Friday, June 28, 2013

Visiting the New England Aquarium (Pictures and a couple of tips...)

Thanks to free tickets from a fellow homeschool mom, we were able to visit, 
minus the daddy unit, as he had to go to work... 

Although my children have lived all their lives in the greater Boston area, the youngest had never been to the aquarium before today, just a few days shy of his 6th birthday! We hadn't been in 8 years, and the last time I took a picture on the dolphins was 10 years ago! MY how they have changed and been added to! :)

The aquarium has changed and been added to as well! A renovation project is nearly completed, and the very last bit will be open on July 1 (The only thing we missed was visiting the top of the giant ocean tank~ everything else was open and fully populated).

Word to the wise~ there is a new "Timed-ticketing" feature~ unless you are a member, you are now required to use "Timed-tickets."The basic idea is to keep the aquarium from getting too crowded (And I'm sure, to encourage membership sales). The timed tickets allow you to enter at a certain time. This means that if you are using  Library pass tickets and "Complementary tickets" they need to be exchanged at the aquarium "Express" entrance for timed tickets. If you go early, there shouldn't be much of a problem heading right in, but if you come during a busy time, you'll want to plan on a little bit of extra time (The good news is that the Harbor Seals create ample entertainment if you have someone old enough to hang out there with the younger children...).

Newest, most exciting exhibit? The shark/manta ray touch pool~  you can see that  I timed my photos rather poorly, but they all got to "pet" a manta ray, and Middlest touched a shark (Not seen in photo). Eldest was squeamish about the sharks, and youngest's arm wasn't long enough~ his sleeve got soaked, and his hand still wasn't quite down far enough to touch the sharks that were swimming right along the sand.

 We were happy to see that most of the penguins had returned from their "Vacation" in  Quincy...

the Little Blues were the only ones who hadn't left the building, but also weren't returned to their "Rock" habitat.
You can see them here... waiting.... they want to go! (Or the want to be fed! :) )

One of our very favorite creatures ~ the leafy seadragon ~ was in fine form ~

What an incredible creation!
The imagination of our God is just incredible! :)

Of course the seahorses were fun to look at as well~
can you find that sea-going crown of creatures? 

In the upper "Atlantic Ocean" touch tank, I encountered something new ~ we were allowed to touch a sea anemone ~ This photo is NOT of the atlantic anemone (My hands were wet, so I didn't take pictures! bad homeschooling momma! ;) ), but it will serve the purpose. It was interesting to feel the tentacles try to "attach?" and sting my fingers~ there was no sting, just a very tiny "Suction cup" sensation.

The pacific and warm water anemones. Amazing colors.
Eldest took the left-most photo, I took the right-most photo~ love how our cameras saw it differently~ neither one is totally true to the color we saw with the naked eye~ the lighting was very... interesting...

There are loads and loads of Jellyfish at the New England Aquarium~ one of my favorite things to watch~ mesmerizing!!!


 Aren't these just amazingly lovely???
 One of our very favorite Five In A Row stories is Night of the Moonjellies, so these hold a special place in our hearts. :)






(To join the rest of the crowd???)

Just a couple

more photos
of this photogenic
set of Jellies.

Eldest took these last two~
Love the way her camera saw the lighting, and the detail is just amazing!

Here is another variety of Jelly~ >

And here are some amazing Australian Jellyfish~ 
I dubbed them dotted swiss jellyfish :) 
The Aquarium recently (I think) acquired some Lions' Mane Jellyfish~ 
They are minuscule! (About the size of a quarter, maybe a little smaller...???) 
Just a few more Jellies (and a cool starfish) 
Do you see the upside-down jellies, that just lie on the sand,
 and the camouflaged starfish?  

Another case of camouflage.... sandpiper anyone? 
Tropical fish and Starfish
Did you know that Sea Lions look kind of like frogs??? I didn't till I saw the first photo I took!  I had to look at the next photo to figure out what I was looking at! 

