Saturday, 28 April 2012

Building a Viking Long House

If you have been reading my blog for any period you will know that my husband is very interested in the medieval period.  So much so that he joined (and then the rest of the family joined him) a local group that does historical re-enactments of Anglo-Saxon period.  This group has been recognized and has often been filmed for various TV shows because they are know for being as authentic as possible.  We have been fortunate to be able to participate in this group and have learned a great deal over the last several years about the Viking period.  This past January we went to their 12th Night celebration and saw for the first time Wychurst Manor, a replica Viking long house that the group is building. You can see the 2 posts here and here.  This building project has been ongoing for ten years and there is still plenty of work  to do.  Now that the main building is almost complete the next stage is being set to add additional buildings.  One of the group members put together this remarkable video of the progress being made. 

This summer my family is scheduled to join them for a "work" weekend and we will be able to document that we hammered in that floor board, or painted that trim.  Honestly we can't wait to make our small contribution to this great project!!!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Glass Harmonica

Last year while the kids an I were studying about the American Revolution we learn a great deal about Benjamin Franklin.  I have to say he is one person that if I could go back in time I would love to have a cup of tea and a chat with.  What a remarkable man!  While in the states last month, my husband and I dropped the children off at my parents and headed for Williamsburg, VA.  My husband went to college there and secretly hopes so will our children, but that is another post:)  While touring around Colonial Williamsburg, we noticed a show advertising the Glass Harmonica, I just had to see it.

The individual bowls are rimmed with gold plate.

There are only a few dozen people in the world who can play this instrument.  There are lots of interesting stories about this instrument, one being that it fell out of favor because it was believed to caused insanity.

It was a great show, too bad my kids weren't there to see it with me.  I did buy the CD and DVD to show the children so they can hear this remarkable instrument.

Just listen to this You tube video I found!  While my kids weren't officially with us for this trip I did bring home some resources so I can share this wonderful experience with them.  I am linking this post up to Home school Field trip hop see side bar for button/link:)!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Wolf Sanctuary

Visiting my parents has been so much fun and they have found the neatest places to take the children and I too. This time we went to a Wolf Sanctuary about an hour from where my parents live. My daughter claims that wolves are her second favorite animal.

The rescue center also has a bed and breakfast attached.

This is the gentleman who spoke to us about the wolves. He was quite knowledgeable and told us many stories of how the wolves go to be here.

I was surprise to find out that most of the wolves here were hybrids. Breeders often mix real wolves with husky's and other large animals and then sell them as exotic pets. The problem with this is these animals still retain their wild nature and therefore do NOT make good pets

If I remember correctly he said if an animal has 25% of wolf bred in it then it is considered a wolf and there fore you need permission to own them. Unfortunately that doesn't stop people from trying to own them:( He had lots of stories of people living in apt buildings being caught owning these animals.

While they do try to keep these animal in pack as that is what they feel most comfortable with. It can be difficult introducing a new wolf to a pack. So some animals were kept in solidarity cages
until a wolf pack excepts them.

This is the largest wolf pack in the sanctuary with a total of 11 wolves.

The center often gets calls about road kills and are able to retrieve the dead animals to feed the wolves. We heard that wolves will eat till full and then bury the rest of the meat and then pee on it to mark it.

One of the wolves we saw was blind but still manages to maneuver around it's enclosure. It is in a wolf pack of 3 and the guide said the pack really looks after the blind wolf.

The kids were excited to hear the wolves howl while we were there for the tour. I thought the tour was great as it lasted 90 minutes and the guides had some very interesting stories about the different wolves we saw. I thought same enclosures were on the small side most were large and had plenty of shade for the wolves to hide. The guide mentioned that most of the wolves were slightly over weight compared to the ones in the wild. He mentioned that in the wild the success of a kill for a wolf was only 10%. While he cautioned against owning a wolf as a pet he also said in the wild wolves avoid humans at all cost. Wild coyotes were more dangerous to humans than a wolf and that their are more documented cases of coyotes attacks on humans then wolves. While I have no personal experience of either I prefer to give both creatures a wide berth:)

Another great field trip. I am linking this up to the Home school field trip hop...see button on side bar:)

Friday, 20 April 2012

Homeschool Mothers Journal and Weekly Wrap Up

In my life this week…

We just returned home from a month long visit with my parents in the states. We had an amazing trip and did lots of new things. It is so great to see my parents again and my kids just adore them.

We are trying to all acclimate ourselves to UK time and get back into a routine but it is going slowly. I returned home with 3 large suitcases full of new clothes for me and the kids. I have spent the week sorting thru their closets and drawers and getting rid of any item that doesn't fit or is torn. Next I need to tackle my drawers and closet, then I can finally empty out the suitcases and put things away.

Next I plan to tackle the school room where we are brimming over with school supplies. I am really going to be very selective about what we are going to keep. We just don't have the space to store things we might use sometime in the future. My husband doubts I will get rid of as much stuff as I need too...don't tell him...but I have that concern too.

OK, I admit it I am a curriculum there a 12 step program out there!

