Thursday, May 22, 2008

Pearl Harbor

Okay... I'm finally getting around the blogging about the amazing event we got to be part of while in Hawaii. We happened to arrive at the USS Arizona Memorial just as they were getting ready to start a special program in honor of Junior Ranger day. I never imagined how "special" the program would be.

Before I get into the program, I thought I would add this quote that I found by Rick Kogan in this past Sunday's Chicago Tribune Magazine...

"History is, of course, available by many means. There are books, documentaries, Wikipedia. But history delivered firsthand is a rare commodity and it packs a punch that dazzles more than the flashiest Web site."

That was so very true that day at Pearl Harbor. No one read a history lesson to the children for that program, they didn't watch a film.... no, they heard the unfolding of the events on the day of the attack by the survivors themselves. It was almost too much to take at times. The attack on Pearl Harbor was something that was in history books... not sitting, living, right in front of me. An absolutely amazing experience. Survivor biographies are on the kids' page.

First the children heard the stories from the five survivors...
After the stories and a question and answer period, the kids received their Junior Ranger badges...
(Clara wasn't happy most of that morning because we had just found out our flight had been canceled and had no idea when we would be heading home... she decided at that moment that she desperately missed our dog, Friday)

Next, they got to have their Junior Ranger certificates signed by the survivors...
They received a packet of information about Pearl Harbor and an orchid to place in the water at the memorial.

Next we watched a short film and got onto the boat to go out to the memorial.

The USS Arizona...
The list of names was overwhelming...

After that we boarded the boat to go back to the visitor center. We made a brief stop at the gift shop to pick up this...
Graphic Library: The Attack on Pearl Harbor
Alex has the one about the Great Chicago Fire so he thought he would like the one on Pearl Harbor as well.

From there we boarded a bus with the other passengers from our canceled flight to be driven around Honolulu while they tried to figure out what to do with us. :-)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

creepy crawly fun

After coming back from Hawaii we started studying butterflies. We started by ordering painted lady caterpillars from Insect Lore. This was a great addition to our study. We have studied butterflies before (a couple of years ago) but by adding the caterpillars we actually studied caterpillars this time!

We started by reading this fabulous book we got at the library....
Creepy Crawly Caterpillars
I hadn't planned on getting this book. I had only searched by the term "butterfly", once again, totally forgetting the importance of studying caterpillars as well. But there it was, right next to the butterfly books so I grabbed it.

The first fun find was the illustration with the parts of a caterpillar. I asked the kids if they wanted to make a poster of the parts to hang up on the railing, thankfully, they said "yes"...
The title is cut off in the photo above because Clara wrote the word "caterpillar" herself and it's HUGE... taking up a section of paper as large as the caterpillar illustration.... sigh. I thought they did a really good job, even if there are a few more prolegs than there should be :-)

Yesterday when we were outside, the kids found this....

and they were so excited because they knew exactly what it was! And they knew it because they had seen it here...
It was in the Creepy Crawly Caterpillar book!

We still have a few more caterpillars to read about but now that our caterpillars look like this...
...we're going to be moving on to studying butterflies soon.

Watching our caterpillars turn into chrysalids was amazing. I mean it seriously happened right before our eyes. We had one stubborn one who fought the transformation with everything he had. He would climb up and then climb back down, up and down and finally when he climbed up and stayed up, he clung to the top with all of his legs instead of hanging like the rest of them. I guess even caterpillars are individuals! :-)

Okay... today is another day of testing... fun, fun!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

making tracks

Since I'm still avoiding my "to do" list, I'll post about what we did yesterday :-)

Let me just start by saying that one of the most fabulous things about homeschooling here in the city is the support we get from random people that we meet. In the kids' martial art class there is a woman who is a former teacher. She occasionally checks out experience boxes from the Field Museum's Educational Loan Program for a teacher friend, if her friend gets done with the box before it's due, she brings it for us to play with. But besides this, she works one on one with the kids after class to make sure they know their forms. Also, each day in martial arts during the end of class they do a wish for peace in a specific country and state. This woman takes the kids over to the globe for them to find the day's country and state. She never gives them the answers, just guides them through finding them on their own. With doing this she's also been teaching them the songs to memorize the continents and the oceans of the world. We are so fortunate to have people like her in our lives.

Okay... on to the experience box....

It was about animal tracks. Unfortunately our time with the box was limited, so we didn't get to do as much with it as we could have... but we still enjoyed it. The kids were excited to start playing with the rubber stamps that were included, so I gave them each a piece of cardstock and had them pick a stamp. Once they had stamped their paper, they started looking through the guides to identify their animal print...

