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Archive for the ‘Camp Fire USA’ Category


We have nine days left of school, and that’s a good thing because the kids are getting Summer Fever really badly!  Really, our school is starting to wind down.  Kara and Luke are both finished with the video portions of their classes, so that shortens our day quite a bit. 

Today was Western Day in Brock’s video classroom.  He remembered that I had cowboy hats and asked if I could get them out.  Of course when one kid has a special day, they all want to participate!  So, everyone got a hat, and we have been “cowboying” around all day!  They made up a really cute game while I was fixing lunch.  They called it The Tumbleweed Game.  They had a small wad of paper on top of one of our lap boards.  They blew it back and forth and seemed to have similar rules to Ping Pong.  It looked like fun–they sure were laughing and carrying on!

We had Camp Fire USA today after school.  We started our last project for this year called Discovering Nature.  This lesson was called “Look Up!”  It was all about clouds.  I used a poster that John had gotten from Scouts to show the differences between cirrus, cumulus, and stratus clouds.  Believe it or not, it was SNOWING today, so we couldn’t really go outside to observe the real thing, but the poster worked pretty well!  🙂  We made thundercloud collages for which we needed to paint cotton balls gray.  Have you ever tried to paint a cotton ball?!  It’s kind of tricky to do!

We also talked about how wind moves the clouds, and to demonstrate this, we put a blob of shaving cream in a pan full of blue tinted water and blew that around.  I know–that sounds rather strange, but the kids liked it!  Then we made “Cloud Sundaes” out of canned fruit and whipped topping.  This was a big hit with Cosette and Kara who can never seem to get enough whipped topping!

This weekend will be a busy one.  John’s birthday is on Sunday, so everyone is all excited about that.

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We had a very good Camp Fire USA meeting this afternoon.  We finished the Fun with Science project of the Trail to the Future with this lesson entitled I Wonder Why.  This lesson was a mis-match of several simple experiments that the kids really enjoyed.

We started out doing an activity using a small jar half filled with water and half filled with cooking oil.  We talked about how the oil is lighter than the water, and since it doesn’t mix with the water, it floats on top.  We then added a couple drops of food coloring, and that proved to be very interesting!  The food coloring did not immediately sink to the bottom, but kind of hesitated between the layers of water and oil.  We shook it up and then watched what happened.  After allowing the mixture to settle for a few minutes, we saw that the food coloring actually separated out of the oil and was only in the water!  A pretty cool experiment with a lot of “Wow factor.”

During our meeting, Dan had taken Brock to Webelos.  As we were doing the oil/water experiment, we noticed that they had forgotten to take the snacks for Webelos, so we made a quick delivery!  This ended up being quite an adventure because Dan realized the missing snacks about the same time that we did, and he headed home to get them the same time that we left to take them there!  So, we crossed trails, but eventually everyone and everything ended up in the right place.  🙂

We made homemade “Bubble Stuff” when we got home.  I had tried some recipes for this a few years ago and had never found the right mixture.  It just never seemed to work quite right.  But, the recipe in the Camp Fire USA materials worked very well!  So, it is a keeper!  Here it is:

1 cup water

1/2 tsp. sugar

2 tsp. liquid detergent

We did a mini-lesson on seeds since our decoupage flower pots are finished.  The kids dissected lima beans that had been soaked in water to see the different parts of the seed.  This works really well because the seed coat and the embryonic plant are so easily visible in large lima beans.  Then we planted flower seeds in our pretty new pots.  I sure hope that they grow–the kids would really enjoy that!

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Yesterday we had a very interesting Camp Fire USA meeting.  We continued the Fun With Science project of the Trail to the Future.  This lesson was called “Up and Down.”

We began talking about machines and how they help us every day.  We did some simple experimenting with ramps and friction.  The kids found this interesting because I related it to making a pine car derby racer.  We tried different ways to reduce friction, and then discussed how we can put some of these ideas into practice when we make next year’s derby cars.

The kids were probably most interested in the simple chemistry experiment that we tried.  We used a solution of vinegar and table salt that forms a mild acid that will dissolve the copper oxide coating off of old pennies.  This restores them to a shiny, pretty condition that is quite impressive.  But, what the kids were really amazed by was how we used that same bowl of vinegar and salt after we had cleaned the pennies.  We put a shiny new iron screw in it and let it soak for several minutes.  It bubbled for awhile, and then we were able to clearly see how its color changed.  Wow–seems like magic to kids!

Then we applied our final layer of tissue paper and decoupage on the flower pot that we started last week.  Each of the kids took a turn during the week applying layers, so we ended up with a total of five.  Next week we will plant some flowers and enjoy watching them grow in our pretty pots!

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 After having a few weeks off, we started back up with Camp Fire USA this afternoon.  Brock’s Bear Scout group is now meeting with the Webelos on Friday afternoons, so we have moved our Camp Fire meetings from Tuesday evenings to Friday afternoons as well.

