Thursday, 28 October 2010

Printing on the Dotted Lines...


Today Alisdair and I discovered a fun website where you can "make your own" dotted letters with whatever words or phrases you wish.  He had wanted more worksheets for extra printing practice.  When we found this site, he immediately wanted to make a list of newspaper names... like "The Guardian" and "The Highway 40 Courier." You type in whatever you wish to copy and then you can print out your worksheet.  You can also save it so others can access it and print out the list you've created!

If you have a student who might benefit from extra printing or cursive handwriting practice (they offer both options) log on to

Monday, 25 October 2010

CAN-DO PRINT: Common Nouns and Uncommon Sketches

Here is a photo of today's page (#32) from Can-Do Print that explored COMMON NOUNS.  The page has three rectangles at the top and it asks the student to draw a person (and suggests maybe a teacher); a place (maybe a beach); and to draw a thing (maybe an easy chair).  I was amused to discover Alisdair had drawn:

1) A Saskatchewan Roughrider football player;
2) Big Ben (he found a photograph on the internet to sketch); and
3) A mug of green tea.

Definitely creative and varied interests!

The bottom half of the page provided practice in changing cursive writing into printing.

Alisdair has completed the initial Printing portion and is moving into the Grammar section. (He is approximately a third of the way through this workbook and then we will begin the Cursive Handwriting workbook.)  The last two sections are Latin & Greek (to build reading and vocabulary skills) and a Writer's Notebook (to teach a variety of writing styles).   Both books are published by "Handwriting Without Tears" ( which is a program originally developed by Jan Z. Olsen, an occupational therapist, to help her own son.  For the Can-Do Print workbook, Olsen teamed up with Edith H. Fine ( for the grammar portions and Jef Mallett contributed amusing cartoons.  The four cartoon characters are:

1)  'Codago the Magician' who changes the magic letter 'c' into the letters 'a,' 'o,' 'd,' 'g,' and 'q;'
2)  'Racing Robin' - a track star who coaches children on how to keep printing fast and neat;
3)  'Dr. Less' - Maura Less writes spine-tingling mysteries.  She is a stickler for grammar.
4)  'Diver Dave' - He loves the water.  He likes to dive perfectly straight down.  He'll take you deep into the alphabet with the diver letters 'p,' 'r,' 'n,' 'm,' 'h,' and 'b.'

And - as you may be able to see in the top right-hand corner of the photograph, once a page is completed and corrected, Alisdair is able to pick a sticker to affix to it.  Right now he's using Spongebob Squarepants stickers.  An exciting incentive to finish your work!

In the introductory pages, it states that "Can-Do Print is designed for 5th graders or older students who want to improve their printing."  I am very pleased with this workbook.  It is easy to follow, and I am able to see Alisdair's progress as he works through each exercise.  I would highly recommend it to other parents with children who may be struggling with printing legibly.

First Snow of 2010

Overnight we got our first snowfall of the year.  Isobel was VERY excited but Alisdair, not so much.  She couldn't get outside fast enough to taste the flakes as they fell from the sky and to attempt to make a snow angel.

Snow angels in October ?!?

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and in this case, it's true!

A "Taste of Winter!"

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Quote to Ponder: Noah Webster's Definition of Eduction

"Noah Webster," painted by Samuel Finley Breese Morse, undated, oil on canvas
Noah Webster's Definition of Education:
The bringing up, as of a child, instruction; formation of manners. Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners, arts and science, is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties.
Source:  Webster's 1828 American Dictionary

Dinner With Dad - Fowl Supper

The Neilburg/Marsden United Church were having their annual fundraising Fowl Supper tonight in the Community Hall.  The children were delighted to find their Dad at the dinner and sat with him to eat from their plates of turkey and all the trimmings (typical Thanksgiving fare).  And Mum was just happy that she didn't have to cook dinner and could support a worthy cause -- all at the same time!

Co-op Week - Beef on a Bun Luncheon

Wednesday, October 20th marked the 21st annual celebration of "Co-op Week."

Locally, a "Beef on a Bun" luncheon was held in the Community Hall.  A silver collection was taken at the door with all  proceeds going to the Neilburg Hall Board for the upkeep of the facility.

The luncheon was sponsored by the Synergy Credit Union, the Co-op grocery store and Agro outlets, and Viterra (formerly the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool).

Where's the beef??!?

As you can see, Alisdair cleaned up his plate - beef on a bun and potato salad and juice.

Proud Saskatchewan Resident Promotes Province

We slept in this morning.  When I got up, Alisdair was online searching for an address.  He wanted to write a letter to Zynga Gaming with a creative idea.  He found an address in San Francisco, and here is the letter we now have in an envelope waiting to be mailed when the post office opens tomorrow:

"I am an 11 year old boy and my Mum and I play Farmville together. I am writing to you because I have an idea for a new theme. Why not have a Saskatchewan Event?

