Sunday, September 30, 2007

Balderdash & Blokus on the Block

Many thanks to B&B for leading me to her blog Balderdash & Blokus (two of my favorite games, btw). She's got great resources for projects and info in many subject areas, like this groovy site for making Chocolate Asphalt and using it to study civil engineering. I'll be checking there often. :D

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Turning Halo 3 into School

I have been accused of turning everything into school. That is part of my job as a homeschooling mom--interpreting what the boys do in terms of school so Dad and the virtual charter we work with understand it. Halo 3 was released today, so the boys finished their lessons early enough to get busy with the other 118,000 people currently online.

On one of the screens, there was a global map light up to show where everyone was playing. The half the US from the Central Time Zone east was completely lit. So I asked the boys why there was relatively little activity west of here. It didn't take them long to figure out school is still in session in the Mountain and Pacific time zones.

We saw few players in continental Europe (where it's getting pretty late) but three hot spots right in the Baghdad/Kuwait area. Our men and women in uniform working out with Master Chief? That's my guess, although I haven't found any news reports about it. Our soldiers in Iraq did get to try out the Halo 3 Beta last Christmas, so I wouldn't be surprised if they got their own shipments of the game.

It just goes to show that even a video game like Halo can become a lesson in map-reading, and the boys didn't even notice! LOL

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sandhill Crane Family from Florida, Great Pictures!

"One of our Sand Hill Crane couples recently had an exciting addition to their family. When they built their nest near the water's edge it immediately drew attention of passers by. Soon there were two eggs sitting on top of the nest and the mother on top of them.

Those of us who were really curious passed by the site every morning and we would stop our cars to get out and see if there were any new cranes yet. Many brought cameras of all shapes and sizes and would stand near the water for long periods of time hoping to catch a photo of the hatching.

Robert Grover, a dentist, didn't actually catch the birth but, he sure did capture some fabulous shots of the Momma, Papa and baby (the second egg never hatched). Then he put together a slide show with music that is just too good to not share it.

Click on the link below and then "start slide show"; enjoy!! Nice music too!"

Can You Crawl through an Index Card?

This guy can! Watch how he does it at

I'm Calling Them Laurel and Hardy

DH found a couple of parsley worms/black swallowtail butterfly caterpillars on his parsley yesterday. He brought them in intending to experiment on them (!) or at least observe them for a bit and let them go, but I decided we're going to raise them. So now they're sitting in our 2.5 gal aquarium with a couple of sticks and several stalks of parsley. You would not believe how much these things eat! I mean, I understand they're fattening up to overwinter in hibernation and all, but the amount of poop (called "frass") they produced in the fifteen minutes it took me to find an appropriate home for them was prodigious.

They were pretty much identical yesterday but today one is fatter than the other, so I've named them Laurel and Hardy. Hardy does nothing but eat. Laurel's been climbing the tacky glue at the corners of the aquarium to the mesh roof (very handy to have an aquarium with a top!) and now crawling across it. I'm not sure if he's trying to get out, thinks DH's nearby orchids look tasty or if he's looking for a place to pupate, but they're pretty funny to watch. Caterpillars eat leaves one row at a time, like an ear of corn, or a weed-whacker.

For info on how to raise black swallowtail or monarch butterflies, check out

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tomorrow is National Talk Like a Pirate Day!

And we almost forgot! ARRGGGHHHH! Luckily we were doing some pirate madlibs today and I suddenly realized it was nearing the 19th... Nonetheless, we will be flying our pirate flag (which happens to be the colors of Calico Jack Rackham according to the Dangerous Book for Boys) and wearing our pirate kit tomorrow. I expect all ye scallywags'll be doin' likewise!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Gifted Kids' Bill of Rights

Incoming president of the NAGC, Dr. Del Siegle, has written a Gifted Children's Bill of Rights as his introductory president's column in this month's Parenting for High Potential. My favorite part is the first one:

"Gifted children have a right to know about their giftedness

Parents and teachers are often reluctant to talk with children about their giftedness for a variety of reasons. Parents may not be sure what it means to be gifted or how their children became gifted. They may worry that giving children information about their identifications as gifted causes them to feel superior or elitest. How we talk with children about their giftedness can have a dramatic impact on the way they view themselves and the daily challenges they face. Children need to understand that giftedness is not something that was bestowed upon them. While it is true the gifted students often acquire skills more quickly and easily than their peers, gifted children do learn these skills over time. They may have taught themselves to read, or learned to read esaily at an early age, but they still learned to read. It is important for gifted children to recognize that the talents they possess are acquired, they had something to do with acquiring them, and they are capable of further devloping these talents and even acquiring new ones. They need to learn to take responsibility for developing their gifts. They need to understand that having to work hard does not mean they are not gifted and that working hard can even make them more gifted."

All you parents and teachers of gifted kids out there, embroider this into samplers and post it on the schoolhouse door. You can't be gifted in math until someone teaches you how to count. You can't be verbally gifted, unless someone, probably a lot of people, talk to you and read to you and answer your questions. I encourage everyone to find a copy of Dr. Siegle's complete essay. It's fabulous.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Trevor Wins Hamster Ball Derby!

Xavier's hamster, otherwise known as Magical Trevor, won the Hamster Ball Derby at our local Petco yesterday. We were very excited because at the time of the last derby, held last March, Trevor wouldn't go anywhere near humans. Everytime we tried to pick him up or move him to clean his cage, he'd dive down a tube and stay there until we left. And he didn't get any exercise either, because he kept nesting in his wheel.

Then Dad got the brilliant idea to move him into a smaller cage with no access to the "Petting Zone" up top or tubes to hide in. Quickly he got bored of 1.5 sq. ft of living space and we introduced him to the hamster ball concept. Now he runs for 2-3 hours a night, goes down stairs on purpose, including all the way down to the basement if someone leaves the door open. (Don't worry, people. He's heavy and skilled enough that it's a controlled one-stair-at-a-time descent. We've watched him.) If you try to take him out of the ball before he's tired, he refuses to leave. And he loves to chase the dog.

Given that he's more of a marathoner (the Derby training info said to get him to practice every other day for fifteen whole minutes), we weren't sure how he'd do at the Derby, which is more of a sprint. We practiced a little bit in the aquarium aisle to get him used to running away from Sam and toward me. I think he was the only hamster in a field of 14 who consistently ran in the right direction. (So heartbreaking when they'd get halfway down the track, stop and turn back!)

So he won an oval-shaped HamTrac, a blue ribbon, some coupons and bragging rights as the fastest hamster in town, at least for another six months. Xavier is going to enter him in the county fair through 4H next year, so I think this project is off to a good start.