Make a Lung Model out of a Plastic Bottle, Straws & Balloons!

IMG_7813

It’s funny how this thing has become a toy to her. This morning she was in her room explaining the respiratory system to Scooby Doo and the Gang!


It’s anatomy time, and the human body unit is in full swing at The Cabin. In learning about the respiratory system, we created a simple lung model that has been a hit in our household. I doubt Captain will ever forget how this system works!

You’ll Need: A plastic 2 liter bottle cut in half, two straws, two balloons, masking tape (or black electrical tape as that is what we had around and it worked great!) a rubber band and a piece of plastic bag.

* As you are creating this model with your kids, be sure to use the proper terminology. Explain that you’ll be making a model of the lungs to show how the respiratory system works. Let them know that the plastic bottle represents the rib cage, the straws represent the trachea/bronchi, the balloons represent the lungs and the plastic bag represents the diaphragm. While assembling, use only the anatomical names! For example: “Can you hold the ribcage while I slide the trachea and lungs in?”

Step 1: Put a straw down into a balloon, almost to the bottom. Securely tape the top of the balloon to the straw so that it is air tight. Go around with the tape a few times to be sure it is sealed. Do the same to the second balloon and then secure the two straws together with more tape.

Step 2: Put the straws down into the bottle top and tape around and around the rest of the bottle-opening to be sure that it is air-tight. If air gets in, the model won’t work.

Step 3: Place the bottle onto a piece of plastic bag and use a rubber band to secure it tight to the bottom. Trim off the excess bag, if needed.

Step 4: It is helpful to tape a little piece of paper, or a string, to the bottom of the diaphragm to pull it up and down.

That’s it! Now the child can pull the diaphragm up and down and see the lungs expand and contract! In the human body, the trachea goes down and splits into the two bronchial tubes that go into the lungs. We weren’t able to show this extra step in our model, but we looked at pictures and learned how it works. Here is a good explanation to share with your kids, if you don’t have other learning materials handy:

“Your body needs air to live! Air is a mixture of many things, but the oxygen in air is what your body needs most. Oxygen is a gas that your body combines with the food you have eaten to make energy. When you inhale, or breathe in, air goes in your nose or mouth, down a cool tube called a trachea and into your 2 lungs. Your lungs are big bags made of a bunch of tiny bags that fill with air.Oxygen from the air goes into the blood and carbon dioxide, a waste your body makes, comes from your blood and goes into the air sacs. When you breathe out, the carbon dioxide leaves your body. Ya-hoo!”

You take about 20,000 breaths a day and sneeze at about 100 miles per hour! Lungs weigh about 1 pound each and adult lungs are each about the size of a football! Your right lung has 3 regions, or lobes, while your left lung has two lobes and each lobe has its own blood supply. That way, if one part is damaged, the other 4 keep working! How cool is that?

IMG_7812

One more note: It is very beneficial to have kids draw a picture of what they learned, coloring the balloons, straws, etc. Help them label the simple parts.

The human body is amazing! Happy breathing into all of those lovely lobes!

Cheers, Karen

Advertisements
Categories: Homeschooling Projects, Science Rocks For Kids! | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Bringing Circle Time to the Homeschool

IMG_7807

I can’t believe we waited so long to do this!

Have you ever tried starting your day with circle-time? I am astounded by what has developed into a much-needed routine for my daughter and I. I always thought of “circle-time” as being something a lot of kids would do together: sitting on the floor, talking about feelings, or hearing a story. Honestly, I thought we would need, well, more people, to do one of our own. I was wrong. Our homeschool mainly consists of my daughter and I, working through projects, learning new things together, and attending wonderful enrichment classes twice each week at a lovely charter school. I was inspired to implement circle time into our routine when my friend told me about how the kids start their day at an outdoor-based enrichment program in Atascadero, CA. Wham! I realized with a powerful instinct that we needed to try this too. Thank you dear Annabell!

