Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: Fascinating World of Mammals DVD

When we go to the library I find that Gess rents more educational DVDs than she does entertaining movies.  She seems to enjoy learning about new things so when I had the opportunity to review The Fascinating World of Mammals DVD by BrainFood Learning I figured it would be something she would enjoy.

The Fascinating World of Mammals uses a mixture of beautiful images and video footage of mammals in their natural habitat while explaining certain facts, key points and vocabulary words for each mammal.


The Fascinating World of Mammals is a 52 minute DVD in which they say "children of all ages can benefit from the videos."  While that is probably true I would recommend it for preschool up to around age 10.  However, the vocabulary words on the video are pretty tough so there is something for older students as well I just don't know if they would enjoy watching it as much as the younger children will.

The first segment defines what a mammal is and uses examples to highlight the main distinctions of a mammal such as they are warm blooded, have hair and lungs, are vertebrates, etc.  They use humans as examples of mammals that have hair and lungs and various animals for the rest.  After they teach you what a mammal is they examine 10 different mammals and vocabulary words.  At the end of the video there are 5 reviews for the student to do.

1. Mammal Flash Cards
2. Review the Mammals
3.  Features of a Mammal
4.  Review the Mammal Facts
5.  Review the Big Words

I liked that the reviews offered something for every age group.  The first segment was simply mammal flash cards identifying the name of each mammal with the picture.  These are good for preschoolers and young students.  They verbally say the name of the mammal twice while showing both the name and picture on the screen.  There was no quiz for this one.

The next 4 reviews were multiple choice quizzes that were shown on the screen and read audibly on the video.  After they read all three answer choices you were given about 2 seconds to respond before they show you the answer.  You can always pause it if you need more time but that seemed sufficient for Gess, partly because she could read it while they were talking.

The vocabulary words were the big words.  I like that young children can begin to get familiar with these terms we often think are too hard for them like hibernation, echolocation, ruminant, and vertebrates.  Here is Gess watching one of the quizzes.


While you can play the video from beginning to end you can also go to the menu and watch one mammal segment at a time.  Be sure to just hit play first though, as I think that is the only way to see the introduction to the term mammal.  The main menu lets you see each individual mammal segment but not that very first part about what a mammal is.  There is also a menu to choose to do review segments individually as well. 

We watched the video from the beginning and then just watched the first few mammals. The next day we watched the rest of the mammal segments and after that we did the reviews.  Gess was old enough to really do it all together but its nice that you can space it out for younger children.

Gess seemed to enjoy the video and interacted with the quizzes.  While it isn't a video she chose to watch on her own, she enjoyed it when we did watch it. I think it was just a little young for her but I thought it was pretty well done.  Visually it was appealing.  The teaching was clear, precise and just about the right length.  I think that it is very good for children who have special needs like Gess because it is not too flashy or fast paced.  I wish there were more mammals on the DVD but it is a good start to learning what a mammal is.  I also did not find any references to origins throughout the DVD. 

I think The Fascinating World of Mammals DVD is a really nice addition to a homeschool or family library.  You can add it to any study or use it alone and let the child enjoy learning.  My grand-daughter who is only three was excited to watch it as well.  I love that she doesn't even know that she is learning.

The Fascinating World of Mammals DVD sells for $14.99 which is not a bad price considering it is almost an hour long and has a variety of quizzes and viewing options.  They also have The Fascinating World of Insects and The Fascinating World of Birds which other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew were able to preview.  To learn more about each of the products visit their website or click on the banner below to read more reviews.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Challenge has been met!

I want to thank all of my readers for bearing with me this month as I took the Ultimate Blog Challenge which had me post one blog a day for the entire month of July.  With my last post scheduled for tomorrow I figured today would be a good day to celebrate! 

Blogging is hard, especially when your topic is based around a certain subject.  Coming up with ideas and things to share is a real challenge.  Participating in the UBC helped me really work at keeping material fresh and new.  I know many of my posts were personal, but as I have said before I think it is important to see what is going on in my daughter's life.  Every experience she goes through is part of her learning process.  Seeing what she is capable of is part of advocacy for children with special needs and in particular Down syndrome.

Now that the challenge is over I will go back to my regular schedule of blogging.  My personal goal is to post 3 non-review posts per week. That may not always happen, but it is what I want.  My review posts are important too as they help my readers browse curriculum and materials from home and really see how they work in real life and in particular in relation to special needs.  However I want to be sure I cover a wide variety of topics and reviews are only a small part of that. 

Thanks for bearing with me!  I am pleased with my personal success at finishing the challenge!  It was tough, but it was fun! 

Monday, July 29, 2013

5 Days of Hands-on Learning Topics

I have been working on my posts for the 5 Days of Blog Hop from the Schoolhouse Review Crew which is coming up August 5-9.  There are several topics that will be addressed by other writers.  I am looking forward to reading them.  Some that are on the top of my to read list are:

Science Fun
Homeschooling with Special Needs
A Learning Lifestyle
Dad Friendly Homeschooling
Being His Hands and Feet.

There are several more topics of interest from homeschooling styles, curriculum selections, beginning the homeschooling journey, field trips and so much more.

I wanted to let you know what my posts will specifically be about.  Here are my topics for 5 Days of Hands-On Learning.

Day 1 - Why Hands-on Learning is Important This explains some reasons hands-on learning is important and how it is helpful for children of all learning styles whether or not they have special needs.

Day 2 - Adapting Lessons to Hands-on Learning This post gives some basic examples of how to take a lesson and make it hands-on. This allows you to work with materials you already have rather than looking for a specialized hands-on curriculum.

Day 3 - Incorporating Manipulatives in Lessons This offers some simple ways to incorporate manipulatives into your lessons so that your child has a way to use their hands in every subject.

Day 4 - Teaching With Games Games are one of the funnest ways to get hands-on learning in. Here are some ideas of not only what games to play but how this benefits learning even if you are playing just for fun.

Day 5 - Hands-on Learning: A Whole Body Experience Hands-on learning is more than just using your hands. Sometimes its helpful to get up on your feet, move around and get your whole body into the lesson.

So remember to check back August 5-9 for my 5 Days of Hands-on Learning and see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew are writing about too!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Lessons from Sports Camp

Our Sports Camp at church was amazing.  The them was "Off the Bench" and they used BENCH as an acronym to remember their theme for each day.

B - Be Prepared
E - Be an Encourager
N - Narrow Your Focus
C - Change the Outcome
H - Hope

It was fun to watch Gess apply these principles through the week.  On Tuesday Gess had piano lessons and her instructor, who also helped out at camp, told her that she did a really good job playing.  Gess immediately responded by saying, "You are an encourager!"  It was neat to see her apply that in a way that showed she truly understood what it meant.

The next day we were at the store and Gess was looking at some canned goods and she held her hands by her eyes as she looked and said "Look mom I have my focus."  OK, so she didn't quite get that lesson as well, but she was listening!

Gess participated in cheer-leading and had a lot of fun.  They said she did really good in the class.  Here she is with one of the helpers who attends our church.  It was the last day and they were supposed to dress crazy.  We forgot so Gess is just in her normal sports gear!


Here is part of one of the cheers they did for the parents at the end.


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: Global Art

Art is not my thing, but my daughter, who has special needs, seems to love to express herself creatively so I have to find a way to work that in.  Since my Gess is a hands on learner I thought it would be fun to review Global Art from Gryphon House to tackle art and learning at the same time.

Global Art is not just your average art book.  Instead it specializes in activities based upon art and culture from around world.  The goal is not necessarily to make a masterpiece, but rather to experience the process and learn about the culture from where that type of art originated.


Each activity is based upon customs, celebrations, discoveries, inventions, or native materials that are used in art in that particular area.  You will find a Did you know segment on each project page that shows the location of the country on the map and gives you a tidbit of information about how that project is relevant to the country.  For instance, Moribana is a style of flower arranging that has been used in Japan for hundreds of years.  "The main idea of Moribana scenery style flower arranging is to depict a miniature version of a woodland scene with a stream or pond."

Gess had fun creating her Moribana.  The goal here was learning the artistry of the Japanese people rather than just what kind if pretty scene she could make.




The projects are categorized by their continent but there are indexes in the back that let you search by country, terms and materials, preparation, art medium, experience level or alphabetically.  That came in handy as sometimes I wanted an activity to go along with our geography lesson and other times I wanted to look for something by skill level.  I would often find Gess just going through the book on her own and picking them out based upon how fun they looked to make.  Here is one time I just found her in the kitchen browsing through the book.


At the top of each project pages are icons that tell you the experience level, art techniques, and planning and preparation level.  Here is an example.


The 3 stars means that the Animal Masks have an experience level of 3, a planning and preparation level of 2 and primarily focuses on the technique of sculpting.  The book explains what to expect from each of the categories.

While Gess periodically chose activities she wanted to do we never did do an experience level 3.  It either had ingredients that were hard to find or I felt it was too difficult for Gess to do, especially with her special needs.  There were definitely more levels 1 and 2 anyway, so that wasn't a problem.  There certainly is something there for everyone.

The Moribama that I showed earlier was an experience level 2.  Since we were beginning to study Africa I looked for activities in that region and found an easy level 1 that Gess was able to do alone.  Here is Gess sporting her version of a Central African Decorative Necklace.


Overall I thought the projects were fun and I did like how they helped the child learn about the culture.  I wish there had been a little more information about each country in the book, but there was certainly enough to explain the activity.  I also liked that the activities were not your average crafts.  These really were specific to learning about culture rather than just art alone.  There were definitely things I had not considered doing and plenty for both of us to learn from.  While there are probably some we will never do, I have several marked on my list that I want to implement when we are actually studying those specific countries in history and geography.

Global Art is suited for children up to about the 5th grade and sells for $16.95Gryphon House also has other art books as well as other early childhood resources.  To learn more visit their website or see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought about it by clicking on the banner below.

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Free Friday: Visual Fractions

Special Needs Homeschool shared the greatest resource on Facebook the other day so I wanted to share it with you.  It's called Visual Fractions.  It helps you visually identify, rename, compare, add, subtract, multiply and divide fractions.  I know this will be a great tool for Gess!


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Fostering Independence: Lock Laces

Someone in one of my Facebook groups shared these neat little shoe laces that are great for kiddos who struggle with tying their shoes.  Lock Laces are elastic laces that come with a gadget that locks them permanently into place.  There is a slider which enables you to loosen and tighten them as needed.  I bought a pair just to see how they would work and we love them!


Now I no longer have to look for shoes for Gess that will simply slip on or use Velcro.  Of course at a price of  $7.99 each it does increase the overall price of the shoe but to me it's worth it.  Anything that gives Gess independence is a great item.  You can buy them in packs of 3 for $19.99.  I think I may do that next time and use a pair myself.  These really were made for runners and athletes but whatever the reason I am so glad I found them! 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Gess and Sports Camp in the News

Our church is hosting a Sports Camp this week instead of Vacation Bible School. The theme is getting Off the Bench and is tied around the verse 2 Peter 3:15.

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect

The local paper came to check it out and shared a few photos.  Gess is in one of them.  She is on the front row there on the bottom left with her hand pointing out instead of up.


She is loving sports camp. This is the first year she has participated without me being around.  She probably loves that but I feel I am missing all the fun. Of course with the new grand-baby I have other things I must do anyway and I love the independence it is giving her.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The baby is here!

Let me introduce you to Bianca Anne.  Her middle was taken after my middle name.  Gess was a little shy about visiting the hospital but did very well and as you can see, loved the baby!


Here is her brother Terry holding his new bundle of joy.


And grandma of course.  I watched the little sisters most of the day.  I was extremely tired.  It looks here like I am about to fall asleep too and I can tell you that I certainly could have!


Down Syndrome - Did You Know They Have A Variety of Emotions?

Did you know that people with Down syndrome have a wide variety of emotions?  While you will often hear that people with Down syndrome are always happy, that is not really true!

People with Down syndrome have the same range of emotions as everyone else.  Yes, Gess is often happy and pleasant, but so are most kids!  I have taught children in church for many years and I can assure you that most of them are generally happy most of the time but since they don't have special needs that doesn't get noticed as much.

That's right.  We notice the kids who are not pleasant.  The kids who get in trouble, act out, are mopey, disagreeable or stubborn.  Well I have news for you, Gess has experienced each of those emotions too.  We all have.  I know kids with Down syndrome who smile a lot and kids with Down syndrome who don't.  I know "typical" kids who smile a lot too, and I also know typical kids who don't.  Do you get where I am going here?

People with Down syndrome are not happy all the time nor are they "happy people."  They are people who have a wide range of emotions.  I can tell you that just less than an hour ago my daughter was not happy.  She was quite angry.  She lashed out.  She also lost privileges for her attitude too, but you have to know that she has one and it's not always good. I have often said that Gess' smile could light up the whole world and that is still true.  But you know when she cries her tears are so powerful I feel like they could flood the whole earth. They at least flood my heart.

I think the people with Down syndrome are happy myth bothers parents because we deal with their wide and varied range of emotions on a daily basis.  We are the ones that have to try to figure out why they feel upset and then teach them the appropriate ways to respond to those emotions.  Days like that can be awfully hard.  After dealing with one of Gess' melt downs the last thing I want to hear is how happy she is all the time.  Give me a break, please! 

Remember people with Down syndrome are people first.  They have the same human nature the rest of us do and they are not any better at dealing with stress than we are.  They can often be happy, yes, but they are not always happy and what happiness they feel is due the fact that they are experiencing something that makes them happy.  It's not their extra chromosome that causes a condition of happiness, it's being treated with respect and living in an environment in which they are loved.  I think that would make anyone happy.  Wouldn't you agree?


This post is part of my new Did You Know? About Down Syndrome Awareness Series where I post random facts about Down syndrome to help educate others about DS.  Feel free to post suggestions for future topics in my comment section.  I would love to hear what you would like to discuss!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Down Syndrome and Homeschooling Moms Facebook Group

On Friday I gathered some of my friends and started a group specifically geared towards homeschooling children with Down syndrome.  There are great resources for general special needs groups, as I have mentioned before, but sometimes it is nice to have a Down syndrome specific discussion.  While there were a few groups with that name they either weren't as active or limited discussion topics.  So I started a group:


This group will be open to any homeschooling mom who has a child with Down syndrome.  You can feel free to discuss anything related to homeschooling, Down syndrome, parenting, or just life.  You can ask questions, share advice and resources, tell us of your great successes, cry on a rough day or whatever else you feel led to do.  All we ask is that you respect your fellow group mates and don't try to market items unrelated to the topic.  I want to know all about the latest sale on curriculum or educational toys but this is not the place to sell jewelry or clothes, etc.

I would love for my readers to join in on the discussion.  If you have a child with Down syndrome and are homeschooling, or considering homeschooling, this is a great place to converse with others who are doing the same!  Come share a bit of your life and we will share a little of ours.  We can learn a lot from each other so please consider joining us!


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Bible Trivia Anyone?

We have this very old Bible Trivia game that my husband's mom gave us when we first got married.  She didn't give it to us brand new, it was used, but she knew my husband and I enjoyed playing.  When my boys were younger and before Gess ever entered the scene we used to play it quite a bit.  We had a system for dealing with the tough Old Testament questions.  "When in doubt, answer David!"  It's not that David is often the answer, that just seemed to be what the boys would say if they didn't know the answer.  It soon became our replacement for "I don't know."  It was always funny when it paid off and we got it right! 

Well, Gess really loves to sit down and play games in the evening.  One night my husband was saying how it would be nice to be able to play that old Bible Trivia game with her.  I immediately got up, went to one of our closets and pulled out the box and said "you mean this old thing?"  He was glad we still had it.  The box was so beat up that we decided to put in a shoe, or rather boot box.  The board itself is falling a part and has seen better days but the questions are still tough but fun.


The game has both adult and children's cards so we ask Gess the blue cards and we get asked the white ones.  The print is really small on the cards but with a little help Gess can still read them.

 

Most of the time I can understand the question just fine but occasionally we have read it ourselves. Gess does fairly well answering questions too but, she like all of us, she gets plenty wrong.  Some of her answers reveal her trouble comprehending and/or communicating the correct response.  Tonight her question was:

"What did Jesus say a Christian should do if someone hits him on the cheek?"

Her answer was "Hit them on the other cheek!" Well, she got the "other cheek" part right anyway!

After playing this for a few months I have actually discovered that Gess knows a whole lot more about the Old Testament than she does the New Testament!  It's usually the other way around with kids. This year when school starts I am going focus on the New Testament!  In the mean time we are having fun playing the game. It's a great way to enhance Biblical knowledge in a fun way.  Gess doesn't always get the answers right, but she sure has fun playing it.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

An American Girl Tea Party


Want to know what is so great about this picture?  I didn't take it.  That's right, my daughter is in the yellow shirt in the upper right corner and I was not even in the room.  Our library has wonderful programs every summer and young girls get to go to the Mad Hatter's Tea Party.  However when you get older they now have an American Girl Tea Party. 

Gess is finally old enough to go alone.  While I was around at the library in case they needed me I didn't stay in the room with her.  Sure, she has been left alone at classes at church, gymnastics and other things like that but this was the first one where most of the kids were strangers to her.  

I am sure Gess could have done a lot of these things on her own when she was younger but I liked to be there in case communication became a problem but I also just enjoyed helping and watching her.  It was during those times that I taught Gess how she was supposed to behave and what was expected of her.  I was also able to teach other people how to relate to and communicate with Gess.  She has learned well and I know that now she is older she doesn't always want me around, especially in the age group where other mom's aren't there too.  I still peeked in the door a few times to see how she was doing but I left her basically alone. 

The librarians assured me that Gess had a great time. She said her favorite part was playing bingo.  She also got a great surprise!  They gave each girl an American Girl Collection of Kaya stories!  I bet you can guess what our next read alongs will be.  So here is my American girl with her new set of books.  I am so proud of her!


Friday, July 19, 2013

Dinosaurs, Genesis & The Gospel Follow Up

One FREE Friday I shared a great resource from Answers in Genesis which is allowing you to download their Dinosaurs, Genesis and The Gospel for KIDS video for free!  I wanted to share our experience with this great FREE resource and remind you that you still have time to get your copy for FREE too!

We downloaded the video and thoroughly enjoyed watching it.  We then went through the free discussion questions they also provided.  After that Gess took the 4th Grade Science Test that started all the controversy.   Here is Gess' test!



The controversy started when a parent who sent their child to a Christian school was actually upset that the Christian school taught the Christian belief in creation!  She posted her child's test on a social media website and the atheists had a field day with it.  I think what bothered them the most was that this curriclum used science to back up the Bible! That's right, this video uses science and dinosaurs to PROVE creation is true!

Gess really enjoyed the video and I was also impressed.  Usually when a person is talking, like a preacher, or whatever, Gess doesn't like to listen.  They certainly presented this in a very fun, child-like fashion but with very solid evidences and biblical principles!

When discussing evolution and what some people believed Gess asked a very deep and profound question.  Why?  Why indeed do people choose to believe we came from evolution through random chance rather than realize that we were created by God?  That  is a very valid question.  One you will most likely be ridiculed for even asking.  And why is that?  Isn't the entire point of science to ask questions?  What's the first process in implementing the scientific method?  Asking a question! 

The problem is that evolution can't be tested using the scientific method.  You see, creationists believe in observational science.  We believe in science that uses the scientific method. What we do not believe in is the historical science that is not based upon direct observation.  Science means knowledge and the only way to have knowledge is to either observe it or have access to information from someone who has.  We have that in the Bible.  We have the Word of God and God was there when the world was created.  Evolutionists can scoff at that if they want, but they don't have that with their theory of evolution.  No one has ever witnessed or observed evolution in which new genetic information has been added to a species.  No one. 

So here is Gess watching the video.  She has actually watched it several times now though she seems to watch part 2 more than part 1.  While she enjoyed sitting and watching the video, when they had songs she had to get up, dance and sing along.




I am one parent that is glad my child is being taught the truth of creation!  But you know evolution has been so ingrained in our culture that even though Gess is homeschooled she still got confused about the questions that had billions and millions of years in them.  She has heard that so much she wasn't sure which one to answer.  At one point she had them both circled!  As Christians we need to remember that science and the Bible co-exist without compromising the foundations of our faith.  We need to stand against the culture that bullies us into submission when we point out the serious flaws in their theory. 

