Sunday, October 19, 2014

Field Trip Friday - Naturally...

  Who can resist dinosaurs?  Not this family!  We found out about a recently opened natural history museum in Overland Park, so made it our next stop. The cost is a little pricy - so much that it might be enough to make you consider buying a year membership if you want to take it all in.  I'll tell you what though, the Grand Hall is free and if you're in the area it would be something to take in just for that!
  In the Grand Hall they have replicas of a T-Rex, pteranodons, and marine fossils as well. 
 But the main draw is the dino screen! You can go off in a side room and create various dinos or dragons, name them and then watch them appear on the big screen in the Great Hall.
 If you stand in the right place, you can even get eaten!!
This thrilled the kiddos so much we spent over an hour doing this, we circled back several times so it may have been way longer than that total.  What is cooler than getting eaten by a dino??
  They had a fantastic discovery area that you bought an appointment for.  You could stay as long as you want once you got in, and we spent around an hour there.  They had excellent things for the kids to do:
You can hold a bug, touch a snake, or gaze at the poison dart frogs...
Or put together dinosaurs or even a 3 foot praying mantis...
  They also had a special exhibit hall that you could pay separately for.  The exhibit this time was on mythic creatures.  Everything from unicorns, bigfoot, mermaids, dragons, and gryphons.  I think overall, I was a little disappointed on the displays of artifacts for the whole museum - most were replicas (from the dino bones to the Figi Mermaid).  But if you're a kiddo it doesn't really matter, its just thrilling to see!  Bubby was thrilled to see a Figi Mermaid and a life-sized dino does not disappoint.
We have plans to go back and check it all out again when they switch up exhibits.  The kids loved it!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Jonathan Edwards

  I don’t take much time for myself.  That’s the point I’m at in my life and I am contented with it.  So, when I go to pick out a history book, I’m kind of picky.  History is my thing.  Well, its kind of our family thing, with a mom as a historian and a dad as an archaeologist, there’s no escaping it.  So since I don’t have a lot of time to read all the stuff I want to and I’m always on the look out for things to make history alive to my kiddos, books in our household have to fit these two criteria: 1) teach me something new and challenging but in a short format 2) make it easy to understand and interesting for my kids too.  Bonus points for using a Christian perspective.
  That’s why I like Christian Biographies for Young Readers series.  Being a purchaser for our church library I have bought some before.  I hadn’t delved into them beyond general perusal, but knew they were chalked full of absolutely wonderful illustrations, historical pictures and manuscripts as well as side notes explaining some items in more detail. That is very important for me in non-fiction kid books, if you don’t have an interesting format, you’re losing them right off.
  I didn’t know much about Jonathan Edwards beyond him being one of those fire and brimstone preachers of the Great Awakening, so I was looking forward to this review.  From a historian’s perspective, Ms. Carr did an excellent job drawing in many facets of colonial history: Plymouth, the Deerfield raid, Isaac Newton, the French and Indian War and other characters of the Great Awakening, George Whitefield & David Brainerd. 
  The book takes a very different turn than I was expecting.  It focuses on his upbringing and how it and his other life experiences contribute to his ministry, but it primarily focuses on how he incorporated God’s handiwork of his natural environment into his ministry.  How he used the wonder of God’s creation to over come such fears as those of thunderstorms, which were a menace during that time.
This was a wonderful segue into his eventual work with the Native Americans at Stockbridge.  
  Tidbits I loved about this book: how detailed it was down to the illustration of George Whitefield which showed him with his lazy eye (something that was not covered in the book, but it was cool to see it come out in the illustration).  The appendix at the back of the book with the timeline of Edwards’ life and a “Did you Know” section, things that I could see the author thinking really interesting and while they did not fit into the flow of the story, she wanted to share with us. 

  I’d definitely recommend this book on one of the great theological minds of early America!
  I received this book free from the publisher and the thoughts and comments are my own and was not required to write a positive review. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Kaw Valley Farm Tour

  Have you ever been on the Kaw Valley Farm Tour?  We had gone several years ago, and had been dying to go again.  So we invited Great Grampa along and took off for an afternoon.  It takes place early in October and is on a Saturday & Sunday.  You can't beat the cost - $10 per car.  There is a wide range of farms featured.  This year we took in:

A lavender farm

lavender on the drying racks

A regular farm

feeding the turkeys

hayrack ride with Grampa

climbing hay bales
A winery/orchard
   One of the ways this winery was organic was in its weed control - sheep!  Did you know that sheep love to eat poison ivy??? I'm thinking of starting a herd now... ;)
  I was really impressed because Shorty was very involved in asking questions while we were out.  Especially at the winery, he would ask "what's that for?" about each piece of machinery.

