Thursday, March 31, 2011

Inspector Gadget's Field Trip Series

Our library has four different Inspector Gadget's Field Trip Series available. Upon the recommendation of a friend, we took out the one for Rome and Greece.

Verdict? My son really enjoyed it. I found Inspector Gadget's groaners, well, annoying. But it was cool to get a glimpse of both Rome and Greece. What made it a bit special for us was that we've actually been to Rome and could recognise so much of what they showed (but not all).

I'd say a nice and easy introduction. Each 22 minute espisode comes with two suggested activities as special features. And the disc apparently has an educator's guide (pdf) if you put it in your computer.

Aimed at Grades K-6.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bird Nests, Photographs by Sharon Beals

My husband sent me this link to an article over at Brain Pickings about a book with amazing photographs of nests. Follow the link to read the article and catch a glimpse of some of the photos.

The book is called Nests: Fifty Nests and the Birds that Built Them by Sharon Beals. Over at, you can see a few more photos that the book offers and even take a look at some of the inside pages. Looks very beautiful. Our library does not carry it, but I think I'll put in a request!

Sharon Beals' website.

Sharon Beals' new blog On This Earth: Photographs and Words by Sharon Beals

And here are the Flickr thumbnails of the nests!


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bird Brain

It's spring time... sort of.
With all the snow on the ground here and the chill in the air, one does begin to wonder. Still signs abound: increasing day light hours, the cold temperatures are only just below zero, a wood louse spotted here and there, and the increased appearance of birds!

In fact, I've noticed several blogs discussing birds right now. Although my son is not reading these blogs, a recent spotting of an unknown bird at our new house (under construction) spurred him into action! Off from the shelves came one of his favourite books: Birds by Christiansen . It's a huge volume, like an encyclopedia. With 5 out of 5 stars (my son's rating) this was a wonderful find at the bookstore--- it was on the cheap shelves, discounted!

And that unknown bird? Well, it was spotted by my husband who only had his phone camera to use. A pretty lousy picture as the bird was so far up the utility pole. But he said it was rather a large bird with a red crest. I figure it was a woodpecker, but not a downy as they are small. Probably a Pileated Woodpecker.

Interior pages are colourful and informative


Monday, March 28, 2011

Book Sharing Monday: Popcorn!

Who doesn't like popcorn?!

Popcorn! by Elaine Landau

I love popcorn and while looking for popcorn recipe books I found this fun picture book packed with the history and the science of popcorn. Colourfully illustrated, this book gets 4.5 stars out of 5 from my son!

This post was share on...
Science Sunday
Book Sharing Monday @ Canadian Home Learning

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fun With Nasa Science!

Take a journey over to the NASA Science website and you'll find all kinds of fun for all ages! Beautiful photos and, of course, tons of information. Keep up to date with science news or explore black holes.

There are sections for citizen scientists, educators, students, and kids. Play fun games and watch interesting videos. I will not provide a full detailed analysis, rather encourage your own exploration and interests.

NASA's main website too has lots for all ages to explore. One could spend hours looking at just one of these sites!


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Happy Earth Hour!

Earth Hour has come and gone. We had a late candle lit dinner followed by conversation and reading.

Here's to beyond Earth Hour and the changes that may come!


Friday, March 25, 2011

Earth Hour 2011: Beyond the Hour

Earth Hour... it's tomorrow, 8:30pm. It's not too late to add your name to the growing list of participants and show your support.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Great Figures in History, A Manga Series

Another successful whim! Spotted on the library bookshelves while browsing, Great Figures in History: Leonardo Da Vinci was a welcome addition to my son's reading. Consumed in one sitting, this "Full-Color Manga" inspired the request for the rest of the series!

Some other great figures to explore: Einstein, Ghandi, Curie, Mother Theresa, and Nelson Mandela! If the EPL doesn't bring these in, I better request they do! And which ever new ones are out there lurking about, just waiting to be discovered.

There's even supposed to be a Parent and Teacher's Guide is available for download from the website. But quite frankly, I couldn't find it on their website, let me know if you do, lol!

Linked up to Book Sharing Monday, go check out other recommended books!


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Earth Hour 2011 Commercial



National Geographic: Sea Monsters

The book above the movie is not from National Geographic. It's Prehistoric Life from BBC, another favourite resource around here!
We love National Geographic around here. They have all kinds of online resources, series, books, and DVDs.

Right now?
My son recommends Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure!

At the library, we've put on hold Sky Monsters for more adventures :)


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Mathematician's Lament Against School Math

I thought I'd share this very interesting article on mathematics. Written by Paul Lockhart, a mathematician, it challenges our culture's perception of what mathematics really is and how schools in no way teach real math. It focuses on K-12 education and how mathematics is more of a beautiful art form than a jumble of utilitarian formulas and practices.