Last week I asked Captain if she would like to come with me to find a place to sit outside, under a tree, for circle time before we started our busy day. She grabbed my hand and said “let’s go!” We sat down and shared things that we are grateful for. It is wonderful. Not only do we talk about the good things in our lives, we are remembering to give thanks for the simple things, and that is priceless! We tell stories to each other, and it is a time for her to feel safe about addressing things with me, or talking about things that might be bothering her. For example, I found out that she would really rather do math earlier in the day, and that she doesn’t like for me to comment on her paintings until she is completely finished with a session. She expressed her concern for wild horses, and her gratefulness that kids can be adopted by new parents if the parents are unable to care for them. Wow. She wanted to hear detailed stories of her birth, about the time when the puppies were born, and tell me all about how amazing ants are. I find that after we are finished, we are both ready for our day. She is calmer and more receptive to some of the things she needs to do that aren’t her favorites. I love how it has changed the start of our days!!!!

Remembering to be thankful, expressing feelings, and getting some body-earthing in at the same time is a beautiful thing. If you homeschool, or not, do you have circle-time as a part of your morning routine? Would you be willing to give it a go? Does it seem silly or unimportant? I welcome you to write in, please! I would love to keep an open discussion going and hear any thoughts or ideas.

Luscious round thoughts to all!

Karen

Categories: Family fun, Homeschooling Projects, Positive Parenting, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Writing Practice, Art & Imagination: Create Your Own Superhero!

photo-4

Princess Halina, Animal Rescuer, has super-powers, a secret cabin, blue hair and her motto is: “Be yourself: everyone else is already taken”…

Here is a simple way to get the imagination rolling, get some writing practice done, and draw and color/paint your very own special superhero. I was surprised at how Captain reacted to this simple prompt: “Create a superhero character. Draw, label, or write about what powers that person has, or can do.” Basically, she thought about it for about a minute before she started spewing out a list of exciting possibilities. I sat on the opposite side of the counter from her, with a paper and pencil ready, and made notes as quickly as possible. She really enjoyed that I was “her assistant note-taker” and felt free to just brainstorm. It was really fun! Afterward, she sketched her character in pencil and then colored her in with markers. She wanted to copy the notes in pen, as she was sure she wouldn’t need to erase a single thing. She was right! We did this activity a couple of days ago, and she is still talking about it and adding to the story. Princess Halina, Animal Rescuer, seems to have empowered her creator and I can’t wait to see where it goes! *On a side note, I believe that an adult offering to just be an “assistant” or “note-taker” for early writers is very valuable. They feel special, and the freedom to just go with their ideas without having to fiddle with handwriting is priceless!

Here is part one of Captain’s Superhero Description:

“My Superhero, Princess Halina, is a girl who saves animals. She wears a yellow dress and crown, and sometimes a yellow cape. Her super powers are to read minds (but only when wearing her yellow cape, dress and crown), shoot lights out of her fingers (to blow things up), and she can make a light so bright that nobody can see except her, when she is wearing her goggles (which magically appear). She also has another secret, secret power that nobody knows about yet…

Princess Halina has a secret cabin where she can hide animals when she’s helping them, and to keep them safe from creepy people who want to steal them. She needs a lot of powers to defeat the bad guys. Ten people have already told Princess Halina “Be yourself: everyone else is already taken” and she really knows it!”

I also feel that creating a superhero can help kids work out some of their fears about things like “bad guys” and “creepy people”. Incidentally, the quote above is from Oscar Wilde and was our family “quote of the week” last week. It was sweet that she incorporated it into her creation.

This one gets a gold star for simplicity and fun. I hope you’ll try it with your own kids, and we would love to hear about it here on Kartwheels.

Powerful, blue-haired thoughts to all,

Karen

Categories: Art Rocks For Kids!, Family fun, Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Create Your Own Egyptian Hieroglyphic Tablets!

IMG_7544

Who wouldn’t WANT to make their own hieroglyphic tablets out of sand dough?

Ancient Egypt has been rocking our household all summer long, and making sand dough hieroglyphs is full of gritty fun! Hieroglyphs are fascinating for kids, and I think this project would be terrific whether or not kids are studying ancient Egypt. Even for very young kids, I feel that this project is really beneficial because it is fun, and kids seem to have a natural fascination with Egyptian symbols. Basically, a simple sand dough is mixed up and pressed out into 1/2″ “tablets”, symbols are pressed into it, the dough dries and can then be sprayed with clear acrylic, or coated with Mod Podge. Kids can do as much of the measuring and mixing as they like with this project!

