Thursday, February 28, 2008

Static Electricity

Tonight we had fun with static electricity. We were folding laundry and heard the "snaps" of static electricity from a blanket. So we went into a darkened room and started rubbing and pulling the blanket some more. We saw lots of sparks, it was fun! We briefly talked about electrons, electric charge, conductors, insulators, and adhesion. The girls also had fun rubbing the blanket on their heads and watching their hair stand up!

We then watched a video on about static electricity. We learned that the blanket was taking the electrons from their hair, making their hair positive, which then is attracted to the negative charge of the blanket.

The girls thought it was pretty neat that lightning is static electricity as well.

We also found some neat activities to try. One we want to try out tomorrow involves a plastic comb, string, and a cheerio!

Today, Georgia worked on the language portion of the test. Tomorrow she completes the two math sections.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Testing Week

This week Georgia is taking the California Achievement Test for Grade 2.

Today she completed Test 1: Vocabulary and Test 2: Comprehension.

There are six tests in all.

The test results will be sent to us in the mail. We'll then send the results to the superintendent with our subsequent homeshool intent letter, and put a copy in Georgia's portfolio.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


The girls had their first soccer class yesterday. They are in seperate classes, and as I suspected, it is mostly boys. I think Olivia had four girls in her class of about 25 kids. Georgia was one of four girls in her class, too.

The girls loved it and had a great time. I wasn't sure how Olivia would take to it at first, since her class was first and she wouldn't be able to see Georgia do it first. (Sometimes that gives her confidence.) But she was excited. She met her coach, which was female, and I am sure that helped. Georgia had the same coach for her class. The kids all seemed to enjoy themselves, with the exception of one little girl in Olivia's class who was crying and didn't want to join the rest of the kids. I looked at Mark and we were both thinking the same thing.....thank goodness Olivia did not react like that....because she very well could have. (Swimming lessons come to mind.)

We took some pictures and a couple quick videos. I still have not mastered taking pictures at the YMCA. Their lighting is horrible for pictures, plus with the kids moving around so fast the pictures are usually blurs. But I keep trying....

Olivia's class, she's in there somewhere

That blur below is Olivia, the arrow is pointing to her.

Georgia's class

(I'm surprised more kids didn't run into each other!)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

G's Magnet Story

The girls were playing with some magnets in their room. Georgia called me in to show me what she made. I thought it was pretty cool, so I taped it for you to hear, too.

Winter Hike

The girls went on a winter hike today. They saw Canada geese, cardinals, chickadees, song sparrows, tree sparrows, and morning doves. They also saw some deer tracks, and some other tracks that they couldn't figure out.

Afterwards, they went into the Nature Center and dug in the archaeology table, checked out things under a microscope, looked at the animals, and out the birding window.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Geography is Fun!

We love geography! We have maps on our walls, we love to look at globes, play geography games, and work on geography puzzles.

Livy worked on puting the world puzzle together with me the other day. I would give her a piece and tell her it was a part of Africa, or Australia, and we would find where the continent was. After a while, she started to remember the continents by name, and where they were located!

We also love the geography games at

And here's some other fun ones:

And here there are printable coloring pages for each state.

We also love to play National Geographic's GeoBee board game. And we all get their magazines. Mark and I receive the original National Geographic, Georgia gets the National Geographic Kids magazine, and Olivia receives the National Geographic Little Kids Magazine.

Their websites are very informative and fun, as well. The kids love to play games, watch videos, and learn new things at their kids' site:

And we love to watch programs on the National Geographic Channel.

Yes, we are members of National Geographic. Perhaps the title of this post should be changed to National Geographic Lovers!!

Winter Safety

With the recent snow and winter weather, the girls have learned a bit about winter safety and fun facts.

At they read a story and had to "be the detective" to answer a couple questions.

And at they learned about frostbite.

At NOAA's National Weather Service website they learned about winter weather safety, and what to do in certain situations.

We also printed out a booklet that included some interesting facts.

In the above mentioned booklet, we learned that:

In the Antarctic, there is a 30-30-30 rule. When the temperature is 30 below, and the wind is 30 miles per hour, a person can live only 30 minutes outside.

