Monday, October 21, 2013

The World Series

Major League Baseball World Series will be taking place from Oct. 23 - Oct. 31. The teams that are playing are the St. Louis Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox. If you have baseball fans in your house, check out these great baseball resources!

Baseball Stats 101:

Major League Baseball:

National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum:

Exploratorium - Science of Baseball:

Presidential Baseball:

Baseball Word Scramble:

October is International Dinosaur Month

Does someone in your family love dinosaurs? Here's a list of resources that should answer almost every question they have.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


This game is fun, and can be challenging or easy.  Choose a photo from Flickr, then let befuddlr befuddle it!  This site turns any Flickr image into an interactive puzzle.    Great for all ages.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Books for your family


For Kindergarten through Grade 3: 

A Walk in the Rain with a Brain by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., illustrated by Bill Mayer.

Synopsis: "Lucy is a young girl who meets Manfred, a brain who has lost his head. Together, Lucy and Manfred (or "Fred" for short) go on a search for Fred's head. Along the way, Fred teaches Lucy that everyone is smart in their own way and that there is no "best" brain. The last five pages of the book provide a discussion guide for parents and teachers to help children learn about the power and uniqueness of their brains."

The above-listed book was recommended by Eric Chudler, Ph. D., Washington State University. Dr. Chudler publishes the Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter.

For Grades 3-5: 

The Shoe Tree of Chagrin by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Chris Sheban.

Description from ALA’s Booklist - "For Grades 3-5, younger for reading aloud. Susannah DeClare travels the Ohio Valley taking orders for all types of shoes. Tall enough to repair a bell clapper in a church steeple on her tiptoes, the elderly cobbler makes shoes that last a lifetime. In Chagrin Falls, newcomer Reggie Kinsgsbury is skeptical that the townspeople will ever see the cobbler or their money again. When DeClare fails to appear at the expected time, the worries increase until people discover a tree, hung with dozens of shoes."

We recently drove past "The Shoe Tree," which is located on Savage Rd., in Bainbridge, Ohio. My daughters and I immediately recognized it as the tree from this book, which we had read several years ago. We were with friends who had seen the tree before, but didn't know about the book. I thought there may be more of you who would enjoy reading this story and visiting the tree. Children love visiting a place that they have read about in a story. Frohring Meadows Park is near the "shoe tree," so if the weather is nice, you might want to go there to read the story and then walk over to see the "shoe tree" up close!

Waymarking, a website that lists GPS coordinates for many interesting places, included a fascinating story about “The Shoe Tree.”

A Message for Parents and Teachers

The following story was written by Steve Goodier, whose newsletter
Your Life Support System, has been inspiring me since 1999.  The message is worth sharing.

by Steve Goodier

“There is a difference between education and experience. Education is what you get from reading the small print. Experience is what you get from not reading it!

But isn't it true that great learning comes from both education and experience? Let me tell you a parable:

A young school teacher had a dream that an angel appeared to him and said, "You will be given a child who will grow up to become a world leader. How will you prepare her so that she will realize her intelligence, grow in confidence, develop both her assertiveness and sensitivity, be open-minded, yet strong in character? In short, what kind of education will you provide that she can become one of the world's truly GREAT leaders?"

The young teacher awoke in a cold sweat. It had never occurred to him before -- any ONE of his present or future students could be the person described in his dream. Was he preparing them to rise to ANY POSITION to which they may aspire? He thought, 'How might my teaching change if I KNEW that one of my students were this person?' He gradually began to formulate a plan in his mind.

This student would need experience as well as instruction. She would need to know how to solve problems of various kinds. She would need to grow in character as well as knowledge. She would need self-assurance as well as the ability to listen well and work with others. She would need to understand and appreciate the past, yet feel optimistic about the future. She would need to know the value of lifelong learning in order to keep a curious and active mind. She would need to grow in understanding of others and become a student of the spirit. She would need to set high standards for herself and learn self discipline, yet she would also need love and encouragement, that she might be filled with love and goodness.

His teaching changed. Every young person who walked through his classroom became, for him, a future world leader. He saw each one, not as they were, but as they could be. He expected the best from his students, yet tempered it with compassion. He taught each one as if the future of the world depended on his instruction.

