I’m Looking for a Cool Rock

I’m Looking for a Cool Rock.

Most families’ homes don’t have walls and floors of stone. But public buildings are designed to show strength and fortitude so many are built with exteriors of beautiful stone. Take a field trip to public buildings, especially those built in the early 1900s. Banks, post offices, libraries, and utility companies from that era were built covered in beauty. The architecture, everything from the sculptured facades to the windows, incorporates beautiful displays of art and stone. Below are photos of the old Cincinnati Bell Telephone Building with lovely granite and semiprecious stones. The windows have grates made of bronze with art deco flowers integrated in the grate design. Some of these flowers are of beautiful blue lapis gemstone.

Or, think about this. You are looking for big pieces of marble, granite, onyx, agate, or soapstone. Where would you go to find big slabs of natural stone? It’s time to visit the building supply stores and granite countertop fabricators. They have huge warehouses of stone. (They may restrict small children from the warehouse as a safety precaution, so you might want to check beforehand.) The fabricators may also have small chips or samples that can go home for your child’s mineral collection.

I love how the large slabs really show off the flow of the minerals that created the granite.

When my youngest daughter was about eight, she wanted to make a map showing minerals from every state. Whoa! A fifty-state field trip wasn’t in the cards, so I looked for a local mineral society or rock hound group. We found a kind, older gentleman with a basement and garage full of rocks. He loved talking about the rocks, where he found them, and how he polished and mounted them in jewelry. We spent two afternoons with him, and I don’t know who had the most fun. (It might have been his wife who made banana bread for us.) I know we had a heyday gathering rocks and left with boxes of rocks. My daughter filled her map for all fifty states.

Smithsonian Wild Projects

Sometimes in the dark and quiet of night, I use the computer to search for information about my random thoughts. My latest such adventure landed me at the Smithsonian Wild site. Did you know that the markings of an eastern spotted skunk resemble more of a crazy zigzag than spots? I had no idea what an aardwolf was. And what’s a Siamese Fireback? On this website there are over 206,000 photos of animals in their natural habitats. Most photos were taken by remote cameras stationed for several weeks in different habitats around the world. The cameras were motion-triggered, giving us an amazing chance to see animals living their lives without human interference.


On the Smithsonian Appalachian Trail, the camera was set to record animals in a forest habitat. You will see black bears, bobcats, chipmunks, rabbits, raccoons, squirrels, and an occasional dog pass by.


What animals live in the African grasslands? What’s grassland like in Africa? The Smithsonian project in Kenya photographed animals for two weeks. This is a good view of everyday life among larger animals.


When you think of forests, what do you think of? The Smithsonian project in Malaysia will show a different variety of animals than we find in North America.


The Panama project shows a woodland that has very different vegetation than you find in most of North America. All of the photos from these Smithsonian projects give you a real sense of how camouflage and protective coloration protect animals in their habitats. It’s often like a hidden picture game to find the animals.


This is just a sample of the Smithsonian Wild projects. If you need photos of a specific region or animal, there’s a search box that makes it simple. Or you can go to the projects list and see all of the regions. I found large and small differences in the animals from one region to another. The red squirrel that pulls my peanut butter pinecones off the tree looks like a Southern Amazon Red Squirrel. Maybe they’re cousins with a close family resemblance. Enjoy the adventure.

Bill Bennett Radio Dialogue with Nancy Larson

Bill Bennett, host of MORNING IN AMERICA, opens a daily radio dialogue with men and women all across America. In his various roles, Bill has been perceived as a man who spoke honestly about some of the most important issues of our time. While in Washington, he served as President Reagan’s chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (1981–85) and Secretary of Education (1985–88).

Bill recently asked Nancy Larson to participate in a radio dialogue with parents, answering their questions and talking about math strategies. Nancy is the author of the internationally acclaimed Saxon Math K–4 programs.

While the focus of this radio dialogue is on math, the learning concepts Nancy shares and suggestions she gives parents are universal and helpful for everyone. Please sit back, relax and enjoy the conversation.

Morning in America with Nancy Larson

Places to Go – Atlanta Airport Art

The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport automated people mover is the underground train that helps millons of people make connections between concourses. But if you have the time, take the moving walkway or just walk the distance. You’ll find an amazing sculpture gallery between the T Gates and Concourse A called Zimbabwe: A Tradition in Stone.

The artists create the sculptures with only hand tools, a lot of time, and love of family and country.

Each sculpture is based on themes that are universal to people everywhere—family, parent love, and spirituality. That’s why the exhibit appeals to me, and these are the reasons most people choose to homeschool. I feel the exhibit is a great place to share and learn with your children.

Children everywhere play leap frog.

Along the walls of the exhibit, the photographs give a glimpse of the beauty of Zimbabwe.

Everyday Life and Landscapes of Zimbabwe

Beautiful handcrafted tribal costumes and baskets —I am amazed by intricate work like this.

For a complete profile of the artists and their sculptures, use this link.  The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta airport offers a lot of art and music for us to enjoy, including the Youth Art Gallery.