"From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised." Psalm 113:3

Monday, May 18, 2015

Memoria Press Curriculum...A Review...


I know I've talked a little bit before about Memoria Press and how we have used some of their products in the past (The Book of Insects and Geography I).  I have been very impressed with their curriculum so far, using it in bits and pieces as a supplement to what we were already using.

I was curious to know how their curriculum stacked up when using it as a core for my children, instead of using it only for supplementary subjects.  So, toward the end of this school year, we began using Memoria Press' Classical Core Curriculum for Grade 3 with my Bug, who is eight years old.

What Is Memoria Press?

Memoria Press is a family-run company that produces classical Christian materials for homeschoolers and private schools.  Cheryl Lowe, the founder, is the author of many of the Latin programs used in the curriculum, is the Headmistress of the Highlands Latin School, where many of the Memoria Press programs are field tested, AND is a homeschooling Momma.

Memoria Press products are very recognizable at homeschooling curriculum fairs and conventions, with their simple, easily laid-out formats and workbook-style activities.

What Did We Receive?

We received the motherload of third grade curriculum--everything we needed to carry out what was in the "Accelerated" Lesson Plans for one full year of third grade!


Here's what that looked like:

Third Grade Lesson Plans (Accelerated)

The Student and Teacher Guides for all of the Literature:  A Bear Called Paddington, Farmer Boy, Mr. Popper's Penguins, and Charlotte's Web

English Grammar Recitation, Student Book, and Teacher Guide

New American Cursive 3 Workbook and Lesson Plans

Christian Studies I Teacher Manual and Student Book

D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths Teacher Manual, Student Book, and Flashcards

States and Capitals Teacher Manual and Student Book

Latina Christiana Program, including DVDs, Pronunciation CD, Review Worksheets, Review Worksheets Key, Student Book, Teacher Manual, and Ludere Latinae 1:  Latin Word Games

Poetry for the Grammar Stage Teacher Manual and Student Book

Timeline Composition and Sketchbook, Handbook, Flashcards, and Wall Cards

The Book of Astronomy Teacher Manual and Student Book

Introduction to Composition Teacher Manual and Student Book

Although Spelling (Spelling Workout), and Math (Rod and Staff) are traditionally included in the Core Curriculum, and the lesson plans reflect those choices, we chose to use our own spelling and math programs during the review period.  Also, when purchasing the Core Curriculum Package, you will also receive the readers (such as Farmer Boy and D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths), as well as a book used for the States and Capitals study (Don't Know Much About the 50 States) and for Christian Studies (The Golden Children's Bible).  Again, we chose to use books about the states that we already owned, as well as our own Bible.

Let me tell you a little bit about the materials we received:

Third Grade Lesson Plans

Calling this manual simply "lesson plans" is a bit like calling the Grand Canyon a little valley.  This spiral-bound, 230 page manual contains much more than day by day lesson plans.  First of all, there are about 24 pages of teaching guidelines that give specific and helpful information about teaching with both the classical style in general, and with the Memoria Press products specifically.  For example, guidelines for Recitation are given, which is a memory testing method that helps children learn and solidify their learning in many different areas.  Latin study is broken down by day, showing different suggested activities that help children to retain their vocabulary and grammar.  Literature study hints are given for both before the reading and after reading the selection--and so on and so on.

Additional features of the Lesson Plans include a sample daily schedule, sample opening and closing prayers for the school day, 33 weeks of suggested Recitation material, and sample flashcards with "Review Box" instructions.

The Lesson Plans are broken up into 33 weeks, with each week on a two-page spread, broken into a five-day week.  Each subject has instructions on each day, with handy little boxes given for us "check-off-the-box" types.  While Latin, Math, Grammar, Spelling, and Read Alouds are scheduled for all five days, other subjects range from once to four times / week.

Other information given in the Lesson Plans include a suggested read aloud book list, an American Studies suggested book list, 35 weeks of spelling lists, 9 math tests and a final test, a final review and a final test for Christian Studies, a final exam for Latin, and, of course, test keys for those tests.

