Monday, November 28, 2005

American Girl Place and Cabela's

American Girl Place and Cabela's are two retailers you would never expect to be mentioned in the same sentence. One is on Fifth Avenue and the other is in the middle of the Kittatiny Mountain range in PA. Each of them have customers who are looking for a wonderful experience. And although each customer group has a different style, the style is easily identifiable.

AGP was packed with people (mostly women and girls) over the Thanksgiving break. There were mom friends with high heels, fashionable hairstyles and fancy coats who were loaded down with (I assume) holiday gifts. One mom and daughter had matching fur coats and many of the girls and dolls were wearing matching outfits. Another family had traveled all the way from Florida. I'm not sure how they were going to fit all the things they bought back on the plane. Oh, no, wait a minute, there was the AG suitcase - that must have been why they got that. My daughter was a bit disappointed with the whole experience. We didn't have time for nor did I want to take little brother and sister to the cafe or the show. (Although we did get to see some tweenagers -in matching AG outfits, of course - singing carols.) And so, she came to the realization that American Girl Place was really just one big store!

On our way home from New York, we stopped at Cabela's (another big store) to break up the trip. Little brother had done well at American Girl and I thought they all would enjoy it. It was also packed with people. Its customers were mostly male, wore camo and drove huge trucks. The sign at the entrance asked everyone to "Please check your firearms at Customer Service." We didn't have much time, but the novelty (to us) of the merchandise (deer butchering kit, anyone? No? How about a pair of socks to keep your feet warm to 20 below?) and the taxidermy was worth the stop. Apparently there is also an aquarium and a gun range, not to mention the restaurant with fudge shop. We'll have to save that for another trip. The huge american game display with all kinds of deer and elk and bear as well as the smaller displays with all sorts of quail and pheasant and waterfowl was overwhelming in its scope. One bonus, there was a lady handing out cups of caramel corn on our way out of the store.

As far as educational value, I'd have to say Cabela's beats American Girl hands-down. The historical displays of artifacts from the dolls' time period were small and not displayed as prominently as the merchandise. In regard to merchandise value? Well, that depends on whether you have use for the products they sell. I will mention this, an AG child's t-shirt was $20, an adult Cabela's t-shirt was $2.95 (reduced from $4.95).

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Numbers, Nature, and Camelot

We are taking some time off from formal math instruction this year for a number of reasons. This doesn't mean we aren't doing math, we just aren't working lots of calculations. My 10 y.o. is reading Murderous Maths; we are doing tangrams and origami and looking at Fibonacci numbers and patterns in nature.

To that end, we visited the North Museum of science in Lancater last week as they have 2 exhibits currently that focus on these concepts. The musuem and the exhibits are small, but the admission price isn't high and you get in free if you are an ASTC member (FI, Acad of Nat Sci). I really liked how they highlighted objects in their permanent collection that related to spirals. (If you go to Lancaster, see this post about some fun things to do downtown.)

I've found some resources both on-line and in books to enhance the Fibonacci understanding. Just today I found out about a woman in Australia who has made a connection between the golden ratio and King Arthur tales, some scholars are taking it very seriously, others aren't read about it here.

Now, if you are intriqued by Fibonacci, check out these links:

My daughter still hasn't said she likes math, but she has stopped saying she hates it and I have caught her working problems from the Murderous Maths on the sly!