The sea lions and the fur seals have a beautiful new open air pool in the back of the aquarium. Lovely wooden benches and clear walls to make viewing the "Show" easy even for the smallest visitor. Much nicer than the old boat that used to float right next door in the harbor. One of the greatest benefits is that the animals can be seen swimming, playing, and generally doing what they do, instead of being confined to the "tanks" they were in on the boat. Good job, NEAQ! 

The Big Tank~ with big turtles and Manta rays...

I know that you already know who visited the aquarium with me, 
but I kind of like this mystery photo... 

And the photo with the flash that reveals them all

My final set of pictures are related to parking and the aquarium. Downtown Boston parking tends to be rather pricey~ $35 for non-members to park at the lot right next to the aquarium. I did discover that "Central Parking" owns a number of garages throughout the city, and some of them have coupons that you can print and scan in that makes this sort of trip much more reasonable. We parked at the International Place Garage for "only" $25 and walked on the "Greenway" for the first time ever. For those not in-the-know, the Greenway (Officially the "Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway") takes the place of the elevated highway that used to run through the center of the city. Although I am not enamored of the "Big Dig" tunnel, I have to say that this definitely makes it pleasant to walk around the perimeter of downtown!
Nifty Harbor Fog sculptures that light up, AND blow mist~ great on a hot day!
(I understand that there is an audio quality to the sculpture, but I didn't notice it)  

Used to be cars were the only things running along here

The cement shows where the tunnel entrance is~ used to be a ramp UP instead of down
Who would have thunk it? Solomon's Seal in the city! Beautiful! 
Just a little more information about the Greenway (You can explore more through the previous link...). Just the Greenway, in and of itself is a very cool "Destination/Activity" to my way of thinking. There are plenty of "Foodie" opportunities along the way, with unique "Trucks" parked in specific spots. They are scheduled, and rotate.... very cool!
Eldest was excited to see that The Chicken and Rice Guys are at the Chinatown park on Monday's & Wednesdays~ we at their food at the Boston Irish Festival, and it was YUM!

There are activities scheduled, fountains and water features to splash around/play in, and even a few "Scavenger Hunts" to engage your children... I *like* this relatively new feature of the Boston Landscape. (Play) I see another blog post in my future, with a whole new set of photos! :D

I hope you enjoyed coming along on this mini-travelogue/field trip to the New England Aquarium with us! Hopefully it won't be 8 years before we visit again!


Monday, June 17, 2013

Memoria Press: Geography I

My Middlest got a review of his own to enjoy~ Geography I by Memoria Press , a pack of 5 softcover books~ a Teacher Guide (mostly an answer key), a Student Text and a Student Workbook that cover The Middle East, North Africa, and Europe. Included as a bonus are The United States Student Text and Teacher Key (Which we did not use for this review, but based on response, are likely to use!).

Middlest enjoyed the format of the Student Text~ which is really an "Introduction to Geography" that can be used with children from 4th grade on up.
You can download the table of contents from the Geography I page along with some  samples (I'm including screenshots of a couple, to give you an idea of what it looks like inside).

Friday, June 14, 2013

Birdcage Press: Art Close Up Game (Museum Of Modern Art)

My kids love it when we get fun things for review! I love it when they have fun, and get to learn at the same time! Birdcage Press produces a wide variety of "Art" "Wildlife" and "History" games, and they sent the TOS Crew a variety of Go Fish style games as well other card games and a lotto style game. We received Art Close Up: Museum of Modern Art.

The deck of 48 cards includes works by 24 artists. Each artist has a main card that shows the entire work, with the artist name, title of the work, and the year painted.  Another card is the "match" for that card, but it is only a portion of the painting "Close Up."  This is great for training the eyes to look for detail!

There are a number of games that can be played using these cards. Of course there is the traditional "Concentration"  or in this case "Art Memory," which my children played first because it was a familiar game. They particularly enjoyed playing it the first few times as they really had to look carefully to discern whether the cards were a match or not (for the record, this was Eldest's favorite game to play with these cards).

