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Friday, August 28, 2009

How can I help Michelle?

Roof obliterated     Windows shattered    Furniture ruined    Water damage     Children frightened     Pets failing     Fighting insurance     Leaving home     

Searching for safety and trying to go on

I can't help but think about my sister and her family.  The tornado took so much from them, and here I am, hundreds of miles away, snug and safe in my home.  I want to help; to jump up out of my chair and bake them some brownies or help pick up the things thrown around their living room.  But I can't.  I'm too far away.  

I keep hearing the same thing from other people too.  How can I help Michelle?  What do they need?  Is there anything I can do?  

Their needs are so big, but yet so simple.  Right now Michelle's family is holed up in a hotel room waiting for the insurance agents and contractors to decide what will happen next to their home, and their family.  In the mean time, they are trying to keep life as "normal" as they can for the kids.  They are spending more on gas to get to school and work, more on meals because they don't have access to a real kitchen , and more on general necessities simply because they have have very little ability to plan ahead right now.  And, to top it all off, they are fighting their insurance company to receive the coverage that they have paid for.

Our cousin Kerri has come up with a way for us to physically help out from far away.  She is calling it the "BLANKET FUND."  You can read the story of Michelle's family and the blankets, and donate to help them with their daily expenses by clicking here.  

Money won't bring their house back or ease the kids' anxiety with every thunder boom, but it can help them to meet their needs right now.  It is something I CAN do.  Can you?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Nim's Island Activities - Chapters 13&14

~ Preparing for Emergencies ~

"The birds say there's a storm coming. GO TO THE EMERGENCY CAVE."

It is vital that children know how to respond to emergancy situations. Sometimes we get specific instructions, like Jack's warning to Nim above, and sometimes we don't. 

One of the simplest tasks children should learn is calling for help by dialing 911. We practiced this with the removable cell phone that we made for our Nim poster (A simple piece of foam with a few numbers drawn on it, velcroed to Nim's hand).  Each child took a turn borrowing it from Nim and dialing 911. I pretended to be the emergency operator, asking them to state the problem and their address. You would think that the answers would be fairly routine - not with this age group. When asking them to tell their address we got everything from blank stares, to "the United States of America," to "No, I don't wear a dress." Kids crack me up! :o)

We also talked quite a bit about WHEN to call 911 - and when not to. You can see a short sonic clip here that reinforces the idea that 911 is only for emergencies.

Our next safety topic was fire safety.  Isaac's Fire drill was a huge hit.  My kids love seeing other children in videos.  We acted out all of the steps, including touching the doorknob with the BACK of our hands, crawling quickly to safety, and going to our meeting spot.  The kids giggled as they raced from one of the house to the other on their knees.  

We also discussed using the fastest route to get out of the building after the kids watched the cartoon "Exit Strategy."   I printed these fire safety maps and they drew routes for each of the family members to take.    We talked through all of the options - including the silliest ones like "break through the wall to the kitchen" and "jump out the window just for fun."  

Although I didn't use it with the group, there are lots of fun online games and activities at Sparky the Fire Dog and WebTeach.    Hopefully we will have a chance to explore these sites more.  

Our craft for this week was sand candles.  It could kinda' tie in to the topic of fire safety, or preparing emergency supplies, but in reality, the main reason I chose it is simply because it looked like a lot of fun.  Gail at That Artist Woman has posted easy instructions.  

Lapbook elements:

Monday, August 24, 2009

New Smile

The tooth fairy made a visit to our house this week. I just adore this new smile!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The tornado that hit Mic's house & Nim's Island-Ch 11 & 12

~ Understanding Fear ~

Fear can either protect or paralyze us.  In these two chapters of Nim's Island, and in real life this week, we learned about the difference.  

Nim is kid, on an island . . . alone.  She has to weather storms, falls, and encounters with the Troppo Tourist "bad-guys."  We simulated Nim's situation by playing with balloons.  We intentionally popped one, causing some of us (okay, it was mostly me) to jump. I asked the kids "what did you feel?" and we discussed how surprising things can signal that something is wrong, causing us to feel afraid.

