Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Nature Study - Compass

It was a lovely day to take a nature outing to Cowpens Battlefield with the kids.

This trip served three purposes:
1. How to use a compass.  2. How to read a map.  3. Refreshing our memories on the Battle of Cowpens.

Each group was given a map of the battlefield and a compass.  Their task was to follow the trail and when they came to a history marker, they must indicate the marker on their map and give the compass reading in relation to the marker.  After they marked the information on the map, they read the historic marker and continued to the next marker.

The boys seemed much more proficient at reading the map and the compass.  They weren't that keen on reading the markers.

The girls needed a bit more guidance on the first marker position and where to mark the map.  After that, they were independently blazing the path.  Of course, they read the history markers, as they went.

The weather was beautiful and everyone enjoyed learning in the great outdoors.  The next time we use the compasses we are going to create our own maps!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Kitchen organization in the RV

The camping bug is biting and the warm winter weather isn't helping.  I'm ready to pack up and camp!  However, I am trying to fight the urge and with that I am constantly trying to think of better ways to organize the RV.  I go out and sit in it and ponder how to make more efficient use of our space.  Then I go and look at Pinterest boards for inspiration.  The hubs just shakes his head.  I know I am obsessed and he lets me be.  His job is to tow the trailer to whatever destination I pick.  He doesn't really get into the fundamentals and complexities of organizing.

So, I have been streamlining what we use in the kitchen.  When we began camping I purchased the cheap summer plastic plates from Wally World.  They are thin, but held well for breakfast and sandwiches.  The downside was I had to wash plates after every meal.  Bummer!  Last spring we went on a week camp-out with home school friends and I purchased a large package of heavy duty paper plates.  Great time saver, no dishes to wash after meals, and they made great fire starters for the evening campfire.  The large package lasted all camping season and I didn't use the thin dishes at all.  I plan on doing the same thing this year, so out with the thin plastic dishes!

I have a drawer that I keep all the cooking spoons, spatulas, etc.  Everything fits if it is arranged just so.  However, after looking at various Pinterest boards and thinking about function in the kitchen, I decided to hang my cooking implements.  I just love command strip hooks.  I have had much success using these in the RV.  The big white thing is a plastic cutting board with foam gripper on the underside.  I was to cheap to buy a stove cover in our last RV and used this to add counter space and functionality of a cutting surface when needed.  I transferred it into our new RV for the same reasons.  I have a super absorbent dish drying mat that I put on it and a small dish drainer when I wash dishes.  I works out great.

In that same drawer, I had a set of measuring cups.  I hung my measuring cups in my house cabinets and love the convenience.  I decided to do the same in the RV.  The cups are nested with two per hook.  They are out of the way, yet handy when needed.  The spatulas and BBQ brush found a home next to the measuring cups, as well.

Grilling utensils use to be housed in the cabinet with my plates and serving platters.  (I still keep a heavy duty set of melamine plates for our dinners in the RV.  It is nice to eat an evening meal on actual plates.) The grilling tongs and spatula often get in the way of the plates, so I decided to hang them in the lower cabinet under the sink.  They were just short enough to fit perfectly!

I know these weren't big changes, but being able to free up a kitchen drawer is nice.  Not sure what I will do with the drawer space.  I'm thinking of letting the hubs have it for his K-cups.  We shall see.

UpCountry History Museum

We took a field trip to the UpCountry History Museum with our homeschool group.  We had never been to the museum and found it to be a wealth of knowledge about the upstate of South Carolina.

We started our tour with a wonderful video explaining the Upstate region from past to present.  It was very informative and kept the students attention.

After the video, our docent had the students take a scavenger hunt for the museum.  She then took us to throughout the museum and explained the history in each room.  I loved this, mainly due to the fact that the students tend to just rush through history exhibits.  Our docent also made the tour interactive for the students which was wonderful.

After the docent lead tour, we were free to explore the museum and special exhibits on our own.  They had three special exhibits at the time of our visit:  Normal Rockwell exhibit, Hands on Harley Davidson exhibit and Things Taken Apart exhibits.

The students loved the Hands on Harley Davidson exhibit!  Of course it was hands on and allowed them to experiment with physics.  It also allowed them to release extra energy.

Overall, we enjoyed our visit to the UpCountry History Museum and look forward to returning and learning more about the history of our area.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


I took the boys up to Pisgah for an educational program on turkeys.  They are always eager to venture up the mountain to explore and learn.  I think I love it more than they do!

The class was led by Ranger Daniel.  The boys are always excited when Ranger Daniel conducts class and today was no exception.  Ranger Daniel's enthusiasm is very captivating and you can't help but listen become engaged.

Ranger Daniel began by telling the class about the wild turkey.  He explained that turkeys almost went extinct and how they were placed on the endangered species list in the 1970s.  He told us about their habitat needs and how managing forests is a big reason for such an amazing comeback for the wild turkey.  We learned that not only are wild turkeys no longer endangered, they populate almost all of the 48 continental states!  We see several on our trips to the mountains and even around our own community.

Ranger Daniel had a fun activity for the students on this trip.  He instructed them on how to make a Winged Turkey call like the Native Americans use to make.  They busily sanded bones from the turkey and fit them together.  They used silicon to seal the joints to hold the bones together.  Then finally they were able to test their calls.  It sounded like a room full of turkeys!

Ranger Daniel also tested their listening skills.  He had a recording of different turkey sounds. He played them and told students about the different sounds and what they meant.  Next, he had them listen to the different sounds and see if they could name the sound.  They enjoyed this.

Finally, Ranger Daniel took everyone outside to the nature trail.  He pointed out different habitat features the turkeys liked.

We always have a wonderful time learning with Ranger Daniel!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Gadgets and Gizmo Fun

The kids had a blast playing with different technology gadgets with Mr. Jack.

He introduced them to the Ozobot and how it can follow paths made from using a marker.  They enjoyed drawing mazes and watching the Ozobot navigate them.

They also enjoyed playing with MiP the Robot.  They had robot battles and found out control them was a bit more difficult than it looked.

Mr. Jack also brought out the snap circuits and they spent time conducting various experiments.  Snap circuits have always provided hours of fun at home. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Tree Bark Rubbings and Nature Art

Back in October our nature club had a great time learning about tree bark on our outing to Lake Blalock.  They made bark rubbings from a variety of trees and compared the bark from each type.  This lead to interesting conversations about why bark differs on different species of trees.  It also led to discussing how bark on the same species of tree differs with its age.

After our bark discussion, it was time to make nature mandalas.  It was boys against girls in this endeavor.

The girls designed an owl and used various twigs, leaves, and seed pods in their quest.

The boys design was geometrical and used sticks and pine cones.  They had a great time and learned a great deal about team work.