Monday, April 28, 2008

Beginning our Nature Journal

Last week we had beautiful weather, and spent much of it outside. Today we had a chillier day, and some rain here and there. But we found lots of fun things to do in the house. One of them was working on our nature journal. Last week we had pressed some dandelion and pansy parts. We checked them today and they were all dry, except for the pansy leaf. We added them to our nature journal page that we created.

Our dandelion page.

Some things we learned about the dandelion...
  • comes from the French word "dent-de-lion", meaning lion's tooth, and refers to the leaves
  • In the aster family
  • though it appears as one large flower, it is actually a composite of many tiny flowers that are clustered together
  • flowers open in the morning and close in the afternoons.
  • originally brought here from Eurasia as a food crop. The leaves are high in vitamins and minerals. The long taproot can be roasted and ground for a coffee substitute.
  • they are responsible for much water contamination as homeowners treat lawns with chemicals to eradicate!

Our pansy page...

Things we learned about the pansy:
  • pansy comes from the French word "pensee" meaning thought, referring to how the flowers look like a face leaning downward in thought.
  • they are one of the oldest cultivated flowering plants, so old that their origins are unknown
  • the flowers are edible and taste like grapes and mint.
  • their wild counterpart are called Johnny-Jump-Ups, and a bunch of other nicknames!
  • Wild pansies are used to treat eczema, acne, impetigo, and other skin conditions
  • Also believed to be good for the heart, hence another nickname, heartease or heartsease
  • The flower of wild pansy protects itself from rain and cold by dropping its head so that only the back of the flower will get wet.
  • they are in the viola family
  • they are a cool weather favorite

The girls have also read their current issues of their NWF magazines. Georgia's is Ranger Rick, Olivia's is Your Big Backyard. Very interesting and informative magazines! Georgia was interested in entering a nature photo contest, so she'll be learning to work the digital camera and taking some pictures next time we are out and about. She also browsed their website, answered some surveys, and is interested in sending in some of her artwork as well. Olivia learned about animal babies, what they are called, how they are carried, and she made the mini-book that was included in the magazine. Olivia wants to send in a picture of hers, too.

They've also read some of their Wild Ohio Kids magazine put out by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. You can read it too! Click here!

And another NWF goody....Green Hour! I just discovered this site through a friends blog. We'll probably blog about it when we've read it some more!

Brazil, Amazon River & Rainforest

Today we read some library books on Brazil, the Amazon River, and the Amazon Rainforest. That was the topic the girls picked when we went to the library last, and we are just now getting to the books!

We learned about a lot of wild animals found in this region. We also read some Brazilian folktales. The girls enjoyed the book How Day Came From Night featuring Iemanja's daughter, written by Mary-Joan Gerson. They also loved The Great Kapok Tree, by Lynne Cherry. This book, and the beautiful artwork, inspired the girls to paint their own picture of the rainforest.

Today we used watercolors.

Here's Georgia's painting...

And Olivia's...

We also talked about the Brazilian culture, and of its African American heritage. From Gerson's book, we learned that of all the African slaves shipped to the new world, Brazil received the most. Brazil has the highest number of people of African decent in the Americas today. We talked about how cultures merge from many influences.
We also read a book on the Yanomamo people.
We have plans to try some of the crafts and recipes in the books. And we are also planning on making an Amazon Rainforest lapbook, which we started today.

Livy's Earth Day Word Book

Last week Olivia made a word book from Enchanted Learning. Her writing is really improving!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Saturday, April 26, 2008

This week we...

We've been having Internet trouble here and there, so I haven't been able to update much lately.

Here are some photos from last week...

The girls tried identifying some birds out back of our house. Georgia made a list, and she even noted if they were male of female.

We checked the Mayapples and reported our findings to Project Budburst.

The girls found an animal home in a tree.

They attended the Webkinz Extravaganza and played games, won prizes, entered a drawing contest, and brought home some new Webkinz dolls.

Here's a picture of the Wheel of Wow...

The girls have also played frisbee, made paper airplanes and gliders to try outside, practiced hitting a baseball with the bat, practiced gymnastics, and went to gymnastics class, read books, and books, more books, and magazines, played games, Olivia is learning to read a grid map while playing Battleship...

and of course blew some bubbles....

We also read a lot of books on Earth Day, conservation, recycling, etc. We did make that list on what we do now, and what we can do in the future to be a greener family. We also did a water observation that Georgia came up with that had us measuring the water we use in the shower or bath. She's also come up with an idea for measuring how much water we use in a day. But that's another post, another time...

And to everyone that has commented on our blog...I keep meaning to visit your sites and comment you back, but with the Internet trouble I am not able to be on here too long. Just know that I have read your comments, appreciate them very much, and will be stopping by to visit you soon!

Enjoy the weekend!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Another Beautiful Spring Day!

Today the girls decorated some flower pots to put their flowers in!

We also spent most of the day outside!

The girls had fun practicing their gymnastics. Olivia said she doesn't want to grow up! She said she's going to wait until she turns 8 and then stop. I asked her why and she said "because I want to keep doing cartwheels." Mark and I can't do them, so she must have thought all "old" people can't do them! Ha ha. I told her that a lot of "old" people can do them, like her gymnastics teachers.

Later, the girls brought some books outside and did some reading. Georgia read a book on mammals and Olivia read a book on shells and mollusks.

And they did some cloud watching!

Livy searched for a four leaf clover in a patch of clovers. She didn't find one and was mad! I told her I've never found one either. She also looked at the different weeds around the lawn and kept asking "Is this Colonel Mustard?" She meant garlic mustard, but she keeps calling it the character from Clue!

The girls collected some dandelions.

Later in the evening, when all four of us were outside reading, Mark and Georgia went inside for something. Olivia said, "Hey, we were four people outside, now two went inside. Four minus two equals two. When they come back two plus two equals four." What a girl!

We took a quick walk at Shawnee Prairie Preserve to check on the wildflowers. It's amazing how much new growth there is after just two days!

We found more Mayapples opening their leaves. We also saw some Cut-leaved Toothwort, Downy Yellow Violets, the Common Blue Violet, and some others I'm not sure on.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Wildlife 911

Today we attended a workshop at the Nature Center called Wildlife 911. It told us of what to do in case of an emergency with animals, and what not to do. In most cases they should be left alone. We also learned about the closest rehabilitation center, what types of animals they accept, what they do, etc.

We also got to meet an oppossum that was being rehabilitated!

And we learned a little about them as well. Here, the speaker is showing us an oppossum's skull.

We also learned what volunteer rehabilitators do, and how we can be involved as well. Maybe someday.

After the class we enjoyed watching some birds in the bird watching room. They have speakers set up so we can hear them, too.

We saw a lot of Cardinals, male and female, as well as Carolina Chickadees, a White-throated Sparrow, a Brown-headed Cowbird, Eastern Bluebird, and a male and female Downy Woodpecker.