Literature

Most of the materials that we received for each subject were formatted very similarly, and Literature was no exception.  Each Teaching Guide begins with suggestions for teaching, and is then followed with several activities for each chapter of the book.  Reading Notes usually covered some important information that the child would come across in the chapter that they might not be familiar with; for example, what "apple-blossom time" might mean in terms of seasons.  Reading Notes are followed by vocabulary words, usually about five-seven per chapter.  There are also comprehension questions and discussion questions--comprehension questions are usually questions that the child will answer in writing, but discussion questions are the ones that the student and the teacher can dialogue about.  There are quotations to go over with the student to help make sure they are understanding some of the key points of the story.  And, my personal favorite, there are enrichment activities included for each chapter for use when there is time.  The enrichment activities can include copywork, writing a paragraph inspired by something that happened in the story, ordering events, map work, and even making marmalade when reading about that silly bear Paddington!

Some other things you will find in the Teacher's Guides include quizzes and final tests, answers to the discussion questions (just in case you didn't read the books yourself, lol!), and additional background information on some topics specific to the story:  spiders in Charlotte's Web, for example, and a map of London for A Bear Called Paddington.

The Student Guide is set up in the same manner, except, simply, the answers aren't given.  There is ample space provided for the child to write in their answers to the questions.

Grammar

The English Grammar Recitation program consists of the Recitation Book, the Student Guide, and the Teacher Manual.  Again, the Teacher Manual is set up with teaching guidelines in the beginning, review and recitation tips, and a suggested five day lesson plan, offering memorization exercises, copywork, practice exercises, and review.  The lessons are then broken down into 26 lessons, focusing on things such as capitalization rules, sentence structure, helping verbs, comma rules, and even hyphen use.  Reviews, quizzes, and tests are provided, and grammar recitation exercises are also found in the back of the Teacher's manual.  Again, the Student Guide is set up in exactly the same way--minus the answers.

The English Grammar Recitation Book is designed to be used over a period of five years, and includes questions and answers for the student to memorize and recite during their grammar study.  The questions for each section correspond beautifully to the rest of the student's grammar program, giving the child information they can use throughout their schooling.


Cursive

The Cursive Writing program lesson plans come with Teaching Guidelines included in the beginning, and very simple lesson planning in order to cover 100 lessons in 33 weeks, with lessons offered three times / week.  The workbook itself is a spiral-bound, (top bound, so that it can be used with either right-handed or left-handed children) soft-cover book.  It has a good deal of introductory information about paper position, spacing, and pencil position, and then it dives right into the beginning pages.  The first few lessons serve as a review, of which there are several built into the curriculum, but then most pages include Bible verse copywork with size 18 font lines.  Later in the lessons, copywork extends to paragraphs, and there is additional instruction in things like keeping margins neat and writing your address.

Christian Studies

Memoria Press' Christian Studies I course focuses on the stories of the Old Testament, from Creation to the death of Moses, through a series of 25 lessons.  As with other curriculum products, review lessons, tests, vocabulary, and some worksheets are included in the books, as well as teaching guidelines to read before beginning.  These lessons are set up with some beginning background summary given for the teacher / parent, and then a Bible story is introduced and suggested.  The Golden Children's Bible is recommended; however, we simply used the Bible my son uses on a regular basis.  After reading the Bible story, the child is given facts to know (important people, places, or events talked about in the story), comprehension questions, activities (usually mapping), and a memory verse.  The child is encouraged to memorize the verse, and different techniques for helping the child are included in the teaching guidelines.  There are five tests and an answer key also provided in the Teacher Guide.  The Student Guide mirrors the Teacher Guide, without the answers given.

Classical Studies

Classical Studies for Third Grade include the studying of Greek Mythology, primarily through use of the book: D'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths.  The Teacher and Student Guides follow the text through the use of 25 lessons (and additional review lessons).  Each lesson offers facts to know at the beginning, followed by vocabulary words.  Page selections from the text are given to read, and then comprehension questions and activities are offered.  Many times the activities include going back through the text and identifying items / persons in the pictures, comparing and contrasting the Greek Myths and Bible stories, deeper discussions questions, and art activities.  Review lessons, review questions, maps, a pronunciation guide, and tests and answer keys are found in the back of the Teacher Guide, and the Student Guide again mirrors the Teacher Guide, with blanks to fill in rather than answers given.  There are also flashcards available for this study, which offer a helpful way to help the student work on their memory facts.

Geography

The focus for Geography this year is States and Capitals, primarily using the book, Don't Know Much About the 50 States.  Using this book, after the first two lessons, the student will study 2-3 states a week and fill out the corresponding page in the Student Study Guide, identifying the state's abbreviation, capital, nickname, and fun fact, as well as completing some map work.  After each region of the United States is studied, there is a review of that region, a quiz for each region, and of course, a final review and exam.

