Day 922: Day Trip to Mexico

This morning we left the RV in Ogilby and drove the truck to the US border crossing, walking across into the village of Los Algodones, Mexico:



This town makes almost all of its money from medical tourism.  All the storefronts are dentists, optometrists, and pharmacies:




We did our dental cleanings and Trish had an eye exam for a pair of glasses, which we could pick up in a couple hours.  We will instead come back tomorrow to pick them up.

The sidewalks here are choked with vendors selling all types of souvenir-grade items:


We got in line to return to the US:


On the other side of the wall, home beckons:


This afternoon, Trish made her first monogramed item:


In electronics class, M made a battery using pairs of pennies and dimes as the anodes and cathodes, and vinegar-soaked paper as the electrolyte:


Tonight the kids dragged over a dead Ocotillo and we had a campfire:


The fire was big enough that the kids had trouble roasting marshmallows without getting burned:



We threw on the rest of the Ocotillo:



Day 452: Homeschooling at the Casino

Today the kids worked on Chinese paper cutting as part of “Geography through Art” class:



M’s was especially elaborate:


The weather is starting to get to us, but at least there’s plenty of room here:


Trish made a pendant:


I gave the kids their first Stencyl lesson:


It’s been in the mid 50s during the day, with overnight lows in the high 40s.

Day 271: Into the Sierras

Today we drove down to Lone Pine.  Not a bad view from the visitor center parking lot:


After doing a bit of shopping in town, we headed up Whitney Portal road and pulled off into the Alabama Hills were we found a nice dispersed camping spot.  The views from here are incredible:



One of the front landing gear tubes was splitting, so I cut off the last inch or so to stop the split from running all the way up the tube.  Here’s the piece I cut off, notice how the tube is “unzipping” at the corners:


With that piece cut off, the tube looks good where it attaches to the landing gear plate:


Did I mention the amazing views?



B is learning about polls and surveys in math class.  Trish put her survey question on Facebook, and B graphed the results:


We installed the kids’ homemade tables, and also installed the hanging furniture under the bed.  We will be installing a tension rod on the underside so the kids can hang up their clothes there:


Discovering Great Artists

We arrived at our new “home” late this afternoon, and rather than trying to squeeze some homeschool work into the remaining daylight, we opted for some relaxing artwork.  We recently ordered a really great book called Discovering Great Artists by MaryAnn Kohl and Kim Solga.  The book introduces children to the great masters, some familiar like Picasso, van Gogh, and Michelangelo and others might be less familiar like Nevelson, Arp, and Hokusai.  Each page is filled with hands-on projects that focus on one artist and one style of artistic expression.  A brief biography and portrait of each artist is presented at the beginning of each project.  This book is an excellent resource for children as young as three as well as older elementary children.  The projects that represent each artist are easily imitated by all ages and abilities.  This is a must-have resource for anyone who wants to explore art with children.

The artist we chose for today is Giotto (ZHEE-O-TO), the once chief master of cathedral building and public art in Florence, Italy.  He lived from 1266 to 1337.  In his day, paints were made from grinding minerals, clay, berries and even insect into fine powder and mixing the pigment with egg yolk.  Apparently, the paint is very strong and long lasting.  We can still enjoy Giotto’s paintings today which are over 700 years old. 

We found some rocks around the campsite and used them to crush some artist pastel chalk for our egg paint.  We have recently visited several Native American historic sites that feature the mano and matate used for grinding.  It was fun to try our hands at this for our project. 



We mixed in the egg yolk/water mixture to make a smooth paint.  I have to say, grinding the chalk was messy fun! 



Painting with this egg tempera was surprisingly pleasing!  It went on the paper very smoothly, and could be layered a bit like watercolor. 



(For all my students back home in New York, this would be a great project to use up all that extra sidewalk chalk left over from the summer!)



Stay tuned for more projects from this great book! 

First littleBits RV Project


B decided she needed a doorbell outside her bunk, so today she got out her littleBits kit and got to work. She built a pretty cool circuit that allows a visitor (like a brother) to ring the doorbell if her privacy curtain is down. If she is available, she pushes a switch inside that causes the “come in” sign to light up. I was really impressed with her design because she used the “and” bit, and she also made a cover for the button to make it look more like a real doorbell!