Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Map My Ride Helps Keep Track of Miles

Have you seen this web site? If you're walking or running or biking for fitness, it's very helpful. It's a cycling site, but you can use their mapper for anything. I used it yesterday to figure out different routes through my neighborhood to come in at 1, 2, and 3 miles.

You put in your address or wherever you're going to be running/walking and it brings up a map of the area, then you click on points where your path turns, like intersections or whatever, and click around your whole route, then it calculates the number of miles. Pretty sweet. Very satisfying to know what turns around the old neighborhood total a mile or where I'm crossing over to 2 miles, or whatever. More ticky-ticky. Very engrossing.

(I'm using ticky-ticky to mean busy little clicking things on web sites, like the water drinking clicker on the Weight Watchers' site or the map waypoints. I hope it doesn't mean some renigade kind of sex in a Polynesian tribal language. Or at least I hope no one here knows that language.)

Anyway, happy mapping. Thought I'd share. No, Mapmyride.com is *not* a science fair sponsor. ;D ;D

Monday, May 19, 2008

Stockley Gardens Arts Festival

Since Benny was 4 we have been participating in the Suzuki performances at the Stockley Gardens Arts Festival. For one reason and another, we took a two year break from these biannual concerts until last Saturday, when Sadie and Benny played their violins with the rest of the STAHR students in the bright hot Virginia sun.

Sadie wore her special Tuka-Tuka-Stop-Stop t-shirt which I had made specially for her. She loathed it so totally that I had to allow her to wear it over a tutu to get it on her at all. Whatever, it was worth it:

Here's Benny's end of the stage:

Sadie got to play Twinkle as a solo:

And Benny got to play the Bach Double with Mrs. Morton, Pilar, and Monty:

A great experience for them. We loved all of it. Eventually I will get the videos up to YouTube from this show and the recital.

Of course there was also the butterfly face paint and the watermelon ice:

Everything counts in large amounts!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A New Day

I have decided that the missing factor in my weight loss plan is nerdiness. I am a big nerd and while I am not really comfortable with analysis and introspection, I do really like rules, specific orders, and competition. I also really like computers and games and ticking things off in boxes and little icons and social networking. So when my friend Joshilyn suggested that we do Weight Watchers Online, it was as if the clouds had parted an a single sunbeam shone down on my face.

The Weight Watchers site is high on ticky-ticky boxes and rules and things to click. It is a little low on social networking. However, I feel that if I look for 2 seconds I will find a WW Flickr group, a WW Facebook group, and many more ways to get my nerd on. The idea is to make weight loss more like a computer game. If this can be done, I will be svelte in mere moments.

So tomorrow is my first weigh-in. I am optimistic. I haven't weighed myself since the beginning of the 50 day challenge, so who knows? Maybe I have actually lost those 20 pounds already, and replaced them with good thoughts or kind intentions of equal volume!

Me: So, do you feel confident in my ability to properly execute Weight Watchers?
Dan: (trying to watch The Simpsons) Mmm hmm.
Me: Do you ever wish I would just shut the hell up so you could watch The Simpsons?
Dan: Aww, honey, I never wish you would shut up.
Me: You are the nicest husband in the whole entire universe!
Dan: Shut up.

