Saturday, August 28, 2010


One of our most-loved Five in a Row books is the Salamander Room.

The story is adorable and the illustrations really capture the imagination. It's great for nature study because there are so many birds, insects, plants, frogs and, of course, salamanders to identify. In the past, we've made little Fimo salamanders and colored amphibian life cycle charts and all that good stuff. This year, we just went out into the woods and found salamanders!

Apparently, they love to hide under rocks in small streams and under rocks and bark in the woods, close to water. Being cold-blooded, they actually don't seem to mind being held in a warm hand. Altogether we probably found a dozen and at least five distinct kinds. A good, dirty time was had by all!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Baseball Camp!

Things don't always go according to plan. The plan this summer was to have multiple sports-themed camps but here we are in August and, well... we've done tons of fun things but the camps just kept getting pushed back. This past week, the calendar was somewhat emptier and we finally had baseball camp! I'm happy to tell you that it was a great success!

Every day at breakfast there were announcements about what was going on that day - batting practice, catching practice, field trips, arts and crafts, etc. Then all campers did their K.P. chores and reported for morning service.

I found a little league coach who put up videos of himself giving baseball-related Bible lessons! I love the internet.

We also did a lesson on obedience where everyone got to be first and third base coach and tell the runner what to do. We talked about the fact that the runner can't be looking around to see what's happening, he just has to run as hard as he can. He listens to the base coach who can see what's happening on the field. Likewise, we don't know what's going to happen in our lives or even five minutes from now, but we can listen to God who does know and to our parents to whom He gives wisdom and discernment.

After morning service each day, we had baseball class. Here are some of the things we used:

Baseball Basics - many, many short little videos on every aspect of baseball. What is an inning, what are the defensive positions, what's an RBI, etc. Warning: there are commercials before the videos start - some were funny Geico ads but one was a very inappropriate beer commercial. Just so you know.

How to Play Baseball - by Goofy. This is old Disney - maybe from the 1940's - my kids loved it.

Baseball Poetry - you know we had to read Casey at the Bat and Casey's Revenge!

Baseball Music - listen to thousands of Cardinals fans sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game!"

Who's On First? - Abbott and Costello. Gotta love it.

Interactive Baseball Math Game! - This is just brilliant. You can do addition, subtraction, multiplication or division. If your answer is right, you get a hit. The difficulty of the problem determines if it's a single, double, triple or home run. If you're wrong, you're out and the game ends after three outs.

Intro. to Sabermetrics (Baseball Stats) - My goodness. There are stats for everything in baseball.

Then on to Arts and Crafts - we did some pretty basic crafts - sand art and such but the first day we named our cabins (rooms) and made signs for them.

Outside for batting and catching practice, preceded by warm-up exercises, of course.

Cabin Clean-Up! It has to be a competition, you understand. The Camp Director (Mark) picks the cleanest cabin and they win a prize at the end of the week. Usually it's ice cream but this year it may be nerf guns. We'll see.

And, of course, we had to have a field trip! Unfortunately, there was a rain delay but it turned out to be really cool. We got to watch the ground crew roll out the huge tarp to cover the infield and everyone cheered when it stopped raining (pouring, actually) and they rolled it back up and continued the game.

All in all, a great week of baseball camp!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Give me shelter

The kid's program at the environmental center this year has focused on animal shelters. The boys have made little homes for chipmunks (in the rain), built bat boxes and, most recently, made kid shelters in the woods. They had a ball with this one.

The workers:

The finished shelter:

A job well done: