Category Archives: geography

Inner Space Cavern

20190820_163104

To start off our “new year”, we did many of our norms – took the day off, made grade level signs and took pictures, had a fun breakfast (see this on our Instagram account), and enjoyed the leisurely day. But we also took a field trip on day two. We went to Austin for some items we had to pick up and on the way back, we made a stop at Inner Space Cavern.

This cavern is found right alongside I-35. In fact, it was discovered because of the construction of the interstate. When they were drilling as part of building the road, they punctured the cavern and lost the drill bit. They actually punctured it 8 time, I think they said. One of the men decided he had to get the drill bit back and a geologist rode the giant drill down into the cavern with a tiny little light to find the bit. He also found some amazing formations. Of course, they looked completely different to him, probably, with only a small light and not the beautiful lighting they have in there now. But still, it was probably stunning to him to see the giant cavern.

It is interesting to stand in the quiet and hear the rumbling of the vehicles overhead on the interstate. At one point, the guide turns all the lights off and you get to absorb the absolute darkness. It is so interesting. The tour we took was about an hour and we had a fabulous tour guide. He knew the history of the cave and a large amount of the scientific information to go along with it. He added his own humor and entertained questions of all sorts from my chatty youngest. She kept up to the front of the tour group and chatted with him for a large part of the time. She asked all sorts of questions and he did a good job answering them (at least from my perspective at the back with my oldest).

All three girls seemed to really enjoy the outing but I know from hanging out with the oldest at the back that she was thoroughly pleased that we had stopped and taken the tour. In fact, she is begging to come back and do the hardest tour, where they strap a light on you and you go spelunking in tiny crevices and your light is the only source. It is definitely off the main path and is not a very big group, thus the much higher price point than the tour we took yesterday.

The formations we got to see were just beautiful. They were interesting and hearing about how they form and grow was just as enjoyable as it has been since I was a child. Learning about the number of animals whose bones were found in the cavern was interesting and it was neat to see the drawings that had been created on a retaining wall. There was a giant sinkhole that had formed and that was interesting to see the evidence of, also. Some of the bones had been taken up to the visitor’s center and were on display there. Most, though, as still down in the cavern, as exposure to air and moisture disintegrates them very quickly since they have not had the compression necessary to fossilize them.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Another really interesting part was the room where we were shown flint forming on the ceiling. The flint looked totally different on the outside but when it was cut open, there was the tell-tale color of black. That was really interesting to see in a natural setting.

The rough patches on the smooth rock are the flint beginning to form. To the left of that, there are some large, almost tooth-shaped rocks with a lot of rough rock below it. That is the exposed fault line.

The rough patches on the smooth rock are the flint beginning to form. To the left of that, there are some large, almost tooth-shaped rocks with a lot of rough rock below it. That is the exposed fault line.

In that same room, he showed us the evidence of the Balcones Fault line. It is the only fault running through Texas and has had its top layers of rock interlock like strong legos. It is so strong, the guide said, that we would be safer under the fault line in the cavern than above it were an earthquake to hit. The interlocked rocks would hardly move! And we were able to see that fault line and broken rock from when it shook many, many, many years ago. Really fascinating.

Inner Space Cavern is not quite as large as Carlsbad, which I have posted about on from 2017 and 2013, but it is just a beautiful cave and is privately operated. I am so glad we stopped to check it out.

Edit to add: A blogger contacted me to let me know she had a fairly thorough unit study to go along specifically with Inner Space but really, guys, it looks like it would work great for all caves. You can find it on her blog Waco Mom.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Crafty Classroom USA Bundle ~ a Crew review

lear

When the USA Activity Bundle Pack came up for review this year from Crafty Classroom, I knew it was a product I wanted to use. It is a fun way to approach learning about the United States. The bundle includes three PDF files:Screenshot 2019-07-17 at 12.45.08 PM

  1. USA State Birds
  2. USA 50 State Mazes
  3. USA Activity Pack

50 state mazes

USA 50 STATE MAZES

20190629_151857This file includes one maze for each of the 50 states. The maze is in the shape of the state. In the process of working through the maze, the student views the shape of the state and can become more familiar with it. Each maze is challenging yet fun. I do believe that the size at which you print these will make a difference in the challenge level. I printed them at half-size, two to a page and made a booklet out of it. This definitely added to the challenge of the mazes but it was fine for my 10 year old.