Captain Underpants Conversation

Benny: Mother. I read my whole new Captain Underpants book in one night! IMAGINE IT! A whole Captain Underpants book in ONE NIGHT.
Me: I can hardly imagine it. What did you think of it?
Benny: There was exactly 25 chapters. And the most funny part is that the last three were extras And when it came to the 22nd chapter, it was name "The Twenty-Second Chapter." Then the next chapter was "The Chapter Before the Last One." And then on the next one it said, "To Make a Long Story Short" and every chapter that was like that, there are two words in it. So it's like that one is a bonus chapter. It was a bonus chapter, did you hear me?
Me: Yes.
Benny: OKAY, so why did I say it repeatedly?
Me: Hmm.
Benny: And then the last chapter was called "The Chapter After the Chapter Before the Last Chapter." So, the shortest way to write that down was "The Last Chapter." In fact, that's only three words. The. Last. Chapter. That would be the shortest way to write it down.
Me: What did you think of the characters and plot?
Benny: It was like, what's that word, demanding. Professor Poopypants (everybody laughed at his name, I'm sure you will, I do a lot) changed his name to Mr. TinkleSumpinSumpin. I know the first part was Tinkle, but I don't know the rest. There's also the goosey-girl, the shrinky pig, which you might think makes things smaller. Like if you had a giant elephant and you were trying to clean it, you could use the shrinky pig and then it will turn into this big. Right here. This big. Then you could pour a whole bucket of soapy water on it, then a whole bucket of clean water, and then you'd be done. That's how the shrinky pig works. Well, not the bucket thing. But the elephant thing.
Me: But what did you think of the plot.
Benny: I'm just explaining the inventions that were in the plot. The way the goosey girl works is that if you saw a speck and you were wondering what it was, you would use the goosey girl and it would grow very big, like this big, and if it was a FLY, then you'd have to roll it out of the house. That's how the goosey girl works, not the fly thing, but the making the speck bigger thing.
Me: Hmm.
Benny: HEY MOTHER. Do you know what his middle name was? PEE PEE. Professor Pee pee Poopypants. Okay, on with the plot.
Me: You don't have to tell me the plot. Just tell me what you think of the plot.
Benny: First I'll tell you that if you haven't read this book, then it will really be funny. Mr. Crup, the principal, had his name turned into Lumpy Sumpin Biscuits. Put sumpin in italics. I can't remember the other word but if anyone comments on that "Sumpin" just say "Sumpin" like I don't know.
(Benny has become aware that I am typing the conversation, and argues that the title be changed from C.U. Review to C.U. Conversation.)
Me: Can you tell me what you thought about the story?
Benny: This was the second one I saw Captain Underpants with his superpowers. They're so amazing! He can even fly! He was so big, and he attacked really well. The professor, I thought his two names were very funny.
Me: How does it compare to other books in the series?
Benny: Compared to other books, I liked the Flip-O-Rama a lot. Flip-O-Rama is Dav Pilkey's invention. He invented Flip-O-Rama.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sadie Suzuki Update

This morning Benny spilled a bowl of milk right onto his CPU. He carried on playing Roller Coaster Tycoon, and when I entered the room and immediately exploded into space, he said, "It's okay, it's okay! None got into the keyboard!" Uh, right. And of course we are out of paper towels. So Dan and I leaped into action, pulling out all the plugs, wiping it down, swabbing it with dishtowels, etc. The 409. The little bits of cereal. The soppy disks.

So now Benny is in the living room with us watching CNBC. I'm answering emails. Dan is setting up his trades for the day. I asked if I could switch CNBC to something more Benny-friendly, and Dan said, "Benny, you know your computer is back up running. You can play it if you want." Benny said, "Oh, can I just wait until the Jobless Claims comes out at 8:30?"


But the real point of my post is to report that the 50 day challenge has been transformative and wonderful for Sadie. When we started, she was not able to get through tuka-tuka-stop-stop without some help. Now, she is moving on to Lightly Row!!! In all the excitement of the science fair, I didn't even blog about her first recital. She played the new triplet variation of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and she was AMAZING AND WONDERFUL! Now she's learning A-steps-up-to-E-E-E. I think I can say now that we are over the twinkle hump, and we are on our way to playing real songs and making real music. She moved up to a 1/10th size violin, she practiced every day for 45 days, and here we are. Good old fifty-day challenge. Dan has increased his average speed, Benny has finished book four, and I have... been very proud of the accomplishments of my family members. ;D

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Fridge at 8:17

Yo ho yo ho, this is what's in my fridge, Melina!

In the freezer door, bags of triple berry and green beans, and an extra brick of coffee.

In the freezer, a box of ice cream drumsticks, a bag of veg, an entire army of frozen mac and cheese boxes that Sadie will reliably eat when all else fails, and a bunch of those awful popsicles that come in a plastic tube and you have to squeeze them up, up, up and all over the floor, for eating OUTSIDE. Hidden from view are some frozen biscuits, meat products, and more!