The kids labeled their prints as they identified them...

(oops... forgot the border on that pic)

We then read the books included in the box. One of them was a beginning reader that Clara could read on her own. It was a fun little project for our afternoon!

Yikes... lots to do today... gotta run!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

my posting "to do" list

I'm behind on some posts I want to do on this blog so I'm listing them out so I can be held accountable for actually getting them done :-)

1. One last educational activity post from our Hawaii trip (an amazing event we got to be part of).
2. One last post about our Hawaii unit study (odds and ends I haven't posted about yet).
3. What we've done so far with our new unit study that we started a week ago (butterflies).
4. The post I promised with all of the fabulous reading list suggestions that you all gave me a few weeks ago.

I think that's it... for the moment. The problem is, that we keep doing cool things so I just get further and further behind. However, we're testing this week so cool things will probably be at a minimum.... lol!

Friday, May 9, 2008

visiting friends

I'm really discovering lately that my children have a relationship with art that I will probably never fully understand. Living in the city of Chicago and visiting the Art Institute 10+ times a year they have almost made "friends" with the works of art and going to the museum is like a visit to an old familiar neighborhood. Yesterday Clara requested a special trip to see her friends after having a blood draw in regards to this.

Clara has an old friend that she has to visit immediately each time we go to the museum... Shiva. But along the way, we made some new friends in the Japanese galleries...

The girl has a fascination with Asian and East Asian art.

After that visit was complete, we were off to visit a friend of Alex's... the Mummy Case and Mummy of Paankhenamun. This time taking the time to visit the interactive computer kiosks to view not only close up photos of the outside of the case but x-rays of the mummy inside.

By this time we were over an hour into the visit so we decided to take a break in the children's library. And there they got to know just a little bit better what had before been just a casual acquaintance...

The Old Guitarist by Pablo Picasso

It was while in the library that we learned from a volunteer that a large number of paintings from the Art Institute's impressionists collection is going to the Kimbell in Ft. Worth during the remodeling of those galleries.

We rushed upstairs to say good-bye to some of our favorites... Paris Street; Rainy Day, van Gogh's Self-Portrait, At the Moulin Rouge, the Degas paintings (Clara's favorites) and a few others along our way (including a long sweeping good-bye to the Monet galleries as something like 36 of those are going to Texas).

Thankfully, for Alex, his favorite painting is too large to be relocated easily...

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Seurat

I still get moved nearly to tears when I stand in front of that massive painting and realize that I am fortunate enough to be in it's presence on a regular basis... it's just overwhelming.

We were running out of steam at this point, but the kids had two more friends they needed to see. We were able to find the Head of Medusa, but Saint George Killing the Dragon was in storage.

I've always felt guilty that we're not doing some sort of formal fine art study with school... but I'm realizing that with our frequent visits to the Art Institute, I'm not sure we have to. Alex has a fascination with Seurat and began pointing out other Seurats as we passed through galleries and halls... he also pointed out those who used the same style... pointillism. So much is being absorbed through our regular visits that it should make doing a little extra at home easier since I already know where their interests lie.

Okay... I've rambled on enough... it's just something that fascinates me as I'm just now, as an adult, creating these relationships with art that my children have at 6 and 8 years old. It makes me happy! :-)

Friday, May 2, 2008

Hawaii Report #2

The next "educational" thing we did on our trip was a trip to the Maui Ocean Center. It is an amazing aquarium that gives you a glimpse into Hawaii's undersea world (like that? I got it from their website... LOL!). At first I wasn't sure about spending our time at just any old aquarium while on our trip. We have a membership to the Shedd here in Chicago so we're used to visiting an outstanding aquarium on a regular basis. But when we found out that this aquarium just focused on the marine creatures of Hawaii we decided to go.

We weren't disappointed either! It was a perfect complement to our coral reef study we had done the month before our trip. And it was a great preview into the coral reef world before our snorkeling trip.

Let me add the disclaimer to these photos that I really struggle with aquarium shots, so bear that in mind :-)

The first building was coral reefs...

Then outside in the courtyard were the shark and sea turtle tanks...
and a fountain...
The next building was focused on the marine mammals of Hawaii.

We were on a tour with the ship and thought it sounded like we had plenty of time to go through the whole thing... but we ended up losing track of time in the first building (coral reefs) and had to rush a bit through the last part in order to make it back to the bus.