50 state birds

USA STATE BIRDS

The realistic art cards for the state birds includes a picture of the birds that are the symbol of a state (so less than 50 since several are shared by states), space to write facts about the bird or describe the bird, and a set of small cards with the name of the bird on one and the picture of the bird on the other. I again printed this half-size and made it into a booklet. I am not fully happy with this version of it. The writing lines are a better size for Miss J at this size but it makes it harder to color the bird with all its markings. Also, in a booklet form, we cannot cut the smaller cards out to use in a matching game. Miss J really wants me to take this to a printer and have it printed in color for the matching cards.

50 states activity notebook

USA STATE-BY-STATE ACTIVITY NOTEBOOK

This PDF file contains one page for each of the 50 states. Each page asks the student to identify several symbols for the state. There are several activities for each state.20190710_153706

  • a flag to color
  • a place to color the state on a map of the US
  • a map of the state to mark the capital, rivers, lakes, and mountains (if desired)
  • a place to mark the state abbreviation, the state # of when it joined the union, it’s nickname, the state bird name, and the state flower name
  • a picture of the state bird to color
  • a picture of the state flower to color
  • lines to write a fact or two about the state

We pulled a book about the 50 states off of our shelf to use with this activity. Each state has it’s own few pages so it works easily.

The State-by-State Activity Notebook also includes two games at the end of the file. One is USA Bingo and there are several bingo boards to print and use. The other game is Roll Across America, a board game where you would roll a die and move a certain number of spaces. You will need to provide the markers for the bingo game and the die and pieces for the board game. Both games provide variations to learning the states and/or capitals and facts about the states. These would be fun games to have printed out larger than I printed the rest of the file.

We have been using the program informally this summer. Every few days Miss J will pick up one of the booklets and work for a bit on it. She has really enjoyed the mazes. She has done several at one sitting a few times. She has also enjoyed the USA State-By-State Activity Notebook. She spent quite a bit of time working on each state that she has completed. I have allowed her to skip the writing part since we are being informal this summer.

I do plan to use these a bit more formally when we start school in a few weeks. I plan to have her complete three states per week, completing the page in USA State-By-State (include the fact writing), doing the maze if it is not already done, and completing the page in the bird book (if it isn’t already done since some of the states have the same state bird).

20190710_153553

Miss J’s thoughts:

I like this, even though I am not really far. I really like the mazes. The state facts were really fun. It was kind of helpful having a book to do it with. It would have been harder without the book. I really liked the birds and flowers and stuff. There wasn’t really enough space for me to write a fact about the state because there were so many facts to choose from. It would be wise to add another page to the state of just lines to write facts on.

My Thoughts:

This is a neat set to use to highlight the US. We had planned to take a trip this summer through several states and I was going to use this for her in each state we entered. (Plans change when home air conditioners need a major repair, though.) As far of the use this fall, I am going to have her trace our Mega Field Trip from last fall and find each of those states.

This is a neat set that has so many possibilities. There is a lot that could be done with it and it can be adjust and modified to fit the age you are working with and the need you have.

A couple of years ago, we reviewed another product from Crafty Classroom – their paragraph writing program titled How To Write A Paragraph. There are lots of other products available so be sure to visit the shop.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about other products from Crafty Classroom that were being used for summer learning. The products include:

R.E.A.D. Curriculum Notebook K
R.E.A.D. Curriculum Notebook Gr. 1
Interactive Math Curriculum Notebook K
Alphabet Letter of the Week Curriculum Notebook
Bible Letter of the Week Curriculum Notebook
Sight Word of the Week Program
Pattern Block Activity Bundle
Fables & Tales
USA Activity Bundle Pack

Click on the banner below to go to the link up for Crafty Classroom.

