hands on creations from the national building museum homeschool day 2015

the national building museum keeps coming up with creative classes.
we went for their homeschool day in june.
we ended up staying for both the morning and afternoon sessions
so everyone could take a class.
radianceGirl took Water Works,
mercyGirl took Symbolic Architecture,
signGirl took Architecture 101, and
prayerGirl took Designing on the Wild Side.

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the only girl who didn’t bring something home was radiance girl
who worked in teams to build a water sculpture;
and for that i’m grateful.

as usual we spent a good amount of time in Play, Work, Build,
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but there were also some new, captivating exhibitions.
i particularly enjoyed walking around the second level,
viewing all the unique design elements
in the 60 3-D models suspended from the ceiling in the Hot to Cold exhibit.

the designing for disaster exhibition was also engaging,
examining natural disasters and our approach to building safer communities.
the girls especially like the interactive wind tunnel.

we’re all looking forward to new classes and exhibitions in the fall.

beauvoir outdoors

i think i read about Beauvoir Outdoors from a list of playgrounds on Red Tricycle.

it. is. majestic.

lots of play structures made of natural materials
that are excellent for open-ended play,
along with a basketball court with kid-sized baskets,
slides, swings, zip lines
and lots of trees to take a break in the shade.

the only drawback is there are no public restrooms,
so take a restroom break before you play so the kids can enjoy Beauvoir Outdoors to the fullest.

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Beauvoir Outdoors at Beauvoir School
3500 Woodley Road NW, Washington, DC 20016 

open to the public when Beauvoir School is not in session (check their calendar), after 6PM on weekdays, and all day during the weekend.

30 Acts of Ramadan Kindness For Kids

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inspired by Atlanta Masjid of Al Islam’s “30 Days of Kindness – A Ramadan Family Project”
i’d like to share acts of kindness for children to do during ramadan
(or anytime).

do them in order,
or pick and choose.

once you get started it gets addictive.
this is the best kind of competition to get into during ramadan.

download a ramadan kindness calendar or use these suggestions to make your own:

  • leave a kind note on someone’s car
  • do something nice for your neighbor
  • make a treat and give them to friends or a local police or fire station
  • offer to watch a friend’s child or pet
  • take a minute to tell someone’s boss that they are doing a good job
  • volunteer
  • write a letter to someone important to you and thank them
  • thank a soldier, police officer or firefighter
  • make dinner for a friend
  • donate an item to someone in need
  • donate to your favorite charity
  • put change in a vending machine
  • hold the door open for someone
  • do a chore for someone without them knowing
  • return someone’s cart at the store
  • leave a kind note in a library book
  • clean up after iftar
  • feed the birds
  • leave happy notes around town
  • call your grandparents and ask them about their childhood
  • pick up litter at park or playground
  • let someone ahead of you in line
  • compliment a friend
  • clean up after suhoor
  • compliment a stranger
  • wash someone’s car
  • clean out the inside of someone’s car
  • write a thank you note for your mail carrier
  • plant something
  • cook something for a neighbor
  • check in on an elderly neighbor
  • prepare dates & milk for others to break their fast
  • bury treasure at the playground
  • clear the table after dinner
  • leave bubbles on someone’s doorstep
  • tell someone why they are special to you
  • donate gently used clothing or shoes to charity
  • pass out stickers to kids waiting in line
  • write chalk messages on the sidewalk
  • put down the prayer rugs without being asked
  • donate food to a food pantry
  • tape change to a parking meter
  • donate supplies to a homeless shelter
  • take treats to a fire station
  • tell someone how much you appreciate them
  • say hello to everyone you see
  • make someone else’s bed
  • say thank you when you see a soldier
  • make a thank you sign for sanitation workers
  • help make dinner
  • bring your neighbor’s garbage bins in from the curb
  • give someone a hug coupon
  • donate coloring books & crayons to a children’s hospital
  • help someone unload groceries at a grocery store
  • buy someone a reusable bag at a store
  • clean up your toys without being asked
  • make a thank you card for your librarian
  • send a postcard to a friend
  • smile at everyone you see
  • spend the day saying only nice things to and about other people
  • leave an inspirational quote in an unexpected place
  • give a care package to homeless person
  • make dua for your parents
  • bring flowers to an iftar
  • create a handmade Eid gift
  • create a hand made Eid card
  • share an inspirational quote

ramadan mubarak!

first annual cheverly STEM chess tournament

the folks at Cheverly STEM thought that the best way to kick off their new Chess class in the upcoming Winter session was to have a chess tournament hosted by local DC chess hero and subject of the movie Life of a King, Eugene Brown, who uses chess to teach inner-city children a life-lesson he learned the hard way: always think before you move.

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radianceGirl did pretty good. she lost in the first round (to the guy who won the tournament), won twice, and tied once. not too shabby, mashaAllah.

homeschool day at the national aquarium

when it comes to driving my girls to homeschool activities
i can be quite provincial.
baltimore? too far!
but not when i get take three children (and an infant) to the national aquarium on the cheap.

have you seen their prices?
adult tickets are about $35 and children 3 and up are about $22.
not ghastly, but why do it if i don’t have to.
it’s not all about money
but it is all about saving money whenever and wherever i can.
we’re a single-income family of 7.

a homeschool mom hooked us up:
we got in for $28.
not each. total.
(plus parking garage costs and food
because they don’t let you bring in a bag lunch.)

it was perfect.
we came with friends.
there were no crowds.
we were able to catch a few demonstrations.
we did the whole aquarium without the kids getting (too) tired.
and i made it out of the gift shop without being badgered into getting anything.

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aquariums (and zoos) kinda make me sad for the animals
(especially when i saw the dolphins),
but then again, we would not have be able to see these various ecosystems-in-miniature up close
unless we were friends with an underwater biologist.

i take solace that these animals are just a small fraction of what exists in our oceans
and that this experience will help us all be more mindful of our effect on and connection to our shared earth.

exploding soda

my little girls had a messy science experiment to do
so we took the opportunity of an uncharacteristically warm december day
to do the exploding soda experiment from
Yikes! Wow! Yuck! Fun Experiments for Your First Science Fair.

you take mentos and a tube (made of a sheet of rolled paper)…
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and put the mentos in a tube.
line the tube up with the opening of a bottle of soda.
(an index card between the tube of mentos and the soda allows quick deployment.)
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and you get a tall, sticky, wet explosion.
(this wasn’t even the highest one.)
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they tested cola, diet cola, lemon lime and diet lemon lime trying to determine which type of soda spewed the most amount of soda. i thought this was a chemistry experiment, but according to the mentos FAQ, it’s not:

The reaction occurs because of a simple rule of physics. Soda drinks contain a certain amount of CO2 (carbon dioxide) dissolved in water in the form of tiny bubbles. This combination of water and CO2 molecules is in a permanent unstable state. When Mentos fall into this liquid, this state is disturbed. The more Mentos that are dropped into the liquid the more this state is aggravated. The reason for this lies in the surface of a Mentos which looks smooth but is actually vary rough! Within the nooks and crannies of the microscopic rough surface, bubbles form, which are in turn transformed into foam, which can lead to very impressive foam fountains.

the mentos folks also gave a link to further explanation and lots of impressive exploding soda videos at eepybird.com. next time i’ll have to spring for the diet version of “the real thing”, coca cola; apparently that gives the highest fountains.

i learn all types of interesting (and sometimes useful) tidbits along side my girls all the time.