In the fridge door, steak sauce and gatorade, various condiments, a big bottle of lemon juice in the bottom *and* a small lemon-shaped bottle that's hanging its tag over the railing coyly.

In the fridge we have a massive vat of ketchup, a rogue diet Coke can, a jug of milk and some coffee creamer, pickles, bread, a bottle of $4 pink champagne, then lower down a 12 pack of diet Coke, and bags of veg, on down through a shelf of veg, some for the rabbit and some for us, and then at the bottom, potatoes.

This picture was taken on a longsuffering mobile phone. Contents may vary on the date of your visit.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

G.U.E.S.S. Homeschool Science Fair Sponsors: Please Steal This Post!

The G.U.E.S.S. Homeschool Science Fair took place on May 5th in Norfolk VA, where smart young scientists shared their research and conclusions with their peers, their families, and the judges. Fun was had, friends were made, hypotheses were proven, and prizes were awarded! Thank you to all the sponsors of the G.U.E.S.S. Homeschool Science Fair!

If you would like to help thank these generous sponsors by boosting their links on key search words, please steal this post, links and all, and republish it to your blog. When you've done this, email guess@littleblueschool.com and let us know, so that we can add you to our "Science Fair Bloggers" and give you some links and traffic too! You'll get a link on Little Blue School, Homeschooled Twins, and on the homeschool science fair web site.

Need the code? Click here to get the .txt file with all the links in place. Just put it into your blog's HTML editing field, and you're ready to go. If you have trouble posting, and you need help, email us.

Moore Expressions is a homeschool bookstore in Virginia Beach, VA. They sell used and new homeschooling curriculum, host a support group, and publish a newsletter called the Bayith Educator. They are the premier source for homeschooling books in the Hampton Roads area.

Art of Dance Academy is a dance and theater school on the border of Norfolk and Virginia Beach. They offer "Tiny Tots" toddler dance classes, youth classes for ballet, tap, jazz, and hip-hop, and adult classes too. Most importantly, the host the famous summer princess dance camp.

Norfolk Karate Academy offers classes in Tang Soo Do (Korean karate) and Gracie Jiu Jitsu (Brazilian grappling and self-defense). With classes for children, teens, and adults, it's a great way for anyone to get in shape and kick things in a socially acceptable way!

Nauticus is Norfolk's maritime museum and home of the USS Wisconsin battleship. The hot new exhibit is Seabots: Pilots of the Deep! Have you seen it? Nauticus is in the process of setting up a Homeschool Advisory Group to talk about homeschool science programs at the museum.

Mariner's Museum has amazing programs for homeschoolers learning about maritime science, history, and even pirates! Their next homeschool open house is on May 15th and features a class in pirate lore. Visit Mariner's Museum for historical exhibits and educational programming.

Homeschoolingbooks.com offers homeschool curriculum packages to take the guesswork out of selecting materials that compliment each other to create a whole year of learning for your homeschooler. Three collections are available for each level, and individual books are for sale too.

Brooks Systems offers standalone software and web applications that check legal compliance in all municipalities in all fifty states, and create truth-in-lending documents for residential lenders. Using Brooks for your automated mortgage compliance, you can be sure your loans are safe.

Dr. Bernard Nebel has written two books to help homeschool teachers integrate learning in different areas of the curricula into one living breathing learning experience. His new book, Building the Foundations for Scientific Understanding, is a science curriculum for K-2.

Young Chef's Academy is a marvelous kitchen classroom with amazing cooking classes for kids. Go ahead - cover yourself in flour! Most amazing of all: their summer camp offerings are themed around the Olympic Games. Cook for the Gold with Camp Can-I-Cook in Norfolk this summer.

Mad Science is Hampton Roads' premier provider of science enrichment classes for children. Summer classes include "Crazy Chemistry" and a space camp developed with NASA! New homeschool science classes are being offered in Norfolk and VA Beach, with more planned for fall.

eScienceLabs creates boxes of joy for science loving homeschoolers. In each kit is a complete science experience -- from individual lessons to full years of high school labs. Hands-on science kits are the answer to your laboratory woes. Everything is in there: test tubes, goggles, and fun.