Hands-on-Low-prep-and-Ready-to-Go-Learning-Tots-to-3rd-Grade-Crafty-Classroom-Reviews

3-Crew-Disclaimer-2016

New Mexico Bucket List – M ~ Blogging Through the Alphabet

Blogging Through The Alphabet M vertical image

This time we are going to visit two places – one I am very familiar with and the other I have never visited. First we will see the Malpais Lava Flow/Valley of Fires and second, Meow Wolf.

The Malpais (pronunciation) Lava Flow is right up next to the Valley of Fires. The lava flows one right into the next. It is a large, rough area of black lava. There is a day use area, a small camping area, and the highway runs right through the center of it. Once you get into it, it is beautiful and not at all barren. The pockets of lava hold water and dirt, which allows gorgeous plants to thrive in a fairly protected environment. The area is also home to many different animals and is a bird-lovers paradise. The trails through the malpais are lovely hikes. This beautiful area is located in the south-central part of the state, in the Tularosa Basin, near Carrizozo.

Malpais is a Spanish word for “badlands.” It is often used to describe lava flows and is actually given to more than one place in New Mexico. There is another site,  El Malpais National Monument found about 130 miles northwest of Carrizozo, up in the Grants area.

We have stopped while driving through the malpais several time, allowing the girls to climb on the rocks. It is fun to see what they discover and to allow them to get their wiggles out on the trip from Albuquerque back to my parent’s home.

Screenshot 2019-05-15 at 3.40.04 PM

Now for Meow Wolf. This is located in Santa Fe and I really don’t know a ton about it. It is considered an art collective. It is an immersive arts experience and includes architecture, sculpture, painting, photography, video production, cross-reality (AR/VR/MR), music, audio engineering, narrative writing, costuming, performance, and more (from the Meow Wolf website). The experience will give interaction with fantastic realms of story and exploration. With secret passages and portals into alternate worlds, it will certainly be an experience.

I have looked into it a few times when we were planning to be in the area but have not yet gone. It looks to be an interesting experience, especially for those with older members of the family rather than fairly young ones. I have been told that youngsters enjoy the place, too, but not sure it was a good fit for my girls. A couple of them get pretty overwhelmed by light flashes and super loud sounds so we have bypassed it for now. However, a family member has now been and said that it looks pretty good for the girls. Of course, they are also older. So maybe our next trip to Santa Fa will include a stop at Meow Wolf.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Blogging Through The Alphabet M image

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Each week we will be linking up with the hosts of Blogging Through the Alphabet. Please visit some of these other blogs to get things like book lists, vegan recipes, and wonderful places to visit, just to name the topics I can think of off the top of my head.

Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool
Christine @ Life’s Special Necessities
Kimberly @ Vintage Blue Suitcase
Dawn @ Schoolin’ Swag
Wendy @ Life On Chickadee Lane
Yvonne @ The Life We Build
Jennifer @ A Peace Of Mind
Kristen @ A Mom’s Quest To Teach
Kirsten @ DoodleMom Homeschool
abcblogging image lg

You can also join us and link up your own Blogging Through The Alphabet Post!! Just be sure to follow these simple rules–
* Each post must be family friendly. If it is not, we have the right to remove it.
* When linking up to this post, you give us permission to share your post and/or a photo from your post in future posts and social media shares.
* Place the Blog Button from the site onto the post you are linking up.
* Use the hashtag #abcblogging when promoting your post. This will help us find you and help us promote you as well.
* If you have time, check out a few of the other posts and share the love.
* The most important rule is to make sure you are having fun! This is not something we want you to be stressed out over. We want to see all the fun ideas that everyone comes up with for the letters!

New Mexico Bucket List – K ~ Blogging Through the Alphabet

Blogging Through The Alphabet K vertical image

Today, we are going to look at three different K-named sites.