After many years, a woman he knew rose to a position of world prominence. He realized that she must surely have been the girl described in his dream. Only she was not one of his students, but rather his daughter. For of all the various teachers in her life, her father was the best.

I've heard it said that "Children are living messages we send to a time and place we will never see." But this isn't simply a parable about an unnamed school teacher. It is a parable about you and me -- whether or not we are parents or even teachers. And the story, OUR story, actually begins like this:

"You will be given a child who will grow up to become...." You finish the sentence. If not a world leader, then a superb father? An excellent teacher? A gifted healer? An innovative problem solver? An inspiring artist? A generous philanthropist?

Where and how you will encounter this child is a mystery. But believe that one child's future may depend upon influence only you can provide, and something remarkable will happen. For no young person will ever be ordinary to you again. And you will never be the same.

Reprinted, with permission, from “Life Support,” a free newsletter sharing life, love and laughter, published by Steve Goodier, Life Support System

Monday, September 2, 2013

So, What Can You Do With Food?

This post is filled with resources for teaching about and learning about food.

Lesson Plans:

Unit of 4 lessons - 9th-12th Grade  

Lesson plan on eating disorders

Other Internet Resources:

Mental Floss a thought-provoking magazine featured a great article titled, "Masters of Food Art" by Ransom Riggs.

Information, photos, and resources focusing on garnishing your recipes and food presentation.

Creating a Family Cookbook by Kimberly Powell,
"Almost every family has a treasured recipe, beloved as much for the memories it evokes of family get-togethers or a special family member, as it is for its taste. Most families have many such recipes, handed down through generations, taught to children, or squirreled away on index cards or scraps of paper. A wonderful gift for family and friends, a family recipe book is a wonderful way to combine favorite family dishes with memories of treasured family moments and members. But how to turn those family culinary favorites into an actual family cookbook?”


The Cambridge World History of Food By Kenneth F. Kiple, Kriemhild Coneè
"a smorgasbord of information about virtually everything edible on the face of the globe"

Children Just Like Me by Anabel Kindersley, Barnabas Kindersley

A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage - (beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, Coca-Cola)

by Suzanne I. Barchers, Patricia C. Marden

Kids Cook!: Fabulous Food for the Whole Family by Sarah & Zachary Williamson

***The following series is my personal favorite.
Exploring History Through Simple Recipes (Series) by Mary Gunderson

The books contain information about everyday life, family roles, cooking methods and common foods, combined with recipes from the historical period. The recipes are based on originals from the time, but they have been updated and simplified. Many period illustrations and photos are included. An excellent series for young cooks. Each book runs about 30 pages. Our family loved these books, and the recipes were delicious!

Fun Activity

You might want to create your own homeschool cookbook. We did, and it's somethng that we treasure. Each daughter has her own book, and it includes recipes she cooked on her own, as well as pioneer recipes we tried, ethnic foods we enjoy, recipes for our favorite holiday foods and recipes from favorite stories, like the Little House books. We used 3-ring binders with covers that allow you to slip a personalized page in a clear pocket on the front.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Carl Linnaeus

"There are places on the Moon named after him. His face appears on Swedish currency, and an era of scientific history bears his name, but Carl Linnaeus is best known for creating the system of classifying living organisms that became the international standard.

Often called the father of taxonomy, Linnaeus laid the foundation for a new classification of plants and animals based on their reproductive systems. His famous book 'Systema Naturae, classified 4,400 species of animals and 7,700 species of plants.  He is, also, credited for distinguishing humans as Homo sapiens, and as primates in the class of mammals.  Linnaeus' ideas have influenced generations of scientists, and even those opposed to the philosophical and theological roots of his work.

Mattias Klum and Folke Ryden created a film to honor Linnaeus, in 2007, the 300th anniversary of his birth.  The film is titled The Linnaeus Expedition.

Why not try a unit study of taxonomy?   Here are some resources:

Related books:
Linnea in Monet's Garden by Christina Bjork (elementary)
Linnea's Almanac by Christina Bjork (elementary)
Linnea's Windowsill Garden by Christina Bjork  (elementary)
Plants on the Trail with Lewis and Clark by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent and William Munoz
100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names  by Diana Wells and Ippy Patterson  (adult)

Books for the adventurous

The Redwall books are wonderful.  The setting is Redwall Abbey, in medieval times.  The characters are all animals, so if you hate talking animals, this series is not for you.  If, on the other hand, you are not bothered in the least by animals that talk and cook and fight, you will love the Redwall series!  