The kids created a chart listing things that they are afraid of, and categorized them as good or bad.  Good fear being things that keep you safe - fear of standing in the middle of the road, or fear of falling off an unsupported ladder.  Bad fear being fears that are emotionally real but unnecessary, and prevent us from enjoying life - fear of the dark, or monsters. 

We talked about how the body's first reaction to the stressful situations we experience is physical.  We often call this the "fight or flight" reaction.  Muscles tighten, respiration increases, heart rate increases, and palms sweat when we are afraid.   After the initial physical reaction, is the emotional fallout which varies greatly from person to person.

After we discussed the physiology and psychology of fear, I allowed the kids to brainstorm how fear can be measured.  Then we conducted simple study using the materials from Homeschool Share to measure fear levels, compare groups, and create an average.  

Just for fun the kids watched classic cartoons of David and Goliath and Daniel.  I paused it several times to discuss the character's emotions.  

The kids studied only one bible verse and we added our bible verse and fear mini-book to our notebooks, but because of the tornado (which I keep alluding to and promise to share the story of soon) I'll post all of the verses that I studied while preparing for this lesson. 
1st occurance of fear - after the fall
Genesis 3:10  He (Adam) answered "I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."

Fear Not
Isaiah 41:14 Do not be afraid ... for I myself will help you," declares the Lord "Your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel."

Matthew 10:31  -  So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."

Fear God = Respect
Proverbs 1:7  -  The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

Psalm 112:1  -  Praise the Lord.  Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands.

Psalm 112:7  -  He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast trusting in the Lord.

Should we be afraid of God?
Hebrews 10:22  Let us draw near to God with a sincere heard in full assurance of faith having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

Hebrews 10:19  -  Therefore brothers, since we have confidence to enter the most high place by the blood of Jesus.

What should we do?
Phillipians 4:6  -  Do not be anxious for anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

When we can't, He can
Psalm 56:3  -  When I am afraid I will trust in you.

Phillipians 4:13  -  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Hebrews 4:16  -  Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive your mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Joshua 1:9  Have I not commended you? Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

And just for the record, the opposite of fear is courage - taking the right action even though the emotion of fear still exists.  It is okay to feel afraid, but let God dictate your actions.  

As a final activity we allowed the kids to watch Professor H and do his parachute craft.  This one was a HUGE  hit and the kids were thrilled to be allowed to interrupt their uncle's work and drop their parachutes from the highest point in the house (aka. his office).

Unfortunately we got a real life application just a two days later.  (yup - here is that story I keep promising)  My sister sent me this series of text messages.
we are in the basement.  a tornado is headed for our town.  i love you
Aug 19, 3:49 pm

we have no power and are sitting in the dark listening to the sirens...thanks for the prayers! i love you.
Aug 19 3:57 pm

its hitting us.  please pray.  i lovce youa!
Aug 19 4:03 pm

glass is breaking.  we are so scared.  i love you.
Aug 19 4:08 pm
I didn't hear from her again until 4:16 pm - The longest 8 minutes of my life - and when she did call she was speaking so fast that I could barely understand her - that fight or flight response kicking in.   I'm not kidding, I really have no idea what she said for the first few sentences.  I wanted so bad just to reach through the phone and hug her until she felt better.  

I can honestly say that it was one of the most fearful experiences of my life - and I wasn't even the one in the tornado.  Thankfully my sister and her family are all safe, although they lost a large chunk of their home to the storm.  You can see the sad photos on her blog.  

Sunday, August 16, 2009

4 month old milestones

Our little one has been learning so quickly lately!   At almost 4 months old she is capable of so much more than a few weeks ago.

