Saturday, March 29, 2008

Nim's Island

The book Nim's Island by Wendy Orr is now a movie and will be in theaters on April 4th!

From the movie's website:

ABOUT THE BOOK Nim's Island is a heartfelt and hilarious adventure that
chronicles the exploits of Nim, a young girl living a high- tech Robinson Crusoe
existence on an unspoiled tropical island with her scientist father and her best
friends—a motherly sea lion, a rambunctious iguana, and a sea turtle. When Nim's
father embarks on a day of research at sea, she begins an unlikely e-mail
communication with an agoraphobic novelist who lives in New York City. When a
storm prevents her father's return and unpredictable dangers confront Nim and
the Island, she must find the resources to survive. At the same time, the
novelist begins to realize that her pen pal is a little girl who is alone and in
trouble. She also has to dig down for the courage to leave her safe haven
and rescue Nim.

Nim's Island has been translated into Korean, Italian,
German, Spanish and Basque, and will soon be appearing in Brazil in Portuguese.

On April 2nd, Animal Planet will air a special called Nim's Island Our World: A Reel Thinking Event hosted by Jeff Corwin.

Animal Planet has also named the week of March 31-April 4 Nim's Island Week. From their website:

Though the feature film NIM’S ISLAND is an imaginary story, its depiction
of bio-diversity, marine life, and the need to protect one's habitat is very
real. Tune-in every night at 7 pm e/p to watch special programming focused
on conservation and extraordinary human beings helping extraordinary

The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) teamed up with Walden Media to release the movie. From their website, the NWF says:

We hope this story will inspire people to become real-life conservation heroes
like Nim and her friends, and take action to protect wildlife and wild places!
If you have a great idea on how to improve our environment you can enter your project in the Nim's Island Our World Environmental Challenge Contest at

Other sites to visit:

Nim's Island official movie page

National Wildlife Federation's movie page

Walden Media's movie page

Animal Planet's movie page

You can check out the links above to learn more about the movie, download a free educator's guide, play games, watch the movie trailer, enter a contest, and learn more about conservation and what you can do.

We just wanted to share this with others before the movie comes out, as it is a great opportunity to learn about conservation, and a great movie for the whole family!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Digging for Fossils Activity

While reading some library books on dinosaurs, Georgia found some activities she wanted to try.

Today she did the activity from the book Stegosaurus by Daniel Cohen.

From the book.....

Hands On: Digging for Fossils

Paleontologists dig for dinosaur bones in rocks and dirt. Digging the bones out of rock or dirt without breaking them is difficult. You can see how difficult it is by doing this activity.

What you need
A sheet of newspaper
A large chocolate chip cookie
Small, soft paintbrush

What You Do
1. Set the cookie on a sheet of newspaper. (we just put it on a plate)
2. Use the toothpicks to dig the chocolate chips out of the cookie. The chocolate chips are like bones. The cookie is like a rock.

3. Hold a chocolate chip with the tweezers over the newspaper. Brush the cookie crumbs off with the paintbrush.

4. Try not to break or damage the chips.

Voila! She didn't dig all the chips out, but she had fun, and a yummy snack when she was done.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Our Routzong Hike

After supper on Wednesday we all went on a hike at Routzong Preserve. It was nice and sunny, and as we walked we could hear and see a bunch of birds. We counted at least fifteen robins!

Mark and Olivia looked up birds in the bird book.

Overall, we saw Robins, Mourning Dove, Blue Jays, Red-Winged Blackbirds, Cardinals, Carolina Chickadees, and the Red-Breasted Nuthatch.

Along the path, Georgia found a piece of tree bark that showed signs of woodpecker activity.

And she also found some fungus growing on a fallen tree.

Then we came to the "Big Tree" as I call it. Sadly, it split!

This is what it looked like in May last year. I remember noticing how it was the largest tree around and I thought it was beautiful.

Continuing on, we found several sets of deer tracks! The girls followed them until they went off the path. We also saw several piles of fresh deer droppings, but we never saw a deer.

And the girls found some more fungus.

They also found a tree that made a good hiding spot!

Olivia noticed that there are a lot of sprouts growing under the fallen leaves. New growth for spring!

We made it to the bridge!

After we crossed the bridge it became increasingly difficult to keep track of the path. There were a lot of downed tree limbs, and with no greenery as a guide, we couldn't tell where the path was supposed to be anymore. We'll have to try again in a few weeks when there is a more distinct path.

We hiked for an hour and forty minutes, though!

Livy's Nature Class

Livy had her Nature Center class today. The topic was Maple Syrup. The kids first learned what a maple leaf looked like and tried to identify one when mixed with other leaves. They each got a tree cookie to look at and looked at the parts of the tree trunk. They found the bark, the sapwood, and talked about how important sap is for a tree.

In the picture above, the kids acted as trees with their feet planted on the ground. Then they needed to pick up water and suns from the floor without moving their feet. They discussed what a tree needs to grow.