It's 25 pages long (pdf), but well worth the time. I found this opinion piece illuminating and inspiring.

A Mathematician's Lament by Paul Lockhart.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Happy Spring Equinox!

More sunlight! We've reached the day time = night time equilibrium and will continue to be increasingly illuminated. I love this time of year and I can't wait for Spring proper! In the meantime, I'll bask in the increased day light hours.

It's a great time of year to plant the seeds of new tasks. And it's the time of year we pull out our spring themed books! Here's a few of ours we found on our shelves today... they're getting a bit out of my son's age range, but he read them eagerly all the same. The Hopper books being classic favourites!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

ScienceCasts: Super Moon

Narnia the Exhibition at TELUS World of Science - Edmonton

Project Summaries and The Chronicles of Narnia

I can't claim that we do unit studies around here, but I love the concept. And I love lists. So, I tend to group similar topics together and make lists under "Project Summaries" when I'm collating our learning activities (which I do informally).

For example, I'm a keener for learning about Canada. I don't drill Canadian trivia into my son, however, I do have an on going section in my file for all things Canada. When we read a Canadian author, it goes into that list. When we visit a historical site, it goes into that list. When we watch CG Kids, it goes into that list. My son has several books on Canada that he loves, and those go into that list. Canadian music, stories, articles, dvds, experiences, field trips, etc.

Some "Project Summaries" are shorter than others while some are really in depth. My son's current Project Summary for Star Wars is quite an extensive resource list, lol!

 And some, like this Narnia one, are short and on going.

First off, my son and I listened to the audiobook The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
[I typically only read one chapter book out loud and that one is Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at the moment.]

My son read the very colourful Step Into Narnia: A Journey Through "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe" by E.J. Kirk 

Of course, we had to watch The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, the new movie! We're borrowing the older version from the library and will compare the two very soon.

And the inspiration for doing all this right now: the Narnia exhibit at our Telus World of Science. Apparently, photos are not allowed within the exhibit, sorry :(

However, follow this link to the promo video on the official website.
This exhibit ends May 1, 2011! It's the last few weeks, but plenty off time to enjoy it.

We printed out the educational guide pdf from the Narnia Exhibit website. It looked good and my son wants to do most of the activities.

We will listen to the rest of the Narnia books and keep our eyes out for complimentary  books, like the above Step into Narnia book. Plus watch the old and new movies.

Normally I'd be inspired to take out more library resources on England and London, but we've previously delved into London, England before our visit there-- plus our actual visit and all the photos! My son did not ask to learn more and we have several other countries he's interested in learning about right now.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Geography: Usborne Sticker Atlas Books

My son's affinity for geography was fostered by Usborne Sticker Atlas books. We have wall maps and play with SmartGlobe and even exchange random postcards at Postcrossing, but it was the initial interest in these sticker books that engaged him so much. And boy did he learn from them! I swear his ability to locate countries on the map far surpasses my own and it all started with these sticker atlases. Not only did he figure out where different countries were located, he accumulated knowledge of what animals/flags/dinosaurs/history occur there.

As time passes, these collections often resurface and get flipped through. Definitely money well spent!

Thursday, March 17, 2011


What do you get when Ricky Gervais focuses his twisted humour and sites on children's books? You get a bizarre series depicting the evolution of Flanimals.

What are flanimals? I'm sure I could not explain. However, a chance meeting with Flanimals of the Deep at our local library has unexpectedly plunged our house into this wacky world. My son loves this book and is excited to learn it isn't the first or last of its kind. New holds have been established on the library card and the anticipation is rising.

I haven't told my son yet, but I think I just read that there is a CGI-type movie in the works! Maybe a TV series? For the books and this movie/TV info: click here.

Chapter 2: The Diversity of Life; Chapter 3: The Flanisaurs; Chapter 4: The Mulons

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

An Independent Project...Unschooling?

"Let Kids Rule the School" is an article written by Susan Engel, March 15, 2011 for the New York Times.

Check it out and see what you think.

Sigh. I love Natural Learning... unschooling!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

New Star Wars Books

My son is totally engrossed in all things Star Wars. From the movies to all the encyclopedic books and everything in between, my son is obsessed ;-)

The New Acquisitions
... passionate?!

He reads Star Wars, he watches Star Wars, he plays Star Wars, he draws Star Wars, and he probably dreams Star Wars. Oh, hey, and he counts his money to pay for Star Wars and does the calculations to ensure he has enough to pay for his purchases (that is, when we are not using the library as a free resource).