Folkmanis Puppets makes the most delightful animal puppets available outside Santa's workshop. Meet their most unusual creations like llamas, Chinese dragons, ostriches, flying squirrels. Unusual materials create realistic textures, and they all move in very realistic ways. Irresistible.

Book Exchange is the largest used bookstore in Eastern Virginia. Unlike most musty and confusing used stores, this one is clean, bright, inviting, and has a huge selection of used homeschool books.

Thank you for your help in promoting these homeschool-friendly sites. They took a risk on sponsoring us in the first year of our science fair, and we appreciate their support.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Homeschool Advisory Group at Nauticus Museum

Not only is Nauticus hosting a bangin' science summer camp season this year, but they're also creating a Homeschool Advisory Group to get input from our community on exactly what we'd like to see the museum offer to homeschoolers in the future. Are you kidding me? How many times have I sat around at park day or during some karate class or violin recital and made wish lists with other homeschool moms for what we could get the local museums to do for our children? Homeschool science classes? Science enrichment programs? Now those wish lists can be shared with people who are prepared to do something about them, in fact they are actively soliciting our ideas and desires! Here's the info:

When: Meetings are on Tuesdays from 2-4 pm on the following dates:
May 20
June 17
July 15
August 19
September 16
October 21
November 18
December 16

How: Reservations are required as space is limited.
Please RSVP to Jennifer Kodolitsch at:jennifer.tabor@norfolk.gov or (757) 664-1044
And yes, bring the kids! They'll have fun with a free workshop style experience.
Refreshments and parking are also free.

Did I fall asleep? Am I dreaming? If we don't pack these sessions with interested and active homeschool families we deserve to spend three solid years in "homeschool story time" at the library. I can't wait to discuss what Nauticus can do for us and how we can support the museum.

Now, about that science summer camp. Here's the info:

Explore the Ocean and More! Camps - Come join us for a fun-filled week at Camp Nauticus! Explore the ocean ecosystem, predict the weather, get messy with chemistry, tour the Battleship Wisconsin, and much more! Enjoy science experiments, craft make-n-takes, behind-the-scenes tours, and even a field trip to the Portsmouth Lightship Museum!

Cost: $155 Nauticus members; $180 Non-members; $10 per day for extended care
Hours: Regular Hours - 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.; Extended Hours - 8:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Early Explorers (Ages 4-5): July 7-11, 2008
Junior Explorers (Ages 6-9): June 30-July 4, July 14-18, or July 28-August 1, 2008
Senior Explorers (Ages 10-12): June 23-27, 2008

Girl Scouts - Earn Your Brownies Science In Action Try-It or Junior Science Discovery Badge!

Water Scholars Oceanography Camp - Enjoy the science of Oceanography while learning about watersheds, sea star anatomy, water chemistry, navigation, and careers in Oceanography. Your child will explore the Elizabeth and York Rivers by boat and kayak, build an ROV, dissect a sea star, tour a research vessel, and even spend the night at False Cape State Park!

Cost: $225 members and City of Norfolk Employees; $250 non-members; $10 per day for extended care (Monday through Wednesday only; Overnight will be held on Thursday)

Hours: Regular Hours - 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.; Extended Hours - 8:00 - 5:30 p.m.
Ages: 11-14 year olds
Dates: August 4-8, 2008

Girl Scouts 11-17 - Earn Your Studio 2B Making Waves Charm!Boy Scouts- Earn Your Oceanography Merit Badge!

Homeschool Open House at Mariner's Museum

On May 15th, the Mariner's Museum will open its doors to homeschoolers with amazing programs and learning opportunities for adults and children alike.

Check out these programs:

Discover the Possibilities: Complementing Your Education @ The Mariners’ Museum: Learn how your family can utilize the artifacts, galleries, programs, and other resources at The Mariners’ Museum to complement your students’ historical and scientific studies. These 20-minute presentations are limited to 40 adults per session.

