November 29, 2012

Ancient Greece Books for the Independent Reader

 I keep meaning to post more coherently about what we have done for Greece.  It probably won't happen.  I apologize.  What I can do for you is show you what Miriam read for her 4th grade special project extra readings.  She read two Magic Tree House books: Ancient Greece and the Olympics and Hour of the Olympics.  I really like Magic Tree House books.  Yes, they are below her reading level.  Yes, she's read most of them before.  However, the info is good, the writing engaging, and it gives Miriam more info than the rest of my kids are getting with the books I read out loud.

 We tried to cover the "classics" while studying Greece.  I did not read either of these books so I cannot vouch for them in any way shape or form.  All I can say is that Miriam read them and declared them, "Awesome."  The picture above shows the cover of Rosemary Sutcliff's Black Ships Before Troy: The Story of the Iliad.  
This is the cover of Penelope Lively's In Search of a Homeland: The Story of the Aeneid.  

Miriam didn't do an extra project for Greece.  We did so many other projects, including the Parthenon, that I had her do the reading and called it good.

November 26, 2012

Davis Sewage Facility Field Trip

It may sound really gross, but the Davis Sewage Facilities was pretty much the most awesome field trip ever.  Ever.  The first part is the grossest, so bear with.  See that gunk in the top picture?  The first building we went into was where the toilet paper and such is removed from the rest of the waste stuffs.

Yeah, some of the poo didn't wind up where it was supposed to.  I'm a little pregnant (ha) but I still didn't think the smell was that bad.  Nothing like a dairy farm.  However, you have to focus your mental energies on not thinking about what you're looking at.
They add a bunch of chemicals to the paper waste and smash it down and haul it away.
The above pic is water waste that is in the process of being treated and sent to the Great Salt Lake.  Yep, the recycled, treated water goes back to the Great Salt Lake so evaporation can take place, clouds form, rain fall, etc.
More of the water containers.

There was a lot of walking involved in this field trip and I couldn't find a babysitter the day before Thanksgiving.  So.  Have I mentioned Harriet is not light?
This is the "natural looking" river comprised of treated water.
A bunch of crazy homeschoolers.  It was so fun to meet so many of them!
That man in the blue shirt.  He noticed Harriet on the other side of the fence and rescued her.  Thanks!  I was too busy taking photos to notice my child.  Those toddlers move quick!
That is Antelope Island in the distance.
That is sludgy stuff.  I can't remember everything about this part because I got there late due to trying to carry Harriet, then putting her down when she twisted her body around to get away from me, and then chasing Harriet when she ran the wrong direction, and then trying to carry her again.  I'm sure you all understand.  What I do know is that the sludge is very gross looking, but the process is pretty cool and Miriam was jealous that other people had already invented all those machines.

That is poo, my friends, mixed with some other stuff to make it more firm.  Then it is given to farmers who use it to fertilize their fields.  Notice the sign.  I giggled a lot at the different signs.  At one point our tour guide talked about keeping close tabs on the age of the sludge.  The bacteria has to be just the right age to reproduce.  Sludge reproduction--how do you get a degree in that?
That is the dummy they use to practice safety measures.  Eli was very frightened of him.
This is where they grow the bacteria to do the cool sludge thing.

One of the neatest parts of the plant is this building that houses these big engines.  50% of the power used to run the place is produced in this building using waste gases.  They are building new engines in the next two years that will produce 90% of the power necessary for the plant using only waste gases.  That is pretty awesome!
Our favorite part of the tour was the science lab building.  It was just so . . . sciency.  First there was a short presentation that I quite liked.  I'm a fan of Albert.

Then this man, who is clearly passionate about science and getting kids excited about science, taught our kids a magic trick using static electricity.

Then he walked us through the lab.  There were beakers and really terrible smelling chemicals, and people in lab coats.  My children were entranced.  So was I.  I think it was the first time in my life that science looked remotely interesting.  As one fellow homeschool mom suggested--maybe I just need to invest in some cool looking science things and then I might like it more.

The men who showed us around the plant were clearly excited to have us there and that made a big difference in the interest level of the kids.  Sewage does not seem glamorous and Myron, the plant manager, once pointed out that he didn't get his degree thinking he'd be taking care of poo.  But he is really enthusiastic about his job--how it helps the environment and helps so many people and uses all the newest science and technology.  I was really impressed with the quality of the information, the cleanliness of the buildings, and the attitude of the employees who showed us around.  Bravo, Davis Sewage--you guys are fabulous!

So fabulous that we are currently planning another field trip to the plant just to spend more time in the science lab.  I can't wait!  (But I'll definitely be getting a babysitter.)

November 24, 2012

Christmas Excitement: Harriet

I don't know if it is just me but I find shopping for babies extremely difficult.  Harriet turns two in February so she is old enough to be excited to open a present and find something new within, but she's not old enough to care very much about what the item is.  Also, we have enough toys around the house that she never wants for playthings.  Or playmates, as that goes.  

On the other hand it is extremely fun to shop for the very littles because they don't complain about what they receive and never ask for anything.  Besides that, Harriet squeals with delight--I kid you not--and I'm looking forward to hearing that on Christmas morning.

Fortunately, Harriet does have some very decided interests including balls and babies.  We already have plenty of baby dolls so we decided that Santa would bring Harriet a ball.

It had to be bright and cheerful looking and be small enough that she could handle it without being small enough to lose.  I really like the one we ended up purchasing; the 7 inch Crocodile Creek Playball.  We got it off amazon.  

