Monday, July 29, 2013

Bonneyville Mill

We ventured out to Bonneyville Mill twice this last week. The unseasonably cool weather has been great for getting outdoors! The Mill is open from May-October Wednesday through Sunday. I always forget and end up there on Tuesdays, which is one reason why we made a return trip. Still, we had a nice trip on Tuesday, even though the Mill was closed. As a child, we lived down the road on CR 8 in Bristol, so we frequented the park. When I lived out of the area, we also usually made a trip when we came back for a visit.

Heading over to the Mill from the parking lot is a beautiful Dahlia Garden. I've met members of the Elkhart Dahlia Society who care for this. They are dedicated to this beautiful and complicated plant. 

This is a BEAUTIFUL spot for pictures! 

There are several gardens in this area. The younger crowd liked peeking behind the flowers. There is also an herb garden nearby.

The view is gorgeous, with the reflection on the pond.

While some areas are manicured, there are also very natural areas nearby. 

You can see the water flowing under the mill. Inside, you can see historical artifacts relating to the operation of the mill. It's kind of mind boggling to see how the energy of moving water could be harnessed to power the grist mill and other operations within the mill--all dating back to the 1830s.

Here, the mill worker is demonstrating the various products when grinding corn. There is corn meal, grits, the chaff, and all of it mixed together. The machines can separate the different products.


There were also several different types of grains--I knew most of them! We have a Nutrimill Grain Mill and grind our own grains at home for the most part. They sell the freshly ground grains at reasonable prices. I know of several families that buy their flours here. A lady bought cornmeal while we were there--she said it makes delicious breading for chicken! We had a great conversation with the miller!

There is also a quilt mural on one of the nearby buildings. 

We chose to go toward Briar Patch Shelter and stopped at a small wetland area nearby. We quickly found small frogs and noticed tadpoles swimming in the area. 

We tried catching tadpoles, but weren't very successful. My husband joined the "hunt" and caught one!

The others all came back to investigate our discoveries. We could see the small back legs on most of the tadpoles. We spent a good half hour at this spot looking for frogs and tadpoles. We'd visited this area for an amphibian presentation in the past--good place for frogs! Earlier in the spring, I put together this post with links to local frog calls. We left the amphibians in their habitat, but it was fun to see them up close for a bit!

To think, it's just a platform; however, it took us into a world of amphibians!

Later we trekked over to Briar Patch, hoping for the nearby playground. The meadow is also near the area used for sledding in the winter nearby. The shelter was rented out for a family reunion--we often have family reunions there, too. The park was fairly active on Saturday, with a wedding with the waterfall behind (which is why we didn't head in that direction), another couple getting wedding pictures, and many more families out and about. There are several pavilions to rent in the park.

The kids were disappointed to see there was no playground here anymore. We weren't aware that it was gone! 

A favorite tree was still nearby. I call it the "family" tree, as there are branches for a whole family to take pictures! We were glad to have several cousins along with us! They also had fun finding toads (and releasing them)! 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Fair Oaks Dairy Adventure

With the help from a Groupon, we decided to venture to Fair Oaks Dairy Adventure. It's about 1 hr. 45 minutes from our house in Bristol, so it is a bit of a drive. Of course, it's closer for those of you in South Bend. Fair Oaks Dairy Adventures is a place to connect with the dairy process. It's easily accessible to Chicago, Indianapolis, and South Bend. My sister had been a couple of times, so we heard a few details about it in the last several years.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Finding Nature in a Candy Factory

We recently stopped at Albanese Candy Factory and Outlet Store on our way back home from Fair Oaks Farm. I (who me?) was talking to a lady at the farm who mentioned a candy factory, so I thought we should check it out. It is located a short drive off of I-65 near Merrillville, Indiana. There is loads of other shopping in the area (too much for me!). They only source their food products from the US and Canada, which is good to hear in many regards.

ETHOS Science Sneak Peek: WATER

Last week, we stopped by the ETHOS Science Center's Sneak Peak Science about Water. It is usually the third Thursday from 5:30 to 7:30 and is on a different topic each month. We went to one in April as a preview of the Summer Camps (which look great, by the way! More are starting in August). The Sneak Peek nights cost $1/person, which is VERY reasonable when I think about all the supplies and activities we did. I know how to set up and do these activities with the kids; however, it's nice to show up and it's all planned out for investigations. Also, I would probably spend more money gathering all the supplies to set this up at home. They also do the set up and clean up for us!

We started the evening in the H2O Olympics room. Supplies and directions were set out for 5 different water related activities. The children had record sheets to write down predictions, results, hypotheses, etc. as part of their explorations. They made boats with soap slivers to help "propel" them. They put drops of water on pennies--it's amazing how many will fit! When they finished all five, they received an Olympic medal!

The helpers (volunteers and leadership of the center) knew how to ask great thought provoking questions. The children also floated paperclips on top of water and looked at how water travels in varying paper towels. A few words like adhesion, surface tension, and more were tossed around in the discussions.

In another room, they looked at water displacement, sinking, floating, and more. They made clay boats and filled them with plastic teddy bears as weights. They also recorded what objects sank or floated. 

They made foil boats and used paper clips as weights. They also looked at surface tension again as they put pepper on top of the water (floats) until they put a soapy finger in the water (breaks the surface tension). I've done many of these explorations with science clubs in the past. 

They also had a pool set up in the back with underwater robots to try! The kids enjoyed trying to figure out how to make the robot move the way they wanted it to move. Inside, they liked exploring the typical displays they have out on a regular basis at the Science Center.

In another room, they had a fun video going on about the properties of water, as well as many water exploration bottles. 

The cartesian divers were a hit! They also liked the use of technology with the iPad Mini .


They really liked these discovery bottles. We have a few at home, but they don't spend as much dedicated time exploring them. With the directions right there, we could discuss why they worked as they did, related vocabulary, extended ideas, and probe deeper with questioning. We might have to make up a few more!

We also played the water cycle game. I like how they have it set up with beads on a string attached to the card (though the beads stay better on pipe cleaners often). I heard my kids looking at these later in the week asking, "How did you get from glacier to plant?" and tracing their way back through the complexities of the water cycle once again. We've done similar activities recently and they're understanding the varied concepts of where our water originates. 

They also liked the animals. For most children, looking at living things is fascinating! (Okay, adults, too!)


Dead animals are fascinating as well! When we got there, the kids found a dead bird out in the rocks--nature study! Of course, we had to look at the beak and feet, the feathers, and more and do a little up close bird study. Are my kids the only ones that do that? At soccer practice this week, they brought me a dead bird (most likely a blue jay fledgeling). I thought only cats and dogs brought back presents like this!

It was a fun evening! We're looking forward to more as the schedule permits! They have a contest right now for pictures from the Sneak Peek events. The winner gets free passes to the Science Spectacular in October! That looks like a great night! Unfortunately, I think my hubby and I already have other plans, but maybe we can get the grandparents to take the kids. You might enjoy it too!