Tuesday, August 31, 2010

First: Junior Ranger

Over the years I have “watched” other homeschool blog families vacation in National Parks and participate in the Junior Ranger Program. I couldn’t wait until G had the opportunity to try his hand at this. Well, last month we stumbled upon our first one. We were on our way home from a funeral in Tennessee and stopped off at McD’s in Cave City… and what do I spy? A Momma with an armful of Junior Ranger Handbooks! We were contemplating driving down the road and taking a short tour of Mammoth Cave but now we HAD to go! I hadn’t realized that Mammoth was a National Park; I assumed it was a state park.

We asked about the program at the information desk and learned that G needed to earn 9 points to become a Junior Ranger. The booklet consists of worksheets about being a Ranger and about the Cave System. So while we waited for our tour we found a quiet, cool corner and started to work.

After working in the workbook and seeing the cave, G said he wanted to be a Ranger at Mammoth Cave. He talked to our tour guide, Ranger John, about it. Ranger John told G he could come back when he was in 16 and be a summer intern. High School students intern and learn behind the scene jobs (tickets, cleaning…) and will be giving tours by the end of their stay. I have one very excited Junior Ranger now!

Caves: Mammoth & Onyx

Recently we took a detour on our way home from Tennessee to check out a couple of caves: Mammoth and Onyx. Now my family roots are from Tennessee so I have driven past the exit to these caves 80-100 times over my life and only been to Mammoth Cave twice and never stepped in any of the others. I have longed to go up that tourist trap mountain to Onyx Cave all my life… well we finally stopped.

We had driven half a day in the car, it was 100 degrees, and G had never been in a cave so quick & simple was the way to go this trip. We chose the Mammoth Passage tour. When our tour was called, we met Ranger John who gave us a brief overview of the whole cave system and the rules of the tour. We then walked down the forest path behind the visitor center where the temperature dropped suddenly 50 degrees. Amazing.

As we walked a bit farther we found ourselves at a set of concrete stairs that lead down to the cave entrance. Ranger John discusses how the outside light can only penetrate so far and there is an area in between light and total darkness called twilight. Once inside the opening he turned off all of the lighting so that we could see this transition. It was a bit unsettling.

In the tour we viewed the Salt Petre mine used during the War of 1812.

And learned about the type of lighting used in the mine from reed torches to gas lanterns.

It was quite enjoyable and great introduction to a longer more strenuous tour.

Next we traveled back down the road to Onyx Cave. Don’t let the tourist trappy looks of this place make you skip over it. We really enjoyed. The tour was personal and small. Onyx Cave was discovered in 1971 during construction of a parking lot for Guntown Mountain Amusement Park. While what you can see in Mammoth is dry; Onyx is wet, so there are many formations to be seen. We learned not to touch the wall because the oils from our skin would cause formations to stop growing.





It did actually have some tight spots though but they are short and quick.

Our tour guide, Missy, was knowledge and very personable. Since we were such a small group, two families, she compared what we were seeing with her compared to what was in Mammoth. She shared many personal experiences and stories.

If you have caves in your “backyard” I encourage you to check them out! We cannot wait until our next adventure.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

History is ALIVE!

I have so many, well four, posts that I want to write but I am experiencing my first over scheduled, can't find my rhythm year. But I just had to share this...

We are continuing history this year with Story of the World 3. I enjoy this series immensely. Although, this year since it starts to cover America (1600-Gold Rush) I wanted to slow down through it and do a slightly more in depth American Study than just two or three pages scattered throughout the text. So I got out a notebook today and numbered the lines one by one from 1607 to 1850. Then I fingered through the text to find the America chapters, 10 out of 42. Next I wrote those events on my time line. The second bit of information for my time line were the states... what year did states become states. Then the Presidents. Finally, I added us.

Us as in my family not US as in United States. I am so blessed to have pieces of a book written by a now deceased 2nd cousin. This man, whom I never got to meet, traced our family back to 1633. All but 3 of G's Grandfathers, on one side, lived during these years!! History is going to come alive. The first one came to America as an indentured servant 13 years after the Pilgrims. Another was born the year between Washington becoming President and the Bill of Rights. One fought in the War of 1812. These 8 men are going to guide us through the forming of this country. I am so excited!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Shakespeare in Third Grade

This year we are starting the year by finishing up Story of the World 2. One of the final chapters is about William Shakespeare. I am using this chapter as a jumping point into a survey of his work.

