Monthly Archives: April 2012

The City of Ember Book Review


What would it be like if your city was failing, and every time the lights went out you had to freeze, praying that the darkness wouldn’t stay. That’s what it’s like in The City of Ember, the latest book I’ve read. It’s about a dying city and a forgotten way out.

Lina Mayfleet and and Doon Harrow are used-to-be friends, and they each have totally different jobs. Lina runs around delivering messages and gossip as a messenger, while Doon fixes pipes underground. Most people would rather pull carts than fix moldy pipes, but Doon likes being underground. That’s where both the generator and the river are. He thinks there’s a way to fix the rickety generator and stop the lights from flickering. For centuries, the artificial lights of the great city of Ember had kept the endless darkness out, but the blackouts are getting longer and longer….

The Builders had a way to leave Ember, but that was lost long ago. As far as the people know, Ember is the only light in the dark world. But when Lina’s little sister finds a little safe in the back of the closet, Lina finds that Ember’s glow is growing dimmer by the second, and only she and Doon can find the light. Will Lina and Doon find the way out of Ember, or will they be left in the dark? Find out in The City of Ember, written by Jeanne DuPrau.

I love this book, and I think my friends would, too. You can almost never tell what’s going to happen in the next chapter, but you know it’s going to be great. In some places, I wanted to skip ahead and see what was going to happen, but I didn’t want to tear myself away from what I was reading at the moment.

My favorite character is Doon, because he pays attention to the world around him. He notices things most people just pass over.

Happy reading!


Skills and Topics – April 30 through May 4


Our plans for a busy, busy week:

  • Language Arts:  We will continue working on research skills and writing short reports.  Grace will finish reading The City of Ember and begin reading Insurgent (to be released on Tuesday…exciting!).  And, of course, the ever-present grammar and spelling will be part of our days.
  • Math:  We will keep up with our review of math skills.  This week we’ll focus on variables and multiplication and division with whole numbers and decimals.  Grace also gets to pick some of her own review topics on IXL.
  • Social Studies:  Grace will continue reading The Smart Aleck’s Guide to American History and summarizing current current events.
  • Science:  We will be reviewing matter, motion, and forces.  There will be puzzles, experiments, and foldables galore. 🙂
  • Mythology:  Grace will be completing a couple of activities for the story of Narcissus and Echo.
  • Field Trips:  In addition to writing class, Grace will also be attending a “Nature in Your Backyard” class at the Nature Center.  A World War II battle reenactment is on our agenda for the weekend.  We’ll also be going canoeing this week! 😀

Have a great week!


Science Day at the Nature Center


Today was not like everyday school; all we did was science. But, we did a science day activity at the Latta Plantation Nature Center, so I guess it’s okay. ;^)

First, we did a little bit with rocks. There were six boxes with one rock each. We had to guess what type of rock it was based on the information we found. That section was okay, but the next one was even better.

Next, we did a chemical reaction class. We each got a cup and a spoon and were told to start mixing. First, (and just for fun) we dropped a Mentos in a bottle of Coke and watched it fizz. Then we started pouring random things into cups and writing down the reactions.

After that, we went to the polymer section and sat at a table covered with a big cloth. We were each given a cup filled with water and some containers filled with different stuff. We poured just a little bit of Borax and corn starch into the water and stirred until there was no more powder. Then, we poured four spoonfuls of glue in it and counted to thirty. After that, (this was my favorite part) we started poking the lump of glue with our spoons. Finally, we pulled out the glob and started playing with it. The teacher said the more we played with it, the better our new silly putty would be. And, yes, I did take it home with me. I wasn’t just going to leave all my hard work in a trash can, would you? ;^)

Last, we went to the microscope section to play with (well, I guess we were really learning) microscopes. We went over the parts of a microscope and made our own slides. First, you put your specimen on the slide and put a drop of dye or water on it. Then, you press the cover on the specimen and use a paper towel to soak up all the extra dye. Simple, huh? This science trip was really fun, and I know we’ll be back soon.


Happy learning!



Ambushed: Part 6


They could take all my fancy clothes, my breakfast in bed, and even my balcony, but they couldn’t take my home. Mother told me not to leave, so I wasn’t just going to let these people take my school. The world seemed to spin around me, sending me tumbling to the ground. I regained my balance and climbed into the attic and curled up into a ball for a while. I stared at my hands, looking for every flaw. I didn’t feel like myself. My stomach lurched. I pulled a mirror out of a little wooden box and stared at my reflection. There it was. I was wearing makeup. I didn’t like the way it looked or the way it felt. I wiped it all off and smiled. I felt like myself again.

I needed to think. What would they do to change my school? They would fix the broken lights, repave the parking lot, and things like that. Luckily, that doesn’t change anything about the inside. If they actually turned my home into a school, I could live in the attic and haunt the people downstairs like a ghost. I didn’t have enough food stored here to live longer than a few weeks, so I’d have to come down sometime. Most importantly, what would Miss Carpenter think? She was so nice to me, I couldn’t just abandon her! I’d send her a letter saying I was at a friend’s house. Hopefully, she wouldn’t wonder how I got friends while living in an abandoned school. It would be tricky, but I could manage.

I crept downstairs and whistled as quietly as I could. I stood perfectly still, listening for the sound of claws hitting the tile. I was just about to give up when I heard faint clicks from down the hall. I looked up just in time to be thrown to the floor by the weight of Carver. I scratched his head and led him into my new home.

That’s about when I started drawing up plans. I had balloons filled with molasses, a slingshot with paper ammo, and a switch I wired up to the lights.

First, I decided to try to scare them off. I watched three teachers sit in my hallway and talk. Right when they got up to leave, I pelted them with paper bullets. They looked around, startled. I started banging on the ceiling, making it sound like it was getting closer and closer to them. They started backing away slowly, but I wasn’t having that. I crawled forward and jumped directly over their heads, sending them frantically running away. I had to cover my mouth to keep myself from bursting out laughing. They ambushed me, now I’ll ambush them.


Divergent Book Review


What do you think it would feel like if you knew you were something special, but you couldn’t show it? Tris, the main character in Divergent, knows just how that feels.

Beatrice Prior is a normal Abnegation girl, but there’s one little problem. She’s selfish. The Abnegation are supposed to be completely selfless, but Beatrice just can’t do it. At least Choosing Day was coming up, She could choose a different faction. She could be Dauntless (fearless), Amity (kind), Erudite (smart), or Candor (truthful). She needs to take the aptitude test first. In the test, she is given choices. First, she must either feed an angry dog cheese of kill it with a knife. Second, she must either tell a frightening man the truth or a lie. But when she takes the test, she finds some startling news. She is Divergent, not Abnegation. Still, the test doesn’t have to change her choice, so she chooses to be fearless. But can she hide her true self? Will she ever find what Divergent means? Find out in Divergent, written by Veronica Roth.

I really, REALLY, like this book, and I think my friends would like it too. The plot is really interesting and the way the author writes is very easy to understand.

My favorite character is Beatrice, who changes her name to Tris, because she never does what I think she’ll do. For example, most people who take the aptitude test would either feed the angry dog cheese or kill it with a knife, but Tris calmed the dog down by showing it she was not a threat.

I can’t wait until Insurgent, the sequel to Divergent, comes out on May 1st!

Happy reading!


Skills and Topics: April 23 through April 27


I know this is shocking, but we have a crazy-busy week coming up.  So unlike us, right? 😉  Here’s what we’ll be up to:

  • Language Arts:  Grace is almost finished reading Divergent (already!), so she’ll be working on her book review for that and starting The City of Ember.  She’ll also continue working on writing short reports and research skills.  As always, grammar and spelling are on the agenda.
  • Math:  We are in review mode for math.  We’re tackling the basics right now…basic operations, rounding, decimals, etc.  Grace is also really enjoying IXL and XtraMath for math review.  (I’ll be adding info about those to the resources page soon.)
  • Science:  We have officially finished up with the state curriculum, so we’ll be doing all sorts of review activities…lots of experiments and hands-on stuff as well as reading and vocabulary activities.
  • Social Studies:  Grace is still reading The Smart Aleck’s Guide to American History and working on summarizing news articles about current events.  (This will actually be our social studies plan for a while.)
  • Mythology:  We’ll be working on the story of Narcissus and Echo for the next week and a half or so.  At that point, we’ll be all finished with mythology.  Grace has decided that she learned all she set out to learn in this area, so we’ll be moving on to another subject of her choosing.
  • Field Trips:  In addition to Young Writers’ Academy, Grace will be attending Young Scientists’ Day at the Nature Center.  We’ll also be participating in an activity to learn more about “Amazing Seeds.”

That should keep us hopping for most of the week. 🙂  Have a wonderful week!


Science Class: Yeast Experiments

Science Class: Yeast Experiments

Science class isn’t usually boring, and this month it rocked! We learned about yeast and how it lives.


We started off by pouring a packet of yeast into a bottle of water and shaking it for a while. Then, we divided the yeast-water into test tubes. After that, we poured sugar into one of the test tubes and left the other without. Last, we stretched a balloon over the top of each tube and moved on.


For our second experiment, we each got a plate and some flour. We poured yeast and sugar onto the flour and mixed them with our hands. Second, we poured some water onto our little pile of stuff and clumped it together into a ball of dough. Then, we took a straw and dug it into our ball, marking where it came up to on the straw. After that, we set the straw down and went out into the hall.


Last time we had science class, only half of us got to ride the hovercraft, so now the people who didn’t would get a chance. I stood in the “already rode” line and watched the craft float from one end of the hall to the other.


When we got back, the dough was halfway to the top of the straw. That was because the yeast gives off carbon dioxide while eating the sugar in the dough, pushing the clump up the straw.


The balloon over the sugar-yeast-water test tube were so inflated, I wasn’t sure if it was going to stay on there or not! That was also because of the carbon dioxide.


The teacher said that next time we were going to the park for class, so we had to remember to remind our parents. Can’t wait!!



A Space Shuttle’s New Life


Tuesday, Discovery, a retired space shuttle, landed at Dulles International Airport to begin its new life as a museum exhibit.


Discovery was flown all over Washington,D.C., giving the citizens something exciting to tell their families about. It was on its way to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.


Crowds of people stopped what they were doing and watched the shuttle pass over. They snapped pictures while drivers slowed to observe.


While Discovery might not reach the moon, it still has a way to go before the junk yard.