We also learned what windchill means and how it is calculated.

Other interesting facts from the booklet:
  • The lowest temperature in the United States was -79.8*F at Prospect Creek Camp in the Endicott Mountains of northern Alaska on January 23, 1971.

  • Aside from Alaska, the coldest temperature was -69.7*F in Rogers Pass, Montana, on January 20, 1954.

  • One storm from February 13-19, 1959, dumped 189 inches of snow at Mt. Shasta Ski Bowl, California.

  • The greatest snowfall in 24 hours in the United States was at Silver Lake, Colorado, on April 14-15, 1921, 75.8 inches.

  • The most snow in the U.S. in one month--390 inches (32.5 feet) fell at Tamarack, California, in January 1911.

  • In the winter of 1971-72, 93.5 feet (1,122 inches) of snow fell at the Rainier Paradise Ranger Station in the state of Washington.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Snow Day!


Not sticky enough yet for snowmen, but we'll take it!
And what is better than coming in to a cup of hot chocolate and reading!
Livy and I read for a bit, then she wanted to run around with her pony.

She practiced braiding on his mane last week.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Gymnastics Fun

The girls had fun showing us some of their gymnastics moves...

Planting Garlic

We decided to have some fun with some old garlic cloves I had. We opened them up and to see what's inside. Then we decided to see what would happen if we planted some. We soaked one of the garlic cloves in water for a day, and did nothing to the other. When we put them in pots and covered them with soil, we watered them equally.

Here's the one that was NOT soaked in water before planting. (in the pot)

And here's the one that was.

We could almost watch it grow! It was amazing how fast the garlic sprouted. In the morning it was starting to show some green...and by bedtime it was markedly taller. The picture above was taken just one day after planting!

And here's what it looks like on day three...

We have yet to see any sprouts from the dry-planted cloves.

We are thinking of pulling them up and soaking them first, too!

Bird Count Time

It is now time for the Great Backyard Bird Count!

We've been keeping our eyes open and have identified, counted, and written down the birds we have seen. Mark has reported them for us, and using the GPS, he can also note exactly where they were.

Engineer It!

This weekend we visited the new exhibit at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery called Engineer It!

We first had fun in a wind tunnel. The girls both put on some "wings" and felt the difference in the wind's effect by moving into different postitions.

We also made some paper airplanes. We tried a few different designs.

Then the girls tested their design using wind to see how the plane reacted. Then they could change their design if needed. They could also see what a difference little changes in the design had on the performance of their planes.

This was an ongoing theme throughout the exhibit. Engineers use models to try different designs and make adjustments because it is a lot cheaper to make model airplanes, for example, than it is to make actual airplanes! And they learned that just because something doesn't work the first time, they shouldn't give up. Small changes can have a dramatic effect on performance.

After that, the girls had fun trying to throw their planes in a target.

There was also a station to experiment in windmill designs. You had to design a windmill and then test it for efficiency.

Next, the girls experimented with boat designs. They got to put together a boat for speed efficiency. The kids raced each other to see who made the speediest boat! The boats were pulled by a string and motor. The one that was designed to cut through the water the best, with the least resistance, won.

The girls also experimented with sailboats, building boats to be the most efficient at capturing wind energy.

The girls also tried making bridges. Georgia succeded at making a cantilever bridge.

And she was able to make a paper bridge that held up two wooden blocks.

There were a lot of other stations in the exhibit. Some dealt with gears and pulleys, or working with a crane. There was another that involved designing buildings to withstand earthquakes. There was also one for arch-building. We didn't have time to try them all on this trip. But this exhibit is there until May 14th, and we will definitely be back to have some more fun with it!

While we were there, we were lucky enough to check out the huge telescope upstairs. It was focused on the sun! They used a special filter so that we were able to look at the sun without hurting our eyes!

And, of course before leaving, the girls worked in the Animal Hospital!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Class Dismissed

Here's a good article on unschooling and homeschooling...