  We also went to a bee farm & a nursery where we were able to go into a butterfly enclosure (at a cut rate with our farm tour pass).  Not a bad day for $10 per car! ;)  Of course each place sells some of their wares. We came home with honey, and a bag of craft lavender.  What a wonderful way to find out about & support local businesses.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Museum Crawl & the Tabernacle

  Daddy has been gone a bunch lately, so we've been savoring our time with him when we can.  Last week he was based out of St. Joseph, MO again, so guess what we fit in to our schedule - museum crawl! Now the actual museum crawl is over, but we're still using it as a guide.  This time we visited the St. Joseph Museum which housed 3 stops on the museum crawl: the Black Archives, Native American museum and the Glore Psychiatric Museum.  The Glore was the biggest part of the museum, but I figured it would be more of an adult subject matter so we skipped it (much to Bubby's dismay, he's made us promise to go back with Ducky and Gigi so he can take it in).  The other exhibits were great!
Mookie loved the doll exhibit
Bubby hard at work on the Museum Crawl questions
  One of the great parts of the museum was the Black Archives.  While a little broad in its scope it was great to see a timeline of black history in front of us.  Something that struck Bubby was the "white" water fountain and the "colored" water bucket side by side.  One of his best buddies is of African descent and it bothered him that they would not have been treated equally.
    Our next day included a trip to Platte City.  We fit in a detour to the Platte County Museum.  It is a house that was built around the time of the Civil War and furnished for the time period.  The kids were really good, even Shorty who was a little bit of a handful the day before (you notice I left that story out...). 
Shorty's favorite exhibit - the trains!
The kids on the back porch and their picture
The house really reminded me of the Amelia Earhart birthplace in Atchison. I think I would be content to live in either one;) The kids were thrilled that our tour guide gave us a picture of the house.
    After our tour it was on to the Tabernacle Experience.  It is a traveling exhibit that was hosted by the First Baptist Church of Platte City. All I can say is - wow! I can't regale you with pictures because cameras weren't allowed in the tabernacle area, but I would highly suggest it if you are interested in the ancient Jewish temple practices. Each person gets an Ipod for an audio tour (either a child or adult version).  You walk through in pairs at spaced intervals.  Mookie & Bubby went first, Shorty and I next and then Ducky and Gigi.  Its very hands on, essentially taking you thru each step that the priest would do (you get to throw wood on the altar, wash hands in the laver, light candles, etc...).  I am so glad Shorty and I were in the middle!  He did get kind of bored, so I would let him bebop forward or backward to the others in our group and do the activity in advance of our learning about it, or redo it.  It worked pretty well.
  Something I thought was cool was that when we were in the Holy of Holies, there was a hole in the tent that cast a sunbeam directly down on the Ark of the Covenant, kind of reminded me of a movie I saw once...  We did make it out of there without succeeding in burning the Ark down with our incense stick (just a brief flick of a spark, but with Shorty, you never know).  The kids were totally thrilled to see parts of those Old Testament books right in front of them.  You can't beat hands on, touch it and feel it stuff:) 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Wedding, Silver Dollar City, a Battlefield and Guttenberg

  This last field trip was one we've been waiting for for a few months.  One of our very dear friends was getting married in Springfield, MO. A bit of a trip, but something we wouldn't have missed for the world.  Of course it sparked thoughts of what can we do along the way.  One thing presented itself when Mookie won a couple of Silver Dollar City tickets through our local library's summer reading program.  SDC also had a special going on where people born in 1976 could get in free, so that took care of my ticket too and Shorty was free because of his age!  We only had to purchase one ticket - not bad for a family of five!
A picture of the Co. I boys I found recently
  On the way down we stopped at Wilson's Creek Battlefield.  This was great for the kids because it gave them an opportunity for another Junior Ranger badge, and great for me because some of the Burlingame, KS Civil War Veterans from Co. I of the 11th Kansas Cavalry fought there. 
  The battlefield had limited displays when we were there because they were in the process of revamping the old ones.  They had a really interesting auto tour and they also have one of the biggest collections of west of the Mississippi Civil War items.  You can find their virtual museum here.
Looking up at Bloody Hill at Wilson's Creek
  The staff at Wilson's Creek was excellent.  They gave Shorty a Junior Ranger badge so he could be like big brother & sis.  They also copied items for me from their collection & told me to contact them if I thought of anything more. 
  On we went for a short stop at Silver Dollar City and then out to supper.  We ate at McFarlain's in Branson where they placed us at a table that rose during our meal.  Hubby and I were let in on the secret.  They couldn't figure out what mom & dad were snickering at.  They kept looking around to find someone that was going to sneak up on them with a wacky sombrero or sing a silly song to them.  It wasn't until the table was up to their chins that they finally caught on.
 The next day we arrived at the City as soon as it opened and we shut it down.  My family has been going to Silver Dollar City every five years since I was five.  It is one of our favorite trips as a family.  We can't wait to go with my folks on our regularly scheduled on in a couple of years.
 Before the wedding celebration on Saturday we needed something to occupy our time.  Hubby found the exhibit "Passages" was in Springfield.  Passages is a collection artifacts that take you through the history of the Bible.  When we were in Dallas last year we had seen that it was there, but didn't make it.  Boy are we glad we took it in in Springfield! The collection included actual Dead Sea Scroll fragments, cuneiform tablets, Bibles throughout the ages as well as other Biblical texts and artifacts.  Essentially the whole exhibit was full of Bible history, world history, science and just a perfect side trip for us in general! They had wonderful interactive displays, hands on things for the kids to do, as well as animatronic characters.  They even had a scavenger hunt for the kids.  I'll tell you what, if you want a kid to get absorbed in a museum, give them a scavenger hunt!
Transcribing a line of text in Latin with real ink!

