Herbal Marshmallows

17 10 2013

Come read about our homeschooling adventures into herbalism here.


Recess: Biking in the Rain

22 08 2010

How I wish I had brought my camera today, but I forgot. 😦

The weather forecast is for rain solid for the next three days, which happen to be the last three days of my summer vacation. And I had my heart set today on a long family bike ride — longer than we had attempted before — to an abandoned old mill and its waterfall, for a picnic.

You know we’re too intrepid to abandon the plan, right?

We packed our picnic, warm clothes on our backs and more warm clothes in a giant ziploc so we could have a drier ride home, and set off. Steady soaking drizzle drenched us the whole way, but the ride was simply gorgeous and magical anyway.

We road east along the Northern Rail Trail along the lake until we reached a granite corridor rising up on both sides of the trail. Next was an apparently abandoned house we reached by following our noses down a long, mysterious trail. The house, on a point of Lake Mascoma, would be reachable only by boat, bike, or snowmobile, but was wonderful with its old stone fireplace and amazing view. We went by the old Enfield train station — now used to garage ambulances. We drove through Enfield and wondered whether a thunderstorm would kick up that would require us to have an afternoon snack at one of the restaurants we’d never tried. (Thankfully, it didn’t.) We went under a long, mysterious, railroad overpass and sang Little Red Corvette at the top of our lungs for the good acoustics. Ultimately we landed at the old mill, took out our lunch of bread, cheese, roasted veggies, and chocolate, and had a good meal before changing into those oh-so-welcome dry clothes for the ride home. A wonderful ride, and another example of weather being no deterrent to magic.

Math: Making Calculators and *Really Difficult* Multiplication

22 08 2010

In Mathemagic, we are reading about counting systems, and how computers count in base 2 instead of base 10. So I thought it would be fun to build an adding machine of some description. Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories helped us out with its Fraction-of-an-Inch Adding Machine. Here is Floppy, reading the build instructions:

Cutting out the patterns:

Furiously gluing the pieces:

And working the finished product, which he thought was awfully cool:

From there, we moved on to maddening difficult multiplication problems. Here they are:

I can tell when the math is too hard: First Floppy gets angry and frustrated, throwing his pencils and saying “I can’t do it!” Then we stop. I say, “It’s OK, we don’t have to do this today. Another time.” Then he says, “No, I want to do it!”

Then he asks for food, usually something sugary, like cereal. Did you know your brain consumes fully 75% of your available blood glucose — and more when it’s thinking hard? I did. I can watch the Floppy thinking and tell….

Reading and Writing

22 08 2010

We read Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz. I can’t review this book, because I didn’t get to finish it. We started reading it together, on the beach:

But Floppy enjoyed the book so much….

that he finished it on his own. So I didn’t get to read the ending. But I guess it must have been pretty good, at least according to Floppy.

He continues to blog, most recently about his lemonade stand, to which you can contribute, if you want to save the planet and/or receive a hand-drawn picture of a glass of lemonade.

Science: How Submarines Float

31 07 2010

For our science lab, we began by reading about tornado chasers and severe weather, and learned about the history of meteorology. We learned about how weather scientists learn about weather in the past, from tree rings, old diaries, and Antarctic ice, which is filled with ancient air bubbles. We learned some weather folklore sayings, and guessed whether they had any basis in science or not.  Then we moved on to learn about science in the water.

We learned about ocean engineers, who study the movements of fish to make better submarines. That led us to our lab, to learn how submarines work by experimenting with pop bottles.

This is what happens to a bottle filled to the brim with cold water in a basin of cold water. It sinks to the bottom.

But, you can pump some water out of your submarine by blowing in air:

Then it floats just below the surface of the water. Up periscope! (The same thing happens when you fill the bottle with hot water, incidentally.)

But an empty bottle cannot be made to sink even part of the way. No matter how much you push on it:

Here are Floppy’s lab notes, which ran for two pages:

A trip to Brazil

31 07 2010

We learned about Brazil in our usual way, learning facts about the country, listening to Brazilian music like samba, bossa nova, and forro, and studying about the Amazon rain forest. Our dinner was a virado a paulista platter with couve refogata (sauteed kale), beans and rice, and fried eggs with hot sauce.

Here’s what it looked like:

Floppy wasn’t too sure he liked the idea:

After he tried it, though, he decided it was delicious, especially with hot sauce, which he had never had before (and to my surprise he agreed that a bit of tabasco punched things up in a delicious way). The recipes, which came from here, helped us with our Portuguese — they’re written in both languages.

We watched a really neat video series to learn about Carnaval, and looked at pictures of rainforest animals like sloths, toucans, and vampire bats. Finally, we made dessert to explore the fruits of the rainforest. Here we are cutting up an Ecuadorean mango:

And here are our two finished products: the fresh fruit salad, with pineapple, mango, papaya, coconut, and I forget what all. Also a tropical trail mix, with papaya, pineapple, mango, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, candied ginger, cacao nibs, and I can’t remember what else.

I didn’t get a shot of Floppy’s passport, but he drew a picture of Carnaval and wrote “We visited Brazil and learned interesting things about the instruments, words and food. We learned about carnaval wich is like the 4th of july only betr. There are fire wokes and you get to dress up and there is pradse (parades).”

Math: German 1-10 (and the end of our 1-10 series)

10 07 2010

Germany was our last country in our 1-10 math and culture series, and for a change, we visited Germany for a weekend frühstück (breakfast). According to my own memories of cheap B&Ba, as well as the internet (e.g., here), a traditional German breakfast is midway between what USians would call “continental breakfast” and what we would call “picnic lunch.” Cold cuts, sliced cheese, breads, spreads, and soft-boiled eggs, plus maybe some fruit or muesli. Here was our version this morning:

You can’t tell it by his face, but Floppy was super-excited at this breakfast buffet.

We ate our meal listening to this playlist of Austrian/German music, and between the all of it felt quite continental. There are lots of youtube videos that will teach you to count 1-10 in German. We used these two, which were each nerdily charming in their own ways.