Friday, August 5, 2011

Jurassic Forest in Alberta!

This one seemed to be a favourite as they had at least three
Combine lovely nature trails meandering through Alberta boreal forests with motion-sensored animatronic dinosaurs and you have a hug hit with children and adults! This is Jurassic Forest! Wow. This is a new Alberta adventure which I hope becomes a fixture; it's not over the top fancy or Disney-fied, but a great day trip for the family in a wonderful natural setting (something for everyone).

This one roared and nodded his head (I think)
From their website, "The days of the dinosaurs roar to life again in Jurassic Forest, a 40-acre prehistoric preserve, just minutes from Edmonton and millions of years from the present! Gigantic, life-sized and startlingly realistic dinosaurs live and breathe in Jurassic Forest, and they're waiting for you. See what's happening in our Special Events Section."

These two put on a fighting display
There are two walking loops, a north and a south loop, which people of all ages can enjoy. Interestingly the loops are one way traffic with designated entrances and exits; this really helps on busy days to prevent too much congestion and allows people to pace themselves with or away from clusters of other guests. Periodically the path widens for viewing sections and to accommodate benches to rest on. The boardwalk is wooden and wheelchair/stroller friendly and lined with informative signs everywhere. Of course you have your prehistoric info signs complete with size comparisons to humans, but there are also several signs explaining the local flora and fauna! Unfortunately, some of the larger signs were mounted too high and at a poor angle for young readers. Were they expecting only the adults to read them?

The forest was lush and full of life when we went. Raspberries tempted our taste buds and dragonflies flitted here and there. Staff were everywhere to help out and guides were touring small groups. We spotted two bat houses and a long horned beetle but no tiger salamanders.

This one is on the far side of a little pond
Many picnic tables are clustered in the shade of trees just off the sandy play park area which gets full sun. Perhaps this playground is most enticing to the younger children as there really isn't much in it except some great photo ops ;-)  There are over-sized cracked eggs and dinosaur bones/structures to climb. A mini slide down the tongue of some predator's head (can't recall which) is fun for the toddler crowd. Sadly, no larger slide exists there (yet?).  

What else? There is a gift shop (of course), washrooms, birthday/party room, and a concession stand with the usual hot dog and ice cream fare.

Now, if you check out the Jurassic Forest website, consider downloading their scavenger hunts. They have one for each of the two trail loops and a separate hunt for the K-2 crowd that spans both loops. These are pdfs you can print out.

Don't forget sunscreen, bug spray/protection, hats, and WATER! Unless you want to burn and dehydrate ;-P
That said, we didn't notice any mosquitoes... very strange. Maybe they are lurking and biding their time... I'm expecting an ambush any moment.

Any way, current hours and admission rates:

Hours of Operation
Daily (Sunday through Saturday): 9am to 7pm

Admission Prices

Adult: $14
Children (3–12 yrs): $8
Youth (13–17 yrs): $10
Family (2 Adults + 2 Children): $40
Senior (60 yrs+): $10

Adult Annual Membership: $45
Children Annual Membership (3–12 yrs): $35
Youth Annual Membership (13–17 yrs): $40
Senior Annual Membership (60+ yrs): $40
Family Annual (2 Adults + 2 Children): $130

(Prices include GST)


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Barenaked Ladies For Kids- Snacktime

This morning my son was singing 7-8-9 from the Barenaked Ladies album "Snacktime." Wow, it's been a long time since we've listened to it but it's a fabulous blast... those witty guys! We highly recommend checking out this musical treat. And, hey, it's a wonderful break from the more classical children's music one might have to endure  ;-)

Note, several, if not all, the tracks have a video you can watch and hear the music! 

1. 7 8 9
2. The Ninjas
3. Pollywog In A Bog
4. Raisins
5. Eraser
6. I Can Sing
7. Louis Loon
8. Food Party - The Canadian Snacktime Trilogy: i)Snacktime ii)Popcorn iii)Vegetable Town
9. Drawing
10. Humungous Tree
11. My Big Sister
12. Allergies
13. I Don't Like
14. What A Wild Tune
15. Bad Day
16. Things
17. Curious
18. A Word For That
19. Wishing
20. Crazy ABC's
21. Here Come The Geese


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Intermittent Blogging

It's summer with so much to do!

We're packing for a move that should happen in the next few months... sooner or later depending on how quickly things come together at our new house!

