Monday, September 11, 2017

Bayer Bee Research Center in Durham NC

Always on the hunt for free, fun, and educational field trips, I jumped on the chance to visit a local bee research facility.  By the way, if you can't get there in person you can take a virtual tour of it by visiting this link: https://beehealth.bayer.us/home

After a field trip I always regret not getting more pictures that really tell the story of our experience.  But between watching the littles, managing the camera and also trying to learn something myself, photos often become an after thought.

Anyway, here's a bit about our experience:


The tour starts with a great 10-15 minute presentation describing the pollination process, different kinds of bees in the hive, threats to bee health, and what we can do to help bees thrive.  Above you can see our youngest volunteering to be one of the bees that takes care of the baby bees.  Older sister is there for moral support.


We then moved outside to the screened in observation area.  There was a cool praying mantis on display for our enjoyment as well!  Gotta love NC insect diversity!



It was a pleasant day indeed.  Mid 70s with a gentle breeze; felt like a bit of PNW home.  What a pretty setting.



Our tour guide geared up and went outside to hunt for the queen bee.  We couldn't find her.  The guide explained that the "cold" weather was forcing her to stay warm inside of the clumps of bees where we couldn't see her.  Oh well.  But we could see she had been busy! there were lots of new eggs and larvae.



This year my oldest is taking an early morning seminary class that starts at 6am Mon-Fri.  She's still adjusting to the schedule, as you can see here.  What a great day for a little nap in a rocking chair by a beautiful garden.



Exploring the garden!  There were lots of bees.  Made me a tad nervous.



Lovely.


So, I wish that I had pictures of the kids enjoying their free honey samples, free honey sticks, free fuzzy bee stickers, and free squishy sunflowers.  Lots of free goodies after the tour.  Wish I had some cute pictures of the friends who made the trip with us.  And it would have been cool to get some pics of the cool research facility.   Wow, it's really a neat facility with beautiful grounds! I wouldn't mind working there myself!

In summary: Feed a bee so they can feed you!  Plant flowers today :)



Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Solar Eclipse 2017

We didn't travel to see the eclipse in its path of totality.  We stayed local and went to a park with a big open field where we'd be sure to have a good view but also hear and feel the reaction of others as this very cool event took place.  Lucky us: We were fortunate enough to be serenaded by our fellow viewers with a rousing rendition of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" as we reached peak coverage.

We were expecting 93% coverage here, and even though it didn't get totally dark, it was really cool to witness the change in light and temperature.  I have to say, that I really don't mind having just 7% of the sun's rays beating on me in August.  It was like someone had drawn the shades over a hot window.  Things cooled off, I didn't have to wear my sunglasses, and a slight breeze began to blow.  Perfect!  That's the kind of weather I wish we had every day!

So here are some photos of the big day. We didn't do a whole unit on the sun or the moon in preparation.  I figured the Apologia Astronomy class we did a couple years ago would have to suffice.  Interestingly, my oldest daughter just started an astronomy class this month and she's using MasterBooks as her curriculum.  She is really enjoying it so far and this was the ultimate lab!

We had a cool set up with our binoculars projecting an image onto poster board.  The only problem was that they were taped a little loosely onto the tripod and somebody had to hold it in place THE ENTIRE TIME or we'd lose the image.

       



The free glasses that we picked up at the library were great!  I'm pretty sure they were authentic, and not lame counterfeit glasses.  Some of us wanted to be extra safe though and put the glasses through paper plates to really keep out those rays!
    

      



Dang it! We had made a slew of pinhole viewers too, but we left them at home.  So we didn't get to try those out.

Here's what our little did during the eclipse.  But when we got home she kept reenacting the whole thing by looking up at the ceiling, covering her eyes with her hands and saying, "bright! bright!".   Ok....

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Summer Math Games for Reluctant Math Boy

My rising 5th grader is a smart kid. He's creative, inventive, and has a mind like a steel trap. He can remember so many cool facts and figures. Every week he brings home STACKS and STACKS of books from the library (mostly non fiction) and reads them all before we go back. He's constantly wowing me with his factoids and interesting trivia. I don't know how he holds it all in that handsome head of his. He loves computers and has learned to do some coding. Like his father, he has a mechanical brain and can figure out how things work and how to fix them fairly quickly.