Shorty listening to St. Jerome talk about his life

Watching a working replica of a Guttenberg press
They even had a play area for Shorty

The exhibit said that it would take you 2-3 hours to finish.  Well, we took 3 hours and could have spent more time! We literally had to drag the kids out of there.  We definitely packed a ton into our trip, but hey, it was school!  I think we'll take tomorrow off;)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Tom & Huck

  We've not been to the gravel bar much this year, but this last week we made the trip to see Ducky and Gigi while they camped.  It is one of the 3 ancestral stomping grounds that put me immediately at ease (it and the hills in Platte & Buchanan Cos. in MO as well as the area around Atchison, KS).  We took a buddy with us this time.  What fun we had!
One of my favorite gravel bar picture places
  From the moment we pulled in, Bubby and his buddy were on the ground running.  They took off exploring the area.  Thankfully it was cool so we didn't have to worry about ticks!  The first project became building a raft.  Ducky provided fishing twine & they made up the plan themselves.  They were so proud!
  Of course, they wanted to try it out.  Oh, I am not an adventurous soul, so I squirmed and hemmed and hawed and then caved.  How can you turn down two excited boys? The first attempt ended a little soggily...
 They added some bigger logs for more buoyancy and success!  Of course we had them to a rope we held and they rode close to shore, but it was enough:)
Well, it got a little river weary by the end of it all, but they had fun!  They are now nicknamed Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn! ;)
  The next day they were up at daybreak and Ducky took them out fishing by a fire on the gravel bar.
Then was a tour of all three gravel bars which led to some of them being covered almost head to toe in sticktights.
  The boys weren't the only ones having fun, Mookie went exploring to capture some lovely wildlife shots...
And Shorty was happy just following adventure where he could...

We came home tired, stinky and dirty but we wouldn't have in any other way:) 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Field Trip Thursday: Museum Crawl pt. 2

  Daddy had to travel to NW Missouri again for work today, so we got to tag along - yay!  Field trip!  This is one of the reasons we considered homeschooling in the first place, being able to be together more as a family when Daddy travels alot.  So today this meant visiting more stops on the Museum Crawl in St. Joseph! 
  We started out at Missouri Western State University where they have a Walter Cronkite memorial. 
The Missouri Western mascot
  We were a little early and walked the campus while we waited for the memorial to open.  The kids smiled and greeted the college students - yes homeschoolers are so unsocialized;) 
  The kids had no idea who Walter Cronkite was prior to our visit today, and to tell you the truth without the Museum Crawl, we might never have visited the memorial, but I'm glad it was a good prompt to do so.  The Crawl has certain questions you need to fill out at each stop. Both kids set out to work trying to find the answers while I chased a rambunctious Shorty (he did not tolerate Walter very well and we spent alot of time pushing buttons and riding the elevator and climbing the stairs).  When their questions were finished you could so see the learning styles of the kids come out.  Bubby is a sponge - he wanted to read & watch everything.  Mookie was content to learn a little, but when she accomplished her goal, her interest started to wane without much as far as interactive displays.  We gave Bubby 45 minutes and then had to drag him away. 
  On to the Remington Nature Center.  The kids had been dying to see this one last time and we had to skip it.  I am so glad we were able to give it a good chunk of time today - well worth it! 
  In addition to the questions we needed to complete for the Crawl booklet, the Nature Center gave us a scavenger hunt to complete.  There were 12 miniature plastic apples hidden all over the Center for us to find.  It took us a while, but we found them (with a little help on a couple).
You can see the red apple in the rattlesnake's mouth
  The displays here were great.  They had dioramas, bees, a water cycle and the favorite - animal tracks.  The tracks would appear and disappear on the sand when the narrator talked about them.
animal tracks
Water cycle - you can see the Missouri River in the background
  One of the other favorites was the trail of St. Joesph history.  They started you out in a cave with the Native Americans and worked you through European settlement to modern day.  Lots of hands on things and videos for all kinds of learners.
  This is what I saw most of the time...
I lost track of how many times Shorty and I looped through the history trail (stopping in the saloon with the cool doors each time to get a pretend drink) and back to the animal tracks and then back to the history trail...   I am so glad the other two are independent learners because I didn't do much except keep the short one busy:) 
  We would have preferred to walk the trails outside too but we needed to meet up with Daddy.  The meeting place was actually at the town of New Market, MO which is where my gg-grandpa Oscar Mauzey was born in 1859.  The kids played at the playground while we waited for Daddy to arrive.  It was neat to look around and wonder what structures might have been there when Oscar was alive. 
Resting on account of "stage 4 hiccups" (2 hiccups every 4 seconds)
We had a pretty cheap day today, Walter's memorial was free & Remington cost us $5 for all of us.  The favorite was the Nature Center, but they enjoyed all of it.  I see another trip to St. Joe for museums in our future.  The kids are hooked!