Book Club: “All Four Stars” by Tara Dairman

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I’ve had trouble keeping up with our book club sharing, but we’ve been having loads of fun with books this year!  All Four Stars was one of those books.

 

Meet Gladys Gatsby: New York’s toughest restaurant critic. (Just don’t tell anyone that she’s in sixth grade.)

Gladys Gatsby has been cooking gourmet dishes since the age of seven, only her fast-food-loving parents have no idea! Now she’s eleven, and after a crème brulee accident (just a small fire), Gladys is cut off from the kitchen (and her allowance). She’s devastated but soon finds just the right opportunity to pay her parents back when she’s mistakenly contacted to write a restaurant review for one of the largest newspapers in the world.  But in order to meet her deadline and keep her dream job, Gladys must cook her way into the heart of her sixth-grade archenemy and sneak into New York City – all while keeping her identity a secret! Easy as pie, right?

 
There are so many things that I wanted to do with my book clubbers for this book!  The possibilities are endless, and they’re so very fun, but …. I couldn’t decide, so this one became a multi-day event!
 
Book Club All Four Stars
 
On the first day of our All Four Stars book club event, we headed to Durham to the India Gate, a family-owned restaurant with a lunch buffet.  This seemed like a great way for our kids, none of whom had ever tasted Indian food before, to sample some of the things that made up Gladys’ best meal ever.
 
The people at the India Gate couldn’t have been kinder, even though we took up fully half of their tables during their busy lunch rush.  If you’re in the Triangle area of North Carolina, the India Gate is definitely worth a visit.
Gazar Halwa
 
One reason I chose the India Gate over other local Indian restaurants is that they feature Gazar al Halwa on their menu.  The orange-y dish in the front is this one.  Several of the book clubbers were also excited to try goat, as they’d never eaten it before, and so one family ordered goat biryani and shared it with the group.  
Book Clubbers Foodie Review
 
Following our delicious lunch, we headed to a Chick Fil-A down the street – not because we were still hungry, but because we wanted a quiet place to sit and write a review, Gladys-style, of the food we had just eaten without being overheard by the India Gate staff.  The kids got in groups and wrote their reviews, trying hard to use foodie phrases and colorful, descriptive words just like Gladys.
 
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The next day we continued our Indian foodie theme.  A former missionary to India came to visit us, and she was wonderful!  She brought photos of her life in India, told stories about cultural differences, and even brought a sari that she wore to a wedding during her time there.  She helped each female put on the main piece of the sari to get a feel for what the traditional clothing was like.  It was a beautiful sari!
 
Money from India
 
She also brought money from India for us to pass around and compare to our American money.  She brought storybooks, snacks, and more, too.  It was truly a wonderful and informative visit.
 
Matcha Green Tea Cupcakes
 
After that, we baked Gladys’ green tea cupcakes with sesame icing.  I love that Dairman has some of Gladys’ recipes on her website!  We really had no idea what these would taste like, but we were all pleasantly surprised.  Rather than tasting strongly of a new flavor (which would have been okay, just new), they were mild, with the icing tasting like peanut butter.  Several of the kids had seconds!
 
For our last All Four Stars project, we Skyped with Tara Dairman herself!  She was very nice and told great stories.  I loved hearing the kids ask about her writing journey and her world travels.  (I was so focused on the conversation that I forgot to take pictures!)  I’m so glad that she was willing to speak with us.  Why is it so important to meet friendly authors like Dairman?  Find out here.
 
All in all, I loved our experiences with All Four Stars.  We tried new things right along with Gladys, we learned about other cultures, and we tried our hand at writing restaurant reviews.  If you have a fellow foodie or are looking for a fun, foodie read, definitely check out All Four Stars.
 
For even more learning fun, check out these projects:
 
All Four Stars Cover
 
Vocab Writing Prompts Cover
 
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Have You Tried SchoolhouseTeachers.com? – Review

I’m excited to announce that I’ve joined the Homeschool Review Crew this year!  That will mean more reviews, more versatility, and a wider variety of great products and programs that I can share.  Telling others about great discoveries makes me happy, and I hope to help you find products and programs that you love, too.

High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {SchoolhouseTeachers.com}
The first one I can share with you is SchoolhouseTeachers.com – a subscription-based website with classes, videos, printables, planning guides, videos, research resources, and more.  The kids and I have been digging all around this website, and we’ve found some things that we’re excited to try this semester.  This website is accessed through a membership, and you can subscribe monthly or yearly; I’ll be sharing benefits of a Yearly Membership, which we reviewed, below.