Pirates! The Love & Lore: This sample program introduces young students to the lives and adventures of pirates. Typical pirate weapons and examples of the money in use during that time are presented, as well as slides of the pirates and their signature flags. This program is offered every hour, on the half-hour from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and is limited to 30 students each. Appropriate for K-4th graders.

Fact or Fiction? Hollywood’s Take on Historical Piracy: Educators examine the ways in which film producers interpret piracy, as well as compare and contrast their inaccuracies to the lives of historical pirates. Older students will examine some of the reasons for piracy and the myths surrounding their lives. This sample program is offered every hour, on the half-hour from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and is limited to 30 students per program. Appropriate for 5th-12th graders.

Are these awesome offerings or what? I hope all my little pirates from my pirate class are going to be able to make it. Bless their little deck-swabbing hearts. The Mariner's Museum has shown remarkable interest and commitment to developing value for the homeschooling community, in providing history enrichment, science enrichment, and of course pirate lore! Here's just one example of the museum going an extra mile to facilitate curriculum integration:
The Age of Exploration exhibit comes with a complete online curriculum guide. There's a vocab list, biographies of important players, and check out this activity list with lesson plans and student guides:
Activity One: Create a Compassteachers students
Activity Two: Create an Astrolabe teachers students
Activity Three: Create a Quadrantteachers students
Activity Four: Identify Navigational Instruments teachers students
Activity Five: Identify the Parts of a Shipteachers students
Activity Six: What Would You Take to Sea? teachers students
Activity Seven: Biography Crossword Puzzle teachers students
Activity Eight: Vocabulary Word Searchteachers students
Activity Nine: Create a Globe teachers students
Activity Ten: Latitude and Longitudeteachers students
Activity Eleven: Starving Sailors teachers students
Activity Twelve: Sores, Scabs, and Scurvy teachers students
This is insane! Who does this kind of thing!? I'm just blown away by the materials available to make connections between the schoolwork the child is doing and the exhibits at the museum. Amazing, intelligent, thoughtful work. Thank you so much, Mariner's Museum, and we'll see you at the homeschool open house!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Moore Expressions: Virginia Homeschoolers' Favorite Store

Moore Expressions is a homeschooling bookstore in Virginia Beach, VA. They carry new and used books, curriculum, literature, homeschooling workbooks, test prep materials, unit studies -- pretty much anything you could ever imagine that would help you homeschool and is manufactured by a publisher is in that store. The store is huge: 4000 square feet. It is state-of-the-art, meaning you can view their store inventory online in real time and make purchases from your computer. Take a look at their "about" page and see for yourself what this store, owned and operated for and by homeschoolers, is all about. Within their store is also a rental resource where you can check out games and science equipment, and these amazing people also publish the Bayith Educator, our regional homeschooling magazine. Moore Expressions is a wonderful, wonderful resource. Anyone who lives within driving distance and hasn't visited must be out of their homeschooling minds.

I'm lucky enough to live close and I have visited the store on many occasions. What's it like to go shopping at Moore Expressions? Fun. Productive. Enlightening. From floor to ceiling there are curriculum materials of all shapes and sizes, all types of methods and philosophies, from Rosetta Stone to Bob Jones to math manipulatives, literature texts, story of the world, used homeschool books, Evan Moor workbooks, YOU NAME IT. The store is quiet, the aisles secluded, so you can really think and make decisions and explore the materials. I love this store! Let me put it this way: I have never walked out of Moore Expressions empty-handed. Never.

As if that wasn't enough to make it worth the drive over, there are bins of free books outside the door. You can bring your unwanted books -- if Moore doesn't buy them from you, you can leave them outside in these bins for whoever wants them. And the books you will find in these bins! WOWZER. Once I found about three years worth of Kids Discover magazines. What a find -- I almost screamed with joy. I've found (and donated) all kinds of stuff to those bins -- they are almost my favorite part of the store. It's like an ongoing swap meet for homeschoolers, right on the doorstep of the best bookstore in town.