First up –

Kasha- Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

K Kasha katewe rocks

This national monument is located a bit north of Albuquerque but south of Santa Fe. It is a natural site that features cone-shaped tent rock formations. These formations are the result of volcanic explosions long ago in the Jemez volcanic field. (Remember the Jemez Springs post last week?) These formations are made up of pumice, ash, and tuff that are protected on the top by boulder caps.

There are two different hiking trails, of differing levels. The tent rock formations are beautiful but so are the slot canyons. The layers of rock are stunning. Take a look at the video to see more.

In addition to the rock formations and hiking, there are bird watching opportunities and unique opportunities for geologic observations and study. There are junior ranger activities available at this site. The BLM site for Kasha-Katuwe has some teacher and student educational materials available, also.

Kneeling Nun 

This is the rock formation that is found above the copper mine coming up next. It is so named because the Apache Indians thought this formation looked like a kneeling nun. There is a local legend that talks about how the rock formation came to be. When Coronado and his men were looking for gold, they had a run-in with native people and many were wounded. The wounded were brought to the monastery that had been built. One of the nuns caring for the wounded fell in love, which was punishable by death. She prayed instead to be turned into stone and that was granted.

Kennecott’s Santa Rita Copper Mine

This one is the complete opposite of the tent rocks we just discussed. This is a large open mine that has been in continuous operation since the 1800s. There used to be the town of Santa Rita where now there is a large open pit. Mining of copper started with shafts and tunnels. Eventually, though, all that could be extracted in those ways had been take out so something had to change. Thus, the open pit mine was started. It is quite the site, as you can see in the video.

Here are a couple of links for you to view more information on the mine.

The Center for Land Use Interpretation

Only In Your State

Hope you are enjoying the stops along the way in New Mexico. I know I am enjoying learning more about my home state because even though we spent lots of time visiting places while I was growing up, and I have taken my girls many places, there are still lots of lovely places I have not been in New Mexico.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Blogging Through The Alphabet K image

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Each week we will be linking up with the hosts of Blogging Through the Alphabet. Please visit some of these other blogs to get things like book lists, vegan recipes, and wonderful places to visit, just to name the topics I can think of off the top of my head.

abcblogging image lg

You can also join us and link up your own Blogging Through The Alphabet Post!! Just be sure to follow these simple rules–

* Each post must be family friendly. If it is not, we have the right to remove it.
* When linking up to this post, you give us permission to share your post and/or a photo from your post in future posts and social media shares.
* Place the Blog Button from the site onto the post you are linking up.
* Use the hashtag #abcblogging when promoting your post. This will help us find you and help us promote you as well.
* If you have time, check out a few of the other posts and share the love.
* The most important rule is to make sure you are having fun! This is not something we want you to be stressed out over. We want to see all the fun ideas that everyone comes up with for the letters!

National Museum of the American Indian ~ Mega Field Trip 2018

Mega Field Trip - Museum of the American Indian

Another museum we visited in Washington, D.C., was the National Museum of the American Indian. I grew up in an area strongly populated by Indians. I think the history of these people native to America is fascinating – both interesting and horrifying. I have wanted to visit this museum since it was established. It was not open when I got to first visit DC so it was high on my “must do” list this time around.

The museum did not disappoint. It is densely packed with exhibits and information that helps each of us understand more about these peoples and their history. From artifacts to badly done movies and advertisements, this museum covers it all.

One area that we found fascinating was the artifact exhibit that showcased hundred of items. Each item is number and listed. There are electronic screens close by that you can touch to find out more about the items that interest you. Each item seemed to have information on where the item came from, the Indian group that it is associated with, how old it is suspected to be, and what it was used for. There were many items that were similar but from different Indian groups and those were interesting to look at and compare. We spent a fair amount of time in this area.

Another interesting area showcased articled that had been intricately beaded. One of the most fascinating was an American flag that had Indian group named embedded in the beads of the strips of the flags and the initial of each state on the stars. It is stunning!