Thanks Answers in Genesis for offering this resource free for a limited time!  We were so blessed by it!  It's wonderful to have a resource that we can count on to be accurate and uncompromising.  It was fun to see Adam living together with the dinosaurs, to see dinosaurs on the ark and to hear explanations that use science to prove the Biblical accounts of Genesis.  We thank you for the offer and we took your challenge and you can see the results.  My 11 year old daughter, who happens to have Down syndrome, passed her 4th grade science test! We hope our readers will use the video to teach these truths too.  We will definitely be using more Answers in Genesis materials in our science and church classes in the future!

You still have time to Use the Recent Atheist Attacks to Teach More Kids the Truth.  Offer ends July 31!


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bible Book Blocks

As I am preparing for my 5 Days of Hands-on Learning Blog Hop I was reminded of this great tool that helped Gess learn the books of the New Testament.  She used these about 3 or 4 years ago but I pulled them out again to practice and show you what a neat idea it is.  Putting the names on blocks really helped her do a better job of memorizing.  It was neat to have the visual cue and great to have her hands actually picking them up and putting them in order.  As I mentioned in my post about Church Camp the fact that she can still quote these without any cues now earned her quite a few points and a prize!

At first she tried to stack them but it started to fall.


So we laid them on their sides.


It's a lot easier once you have them memorized.  They sure were a great tool when she was first learning!


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Baby On The Way

Before you ask, no it's not mine!  I am expecting another grandbaby on July 22nd!  We are very excited!  We are also enjoying as much time as we can with the two older siblings.  Once the baby is born I won't be able to pick up mom and the kids anymore.  My car will only fit the 5 of us.  I guess we will just have to visit at their house or walk to the library together.  Here were some cute shots of Gess and the grandkids from the other day.  Be looking for pictures of the latest addition to this crew next week!









Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Down Syndrome - Did You Know They Can Drive?

Did you know that people with Down syndrome can get a driver's license?  That thought both excites and frightens me! Gess barely pays attention when she is pushing her cart through the store so I can't imagine her out on the road.  Of course since she is only 11 she has plenty of time to mature in that regard!

My daughter has been asking to drive since she was about 7 years old.  My response has been to her that she can drive when she turns 18 and passes the test.  See, I don't want to discourage her from trying but she does need to know there may be obstacles.

Many people with Down syndrome do not drive, but there are some that do!  I read a story about one mom who told her daughter that she would buy her an expensive car when she got her driver's license.  She said that because she never thought her daughter would be able to drive.  That was one expensive lesson, but one she was happy to learn.

Here is a video about one young man with Down syndrome who studied and worked hard to get his license.  Maybe that will be Gess one day too.  I know that if she does drive I will constantly worry about her, but I worried about her brothers when they learned to drive too!  Fear or no fear, if it is something Gess wants it will be something she will do and I intend to support her every step of the way!


This post is part of my new Did You Know? About Down Syndrome Awareness Series where I post random facts about Down syndrome to help educate others about DS.  Feel free to post suggestions for future topics in my comment section.  I would love to hear what you would like to discuss!

Monday, July 15, 2013

My Nutty Professor

Our library always has fun programs in the summer.  The other day they had a Nutty Professor come and share some fun science experiments.  Well you know that my little scientist just had to go and she had an excellent front row view.  The scientist did many fun things that taught the kids about how atoms move, air flows, water acts in various states and they even learned new terms such as Bernoulli principle. 

Gess got to assist in a couple of the demonstrations.  This one was a bottle that kept refilling itself!  To begin she had to pick out her goggles.


Then the lady emptied the bottle into the pitcher.


Lifting it in the air the bottle would fill itself up!


Then they would empty it again and repeat.  What a neat trick!


This next picture gives you an idea of how that trick was done.  Look closely at the opening of the bottle.  A hole was also involved.


The next time Gess got to assist she got too scared to participate because it involved being sucked up by a vacuum.  They let her choose her replacement and let her help during the next one.  This time she started to help but once she noticed fire was involved she kept her distance and plugged her ears, just in case!  Here they are getting a water balloon sucked into a jar.





Gess was warned not to try these at home.  That's because she said they can be messy.  She suggested doing them at a friends house instead!  I don't think we will mind the mess.  Seeing Gess' excitement is worth any amount of clean up. 

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