We are working on the Fun With Science Emblem of the Trail to the Future.  We started this project by talking about space and how the Earth rotates and revolves around the sun creating days and years.  We talked about other planets in our solar system and how God made the Earth unique.  It is just the right distance from the sun to provide the appropriate temperatures for life and its atmosphere has just the right proportions of life-sustaining gases.  We talked about the vast complexity of the universe and how it’s order and beauty declare the power of God.

We also started a spring craft project.  When I was a little girl, I used to decorate all sorts of containers using decoupage and tissue paper.  I decided that this would be a fun activity for Camp Fire USA, so we started decorating clay flower pots that we will use to grow plants in once we are finished.  This is not an instantaneous project because several layers of tissue paper squares have to be applied with drying between each layer, so this is also a lesson in patience and perseverance!  Anyway, the kids watched me make a sample pot this week, and they thought it turned out pretty neat.  So, they were excited to start their own today.  It will probably take us another club meeting and several in-between sessions to get the pot decorated, and then we will plant the flowers in a couple of weeks.

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Last week, John was reading to me from his 5th grade Abeka reader entitled Of America, Volume 1.  (copyright 1999:  Pensacola Christian College)  I was greatly impressed by this poem written by Frank Crane that he read from pages 88-89:

Boy Wanted by Frank Crane

A boy who stands straight, sits straight, acts straight, and talks straight.

A boy who listens carefully when spoken to, who asks questions when he does not understand, and does not ask questions about things that are none of his business.

A boy whose fingernails are not in mourning, whose ears are clean, whose shoes are polished, whose clothes are brushed, whose hair is combed, and whose teeth are well cared for.

A boy who moves quickly and makes as little noise about it as possible.

A boy who whistles in the street but not where he ought to keep still.

A boy who looks cheerful, has a ready smile for everybody, and never sulks.

A boy who is polite to every man and respectful to every woman and girl.

A boy who does not smoke and has no desire to learn how.

A boy who never bullies other boys or allows boys to bully him.

A boy who, when he does not know a thing, says, “I do not know”; and when he has made a mistake says, “I’m sorry”; and, when requested to do anything, immediately says, “I’ll try.”

A boy who looks you right in the eye and tells the truth every time.

A boy who would rather lose his job or be expelled from school than tell a lie or be a cad.

A boy who is more eager to know how to speak good English than to talk slang.

A boy who does not want to be “smart” nor in anywise attract attention.

A boy who is eager to read good, wholesome books.

A boy whom other boys like.

A boy who is perfectly at ease in the company of respectable girls.

A boy who is not a goody-goody, a prig, or a little Pharisee, but just healthy, happy, and full of life.

A boy who is not sorry for himself and not forever thinking and talking about himself.

A boy who is friendly with his mother and more intimate with her than with anyone else.

A boy who makes you feel good when he is around.

This boy is wanted everywhere.  The family wants him, the school wants him, the office wants him, the boys and girls want him, and all creation wants him.

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Yea!  My computer is back to running!  On Tuesday, I was using the computer when the telephone rang.  I answered the telephone and visited awhile, and when I came back to my work, my computer had shut down.  I tried to restart it, but it wouldn’t start Windows!  I have no idea what happened.

We took it into a repair shop, and they said that the hard drive had somehow “scrambled.”  It was so bad that the computer could not even find Windows (or any of our other data) on the hard drive.  They didn’t know if an electrical problem caused this, or a virus, or what.  They worked on retrieving data for several days, but they just simply could not do it.

Fortunately, I had most of our important data backed up on a memory card.  The repair shop ended up installing a new hard drive and added more RAM, so we are basically starting over from scratch.  I was able to get quite a bit of stuff back from my back-up last night, but it will be awhile before I am fully back to normal.  My biggest loss is my internet favorites–I’m afraid that I am not going to be able to find all of the blogs that I have enjoyed.  Hopefully I will find most of them.

Anyway, we did have Camp Fire USA this week.  We completed the “Safe and Secure” project of the Trail to Knowing Me.  The lesson was called “Safety at Home,” and we talked about home fire and telephone safety.  Kara really got into learning about the telephone–I had never taught her our home phone number until this lesson, and the next day, I found her writing it on her own paper!  Pretty smart girl!  We assembled paper telephones to practice “dialing” our home phone number and 911, and that was definitely a good activity.

We continued our mini-focus on recycling (and enjoyed a nice spring evening) by playing a ball game with milk jugs.  Luke especially enjoyed this and was able to catch balls in his jug pretty consistently after practicing a little while!

I had picked up some twirly-kite-things at a store recently and had saved them for this lesson.  The kids sure had fun running around with those things, and they have gotten them out every day since then.  Who would have thought that such a simple toy could be so much fun?!

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Last night we continued the Safe and Secure project of the Trail to Knowing Me in Camp Fire USA.  We did the lesson called Nobody Wins a Fight.  This was a good lesson for us–a reminder that arguing and fighting rarely solves a problem and that there are more constructive ways to deal with disagreements.  We all had a pretty good discussion on the topic, and that was good.

