Tuesday, March 29

Crazy Train (Ozzy Osbourne)

Welcome to the North Carolina Transportation Museum......known to us only as 'Spencer.'  Four large exhibit buildings represent the remaining structures of the historic Spencer Shops, once Southern Railroad's largest steam locomotive repair facility on the east coast.  Buildings include the Back Shop, the Master Mechanic's Office, the Flue Shop and the 37-stall Bob Julian Roundhouse.  The museum is a source of education and fun for the young and old.

We checked in at the train station, purchasing tickets for a train ride, and then perusing the gift shop.  One of the most fascinating finds was this old trainspotter's guide.  We studied up in preparation for the big tour!
We used our ASTC passport to get free tickets for the train ride!  (I cannot tell you how much we save each year with this membership.  If you travel, you should have one.)  This railroad car was remodeled in the late 1940s, and boasted all of the luxury from the golden age of railroad travel!
I love this picture.  Isn't it funny when you get a momentary glimpse of the future?  Like us, our son has inherited the wanderlust.  I can easily see him boarding the Eurorail someday and touring the countryside by himself.  When I asked what he was thinking, he said he was trying to figure out how they had connected one of the tracks out there...
The Roundhouse Tour is a special treat at the end of your train ride.  Lots of history in the photos, printed stories, and activities that they guide you through!  There are also hands-on exhibits.
At the 'model' center, you can see a layout of the original train station.  They also have several model airplanes, including Eastern and Piedmont Airlines - two smaller airlines that eventually merged with companies such as US Air.
We started the afternoon with Bojangles, that southern fast food staple, and ended it with Monk's (that's Lexington BBQ...only the best barbecue on earth).  We're having a gastronomic adventure through the foothills of North Carolina, and it's fantastic!

Wednesday, March 23

Seven Bridges Road (Eagles)

Tucked into the hills of southwestern North Carolina, a magical forest lies full of eagles, hawks, owls, falcons, and their raptor cousins.  Carolina Raptor Center, in Huntersville, is dedicated to the conservation of birds of prey through education, research, and raptor rehabilitation.
Within a small one-mile loop, we were exposed to hundreds of different species of raptors.  We spoke with their caretakers about the birds' history (many were orphaned or injured), the rehabilitation process, and everyday needs of a raptor.
The boys' favorite stop was the Owl Forest...a Harry-Potter themed section of the loop devoted to several different species.  We have a barn owl at our home that they enjoy "talking to," and they spoke with the barn owls here, too!  The gift shop, of course, is always a favorite stop...and this one has some cute handmade crafts, like these eagle wings!



Raptors Unit Study

Friday, March 18

Right in Time (Lucinda Williams)



I traveled to Chile several times for work. I went to Punta Arenas, at the very southern tip. It is the southernmost major city in the world. Before the Panama Canal was built and provided a short-cut, Punta Arenas was a very busy port city as ships stopped there for supplies on their way around the tip of South America. Now, the city is a tourist destination for eco-tourists visiting the Patagonia region and cruise ships headed to the South Pole.


For some reason, I was fascinated by the time zones! The end of South America is much farther east than most people realize. I expected it to be the same as Central Time or Mountain Time, but it is actually farther east than Florida! Because it is below the equator, the seasons are opposite our's. They also adjust for daylight savings time, but when we moved an hour forward, they moved an hour back. So depending on the time of year, the time difference between me and them could be one, two, or three hours!

It is also very windy. It is not uncommon to have tropical storm-force winds for part of the day. The winds would be bad during the day and calm down at night.

There is a penguin colony nearby. There is also a replica of one of Magellan's ships.

We also had a misconception that the food would be spicy and things would be inexpensive ... almost like a Latin American country. Actually, the food was quite plain .. a lot of lamb and seafood, potatoes and asparagus. Fresh vegetables were very expensive because the conditions are so harsh and not much grows there. So it all has to be shipped in from other areas.




Here are some more pictures.  Flying over the ice-capped mountains, sculpted trees (which are all over Punta Arenas), sunrise over the Straits of Magellan and an Argentinian-style barbeque.


Time Zones Unit Resources



Videos


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Christa Hutchins is a “doer-of-things” who provides ministry coaching, project management and administrative support for speakers, writers and ministry leaders. Her writing provides practical insight into moving your God-sized dream from vision to action. Christa lives in South Louisiana with her husband in their delightfully empty nest, where you usually will find her with her nose stuck in a book or sipping on a triple tall, non-fat peppermint mocha.  Connect with Christa at www.doanewthing.com, on Facebook and on Twitter.