My Big Helper loves architecture.  I’ll randomly find her drawing buildings, sketching floor plans, or deciding how to rearrange the furniture in her bedroom to create a new look.  She’s been asking for information about architecture, and so I was super excited to find just such a class under the electives on SchoolhouseTeachers.com.  It’s worth a full credit for high school students, too!

The architecture class has thirty-seven lessons, and while clicking around to check out all the exciting elements, I chose to download the Frank Lloyd Wright – Fallingwater lesson for closer examination as I’ve visited that house personally.

The lesson is impressive.  The base of it is text describing the history and style of the house, as well as basic biographical information about Frank Lloyd Wright.  There are many links to more information, including pictures and videos, and there are activities, projects, quizzes, and vocabulary words.  It is a very complete lesson, and with thirty-six more in the class, a student must gain a treasury of knowledge from it.  If all of the classes are as well-written as this one, we’ll have more exciting choices than we know what to do with.

We’re often rather eclectic homeschoolers, though, and sometimes it works best for us to study things in our own way.  This architecture class would be fantastic just as written, working through it sequentially – but it looks as if you could also, because each class is focused on a different structure, match the lesson with your topic of study.  For example, we could have studied the Hoover Dam lesson and the Empire State Building lesson when we were learning about the Great Depression this past fall.

So, still excited about the topic of architecture, I hopped over to the World Book section of SchoolhouseTeachers.com, hoping for great things.  My Little Man loves to sit and read dictionaries, and I think he’d do the same to encyclopedias if any were still around.

Happily, I discovered loads and loads of books about every subject – even architecture!  There are lots of books about animals, though, too, and space, myths, legends, history, science, etc.  My Little Man will love it!  There’s even a classic books section with several hundred offerings – it’s like having access to your own little library.

There’s a video section to SchoolhouseTeachers.com, too, and I was curious as to what that contained.  It turned out to be a master list of all videos found on their website, and I made a few fun discoveries.  “Stevie’s Trek to India” is a 32-minute documentary style video that would complement the India study we just completed.  There’s even a worksheet to go with it, if that’s your thing.

But the BEST PART about the videos?  They have DRIVE-THRU HISTORY.  ALL OF THEM.  We love those! – but we only have a few. We will definitely be making use of this resource. 

My Big Helper is currently in seventh grade.  Time is flying by, and I know I need to be planning ahead for her high school classes, but it seems like such a huge  and daunting task that I’ve procrastinated doing research about that.  There’s a whole section of the website called “Member Resources” that contains ebooks, one of which is all about getting into college – CLEPs, transcripts, etc.  I really like the printable section of that area, though, too – there are gradebook pages, GPA pages, college prep printouts, and more.  These will all really come in handy, and I love that they’re all gathered together in one place.

That’s a lot, right?  A lot of great things, and a lot of things in general.  It might even seem overwhelming (kind of like the thought of sending my firstborn off to high school), but there’s another fabulous feature to SchoolHouseTeachers.com that’s definitely worth using: the chat-and-help feature.  

Somehow, after joining the site, I lost my password.  I’m not sure how – but the next time I wanted in, I couldn’t figure it out.  Since it was only my second time logging in, I thought that maybe my registration had gone wonky or something.  After learning about the chat feature, I starting type-talking to a super nice person who was able to find my info and get me access in minutes – and the problem was my own Christmas brain and not a registration problem.  She solved my problem on the spot and offered help for anything else, too.  How great is it to work with a customer service rep who’s really, really nice?

All in all, I can’t wait to begin using SchoolhouseTeachers.com with my kids.  Since we’re still on Christmas break, they’ve explored the site with me a bit, but we haven’t resumed classes yet.  They’re excited about these new options, though, and they’re going to love it! 

Homeschool Curriculum for Everybody - {SchoolhouseTeachers.com Reviews}
You can find out more about SchoolhouseTeachers.com by clicking on the title and hopping over for a visit.  I bet you’ll find great things for your family, too.

Crew Disclaimer
 

Book Club: “Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone”

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We recently embarked on one of our most fun book clubs ever:  we read Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone.  

