Monday, May 23, 2011

OMG, Arts on Stage!

We recently went with our homeschool co-op to see the Arts on Stage show at Goucher College in Towson, MD. As with most things we do, I enjoyed it more than the kids, and went breathless with laughter telling my husband about the silly tricks and jokes the performers made and did on stage.

Courtesy and Property of Bfocus Photography Solutions
Our show "Scientific Circus" was of course about science fun and me being a science geek, it was right up my alley. Things we learned about that I never knew before:

  • Whips make sonic booms. OMG, I was utterly fascinated by this fun fact. I thought only jet engines and lightning (making thunder) could accomplish this but boy was I wrong. They demonstrated the power of the tip of the whip as it traveled faster than air by using the whip to slice and shred through paper with amazing precision over and over again.
  • You can make a boomerang from a pizza box top and surprisingly, boomerangs DID NOT originate in Australia. How to do it: Trace the pattern of a cross into the box top, then cut it out. Holding it parallel to the ground, you curve the tips slightly toward the ground. You have to hold it straight up and down to toss it and you stand still and wait for it to come back. The science of boomerangs have always fascinated me and this one I loved. 
  • They taught us how to balance any item using the concept of locating its center of gravity. Taller items (yard sticks) are easier to balance say, on the tip of your finger, than short ones (pencils) and you must look at the base of the item to keep it balanced, not the top, since the top falls first and fast.
  • We covered air pressure, surface tension in bubbles and light's speed and spectrum.
  • They wrapped up with Bubble Fun and I think it was everyone's favorite. The whole, huge auditorium was absolutely mesmerized and frankly, it was kinda relaxing for the adults. I learned to blow bubbles using only my hand or a straw as a wand. And I now know how to blow bubbles inside of a bigger bubble using a straw because apparently a straw won't pop a bubble if you poke it with one- I know, Wow!

If you go to their website, there's lots of useful info to reinforce or learn about what they teach in their shows. Since I'm a sucker for a good live performance, especially an educational one, we will definitely go back again!

Blogger's Note: If you plan to go and have any questions, please leave it in the form of a comment below. Be sure to either leave your email address, website or subscribe to the comments in order to receive your

Monday, May 9, 2011

Hot Lava!

Written Thursday, May 5th

Tonight my 5 year old made one of her infamous impromptu and impossible requests just before bed time- convenient! As usual, I cringed not at all because it was fun and educational, but because it had the potential to draw bed time out until the dawn- not cool. We'd read a book on volcanoes last night and now she wanted to make one. Spectacular. 

Instead of figuring out how to wriggle out of that one and leave her disappointed, I used my powers for good instead. Since building a volcano was out of the question with only 15min till bed time, I got creative and pulled out a Bundt pan I had, set it atop a small, empty, glass seasoning jar (from Trader Joe's if I'm honest) that I filled with baking soda. In another glass jar exactly like the first, I used a funnel to pour in vinegar until it was full, then allowed the kids to put in two drops each of yellow food coloring and red food coloring to make orange "lava". 

They took turns pouring the colored vinegar into the center of the "volcano", or Bundt pan, and "ooh'ed" and "ahh'ed" as they excitedly watched the orange lava flow up and out of the center. We repeated it a few times more before I just couldn't allow the pre-bedtime stalling to go on any longer, even if was educational. When we were done, I poured our spent lava solution down into the garbage disposal and let it sit to clean and freshen the drain.

Teaching Moments*:
Yellow + Red = Orange
Baking Soda + Vinegar= lots of Carbon dioxide bubbles, just like the CO2 plants breathe from air that we breathe out, and also found in soda.
Baking Soda = base, Vinegar = acid, together they're an acid-base reaction which is usually pretty cool to watch as long as they're on the milder ends of the pH scale.
If you prefer to measure, which I seldom do, you can teach measuring.
Sharing and Cooperation.
Reusing, being "green", and not being wasteful by finding creative ways to reuse things (the glass seasoning jars and the finished vinegar-baking soda solution)

*Life with kids is full of teaching opportunities and they are easily recognizable the more you practice looking for them. After awhile, they'll emerge on their own and you'll teach on the fly without even batting an eyelash, I promise. I will try my best to spotlight them in all my posts from here on out.

