Monday, January 16, 2017

Ice Skating and Bowling - What a fun day!

Stuart was off work so he spent the morning having some fun time with the kids while I stayed home and worked on school planning.  He's an awesome dad and husband!

They went to the Dr. Pepper Stars Center for public skating.  The kids used to ice skate a lot and Nicholas played hockey for several years but life got busy and ice skating slipped aside.  They got interested again in ice skating after our field trip to the Galleria rink at Christmas time.  They both want to start back with either figure skating lessons or hockey team.  Of course, they have outgrown their ice skates so purchasing new skates will be the first step.  They are expensive kids!  But their cuteness wins me over every time....


There are staff out on the ice to help but they also have fun playing with the kids.  This guy helped pull a train of kids on buckets.  They have the buckets for beginners to use for stability as they are getting used to balancing.  But obviously there are many uses for these buckets!  Nicholas helped pulled the train along some too.


Here's a video of the kids trying to run their own skate train. It got too long and broke in the middle but Nicholas jumped in and helped the second half of the train move along.


Later in the day, Rachel's American Heritage Girls troop was getting together at Main Event to finish up their work on their Bowling sports pin. 


They have been learning about the history of bowling, what bowling balls are made of, proper footing for bowling, and more.  The final requirement was to play a game of bowling.  That was the best part!


Nicholas tagged along and played a game with some of the other siblings that came.


My kids aren't going to the bowling championships anytime soon but we all had a great time bowling with our friends.


After the game, we enjoyed pizza and a drink.  The girls found this cool table that had an interactive video game projected on it.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Hernan Cortes and an Aztec Feast

The kids have been studying about how the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes took over the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan (now called Mexico City) and brought the fall of the Aztec empire in the early 16th century.  They've learned a lot about Aztec life and culture and decided to have an Aztec feast to honor them.

Corn was a major crop of the Aztecs.  The kids decided to make homemade corn tortillas which is one of the many ways the Aztecs would have used their corn.

Ingredients:
2 cups masa harina
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups hot water


Rachel mixed the masa harina and salt.  She added the hot water and mixed it all together.  Then she let the dough rest for about 30 minutes.


She formed little balls of the dough and placed it on a cutting board that had been sprinkled with some masa harina.  Then she rolled out the dough.


She cooked them in a cast iron skillet for a few minutes per side.  We used them to make chicken tacos for dinner.  They were so delicious.  These corn tortillas taste better than any we've ever bought at a store and they were fun to make.


Another thing you can do with these corn tortillas is to fry or bake them to make your own tortillas chips!  Avocados were another crop of the Aztecs so we made some homemade guacamole to go with corn tortilla chips.  Our favorite is the Williams-Sonoma guacamole recipe.


The kids had fun mashing up all of the ingredients in the molcajete.  A molcajete is a mortar and pestle carved from volcanic rock and it was what the Aztecs used to grind their corn into flour.


With our bellies full of chips and guacamole and chicken tacos, the kids wanted to make one more course of Aztec food - Xocolatl, a Mexican hot chocolate.  There are lots of recipes out there but we melted chocolate chips, blended with warm milk, then added some cayenne pepper and cinnamon.  The kids topped theirs with marshmallows.  Yum!


Friday, January 13, 2017

Medieval Times Tomato Bisque Soup {+ Discount!}

Soup’s on in the Medieval Times Kingdom!  Enjoy a castle favorite, the tomato bisque, and help Dallas LIFE with food donations

Winter's chill is taking hold of the kingdom this January and February, and what better way to warm up than with a hot, delicious bowl of soup! Known for their famous tomato bisque, Medieval Times is partnering with non-profit Dallas LIFE to help those in need create their own healthy soups by tackling hunger in North Texas with a food drive and by releasing the bisque recipe for all to make.


To donate, bring any non-perishable food item to the Dallas castle and receive 45% off adult admission for a Thursday, Sunday or the 2pm Saturday show through February 12th.  Suggested food items include the makings for soups including tomato sauce, beans or peas, broths or stocks and canned vegetables. 