So, as you see my posting will be sporadic, but I will post. There's still lots of ideas and resources for us to share!

excessive use of exclamation points are sometime allowable ;-)
at least in my world


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literary Cookbook by Jane Yole

Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literary Cookbook
 by Jane Yolen

Sink your teeth into this literary feast: half storybook, half cookbook. This 197 page book is divided like a cookbook into breakfast, lunch, soups, dinners, and dessert sections. It offers about 20 different fairy tales as retold by Yolen. Each tale comes with at least one recipe and interesting facts and tidbits in the side bars.

It's very fun-- I just love the concept of combining tales with recipes! My son likes to read this book and rates it 4.5/5!


Friday, May 20, 2011 All Kinds of Puzzle and Logic Games

Want a good place to play free puzzle and logic games? Try!

There are all kinds of games including sudoku, jugsawdoku, kakuro, freefall, mahjong, mine sweeper, blix, and 3D games. The categories include number puzzles, picture puzzles, word puzzles, and more. And you can decide which level of difficulty to play with many of them.

Have fun!


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Making of a Lego Brick

For those inquisitive minds interested in how Lego bricks are made, this link will take you to an interactive video which goes through the stages of the process!


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Another Online Math Resource: Math Playground

Math Playground has all kinds of online math games to play.

In their own words: "Welcome to Math Playground, an action-packed site for elementary and middle school students. Practice your math skills, play a logic game :and have some fun!"

They have thinking blocks, manipulatives, worksheets, flashcards, multiplayer learning games, word problems, math videos, a computation section and a math apprentice section. And as far as I can see, all free!

This has been linked up at
Favorite Resource This Week

Monday, May 16, 2011

Interested in Inventions?

One field of interest that my son keeps returning to is that of inventions and inventors. This is such a wonderful topic that can bridge all kinds of subjects. However, I'm not posting a well researched list of resources, rather I thought I'd share a specific branch of this topic that my son is keenly interested in!

The World's Worst Inventions: The Most Stupid Gadgets and Machines Ever Made by Jack Watkins. 

These types of books are well read in this house!


Friday, May 13, 2011

Math: My Puzzle-- A Place for Puzzle and Logic Games

I posted this already, but it disappeared! Weird. I'll Try again.

Want a good place to improve math skills and play free puzzle and logic games? Try! There are all kinds of games including sudoku, jugsawdoku, kakuro, freefall, mahjong, mine sweeper, blix, and 3D games. The categories include number puzzles, picture puzzles, word puzzles, and more.

Don't get too addicted ;-)

This is linked up with...

Favorite Resource This Week


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Book: Step Into Narnia

Well the Narnia exhibit at the TWOS has come and gone, but the magic doesn't stop there. I have photos of this lovely picture book that my son enjoyed as a companion to the exhibit, book, and movie. It was a bit too simple but the pictures were engaging and it did have just enough information to consume.

Step Into Narnia: A Journey Through The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by E.J. Kirk

see more photos below!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Product Review: Strawz, the Connectible Drinking Straws

These Strawz are so fun! We found them at the Art Gallery of Alberta, but they are available all over online including Amazon and ThinkGeek (just google strawz)!

44 pieces, four different colours, dishwasher safe, coloured connectors are TPE (a food safe plastic), and the straws are polypropylene. Age 6 and up! In fact Vat19 has a more suggestions geared towards the legal age drinking crowd ;-)

Simply fun, they are also great for fine motor skills, creativity, and motivation. Tired of playing with Lego or building blocks? Try these straws and then relax and drink with your creation ;-)


Friday, May 6, 2011

AGA-- Drawn Outside children's gallery

Brian Jungen
We went to the Art Gallery of Alberta the other day to see Brian Jungen's sculptural installations before it closes on May 8th. It was nice to be able to take photos in an art gallery! Of course, this was the only gallery in which photos were encouraged ;-)

The other galleries we enjoyed were Sherri Chaba: The Silence of Chaos, Walter J Philips: Water and Woods, Nature and Spirit: Emily Carr's Coastal Landscapes, Haida Art: Mapping An Ancient Language, and Lawren Harris Abstractions.
Brian Jungen

My son's favourite was the children's gallery space created for hands on experiences and I don't blame him. While walking through Sherri Chaba's delicate work, I so wanted to touch it! I wish art galleries would bring in  more exhibits that are specifically meant to be interacted with. I've heard art students often have a project to design art for people who are blind-- meaning they are textural... touchable! I'd love to see the AGA use a gallery space for touchable art!

