Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Spring is 'snake' season

With our style of learning (Charlotte Mason) we use hands on learning for nearly everything we are interested in knowing. Today's hike is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. We know the seasons have changed and we have experienced our garden growing beautifully. We have discussed that animals begin to come out of hibernation in the spring. We were out for an adventure at a lake and decided to go for a short hike. The flowers are blooming and the trees are full of green shady leaves. The birds are calling out warnings of us being in the nature neighborhood. We hike for a mile and see a dead turtle, a moss coved pond, a field where there used to be Indian Burials, and many spiders waiting for their lunches. On the way out of the trail we were enjoying the many butterflies and birds. So in other words, we weren't really paying attention to where we were stepping. With my husband in the lead, we chased a butterfly, trying to capture it feeding on camera. When, all of a sudden, the Doll yells, "Mom! A SNAKE!" I say calmly, " where baby?" and as you might be assuming, it was right in front of us, a step away. Daddy, must have just missed stepping on it because it was sunning itself and was completely stretched out. As it curled up its neck in defense to strike we carefully took steps backward. The snake made a u-turn and headed back into the bush. My little girl was a little shaken by seeing a snake respond in such a way, (the zoo snakes are usually sleeping in a lump: ) I just reminded her that ,"it's spring Baby, and the animals,including snakes, are excited to be out of hibernation. The forest is their home, you know."  Several key learning points-  A- snakes live in the forest, like to sun on the warm dirt trail, and are just as afraid of you. - so in a way you were lucky to see a snake :) B- spring is a time for animals to wake up from hibernation, hiking in the forest and hiking around the park are two different hikes -always pay attention to where you are stepping! C-park rangers don't always have the answers for your questions.- " aww, yeah, that was ahhh black snake" hmmm well, we knew that much:) The funny/cool thing about the days events, is that the next day at the library she only wanted to check out books about snakes. I also heard her say to someone, her favorite animal is an anaconda:) and finally, she came up with the slogan, 'spring, is snake season.'  Could she have learned about spring, hibernation and snakes from a book, of course. Will she forever remember seeing the long(4ft) black snake stretched across the whole path on a warm spring day, definetly!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Nature hike in the evening

Sometimes, changing one piece of your routine, will give you a fresh point of view. One example, is to take a walk at different times during the day. We usually take a walk anytime around lunch -before or after- either around the neighborhood or at a park with a path. It's nice for fresh air and exercise, but it's also a great time to chat. I like to take that time to reflect on ideas we've been learning to see what other questions she still might have. Then make a note of books we should try to find at the library. Today we had errands to run at lunch and missed our midday walk/chat. So, having a lovely evening, we went on a walk after dinner. The first animal we noticed were bunny rabbits. There were many new bunnies hopping from tree to tree nibbling grass. The second were cats, we saw two black cats on the prowl. And finally we saw some fireflies. We gently caught one and took it home for a mini observation. Fireflies are so amazing! It was so cool to watch it explore it's jar. We noticed it didn't want to share its light while in the jar. So after about 15 minutes we released it. As soon as it flit out it buzzzed a bright light as if to say, thanks, it was nice to meet you. Teaching the names of bugs, and their habitats is a small piece of the lesson. The lesson was  really on compassion and being gentle to all God's creatures. How awesome it is to see the lesson take root:)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Peaking at Nature

Our backyard is a little weedy and we're trying to not use spray this year. With such a lovely sunny day we headed to a particularly clover filled section to pull some weeds. She has enjoyed laying here in the little white flowers watching the clouds float through the sky. While we were digging around we found this furry caterpillar. What fun it was to watch it crawl around and around. After we finished pulling the weeds we returned our fuzzy little friend back to it's home.

St Patrick's day

A memorial breakfast of green milk and mint cookies was followed by some stories about St Patrick. We read Tomie dePalo's, Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland, and The Story of Saint Patrick's Day by Pamela Levy. And for the fun of it we read The Leprechaun who lost his rainbow by Sean Callahan. I also tried to pull the 'leprachan's made everything a mess routine', but she's just not up for any nonsense these days.... She said, "Ok, well who did it you or daddy? " Sooo, the lessons on truthfulness and what's pretend and real have really taken root in our little five year old. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

3.14 National Pi Day

She's a long way off from measuring with Pi but understanding that it measures circles and making an edible circle is something she does understand:) For the fun of it we made our very first chocolate pie for National Pi day.


