Saturday, September 6, 2014

Happy Birthday, Gabe!

It's hard to believe, but our little guy turned 6 on Friday! As he grows, it's wonderful to see that his gentle, sweet nature and ready laugh are growing with him. He told us that he wanted a dinosaur cake for his birthday, so Rebecca took that idea and ran with it. She came up with some pretty cool ideas for games and activities, which is certainly no surprise with her. When asked what he like about dinosaurs the best was that they shook the ground when they walked, they were big, and they roared. So that was our inspiration. 

You can't really see it, but the sparkler is in the shape of a "6" 

Banners and balloons--a family tradition! The kids have always have so much joy from balloons. The banner says "RAWR" means Happy Birthday in Dino speak.
Irene was so enamored with the balloons that she had to have one for herself.

 Rebecca found these dinosaur costumes on clearance at the party store ($2 each!) and thought it would be great to let them dress up. I just thought it'd be great blackmail material for when they're teenagers. 
We fed them a dinner of Dino nuggets (which were conveniently on special this week. see this dino theme was meant to be.)--something we haven't had in years but certainly delighted them. Then we took them to the candy story at the mall. They have each saved a few dollars to spend there on a special occasion. They all wore their hats and noses and had fun stomping and roaring around the mall. :)

After they were good and sugared up, we brought them home to work some of that off. The first game was an obstacle course. Sadly it was pouring rain, so we had to improvise and set one up inside. We found some "dinosaur feet" bucket stilts for the kids to use and they were supposed to stomp their way around the house. This turned out to be more difficult than we expected. 
First was a rope ladder that they had to stomp through 

Then a tipping ramp. This actually turned out to be a little dangerous, so we helped them over it. 

 Then a hurdle through a doorway.

 Navigate some cones...

and finish by stomping through the rings. The feet turned out to be really slick on the hardwoods, so after one time through, we let them run it without them. Ezra, in particular, liked to roar and stomp the whole way. No surprise there. 

Next was a game of "Stick the skull on the skeleton."
Gabe did remarkably well, nearly hitting it dead on with his first and third tries.

Ezra was a bit off. 

Emma didn't use the blindfold and still missed. 

 Olivia was consistently high. She's just too tall for her own good.

Winner! Don't you love his genuine happy fist pump!

Next was a game Rebecca came up with. The kids had a squeezable dinosaur that popped a ball out of it's nose (mouth?) and they had to get it in the basket. Squeeze too hard and it would bounce back out; too light and it would stop on the rug. Olivia got 3 of her 6 in the basket. 

Overzealous Ezra squeezed so hard that all 6 of his bounced back to him. 

 Gabe managed to get one in after some aim adjustment.

We then had not one, but two different "Hunt for Dino Eggs". Rebecca painted 5 "eggs" and I hid them in various places around the house. The kids had little trouble spotting these huge "eggs", though Emma had a little trouble carrying hers.

 Once found, they wanted to know what was inside...

 After a brief snack on the big eggs, they started in on the second hunt. These eggs were much smaller and a little harder (for some) to find.

These eggs required a little more work for them to find out what was inside... 

They were made of a hard plaster and they had to carefully excavate the surprise inside with a sharp stick and a little brush. 

After a lot of hard work and a huge mess, they started to have some success. (Although there was a lot of help from Dad...) *if we had had more time (like not waiting until two nights before to plan...) we would have made our own. great idea here.*

 Little Dinosaurs!

We did fulfill his wish for his birthday with a T-Rex cake! Friends gave us this cake pan a few years back and it sure did come in handy. And he got an Operation type game that is a Dinosaur bones dig.

Friends of our gave him Dinosaur stencils and rubbing plate before they even knew his theme was dinosaurs. How cool!

 After the cake, we finished the evening in the sawdust pit finding the myriad toys that were hidden in there. They found little dinosaurs, glow bracelets, balls, and lots of other things. Those are dinosaur underwear the boys are wearing...

The next morning Grandpa surprised him with a visit. We made cupcakes to bring to church to celebrate there, too! The kids got Dino "tattoos" to wear.  

We also got him a huge card for everyone that he saw over his birthday "days" to sign.

I would say he had a happy birthday and we're so glad that we have such a wonderful, special 6-year-old! He is a genuinely thoughtful and easygoing child. He has always had such a free and wonderful belly laugh. He looks at life with simple joy. Love him!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Apologia Science - Astronomy

Earlier this year, we posted some pics from Olivia's early work in the Apologia Astronomy curriculum set. We continued throughout the summer and recently finished it. It really was an excellent study of each planet within our solar system as well as touching on broader subjects like stars, galaxies and comets. It even covered more peripheral topics like light, astronomical distances, space stations and space travel. 

The experiments were all very relevant and lots of fun. 
 When studying about the cloud-covered gas giant planets, we made a cloud in a jar.
 When we talked about the freezing points of various liquids (helium, methane, and water vs saltwater), she made ice cream.

 When we talked about space travel, we made an Alka-Seltzer Rocket. 
 And, yes, it really worked!

  She did research on each planet and wrote out some interesting facts. 
 She did a study on whether Pluto should be a planet or not. She argued (quite convincingly, to me) that it should be considered a planet and that they were wrong to change it in 2008 to a dwarf planet.
 We talked about constellations and looked up which ones were the most recognizable in our area. We then drove up towards Pilot Mountain, away from city lights and managed to spot quite a few of them. We even saw a shooting star!
 She then used the brightness gauge she had made to determine which star in the sky was the brightest. Vega and Altair were both among the brightest we could see.
 When we talked about space travel and distances, she did a rather math-intensive worksheet on how long it would take to visit each planet and then get home. Amazingly, the answer was 83 years!
As one of the last topics, she learned about the International Space Station and how they live on it and do experiments. We built our own model station to look at and play with.

Overall, this was one of the most interesting science topics she's done and one that she had a lot of fun with. The curriculum was very comprehensive and explained the rather difficult concepts in ways that made it easier for her to grasp. One thing that we did realize is that she's ready to move up to the regular notebooking journal rather than the Junior version.