Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Long Weekend & New Interests

We have a new family interest, and it is chemistry!!! You see it is an offshoot of playing PPGZ! Ant plays the professor, and he wants to make his characterization more realistic. He found these videos on Youtube - The Periodic Table of Videos. They are wonderful! We have all been watching some, and you learn so much about the elements, and how they all relate to each other. Of course, you get to see some pretty cool chemical reactions along the way. (We all waited with bated breath for the cesium to fall into the water!) Diana will be taking a graduate chemistry course in the near future, and all this chemical exploration should be a big boost to a successful course of study.

Chemisty has led to an interest in scientific measurement. We have been comparing the U.S. system of measurement and the metric system, and talking about how scientists measure various things and why. Antonio always has ideas on how to make various systems better, and Lia always wants to be vary hands on with everything!

The memory on our digital camara dropped by 50% overnight! After checking the camera settings and seeing that every was set right, Antonio had the answer. Flash memory is subject to memory wear. It only has so many erase cycles available. The number is a whole lot, but we are a big family who fills the camera many times each day, and we only have the small amount of integrated memory, no external storage. I was surprised that Ant knew this. (When will I stop being surprised?) So I looked it up, and he was exactly right! Ant and I talked some more about flash memory and other types of memory, and of course, about how he thinks everything could be improved.

Another new area of interest is map reading. We have been thinking about relocating, and the kids have been doing a lot of looking at maps online to check out various locales. On top of this, Diana remembered that we hadn't been letterboxing in awhile, so we have been doing some of that and some other hiking which has involved reading maps. All of the hiking has led to discussions of survival skills and safety in the wild and what to do if you are lost.

Esme has had some bad news. The American Girl doll Samantha is being archived. Samantha was her first American Girl love, and although she has a Samantha doll, she was hoping to accumulate some more Samantha stuff in the future. Although Samantha could be brought back, we can't be sure that she will. Reading about the archiving of Samantha has led to a resurgence in Dollytown (that is what the kids call our home when they are referring to it as their dolls' home.) The kids have been making homemade doll clothes again and have a story line going where the dolls of Dollytown are taking up collections because a hurricane destroyed most of the town, and many dolls are homeless. This has led to letter and speech writing.

This weekend the girls watched Chicago and enjoyed it more than any movie they have seen in quite awhile. All of us love a good musical, but I was surprised that they were so into this that they could hardly tear their eyes away from the screen!

Today we spent sometime together looking up words in the online dictionary. We all love words that have two totally different meanings and were concentrating on those and on words that have recently been added to the dictionary today.

Friday, October 10, 2008

What have they been doing?

Here are a few things the kids have been up to the last few days.

All of them have had an interest in prime numbers that has come from Diana's graduate school math course! We have been reading articles about prime numbers together on the computer and played around with prime numbers in an assortment of contexts. The kids were very surprised that several organizations offer prizes for discovering super big prime numbers, and we have discussed how people discover those numbers (using computers), and the likelihood that we could discover one in the near future and claim a prize. (Highly unlikely as we probably do not have the necessary technology, but you can't be sure it isn't a possibility, and the idea is fun to play around with!)

Antonio saw an advertisment for a video game online that got him thinking about gods of death in various religions and mythologies. He did some research about this online, and we all discussed various death gods and mythologies on several different occasions. This lead to a tangent where he wanted to learn about end of the world symbolism in the Book of Revelation which lead to him reading a lot of it. This lead to an interest in the four horsemen of the apocolypse, and he is now a sort of expert on them. The girls went off on another tangent with interest in the seven deadly sins. Together with me we explored the seven deadly sins online, and we also talked about the concept of sin, sharing our various beliefs and talking about others beliefs.

Lia spent a weekend in Syracuse and came home with a ton of beads and beading supplies from garage sales she went to! All of the kids have been busy making bracelets and necklaces for themselves and their dolls. It is cool to see how they have all developed a personal style.

Halloween is approaching, and an interest in ghost stories and haunted houses has arisen. The kids have been spending the time after we go to bed in the girls room watch ghost hunting tv shows and haunted house movies, and then turning off the machine and telling their own stories. Lia definitely doesn't like scary things and none of the rest of them like things that are too scary so they are challenged to find material that is mysterious and interesting without really being scary. Diana has also been putting slightly scary and mysterious stuff into her netflix queue. Esme really wants to go to a commercial haunted house this year so that they can roleplay during the experience. I want to try to make this happen for them so I may do some research before our family trip to Syracuse next weekend.

Of course, there is much discussion of the presidential election!!! It is so cool to see how they all really think about the issues and understand the various political parties and working of the federal government! Esme in particular debates politics regularly on her various forums and loves it! They asked me last night who I was voting for, and I honestly told them that I was undecided and still reading up on things. When Lia expressed disappointment (she is not so patient and wanted me to make a decision now!), both Esme and JoAnn told her that I was doing the right thing and that this was a very important decision and that I should think things through carefully! I was so proud of them.

Of course, the vast majority of their time is spent roleplaying Power Puff Girl Z. Organization IV and Care Bears have not totally fallen to the wayside, and Ant was cosplaying someone from Naruto just the other day, but PPGZ is definitely the roleplay of choice these days. I even have a character now - the Professor's mom. (I think that makes me really old!) It is a fun character though. I like to put my son down and treat him not at all like a super intelligent scientist.

Oh! I almost forgot! Both Ant and Es have been learning html coding. It is rather funny I think because I just assumed they knew a lot of html coding! I mean isn't that what you learn first? But the things is, they are forum sort of people and most forums use different coding, and that is what they know! It is so cool to see how fast Ant learns these things. He only has to see something briefly once and then he has it! Esme has to practice a bit and use something a few times before she is 100% sure of herself.

Monday, October 6, 2008


Article about gaming and learning -


How Learning Happens

Learning is often a fluid thing. You have an interest or are exposed to something and one thing leads to another. Connections are made. No curriculum is necessary, just sources of information which can be people, websites, books, video, or audio in nature.

Conversations with my kids tonight (all of which flowed from the PPGZ roleplay) included the seven deadly sins, various gods of death in different mythologies and religions, and symbolism in the book of Revelation in the Bible, especially they four horsemen of the Apocalypse. We all shared info with each other, and two computers were simultaneously in use researching topics and gathering information.