I have to admit that I love to listen to and watch Shakespeare but cannot seem to read it. I cannot get the rhythm and stumble over the language. It is so laborious the meaning is lost. Thank goodness for children’s versions. I hope that gradual exposure will help G to understand the stories so that when he grows up and reads the originals it will be easier.

I started looking into Shakespeare after two blog friends posted about their chosen resources and studies.


Jimmie, here and here

I would never have thought of looking at Shakespeare in elementary school. But G is enjoying the stories and it is fun to see his face when he recognizes a phrase or situation that has become part of pop culture.

After sifting through all the resources I could get my hands on these are the ones we are using…

Shakespeare Paper Doll

Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare: here and here

Tales from Shakespeare

You Tube: BBC Animated Shakespeare

Friday, August 13, 2010

Blog Contest

One of my new favorite bloggers is having a contest. Check out Live the Adventure for details on how to win this neat book.... but don't beat me out!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Curriculum: 3rd Grade

Ugh... is it time already?! It doesn't seem like we've enjoyed the summer yet but I really think we just lazied it away. So since we have turned into August it is time to get started. I tend to follow the basic public school schedule because G has close cousins and they tend to compare. He even wanted a report card and grades last year because they were talking about theirs. ( roll eyes)

So here we are 3rd grade, We will be adding a new subject: writing. I am not looking forward to this because G like most boys do not like to put pencil to paper. He doesn't mind narrating and thinking of stories as long as I scribe. Well that is about to change. I have chosen to go with the Institute for Excellence in Writing. I sat on that fence for a long time. I enjoy and am inspired by Andrew Pudewa when I see him live... he's a Rock Star! So this year I finally jumped off that fence and took the plunge. I am hoping G will like him as much as I do. If not the company has a money back guarantee. That helped me greatly in my decision.

A couple of other subjects, though part of our lessons last year, are getting make overs. Grammer: I was so excited to use the ever popular Intermediate Language Lessons by Serl. I got a like new copy on Paperback Swap... bo-nus. I thought it would be a great continuation to the Queen series we have used over the last 2 years. But as I started writing out lessons in our master plan sheet I was not thrilled. I wanted more parts of speech work and in the six weeks I planned there was little. So I erased it all and ordered a cheap copy of Evan Moor's Daily Language Review 3. I used it this workbook when I taught school and is gives a short but effective lessons. I really wanted to stick to the Charotte Mason-ish way to grammar but we'll see how this goes. I will also be adding in weekly Engish From the Roots Up cards. I purchased just a set of cards because I wanted more of a discovery of how roots work rather than a full on study.

Spelling: Last year I went through 3 books, organized and collated a master list, tested him orally and made weekly lists from the missed words. It went Ok, but just making the short vowel lists took forever. This summer I read one of my many blog favs, and she uses a similar method but uses the McGuffy Speller for her lists. Lightbulb... so I got a copy , again like new from PBSW. No more list making for me! Also at convention this spring, One of my favorite workshops was Pudewa's Spelling lecture. He talked about practicing spelling orally, a lot, before writing... like in the good ole days. Often, the script to the brain to the hand gets scrambled so spelling out loud before writing is helpful So we will be doing loads of oral practice before writing. Finally, by having the McGuffy lesson numbers it makes G feel impressed with himself. It took 4 lessons to miss 10 words. He was excited.

Our other subjects continue with companies I am really pleased with:
Mr. Q's Chemistry
supplemented with Basher's Periodic Table, Tocci's Periodic Table, Inquiry in Action, and the Golden Book of Chemistry Experiments.

Story of the World 3
supplemented with Opal Wheeler books, American History Stories, Young Scholar's Guide to Composers, Jim Weiss CDs, Complete Book of Presidents & States and Complete Book of Maps & Geography

MUS Gamma & Delta

Language Arts
Writing, Spelling , Grammar above
Reading: Book Adventure, Book Studies tied to history like Sam the Minuteman, Dewey Decimal System

Fieldtrips! I want to go on fieldtrips... we rarely seem to take the time. I want to take the time this year.

What's new for you this year?

Monday, August 2, 2010