My Big Helper worked with me to flesh out details of the book that we could bring to life.  We spent several days making labels and creating things to turn my yard into a wizarding world.

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The day of our book club event dawned bright and sunny with brilliant blue skies.  The kids hurriedly donned their Hogwarts gear and ran outside.

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After everyone had arrived, we kicked off the day with the Sorting Hat.  I sewed it out of some khaki-colored felt and carefully put a small pocket on the inside of the hat.  When it came time for our sorting, a friend called my phone, which we then hid in that pocket.  As I loudly called each child’s name, he declared the house each child would go into.  It was a very fun part of the day, and the kids cheered for their housemates as the sorting continued.

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Following the Sorting and welcoming speeches, we moved onto the back deck for History of Magic.  We decided to recreate most of the classes that Harry Potter and his friends attended, and we used this class to summarize and discuss the book.

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The kids also decorated paper neckties that matched their individual houses.  Then they wrote about what they thought they might see in the Mirror of Erised.

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Potions class had us relocating to the driveaway, where we used a mixture of powders to create neat reactions.

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They were very fun to watch!

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Lunch was especially fun.  We made many of the foods mentioned in this book, particularly those found on the lunch trolley on the Hogwarts Express, like Pumpkin Pasties …

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Golden Snitches ….

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and Pumpkin Juice.

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We ended the day with a rousing game of Quidditch.  We modified it a bit, of course, since our brooms don’t actually fly, but the kids didn’t seem to mind.  They had a great time chasing their Snitch around our yard and trying to win the house cup.

The Harry Potter books have become cultural icons.  They’re amazing works of literature, but they’re loads of fun, too.  Give it a try and see what Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone can do for your book club.

NEW! “Lemoncello” Movie Pack and Bundles!

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Chris Grabenstein’s Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library series, and I’m not the only one – that first book spent more than 100 weeks on the New York Times’ Bestseller List.  The second in the series is just as good, and the third is due to be released in just a few weeks – I’m super excited!

There are a few things that makes these books so wonderful – first, that they’re entertaining but completely clean reads, which is a rare thing for a middle-grade book these days.  Just as good, though, is that they’re smart books.  Grabenstein writes philosophical truths, lessons about kindness, and educational skills throughout his books, but your kids won’t realize that they’re learning anything – they’ll be too busy laughing at Mr. Lemoncello’s antics and trying to solve the mysteries before Kyle Keeley does.

I’m all for maximizing learning opportunities, though, and so that’s why I’ve created some really fun extension activities and novel studies to accompany these books.  You can find them here – and I’m happy to share a few NEW products, just in time for the movie release!

That’s right –  Nickolodeon has turned Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library into a movie, and it premieres on October 9.

To go along with this fantabulous opportunity to compare book and movie, I’ve created a new movie pack – full of discussion questions, creative writing projects, recipes for your movie party, printables, and more!  You can get your own copy here.

Grabenstein

You might want more than just those few pages of movie-related fun, though.  Perhaps you’re going all out for a big Lemoncello party, reading and watching for a book club event, or hosting your own library-style gala, just like in the book.  I’ve put together a bundle with both resources from Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, which features three games, loads of printables, a recipe for Lemonberry Fizz, and more.  You’ll find both the original party pack and the new movie pack in this bundle – 89 pages of fun!

Grabenstein

If you’re as big of a Lemoncello fan as we are, though, that might not be enough.  Maybe you also want to try your hand at Lemoncello-style scavenger hunts, STEAM activities, a unit study, plus all the printables, games, recipes, and more from the above bundle, then this is the one for you.  With 199 pages of Lemoncello-style fun, you’re guaranteed to find just the right learning projects and activities to maximize your child’s learning.

Grabenstein

Who else is counting down the days ’til the movie and the new book release?

NEW! A Linked Unit Study for Elise Broach’s “The Wolf Keepers”

Every once in a while, I read a book that I grabs all of my attention and screams to be used for fun with kids.  I love taking those books and turning them into fun unit studies for educational purposes, and Elise Broach’s new book The Wolf Keepers is just such a book.

Elise Broach

A high-stakes middle grade historical adventure through Yosemite National Park by the New York Times-bestselling author of Masterpiece.

Twelve-year-old Lizzie Durango and her dad have always had a zoo to call their home. Lizzie spends her days watching the animals and taking note of their various behaviors. Though the zoo makes for a unique home, it’s a hard place for Lizzie to make lasting friends. But all this changes one afternoon when she finds Tyler Briggs, a runaway who has secretly made the zoo his makeshift home. The two become friends and, just as quickly, stumble into a covert investigation involving the zoo wolves who are suddenly dying. Little do they know, this mystery will draw them into a high-stakes historical adventure involving the legend of John Muir as they try to navigate safely while lost in Yosemite National Park.

Elise Broach has written a fantastic novel around the real life story of John Muir!  I love the approach she takes with his mystery, and she deepens the story by adding layers upon layers of moral dilemmas.  While the story is suspenseful, it stays upbeat, even when there are large things afoot, making it the perfect book to carry deep, yet kid-friendly discussions.

Elise Broach

So what will you find in a unit study for The Wolf Keepers?

  • a vocabulary puzzle with answer key
  • discussion/comprehension questions by chapter
  • creative and expository writing prompts
  • research projects for history, science, math, and biographies
  • poetry and literature activities
  • art projects
  • a recipe

This work can be done individually or cooperatively.  You could assign all of it or just certain projects.  Students can work at their own pace, and safe links are provided to ensure a safe Internet experience.

The Wolf Keepers would make a fantastic book club book, as well!  

If you want to grab a copy of this unit study, you’ll find it here.

Happy reading!

 

NEW! Make Planning Beautiful with the Year Round Homeschooling Planner

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If you’ve been following our school journey for any length of time, you know that we do homeschool a bit differently, and I don’t mean just because we homeschool.  Sometimes we’re eclectic.  Sometimes we’re unit study-ers.  Sometimes we’re road-schoolers.  Sometimes we’re project-based learners. 

We don’t use any packaged curriculum as-is except for math, because I enjoy writing our own and being creative with resources and I may be a little bit crazy.  Ahem.

We love doing school this way, but that means that there’s no one, easy calendar, chart, or plan for us to follow.  We do something for a month or a unit, and then we move on, and our days might look quite different.  It means I do a lot of planning over the summer, I buy random resources in advance, and we pull from the library, Netflix, field trips, etc.

It can be hard to organize, and for sure I can’t remember it all without help.

I love putting everything into charts and being organized, but I hate making charts.

That’s why I was thrilled to check out Misty Leask’s brand-new Year Round Homeschooling Planner.  It’s 80+ pages of gorgeous charts, calendars, and list-pages, all designed to help you plan your school year and keep everything organized.  
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You’ll find everything you need inside, but Best Thing #1?  The Year Round Homeschooling Planner  is beautiful.  The graphics and colors are done in a watercolor-style wash, and feature things like butterflies that are peaceful and calming.  It’s going to be so much fun to write on these pages.

Best Thing #2:  A few of these prettiest pages are done in different colors, so if you prefer warm colors over cool?  No problem!  Print the pages you want in your preference of colors.

Now, that doesn’t mean that there’s really only half as many pages, because in reality there are only a few done with those options of color, but I love that it’s there.  Certain styles definitely spoke to me, and with this option, I can print those favorites to use.

Best Thing #3:  I can print only the pages I need.  The year at a glance, or the monthly pages, the pre-planning lists, or the purchasing lists – I can print whatever I need, and it’s ready to go and beautiful.  I can also print copies for each kid, or make each kid a different color (that works because I have only two; if you have more, you’ll need to duplicate colors), but options are there.  You know what this means?  Best Thing #3.5:  You don’t have to be a year-round homeschooler to use this.  Just print the pages you need, and go.  Need to keep track of what books you need to buy for Kid #1?  Which activities are counting towards which subjects for Kid #2?  Need pretty grading sheets?  This will totally help you out.

Best Thing #4:  After reading through all 80+ pages of the Year Round Homeschooling Planner , I can’t think of a single, solitary chart, graph, or list that I might need that isn’t in this packet.  It’s all here.  There’s not a single thing left for me to do besides print my favorite pages and dig in.

Best Thing #5:  Right now, this beautiful planner is on sale for only $9.99!  How reasonable is that for an undated planner that you can use year after year? – but after today, the price goes up to $12.99, so don’t wait.

Get your Year Round Homeschooling Planner here!

Field Work Friday: Visiting the Nina & the Pinta

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Did you know that there are reproductions of historic ships sailing around the world?