Drawing Outside is the new children's gallery complete with a climbable landscape. Lots of textures, colour, and lines everywhere to explore. Kids can make rubbings of the textures or play with the magnetic table. There are two pieces of art on the walls with moving sections. There is a card with a search and find list and a video that runs constantly (silently).

If you live in the area or are visiting and if you are bringing children, make sure to pick up the "Let's Explore Art" booklet at the front desk. It can be a fun way for them to explore the galleries. It has search and finds, places to answer questions, and sections to draw in. It makes it more interactive!

Also, the AGA website helps to explore art at home too! The newest art projects are print making (to compliment Walter Philips) and abstract forest collage (to compliment Emily Carr).


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Pablo Picasso: A Mini Unit

An introduction. Well, my son already knew of Pablo Picasso, but we watched the above video and a few others on YouTube then proceed to books!

Picasso and Minou by Maltbie is a fun way to learn about Picasso. It's mostly a true story with a bit of fiction thrown in (explained in the end notes) packaged in a lovely illustrated book. For an Amazon look-inside follow the link! Ages 4-8, but I think can go higher.

Getting To Know The World's Greatest Artists: Picasso by Mike Venezia was also a nice introduction but much more factual and chronologically based. This also has an Amazon look-inside and seems to be recommended for Grades 1-3 or ages 9-12 (nice to know Amazon doesn't have conflicting concepts on its pages, lol). Mike Venezia has a whole series of books and videos that introduce famous people: artists, composers, etc.

When Pigasso Met Moostise by Nina Laden was a funny and fiercely colourful story that my son enjoyed. Amazon look-inside. A homage to Picasso and Matisse.

These were two other books we borrowed from the library: What Makes a Picasso a Picasso? and Who Was Pablo Picasso?
They were great ideas but didn't get examined much.

Inspired by the videos, out came the paints and wonderfully large paper!

Here my son creates a colourful Jabba the Hutt  ;-)

And out of the blue, while having fun with the iPhone app Doodle Buddy, my son declared this creation of his...

"The Creative Process of Pablo Picasso!"


 I first ran across these sticker books over at Almost Unschoolers blog and have since spotted them at the Art Gallery of Alberta.

Basically there is a write up and photo of the artist followed by 6 examples of his or her work.
Along with each example is a partially completed example that you can use the stickers in the book to complete.

Or, as my son prefers, to make your own masterpiece!

For some online fun, go to Picasso Head and create your own Picasso inspired head or just browse the gallery and see what others have done.

For a Picasso Artist Study.

This has been linked with Picasso-An Arty Crafty Party over at Our World Wide Classroom!

Our Worldwide Classroom

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Peter Kent's Engaging Historical Books

One thing lead to another and we ended up with four of Peter Kent's books (borrowed from the library). Peter Kent is the author and illustrator of these great books that are engaging my son so thoroughly. They are a great way to provide simple historical overviews as a supplement or introduction.

Hidden Under the Ground: The World Beneath Your Feet
Complete with a table of contents, this fascinating book takes the reader on a journey through time and into underground spaces. Lots of trivia is interspersed with his detailed drawings. The usual and obvious under worlds are covered: caves, caverns, a tomb, and animal habitats. However, he gets creative and includes afterlife underworlds (middle ages perspective), cliff dwellings, hidden rockets, power plants, the street beneath our feet, and dungeons. Throughout the pages are questions to engage the reader into the pictures. The questions are mostly searching for 'how many' of something.
This book has a table of contents, introduction, a glossary, and an answers section.

Great Buildings: Stories of the Past
After the introduction, Kent takes the reader to the great pyramids, the Great Wall of China, the Beauvais Cathedral, the Eddystone Lighthouse, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Eiffel Tower, the Panama Canal, the Woolworth building, the Chek Lap Kok airport, and finishes off with a summary of seven more great buildings of the world. The buildings that are focused on are covered over two double page layouts with lots of pictures and interesting facts.
 This book has a table of contents, introduction, and an index.

