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Last Minute Election Trivia

The word "candidate" comes from the word candidatus, meaning "clothed in white." In ancient Rome, those who sought office wore white robes. The word also suggested someone who was spotless and clean ... and above mudslinging.

Texas, the name of President George W. Bush's home state, was derived from the Native American word techas, which means "friends" or "allies." The Techas was an alliance of tribes united to fight the fierce Apaches.

Our other presidential contender, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, also hails from a state with a Native American name. Massachusetts' name is a combination of the Algonquin words massa, meaning great and wachuset, meaning "hill." he went from the "Great Hill" to Capitol Hill!

Source: Wulffson, Don and Pam (2003) Abracadabra to Zombie: More Than 300 Wacky Word Origins NY: Dutton's Children's Books.

Make Some Oobleck!

I got this idea, years ago, from a wonderful elementary school teacher.

Read Bartholomew and the Oobleck, by Dr. Seuss. Then make some oobleck with your kids.


  • Borax Powder (available with laundry detergents)
  • 4 ounces of white glue (such as Elmer's Glue)
  • Water
  • Food Coloring (if desired)

  • Pour the glue into a bowl.
  • Add four ounces of water and mix well.
  • Add a few drops of food coloring (if desired).
  • In another bowl, pour 1 teaspoon of Borax powder into one cup of water. Mix well.
  • Slowly stir the glue/water mixture into the water/borax mixture.
  • Knead the mixture until it feels dry, firm, and does not stick to your hands.
  • Play with it!

  • How Do You Like Them Apples?

    If you live in an area that produces apples, picking apples at an orchard can be a great experience for you and your child.

    This can lead to many other sorts of apple-related learning, such as:
    • Apple tree science: Read about the cycles of apples trees and how they reproduce.
    • Apple art: Try making apple prints, by dabbing tempera paint onto a half apple, then pressing it onto a piece of paper. If you cut the apple horizontal (so the top and bottom half are separated - rather than two symmetrical sides) you can see that the seed casing is a five-pointed star shape. This is yet another beautiful example of the mathematical order we find everywhere in nature!
    • History, Science and Folklore:
      • Read about John Chapman ("Johnny Appleseed"). Stories of his life are are wonderful blend of history and folklore. They also reflect values such as perseverance, kindness, and faith.
      • Read about Sir Isaac Newton: Is the tale about how he conceived his revelation about the existence of gravity after being conked on the head with an apple fact or folklore? Did you know that he also pioneered our understanding of the spectrum? Read about his life and his discoveries in physics, mathematics, and other fields.
      • Read about William Tell, who is said to have been forced to shoot an apple off the head of his own son with an arrow. This famous piece of folklore reflects some important facts about medieval history.

    Homeschool Humor

    How does a homeschooling family change a lightbulb?

    First Mom checks three books on electricity out of the library, then the kids make models of light bulbs, read a biography of Thomas Edison and do a skit based on his life. Next, everyone studies the history of lighting methods, wrapping up with dipping their own candles. Next, everyone takes a trip to the store were they compare types of light bulbs as well as prices and figure out how much change they'll get if they buy two bulbs for $1.99 each and pay with a five dollar bill. On the way home, a discussion develops over the history of money and also Abraham Lincoln, as his picture is on the five dollar bill. Finally, after building a homemade ladder out of branches dragged from the woods, the light bulb is installed.

    And then, there is light.

    Author Unknown

    Growing Together Family Learning Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 1, page 16

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