Saturday, January 30, 2010

Great Pyramids

Our middle gent turned 7 last week.

Sniff. Seven??? Already??? Can't your sweet momma have one more year of delightful six? Excuse me for a moment while I collect myself. Alas, and hooray!, it seems I get a year of delightful seven instead, which is just as marvelous.

He asked for chocolate cupcakes, and we all decorated. The frosting was really that bright blue. Yowza!
For his birthday, he got the new Playmobil Sphinx with a Mummy. And, way cool, some Tomb Raiders with Camels! Let's side track for yet another moment. (Bear with me.) We've been studying Egypt. Our Egypt study has stretched several months past our timeline because the fine young gents have been so fascinated by the ancient Egyptians, middle gent in particular. We've even priced airline tickets to Egypt, mostly to explain why we're not going. He's not even deterred by the fact that it's blazing hot in Egypt. He wants to sail on the Nile River, visit the Sphinx, and go inside a pyramid. "Someday, Mom," he promised earnestly, "I'll go to Egypt with you." I certainly hope so, my darling.

To my point. Playmobil sells a Pyramidtoo. It's pretty awesome. It's also pretty expensive, and they were out of stock at the store for which we had a 50% off certificate. So, no pyramid. A fact my fine young gent noted. "Hmmm. We need a pyramid."

Note the "Teachable Moments" label at the bottom of this post. My poor gents.

"You're right, honey," I said. "Let's build a pyramid!"

We started with paper:
We printed several pyramid templates. The gents and I spent a happy half hour cutting and folding paper pyramids from different kinds of templates. I didn't do a lot of teaching or talking. (I know, right? Me! I didn't talk a lot. Maybe I should go lie down.) I just let the different templates, which ended in the same pyramids, work for themselves.

My fine young gent noted that the little paper pyramids weren't quite big enough. So I pulled moving boxes out of the attic. Then the real work began.

"How am I going to make a template for you?" I asked the gents. They blithely asked me to print one. Then they said, "Oh. Yeah," when I reminded them of the limitation imposed by the size of our paper. They were a little stumped, so I measured the templates with them...each side of the base was the same length because the base is a square. Let's measure the edges of the triangles that make up the sides....OH!

Fortunately, loving math-brain was available to work with our eldest gent:
They did it the math way, with multiplying and such. I helped middle gent. I didn't want to think that hard, so we did it the measuring and observing way, recreating the template by deciding how long our sides should be then copying the model. Fortunately again, loving husband had to go to work, so eldest gent and I created the largest pyramid together the measuring and observing way, which meant that he got to see how both equally valid methods ended with the same results. He cut it and folded it almost all by himself.

Ancient Egypt has taken up most of our living room floor.
Now we just need a white-walled palace from which the Pharoah and his soldier can dangle the captured tomb raiders.
Pyramid Templates:
The template the boys chose, as our boxes were rectangular. You have to check out this whole site: Paper Models of Polyhedra Could it possibly get any more math-awesome?

Pyramid template at Do To Learn Kids

And from our beloved Enchanted Learning: Make a Pyramid

Friday, January 22, 2010

I Spy with my little eye.....

Can you see it?

"Tell the boys to watch out for the iguanas that are black and orange," said Mazey the housekeeper/advisor/handy-woman. "They're pretty mean and agressive. Not that they'd want to touch something that looks like that."


I went and warned my fine young "Mom, can I keep it?" gents right away.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Nature, Nature, Everywhere

Nature Study: The boys found an ant nest outside the Dolphin Center in Nuevo Vallarta. It's what they do.

They also catch pollywogs.

And throw rocks, and build dams.

Who says we took the week off school? Outdoor studies abounded in Mexico: Ants, pelicans, iguanas, butterflies (mariposa!), water, rocks, sand, trees (Bananas! On a tree!), flowers, birds.
Life is good.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Merry Christmas

Our Christmas surprise: We bought a few small gifts for the fine young gents and a lovely young lady, then we pooled the rest of our Christmas budget and some savings, and we took them to Mexico for a week-long vacation. The picture above is where we stayed. I was relaxing on the balcony, picked up my camera and snapped that shot. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

We'd been planning this for almost a year. The kids knew something big was up, but had no idea what it might be. "Is it the mall? Is it a trip to Baker?" asked the younger lovely young lady. I am terrible at keeping secrets, but I did it despite nearly blowing it several times. Thank goodness for oblivious children, eh? By Christmas Day I was thrilled to finally reveal the big secret, partly because I was so excited about it and partly because I could finally stop worrying about accidentally telling. Heh.

A little funny story: The eldest of the fine young gents opened his packing list on the outside of the big box. His mind immediately leapt to the most cool and exciting trip he could imagine: "WE'RE GOING TO GRANDPA'S!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" The annual trip to Grandpa's is the highlight of our year, especially for the ladies and gents, who love to fish with Grandpa and work at the store for donuts and hot chocolate. So excited was he at the prospect of going to Baker City that when his sister opened the box and pulled out a Puerto Vallarta travel guide, he groaned. "We're not going to MEXICO are we?????"

Heh heh.

Obviously they changed their minds:

Our vacation was spectacularly perfect. More to come.....