Peter Kent's City Across Time: From the Stone Age to the Distant Future

This was one of my son's favourites. He enjoyed seeing the progression of cities from the old stone age through the ages to modern times and into the distant future. The detailed illustrations are what really brings this book to life as this book has the least amount of text out of the four books. However, what is said is still interesting.
This book has a table of contents, introduction, a glossary, an index, and further information. The further info are online sources of information that complement what was covered in the book.

Peter Kent's Big Book of Armor: From Armadillos to Armored Cars
This was my son's favourite and he even wants to buy his own copy. Again, this is where Kent gets creative and really investigates what can be included as armor. The usual armor, throughout the ages, is discussed and illustrated in detail, but he also goes into safety suits, armored vehicles, forts, athletic gear, and animal armor.
This book has a table of contents, introduction, a glossary, an index, and further information. The added information here are lists of where to see the various armor, tanks, ships, trains, and forts in their museums around the world.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Books: Diary of...

Diary of what?

Diary of a Worm (2003)
Diary of a Spider (2005)
Diary of a Fly (2007)

All by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Harry Bliss.

This is a fun trio of books that were an old favourite and which have made a recent come back in our home. Although not a challenging read, my son finds something in them that still appeals. perhaps it's the fun and quirky sense of humour.

And if you're trying to encourage or inspire journal writing, these certainly won't harm. However, they do take the traditional route of dairy = daily activities and thoughts. Click on the pics for a closer and clearer picture.
From Diary of a Worm

From Diary of a Spider
From Diary of a Fly

This is linked up with...

Science Sunday

Friday, April 29, 2011

Cooking in the Kitchen

It almost seems to be a creed among home schoolers that cooking in the kitchen, at a young age, is essential. That it's a great way to learn math. It's a basic!

Well, it certainly is a useful life skill, but for whatever reason, we've been a bit negligent in this area. And now, at the age of 8, my son has little interest in this endeavour. And while we do have time on our side-- I mean, he is only 8-- I still have doubts creeping in. lol. Perhaps it's a stage, but that doesn't mean I don't take certain measures! I can not stand the idea of my son being 18 and not able to cook an egg...or something vegetarian... or vegan...whatever  ;-)
Besides, it would be lovely to have help in the kitchen and sharing the cooking duties when he's a bit older. It's all about being equal members of the household.

But we're Natural Learners and I don't force him to learn specific things. So what to do?

First, I continuously borrow children's cookbooks out from the library and leave them on his library bookshelf. I suggest he check them for something he'd like to make. Although he'd often flip through things, nothing came of it.

Second, I have to restructure my thinking. We're fairly healthy eaters over here and seldom eat junk food. Ah, this means we've done very little baking. Duh! There's my problem. How hard is it to entice a young chef into the kitchen to bake? Well.... it can be, but I won't go there.

The latest round of cookbooks included new finds in the areas of my son's current interests: Star Wars and Garfield. The Star Wars Cook Book: Wookiee Cookies and Other Galactic Recipes by Robin Davis. The Star Wars Cook Book II: Darth Malt and Other Galactic Recipes by Frankeny. I'm in the Mood for Food: In the Kitchen with Garfield

The Garfield one was thoroughly flipped through and all comics read, but no interesting recipes caught the attention of my boy.

The two Star Wars Cook Books were a hit though as several desserts and drinks have been highlighted and put on the agenda. Now, I must say *I* am not impressed with the recipes, but it's a cute set of books that my son enjoys.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Book: Palazzo Inverso

The above video takes you through the first half of this MC Escher-esque book, it's a teaser. But not enough of a teaser if you ask me; the book itself is much more exciting to look at and read. I love the way the text wraps the pages and sends you back to the beginning.

Palazzo Inverso is by DB Johnson.
Amazon's summary: "Mauk's master is drawing up plans for a grand palazzo, and Mauk is NOT allowed to help. Mauk only sharpens the master's pencils--he doesn't actually use them.
...Or does he? One morning, Mauk's master is horrified to discover that his plans have run amok, and the construction of the grand palazzo has, too! Is Mauk really to blame? Or is that just the master's point of view?

This is a cute book to read on it's own, but would make a great addition to a study about MC Escher or drawing.

Although I recommend getting the book itself, you can read it online here. Problem is, you just don't get the whole tactile experience of reading the text, getting to the end, and flipping the book upside down and reading the wrapped text back to the beginning. It's much more fun to explore the actual book!

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