* This is one of those instances where I feel that just being exposed to the idea of ancient cultures, picture languages and sticky, gritty dough to play with is enough to stimulate even very young children. It is NOT important if they learn all the specifics of the history and social-science of Egypt! Just brushing up against these ideas and letting whatever crumbs (quite literally!) fall where they may is a wonderful thing.

IMG_7520

You’ll need: Two bowls, mixing spoon, 2 1/2 – 3 cups sand, 2 cups flour, 2 tablespoons white glue, measuring cups, rolling-pin, a dash of dark red, or sand-colored acrylic or tempera paint (optional) and clear acrylic spray or Mod Podge, parchment paper, baking sheet, clay tools or spoon, chopstick, toothpick etc. It is helpful to have a book about hieroglyphs to look at and hieroglyphic stencils. *I recommend the book Hieroglyphs by Joyce Milton, illustrated by Charles Micucci. It is simple and vibrant and includes a plastic stencil sheet too! It sells for $6.29 on Amazon. I found the recipe for the sand dough at a wonderful children’s art and craft site called firstpalette.com.

IMG_7523

Step 1: Measure 2 cups flour into large bowl stir in 3/4 cup of water and mix into a soft and sticky dough. Add 2 cups sand and mush it all together. Add glue and a small squirt of dark red paint (optional) and mix together. Dump out onto countertop and 1 cup of sand (as needed) to make a thick dough. Using rolling-pin, roll out dough onto lightly sandy counter until about 1/2″ thick.

IMG_7525

Step 2: Using stencil, clay tools, toothpicks etc. Press symbols deeply into the dough.

IMG_7529

We had a lot of dough and Captain used the last “tablet” to make a hand print for Grandma!

Step 3: Place tablets onto baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper or waxed paper. Be very careful when transferring them to the sheet so that they don’t crack. If you live in a low humidity area, you can let them dry out slowly over a few days, turning once in a while. Or, put them in a low oven for about 5-10 minutes to help start the drying process.

Keep an eye on your hieroglyphs. We had a little trouble with the drying of Captain’s hieroglyphs and two of them cracked. Captain’s reaction was terrific. She exclaimed “They look more real now!” 🙂 I love the spirit in her!

This project is very fun and we ended up talking a lot about The Rosetta Stone and Ancient Egypt. I hope you try these too, they are fun!

Here’s to getting messy and vacuuming up sand…

Cheers! Karen

Categories: History Rocks For Kids!, Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Budding Egyptologists: Make Your Own Canopic Jar!

IMG_7269

Greetings! This is a straight-up wonderful project for kids and adults alike. Captain made her very own canopic jar as part of an extensive study of ancient Egypt, and it has turned out to be a wonderful art piece, not to mention a terrific keepsake of this lovely period in her life.  I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS ONE! These jars are made from a condiment squeeze bottle (like ketchup!), wadded-up paper towels, masking tape, pre-plastered gauze rolls (I used the leftovers from a belly-cast I did while I was pregnant), Crayola air-dry clay, and paint.  Kids could also create an entirely different style of jar using this method, without an Egyptian theme, if desired, and the possibilities are creatively endless!

In the time of Ancient Egypt, canopic jars were used to store particular organs of the body during the mummification process, and were placed in the tomb along with the sarcophagus containing the prepared body. The jars had lids, or stoppers, that were shaped as the heads of the minor funerary deities known as the Four Sons of Horus. It was the job of these deities to protect the internal organs of the dead. Ancient Egyptians firmly believed that the deceased required his or her organs to be reborn in the Afterlife. The organs needed to be removed from the body so that it would not decay, but needed to be present with the body, so the jars were used for their storage. They were made of natural materials such as limestone, wood, pottery, alabaster or calcite. There were 4 jars used. The deity Hapy, the baboon, was for the lungs, the human-headed Imsety guarded the liver, Jackal-headed Duamutef held the stomach and the falcon-headed Qubehseneuf took care of the intestines. Fascinating! Captain chose Duamutef for her jar and created a wonderful jackal-head out of simple air-dry clay right onto the squeeze bottle top!

When Captain decided she wanted make her own jar, I found the instructions for this project at Detroit Institute of Arts Lesson Plans for Teachers. Here are the supplies you will need:

IMG_0510

One plastic squeeze jar or bottle with a top (preferably a pointed top as shown above, because it provides an armature for holding the clay head tightly in place and makes it much sturdier), pre-plastered gauze rolls, self-hardening modeling material, like Crayola’s brand, masking tape, paper towels or newspaper, acrylic or tempera paint, paint brushes.

IMG_0511

Step One is simple and fun. Use wadded up paper towels and masking tape to create a canopic jar “shape”.  I pulled a bunch of strips of tape off and had them ready for her and helped her to hold the paper towel wads onto the jar as she taped.  She stopped when she got to the shape she desired. Leave the top of the squeeze bottle in place while creating the body of the jar, including applying the plaster strips.
IMG_0513

Step Two: I pre-cut the plaster gauze rolls into strips and had a bowl of water on hand. Dip each strip quickly into the water and apply to the jar to cover completely in overlapping layers. Cover the bottom first and work up from there, covering the entire jar and smoothing it all down as you go. Do NOT cover the jar tops, as the heads will be formed later with clay, after the body of the jar has dried.IMG_0514

While the jar then dries for a day or so before painting, the top can be removed to start working on creating the head!

IMG_0516

Step Three: If it has not already been decided, the child should choose which of the 4 deities they would like to make. Captain chose Duamutef, the jackal-headed god, and there were lots of gooey comments about the stomach that would have gone into this one 🙂 I basically gave her a smooth ball of air-dry clay, she flattened the bottom, and I helped her press the lid into it. Again, the pointed tip provides an excellent armature for making a solid head.

IMG_0517

Using clay tools, or anything you have on hand like toothpicks, knives etc., help guide your child in carving out the basic shape of the desired head. I explained that she would need to remove clay from under the “chin” and extend the nose to get the jackal face that she wanted, and she did an awesome job shaping the clay. I helped a little bit here and there. I showed her how to add the ears before adding the final details to the face. I got out some toothpicks and after she shaped the ears, I showed her how to use a toothpick to secure the ears to the head and then use her fingers to carefully sooth the clay down to help secure the ears in place. The jackal is the only one that has ear “extensions” like this, and we really wanted to make them sturdy! The air-dry clay was very thick and took a few days to dry outside.

IMG_0520

Meanwhile, the body of the jar had dried and was ready to paint! If the jar and lid are both going to be one solid color, you can wait to paint them both at the same time, but there are endless ways to paint and decorate the jar. Captain went for a solid-color “stone” look after painting the bottom of the jar a dark color and then changing her mind.

IMG_7212

Using acrylic paint, she mixed the desired colors…

IMG_7216

Painting the jackal head…. It looks so cool!!

IMG_7211

Painting the jar was fun. When she got bored with painting it the second time, Dad jumped in and helped too!

IMG_7262

After the jar is completely dry, screw the head right on! Fantastic! This is a terrific project and I want to thank the folks at DIA for sharing this wonderful method. Captain’s jackal-headed canopic jar has become a conversation piece at our home, and we all LOVE how it turned out and are very proud of her. This project stimulates so many things like creativity, history, culture, patience, imagination! We talked about Ancient Egypt a lot while working on this and throughout our other Egyptian projects, which will be coming up here on Kartwheels. I would like to add that any project that allows for mistakes to be made with solutions to be figured out is terrific for kids. When the jackal head and jar were outside drying, Captain tried to play with the head and snapped one of the almost-dry ears off of her jackal. She was devastated and cried that it was ruined and was ashamed of herself for trying to mess with it after we had advised that it not be touched until dry. It was a wonderful moment when I came out of the house with some Gorilla Glue and together we reattached it and also filled in a couple of small cracks.  Voila! It was a gentle reminder that most things can be fixed, and I got a giant hug too 🙂

Read more about Canopic jars of Ancient Egypt here and definitely google “canopic jar images” to see some fantastic examples of both ancient canopic jars, and handsome ones made by students and Egyptologists alike!

Visit Discovery Kids to try your hand at preparing a body for mummification online, courtesy of BBC.

Thanks so much for reading, and if you try this project with your kids, we would love to hear about it!