We made sure to visit the floor that covered many of the different Indian Nations and their history. It was presented well and we went from group to group, seeing the difference in what they ate, how they dressed, the different ceremonies they had, and other things that made each nation unique. It was extremely well done.

There was a small area that had seating close to some video screens. Those screens were showing animated tales and legends from the Indian nations. It was interesting to listen to the legends and stories, to see them animated. Miss J was particularly interested in these tales.

The last part we had time to visit was the advertising and other promotional items area. This was a huge room that had every advertising thing that had ever been done with any relation to an Indian or native peoples group. From Barbie dolls, which the girls found interesting, to Big Chief Tablets, from motels in teepee shapes to drinks named after Indians, it was really a unique look at how our nation saw/sees these Americans.

One the main floor there are several examples of canoes and other water craft. These life sized craft were interesting and really help see how the area of the country the people lived in influenced their construction. This was also true just outside the exit, where we were able to see some crops planted and some outdoor ovens.

From the walkway up to the entrance through the exit and onto the sidewalk going away from the museum, this was a fascinating place to visit. I enjoyed it very much and truly wish I could remember many of the things we read in that building. It was stunningly created and displayed and a stop I would highly recommend.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Indiana – By The Way ~ a Crew review

Indiana cover

By the Way is a fun and fact-filled series of books written by author Joy Budensiek. We have been enjoying one of the four newest books in the By the Way Book Series as we think about planning a trip before too long. Indiana ~ By The Way is the book we have been enjoying. The other new ones include New York City, Alaska, and Ireland. There are currently 10 books in this series.

Joy Budensiek began writing these books to help families have an interesting and fun way to discuss spiritual truths in everyday life. After hearing the startling fact that most Christian families do not intentionally discuss God’s hand in every day life, she created this series to lend a hand and lead the way for families. These geographically based books help parents teach a Christian worldview through a bright and exciting children’s book.

reading in the tent

Each of the books in the series is a hard-back book that is printed in full color. It contains pictures of the actual places and animals discussed, as well as drawings and other images to illustrate other ideas or things. The reading level is upper elementary and the book is about 50 page long. Each page is packed and we would read about 6 or 8 pages in a sitting. This allowed us to discuss ideas and talk about things that interested us. More than once, while I was reading aloud to Miss J (age 9), one or both of the older girls would come look at what we were reading about. Often, we ended up at the computer, looking at the places on a map or reading more about the place mentioned.

By the Way tells the stories of two children who explore the world around them, wherever they end up. Alex and Lexi find themselves immersed in the beauty of God’s creation and seeing God’s hand in the world around them. In the book about Indiana, they are visiting family at Thanksgiving. Their family explores the state and finds a lot of interesting places to visit, things to learn, and animals to see.

reading with kitty

Some of the fun facts that we learned while reading this book:

  • There are quite a few covered bridges in Indiana. And, we hope to see some when we end up visiting that state.
  • There is a lot of wildlife, including Monarch butterflies (Miss L’s favorite), cardinals (Miss J’s favorite), bats (reminding Miss E of a visit to a cave a year or so ago), deer, lots of other birds (more of Miss J’s favorites), bears, rabbits, and many, many more.
  • There are sand dunes! We know sand dunes from White Sands so it was interesting to learn more.
  • This state borders Lake Michigan and is MUCH smaller than Texas.
  • There are large Amish communities in the state. This was really appealing to Miss E and Miss J since it relates so well to another book series they are reading about a young Amish girl.

These are just the tip of the iceberg with what you will learn about Indiana in this book. It is so easy to extend this type of learning. Marking a map, adding additional animal research or sketching, creating artwork related to themes and ideas, looking up more on the plants mentioned (orchids!) and trying to grow them – the possibilities are as varied as your own imagination.

holding book

As wonderful as all of this learning about Indiana is, there is something much better woven throughout the story and the pages of this book – God’s hand in nature and life. Intentionally looking for ways to help the reader see God’s hand, Bible verses are woven into the story and into the lives of the characters. One of these places is when talking about the beauty of the changing leaves in fall and Psalm 90:2 is quoted. Another example is when they are talking about caves and bats. I John 1:5 is brought up. In the discussion about Thanksgiving and its history, James 1:17 is quoted to remind us that God gives so many good gifts.