To my husband's delight, baby took her first swim this weekend. He loves snuggling each of our infants as they warm back up after being dunked in the lake. Too cute!
She loves to "talk" and will happily coo "aaAAHH" or "gih-gih" while gazing happily into the eyes of anyone she can capture.  The best part is that she enjoys mirroring our actions: stick out your tongue, blink your eyes, or say "ooo" and she will happily copy you.  She has also figured out that her voice has VOLUME - we laugh at her funny antics as she practices this new talent.

She has also found her hands and feet.  For a while she was simply transfixed, staring at her fist and watching the fingers move.  Now she is beginning to grab things (sorta' unintentionally, sorta' not) and bring them to her mouth.  It is adorable to see try to chew on her own toes.  

Curiosity is another new phase.  Naps are harder because she is constantly waking to investigate any new sound, movement or breeze that comes her way.  She loves twisting around to see what her brother and sister are up to.  

Baby has also been spending time with her cousin.  They are just adorable together.  I am  amazed at what a difference just a few weeks can make.  You can even see it in the photos; at 4 months, our little one sleeps less, is more alert, more active, and more curious about the things happening around her  

I love these baby milestones.  She is such an individual, and we enjoy watching her learn how to interact with the world around her.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Nim's Island Activities - Chapters 9&10

~Bioluminescent Plankton~

Well, it has been a hard week here in our house.  I have had some pretty severe hip problems that we still haven't completely figured out (not a pinched nerve, not a broken bone, not a hernia), but thankfully with medication the pain is tolerable now.  On top of that, our family has come down with a doozy of a stomach virus.  Don't even ask how far behind I am with the housework.  

Despite our physical struggles, the kids were begging to do our Nim's projects today even thought their friends couldn't join us, so we charged ahead.  
In our family the Five in a Row book "Night of the Moonjellies" is always a favorite, so the topic of bioluminescence (literally translated living-light) has come up before.  It is amazing what big concepts kids can pick up from simple books.  We began our day by re-reading "Moonjellies" and then chapters 9 & 10 of Nim's Island.  The kids caught on quickly and pointed out the connection in chapter 10 when Jack says in his letter that the plankton "put on a great show last night."  (I just love it when they lead the lessons that I had already planned)  

I asked if they knew what plankton are.  They made a few cute guesses including "little teeny tiny animals, smaller than my fingernail, even half of it, even smaller than that!"  I showed them the photos that I found (several pages down) in this lesson plan from UCLA, and we discussed the many different types of plankton.

I explained to the kids that some, not all, plankton are bioluminescent.  We watched an intelligent design presentation by David Gallo, as well as What You Ought To Know (this one is geared toward a 3 year old).  

Just by chance, I found a package of 15 glow sticks at the craft store last week in the dollar section.  The kids had fun guessing how they work, and then breaking the inside compartment to allow the chemicals to mix.  They entertained me by running around in the dark pretending to be plankton.  Afterward we watched Seth's Super Science Show, which is quite long, but hilarious, and he explained the correlation.  
Inspired by Seth's great rendition of the bioluminescent version of the Beachboys "Surfin' USA" we searched for more songs.  We found this cute one with a video, and also a radio show by Earthwatch.  

Our craft was to draw our own personified plankton with google eyes.  Any craft with google eyes is a hit here.  My oldest tried to copy the illustration in the book, but decided that Protozoan Nim wasn't swirly enough so she "fixed it."  I wonder how Kerry Millard would feel about that.
If everyone had been feeling well, we may have played this fun bioluminescent tag game, or made plankton nets like the ones shown here, but I think we will save it for another time.  Time for a nap in our house.