Poetry

Poetry for the Grammar Stage is designed to be used over a period of time from third grade to sixth grade, and many of the poems correspond to literature or science selections already included in the core curriculum.  There are 34 poems included, and they vary from simple to incredibly complex.  The beginning poems, designed for use with the third grade curriculum, and scheduled into the lesson plans, come complete with an area to copy the poem and draw a scene from it.  There is added vocabulary the child may be seeing for the first time in the poem, a section for analyzing the poem (rhyming structure, use of tools such as alliteration), and comprehension questions.  The child is also encouraged to memorize and recite lines of the poem.  For some of the later poems, additional historical context is provided as well.  The Student Guide is set up much the same way, except suggested answers are not provided.

The Tower of Babel, of course!

Timeline

The Timeline program is another, like Poetry, that is designed to be used with the student over several years.  By completion, the student will have a beautiful record of sixty events from Creation through the Third Millennium.  The Timeline Handbook offers, again, teaching guidelines, as well as brief overviews of each event, including the key participants, location, and event description.  The Timeline Composition and Sketchbook is where the student records that information, as well as offering a full-page illustration of the event.  Each event, then, covers a two-page spread.

The Student Flashcards offer a way for the student to practice putting events in historical order or memorizing dates of important historical significance, while the Wall Cards offer an opportunity for history to come alive in the schoolroom.  Each event offered in the timeline has a student flashcard and a wall card created for it, that can be used as valuable visual tools in the study of history.


Astronomy

The Book of Astronomy Student Book and Teacher Guide offer a year or two-long course covering constellations and the Solar System.  Both guides offer text lessons, with workbook-style questions, including fill-in-the-blanks, filling out charts, and drawing the constellations the student is learning. One of the first items the student learns are the 15 brightest stars.   Again, unit tests and final tests are included, with answers given in the Teacher Guide.

Composition

The goal of the Introduction to Composition program for the third grader is to teach correct and expressive writing to students through modeling.  So the format of the Composition lessons encourages modeling and talking the student through forming their writing.  Each lesson begins with a reading passage from the literature they are currently working on, followed by some guided questions to get the student thinking.  At that point, the parent helps the student form an outline with the main points they wish to write about, followed by the three-sentence summary.  There is also a dictation sentence for the child from the same literature selection as another modeling tool for the student.

How Did We Use Memoria Press?

Probably not exactly the way it was intended.  Of course, right?  First of all, let me remind you that much of this year we have been loosely "unschooling".  To move from that mindset right into a workbook-style, structured Classical type of learning made me very nervous.  I wasn't sure how my son would react to it.

Because of my reservations, we moved very slowly through the first week of lessons.  As in, it probably took us three weeks to complete what was in Week One of the Lesson Plans.  We simply went subject by subject, allowing my Bug to choose which subject to do next, with a lot of slow downs with Momma re-reading teaching guidelines as we went.  However, that plan seemed to work, and by the end of the review period, we were able to stick much more to the suggested plan, completing the whole day's work in a day (or, maybe more like a day and a half).

We tend to set aside mostly mornings for school time, and Bug and I were able to easily complete the curriculum in the mornings if we were focused and diligent.  The reality, though, is that he is an 8 year-old boy and I am a Momma easily distracted.  So, if we wanted to stay completely on track, we would double up in a subject one day, or get together for a quick session after lunch, and we would be able to check our boxes off in a timely manner.

 *smile*


What Did I Think of This Curriculum?

Again, let me remind you that we were coming off of several months of an unschooling mindset.  When I first opened the package from Memoria Press and saw all of the workbooks, I may have gotten just a wee bit overwhelmed.  And a little teeny tiny bit terrified.

But I overcame.  I rallied and really read through the Lesson Plans and teaching guidelines and dug into the books for each subject.  And I made up some pretty color-coded flashcards for some of the subjects that didn't come with any, and I crossed my fingers and I prayed.

We loved it.

Truly loved it.

I actually couldn't believe it!  First of all, I may have been a little put off by the workbook-style, and, therefore, to my mind, "school work".  But there is so much beautiful, classic literature and some very good "snuggle up and read" time built into the curriculum itself--not just in the literature selections, which are perennial favorites, but also in the suggested book lists, where we read through books like Mary Poppins, and Leif the Lucky.  I was very pleasantly surprised with how often we got to just sit, and read, and talk over what we read.

