Friday, November 27, 2009

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Work and Play

Evelyn had a class at Lawrence Hall of Science, so Clem and a friend got to play with the kapla blocks.
In this case "play" meant stooping, gathering blocks and placing them over and over again. When the tower got too tall for them they had to stack stools to stand on. I was glad no museum staff walked in on this scene.
It took forty five minutes to build.
And but a moment to...

We just finished listening to Tom Sawyer in the car and I thought of this passage on work and play. It comes during that scene where Tom tricks his friends into whitewashing the fence for him:

If he [Tom] had been a great and wise philosopher, like the writer of this book, he would now have comprehended that Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do. And this would help him to understand why constructing artificial flowers or performing on a tread-mill is work, while rolling ten-pins or climbing Mont Blanc is only amusement.

This, I think, is the secret of homeschooling, which I have to learn and relearn. If you don't oblige kids to do work sooner or later they will do it themselves and call it play.

Even math and the dishes, but not the latter often enough.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Hot Topics

Some of the glow of our Hawaii trip hasn't left us yet. Before the trip I picked up some new music for the car: Here Comes Science by They Might Be Giants. And we loved some of the songs so much the entire car was belting them out with the CD. Especially The Sun is a Mass of Incandescent Gas, which is just a great song, even if it is--um--wrong.

Which is what They Might Be Giants thought, as I learned listening to this Radio Lab episode, so they kept the song, but followed it up with The Sun is a Miasma of Incandescent Plasma. Which has the great lines:

Forget that song!
They got it wrong.
That thesis has been rendered invalid.

I got a real kick out of hearing the kids sing these songs, and they led to a discussion about the scientific process. And about plasmas. Kind of amazing that this undermentioned fourth state of matter is the state that 99% of the visible universe is in.

Greta was particularly taken by the whole idea of plasmas. Here was a conversation from yesterday. Even though we told her about plasmas she just can't help herself from retelling us about them.

Greta: (excitedly) Dad, if you get water really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really--
Mike: Yes, we get the point--
Greta: Daddy, stop annoying my reallys! Really really really really really hot, it turns into a plasma.

Greta was indignant about the line Even when it's out of sight it shines both night and day. You see, when she was an alien, it was her job to put out the sun every night.

Another beloved song is A Shooting Star is Not a Star, about meteors, which is great sung in rounds, and was interestingly appropriate yesterday when we were at a birthday party and a large meteor cut across the sky. Sad to say, I was oblivious, but I did get to see the contrail.

There is a song about the planets which is little more than each planet's name much more.... Jupiter is sung with great thumping bass notes like a stomping giant.

Evelyn claimed that Jupiter was not big enough to deserve such pronounced stomping, but we checked this hypothesis out yesterday at Chabot Space and Science Center and found that while, as Greta can sing for you, the sun is so large a million earths can fit inside, only 1000 Jupiters will fit in the sun.

Jupiter is stomping big.

We got to peek at it through one of the telescopes and see it and the 4 moons Galileo discovered, and it was like seeing a friend.

Wow, education with a sound track. It really does make it more exciting.

Click on the mp3 icon below to hear, if not the most rousing rendition, at least an example of our car singalongs.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Tricks and Treats

We pulled some tricks on the grandparents this Halloween.

Little did my mom know when she came to visit for a week that she would be kept in third world sweat shop conditions, sewing night and day, fed only cappuccinos until the big night.

Ok, it wasn't quite that bad. And Ev and Clem sewed and cut quite a bit.

Here are the results: Clementine the anglerfish.

Evelyn the venus fly trap.
Aren't they a treat? If you notice a very subtle quality difference between the older girls' costumes and Greta's leopard shark costume it's because I made Greta's, except for the tail, which my mom made.
My dad joined us for Halloween, too. And handed out the treats at my sister's house while we all trick-or-treated.

Here's was Greta's trick for Grandpa.

Greta: Grandpa, what are you going to be for Halloween?
Grandpa: A grouchy old man.
Greta: No! You can't just be yourself.

What Tricks and Treats did Halloween bring for you?