To Market, To Market Day

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If you could design and sell a product, what would it be? This is the very question the Younger Fives pondered this week to get ready for Market Day, a wonderful get-together organized by the Star Valley Home Educators. In order to participate, each Five needed to make a product that could be sold for $1 or $2 (fake money), create a sign explaining the product and price, and prepare a few words to introduce the product to the other participating kids.

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High Five had his heart set on making chocolate cupcakes, so he and Five Spice worked out a recipe that avoided ingredients he is allergic to, dairy and eggs. His Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes turned out great; the hardest part was waiting until Market Day to try them out.

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Five Ball wanted to make his own silly putty, so we found an easy-to-use recipe that called for only glue, borax, and optional food coloring. All the kids were amazed to see the glue thicken into “Party Putty” (Five Ball’s name for his product), and this gave us a chance later on to look at the underlying science through a Ted-Ed video on polymers.

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Five of Hearts took a craftier approach and found inspiration from an Easter Pencil Toppers craft to make her Spring Pencil Toppers. In no time at all packages of colored pipe cleaners transformed into ducks, carrots, rabbits, and butterflies. The final touch was a colored eraser top, and her pencils were ready for sale.

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All in all, Market Day was a huge success. It was quite impressive to see dozens of other homeschooling families come together from all across Star Valley, and all the participants did a great job promoting and selling their products. Of course, selling was only half the fun, and the kids all took turns getting to buy the products the other kids made. From kettle corn and lollipops to face painting and homemade lip balm, the variety of products and services was almost overwhelming. We couldn’t have been happier to return home with some new toys and, best of all, having made some new friends.

Spring Is in the Air

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With the temperature here in Wyoming regularly climbing into the 60’s, it is definitely feeling like spring. To celebrate the official start of spring yesterday, we planned a trip to one of our favorite spring sites, Lava Hot Springs in Eastern Idaho.

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Since we last visited a year and a half ago, the town’s wonderful outdoor spa complex has been our “happy place” whenever we are chilled to the bone (such as when we spent the night on an unheated, overnight train from Serbia to Greece as part of our Eurail adventure). Lava Hot Springs is still as wonderful as we remembered, and the 90 minute drive from Star Valley was a small price to pay for a day of relaxing in the numerous, naturally mineral-rich pools.

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We started with soaking in the “cold” pool (102 degrees), and gradually worked our way up in temperature from there. This time around, the kids proved more adventurous with the largest and hottest pool at the far end of the complex. Instead of just dipping their toes, they all took the plunge into the 112 degree waters. We managed to stay in for a little while, long enough to admire the views and signs of spring all around us.

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As always, our day flew by, and we decided not to stick around after dark to soak under the stars (though it was a tempting thought). As we left Lava Hot Springs we had one last spring surprise. Driving through the next town east, Soda Springs, Five of Hearts spotted a giant jet of water rising above one of the buildings downtown. We pulled into the parking lot behind Main Street to investigate and arrived just in time to catch the end of the hourly eruption of the carbonated springs. It was yet another sign that….wait for it…..spring is in the air :)

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Pi Day

 

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This past Saturday (3/14/15) we took a day to recognize a true unsung hero, a shining example of perfection in an otherwise flawed world. We are talking, of course, about the circle, and this Pi Day was especially memorable as not only the day and month matched the digits of pi, but the year did as well.

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We started by turning sheets of paper into squares, and then using our “radius squares” to construct a circle. The kids puzzled for a while about how to get the 4 squares down to 3.14 squares (based on the area which equals pi r squared), but then we devised a way to use string and a pencil to draw the outline of the circle and cut away the extra. We then decorated each piece and put it all back together to make one photogenic circle.

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Next, we headed outside for a very scholarly exploration of how the circumference of a circle works (spinning around wildly with a dog leash). Each Five had a chance to be the unmoving “center” while another Five spun around them in a circle, traveling the distance of the circumference. We then used a white stake and the leash to see how far we traveled spinning once around. Once we doubled the leash, it was again just 3.14 lengths before we found the right distance.

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Five Spice also used the occasion to cook up some inspired Pi Day treats. She recreated a vegan pizza we enjoyed in Sofia, Bulgaria last month (who knew pickles on pizza could taste so good?) and also created a Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie that was quite the hit. By the end of the meal, we all agreed that pi had never tasted so good!

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We wrapped up our memorable Pi Day with some pi art. We started with Pi Pictures, incorporating pi (or sometimes just pie) into the image. We also took inspiration from real pi authors like Michael Keith who write using word lengths that represent the digits of pi. Our Pi Poems cut off quite a bit, but they are accurate to 3.14159265359:
The X made a giant commotion to hinder every bed that’s available.
And I find a large houseboat in choppy water; dry, empty, welcoming.

While we don’t expect next year’s Pi Day to be quite so pi-tastic (it will be 3/14/16 after all), this is surely a tradition we will carry forward. We may even be tempted to celebrate when there are just 314 days to go until March 14th of next year :)

What a Difference a Window Makes

It has been a long time since we have enjoyed a rental with such wonderful windows and views. Over the past year we’ve stayed in a few rentals with no windows at all, and many others with protective bars over the windows. We’re all feeling very fortunate to be staying at a house in Wyoming until May that has an abundance of windows with gorgeous views. We’re still getting our schedule back on track after returning to the U.S. and haven’t had much of an opportunity to get out and do our usual exploring. However, catching up on work and school hasn’t felt quite so confined with sunshine streaming in and many opportunities to take in the scenery.

View from the kitchen window.

View from the kitchen window.

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View from the living room.

View from the mater bedroom.

View from the mater bedroom.

 

Stallions and Sledding

DSC08512Now that we are settled into our rental in Western Wyoming, we have been making the most of our rural surroundings and spending as much time as possible outdoors. Admittedly, we haven’t ventured too far (we haven’t lost sight of the house), but there is no real need to. For one, Captain, a neighboring dog, has been paying us daily visits to play in the snow and hunt mice (his idea, not ours).

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There is also plenty to explore just across the street, the site of a large horse pasture. We definitely prefer our horses wild and free, but the kids cannot resist visiting with the mules and horses when they come back to this part of the pasture every 3-4 days. Each kid has made their own equine buddy and makes sure to provide them with the choicest grass from the other side of the fence.

The hill next to the road even makes for a pretty respectable sledding hill, just the right size for sliding without a sled. The Younger Fives even inspired Captain to take a turn sliding down the slope. It turns out you don’t need much to catch up on a long overdue dose of sunshine and fresh air :)