An ancient tomb of echoing cheers to all,

Karen

Categories: Art Rocks For Kids!, History Rocks For Kids!, Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

DIY: Make a Rockin’ Backyard Tipi For Kids!

IMG_7298

Captain, or “Princess Akeezia” as she calls herself, may never stop playing in her $3 backyard tipi! 

IMG_7280

What you need:  5 or 6 heavy bamboo stakes (6 to 8 foot length), a heavy-duty rubber band, and something to cover the tipi (piece of fabric, burlap, or a sheet)

I cannot recommend tipi-making enough!  What a fun and inexpensive way to provide your child with endless hours of entertainment and play (not to mention being a hero for it!). We bought our 6′ heavy bamboo stakes at an orchard supply store for less than 50 cents apiece. We will be going back for some 8 foot pieces as well!  Simply gather them and secure at one end with a heavy-duty rubber band and, voila!, you’ve got the frame.  Wrap it in fabric (we used a brown sheet, but wouldn’t a piece of fabric that could be painted be fun?!) and that’s pretty much it. We set the tipi up inside and then promptly took it outside for obvious reasons. The bamboo stakes are weather-proof, and a tipi can easily be constructed and left outside all summer. They don’t take up much room, and can transform even a small space into a wonderful imaginative world.

** Note:  I tried to find the bamboo stakes at the local home stores but couldn’t find them long enough.  You may have to call around to orchard, or farm supply stores to find big enough stakes.

IMG_7281

Secure with rubber band

IMG_7290

Dad wrapping the outside of the shelter.  The tipi is STURDY!

IMG_7297

Princess Akeezia

IMG_7283

Trying to knock the tipi down but realizing it is quite sturdy 🙂

We would love to hear about family tipi-building here at Kartwheels!  We hope your summer is a beautiful one, and three cheers for all of the kids out there; their imaginations, their beautiful hearts and minds, and their need for FUN..

Cheers!  Karen

Categories: Family fun, Homeschooling Projects, Social Science Rocks For Kids! | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Make Summer “Camp” Lanterns From Recycled Cans!

IMG_7204

Sweet little lanterns make the table look so festive!

IMG_6866 IMG_6865

You’ll Need:

Recycled tin cans, hammer & nails of various sizes, wire for handles, battery operated tea lights or tea candles (supervised), freezer or boards and clamps (explained below)

This project is so simple and fun… perfect for lighting up warm summer nights, or dressing the dinner table. They also make a sweet gift for loved ones!

Captain and I camped with a group of homeschoolers from HSC last month in Mono Hot Springs, CA. What an incredible place, and the people were wonderful! One of the moms, the eco-crafty Mary Ann, brought all the fixens’ to create tin can lanterns, and a great time was had by all who made one. Mary Ann said that she saw online that these can easily be made at home by placing a recycled tin can, filled with water, into the freezer. The block of ice inside the can helps prevent it from getting dented when hammering the holes in. I would highly recommend using the freezer method if you can. If you decide to try this project while camping, Mary Ann came up with a great idea to replace the ice. She brought boards and some clamps to secure it to a picnic table. As you can see in the photos below, a piece of wood that will fit inside the cans extends out far enough that the can will slip on. This provides support inside the can so that it won’t dent while hammering the holes.

IMG_6864 IMG_6863

You can use a permanent marker to make a design on the can, or just go free-form.  When you have your design in mind (think constellations, hearts, names, or random patterns!) use the various sized nails and hammer to pound holes into the can. Hold the nail in place and give it a tap to “seat” it, and then give it about two more solid pounds and you’ve got a hole!  Using large nails and small nails give the lantern a really nice look! Add two holes at the top of the cans, on opposite sides, for your handle.  Handles can easily be made by snipping about a 6″ piece of wire and crimping it on. Kids can write their names and the date on the bottom of their can and they have a lovely summer keepsake for their rooms!

** A note about hammers, nails, and kids!  I helped about 6 different kids with their lanterns, as hammering is hard work and they could only do a few holes before getting tired. The kids were in the 5-8 age range, and although a couple of them did whack their finger once or twice, they never complained or gave up. I told them how to seat the nail with a tap, and if they were a little afraid of hitting the nail with the hammer, I just encouraged them to try, looking only at the head of the nail when they swung the hammer.  It’s like the idea of “keeping your eye on the ball”- it works! The kids felt empowered and special to be hammering tin cans and doing it for themselves. So, don’t be afraid to let them go for it, just remind them to watch the nail head and they’ve got it!