Also, we adapted (as all good homeschoolers do, right?).  My son, while a wonderful reader, is a horrible writer.  As in, horrible.  As a result, we completed many of the questions in the student books orally.  I'm sure that contributed to Bug's enjoyment.  See, although he is really, really bad at writing, he loves to talk.  And talk.  So this process worked out well for him.  We also worked through the Introduction to Composition orally, although I would have him work on forming his complete sentences and then do the writing for him.  I was again, pleasantly surprised with how well the curriculum could be adapted.

Noah's Ark...
I thought the lesson plans were set up well, and again, were easy to adapt to a slower speed if we needed.  Although spelling and math were included in the lesson plans, we simply did our own math program in place of the Rod and Staff (and didn't do spelling--shh...)  There was a really well thought out mix of subjects, with some only coming up once in a week, but still providing enough exposure for the student.

I was also surprised at how quickly Bug took to the curriculum.  I think it was perfectly challenging enough for him without completely frustrating him.  He picked up the memorization (and there is quite a bit of it) so very quickly, even though he was often overwhelmed when the material was first introduced to him.  Even some of the material that I found a bit dry (read, astronomy), he was thrilled with.  And how many kiddos can name the fifteen brightest stars in the sky?  In order?  Turns out there is something to this "grammar stage of memorization" thing!  Bug loved all of it.

All in all, while there were a few kinks to work out in learning how to use the curriculum--mostly worked out on my own when I went back to read through it all a second time, this was a curriculum that really worked out well for us.  It is a bit overwhelming at first, probably more for the parent, especially if said parent is not particularly well versed in the Classical method of education.  But once the initial learning curve is over, it is very much open and go in everyday use.  There is a lot of challenging material, and yes, a lot of memorization.  However, there is also a lot of room for adaptation, and still so much relaxing reading time, which is our favorite part of homeschooling.  There are even hands-on projects included here and there, although those with more active learners may want to supplement a bit to add more.

Now, in all fairness, I'm going to tell you that we didn't get past the first page in the cursive book.  Did I mention Bug and his aversion to writing?  To practice his penmanship more, we're moving back to very introductory printing before we try this one again.  And according to Memoria Press, you are welcome to substitute programs like that when buying the core curricula.  Doing it again, we would have simply substituted for an earlier printing product.

I know I didn't cover the Latin.  There was so much to cover specific to Latin, as a new family never having done it before, that I'm going to do another review just on Latina Christiana.

In short, we loved the Third Grade Curriculum from Memoria Press.  We have put it aside for the summer now, but we will be jumping right back into it come August, per Bug's request, and per mine.  This one is a keeper, for sure!


What Did My Bug Think?

"A Bear Called Paddington was funny.  It was easy to see when Paddington would get in trouble, but it was still surprising to see what kind of trouble he got in and to see if he got in trouble or got away easily.  The vocabulary words, some of them were hard, and some of them were easy, but I managed to memorize them all. (Literature)

The capitalization rules are interesting and I think they're going to help me a lot.  It was fun to memorize them all. (Grammar)

For the Bible, some of the cards that I thought I couldn't be able to memorize, I did.  It was a little tough to memorize all the verses. (Christian Studies)

I liked having the cards to be quizzed on it, and even though I knew about some of the stories already, it was fun to go over them. (Greek Mythology)

It was fun to learn about different time zones, and how there's different sections of the United States, like New England.   (States and Capitals)

Poetry was a weird poem, but fun to memorize some of the lines. (Poetry)

The Timeline was fun to learn about the different things that happened during close to the same year. And it was also fun to draw the pictures and put up the cards up where the bigger cards were. (Timeline)

Astronomy was really hard to memorize all of the stars from brightest to darkest. (Astronomy)

I really liked most of it, just sometimes it was a little hard to memorize it all.  I still want to use it."  Bug, age 8

Find Out More About Memoria Press:

The Third Grade Curriculum Complete Package, which we received is $400.00, and includes all of the materials needed for every subject, including Lesson Plans.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wordless Wednesday...Our Winter Wanderings, Part 6...

This part of our winter trip was dedicated to Bug's intense interest in all things Civil War.  We made a side trip to Gettysburg National Military Park for him to soak up the history.  Which he did.  For a much longer time than either of his sisters were interested in hanging in.  And even longer than I could hang.

This picture sums it up nicely, I think.  I love that little guy.







The girls, humoring me, but ready to crash out.




The monument before we fully explored it...