Tall Ships

I didn’t, until recently, but when we found out, my DH arranged to take us to a nearby port city to see the Nina and the Pinta, two of the three ships sailing with Christopher Columbus on his famous voyage in 1492.

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The ships were at the Wilmington, NC, waterfront, and after purchasing tickets, we were permitted through the gates to board the ships.

Tall Ships

Once on board, we could explore the main gate.  There were signs everywhere, telling us facts about the ship and other equipment on board.  There were volunteers hanging around, ready to answer questions or talk with anyone willing.  This woman had been on board since February and was making jewelry while she waited for a question.  When my Big Helper saw what she was working on, they struck up a conversation, and the volunteer ended up asking my Big Helper for help with an earring.  My Big Helper loved that!

Tall Ships

The ships are fascinating, even though you can’t go belowdecks.  Since the ships are manned by volunteers, and each ship features a modern kitchen, the bottom of the ships are off limits. Being able to see the size of the ships, the gigantic proportions of the anchor, and the thickness of the ropes really makes one admire the bravery of the men sailing with Columbus.

There are tall ships sailing all over the world.  if you have the opportunity to see one, be sure to check it out! 

Learn more about the Nina and the Pinta with these great resources!

 

Living History: The Roaring ’20s

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It was the era of gangsters, Prohibition, and all that glitters.  It’s known as the Roaring ‘20s, and our living history club brought the era back to life.  We love holding this special events each semester, and this one was definitely the glitziest.

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The day kicked off with a photography session, as the dressed-up students were dressed to the nines as flappers and mobsters.  After that, they introduced themselves, as each student had studied a particular person from history and had come dressed as that person.

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Next, My Big Helper shared some popular slang of the time and asked the students to incorporate as many of these terms as possible into their conversations throughout the day.

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My Little Man explained the history of a Hamilton Beach fruit juicer that was patented during the 1920s.  The particular machine in question used to reside in a local pharmacy, and following his speech, he  demonstrated how to make the perfect fresh lemonade.  While lemonades were made for each student, another mom taught the students how to play table games.18056996_10212172736616620_7481163634049384896_n

Another mom taught the students about the characteristics of the art deco style.  Each student then chose a quote from a celebrity of the era and created their own unique art piece with art deco-inspired fonts and colors.

Living History

Living History

A dad shared the silent movie A Trip to the Moon.  Following the show, the students lined up to feast from a variety of foods popular in this decade.  With the advent of refrigerated transportation and the popularity of parties, many new foods came onto the scene, including peanut butter cups, chow mein, Coca-Cola, Crush, cheeseballs, Jell-O parfaits, and tuna wraps.

 Living History

After lunch, the students returned to the year 2017, concluding that the Roaring ‘20s might be fun to visit, but that they wouldn’t want to live there.

If you’re studying this era, you might also want to check out my post about our book club event for Isabel Feeney, Star Reporter.

Some resources that we loved for studying the ’20s are:

 

 

Living History

Entering a National History Day Competition

When I hit middle school, I was encouraged to compete in our local National History Day competition.  I was hooked from that very first event:  I loved the research, the preparation, the work to analyze historical events and to share their importance, and, yes, the competition.

That’s why I was so very excited when I found out that the National History Day organization has events in North Carolina, and that our district competition isn’t too far away.  I was determined that my kids would compete when they came of age, as well.

NHD

Are you familiar with National History Day?  It’s sort of like a science fair, in that you create projects/entries that are judged for competition, only about history, instead.  Each year there’s an annual theme, and students choose a topic that fits that theme and create projects/entries in the exhibit, documentary, historical paper, performance, or website categories.  Students must explain the significance of their topic in history and in relation to the theme, as well as showcase their work through process papers and annotated bibliographies.  It’s a big deal.  It’s fabulous.

For My Big Helper, that was this year.  She’s now in middle school (where has the time gone??) and so last October she and another brave young man chose topics and began to research.

As this was their first year, and as this level of competition and historical research was new to them both, we did our best to keep it fun.  We traveled to the Davis Library at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill for a lesson from a librarian about how to use their Library of Congress cataloguing system.  She also taught them how to use their many online databases, and the kids searched for materials relevant to their topics.

We had pizza parties and got together to check progress and discuss competition rules.

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Finally, though, the big day arrived, and it was time to head off to Greensboro for the district competition.  Held at the Education Building on the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, the competitors took over that part of campus and were college kids for the day.

