What We Did This Summer

Let’s give this (“this” being using this blog as a record of our learning activities in order to easily be able to write my end-of-year report) another try! I thought I’d start off our school/not-school year by recapping a few neat things we did over the summer.

We started off in June by taking a little day trip from Calgary to Blackfoot Crossing. It’s about an hour’s drive from Calgary, east on the Trans-Canada. I have wanted to go for a couple of years now, but we made more of an effort this time and actually set a date, as I had already started our learning plan for fall (in June?! What has gotten into me?) and it included learning about the First Nations of Canada and especially our region. I wish we had gone sooner, and we will definitely go again! It’s an absolutely beautiful site, and readily apparent why it has been a sacred site for centuries. You’re driving through dry prairie, nothing too exciting, and suddenly the prairie gives way to a lush valley and the scenery is gorgeous. Above it sits the interpretative centre (top righthand corner of the photo).

The view of the river valley at Blackfoot Crossing.

The view of the river valley at Blackfoot Crossing.

In the interpretative centre, we learned about different aspects of the Blackfoot culture, such as dances, migration, dwellings and traditions. We learned about residential schools (I added a bit of my own information to the write-up, which was very diplomatic) as well.

Our favourite part was strolling around outside, checking out the stone mounds, noteworthy sites and the traditional dance competition area. There is a walkway up to a lookout point (the vantage point of the photo above), and from here we could see pelicans circling, deciding where to land on the river below.

Blackfoot Crossing 2

In July, Neko spent a week in Edmonton with friends of ours. She was lucky enough to attend Odysseo, the Edmonton Science Centre, and the Alberta Legislature. She took the full legislature tour, which, happily, is in the Grade Four curriculum.

August was a blur of day camps and swimming. She can now jump off the diving board and swim to the edge, and dive all the way to the bottom of the pool, both of which are huge for her.

And the day before school started (September 15), we attended Homeschool Day at the Telus Spark. Neko attended the Junior Architects class and the tour of the building which covered all the aspects of their LEED certification. Great options for a little girl who dreams of being an architect or designer!

Junior architects building a wobbly tipi from PVC pipe at Telus Spark.

Junior architects building a wobbly tipi from PVC pipe at Telus Spark.

She also experimented with gears on the gear wall in the Creative Kids Museum (and later in the week went over gears and pulleys in her workbook), and of course the crowd favourite was the new Brainasium outdoor playground! The 63-foot slide was a blast.

63-foot slide in the Brainasium park

63-foot slide in the Brainasium park


On the climb up.

Next up! Back to school! It’s been a hectic week!


Here’s What Happened While I Was Gone

Oops, bad blogger. So, Justan (that’s my husband) went away for about seven weeks. He came home for 1-4 days a couple times in there for a total of about six days, but mostly, Neko and I were on our own. I had all these work engagements scheduled (classes, speaking engagements, trade fairs and so on) during the first couple of weeks, so those two weeks were really stressful. But mostly I just didn’t feel like doing anything by the end of each day, after being “on” all day. So, I didn’t write blog posts. Sorry about that! I’ve got a little rundown here of some fun things that we did, some of which I wish I would have blogged at the time. In fact I might still do separate posts for some of these because there are lots of photos and I want to write more detail.

On February 10th, we made personalized muffins. Mairead and Finn were over, and I made a basic muffin batter and let them each choose two fruits to put in (we had a variety of dried and frozen).

The muffin making process.

We ended up with blueberry-strawberry, strawberry-apricot and blackberry-raspberry. Yum!

On the 13th we were up in Red Deer, where Justan was working on a Hellman’s TV ad. It was a TV spot about a Red Deer school that had decided to get rid of their deep fryers and only serve fresh foods in their cafeteria. If you’re not getting this, Hellman’s pitch right now is that they are mayo made with whole ingredients and therefore… a health food? Anyway. We won’t get into that. It was fun to see the commercial being filmed, because it featured a monster truck crushing a deep fryer, which is something that is, of course, on everyone’s bucket list. It was a neat morning out for Neko and for me. I would have done a blog post just about this, but my mother in law doesn’t have WiFi, so I felt a bit lost while we were there and didn’t get around to accomplishing anything online when we got back.

The deep fryer in its final moments.

I wanted a somber feel for this photo. This is immediately after they killed the deep fryer. Death by monster truck.

While we were at the school, Neko took the opportunity to play for a while. There was a big stack of strawbales that they had initially used to conceal the monster truck, and first she played on those. Then, she used the teeter totter to catapult her stuffed animal and we learned about levers and fulcrums.


As some of you may have heard, winter skipped Canada this year. February 16th felt like April. So, we invited friends over and went for a walk. We have some really beautiful river parks in our neighbourhood, and we love to spend lots of time in them. We see wildlife like beavers, bald eagles, deer, assorted other birds and coyotes.

Can anyone out there tell whether this is a bald eagle? I find it easier to tell when they’re flying.

We checked out Homeschool Day at the new Telus Spark Science Centre, and I won’t include much on that here, because it deserves its own post, especially since there are lots of people out there interested in reviews. Sure, it was a month ago, but it’s still worth writing about. But here is my favourite shot from that day:

Neko watching the marble as she and her friends test the marble run they built. They did a great job!

Another favourite activity of late was Sharpie tie dye. A friend posted it on Facebook, and I’ve also seen it on Pinterest. It was a huge hit! We’ll definitely be doing this again. Find detailed instructions here: http://theartgirljackie-tutorials.blogspot.ca/2011/10/tie-dye-t-shirts-with-sharpie-markers.html.

The girls tie dyeing their shirts with Sharpies and rubbing alcohol.