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Nuggets for the Jaunty month of June

Some more nuggets for you~ Pick and choose the ones that will suit you!

Christian Liberty Press' free ebook of the month is a historical novel~
The Brethern~ A Tale of the Crusades:
This novel by Sir H. Rider Haggard, first published in 1904, is a classic tale of love and chivalry, unfolding amidst the touching story of two English knights who are in love with the same maiden. The devotion of these men is tested as they are thrust into epic Crusader battles.
Grade: 8th - Adult
Book: 363 pages
Kids of Courage from Voice of the Martyrs is offering an amazing set of pdf's that came across my facebook feed yesterday (Thanks, Knowledgequest!). If you sign up on the site, you will have access to 30 "Bold Believers" activity books. Each pdf is filled with facts, activities, and stories that will help your children become more aware of what it means to be "Bold Believer" throughout the world.

Ring The Bell Movie Giveaway (Ended)

Life has been a little crazy around here with all the baseball and dance schedules~ so I wasn't able to properly promote my giveaway for the "Ring The Bell" DVD.

This is a most excellent family friendly film (enjoyed by everyone in my family from the youngest to the oldest), and I recommend it to all!

The "official" synopsis:

About Ring the Bell:
Ring The Bell shares the story of a slick, big city sports agent Rob Decker who seems to have it all. But on his latest mission to sign a high school baseball superstar, Rob becomes stranded in a small town where the simplicity of life—and the faith of the people—stand in stark contrast to his own fast-paced, win-at-all-costs mindset. Torn between these two worlds, will Rob have the courage to let faith transform his life? This heartwarming story of redemption is sure to entertain and inspire the whole family.
Ring The Bell features a host of well-known Christian music artists, such as Mark Hall along with his band Casting Crowns, Steven Curtis Chapman, and Matthew West, all who play a role in this inspirational drama. Several former and current Major League Baseball all-stars are also featured in the film: ESPN analysts John Kruk and Rick Sutcliffe (a former Cy Young Award winner), along with Ben Zobrist.
This family-friendly movie was produced by Mark Miller, Beach Street Records' founder and Casting Crowns’ producer. Miller, who is also the lead singer and founder of country music group Sawyer Brown, co-wrote the script with Thomas Weber and Weber directed the production. 

A trailer for you to check out~

If the Rafflecopter form hasn't finished loading, you might want to read my review here, and then come back to enter! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Friday, June 7, 2013

Math Mammoth Light Blue Grade 1

My little math boy has gotten quite a lot of practice this year! Our latest offering was the Light Blue full year curriculum 1st Grade from Maria Miller's Math Mammoth  program. We received the downloaded pdf version of the program (it can also be purchased as printed workbook, or on CD). 
This worked out well for us as littlest enjoys doing worksheets via the pdf-notes app on my iPad. I like it because it reduces the number of papers floating around our house, AND it saves on ink and paper. If you don't have access to an iPad, you may be happy to know that the PDF's in the download version are enabled for annotation and can be filled in directly on the computer if opened in Acrobat Reader version 9 or higher. 

From the website: The four main areas of study for first grade are:
  1. The concepts of addition and subtraction, and strategies for addition and subtraction facts (chapters 1-2; chapter 4);
  2. Developing understanding of whole number relationships andplace value till 100 (chapter 3 and chapter 7);
  3. Developing understanding of measuring lengths as iterating length units (chapter 6); and
  4. Reasoning about attributes of geometric shapes, such as the number of sides and the number of corners, and composing and decomposing geometric shapes (chapter 6).

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

See the Light art class Pointillism (Fruit?)

We have enjoyed using See the Light in the past, and I was very pleased that we were able to review another Art Project. This time it was 4 lessons on Pointillism (Fruit) in the style of George Seurat. Each lesson runs between 20-30 minutes or so, and additional time is required in order to do the actual painting, so each lesson ideally will last about an hour.

