Saturday, October 20, 2012

Viewing the animals that came *before* dinosaurs.

A few months ago Hannah decide that she was interested in sharks. One of the shark books the librarian helped her pick out was actually about the Megalodon. When Hannah learned that sharks and their ancestors have been around longer than dinosaurs, she was hooked. We read everything we could find out about them.

This week we went to Wyoming to check on a job opportunity and were going to drive right by Fossil Butte National Monument, 'America's Aquarium in Stone'. We couldn't just drive by.

When you pull off the highway, you start to see signs along the road leading to the Visitor's Center. The signs announce different milestones in the history of life. As you get closer to the Visitor's Center, you get closer to the present time. So cool.

 Once you start on the sidewalk to the Visitor's Center, the signs get more frequent and more detailed. This goes all the way around the Center. It really brings home exactly how long this earth has been turning and how incredibly short our time on it has been.

This national monument is built with children in mind. Kids can go help on digs in the summer and the Visitor's Center has signs that say "Please Touch" everywhere. Hannah was in heaven.

This was a flannel wall that had dozens of different fish parts that you could use to make prehistoric fish.

Don't be fooled by his unimpressed expression. He asked me to take this picture.

There was a wall of turtle fossils, from tiny turtles (and babies) all the way up to a turtle that dwarfed me.

 The ranger on duty was fantastic - she said she loves being stationed here because she gets to talk to kids all day. We were the only ones there that day (yay homeschooling!) so Hannah got a personalized tour while the other two focused on what they were interested in.

For Ainsley that meant the souvenir shop and this fossil that she kept coming back to. She finally dragged me over and said in her proudest voice "I've figured out what this is, Momma! You know how leprechauns are magical creatures? So they have lived even longer than dinosaurs? This is a fossil of a leprechaun's butt."

When I stopped laughing I took the picture. So there you have it - proof that leprechauns have been around a long time.

Gray just walked around inspecting the paintings on the walls. He was fascinated.

I love this fossil - so many frail bones captured in stone. Beautiful.

And this crocodile-ish skeleton was a big hit.

This, however, was my favorite. This fossil will never not make me laugh. Poor little bird-ish thing. Caught running.
While I was buying a few things the kids did some crayon rubbings and got stamps for their National Parks Passports.
We only meant to stay a half hour - after all, Matt was waiting in the car with Zander who was napping - but we ended up staying for over an hour. We want to go back next summer if we still live close enough and participate in a dig. It's not the most exciting place for a dinosaur crazy kid, but for Hannah who is more into the pre-dinosaur sea life and for Ainsley who is apparently an expert on prehistoric magical creatures it was perfect.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

What we've been learning this week:

The Great Fire of London.

More Pokemon games - a lot of math and social skills and risk-taking and risk-measuring and calculated thinking going on there.

Diet - learning about how different foods affect the different bodies in our family, about the tastes of different family members, about what foods blend well together, about matching what we want to eat to how much money we have.

I've been learning about Ainsley's constellations. They're quite different from the ones I know. Funnier. Better stories.

Costuming - figuring out Halloween costumes. Printing inspiration pictures, figuring out fabric yardage, shopping for patterns.

The size of an atom:

That's just cool.

More about Indy Cars than I thought I'd ever want to know. More to come, I'm sure.

Reading - proud girls reading whatever they can get their hands on, trying out their skills in every area of their life. Figuring out the little idiosyncrasies and funny tricks in the English language.

Conspiring with their Uncle Dale to find people that need our help.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mushroom hunting.

Ainsley and I found mushrooms on one of our walks together. Five different kinds!

 This one was pretty. That black underneath it is moist ink. You can see my hands are already dirty from it.

This one had a beautiful rose colored underside - hard to see in the picture.

There were lots of these around. Some in clusters like these.

And some alone like this very tall one.

And this kinda tall one. (Ainsley picked the pictures for this post.)

 These were my favorite - teeny tiny button mushrooms all over one of the trees.

We don't know enough about mushrooms to pick ones to eat, so we just explored for the fun of it. Ainsley asked "Are most mushrooms poisonous?" I told her that most are harmless, some are yummy, and a few are poisonous but the poisonous ones are deadly very fast, so no experimenting with mushrooms. Then we had to have the discussion again with the other kids when we got home with what we'd found.