Thursday, June 30, 2011

Our Own American Idol

Watch out American Idol #7

One very rare afternoon.

Watch out American Idol #3

I had nothing absolutely, terribly pressing to do...

Watch out American Idol #10

so I grabbed a blanket and a book to read...

Watch out American Idol #4

and I went to lay on the backyard grass in the gorgeous Summer sun...

Watch out American Idol #2

soon I was being serenaded by the cutest American Idol around...

Watch out American Idol #5

I got a whole concert worth of songs....made up on the spot....

Watch out American Idol #6

I'm a lucky Mama.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

MTH Study - Dinosaurs Before Dark - Dinosaur Gardens

Making Dino Gardens #1

Okay, I LOVED all of the dinosaur crafts/activities that we have been doing for our Magic Tree House Study - Dinosaurs at Dawn. However, I think the Dinosaur Gardens might just be my favorite.

As I researching the web for dino crafts and activities, I ran across this dinosaur terrarium on TLC. (Be sure to check the link out because they had some other fun dino activities too.) Well, we pretty much already had everything on hand, so we created our very own Dinosaur Gardens.

Here's what you need:

A container for your garden (we used some big pot lids and a terra cotta saucer that we had on hand)
Soil (we used a sandier than normal mix because we n=knew most of our plants would be of the succulent variety)
Gravel (for drainage)
Plants ( we tried to pick out some plants that looked "prehistoric")
Dinosaur figurines
Glass gems

I gathered the stuff for the gardens and told the kids the idea and they jumped right to it!

Making Dino Gardens #2

Making Dino Gardens #6
Making Dino Gardens #8
Making Dino Gardens #3

I was amazed at their designs and how well they worked together. S first came up with a very vivid story about his Dino Garden.

Making Dino Gardens #4
Making Dino Gardens #7

It involved volcanoes and ancient sea creatures and everything. The girls both joined in with stories for their individual gardens and I ended up filming the whole sagas. I loved their creative use of the glass gems as both lava and lakes and also mountains and rivers. And I enjoyed hearing in their stories, facts from the MTH Research Guides about how dinosaurs lived and died. It was pretty cool.

Making Dino Gardens #5

Plus, the mini gardens looked awesome, especially with the portulaca blooming and the spiky succulents making the whole design look exotic!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

MTH Study - Dinosaurs Before Dark - Dinosaur Wax Resist Fossil Painting

R working on her dino fossil glue resist

Another great dinosaur art idea from That Artist Woman- Glue Resist Dinosaur Art!

R was the only one who attempted this activity for our Magic Tree House study - Dinosaurs at Dawn.

Dino Fossil on paper

But it turned out pretty good.

R's finished dino fossil design

R was very happy with her fossil print and it was another cool activity to celebrate our dinosaur studies with...but stay tuned for even more paleontological fun.

Monday, June 27, 2011

MTH Study - Dinosaurs Before Dark - Dinosaur Fossils

Making "Dino Fossils" #1

So S read the first book in the Magic Tree House series, Dinosaurs at Dawn. He also read the research guide and then we talked about both books together as a family.

I am using the Teachers Resource Center Guides at the Magic Tree House Website for each book to help plan the study portion. Also, I am using Enchanted Learning for all kinds of fun worksheets, ideas, etc. for each book subject. The kids are keeping all of their research stuff, worksheets and notes in just a regular folder for now. Also, when we finish a book, the kids then go onto the Magic Tree House web site to play the games and also get their Magic Tree House passport stamp for that particular book and/or research guide. Check out the website for more details on the passport program. I will let you know more about other resources we find as we go along.

Making "Dino Fossils" #4

So after we did the worksheets and had our discussion, we figured it was time to start crafting. This is where things get drawn out do to my craft ADHD!! First up was making dinosaur "fossils".

Making "Dino Fossils" #6

This was a very easy craft - and yielded very fun results. Both Busy Bee Crafts and That Artist Woman had good tutorials that we referenced.

Here's what you need:
Salt Dough (recipes all over the web)
Cheap Dinosaur Figurines
Plastic foliage
Acrylic Paint
Paint Brushes
Mod Podge or other craft sealer

Making "Dino Fossils" #3

After we made the salt dough, we pressed the dinosaur figurines into the dough hard enough to make a good impression. We also pressed some plastic foliage into the dough as well for some leafy looking prints.