Class Dismissed
By Rachel Tennenbaum

Imagine waking up on a Monday and driving up to Berkeley to check out a new art gallery opening. That night you play some video games and crack open a book before hitting the hay. Think this sounds like a day off for a college student? It’s actually the school day of a 9-year-old. No, it’s not a fantasy Ferris Bueller-style: It’s a daily reality for thousands of young learners who call themselves “unschoolers.”

rest of the article here:

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


The girls have been learning about nutrition, the food pyramid, and exercise. We received some free food pyramid posters from the USDA at

We also had fun playing the Blastoff Game. It really challenges you to think about food choices for the day.

You can try it here

Some other good nutrition sites for kids are:

Kids Health from the Nemours Foundation

Nutrition Exploration from the National Dairy Council

Kids Nutrition from North Dakota State University

Body and Mind from the CDC

Nutrition Cafe from the Pacific Science Center

Superkids from the Dole Food Company
Kids World: Nutrition from North Carolina Dept of Agriculture

Georgia has completed some worksheets about nutrition, and Olivia has made a food book which identifies the food groups.

We also printed some food journals from
which we will be completing.

Georgia and Olivia will also be creating a menu for a day, using their knowledge of the food pyramid.

Georgia has also learned more about the food labels and what to look for. She's always looked at them she reads anything she gets her hands on. But now she is learning what each category means, and what is nutritious and what is not so healthful.

We also play a fun game where we spin a spinner which will land on one of six types of exercise. You could also use a die and assign each exercise a number 1 through 6. After landing on a type of exercise we would do it for one minute, and then we would spin again. The girls LOVE this. We plan on making up some new moves to try something different. We've done running in place, jumping jacks, kicking, leap frog, etc.

The girls had gymnastics class tonight. Next session they will continue gymnastics, but also try indoor soccer. Should be fun. Georgia has participated in spring and fall soccer with the city's recreation department and she loves it. Olivia was never old enough to participate, but she helped out and liked to practice on the sidelines. She loves soccer, too.

Milestones of Science

We received the Milestones of Science poster we ordered from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
The poster was free! We did pay shipping, though. ($3)
It is very intersting and educational! The poster is presented as a timeline. Now we just need to find some wall space so we can look at it whenever we pass by!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Playing with Animals

The girls love animals! They love reading about them, watching documentaries about them, visiting them, and playing with them. They have quite a collection of wild animal toys. Olivia knows which ones are from Africa, and what habitat most of them live in, such as rain forest or desert.

The girls wanted me to take a video of them playing the other day. Here it is....

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Rainbow People

Last week, when the girls were sculpting with PlayDoh, Georgia created a bunch of little people whom she calls "Rainbow People". She let them dry and has decided to make a story about them. She said she wants to make a whole series of little Rainbow People books. She's started on the first one, which introduces the people.
When she is finished, perhaps she'll share them here.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Zoo Tycoon

The girls received the Zoo Tycoon ( expansion packs for Extinct Animals and Marine Mania for Christmas. They have been having fun making their zoos with more options.

The Extinct Animals has more than thirty extinct animals. They can also hire a paleontologist to search and dig for fossils, they can experiment in the Research Lab, and put together the fossils once they have a complete set. Animal bones look different than human bones, so its been fun figuring them out! Georgia has also learned about DNA, cloning, and disease curing. If she has a diseased animal she can send samples to the lab to find out what's wrong, and then work to cure the animal or work on a cure for the disease. They have a lot of information about dinosaurs and other extinct animals in the Zoopedia. Some of the animals include the Cave Lion, American Mastodon, Bluebuck, Dodo, and the Sivatherium.

The Marine Mania has twenty new animals, including the Manta Ray, West Indian Manatee, Sea Otter, and Rockhopper Penguin. The girls can also train animals, like the orca or bottlenose dolphin, to perform tricks. In this game the girls have to learn about tanks and filters, and how to keep them clean. And as in all the Zoo Tycoon games, the girls learn about the species, their habits, diet, and general care. They work on a budget and have to hire maintenence workers, or their zoo gets overrun with trash, and also zoo keepers, or their animals do not get groomed and fed. The game also has enrichment items for each animal. When we went to the National Zoo last May the girls were pointing out the animals toys and saying, "Hey, look what they have for animal enrichment!"

Zoo Tycoon (Microsoft) also donates part of their proceeds to the World Wildlife Fund.