Thursday, June 29, 2006


Some school subjects come right to you. Like weather - flooding, erosion, watershed...




The water is blurry because it is moving so fast. These pictures were taken on Wednesday June 27th about 8:30 pm on the bridge over the Schuylkill river at Phoenixville/Mont Clare, PA. Just like a big snow storm, the weather brings everyone out. The bridge was full of people who came down to see the river just like we did. Some homes near the river were flooded and it was hard to get out of town yesterday because of closed roads. The borough almost turned off the water because of flooding near the water treatment plant, but it turned out that was unnecessary.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Virtual Puppet Show

The Kennedy Center is loaded with good stuff. I was disappointed when we weren't able to see the puppet show at their Festival of China last October. Well, someone got a grant, because they developed this really well done website about Chinese shadow puppets with pictures and footage from October, including interviews. You'll find it here.
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Monday, June 26, 2006

Happy Blog Anniversary!

Okay, not really the anniversary of this blog today. It was June 1. But, it was just now that I took the time to look up when I started blogging. So, if you've been by before or even if this is your first time, take a moment to de-lurk and leave a comment. I'll stop short of begging and just ask; please say hi, leave a link to your blog, what you've been learning lately, what your favorite factory tour has been, or where you are from. I'd like to put a name to those IP addresses I see in my visitor stats. :)
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Martin Guitar Factory Tour

100_1939.JPG Even if you don't play guitar, you will enjoy the Martin Guitar Factory tour. It was worth the hour and a half drive especially combined with a picnic and playtime at a nearby park. I recommend the whole experience. We joined with some other homeschoolers for a group tour. They will only take 15 people in each time slot however, so if you have more than that be prepared to split your group. Reserved group tours are in the morning and are $3 per person. If you live close by or don't have a group you can risk a wait and go in the afternoon for free. First come, first toured.

Before or after your tour, be sure to take a look in the museum. 100_1913.JPG Facinating stuff here. The millionth guitar they've made with precious stones and all kinds if inlaid pearl, a backpack guitar that went into space with an astronaut, guitars played by lots of famous musicians and some of the first instruments that this family owned business made back in the 1800's.

The tour lasts about 45 min - 1 hour. We learned about the different woods that are used to make guitars and how they affect the sound. We saw the laser cutting machine that cuts the backs and fronts of the guitars very quickly. A surprising amount of the work is done by hand or by people with machines. So there is hand sanding as well as individuals operating electric sanders. All of the finish work of attaching the neck to the body, the frets, tuners, strings is done by hand. Of course all of the inlaid work in also done by hand. The job of applying the 5 coats or so of protective finish is done in a clean room by a robot. They also use a robot buffer for some of the guitars. The whole thing is assembly line, even the really expensive guitars. (And by really expensive guitars I mean $50,000 - $100,000). These high-end guitars can take 2 years in process to complete. There is not a factory store with "seconds". Any guitar that has a problem that can not be made right to the highest quality standards is busted up and thrown out! One of the guides told us that the day before our tour two musicians came to pick up their instruments and serenaded everyone who came in the lobby for a few hours. There are instruments hanging in the lobby for anyone to play. Once you hear one you'll understand why someone will pay $800 for their lowest end all wood guitar.

Almost forgot to mention that at the end of the tour you get a little keepsake - the hole from the front of the guitar. It's about the size of a CD and it has laser cut into it CFMartin Factory Tour and the year. Very cool.
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Jamestown Sails Up the East Coast


I've shared about our trip to Jamestown, VA in April here, along with some links to lesson plans and information about the 400th anniversary of the landing. Part of the 400th anniversary celebration has been the sailing of the replica Godspeed up the East Coast. 100_1944.JPGA week ago the boat was docked at Penn's Landing and the public was able to go on board. Each group of about 20 people was guided by one of the crew that works as an interpreter at Jamestown Settlement. Our guide was excellent. He told us about navigation, the reason for the trip, life on board the ship and life in the first week of arriving at Jamestown. The ship was smaller than I thought it would be- hardly seemed like enough room for as many people as it carried. It was beautiful though.

