Wednesday, 30 October 2013

El Rancho De Los Golondrinas

We visited so many wonderful places during our 2 and half week holiday.  When we arrive in  New Mexico, we were just in time to experience a living history event for the spanish period of 1800's when New Mexico was under Spanish control.  We spent an entire day at the festival and learned so much of how the spanish lived.
I loved the red chili, we found them every where

Lots of rooms showing how people lived.  Here they had a hanging baby cradle covered in sheep's skin

Grinding stones for wheat and corn

Visiting the community's church

We were told they the wooden crosses have bits of dry wheat or corn inlaid in the wood and that it is reflective at night with candle light giving the appearance of gold.

They also used tin as decorations, again the tin reflects light from the candles at night.

Kids got to try their hands at making tin decorations to take home

Bread ovens and lovely chili ropes

Weaving rooms
Kids got to try the loom

MarioFan was fascinated with the spinning wheel

Looking at grain storage

How people may have lived during this period

examining a Yucca plant root which I have read can be used as soap and we were shown how by first using a rock to pound the root and then place pulp  into warm water.  The pulp and juice of the root acts like soap.  

Kids were given a little bit of sheep wool to wash and then compare the before and after using the Yucca root.   They said it differently spelt better after using the yucca soap. 

Next the kids made flour tortillas 

Everyone cooking their tortillas on an open fire

Adding fresh butter and cinnamon, yum yum

Watching the ladies make chili ropes

there is a particular way to do this

We watched several dances of the period

Watching younger kids make wine by stepping on the grapes.  My kids so wanted to do this but they were too big:(

Helping to make apple cider

Playing games, I believe this one was called Playing Graces.  Both kids loved this and Firedrake was very good at catching the wooden hoop.  
 It was a great day and we learned tons about this period.  I did think it was very interesting that this wonderful facility was begun by a European who noticed that this period of history was not well represented.  Also many of the re-enactors were of European origin, we met Swedes, and Germans, and white Americans and there were only a few Spanish Americans working there.  I wonder if that is because history re enactment is so much more part of life in Europe.  Europeans tend to embrace their past, at least from my experience.  This is just my observations, and this did not distract from the wonderful learning we had as a family.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Cadillac Ranch

We just recently got back from a 2 and a half week trip to the Southwest in our camper.  The kids have named the camper "Jason" as in Jason and the Argonauts:)  While on our way we stopped by the famous Cadillac Ranch.  We were here once before when the children were younger and they barely remembered it so we thought it would be fun to have the children go again and update our pictures of the kids :)
This picture was taken in 2008 when the kids were 6 and 4 years old--this was the summer before we left for The UK

For my readers in Europe this may seem a bit strange, but kitchy road side tourist attractions are all over the states and some you just have to stop and see.  What makes this one so attractive, I guess,  is that the owner of this farm encourages people to come and create graffiti on the cars.
Cadillac ranch can be seen by the road and we just parked along the road and made our way to the half buried cars.  

The fields surrounding the sculpture are filled with empty spray cans.   
We didn't plan ahead and didn't think to bring any paint spray cans with us, which disappointed the kids.  However, they started searching the fields and finally found a few with paint still in them and got straight to work making their own graffiti.  SO if you planned to add this to your trip make sure you stop at the local Walmart and buy some spray paint, we saw people carrying several cans of spray paint with them:)
I am not sure why the owner of this ranch decided to half bury about 10 Cadillacs in his fields but it is part of American pop culture--Bruce Springsteen has a song about it:)

Next we observed a professional graffiti artist at work, at least he look like a professional to us

If you want more information on this strange road side art you can find it on Wiki
Here is our 2013 picture of our kids at the Cadillac Ranch ages 11-9

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

New Family members--- Isaac and Lizzy

The kids wanted either a dog or a Bearded Dragon and we promised once we returned stateside we would look into it.  Daddy unfortunately is very allergic to dogs, according to the allergist,  so we got 2 reptiles --  a Bearded dragon and a Leopard Gecko and they have been named Isaac and Lizzy.  We know the Bearded dragon is a boy and we think the gecko is a girl.  We bought these from a homeschool family that raised both reptiles from babies but found they did not have time for them anymore.