Want to share our Nim's Island adventure? Join our Flickr pool to allow your kids to join in the discussion, and share their own photos and videos.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Canine Theology

A spelling lesson, bible study, and heart warming story all in one.  I love it!  Take a look:

PS - Aunt Claire, this one is especially for you.  XOXO

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Nim's Island Unit - Chapters 7&8

~ Galileo the frigate bird & Galileo the scientist~

Nim's friend Galileo is a unique bird.  Although he is a tropical sea bird and feeds primarily on fish, frigates are uniquely designed to be lousy swimmers.  Their legs are short, preventing them from walking well, their feet are only partially webbed, limiting their mobility in the water, and their feathers actually soak in water rather than repel it like most sea birds.  This causes them to become far too heavy to move well.  But frigates are excellent at flying.  Their forked tail and large wingspan allow them to have great accuracy.  We saw some great footage of frigates in flight from BBC (warning to sensitive parents: video contains a brief mating scene - you can easily avoid this by watching only the first 60 seconds) After discussing basic frigate biology and feeding patterns I had the kids watch this video of tropical birds in a feeding frenzy and try to guess which birds were frigates.  They also enjoyed looking at the cartoon below.  You can click on it to read the captions.  
Frigate birds are called Pirate birds because of their penchant for stealing from other birds.  When one animal steals food from another scientist call it "Kleptoparasitism."  Klepto from the Greek which means to steal, and parsites are those who live off others, giving nothing in return.  We see this in the book when Galileo and his friends attempt to steal the fish from the tourists hats and in the way that Nim and Jack can call Galileo with fish.  The kids giggled  as we watched a home video of someone feeding wild frigates by hand - it looks nerve wracking!

In order to snatch falling or jumping fish so accurately, frigates like Galileo, must have a very accurate sense of how quickly objects fall.  I explained to the kids that there was a man named Galileo who spent quite a lot of time focusing on the same thing.

The famous scientist Galileo Galilei studied our earth and solar system with great detail.  In his famous experiment (said to have been conducted at the leaning tower of Pisa), Galileo discovered that two objects of differing weights will fall at the same speed.  I showed the kids this short cartoon of Galileo as a VERY simple introduction to the concept.  

We conducted our own experiment to test this principle.  The kids taped together various amounts of pennies, from 1 to 6.  We lined them up in various combinations on our stairs and pushed them all off at the same time.  The kids listened to hear if they landed at once (bang) or at different times (click, click, click).  We repeated it for as long as they were interested.  Some got it and some still insisted that the heavier ones landed first.  I guess it is a bit much to ask of the 4 year olds.
I tore a ligament in my hip recently, so I decided to keep our crafting time to a minimum today and chose a simple embossing project.  I printed off a frigate bird coloring page and had each of the kids cut out one or two details of their own choosing.  We wrapped 8 inch squares of cardboard with tinfoil (shiny side down) and then taped the coloring page on top.  With a slightly dull pencil the kids firmly traced their birds.  When they finished we GENTLY pulled off the tape and then flipped over the foil and re-wrapped the cardboard.  We used markers to add color and q-tips to remove and smear any excess ink.  I think that they came out adorable!

After all this Galileo, Galileo talk, I now have the Bohemian Rhapsody hopelessly stuck in my head.  It isn't even one of my favorites . . . and it is a long song too  . . .  I'll be singing this one for days.   

Want to share our Nim's Island adventure? Join our Flickr pool to allow your kids to join in the discussion, and share their own photos and videos.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Fun with Dad

When Daddy gets a week off, everyone gets a vacation in our house. 

Playing the coconut-coffeepot-countertop drums
in celebration of a rare "Home Day" for everyone
Visiting the museum of science and pretending to be a bird . . .
And a bumblebee . . .
and to my daughter's delight, an archaeologist!
okay, Lots of naps
Spoiling the baby 
(notice that smudge on her cheek - it is chocolate!
I'm pretty sure he put more on her cheek than in her mouth
but it looks like she enjoyed it anyway)
Checking out the local sites
Visiting the antique boat museum
(she had a blister and enjoyed wearing my shoes even though it
was hard for her to walk well in them)
Learning to sail with Dad
Visiting with both sets of grandparents
Reading lots of good books
Swimming - indoors and out
Check out my big girl's jump with her face all the way underwater
this is a BIG deal!
I just love vacation!  Don't you?