Saturday, June 27, 2009

10 famous people who've been homeschooled

I ran across this article on a homeschool yahoo group and thought I'd share it. It's fun for my kids to see famous people who've shared some of the same experiences as them.

Go on over and take a look. It's a quick read and full of fun information!
Have a great day!

(This funny picture is posted at the exit of the San Diego Zoo. The kids tried to look cross eyed like the lion, but couldn't quite get it, so we gave up and took a straight faced shot)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Birthday on an elephant!

So Hayden's birthday was on Sunday the 24th, and I finally got the pictures downloaded to share. Since we are in a sparcely furnished apartment, away from our neighborhood friends, I wanted to find a special outing we could take Hayden on for his birthday. Something low key, but highly memorable.
While talking with a local girl at church, she mentioned that the Santa Ana Zoo has elephant rides on the weekends. That sound like a once in a lifetime sorta thing to do, so I packed a lunch and we headed to the zoo on his birthday.
It's a small zoo, which Dino appreciated as he didn't want to spend his one day off walking even more. We headed straight for the elephant ride to make sure we'd get a chance, since there's limited hours.

We showed up just as Dixie was entering the ring. She was a sweet, Asian elephant, about 40 yrs. old. She saddled right up to the ramp and let the kids on. The girls asked her trainer a flurry of questions, and he was impressed with how much they knew about elephants in general. (that's Hannah for you!)
The trainer was so nice, he even has Dixie pause and pose for a minute so overly- enthusiastic moms like me can snap a dozen shots of our kids.

The kids were wild with excitement as they rode around around the ring. Hayden shouted out, "This is the best birthday ever!" It was definitely worth the $5 a ride to see the smiles on their faces.
Then when their turn was over, the trainer told Hayden to stay on and he gave him an extra ride for free because it was his birthday. He also took a picture of him and printed it out and put it in a card that says "I rode an elephant!". He normally charges $20 for the picture, but he included it because he took such a liking to the kids.

We toured the zoo for a bit, and then watched the animal interaction show. The kids got to hold silkworms, and touch a centipede, lizards,etc. They were in heaven.

At home we had some cupcakes to share with the other APX guys and a tiny cake so Hayden could blow out the candles.
It was definitely the low maintenance birthday I had wanted, but was memorable for sure.
Happy 9th birthday Hayden, we love you buddy!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Discovery Science Center

May 16th, 2009

Our first of many educational stops this summer was at the Discovery Science Center. It's in Santa Ana, so it was only a 15-20 min. drive, which I loved. Sometimes it's a crap shoot with Science exhibits because I never know how hands-on it will be, or what mood the kids will be in. Fortunately, today was fantastic!

As soon as you walk in the door, there's hands-on experiments for the kids to try, along with an explanation of what's happening in a way the kids can understand. Then they include the scientific name of the process as well, which I appreciate. Hopefully it will tuck away somewhere in their brains, ready to be recalled sometime in high school/college.

One of the most entertaining exhibits was the pin wall. It's basically like the handheld version where you can press something into it and make an impression on the other side. Since it was so big, the kids could put their whole face and some body parts in it. That's Avery above.

Next we got to jump inside a cylinder about the size of a phone booth and experience winds the same speed as a hurricane. There's a monitor outside of it showing me how fast the wind gets. They were up to 70+ miles per hour before their turn was over. Doesn't make for a good hair day at all!

We also got the chance to lay/lie (can't remember whic is correct) on a bed of nails- very exciting. The girls we apprehensive at first, but Hayden enthusiastically volunteered to go first. After he did it, the girls summoned up the courage to try.

I think the highlight of the day for Hannah was holding a real brain in her hands. One of the reasons I took the kids on this particular day was that they were going to have a brain presentation and an opportunity to hold/touch one at the end. Since we had just studied the brain in one of our science units, I wanted to give the kids an opportunity to see one up close.

Hannah, the budding veterinarian that she is, was the first in line when the time came. They let us hold a sheep's brain, but they had different versions of real human brain in the jars on the table. They had an intact one, and then some sliced various ways so you could see the two hemispheres, the brain stem, etc. It was pretty fascinating. I wish we could have held the specimens longer and asked more questions, but a line was starting to form as some of the younger kids were finally mustering up some courage to come try it out.
I'm sure this won't be the last time Hannah has a chance to hold brains in her hands!

Later that day we came back to the
same room so that Hayden could watch the Dinosaur game show. It was like aversion of jeopardy. Since his good friend Cameron has taught him a lot of facts about dinosaurs, Hayden raised his hand to volunteer. He got picked as one of the contestants. He had a rough couple of rounds because we the audience persuaded him not to go with his gut on some of his answers, and then we were wrong! He would've gotten them right. But in the end, he got the double jeopardy answers right and tied for first place with the teenage girl next to him who knew nothing, and ended up only getting the answers right because Hayden gave them to her. How about that for good sportsmanship!

Upstairs was a tribute to the science of sports, and hockey specifically. LA has a hockey team so they were the sponsors of some fun exhibits. There was a full-size zamboni that kids could climb on. They had some goalie leg pads on display that you could try on and attempt to kneel and block a puck. They were almost as big as Hayden! And heavy too. It took all the force he could muster to push them down.

The biggest draw were the 2 simulators; one for practicing shooting a goal, and one for goalies to practice catching a puck.
I've never seen the mitts/gloves up close before, it was pretty interesting how complicated they were. The kids got a chance to try out both simulators. They were pretty good at batting the pucks out of the air, but weren't so good at slapping the puck into the net, even with 5 tries.

Outside there's a dinosaur exhibit and scavenger hunt that we spent a hour at, but I didn't get great pics of.
There's a ton more I could share, but suffice it to say, we had a great time and I would highly recommend a visit if you live or travel through Orange County.

La Brea Tar Pits

May 21st, 2009

Since we were still technically homeschooling until the 22nd of May, I've been planning a bunch of educational field trips for the kids. Our second stop was the La Brea Tar Pits & museum. Perfect weather and a light crowd made for a great day. Soon after we got there we were able to join a walking tour of the grounds.
The kids were fascinated by the tar seepage right out of the ground and onto the grass. Luckily they resisted the urge to touch it and get it all over themselves. One of the cool parts was getting to see an active pit that's being excavated, Pit 91. It's the longest and most fruitful dig in history.

Right next to this area is a big shopping center under construction, and 2 years ago, while they were digging out the underground parking, they found remains. Turns out, it was an intact mammoth; the biggest and most complete they've ever found. They named him Zed.
There's a glass observation area in the paleontologist's lab so we got to see them actually working on his tusks, pelvis and femur. Wickedly cool, as Hayden would say.

The museum is on the smaller side, so the whole excursion probably only took us 2 hours. Still, I think that it's one of the more impactful trips we've been on lately because it sort of links the past with the present. Before when we've seen fossils in book or museums, it's kind of an abstract idea. But to come here and see the active tar pits, and the real bones of a mammoth that's been recently recovered, it made history really come alive for my kids.
So if you're ever in LA, try to make time for a trip to the Page Museum. It's not too far from the rest of the Hollywood attractions (depending on traffic) and worth the trip!