By The Way pictures of book

In addition to this, the discussion between the adults and the children in the story models well how to intentionally bring up God’s plan, His hand, and His wonderful creation in every day discussions. Finding life lessons from God is modeled well in this series of books. In Indiana, we see this when having a thankful heart is taught. We see it when they are teaching about the Amish and they mention “Family and faith are most important to them. Anything which threatens these is rejected.” (p. 35) Billy Sunday is discussed and the adults teach the children about the worth of salvation in contrast to the salary he gave up. They also model this idea with nature – the animals are so perfectly created that the butterflies know exactly when to migrate, the bats know how to hunt, the farms are blessed by the rain and sunshine, and the variety of trees that exist.

By The Way books

This modeling is wonderful and reminds us of the important things in life. The By the Way series is fantastic at not only teaching about interesting places but in teaching about God’s perfect creation and our lives in it. Indiana is another fun book in this series. Want to know about more? We reviewed Colorado previously on the blog and have read the Washington book, also.

Blessings,
At Home.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about the other books in the series that are being reviewed this time around: Alaska, Ireland, and New York City.

By-The-Way-Book-Series-Reviews-New-York-Ireland-Indiana-Alaska

3-Crew-Disclaimer-2016

Lost Civilizations Unit Study

Lost Civilizations Study

We strive to meet the interests and needs of our girls individually. When chatting with Miss L about what she wanted to take a look at for history this year, she said she wanted to study lost civilizations. When we went a little bit further in the discussion, I determined that this meant the civilizations that just kind of disappeared from a very long time ago. So, that is where our name came from. This does not include ancient civilizations such as Egypt, Rome, or Greece. Those are a different category for her.

So, what we did first was to list the group she knew about. Those were:

Aztec
Maya
Inca
Viking
Cliff Dwellers in American SW
Anasazi
Mesopotamian

Then we listed out what she wanted to know about them. Here is the list of questions:

  1. Where did they live?
  2. What were their homes like?
  3. What did they eat?
  4. Do we know of any myths or legends surrounding this civilization?
  5. What is their lifestyle – agrarian? nomadic? village? hunter? gatherer?
  6. What type of climate did they live in? How did that affect their lives?
  7. Did they have a known family structure? Was there a patriarch? A matriarch?
  8. Find a map that includes the area(s) they lived and mark it with what you know, both from their time and present day.
  9. What did they wear? What was their clothing made of and look like?
  10. When did their civilization begin? When was its peak? When did it disappear?
  11. What are the theories of why the civilization disappeared?
  12. Are there any remaining important landmarks or ruins? What are they? Describe and/or draw them. Mark them on the map.

Lost Civilizations plan

We found some websites and bookmarked those but our greatest reliance has been on physical resources from the library. We have checked out several books for each different group, though some of them overlap. I can list these out but it is really quite dependent on what you have access to. There are none that are just fantastically detailed, extremely helpful. What we have found is that there are several good bits of information in several different books but none are a complete resources. So, find what you can around you, use the internet, and enjoy the process.

Miss L is taking notes along the way. Then she is writing a report in a notebook on each individual civilization. She likes having all her research in one place and since she enjoys writing, this is perfect for her. And it was her choice.

This process has been interesting and, I hope, fun for her. I know she has learned quite a bit about different civilizations. It has been a good process and I hope this gives you some ideas about creating a study about something that has piqued your student’s interest.

Blessings,
At Home.

 

Linked with the Homeschool Review Crew Homeschool Collection.

Homeschool Collection {Monthly Round UP}

%d bloggers like this: