Sunday, October 28, 2018

Cedar Park Sculpture Garden

We finally had a day with sunshine!
I had my son take this picture when we were driving to school on Friday. That is a rectangular block of black clouds ahead of us. It looked pretty ominous in person.
The rain in central Texas has slacked off. It is great to see the sun. We had so much flooding in our area that the water treatment plant could not keep up with proper filtration. On October 22nd, the city of Austin put out a boil water notice. The city said the rain and flooding brought "unprecedented levels of silt" into the water supply. I have lived in the area all my life and have never witnessed a boil notice for the entire city. The grocery store lines were crazy last Monday with people buying bottled water. The stores had to put limits on the number of bottles purchased and there were warnings by the city that price gouging would not be tolerated. The boil notice is still in effect today but the local news said it might end this evening. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the sun will shine on us for at least a few more days.
Boogs and I took advantage of the beautiful day and went to the Cedar Park Sculpture Garden. We had never been there before. There are 13 sculptures and a walking path around a pond.

Boogs and I waited to read the artist's title of each sculpture until after we had taken a guess as to what the title might be. I thought Sentinel was a butterfly, Boogs thought it should be called perpetual movement. We both thought All That Jazz was something to do with music.
Tube dancers - Me - dancers, Boogs - a fight or struggle. Paths We Choose -  Boogs - which way, Me - distortion, it looked misleading to me. I love the look of the shadow of the arrow.
Joy - We both thought this would be something about dancing with all your heart because of the heart shaped cut out in the torso of the sculpture. I liked this shadow, too.
Gotcha Bird With Fish - we were pretty close on this one. We thought it should be called bird with fish. There was so much detail in this work. I think it was my favorite one.
Sundial - This one really confused us. Boogs thought is should be called Abstract, I thought is was some kind of person. Neither one of us could see it as a sundial even after we read the title of the sculpture. Nebulous: Boogs saw the sign before he guessed, I thought it was the Earth.
Cloud Kaleidoscope made us think it was someone holding a ring or a magnifying glass. I tried to line up a cloud in the center of the kaleidoscope. Surprisingly, we both got Red Bird really wrong. I thought it was a flame, Boogs thought it was about team spirit. After we read the title, the red bird was easy to see.
We were both kind of close on naming Chirp. Boogs thought it was a penguin, I thought it was a puffin. We liked the way the artist signed the work with interlaced C and Q initials.
 There is a nice path around the water.
Boogs enjoyed conquering the steep incline to reach the top of this wall. He ran up and then slid down this steep slope many times.
We enjoyed our walk. There were quite a few ducks in the water. These ducks came waddling up  when we stopped to look at them. I think they thought they might get fed.
The last sculpture we saw was called Dancer 2012 & Dancer 2014 by Jerry Daniel. From a distance, Boogs and I decided this sculpture was dancers and we were right.
The artists loan their work to the Sculpture Garden for one year. The pieces are for sale at the end of their time on display. Each year, a new group of artists get a chance to display their work. We are looking forward to coming back again to see the next set of sculptures when they are put on display.

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Country Kids linky

Friday, October 19, 2018

Mudstacle 2018

Boogs and I have enjoyed getting muddy in the Mudstacle obstacle race for the past few years. Here is a look back at the courses for Mudstacle 2016 and Mudstacle 2017. Unfortunately, I was unable to participate this year - torn meniscus in my knee and my right hand in a splint with an overstretched ligament with a bruised bone & joint. I don't have pictures of all the obstacles on the 5K course. Fortunately, one of Boogs friends was able to run the race with Boogs last Saturday.
 Warming up before the starting horn opens the course.
Boogs' friend's mom managed to get a couple of pictures of the boys at the first two obstacles. Here they are climbing over the giant spools.
They had to run through a muddy pit while people were trying to tag them with pool noodles on ropes. Then they turned the corner and were out of camera range.
We waited for the boys at the finish line. Here they are entering the home stretch. I asked them why they weren't running. They said they were tired. It has been raining off and on for for two weeks. The race planners did not know if the Mudstacle would be able to happen until the morning of the race. Luckily, there was no lightning, only rain. The course was EXTRA muddy.
 Jumping for joy as he crosses the finish line.
Boogs managed to lose both of his shoes and his socks in the muddy pits. His friend lost one shoe and one sock. I'm so glad they both wore old, beat up sneakers for the race.

The Foam Pit is always a hit with the kids. The boys spent at least an hour playing in the bubbles. It helped clean them off just a little bit.
 They played Marco Polo while hiding under a layer of bubbles.
 It took a long time to convince them to go rinse off so we could leave.
 Boogs left the hose line three different times before he was finally rinsed off. They had to have a snowball fight. A local snow cone shop had balls of snow cone ice for the kids to throw.
The hose rinse helped them get sort of clean. They changed into clean clothes so we could go out for lunch. Both boys had a spare set of shoes in the car.
The boys had a ton of fun. I was sad not to participate but happy they had such a great time. While we were eating lunch, Boogs ran his hand through his hair and found a clump  of mud stuck in his hair at the back of his head. He was happy to take a long shower when we got home.

Last Thursday, Boogs had his Fall Band Concert. My parents were able to attend. We really enjoyed listening to all three bands play.
 Boogs looks so grown up in his tuxedo shirt and tie.
Daddy played the trombone when he was in high school. It was great to hear the middle school bands play. They sounded awesome!

We have been spending a lot of time indoors because of the weather. Texas is getting way too much rain. Boogs' middle school band was supposed to play at the high school football game tonight. The constant rain cancelled those plans. Many areas near us are flooding. I personally know three people who have lost their homes near lakes. A couple of days ago, a local school bus was swept off the road and into a flooded creek when the driver chose to drive through a low water crossing. The driver and passengers were rescued from the water. We are ready for the rain to stop.

This post is linked to:
Country Kids linky

Friday, October 12, 2018


Part of my job this year is to run the STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art Mathematics) Shop at an elementary school on Mondays and Tuesdays. During September and October, I have been working with 1st and 2nd graders. I will work with 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders in November and December. My students come in to my room in small groups throughout the day. In two months, I should be able to see all of the students in the grade levels that are coming to me at that time.
I decided to theme the STEAM activities for the 1st and 2nd graders around nursery rhymes. I have this set of cards by Modern Publishing that I bought when Boogs was only a year old. I know, I am a bit of a pack rat.

When I tell my students they are going to be working on Science Technology Engineering Art and Math activities based on Humpty Dumpty and Hey Diddle Diddle nursery rhymes, they are in disbelief. I love hearing their comments - No way! Those rhymes are for babies!    

First Grade: Our science focus for Humpty Dumpty is magnets.  At the beginning of each group's time, we explore magnets, discuss the terms repel and attract, discuss the types of metals that are magnetic, and then the students get one minute to walk the room to see what things in the room their magnets are attracted to.

Then, I take the students over to our stations, explain the challenges, and let them experiment and explore.  At the Train Humpty Dumpty to Sit station, each student gets two "pieces of wall" blocks. One block has a magnet glued on top and the other does not. They also each have a very small, but strong magnet. There is a container of pinto beans, a bag of paper strips, markers, tape, and scissors.
The students choose an egg to create their own Humpty Dumpty. They find a way to make their Humpty sit on the wall.
Some students figure out that putting beans inside the egg will help it balance.
This student used the paper strips to make a small stand for Humpty Dumpty.
Some students add arms and legs to provide balance. Some students figure out that putting the small magnet inside their egg will make their Humpty Dumpty attach to the block with the magnet. I love listening to their discussions about how to make it work. They are so excited when their own Humpty Dumpty is able to sit on a wall.
At the Build A Wall For Humtpy Dumpty station, students use their engineering and math skills to predict, build, and measure a wall for Humpty Dumpty. There are five bins of material to use and they must use at least two different kinds of materials in their wall. The materials are things I had available to use - base ten blocks, Jenga blocks, craft sticks, and small communion cups someone donated to the class. The students predict how tall of a wall they can build before they get started.
I encourage them to frequently stop and measure their wall in case it falls.
There are two how-to-measure posters to help the students remember to place their ruler with the zero end on the ground. I have meter and yard sticks so they can measure in centimeters or inches.
It is interesting to see all of the different ways the students make their walls. Sometimes their plan does not work out. FAIL stands for first attempt in learning.
The students get excited about what they are building and cheer on their classmates to make taller and taller walls.

After clean up time, we quickly debrief. The students help me figure out if we used all parts of  STEAM for Humpty Dumpty. S-magnets, T-students use iPhone and iPad to take pictures of their work, E-building the wall, A-creating and decorating Humpty Dumpty egg, M-measurement. We give ourselves a big pat on the back for making STEAM work with the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme. The students are very excited that they get to take home the Humpty Dumpty they made in the STEAM Shop.

Second Grade: Our science focus for Hey Diddle Diddle is phases of the moon. At the beginning of each group's time we discuss the phases of the moon - new, crescent, quarter, gibbous, full. Then I take them over to the two stations that focus on the phases of the moon.
The first station asks the students to decide which phase of the moon they want their own cow to jump over. I have paper circles on the table for students to use as a starting point. They use the poster to help them decide what their moon will look like. There are crayons, colored pencils, pencils, and scissors on the table.
The computer station has a quick moon phase matching game. The students can pick how many matches they want to attempt, from 2 to 8. HERE is the link.
Helping the cow jump over the moon with a catapult has been the students' favorite station.

I make sure to tell the students about our corral of cows (cotton balls). The students use the available materials any way that they want to make a catapult. I have pictures of 8 different catapults and a book about catapults for inspiration. The materials are: craft sticks, golf pencils, rubber bands, water bottle lids, spoons, cups, masking tape, and binder clips. I have a hot glue gun that only I can use to glue things together for them.
The students make their catapult, launch a cow, measure the cow's jumping distance, and launch again to see if they can beat that distance. If they have extra time before our class ends, they can design a second catapult and compare its performance to their first catapult. I tell my students they will only be able to take home one catapult, they will have to use critical thinking skills to determine the criteria for choosing which catapult to take home. The rejected catapult must be taken apart so that my next group can reuse the supplies.
I love looking at the variety of their designs. Some are simple, two rubber bands holding a spoon to a cup. Some are more complex using many, many more materials.
I'm very glad we are in a portable building away from other classes when the cows are launched. The noise volume and excitement in the room gets very high. I taped down four phases of the moon in our launch pad area. The students sit behind the start line and launch their cows. They help each other figure out how far their cows jumped using yard sticks and meter sticks. Some catapults require adjustments in the angle of their levers. We discuss force and motion while they are making and testing their catapults.
This student decided to hot glue her full moon phase to the end of her catapult so that her cow jumps over the moon every time she launches it.
After clean-up time, we debrief. The students help me figure out if we used all parts of  STEAM for Hey Diddle Diddle. S-moon phases/force/motion, T-moon phase matching game on computer, E-building catapults, A-creating their own phase of the moon, M-measurement/angles/comparing distances. We give ourselves a big pat on the back for making STEAM work with the Hey Diddle Diddle nursery rhyme. Each student takes home one cow, one catapult, and one moon phase.

Early finishers are able to help others or work at the felt board. I have a large set of felt nursery rhymes I purchased when my 12-year-old was a toddler. I put the pieces for Humpty Dumpty, Hey Diddle Diddle, and Jack & Jill in a bowl for the kids to sort onto the correct story back drop. This activity also encourages re-reading of the nursery rhymes for fluency.
I don't know who has more fun, me or my students. I have two more weeks to decide what activities to do and to gather supplies for the 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders coming to STEAM Shop in November. I better get to work.

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