...on our way up...


...and the view from the tip top.

Bug, four hours in, still all smiles!  The girls?  In the car.  So very, very done with the whole thing.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Firefly Friday...And Again...


Sigh.

I have so many, many feelings swirling through my brain as I sit down to type this.

I'm mad.  Upset.  Jealous.  Mama Bear-Angry.  Hurt.  Frustrated.  Irritated.  Exhausted.  Afraid.

I want to holler at the top of my lungs to anyone who will listen that This. Just. Isn't. Fair!!

And then smack myself for being a whiny, selfish lady.

So, let's just start here and see where we end up, OK?

My daughter is 12.  12.  She is finishing up sixth-grade.  She has a cell phone, has taken a Safe Sitter course, and can stay home by herself for short periods of time.  She can play soccer like nobody's business, and writes beautiful skits for her Community Bible Study class.

She is caring and warm and thoughtful and a champ at giving back massages.

But she STILL has Sensory Processing Disorder.

She STILL is medicated daily for the anxiety that can be so crippling that NONE of us can function to live our daily lives.

And she is STILL losing control.

And so am I.

For all of the occupational therapy, speech therapy, horse therapy, special diets, medication, counseling sessions, holistic healer-people, essential oils, vitamins, and on and on and on that we've tried, SPD continues to be part of our lives.

Every day.

And, true, as she has gotten older, and as her siblings have gotten older, and her parents have gotten better at figuring this all out, SPD has gotten slightly less intrusive in our lives--unless it's just that we've gotten so used to its presence that we have adjusted...

But...

Then we have a day (who am I kidding--it's been like two weeks now) when it all comes screeching back into focus.

A scheduled playdate that never was... (even though I knew better than to set one up with this particular set of friends)

Bedtimes that got away from us because of late soccer practices (and she's so much better settled when she's playing soccer--but not so much when she's tired...)

A typing class that's "hard"  (defined as tough on those fine motor muscles, almost impossible to ace immediately, and forced time to sit and look at a computer screen)...

And math.  Let's not forget math.

And now we have a crabby, bossy, argumentative, and yes, even tantruming Firefly on our hands.

Again.

And my mad comes from the fact that:

1.  It's. Not. Fair.  To her, to her brother and sister, to us as her parents.  This sucks.  It sucks that we have to live this life day in and day out and walk on eggshells, like we have for 12 YEARS.  I hate it.

2.  I'm a whiner.  I know, completely get it, that there are SO MANY worse off than we are.  We are very blessed and so very lucky.  I told you I was a whiner.  And it makes me mad at myself.

3.  I know better.  I know this is a fact of life.  I know there is nothing wrong with my daughter that I need to "fix".  I know it is what it is.  So why am I surprised when we have a flare-up or a reaction that I should expect?

4.  I respond to her behavior with anger.  Because I'm angry at myself and at SPD, it looks like I'm angry with her.  I am a grown-up acting like a child.  And it pisses me off.

I'm upset.  I hate to see her struggle like this.  I know she isn't acting out of hate or disobedience.  But still, this is behavior she's going to have to get under control.  Especially as she's growing. But, ugh...it's so...

Exhausting.  For her and me and everyone else who has to be around us.  Did I mention it's been 12 years?  That's a long, long time.

It's so very tiring.

But you know what?

I am a follower of Christ.  I am a believer in God, and God told us that the road would not be easy.  He made sure we knew there would be adversity and rough times and hardship.

Hardship.  Now that's a word that sums it up pretty well.

And through the hardship, God promised He would walk with us, would carry us if we need it.  And God's hands are big enough to carry me, and my Firefly, and her brother and sister, and dad.  We can rest while He carries us, and we can renew our strength.

To fight some more tomorrow.






Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Our Winter Wanderings...Part Five!


Can you believe it's taking this many posts to share our trip?

Umm, yeah.  Having lived it, I can.  It was a long, long trip.

A wonderful, refreshing, great time with amazing people trip, but a long one!

Day Five found us on the road from Rhode Island to Connecticut to visit with my sister, her hubby, and their daughters.  It was a relatively quick trip, and we arrived just in time to get a tour of their lovely new townhouse and chow down on a pasta dinner!  The kiddos got to visit and play (hide and seek was the favorite) and the Mommas got to catch up.

The next morning found the kiddos itching to get outside, especially since Uncle Damian had mentioned the sledding activity!  I'm not sure my Florida kiddos have ever sledded--ever.  And according to the all-knowing sledding expert Uncle Damian, it was the perfect snow for sledding.  Not too fresh and powdery, with just the right amount of icy stuff on top.

So we bundled up and headed out--right, as luck would have it, across the parking lot to the big hill that was just perfect for sledding.


That's brave Uncle Damian himself, starting us off!  I think the look of terror was just for show...

We had a terrific time, even the teenagers who are too cool for everything--although they did remember to "be chill" and went in after about 45 minutes.  I had to drag the others in after about ninety minutes, with numb toes and rosy cheeks and sore bellies from laughing.


The native Northerner, however, had had enough after about 30 minutes and tried to lift the excitement level by getting herself stuck in a tree.

After thawing out and eating lunch, we headed out for a tour of the little towns close by my sister.  I called it the "Gore Tour", because one of the places we went was a supposed "haunted hospital", complete with stories of the horrible torture that used to happen to the patients, the hidden tunnels buried underneath the grounds, and the abandoned buildings.


I know!  Creepy, right?

The rest of our visit included yet another trip to a frozen yogurt place (gotta love it!), a trip to the mall--THAT HAD A SCHOOL SUPPLY STORE IN IT!!!! and a yummy dinner.

The next morning would see us headed out to state number 3--Pennsylvania, and a trip to Gettysburg.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Our Winter Wanderings...Part Four


We finished up our "Round One" of our trip by heading out to do some birthday bowling.  We had timed our trip perfectly to coincide with a very special little boy's eighth birthday, and he wanted to bowl.  So we bowled.

Such as it was with seven children (including one 4 year-old), and most of them being boys.

Yeah.  

But the company was amazing, and the pizza really, really yummy!


We were warm, happy, well-fed--and had lots of kiddos who were OVER picture-taking, in case you couldn't tell from the "cheese" smiles.


Good stuff...


This cheese smile courtesy of the fifteen year-old who was pretty much over her mom at this point...


But here's a good one!

Once we had stalled our goodbyes as many times as we possibly could, we hugged, cried, and loaded into the car--headed to Connecticut to visit with cousins.  Somehow the three hour ride seemed like a total piece of cake, after our marathon trips of 12 and 10 hours so far!

Part Five--sledding in Connecticut.  Coming soon...

Friday, April 17, 2015

Field Trip Fun! A Trip to the Animatronics Factory...



Bug, Firefly, and I got to take a tour of a local Animatronics studio.  For those of you not familiar with that word (like me), animatronics are essentially robots that are created to appear like animals or people, with lifelike movements and appearances.  

Think Chuck E. Cheese, or Disney World.

I had no idea that our close-by city had an actual, real-life robot factory!

And that we could actually tour it!

But, yes, both of those facts were true, and we happily headed downtown last week to check it all out.

Our first stop on the tour was in a room that housed an amusement park-like game, complete with blacklights and laser guns.  Here, we met our tour guide and got to hear a little about the factory, what the company does, and what kinds of things we were going to be able to see.

Then, each kiddo got a turn to play the shooting game.  In the picture above, you can maybe make out some "target" lights--one is red and at the base of the spooky flower, and one is green and hanging out on the tombstone.  Those were the places to aim your shots.  Hitting the targets got you points and a scary surprise.

After we all took turns playing, we headed out on the tour.  The first stop was the design area (where no pictures were allowed).  Many designers were hard at work, using some of the coolest computer graphic technology that I've ever seen--in my many years of studying graphic design, lol!

The next stop was this room of clay figures.  Here, the artist makes the picture designs come to life in clay.  The clay is then put through a process (which our guide described so much more clearly than I can), that turns it into a mold used to make the plastic-y, silicone-y masks.


I love that our tour guide tried on the masks for us!


After the molds are complete, they are put onto the robotic frame.  In these pictures above, you can see the inner workings of the robot and his pneumatic cylinders.  We were told a little bit about the process of "dressing up" the robots, including how the (real, human) hair is individually looped into the masks.

Umm, gross. 


The rest of our tour led us through the remainder of the factory.  We got to see some of the large displays they are currently working on, 


some of their most well-known, 
 

 and even some headed to faraway lands.  The penguin extravaganza will be headed to a hotel in China later this year.  And, yes, the penguins all sing and dance--but it's all in Chinese!

This was one of the most interesting field trips we've done this year!  If you have a factory / workshop near you, I would highly recommend it...


...you might even get to leave with your own robot!

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