The kids talked about evaporation. Mandy, the naturalist that teaches Livy's class, demonstrated the effects of evaporation by showing the kids one measured cup of water. She then put the water in an electric kettle while they did other activities. She pointed out the steam coming from the kettle. When we got back to the kettle...the water was gone!

Mandy talked about how to collect maple syrup. She demonstrated how big a tree had to be before you can put a spigot in it to collect sap. She talked about the tools in sap collecting, and the contents of sap. The kids also got to sample some maple syrup.

Next, the kids made some hand tracings on paper to represent a tree. They made a bucket and spigot from aluminum foil and glued it on the tree.

Here's Olivia's picture.

Before the class ended, Mandy read them a story about a family that collects sap for maple syrup.

Olivia had a great time!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


The girls wanted to check out our shell collection. Some of the shells are from Maine, and some from Virginia. The girls inspected them, tried figuring out what they were, and noticed the erosion from sand and sea.

Here they show some of their favorites.

Georgia likes scallop shells.

Olivia likes the tiny shells.

Here Georgia shows the largest in the collection.

And Olivia shows the smallest one she found.

And Georgia is showing the small crab leg remains.

We looked at this website to try and learn more about the shells we have.

We just ordered a North American seashells identification guide to help us learn what the names of the shells are. We also ordered Ohio wildflowers fieldguide, and a rock and mineral identification guide.

Other than seashell inspecting...Georgia took out her sketch pad to draw some shells. She also sketched some horses and dinosaurs. We all read some dinosaur library books and Georgia found some neat activities for us to try once we gather all the necessary materials. Olivia and I have played a lot of games that help her with number identification, quantity, value, adding, and problem solving.

This afternoon we went on a hike at Routzong Preserve. I'll post pictures and tell you what we saw next time!

Tomorrow, Olivia has her class at the Nature Center.

Monday, March 24, 2008


Today we registered for the U.G.O. 2008 Camp Out! U.G.O. stands for the Unschoolers Gathering of Ohio.

In early September we'll be heading to the Hocking Hills region for fun, fun, fun! We'll have the opportunity to attend funshops (like workshops, but more fun) and we'll be leading one or two ourselves. We'll be staying in a cabin, and there are a lot of neat things to do on the grounds!

Plus, they'll be a lot of unschoolers to meet.

Planting some seeds

The girls planted some seeds today. We'll see how they turn out...

We also registered at Project Budburst

We'll learn about phenology, observe plant life cycles, and we'll report our findings and help scientists learn of changes that occurred.

The girls have soccer tonight!

Walking with Dinosaurs

We have watched some interesting documentaries this past week. The Discovery Channel showed:

Dinosaurs: Return to Life?

Walking with Dinosaurs: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

Walking with Dinosaurs: Rulers of Sea & Sky

Walking with Dinosaurs: Passing of Giants

Their website has some interesting activities as well.

The girls played with their dinosaur toys afterward, and it was really nice to hear Georgia explaining to Olivia what each dinosaur was, which period it was from, what it ate, and any other interesting facts she learned.

The University of California Museum of Paleontology has an online exhibit to learn about geologic time.

Today, the girls were reading through their dinosaur Weird n' Wild Creatures Cards.

And they visited Scholastic's dinosaur site:

Worth Family Preserve

This weekend we visited a park that we hadn't been to before, called the Worth Family Preserve. We took the GPS with us and geocached while we were there.

The wooded area reminded the girls of walking in the woods in Maine, so they called that part the Maine Woods. We saw a lot of interesting things. Georgia saw some animal droppings and we saw some animal tracks. One was a deer, one was a dog, and we are not sure on the rest. While walking we also heard a lot of birds, and even an owl. We were walking near dusk. The birds we saw, and Mark identified, were Red-Winged Blackbirds, Red-Shouldered Hawks, a Giant Horned Owl, and a flock of Canada Geese flew overhead, too.

While walking through the woods the girls pretended they were time-travaling explorers looking for dinosaurs.

We saw this tree, but were not sure what type it was. The tree guide we have is not for winter, so we couldn't tell what it was without the leaves.

Olivia loved the smell of the pine needles. She kept having me smell them, then she would and she'd say "Aaaah."

The creek looked full, and we could tell that it had recently flooded where we were walking.

We had to pass a little stream. The girls thought it was fun to hop on the rocks to get over it.

And we found the cache at the end of one of the trails. It was a wild animal cache, so the girls traded a couple of their wild animal toys for other ones. They picked out a couple lizards.

As we were at the cache it started to rain lightly, so we headed back to the car.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Bird Identification

Mark is taking course on Ornithology from Cornell University. Georgia drew a picture from her bird book to see if Dad could identify it. He did, and she did a great job on it, too. Me and the girls are collecting bird pictures from magazines to test him. And we're going to try to identify them ourselves, as well.