Making "Dino Fossils" #5

S used some shark figurines we had as well, because of course (as he pointed out), prehistoric sharks were ancient too! We baked our fossils according to our salt dough directions. And we made sure they were extra hard and baked through.

Painting more dino fossils

Then we got to painting.

It's cool how the paint makes them look even better

The kids picked out some colors they thought would be authentic fossil colors. And away they went.

Painting our dino fossils #2
Painting our dino fossils #1

Some of them looked darn cool!

Very authentic paint job!

After the paint dried we put a good coat of matte Mod Podge over them.

Finished Dino Fossils #5
Finished Dino Fossils #1
Finished Dino Fossils #2
Finished Dino Fossils #3

They turned out very cool looking. I would say that our first MTH craft project was a success. In fact, it was a little too addicting, so now we have about 10 dinosaur fossil paper weights around the house.

Finished Dino Fossils #4

Guess what you're getting for Christmas.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Magic Tree House Family Study Kick-Off

It's cool how the paint makes them look even better

Okay, as if we actually need more things to study and do...during Summer no less. Well, my kids got screwed in the Mom category because I have devised a new scheme to combine summer reading and research projects and CRAFTS!! YES!! Are you excited? I'm excited. My kids....hmmm....we'll see. They are excited about the craft parts however.

Peelu working and singing

Well, somehow we have collected almost all of the Magic Tree House series books along with the Magic Tree House Research guides. This series is fabulous. You probably already know that. But its awesome. History has always been my first love, hence my wacky History degree in college. AND I LOVE to research (again, that wacky History degree). SO I thought we would read each book and corresponding research guide (although not all of the books have a research guide of their own). Then we would do some further research on-line and at the library, maybe some experiments, maybe some field trips if we can find some that fit and OF COURSE, some arts and crafts that fit with each book.

Ahhhh, a baby dinosaur!

S & R are going into third grade and are fairly good readers, so the books are perhaps a touch below their reading levels now (although I think the Research guides are a bit higher reading level). But they are such great books and such very quick reads that I figured the kids would not mind this project and reading practice is reading practice, right?

Making "Dino Fossils" #2

Of course I don't plan on finishing this during this Summer. But I think it would be a fun on-going project for as long as it lasts (hopefully through all the first books). The tough part will be me. My research obsession causes me to spend more time gathering ideas than actually implementing and doing said ideas. So we'll see if I can keep the kids' interest as I will no doubt go off on crazy tangents and over-do the "extra" stuff for each book. But here goes. Hope you can follow along with us.

Friday, June 24, 2011

I love peacocks

Beautiful peacocks #1

My absolute FAVORITE part of our trips to Peterson Rock Gardens is seeing the peacocks. (But the rocks are really COOL, too!)

Peterson's Rock Garden
Beautiful peacocks #8
Beautiful peacocks #10

I have always been fascinated by their beautiful plumage and even their creepy crying calls are interesting to me.

Beautiful peacocks #7

So it goes without saying that the majority of my photos taken during the preschool visit were of....the peacocks.

Beautiful peacocks #5

I am thinking one of these may become a Fair entry photo this year. If not, wall hanging material at least.

Beautiful peacocks #11

I love peacocks.

Beautiful peacocks #15

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Father's Day Fishing

Papa's Fishing with all His Maniacs

It's become a family tradition. Each year Ross gets a smidge more fishing time. But for now it's still pretty much constant moving between the kids as one gets stuck, one gets a knot, one gets a fish, etc.

Hold Still

I do try to help. Honest.

But my fishing skills are rather pathetic and I am not so good with knots.

Casting Out

Still, they caught three fish at a new fishing spot (new for the kids anyway). We spent some relaxing time together as a family.

Fun, Fun, Fun Fishing Fun
Papa & Peelu Fishing
Big brother and little sister fishing
Watching the caught trout
Taking the bloody hook out
Holding her BIG fish!

We were heading to G & G's for a BBQ dinner and we decided to surprise them with the fish. (Grandma W always thinks Ross is "telling fishing stories" when he usually fails to bring back fish from his trips - you know "catch and release" - that's what he says anyway). So the kids felt they should bring back proof this time. They were very happy and proud to show off their hard work.

All three fish on ice
All three on the grill!

And they didn't taste too bad either. Happy Father's Day, Love.

Manly contemplations while fishing