So, it's all the more frustrating to me that he still struggles with his math facts. He can remember how many people live in China and what their top exports are, but he can't remember 9x4? Really? Even after I've taught him aaaaaallllll of the "nine tricks"? WHY? His shaky grasp of the math facts was really getting in the way as we headed into long division, fractions and the like. He was starting to hate math. It became a struggle. "NO!" I screamed in my head. "I refuse to have another reluctant math student. THIS will not DO!"

I remembered reading an article about this topic, reminding educators that the main reason kids resist math in upper elementary school is that they don't have a firm grasp on basic facts, and the problems that seem so easy and quick for us adults, are actually so tedious and laborious for kids who just can't figure out what 7 x 6 is. Yeah. That made a lot of sense to me. So I set out to fix that this summer: 

Summer Math Plan for Cranky Factoid Boy:
 *Play games!
*Review/Drill
*Play more Games!
*Review and Drill some more
*Learn multiplication fact songs.

 And I have to say, it's working. We haven't even touched his text book this summer. I did a lot of research and just put together a binder full of math games that we play every other day. In between those days I give him a math drill sheet that I grabbed for free from Learn Math Fast.  And every day or so, we practiced a new song from Times to Remember.  We all really like the songs and find ourselves singing them randomly around the house.  4.x8 is one of our favorites: "Tooty-Hoo!"

I think his favorite game was Kaboom!  I used to play this game with my kids when they were younger to help them with their  sight words.  But we called it "unicorn" because that's what my girls were into at the time.  You can play Kaboom to learn pretty much anything and even my 6yo liked it and learned a lot of her facts along the way.

Was it worth it to take our whole summer term (9 weeks!) away from the texts book and focus on just memorizing facts?   yeah, I think so.  I'm sure hoping that it will eliminate the daily math struggle when we pick up his text book and keep moving forward with it.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

A Sunday Saunter

There's a great place just up the road from our house called Yates Mill.  It's an old corn mill, and we've been there on a field trip to take tours before.  This particular Sunday (it's been several weeks now) we decided to head out in the afternoon to burn off some energy with the kids by exploring a few of the trails around the lake.

What beautiful scenery!  I always love getting out of the house for a fun, low-key hike with the kids.  Of course, these outings don't always turn out as planned. Sometimes the tensions get high, accidents happen, injuries occur, fights break out, weather turns bad, and so on.  You know how it goes, right?  But at least we try.

This outing was generally a success, despite a few little arguments.  We discovered a trail that connects to the NC State Ag. farms and played on a big wooden swing hanging from an oak tree on the edge of their property.  Very cool.  And these days its seems that our oldest can always be found with a volleyball attached to her.   She and her dad volleyed all they way around the lake, which did happen to annoy a few of the other hikers (in our family!)

But I seem to love this place.  If it weren't for the bit of road noise that you can hear on part of the trail, it would be almost perfect.  So serene, so green, and best of all...close to home.

Notice the Duke Splash T-shirt my volley ball girl is wearing.  She got that at an event held at Duke University the day before our hike. It was for middle and high schoolers. She was able to choose 4 classes and have a pizza lunch for free!  Some of her home school buddies went too and she loved it!  They turned her loose on campus with a map and a list of her classes.  So much freedom and independence!!   She was totally seeing herself going to school there in the future, which, of course, was probably the whole point of the event.  





Monday, April 3, 2017

Strawberries

Wow, strawberry season comes early in NC.  Not a problem! All the more time to pick, eat, jam, and enjoy.





NC Zoo!

Today we took our family to the NC zoo.  The only other zoo I have to compare it with is the Woodland Park zoo in Seattle, which we have visited many times.  I like that zoo in Seattle a lot.  Lots of good memories there.  But if I had to pick the best one, I'd say it's NC Zoo hands down!

What a beautiful zoo! And what a fabulous location! The tram was super convenient (except the part where they make you remove your sleeping child from the stroller, empty the stroller of ALL its contents, and fold it flat before you board).  And the exhibits were very engaging.

We didn't get to see everything of course.  You never can do a whole zoo in one day.  We look forward to going back again!  Next time we hope to take all the kids.  Our oldest stayed home with a chest cold today.  Sad.  :(

   



  



   


  

   


Saturday, April 1, 2017

5 Ways Homeschooling is like Entrepreneurship

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Please include attribution to https://discoverpraxis.com with this graphic.