We also are going to do a few projects around the topic of recycling.  We talked about what recycling is and why it is important.  We also made Newspaper Yo-yo’s out of rubber bands and crumpled paper.  Believe it or not, these make pretty fun and easy toys.  The kids enjoyed bouncing them around and trying to hit a bulls-eye with the newspaper ball.  John thought they would make great cat toys, and I whole-heartedly agree!

For a fun cooking activity, we made biscuit turnovers.  These were a big hit because the kids each chose what they wanted their own fillings to be.  Then, of course, there was the anticipation while they were baking!  I think each one of my kids that made one has asked me today if we can do that again soon.  I am going to post a Smilebox Slideshow of the pictures from the evening’s activities, and then I will post an additional recipe Smilebox to share this fun project.

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We had Camp Fire USA this morning.  We usually have it on Tuesday evenings when Brock goes to Cub Scouts, but his leaders changed their meeting to today, so we changed ours too!

We completed the requirements for the marbles pin today.  I am so glad that we did this project because the kids really enjoy playing the game.  I told them that now that the weather is getting nicer, marbles is something that they can play outside using sidewalk chalk to draw the circle.  That made them happy!  We tried a new marbles game that allowed bombsies, and that was fun.  We have the book Marbles: 101 Ways to Play by Stephanie Calmenson and Michael Street, and I reminded the kids that they are always welcome to look at this book to find new games to play. 

We also began the Safe and Secure project in the Trail to Knowing Me by completing the lesson called Safety at Play.  We took a look around our house and found several things that were not that safe (some of them had been purposefully planted before the meeting), and then we talked about what we needed to do to improve the safety in our home.  These are always good reminders that one can never be too careful as far as safety is concerned.

Brock and Daddy are at the special meeting for Cub Scouts.  They are doing a simple woodworking project of building a toolbox.  I am sure that Brock will be all excited about that when he gets home!

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Tonight everyone was feeling well enough to have Camp Fire USA!  YEA!!  Although no one is yet operating at 100%, hopefully we are all improving.

We completed the Creative Arts project of the Trail to Creativity by doing the lesson called “Pull the String.”  We did a strange art project for this lesson that used paint on a string to make a design on a folded piece of paper.  It worked all right, and the kids enjoyed it.

We continued with our marbles project, and the kids (even Kara) were able to explain the rules and vocabulary for the game.  We played a fun game of marbles, and John won.  This has been a good project.  This week the kids asked to play marbles a couple of times on their own, and that’s what it’s all about.  Next week, we will try a new marbles game, and that will complete the requirements for the pin that they will receive.

We also made simple Valentine projects that we decorated with stickers.  I like to have seasonal decorations hanging in our school room, so these worked well. 

I am so relieved that the kids are feeling better.  I’m slowly getting there too, but having them somewhat “back to normal” helps me feel even better!

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My kids have been cycling through the flu.  It started with Kara, then Cosette, Brock, John, and Luke.  So, things haven’t been too peppy around here, but hopefully everyone will be feeling better soon.

Even though the kids were kind of dragging along, I decided to go ahead and have Camp Fire USA.  After all, we might as well do something fun!  We did our normal Camp Fire stuff, and then we had a special celebration for Chinese New Year.

The kids were ready to have a real game of marbles.  Brock didn’t have scouts last night because of a snowstorm (and he was sick anyway!), so he joined our game.  The usual participants were kind of upset because Brock, who usually isn’t home for our meetings and had not practiced, actually won the marbles game!  Oh, well.  I told the kids to practice up this week, and we’ll have a rematch next meeting.

We did the second lesson of the Creative Arts project of the Trail to Creativity.  It was called Shaving Foam Silliness.  Yes, it was a mess!  I was surprised that all of the kids except for Kara really didn’t want to play in the foam.  They all thought it was kind of gross–but not Kara!  She went crazy spreading foam all over the table!  Hey, at least we got a clean table out of that activity! 🙂

Then we had our Chinese New Year activities.  I began by showing the kids pictures out of the book Celebrating Chinese New Year by Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith.  This book worked really well because it had beautiful photos of Chinese New Year preparations and traditions, and I was able to help the kids understand that holiday much better than if I had not had it as a resource. 

We practiced using chopsticks to pick up objects.  Everyone thought that this was fun, but again, Kara was the champ!  It was my understanding that she did not use chopsticks in the orphanage in China, but she sure seemed to know how to use those silly chopsticks!  She just beamed when she was able to pick up tiny little objects when everyone else stumbled around just holding the chopsticks!  John caught on towards the end.  Maybe we’ll have to try a meal with them.

We also made Chinese New Year Dragon masks.  The instructions and printable template for this project is at http://www.kckpl.lib.ks.us/ys/CRAFTS/Dragon.htm .  The kids all enjoyed this activity, but I am glad that I tried it ahead of time because assembling it takes quite awhile.  Because I knew that our meeting time was not that long, I had the kids start their projects during the school day.  Then all they had to do during the meeting was color the mask and glue the face on.  These came out really nice, and I would have to say that my kids grew a little in their understanding of Kara’s country’s culture.

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