Returned, Read, To the Library
His newest additions to his repertoire include a fun little book on light sabers and the Star Wars "A Long Time Ago" Omnibus which is a collection of the first 23 Star Wars comics ever written-- complete with all their mistakes (like not knowing that Luke and Leah were siblings or that Darth Vader was the Father or where the rebel base was relocated). Sigh, and it is only volume one, lol! This was a great find though because my son was willing to pay 8$ or even $15 for the original individual comics. But he has no interest in collecting and saving, he just wants the pleasure of reading the original stories, thank goodness for these omnibus collections!
Not Very Many Out From the Library At the Moment
Home Collection
More Books, Plus All Kinds of Lego Sets
And Even Action Figures!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Canadian Geographic Kids! aka CG Kids

Winter is still lingering here even as the light is returning and days getting longer. More light, but still cold with a little hope on the horizon: looks like this week should be considerably warmer.

Even so, we optimistically borrowed Lost in a Forest-- BC's Rainforest Vancouver, Haliburton's Boreal Ontario, by CG Kids, from the library. My son gave it 5 stars out of 5! And we are now craving forest exploration. Yes, yes, winter forest exploration has it's own benefits, but we're very ready for spring now. Besides, my son is looking forward to finding insects and bugs!

Typically we enjoy CG Kids around here. Short (25 minute episodes) and targeted to youth 8-14 years old (but great for all ages), the CG Kids adventures take us across Canada engaging in all kinds of discoveries. One of the features I like best is when they show quick experiments to do. For example, the Lost in a Forest episode explained why leaves turned colour in the Autumn. The experiment was to tape a leaf to a piece of paper, cover half of it with tin foil, and leave it out in the sun. The results should have the leaf half green where the sunlight was absorbed and the autumn colour for that leaf where the sunlight was prohibited.  We can't wait to tests this out ourselves! There was also an easy chromatography experiment demonstrated that would be very easy to duplicate.

There is even a show on Edmonton-- Edmonton to the Extreme!

This wonderful resource is going on it's sixth season. Over at the Canadian Geographic website, you can explore all current and past episodes here. It is a TV series and I suppose available that way. We usually take the dvds out from the library, but it looks like our library is way behind with only 35 episodes ;-)


Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Living Edens: Arctic Oasis: Canada's Southhampton Island

My son and I picked up this PBS dvd from our local library on a whim and I'm glad we did. It was a fascinating look into Inuit life with breathtaking filming; very visually stunning with an engaging storyline.

My son gives this episode 4.5 stars out of 5.

Here's the PBS plot summary:
There is an Eden in one of Earth's most brutally unforgiving realms. Along the shores of Southampton Island in northern Hudson Bay, a survival story has played out for centuries. Only a hardy group of animal and human souls have learned to live within this frigid and dark arctic world. Noah Kadlak, of Inuit ancestry knows how to live in the arctic environment and survive. Now he has decided the time is right to take his eldest son, 12-year-old Logan, on an extended hunting trip. The trip offers him a chance to introduce the boy to traditional Inuit skills of living off the land.

In the early spring Noah and Logan make the long trip by skidoo and sled. Father and son journey across the frozen ocean. They sleep in igloos, eat fish they catch from under frozen lakes and traverse a landscape that is defined by a horizon of ice and sky. It is a trip that is no longer readily made by the Inuit, but it is still ingrained in their souls.

The trip is an arduous one. With wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour, and air temperatures reaching 20 below zero, it takes a tremendous amount of effort to build their camp, take care of their sleds, and secure their equipment each night. They journey to a source of perpetual open water, an arctic oasis for man and animal alike in a land of frozen snow and ice.

After doing a quick Google search, I found that this episode has a "Featured Program" page full of extra information and more beautiful pictures. The special features includes going on an arctic adventure, learning a bit of history, checking out the map, exploring the arctic animals and flora, as well as a look at the filming of the episode, teacher's lesson plans, and extra resources.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

NOVA scienceNOW: "The Science of Picky Eaters"

Today I came across a NOVA scienceNOW episode entitled The Science of Picky Eaters. Wouldn't you know it? Apparently genes do help determine food tastes ;-)

I recommend checking it out if you are interested in such things, it's not too long (just under 13 minutes). The whole show that includes this segment can be found here. And then, feel free to browse the NOVA scienceNOW website for more episodes to watch online!

Update: Please note you may not be able to browse the episodes, in Canada. I keep coming up with no access due to rights restrictions. I'm really annoyed by this. The link, which I got from an American blog site, still seems to allow viewing of The Science of Picky Eaters. So, this post is still valid.
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