*We used both tea light candles, and little battery-operated tea lights for our lanterns.  I highly recommend the battery ones for fire safety.

Captain LOVES her lantern and was so proud to bring it home to show dad her memento of a very special camping trip. I made one too, and it reminded me that I had done this project on a Girl Scouts camping trip when I was a kid! What fun! I hope you decide to make these with your kids.

As summer rocks on, I wish you many good thoughts, glowing like little lights around the campfire!

Karen

Categories: Art Rocks For Kids!, Family fun, Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Learn About The Night Sky With Constellation Collector Cards and Astronomy Fast Facts!

IMG_6778

Simple, bejeweled constellations on rounds of cardstock add a tactile (and glittering!) experience for learning new things about the night sky!  Add a few reference facts on the back of each card and you may just be answering questions about the mythical story of Andromeda at the dinner table…

Greetings star lovers! Captain has been interested in the solar system, stars and constellations lately, and this project really goes nicely with the process. Stars really do twinkle up there in the sky, and why not have a little fun with some simple supplies to stimulate the imagination?

I got the idea to make constellation “rounds” from designer, and artist, Dina Edens of Country Eden. In her version, the stars of the constellations are made by using a hole-puncher, which means you can hold them up to any light and behold the lovely shapes of the pictures in the sky. Click here to see Dena’s cool astronomy punch-hole cards for kids.

To make our version you will need:

Cardstock in blue or black (we used a heavy “textured” cardstock and they came out nice and sturdy)

A glass, pencil, scissors, hole-puncher, ruler, fine black sharpie, book of constellations (pictures and facts) or internet, and adhesive jewels (*see photo below of the Recollections brand adhesive jewel pack that we purchased from Michael’s Crafts for $6.95.  It has a nice assortment of sizes, and plenty of leftovers for other projects)

A “toilet chain” key chain, string, or a thin, old bracelet (which is what we had on hand to use 🙂 )

IMG_6329

IMG_6330

Trace the glass onto the cardstock and cut out your rounds. This is an ongoing project for us, as it is fun and relaxing to make a few at a time and talk about them for a while. Using photos or drawings, draw the stars onto the cards and use a ruler to add the lines.  Older kids can do this part themselves. For the littles, a parent, or other helper, can draw the constellations for them. Do this all in pencil so that you can erase a bit to get them as accurate as possible.

Go over your lines and star “dots” with the black sharpie and write the name of the constellation and stars onto the card.

IMG_6673

Help your child choose sizes and apply the jewels to represent the real stars. On the backs of the cards, write a little bit about the particular constellation. There are so many things to learn!

Here are a few fast facts about stars and constellations to share with your little astronomer!

1. Stars are gaseous spheres that appear close to each other, but they can really be millions of miles from each other!

2. Some star formations appear to form the outlines of figures, and observers throughout history have given these shapes the name “constellation”.

3. Constellations are usually named after mythological characters, people, animals and objects. In different parts of the world, people have made up different shapes out of the same groups of bright stars. It’s kind of like connecting the dots!

4. In the past, these “pictures” in the night sky helped people navigate and keep track of the seasons.

5. Stars are composed mostly of gas and plasma, a super heated state of matter made up of subatomic particles. Cool!

6. Our planet’s sun is a star.

7. Why do stars appear to be different colors? Because their temperatures are not all the same. Hot stars shine white or blue, cooler stars appear to have orange or red hues.

8. Stars occur in many sizes, which are classified in a range from dwarfs to supergiants!

9. The constellation Andromeda is named after a mythical princess who was chained to a rock as an offering to a sea monster called Cetus. The star Alpheratz marks her head, and with binoculars, you can see lines of stars marking her chained, outstretched arms. The constellation also holds the Andromeda Galaxy. At 2.5 million light years away, it is the farthest object visible to the naked eye. The name Andromeda means “The Chained Princess”!

