Tell Me a Story about … a Field Trip!

“What did that billboard say? A cat show?”10-3-18 B 

Most times, I only glance at signs while driving on the highway … well, the big ones, not the directional and speed limit ones. This time, I noticed the billboard advertising a cat show in our area for the next day. 

Figuring the ticket prices wouldn’t fit a homeschooling family on a sub-zero budget, I still got off the next exit and circled around to check for more information. Imagine my surprise to discover it cost only $5.00 for adults and children under twelve got in free. The next day, I counted out some change we’d been saving, and our two daughters and I went to a cat show! 

Why, you may ask, all the excitement over a field trip to a cat show? We’d chosen pets as our unit study theme for the beginning of that school year, and anything pet-related topped our list of things to do. We’d visited a pet store, managing to get out with a toy for our dog instead of the twelve pets the girls thought we should have bought. 

10-9-18We’d also gone to a German Shepherd kennel, where the owner showed us how his search-and-rescue dogs worked. Afterward, the girls showed him how they’d trained their dogs and braided their own collars and leashes out of psychedelic yarn. He paid close attention as they explained their techniques and put their STUFFED dogs through their paces! (He restrained his laughter until after we were gone, I suppose.)

So, a cat show added a new dimension to our study, and besides, we all three loved cute, cuddly kittens! Well, I thought there would be “cute, cuddly kittens.” 10-3-18 A

“Mama, that cat lost all its hair!” “Mama, that cat hurt its ears!” “Mama, where is that cat’s tail?” 

As we walked around, I realized I didn’t know much about cats. What an educational field trip, for both the students and the teacher! We peered into kennel after kennel of fluffy Persians, sleek Siamese, and exotic Maine Coons. The latter, we decided, topped our favorites’ list, especially since their grandma owned two of them.

10-3-18 EBefore we left, we wanted to take in one of the judging sessions, to see how it was done. We sat on some folding chairs and watched the judge lift one end of a cat, then the other, hold up its tail, then its head. And the cat just took it in stride. Our youngest piped up a bit loudly, “Mama, if we did that to Misty, we’d get scratched!” 

The judge looked at us, smiled, and invited our kindergartner up to join him in judging the next cat! And she went! I don’t recall what happened, but the experience remains one of our most recounted of those early years. And all because of a chance sighting of a billboard. 

Oh, how I loved God’s serendipitous delights He sent our way during our homeschool years! And He still loves sending them today. In fact, while looking for photos to add to this post, I discovered a breed of cat which may have been crossbred with an ocelot – an Ocicat!

*** What field trip memories do you have? Share a story with us! Click on the words beside the date of this post. Scroll down to the box with the heading, “Leave a reply.” Thank you for sharing! 

*** If you leave a comment, check back for my reply to it. I always respond to comments!

Tell Me a Story about … Magazines!

FOF 1 A (3)How recently have you meandered into a bookstore and checked out the magazine racks … and racks … and racks? Even with the number of magazine publishers closing, there remains a plethora of choices to fit any age, any interest. Women’s magazines full of recipes and homemaking tips. Men’s magazines filled with car engines and fishing lures. Kids’ magazines with puzzles and coloring pages. How can anyone decide on just one?

Being a writer and having an extra share of cFOF 1 C (2)reativity, when it came to teaching our daughters about writing, I chose not to focus on reports—the dreaded book reports of elementary school and those nasty 10-pagers of secondary levels. I figured the skills necessary to write those scholarly pieces could come through a more fun and no-less-educational foray into the world of magazine-making.

While studying animals, we created whole magazines with stories, poems, and more. Pictures cut out of glossy nature magazines and pasted on notebook paper allowed them to write short articles about the animals, which included a bit of research and teaching on journalism styles. Lists of horse breeds or FOF 2 B (2)habitats became word search puzzles. Pictures made from those old trace-and-color books became “Color Your Own Picture” pages.

Even comic strips drawn on blank sheets of copy paper offered lessons: art, dialogue, comedy writing. Add construction paper covers and staples to hold them all together and we had a magazine to treasure … and put in the portfolios for proof of our lessons in English, math, sciencFOF 2 A (3)e, art, and more.

With ten years between the first two daughters’ school years and their sister Faith’s, I had the joy of doing this exercise twice. I remember Faith called her magazine Kit’s Kreatures, after her favorite American Girl.

But Faith didn’t stop there. One day she came to me and said, “MaFOF 2 C (2)ma, I want to make my own magazine and sell subscriptions to it!” And so we did … and Focus on Fun was born.

Over the next four years, Faith developed, designed, and co-wrote her own 16-page magazine, with as many as 22 subscriptions one year. We kitchen-table published it, as professionally as we could, being lucky enough to own a copier (perks of a husband who works in the office products industry). Though often stressed to get the current issue out on time, we still enjoyed the brainstorming for each issue, choosing new “columns” and other articles to write.

This venture also gave Faith an incredible foundation in running her own business with credits and debits, overhead and invoices. The entire experience filled her homeschool FOF 1 B (2)days with more learning, academic and life-skills, than any 10-page research paper would have brought her. And it was a whole lot more fun!

The photos included with this post are from various issues of Focus on Fun. If anyone is interested in how we went about this, contact us at legaciesletloose@gmail.com!

*** Have you ever written a magazine article? Do you read any magazines regularly? Share your thoughts with us! Click on the words beside the date of this post. Scroll down to the box with the heading, “Leave a reply.” Thank you for sharing!

*** If you leave a comment, check back for my reply to it. I always respond to comments!

Tell Me a Story about … Dinosaurs!

9-5-18 E“Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous! Such difficult words, my gracious! They happened, you know, way back long ago, for these were the dinosaur ages!” 

Ah, how the words of that simple poem ring in the ears of my memories! We chose to homeschool our daughters, and what a delight that experience brought this mama! God used my desire to teach in the best way possible. And having an outlet for my overly-active creativity added my own uniqueness to the fun. 

One year, we did a unit on dinosaurs, complete with two huge, 3-D cardboard dinos displayed for the first day. The poem above came from a cassette tape with an hour’s worth of dinosaur poems and songs, including “Danny, the Dancing Dinosaur” who “loved to dance and he loved to roar”! I recall snippets from others, but the short poem above stood out because our daughters loved saying the “big words.” In fact, they could say parasaurolophus and ichthyosaurus long before I could even identify them! 

That September, we took a trip to Dinosaurland in Virginia. During our drive, I slipped the dino 9-5-18 Fcassette into the car’s tape player to surprise the girls. Singing with different music helped pass the time. This one delighted the girls and their mama and would be played often, with lots of dinosaur stomping and roaring … and little girl giggles. 

Dinosaurland brought thrills as we toured the park-like grounds. What’s behind that tree? Oh my! A stegosaurus! And over there … is that … could that be … yes, it is! It’s a tyrannosaurus rex! And look! There’s blood on its mouth from its recent kill lying on the ground in front of him! (Daddy thought this a realistic display, but mama hurried the girls towards the gift shop!)  

On the homefront, one of the reading activities we did remains a favorite of the girls. Each of them picked a dinosaur—a brontosaurus for Holly and a triceratops for Sarah. (Note: this came before we realized there’s no such thing as a brontosaurus! What we grew up calling a brontosaurus, the paleontologists first called an Apatosaurus and first names stand. ) 

9-5-18 BWe found the length of each dinosaur … without the benefit of internet for all of you hurrying to google it. Holly’s came in at a whopping 75 feet, while “Cera” barely topped 30. Next, we cut one-foot lengths of colored yarn. Each time the girls read a book, they chose a colored strand and tied it to the last one they’d chosen, winding them into a raggedy ball. Of course, since “Cera’s” ball was completed sooner, “our Sarah” started adding to the bronto-ball to finish it. 

To end our unit study, we bought the girls wooden skeleton kits to put together. Did you ever try to glue the backbones of a triceratops down it’s curvy spine, trying to decide if this piece is a tiny bit bigger than that one, making it needed closer to the end of the tail? And how in the 9-5-18 Dworld do you make a parasaurolophus’ long head protrusions stay in place?

I don’t think God had this much trouble when He put those skeletal pieces together to create dinosaurs, but I’m glad He did so. What joy the animal world in all its many varieties, past and present, brings to our family and many others around the world!

*** What dinosaur memories tromp through your mind? Share some with us! Click on the words beside the date of this post. Scroll down to the box with the heading, “Leave a reply.” Thank you for sharing!

*** If you leave a comment, check back for my reply to it. I always respond to comments!

Walking – Part 2

          By the 1990s, we had returned to mountains of PA, begun our family, and started our homeschool journey. Walking added much to our phys. ed. class.

          A 5-day program built muscles in our bodies and brains. Mondays held long leisurely strolls along our road; Tuesdays, a brisk heart-pumping walk (not a favorite of mom or kids). Wednesdays, we identified wildflowers and Thursdays, we picked up trash. Fridays, we walked with friends or family wherever we were.

         These walks became our Walk-Across-America program! Each time we walked, we noted the mileage with different colors on a chart. We’d marked the distances to places we wanted to visit, such as the Statue of Liberty. We never made it to most of those goals, but we enjoyed trying.

          5-14-18 AThe next walk starts with a question: have you ever been on a bear hunt? One day during our unit on bears, we read Blueberries for Sal, made a trail mix bears would eat, and created toilet-paper tube flashlights. After supper, we gathered our supplies and courage and went into the woods to hunt for bears.

          Daddy led the way in the lessening light. The girls got gooey from bits of chewy fruit while I brought up the rear watching for a bear. Sure enough, around a bend, I spied one in a tree! The girls gasped and pointed their flashlights. It was a brown bear, and across the path in another tree, his white twin sat snug on a branch. Within moments, girlish giggles filled the air. Unknown to them, Daddy had snuck their teddy bears out of the house and hid them in the trees. That walk made history for the Mayfields!

          With the new century, a seizure disorder often kept me housebound. Walks became fewer and shorter, although sometimes the best things are right down the road. Less than a quarter mile from our house, my husband and I enjoyed watching a barred owl baby learning to hunt. From a tree about ten feet away, the fluffy owlet peered at us. We held our breath. When his parents whistled, he turned towards their warning, then his dark eyes found us again. An amazing twenty-minutes later, he flew off. Not much exercise on that walk!From 5-2016

          Finally, with the seizures gone and the owl grown, the current decade brought a new dog and grandchildren! Walking became a joy once more. Of course, pushing a stroller again doesn’t come as easy as a couple decades ago! Still, I need to strengthen more than my walking legs to keep up with these kids!

*** Have you ever seen amazing animals or interesting places on your walks? Tell us about one or two! To leave your story, click on the words beside the date under the title of this post. Then, scroll to the bottom of the comment section to find the box with the heading, “Leave a reply.” Thank you for sharing!

*** Next Monday, our story word begins with a “B.” Any guesses? It’s not balloon or badger, nor banana or blue. What could it be?