Sunday, May 24, 2009

May Nature Classes

Woodland Survival: Spring Feast

Georgia's class was joined by the 1790's era Long Hunter who showed the kids how our ancestors lived off the land in springtime. After they learned about local foraging and hunting they did some gathering of tasty edibles. The kids all helped make a meal, giving new meaning to the term "spring mix salad". I even got to try a Spring Beauty "potato". I would never have guessed that the flower's root bulb was edible. It reminded me of beets, very earthy tasting. They also gathered dandelion leaves and flowers, violet flowers, wild onion, garlic mustard leaves, and red buds to add to the salad. The Long Hunter provided venison in three different ways: with maple syrup and ginger, plain, and as bacon, which Georgia said was really salty.

Frogs, Frogs, Frogs!

Olivia's class learned all about frogs! After reading a story on their life cycle, the kids headed out in search of the little guys. The preserve was abundant with vernal pools! The kids each had a net, and what they found they put in a large bucket so that everyone had a chance to see what was found. They didn't find any tadpoles, but they found lots of other interesting critters, including side swimmers, snails, and various water bugs!

Fun Fun! They also had their last homeschool nature club meeting of the year at a neighboring nature center. It was about Insects! They talked about the body parts, classes of insects, identification, and then went out to the creek in search of local bugs. They found mayfly larva that "looked like worms with three tails that looked like sticks with pointy ends," says Georgia. "There were lots of them under rocks in the creek." They also found water striders that she said looked like spiders. "They have bubbles under their feet and when the water pushed them down the creek, they used their feet like oars with the bubbles. They went real fast so it was hard to catch them." They also found a crayfish and everyone got a chance to touch it's shell.

Creek Exploration

Yesterday we walked down to the creek to do some exploring. The girls searched the creek bed for shells, rocks, fish, and other creek life. They even found an old animal bone in there. They followed a set of tracks along the creek as far as they could. Checking the track finder book, it appears that they were that of the mink. The temperature reached 86*F and they had a nice time splashing and cooling off. Eventually the mosquitoes found us and sent us away.

Today, the girls spent some time cleaning the shells they found and sorting them into piles. We found a site called Freshwater Mussels of the Midwest and have had fun looking around on there. It also helped us come up with an idea...we want to make a booklet about the creek. It will be like a field guide or a brochure of the things that can be found in and around the creek.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Our New Moves

Me and the girls have been working on some new dance moves. What do you think....

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

More Photos to Share

Last month the girls picked out some flowers to plant in the pots they decorated last year. Georgia, of course, picked pansies. They are one of her favorites. Olivia chose violas. They also planted some ivy on the sides. With all the rain we've been getting, as well as sunny days, and the girls' diligent care, the flowers have grown beautifully lush.

They have also been studying the soil and finding all kinds of interesting organisms.

And it is always a "treat" to find their bug jars never know what you'll find. Even scarier is that the covers are magnifying glasses so the little buggers always look much larger than they are!

They've had more bubble blowing days. It's especially nice on breezy days because the bubbles practically blow themselves. This just leaves the chasing and popping!

Georgia made jewelry out of dandelions. Here she shows her dandelion ring.

And our seasonal job of cleaning the fans becomes a fun project. Taking the fans apart, figuring out how they work, and putting them back together again. We tested them when they were through and they all worked!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Wildflower Walk

We went for a walk to see what new wildflowers have emerged and bloomed since our last visit. We brought along our wildflower ID book, Mark brought his binoculars and bird book, and the girls brought along their stick ponies to go trail riding. Beautiful spring!

My Mother's Day

On Mother's Day, Mark and the girls brought me to the Columbus Zoo. Mark purchased tickets to attend a special Mother's Day elephant talk. Phoebe the Asian elephant had recently given birth. The name of the new baby was to be announced on Mother's Day. The man who works with Phoebe and the new baby gave a special presentation, and Papa John's donated pizza for the event. Money raised from the tickets went towards elephant conservation programs. It was a very interesting presentation where we learned a lot about elephants, and we were shown some exclusive video of the new little one taking it's first steps, learning to swim, playing with mama, it was beautiful to see the two interact.

Afterwards we explored the zoo and had such a fun time. I had a wonderful Mother's Day!

Here are some photos of our day...

And the name of the baby elephant is..........


Beco, pronounced BEE-co, is part of the mom's and dad's names put together.

Phoebe + Coco = Beco.

Collage Workshop

Saturday, the girls and I went to a workshop sponsored by the local art guild. We learned some new techniques and met some new people.

The girls painted a background for their collage before adding items, and finally covering it with a layer of modge podge.

Look at her concentration!

The background is done.

Olivia working on her background...

and the finished pieces

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Let's Get Cookin'

Some of the creations we have made the past couple weeks...

Hot Dog Spaghetti

We got the idea for this from here, which we heard about from some fellow unschoolers. The girls quartered some hot dogs and inserted dried spaghetti into them. They got pretty creative with this and we ended up with some alien-octopus-human results.

After the spaghetti and hot dogs were boiled, this is what they looked like.

Next time, we'll break the spaghetti in half as it will probably be easier to cook and eat!

Marshmallow Connectors

Olivia used mini colored marshmallows and toothpicks to build some 3-D shapes, buildings, and creatures. (she ate them afterwards, too!)

Juice Popsicles

The girls can't get enough popsicles! And with them running around outside, and with the temperatures rising, I encourage it since it helps keep them hydrated. But we got to thinking about how many popsicles they go through, and all the packaging that is thrown away with each individually wrapped popsicle, as well as the box they come in, not to mention the costs of transportation involved in delivering the pops to the store. We decided we could make them ourselves. This would reduce energy costs, as well as give us more control in what we put into the popsicles as far as nutrition is concerned. So we have been experimenting. We have made popsicles from juice and pudding (fudgcicles). We want to try layering different flavors creating our own type of "bomb pop" some time.

What we found works good for us are the small bathroom cups, and our own collection of popsicle sticks that we saved. We put the cups on an old baking sheet and fill them 3/4 full. After about an hour in the freezer we insert the popsicle sticks. After another hour or so we put all the frozen cups in a gallon freezer bag. Everything can be washed and used again.

KitchenAid Visit

We visited Gramma at KichenAid and checked out the posters with the girls' pictures on them. They were used as a part of a Mother's Day promotion at the store.
Georgia in front of her poster, it is a picture of her making her famous pancakes...

Olivia in front of hers, and a close-up of her poster. Olivia is making zucchini bread in the picture.
And Dad tries to steal the pie that is on another poster...

Rainy Day Cupcakes

On one of the rainy days we've had recently, the girls wanted to make some cupcakes. They both measured and mixed to create the batter. Olivia likes to crack the eggs, and Georgia likes to read the directions and mix it all together.

They frosted and decorated....and then taste-tested!