Tuesday, March 15

High Times (Jamiroquai)

It's almost zoo season!!!!!!!

The zoo is a popular stop in our family!  We maintain a yearly membership and go often.  But this year, we've started doing 'focused trips,' meaning that the kids pick one animal to focus their trip on.  We interact with the animals' zookeepers, and get up close with the animals, whenever possible.

So far, we've studied :

This time, they chose the giraffe!  It was a beautiful day for a long walk at the zoo.  Since the park was empty, the two zookeepers spent about an hour talking to the boys about giraffes, the different species, their life cycle, and just all sorts of great facts!  They let them help feed these big guys...and we learned that they spend 23 hours of each day just eating!

Here is our giraffe unit study for you to use!


Saturday, March 5

Count Me In (Gary Lewis & the Playboys)

Our son needs kinesthetic, or tactile, learning methods. It can be very difficult to find materials for this learning style, but typically the ones labeled 'Montessori' will fit the bill.  

After a few years of math lessons, and still no progress on being able to count by ones, we tried having him write out his numbers regularly.  The thought there was that rote memorization would eventually kick in, but this was really testing multiple skills - including handwriting, which he struggles with terribly. It was a struggle and ended in tears nearly every time. 

Then an ad for this Montessori hundred number board randomly popped up in my feed.  Like most pop-ups, I immediately deleted it.  About twenty seconds later, my subconscious kicked in and off I went to seek it out!



The set comes with one hundred wooden numbers, from 1-100, a grid board, and also a storage box for the number pieces. All of the wooden pieces are smooth, so you don't have to worry about splinters.  It comes with a printed-number page, but also with a blank page for more advanced learners.  It's sturdy, it's hands-on, and in a matter of weeks, we are noticing the difference!


We're still working on getting the numbers in order, especially turning the corners (eg, 39-40, 69-70), but now we are working on patterns.  By physically touching the squares, he is able to figure out patterns and create his own.  He is able to see and touch the patterns, which helps his brain to integrate that learning.

Thursday, March 3

Virginia, No One Can Warn You (Tift Merritt)

The Historic Triangle includes three historic colonial communities located on the Virginia Peninsula and bounded by the York and James Rivers.  The points that form the triangle are Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg, and Yorktown.  Last year, we visited Colonial Williamsburg on this contract, and this year we were able to get back to both Jamestown and Yorktown.  (See Williamsburg unit resources...Jamestown & Yorktown unit resources below.)

One of the best features of these three sites is the amount of hands-on opportunities that are presented for children.  We're firm believers in tactile learning, and the kids remember so much more from these trips!  For each trip, we read a related book aloud together.

Jamestown
They finally found some conquistador hats!!
If you remember your history, mosquitoes were a huge problem for Jamestown residents!

Jamestown Settlement, a museum of 17th-century Virginia, explores the world of America’s first permanent English colony.  The colonists spent several months on a boat, sailing to a world they knew nothing of....how wayward and weary they must have been upon arrival!

Wherever we turned, there was a new experience to be had!  Within the colonial village, we :
  • boarded a colonial sea ship
  • learned to navigate with sea charts
  • developed a plan of attack in the event of pirates
  • discovered how the garden was used medicinally
  • watched ironwork and gunsmithing
  • "shopped" in the storehouse
  • learned why they used mud and thatch for homes
In the Native American area, we :
  • helped carve a canoe
  • watched food being cooked at the communal fire
  • practiced sewing with bones & sinew
  • learned the architectural principles behind their homes
Separate from the tourist center, there is a site called Historic Jamestowne, which is the center for preservation, education, and the archaeological investigation of Historic Jamestowne.
Yorktown

Near the battlefield where allied American and French forces won the decisive battle of the American Revolution in 1781, the Yorktown Victory Center chronicles the Revolutionary period, from colonial unrest to the formation of the new nation.

Nearly two hundred years after Jamestown was settled, the Battle of Yorktown signaled the end of the Revolutionary War.  At Yorktown Victory Center, we :

  • Helped fire a cannon
  • Learned about medicinal herbs
  • Performed the daily chores (bringing in water, cleaning house, stacking firewood)
  • Chased chickens around the fort (and could not catch one!)
Unit Resources