PS, The title of this post goes out to all my "Chef" fans out there, you know who I'm talking about.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thursday Book Rec

I am an admitted book worm. If I could swim in books or sleep in them, truly I would. I am constantly on the lookout for new ones, both for the kids and myself. There's no better love you can inspire in children than the desire to read, but again, I am thousand-percent biased. This is one in a series of posts spotlighting books we picked up and absolutely loved! Most of these can be appreciated by just about any age, and I say this because I love them just as much as the kids do. I hope you do, too!

Title & Author: 
Charlie and Lola Series by Lauren Child

What It's About:
Charlie is Lola's older, wiser brother and this series is about their perfectly normal, strictly comical adventures together. Together they learn about life, each other, and themselves through seemingly ordinary things. The books are based on the TV show and there are lots of them in the series.

My Thoughts:
Just like Charlie always says, Lola really is "small and very funny". We so enjoy reading these and look forward to hunting down new books in the series that we haven't yet read when we go to the library. My favorite character of all is Soren Lorenson, from who(m) I got my biggest laugh. Soren Lorenson is Lola's imaginary friend that she uses to justify doing what she knows she shouldn't and whenever he shows up, be ready to split your sides. Charlie and Lola's interaction is one I appreciate and love, since they are very sweet to and patient with each other, despite their age difference. Read just one of these and you'll come to adore little Lola.

Monday, May 2, 2011

¡ Leemos! Do You Read To Your Kids?

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents."
                                     -Emilie Buchwald

Do you read to your kids? I do. I have every night since they were born. Well, almost every night- life happens sometimes and our droopy eyelids from a busy day don't always hold long enough to get to "The End". We started off when my oldest was a baby and have continued on since then. Three books was the count when we started but now that the books we enjoy have so many more words, we've cut it back to two. Since my oldest can read now, she picks a book that's easy for her to read and she reads one book to us, then I read the other one. This was actually part of the process I used to teach her to read.

"Your kid could read a thousand books, but the ones they read with you give them the best chance at success. Read with your child."
          - Tiki Barber, Today Correspondent, NBC Sports

Although our personal collection's pretty interesting, we get most of our books from the library and keep them on their own separate "Library Shelf". We have always made the library a weekly trip, a standing date of sorts, when they can pick out and bring home whatever they want. (If you find a good library, they have a nice little play area inside and fantastic story times complete with crafts.) Really, it feels like a shopping spree and the high comes from not having to spend a dime. My youngest even asked me the other day if she could "buy" the book at the counter. I sent her three-year-old self up by herself with her library card in hand and the book of her choice and she checked it out on her own. I love the Howard County librarians (shout out!!), they humored her all the way and made her feel like a big girl but were secretly tickled pink. Gosh, I love those ladies. Anyway, I digress...

"The greatest gift is a passion for reading"
                                 -Elizabeth Hardwick

If you haven't made this a part of your routine, think about working it in. It doesn't have to be a lot of time or reading. Even just one book a night is beneficial. Among other things, it's great bonding time for you and the kids and it's a wonderful transition to help them wind down at night- when the books come out in my house, they know it's time for bed. When we pull out our chapter books, they lay in bed with the lights dimmed to listen and visualize what's going on in the story while I read. Story time at night is a sacred time in our house and there are so many reasons to make it the same in yours. If you haven't yet, just give it a try. I'm sure you'll love it.

Some informative links to check out (taken from the The More You Know website):
Childhood 101 Blog: Literacy Spot
Find ideas for fun activities that will get your child excited about reading.
Mad libs and ongoing stories for kids.
Numerous games for children to help develop their reading, writing, spelling and vocabulary skills.
Website about poetry for kids. Read, write, rhyme and play anything having to do with poetry.