In our homeschool…

While at my parents I just had the kids work on math, piano and writing. We also went on lots of field trips while at my parents, and I counted them as Science and History lessons. So while not traditional schooling we did lots of educational activities while away. Some things we did:

Tour a Pretzel factory
Tour a Potato Chip Factory
Amish farm and buggy ride
Wolf Sanctuary
Attended a Show at the Whittaker center about Storm chasers
Nixon Park Nature Center
State Capital building of PA
Volunteering at a local Food bank

Since we are all recovering from jet lag this week we are still doing just the basics like math, language arts and piano. We did start right back up with our extra curriculum activities, like swimming, martial arts, horse back riding, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. I did this so we aren't tempted (ok, so I wouldn't be tempted) to take a nap mid afternoon. This forces me (and the kids) to stay up and then go to bed early. The kids are struggling a bit with focusing on these late afternoon activities so it may not have been the best idea I had:(. I am hoping to start adding a few more school activities in next week but we will add things gradually. We school year round so I am trying to not put pressure on myself or the kids to get right back into the full school schedule. We don't really have any deadlines, but that little voice in my head keeps reminding me it has been 5 weeks since we have had a full school schedule:(.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

We are staying fairly close to home but I did schedule a Friday play date with some friends my kids have been missing since we were in the states.

This weekend we are attending a Viking show at St Alfege Church were the church is celebrating a 1000 years since a Arch Bishop of Canterbury was killed by the Vikings. The story goes the Vikings stoned him to death, but instead of using stones they threw cow bones at him. I hope to learn more about this interesting story on Saturday.

My favorite thing this week was…

While the kids and I were away my husband bought a new Apple computer! We have been talking about switching over for some time but he has been a life long windows person and wasn't sure he wanted to make the switch. But after talking with some work people who are Apple fans and hearing me bug (ok, nag) him about how there are more Homeschooling apps on Apple products than on Windows he finally saw the light:) The other benefit is now we have 2 computers (one Apple and one Windows) so I can now have both kids on the computer doing work at the same time. I think it is going to make schooling much easier!

Anyone who knows me knows my computer skills are very limited so I am learning how to use this new operating system. My sweet husband even made a couple of cheat sheets for me so I can figure out how to access things I use daily. He has given up on getting me to read computer books, because I don't do it! Frankly that is what he is for, right? Please tell me I am not the only one who finds reading computer books beyond boring! Although my husband did tell me that once he goes over the cheat sheets with me, he will refer me to them whenever I ask a question on those topics. It drives him crazy when I ask him to go over something with me again after he has explained it to me a couple (well, maybe 10 or 20) times. Sheesh, touchy touchy;)! I am still learning and there are some differences in the program, I am liking it so far. My husband likes it a lot, and now wants to replace the other windows computer with an Apple. I think we will wait a bit before we do that.

Things I’m working on…

Spring cleaning, I have gotten the urge to organize my house. I hope it lasts, but alas it usually doesn't:(

I’m reading…

I am reading Chasing Mona Lisa (about saving the Mona Lisa from the Germans during WWI)
Kids are reading books for enjoyment. I haven't assigned anything to them while on our holiday.

I’m grateful for…

My wonderful family! I have parents who love and support us unconditionally, and a wonderful, sweet husband. My husband picked us up from the airport last weekend and he had my car cleaned and detailed, made sure there was no laundry in the basket and washed the the dishes. I came home to a perfectly clean house. He said he wanted to make sure everything was in order so I wouldn't have to do anything but rest. Isn't he just the sweetest, most wonderful man!! I am over looking his not wanting to answer a computer question for the 20th time thing!! I think I will keep him a bit longer;)

A photo to share...

My new computer...isn't she pretty:)!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Thank you Mom and Dad

We had an amazing month long trip back to the the states to visit friends and family. While we are now back in the UK recovering from jet lag and trying to get back into a routine, I want to Thank my parents for all they did for the children and I while we were visiting. My parents are supportive and generous to us We love them dearly!!!!

The kids are counting down the days until they can see you again:) XXXXOOOO

Monday, 16 April 2012

A Review -- Christian Kids Explore Science

My first review with the TOS Crew was for Christian Kids Explore Physics by Bright ideas Press. The kids and I had a chance to review the 2nd edition for over a month! This program is geared for 4th to 8th grade. However, it can easily be used to younger kids. I was able to make it work for both my 2nd and 4th grader with minor adjustments as we do science together:).

In addition to the book we had access to the resource CD which includes: material lists, daily lesson plans, bonus literature study guide and the following reproducibles: Unit reviews, follow up questions for each lesson, Coloring pages, and Activity Charts. The cost of this program is $39.95.

You can see sample pages from the book here.

The book is divided into 6 units with a total of 30 short lessons
Unit 1: Foundations of Physics
Unit 2: Matter
Unit 3: Mechanics
Unit 4: Matter in Motion
Unit 5: Energy in Motion
Unit 6: Electricity and Magnetism

The program is designed to have science done 2X a week in your homeschool. The first day's lesson is to read the lesson and to review questions at the end of the lesson. Also you can work through the vocabulary words and Bible verse, and do the coloring the page for the unit if you choose. The second day includes a hands on activity such as a puzzle or experiment. There is also optional additional and/or supplemental reading suggested if you wish to have your child deep a little deeper on the subject of the week:)!


This is a nice program,but it wasn't a great fit for us as we have different teaching beliefs when it comes to science. However that said I was able to make the program work for us by leaving out those parts. We did prefer it when the lesson ended in a science experiment versus another activity like a puzzle. We really like that the materials needed to complete an experiment were listed a head of time and most were common items we could easily find.

To read about my Crew Mates’ Bright Ideas Press adventures with this and other CKE science books, visit the Crew Blog!

~Disclaimer~I received this download as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew for review purposes. No other compensation was received and opinions are my own.