Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Don't you just love to crack open new books?


Just like some people see a glass half full and others see it half empty, I think you can categorize people in the way they see Fall.  Some associate it with dying flowers and leaves and shorter colder days.  I've always been in the camp that associates Fall with new books and clothes and school supplies.  Here's what will be using this year.


Discover 4 Yourself  by Precept Ministries
We started these last year when Schnickelfritz had to agree to a regular Bible study as part of his responsibility/privelege in running the sound equipment for Sunday school.  I think he likes the idea of writing /coloring in a Bible.  Last year we did the How to Study Your Bible, the two volumes on Daniel, and the first Genesis title.  This year will be finishing Genesis with Digging Up the Past, Abraham: God's Brave Explorer, Extreme Adventures with God (Isaac, Esau & Jacob) and Joseph: God's Superhero


We've reviewed Apologia's Who am I? and Who is my Neighbor?  This year we'll be starting at the beginning with Who is God?  I'm making this a year long course and we'll be using the notebooking journal.
So how is this different than just teaching the Bible?  Well I see worldview as helping my son learn to take what's written in the Bible and applying it to the world around him.  Everyone has a worldview--not just Christians, and they use it when creating movies, writing books, composing music.  My son needs to be able to discern which of those messages are laced with deceptive or even destructive ideas.


We're a Math U See family--always have been.  We have a few more lessons in Epsilon and then it's on to Zeta.  Math is by far his favorite and easiest subject.  He'll be in pre-algebra while he's still 10!  I don't know if we'll stick with MUS in the upper levels, but that's a decision for another day.


Schnickefritz had his choice and he picked Mystery of History Vol 2.  We'll be studying from Pentecost through the Middle Ages.  I discovered that they've developed folderbooks to help students summarize and retain information so we'll be trying them this year.  We also keep a timeline in our basement hallway and use the timeline figures from Homeschool in the Woods.


We're revisiting Apologia's Exploring Creation with Astronomy this fall and adding here and there so Fritz can earn his Astronomy and Space Exploration merit badges for Royal Rangers.  I've created our own notebook journal to include all the badge requirements.  Next semester will be Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day which comes with a corresponding Notebooking Journal.

Language Arts:

We use All About Spelling,  and old copy of Easy Grammar, and Reading Detective.  I'll be incorporating the methods learned from IEW's Student Writing Intensive for assignments in history and science.  For Royal Rangers alone he needs to write papers on the purpose of the space shuttle, reasons for space exploration,  and another report on any other aspect of space exploration that interests him.

These items will make up the bulk of our schooling--of course we'll leave room for whatever products we review with the Homeschool Crew.  For our co-op this year, Fritz will have classes from The Prairie Primer and Mapping the World by Heart.  And I'll be teaching a hands on science class using the Science of Disney Imagineering DVDs.

As much as I've listed here, there's still a world to explore when it comes to homeschool curriculum.  Be sure to check some other blogs to see what they'll be using this year. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

First Day 2012


Well, we started school again and I'm quite pleased how things went.  It seems every year I think "There's so much we need to accomplish" and I really pack it on at the start.  We always start the school year (and each day) with prayer.  Schnitckelfritz was a little surprised when we weren't done by last year's usual time.  Welcome to reality kid, it gets longer and harder.

I just wanted to post the list of blogs participating in today's Blog Cruise Hop about Homeschool Methods.  Check a few of them out and be sure to stop by tomorrow when I join in on Curriculum choices.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

TOS Review: Math Essentials

When I count my blessings, I'm always thankful that math comes easy in our household.  It was one of my best subjects (up through Calculus II) and it's my son's best and favorite subject as well.  So it may seem a stretch for a 9 year old to be using an algebra text, but he's really ready and able.  Rather than suggest an age level, I'll just say No-Nonsense Algebra is upper level math and you'll know if your kids are ready for it.

The opening chapter is really helpful in that regard.  It's titled Necessary Tools for Algebra and it has 22 lessons just to make sure your student is ready for the rest of the course.  Because everyone may be coming from a different curriculum with a different scope and sequence, I appreciated this chapter to fill in all the gaps (for example, we'd never covered scientific notation).  Other lessons were just helpful reminders, like the correct order of operations--solving within parentheses first, then multiplying, and adding last.