The history of soup is as old as the history of cooking.  The act of combining various ingredients in a large pot to create a nutritious, filling, easily digested, simple to make/serve food was inevitable. This made it the perfect choice for both sedentary and travelling cultures, rich and poor, healthy people and invalids. Soup (and stews, pottages, porridges, gruels, etc.) evolved as dictated by local ingredients and tastes. There was no tableware, so soup was drunk right out of the bowl, as was any type of stew.

Soups are a great option nutritionally, they provide us with lots of important nutrients including vitamins and minerals for relatively few calories. Soup can be a simple addition to any meal and a great way to make sure that you and your family get the essential servings of whole grains, vegetables and protein in one bowl.

“There is no secret to creating an amazing soup,” said Frank Dameron, Director of Food Services at Medieval Times. “It’s all about the ingredients. The best herbs and fresh produce will help keep even the coldest Dallas/Fort Worth winter days at bay.” 

MEDIEVAL TIMES TOMATO BISQUE  (home version)

2 tbls.  canola oil
2 ea.    medium carrots, peeled
1 ea.    celery stalk, cleaned and trimmed
½ ea.    medium onion, peeled
1 tsp.   garlic, minced
2 ea.    6 oz. cans tomato paste
1 ea.    15 1/2 oz can tomato puree
5 cups  water
1 tsp.   paprika
3 tbls.  sugar
2 tsp.   salt
¼ tsp.   fresh ground pepper
Pinch   Italian seasoning
½ ea.    lemon, for juice

  1. Cut the carrots, celery and onion into small pieces about ½ inches. Place the carrots, onions and celery into a food processor fitted with the knife blade and pulse until they are finely minced, almost pureed.
  2. Heat the canola oil in a 5 – 6 quart stainless steel sauce pan or pot. Add the finely minced carrots, onions and celery and cook until vegetables are soft but not browned, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add the minced garlic and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.
  4. Add the tomato paste and stir into the vegetables to combine well and cook for another 2 minutes.
  5. Add the tomato puree, water, paprika sugar, salt, ground pepper, Italian Seasoning and juice from ½ lemon.
  6. Bring soup to a boil while stirring frequently. Once soup comes to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and continue to simmer for 20 minutes, while stirring frequently to prevent soup from scorching.
  7. When soup is finished cooking, remove from heat, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve immediately.

ABOUT MEDIEVAL TIMES

The pageantry and thrills of an authentic jousting come to life inside Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament.  Based upon the true story of a noble family with documentation dating back to the 11th century Spain, the walls of King Don Carlos’ castle come to life when six armor-clad knights on valiant horses seek the title of champion. 

While witnessing almost two hours of jousting, swordsmanship, thrilling hand-to-hand combat, displays of extraordinary horsemanship and falconry, dine with King Don Carlos and his royal court during a four-course meal which includes garlic bread, tomato bisque soup, roasted chicken, sweet buttered corn, herb-basted potatoes, the pastry of the Castle and select beverages.  Vegetarian meals and special allergy accommodations are available upon request. 

Medieval Times began with two dinner/entertainment complexes located in Majorca and Benidorm, Spain, and have since grown to nine locations in North America. The first North American castle in Kissimmee, Florida opened in December 1983. The Dallas castle, located off Stemmons Freeway in the Dallas Design District, opened in June of 1992. 

For more information, visit MedievalTimes.com.
2021 North Stemmons Freeway
Dallas, TX 75207
1-888-WE-JOUST (935-6878)

ABOUT DALLAS LIFE

Dallas LIFE reaches out to homeless men, women and children with food, clothing, shelter, education - and a proven path to recovery and self-sufficiency.  It is the largest homeless shelter in North Texas, housing up to 500 people per night.