Players could build their own grain elevators where they could store up extra bushels.  Also, you could introduce, as a new bird, the Sharp-tailed Grouse, which is our provincial bird.  We have a green and yellow provincial  flag that could be sold in the market.  You could add the Western Red Lily to the flower collection.  White-tailed deer are our provincial animal, so they could join the White-tailed buck already available. You could grow Saskatoon berries (they  only grow on the prairies).  These could be a Limited Edition 'Masterable' crop. If you don't know what Saskatoon berries are, they are a little bit like blueberries but smaller and dark purple. You can make wine, pies and jam with Saskatoon berries in your crafting buildings, if you also need ideas for those.

I think this is a good idea because we are an agriculturally based  province.  We grow lots of crops because we have lots of  land, but only just over a million people live here.  Of the ones that do call Saskatchewan home, a large percentage are actual farmers!

 I will enclose pictures of the things I listed above so you know how pretty they look. I think it would be fun to wake up one day and listen to the podcast and hear all about the new Saskatchewan theme.

I would like to know what you at Zynga, the makers of Farmville, actually  would think about mixing a farming game with a province that does a lot of farming?  I would greatly appreciate a reply to my suggestions.   I hope to see Farmville continue to be a FUN game for years to come."

And these are the photos, Alisdair chose to enclose:

The Saskatchewan Flag
Saskatoon Berries

White-tailed deer

Western Red Lily

Sharp-tailed Grouse

Grain Elevator

It will be very interesting to see if the creators of "Farmville" take him up on his suggestions  - and, if they do, if he will get any compensation for providing the original idea.  Before you know it, we could be planting Saskatoon berries and harvesting Western Red Lilies!

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Titanic Exhibit Coming to Calgary

 Calgary to see Titanic exhibit

Titanic - taken while the ship was still in Belfast

Alisdair is working on a lapbook Unit Study from "In The Hands of A Child" on the topic of "The 'Unsinkable' Titanic." The curriculum includes related vocabulary words, guided reading, a timeline of events, mapping the route of the voyage, a comparison of safety laws (then and now), an introduction to Morse Code, and creating other little booklets (such as a 'Survivor's Journal')and various other activities that help to provide facts about the R. M. S. Titanic. It also has a brief study of icebergs and what causes them. When Alisdair has completed his lapbook, I will post photographs of his work.

Some Facts about the Titanic:

* Did you know it weighed 46,239 tons and was 92 feet and six inches wide? Or that it was 882 feet and nine inches in length and 175 feet high?  Other facts are that it displaced 52,310 tons of water and its top speed was 23 knots.

* Just prior to the crash, the Titanic was traveling at 22.5 knots (or 26 miles per hour), which led Captain Edward J. Smith to believe the ship would arrive at its destination a day early.

* In 1912, it cost $7,500,000 to build. If it was rebuilt today, it would cost $400,000,000.

* The Titanic was among the largest ships of its time and had 29 boilers, a post office, a Parisian cafe, a swimming pool, and a squash court. It was very luxurious and some people even took their cars on board!

To supplement our studies we have ordered several VHS videos from the library. These have included the 1953 black and white movie "Titanic" that was an Academy Award winner, starring Clifton Webb and Barbara Stanwyck. Later, we watched the 1997 James Cameron colour version with Leonardo Di Caprio and Kate Winslet. Another video we screened was "Titanic - The Nightmare and the Dream" a production from 1986 outlining Robert Ballard's search for the wreckage on the sea bed and showing actual footage of his findings. We currently have "The Titanic Chronicles - The 1912 Senate Investigation Into The Titanic Disaster" borrowed. This latest video, I look forward to watching, contains the actual testimony re-enacting "the most striking and revealing moments from the actual hearings" held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City and chaired by Senator William Alden Smith of Michigan.

We have also borrowed several books on the Titanic from the library. One of these is "A Giant Cutaway Book Inside the Titanic" by Ken Marschall. As I was reading aloud to Alisdair, from this book, John pulled up a chair and listened too, as details about the lives of third class passenger Frank Goldsmith and first class passenger, Billy Carter unfolded. As I closed the book, and John got up to leave, he suggested we should "study the sinking of the Bismark, too!" Who knows? Maybe we will do just that!

And so, it was with great excitement Alisdair and I learned an exhibition of artifacts salvaged from the site of the Titanic will be on display from February 11 to June 27 of 2011 at the Telus World of Science in Calgary. (Click on the phrase 'Calgary to see Titanic exhibit' at the top of this post to read a detailed article about the show from the Calgary Herald). I've written the opening and closing dates of the exhibit in my homeschool diary and want to be sure to be able to take it in. It would definitely be a field trip to remember!

Titanic - while docked (from contemporary newsreel)

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Field Trip - Celebrate the Harvest Luncheon

Alisdair and I had an interesting "Field Trip" today -- attending a business luncheon and then taking an interesting tour.

Not long ago I received a letter in the mail. Inside was an invitation that said: "As a valued member of our reporting team, you are invited to a "Celebrate the Harvest" luncheon compliments of Battlefords Publishing on Thursday, October 21 at 12:00 Noon, Pennydale Junction, Battleford. The luncheon will be followed by a tour of the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame." It also noted that spouses were welcome to attend. Unfortunately, John was scheduled to be on shift behind the wheel of the semi, and was unable to participate. And so Alisdair stepped in and was my companion for the event.

The Pennydale Junction Restaurant is a slice of history on it's own. According to the Town of Battleford website,"the Pennydale Junction Restaurant, which is located at 92 - 22nd Street West, was once the original Canadian National Railway Depot." Other interesting facts the site offers state that it was built in 1911, and "the building was sold to the Town of Battleford in 1973, and in 1975 it was moved to its present location. In 1981 the building was declared a Municipal Heritage Property. Since 1977 it has been the Pennydale Junction Restaurant providing quality dining while surrounding one in the comfortable nostalgia captured within the old CNR station."

Alisdair ordered his all time favourite meal - baked lasagna and garlic bread, while I had an omlet. The food is always delicious at Pennydale and today was no exception to that rule. Each reporter received a free pen and Alisdair won a door prize - a backpack inscribed with the Battlefords Publishing logo.

While some of the attendees at the luncheon had other obligations and could not take in the tour, many of us did take the short journey to The Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum Association Inc., which is located at 292 - 22nd Street West, in Battleford.

A brochure from this organization reveals that "the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum was founded by Dave Shury in 1983. Membership has grown from 125 in the first year to over 700. The Directors are all volunteers and represent all corners of the province. It has an outstanding display of baseball memorabilia including artifacts, photos, papers, books and more."

It also notes the purpose of the organization is to "collect, preserve, research, house, exhibit and interpret objects and written materials that best illustrate the history of baseball in Saskatchewan from 1879 to the present and to honour those responsible for our great baseball heritage."

We were given a tour by Dave's widow, Jane Shury, who is the President and CEO of the Museum.

She began by explaining to us about the significance of the mural on the exterior of the Museum. The story is also recounted on the brochure:

"A Historic Flashback - Battleford is the site of the first recorded Baseball Game played in the North-West Territories. Two pickup teams played the nine inning game. The pitcher, then called the bowler, stood 13.5 meters from the batter and delivered the ball underhand to a location requested by the batter. The catcher caught the ball on the first bounce. The batter was out when thrown out on a base or if a fly ball was caught on the run or on the first bounce. The final score on May 31, 1879 was 18 - 15 for the team captained by Richard Wyld." Each year, as close to this date as possible, the organization hosts a reenactment of this historic event.

Jane told us about a special baseball in the collection that is signed by "The Great One" himself - Wayne Gretzky. In 1973, Wayne was pitching for an Ontario team that came to the Battlefords to compete. When Ontario won the championship, they autographed a ball and Dave Shury kept it for many years, not knowing, one day that Wayne Gretzky would become a very famous hockey player! At a recent event, in Saskatoon, Gretzky signed another baseball that was added to the display cabinet.

Many, many, many more signed baseballs line the walls of the Museum.

And, what's a baseball, without a special ball glove to go with it?

Of course, even the "Mighty Casey" needed a bat...

Then there are retired trophies, uniforms from various and sundry teams, and even baseball hats...

Since we hail from Neilburg, we were pleased to find some artifacts from our very own Village ...

Crests from Neilburg:

and a sepia photograph of the Neilburg All Stars Baseball Club, who were the winners of the National Life Trophy at the Saskatoon Exhibition in 1934. The team were also finalists in the Northern Saskatchewan Senior Baseball playoffs.

Many more hours could be spent, if one was inclined, in researching the sport of baseball in our Province. If you happen to visit, don't forget to say hello to "George" the friendly mannequin near the entrance. Even he has a story to tell! And if you can't understand his quiet manner, just ask Jane for the details behind the man in uniform who stands on guard at the Museum.

The Museum is open Monday through Friday, during July and August, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. From September through June the open hours are slightly modified, closing at 2 p.m. daily. They are closed on weekends and holidays, year round, but are happy to open the Museum for tours at any time, if prior arrangements have been made.

"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."

- Jack Norworth