The ten chapters (with multiple lessons in each) are:

  1. Necessary Tools for Algebra
  2. Solving Equations
  3. Graphing and Analyzing Linear Equations
  4. Solving and Graphing Inequalities
  5. Systems of Linear Equations & Inequalities
  6. Polynomials
  7. Rational Expressions (Algebraic Fractions)
  8. Radical Expressions and Geometry
  9. Quadratic Equations
  10. Algebra Word Problems

Each lesson is contained on a two-page spread.  You'll find an introduction to the topic, some example problems,  exercises for the student, and some cumulative review problems.  There's not room in the book to work out the problems so the student will need to copy them to another sheet of paper.  The author suggests writing out the example problems and the steps for solving them as well.  He suggests that it makes the learning process more effective. 

The key to this program is the online video lessons.  The back of the book provides the website and access code.  For those with several kids, permission is given for each new user of the book to log in with the same access code at no charge.  These videos are presented as a virtual white board and you can hear and see the instructor work through the example problems in the book.

Video Lesson Screen Shot
I think this program would work well with students that a mature enough to learn on their own.  There is no fluff or games to keep the students interest in learning.  While the answers are in the back of the book, there is no explanation on how those answers were obtained.  You can of course rewatch the lesson video, but there's really no other opportunities to learn the information or help the student see the problem in a new way if they didn't get it the first time around.   Because we have dial-up internet and a 5G download limit, this video driven course is not a good fit for our family.

No-Nonsense Algebra is published by Math Essentials for $27.95.   This price includes free online video lessons.  Math Essentials offers a no risk guarantee.  If you try No_Nonsense Algebra for 20 minutes a day as directed and don't see dramatic improvements in math skills they will refund your money no questions asked.


Disclaimer: I received a free copy of No-Nonsense Algebra for the purpose of completing this review.  There was no other compensation for my honest opinion.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

W for Where Did the Summer Go?

We've been on our school break since May.  All our summer plans are now pleasant memories--Camporama, the trip to Branson, etc.  I've spent the last week canning salsa and stocking up on freezer meals.  It's time to start our lessons again--next Monday.

The Homeschool Crew is getting ready for the new school year too.  All next week you can follow the Back to School Blog Hop.

If you're looking for motivation for getting your school year ready, or if you're just considering this homeschool notion, you'll find hundreds of helpful posts. I'll be joining in Tuesday through Friday (but I'll post links to Monday's posts as well. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

V is for Vote

I realize that I may be preaching to the choir here, studies show that homeschoolers are more involved politically than the average person.  We know our rights to keep our kids at home is constantly threatened.  I've made several last minute trips to Jefferson City to make sure our legislators know we're paying attention to the details in the bills they're considering (let's not talk about the whole "we have to pass it so we can find out what's in it" argument).

The fall election is often a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils.  It's the primaries where you can really select a candidate that represents your values and views on government involvement in your life.  I take my son with me every time.  I remind him that men have died to protect our right to vote.  Showing up at the polls is our way to honor and thank them.  I show him the voters guides published by several non-partisan sources and teach him that actions often speak louder than words--especially the words of campaign promises.

Blogging Through the Alphabet

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Review: Super Duper Hear Builder

Tell me I'm not the only mom this has happened to:  I just finished reading a passage to my Schnickelfritz--something from his science or history texts or a biography.  When I ask him to tell me what he remembers I get a blank stare.  Other days I give him a list of three tasks to do before bedtime and he'll return once or twice to ask "Now what was I supposed to do?"  I was curious to see if the Hearbuilder Auditory Memory CD-Rom would help him remember what I've said.  The best part,  since its configured as a game where he trains to become a Recall Agent, it doesn't even seem like memory training.

Since this is a computer product, let's start with the system requirements:

Windows                                          MacIntosh
2 GB of more RAM                                                       Intel Processor
XP, Vista, or 7                                                               2 GB of more RAM
CD-Rom Drive                                                               OS X  v 10.5 or later
250 MB free HD space                                                  CD-Rom Drive
                                                                                      250 MB free HD space

The disk does not load the games on you computer, only a record of your student's progress. 