We spent yesterday taking the reptiles to a local store who specializes in reptiles and had them looked over, weighed (slightly underweight) but otherwise both reptiles got a clean bill of health.  We were told the habitat we purchased was not really suitable and with some modifications we were able to make it more pleasant and safe for the animals.

Firedrake fell in love the moment she held Isaac, so there was no way we were leaving their house without him.  

The previous owners used a desert sand substrate but after researching several web sites and listening to the reptile specialist we decided to change the habitat to tile and get a few more climbing items for him.

The leopard gecko -- Lizzy is much smaller  than the one we had in England. 

She is in a different enclosure  but it also was covered in sand.  Once she eats the crickets in her  enclosure we plan on switching it out with what we used in England, more of a wood chip.

Isaac new home, I had to buy better lighting and a heating pad to improve the temperature.  We are hoping these changes will encourage a better appetite and he puts on a little weight.  According to the reptile specialist we took him too he needs to gain about 50 grams.  

He is loving his new hammock and light:)  

Not to be left out Lizzy got a new rock cave and heating pad too:)
In addition to this the family gave us a 20 gallon tank filled with crickets.  I have already found 3 crickets on the loose in the house:(  So I am not sure how secure this set up is.  Plus the sound of the crickets is driving me crazy, in England we feed  gecko locust and they didn't make any noise.  But we have been told we can't feed the Bearded dragon locusts so I am not sure what we are going to do.   Maybe after a few days I will stop hearing them making so much noise.

Since we have never owned a Bearded Dragon before we spent most of yesterday learning about our new pets by reading web sites, watching you tube videos, talking to the owner of the reptile store and improving their habitats---that counts as Science, right;)  We also found out that when we travel she will be glad to watch both reptiles for us for a nominal fee.  That was so great to hear.

Monday, 21 October 2013

We have been Boo'd

We got back from holiday and the kids were surprised to find a "Boo" bag hanging on our front door.  We are told by our new neighbors that is is a Halloween tradition in our area.  I don't know if other areas of the country do this or if it is just a St Louis thing.  But this is what we found:)
This is done anonymously 

A poem explaining what this is about and how to pass it on:)

Lots of treats for the kids to enjoy

Next you post a sign on your front door that your family has already been boo'd so you aren't mistakenly boo'd again.

The kids were excited to be included in this activity and we are working on getting our 2 bags ready to pass on this week!  We have had fun looking at all the houses and seeing which ones have been boo'd and which haven't.  We have already discover one house with a young'n that needs to be boo'd:)!  I think this is such a sweet and cute idea.  Let me know if your area does it too:)!

Monday, 14 October 2013

Rocks and the Mohs scale

We are continuing our science lesson on rocks and minerals.  I am using various resources for our science this year.  I had MarioFan read the Magic School bus book (rocky road trip) and complete this free lapbook.  Whereas Firedrake worked on a lapbook from Hands of a Child which is found here. She also completed a unit study from simply schooling.  We are also continuing to use Real Science 4 kids as our basic spine but I am supplementing quite a bit.

My kids have always accumulated a large collection of rock and we brought a few favorite rocks  back from the UK with us that they couldn't part with.  Currently the kids are assembling their own rock collection from with in the USA as we travel.  It is easy to find igneous and sedimentary rocks, but metaphoric rocks are proving to be a bit harder but we will continue to look while we are in New Mexico .  Before heading out on holiday we learned about the MOHS scale and determining the hardness of rocks.
I found this kit at a local gift shop and brought it home there are several different kinds that can be found on Amazon

Daddy once again helped us with this assignment as he is  a geology major

We used various ways to determine the rocks hardness, fingernail, nail, and streak test

Kids were a little disappointed to see that 80% of the rocks leave a white streak, the only ones we had that didn't were coal.

Since this area fascinated the kids we splurge a little and bought several rock kits that gave 15 samples of each type of rocks.  I was impressed the the size of the samples...This one is of Igneous rocks and the kids were excited to finally have a real pumice stone (more on that further down)

Metamorphic rocks

sedimentary rocks

The kids couldn't wait to try the pumice stone in water

they were so excited to see it float

and tried to sink it many times
By examining each set of rocks we were able to see the minerals and the organization of the minerals that we had read about in our studies.