Harriet's book, Babies, is by Gyo Fujikawa, a favorite childhood author of my husband.  The illustrations are unbelievably sweet and as Harriet loves babies, I'm pretty sure it will be a winner.  This is an extra-long board book.  You should find it at the library to see the page of babies being naughty and the page of babies being nice.  So, so, so, so cute.  We purchased it at amazon.  (I don't like going to stores.)

I'm making Harriet this fabric doll for her stocking stuffer.  The other two girls are getting the same doll in different colors.  I purchased them all from  Just search for dolls or doll.  So far I have cut out the fabric.  I'm a little (lot) intimidated by sewing but as Christmas draws nearer I will have to bite the bullet and pull out the sewing machine.  Wish me luck.  

I think I mentioned before that I pick the children's present from their great-grandma.  Great-grandma is giving Harriet this Hohner Kids Glockenspiel this year.  We have a lot of musical instruments, but no glockenspiels yet.  I'm hoping this is a hit (ha) but we won't know until she's had it awhile.

Now--that is all we're giving Harriet.  Her sister Miriam picked her name for Christmas and is giving her a stuffed pumpkin she is sewing.  She's almost done and it is going to be pretty cute.  

Since that isn't very many ideas I thought I would share some truly awesome gifts that we've given in the past to this age group with great success.  

First, the beloved Sweet Pea.  We gave Sweet Pea to Harriet last Christmas when Harriet was almost one and Sweet Pea has been Harriet's most beloved object ever since.  She sleeps with her every day for her nap and every night.  I'll say, "Harriet, time for a nap," and Harriet will pout a little and then say, "Sweet Pea."  Once Harriet has Sweet Pea, all is well.  

Sweet Pea is very soft and cuddly and comes in a pod.  Harriet never cared much for the pod, but for kids who like to put things in and take things out, the pod might be a bonus.  There are other versions of the same idea including a snuggle bug and other more boyish looking dolls.  I think babies like them so much because they are so soft and simple.  Search for Manhattan Toy Snuggle Pod.  They cost $10 at amazon.  In real life the green isn't that bright.

Next in the list of tried and true toys is the ever popular rocking toy.  We bought the Little Tikes Rocking Puppy for Miriam's 2nd Christmas (so she would have been about 18 months old) and Harriet and Eli still play on it constantly these eight years later.  We no longer have the black nose, but nothing else comes off so the rest is in perfect working order.  It isn't even discolored or awful looking as some plastic toys tend to become.  We're big fans of the easy-on, easy-off feature as we don't have to help the small ones at all.  Eli, age 3, can rock himself across the room and do little "tricks" on it.  You can get it at amazon.

Another favorite is the Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes.  It plays really pretty music, it isn't too loud, it  is easy for tiny hands to push the button and change the songs, and it is easy to hold.  Harriet loves hers.    She dances.  
And that's it.  Like I said, this age group is hard.  A few years ago I would have wholeheartedly recommended the Playskool gloworm but they've changed the design and the last one we purchased stunk.  The first one we bought for Miriam lasted forever and was an absolute favorite.  I'm a little bitter about the changes. :)  For Harriet's birthday I'm considering a little baby stroller as I know she would love it.  My hubby is hesitant though because we've purchased those before and they've all broken within a few months.  Any ideas are welcome.  Harriet's birthday is in February.

Merry Christmas!

November 22, 2012

Earth Science: Water and Water Purification Part Two

We started our science instruction on Wednesday by reading The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks  by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen.  I'm sure I don't have to tell anyone how great Magic School Bus books are.  We love them around here.
After reading the book we went on a field trip to the Weber Basin Water Conservation District.  Otherwise known as the water treatment plant.  It was awesome!!  We enjoyed the company of other homeschool families and we thoroughly enjoyed learning about how our water is processed and prepared for use.  (Lady Harriet and Eli played at a friend's home since I have a hard time packing our lady--she's heavy.)
 The first building contained all the chemicals.  They make their own chlorine at the plant in that big vat/container/thingy that Miriam is standing by.  I thought that was interesting.

 Our tour guide was very nice, informative, and patient.  All good qualities for a guide of small children to have.

 Here the guide is showing samples of different things that can be in water that you don't want in water that you drink.

 Here he is showing us different germs that live in un-purified water.
 After the chemicals building we went outside where there are large reservoirs of water.  The water closest to the chemicals building had all this gunk floating on it.  The farther you walked the cleaner the water looked because the heavy clumps of mud and gunk sink to the bottom.

 At the end of the reservoirs is a little waterfall.  The highest water is the cleanest.

 Here's an empty reservoir where you can see the mechanism that pushes all the sludge out.  The walls are made of redwood.  According to the guide redwood holds up beautifully and doesn't rust like metal.  Who wood have guessed?  (I realize I'm only amusing to myself.)
 This is the second building.  The top floor contains water being sifted through several layers of sediment to get out more impurities.
 The tour guide, Kevin, by a model of the layers the water sifts through.
 The basement of that building is really cool--literally and figuratively.
 Here is where they add the chlorine and pump all the water used by employees of the plant.
 And here is where they do the last step--add ultraviolet light. Who knew?  Oh wait, my hubby did.  I didn't.  My kids and I thought that part was extra cool as it wasn't in any of the books we had read.

During the summer the plant sends through 40 million gallons a day and it gets used each day.  That's a lot of water!

What a fun field trip!!  I highly recommend that you go to your local water treatment facility and get a tour.  We had a great time!