Archive for January, 2011

Where is my Time???



This week Cosette was working on Penmanship class, and her lesson involved copying wise sayings about time.  She especially liked the one that said “Time lost is never found again.” She got lost in her mind thinking about that and ended up doodling this entry’s picture on her paper.  Yes, she was doodling, but I think she got the point of that lesson!  🙂  (By the way, she told me that the girl’s time is taped onto her back, but every time she turns to find it, it turns too!  I think that’s the story of my life!!)

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We live in a small town and only have one library that we have loved over the years.  I so appreciate the friendliness and helpfulness at our library as well as the wonderful programs that they offer to kids free of charge.  That being said, however, I have recently discovered something there that really disappoints me.  My kids do lots of reports for school.  And I do mean LOTS of reports!  From third grade on up, reports are just the norm around here:  book reports, science reports, history reports, research reports, etc.  So, the library is regularly visited by the Prairie Family to gather resources for these papers.

Well, this past week John was needing some books to read about James Madison, so I looked up the available books on that topic on our library’s handy online card catalog and wrote down the locations of several titles.  When we had a chance to actually go to the library, I started searching in the old familiar sections only to quickly discover that things had dramatically changed!  In the youth area of the library, there used to be a section with 3-4 aisles of non-fiction books and biographies, but this time there was only ONE aisle–that included all of the nonfiction and the biographies.  Wow–it was a dramatic cut back!  All of the former aisles were filled with fiction books.

When I saw the librarian in charge of this section, I asked her about the change in the quantity of non-fiction books.  She told me that since the internet is so widely available, kids just don’t use those kinds of books very much any more. She explained to me about the library’s limited budget (which I completely understand!) and how they have to be very selective of what they purchase for the shelves.  I told her that my problem with the whole reduction issue is that my kids have to write so many papers over such a large variety of self-selected topics that being able to find resources at the library has been a life-saver in the past!  And, yes, my kids do use the internet extensively for their papers, but they are required to use regular books as resources along with the internet articles. I asked her if this was a trend only in the youth section or if it is something that will affect all sections, and she replied that it does occur at all levels in various ways.  Ugh……

A little off topic here, but something else that has been bothering me lately about the “research” that kids do on the internet these days is this:  I get regular comments on this blog from people who say things like “thank you very much for writing my paper for me.”  That is one reason why I have become much more selective about putting my kids’ writing on this blog. What a disappointment! THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN INTERNET RESEARCH AND PLAGIARISM!

Ok, now that I got that out of my system…. 🙂  So now we realize that we are going to need to adapt with the times!  Our kids will have these reports for the foreseeable future.  Our needs are not going to change, but we may or may not have the resources that we need for the reports at our library.  Buying and storing all of the books is out of the question–more for the storage issue than anything else. Also, when the kids need a resource, they need it quickly to finish the assignment making ordering resources difficult.  So, that brings me to my next thing.

We have been considering buying an e-reader.  That would solve the problems of storage and quickness of availability.  Of course, we’d still be buying the books, but the cost would be a lot less than the printed books that we currently buy.  The one drawback that we can recognize is that we’d all have to share the unit.  (And that’s not all bad either!)  The kids all LOVE to read, and that is only increasing as time goes by, so e-books could also make nice gifts for them.  We are almost convinced that this is the way to go, but we are all novices in this area.  I know there are different kinds with different features, and I don’t know what’s necessary and what’s not.  So, if any of you have suggestions or ideas, please don’t hesitate to let us know.  We are really leaning towards getting a Kindle because we do so much shopping at Amazon anyway, but we are definitely open to advice.  So, what do you think?

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Well, John’s 8th grade science project is officially complete!  Yeah!!  I’ll tell you what, these projects are a TON of work, but the kids enjoy them and learn so much completing them.  I wrote an entry earlier this week describing John’s project which basically centered around several different sets of antennae that John made in different shapes and how they affected our router’s WIFI signal.  The neat thing about this project was that the results were clearly measurable using a signal monitoring program, and it was interesting to see how something as simple as these antennaes really can strengthen the signals.  So, which antenna ended up being the best?  John discusses that in his oral presentation that I will post at the end of this entry.  🙂 I am also adding a slideshow showing his display board.  This was our first year using cork on this board, and it sure made assembling the display easier!