The HearBuilder software includes five listening activities, called missions, each with multiple levels of growing difficulty.  When setting up students you can set their level of play, but this can't be changed.  To advance, you'll need to re-enter him as a new student with a higher level of difficulty.  I'll confess that I wasn't able to save my student's information, but that's because I have my computer's security level regarding cookies set very high.  If I could, my son could save his progress towards earning his agent status and I could print progress reports.

Numbers (17 levels)                               

The student must enter a numeric code into a digital lock.  The code starts with 3 digits and grows to 7.  Other challenges  hide the keypad until after the code has been heard, sometimes delaying it for several seconds.  Later distracting background noises are added.



Words (84 levels)

The student will look at a screen of picture tiles and then hear three to five of them named aloud.  He must click on them in the right order.  Again, higher levels remove the pictures and delay their appearance or add background sounds.

Details (64 levels)

The student must pick out the correct person based on the information heard (the boy wearing shorts, for example).  Tougher levels add more people.

Closure (22 levels)

The student hears a portion of a well known phrase or sentence but the final word is cut off (you usually hear the beginning sound of the word).  An example is "peanut butter and j....."  Then he hears four possible words to complete the phrase and must click the colored button that corresponds to the best choice.

WH Info ( 12 levels)

The students overhears to spies discussing evil plans--where to meet, what to pick up, etc.  Then he must answer a multiple choice question about those plans.   Of course you're trying to remember the details of the 5 W's,  some are very persnickety--did he say Baker Street or Benson Street.  Toughest game by far.

A word to the wise, don't just set up your student to have access to all levels.  My son was breezing along, but when he hit the advanced levels he was asking me to do the remembering for him.  When I said it's getting too hard for him and he should just quit he got upset because he didn't succeed in the mission (he was trying to stop Dr. Forgetsit from launching a Hiccupinator).  If a level is too easy, a student only needs to answer the first six questions correctly to advance to the next level.   Although each exercise is a game in itself, completing a level leads to a reward game--robot building, shooting space trash, etc.

So has my son's memory improved--well that's yet to be determined.  He's certainly picked up some tips, like everything is easier to remember to music. 
The Hearbuilder Auditory Memory software is available from Super Duper Publications for $69.95.  But through August 31st you can save 30 percent with coupon code BLGAM30  . The recommended grades are K-8. 


Disclaimer: I received a free copy of HearBuilder Auditory Memory for the purpose of completing this review.  There was no other compensation for my honest opinions.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

T is for Titanic Museum

Being several hundred miles from the nearest body of seawater and with the recent triple-digit temperatures, the last thing you'd expect to see on a road trip is an iceberg with a towering ocean liner close behind.  Surprising unless you're traveling through Branson, MO and then you're not only NOT surprised, but you've probably reached your destination.

We had seen the majestic ship rising about Highway 76 on our last trip but didn't have time to fit it in our schedule.  This time it would be a highlight of our trip--at least for my husband and me.  Neither of us was sure how our Schnickelfritz would react.  He's not a museum-enjoying kid, especially with all the other activities Branson has to offer right outside the door--go karts, miniature golf, etc.  Note: No photography is allowed inside the museum to preserve the artifacts.  The pictures in this post come from titanicbranson.com.

We arrived first thing Saturday morning and after taking a few photos outside, we stepped up to a crew member who handed us our boarding pass and an audio-tour device.  The boarding pass had the name of an actual passenger or crew member printed on one side.  We couldn't have asked for better bait to hook our son's attention.  Now he had a stake in the trip--he'd learn along the way whether his passenger survived or not.  Both my son and husband had the names of first class men, I had a third class female. 

Whenever we saw a numbered blue circle, we could key in that number into our audio device to hear more information.  Sometimes it was a recording of a Titanic survivor.  Sometimes we heard from Jaynee, the museum's human ambassador (there are also two dogs) or Bernard Hill who played the captain in the epic film.  I saw two benefits to the audio devices. First: it limited the number of guests in the museum at one time, making it much easier to see everything and interact with the "hands-on" features.  Second: my son viewed it as a scavenger hunt--looking for numbers.  He wasn't likely to read all the information on the walls and in the cases, but he didn't mind hearing it.  We could not leave a gallery until he had found and listened to all the audio messages.  Some of them even seemed geared towards kids--like the boiler furnace that growled "feed me."  We all tried our hands at lifting the shovel weighted down with coal.  No need to worry about gaining a few pounds on a cruise if you had to do that all day!

