alice in fairytale land

alice in fairytale land
the musical
(written and directed by barbara and lon williams)
is only on for two more days
— 24 – 25 may 2008 —
at theatre decatur,
a community theatre
on 430 trinity place in decatur, georgia.
it’s very near the decatur marta station,
and they also have free parking for drivers.

in this musical,
mother nature takes alice
and her invisible pet cat
down the yellow brick road
on a journey through fairytale land
meeting all the fairytale greats like
the little white rabbit and the queens of hearts,
pinocchio (eva sophia ramirez is excellent!) and gepetto,
four of snow white’s seven dwarfs,
the old lady in the shoe,
3 three blind mice
and a fierce farmer who tries to cut off their tails,
and little red riding hood.

this is theatre decatur’s latest children’s program
and it does and excellent job of making theatre accessible to children
in several ways:
the duration of the play was manageable;
the audience was asked to get involved physically and vocally;
and there were children 7 years and older
performing on a stage within a few steps of the audience.

they have a children’s theatre summer camp
30 june – 12 july,
monday – friday, 10 am – 2 pm.
for ages 7 – 15.
(sanaa will have to wait another couple of years…sigh…)
or call 404.373.3904

addition strip board

sanaa is using the addition strip board to complete addition tables.
addition strip board

she was so excited to find the answers herself
that she completed all the tables,
1 through 9,
in the same day.

often she did not even use the table.
she would start counting from the first addend,
then add the second addend
by tapping her finger on the table to count it out.
e.g.: if the problem was 6 + 3
she was start from six and then,
tap her finger on the table 3 times saying, “…seven, eight, nine.”

then, about halfway through, she figured out the pattern
and confidently declared that she knew her answers were correct.
even so, she graciously checked her work
against the answers.

this is going to be fun,
but i’ve got to make sure i’m prepared
so I can keep up with HER.

cinco de mayo

cinco de mayo, a celebraton of mexican heritage and pride, commemorates the victory of mexican forces over the french in the battle of puebla on may 5, 1862.

sanaa hits pinata

rahmah hits pinata

sanaa busts pinata

pinata treats

fiesta atlanta
we had our own cinco de mayo on the 5th of may
with a piñata and home-made tacos.
since it fell on a monday this year
we were able to prolong our celebration from the sunday before when
ishaq took the girls to, fiesta atlanta, a huge celebration in centennial olympic park.

sanaa came back with a unicorn:
5 mayo unicorn face paint

fernbank for free

on 13 may 2008
the fernbank museum of natural history
offered complementary admission to the community
and you know i was there.

fernbank museum of natural history

my only dilemma was that
the imagine it children’s museum free 2nd tuesdays
was on the same day.
(i think that was planned.)
since the children’s museum
offers a free day every month
instead of once a year,
AND considering it would have cost $41
for just me to take my two girls
($15 + $13 + $13)
to fernbank any other day,
i opted to check out fernbank instead.

i admit, i’m spoiled by the free museum admissions
we’d enjoy at the museums that surround the mall in D.C.
after being able to visit the smithsonian national museum of natural history
and then coming to fernbank and seeing just the
argentinosaurus and the giganotosaurus in the Great Hall
(as well as a few other flying reptiles)
i was like, “that’s it?”
i didn’t feel the jaw-dropping awe
like when i first entered the national museum of natural history.
that aside, it was an o.k. visit.

for our visit that day
i decided to focus on the giants of the mesozoic
and a couple of other kid-friendly exhibits:
sensing nature and the children’s discovery rooms.
we also took an enjoyable pit stop by the reflections of culture exhibit.

they were all pretty enjoyable as far as museum exhibits go.
the best part of the sensing nature exhibit
was making bubbles with big wire rings.
i think this exhibit is for the middle or elementary age child
who doesn’t mind reading instructions to find out how to do everything.
other than the bubbles, few stations within the exhibit seemed intuitive.
this exhibit would be best experienced if children are allowed to
take their time, read, and play around.
i found that my children quickly moved from station to station,
fiddling with the object trying to see if they could figure out how it would work,
and then moved on if no explanation was easily understood and immediately forthcoming.
trying to manage all three of them by myself,
i don’t think i was much help
decoding the paragraphs of instructions.

after a picnic lunch on the terrace
and bathroom break,
we concluded our visit with macGillivray freeman’s “dolphins” IMAX movie.
the IMAX theatre experience
— not as steep and scary as the other one i’ve been in —
did not disappoint.

there were other exhibits that i’d be interested in seeing,
but, truthfully, none worth the $41 just to get in the place
or the additional $11-13 for an, admittedly optional, IMAX movie.

fernbank’s sky dreams

last sunday [ 18.may.08 ] we went to the fernbank science center
“sky dreams” planetarium show.
at the fernbank science center
— not to be confused with the
[bigger, and higher entrance fee at the]
fernbank museum of natural history.