Moore Expressions sponsored our Homeschool Science Fair this year, and made it possible for us to hire professional judges, which we and the children really really appreciate. The value of this enterprise to homeschooling community in Virginia, between the bookstore, the magazine, the support group, and everything else they do, is monumental. Thanks for the sponsorship, Moore Expressions, and thanks for providing such an amazing resource to families homeschooling in Virginia.

Folkmanis Puppets: The Best Puppets on Earth

It started years ago in South Carolina. Every time we'd visit the sleepy little coastal town of McClellanville we'd go to this little gift shop that had them most amazing puppets. Shockingly good puppets. The first one we saw was a grey tabby cat that was posed as if it were a real cat sitting in the window. We left with that puppet and also a black and white rat for it to chase. The next year we got the jack rabbit puppet and the llama puppet. The llama pupppet has always been my favorite. Just look at its tassels:

One day Sadie had set up a little tea party for her Folkmanis puppets and was happily, charmingly playing away with her llama and rabbit, etc. I took some pictures and sent them in to the company, with a thank you for making such a nice product. This led to an email conversation over the course of a couple of years with Folkmanis, and when I asked them to sponsor our homeschool science fair, they sent us a big box of puppets. HOW WONDERFUL. I was completely enchanted. Here are the prizes we were able to give, thanks to their generosity:

The Owl Prize for Nocturnal Studies
The Little Pink Noses Award
The Louis Pasteur Prize for Kindness to Sheep
The Flying Squirrel Award for Unusual Thinking
The Red Fox Honor for Colorful Work
The Grey Squirrel Award for Tireless Data Collection

You get the idea. The children were THRILLED with their puppets. Check out how they looked on the prize table:

Awesome, right!? Sadie won the Little Pink Noses Award. Alright, the kind lady at Folkmanis, who first responded to my tea party pictures, had sent the angora rabbit puppet specifically for her! So that was a bit of a foregone conclusion, but she loves her puppet:

Folkmanis Puppets have by far the best animal puppets I have ever seen. They also have character puppets beyond compare. So unusual, so interesting, such an incredible variety, such rich imaginative potential in each one. Big thanks to Folkmanis for sponsoring our fair, and making our youngest scientists so very happy to be involved!

Get Your Beast On at Norfolk Karate Academy

Benny has been a student at Norfolk Karate Academy for years. Almost since the month the school opened. Benny is a long term project for the patient teachers at NKA. I have already written at this blog about how much I respect and admire Mr. Odom and his amazing teaching of karate for kids. Now I want to sell you, the mom or dad reading this blog, on the idea of karate for yourself.

When I first started sitting through children's karate classes at NKA, watching Benny do this punch and that kick and that form and this self-defense move, I often sat next to one particular mom with kids in the program, and we'd talk. We talked about our kids, our lives, and about karate and how fun it looked. One day she turned to me and said, "We should do this. We're sitting here anyway. Why don't we do this!?" I said, "I will if you will." The idea was hatched. We went to Mr. Odom and asked if we could join the class. Not the adults class -- the kids class. He, being a reasonable sort of person, with an open mind and a willing spirit, welcomed us enthusiastically. I trained in the kid class until Benny and I both got our yellow belts, at which point I switched over to the adult class.

In fall of 2006 I started getting serious about my kicks and punches, and eventually I had my green belt. Since then I've had a problem with aggravating my herniated disk, and I've had to stop training. It makes me very sad. There are more karate moms than you may realize, and it's for a good reason. Karate is a *great* way to get exercise, have fun, learn something, and work out your aggression and irritation with life and traffic. If I could start up again, I'd do it in a heartbeat. At the Norfolk Karate Academy, you can learn Gracie Jiu Jitsu, Tang Soo Do, self defense, and you can have a lot of fun doing it. Not just your kids, but YOU. Put on a gi, stretch out your muscles, and kick the crap out of something!