Shoveling Coal
My husband called my attention to a menu in the area dedicated to third class passengers.  The daily fare included gruel for dinner with a little note that any complaints should be taken to the steward.  We snickered at what we thought was a joke, but a museum employee dressed as a crewman informed us that the Titanic was one of the first ships where even third class passengers had rights.  They had private, albeit small cabins when most vessels just had steerage passengers in open dorms where they were packed like cattle. 

Third Class Cabin
It was here that I found a poignant display dedicated to my passenger, Emily Goldsmith.  She had been traveling with her husband and 9 year old son, both named Frank.  That hit a little close to home as my 9 year old son also shares his father's name.  A post-wreck photograph shows Emily's left hand on her son’s shoulder.  She was wearing two wedding bands.  It seems when the order went out for "Women and children first" that a traveling companion had taken off his wedding ring and asked her to carry it on to his wife who was already in America.  Emily's prized possession, her new sewing machine, went down with the ship. 

Some galleries were geared to providing information--the first and third class cabins, the room about the ship's design and construction, the maps of the voyage.  I learned that the Unsinkable Molly Brown was never called by that nickname--her friends called her Maggie.  Other rooms were more about developing a "you were there" experience--climbing the grand staircase, standing in the frigid air on the captain's deck or sitting in a life-size replica of a lifeboat.  Scnickelfritz was especially pleased by the hands-on room where he could climb the steeply sloped deck or see how long he could keep his hand in 28 degree sea water.  Believe me, it's not long and my hand burned for several minutes after I dried it off.

All of this lead to the memorial room with its list of all the passengers and crew.  We could search for our boarding pass names on the alphabetized lists.  Names written in italic font perished in the tragedy.  During our  tour Schnickelfritz and I had already discovered that our passengers had survived (ironically escaping on the same lifeboat I discovered during post-trip research) but we didn't know about my husband's name.  It was in italics.  Another well-informed crew member said that this man had thought he'd seen the lights of another ship and jumped into the icy waters hoping to swim to it.

I wondered how my son was taking in this whole experience, if he truly understood the tragedy.  Was the boarding pass lesson just a game to be won or lost?  As we stood in the memorial room I had a brief conversation with him.  I explained that although there was no finger-pointing in the museum, the White Star Lines boasted that "God himself couldn't sink the Titanic" so there was no need for lifeboats to accommodate everybody.  Others believe that the company's director wasn't satisfied with being the grandest ship afloat and  pushed the captain to go for a new Atlantic crossing speed record.  If the ship hadn't been traveling at night at unsafe speeds in a ice field...... My son took a few seconds to digest that information and then covered his eyes with his hands and buried his face in a bench cushion.  When he looked at me again he whispered  "I killed all these people."  You see the name on my son's boarding pass was Bruce Ismay, Director of the White Star Lines.  Yeah, he got it.  He had become so immersed in the last 90 minutes that he bore the guilt of what another man may or may not have done over a century ago.

As a homeschooling mama, I was impressed with the amount of educational material available online to prepare for or to summarize our visit.  I printed out the Scavenger Hunt for my son to complete during our visit.  The Language Arts suggestions include making a travel brochure for the voyage, writing a newspaper article of the tragedy, creating job descriptions for the crew,  learning Morse Code, or writing an essay on the concept of "Women and children first."    The obvious Science topic is buoyancy and how the "unsinkable" ship went down so quickly.  Other study areas are Math, Geography and even Religion.  The Religion section focuses on Father Frank Browne, who disembarked in Ireland and wasn't on board when Titanic struck the iceberg.  I wish there would have been some mention of Pastor John Harper, who spent his last minutes sharing the Good News with fellow passengers in the freezing waters of the Atlantic.