Dallas LIFE welcomes the needy. Whether it is a homeless man, a single mother with children, or an entire family, Dallas LIFE is a safe place to recover from the trauma of homelessness. Some come beaten and bruised; others addicted and confused. All need a fresh start and a loving hand-up. At Dallas LIFE, these needs are met every day!  For more information, visit DallasLIFE.org

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by Medieval Times.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

SchoolhouseTeachers.com Review

I've looked at SchoolhouseTeachers.com several times over the last few years and have considered signing up for a membership but just never took the plunge.  As a member of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew I was recently given the opportunity to review a Yearly Membership with SchoolhouseTeachers.com.  Wow! Now that we've had a few weeks to get a feel for the site and all that it has to offer, I'm kicking myself for not joining sooner!

High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {SchoolhouseTeachers.com}
The new SchoolhouseTeachers.com website is amazing!  It is easy to use and navigate.  They offer Online Classes and Online Electives to use in your homeschool, either as your full curriculum or as a supplement to what you are already using.  There are Scope and Sequence charts, lesson plans, and printable certificates of completion. 

Homeschooling children of multiple ages?  No problem!  They have course work for students preschool - high school.
High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {SchoolhouseTeachers.com}
We have used several of their history lessons while studying the Renaissance.  There are weekly lesson plans, lapbooks, notebooking pages, as well as links to videos and related maps as well as hands-on activities like games, recipes, and crafts to really bring the Renaissance to life for my kids.  

In addition to the courses, we have also enjoyed some of the special online access to products included in our membership like The World of Animals through the World Book eBook Library and learning about how Christopher Columbus discovered American through watching the amazing video series called Drive-Thru History.  These have been so much fun for my kids to explore!

Just take a look at the subjects below that are covered in the SchoolhouseTeachers.com courses:

High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {SchoolhouseTeachers.com}

In addition to the wealth of curriculum on the site, there is also an abundance of homeschool parent support resources on the site.  As a member you can download several different planners.  Here are just two of them which are for homeschool parents to help organize their homeschool as well as manage their home. However, they also offer primary, intermediate, and high school student planners, as well as a planner for special needs students.


There is also a Custom Schedule Builder to help you organize your homeschool day as well as online access to Applecore Recordkeeping for tracking your students' portfolio, coursework, grades, and attendance.

SchoolhouseTeachers.com really has everything you might need for your homeschool!

Be sure to join SchoolhouseTeachers.com during their Super Christmas Sale and save 50% by using code: CHRISTMAS for $9.95/month or CHRISTMASYEAR for $90/year.  This is really a great deal!  The sale ends on January 15th so HURRY and lock in your promo rate.

Schoolhouse Teachers Half Price Discount

To read more reviews for SchoolhouseTeachers.com from other members of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew, please click on the graphic below:

High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {SchoolhouseTeachers.com}

My kids and I have thoroughly enjoyed using SchoolhouseTeachers.com in our homeschool and I have written my honest opinion about this product.  Although I was given a free Yearly Membership in order to research the product and write this review, I have benefited so much from it that I will definitely renew our membership when this one expires.

Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Inti, the Inca Sun God Craft

The kids are learning about some ancient American cultures such as the Aztecs, Incas, and Mayans.

While reading about the Incas, we got to go into detail about the amazing discovery of the ancient Incan town of Machu Picchu.


Like the other ancient American cultures, the Inca were a polytheistic society meaning they believed in many different gods.  The Inca most revered the sun god whom they named Inti.  He was often represented as a sun disk like this.

The kids used clay and made their own Incan representation on Inti.


They used air drying modeling clay so no baking was needed.  It is soft and easy to work with.  We have clay tools so they had fun using those to help with their creations.


I love how they each made their own representation of Inti.  They love working with clay so this was a fun way to pull art into our history studies.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Nanotechnology: Homeschool Day at the Perot Museum

We love Homeschool Day at the Perot Museum!  The museum sets up 9 themed tables throughout the regular museum area.  Each table has a hands-on activity to help teach the scientific concepts to the kids.  As they complete each activity, they get their card stamped and can receive a certificate once they have finished.