We listened to the first book in the series, which is titled simply: Redwall.  Brian Jacques had a background in theater (among many other things) and he and a number of his thespian friends, portrayed the various characters in the story.  Each actor was so perfectly chosen for his role.  My daughters and I were mesmerized listening to the gentle voice of the mouse warrior, Mattemeo, the terrifying voice of Cluny the evil rat and the rasping voice of the very dangerous and creepy snake, Asmodeus. Filled with suspense and drama, as well as just the right amount of humor, these books are classics.  I highly recommend them!  

My daughters and I were fortunate enough to meet Brian Jacques, the author, and he was a rare and wonderful treat.  He told tales filled with dramatic emphasis, and wore a cape to add to the drama. He autographed every book, that every reader brought with them, despite a very sore hand and wrist, posed for pictures, answered questions and left every person feeling that Mr. Jacques had been there just for them.  Mr. Jacques passed away February 5, 2011.

Recommended ages for the Redwall series, pre-teen, teen and adult.  Younger children may enjoy listening to the stories, however please read the note below regarding content.

NOTE:  The books contain violent scenes.  The animals who live at the abbey must fight for their lives, however in the course of their struggle, they learn the importance of cooperation and respect for others.

If your family enjoyed the Redwall series of books, written by Brian Jacques, you may enjoy cooking some of the foods described in the stories.  Visit the Redwall Kitchen, the original and most comprehensive compendium of reader-created recipes based on food described in the books.  You will find 4 categories:  Main Course, Desserts, Beverages and Miscellaneous. Enjoy! 

An Amazing Feat

In an exhibition game a pitcher named Jackie Mitchell struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig on seven pitches. Such a feat would predict a great future in the major leagues, but the hurler never made it to the big time. You see, Jackie Mitchell was a girl.  Read the rest of this interesting story at this site.

"People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball.  I'll tell you what I do.  I stare out the window and wait for spring."  ~Rogers Hornsby

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Too much complaining?

The Rev. Will Bowen from Kansas City, MO, thought that there was a lot of unnecessary complaining going on in his church. Realizing that by pointing a finger at his congregation, he was pointing three more fingers at himself, he decided that he was as guilty of complaining as anyone in his church. He came up with a plan.

Rev. Bowen challenged the congregation to go 21 days straight without mumbling a complaining word, including gossiping and criticizing. To remind them of the task, he passed out purple bracelets imprinted with the word "spirit." If anyone forgot their pledge and complained, they had to switch the bracelet to their other wrist and start anew.

Most of the congregants, including the Reverend discovered that this was far more difficult than they had imagined. Rev. Bowen was the first to complete the 21 days, although it took him nearly two months to reach his goal. He, also, said that he thought a 3 day silent retreat contributed to his success.

Some congregants gave up and said it was too difficult. Most persevered, and those that did said that their lives were more enjoyable. Many said that they always thought they were very positive people until they slipped on that wristband. Then they began to notice how often they complained.

The church adopted a quote from poet, Maya Angelou, as its motto: "If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain."

This doesn't mean that you should never speak up if something is wrong. Rev. Bowen points out that there is a difference between a factual statement and complaining. Saying, "That was a big snowstorm the other evening," is fine, but saying, "I hate snow! Why does it have to snow? It's awful!" is complaining.

Rev. Bowen set 21 as the number of days, because he had read that it takes 21 days to make something a habit. He is hopeful that if enough people make "not complaining" a habit, it will eventually lead to "a complaint-free world." In fact those words are now imprinted on the bracelets instead of the word, "Spirit."

"Mignon Bullington of Camarillo, Calif., who ordered bracelets for her family, said the complaint-free challenge 'struck strong emotions' in her. 'I noticed that when my husband and I were being negative about any such subject, our kids (ages 19, 17 and 11) would chime in,' she said. 'How horrible that is to see and realize how our children are being taught to act, react and live.'

If this idea strikes a chord with you, visit the website.

You can even find a 10-lesson curriculum designed for kids grades K-12.