For full disclosure, none of the objects in the museum were brought up from the ocean floor.  That is the final resting place of hundreds of souls and shouldn't be disturbed.  Some items were grabbed in haste and carried on the lifeboats.  There was a lovely beaded purse of a third class passenger--she thought she would need the luggage claim tickets it held.  There's an Egyptian talisman that Molly Brown kept in her coat pocket.  Some pieces came from Titanic's sister ship, the Olympic, that represent the craftsmanship in the woodworking.  There was a remnant of Titanic's carpeting that some worker took home with him.  The photographs came from Father Browne who disembarked in Ireland.  Everything is the collection is still authentic and priceless.

In conclusion, there are plenty of attractions in Branson vying for your vacation dollars.  I heartily recommend a stop at the Titanic Museum.

Disclaimer: I received free tickets to the Titanic Museum for the purpose of completing this review.  There was no other compensation for my honest opinions.

Home from Branson

We're back from our trip to pick up Schnickelfritz from Royal Rangers Camporama.  On the way home we stopped to spend a day at Silver Dollar City.  It was the first visit for hubby and son and my first visit in more than a decade.  Still one of the best them parks in the country!  I got to enjoy the crafts while they road the coasters.  We all enjoyed a special show--Gazillions of Bubbles.  I sure would like to know his formula for bubble solution.

The next day we went to the Titanic Museum in Branson.  I'll actually be updating my T is for Titanic post with details of that trip so I can keep the link with Ben and Me's ABC challenge.  We were all impressed.

When we got home a neighbor brought over a bushel of tomatoes.  We lost all ours to squirrels while they were still green--I wonder if they were going for the water in these drought conditions?  Anyway, the neighbor had hers surrounded by electric fencing to keep the little varmits out.  I spent the weekend making salsa.

It's time for me to gear up for the new school year.  We'll be starting the end of the month with normal lessons (of course I've already logged the Titanic museum as history hours).

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Review: Who is My Neighbor?

A human's life has often been described as a path--the choices we make alter our course.  Even the Lord referred to the "broad road that leads to destruction" and the "narrow road that leads to life." (Mt 7: 13-14)  To expand that analogy, looming ahead in my son's path is the chain of Rocky Mountains with its chance of avalanches and dangerous passes.  It may be college or entering the work force or whenever he forced to stand on his own two feet and face the world alone.  The statistics are staggering--I've heard where 62% of students who enter college with a faith commitment leave without it.   I'm trying to do everything in my power to ensure Schnickelfritz doesn't fall into that category. 

Last year we had the opportunity to review a cooperative effort by Apologia and Summit Ministries called Who Am I?  I was so impressed with that worldview study that I purchased the first book in the series--Who is God?  I feel blessed to now review the third book--Who Is My Neighbor: And Why Does He Need Me?  (The fourth book due out this year is What on Earth Can I Do?).

This book ($39.00), geared at 6-14 year olds, has eight lessons:
  1. Does Anyone Really Need Me?
  2. How Can I Make a Difference?
  3. Who is My Neighbor?
  4. Why Did God Make Families?
  5. What Can I Do For My Country?
  6. Why Can't We All Just Get Along?
  7. Who is God's Family?
  8. Why Does the Church Need Me?
Each lesson begins with   "The Big Idea" and the "What You Will Do" to capture the child's interest to the lesson's topic give a brief description of the learning objectives.  Next comes a Short Story with young characters learning to work through their differences, minster to one another and seek counsel from the Bible.  The first four lessons deal with a Chinese family escaping the threat of Mao Tse Tung's communism  and trying to fit in American culture.  The last four chapters are about an Appalachian family dealing with the institution of slavery and the Civil War  Kids are invited to reflect and dig deeper into the story by answering the Think About It questions.   The Words You Need to Know and Hide it in Your Heart prepare the child for the What Should I Do?  This section highlights a godly character trait and helps the student see how to demonstrate it in his life ( the lesson ends with Prayer).

Text with plenty of colorful photos
New to this book is a section called Encounters with Jesus.  Stories that may only take a few verses in the Bible are fleshed out to show how Jesus showed God's love to individuals in their time of need:  the bride at Cana who ran out of wine at her wedding feast, the paralytic whose friends lower him from the roof to Jesus' presence, etc.  In Take a Closer Look student's have questions to ponder about what Jesus did and how they can serve others today. Four of the lessons end with the House of Truth--a visual aid to help you remember what God says in the Bible about Himself, who you are, and how God expects you to live.   Throughout the chapter are gray boxes with brief articles or exercises that tie into the main topic or give insight into the short story.