We also visited the NPS tent with a video from Discovery Channel about how the replica was built (facinating) and a representation of what the hold looked like. The interpreter in this area was full of information as well. As usual, the more you ask the more they tell you. Once they get the idea that you are really interested in this stuff they explain things in greater detail. Another bonus was it was air-conditioned.
Outside the tent we also learned to make different knots from the man in this picture. He even showed my husband and I a quick way to make some pretty good handcuffs should we need to restrain the children. :) Next to him was a table full of broken pottery. It was your typical "learn to be an archaeologist" kind of display. We had seen it many times before, but my children still enjoyed it. It did seem like a lot of pieces were missing, so it wasn't very satisfying, but I guess that makes it more authentic.

When It Rains, It Pours

And it is pouring outside my window right now, on and off showers for the rest of the week we are told.

After not posting for (eek!) 12 days, I'll be entering a few posts today to catch things up a bit. I've finally uploaded new pictures of basically the whole last month, so there is lots to show. First, a little local news.

From Tamara Kells: They are still doing the homeschoolers matinees at the Grand this summer. (I think they will even let you in if you aren't a homeschooler) (wink).
This Friday, June 30th, we‚ll be showing the movie, "Over the Hedge". As usual, it‚s at the Grand Theater, 252 Main Street, East Greenville. It starts at 2:00 p.m., & the cost is only $3.00/pp.

If you are looking for something to do this summer in the greater Philadelphia area check out my calendars and especially the summer series calendar. I'm going to try to get up a list of events in the area celebrating the Fourth before the fourth as well.

For anyone who is in PA and needs to file an affadavit, especially for the first time, you might find my links on this page helpful.

I'd really like to comment about what is going on with this cyber school and this cyber school, but there could be a household conflict of interest if I do. If you cyber school or are thinking of it in PA, do check it out.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Groceries, anyone?

Okay, this has absolutely nothing to do with homeschooling or learning. Except possiblity for the fact that it might save you some time and money which might leave more time and money for other things!

Amazon is selling groceries. That's right, groceries. And, the prices are good, some are really good. Better than the wholesaler I ordered from last week for some organic snacks like pure bars. And, free shipping over $25. So, could you use a six-pack of cereal or diapers or Johnson's baby shampoo delivered to your door in a few days? Click below to check it out.

Disclaimer: I am an Amazon associate (see this page to explain that). It is cool though.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Books for Boys

He's reading. The boy is really reading. I am not exactly sure how it happened. How he went from hardly reading to reading books at a 3rd-5th grade level. It was just like that for my daughter as well. Within a very short time, like a few weeks, each of them decided they wanted to read and their brains put together all the things they had been learning over the last several years. It is a little later than the a school would like. If they had been in school they would have been labeled and put in some remedial reading class. But eight (for my daughter (3 years ago)) and eight and a half (for my son) is really not all that late; they haven't missed much. I think they didn't really like most of the books that are teaching you to read, the stories just weren't enough to hold interest.

The Narnia books were the ones that really sparked my daughter's reading. Julius has taken to books by Jim Kjelgaard. The first in his series of dog stories is Big Red, but he started with Outlaw Red. Mr. Kjelgaard grew up in the woods of Potter County, PA and draws on those scenes and the people he knew as a child for characters in his books. Julius thinks the book is "really exciting" and has plans for reading the rest of the books. The reading level is about 5th grade, so he is moving slowly, but he's reading and I couldn't be happier. Two down, one to go!

Click here if you want to see all the
Jim Kjelgaard books. I enjoy reading the reviews, especially ones by kids.

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Thursday, June 01, 2006


If you are in need of inspiration to jumpstart your creativity for cooking or schooling or crafting with the kids there are plenty of blogs out there to do just that. I hope this blog inspires in some small measure. A rather newish blog from a crafting blogger is filled with daily inspiration of fun craft and cooking ideas to do with the kids. Her site is very clean with great illustrations that she does herself. I think you'll like it Kiddley!
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