I decided that we would ALL complete a project, and it was very interesting to see what happened.

My 5 year old decided to paint some wooden fruit.

The classes are very thorough and step-by-step, so that as you can see above, my 5 year old was able to come up with a very nice piece of art, even when following along with a class intended for 10+. He didn't get into the shading, highlighting and shadows that were in the later lessons, but I was very pleased with the outcome. 

My 12 year old started out thinking he would paint some sports balls, 
but ended up going ahead with the fruit instructions.
He began to be very impatient with his drawing ability, but as you can see, by the time he was finished, his fortitude bore fruit... (Pardon the pun...8^D ).

My 15 year old wanted to try out a floral painting, 
so she pulled together some flowers from a couple of photographs.
Not precisely following directions, 
But hey, she's 15, and she's old enough to experiment on her own...
more on that a little further on. :) 
  • First lesson~ Color Theory and Initial Drawing
  • Second lesson~ Lay Down Base Color with Dots
  • Third lesson~ Optical Color Mixing with More Dots
  • Fourth lesson~ Highlights and Shadows for Finished Still Life 

(she got the highlights, but there were no shadows in those photos~ she also used a deep purple tulip from our yard, in place of the white one in the photo)

I opted to follow suit and do a floral as well, rebel that I am... 
(and because my 12 year old didn't want me to do a fruit still life to compare with his ;)).
I didn't do the fun "play with the flowers in the app" bit that my eldest did, I was just experimenting some on my own as well. :) 

We all appreciated hearing about Georges Seraut, and the science of color and light that he studied as he played with tiny points of paint. I was less excited with the concept of using only the 6 primary and secondary colors, as I was totally unable to even slightly represent that vivid magenta color in the primroses~ I'm guessing that occasionally the Impressionists mixed a few pigments to help them approximate some of God's amazing coloring... ;)

The photo to the left is evidence that once again the 15 year old didn't strictly follow directions, and opted to use a palette, rather than waxy paper plates (that was more a function of economics~ we had the palette in house, but no paper plates...), but... isn't it pretty? And a bit of an accidental study in complimentary colors, too!

The whole art history (and science) lesson was very intriguing, and eldest and I  both learned a bit more about the color wheel than we knew before. We are both interested in experimenting and finding out more about how colors work next to one another.

Eldest decided to take on a landscape from one of our vacation photos~ 
rather fun~ still a work in progress ~ 

As a parent, I love that the class is taught *for* me~ and I enjoyed painting along with the kids. I also love that Scripture is woven throughout the lessons, because God is the ultimate artist, and His character is shown in so many ways. 

As a teacher, I appreciate that things are set up the way they are for a purpose. Because I had children who didn't want to follow the lesson to a "T" we had a little bit more frustration. In hindsight, I can clearly see that there is a reason that this lesson is painting fruit~ generally apples, oranges, pears, and bananas are fairly uniform in color, which makes for a simpler first try with pointillism, rather than attempting to figure out more complex colors and shading (even though a fruit, the mango was a bit tricky~ note that it wasn't one of those suggested!). 

As Students, my children generally enjoyed Pat Knepley's lessons, but the older ones certainly didn't always like to follow the directions, even when they were to their benefit. However, as can be clearly seen by my daughter's continuing interest, the lessons ARE engaging and instructive. 

This is also a great exercise in focus and patience ~ particularly if your child is more of a Jackson Pollock type of artist. 

Side note~ the supply list notes 50 cotton swabs~ you might require more than that if you have more than a couple of people doing the project... so plan that trip to the drugstore accordingly! 

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
An ideal set-up would allow for 1/week, which means that taken with the other See the Light Art Projects, you could have a year+ worth of art lessons, right from the comfort of your own home. Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew to see the experiences of the rest of the Crew as they explored this art project as well as many others!  As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.




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