Like most Apologia texts, there is a Notebooking Journal  ($24.00) available for Who is My Neighbor?  There are places to write answers or draw pictures for the Think About It,  and Take a Closer Look sections of the text.  There are questions to see what you remember from the What Should I Do?  Often there's a word search or crossword puzzle, places to write the definitions of Words To Know and practice handwriting with the Hide it in Your Heart verses.   These is a mini book to construct and fill based on the lesson and other pages to write prayers and journal where you see God working in your life.  

Mini Book and Word Search

Perhaps its the visual learner in me, but the one thing I don't like about the Notebooking Journal is that most of the pages have background images in areas that are supposed to be written in.  I don't mind so much if it's a landscape or object but it almost feels like graffiti to write over some one's face or a piece of artwork.  Perhaps if they could make the images even more faded?

Writing over art?

The is a Coloring Book ($8.00) to round out the Who is My Neighbor set.  Schnickelfritz isn't one to color, but it might work for wiggly students while you read aloud to them.  At this time there isn't an audio CD available, but I'm sure it's coming.

The suggested lesson plan covers the book in 48 sessions (2 sessions per week).  I found this was too much material for Fritz to handle in one sitting.  The short stories and Encounters with Jesus are 8-10 pages on their own.  We chose to read one day and to the Journaling on the next.  Sometimes we would just discuss the questions (especially those just checking what he remembered from the story) and I would write in his response.

I'll be saving this book till we finish the first two in the series and I'll be eagerly awaiting the final volume..  (While technically each book is its own course and could stand alone, it will be more effective to teach them in order).   Be sure to read others opinions of Who is My Neighbor by clicking here.  


Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the Who is My Neighbor text and Notebooking Journal for the purpose of completing this review.  There was no other compensation for my opinions.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Science of Disney Imagineering: Trajectory

We shipped Schnickelfritz of to Camporama yesterday which means its just me and the dog at home (until Toolman and I go to join him on Thursday--more about that later).  So what's a mom to do?  Well, I am taking some time to scrapbook, but I'm also entering next year's school work into Edu-Track.  A new challenge this year will be teaching a hands-on science class at our co-op.  I've decided to use the Science of Disney Imagineering DVDs to introduce each subject and we'll either do the Try It Yourself experiments or something else that fits the topic (we're not going to build that hovercraft from the Gravity DVD).   Now's as good a time as any for me to finish up my summaries from this great series.  So today we'll look at Trajectory (I think this is Fritz's favorite).

Asa's Invention:    In order to feed guests quickly Asa builds the Churro-Matic 3000 to launch deep fried treats into the guests waiting hands.  I think this is why my son loves this video.  While trying to perfect the speed and angle of launch Asa sends churros into a co-worker's bowl of soup, takes out a model coaster, and impales a computer monitor--nothing captures a boy's fancy more than comedic destruction.

Defined Terms:   Trajectory, Gravity, Projectile, Parabola, Zero G's

Disney Rides and Attractions that exemplify the theme:

Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt show:  It turns out it takes more than just horsepower and guts to perform the crazy car jumps that entertain guests.  To do the same trick over and over day after day someone had to perform some pretty precise calculations with car speed, launch angles, etc.  Asa suggests a new stunt with a bicycle and garbage truck launching at the same time off of the same ramp.  In theory, with no wind resistance, the two vehicles would follow the same path--although the stunt coordinator said he wouldn't want to be the guy on the bike.

Toy Story Midway Mania:  Since the interactive element of this ride takes place in the virtual world, we are dealing with perfect trajectory with only gravity to consider.  Each time the ride stops for shooting, computers are determining the up & down, and left to right angles of the pull string cannons.

Disney's Fireworks shows:  We often walk away remembering the beauty of the display and how well it flowed with the music.  Did you ever stop to consider just how someone gets all those explosions to occur at the right time and position in the sky?  They know the mass of each firework and the launch angle of each tube.  A computer controls compressed air to adjust the speed at which each projectile is launched and the laws of physics take over from there.

