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Wednesday, July 27

Virginia (Marshall Tucker Band)

We wound up visiting two museums (they're right next to each other) on the same day - and both of them were having Homeschool Day!!  Excellent accident!  The boys enrolled in classes and had a chance to meet and play with other kids for a few hours, and I got to catch up on some much needed work in the lobby.  They came out energized and enthusiastic - and then we explored the museums together.                      If you're in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, try to hit both of these.......but before we get sidetracked, here is your animal-specific unit study for today. 

Horseshoe Crab Unit Study

Virginia Living Museum
At the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News, living exhibits depict Virginia’s natural heritage from the mountains to the sea. Visitors experience animals native to Virginia in habitats, discovery centers, and interactive exhibits. There are hands-on exhibits, and the docents are fabulous with the kids!  The trail is nicely laid out, and easy to navigate, even on rainy days.  Before you go, make sure to pick up a museum study guide (choose your grade) to turn this trip into an even-more-educational field trip!
Learning about horseshoe crabs at the Living Museum - the docents encouraged hands-on learning and showed us many different specimens.  
Inside the museum, you'll find two large sun rooms with different Virginia ecosystems.  Learn about both the coastal and mountain regions, as well as the animal life they support.
Simulated caverns showcase nocturnal animals.  We even found our oldest son's relative.....the pack rat!
During the downtime, we got to learn what it would be like to be a turtle!  It's actually quite difficult to navigate!
Outside, on the trail, we learned how to distinguish the tracks of all the animals we were about to see.  While many of these animals were not new to the children, there was still a lot of information on the placards that they didn't know.  It's a bit like a zoo, but with animals strictly from the local area - such as the red wolf and bald eagle.
Their favorite parts about this museum?  The big one loved getting to see the bald eagle up close and personal (yes - we were only about three feet away...that's not a zoom lens).  The little one enjoyed the virtual dissections, like the frog one shown above.  He got to take apart the animals, and learn the anatomy, without having to get messy!

Mariner's Museum
The Mariner's Museum covers seafaring history of the Virigina coast, from the early explorers to modern day.  As a homeschooler, I appreciate the various study guides they offer online.  You can study everything from the Voyage Across the Sea (66 pg of lessons!), to the Birth of the Navy, or even the Battle of the Atlantic.  There are more than a dozen guides available!
One of the boys' favorite exhibits was the USS Hunley, a Civil War era submarine that has been re-created.  They discovered that it was a lot smaller inside than anticipated!  Nearby, they were able to design their own submarine and then discover it's merits and pitfalls in battle.  This was a great engineering exhibit, and we spent a lot of time here.
They were able to role play in the Captain's Quarters, seeing how well he would live in relation to the various enlisted men.  At another section in the museum, we were able to see the real submarine, as it is being restored in an underwater environment.  They love Underwater Archaeology, so this was another long-visited exhibit!  Check out our previous units on this subject :

  1. Maritime History & Archaeology
  2. Underwater Archaeology : Arabia Steamboat

Back in the Homeschool Days classroom..............the boys learned about hurricanes and created a house that would withstand hurricane-force winds (as provided by a leaf blower).  They learned about aircraft carriers and the role they played during World War II.  Then, they got to use ship flags to send signals - this sparked a few days of creating codes with ship flags.....   Gotta love the unit study bunny trails!!   

Happy Sailing!  

Sunday, July 24

Freezer Cooking : Summer Classics

Love to freezer cook?  Check out our new book : Freezer Cooking Through the Year!!

Easy Slow Cooker Marinara  (makes 15 c.)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 1 Tbsp chopped garlic
  • Four 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 to 2 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Directions :
  1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until softened. Spoon the onion mixture into a 5-quart or larger slow cooker. Add the crushed tomatoes, water, salt, basil, parsley, and red pepper flakes. Cover and cook on low for at least 4 hours.  Adjust the seasonings to taste.
  2. Divide the sauce into meal-size portions in plastic containers. Chill in the refridg­erator before freezing.
  3. To serve :  Thaw sauce in fridge; reheat in saucepan on low, stirring.

Summer Vegetable Dish
  • 2 small yellow summer squash
  • 2 small zucchini
  • 4 small tomatoes
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil 11/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces fresh whole-milk mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
Directions :

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease the baking dish with olive oil.
  2. Slice the yellow squash and zucchini into half-moons, and coarsely c tomatoes and bell pepper.
  3. Stir all the vegetables and garlic together in a bowl and toss with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  4. Spread into layers in the casserole.
  5. Chop the mozzarella into evenly sized cubes and tuck between the vegetables.
  6. Mix the Parmesan and bread crumbs in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly top of the vegetables and cheese.

Friday, July 22

Stoned Love (Supremes)

The Schneider family has traveled together full-time for 3 years. Most of their travels are done during the husband’s work tour. He’s know nation-wide as the  Chicken Whisperer, and they go on tours in the spring and fall where he teaches workshops and does book signings. You can read more about how the family got started RVing, and check out their Roadschooling Set-up, by heading over to The RV Classroom.

Mom writes...

