Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Learning how to make Maple Syrup

We had the privilege recently to learn how Maple Syrup is made.  A local Maple Syrup group gave us an informative demonstration about the history of making maple syrup...

From the time of the Algonquin Indians, and the legend of how maple syrup was discovered and shared.

To the earliest ways of collecting...
 How the colonist bought sugar.

An older tree tap.
A more modern tree tap.
 Different styles of buckets used....

Maple sugar.  The way that Native Americans and Colonists would cook down the maple syrup to this form.

 Examining an older pot...and important settler tool.
The Sugar Shack....
Running the evaporator....this smelled wonderful!!!

 Testing to see if it is ready.
 This is a sleeve that sap would go through to strain it.
Did you know that the maple tree can heal itself?  The only tree that can.  These are tree tap examples. The trees heal themselves each year.
They have several hundred trees tapped in this area.  

 The girls even got to practice "tapping" a tree.

Maple syrup facts:

  • It's higher in calcium than milk.
  • Only made in North America.
  • Ohio is 5th in the US for Maple Syrup production.
  • Canada (of course) leads in production in North America.
  • It takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup.
  • Maple syrup is made in the spring, when the temperatures gets below freezing at night and above freezing during the day.
  • Maple syrup is a great "natural" food. It contains no colors, preservatives or additives.
  • A gallon of maple syrup weighs 11 pounds.
  • Nothing is added to the sap-only water is evaporated away - to make maple syrup.
Here is a fun blog about maple syrup legends in America:

This was such a yummy trip, and of course we started our next day with pancakes and maple syrup!!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Simple Woman's Day Book - 3/27/13


Outside my window...cold and blustery

I am thinking...that I really need to take a nap

I am thankful...that the day is half over :(  It's a bad day today.

In the kitchen...doing absolutely nothing.  I need to wash more dishes and figure out supper.  Still haven't been to the grocery store

I am wearing...jeans and t-shirt

I am creating...a study guide for Lydia to use with the American Girl Saige books

I am going...a little crazy today.  Too many tantrums from the kids is causing sensory issues for me.

I am wondering...why the kids have to be so loud.

I am reading...nothing right now, I am trying though.

I am hoping...for a calmer tomorrow

I am looking forward to...getting started on my photography course.

I am to use my camera more efficiently

Around the house...there is a clutter mess that won't go away.

I am pondering...why there has to be so many cords for cordless items???

One of my favorite things...

A few plans for the rest of the week: Lydia is having a sleepover with her cousin tomorrow, and we have American Girl Club this week too.

A peek into my one wants to really see that.  It's really sad and would make people cry.

Caty School

In Caty school this week, she worked on the Letters F & G.  And we read Night of the Moonjellies:

We learned about jellyfish:
And watched this little segment on a jellyfish lake:

She made jellyfish handprints:
And took a bath with "jellyfish"....and this is now a favorite way to take a bath!

 For another science project, we worked on how plants drink through their roots....

Now I have never had this be successful, until this time.  Instead of food coloring, I filled the solo cup halfway with water and a whole packet of red Koolaid.
 And it worked!!!

She filled out her sheet.  Lydia thought this was cool too, so she had to do it too.  Maybe by fall I'll get them together on science.

We played Hooked on Phonics games for her letters through G.
We also learned about Maple Syrup by visiting a Maple Syrup demonstration.  It was so yummy smelling!!!
Caty practicing how they tap trees.
We had a fun week wrapped up with swimming and shopping with Grandpa & Grandma.  Next week we are taking a school breathier, and then start back the first week of April.  Hope everyone has a great week!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Adventus - Children's Music Journey Review

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Unless you are an accomplished musician, there are very few parents that usually feel comfortable attempting to teach their kids music.  Adventus - Music & Piano Solutions has created an at home solution to help families learn music without the extra expense of weekly lessons.  The programs Adventus has created are available for ages 4 through high school, or if you are like me...even adults who need a refresher course in reading music and playing piano.

We had the opportunity to try out Children's Music Journey V. 1, V. 2, and V. 3.


The Children's Music Journey was developed for ages 4 - 10.  They are highly interactive and lively to keep a child's attention.   The 3 volume set introduces kids to 18 different composers who teach the children about their lives, how to read music, play piano with two hands and compose.  The "teach, practice, apply" methodology helps children to have fun while learning.  They have lessons, and then activities and game.