Norfolk Karate Academy has sponsored one winner at the GUESS Homeschool Science Fair, with a free gi, t-shirt, start-up kit and one month's free training at their huge and airy Norfolk studio. The winner of the Isaac Newton Award for Hard-hitting Research is Shannon, who will be enjoying her new karate skill soon! Congratulations Shannon, and thank you to the Norfolk Karate Academy.

Princess Dance Camp at Art of Dance Academy

Do you have an aspiring ballerina at home, like I do?

Do not delay. Sign your small ballerina up for Princess Camp at the Art of Dance Academy while there are still spaces open! Art of Dance Academy puts on six sessions of princess dance camp every summer, and they are excrutiatingly popular. Why so popular? I'll tell you why.

The girls arrive dressed up as their favorite princesses. They do ballet, tap, jazz, pretend play, art, and music. At the end of the week, they put on a DARLING little show for the parents, in all the dance styles plus gymnastics! The energy in the studio during princess camp is amazing -- all these little girls butterflying around, chirping away in their tiny little girly voices, swooping around the dance floor, bouncing on the trampoline, tapping in their little black patent leather tap shoes. It is ADORABLE -- you can hear the dreams coming true.

This year the Art of Dance Academy sponsored our Homeschool Science Fair by donating one week of princess dance camp and a pair of ballet shoes. The lucky winner of the "Marie Curie Prize for Elegant Hypothesis" will be tappytapping away with the rest of the happy little girls this summer. Here she is; isn't she cute?

Have fun at princess camp Olivia! Who knows what Miss Monique has cooked up for this fantastic princess dance camp this year? I know Sadie will be there, sparkles and bows in place, ready to prance around and live out her fantasies for one magical week.

Homeschooling Books at Homeschoolingbooks.com

Standing in the middle of a curriculum fair, looking around at all the vendors, picking up this colorful workbook here and that heavy textbook there, deliberating, comparing... it can be a little overwhelming. Add the vast chaotic marketplace of the internet, and you might find yourself starting to cry and suck your thumb. Maybe you're new to homeschooling and want some help navigating the choppy waters of curriculum selection, or maybe you have multiple children and don't feel like teaching cafeteria style for each individual. For complete curriculum packages for homeschooling, check out Homeschooling Books.

One big box delivered to your door contains everything you need for a whole year of teaching. There are three different levels of these curriculum packages: comprehensive, basic, and a third level for non-university-bound students. Homeschooling Books also offers Switched-On Schoolhouse, LIFEPAC, and custom curriculum packages to suit your child's needs.

Homeschooling Books is a sponsor of the GUESS Homeschool Science Fair and we're thankful for their support of our efforts.

Friday, May 02, 2008

My Daughter is Also Smart

Young Chef's Academy in Norfolk: A Cooking Party for Kids

I had heard about the wild popularity of the Young Chef's Academy from friends of mine who loved the fun cooking birthday parties, the interesting classes, the warm friendly teachers, and the real life skills their kids learned in the Young Chef's kitchen. When we asked the Ghent branch to sponsor our homeschool science fair, the Ghent Young Chef's Academy decided to throw a "Science of Cooking" party for ten of our participants. How awesome! They're going to talk about yeast, baking soda, and some of the other parts of cooking that look a lot like chemistry. So, ten lucky winners of the "Emil Fisher Award for Sweet Experimentation" will be going to a party at the Young Chef's Academy in Ghent.

Here we are picking up the class certificate from Chief Wisker Sarah Horne:

Here's what I love best about Young Chef's Academy: their wonderfully imaginative ideas for cooking summer camps. You know how this year is the summer olympics in China, right? Well, check out their summer camps offerings. I just *love* these creative ideas:

We are gearing up for the Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. COOKING FOR THE GOLD will explore cuisine from 6 continents, while also including some history, math, world geography, health, culture, literature, and science. Each camp session will conclude with "Recipe Trials" in which young chefs will apply skills and knowledge from previous days to create new recipes.

