Field Trip 5 – Vulcan


VulcanAfter our trip to Sloss Furnaces, we headed across town to visit Vulcan!  We’ve been in Alabama for a little over two years now, and other than seeing Vulcan from a distance while driving, we hadn’t yet made it to visit him, so we were excited!

Vulcan was designed by Giuseppe Moretti and is the largest cast iron statue in the world.  He sits atop Red Mountain, overlooking Birmingham.

We went up to the observation deck to get a closer look. Vulcan, apparently, doesn’t wear pants…

After hanging out outside, we went in to the museum to learn about Alabama and the iron industry.

We had a great time seeing Vulcan and learning more about what we touched on at the furnaces.

November Sweet Sponsors

I love that I’ve got some great individuals helping to support Sweet Phenomena.  I believe in their products and services, and I’m humbled that they trust me to promote them.  Please show them some love!

On to the Sponsors


My Job Chart – Want a free, browser-based way to help your child {and yourself} keep track of the chores they need to complete?  Then My Job Chart is for you.  Assign point values to each task and help your child learn how to spend, save, and donate.

Time4Learning – Time4Learning provides great curriculum resources in subjects such as math, reading, and science.  Combined with parental controls and resources, and you’ve got a great product for homeschoolers!

Time4Writing – Get writing classes taught by teachers and free resources to help your child with writing.  I like the combination of technology and reinforcing writing.

Sunshine and Sippy Cups – Get great info on reviews, giveaways, frugal living, blogging resources and more!  Meagan’s got a great site!

My Groovy Planet – Teach your children all about recycling and free trade products in a fun way.  Each month they’ll get their own package with goodies!

Genuine Work at Home Advice – Get some great info on legitimate work at home opportunities.  Katie has information on many resources that you’ve never heard of before!

Sweet Critique: Spelling City


Vocabulary Spelling City

VocabularySpellingCity is a browser-based program designed to help students learn spelling, grammar, and writing.   The program comes in both a free version and a premium version {$24.99 per year for up to five students}.  The premium membership gives you a vast array of useful resources such as vocabulary tests, flashcards, record keeping, and individual student log-ins.

VocabularySpellingCityOne of the things I really enjoy about VocabularySpellingCity is the fact that you can enter in your own words and create your own lists, from which the activities and games are based.  This allows you to tailor the activities your child completes, helping them learn what you’d like them to.

If you’d prefer to use lists someone else has put together, VocabularySpellingCity has pre-formulated lists for you to choose form.  I like the fact that they integrate some of these lists with other subjects.



VocabularySpellingCity offers a variety of games for both versions.  Choose from matching, sentence writing, definitions, flashcards, and speedy spelling.

VocabularySpellingCity games

As you can see in the picture above, the student has the option to maneuver between things like their flash cards, games, and teaching.  I’m all for anything that is self-teaching and gives the student the power to move through the lessons as their own pace.

Student Management


VocabularySpellingCity’s premium membership allows you to keep track of up to five students.  You have a grade book, assignment tracker, and other options.

I like how you can also assign passwords to the students.  You can even update instructions for some of the assignments!

Final Thoughts


I think VocabularySpellingCity is a great option for anyone looking to get some serious spelling practice in.  It’s presented in an easy and fun way, and the premium version gives you many options for really using the program effectively for your child.

True Confessions:  I was provided with a premium membership in order to facilitate my review.  All statements are my own.

Sweet Critique: Animoto


AnimotoWe’ve all seen software and websites that allow you to add your pictures and create a little montage. Well, Animoto takes this concept and rocks it out, allowing you to create wicked video slideshows with music.  The video templates are fresh and fun, the music is not boring standard stuff, and the ability to add video and photos is insanely cool!

How Does It Work?


Animoto can be used in just three easy steps:  choose your images, choose your music, and watch and share.

Choose Your Images - Not only can you snag pics from your computer, but you can also scoop them up from Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, and tons of other places.

Choose Your Music – Use selections from your computer, or choose from a wide range of musical options from Animoto.

Add It To Your Chosen Video – Animoto has a variety of videos to choose from, including seasonal options.

Other Awesomeness


iPhone app – Animoto makes it uber-easy to share your videos across a wide variety of platforms.

Cinematic Artificial Intelligence {CAI} – Huh?  CAI makes each video unique by analyzing your photos and the video and music you chose.  You choose the effects, and *poof*, you’ve got your video.

Video resolutions - Animoto videos are available in a number of resolutions to ease sharing with a variety of mediums.



Animoto offers a variety of pricing options, including a free option with limited-length videos.  Other options start at just $5/month {or $30 per year} for unlimited full-length videos.

Final Thoughts


I love Animoto!  I like that it’s different than anything else out there and it’s affordable.  The CAI is just awesome and produces something that is unique.  Go give it a try!

True Confessions:  I was provided with a subscription to Animoto to facilitate my review.  All statements are my own.

Field Trip 4 – Sloss Furnaces

Sloss Furnaces

Sloss Furnaces

Sloss FurnacesWe recently went to Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, AL.  It was so much stinkin’ fun!  I’ve heard Birmingham referred to as a post-industrial crap hole {and I think a good bit of it lives up to that…}, but I really had no idea what the “industrial” part of that was.

I’ll admit, when we first signed up for this field trip, I wondered how exciting it could really be.  The coolest sounding thing was the fact that we were going to make our own iron tile.  Man, I was so shocked to find out how interesting it all was.

Sloss was started by Colonel James Withers Sloss.  With the creation of Sloss Furnaces, Birmingham was poised to become a large producer of pig iron.  Birmingham got it’s nickname, The Magic City, because the city seemed to spring up, like magic, with all of the people that came to the area to work at the furnaces.  Tons of history in that place.

We started by carving sand blocks to make the mold for our iron tile {sand won’t melt at the high temperatures of the molten iron}.

I felt so bad for Babydoll. While I thought her sand block was awesome, she was so stressed out because she didn't have enough time.

Babydoll's butterfly - doesn't it rock?! She didn't think so and she cried; I felt bad.

My sand block mold.

After this, we started our tour. First stop – the spray pond where they recycled their water.

Sloss Furnaces is now a historical landmark, educational site, and home to metal artists. One of the artists made a mold of his legs and put the art in the pond.

Next up were various components of the site such as the tunnel where coke was loaded, the elevator which brought the coke where it needed to go, and one of the furnaces.

Next, we got to see the artists pour the iron into our sand block molds.

Ever wondered why it's called "pig" iron? When they molded the bars, it looked like a mama pig with her little baby pigs.

Some of the great metal art:

We also saw the fans that used to power the furnaces and the turbine that replaced them.


ETA:  Anna-Marie reminded me that I forgot to add a picture of our finished tiles!!!  Here ya go:

I’m linking this up to Anna-Marie’s field trip hop, be sure to check it out to find all sorts of great ideas for homeschool field trips!!