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Last summer I wrote an entry about trying out tie dye.  The kids had so much fun making their shirts that they have been begging to make long-sleeved ones for the cooler weather. We have started the Textile Arts merit badge in American Heritage Girls, and tie dying happens to be one of the suggested activities for this badge, so this gave me the “push over the edge” to get that kit out again.  Luke regretted not making a shirt last summer, so he was quick to join in this time!

Each of the kids used different techniques.  Kara used a “scrunching” method, Cosette used a graduated color design, and Luke chose the traditional bullseye for his shirt.  It’s always amazing and surprising how cute the shirts come out. Kara’s shirt reminds me of a vanilla cupcake with sprinkles on top!

Speaking of AHG, we are currently working on three different merit badges.  For Textile Arts, we completed the tie dye project, and soon we plan on trying some weaving, loom knitting, and latch hook.  Kara wanted to do the Bible Basics badge, and both of the girls are having fun making a flap book about characteristics of God.  I am also blowing out the cobwebs on my sign language, and we are are working on a badge for that too.  (I don’t know if I ever mentioned on this blog that shortly after I graduated from college, I spent a year working as an interpreter for the hearing impaired.)  I am delighted that both of the girls are enjoying that sign language, and hopefully, we’ll be able to do a song in sign language for church in the near future.

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John has just about completed this year’s science project, and that is a big accomplishment! These science projects begin early in the year and take many weeks to complete. Research papers, investigations, analyzing of data, preparing a display and a final presentation has been the major focus in our house for quite awhile.  Yes, these projects are complicated and time-consuming, but the experiences that they give to the students is invaluable.

This year, John gave his project the title of “Waves Out Of Water.”  His research paper was about electromagnetic waves, and his project involved designing and testing the results of several different kinds of antennas that he attached to our internet router.  He then set up stations around our house to test the signal strengths of the antennae and summarized his data in tables and graphs.

The project display always is more work than we anticipate, but it came out very nice this year.  I don’t have any pictures of that yet because he is going to do his oral presentation tomorrow.  At that time, I’ll record his presentation and take pictures of the display and will get those posted in a future entry.  We did try some new things on our display this year, however.  Remember this entry in which Dan and I were busily working on a mysterious object in our garage?? Well, we had purchased some rolls of cork to glue onto last year’s display board in the hopes of making an easily re-usable display board.  I am happy to report that it has been successful–more difficult to make than we had thought, but successful!  Being able to pin the pieces of the display before stapling them on has simplified the display-making process a lot!  We also got a Xyron sticker-maker machine this year, and that has been incredibly helpful as we have assembled this display.

So, John is in the final stages of this project.  Like I said earlier, he will give his presentation tomorrow, and that will finish it up.  That’s a good thing too because this week his research paper for his language class is assigned!  (Yep, it’s never-ending, John!)

Oh, and by the way, next year we’ll have two of these projects going on because Brock will get to join in on all of the fun in 7th grade!


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Church Bowling Party

Earlier this month, our church had a bowling/pizza party that everyone enjoyed.  The kids love going to the bowling alley, but it seems like we only go when we go with the church!  😦 Maybe that will have to change!

We had a pretty good turn-out, especially considering that a storm was brewing outside!  Of course, Kara got a strike on her very first try (seriously–not kidding!).  I guess it was beginner’s luck.   Luke had a friend at the alley, so he bowled with him while the rest of us bowled our first game.  Brock got really discouraged because Kara and Cosette were doing very well without paying any attention to technique, while he was trying to do everything just right and wasn’t doing very well!  He said he didn’t like bowling much until the tide turned in our second game.

By the time we finished our first game, we didn’t have time to finish a second game unless we played as teams.  So, Dan suggested that we play boys against girls.  Wow, did that up the ante!  Everyone was very intense!  Brock was delighted when he got a strike for the boys’ team leading their team to an eventual overwhelming win.  After that, he decided that bowling wasn’t so bad after all!  🙂

Watching Kara was the highlight of my day at the bowling alley!  She has such enthusiasm for everything, bowling included.  She’d grab her ball and immediately take off running to get it rolling down the alley.  Then she’d lean every which way to try to get the ball to “go where it was supposed to go.” The ball would S-L-O-W-L-Y make it’s way towards the pin, so Dan referred to her technique as the “slow ball of doom.”  Regardless of how many pins she hit, she’d jump around and come back running with a mile-wide grin every time.

I really do think that we will try to go more often.  I found out that our alley has a family night every Friday during which they have great pricing for a group as large as ours is, so that gives us a good excuse to go again!

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