Leapfrog Fountains at the Imagination Pavilion:  I could spend hours watching these jets of water hop from pad to pad (sometimes right over my head).  Water is normally a very turbulent fluid, so to pull this trick off special flow heads had to be installed to "calm" the water down do that it will follow the parabolic path when squirted out.

California Screamin'  The roller coaster train isn't a projectile because it has to follow the path of the tracks, but trajectory does play a part in coaster design.  When the tracks pull the cars down down at a faster rate than it would normally follow from gravity alone the rider is rewarded with that weightless feeling.

Try It Yourself   Asa and some friends build a three-man sling shot.  (We won't be doing this for my co-op class since we inside a church--but it could be a lot of fun!)

If you'd like to learn about the other titles in the Science of Imagineering series click here.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

S is for Scrapbooking---Digitally

I confess, I love to scrapbook.  When Schnickelfritz was younger and we lived in Indiana I would join several ladies at the local church for scrapbook night.  We'd have snacks and door prizes.  I managed to get 3 or 4 pages done in between chatting.

Now it's become more of a burden.  I don't want the mess of hauling out the papers and punches or worse, putting them away after.  And I don't seem to have the time I used to.  Last fall we took a trip to Disney World and I hadn't even finished scrapbooking the trip we took five years before. 

Then I discovered digital scrapbooking and I'm feeling that creative bug again.  It's all done on the computer.  I use Photoshop Elements 10  which I picked it up free using Office Max perks  (homeschooler are eligible for the Teacher Perks program).  Here are some of the advantages:

  1. It doesn't take up space.  It's all done virtually on the computer so I don't have to lug out supplies to the dining table.  Better yet, I don't have to leave supplies on the dining table while I wait to find a few spare minutes.
  2. It doesn't have to cost money.  Google scrapbook freebies and see how much people are giving away:  digital papers, great alphabet fonts, embellishments, and templates.  You can find all sorts of themes from Christmas to Disney vacations.
  3. If you do purchase something you can use it over and over again.  No more running out of paper or worse using up all the "E"s in your sticker letters while you've got a stack of unused "Q"s and "X"s.
  4. Lot's of the work is already done for you.  Some people create complete pages and all you have to do it plop your own images in the appropriate spots.  Other folks create templates--designating where journaling and photos should go but giving you the freedom to choose background paper and embellishments.  Here's an example:
I used a free template from Yin Designs.

I'm in the process of adding digital paper and embellishments from KellyBell Design's French Quarter kit.  (I purchased this kit).

There a  few concerns with digital scrapbooking as well, but nothing that can't be overcome.  First is the possibility of losing everything if the computer crashes.  I had lots of freebies lost when our laptop died.  So backup, backup, backup.  Second is how to print your finished work.  Most home printers can't accomodate a 12 X 12 sheet of paper.  I've found Cosco will print this size for around $3 (I'd spend that much per page buying paper and stickers the old way).  You can also use 8 X 11 templates which can be printed at home and just mount them on a sheet of scrapbook paper.

While delving into the digital scrapbooking world I found an intriguing idea by Robin Sampson of Heart of Wisdom.  She's starting to use digital scrapbooking techniques in her homeschooling.  Rather than simply notebooking, they have colorfully embellished pages to remember what they've learned.

From Heart of Wisdom
You can check out her ideas at Faster than a Lapbook, More Powerful than a Book Report!.   I'd like to try something like this next year with Mystery of History.  We may not do each lesson, but it would certainly help emphasize the dozen "Dates to Remember."

Be sure to check out the other "S" entries at Ben and Me's ABC Challenge.


A quiet Fourth of July

Record heat and extreme drought have cancelled most of the Fireworks displays in our area.  I haven't even heard a pop or crackle from the neighbors--who are no doubt worried about what a stray spark could do to their yard or house.  The local news featured a demonstration by the fire dept. of just how quickly the grass could be set ablaze by a sparkler.  There will still be fireworks in St. Louis if we care to make the drive--one advantage of raving a wide river.  They shoot the fireworks off of several barges stationed in the middle.

Maybe we'll do something really old fashioned like crank some ice cream.
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