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Competition days are a big deal.  You must check in, have your paperwork in order, and get set up.  After that, when it’s your scheduled turn, a team of judges will interview you about your work and conclusions.  For anyone, that time of ‘interview’ is stressful, but for kids new to that type of experience, it can be rough, despite the judges’ kindness.

NHD

One of the highlights for us was always having lunch in the cafeteria.  The UNCG café where we ate was nothing like any college cafeteria I’ve ever seen before, but with Chick-Fil-A and other fun restaurants on site, the kids seemed to enjoy their faux-college kid status.

Late in the afternoon, the award ceremony arrives.  Filling up an auditorium, a professor greets everyone, and the winners in each category are finally announced.  We were all really nervous by this time.  We thought our kids had created solid entries and had a good chance of placing, but, really, who can tell?

It’s not just about winning, either – because winning entries advance to the state competition, and winners there, to the national one.  Competition increases at each level, and everyone wants to advance, but, of course, not everyone can, so … one hopes hard and works harder.

Our friend’s category was announced first, and … he placed second!  We were so very excited, and My Big Helper was hoping even harder for own name to be called at that point.

Yet, her category wasn’t.  They seemed to be calling them in no particular order – junior individual website, senior group performance, junior group project, etc. – and we were starting to think hers would never be announced, when they finally called ‘junior individual exhibit.’

I’m not sure why it works this way, but three entrants in each category advance to the NC State History Day competition – except for in exhibits; then five advance.  My Big Helper didn’t place fifth.

She didn’t place fourth.  Or third.

You know how it goes – each time they prepare to call a new name, you think that now, they’ll call her name now, and she’s going to win, and then it’s someone else.  Your heart falls into your shoes, and you despair that she’s not going to be called, that she didn’t win.  And while it’s not the winning or losing that you care about, she’s oh-so-excited, and you so want her to continue being that excited at that point …..

Not second.

And then, at the very last moment, they called her name!  She placed FIRST in her category!

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It was wonderful to see her so excited.  To know that she’s worked hard and is getting a tangible reward from someone else.  That she’s learning to finish what she starts, and a whole host of other lessons.NHD

Our two competitors are super excited, and well they should be:  they’ve done fantastic work.  It’s not over, though, for now they have the opportunity to take the criticism from the district-level judges and make improvements to their entries before the state competition in a few weeks.

For now, though … yay!  They won! 

Do your kids enter competitions?  Share in the comments below – and come back soon to see why I encourage my kids to compete in these types of events.

Field Work Friday – Berry Hill Resort

It’s probably the last place you’d expect to find a bunch of kids – but the Berry Hill Resort and Conference Center is exactly where we went.Berry Hill

Berry Hill was part of a land grant from the British Crown decades before the American Revolution.  The estate was protected from destruction during wartime by the owner’s wealth and political clout and has a long and colorful history.

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Berry Hill has it’s own historian and tour guide, and this retired teacher gives a great tour.  He took us through the mansion, room by room, telling funny stories and sharing how the building has changed over time.

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The main hall is just as impressive as the outside of the mansion.  With twin staircases, this room highlights the original mistress’s favorite aspect of the building:  symmetry.  The downstairs also features marble baseboards from the same quarry as Michelangelo’s David.

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Our guide pointed out more of the unique symmetrical elements around the building – including extra doors that lead only to the wall.  Everyone was amused by that!

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Twenty years ago, the estate was purchased by a French corporation who renovated it extensively.  This beautiful pool was one of their additions!

After visiting the mansion, the pool, and the new on-site hotel, we ate lunch in Darby’s Tavern.  Situated in the old kitchen, we feasted on gourmet sandwiches and salads and played in the beautiful, spring sunshine.

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After lunch, we headed off to explore more of the grounds.  Now encompassing 650 acres, there are many trails leading to historic sites, and we made great use of them.

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We found these old stone remnants near a creek, and we had fun poking around, trying to see if we can figure out how it looked originally.

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The kids also had fun playing near the creek and catching frogs.  My Little Man couldn’t resist this one!

Berry Hill Resort and Conference Center is a beautiful place.  We enjoyed learning about its varied past, but this National Historic Landmark has a bright future.  Now often used for weddings, parties, and conferences, it would make a wonderful venue for any occasion. Should you visit southern Virginia, be sure to check it out.