Last semester's theme was on Forensics.  The kids went to each station where they learned different aspects of the science behind detective work and they gained a new clue to solving a mystery at the end.

This time the theme was Nanotechnology!

We started with learning just how small a nanometer is.  It is one billionth the size of a meter!  That's really small!  This video is not from the Perot but I showed it to the kids before we went to the museum to help them understand just how small this is.



The kids traced their hands.  Rachel's hand is about 140 million nanometers long!  That sounds huge, doesn't it?




Nicholas learned that he is about 1.6 TRILLION nanometers tall!


They used a mystery box to let their fingers scan over the tops of objects and then make a drawing of them just like a scanning electron microscope does by scanning objects with a beam of electrons.



They used microscopes to study things up close.



Nicholas used it to look at the surface of a piece of metal.


They learned about UV light which is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength of about 10-400 nanometers, shorter than visible light but longer than x-rays.  They made bracelets with UV beads that change from white to purple when exposed to UV light.  They are a fun way to remind yourself that you need sunscreen when you are out in the sun!


I loved the ferrofluid exhibit the most.  Ferrofluid is a liquid made up of nanoscale magnetic particles.  You can run a magnet over a tube of it and watch all of the magnetic pieces come together.  It was fascinating to watch.


Our currency is printed with ferrofluid ink so you can run a magnet over a dollar bill and it will move ever so slightly.  This is just one of the tests that can be used to determine if the bill is counterfeit.


They learned about carbon atoms and how they can form buckyballs and nanotubes then they got to make their own models of the two.


The kids have fun exploring the regular museum exhibits on their own as well. Nicholas used the Build Your Own Bird exhibit to create a "Stealth Thrasher".


They learned how different ratios of Red, Green, and Blue change the color of light.


They learned about telescopes.


They went head to head with each other as dinosaurs.


And they even raced a T-rex!


Once we had completed the activities, we all headed to El Fenix for lunch.  It was lunch time and they were super busy so our big group of 15 was a lot for them to take on.  The moms ended up sitting at one table while the kids sat at their own table next to us.  There were 10 kids and they are all different ages.  But these kids behaved nicely and were really well-mannered. 

The Perot Museum of Nature and Science is located at 2201 N. Field Street in Dallas.  For more information about their programs, please check out the Perot Museum website or follow Perot Museum on Facebook.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Renaissance Self-Portraits

As we have studied famous artists of the Renaissance, we have noticed that most of the great artists have at least one self-portrait that they have painted of themselves.  I decided that before we left our Renaissance studies that the children should make their own self-portraits. 


We watched a video on how to use a mirror to draw your own face then I gave each of them a mirror and a printout of called Proportions of the Face to help them place the ears, eyes, mouth, etc in the right place on their faces.


They worked hard and seemed to really enjoy the project.   I was already thinking that we will need to do some more drawing studies like this in the future.  Then Nicholas said that he would like to learn how to draw faces and people better.  Hopefully I can find a good art curriculum or class to help with that.


Friday, January 6, 2017

Linkages: Fort Worth Museum Homeschool Afternoon

We attended the Fort Worth Museum January Maker Studio Homeschool Afternoon. We learned about motion, levers, simple machines, and of course, how linkages affect them.


There were 2 tables full of different linkages that could be made.  The kids were able to experiment with how each one moved differently depending on the linkage and the orientation of the strips of cardboard.


Next we were shown a huge stash of cardboard strips, brads, scissors, and lots of decorating supplies.  Our challenge was to try to make some type of animal that used linkages.

Rachel made a caterpillar with four linkages.


Nicholas made a manta ray (one of his favorite sea creatures!).  It was quite a challenging project to take on.  He always jumps right in to some over-the-top idea instead of just doing a simple design like the examples we were given. It got a little frustrating for him, especially once we were told that we had to finish up soon because the museum was going to close early due to bad weather.  Nicholas didn't have time to even begin decorating it to look like a manta ray but the foundational work was mostly complete.  