Wonderful News! All 5 of our butterflies have made their  chrysalis. And interestingly, so have the ladybugs in sorts.... The lady bugs did not make use of  a fancy case, They just used their last exoskeleton to change inside of. They also hung upside down like the caterpillars, but they still looked like the pupa stage. The Doll is taking very careful notes on this discovery. Also, since the butterflies have now all made their chrysalis, we moved them into the net habitat. So in about 7 more days we'll have butterflies and lady bugs

Sunshine gardening +bird watching

With some mild sun protection applied, we headed outside to enjoy a spring day. We started with a  little bird watching and noting. Then did some earth exploring. She found lots of critters digging in the ground. It was the first time she had seen a centipede. She held the worm so gently when she found it. Digging in the earth inspired her to want to plant some flowers. So we started some in little egg cartons and also picked up a few pansies at the grocer.
How do you spread curiosity? How do you guide your little chick in the direction you are hoping? How do you fill their minds with questions then fill in the blanks with answers? I've been investigating idea in an educational model called Leadership Education. It's interesting to see how our country's historical leaders  and founding peoples were educated. I feel like we're both learning so much together and this time of exploration and questioning is so valuable to both of us. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Celebrating life

Great Granny turned 93 today! We had a ladies day out with taking her out to lunch. After lunch we went with Aunt GG to visit the Tractor Supply store where they had new baby chicks and ducklings, while Great Granny and Granny had their beauty appointment.  When we returned home we had some coconut cake and strawberries. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Dr Seuss birthday

Our truffula tree cupcake
We enjoyed talking about the beloved Dr Seuss today in memory of his birthday. Did you know that Dr. Seuss had several pen names? Read more about Dr. Seuss here.We recently found two old books (come over to my house)&(maybe you should fly a jet)that I don't remember reading at the fabulous half price book store:)We had a long day of chatting about one of our favorite authors.  At the end of our day we even baked up some truffula tree peanut butter cupcakes from the book The Lorax. 
Great finds at half price book store.

Field trip Friday painting

Art was our focus on field trip Friday. It was dollar paint session at our local pottery place. She made herself a little garden fairy and a plate for her Great granny who's birthday is coming up. There is a big difference between her patience with painting pottery at age 4 and at age 5.  After the pottery painting we went to the local book store where they were having Dr Seuss birthday celebrations. There were some stories and crafts for FrEe..:) Love that! One of the ways we try to stay in budget with our homeschooling is really planning and searching for free local activities. The painting would normally cost 15 bucks for her and I to paint but because we waited to go on dollar day it really saved us some money. Check out what's going on in your area, it's actually pretty surprising where you might find free stuff for kids:)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

10 minute activity for the routine to continue

Do you ever need 10 minutes of uninterrupted time during the day? (You know, wash dishes, switch laundry, scoop cat box)  Here are two ideas. IDEA A is to have two glasses - one with water, the other with a small amount of juice(we're using grape here)- Add an eye dropper and instruct to add drops of juice to the water to see how it changes the water. ( Later add how many drops....) IDEA B is to put on an old disney record and a  princess dress grab a bear and dance! 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Our spring bugs arrived

Ladybugs and butterflies are Here! We ordered them from Insect Lore. We already had the butterfly house net from last year but the ladybug cage was a new fun adventure. Oh how strange the lady bugs are. Raising bugs is so fascinating for a five year old. Number one, they change so quickly and number two they change so dramatically. We have to make sure the ladybugs have water, but the caterpillars are self contained until they turn into butterflies. The first thing we did after settling our new insects in their habitats was to measure them. Ladybugs were 1/2 cm and the Caterpillars were 1 cm.
adding water to the ladybugs

look how tiny the caterpillars are
one cm long ~caterpillars

1/2 cm long lady bugs

Leap day

Does anyone else's cat attend school too? Our little cat just loves to be involved in school. She always comes when we are reading stories and it's very interesting the look she has, like 'yes, continue...' Today we are working on coin counting. Part of this idea came from the lovely Mailbox magazine. There were addition questions on the cupcakes. That was part A. The second part was the adding the coins to pay for the cupcake. So she had to know what each coin is worth and how she could pay using the different combinations of coins. This game went very well. We used a small muffin tray to sort the coins first then I had made an aide for her to see the worth of each coin, incase she forgot. 
Later we practiced our numbers on the blackboard.
And don't forget talking about Leap Day. We briefly talked about how this day was special because it only comes around every 4 years. We also talked about what leaps. And this is her drawing of a frog. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sunny day

Oh a nice sunny warm day! We spent the whole afternoon enjoying the fresh air. There are lots of plants starting to show signs of new life. The rose bush in the from is growing new leaves. We made some science notes and questions while digging in the front garden. Like what color will the roses be when they bloom, and what kind of bugs can you find under the leaves. Then she made a little fairy house out of the fallen branches and even included a bath tub for them:) Later when the leaves and twigs had served their purpose of entertainment we ventured around the neighborhood for a spring scooter ride. Which was a lovely way to practice balance and speed control. 

Sugar camp continued

Here are more pictures from our field trip to sugar camp. We tasted the maple syrup once we saw how it was made, and it was soooooo good. 

Here is an example of the stag horn sumac tree branch. Inside the middle of the branch is a cork like substance the is easily pushed out to create a wooden straw.

kettles over the fire for making the syrup

an old fashioned clamp.