These are 3 day mini-camps (Tues, Wed, & Thurs) 9am-12pm or 1pm-4pm
$150 per child 25% off siblings Members receive 10% off

Go Team USA ! June 17, 18, & 19
We’ll warm up with fun foods from home. With these American favorites,
we’re sure to win Gold!
Go Greek June 24, 25, & 26
Journey back to Olympic roots in Greece . Besides learning about the origins of the Olympics, students will prepare amazing Greek dishes.
The Champions’ Table July 1, 2, & 3
Ever wonder what famous athletes enjoy cooking in their own kitchen? How does the Olympic Village feed all of those champion athletes?
Melting Pot of Nations July 8, 9, & 10
As the Olympic torch passes through 6 of the 7 continents, how about making Cinnamon Crepes with Peaches & Cream while passing through France .
Athletes in Training July 15, 16, & 18
Athletes stay fueled by eating the right foods for their sport. What gives you more stamina? What gives you more power? How do you re–fuel after a workout?
A Day In Beijing July 22, 23, & 24
Welcome to the destination of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. Explore the culture, cuisine, & cooking techniques that make Chinese food so delicious.
Kitchen Olympics July 29, 30, & 31
This camp will venture into the world of the culinary Olympics. It’s all about presentation, garnishing, & display…...of cold & hot foods.
Closing Ceremonies August 5, 6, & 7
This will be the last camp celebrating the Summer Olympic Games. We will be serving up the highlights from “Cook for the Gold”
That’s Italian (always a favorite) August 12, 13, & 14
Homemade pasta...fresh sauces...crusty bread and rich deserts...Our look at Italian cuisine is always a favorite with our young chefs!
Back By Popular Demand August 19, 20, & 21
The recipes in this camp are all time favorites from our Summer 2006 & Summer 2007. While we travel across the US we’ll make special treats to beat the heat!
From Sea to Shining Sea August 26, 27, & 28
This camp is a combination of the best recipes from our classes all summer long. We will choose the favorites from coast to coast.

Having visited the kitchen and spoken to Sarah I can tell you that your children's experience at YCA in Ghent will be a whole lot of fun. The kitchen is huge, bright, happy, and engaging. My kids wanted to jump RIGHT in and start banging pots and slinging wisks. On the recommendation of my friends, the impressions I got from my visit, and the incredibly cute and inventive visions they have for their Olympics-based summer camp, I am happy to recommend Young Chef's Academy in Ghent for summer camps, cooking birthday parties, and all their regular classes. This is a winner.

Hands On Homeschool Science at eScience Labs

Lots of homeschoolers think that when their kids get to high school level science, they have to go to traditional school so that they won't be missing out on labs. I have to admit that I've said stuff like this myself! It's hard to get over the idea that standing in an "official" laboratory with a teacher in a white coat and goggles, among 25 other children who are each holding the same test tube and distilling the same compound, is a necessary experience for a teenager doing science.

Official Product Photo

Fortunately, the people at eScienceLabs have created hands-on science kits for homeschool science students. They generously donated one of their high school biology kits for us to give as first prize in our oldest grade division at the G.U.E.S.S. Homeschool Science Fair, so I was able to take a look and examine the contents of one of these kits. I have a few observations:

1. Everything is divided up meticulously into separate little baggies and boxes, so the experiments and materials are clearly distinguishable and identifiable. This would be on my mind, if I were ordering one of these kits, because I as a homeschool teacher am not necessarily familiar with all the little pieces and parts, and having them separately packaged and labelled is a big relief.

2. They've really thought of everything. From the little connecting beads to make molecule models to the slides and test tubes and little bottles of different chemicals, it looks like all you have to add is the child's brain. Real test tubes, lots of measuring stuff, pipettes, goggles, latex gloves -- it's all in there.

All packed into the box

3. This would actually be a neat present for a kid who's into science. I mean, this is so neat and gadgety and interesting and just looks like something that a child would *love* to dig into and unpack -- I bet for the right kid it would make a great birthday present! Definitely a curriculum that would bring out squeaks of joy and excitement rather than groans and moans.

For a science gift or a homeschool science curriculum, eSciencelabs.com has a great selection of hands on kits that will make science fun for your students and make you feel better about creating a real "lab" experience right at home.