“Since 1998, bird watchers across North America have come together for the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). This February 16th- 18th is your chance to participate in the GBBC as a citizen scientist! In 2017 “an estimated 240,418 bird watchers from more than 100 countries submitted 181,606 bird checklists reporting 6,259 species-more than half the known bird species in the world,” according to the February 7th GBBC news release. Participating only takes 15 minutes outside with your little one to record the birds you see. All the materials you need to get started are provided below. So, grab some binoculars and a bird book, and get started!” -Dallas Arboretum
The week’s highlight was right in our backyard at Northpark Mall, the Microsoft Store. One of my fellow smart, homeschooling moms, Andrea, was resourceful and booked a class at the NP Microsoft Store for our group.
They taught the kids all about the ‘Hour of Coding‘ website and the kids went through the beginner’s Minecraft module, Minecraft Adventurer. You can access the same program right from your own computer since it is web-based. There are lots of other popular themes besides Minecraft too. Sebastian and his friend, Ella pounded through all 14 lessons.
The each received their completion certificates and then got to access the actual Minecraft game from the Surface Pros they were using.
Sebastian even went to the front of the class to demonstrate coding for one of the lessons. <proud momma> I can’t thank REBECCA enough for capturing that moment in permanent digital bliss for me!
The Microsoft education coordinator, Ashley agreed to host more classes for our group and everyone is SUPER excited. Since our classes are in the middle of the week, the mall is not so crowded and after class who doesn’t LOVE lunch at La Duni where the kids can run in the CenterPark Garden.
While at the MS coding hour, I also learned from another mom, Robin about two great coding resources. The first is for learning about coding for apps and it is called TouchDevelop. The second is access to Scratch (a coding language) via MIT’s website found here. We haven’t had a chance to dig into those yet but will report back when we do.
On our fine art day at Zhen art, we were able to start a new painting. I could not be more pleased with the instruction Sebastian receives from Zhen the owner/teacher.
We have been studying Salvador Dali and his exotic, mind-bending work. Sebastian chose to replicate The Persistence of Memory painted by Dali in 1931.
Sometimes you have that ‘kind’ of day and the greatest thing about homeschooling is that you make the rules so why not have a DOCUMENTARY day! We had one of those days and ended up learning all kinds of cool things about the Hubble telescope in a piece called VAST. Then we moved on to Journey in Space, HD 4k……We are SOOOO tiny! There are more galaxies than grains of sand on earth. Unbelievable! We enjoyed these films so much we went out one evening star gazing and dreaming up plans for future star watching nights. We stayed up WAY too late for a school night! These are the moments childhood should be made of.
This was the week for our monthly skate date at Thunderbird Roller Rink. Sebastian only used the ‘walker’ about 10 minutes, in the beginning, to get reacclimated and then he was on his own.
We found ourselves at the Dallas Arboretum to meet-up with friends from our homeschool group and I decided to knock out my fall photo shoot with Sebastian and the Arboretum’s gorgeous pumpkin displays. Here are a few of my favorites of my muse, Sebastian. #SRP
Into the Looking Glass
Sweet pumpkin boy.
Over the weekend we attended a Minecraft swim party at the Allen natatorium. What a fun indoor pool! I may have to inquire and see if we can set up something in the week for our homeschool group! 😉
We made it through another week FULL of activities, friends, learning, and adventure. Here are some highlights from the week.
Last week marked the beginning of our Fine Arts class at Zhen. I was so impressed with this place. The lobby felt very ‘gallery-like’ and the students use real tools, like a variety of adult size brushes, acrylic paints, and 18″ x 24″ canvases. Sebastian was the only boy and 19 girls. The teacher is there to guide and give direction to the students as they re-create a painting of their choice. The instructor helped us select George Rodrigue‘s Meet the ‘Blue Dog’ as our first project & artist to study. The bottom is a picture of the original and the photo with Sebastian is what he completed during his first session. Over the next week or two, while Sebastian completes this painting we intend to study the life and work of George Rodrigue.
Zhen Music & Art Institute
Lobby feels like a gallery.
Shot 2 of Sebastian’s Blue Dog
Meet the “Blue Dog” by George Rodrigue
We meet friends from our homeschool group at the Children’s Garden in the Dallas Arboretum. Sebastian and I had not been to this part of the gardens before. He had a delightful time exploring the treehouse and exhibits.
Exploring the Tree House
He’s a climber!
Beautiful Children’s Garden at the Arboretum
Tornado like action in the simulator with friends.
We were at the Arboretum to attend their fungus class. It was a great small group, hands-on class all about mold and mushrooms. Afterwards, we were invited to take a look at this super cool, moving globe. The operator showed us past weather and specifically Hurricane’s Harvey and Irma form and move across the ocean to the US.
Sebastian about to dissect his mushroom
The examination begins.
Get a sneak peak at the giant interactive weather globe
Fungus class at the Arboretum
This particular day continued on with getting to re-visit our old stomping grounds at UP Elementary where we picked our friend Parker. The boys are attending video game club together where they get to play, talk, explore, learn, and grow their video gaming skills along with other kids. Then afterward they are taking a coding class where they learn computer programming using Scratch (developed by MIT) and Blockly (used to program robots and drones). In my dream world, Sebastian would have more and more classes about programming. The co-owner of this great school, Techie Factory and I have been talking about a homeschool program, so if you are a fellow HS family local to North Texas and interested, write me for the details. From what I understand there is still space for others to join either of the after-school programs too!
Picking up our buddy, Parker
Learning to Code
Later in the week, we headed out to Sea Life Grapevine Aquarium. Well if you know this area, you know it is in the mall with Rainforest Cafe. Sebastian hasn’t been to this restaurant in several years, so it was a treat to see his excitement and reaction to all the ‘animals’.
Lunch with Fish
Of all the animals he wanted to be photographed with the mommy elephant.
Sealife was having ‘homeschool’ week so in addition to exploring the aquarium, we were able to attend a class on Cephalopods. We learned that an Octopus is thought to have about the same level of intelligence as a dog. They can fit through some amazing tiny spaces, too!
Under the Mangroves
A Sting Ray!
We were memorized by the jelly fish.
View from INSIDE the tank.
My love. Mi Vida.
Fall is in the air and my boy loves gords! We had a marvelous day exploring with our friend Mason at Klyde Warren park, visiting the Farmers’ Market downtown and having the most delightful, healthy lunch at Mudhens.
What does this one look like?
Mason’s ‘Machine Gun’ Gord
Sebastian’s ‘Machine Gun’ Gord
Fall is near!
Playground among the skyscrappers.
Then we were able to visit the Dallas Museum of Art and take in beautiful pieces like Water Lilies by Monet. They had a lovely children’s area for the boys to burn off some creative energy with building tools and pegs.
On this day Sebastian was working on adding sentences to his story. I left the room to attend to a task and when I came back, Sebastian said he had finished his writing and jumped on into the math for the day. I was so pleased with his initiative to start the next task without being asked. As you can see on the 2nd page, he did all the subtraction problems as addition problems. It was a good lesson on reading directions since he had to re-do that page!
Just a few more takes of my happy little learner studying compound words and his money math.