“sky dreams” is the current children’s planetarium program
and it was almost magical looking at all those stars
that we can barely see for the smog of our dear, urban city.
i almost got a little nauseous
as the star projector moved the stars across the domed ceiling.

in addition to the planetarium,
there are several live and “stuffed” animal exhibits
throughout the center
as well as historic artifacts that have been in or come from space.
the live animals included several reptiles, amphibians, and
a bee hive where you could hear and smell the bees at work
with the touch of a button.

the fernbank science center easily warrants more than one visit.
in addition, many parts of the center
can be enjoyed for free:
the fernbank forest, rose garden, compost garden, and observatory.

speaking of which, the observatory offers free public observing open houses
every thursday and friday evening
from 8 pm (or dark) until 10:30 pm (weather permitting).
this observatory houses the largest telescope in the southeastern U.S.!

for older children
— middle and elementary —
there are meteorology and seismology labs
as well as an aerospace education lab
funded by no other than NASA.
what a great, affordable community resource.

i don’t know how a homeschooling family might
get involved with these science labs,
but something tells me they may be open to working something out.

preparing for the “real world”

Acceptance grows but myths persist
By Michael Smith
May 19, 2008
from the Washington Times
[ ]

How we see ourselves and how others perceive us can be very different. That’s one of the lessons from a recent survey by Ellison Research that looked at public attitudes toward various education options.

On a five-point scale regarding the overall quality of education, public school received a 3 and home-schooling a 3.14. According to Ron Sellers, president of Ellison Research, one of the surprises of the study “was the fact that home-schooling is becoming more of an accepted form of education in the U.S.”

Count the Home School Legal Defense Association as one group that is not surprised. HSLDA has more than 80,000 member families and is the largest organization in the home-school community. We have seen tremendous growth and development of home-schooling over the past 10 years. Two million children are being home-schooled in the United States; every kind of curriculum is available online; and numerous home-school support groups and co-ops make home-schooling much easier than it was just 10 years ago. It should be gratifying for all home-schoolers to see that this sample of the general public acknowledged the educational value of a home-based education.

Though the debate over the quality of home-school education has largely been settled, the Ellison survey showed a significant disparity on the question, “Which is most likely to prepare students for life after graduation?” On this question, 42 percent chose public school and just 6 percent chose home-schooling.

Mr. Sellers described this result as a “bit of a head-scratcher.” How could people see public schools and home-schools as essentially equal regarding the overall quality of education but also think public schools best prepare students for life?

Perhaps the respondents were viewing home-schooling as isolating, discouraging interaction with the world. This is a myth. Home-schooling is not, as the name may suggest, confined to the home, but is a practical education based in the real world. Life in the adult world is full of diverse people and is largely unrelated to the peer-segregated environment of an institutional school. Being outside the institutional school environment speeds up the maturing process, thus preparing the home-schooler sooner and better for the adult world.

This is borne out by a 2004 study, ‘Homeschooling Grows Up,” which was designed to find out how home-school graduates are faring in society. Commissioned by HSLDA, this study surveyed more than 7,000 home-school graduates, and the results showed they were more involved with their communities than the average public school student and also were found in all types of employment.

Home-school students have many opportunities to learn in the “real world,” the place where we spend most of our lives, and do not see themselves as socially unprepared. In fact, just the opposite is true. Home-schoolers have myriad options when it comes to extracurricular activities. They go on field trips, socialize among home-school support groups and participate in sports leagues.

HSLDA is confident that with the passage of time, more people will come to understand the wisdom of preparation for life through home-schooling. An estimated 100,000 students graduate from home-schooling every year. As more people meet well-educated and socially prepared home-schoolers, the attitudes toward home-schooling will continue to improve and perception will be brought closer to reality.

Michael Smith is the president of the Home School Legal Defense Association. He may be contacted at 540/338-5600; or send e-mail to