10. How many stars are out there?

According to astronomers, there are probably more than 170 billion galaxies in the observable Universe, stretching out into a region of space 13.8 billion light-years away from us in all directions. And so, if you multiply the number of stars in our galaxy by the number of galaxies in the Universe, you get approximately 1024 stars. That’s a 1 followed by twenty-four zeros. That’s a septillion stars!

But there could be way more than that, and isn’t that delicious to think about?

Cosmic Cheers to all,

Karen

Categories: Homeschooling Projects, Science Rocks For Kids! | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Visit a Street-Artist!

IMG_0761

Who wouldn’t love to capture themselves in cartoon? I want to share an inexpensive, and really fun, idea for a wonderful memento of a city visit. If you live in a big city, or have plans to go with your kids, perhaps you’ll try a visit to a street artist!

IMG_0699

Captain and I had a wonderful time last year in the great city of San Francisco! We were lucky enough to go with Captain’s two Grandmas (the “Grandma Patrol”) and we stayed in a lovely hotel and got to experience many wonderful sights. One thing we did was to stop at the stand of a street artist, who sketched our portrait, capturing us in all of our pink-cheeked, freckled wonder. The experience itself is delightful, especially for us mountain-dwellers, for we sat surrounded by the powerful smells of coffee, flowers, baked goods, and salty ocean air, mixed with the exhaust of passing busses and cars, all topped with a slight whiff of urine. There were people everywhere, going by with intense briefcases, baskets of apples, rolls of paper, and flowers in their hair. There was a single man’s black leather shoe in a bush, as though placed there as a little sculpture of imagination. I still think about that perfect shoe in that exquisite bush. Fantastic!!

IMG_0710

We only paid $20 (including a tip!) for the sketch & matte frame, and the experience itself was priceless. Even though we live in a remote forest-cabin and relish the excitement and energy of city visits, I think that someone who lives in a place large enough to support street artists would enjoy doing this with their kids. If I could, I would do this one time each year, just to see the little cartoon face of my daughter change with age, the seasons and the particular artist who sketched for us. Our artist was a wonderful man, who told us all about his life and artwork. Doing street-sketches is how he earns money to live and to pursue his true artistic endeavors. He was quiet and reserved at first, but when I asked a few questions, without prying, we ended up sharing all kinds of interesting things about our lives and travel. Oh how I love people!!!

IMG_0691So if you get the chance, go out and support your local artists, in whatever form they choose to express themselves, earn income, and make memories for our families. I would like to wish our artist, who would rather his name not be mentioned, good travels and let him know that a couple of pine trees are waving to him from the Sequoias!

Cheers, Karen

Categories: Art Rocks For Kids!, Family fun, Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

DIY: Mom & Me Journal!

IMG_5057

In the photo, Captain and I are BOTH inside my shirt..

Here is our version of the “Mom & Me” journal!  Basically, it is a composition notebook with a label on the front for you and your child to write notes, letters, share pictures, etc. I made this one morning, wrote a note inside inviting Captain to share notes with me, anytime we feel like it, and left it on her bed. She was thrilled and sat in bed for a long time with a pencil, drawing pictures and writing notes. We have had it for about 6 months already and both love it. Sometimes we forget about it and a lot of time passes before one of us adds something to it, and that is just perfect. There is no pressure to do anything but tell each other little things…  She has written notes to ask me to make her favorite dinner, which I love! There are so many “I love you’s” and pictures of our dogs. It is also surprising how some honest, hard to talk about, things can come up. There is something safe for kids to be able to write down some feelings and ideas that they have a hard time saying in person. They KNOW their mom (or Dad) will see it, but don’t have to talk about it, just yet.

I think this notebook idea could be adapted to boys simply by changing the colors and making it suit their personality more. It would be really easy to make a “Dad & Me” notebook as well! Because it is a solid book, clearly marked, it doesn’t get lost in all of the other paper and notes that seem to fly around our cabin!  I am especially looking forward to reading it again one day when Captain is all grown up. What a wonderful keepsake! I got the idea from Mama Jenn on her blog, and she got the idea from another, who got the idea from another…

I do hope you try this.  It is fun and pretty special.

Here’s to good memories (and notes that state that a certain someone would rather NOT clean up her room, complete with little, drawn, grumpy faces… love it!)

Cheers, Karen

Categories: Family fun, Homeschooling Projects, Positive Parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.