The concept behind this product is wonderful!!!  To get started you will need the software (either by download from Adventus or purchase the cd-rom) and a MIDI compatible keyboard to connect to your computer.   With your computer connected to your keyboard, the child begins their lesson.  Simple as that.  

You can view an example of how easy and fun this program is by watching this video:

Children's Music Journey includes:
Volume 1 ($169.95 for software download and MIDI compatible keyboard; $69.95 for cd-rom) Composer study of Beethoven, Bach, Joplin, Mendelssohn, Villa Lobos, and more.  Concepts studied are:  Musical Alphabet; quarter, half & whole notes; Sharps, Flats & Naturals; half rests; notation of standard C Position; Intervals of 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th; songs with chords in the left hand and melody in the right hand; tapping notated rhythm; hands together with rests & ties; composing; development of repertoire; improvising and music history.
Volume 2 (Software download or cd-rom $69.95)
Composer Study of Dvorak, Mozart, Beach, Satie, Tchaikovsky, Handel, Chopin, and more.  Concepts studied are:  quarter; dotted half; eighth notes; skipping notes; repeat sign; quarter & whole rests; ties; grand staff; treble and bass clef; notation of middle C; Dynamics f, p; 3/4 and 4/4 time signatures and bar lines; playing hands together; tapping 1 & 2-bar notated rhythms; playing with a metronome; composing; improvising and music history.
Volume 3 (Software download or cd-rom $69.95)
Concepts studied are: grand staff; whole, quarter, half, dotted half & eighth notes; forte; piano; 3/4, 4/4 time signatures; bar lines; repeat sign; half & quarter rests; sharps, flats & naturals; increased range & Diversity of repertoire; intervals of 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th; broken & solid chords; tapping notated rhythms hands together with rests & ties; playing with a metronome; composing; improvising; and music history.  There are also more famous composers introduced.

You can purchase separately or all together for the low price of $179.85, a savings of $30.00 when you buy them this way.

How did this program work for our family.....

Lydia is the child that is musically inclined.  So she was super excited.  We already had a MIDI compatible keyboard, so we ordered a new cable to connect to the laptop.  I had never done this in all the years I owed this keyboard.  It worked well, even though it was an older keyboard.  It was simple to hook up.  The software was also very easy to download, although I did struggle a bit getting my MAC to run the software.  My husband said I wasn't patient enough.  But I was able get it to run on the kids extra laptop.  

She loved seeing the interaction as she completed each lesson.  It was very funny to see her get so excited as the computer showed each time she played on the keyboard.  All I could think was, "Where was this software a year ago when she decided she wanted to play the violin?  I would've saved so much money on"  But truly she loves this program.  I do not have any arguments when I tell her that it is time for a lesson.  She actually begs me to do a lesson.

Each lesson is laid out for easy planning of your time.  The lessons are so detailed, down to how long you should spend on each topic from the life and times of the composer you are learning about at that time to how long to spend on keyboards and improvisation.  This was so easy to use.  

Caty has now started showing more interest in this program, so she will be starting it soon.  And I am hoping that Joey will start showing more interest also.  The interaction between the computer program and the student is wonderful, and I have caught him watching Lydia work on the program.  The really nice thing about this program is that even though both Lydia and Joey are learning to play other instruments (Lydia is taking violin and Joey is taking guitar.) Children's Music Journey will only enhance and help the child to learn how to play that instrument that much better.

My only problem that I am overcoming is space.  This program requires a bit of space due to the keyboard needing to be near our laptop.  And I want to encourage them to play with the keyboard at all time, so then I feel like I need to leave it out.  This creates a bit of clutter for my overactive OCD, but I am getting over it.  If you chose this program, remember to set up in an area where the kiddos can play on the keyboard anytime they want.  I may have found an alternative location, which is great.  Because we plan on continuing with Children's Music Journey.

Children's Music Journey is a great option for families that want to help their children get a head start on music lessons.  It is written for kids Ages 4 and up.  It  saves money on music lessons, with a small start up cost.  These lessons could also be done with both homeschoolers and kids enrolled in full-time school outside the home.  

Adventus even offers programs for co-ops and school systems to use.
This program has definitely hit the right note in our family and we are going to continue to use it for (as it stands) the next several years through our children.

Many members of the SchoolHouse Review Crew were able to use Children's Music Journey and other Adventus products in their home.  Please take some time to stop by and get to know how these programs worked for their families.

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