As the vertical piece moves up and down, the lower arms push and pull the manta rays' flaps.  


We also made a moveable person as Rachel demonstrates in this video below:


Before we left, the kids played on few demonstrations outside the Maker Studio.  Nicholas had to conquer the spinning disc and I love the glimpse of satisfaction in this video when he finally got it to work the way he wanted it to.



The next Maker Studio Homeschool Afternoon will take place on Friday, February 3rd from 2:00 - 5:00.  Be sure to pre-register here.  For more information, check out the Fort Worth Museum website.


Thursday, January 5, 2017

Learning Astronomy with the American Astronomical Society

“Philosophy [nature] is written in that great book which ever is before our eyes -- I mean the universe -- but we cannot understand it if we do not first learn the language and grasp the symbols in which it is written. The book is written in mathematical language, and the symbols are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures, without whose help it is impossible to comprehend a single word of it; without which one wanders in vain through a dark labyrinth.” 
- Galileo Galilei

The kids had a great opportunity to attend a free student event at the American Astronomical Society's Convention at the Gaylord Texan Convention Center in Grapevine, TX.  They got to experience hands-on science with some world class astronomers!



The event is geared towards middle school and high school students but younger siblings can attend too as long as they are accompanied by a parent.   I'm really glad that Rachel could come with us because she interacted with the exhibitors and learned right along with the older kids.

The event started with a presentation from Nick Siegler from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Exoplanets and the Search for Life.  It was a great talk about planets outside our solar system that show potential for life.  I found a video of his complete talk on the internet.  It's called The Search for Planets, Habitability, and Life in our Galaxy.



At the end of the presentation, the kids were encouraged to consider pursuing a career in Astronomy.  But as was pointed out, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to work for NASA.  The study of astronomy certainly requires scientists and engineers but they also need people who excel at math, can work with computers to develop simulators and computer models, as well as people with a love for geology to help them study rock formations and terrain on other planets.  There is a wide range of people needed for space exploration and I love that kids were introduced to the idea that they might have an integral part in future space studies even if they can't name all of the constellations in the sky.



Next we separated into groups.  Our group had about 10 kids.  We went into the convention center where exhibits packed the room.  Exhibitors included observatories, researchers, colleges, and product vendors from all over the world!

I couldn't help but notice the Career Center when we first walked in.  Again, they are reaching out and trying to get people connected with a career in Astronomy.  As a parent of a kid who loves learning about space, I am glad to see such eagerness to recruit people into the field.



I was a little worried that there would be tons of kids at each station and it would be a struggle for kids to hear the presenters and see what was going on but I was so wrong.  The plan was well thought out.  Each group started at a different exhibitor then after about 15 minutes a bell would ring and we would move to the next assigned exhibitor table.  Our group was the perfect size for everyone to participate and hear what was being said.

We started at the table for the Space Science Institute. from Boulder, CO. They had a presentation for the kids and then challenged them to put a set of picture cards in order of distance from the Earth.  The cards were of things like the moon, the Hubble telescope, International Space Station, etc.  Then they were given another challenge of putting a different deck of picture cards of space things in order based on smallest to largest.  All the kids seemed engaged and interested. 


Our group visited the presenter for the Planetarium at UT Arlington where they talked about planets and orbits.  I had really been worried that all of these incredibly smart scientists would only want to talk to other brainiacs and not really want to interact with kids but I was so wrong.  By just the second table, I was realizing that these scientists really just wanted to share their passion for science with everyone, but they especially wanted to reach out to the next generation.


We visited with representatives from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory where we learned about the use of techniques to study radio waves emitted from outer space that are not visible to us otherwise.  With these special glasses, we were able to see how radio waves look compared to what we normally see.


Another example we saw was how infared technology could be used to see which lidded coffee cup actually contained hot coffee.  This technology is used to on a much larger scale to study objects in the sky.


