Friday, March 26, 2010

Field Trip: Homeschool Day at the Zoo

The Kansas City Zoo had their first annual Homeschool Day yesterday. We went with another homeschooling family and really had a great time. It was well organized and I believe truly made learning fun for the kids.
We started off with a joint assembly to welcome everyone. Then they explained how and why we classify animals. The rest of day was spent exploring 5 different classifications of animals; Invertebrates, Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds and Mammals. For each category you could choose to attend a presentation, craft, activity (game) or take a tour. Here is Gess in our opening assembly excited to start the day.

For our first event we chose to play the Parachute game while learning about Invertebrates. They all got around their parachute and flung the balls around, but this time each of the balls had the name of an animal and they had to first get all the vertebrates out of the mix, then they would pick out certain groups of invertebrates like the bugs, the ones that live in the ocean, etc. Then they just played with the parachute a couple of times at the end. Gess really loved that game, but what kid doesn't like the parachute game?
The kids were also given a journal at the opening session in which they had to answer questions about each classification. No matter which event you chose, they were sure to share the basic facts for that section. The kids that completed their journal at the end of the day were given a free ticket to ride the carousel. Here is what Gess learned while playing the Parachute Game about Invertebrates.

Next we decided to take "A Close Look at Reptiles." While this was supposed to be an activity it turned out to be more of a lecture, but Gess sat through it pretty well and at the end she did get to feel some snake and turtle skins.

Then there was a break for lunch. We were welcome to brown bag it but we chose to get our food there. Here is Gess enjoying her hot dog.

Next we chose the Amphibians Tour. While this was inside and interesting, it was pretty crowded and loud so Gess sort of lost interest in staying with the group. There were several things to do inside the Discovery Barn. Here is Gess getting some time to explore things on her own.

Then for our last outing, we decided to tour the Australia Aviary. Gess really enjoyed being in with the birds, one in particular kept pecking at her and when it stopped, she would try to get it to do it again. I tried to capture it on camera, but this was the best shot I got.

There was a final group assembly to review what we had learned that day. Gess was a bit tired of structure at this time, but all in all, she did fairly well. Of course, she did document things in her journal and earned herself a free ticket for the carousel. She had an animal all picked out to ride, until it was time to actually get on. At the last minute she decided that she was NOT getting on them. She said it was "scary." So instead we chose one with a seat that didn't move and she enjoyed the ride.

Gess learned more about animals in one day of a hands on adventure then she would have in a month of lessons at home. Of course we plan on expanding on what we she learned. We will be looking up videos, books and information about each classification. I hope the Kansas City Zoo continues to offer this event every year. If they do, we certainly plan on attending! Of course we also plan on going back this summer to see the new Polar Bear Exhibit.
We want to thank the Kansas City Zoo for offering this program to homeschoolers. Going to the zoo on our own is fun, but having the experts teach you as you explore is resource we found very valuable!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

We All Pass Gas

Gesserine has recently discovered certain bodily functions. It is always so funny to hear a child discover these things. Well, for this particular one Gess would be sitting there and suddenly say "It stinks in my private parts!" This really cracked us up, but it also needed to be addressed before she decided to announce this information in public!
I have been trying to explain to her that passing gas is something we all do, and that it is perfectly normal, however it's not something we have to tell everyone about. I have recently become a fan of the Doctor Oz show and she loves watching it with me. I thought of writing to him to see if he could address this topic when it occurred to me, he may have already done so. Sure enough, he had a segment titled "Why We All Pass Gas."

Gesserine and I watched this and when we were done she went into the kitchen and got some foods from his video, handed them to me and said "gas." Yep, certain foods can cause gas! She learned that much from it. She loves watching the video, but she calls it "We ALWAYS pass gas." Gee, now I think that would be a problem!
I would love to hear how others have handled this issue and learn about tools you use. I think there actually are books about it somewhere. It is just so hard not to laugh when she hears the sound and says "Oh no, it stinks again!" You gotta love kids!
If anyone has any other great ideas on how to teach this topic to children, please share, as Gess is still very interested , and very vocal, about this topic.

Friday, March 12, 2010

DS Awareness posters mocked on the web

Unfortunately the poster contest has been suspended again. This time it had nothing to do with counting errors or problems on their end. No, this time it was due to the malicious behavior of people who think ridiculing persons with special needs is a fun thing to do. There are sites on the internet now that have stolen the posters from the gallery and have modified them to mock the very point we were trying to make. My heart breaks. Not only for our loved ones who are being attacked, but for people in this world who can find no joy or honor in their own life without having to first tear someone else down.

Man honors intelligence as a god. That is why he mocks those whose brain functions differently from their own. They believe that different can not be good, or else they can not be "better." They take all their supposed intellect and measure it with a mere number, forgetting that the to be wise one must take the knowledge he has learned and put it to good use. Instead they take that number and wear it as a badge of honor and ridicule those who have a score much lower than their own. However, true wisdom and intelligence are demonstrated, not by the number of our IQ score, but in a "good life, by deeds done in... humility...the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere." (James 3:13-18)

James 3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom . 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such "wisdom " does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
My daughter has many of those qualities which means that she is wiser than the so-called "intellects" who would waste their valuable time manipulating images of persons with special needs to mock them. If they would only take the time to get to know them they would be shocked to find out how truly smart these people are. To anyone who may have done this to my daughter, know that we will pray for you and hope that one day your heart truly will be changed. Not just in ways that will make you see what a blessing each human life is, but in a way that will grant you the gift of eternal life. Forgiveness can be found in Jesus Christ, we hope that someday you will seek it.

Eph 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Gesserine in DS Awareness Poster Contest

The National Down Syndrome Congress is having a poster contest for their "We're More Alike Than Different" campaign. We have entered Gesserine in the contest with a picture I had taken for this blog. (Poster Submission #133)We chose this picture, not just because it is cute, but because we feel it really speaks to the heart of the message.
Do you know that people are actually amazed that Gesserine is able to read? These people are not mean spirited or bigoted, they simply do not know anything about Down Syndrome. I can't stand in judgment on them for that. I was clueless as to what it was before Gesserine was born myself.
Now I know that while a diagnosis of Down Syndrome does mean that a child will have some difficulty and struggles in life, the diagnosis itself is NOT enough to tell us what those struggles will be. Some children with DS will struggle to read, others, like Gess, will excel at it. Some will struggle with physical skills, while others will earn medals for various sports. Some will have health issues and need serious surgery while other children will live a rather healthy life. Boy, this sounds an awful lot like ALL of us! We all have areas that we will struggle with, the important thing is to realize that a label of Down Syndrome does not tell us what those struggles will be. It simply means that they have an extra chromosome. What that person can or can not do should be left up to them to discover. Realize that we ARE more alike than we are different, and we should embrace our differences, rather than ridicule them.
So this is the poster we have submitted for the contest. If you like our submission we would like your vote. The contest originally had some issues and was closed, but it is now open again starting from scratch. Please note that all votes prior to March 5 2010 do NOT count. I would appreciate you voting again if you have the time. Below is the information from their website on how and when to vote. If you have trouble getting to the proper links here, click on the Headquarters link and go directly from their site. Thank you for considering Gesserine (poster #133) as you vote.

More Alike Campaign Headquarters

When we announced the start of voting, we received an unexpectedly large response. Due to the challenges that occurred while we uploaded over 150 new posters, we had to close the original voting process.

Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused.

We also learned that some people voted for the same poster more than once on their ballot. This time, please vote for a separate poster for each of your three choices. We will discard the duplicate votes on any ballot where more than one vote appears for the same poster.

The link below will now open a new ballot starting March 5, 2010. Voting will continue through April 1.

Thank you,

As you review the gallery, please note the number of the three posters you like best and then return here to vote for your favorites.

To view the gallery, please click here.

The NDSC will produce the three posters which receive the greatest number of votes between now and April 1, 2010 and will make them part of the More Alike campaign by mid-summer, just in time for the NDSC national Convention.

To cast your vote for your three favorite posters, please click here and then follow the simple ballot instructions.

Monday, March 1, 2010

We are more alike than different!

The poster contest has had some issues with poster's numbers changing that they can not resolve. The restarted the contest and I blogged about it here. Thanks so much everyone!

Gesserine in DS Awareness Poster Contest


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