but it allowed Annie to finally feel a part of this group. Since her birthday, she was moved up to the older class and just really hadn't felt like she belonged yet. Now she most definitely does. She talked a mile a minute all the way home and for the next hour or so after. I think she may also have gained a little admirer...we'll have to wait and see on that one. But he made of point of getting Annie a chair at lunch and then asked for her phone number at the end of the day. (It was really sort of cute, though Annie might kill me for saying so.)

And then last night, the kids had their final swimming lesson of the current session. Annie wasn't so sure she would "graduate" and get to move up to Level 4, but she did. It's truly amazing to see how well she's swimming these days, after refusing to put her face in the water for so many years. :)

We were so proud of Gray as well...he "graduated" and gets to move to Level 2. He was so worried that Max would get to move up and he wouldn't. (No amount of reassurance from us could convince him that that wasn't going to happen.)

Max didn't "pass"...he won't jump into the pool, which is one of the requirements for moving up to Level 2. Luckily, he was not upset in the slightest...Whew. He just has a ball while he's there. And he's learning water safety and how to keep himself afloat, and that's all we really care about.

And to celebrate everyone's success, we went out afterward to the local ice cream shop!

Monday, April 21, 2008

free rice

Today marks our official first day of the fourth quarter. Hooray!

Anyway, talk about a win, win situation. This might even be more of a win, win, win. I'm talking about Free Rice, a website that donates grains of rice (through sponsors) for playing their vocabulary game. I've been playing for a few months whenever I happen to think of it, but it wasn't until today that I finally remembered to add it to our vocabulary curriculum and get Annie playing, too. So, why the win, win, win? Well, win #1, it donates rice to the UN hunger program. Win #2, it helps expand one's vocabulary. And win #3, it's just plain fun.

And speaking of vocabulary, Annie's vocabulary list this week made me feel quite ignorant...there were two words on it that I just didn't know. Ugh. On the bright side, that's two new words (sententious and apothegm) I got to learn, huh?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

a little culture...the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Now this is what I call a field trip! Since the boys (both big and little) were off for spring break, we headed to Grandmother's house. Along with seeing Grandmother, we had another mission for this trip to southeast Pennsylvania...visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Frida Kahlo was Annie's latest "artist of interest," so when I found out the museum was holding a special exhibit of her life and work, I knew we had to find a way to get down there.

And it was well worth the trip. Frida Kahlo was such an incredible woman...I just can't help but admire the way she lived her life to the fullest despite the tragedies and pain she endured. Seeing her paintings in person was just the most amazing experience...one I hope Annie will always remember.

Unfortunately, photography was prohibited in the Kahlo exhibit itself, but we did get some shots while we explored other areas of the museum.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

on the go

Yesterday was a fun, busy day in Annie's world. Unfortunately one devoid of photos though. Well, photos of Miss A anyway.

Yesterday was another Camp Arrowhead day. The morning was spent in a hiking class, and the afternoon in a calligraphy class...Annie enjoyed both immensely. And she made new friends as well, since she has now moved up to the next age group.

After supper came swimming lessons. Annie is really enjoying diving. Just one class left of this session. She's not sure if she'll be moving up a level or not. But we probably won't get back to swimming lessons until the fall anyway, as soccer is about to start.

And finally, last evening she headed out with Rich to view the annual salamander migration. It was harder to pinpoint "the perfect night" this year as the ideal weather conditions haven't really presented themselves. Yesterday's weather was close, so they headed out to scope things out. And sure enough, they were rewarded for their efforts.

Not sure how easy they are to see, but there are three salamanders in this photo.

They saw three species of salamander this year, fewer than last year (but that is probably because of timing, not because of a change in populations).

Monday, April 7, 2008

for the birds

Yes, we already have a number of bird feeders. But one can always use more, right? And building a new one sounded like a fun little project for Annie's bird unit. It was Annie's job to choose a design...she went with the old coconut feeder.

A simple little feeder, but a mighty cute one.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

for the brain and the body

Camp Arrowhead is an area YMCA that offers classes for home-schoolers throughout the traditional school year. Annie absolutely loves attending! They do offer some pretty fun, interesting stuff. (Unfortunately, we can only afford to send her to a few each semester...but I think that helps her appreciate them even more.)

It really is a beautiful place, set out in the woods, which allows them to offer all kinds of camping, hiking, snowshoeing, and other outdoor activities.

Yesterday she took a full day class about the Olympics. Along with learning a bit about the history of the Olympics, the passing of the torch, etc., they also competed in their own mini version of the games. Annie had her first exposure to throwing the discus and heaving a shot put. They had relays, and obstacle courses, and long jump contests, plus a variety of "silly" games.

And here is Annie (in one very blurry photo) with her Olympic medal :)