Next we visited the Ball Aerospace and Technologies exhibit where we met Missions System Engineer, Paul Lightsey.  He explained some of his work on the James Webb Telescope.  We learned that the mirrors are coated in gold because gold works the best at reflecting infared radiation and this will help NASA see even the smallest objects out in space.  I found a YouTube video of a talk that he did on the James Webb.


We met with professors and students at the University of Arizona and learned about different types of meteorites.  We even got to hold very tiny pieces of the moon and Mars.


Nicholas loves all things rock so this was one of his favorite exhibits.  He enjoyed asking questions and talking with them.  As I mentioned earlier, all of these scientists were excited to talk to the kids and they took time to answer all of their questions.  I was really impressed.



We visited with SPIE which is the International Society of Optics and Photonics.  We learned how different light frequencies produce different types of light.  We can use this knowledge to determine  what substances are out in space by the light they produce.


SPIE had a great tool that they passed out to us.  They are called Rainbow glasses and it shows the full color spectrum for visible light.  They are really cool!


We also visited with Digitalis Education Solutions.  Oh my!  Every homeschooler needs one of these portable planetariums!  Seriously look at this thing!


We got to go inside and see a short presentation on Earth's place in the galaxy and constellations.  I could really get into teaching astronomy if I had one of these!



We met with Sloan Digital Sky Survey.  They created incredibly detailed three-dimensional maps of the universe.    We got to learn a little about their process.


Rachel enjoyed this exhibit because the two presenters were both female so she felt a little less intimidated.  They were very knowledgably but very friendly as well.  And they passed out amazing little candies that had a picture of their telescope printed on them!


We learned about the Chandra X-Ray Observatory which is NASA's flagship mission for radio astronomy.  It was launched in 1999 and it orbits outside Earth's atmosphere at around 65,000 miles high.  It has been used to study exploded stars, black holes, and dark matter.


Chandra works through the use of some very sensitive mirrors nestled inside it.  The kids got to get some hands-on use with mirrors as they adjusted them to direct a laser beam to a sensor at the end of the table.


Our group time was almost up but we got to visit with one more exhibit - Astron, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy.  They use high tech radio telescopes on the ground to pick up radio waves from outer space and turn those into a picture of what is out there. 


They even had us do a fun game to see just how it all works by assigning some of us to be the radio telescopes and others to be the radio waves.  How creative and fun!


The student session was officially over but there had been some other exhibits that we wanted to see so I got permission for us to wander around for just a little bit on our own.  If you know me, you can imagine that I was drawn to this table of books!  They were some impressive looking books that I was considering buying but then realized they were college-level.  I think I can hold off on those for a little longer.


We visited with the University of North Texas' exhibit and got to hold the largest piece of meteorite we've ever seen.  We talked to them some about how to identify meteorites as well as about the UNT planetarium and star parties.


We got to see a model of the LISA Pathfinder which detects gravitational waves in space.


We saw a very scaled down version of a science balloon.  These are used to carry scientific instruments for space and earth science research up to a float altitude where stratospheric winds will drive it along.  Some aspects of it can be radio controlled from the ground such as when to release its payload.


We learned about pulsars which are spinning neutron stars created from a supernova when a star exploded.  It is always spinning and releasing electromagnetic radiation from a certain point.  We can only see this beam of radiation when it is directly facing us so it appears to us that it is blinking but it is actually just rotating around.


The kids got to make their own pulsar models.  They attached two LED lights to a battery, attached a string and wrapped it all in clay.  They held it up by the string and then twisted the string a little.  When they let go, the "pulsar" spun around quickly and the lights looked like they were blinking.  It was a really great demonstration!


We got to play around in front of an infared camera.


We were sent home with great goody bags full of information, toys, and even our own Galileoscope to keep!


This was a truly amazing experience and I'm so grateful for all of the scientists and researchers who spent time with the kids today to answer their questions and open their eyes to the amazing world of Astronomy.