Stone Mountain Park, Georgia

We’ve visited many places around the country, but Stone Mountain Park in Georgia is one of our favorites, so much so that we go back over and over again! It’s a great place to visit and learn for people of all ages!

My children are ages 3 and 5. What they do and learn at Stone Mountain Park now will be somewhat different in 5 or 10 years from now. Below, I’ve listed some of Stone Mountains resources that we have enjoyed, but also some that we plan to experience in the future.
 1.     Train Ride: My son is a train fanatic, but he gets it genetically! We all love trains. Riding in a train is an experience for children. As they read books about train rides, they can think back about the time they rode a train themselves.

During the train ride, a slide show plays providing information you can share with your child about the habitat and history of the land they are observing as they travel around the mountain.

Also, a few times a year, Stone Mountain offers shows for train passengers. We’ve seen a Wild West Show and their Christmas show, The Gift.
 2.     Summit Sky Ride: The Sky Ride is not for those with a fear of height… like ME, but over the last 50 rides I’ve gotten better! My son loves to watch the gears work as the blue and red cars are pushed/pulled up and down the mountain. One of these days we’re going to do a science experiment so he can see how it works first hand.
Did you know Stone Mountain isn’t a mountain at all? It’s a manadnock or isolated small mountain that rises suddenly from essentially flat ground. There’s a great deal of science to learn from the formation of Stone Mountain to the local wildlife and fauna at the top of the mountain.
 While up on the mountain, we find our favorite picnic site to eat a bite of lunch. Then, we have fun checking out the life in the water puddles, viewing the city skyline, climbing rocks, and more! 
 3.     Ride the DUCKS: Learn some history while jamming in the seat of a 1940’s era Army DUKW, which is a land vehicle that converts into a boat! Kids of all ages from 2 to 102 are given the opportunity to drive this awesome vehicle! How many people can say they drove a war vehicle at 3 years old? Mine can!
4.     Special Educational Exhibits: Each year, there are educational exhibits over the summer. Our favorite was the year they had the butterfly exhibit. Last year, they had a Traveling the World exhibit where you could “travel” and learn about different countries through playing games! There’s also many live shows that are offered at various times around the park.
5.     Memorial Hall & Confederate Hall: There is so much you can learn about the creation, history, and construction of Stone Mountain; the history of Georgia; seasons of Georgia; the Civil War; and more by taking tours of Memorial Hall and Confederate Hall!
6.     Other Great Experiences:
·        Walk the 1.1 mile Walk Up Trail to the top of Stone Mountain.
·        Visit the Quarry Exhibit to learn more about the process of granite quarrying, learn where Stone Mountain granite is located around the world, and more!
·        Hike the many paths around Stone Mountain to view the local wildlife and fauna first hand.
·        Visit the Farmyard and get up close and personal with goats, chickens, sheep, and other farm animals.
·        Visit Historic Square to view a collection of historic homes from around Georgia and antiques.
·        Develop your child’s imagination and gross motor skills as they climb and play on the awesome playgrounds located in Stone Mountain park and Stone Mountain campground.
·        View a grand Laser Show with spectacular fireworks to celebrate Georgia, the south, and Civil War history.

Stone Mountain has so much to offer and even though we’ve visited more than 20 times in the last 3 years, there’s so much we haven’t done, but it’s on our bucket list!

This list is mostly comprised of the learning experiences Stone Mountain offers in the Spring and Summer, which is when we are usually there, but they offer a variety of encounters for each season! Check out Stone Mountain’s website for more information!

God Bless You on Your Learning Journey ~

Wednesday, July 6

Too Darn Hot (Ella Fitzgerald)

We've talked about preventative maintenance, and making wise decisions with a summer exercise routine.  But drinks and electrolyte replenishment were more of an afterthought.  Today, we're going to focus on how you can address a very real, and very serious, summer concern with a homemade solution!

Why should we care about electrolytes?
Our bodies rely on a balance of calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium chloride, hydrogen phosphate (a mineral), and hydrogen carbonate (a salt), which are vital for survival.  If we dilute them too much, it can lead to death by “water poisoning.” They regulate our nerve and muscle function, our hydration, the pH of our blood, rebuilding damaged tissue, and determining blood pressure.

During strenuous exercise or exposure to excessive heat, you sweat and lose electrolytes.  These homemade recipes will help to replenish the electrolytes without all of the added chemicals found in marketed versions.

Electrolyte Replenishment Drink
Ingredients  (makes one quart)
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups fresh water, depending on how strong you want the flavor
  • 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons natural sugar or honey, to taste

  • Blend everything together.
  • Pour a glass over ice.

Lemon Barley Water
·         2 medium sized lemons
·        -1/ 4 cup pearl barley
·         3 cups water
·         1/ 8 to 1/ 4 cup honey

·         Using a vegetable peeler, peel the zest of the lemons, avoiding the pith.
·         Put the zest in a medium saucepan with the barley and the water.
·         Squeeze the lemon juice into a cup and set aside.
·         Bring to a boil , reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes, until barley is soft.
·         Strain and discard the barley and the zest.
·         Stir in the reserved lemon juice and honey.
·         Chill before drinking.