Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Behold the Awesomeness!

The literature units for 2012 -2013 are DONE!
And they are all organized in these nifty little hanging bags!*
(Trumpet fanfare...)

Inside each bag: the novel, a vocabulary list, vocabulary activities, and a literature unit with author information, discussion questions, and enrichment activites.  The units are mostly from Teachers Pay Teachers or Currclick.  (BTW, If you are planning to read The Island of the Blue Dolphins, there is a fantastic novel study available on TPT, and it's FREE!)

We're using The Arrow for The Midwife's Apprentice, and some good, basic vocabulary sheets from TPT.   (Just search "vocabulary graphic organizer" and you can choose from a ton of different formats, some free and some a dollar or so.  This is probably obvious to you, but for some reason I never figured it out until I was putting together this year's units!) 

I'm a firm believer in getting familiar with new vocabulary before reading the book, so I made various puzzles and activities using the tools on ABCTeach.  You can make crosswords, word finds, word shapes, and lots more.

Next year our spelling words and our vocabulary words will be the same.  We'll also use them to study prefixes, suffixes, and root words.  And many of our writing activities will come from literature studies.  (I tell my kids all the time: if you want to be a writer, first be a reader!)

 We're starting the year with The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes.  After that, I'll let the kids take turns choosing the next book.  We certainly won't get through all of these, but I made more than we need so there would be plenty to choose from.  The choices: A Single Shard, The Egypt Game, The Breadwinner, The Door in the Wall, Dominic, The Magician's Elephant, Seedfolk, Harris and Me, The Island of Blue Dolphins, Pictures of Hollis Woods, The Indian in the Cupboard, Danny the Champion of the World, The Midwife's Apprentice, and Esperanza Rising.

That should keep my little readers busy for quite a while!  And anything we don't use this year is ready for the next!

*In case you're curious about the organizer above, it's called a Clip-A-Zip and I can't remember where I got mine.  I just looked it up on Amazon and there is no way I would have paid 45 bucks for it!  Are you kidding me?  Really Good Stuff offers a similar organizer; however you have to buy the bags separately.  You homeschooler types are so creative--I'm confident you could find a clever way to make a similar system if you wanted one! 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sternberg Museum of Natural History in Hays, KS

 Remember when Kansas was a big shallow sea?

Yeah, me neither!   

We weren't around to see it then, but lots of fascinating (and some terrifying!) creatures called it home.   

This handsome fellow is a Mosasaur.  His toothy grin probably swallowed fish and other aquatic animals, unlucky birds, and other Mosasaurs.  Try this site for lots of cool details about his teeth and bones.

And this lovely lady is called I-Will-So-Totally-Bite-Your-Leg-Off-Without-Even-Trying.  OK, not really.  I forgot to take a picture of her sign so I don't remember her name but she's clearly not one to be trifled with.  
(Update: Dad informed me that this is the same fish as the one below, Xiphactinus.  As far as I'm concerned, the above is still completely valid.)

 The Sternberg museum is one of our all-time favorite places.  Here is (a replica of) Mr. Sternberg himself, making a very important discovery...

And here is the same discovery, all cleaned up and displayed on the wall.  This particular Xiphanctinus was busy digesting his lunch when he died and began the slow process of fossilizing.  How unfortunate for him, but fortunate for us!

The museum also has an extensive collection of dinosaur bones and recreations.  This Carcharodontosaurus (shark-toothed lizard) was doubtless an impressive hunter, and is only surpassed in size by the Giganotosaurus (hella big lizard.)

Not everyone sported big, flashy fangs though.  Who needs fangs, when you've got a cool pair of wings?

Of course, no dinosaur museum would be complete without something that frightens small children.  My kids love waking up the motion-activated T-Rex, but they always check for stray toddlers first.

We had lots of fun at the Sternberg Museum.  Hope you're having a fun summer, too!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Depot Museum, Henderson, TX

We enjoyed our visit to The Depot Museum and Children's Discovery Center in Henderson, TX!  The main building has lots of interesting exhibits about the history of Rusk county, from native peoples until WWII.

Until the oil business superseded it, cotton was king in East Texas.

Dude checked out the wagon's suspension and predicted a bumpy ride!

   Super said the hat pins were cool...and scary.

Not as scary as this hair curling contraption!

  No perm is worth electrocution, in my opinion! 

 We had just talked about ration coupons a few days before, so it was great to see some examples.

This teacher's desk is a lot neater than mine!

 There were several old radios and this gramophone (no, kids, I'm not that old!)

I was trying to take a picture of the inside of an old radio...but I got myself instead!

Next door to the museum is the historic Beall-Ross home, built in about 1884.

Maybe I should stop complaining about my tiny laundry room...

...or I could just whip up some new clothes for my whole family.

 The original Mount Enterprise gin is part of the museum as well.

(That's cotton, not tonic!)

 Super said the pressed cotton reminded her of insulation.


The museum complex also has a restored sawmill...

 ...a log cabin...

...a blacksmith's shop (with fire extinguisher handy)...

...and a doctor's office. I wonder how many people took one look at that examination table and suddenly felt much better!

The print shop was really interesting.  It was also air-conditioned so we lingered a while.

 There was an old general store...

 ...and a restored caboose from the old Missouri-Pacific line.

All these exhibits were interesting, but the last building we toured was by far the most, um, unusual.  The Depot Museum is home to the "most publicized historical marker in the state."

That's right, this little building.

Are you ready to see it?

This "Victorian three-holer" has a glass window and three different-sized holes for different family members.  Quite luxurious for the time!


The sign above it says it's non-functioning.  (That's OK, we weren't tempted.)

We had a lot of fun at this museum, and we learned about the history of East Texas, too!